You know, If somebody asked me fifteen years ago what I'd be doing on my fiftieth birthday, standing on the deck of a wooden schooner barking orders would not have even made the short list.
When I met Jeffery seventeen years ago, we were both working steadily in the professional theater world. I walked onto the paint shop floor at the Seattle Repertory Theater as an over-hire scenic artist. My college degree and background was in stage and costume design but I filled in the gaps as a scenic painter. Jeffery was one of the Rep's stage carpenters on loan from the A.C.T. theater as their lead carpenter. His theater experience was originally as a lighting designer and rigger.
It was a long road to tall ship sailors for the two of us. Let's see.... on the job-market angle; two more career changes for me and a long spell of general contractor work for Jeff. On the personal life angle; four step-children for him and a new daughter for the two of us. A lot happened before we felt the lure of the sea and tossed in our land-lubber lifestyles for a career as sailors.
And yet, it almost seems that our fates were sealed before we even knew it.
Take our trades for example. I have over thirty five years of practice on drops and flats perfecting three color wet-blends and faux wood grain techniques. My scenic background gave me the know-how to lay down flawless coasts of gloss and/ or varnish on anything that could absorb lacquer. I am well versed in matching paint tints and can cover a broad section of canvas or wood in unbelievably short periods of time. In short, give me a brush and a bucket and I am nothing short of a wizard (apparently, unabashedly immodest about it too)!
Being a theater brat meant that my life was always on the move. When one plys their trade by working in stage and film production, one adapts to a gypsy kind of existence.
...it is that sort of mentality that transfers well to a sailor's kind of lifestyle. (It also allowed me to meet Jeffery).
Jeffery also led a wanderer's life. An Army brat himself, he was accustomed to moving from state to state as a young boy. By the time he began working in professional theater, his travels took him to the Bolshoi in Moscow, Boston, Denver, and finally Seattle.
As if that wasn't enough
predetermination, he has over thirty years spelunking and climbing,
(including big wall climbing). He was quite simply, born to be a ship's rigger.
Jeffery's predisposition for all things aloft have served him well on the water. In 2008, he designed, constructed and installed a new main mast for Sugaree out of old growth fir and re-engineered the new masts for Zodiac in 2010.
When it comes to climbing up the masts, its more like a kid playing in a tree-house than going to work for that guy.
As far as the job I wound up with on the Zodiac... Well, I suppose if you count my last career as a small business owner with 35 staff members and twelve tenants to juggle and oversee...it might lend the necessary practical know-how towards being a first mate--coupled with the bossy characteristics I've acquired from raising five kids and two dogs.
(At least it has been proven that I can make myself heard over the general chaos and din onboard a big ship).
Perhaps the surest characteristic that cemented our destinies is our proclivity to anthropomorphize the living hell out of certain inanimate objects. Especially our fondness for Volkswagen buses...
We got our first VW bus before we were married. A well worn 1972 bus that we named Ruby. We spent several years full of adventures and constant tender loving care (that included punctual, monthly repairs that always cost exactly three hundred dollars--no matter what the break down).
After Ruby went to "live on a farm", we upgraded to an 84 Vanagon.
We named him Max-the-bus and immediately began to throw money at all of his various needs and issues. He is still part of the family and we just rebuilt his engine (Okay, Okay--we paid our mechanic to rebuild it). However, Max is a certified member of the family and has participated in some very important milestones with all of us.
In fact, if we had not cut our teeth for years on the relationships with our VW's, we would have been sorely unprepared for the constant attention required from our various project--boats.
(And make no mistake here, ALL boats are project-boats).
It's our propensity to be drawn to objects (people too I suppose), that exude a great deal of potential and charisma that set us on this particular course.
Because hey--after all, if we were the "practical" sort of people, we wouldn't have spent years living in the world of non-profit theater; we wouldn't have been at all attracted to each other or raised five kids as free-thinking individualists, nor would we have spent thousands of combined hours volunteering on tall ships and most certainly would never have moved our little family onto a
90 year old forestry boat.
God bless the inherent inability to think practically.
There are often times when we look back on what our lives used to be like and it never fails to make us laugh. We had absolutely no idea that we would be so tied to boats and the water, and yet, it makes perfect sense that we are.
In fact, we just can't imagine what else we would or could do nowadays!