VI Strong

Yes, I have stories to tell about our brush with Irma. In fact, they are nearly ready for publication. But they are “first world” stories—La Luna, EW, and I are just fine. We have moved back aboard (thanks to three incredible friends), and we are able to enjoy most of what St. Augustine has to offer. Certainly, there are people here and many others elsewhere in Florida who have lost much or all due to Irma,  Our focus, however, is on those in the Caribbean Islands. Snark post to news

Those who follow me on Facebook may have seen my snarky post to major U.S. news sources. When we lived in St. Thomas and worked with tourists we were amazed at the general lack of knowledge about the islands they were visiting. It was both annoying and humorous. Bless their hearts.

It’s no longer funny. U.S. Citizens need our help. Geoffery Smith lives in St. Thomas, works on the island for a dive company, and is a frequent and welcome performer at Tickles Open Mike night, where we met him. He has given me permission to share this “wherever you want to, with anyone you can”, because he wants everyone in the U.S. to know.

 

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Geoffrey Smith

8 hrs ·

I have been a resident of St Thomas, USVI for nearly 15 years. We are indeed part of the United States, which sadly, is often forgotten.


We are your teachers, your doctors, your neighbors, your brothers, and sisters. We are military veterans, we defended your shores in WW2 against German U-boats, defending the mainland, yet remain in its constant shadow. We still defend you, we have served in the Middle East and we will continue to do so, where ever we are called. For we are Americans just like you.


We obey US law, we fly the Stars and Stripes and have shed the same blood as you for our country. Yet we cannot vote for the president nor have a congressional voice, yet we are still proud Americans. We are also Virgin Islanders, we have a rich and diverse culture that spans all races, religions, creeds. We have every walk of life here. We are accepting of all people, if you are accepting of us you will be welcomed into our island family. That is what we are, we are a family and we watch out for one another.


Mainlanders and tourists from around the world flock to our little slice paradise we have built for ourselves on these tiny rocks in the middle of the ocean. When you come here on your cruise ships or your week vacation, you come and take your pictures and go to Magen's Bay. You get that snapshot of the perfect sunset. You see our pastel-colored houses and sailboats dotting the harbor. 

Months later when it's snowing out you'll look back at your little reminders to feel better and remember our little paradise.

On September 5th, 2017 those pictures changed.

We finally have been recognized by the media, only after being completely destroyed.  Our islands, your US Virgin Islands have taken a direct hit from the most powerful storm our nation has ever seen. Last night I along with the rest of my fellow Virgin Islanders, and Puerto Rican's went through Maria, another category 5 hurricane. We have endured natural disaster like the nation has never seen and we were alone. You raced to the rescue of those in Texas, you warned those in Florida to evacuate because a storm of unprecedented magnitude was on a direct course for you. Yet even as Hurricane Irma raced at us, even as we were being leveled back to the Stone Age, the only thing anyone heard about was the "possible" impact of Florida. The media was silent. It took 3 days for the media to get word to our friends and families around the country. It took 2 days for the first help to arrive. The media was silent.

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I ask you to take a look at the photos and your keep sakes from your vacation, remember the warm sand under your feet or the cold fruity drink you can't remember the name of yet you will never forget. 
Remember us.

Now take a look at the photos from our islands. It crushes one's soul to see the amount of destruction that has been set upon us.

Those sailboats you see in piles on shore and on the rocks, those are not just weekend toys or something we like to play with when we have time. 
They are homes.
They are businesses. 
They are some people entire lives.
Reduced to rubble.

We have nowhere to run, we know that there are no other states to drive to, there is no escape. So we do what we always do. We stock up on supplies, we board up the windows, batten the hatches and lock it all down.
Then we wait.

We hope for the best and plan for the worst. It is the only time you will ever hope all your preparations and hard work are for nothing. Many times they are, but sometimes they are not.

On September 5th, I along with so many others encountered a force of nature like the world has never seen. 
I could describe it to you in the greatest of detail, yet there is no way you could even grasp an understanding of what we experienced.

The following morning, when the sun rose on our broken islands when we could finally come out of hiding and see what little was left, we looked and looked. Some looked away, some cried and others just stared in silence. After taking a few moments to let the reality of it set in, we looked at each other and set out to do what we needed to be done.

We cut, chopped, and sawed our way out of our homes, driveways, and roads. What did we find? Everyone out doing the same. When we got to the roads, we looked at each other and said: "You work that way and I'll go this way." As we made our way we ran into the next group that had cleared their little area.

