We are Claiming our Dream and it is....Cleveland

On December 16, EW and I will have been in St. Augustine for two years, which would we absolutely awesome if we were ready to leave—but we are not. We are determined to be out of here in May, though because there will be no more hurricane seasons in Florida.

A Dream Must Be Specific (But may be subject to change.)

When we set sail, we were truly living our dream and incredibly excited, and we felt that way for 99% of our first five-years of cruising. (That 1% represents a brief moment in time during the “Endurance Crossing in 2014”.) We are still living our dream but a cruisers’ dream is not a fairy tale. Boats break down. We get health issues. Boats need repair. We find bad weather or it finds us. Do you have any idea how many things can go wrong in this cruising life? Most of us can imagine the worst, but I’m talking about those things you don’t think about, like an infestation of bugs, or losing the dinghy motor overboard, or (and this happened to at least one person I know on Facebook) you are knocked down by a severe reaction to lime juice and sunlight.

Seriously, be careful with the lime juice. Here’s an article that starts with “When life hands you limes, don’t juice them outdoors.” Who knew?

Sometimes during these past two years, I’ve had to keep reminding myself that we are still living our dream. But, then I hear of someone who must sell their boat due to family or health issues, or those who lost their boats during this horrible hurricane season, or even those whose life partner has decided they are done cruising—and I know that I’m living my dream and that EW feels the same, and I am incredibly thankful.

Claiming Our Dream Motivated Us When We Lived Aboard in MaineIsles des Saintes Fishing Port 6-2-2011 7-04-16 AM - Copy - Copy

So, what did we do back B.C. (Before Cruising) to keep us focused? We planned and plotted and researched destinations. We imagined anchoring La Luna in a beautiful Caribbean Harbor, or going through Scotland’s Caledonian Canal, or sailing into Quebec City. Deshaies in Guadeloupe was the first Caribbean anchorage that met my dreams, we have not yet opted to go to Scotland, nor did we get to Quebec before we left the northeast. Still dreaming and planning and plotting—claiming our next adventure is what keeps us going while we live the dream of the live-aboard (boat project and working) life here in St. Augustine.

So…Cleveland?Summer trip 2017

Well, EW still continues to surprise me after over 33 years together. One day this summer we realized we would not be ready to set sail in 2017 and began talking about where we would go if we left here in the spring of 2018. Here are his exact words, “I’ve always wanted to sail to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Really? Can we parse that sentence?

Define “Always”. Well, the museum didn’t open until 1995 (10 years after we were married) and I’ve never heard him say this. So I’m not sure when his “always” started, but I’ll let it go.

Sail to”  Since I didn’t grow up on the Great Lakes, I keep forgetting that one can actually sail to them from here. So yes, you can “Get the-ah from he-ah, de-ah”, as my dad would have said. You can, but it’s a heck of a sail.

As for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s not on my bucket list, but I’m game. (Heck, I was willing to sail to Gambia!) I’m sure Cleveland will be interesting, and there are a lot of great stops along the way. (Such as—ta-da!—Quebec City.) Now, we are still in the planning stages and cruisers know that living the dream requires us to cast our plans in sand but here is what the 2018 dream looks like right now.

Current Plans for 2018 Include the Following

I make a bunch of money. We fishing the decks, get the bottom cleaned, and get new rigging. (Both of us have a lot to do to make that happen.) Then, we leave here and sail as quickly as possible to Maine. This may require going to Bermuda, or going to Providence, or just going. Yes, Maine people, we plan to stay a couple of weeks to see as many of you as possible and to eat lobster. (Alas we will be too early for corn on the cob.) From Maine we’ll head to Nova Scotia, again bypassing many “must do” stops for other cruisers, and aim for Cape Breton Isle and the Bras d’Or Lake, where we will spend a week or so. W will exit to the north, and sail into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where we will spend time with whales and visit Quebec City. (See, I’m getting something out of this.)

By mid-August, we will transit the St. Lawrence Seaway which will take us from the ocean to Lake Erie. (How cool is that?) Watching the weather, we’ll sail to Cleveland and dock just steps from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Seriously. I mentioned this dream trip to folks who sailed to Florida from the Great Lakes. Guess which was their favorite stop before getting to the Erie Canal? Yep. Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Erie Canal

From there, we’ll again watch the weather (the Great Lakes scare me a bit) and skip back to Buffalo and EW’s family, plus take the mast down before going down the Erie Canal. Down the canal (down my foot – EAST again) and down the Hudson to New York City, where we plan to have a bit of time for to play tourists before heading south to the C & D Canal and more touring and family in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington D.C.

