We who live aboard and do our own boat projects have to be optimists.
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.
EW will unscrew the screws so that they don’t pull out and rough up the fiberglass.
The “glue” used to hold the teak to the decks is no longer working, so it’s pretty easy to pull up the teak.
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.
Happy 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.”
This 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.
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.)
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. (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.
EW 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 just 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
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.)
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.
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.
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?
First 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 the 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
NO! This is not about the recent election. (Though someone may want to co-opt the title.)
For over a year now, we aboard La Luna have been working on what we “lovingly” call the “Joy Project”. (EW has no love for the “Joy Project”.) Way back in 2014 I stumbled across a little book written by a young, slight, seemingly OCD Japanese woman. “The KonMari Method, The Life Changing Habit of Tidying Up” resonated with me (and made me laugh). After some discussion EW agreed (He. Did. Agree.) to join me in working our way through the boat in the KonMari method in order to get rid of things, resettle in a joyful way those things we kept, and reassert control over our boat, our stuff, and every single drawer, cupboard, and storage area. I would keep careful records of our successes, the “Joy” achieved, and the challenges, to use in a future new book about our cruising life.
While we are joyful people, we suck at getting “Joy” by using the KonMari method.
A case in point.
Those who follow me on Facebook know that with all the moving from boat to friends’ home, to another friend’s boat, and back aboard La Luna during and after Hurricane Matthew, I lost a bra. How does anyone lose a bra? Well, I have found said bra; it had fallen in the space behind our hamper. (Despite that one flaw, the hamper does bring us “Joy”.) When one brings “Joy” in the KonMari method, one works in categories and takes a number of months (or in our case, evidently, years) to go through one’s abode category by category. So far we’ve done clothing, cooking, and assorted other items. We suck at this. In doing clothing, while we got rid of a lot, we still had to find places to store the winter stuff during the St. Augustine summer. Fall has arrived with 57 degree nights and I have not been able to find my jeans. I imagined that I had taken them to Goodwill during the “Joy Project”. This was not a Good Thing.
As the Net Controller for the St. Augustine VHF Net, I am responsible for the lovely burgees that we sell to raise money for …. whatever. One of our newer liveaboards asked where he could obtain said burgee and I jumped up and down and waved my hands on our Facebook page and told him that I had them for sale for $25.00. He gave me the money when he saw me on shore and I now owe him a burgee. (Trust me, this all ties together with—mostly—Joy.
So yesterday, I blithely went to the Master Stateroom where I had been storing the burgees for about 6 months. No Joy. I tore the area apart—five times—No Joy. I ultimate had a hissy fit (I can still attribute those to Hurricane Aftermath for about four more days, at which point we will have been back aboard for a month and I have to move on.) No Joy from the hissy fit either, so I proceeded to tear apart the quarter berth area, and somewhere in there the forward door to the shower … BREAK If this boat were filled with “Joy” one could actually walk in a circle from Maine Salon to Quarter Berth to Shower, to Aft Head, to Master State Room, to Galley, and to Main Salon. That has NEVER happened on La Luna. It would bring me great “Joy”.
Anyway, the door to the shower popped open and a number of full plastic garbage bags tumbled into the Quarter Berth area. To my “Great Joy”, these contained......(no not the Burgees) my winter clothes! Yippee. Hip Hip Hooray. Warmth. Long pants. Fleece. Joy.
Now let me tell you about the shower. For 5 years in the Caribbean, this shower was my friend. I could take warm showers and cool showers. Naked. In the privacy of my boat. Often, we still showered on deck in our suits (we are not from France, after all), but I love our shower stall. Here in Florida, we shower on shore because we can and because we can take “Hollywood” showers, a luxury of leaving the water running for your entire shower. Now that brings me great joy.
Again this ties in.
When we worked together on the “Joy Project” those months ago, we came up with a lot of things we no longer needed and evidently we did not take anything to Goodwill. Instead, we stored them in the one place on the boat we aren’t currently using: The Shower. It is the Black Hole. There is a pile of things we intend to give away or sell, the brand new man overboard pole EW wants to keep out of the sun, and my few items of dress clothes hanging on hangers. (Hadn’t used hangers in 5 years. Using hangers does not bring me joy.) In addition, there is a dish tub of cleaning products I never put back under the head sink when I “Brought Joy” to that area of cleaning supplies. This is not an approved method of obtaining “Joy”. (Though I love the new sink organization and maybe don’t need that stuff in the tub at all.)
