Finally it was our turn. At some point in every cruising blog we’ve followed there comes a time for the “Bon Voyage Party” and over the years we’ve shared in the joyous anticipation preceding the trip of a lifetime and also the sadness that comes from leaving the ones you love.

Tate asked me about 6 months ago if we should do some kind of big party for our departure or have little parties over the holidays. We explored options until Skipper Glenn who we raced with on Quest offered to use his membership to Southern Yacht Club to rent us a room. Then it was a done deal. The crème de la crème was that we could bring Sundowner right up to the club to give party goers a chance to see her, many for the first and possibly only time.

So on Friday December 12th we were met by Tate’s Dad, Mr. Logan and his Uncle Sam and Aunt Cindy. They were joining us as crew as we moved the boat 3 miles from our marina to the tent next to the yacht club.
Sam, Cindy, Logan and Tate on Sundowner

What was scheduled to be sunny day with a little wind was actually overcast and cold with no wind. Unfortunately our attempts to sail, well, they failed. I really wanted to show our new crew how nice it was to move through the water with no engine running but they’ll just have to take my word for it.
Sam, Cindy, Logan and Tate on the way to the yacht club

Just about 2 hours of motoring put us in front of a familiar sight.
Southern Yacht Club

We docked pretty painlessly and were met by Tate’s other two aunt’s, Nettie and Charlotte. They along with Sam and Cindy had driven all the way from Iota, Louisiana, roughly 3 hours from New Orleans.
Sundowner under the tent
Iota Crew

Over the past few months I’ve been taking more pictures with friends and family. It has hit me hard that we are really leaving and may not see these folks again for 5 years. There are lots of pictures in this post.

Southern Yacht Club is one of (if not the) oldest yacht club in the country. The building is nice and new though following the flood AND fire during hurricane Katrina. It has some of the best views of Lake Pontchartrain anywhere in the City.
Southern Yacht Club plaque

Mr. Higgins (Glenn)
Sign at the party

The inside was richly adorned with nautical furnishings and decorated for Christmas complete with Christmas music. It had a warm welcoming feel as if you could spent all day there in your sweat pants drinking wine and singing carols. The best thing though were the showers. Gloriously hot water and clean towels with a mirrored wall room, it was awesome.
A wheel at Southern Yacht Club
Christmas Tree at Southern

I would say the #1 question we get asked lately is where are you planning to sail or what is your route. So taking my mom’s suggestion to give people a visual I made a large map showing our planned route around the world. For people who don’t often look at the world as a whole (like me pre 5 years ago) it’s not easy to really conceive of what this trip will look like. I imagine to some people it’s like saying we are going to sail off into a giant unmapped and uncharted ocean, of which we may never return. The map helps put things in perspective I think. It was a big hit and many people are requesting one so they can track us at home once we leave.
Circumnavigation map

This is my friend Heather and I pointing at Mexico, hoping one day to meet up there and drink our favorite drinks together (margaritas)
Heather and Dani pointing at mexico

I also printed the illustration a nice reader made for us and one of Sundowner under sail.
Robin and Dani

This is my Dad, my step mom Kate, my sister Frances and her husband Jason. Frances and Jason are having their 10 year wedding anniversary in April next year and are planning to spend it at a Dominican Republic resort. Funny…that’s about the same time we should be there. (psst, go to the south side guys).
Dani's family

Glenn is not only a Skipper who life’s passion is sailing but he’s also in a band! He and another crew mate Jim brought their band out and played for an hour or so songs they had prepared. That was so nice of them. To my GREAT SURPRISE they played and sang a song MY DAD WROTE for Tate and I! He named it “Sail Slow” and it’s set to the tune of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. The song is really funny and also heartfelt so it deserves its own post. I’m hoping on Christmas Eve we can all sing and record it and if it’s somewhat acceptable I’ll post it on the blog.
Band at the party

My stepfather Paul was able to make it back from offshore (working) in time to join my mom at the party.
Robin and Paul

My longtime friends Jared and Jason came out too, dressed to the 9’s as always. LOVE these guys.
Jason, Jared and Dani

Tate’s whole family made it out including his two sisters, Paige and Carley and their husbands Grant and Adam. I’m really going to miss this group (not pictured is a little 20 month old blonde haired nephew named Gabriel).
Tate's family

Perhaps the best part of the party was getting to show off Sundowner. We got Sundowner scrubbed, stowed and ready for guests that Tate would periodically take down to tour the inside and deck. If you aren’t into sailing and don’t know sailboats it’s really hard I think to conceptualize what living on a boat is like. We got so many compliments and as the party upstairs shut down the party downstairs ramped up. Naturally our friends stayed out the latest with us and we drank and laughed all around. Many of these people we won’t see again before we leave in just two weeks.
Sundowners friends

