Recommended Reading: The Mechanics of Anxiety

Recommended Book The Mechanics of Anxiety Edward Freeman This Side of Fearadise

“Anxiety is simple right? When you find yourself surrounded by a pack of disgruntled hyenas, you either high tail it to the nearest tree or scare the scavengers off with a big honking stick. Fight or flight. We’ve all heard of it so what else is there to learn?

A lot actually. What if I told you that anxiety isn’t that simple. Not by a long shot. And that it is our lack of knowledge on the real causes of our anxiety, that keeps us all enslaved to it.

Scientific research is being carried out around the globe, in an attempt to pinpoint the real causes of anxiety. And what they’ve found is shocking indeed.”

The above quotes are taken from the intro to The Mechanics of Anxiety by Edward Freeman. As we all know (and as I like to repeat endlesslypossibly annoyingly), Knowledge is Power, and the key to overcoming anxiety is to to understand it.

And now (finally!) the book that I needed back during my own personal war with anxiety has arrived. The Mechanics of Anxiety explains the science behind anxiety. I can’t recommend this ebook enough!  It’s short. It’s cheap. And most importantly, it’s packed full of information.

Click here to check it out further on Amazon.

“Have fun storming the castle!”

Written by: Eowyn Miral

Eowyn Miral This Side of Fearadise Author

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, then let me know! Press “like” or leave a comment, and of course, it’s always cool to share! 

 

 

 

How to be Fearless – Like a Warrior Monk

How to be fearless like a warrior monk this side of fearadise

Picture this. Mountains. A sunset. A stately rock. The silhouette of a warrior being warrior-ish on top of said rock. That warrior is you. Your own personal Mr. Miyagi looks on as you montage your way into a kung-fu-kicking, samurai-sword-bearing super ninja jedi. Miyagi’s already lined face crinkles further. Is that a smile? Yes it is. And it can only mean one thing. You are ready. Without hesitation, you levitate down from your rock and race into battle against a thousand angry tribbles. Bam! Pow! Fearless!

The end.

Okay, not really. However, I admit that the above scenario is very close to what I used to think of as fearlessness. It meant looking cool and kicking butt. It meant becoming so strong and fast and clever that there was nothing left to be afraid of. So tough that I could beat up a tsunami. So quick that I could outrun a race car driven by a cheetah (hmm, that might not actually be that hard…). So brilliant that I could outthink Vizzini and Palpatine at the same time between subway stops.

However, a little research and a few bummer servings of common sense broccoli later, and I’ve come to realize an entirely different and more powerful view of what it means to be fearless. The fearlessness of the warrior monk of Shambhala (Sorry, no levitation involved).

In Shambhala, to become fearless, you must first face yourself. Crummy, I know. Sure, there is good in each of us but there is also plenty of bad and even more ugly. Most of us spend our lives trying to flush the bad and the ugly down the toilet where no one (not even ourselves) will ever see it. But like a too large and irritatingly stubborn lump of feces, it just keeps bubbling up from the depths and threatening to overflow all over the bathroom floor of our self perception. Gross.

The only way to keep from seeing the mess is by distracting ourselves constantly. Not a moment goes by where most of us aren’t busy with something. Working, reading, care-giving, cooking, gardening, gossiping, chopping wood, hoola hooping… Anything.

But to be a Shambhala warrior, you must allow the feces to flood. The monks themselves, do this through meditation. In fact, they teach that meditation is the only way to gain true insight into ourselves. However, I find that a special technique called wall staring (it’s exactly like it sounds) seems to be highly effective for me. You can also stare at fences, fields, the floor, your toaster… The only requirement really is that whatever you are staring at is utterly and mind-numbingly boring.

During this time, you do nothing but sit and look at your crap. You look at your crap, but you don’t judge your crap. Instead you accept it, care for it even. Swaddle it up like a baby and make faces at it till it giggles. Pretty soon you begin to realize that there are diamonds embedded in it. Eventually you realize that it is not crap at all but instead a wonderful kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, ever changing, yet exactly as it should be in that moment. No good. No bad. No ugly. Just you. And it’s beautiful.