This morning, I took a new storage tub (another story in its own self), emptied a cupboard on my side of the bed in which I had put all my big sewing stuff, lovingly folded my winter clothes in the approved “Joy” method, and gave them a home in the Master Stateroom. Said tub went into the Black Hole, along with the cleaning products, dress clothes, old and new man overboard poles, and numerous bags of stuff that are supposed to be OFF THE BOAT.
Told you we suck at this “Joy Project”.
Now, some of you may wonder, “What about the burgees?”
I had an epiphany, about a half hour into during all of this fussing and hissying, and emptying cupboards. When we moved off the boat before the hurricane I had packed up a bag of precious things and taken them to Joe and Deb’s in Elkton. Since we were going to be refugees for a few weeks, Deb offered to keep the precious bag until I had time to take it back. The burgees are in the precious bag in Elkton.
So part of me resents the lost time yesterday. Part of me realizes that without the “lost” burgees I might not have found my clothes for weeks and finding my clothes brought me “Great Joy”. All of me realizes that we have to get cracking on the “Joy Project”. EW will not be really happy about this. Stay tuned.
EW has been a fixing machine since we moved back aboard. He fixed the water muffler. He fixed the windlass. He fixed the propane. He re-installed the wind generator. He was a machine!
You could even say I performed cleaning nearly on par with “Skewer Cleaning”. (Depending upon how one quantifies “nearly”.) My mom came from a long line of people who like to clean. (Shudders.) A number of my cousins have that gene, and some of my cousins received my portion of that gene as well. These are the cousins who keep a package of wooden skewers in their cleaning kit so that they can poke and prod every last piece of dust and dirt from whatever it is they are cleaning. I don’t have a cleaning kit, and if I did it wouldn’t have skewers.
Note that I am not making fun of these cousins. I am in awe of them. I set out with good intentions to do some skewer cleaning of my own (I have skewers. They are in the drawer one uses for cooking utensils. Where normal people store them!) Whoops. Where was I? Oh yeah. Not making fun of my cousins. Oh, and setting out with good intentions. Usually, when I set out on those good cleaning intentions something happens. Squirrel! or my efforts reach the stage of “Good Enough”.
Real skewer cleaners do not see squirrels and persevere well beyond “Good Enough”.
Last Saturday, I achieved cleaning “Perfection” in a (very) few areas of the vessel and “Beyond Good Enough” on the majority of areas. We call that a win here. A boat is much smaller than a home and there are few things under which one must dust, and even fewer things one can move. But a boat has all sorts of nooks and crannies, bins and baskets, and angles and handholds. A boat can fool you into thinking you’ve cleaned it, until in the morning light of the next day you realize you missed that one feature entirely.
It’s not easy loving someone who cruises. I’ve talked about it before. We miss important events. We can’t be reached when something happens. Our priorities are totally different, and it can seem like we have escaped from reality. We’ve certainly created our own reality, but our hearts still yearn for contact with loved ones back home, and when things happen to them we want to send ourselves north to help in any way possible. But usually, we can’t. We know that the feeling of love and helplessness can go both ways, and felt that first-hand after La Luna went walk-about.
So, a shout out to all of our family who sent hugs and love and offers of support, and to one of my cousins in particular. In her message of love, Fran said, “I wish I could come cook and clean for you.” And she meant it. And she’d bring her cleaning kit with extra skewers, and she would cook a Maine dinner that would taste divine and remind me of my folks and her folks. And with Fran’s wish, for that one moment amidst the chaos that was our life for ten days—for that one moment—I was transported back to Maine, to be enfolded by my family. I felt those hugs from a thousand miles away.
We were enfolded a lot during those ten days—and housed, fed, and cleaned up after. In that way, days before we moved back aboard, we were still “Home”. Because we were loved, and home is where you are loved.
Right now, La Luna is home back on a mooring, (Number 55) in the marina. We are all delighted to be here. Let more cleaning commence!
CONFESSION: The photo here is from a prior skewer cleaning moment --- in 2014. This is the forward cabin the way it should look. Right now it is covered in plastic topped with tools, teak trim, one new halyard, and four notebooks. Someday it will again be a guest cabin. Someday I will use it as a reading space. Someday. A girl can dream.PS. While cleaning, I found our Bean Pot. It wasn't lost, I had just forgotten that I'd given it a new home. While we are near a source of propane, we will have to make Maine Baked Beans once or twice. That will give us a taste of Maine, too. And Fran's mom, my Aunt Charlotte gave us an antique bean pot for our wedding. That was too precious for the boat and is in storage.