It was like this everywhere. 
There was no race, no religion, or class status. Just people. People helping people. During the storm we all prayed to our own gods, we all shared the same fears, and all bled red. In the Islands, we have what we call VIStrong.


We are a community and an island family, and despite our differences, we stand together and support each other.

We need your help, and we are not a people that ask for help. We take care of our own, but we cannot do this alone. We are islands if it's not here it has to come from somewhere. We do have incredible support from so many people stateside who are working night and day to get us the supplies we so desperately need. Flooding St. Thomas

The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico need your help. There are so many ways you can assist us. There are groups of volunteers and websites organizing relief efforts. One of the best ways you can help us is to not forget that we are Americans too. 


We are on the front line for every hurricane that is on its way to the mainland. 
48 hours after hurricane Irma crushed us I heard on CNN how Americans were about to feel the impact of this incredible storm. Americans had felt its impact days before, I can assure you first hand that they had. We are still feeling it. Last night we were hit again by Maria, another CAT5 hurricane.

We are going to need your help in the days, weeks and months ahead but most of all we need you never to forget that we are Americans, we are the United States Virgin Islands.

We are VISTRONG

 

This moved EW and me to tears.  If you are moved and can help, here’s a list of organizations that I found on the blog “Women Who Live on Rocks”.

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

St. John Community Foundation

Virgin Islands Relief

Irma Relief for our Sister Islands

Love for Love City by Kenny Chesney

St. John Rescue

Art for Love City

Tim Duncan VI Relief

USVI “Adopt a Family”

United Way USVI

USVI Amazon Wish List

ReVIve the VI

 

PHOTO Credits. 1. My Facebook 2. USVI Facebook 3. NYTime article


The Not Me Syndrome

Oh, man.

No one deserves a hurricane. Not one island, not one state, not a city or town, and certainly not all their people. We are still reeling from the videos, stories, and photos of Hurricane Matthew and now we have Irma. We none of us “deserve” Irma. None of us want to meet her. All of us are thinking, “Not here.” “Not now.” “Not me.”

Please, Irma, no.

Irma, who is beating down on the Leeward Islands, may have a human’s name, but not a human’s heart or will. Irma just happens. She will happen to the Leewards, islands which you may know only know as a cruise ship stop or a great honeymoon location. We stayed for months in those islands. We have friends there and we fear for them. No, Irma, don’t go there.

Irma, who may make a bearing for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where we have even more friends as well as family. No, Irma, don’t go there!

In the US, on Monday, September 4, the Governor of Florida has already declared a state of emergency ahead of Irma. Oh, heavens, no. No, Irma, please don’t come here!

And there we get to it: the Not Me Syndrome.

All sources indicate it’s too soon to tell where Irma will impact the US. Will she turn north early or late, leaving Florida relatively unscathed and head to another state? While we would breath many sighs of relief for ourselves and our friends in St. Augustine, we would definitely worry about friends and family from Florida to Maine—or those along the Gulf in Louisiana and Texas.

So, no, Irma, please don’t come here.

But don’t go there, either!

Please.

Don’t.

As we all know, our thoughts mean nothing. We don’t have the option for “No Irma”. We don’t have any options except to get ready to leave—or to stay. We plan to leave, but where do we go?  That’s going to be decided by Thursday as we watch and wait and learn more about Irma.

Irma the relentless, growing monster of wind and rain and destruction.

No, Irma. Please. Not here. Not me. And not there, either. Not any of them, either.

 

NOTE: “Category 6” does not refer to a new level of storm, It’s the name of the hazardous weather column on Weather Underground.

 

Irma 9.4.2017


Five Ways I’m Staying Focused On Cruising

IMG_6810Some of you know that while EW is working on the boat like the hero he is, I’m working in the Gig Economy with 3-4 contracting/independent jobs (depending on who is counting).

Yep. That’s a lot of fun. We should have done a bit of research before settling on St. Augustine. Tourism is their big business and it doesn’t pay well.

I digress.

Frequently.

Work is (finally) going quite well, but if a cruiser is not often on the boat and actually living in a home on dirt, it can be easy for said cruiser to lose focus. I’ve found a few things that help.

But first, a pause for the project. This an old photo. All teak has been removed except that under the deck fills and a few posts on the bow and stern. For that, he needs me. Two awesome friends each helped remove the track from one side of the boat.  (Thank you, Ross and Matt!)