But wait, you’re not done. Congratulations, you have begun to sit with your turds and turn them into gemstones. That’s amazing but it is only the first step. There is more.

The next step on the path to Shambhala fearlessness is to face your fear. This doesn’t mean running out and doing everything you can think of that scares you. You don’t have to volunteer to survive alone in the Alaskan wilderness with nothing but a toothpick and a pre-soiled pair of underwear to aid you. It doesn’t mean leaping headfirst into a pool of sharks with laser beams attached to their heads (or ill-tempered seabass for that matter).

All it means is that you must look directly at your fear, at the emotion itself (this goes for all of your negative emotions actually). When we feel fear, most of us try to run from it. Crumple it up. Jam it down between the couch cushions and hope nobody looks there…

Warriors, they don’t do this. They don’t waste their time being scared of their fear. To them, fear is not some evil thing that needs to be thrown back into the fire from whence it came… No. Instead, when they feel fear they simply look at it. They study the sensation of it. Take it apart and figure out where it came from and why. Finally, they accept it and as a result the fear loses its power. It dissipates and pretty soon it isn’t even fear anymore.

This is how the Shambhala warrior becomes fearless.

Summary

Step 1: Get to know yourself by getting bored.
Step 2: Accept your “bad” parts without judging them as bad.
Step 3: Study your fear (and other negative emotions).
Step 4: Accept your fear and move into it instead of away.
Step 5: Become fearless.

Good luck 😉

Author: Eowyn Miral

Eowyn Miral This Side of Fearadise Author

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, then let me know! Press “like” or leave a comment, and of course, it’s always cool to share! 

P.P.S. If you would like to learn more about buddhism as it relates to fearlessness, then I recommend the book, Smile at Fear by Chogyam Trungpa.

“Kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards. Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming.” The Neverending Story

How to Live the Hero’s Journey

HerosJourneyBlogCover

What a terrible thing it is to grow up without a single alien invasion or zombie apocalypse. If you’re like me, then in all the years since you were born, never has your home town been attacked by a ginormous space beetle or fire breathing trampoline. No old men have imparted unto you any words of wisdom that would help you to slay a rampaging Lochness Monster/Vampire hybrid. Nor has destiny itself handed to you the Sacred Sword of Vancouver, so that you, and only you, could take down the hover-boarding wizard of miscellaneous evil doings.

No sith, no borg, no green goblins… Not even a Prince Humperdink. Where are all the simple, in your face villains?

I know. It’s not that you want the people around you to be in danger. Quite the opposite in fact. But if there is no T-rex stomping around town, gleefully gobbling up pedestrians, then what are you supposed to fight? How are you supposed to develop your courage, find meaning in your life, and ultimately save the world?

Shortly before he died, the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, gave an interview where he answered exactly that question. Campbell is loved around the world by millions for his work on deciphering human stories, their commonalities and meaning. His teachings about the hero’s journey are basically required reading for novelists and screenwriters alike, and even Star Wars was based off of his ideas.

According to Campbell, stories are and always have been a way of explaining unexplainable truths to people, giving us a metaphor for how to live our lives. But we must not get “stuck in the metaphor” he says. In real life, the hero’s journey is not about going out and saving the world by “shifting it around and changing the rules.” Instead the journey is simply this: to save ourselves. And “by saving ourselves, we end up saving the world.”

Now what does that mean?

In stories, the hero may literally go out to slay a dragon (or foul tempered bunny rabbit, or acid blooded alien, and so on), but in real life we don’t usually have the luxury of that kind of simplicity. There is no acid blooded alien hunting you and your goldfish (I hope). Instead, Campbell teaches that the acid blooded alien is in you. The “dragon” as he calls it, is your ego.

Ego = enemy (egomy).

But what precisely does he mean by ego? What is this mysterious enemy inside of us that we have to slay in order to save the world? Is it like that time that Lord Voldemort hid inside of Professor Quirrell and you could see his face all gross like on the back of his head?