PS. While cleaning, I found our Bean Pot. It wasn't lost, I had just forgotten that I'd given it a new home. Since we are near a source of propane, we'll have to make Maine Baked Beans once or twice this winter That will give us a taste of Maine, too. And Fran's mom, my Aunt Charlotte gave us an antique bean pot for our wedding. That one was too precious for the boat and is in storage. The one on the boat looks just like the one in the photo. This photo came from a world foods site with a very good description of Maine Baked Beans. Here in the south, I've run into a whole bunch of folk who do not know of this delicacy, and the canned beans we find here are made with (gasp!) brown sugar. That is just wrong.
Those of you who use Facebook know that we are back in the water and living aboard and very, very thankful. We also are grateful to the many who helped us, supported us, hugged us, housed us, fed us, loved us, made us smile, and provided excellent advice.
There are two parts in getting a relatively undamaged boat back into the water, 1. Paying for it; 2. Doing the Heavy Lifting.
Paying For It
We choose to have only liability insurance on La Luna. We believe in liability insurance for our own protection and it is required for entering marinas all over the world. Even after reading our policy, it was not clear to us that liability would help in our situation. After all, La Luna had successfully traveled on her own sometime during Hurricane Matthew and arrived in one of the best possible spots without coming into contact with anything other than mud, small trees, and mangroves. She didn’t damage anyone’s personal property, and that is all we thought liability would cover.
You who read (and understand) the fine print, you who grilled your insurance agents, you who are both boaters and lawyers or insurance agents—all of you may know that your liability insurance (in most cases) kicks in when your boat goes walk-about. We did not know that. For over a week post-Matthew we thought we had to pay to get La Luna floating again. It was not an easy week, yet we continued to be thankful, saying “Once she’s floating, she’s our home again.”
Many other boaters were not as fortunate. This tug left St. Augustine recently with Polaris, Mental Floss, Nyght-Bryte, Anticipation, and at least two other loved sailing vessels. We know Polaris was totaled. Certainly, the others on deck are secured like cargo rather than someone’s current or future dream.
Thanks to David Wiggins, marine surveyor and hurricane insurance expert sent by Boat U.S., we learned that having your big, heavy boat beached on someone else’s property is not something the landowner likes all that much, so our boat was a liability. Thanks to EW’s hours of phone calls (on a Sunday) and thanks to those agents and adjusters who reached out to us in our time of need (on a Sunday), we learned that $14,100 was a reasonable fee for a heavy boat in that predicament, (Whew!) and that our insurance would cover all but the deductible (Double Whew!). Sunday was a very good day. Before we went cruising, we purchased insurance through Boat US, and recommend them. Once we left the country, we opted to purchase Markel Insurance through IMS Jackline Insurance and have found both the agent and the claims office to be excellent.
Doing the Heavy Lifting
We lost track of the days; moving, worrying, seeing to La Luna, and trying to figure out how to move her. There is a strong Facebook Group of local cruisers here and that became the go-to method of communication. Phosphorescence was lying right next to us, but her owner was on a Cruise Ship somewhere in Panama. We messaged with him and worked with his brother and with his insurance agent, David Wiggins. EW also began talking with any of the other boaters who wanted to communicate and whose boats were near ours, nine in all.
One was “up a creek” and able to winch his boat out to deep water over the course of days with help of the extreme high tide. Others opted to go with a crane and barge from Fernandina, which didn’t actually arrive in St. Augustine until after our boats had been hauled. EW talked with a highly recommended local barge and crane company, Yelton Marine Construction. While he is impressed with the owner and crew, it was decided that their rig was too small to handle ours in the best possible way. EW also talked with DIVECOM Marine, a salvage company from Tampa. Their method would have included skidding La Luna over the mud using a big tug and trash pump and all sorts of stuff. Again, nice guys, but not our favorite method; I am sure they were able to help others in the area. In the meantime, McCulley Marine Services arrived with an 110-ton crane on a barge and a nifty tug operator who looked like Father Time. Owner, Boo McCulley drove up from Fort Peirce to seek out business and therefore help folks like EW and me. David Wiggins, who has worked 26 previous hurricanes, had hired McCulley previously, recommended them, and chose them to haul out our temporary on-shore neighbor, Phosphorescence. Once we met with Boo, EW immediately decided that he wanted them to handle La Luna, as well.
Time note, all of this happened before we called our insurance company. EW nailed that down on Sunday, the day the crane moved into position for both La Luna and Phosphorescence. I love it when a plan comes together.