 Now then, back to our regularly scheduled post.

 Five things that get me excited about the cruising life when we aren’t cruising:

5. I have been envious of every blessed one of our cruising friends. And then learned that new friends who are having a wonderful cruise from Florida to Bermuda for the America’s Cup and on to Nova Scotia so far only recently got their boat back in the water after working on her for months. Lesson: We are not alone. Working on the boat for an extended period of time is part of this lifestyle and the rewards are worth it.

4. St. Augustine is a wonderful sailing “crossroads” allowing us to make new cruising friends and meet up with ones we met in distant ports. Just talking with other cruisers takes me right back to loving the life. Lesson: While we have made some great friends on shore, we need to remember to socialize with the cruising set on a regular basis. They are our people. (Keeping in touch with them on Facebook has been priceless—even if jealousy rears its ugly head.)

3. Since we are living in a furnished rental, I’m becoming familiar with new (to me) and different products, tools, and systems. No, we aren’t going to put a dishwasher on the boat, but I am going to find a place for a salad spinner because it’s as useful as Carolyn of the Boat Galley said.  Also, do you know about micro-planes? A beautiful invention. Wonderful. Why did I not know this? Lesson: There are definitely things I need to research and learn about before repacking the boat. (HGTV and the Food Network have been wonderful sources.)

2. This is a great opportunity to clean and clean out the boat. First, while we are still CLODS, I’m going to scrub every inch of the interior. (Who am I kidding? I’ll do most of it. I’m not a skewer cleaner.) After she’s clean enough, I’m going to open every box that was left on board and carefully evaluate its contents to see if they bring me joy. (I’m not kidding. Ask EW.) Things will be tossed and other things will be stored in a new space. I’ve already negotiated one space in the galley that I foolishly gave to EW  years ago. No, he does NOT need to keep filters and screws in the galley. What was I thinking? We have not re-evaluated the space planning since moving aboard 15 years ago. Lesson: Just because it fits somewhere on the boat, doesn’t mean you get to keep it on the boat. Remember, this is a minimalist lifestyle.

1. And the number one way I have been keeping my cruising spirits up? By planning the next adventure, of course. We don’t actually know when we’ll leave or what direction we’ll head. Some of that depends on the time of year we pass through the Bridge of Lions for an extended cruise. We have ideas, and I am researching them. Lesson: Dreaming about distant shores is what got us here. It will also motivate us to work for and on the next cruise.

 

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April Sunset 2015 – Must be St. Thomas


CLODS!

IMG_0771Nope, that’s not a new swear word. It’s what many of us call those who have moved off the boat and onto land: CLODS. Cruisers Living On Dirt.

Please note, we are only temporary CLODS and this has been part of the plan since we came to St. Augustine. EW was always going to varnish the interior which is nearly impossible while living aboard. With the deck job added, it became imperative that we move off the boat.

We are delighted and so very fortunate to have a space for June and July that is clean, air conditioned, and quite near the boat. On May 31st we moved off in 6 dinghy loads. Yep, that was a barrel of laughs.

Actually, EW had been out of town on a quick trip to Maine with Jerry and Betsy French (Hi, Jerry!) so I spent the holiday weekend packing. I vacuumed-bagged the cold weather stuff, boxed all dishes, books and – well everything in the main salon, galley, and master stateroom.

Everything.

Every damn thing.

Some boxes were labeled “STAY” while others were labeled “GO”.

“STAY means STAY!” I told him when EW blindly grabbed the first box he saw. Yeah. though he’d been out of town and missed the packing moment of three flipping days, he didn’t ask any questions, just started putting boxes in the dinghy.

“Oh,” he said. “Good plan.”

After that, things went very, very, very, very, very, very smoothly.

Let me count the verys (veries?)

1. Though rain and thunderstorms were predicted, we had none until that evening.

2. We had no wind and no chop.

3. We found a parking spot right in front of the marina (well it was 6:30 AM)

4. There was a small boat slip near the second ramp so it was a straight shot up the ramp and to the car.

5. Once the car was loaded (before 10:00 AM) with everything except the main salon cushions, Stew moved it to the rental and found a place right in front (We can’t use the driveway and since we don’t have a car, no big.)

6. We were done and eating a lovely lunch by 1:00.

I call that a win.

I have a desk here and have been working like mad.

