First Mate Musings – 4 Years In

Four years ago today, we departed San Diego with our buddy boat, She’s No Lady, at our side. FOUR years ago! Some of you may recall when I wrote in my first musings post, and even the one after we’d been out for 18 months, everything wasn’t coming up roses. All that angst and anxiety, the pain of poor communication between us and me wanting to jump ship, the feeling of emptiness due to being isolated – partly from the lack of connectivity – all of that put the odds fully against this endeavor being a successful one. Remember, my brother, Jerry, had money on me not lasting a year? Well, we seem to have made it over the one-year, two-year, and even the three-year humps. Certainly we still experience not-so-perfect days, but moods and morale have definitely equalized over time – until the COVID (more on that below). There was a shift in me – and my struggles with menopause were waning – that I think allowed both of us (me, in particular) to be more grounded and content in where we are at any given moment. I used to obsess about being in constant contact with my homies back home; if we were out of cell range, I waited impatiently for the “ping” of the Iridium, notifying us that a message had come in. When it didn’t ping for hours on end, I fell into a funk (and blamed Randy). And when we were in cell range, I was always hoping for text messages or emails from someone – anyone. When they didn’t come, I felt sad and alone, like I’d been forgotten, like I wasn’t loved. And I really don’t like feeling unloved. Pitiful, huh? Yes, I know.

Then it occurred to me that, oh yeah, everybody back home has their own lives to live – lives revolving around families, kids, work, boyfriends, girlfriends, cats, dogs, yoga, hiking, biking, traveling (sometimes to see us – yay!), and because of all this hubbub, time slips by. Texts don’t get sent, phone calls don’t get made, emails don’t get written, but that’s ok. It’s life. And no matter how much of it goes by without direct contact, I know that when there is contact again, it will be as if not a day has passed. That’s how it is when relationships built on trust and affection are real and know no sense of obligation. It doesn’t mean I miss anyone any less. I still think about and miss people like crazy, but I know in my heart they feel the same about me – that they love and miss me, too. So, for me, letting go of the need to be in touch constantly has allowed me to more thoroughly enjoy and appreciate being untethered. Of course, Randy needs connectivity to run his business, so I am still comforted by knowing I can reach out when I want/need to (which, honestly, is still quite often. Ok, more than quite often, especially during the time of COVID).

So, as I relied less on the virtual support of my family and friends back home, I recognized that healthy communication and nurturing a more mindful connection with my husband was paramount. We had a pretty rough start back in 2016-17, but since then, our relationship has almost become easy again, since I’m mostly done with menopause. And I must credit Rand for taking the initiative, and me mostly getting through menopause. When it became apparent that our issues were deep-seeded and they weren’t just going to disappear (until I got through menopause), he quietly purchased a self-help book called 5 Love Languages and started reading it. The Kindle receipt came to my email address, and when I opened it, I exclaimed that someone had poached our account and was buying books! What the heck?! But Rand confessed that he had been the one to purchase the book – and he was hoping I would read it, too. Afterwards, we could have our own little book club, which is what we did. Most of the book was extremely helpful, some of it not as much, but it brought to the fore things we hadn’t really thought about relative to what makes the other person tick. Very important in a marriage. So, over the next few months, we would have book club and talk about what we learned about ourselves, each other, and how to improve the way we interact on a daily basis. So far, so good. Like I said, there are still days when we struggle; there are so many inputs and stimuli bombarding us individually everyday that it would be crazy to think it could be perfect 100-percent of the time, even though I used to think that it should be – what a rude awakening that was. But after 20 years of marriage (!), I think we’re finally getting the hang of better, more effective communication. Thankfully!

One of the things that hasn’t changed since embarking on this adventure is the pure joy of meeting new people and reuniting with those we met the year or two before in various anchorages between the northern Sea of Cortez and the mainland coast of Mexico. The transient nature of this lifestyle has also helped me to deal with the distance that separates people. Many come into our lives and many leave, some go south, while others go west; some go back to the States or Canada for good, either selling their boats or shipping them home. It’s just what happens. Some will be friends for life, and we’ll lose track of others. But all in all, our lives have been enriched just by meeting so many people doing what we’re doing and sharing stories and, of course, boat parts, and helping each other with projects. It is truly heartwarming. And you’ll see by the gallery below that this is really all about the people we have encountered and come to love. And, of course, it goes without saying that we love Mexico, otherwise we wouldn’t still be here. It’s a very easy place to live, and a wonderful antidote to the bizarre and painful happenings back in the States.

