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Making Friends With Uncertainty

Family and friends keep asking what is next for us, when this jaunt across the Pacific comes to a halt in New Zealand sometime in the coming weeks. We keep saying we don’t know, which is exactly true.

Right now, there are a few things we know for sure however:

  1. Cyclone season is upon us soon and it’s time to get out of the way
  2. We are really, really, really anxious for a draft IPA, jeans, a hike in the woods, and a real supermarket
  3. Our cruising kitty is down to its final dregs and it’s time to go back to work for a while

For a couple of people who like to have at least the next few years of our life mapped out, that’s not much of a chart.

We have far more questions than answers: will we be able to find work in New Zealand and then get the proper visas? Will we like NZ enough to want to stay for a few years? Forever? Will NZ like us? What city will we be living in? How is Leah going to adjust to regular school after a year of free-roaming school? How will we adjust to wearing socks again? Having cell phones? Having bills? Will we want to return to the Northwest and if so do we want to sail back or sell the boat and fly ourselves home? If we sail back, can we swing by Mexico? (I really really want a taco.)

We’ve been around long enough to know that the answers to these questions will be sorted out in time. Decisions will be made for us, things will happen. And we’ll have to make some tough decisions, too. We haven’t always been comfortable with so much ambiguity about the future; in fact, a few years ago we would have been a nervous wreck with so much uncertainty ahead. But now it feels rather invigorating, exciting even, at the unknown adventure that lies ahead, still.

Maybe it’s because we’re getting older and hopefully a little wiser. But I like to think that cruising has shown us how to be flexible, to go into the unknown without expectation and with an openness for whatever happens next. Most importantly, having faith that everything will turn out all right.

There is another thing we know and it actually surprises us a little, after being so positive a few months ago that we’d have had our fill of sailing after all these miles. We’ve been here in Tonga, spending a lot of time looking back over the past 16 months kind of disbelieving that we are practically at the end of this journey already. We’ve enjoyed the introspection that comes with being perched on the brink of the unknown. I thought for sure I’d be done with this ocean sailing traveling thing by the time we got here. But our quiet time in Tonga, with so much more of the world to see (Fiji! Vanuatu! Thailand!) just over the horizon has shown us that we haven’t got our fill at all.

Maybe what little we do know for certain is enough: that with a few more coins in our pocket, we could keep going and going and going.


  1. Dani says:

    So thoughtful. It is absolutely intriguing to watch your family move into the next phase of your lives. I am particularly interested to see what you do in NZ. Just the other day I was looking at visa requirements residency laws because Tate and I plan to stop there for at least 6 months. We were thinking maybe we’ll work there for a while.

    I’m looking forward to where you will end up.

  2. Trevor says:

    If it’s just a few more coins in your pocket you need, remember when I picked up a proofreading gig while cruising? Granted, it was only a few coins but it was enough to help pay for our frugal lifestyle at the time. Now that we’re back in “civilization” I’m making a lot more coins… but I am spending a lot more coins too, just to get by.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Trevor- You totally need to hook me up with some proofreading. I need a LOT of coins though just to fly home and visit friends like you! Miss you all very much!!

  3. Hello! I found your blog through Tucker Bradford’s. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with letting life unfold and reveal itself to you as go you along. My life is full of a lot of uncertainty too, and while that’s sometimes hard, it also means that life is continually surprising me. Having no plans makes you an explorer every day. Good luck in NZ!

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Torre~ So glad you found us! I love your blog and am really looking forward to reading your book. Whenever we make plans, they change anyway. 🙂 -Sara

  4. Jack Stub says:

    I enjoy your blog and find your writing to be consistently elegant and thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. This entry was one in which I found pathos , as I too have chosen an alternative life, seeking meaning, lessons and richness. The beauty of uncertainty is found through the acceptance of it. Everything is transitory, and it all slips through our fingers too soon, so cheers to you and your family having the guts to really live life thoroughly. There is the great quote “Call your adventure fear and it will heal you of worry.”

    May peace be your companion.

  5. Marie Nicole says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your journey since you were planning it in La Paz… How cool! Actually, we spent 8 months journeying Baja then hitting Mazatlan – PV. Now we’re contemplating heavily and seriously leaving again, heading as far South as Panama then – following your footsteps and crossing over.

    So excited! And I totally get the uncertainty. It’s like doing a giant trust fall without knowing what is behind you to catch ya.

    Can I ask you a question? Do you guys have a SSB or a Sat phone? And which do you recommend for such a crossing. We even wonder if a simple EPIRB would be enough for safety issues. Expenses are already through the roof as we get ready!

    Have so totally enjoyed following your stories and your crossing… Such a thrill!

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Marie – So glad you’ve enjoyed our stories! Enjoy Mexico, we miss it SO much!

      Regarding the SSB/Sat phone: we have a HAM/SSB radio right now although for future voyaging we plan to add a Sat phone, at least for emergency use. For us, the SSB/HAM nets we’ve used across the Pacific have been truly invaluable. We also use the radio for long distance chatting with other cruisers as well as listening to shortwave radio and of course Winlink email. Michael is a longtime HAM so it’s a hobby of ours too. If you are not interested in the nets then just having a Sat phone for email/weather would be great and the price comparison for each system is fairly similar. Personally, we wouldn’t go offshore without having some way to download WX information but this can be done over a much less expensive SSB receiver with computer software to translate the WX faxes.

  6. Tom & Jeanne says:

    You guys rock!! We are back in Santa Rosalia, after a summer in the north Sea of Cortez, hiding out from the hurricanes. Of course, now that we have started moving south, along comes another hurricane. OH well, adventures in cruising right?

    We have had a blast getting caught up with your blog, what a wonderful adventure you are on. We have very close family friends in NZ, so if there is anything we can help with, dont hesitate to drop us a note.

    Tom & Jeanne
    SV Eagle

  7. Kyra says:

    Hi Sara! I recently also wrote about the same thing, the uncertainties, the questions that come with our life… Love the title, it really is about making friends with uncertainty… Cheers, the Nyon crew

  8. skipper dick and a boat named bob says:

    Just came across the stories of your journey across the big blue pond. Glad your family has made a lifetime of memories which your children can tell their grandchildren. You asked if you would like NZ and if you could find work.
    I think you will find the country more than satisfying to your needs, its a beautiful country and there are plenty of good people there as well.
    As for jobs as soon as your able I would recommend looking through this site with their immigration office to see if there are any critical or shortages in labor skills which you can match, here is a link if your near internet access soon. http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workperm.htm This should give you a head start if you have not already checked out their site.

    Good luck and God Bless.

  9. Livia says:

    “But I like to think that cruising has shown us how to be flexible, to go into the unknown without expectation and with an openness for whatever happens next.”

    Great post. We are really working on growing into this wisdom. Not easy.