On Monday morning it was all about the tide as we gathered along the shore, joined by a surprising and heartwarming number of friends for support. Kirsten and Rocky rented a car and drove down from Georgia, Cathy made the trek again from Amelia Island, Joe dropped by from “Camp Elkton”, and Lisa and Matt came by from a few blocks away. The barge lifted Phosphorescence first. The crew was careful, skilled, and a delight. I called them engineering Bubbas and mean that in the best possible way. The barge operator called me “little lady” and assured me they’d have the boat on the water by noon. The others all “ma’amed” me and kept dismissing my praise as just a day in the life. EW says that they were careful y treated La Luna as if she were an eggshell.
By one, both vessels were off the mud and Phosphorescence was on her way to a safe dock. La Luna was (mostly) upright and (somewhat) in the water. Unfortunately taking care means taking time and we had lost the super high tide. No worries. She would stay in slings, held in the water by the crane until the next high tide when they would carry her out to deep water as tug and barge moved to a safe anchoring spot near the dolphins to the south. It was agreed that EW would join them and stay aboard that night, while I spent one last night with Jae-p on UB I. EW has been singing the praises of the McCulley crew ever since. Not only did they take care of our home, they worked very hard to take care of EW the night he slept on board, even to the point of making him coffee the next morning.
On Tuesday, October 18, I loaded the dinghy with the incredible amount of items we’d taken ashore before and after the hurricane, and rendezvoused with EW aboard our brilliant and forgiving floating home. Once we had tossed everything down below, the crew prepared to lower her the final six inches into the water, and then removed the slings, and towed us to a very temporary anchorage. Once again, I found myself in tears as I thanked each of them for all they had done. One of them replied, “I love my job! I get to do this and I get to make you happy!”
And that was it. Friends from Ann O'Malley's (Irish Pub, Buffalo fans, and Air B n B apartment) had offered to tow us to our anchorage near the mooring field, but our boat was too heavy and the winds too strong. We hired Tow Boat US who ably placed us in a safe temporary spot. This week we are putting things back in place below decks, cleaning, and fixing. EW removed the burst muffler and we ordered the new one. By the end of the week, we will be on our new, inspected mooring once again, living the life in St. Augustine.
NOTE: We took photos from two cameras, but the smaller outdoor camera didn’t work. Trust me, the boat looked great hung next to the tug overnight, and the dinghy was full on Tuesday morning.
The Tug, Barge, and Crane on Monday morning.
Cathy, wiggling past a downed tree on a compromised dock to give me a hug.
Kirsten, chatting with EW.
Photos not taken: Rocky, Joe, Matt, Lisa, and my boss and owner of the Black Raven, Gunner Hedquist.
They took great care of her while we watched, shed a few tears, and took photos. And then she was safe.
Sometime in the afternoon, they (somehow) moved La Luna from the port side to the starboard side of the tug. Once in deep water, they adjusted her in the slings, dove on her again to check for damage, and helped EW make sure all was well.
He spent the night on board La Luna, where I joined him on Tuesday.
We are so happy and relieved, but this is one adventure we never want to repeat.
Every day something appears in the news, on Facebook, or on Twitter that makes at least one person say, “I hate people.”
I feel sorry for that person. Sure, certain persons can go to H.E. Double Hockey Sticks but it has been my experience that people are wonderful. Now, you could attribute this belief to EW’s and my outlook on life: We like people, therefore they are wonderful. You may be right.
Over the years cruisers have often asked about the cruising community or the folks in a particular port and we have usually found them to be delightful as a whole, with one or two “interesting” characters who should be avoided. In fact, we ascribe to that old tale of two families moving to a new village back when the term “gated community” meant something completely different than it does now. Both families met an old man at the gate and both asked him, with some trepidation, what the people were like in this town. He asked both families what the people had been like in the town they had left. The first family replied, “Awful. Mean, not sociable, gossipy, and petty.” The second family said, “Oh, they were the best neighbors. Lovely people, generous, and kind. We were sorry to leave them.”
To both families, the old man replied, “You will probably find the people here to be just like the ones you left.”
We have lived together in two homes in two neighboring cities, on one boat in a marina for years, and for various lengths of time in a hundred or more different ports and I can tell you that we’ve had the best neighbors. We have enjoyed lovely generous and kind people and we were sorry to say farewell when we parted for different shores. Since we’ve moved to St. Augustine, I’ve had my issues with bureaucracy, hiring practices, and one particular physician—yet both EW and I have often mentioned that we’ve not met an unfriendly person in this town.
We thank all of you, those friends and loved ones from home who continue to send hugs, prayers, support, love, funny memes, and puppy pictures. Every one of those helps more than we can say. We thank our sailing and cruising buddies and are amazed at how many have reached out to us with advice, hugs, love, and commiseration, not condemnation. Folks have reached out via email, Facebook, phone, and the blog. Every message has been a welcome reminder of the many wonderful people we’ve met and hope to anchor near again.
