Repeating the Past?

This adventure is somewhat different than our first time out, but every bit as exciting. Am I afraid? No. I’m only afraid to die just sitting around waiting for the inevitable end while dreaming about the past.

Can a person repeat a grand experience?

 Absolutely… sort of…depends…it may be a bit different the second time around, but it can be just as good as the first time, perhaps even better.

Too often as people grow older, they remember with great nostalgia an event or a time in their life when their world could not have been more perfect. Well, it can be that way again if they dare. A few people do so.

 About a year or so ago I was reading an article that asked me to close the page and answer this question: when was I the happiest? In an instant I recalled the joyous seven years my husband and I lived aboard our Cal 2-34 sailboat and traveled 25,000 miles. I even wrote an award-winning book about it: Life Was a Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, a Boat and a Big-A** Ocean. (Cabaret was the name of our boat.)

When I returned to the article, there was a another question: “Why aren’t you doing that now?” Instantly I knew that I had to return to the sea.

Our move, like most relocations, was very  difficult and complex, but once I’d realized when I had been the very happiest in my entire life, I had to proceed. We had no reason not to. Our children were grown and had established their own lives; we were retired, and we had no real ties to the town we’d been living in for the past 15 years. My husband was 100 percent in favor of the whole scheme and had talked many times about “living aboard” again and traveling. (That helps a lot!) Maybe he had long ago planted the seed that burst into bloom when I read the article!

The day our house sold we left Arizona bound for the Pacific Northwest where we’d both grown up and had started off on our early adventures. After 3 months of searching we finally found a boat we could afford that had ample room for us to spend lengths of time on it and that was sea worthy enough to make long passages. Although tempted to buy a sailboat once again, we debated the pros and cons many times before we decided to buy a “stink pot” power boat. I’m glad we did! I feel like we live in the lap of luxury compared to the small quarters of the adorable vessel that had pleased us immensely when we were younger. Sailing is, to be honest, more of a young person’s “gift,” not so much people in their 70s.

Differences? Too many years have passed to name them all, but mainly we are older by 40+ years now than our sailing days. We’re living in a different type of boat altogether than previous. But I will say our excitement, plans, and adventures are every bit as good. We may not do ocean passages again, but we can do Alaska to South American with stops along the way with no problem.

We spent this summer upgrading the boat with new electronics, replacing the propane stove (which I loved) with a diesel cook stove that will help with keeping the boat warm. (We had another boat with a diesel cook stove and I actually liked it!) We made many changes and additions. We also did some trial runs and got in lots of island hiking.

Next summer we will at long last head north and explore the Broughton Islands and then circumnavigate Vancouver Island. We plan to return to Alaska the following year and possibly spend two years there where I hope to explore all the places we missed out on the first time. Then perhaps it will be a long haul to Ecuador, Peru, Chile and on to the Straits of Magellan and Patagonia. In these travels I hope to share what knowledge I’ve gained as a Certified Marine Naturalist with others and to invite people to join the JUST ONE THING Alliance.

Perhaps we’re more audacious than a lot of people because we’ve been boaters for many years and kept a small tugboat in the San Juan Islands that we spent summers on. What we’re doing obviously won’t work for many people, but everyone has a time in their life they can in some fashion “re-experience.”

We will absolutely miss our small family, but we definitely plan to return at regular intervals and wear out our welcome. Perhaps they will join us on occasion!

This adventure is a somewhat different than our first time out, but every bit as exciting. Am I afraid? No. I’m only afraid to die just sitting around waiting for the inevitable end while dreaming about the past.

Major Changes to Publishing House

Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: The Ocean; Whales; and the Rights of Nature.

Becky on her mule, Reba Peru.

It’s become apparent to many of Moonlight Mesa’s blog followers and customers, that the publishing house is no longer the same company that used to avidly only promote western books and authors. “There is no question that we’re on a different path,” admitted publisher Becky Coffield. “The change is a difficult, time-consuming, uphill struggle, and one we’ve been trying to win using emotional appeal – not tactics. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it’d be. Somehow that’s got to change.”

It’s tempting to say that the biggest cause of struggle is Moonlight Mesa’s rural location – being housed on the borderline of a dinky seasonal community and a small cowboy town. This hurts, but it’s not the only issue. Not being a coastal state, Arizonans generally tend to be indifferent to the issues that Moonlight Mesa’s publisher finds to be a priority. “This is to be expected, I suppose. Arizona has issues and problems of its own to deal with that are troublesome: drought and potential water shortage; rapid growth due to a massive influx of newcomers; and border issues to name a few. Expected, but disappointing,” Coffield said.

So, what is the pubisher’s focus? Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: the Ocean; Whales; and The Rights of Nature. That is, of course, a simplification, but it generally sums it up.  Coffield is also a supporter of NRDC, CELDEF, and GARN.*

For starters, as chairperson of the JUST ONE THING Alliance, Coffield decided to house the small, grass-roots movement on Moonlight Mesa’s website as its own domain. (www.justonething.life) She has also recently added Moonlight Mesa’s publication, Saving Our Oceans. (www.saving-our-oceans.com) as a domain on the website.