Kind of but no. Okay not at all. In the simplest terms, the ego is everything that you think you are, but in fact are not. It is what your environment has moulded you to think/believe/desire/etc (all the crap that is covering up your true inner being). It is an incredibly fearsome enemy for most people, nebulous, hard to pin down, and even harder to vanquish, but Campbell believed it to be slayable in this one simple way. He called it “following your bliss.”

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Easy, happy, and well… blissful. Think again. For many people the battle is such a glorious and terrible affair that the ghost of William Wallace himself shows up to cheer them from the sidelines. It is no easy thing to listen to your heart. Not with the loud and insistent ego blathering on between your ears at all hours, tossing rainbow sparkles in your eyes with one hand and punching you in the nose with the other. And once you do finally realize what your heart is saying, find that hint of bliss to guide you, well then things get even worse. Because your bliss ends up not being what you wanted it to be, and now it just won’t shut up and leave you alone.

Seriously, what if your bliss wants you to trade your lawyer suit in for a green and purple striped onesy and red nose that honks? How is your perfectly manicured governor pop going to feel about that? What if your bliss is helping elephants in Africa but your life is here and Africa is scary, and there are scary things there, and no, you just don’t wanna go!

Just like in stories, in real life, the hero’s journey can be a very frightening thing. You must leave the world you know behind (spiritually and sometimes physically) and move into the unknown. And as it always is when things change, there will be trials, there will be fear, there will be doubt, and that is a good thing. That is where the hero in you is born. You come out the other side as the person that you were meant to be. Someone that is truly alive. Someone that has not only followed their bliss, but captured it, that are living it.

So here it all is, broken down into four not-so-simple steps:

Step one: Start listening for your bliss.
Step two: Do what your bliss tells you even if it’s really embarrassing/hard.
Step three: Keep doing what your bliss tells you and don’t stop even when it gets tough.
Step four: Make it through the hard times and joyfully light up the world.

Good luck hero!

Author: Eowyn Miral

Eowyn Miral This Side of Fearadise Author

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, then let me know! Press “like” or leave a comment, and of course, it’s always cool to share! Next week’s article “How to be Fearless. Advice from a Warrior Monk.”

“The presence of a vital person, vitalizes.”
(All quotes by Joseph Campbell)

Cover image by: Lucas Werneck (lucasgomes on Deviant Art)

Lost Towns and Monsters – Bimini, Bahamas

Lost Towns and Monsters Adventures of Miss Miral

I’m sure it didn’t mean anything. Anything at all.

Marc and I motored our sailboat (Alassiel) away from the anchorage that had been our Miami home for the past few days. Our customs gobbledy gook was all figured out. The weather seamed nice enough. Set course for Bimini. Engage!

Two huge work boats were ahead of us, also on their way out the Miami harbour. As it neared the entrance, one of the them suddenly and unexplainably did a u-turn and headed straight back in.

Totally didn’t mean anything. Right?

As we made our way out into the channel, the waves started to look more and more monstrous. The next thing I knew I was clutching the wheel with all my strength, with my legs braced against the side of the cockpit, as one demonic wave after another attempted to drown us in a sea of… well, seawater.

Being a beginner to the whole sailing thing, I hadn’t realized that even though the waves were of manageable size out on the ocean, they had a tendency to push together and become salty towers of doom when approaching a channel.

Yikes.

Inside the boat, things started to crash. We had strapped everything down in preparation for the crossing but not nearly well enough. Dishes magically leaped out of the sink and scattered. Boxes of cereal houdinied out of the cupboards. Not to be outdone, books chased after them.

All mixed in to one glorious mass of junk on Alassiel’s floor.

Not that I was paying the slightest bit of attention at the time. I was too busy having an epic battle with the steering wheel, who did not seem to understand that I wanted to not only head into the waves (and therefore keep our boat from going bottoms up), but to also stay clear of the shallow water areas (and keep the boat from going scrape/bang/smash on the rocky bottom).

