Last summer, I tied the knot with a Captain, and I don’t mean a clove hitch. We wed in one of his favorite places: on the bow of his Nordhavn 40, while docked in the urban marina of my hometown, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Lake Superior. Needless to say, I married into a lifestyle— of which I was baptized by the cold spray of the largest freshwater lake in the world, as we cruised from early spring to late autumn while living aboard our motor vessel. Though it sounds romantic, in reality, residing on a boat full-time is more like camping than a stay at a luxury resort. Yachting requires a certain degree of roughing it. Over the course of our adventure, I learned making the most of full-time boat residency, like most things, takes practice. Here’s a handful of tips to ease your transition from land-dweller to sea creature, so you can reap the most out of live aboard life.
Cruising life is rife with contradictions. One night, you’re the lone boat anchored in a bay, only the moon to keep you company. The next, you’re sandwiched between vessels in a marina like sardines on buttered rye bread, able to peer into your neighbor’s galley from your cockpit. While this latter setting could serve as the premise for a Rear Window reboot—called Stern Porthole, in which a spry deckhand inadvertently witnesses the murder of a yacht-owner millionaire— to an introvert this situation is already sufficiently terrifying. No Hitchcockian homicide necessary.
Nope. Not a trip update. Though, I am sharing a piece of writing I created whilst on this seemingly never-ending boat trip for the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop’s Flash Fiction Contest. It placed second! As a writer, in a world where rejection is the norm, that is worth celebrating!
Where did the idea come from? Back when I was articling (lawyer internship) at a Vancouver law firm, I thought how silly it was I sat at a desk for 12 hours a day, hurting my body which really wasn’t needed for the job other than to act as a vessel for my mind. How cool would it be if I could put my body on a treadmill all day while my brain worked elsewhere? I drew on that old thought as well as inspiration from the films Us and Her, the podcast Ellie and The Wave, and Ray Kurzwiel’s The Singularity is Near, to put together this piece. Thanks for reading!
When I learn my body escaped, I can’t react. At least, not like I would have before. I have no nails to chew, no shoulders to tense, no cortisol to signal fight, flight to my brain. That’s Disembodiment’s whole selling point, after all. Lack of physicality increases productivity! Without a bladder, there’s no need for bathroom breaks. Without a stomach, no need for lunchtime nourishment. Coffee even becomes irrelevant. Coffee! It’s surprising how alert your mind functions when not captive to a demanding body crying, “Feed me! Walk me! Let’s play! Squirrel!” Kidding on that last one, but really, without the benefit of higher consciousness, humans are more or less like dogs. I’m not saying kill your dog. Just sometimes, when you need to get stuff done, the dog’s best left with a sitter. That’s all.
Luckily, Disembodiment Tech set up shop (in my neighbourhood of all places!) in a clinic on Fourth above a weed dispensary. Like weed, I thought I’d give it a try once, just once, see what all the buzz was about—though I sorta, kinda got hooked. You can’t blame me. Disembodiment was a game changer! At first, it was just about distraction-free productivity. You know how your brain creates dopamine whenever you get a Like, essentially addicting itself to social media? Not a problem when you don’t have organs! I finished a week’s worth of work in eight hours. Then, two weeks’ worth in a half day. Soon, it evolved into something else entirely. It’s not just that I’d meet up with other Disembodied in the Cloud, it’s that We’d become One.
Click. A chord painlessly plugs into my cervical spine. OK, it hurts a little, but not more than a bee sting. My consciousness releases into the Cloud, while my body—set to Zombie Mode—dumbly walks the day away on a treadmill like a hamster in a wheel. Good for the heart they say. Not to mention the calves.
Except today, when my session expires, I’m not returned to my body.
“The bodies escaped.” A clinician appears on a billboard beside the Information Super Highway. Her pores look like tar pits, nose too close to her webcam. I zoom out. Better. She’s panicked, sweat beads dripping from her forehead. “Details are scant, though we’re told it was a large-scale event. All over the globe, bodies walked out. Just like that.”
Enslaved to my body, I would have angered. Asked to speak to a manager. Demanded a refund! WROTE A SCATHING ONLINE REVIEW! Not my fault. Damn adrenal glands. I was under the influence of cortisol and adrenaline, mmmkay?
In the Cloud, it’s different. Not beholden to bodies, We Free.
We fly into the universe. On our way, We see headlines providing clues to Our bodies’ fates. Mass Migration to Coast! Bodies Taking Over Beaches Worldwide! And, Our personal favourite, Should Bodies Be Granted Human Rights?
With no pulse to keep rhythm, We chant: We Free, We Free, We Free.
It’s late August and we find ourselves in Lake Huron’s North Channel. When we ran into some “Loopers” (i.e., cruisers on a route that circles down the rivers of heartland America from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico, then up the East Coast and back to the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal), I asked them what part of the Great Loop they were most looking forward to. They said the North Channel. Everyone says the North Channel. The North Channel is famous.
Since July 2nd, we’ve been underway! Here’s a quick update on our progress so far. Hopefully I remember all our stops!
“You have twins?” My husband, Kory, leans over our stern, shooting the shit with a fellow boater on the dock.
The man nods.
I light up. “Really? What age?”
“No, honey,” Kory corrects with a laugh, “Twin engines.”
Reposting a humor essay in celebration of July 1st, Canada Day!
I’m Canadian, lived here my whole life, but I can’t remember the words to our national anthem. The lyrics aren’t forgotten, per se, just temporarily misplaced. I can mangle my way through the anthem at a hockey game, memory cued by the collective consciousness, confidence aided by Molson Canadian. But if unaccompanied, I’m lost. I take a shortcut at the prelude— “O Canada/ Our home and native land/ True patriot love/ in all Our Son’s command”— a left at the gas station near the scarecrow that resembles Don Cherry, to arrive circuitously at the conclusion, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” I’m missing the middle. I know there’s something about glowing hearts, our free land (ironic given only billionaires can own in Vancouver or Toronto), and maybe a part about Celine Dion, but I can’t string the words together without taking creative license.
“Get me off of this island!” said many desperate characters. Every character on LOST. The rich couple on Gilligan’s Island. The volleyball on Castaway. And me.
We’re on Week Three of Drummond Island. It’s a neat place, sure. There’s plenty of campsites and RV parks. There’s a Marina or two. There’s a few restaurants, an IGA, and an ice cream store. There is, however, not much else. Oh, and the shower water smells like Sulphur, i.e., rotten eggs, which kind of defeats the purpose of washing oneself.
Camping isn’t all that bad. It’s an excuse, after all, to indulge in two of my favourite pastimes: reading for hours on end, and, not brushing my hair. Combing, blow-drying, and styling aren’t high on my priority list. Not now, not ever. In elementary school, my best friend, Leah, casually mentioned, as we preened in the bathroom mirrors of Balsam Street School, “Tamara and I made a list of the prettiest girls in our class. You could be right up there, in the top five, at least. If you combed your hair.” Her intervention didn’t succeed.
Going Nomad: The Good, Bad & Ugly
Two weeks into our nomadic life— our house in Calgary listed for sale; our camper packed with our cat, dog, and almost everything we own; our mission: to retrieve our boat, a Nordhavn 40, from winter storage and cruise the world— and it’s already been a roller coaster ride.