THE SEA IS GOD. GOD IS THE SEA.

Why are we doing this? Moving our family from a comfortable, suburban, water-front home to a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit sailboat? Some have called us “irresponsible.” Others have called us crazy. We’ve never conformed to a normal nuclear-family lifestyle so, honestly, what did they expect? We homeschool our children. We RV’d all over the country for several years. When we sold our RV, everybody finally thought we were settling down. Turning “normal,” they said.

Well, that non-nomadic lifestyle just didn’t sit well with us. We sold our house after just five years, moved into “a deluxe apartment in the sky” (well, it was actually an 18th floor apartment overlooking Tampa Bay), and started shopping for a floating home.

It’s been a long time in the making. And, here’s how it all began…

As far back as sixth grade, I’ve had a deep spiritual connection with the ocean. I attended beach retreats with Second Baptist Church on Padre Island in Texas each summer. Every morning before breakfast, we had quiet time on the beach, each of us spaced far apart, sitting on the sand, looking out over the water with our Bibles at hand. I didn’t do any reading. My Bible lay untouched on the sand. God wasn’t in those pages. He was out there in front of me, around me, everywhere I looked – sailing invisibly above the mist kicked up by the gentle morning swells. He was in the footprints of the tiny terns that skittered along the shore, hunting for their breakfast. He was in the oranges, yellows, and reds of the sunrise, just peeking its head over the horizon, ready to burn my sandy skin later that afternoon. God was the sea. The sea was God. I’ve been spiritually connected to the ocean ever since, addicted you could say. Without the occasional binge, I have withdrawals. Depression. Emptiness. A disconnection from God.

When I was a teenager, having a license meant freedom to get my “fix.” My friends and I would drive the 90 minutes to Galveston every weekend we could, soaking up the sun, sometimes drinking beer we’d stolen from our parents, occasionally tanning topless in the dunes, and skinny dipping after dark. Yeah, I was quite a tart! God didn’t seem to mind. I was more at home on the sand, in the dunes, and in the saltwater, than anywhere else and those were the most carefree days of my life. I miss them. I didn’t know at the time that I’d be living on Galveston Bay just four years later…

Me with my dad, David Phillips, who died of cancer when I was five. We were in Galveston, Texas. Brown sand. Browner water.  I obviously didn’t like having a sandy, soggy bottom (and I still don’t!). Judging from my nip slip, courtesy of my awesome Tarzan bathing suit, I was already working on having limited tan lines. 

NEXT: MY VERY FIRST SAILING EXPERIENCE! Uncle Irwin said, “Figure It Out!”