In the steering wheel’s defence, those two directions were in complete opposition to each other…

Once, our poor boat leaned so heavily on its side that I thought that was it, we were going to flip over. I started looking around the cockpit for something to grab on to. Nothing looked like it was going to give me a good chance at survival. Inside a resounding crash announced our fridge (that minutes before, had seemed un-toppable) toppling over.

As we motored further away from the harbour at a champion one nautical mile per hour, the sea eventually calmed somewhat.

My shoulders ached. But we had made it! I didn’t know whether I should feel proud for pulling through or just plain sheepish for not being more prepared.

Probably sheepish.

We picked up speed as the conditions improved and arrived in Alice Town, Bimini well before dark. A quick check in with customs and dinner at a local restaurant, sapped the rest of our already severely waning energy.

Time to cuddle up like puppies and not move for a week.

Lost Towns and Monsters Adventures of Miss Miral

But first we needed to find somewhere to dig in. Turned out anchorages were in short supply in the area, especially for a boat with a massive keel like ours. We ended up spending some time anchored off of Cat Cay, an island that we thought looked pretty friendly.

Key word here: thought.

According to our chart there was a town on the island; Louis Town. It sounded like it could be fun to check out so we got in our dinghy and rowed to shore. Fancy, mansiony houses lined the beach, but there wasn’t a soul in sight.

Guess they were all in town…?

We walked along the beach, searching for an access point to the road and found what appeared to be a beautiful but empty courtyard restaurant. We walked through, not thinking much of it and finally saw someone. A man with a big fat frown on his face watched us from beside the closest building.

Not especially tempted to ask the frown for directions, we kept going.

The road was deserted as well. Yet perfectly manicured tennis courts and gardens and homes surrounded us as we walked, searching for the elusive Louis Town. The emptiness was eerie and I was beginning to highly suspect that some sort of apocalyptic event had taken place. Something that had turned all of the inhabitants except one, into flesh-eating zombie squirrels perhaps…

No wonder the man had looked so grumpy.

My well-thought-out theory was soon proven wrong when we saw a golf cart speeding towards us. This slightly-more-good-natured man turned out to be island security. Apparently Cat Cay was a private island and we were trespassing. We tried to explain to him that we were simply looking for Louis Town, which was clearly marked on our map, but he just looked confused. He’d never heard of it.

Hmm, ghost town mystery…

A mystery that I never had the chance to solve. Mr. Security insisted that we board the golf cart and proceeded to escort us back to the beach. One short dinghy ride later and we had left Cat Cay behind us forever.

We had more adventures during our stay around Bimini but this is getting long so I think I will end it here. Afterwards we took our boat back up to Green Cove Springs, Florida and then went back to Canada to work. A month ago we left on our next adventure. Backpacking/biking in Vietnam!

Updates Coming Soon!

Miss Miral

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Hitting Rock Bottom…Literally – On the Intracoastal Waterway, Florida

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Hitting Rock Bottom…Literally – on the Intracoastal Waterway, Florida

Hitting Rock Bottom on the Intracoastal Waterway ICW Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

The months of toil were finally at an end. Alassiel (our boat) was ready. Marc (my boyfriend) was ready. And me? I was waay past ready.

We started the motor, gathered up the docking lines, and gunned it, making our final glorious escape from Green Cove Springs Marina. Hasta la vista baby. Five minutes later…

We had a leak.

No! Horrible flashes of having to turn around and go back filled my mind. But the leak was small-ish (packing gland, for those of you that know what that is) and Marc decided to try to fix it on the way. We weren’t going to let a silly little thing like water coming into the boat stop us.

That would be crazy.

That night we anchored by the Hart Bridge in Jacksonville. It was all lit up and the moon was nearly full and reflecting on the water. The boat bobbed gently and we saw our first dolphin of the trip (okay I missed the dolphin but it was still a magical night).

The next morning we got on to the ICW (intracoastal waterway) which is a series of connected rivers and dredged waterways on the Atlantic coast. We would be following it down the entire length of Florida, till we reached Miami.