“Though the addition of these two domains to Moonlight Mesa’s website does not in any way help book sales or the company, the fact is it’s a step in going where I have to go,” Coffield said.

Coffield became an ocean/whale devotee after spending six years blue-water sailing on a Cal 2-34, traveling around 25,000 miles, then living on the Oregon Coast for many years. Originally from the Northwest, Coffield has spent years boating in the San Juan Islands and traveling the Inside Passage to the Broughton Islands and S.E. Alaska. “I’ve had fantastic whale encounters in S.E. Alaska,” Coffield recalled. “And, of course, a person can’t help but love the Southern Resident Pod that hangs out in the San Juans.” Coffield is currently endeavoring to complete a Marine Naturalist Certification.

It’s become apparent to all who know the publisher that she (and her husband) are  fish out of water living in Arizona – The big question is “for how much longer?” She’s choosing not say at this time –

Meanwhile, look for the saving-our-oceans.blog in the very near future.

*CELDEF: Community Environmental Defense Fund

NRDC – Nature Resource Defense Council

GARN – Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

Blog submitted by Renee Witty

The Thousand Mile Challenge

A good challenge may help distract you from the endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction.

Let a good challenge provide distraction and relief from today’s endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction. My challenge? 1,000 miles.

We’ve been plenty busy salvaging Moonlight Mesa Associates from three, yes 3, fires since March. The latest fire wiped out three of the company’s four acres. It was started, experts believe, by somebody who drove down the highway with their chains dragging on the cement. Unless you’re around trucks and trailers you might not know that the safety chains often drag on the ground. This can cause a spark. Arizona is bone dry right now.  (The 1,000 miles is coming up.)

Fortunately, the building and immediate grounds were saved, although the fire came as close as 10’ from the back of the building. We were huddled 1600 miles away in Anacortes licking our wounds from our earlier disasters when our realtor called and informed us that helicopters were dropping buckets of water on our back porch. Hmm. Stunned at yet another catastrophe and unable to do anything at the time, we stayed a few more days in Anacortes, then took a beautiful week-long trip down the coast driving back to Arizona avoiding any discussion of what might be awaiting us.

So, where do the thousand miles come in? I’m getting to that.

Needless to say, we spent the next few weeks pushing back our fire-line. This means raking, hoeing, and hooping acres of dull, dead, dry grass that’s knee deep, and cutting limbs off out-of-control creosote bushes and damaged mesquite and palo verde trees. It’s beginning to look good…the part we’ve done anyway.

IMG_1479    So, now onto the 1,000 miles. On a recent windless morning, we actually stole away and went rowing at Lake Pleasant. We arrived at 6:00 a.m., and were launched by 6:20. It helps if you know that I’m an avid rower. I currently own two rowing vessels. My rowing skiff, complete with row-wings made by my husband Tom, is in Anacortes, WA. with our small tugboat. My wherry, built by my husband for my birthday several years ago, lives with us in Wickenburg. It has the full set-up of sliding seats, 9’6” oars, and of course, row-wings. It’s a creation of beauty!

50dfc-oldfolksweb-jpeg Rowing is very physical – and mental. I wrote a book about this, The Old Folks in the Boat, which I took off the market. (You may order a copy from me if you wish – it’s heavily discounted.) Anyway, I won’t go into the details at this time. However, as we rowed I realized I needed a good, challenging goal to boost my morale. On a whim I decided I would row 1,000 miles this year. Oops. I then realized the year is half over and I’ve hardly rowed due to the move, the fires, and my mule launch. So, I decided I’d row 500 miles in 2020, but in 2021 I would row 1,000 miles.

In July  we’ll be building the new shop. ( We do the job. No contractors.) But, I’ll sneak in some rows and in August we’ll head back to the tug where I can row every day. Still, 500 miles is a lot of miles. Arizona is hot hot hot…too hot to row unless I start at 6:00 in the morning. Can’t get the shop built and row every day, though.

Not everyone needs a challenge. I do. It keeps me enthused and determined and distracted from today’s endless episodes of corona chatter, death, and mob destruction. I need that. So far, I’ve only rowed 10.92 miles this year, but the year is not yet done. Keep in mind that the skiff is more difficult to row than the long, graceful wherry which can be rowed by either one or two people. The skiff is slower for one thing, and only one person can row. The wherry glides through the water like a fish…or surfer…whatever. Unfortunately, the wherry cannot go with us to the tugboat…it’s too big for our small vessel and it’s too risky to tow it behind the tug. Nevertheless, I’m excited about this challenge. I’m feeling pretty positive, in fact.

Do you have a challenge?

My First Big Challenge...crossing oceans
We managed to survive 7 years and 25,000 miles aboard a 34′ Cal 2-34. Now THAT was often a challenge!