IMG_0773-001Five days a week, EW packs his lunch and goes off to the mines. He’s making great progress and has removed all the teak from the stern and along the port side up to just past the gate. He’s also stripped 75% of the teak in the master stateroom.

Lordy, lordy I love that man.

I also love having a real refrigerator/freezer. The landlords may find nail marks on it as EW may have to pry it from my grasping hug.

I am very grateful for this space. But except for the fridge/freezer, I can’t wait to get back on board.

We are not ready to be CLODS. (And miss all this fun?)


Optimism Keeps Us Going

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We who live aboard and do our own boat projects have to be optimists.

No joke.

  • You have to believe you will get a weather window.
  • You have to believe you will be able to install a new muffler.
  • You have to believe you can fix the wiring in Panama where they don’t sell much marine wire.

You HAVE TO BEEE-LIEVE brothers and sisters!

Since this is Day Two of the Deck Project, and since Day One (a few hours actually) went very well, I am super-optimistic.

I am supercalifragilisticexpialidocious optimistic.

On May 31st, we’ll be moving off the boat for 8 weeks, we’ll live in a small place nearby while I work to pay for this, and EW does most of the boat work. Poor EW. The good news is that my healthy, vibrant husband is back. The bad news is that I’m going to put him in a sweat house for 8 weeks. He is my hero.It’s going to bite me, isn’t it?

So, after only two hours of deck work yesterday, here’s what we know from the trial.

  1. EW will unscrew the screws so that they don’t pull out and rough up the fiberglass.
  2. The “glue” used to hold the teak to the decks is no longer working, so it’s pretty easy to pull up the teak.
  3. That “glue” a black substance, comes up fairly easy after an application of paint thinner. “We’re going to need a lot of rags,” said EW.

Here’s what we knew before we started: Our core is 1-inch thick mahogany. We have had only one leak down below and that’s probably due to a deck fitting, which will be easier to locate once we pull the teak. In other words, we don’t expect to have any spongy deck spots or have to break through the fiberglass and repair wood. (Knocking wood as I say this.) (Really.) (If you want to knock wood on my behalf right now, I would not mind. Thank you.)

It may rain today, so EW filled the screw holes. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be packing up the boat so that we can access the nuts holding the tracks and other deck parts. One of the most tedious parts of this project will be removing everything from the side decks. We have done that once before. I do not look forward to it.

But I am optimistic.

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Moms, Friends, and Mom's Friends

IMG_0002Happy Mothers’ Day to (as I said in a recent SSCA newsletter) all Moms, Bonus Moms, Grandmoms, and Special Aunts.

This goes out to all of you, especially my Forever Friends. Every single day I am grateful for my very special women friends. Every day.

I have been so fortunate to have a friend for life whom I met in 5th grade, a friend for life from our first day at UMO, two friends for life from our working days in Portland, and a number friends of for life I’ve met on our cruising adventures.

I am a very fortunate woman.

I am also a very fortunate daughter.

It is only as I’ve aged that I’ve realized Mom also had “friends for life”, some of whom she met as a young woman on her own in the 1940’s while living in the big city of Portland, Maine.

My friends and I have been able to stay in touch easily via email, Facebook, Skype, and unlimited calling plans, but my mom only had the occasional visits, letters, cards, and expensive long-distance calls. In fact, I know I didn’t always realize how much she cherished her friends simply because I couldn't see her with them often in Real Life or on the phone.

My mom’s been gone well over 15 years, but one of her friends’ for life just passed this spring.

Colleen Reed was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to many. She also worked to stay in touch with me after my mom’s death.  In fact, 6 years ago Colleen drove from Westbrook to Brunswick to take me to lunch before EW and I sailed away from Maine.

That visit has been a cherished memory ever since.

Colleen’s niece, Aileen,  friended me on Facebook and kept Colleen up to date on our travels.

This year, Aileen let me know that Colleen was ill and not likely to survive and then a few weeks later she let me know that Colleen, my last link to my mom’s generation, had passed.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

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20170512_123431This week I received a note from Aileen, who has spent weeks cleaning out Colleen’s apartment. (With help from her brother, a cousin, and a friend for life.) With the note, she sent my birth announcement and a Christmas photo card from 1959 when I was three. Colleen had saved them because she loved my Mom and that’s what forever friends do.