The jolt was a shock.

It was only our second day and we were coming in to anchor at Pine Island (basically a river mouth surrounded by wild marsh lands). The Cruising Guide claimed that it was safe to enter the anchorage on the north side.

Turns out the exact opposite was true.

I heard someone say once that there are two kinds of sailors. Those that have hit the bottom, and those that lie about it. Well, I had kind of hoped that I would make it longer than two days before I joined the rest of the sailing community in this, but oh well, what can you do.

We were both flung slightly forward as our keel rammed into the gooey mud bottom. Marc instantly threw the gear into reverse but for long agonizing seconds it looked like we weren’t going to get free.

When we finally did, we were shaken. Ignoring the Cruising Guide, we tried entering again, this time on the south side – as slowly as our boat could manage. It was good!

But there was worse to come. A lot worse.

Hart Bridge Jacksonville Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

Another beautiful peaceful night followed by beautiful (and sometimes peaceful) days. We would take turns steering Alassiel. One of us at the wheel and one sitting behind, arms encompassing the other. Sweet moments punctuated with flashes of old-married-couple bickering (over things like whether or not we should clean the anchor chain).

Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, West Palm. The days and places slid by. I was shocked at the growing number of boats, stranded and rotting in the waterway. Boats that had hit the bottom but never got free. They served as a warning sign to every single passing sailor. The ICW was a boat graveyard.

It was growing late. On the far side of Fort Lauderdale we were ready to stop at a little anchorage recommended by the Cruising Guide. We began to make our way in. The depth beneath our keel was ten feet.

Then it was nothing.

And this was no sandy bottom. It was either a wall of rocks or some inebriated farmer had driven his entire fleet of tractors into the river. The waves picked us up and slammed us down on whatever it was beneath the surface. Repeatedly.

We desperately tried to back off. It felt like the rudder was going to tear away with each impact.

Oh frack.

But miraculously we got free of the underwater tractors. Then like we did at Pine Island, we tried to enter the anchorage from the other side. Again, ten feet to nothing in a split second. Again, we were pounded against the hard something. And again we got free.

Night was falling. We needed to anchor fast but there was no way we were going to try to enter the harbour of death for a third time.

There was only one option. On the other side of the bridge there was supposed to be another tiny harbour, just big enough for one or two boats to anchor.

There were four boats in the harbour.

And then it started to rain. Just to make things more pleasant.

For the next few hours, cold, soaked, and completely exhausted, Marc and I tried to anchor in this little harbour. There just wasn’t room. Every time we thought it might be okay, the now howling wind completely changed direction and threatened to smash us into one of the other boats or the huge metal pylons of the private marina next door. Twice trying to bring up our main anchor it got caught on some debris on the bottom. Yet when we tried to put out our back up secondary anchor it wouldn’t hold to anything.

Lighting streaked the sky and cracked close by. Everything seemed so surreal that I was seriously tempted to grab my video camera and start filming. But then I figured that being strangled by my boyfriend probably wouldn’t help the situation.

Anchoring wasn’t going to work we finally realized. So what now?

The private marina. Could we maybe just sneak inside?

We hadn’t seen anyone there throughout our entire ordeal. But there were security cameras…

Too tired to care any longer, we stealthily motored into one of the slips and tied up. Safe at last. If anyone was watching through the camera, hopefully they were also watching our anchoring clown-show and would either take pity on us or be entertained enough to let us be.

Still, I didn’t sleep well that night, expecting at any moment for some gruff cave-troll of a security guard to come banging on our windows.

At the crack of dawn we were out of there, no cave-trolls in sight. Woo hoo! And without further mishap we made it to Miami.

Miss Miral

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Lost Towns and Monsters – Bimini, Bahamas

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Living in a Boat Yard – in Green Cove Springs, Florida

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Living in a Boat Yard – in Green Cove Springs, Florida

Living in a boat yard Green Cove Springs Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

“It’s a trap!”

These were among the first words that were spoken to Marc and I when we pulled our new sailboat up to the ancient, literally condemned dock at Green Cove Springs Marina.

