Words

Uncharted

Adventure afloat

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Whatcom County residents living outside the Bellingham city limits may visit http://www.wcls.org to place holds on physical library materials (books, audiobook CDs, or large print) and designate a library location for curbside holds pickup. People who do not have internet access can call (360) 305-3600 to speak to a WCLS staff member who can place holds for them. You can also find access to eBook versions online. Bellingham Public Library cardholders may visit their website, http://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the prospect of chucking it all and sailing off into the sunset has a certain appeal. A change of scenery, some fresh sea air, a chance to slow down time and escape, far from the madding crowds—all sound like the antidote to our restricted lives these days.

More than a decade ago, Kim Brown Seely and her husband Jeff felt a similar pull. With a recession looming, jobs tenuous and their youngest son heading off to college, the Seelys took the plunge and purchased a used Moody 54 (bank-owned and in need of work—but likely still in the low-to-mid-six digits for those wanting to plan their own adventure). Then they took off from Seattle on a journey to Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.

Kim had been a travel writer and editor for many years, whose work appeared in Travel & Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and Virtuoso Life. What she had not been was a sailor—that was her husband’s department. Having learned to sail as a kid, Jeff had done some racing as a young adult, crewing weekends on a 51-foot sailboat. Once the idea to buy a boat took hold, Jeff went big, the lure of a screaming deal too good to pass up. Instead of starting with a more modest 30-footer, Jeff and Kim bought a “big girl,” a 54-foot beauty they renamed Heron.

Kim was the one who determined their destination. Inspired by a National Geographic cover story on spirit bears, she dreamed of sailing to the Great Bear Rainforest in northern British Columbia to catch a glimpse of the rare and legendary creatures.

With a self-proclaimed “weakness for remote,” Kim landed on a place that met the definition in every way—500 nautical miles north of Seattle, a one-month journey up the Inside Passage and beyond.

The timing of their trip—coinciding with their son James’ departure for St. Lawrence University—was deliberate. The Seelys wanted a distraction from their empty nest, a chance to reconnect as a couple, and an adventure while they were still fit and able.

While they had a few close calls, their journey and Kim’s subsequent memoir, Uncharted: A Couple’s Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another, is less about action and more about introspection. Kim writes frankly about the challenges of living in close quarters under stressful conditions. (In my opinion, Jeff does not come across as a sympathetic character, but Kim attests that she understands his gruff nature and loves him nonetheless, so who’s to judge?)

Perhaps of greater interest is the insight into what goes into planning a months-long sailing venture—the gear, the provisions, the charts and tide tables. Kim tours us through the Heron’s spacious cabin and catalogs the books they bring for reference and the ports of call along the way.

Kim revels in the natural beauty around her as they head north. She is awed and reverent by humpback whale sightings and by ancient forests. She writes eloquently of a hidden Kitasoo longhouse tucked between a stand of Sitka spruces.

The armchair travel aspect of Uncharted is especially welcome while cooped up inside due to wildfire smoke, cool autumn temperatures and COVID restrictions. While it may not be realistic for most to make this journey in real life, we all can enjoy this glimpse of the Pacific Northwest, safe at home.

Christine Perkins is the executive director of the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS).

UPCOMING EVENTS

[Oct. 7-21]

COAT DRIVE: The Interfaith Coalition of Whatcom County will host its 23rd annual Winter Coat Drive through Oct. 16 at any Banner Bank location in Bellingham, Lynden, or Blaine; and from 11:30am-1:30pm Mon., Oct. 19 and 4pm-6pm Wed., Oct. 21 at the Bellingham Senior Center, 315 Halleck St. Due to COVID-19, clean (gently used or new) coats must be put into plastic bags and closed with twist ties (no knots). Please label bag with the number and sizes of coats.
For more info: http://www.interfaith-coalition.org

[Thurs., Oct. 8]

HISTORY HIGHLIGHT: From 7:30pm-9pm, Whatcom Museum presents a virtual presentation on “The History of Camp Glacier” with local author Michael Impero. Camp Glacier F-12 was established between Maple Falls and Glacier. The camp was administrated under the leadership of the U.S. Army. The presentation will cover the history of this camp, from its start in 1933 to its abandonment in 1941. Registration is free but required. Participants will receive an email confirmation with the Youtube livestream info once they sign up. Suggested donation is $5.
For more info: http://www.whatcommuseum.org

[Fri., Oct. 9]

SPEAKEASY SOIREE: Peoples Bank teams up with Whatcom Museum for a “Virtual Speakeasy Soiree” starting today with an online auction featuring local getaways, experience packages, selections fro local businesses and more. At 6pm Thurs., Oct. 15, there will be a live-streamed event.
For more info: http://www.whatcommuseum.org

[Sun., Oct. 11]

POETIC PALAVER: At 4pm, award-winning Northwest poets Richard Widerkehr, Alice Derry, and Gayle Kaune will read from their works as part of Village Books’ online reading series. All three have accessible poems that evoke nature and family relationships. Entry is free.
For more info: http://www.villagebooks.com

[Oct. 12-16]

WHATCOM HOUSING WEEK: The fourth annual Whatcom Housing Week will address inequalities in neighborhoods and housing from Oct. 12-16 with an aim to build awareness and support for innovative housing solutions that create diverse, vibrant and healthy homes for all. Events include a virtual keynote presentation from historian and The Color of Law author Richard Rothstein, a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt where participants of all ages can enjoy fresh air while getting familiar with their neighborhood, “Coffee and Conversations” discussions, and more. Find a complete listing of free events online.
For more info: http://www.whatcomhousingalliance.org

[Tues., Oct. 13]

BEYOND VOTING: The League of Women Voters of Whatcom County teams up with Whatcom Museum for a virtual panel discussion, “Making Our Voices Heard: Beyond Voting—What Can We Do to Enhance Political Voice for All” from 7pm-8:30pm online. The event will be moderated by WWU political science professor Kate Destler, and panelists include Larry J. Estrada, Sahar Fathi, Julia Sa’Leit’Sa Kwina Johnson, and Melina Juarez. Registration is free, but required.
For more info: http://www.lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org

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