As we’ve traveled from port to port since 2010, my friends have sent photos of their kids, their dogs, their grandkids, and themselves. Every one of those photos is downloaded into a file under the appropriate year. That file is labeled “Back Home”. It’s my friend and family photo album and I make sure to back it up regularly.20170511_093304

On this Mother’s Day Weekend, I am grateful that I am the daughter of a wonderful red-headed mom.

I am grateful that she had awesome friends like Colleen.

I am grateful that by modeling her friendships, I have been fortunate to have my own “forever friends”.

And finally, I am incredibly grateful that my friends and I have all embraced new technologies so that we can more easily maintain contact and share our joys, triumphs, challenges, and sorrows.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has loved a child—their child, a bonus child, the child of a sibling, the child of a cherished friend, or the child who needed them.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has modeled love and friendship to the next generation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, because you have all made a difference.

 _________________________

The photo at the top—my mom and me—on the first Thanksgiving EW and I hosted after we got married. ('80's perms.)


Watermelon, Cupcakes, Radio, and Bikes

It all fits together.

Let’s start with the Bikes. Soon after we arrived in St. Augustine, I imagined EW and me riding around town on lovely old-fashioned bicycles. (There are no hills here.)

It didn’t happen. Our friends Kirsten and Rocky from S/V Nightmusic bought a bike for Kirsten while they were in town last year and left it here under EW’s care. I had trouble riding it and thought that I may be the only person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike.

This year, Malcolm and Laura from S/V Thistle were here for 6 months and purchased two second-hand bikes from a thrift shop. We bought them when they left. “Bluebird” has wide handlebars, big tires, and (at first) a low seat. I considered the ability to plop my feet down the adult version of training wheels and spent a bit of time over two weeks to get comfortable. Yesterday, EW raised the seat and I’m a real bicyclist.

I like it so much that I found myself smiling while biking and this morning I passed my destination because I was enjoying the ride. Image result for Dorothy Wizard of oz on bike(I smile more and my basket is smaller and in the front. Plus I love dogs. Other than that, I feel like this when I’m riding my big girl’s bike.)

That brings us to Radio. One of the reasons I’ve not been prolific on the blog is that there are a whole lot of important things pulling at my time now that I am a “liveaboard” instead of a cruiser—particularly a working liveaboard. I’m working to make money so that we can fix the boat and become cruisers again, socializing with cruisers, spending time with EW, and doing all the normal life things one does—except I live on a boat on a mooring and we have no car.

This morning I had a networking breakfast at 8 and a live interview on a radio station at 11:30. They were only a mile apart so I rode my bike to the first, stayed at Café Bistro and worked, and rode my bike to WSOS, 103.9 for the interview.

20170425_121710EW said I did well. It’s been a long time but evidently, I haven’t forgotten my media voice either. During the half hour interview punctuated with cool oldies music (Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones to name two), Nicole and Kevin mentioned cupcakes. Specifically, Sweet City Cupcakes from St. Augustine. I love cupcakes so I rolled with it.

After the interview, Nicole said, “Wow, I suppose since you’re on a bike, you can’t take the cupcakes.”

“You really have cupcakes?”

“Yes,” she said, as she opened a cupboard and presented me with a box of four beautiful cupcakes. I told her I would find a way to carry the cupcakes, and I did.

However, I had to make a stop at Rype and Readi, one of my new favorite St. Augustine haunts, to pick up fruit for a fruit salad. There was no room in the basket for the fruit, so EW got a call.

“Honey, can you come in and pick me up --- and meet me at Rype and Readi? I have my bag and cupcakes and can’t add the fruit.” Since EW’s bike has no basket (yet), I asked him to wear his backpack. Cupcakes may have motivated him to agree but probably he would have done it anyway, 'cause he’s a nice guy.

So I purchased a half watermelon, a pineapple, and strawberries, and Sebastian gave me three ripe mangoes, and I waited for EW to arrive. I had my purse/laptop case and the cupcakes in my basket and the bag of produce waiting for EW. He rounds the corner and I wonder why his backpack straps are invisible.

He looked at me, “You know,” he said, “On my way over here I remember the backpack and thought, ‘You had 20170425_131856just one job.’”

So, we put the fruit in the basket, put the cupcakes on top, and dangled my heavy bag from the handlebars. It worked.

I have learned, however, that small bike baskets are not the best place to carry cupcakes. I may have to get a large basket in the back like Miss Gulch. (And no, I am not going to get a small black dog to ride back there. He’d only eat the cupcakes.)

