Jonalyn's Watercolor Blog

Messing About in Boats

I live near a brook that sings its way to the Atlantic Ocean.  We wade in its murky waters in the summer and watch the tides bring it up and down all year long. In winter, it freezes at multiple heights, making a fun crunchy playground.

We watch this water catch the sunrises and sunsets. Living so near the water has been a dream come true.

Over the years, Dale and I have realized, we are like Water Rat in Wind in the Willows

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. . . “In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.

We’ve always loved the pacing of boat life. It doesn’t seem to matter what we were doing, as long as we could get on water, sailing, fishing, paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling, scuba-diving. Dale is a dyed-in-the-wool fishing guy. Our oldest, F. got his scuba-diving license as soon as he was old enough, studying the material at age nine to pass at before he turned 10. His first dive was in the Florida Keys over 3 years ago. And our youngest boy, O, loves to fish as much as Dale. And O. cannot wait to learn how to snuba (a tethered scuba/snorkel experience).

Dale and I have enjoyed sailing for the last 15 years. We landed on sailing as a mutual hobby we could both learn together. We were both noobs (the gaming slogan for ignorant new kid on the block) and so we shared the experience of being adult learners. We learned on the Colorado lakes, where the wind whips and changes on a dime. We’ve had to row like our lives depended on it when lighting suddenly showed up. We’ve subjected our boys to life-preservers when they were teeny-tiny. We’ve practiced man-overboard drills in the frigid waters of those Rocky Mountain Lakes.

And our move to New Hampshire was in large part fueled by our need to get closer to the ocean.

And that’s why I wanted to share with you our big news. In less than a year, we will be splashing down into the waters of that big blue ocean. We are going to become a sailing family. Our boat is under construction in South Africa, and we are beginning the long process of facing some rather huge fears and even bigger dreams. I still hope to paint, but just think of what I’ll be able to paint from the ocean?! With the potential of the whole world at our doorstep, we hope to share our voyages with you.

We realize many challenges lay ahead; we know we will face seasickness and boredom, the very human fear of huge storms. We hope to scuba dive with our boys and keep educating them from the helm of our catamaran. We hope to discover new foods and practice taking turns sailing through the night watches. We will still record our Back Porch Conversations for podcast, just our porch will be on water.

What an adventure ahead for us!  Our family has been talking about creating a YouTube channel to share our adventures on the ocean. If we do, you’ll be first to know!

I’ve been thinking and painting about sailing for so many years, it’s a joy to finally share this new adventure with you!

If you’d like to listen to the full story of how we got from running a non-profit, pastoring an online community and writing books in Colorado to sailing the world, we’ve recorded a podcast episode on this very question. Give us a listen at Back Porch Conversations.

And now, some pictures to share our love for messing about in boats.


It was a perfect day to row. Also, there was no wind!
Fishing in our sailboat at Stagecoach Lake, Colorado.
Practicing man-overboard drills with a very eager and willing F. He loved jumping in and watching us circle around back to him. It was harder than you might imagine hauling him back on deck.
Paddleboarding along 6 hour float down the Yampa River.
Don’t fall in, little O! This was our two-year-old who could lean in to touch the water as we glided along the lake.
Painting the boys and our little sailboat in our conversion van
Fishing from the sailboat.
Another painting from a road trip!
Date night sail!
Single-handing our sloop on Stagecoach Lake

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