Is Change a Constant?

May 14th, 2015, Thursday 2:00 p.m.

DSC03595Change. It is often argued that change in life is a good thing: painful but good. When companies merge, the change brings lay-offs, but ultimately, the merged company has streamlined, gained assets and productivity, hopefully. The crazy thing about living on a boat is that everything is subject to change daily/hourly. Docked in a port or anchored, work is typically being accomplished somewhere on the boat, beds are torn up, tools are pulled out, and the 240 square feet of living space inside is made ever tighter. On a regular day, when someone pulls out a tool, computer or item, even if it’s put away into it’s assigned place, it could be relocated the next time you go to look for it.DSC03617

When sailing on the open ocean, the weather dictates the changes. The norm might last 2 hours or 25 days depending on the wind, the current, and the direction of the swell. During our sail from Puerta Vallarta to the Galapagos, change was the norm…probably due to the time of year we embarked and/or possibly due to the changes in weather dictated by El Nino. The longest norm we enjoyed lasted about 24 hours. We tacked often from starboard to port where everything balancing well on one tack then balances differently on the other tack. Port light windows are open and closed along with the hatches to ensure the ocean doesn’t come splashing in. Inside it’s sweltering, so sometimes we risk opening up the hatches or port lights, only to close them shortly thereafter because now rain is threatening.

DSC03621The sea colors are enormously changeable too. On a cloudy day, the sea looks steely grey with flecks of silver with large rippling swells. It looks impenetrable, holding tightly to its secrets. On a sunny day, the sea looks blue: not a light blue, but a deep blue. If the seas are doldrum calm, it is clear, almost like a mirror, and you can see deeply into the water, the rays of light penetrating the leagues. It feels like the mysteries below are close, attainable.

Trent observes close passing cruise ship off Mexican coast. (photo by Eric)

These changes are indicative of life aboard, inside and out. Sometimes hot inside, the crew sits outside to enjoy the breeze. When it rains, the cockpit becomes very wet and inhospitable. Most stay below. If things are not stowed properly in their place, they fall down, whether its books, cups, food, sail wrenches, water bottles or computers.

Leslie observes changes in sea and sky. (photo by Eric)
Leslie observes changes in sea and sky. (photo by Eric)

Mostly, the constant change in sea motion is what confounds and exhausts the mind. Serious studying is very difficult because much of the mind is dedicated to concentrating on staying upright, especially when over 10° healed over. The crew moves side to side, forward and back, constantly. Nothing is still. I find reading and some thought possible, but serious contemplation and learning new concepts, nearly impossible. The ability to accomplish much beyond the most mundane or most necessary (cooking, changing sails, washing dishes, taking showers) is dramatically minimized.

Steel grey sea, close to the equator (photo by Leslie)
Steel grey sea, close to the equator (photo by Leslie)

Change is the constant in life. Everyday we spend at sea reminds me of this. Headed to the Galapagos, which exhibits this idea to the utmost, the birthplace of the idea of evolution, change from one species into another distinct species, makes for an incredible learning opportunity. To quote writer Jeff Greenwald from his article “A Natural Selection” in AAA’s Jan/Feb 2015 Westways magazine issue: “Nearly 2 centuries after the 24 year old Charles Darwin stepped onto the Galapagos Islands, they’re still a global laboratory for the study of adaptation. In fact, everything about our planet, even its position in space is in constant flux, moving toward an unknown destiny.” We humans are the same. We change, evolve, grow and learn new ideas and ways to live, make a living, survive.

Clear blue waters expose playful dolphin pod. (photo by Bryce)
Clear blue waters expose playful dolphin pod. (photo by Bryce)

I don’t know what all of this change around me is teaching exactly: to be open to new possibilities, patience, resilience, to be adaptive to my environment, ‘to be prepared’ like a Girl Scout. I chose this new lifestyle knowing the changes in my life would be great. Now I simply have to adapt to the vastness of change and accept the inconstant as my constant without being disgruntled. Richard Henry Dana wrote in his book Two Years Before the Mast that you can’t get mad at the sea when it causes you to spill your lunch. You have to laugh at what the ocean throws at you, otherwise you’d maintain an angry state of mind. If you laugh, the uncomfortable makes for a much better story in the end.