For lunch, I put the cupcakes on a plate and reapplied the frosting. They were not pretty but I assure you they were delicious. The chocolate one with peanut butter frosting was our favorite. Evidently, at one point it looked like this


April 1. A Special Day on La Luna.

Good morning. I have always been tickled by April Fool’s Day.

So sue me.

I particularly love hearing the latest NPR fake news story. This morning, I had the opportunity to play.

Somehow (HOW did this happen?) I am the person responsible for the St. Augustine Cruisers’ VHF Net. In season, we are on every blessed morning at 8:00 on channel 72. (That specific information is only relevant to those planning to boat here.)

Anyway, one of the things we do is offer a bit of human interest info at the start, usually revolving around famous births, deaths, and other events. I tend to have “date envy” because everyone else gets the cool days and I end up with “National Raisinets Day”. Seriously?

My morning is Saturday and Saturday in 2017 is on April 1. WHOO HOO!

This morning, after opening with my name and announcing the net, and before stating the date, I said:

It’s not often we get to report actual news but this was just announced late last night– The 35th America’s Cup Challenge will not be held in Bermuda as planned. Unfortunately, it has been decided that these beautiful islands, home of only 60 thousand people, can not accommodate the expected America’s Cup Crowd.

Instead, the Bridge of Lions will get a major work out beginning in May when the event moves to St. Augustine.

Yes, St. Augustine will be the home of the next America’s Cup event. Boats will have to leave the dock at the city Marana to make room for the competitors and their chase boats. The Pirate ship, Victory, and Freedom will offer special America’s Cup Tours so that folks can witness the races.

“This event will put our city of St. Augustine on the world map in a way no other event can”, said Nancy Shaver, Mayor of St. Augustine.

Sam Adukiewicz Harbor Master was not as effusive. “Certainly, we can handle it. We handled the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and we can handle this. We are delighted, however that the city has promised us all the money needed to repair the docks by May 15th. So we welcome the boats and their crews.”

I rolled out of that, simply announced the date, and moved on to the rest of the script. (Truth moment: I was so tickled by myself that I kind of forgot a couple of paragraphs in the script. They weren’t all that important.)

Now I can cross this off my bucket list. (Yes, it was on my bucket list along with riding an elephant (done), getting paid to write (done), and running a parade (done, but it was tiny – though we did get to close a few streets). Yes, I have a strange bucket list.

As most of you know, buying a boat, moving aboard, and going cruising were on EW’s bucket list. At first, I went along for the ride but by the time we moved aboard La Luna I was on board both figuratively and literally.

In 2002 – 15 years ago—we viewed a vessel called Shimshon on January 19, promptly listed the house, closed on it on March 29, and closed on the boat that became La Luna on April 1, 2017.

(Yes, family, friends, and co-workers mentioned that the date may be appropriate for people who sell their home, most of their possessions, and move aboard a boat.)

Today is our 15th anniversary of this wild ride.   While there are things we would do differently now, all of them occurred after we purchased La Luna; we have no regrets. So tonight, we will be out with friends at the Rhythm and Ribs Festival and we will raise a toast to La Luna, crossing things off our bucket list, and living our dream.

Photos: 1.Our first weekend on the boat. We were visited by my sister Pat and BIL Jerry, who took this photo. Pat passed in 2014 as we crossed back from the Canaries. She was one of our biggest supporters and I miss her.  2. We lived aboard in Maine from 2002 to 2010 (except for the year from hell when we were hauled out) This was winter aboard. (Yep. No regrets about that either.)

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La Luna at Sunrise 04-05

 

 

3. La Luna under sail in Harpswell.  4. EW bundled for our sail south, October 2010. 5. Treetop Band, one of EW’s many music moments on this journey. 6. St. Augustine Sunset.

 

Sailing to Windward Harpswell 9-3-2007 2-23-54

EW Escaping New England 10-19-2010 12-34-44 PM

 

 

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EW ‘s health has improved greatly and things are going very well here. Signing the papers to purchase the boat that became La Luna was no joke. It was one of the best things we ever did.


Feeling Like A Cruiser

Pelican Cats PawCruisers cruise.

Liveaboards live on board.

All cruisers are liveaboards but not all liveaboards are cruisers. I think I’ve explained this before. 

Please note:  though none of my spell checkers have caught up with reality, “liveaboard” is one word in our world. There’s even a Facebook group to prove it.

We were liveaboards in Maine, and then we were cruisers, and now we are liveaboards again.

