Virtual Radio Silence

If you’re here, reading this, then thank you. Thanks for stopping by, better yet thanks for standing by during my rather extended time away from the blog and social media.

Around this time last year, I was feeling a little fatigued by the whole online scene. What was supposed to a space where I felt connected to others in my “community” ended up leaving me empty. I was tired of stopping to take a photo that I could use on Instagram, only to have little or no engagement most of the time. I was annoyed that I was spending an hour or two online everyday. And, the worse thing was, I noticed that all that scrolling was affecting my concentration – every time I sat to read a book I would find myself fidgety and restless and reaching for my phone.

I had never loaded the FB app on my phone, so that was easy to escape. And besides FB just seems like a place to bitch about politics these days and that got old a decade ago.

Instagram, on the other hand, was a little more difficult.

I love photography, I got a degree in the subject!, and love using images as a means to communicate but Instagram often feels more like a high-school popularity contest than a warm, inviting space.

I deleted and reloaded that app several times before I eventually realized it had been a week and I hadn’t even thought about it. When I did log on a few weeks later nothing had changed. I hadn’t missed anything, and no one seemed to miss me; there was no mass unfollowing, no messages asking where I was. A month became two, then four then we were preparing to haul the boat and take a trip home to visit family, my attention was firmly focused elsewhere.

Since my last post in April we’ve gotten a few emails asking if we are ok and telling me they missed the blog. To those readers I am grateful. It reminded me that someone is out there reading. And that those someones care. Like a breathe on a glowing ember, it reignited the fire. Albeit one that has taken many weeks of careful tending to get hot enough to burn again.

So, for those of you still reading here is the update.

We hauled Kate late last year at Papaya Yacht Charters & Services, just south of Manila. You might remember this boatyard from our previous adventures “It took 6 months to rebuild the Engine” and “Oh My God we are going INSANE.”  We went home to visit family and had a much-needed break, for the first time in many years we both fully switched off and went on vacation.

Crew of Yacht Kate looking relaxed
Holiday Mode Crew

Our holiday mode was shattered slightly when a typhoon plowed through the Philippines in early December, rocking the boatyard (by all reports literally as the 120-150 km/h winds had all the boats dancing in their cradles a bit) making off with one of our solar panels.

Crumpled Solar Panel
We did not have the flexi-type solar panels

Thankfully there was no further damage, to us or any other boat. We returned to the Philippines in time to spend a very subdued New Year’s Eve in Manila- we had troubles getting takeout pizza at 2000 as most of the city was closed!

We’ve been back onboard for almost 3 weeks and have been making excellent progress, despite the eruption of the Taal volcano, just 46km west of us on Jan 12th. (We saw the ash plume the night it erupted, crazy lightning and all, several earthquakes have rocked the boat and we’ve had a dusting of ash but nothing further. Communities in the area have been evacuated, schools are closed. It brought Manila to a standstill for a few days and has affected transport and deliveries in our area. The area is still under Level 4 Alert, but activity in main crater has slowed dramatically. We are not in danger.)

New solar panels have been sourced and delivered. Unfortunately, it has been blowing 25kts+ all week making installation a daredevil feat we’d rather not attempt. A break in the weather forecast this weekend looks promising. The bottom has been prepped and paint has arrived. The galley has been restocked. I’ve woken up my yogurt starter, got sprouts on the go, have a fresh batch of sauerkraut in the fridge and finally made a loaf of bread. Yesterday we turned on the big fridge, so we no longer have to unearth everything just to get a beer at the end of the day! Things are getting back to normal. There are still a few loose ends to tidy up and a new composting toilet to install, but we hope to be back in the water in a week or so. Famous last words I know, but one has to have goals.

Yacht kate on the hard at PYCS

As for me, the blog and social media?

It is a balancing act. Thankfully I’ve spent the last 12 years living on a sailboat, so my sea legs are pretty good at keeping me upright. And, like any long offshore voyage, although it always feels so light and refreshing to be away, there is something comforting about coming back to the familiar       .



