Butterflies and Cruising Memories

"Life is like a butterfly. You can chase it, or you can let it come to you."

I can hear my powerboat buddies snickering already. As if it weren't enough that I'm a sailor, now I'm about to write a blog post about a butterfly.

I have to admit, I was apprehensive when my daughters said they were going to intentionally keep an insect in our sailboat's head. First of all, I'm probably one of the most bug-averse biologists you've ever come across. Second, I don't like the idea of having something with more than two legs taking up residence in our sailboat. Third, s/v Island Bound is a mere 28-feet, so space is at a premium, even for insect guests.

But I didn't fight it and I let life come to me. And so we played host to a monarch caterpillar that Izzy and Hannah captured on the shores of Harbor Island in Lake Huron's North Channel. The girls appropriately named her "Mariposa" and made a cozy microhabitat out of an ice tea jar that become a fixture on the counter top next to the sink in our tiny head.

The rhythm of seeking out milkweed ever other day on the next islands we were to visit somehow gave our lives a real purpose. I found myself checking on Mariposa's growth and development each time I visited the head throughout the days ahead. A couple of weeks passed and all too soon our ship's pet had formed her chrysalis and hid her metamorphosis from our daily observations. Over the coming week or so, we'd each eagerly check the chrysalis for changes or signs of action at least once a day. And then finally one quiet morning while anchored at South Benjamin Island it happened. Mariposa emerged from her chrysalis and captured our dedicated attention for a few hours. 

She crawled across our skin and mesmerized us with the patterns on her wings as they patiently dried. Eventually, we let her have some space and placed her on a line wrapped lightly around a sheet winch. Soon she fluttered and flapped her wings, testing her coordination and assuring herself that they were dry enough for flight. As she flew away into the sunny blue of morning light, I watched and felt thankful for the purpose she provided and the cruising memories I had gained.

Mariposa was reborn on Island Bound and I can't help but compare myself to that butterfly in some small way. Cruising as a family aboard Island Bound has brought new life to me as well.


  1. What a sweet post. It's good for children to have these little encounters and butterflies are particularly wondrous. Were there any tears when it flew away?

    1. Thanks Sarah. No tears, but the girls were a little sad to see Mariposa flutter away. For the next couple of days the spent time on each island looking for another caterpillar, but I think it was too late in the season at that point to find any.


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