Living aboard is different from cruising. I miss cruising. We have cruising friends here in St. Augustine. They come down from the north to get warm or come up from the south to do boat work and get used to 60 degree days before going to Maine. (Just kidding. Kind of.) The point is, that there are few folks like us who live on board and work here, and many more who are moving north and south—albiet very slowly once they reach St. Augustine as this is a very sticky harbor.

We are liveaboards and I am working three gig jobs which equal one and a half full-time jobs and we’ve been dealing with EW’s health issues (all is great there) so my work days have been interrupted and I have spent hours during the past four weekends either working or helping EW.

I have often felt as busy as that run-on sentence while I have not once felt like a cruiser.

Until Saturday. That’s not to say we actually moved the boat; we are still on the mooring and will remain here until we haul her this summer. But on Saturday I felt like a real cruiser.

What does a real cruiser feel like?

IMG_2024First of all, cruisers don’t have land vehicles. We use dinghies and public transportation to get ashore and get groceries. (Oh, the buses and “taxies” I’ve been in throughout the Caribbean.) For cruisers—whether you go by dinghy or bus or have the grocer come to you in an ulu—getting groceries is an adventure.

On Saturday, I had to get groceries and took IMG_2073the dinghy to Cat’s Paw Marina, a distance of about a mile and a half by water. It felt wonderful. I even took my little shopping cart to help me transport all my goods back to the dinghy. We’ve done this B.M (before Matthew) with no issues but I didn’t realize that Hurricane Matthew had pretty much destroyed the dinghy dock and filled in the mud on the back side. I blithely dinghied to my normal out of the way docking spot and promptly got the dinghy motor firmly stuck in the mud.

Well, I promptly got it stuck. I got it firmly stuck when I stood in the stern and tried to raise it out of the mud. (Blond much?) The attendants came my way with offers of help, but I waved them off. For one, I was not a paying guest and for two there was nothing anyone could until the tide came in. Instead, I tied the dinghy with a spring line in addition to the bow line so that Lunah Landah wouldn’t get punctured by the four big ugly bolts sticking out of the broken dock, and went to Publix.

Upon my return, I purchased a bag of ice from Cat’s Paw Marina and dumped it into the cooler bag, bought a bottle of water, and sat in the shade to Facebook for a while. Also, I called EW who remained calm and asked only that I raise and check the engine before simply starting it.

The tide rose as the tide always does.

I wandered down to the dinghy, observed that she was floating (though the engine was still very close to the mud), and (this proves I learn from my mistakes) got into the bow, untied the lines and used my hands to push Lunah Landah to the deep end of the shallow dock. I did not move to the stern and raise the motor until I canoed the short distance to the good dock.

Cats Paw

 

Cat’s Paw Marina has a few slips with large power vessels and stores all other boats on shore in a hanger, lifting them out with a huge forklift. Mark, a boater and fisherman, was on the good dock washing his boat prior to having it lifted. Of course, he wanted to know what was going on. Evidently, he doesn’t normally see a woman paddling an inflatable with one oar from the bow. Go figure.

I told him my sad tale, lifted the motor so we could look at it, and asked if he thought I should hose off the mud.

Affirmative.

Our little Tohatsu (of whom I’ve not always said good things) started right up and only bled mud for about 30 seconds.

Throughout the entire episode, while I felt like a fool, I had a great time. I was having a cruisers’ adventure. Things like this never happened when we were liveaboards in Maine and frequently happened when we were cruising.

Life in St. Augustine is great, EW is much better, and I haven’t forgotten (or learned to disdain) the joys of the cruisers’ life.

Whew.


Tacking

TACKING:

“This basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe.”

--Discoverboating.com

 

Also, “When sailing to windward a boat cannot move along a straight (rhumb) line, but must tack back and forth, at an angle to the rhumb line in order to arrive at one’s goal. While this can be fun and exhilarating, it can also add greatly to the length of the journey and try my patience.”

--Barbara J. Hart

 

EW and I took a road trip together this past weekend. We rented a car and drove from St. Augustine to Tavares to Reddington Beach (near Tampa). EW’s cousin Billy and his wife Amy winter in Tavares and we stopped by to see them on our way to celebrate EW’s friend Jim’s 70.27th birthday. (Don’t ask.) Along the way down and back I did more of the driving and EW did more of the navigating than is normal for us. FB_IMG_1488924076402

Consequently, while we didn’t get lost, we did make a few wrong turns and had to backtrack. How can this happen when the navigator has an iPad with navigation software and a planned route? Well, that’s a good question. We were late to Tavares and late getting home and on both trips, EW announced that we had “missed our turn” a “while back”. Each time, after a bit of scrambling, EW found a road that would get us to our next “mark” and we were off again.

