Continuing the Voyaging with Velella series by ASA writer-at-large Meghan Harvey. Meghan and her husband Prescott have been cruising aboard their boat Velella for the past 8 months, and are now taking a honeymoon sail in the San Juan Islands.
Sitting here on Velella this morning in the fog, drinking my coffee “blonde and bitter” like usual, and checking the tides to determine our best time of departure, it’s hard to believe that just last weekend we were tying the knot. I mean, THE king of all knots.
For weeks leading up to our wedding day, the weather was PERFECT. The intense yellow and pale pink wildflowers faded in May but were replaced by carpets of purple lupines, starlike bachelor’s buttons, and feathery queen anne’s lace as our wedding day drew near. We kept congratulating ourselves for choosing the most idyllic time of year in the Columbia Gorge–the grass was still bright green, rippled by the warm June wind, and the tree buds burst open into shady canopies just in time–it was a fairytale setting. Still, forced by habit, I checked NOAA’s weather forecasts and our own SSB GRIB files daily, just to make sure we had a good weather window for wedding day.
Of course, on the morning of June 18th, I woke up to heavy-hanging clouds and rain pelting the huge windows of the house we had rented for the wedding party to share. My wonderful bridesmaids flitted about and distracted me with hot coffee in bed, and everyone seemed a bit nervous about whether I would become bridezilla on account of the weather. We piled into cars and headed out to get manicures, chatting over the sound of squeaky wiper blades.
As we came out of the manicure salon in a downpour, I thought, I met this boy in the rain, fell in love with him in the rain, sailed with him unprotected from the driving rain!–this is romantic too. Plus, life on a sailboat has really driven home that weather is truly and completely outside of my control, so there’s no use worrying about it. So, I didn’t. Instead, I took a jacuzzi bath with a mimosa.
Anyway, as you can see by the pictures, the sun won out, wiped away any trace of dampness, and crowned the afternoon with the most glorious light. Ceremony time crept closer and the guests started to arrive. The rest went by so fast, I felt like I was barely there. But as we get underway on Velella again today, certain words from our ceremony still ring in my mind:
“Up until now, your commitment to one another has been incredibly full of adventure. You were both free to step off at any moment, but you didn’t. Now, in preparing for your next adventure, you agree that this outstanding partnership will outlast all adventures. This journey is for life.”
It was a long time ago that we left this very slip in Seattle, headed out on an adventure that would last almost three years. That morning I was up at 4:30am, my hands shook when I untied the cleats, my heartbeat was loud in my chest as we backed out of the slip and the bow rose past the breakwater. Everything about departing on our first major voyage was terrifying and unknown. But this time, it couldn’t feel more different. We have thousands of miles beneath our steady keel. This boat is our comfortable home. My first mate is now my mate for life.
I couldn’t think of a better way for us to spend our first weeks of marriage than at sea together again, retracing our very first steps of our first adventure, while beginning another one. It’s the same, but very different.