Watery mid-eastern Pacific sunset (photo by Eric)
Watery mid-eastern Pacific sunset (photo by Eric)

Leslie Dennis Rigney

9 thoughts on “Is Change a Constant?”

  1. Very insightful, Leslie. And you said it was hard to concentrate on that boat! You quote Richard Henry Dana, “You have to laugh at what the ocean throws at you, otherwise you’d maintain an angry state of mind. If you laugh, the uncomfortable makes for a much better story in the end.” That applies equally as well on “terra firma” .

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Nice to hear from you Jim. Yes life on Terra Firma is equally challenging, although I find that I tend to be more productive on land…and being one of those funny protestants, accomplishing things means my “busy hands are happy hands!’ hahaha – I laugh at myself. These days, I’m learning to be a bit less hard on myself.
      Keep laughing!

  2. Hi there dear ones! Kay and I are at your folks condo having dinner and we have been discussing your awesome trip. They were mentioning that you have access to your own home on the island. Unbelievable. I asked Ron where the locals get fresh water for showers, restaurants, etc… I asked if they have have a desalination facility. Can you answer that for us?
    It looks like you have found paradise. Love you all and we know that you are enjoying your lifelong dream.

    1. Our Marquesan family has generously offered us the use of their home, with our own room(s). We often borrow their cars too. Facilities are basic, nothing fancy. With ambient temperatures ranging in the upper 70’s-lower 80’s, water heaters are uncommon. Homes are open air with large verandas. All the valleys in the Marquesas of potable water from springs, except the town we’re staying in. Only the municipal water of Taiohae is non-potable, apparently due mostly to the farm and wild animals that surround its streams. So locals buy water or fill jugs and plastic bottles at other bays and bring them home. We have a water-maker aboard Kandu that supports all our H2O needs. Restaurants pass the water through their own filtering solutions. We are having so many wonderful and fascinating experiences that we hope to soon post with photos, now that the boys are in school (French). Eric

    2. Hello Dearest Kay. So nice to hear from you. Love your questions. In fact, there is a lot of ongoing rain here, especially during the rainy season, which it is right now. The locals on every island tend to use the local source water, no purification necessary, except in the town of Taiohae. Unfortunately, due to the large number of animals and people near the source, the water is not potable to drink. It is fine for everything else, even cleaning dishes. Our friends who live in town actually bring water to drink in water bottles from their second home in a more remote bay: Aakapa on the same island where they have tapped the source high up the very tall mountains surrounding that bay.

  3. I hope you are taking Mr. Dana’s advice and laughing! I am so loving reading the blog and the Facebook posts!

    1. Yes Adrienne – I am laughing as much as possible. But when I dropped my computer this morning on the hard pavement and cracked the screen, I didn’t laugh! boo hoo!
      Otherwise – things are going alright. Boys started attending the local school last week and I imagine today, they are finding it a bit more challenging. I’ve been a bit under the weather with a sour stomach, but am feeling better today. We were keeping very busy with sailing and touring around the islands since we landed. These next three weeks will be a bit more calm where we can catch up on our blogs, I can prepare the 2014 taxes, the boys can study french, and we can catch-up on boat maintenance. Then my parents arrive! I know you had a great time at our high school reunion. Lots of laughing and good times there!
      Virtual Hugs to you, Leslie

  4. Leslie; I can tell, that constant change is challenging, I’m sure you are looking forward to some peace and quiet, which hopefully you can get in Thahiti. We look forward to seeing all of you in September.Papa

  5. Dad – well arrived in Tahiti as you know and happily there is more peace and quiet. Time to think and time to share. We are so looking forward to your arrival. Leslie

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