For the next few days, as we made our sailing travel plans and started work on the boat, the same warnings played on repeat like my favourite iTunes playlist. Song one: “It’s a trap” performed by the guy who crashed his boat into a seawall. Song two: “dear god, get out while you can.” Etc. etc. Repeat, repeat.

Turns out I have more in common with a post than just being kind of long and skinny. The ominous pleas of my fellow sailors fell on ears that were about as deaf as the posts the ground crew used to prop our boat up in the work yard. Mine.

“Just two weeks of prepping,” we said. We would fix up our beautiful sailing tub and be boldly going within the fortnight. To Panama and beyond!

Two months later…

We were still in the boat yard.

Living in a Boat Yard Green Cove Springs Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

One by one we knocked things off our To Do list, but magically it just kept growing. It was like our list was a brood of over-fed tribbles. Or for those of you that are less sci-fi inclined: our list was like the mythological Hydra. You cut off one head and two grow back in its place.

In other words, the list of nightmares.

Even Marc, being a super perfectionist and analytical (emphasis on anal) man, eventually lost his enthusiasm for the seemingly never-ending boat project. Two weeks turned into three, then four, five, a month and half, two months, until finally the only way I could retain some small semblance of sanity was to completely give up on the idea of leaving.

Ever.

Miss Miral found… guilty of dreaming dreams to big. Sentence… Life, to be served in Green Cove Springs Marina. Possibility of parole… doubtful, bordering on impossible.

On the plus side, Green Cove Springs wasn’t exactly a maximum security prison. The only guard was a disinterested alligator that lived in someone’s abandoned half-sunk dinghy.  And even though hard labour was a part of every day life, at least my bunk mate was my wonderful boyfriend and not a 400 lb skinhead named Bubba the Shank.

Eternal gratitude for that one.

The other inmates were the best part about Green Cove. At any given time there were dozens of people from all over the world, living and working on their boats in the yard. Some had been there for years. One man (who looked suspiciously like Santa Clause – enough to make me a believer again) had been living there for two decades! Sadly his wife had drowned there and he never left.

Every Saturday night the sailors grabbed their banjos and harmonicas and whatever else they could find, and gathered on the porch of the office for a good old fashioned jam session/drinking party.  On these occasions I usually went on the hunt for a fellow nerd to drunkenly obsess over Star Trek with.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, Canada was invaded by the allied forces of the U.S.A and Russia. Meaning our Canadian boat was invaded by our neighbours; a cute big-bearded Russian and an American whom I can only describe as the Han Solo of sailing. On this occasion they came bearing a special diplomatic gift.

Moonshine.

Living in a Boat Yard Green Cove Springs Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

But mostly it was work. Marc took care of the engineering and mechanical stuff. Me, I took on the deck work, starting with the bottom job. That is, scraping, sanding and painting the bottom of the boat with a special copper paint. (Perfect for me as I have a thing for mindless repetitive tasks that give me time to daydream about the zombie apocalypse)

In the evening I would go running on the nearby trails, purposely staying out after dark so that I could see the millions of fireflies dance around me.

After our one harrowing sailing experience (see previous post: Sailing to Bermuda – and How I Nearly Died at Sea) we weren’t going to take any chances with the renaming of our boat. We bought a bottle of too-expensive champagne and splashed it over the bow as we read a speech we had found online to appease the gods.

I can only assume Poseidon accepted our offering and on that day our boat was officially named Alassiel (which means Joyful in Elvish).

Another month disappeared mysteriously.

We had had enough. The boat was still far from being perfect. And yes, our Panama dreams were still far far…far away. But we had to go somewhere. Anywhere! Even if just for a few weeks.

So it was decided. We would throw off our shackles and make a break for the open water!

Miss Miral

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Hitting Rock Bottom…Literally – on the Intracoastal Waterway, Florida

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Falling in Love…With a Sailboat – Vancouver Island, Canada

Adventures of Miss Miral Falling in Love with a Sailboat

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Falling in Love… with a Sailboat – Vancouver Island, Canada

Adventures of Miss Miral Falling in Love with a Sailboat

I couldn’t believe it. The words that had just come out of my dad’s mouth, they made no sense. Could it be? Did he just say…

“What’s not to like?”

