Ocean Motion

October 1, 2013
The girls on a mooring we found just beneath Cape Scott, BC. Note our as-of-yet seldom-used Code Zero on its foil-less furler ahead of our furled jib. It’s been fantastic the times we’ve flown it. Michael Robertson

Just a couple mornings ago we left Port Angeles, WA and headed northwest through the Salish Sea. At dinner time, approaching Cape Flattery, our bow began to rise and fall in the large, gentle ocean swells that found their way into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

On one hand it’s simple, really nothing more than a rise and a fall, elevator-like. But on the other hand, it’s something else, nothing like an elevator. It’s a feeling of big.

Close to shore and bridled to an anchor or bound in a slip by dock lines, our restrained boat seems vulnerable. There are shore-based hazards we anxiously shield her from, we deploy fenders to protect her fragile gelcoat.

Hot Springs Cove
Climbing down to the warm natural pools of Hot Springs Cove, just north of Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Michael Robertson

But when we remove the bridle or slip the lines to head offshore, our boat seems transformed, capable in this environment, a good match for the sea. She isn’t simply rising and falling, she’s alive, synced to the pulse of a body of water larger than I can really comprehend. She tests and teases the ocean, engaging the rhythmic, energy-filled swells. Together they’re playmates that toy with tremendous forces.

Urged by momentum, our bow pushes deep and forward, sending a heavy sheet of water arcing up and outward to crash on the surface. Then the ocean pushes back, halting the plunge and lifting us out of the sea until we’re hanging, poised for another pounce just further ahead.

There is sureness in this motion, a give and take of displacement, bound by absolute physical laws. And it’s a dance, a rhythmic groove that feels right when it is.


Heading the opposite direction around Cape Flattery last year, we left the ocean swell behind, to instead navigate the straits and passes and narrows and inlets and channels of the Inside Passage. We were impressed by all we experienced, but we missed the allure of the ocean swell. We forgot that for us, the familiar rise and fall is the feeling of a journey beginning and the promise of a destination to come. It’s a fluid feeling of possibility and frontier. It’s something we can now look forward to, all the way back to Mexico.

Calvert Island beach
The girls played for hours on this Calvert Island beach. Michael Robertson

In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at


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