We’re heading to Scotland for some cool sailing

Some people like to celebrate a milestone birthday by relaxing on the beach or wining and dining around Europe.

My husband is not like those people. We’ll be celebrating his big (not gonna say-0) by sailing Scotland.

No, we aren’t taking Polaris there. Instead, we have signed up for a 10-day sailing expedition of the Scottish Isles with Mahina Offshore Services, lead by the very experienced and well-regarded sailing instructor John Neal.

The timing is serendipitous. Our kiddos will be with their bio dad, and C’s birthday is in April. We have been looking for opportunities to get more experience with off-shore (bluewater) and heavy weather sailing, especially because we are interested in cruising the higher latitudes someday. When we saw that Mahina had a few berths open for the first leg of their Scotland tour, we jumped.

According to our itinerary, we will stop by Barra and Iona in the Inner Hebrides, then head to St. Kilda, an isolated archipelago that is part of the Outer Hebrides. Chances are good we will be sailing in cool temps, high wind, rainy weather and some swell and waves.

A chart for part of the area we will be sailing.

So, no, it won’t be the most relaxing vacation we’ve ever taken, but it may be one of the most memorable.

Many of these islands are home to some of the largest bird colonies in the world, including puffins. The sea around the Hebrides gets whales, dolphins and basking sharks. Our plans are to hike to a few castles, explore some tiny villages and learn more about this unique ecosystem. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will fall in love with this area and want to come back and cruise it on our own boat.

Since we booked the trip, we’ve been gathering up gear to keep us warm and dry. We already have a lot of cold, rainy weather gear that we use all the time while sailing the Salish Sea, but my cold tolerance is not getting any better as I get older. So I also purchased a few new things—including a new set of heated socks and some heated mittens. I expect to have some updates to my article about sailing in the cold.

I will try to post pictures from our trip on Instagram if I can.

Now, I’m off to finish packing!

Sailor Tamara Miller at the helm on blustery day in Puget Sound.

Welcome to Fouled Up Life, 2.0

Sailor Tami at the helm during a blustery day in Puget Sound.
Learning to sail in mid-life has changed me for the better.

I’ve tinkered with the idea of writing an article titled “All I’ve ever wanted to know, I learned from sailing.” 

Tongue-in-cheek, partly, but also for reals. Learning to sail has changed my life, and not just in the obvious ways. The lessons I have learned since I started to sail have taught me how to live better in all aspects of my life. 

When I started this blog, I simply wanted a place to capture all I was learning about sailing. I’ve learned how to sail, yes, but I’ve also learned a lot about:

What I didn’t expect, though, was that my experiences on S/V Polaris would inform all parts of my life.

The first time I step foot on a sailboat was when I was 38 years old, newly divorced with two kids, and fairly certain about what I was good at and what I wasn’t. Learning to sail in mid-life definitely took me out of my comfort zone and I am so glad for it.

Sailing continues to teach me how to screw up and get back up again. How to be patient. How to be a better teacher and parent to my kids. How to cope when my plans go to shit. How important nature is to me and all living beings (and how, I firmly believe, we would all be better if we spent more time outside). How to dig deep and get a really tears-inducing frustrating job done. How to keep going when I’m tired. How to really, truly rest. 

In short, sailing has taught me how to learn and to be OK with always learning, with not knowing the answer and being totally OK with that, too.

All those other things belong on this blog, too. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. That’s OK. Life has been crazy for us for the last two years. We bought a house, put our kids back in school, resumed splitting time between boat and land and have had to endure a lot of ups and downs along the way. But I’m ready to share what I’m learning again, and I hope that maybe, you’ll learn something, too. 

If you aren’t interested in that other stuff, you can still find my sailing- and sailboat-only content here. But if you are a curious type, and I bet that you are if you still are reading this post, you can start finding that “other” content over here.