He did! And he wasn’t talking about an Old-fashioned Apple Pandowdy or a Summer Berry Grunt (both desserts, I swear). No, he was talking about my new boyfriend. The entirely sugarless, crumbleless, fruit and berryless French-Canadian guy that I had picked up on my sailing travels.

“What’s not to like?” I couldn’t have been more amazed (and happy) if the truck we were driving in had abruptly morphed into a sparkly eyed pegasus brandishing the sword of Gryffindor.

Marc and I had met several months before in Florida, both fledgling crew members begging the yachting industry to puke some adventure on us. Which it did, unfortunately it just wasn’t the kind of puke we were hoping for… After a few bad experiences, including an epic battle with Attila the Hun (see previous post), we had had enough.

So I took my prize (aka my wonderful Marc!) and spirited him away to Vancouver Island to do battle with my family instead.

It didn’t turn out to be much of a fight (they probably liked him more than they liked me). My dad even let us stay on his sailboat. A 60 year old, wooden thing with a string of christmas lights on the inside and an insulating layer of otter crap on the outside.

I adored that boat but it is not the object of this particular love story. No. The real object is…

(Insert epic introduction music here)

The Gulf.

Every time we had to leave the comforts of our twinkly christmas boat and navigate the otter’s community toilet (otherwise known as: the dock), we passed it. The prettiest little sailboat we had ever laid our eyes on. A Gulf 32 pilothouse.

Pretty soon I think we could have matched Gollum in the obsession department. Whenever we passed the Gulf we felt compelled to stop, shivering on the often icy dock, just to gawk longingly at it.

We tried to get the owner’s contact info from the marina manager but I think he must have heard Marc mutter “yes, yes, my precious” under his breath because he didn’t seem too keen on giving it to us. Finally we just left a note with our number on the Gulf’s window.

Aside from lusting over the neighbouring boats, we spent our days doing other important things – like cuddling in bed until noon. And watching Battlestar.

Adventures of Miss Miral Falling in Love With a Sailboat

We had access to a jeep, so when we were feeling particularly adventurous, we would take it out 4x4ing on the old logging roads. This was made more exciting by the jeep’s tendency to break down every ten miles or so.

New years eve. The dawn of 2015. Coincidentally, we made the decision that night that would shape the coming year. Our yacht industry dreams were dead with no hope of resuscitation. But our sailing desire was alive and kicking harder than a pissed off ostrich That’s 2000 lbs per square inch! (note to remember: avoid irritated ostriches…)

Anyways, it was decided. We were going to get our own sailboat. And not just any sailboat. No matter where we had to go, we were going to get a Gulf 32.

And we did! Click Below for the Next Post!

Miss Miral

Living in a Boat Yard – In Green Cove Springs, Florida

Living in a boat yard Green Cove Springs Florida Adventures of Miss Miral

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On Board the German Boat – In Antigua

Adventures of Miss Miral German Boat Antigua

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On Board the German Boat – in Antigua

Adventures of Miss Miral German Boat Antigua

While Marc was at sea, doing battle with the reincarnation of Attila the Hun, I was sitting in an outdoor Caribbean bar, waiting for a mysterious German gentleman to show up and buy me a beer.

Okay, it’s not quite what it sounds like. I met Peter (the aforementioned gentleman) on a website where people look for crew and/or volunteers for their boats. Peter had a sailboat. I wanted to crew. We were both in Antigua. A match made in cyber heaven! Right?

I checked the time on my phone for the dozenth time. It was already twenty minutes past our meeting time; twenty long minutes of fending off a young tour driver, that seemed to think I was in need of a real Antiguan experience.

No thanks!

