Caption: Me and mom offshore en route to Newport on a Corbin 39 delivery in 2010.
Havana cocktails in Sweden! Thanks for the rum Mia! (For the unintiated, a Havana cocktail is, according to my best friends Nate Bauer & Ryan Briggs, one part Mount Gay rum and two parts pineapple juice). Admittedly they’re not quite the same without ice, but then again it’s not 100º here either. So room temperature – a nice 75º or so – it just fine.
We’re moored against some steep granite rocks outside Kapellskär, the last stop in the Stockholm archipelago before Åland. Kapellskär is where the big ferries leave from, and the main channel out into the Baltic proper is just about visible from our little hideout. It’s 35 or 40 nautical miles to Mariehamn, so up and out early tomorrow.
Today has been a fine day indeed, and one of my favorites on this trip thus far in fact. I dreamt last night that I spoke to my mom (she died of brain cancer in April 2012). And I recognized at the time that I was indeed dreaming, which made it all the more special, because it felt really real . I took advantage of the dream at the time too, and it honestly felt like I was actually speaking to her, my dream-state the medium through which we were able to do such a thing. I don’t recall what we spoke about. Who’s to say it wasn’t real?
I woke up kind of groggy and grumpy though anyway (though I didn’t recall the dream until later, which changed things – hang on, I’ll get there). Mia and I had planned to go running, but I just wanted to sleep. I’ve been struggling with sleep and feeling tired now for several years. Probably three days out of five I’ve woken up not feeling myself, feeling drained and out of life. I finally decided about two weeks ago that it’s the caffeine that’s killing me. I don’t drink too much – two cups before breakfast, maybe two more throughout the day (and they’re small, European-like) – but my little research project into it revealed that indeed some people cannot fall into deep, restful sleep when exposed to even a little bit of caffeine (which is interesting, because I was able to fall asleep pretty quick – no insomnia here – but I wasn’t feeling rested when I woke up, no matter how long I snoozed). So I went cold turkey.
The problem is I love coffee. I was fully addicted to caffeine, I’m sure – and showed all the signs of withdrawal in the 3-4 days after quitting – but I was perhaps even more addicted to the ritual of coffee. The morning routine, the brewing coffee in the old-school percolator on the boat, buying it at the supermarket.
In looking into decaf, I discovered – as per usual – that the USA and Europe have different ideas as to what is considered ‘decaf’. Legally, in the USA, for coffee to be declared ‘decaf’ – and this is an important distinction from ‘caffeine free’, which it’s not – it must be only 97.5% decaffeinated. In Europe, however, the standard is 99.9%.
So I discovered Gevalia ‘koffeinfrit’ coffee, and have been drinking it for the last 2 weeks, to great success. I’m dreaming more – one side effect of caffein is not being able to fall into REM sleep, which produces dreams – and waking more refreshed and rested. Life is exciting again, and I suddenly feel full of it in a way I haven’t in a long time.
But weirdly this morning I felt off. We went running anyway – it was more my brain that felt weird than my body feeling actually tired – and after 5k or so I felt myself again. Around the 6k mark I recalled the dream about my mom. I explained it to Mia – she agreed with me that science will never adequately explain such things, and it does not matter anyway – and from that point on my mood shifted noticeably. My mom was the most positive person I know, and in the instant I recalled her dream, it dawned on me that happiness is a choice, something she always said. I chose it then and there.
We ended up running 15k, almost 10 miles, running a lap around the small island of Möja. It included a 5k jaunt through the forest on a hiking trail which required constant focus. Each step was up and over roots and rocks and around boggy areas and under low branches. The pace slowed, but it felt faster. Each step was mindful – a minute or ten could have passed and you wouldn’t have felt the difference.
We set sail around noon after a stop at the tiny Coop grocery, and for a glass or milk and some bread at the little bakery. There was some nasty white particles in the water in Kyrkviken, where the boat was moored, so we ‘showered’ once out into the sound while the boat drifted in 160′ of water.
It was downwind from there in mostly open water. We set full sail on a broad reach. The mizzen staysail went up as a smaller boat came charging up behind us under spinnaker. Once round the lighthouse – he’d passed us by then – I set the Parasailor again, the first true test of the sail as it was blowing a good 15 knots. The spinnaker boat has passed us like we were standing still, but with the big Parasailor we were able to keep pace and slowly close the gap.
I discovered that dead-downwind, the Parasailor does best on it’s own. It was unstable with the mainsail blanketing it on occasion, and Mia saved it a few times from wrapping around the headstay. With all sails furled though it flew. The wind dead-aft, we made 6-7 knots easy-as, the helm light as a feather with the sail set on the pole. I like it.
And then we anchored. The low sun is warm on my back and my belly is full of red meat, a real treat without a fridge (we stopped up at the Coop this morning, but it’s only good for the day). Tomorrow is Åland.
Thanks for the day, Mom.