18 Comments Add yours

  1. Hans says:

    Happy to hear you or rather ‘Kate’ survived the natural disasters of the Philippines with only minor damage!. ALK is in the PSS Shipyard in Satun where I am doing a major maintenance and upgrade with help from workers in the yard. Progress is fine! Enjoy the sailing soon!

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Hans! Great to still you’re still at it. Not sure where you’re at but good luck in yard. Thanks again for reading, H

  2. Ann says:

    Hi Heather, Thank you, it is not easy being on line. We have a business with Instagram account and Website and I find the time you have to put in with little response energy draining. The time I spend working on Social media is time I’m not able to spend learning and preparing our boat. The dream of sailing away has taken a back seat over the last 12 months. Now we hope to focus on the jobs that need doing and leave Sydney Harbour this year.
    Lover reading your emails.

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Ann, how did we all get so tangled up online? Good luck with the boat jobs and remember you’ll never tick everything off the list, so at some point ya just gotta get going. Safe sailing and thanks for reading – H

  3. jgaudreault says:

    Yes I had wondered where you had disappeared. I too must apologize because since starting to read your post, (after we met in Nova Scotia at a WordPress meeting, my first) I never bothered to enter a comment. I did what I complained to myself that people read your post and fail to leave a comment. It is discouraging. I followed you guy’s escapade from the boatyard. I often thought in envy how life must be away from the rat race. As well I have to agree that on Facebook people mostly talk about drivel and do entirely too much complaining. Anyway glad you are back and I will endeavor to leave a comment, whenever I read one of your post. Take care, stay safe and happy sailing. Jacques

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Thanks for dropping by, those WordPress meetups were such a great tool, not to mention getting a chance to meet fellow bloggers/online folks in person. Have a Keith’s for me, see ya at a meet up next time I am in town. H

  4. Mary says:

    Let me say how much I enjoy your blog. I love reading about your boat life and the ‘ups and downs’ that go with it. I don’t sail anymore but in the past was only a crew member on a yacht. Getting a bit long in the tooth now.
    We, who read your newsletters are selfish in enjoying the content but don’t reply. Will try to do better in the future just so you know you are entertaining an older lady with your exploits. You are a very lucky person even though the going can be tough at times.
    Do keep blogging, you may encourage others to take to the high seas.
    Thankyou. :))

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Mary, Thanks for leaving a note and glad to know I am entertaining you! Indeed I know we are lucky to keep this boat life going. Life anywhere is tough at times. Thank you for the encouraging words! H

  5. Bruce S says:

    Welcome back Heather. I have always enjoyed reading your blog over the years, the voyages, the food, the raw emotion that comes with sailing life. Life is better for having you and Steve part of it. Cook, write, sail, love.

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Bruce & Ann, you might be our number one fans! Thanks again for sticking with us, and all the words of encouragement over the years. Feels good to be back! H

  6. Em says:

    Nice to see you posting again! Here and on the IG! ?

    1. Heather Francis says:


  7. Deborah says:

    I’m so glad to see you posting again. I’ve lurked through your adventures for a few years now, and I enjoy your writing tremendously. I’ll never live the boat life, but I usually take something away that helps me live a more sustainable life and I love reading about your experiences. I can’t wait to see more!

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Deborah, thanks very much for dropping a note, always nice to know there is someone in the shadows. A real encouragement to keep posting! H

  8. Barb Haley says:

    Glad to have you back. Your adventures got me through last years winter. You’re so right in you’re comment about scrolling. I love reading but find that my attention span is lacking. Have decided to have Darryl hide the iPad for me. Hard to go into internet rehab.

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Barb, I started taking the battery out of my phone so it would one more hurtle between me and the internet! Glad to report that you will settle back into old reading habits. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I am touched to hear that my writing can help someone. Make a snow angel for me one day! H

  9. David Constantine says:

    Just read your two articles about Papaya Yard and Nsugbo Rice fields!!! We were there in my boat Night Owl 2 and had such an enjoyable time and a fantastic re-epoxy/antifoul. What a great Yard and such lovely people, both owners and workers. Now we are back in Med. Wish you well. Take care, Dave and Mel

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