The longer I waited, the more my anxiety began to kick in. I began to hope that the German wouldn’t show up at all. After all, I was sure to become tongue tied and end up spewing some sort of martian-esque gibberish. The German probably wouldn’t enjoy that nearly as much as my two-year-old nephew…

Even if I managed to maintain some level of coherency, there was always the deeper and more serious question. A question that has plagued introverts throughout the ages… What, oh what was I supposed to do with the big hunks of wood attached to my torso. Aka: my hands.

Then it was too late to dwell on it further. The German had arrived.

And he was great. I don’t remember what I did with my hands (that’s probably a good thing), but I am positive that I didn’t spill anything on him. Bonus! And I must have been coherent cause I got the job! A week on his boat, helping with random things, and then sailing around to the other side of the island. And the best thing of all, he agreed to let Marc come aboard too!

Marc arrived on Antigua, having just survived sailing there with the most bad-tempered, crotchety man as his captain. A real bully. Comparing him to Attila the Hun really is only a slight exaggeration.

So as you can imagine, being stuck at sea for weeks on the bully boat was about as savoury as being an officer on the Death Star (at least Darth Vador was semi-polite to his commanders before strangling them to death with the force).

Like me, Marc had been planning on working full time in the yachting industry. After Attila, he was no longer so sure.

Peter’s boat had less in common with the fancy yachts we had been working on over the past few months, than it did with a high end doghouse. It was filthy. It was damp. It smelled. It was old. It was dark.

It was absolutely wonderful!

How great it felt to be free of the glitz and glam. Free of the countless hours spent polishing windows that were already more spotless than Mr. Clean’s shiny head. Instead, I was down on my stomach on the dirty floor, scooping sludge out of the water tank with an old margarine container.

Ah, bliss.

We stayed on the boat with Peter. The nights were so hot and humid that it was difficult to sleep. In the mornings the three of us had breakfast together, which included Peter’s specialty: rock hard slabs of bread that he claimed to have preserved by drying in the sun. However, I remain convinced that the bread was older than the sun, so he must have been lying… All in all though, not bad. Especially not if you followed Peter’s example of adding a touch of scotch to your morning coffee.

When the boat was ready, we had her put in the water. Yes! She floated! We started out on our journey around the island. It was beautiful! We stopped in a little cove and Marc and I swam to shore and walked along the beach.

That night, after Peter had gone to bed, we stood outside on the deck and looked out over the oil-black water. There under the stars, Marc told me that he loved me for the first time. We decided then, once and for all, that we were through with yachting. We both wanted to sail, but we wanted to do it more like Peter. And we wanted to do it together.

The next day, we navigated our way through walls of coral reefs. They were difficult to see under the water and very dangerous. Peter was as relaxed about it as he was about the general cleanliness of his boat. Imagine the chilled out Surfing Turtle from Finding Nimo. Except not a surfer… or a turtle… and with a strong gruff German accent instead of Australian… On second thought, erase the whole image. He’s nothing like the Surfing Turtle.

Still, the only time I ever saw him even mildly ruffled was when we almost ran into a particularly difficult-to-see underwater reef. Then he made the call to “Turn! Now! Now! NOW!”

When we reached our destination and parted ways, I confess I was sad to say goodbye to that lovely un-turtle-like man.

But new adventures awaited. Marc and I were going to Canada!

Miss Miral

Check out the continuation by clicking the link directly below!

Falling in Love…with a Sailboat – Vancouver Island, Canada

Adventures of Miss Miral Falling in Love with a Sailboat

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Operation: Surprise the Pants Off – in Antigua

Operation Surprise the Pants Off Adventures of Miss Miral

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Operation: Surprise the Pants Off – In Antigua

Operation Surprise the Pants Off Adventures of Miss Miral

Rum. Lots and lots of rum. Supplied by Libby, a female Antiguan Jack Sparrow and the owner of the illustrious Pineapple House. Every time a new person came to stay at the house, Libby magically materialized a massive bottle of the finest local vintage (aka the kind of booze that only a pirate could love), and proceeded to get the new person drunk enough to sing “oh ho ho and a bottle of rum.”

I was no exception.

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