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Presenting Tell Star! Today was supposed to be the big day that we finally set sail from Israel and started our voyage. But since I'm posting this from the comfort of the salon, we haven't left yet. As we've learned over the past few weeks, plans can change--and change drastically--without any notice, for better or for worse. Though we had intended on leaving today for Malta, we pushed our departure out by a day as there was an important package on its way to Israel. The package included hard copies of our long-awaited paperwork; it would be silly to leave when they're almost here. So, we decided to wait. We've now received the package and papers and will set sail in about 12 hours, Friday morning in Israel.

We haven't been waiting idle though. There are things to be done before we set sail--getting the boat sail ready, is what I've been told it's called. We need to check out of the country, the boat needs to have its new name, Tell Star, and ID numbers put on, we have a bag full of laundry that needs to be done, jerry cans to fill, a rental car to return and a last meal of shawarma and falafel. (Can you tell that I added that last item to the list?) There's a lot more entailed in becoming sail ready but a lot of those tasks are ones that I haven't been able to take on/need to learn.

I'm learning a lot about sailing as we go along and I'm sure I'll be learning much more once we actually set sail. First rule of sailing: don't fall off the boat! Once you're in the water, your chances of survival are really low. (And people can't really help do much for you if they're in the boat and you're in the water.) Another important rule: a clean boat is a safe boat. That means that everything needs to be put away, locking buttons for the drawers should be engaged, nothing on the floor (in case water comes up) but stuff on the bed is ok. Once we start sailing, we need to watch our water consumption and our electricity use. Aka, I need to take a shower before we leave tomorrow morning and charge all of my electronics tonight.

Pushing our departure out by a day isn't the only change we experienced. Our group of 4 has dwindled down to 3 as Ilya, the first mate who had been working on this boat for 6 months, is no longer coming with us. The delay has put our timeline into direct conflict with a boat that he'll be captaining in Poland. We're bummed because he knows a lot about the boat and he's been a big help so far, but things happen. We're really glad that we got to meet him and spend some time with him. The seas are smaller than you think--it's inevitable that we'll cross paths soon, either intentionally or unintentionally. (While meeting new people is one of the best parts about traveling, bidding your new friends farewell is not.)

Israeli generic versions of Dramamine and Benadryl

Along with getting sail ready, I've been doing more thinking about this trip and with that thought, I've become more paranoid about getting seasick over the past day and a half. I guess I've never really given it too much thought before but after hearing horror stories and seeing some concern in the normally calm, cool and collected Captain Chad's eyes, I decided to pick up some Dramamine. As much as I prefer to not medicate myself, I'm not against it when the situation calls for it. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, right?

Speaking of paranoia, every time I've messaged my brother, he's reminded me to always wear a life jacket when we're sailing. Oh dear brother, you sweet, funny guy. You don't rely on safety devices when you're sailing, instead you practice safe sailing. The first rule of sailing: don't fall off the boat! A good way to follow that is a rule Chad and Bret enforced on Broken Compass; always keep one hand for yourself (say to hold a bag, your snorkel or a drink) and one hand for the boat. (My Intel folks will appreciate that one, it's just like the railing rule for when we go up and down the stairs.) But my brother's heart is in the right place, as is everyone else's who has asked about safety procedures on the boat and what precautions we would be taking. You'll be happy to read this next bit then.

Meet my Spot. Follow along here: http://bit.ly/1mH4JjQ

On the advice of a friend who went sailing for a year, I purchased a Spot device. A Spot is a satellite device that allows you to send messages when you're out of cell range. With my Spot, I'll be able to check in while we are at sea to let people know that we are ok. You can check in once every 24 hours and it sends a message through a GPS signal to 10 email address/phone numbers (which we've maxed out between the Van Roden/Tell family and my family). All I do is hit the "OK" button and it sends them a preset message saying, "Hi! Just checking in to let you know that we're ok." I've also set up a public shared page that anyone with the link can visit to see our progress/check ins for the last 7 days. If you're interested in tracking our journey, visit this link. Along with check in messages, there is an SOS button that connects directly to the GEO International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center who will then organize a search and rescue effort. There is also a "help" button that we can use for non-life threatening critical emergencies that sends a message to our chosen emergency contact(s) to send help to our GPS coordinates. (There are a few other features available on the Spot that aren't relevant for us, but you can look them up here.) It cost about $250 for the device and a one year subscription but it's well worth the price in exchange for the peace of mind it brings. Besides this trip, I think the Spot will come into use for hikes or camping trips that you might not have cell service and would need help or need to let people know you're ok, especially when you're solo.  

Two months ago, I never would have guessed that I would be taking a leap of faith to travel, let alone taking a flight half-way around the world to Israel just to sail back to North America. 3 weeks ago, I never would have guessed that my one night in Israel would turn into 3 weeks in Israel. And two days ago, I wouldn't have guessed that I would still be on land today. It goes to show you that you never know what's going to happen a day from now, a week from now, a month from now or a year from now. There are so many cliches out there about seizing the day and making every moment count--and as corny and overly sentimental as they are, there's some truth to it. As I was getting ready to go on this trip, I was telling people, "You know, I could die on this trip." And it's true. I could. People die sailing. But people also die crossing the street. They die in their sleep. And they die unexpectedly. I'm not trying to be morbid here, I'm just being realistic. I'm not telling you to quit your job and deplete your life savings to go on a whirlwind adventure, unless that's what you want to do. What I'm saying is that you never know what's going to happen in the future, but it's also not worth overthinking and killing the present or getting worried about and missing out on what's happening here and now. Don't wait for the perfect moment to make things happen but don't go living like every moment is your last either--that just sounds exhausting, and expensive. Make it a point to embrace the present. If you're willing to share your thoughts, do it. Let people know that you appreciate them. Don't let your fear of failure or rejection keep you from trying something. Don't let life happen to you, make things happen for yourself, whatever that may mean to you. Live the kind of life that takes the fear out of death. That's what I'm trying to do by getting a start on my 'somedays'.

I'll catch you guys in Malta.

Greetings from Greece

Cause for Celebration