TRUE CONFESSION: On the day we left St. Augustine, we were late in large part due to traffic and a bad logistics decision on my part. And “we” did miss a turn. So, when EW made his next to last navigation error on our way home, I got a bit testy. When he made another error, directing me to go straight when I clearly saw a sign that pointed to St. Augustine to the right, I told him he was fired as a navigator.

A very short while later I found my sense of humor again and suggested that he missed sailing so much he’d decided to tack along our way instead of following the map (land chart).

It has occurred to me that we have been tacking since we arrived in St. Augustine in December of 2015. While we have had many fun (even exhilarating) moments, we have also experienced a great deal of tedium, some “breakdowns”, and a lengthened journey toward our goal.

I’m not going to mince words when I tell you that some of this virtual tacking—including Hurricane Matthew and EW’s more recent health issues— took some wind out of my sails. You probably could tell by the lack of posts. (And if you aren’t on Facebook, “EW’s recent health issues” just scared you. Sorry. He’s fine.)

In short, there has been little downwind sailing in 2016 and early 2017. To recap:

  • We came to St. Augustine so that I could work to build up the cruising kitty and pay for boat repairs while EW worked on the boat.
  • Getting a well-paying job proved to be impossible. (Yes, 59-year-old women are unemployable)
  • The latter part or 2016 showed a little light at the end of the job tunnel.
  • And Hurricane Matthew.
  • This was followed by news in December that EW needed a pacemaker. (Something that wasn’t a surprise to me.) He got one on January 3rd and was well on the road to recovery.
  • I landed consulting/writing/sales positions as an independent contractor and started to get busy.
  • EW started feeling poorly. I realized something was up, but he didn’t talk about it until a few weeks had passed.
  • He ended up in the hospital.  Yeah. That was some tack. The short story (which is not my strong suit) is that he was bleeding internally due to an abrasion on his esophagus---partly caused by the tiny daily aspirin he had been told to take after the installation of the pacemaker. He’s fine, recovering nicely, and taking it easy. (Hence my driving and his navigating.)

Please note that it hasn’t been all “wind on the nose in choppy seas”.

  • We have made life-life long friends here among the boaters in St. Augustine
  • We have renewed our friendship with two former Maine friends, Deb and Joe, and been able to spend time with Cathy and Stu and their family.
  • I can see my three gigs will allow us to meet all of our financial goals.
  • We are playing more, visiting with friends and taking road trips.
  • I have an awesome hair cut.
  • I’ve begun to build a business network.
  • I’m rediscovering my writing mojo. (Which is good, because EW keeps bragging about my prior writing exploits, handing out cards and making me feel guilty about this blog. Yes, I know that isn’t his intention, but when he tells people to read the blog, I cringe because I know there’s nothing new.)
  • We’ve had a number of friends and relatives visit us in St. Augustine—from St Thomas, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York.
  • We have started taking a road trip every so often (TWO this month) to see friends and experience more of Florida. (I will know I’m really back to blogging when I remember to take the dang camera.)

Here we are, two months into 2017, and I feel like this is truly my New Year. We both still love living aboard together and, while we are currently “liveaboards” and not “cruisers”, we fully embrace the lifestyle and can’t wait to go cruising again.

All this tacking has created a longer journey here in St. Augustine and we’ll probably stay here three years total before setting sail again. I’m OK with that, but I am ready for a long stretch of wind at our backs.

Even better, I’d love a broad reach.

So, Happy New Year (a bit late), We wish you fair winds and following seas and a broad reach. For those who don’t know, that’s a very comfortable point of sail that lets you move exactly where you want to go, often at a good clip.

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Let’s talk photos: Up top, that’s us with Cousin Billy and his lovely bride Amy.

 E W and Jimmy

I am serving the Beef on Wick. (Yes, the Mainah volunteered to serve the only regional New York dish. Birthday carrot cake

EW and I found a T-Shirt, proving that Jim is “Older than the Beach”. 

He wore it to brunch. Real man. That’s his baby sister, Patty.

And with the cake—Jim and his lovely bride, Marcia.