And to those who have been able to offer immediate assistance, we are speechless with gratitude and humbled by your selfless acts.
Before the storm, I received a call from a man I’ve never met. He and his wife moved here from St. Thomas, where his wife worked with Barbara Hart the First. She works in a shop near us here in St. Augustine and I’ve stopped in to chat a few times. That’s it. Still, they called us before the storm to make sure we had a safe place to stay.
Also before the storm, I texted Kristen and Rocky about their bike. EW has been using her in their absence and we weren’t sure what to do with her before the storm. Both responded quickly and succinctly, something along the lines of, “Forget the DAMN BIKE!” The “damn bike” did fine. Here she is.
Musicians whom EW met only months ago have offered rooms, storage space, local insight, and more.
Kirk and Nancy showed up at the boat when EW optimistically decided to get a shovel and try to move La Luna a bit, and yet Kirk had met EW exactly once at a music meet up. They ended up taking me to Home Depot, and then to the marina while I changed clothes, and back to La Luna so I could help EW.
Matt and Lisa just moved to St. Augustine for their retirement, just in time for Hurricane Matthew. Matt is a long-time reader of this blog and dropped by to see me in the pirate store a couple of weeks ago. They were biking the area two days after the storm to check out the damage when they ran across us taking a walk to decompress and search (unsuccessfully) for coffee. They invited us home for strong, hot coffee.
We had warned Matt and Lisa that we’d have to dash when Mike called. Mike’s brother’s boat is on the hard next to ours and Mike offered to help us get the outboard off our boat and onto our dinghy at the marina. Mike called just as EW finished his coffee, so Matt drove us to La Luna to meet Mike, and then stayed and helped as we removed outboards from two vessels and a dinghy from Phosphorescence and load them into Mike’s truck.
Our dear friend, Cathy, messaged me on Monday that she would like to come down that afternoon to see us and the boat and to bring a “couple of meals”. Knowing that a hug from her was just what I needed and just what she needed to do, I accepted. She arrived at three with a huge dish of baked chicken goodness, a meatloaf, water, home-made chocolate chip cookies, and some healthy snacks. She had cooked all morning. I cried on her shoulder.
Friends we met in Panama have offered their boat for the two weeks they will be gone. Another friend from Panama, now back home on the West Coast started a string on a sailing net to come up with ideas for moving the boat. Really smart boating folk, including the owner of a Maine boatyard, and an engineer from Freeport have contacted us with valid ideas and concerns and with questions so that they can provide even better ideas.
And through it all, we get the Facebook comments, phone calls, and emails sending us love, encouragement, fun family news (my newest great nephew is just as cute as his cousins with a lot more hair), and photos of puppies, foliage, and family.
And I haven’t even mentioned our hosts. First Deb and Joe during the storm. It was never any question that if we had to leave the boat we could and would go to their home. We’re always very comfortable with them and they are gracious and welcoming, even when we learned the marina launches wouldn’t operate on Thursday and we had to invade their home a day early. We enjoyed our hurricane visit and were grateful for their tact and kindness when we discovered La Luna hard aground. We could have stayed with them this week, but EW and I needed to be closer to the action (as much as we enjoy “Camp Elkton”).
One post on Facebook we had offers of housing, including Laura and Malcolm whom we last saw in Panama. Jae-p and Tim were also very quick to offer and since they are on the dock at the City Marina, they “won”. I’m not sure we are a prize, but Jae-p has been incredibly gracious to two people she knows only socially. (She’s a very social person, though.) We have gotten along very well—at least I hope she thinks so. EW and I have enjoyed getting to know her and I’m having fun living on a catamaran. (But not that much fun, Jaime Pomeroy.)
Finally, the St. Augustine Cruiser’s Net has been an invaluable source of comfort, information, hugs and love, and assistance. Lisa Wilson Tarlecky and Michelle Bennett (neither of whom are currently living in St. Augustine) continue to provide information about what is happening in St. Augustine on a real time basis, helped us find resources, and allowed us to connect with others whose boats went walkabout. This is a well-run and useful Facebook User’s Group, and we would have been lost without it.
We would have been lost without all of you --- none of whom even once said “I told you so.” or “What the hell were you doing?” Thank you.
People are wonderful.
The lovely couple above in blue, are Joe and Deb, partners in crime and owners of "Camp Elkton".
That's Matt, under Phospheressence's dinghy, doing much more than he signed up for when he offered us coffee.
Below, one of two photos of me. Clearly, post-hurricane is not my best look.
To the right is Cathy, documenting our “adventure”.