And then BAM! COVID. Yep, I’m pretty much right back at square one. Missing my people back home horribly and relying heavily on hearing the ping of the Iridium, receiving their texts and “likes” on our Instagram feed, and, thankfully, seeing their faces and hearing their voices on video chats. We altered our plans this summer so we could remain in an area with relatively reliable cell connectivity. Instead of heading to the northern Sea to get further off the grid and swim with whale sharks – where Rand could still work (very inefficiently) via satellite internet at the local restaurants, we have stayed in the Loreto area where he can work from da boat and I can be in nearly constant communication with my family, BFFs, and sailing buddies who have scattered on the winds since the pandemic hit. It’s very comforting to know everyone is just a call or a text away, and so far, everyone is staying healthy.

But decision time is coming. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen Rand’s family, and nearly 10 months since seeing mine. It’s bringin’ me down, man! We’re reluctant to travel, but I won’t be able to hold out much longer. It’s likely that if we do head north, we’ll stay for a bit since at each location we visit, we’ll have to quarantine before venturing out to see our friends and family. It’s going to be weird, but it’s a weird world we’re living in and unlikely to go back to “normal” anytime soon. And beyond decisions about the immediate future, we still have big decisions about what’s to come next sailing season – and the one after that, and the one after that…Only time will tell.

Hope you enjoy the gallery. The vast majority of the photos have been included in one post or another, but it’s fun to reminisce now and then. Thanks for coming along on this adventure with us for the past four years. We love all y’all and wish only the best in life and health for all of you!



  1. Michele

    LOVE your blog!!!! Speaks to me on so many levels as we have grown through similar challenges.
    Hope you guys are well…….we are in Bahia de LA surrounded by whale sharks!!!!, a bucket list item for me. Heading south as the weather cools, hope to see you again.
    Michele and Randy. NAUTILUS

    1. Jody Fraser

      Ahhhh, whale sharks! We’re missing those gentle giants this year. So stoked you got to hang with them. Things are definitely cooling down in this neck of the woods, thankfully. North breezes are becoming more prevalent already. See you when you get down here! And, glad you enjoyed the post. I think a lot of couples go through tough transitions – luckily, we made it through! Enjoy the trek south!

  2. Shana Gross

    Miss you. Your so good at keeping in touch and communicating. Thanks for sharing your life.

    1. Jody Fraser

      Shana!! I wish we shared more of each other’s lives in person. We’re missing watching your little dudes grow up! Glad you’re out there and catching up with us occasionally, even if it is virtually. Love to the family!

  3. Rob A Armstrong

    Wonderful open and honest post. I love reading about and following you guys. Seems like decades ago since we were all together in the dining room of the cottage up North.
    Cheers! Rob and Lauri

    1. Jody Fraser

      Hey Rob! Some might say I’m too transparent, but Rand approved of the draft, so there you have it. I think the world needs more open and honest conversations these days. Hope the cottage has been repaired and you were able to enjoy the summer there – it’s so beautiful!! Looking forward to hanging out in the dining room again someday!

  4. Ryan Fritzsche

    You guys are the best!
    It’s 31 degrees here and I am standing in my moon boots under a tarp waiting for the coffee water to boil. I am covered in mud and have a handgun on my hip because there is a bear around camp that is getting a little too comfortable here.
    As I was reading this my eyes watered just a little at your honesty about the difficulties you’ve been through and also marvel at the beauty you two have experienced together, both in your surroundings and within yourselves.
    It often strikes me that while we are experiencing the highs and lows in what other people would see as extreme living conditions, to us they just feel normal. Of course the spinnaker is tangled. Of course the tent is leaking. Of course the Nutella is running low.
    To me the reason we do these things is, well, because to us there no other option. Our paths in life set us up perfectly to NEED these experiences- to not want to wonder what it might have been like to do this thing we are engaged in.
    It is sometimes unfortunate that we struggle to see the beauty in lives we lead until well after the fact. Reflection is what clarifies the purpose of our experiences in this weird world.
    If nothing else, we can look forward to out 80’s where, if we are lucky, we can rock in a wicker chair, let our eyes go soft and remember fondly the struggles we put ourselves through all those years ago when the main sheet jammed or we snapped at a loved one for overcooking the mahi or when a bear stole the gumball machine we’d just mounted to a cedar tree.
    You two are great people and I am happy to know a couple more folks that are spending their lives doing more than chasing a paycheck or yelling at people in traffic.
    I appreciate your openness in sharing the valleys as well as the peaks. It strikes me as so damn human which I don’t think any of us are used to finding online these days. The polished, “everything is so damn good and fun in my life” face that we all put out there for others to see feels shallow and leaves us with the impression that we are watching a Hollywood production rather than a story of real people.
    Thank you so much for sharing the whole story!

    Now I wish I was floating there with you in Mexico rather than waiting to have the upcoming “conversation” with this bear…

    1. Jody Fraser

      Awe, thanks, Ry! Takes one to know one when living an exceptional life! Good luck with that gumball-eatin’ bear!! Love you, man. Come to Mexico.

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