This is my dear friend Michele who I consider my best girl friend aside from my sister, mom and Kate. Over the past 2 years I have worked with Michele and she has lost over 60 pounds through diet and exercise which has completely CHANGED HER LIFE (at age 49). She rocks and her journey and tireless ambition to get healthy has inspired me in my own life. This journey also deserves its own post, which will come after we leave and I have more time.
Michele and Dani

I’m going to miss this smiling face, as Jared would say, Oh Darlin’.
Jared and Dani

Pretty soon everyone was hungry so we carefully made our way to a GREAT burger joint “The Harbor” (fitting right?). I love this picture as it has our close friends including Tate’s best friend Alan and his wife Amanda along with my sister and BIL joining us on a rare night away from my two nephews, Ethan 5 and Evan 3.
Eating burgers at the harbor

Then almost like the end of a wedding reception the party was over, and we were beat. I was so happy to be able to see everyone and know how much they care about us. This was evident in two ways. One in a positive way full of congratulations and encouragement, the other is a negative way filled with sadness that we are leaving their lives. Some people are happy we are leaving while at the same time sad, understandably so.

While I don’t want the party to be remembered in a negative light I think it’s important I share the impact it had on me. Instead of being filled with happiness when I awoke the next day I was filled with an overarching sadness, homesickness if you will. Even though we have been talking and planning this trip for over 5 years now, the departure is ACTUALLY TWO WEEKS AWAY. I am starting to realize that some people I see today I will not see again, for a possible 5 years, maybe less but also maybe more. This finality is hard to deal with.

I want this trip. I want to go travel. I want to be enriched and grow as a person in the way my heart and soul tell me I need to. I want to deepen my relationship with my husband and share these things together. This kind of trip is what we were made for and we knew it soon after we met. This trip ignites a fire deep inside my being and I know great things are waiting for me. But all of this means we have to leave our family and dear friends, people we have been with for over 30 years now. This is not an easy thing to do.

We’ll miss our nephews growing up, birthdays, holidays, dinners, parties, life events and who knows what else. I suppose on one hand we have been spoiled to live so close to everyone we know for as long as we have. I’ve met many people whose families live half way around the world or country or in some cases, not at all. They have moved for different reasons but all of them can share in my homesickness.

For a moment I thought of how things would be different if we didn’t leave. If we tried to relieve the pain by staying and changing our plans. But this also brings sadness. A sadness born by not following our dreams we’ve worked so hard for and a sadness for not following our hearts. In short it is a rock in a hard place or as they’ve sang many times “Nobody said it would be easy”. But isn’t that what life is all about? Pain is part of life and I believe that the happy times are so much more meaningful when we have dealt with and worked through the pain life sometimes brings.

I suppose I want those closest to us to know that we understand why you are sad and that you have the right to be. Also know though that this is the biggest dream we’ve ever had and there really was no other way for us. We need to adventure and explore the world and one day we’ll come home and share wild stories of our time and be more complete within ourselves. I can’t wait to share our experiences through the blog, email and postcards. We are bringing a little piece of each of you with us. Knowing you care about us and what we are doing makes us happy and very lucky people. I honestly wonder if the majority of the negative emotions during the trip will be because we can’t share the awesome experiences with others. I wish I had a huge cruise ship that could fit everyone. Instead I have this blog, and the mail.

Thankfully the next day was beautiful. We had to leave Southern at 9am to make way for the boat light parade so we set out into the lake. The water was so calm and wind so light I just wanted to stay out there forever. I timidly asked Tate if he minded just motoring to the middle of the lake and then turning it all off. I really needed to just sit in the quiet and think (while doing nothing). I was in a rush to go nowhere fast.
Such calm waters

We got ambitious and put the mainsail up which set us gliding at 1 knot for the next 5 hours or so. We took turns on the tiller which you could operate with one finger.
Tate preparing the mainsail
The mainsail underway
Dani sailing and helming the tiller

I napped a bit and also just sat in the cockpit staring at the water. This was the absolute most peaceful I had been in years. So quiet with only the sounds of the birds in the background doing whatever it is birds do. I could have stayed out there for weeks, just like that. I hope we get a lot of days of lazy sailing like this.
Tate relaxing during the sail

We were actually able to sail (no motor) all the way back to the marina averaging a knot. Around 3:30 we turned the motor on and headed for the slip where I proceeded to dock the boat for the first time EVER. It was perfect conditions to try and I succeeded. SLOW IS PRO. That’s Tate’s motto and it works.
Flag near the calm water

Now our days are spent getting the last bit of supplies and preparing for Christmas with everyone. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be the last time we see the majority of our family. My last day of work is January 2nd and we will head out as soon after that as we can. (I’m posting this again from my phone so I apologize for any funny business)

How do you other seasoned cruisers deal with the sadness of leaving loved ones? I’d love to hear about it.