Claim Your Dream

It’s ambitious, and we have a lot of things to get done before we can go, but this will certainly keep us motivated and focused. Right now, this is the dream we claim for 2018 and we're going to do everything we can to make sure it happens—after all, it’s apparently something EW has always wanted to do.

What’s your dream for 2018. Claim it. Reach for it. I dare you.


Think Like a Cruiser

IMG_7130[1]We’ve been stuck fortunate to have been living aboard in St. Augustine for nearly two years. And we still have about five months to go. I will tell you that there have been days when I’ve despaired of ever getting back out to the cruising life and I greatly miss it. We are in limbo, neither having moved ashore nor able to set sail and go where the wind takes us.

We are merely liveaboards just as we were in Maine for eight years. But now, we are liveaboards who have cruised and even if we currently don’t feel the deep peace and satisfaction we get when living the full cruising life—we still feel like cruisers from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes. Accordingly, while we may act like dirt dwellers in polite company, we have the hearts, souls, and minds of cruisers.

So for you newbies and plan-to-bes, here are a few examples of how to think like a cruiser.

Think Like A Cruiser: Know the Difference Between a Vacation and an Adventure

va·ca·tion noun 1. an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

ad·ven·ture noun 1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

When you’re on a one- or two-week camping vacation and it rains for three days straight, and you’re cold and wet and are not having any fun, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and possible for you to pack it up and head to a motel or home. You are also allowed to complain to friends and family about how miserable you were.

When you have embarked on a months- or years-long cruise on your sailboat and encounter a storm with 30-knot gusts, 10-foot seas, rain, and the threat of waterspouts—causing you to sail for over 24 hours in the slightly wrong direction to avoid shoals or crossing the Gulf Stream—you cannot quit or complain. You must maintain your watch schedule and you must present a positive attitude (feeling some fear is OK—that means you’re paying attention).  You are on an adventure. Any adventure of long duration or in a difficult location will include rough weather, broken down parts, and boring dead calms. Adventure Happens. Get over it. Afterward, you are allowed to complain to fellow cruisers about how miserable you were as long as you also relate one funny story. (The Dinghy at Cape Fear in 2010.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Simplify and Be Proud

Back home, I enjoyed decorating for the holidays, hosting parties, and “doing it up right”. As cruisers, my (never magazine worthy) standards are considerably lower. This year, EW’s birthday  “card” was made from two napkins and a Guadeloupe dish towel knotted together to form a banner with “Happy”, “Birthday”, and “Stew” taped to the three triangles.

While cruising, our holiday celebrations have ranged from a high of the sunrise Christmas carols and tomfoolery in Emancipation Park in St. Thomas to the low of a sad little Christmas feast of packaged Stolen and a small shot of Schnapps on our “Endurance Crossing” in 2014. We do have one plastic shoe box of Christmas ornaments on board, but no decorations for any other holiday. And while we recognize that some cruisers do carry more crafts or special decorations on board, I’ve never been made to feel inadequate for not doing so.

IMG_7248[1]

One of my friends has, though. One year she attended one of the well-known cruisers’ Thanksgiving celebrations along the U.S. Southern Coast and learned that they were expected to “decorate” their white-paper-covered table. Being more like me than a sailing Martha Stewart, her party took magic markers and traced their hands to create large-size kindergarten turkeys and colored them. “Awesome!” I thought as she related the story. Until she said that one cruiser took one look at their table and called it “Tacky”.

That my friend was judged is not acceptable. We have simplified our life and cruised off into the sunset or sunrise to a place where we don’t have to comply with keeping up with the Joneses anchored next to us. Do not judge us as we will not judge you for filling your boat with Halloween Costumes, plastic eggs, and accordion tissue turkeys. (Well, maybe we will a little but we won’t do so in public.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Walk it Off

IMG_7143[1]EW and I have chosen not to purchase a car while we are here in St. Augustine—both a financial decision and a philosophical one. Since 2010 we have lived a life that didn’t require the use of a full-time vehicle (or often any vehicle) and didn't drive at all for two years while in the Caribbean. We walk, we ride two third-hand bikes, or we take the bus; every so often we rent a car and a bit more frequently we have relied on the kindness of dirt-dwelling friends for the occasional ride. The point is, that our default is to walk or take the bike. I’m on the edge of the planning committee for the St. Augustine Cruisers’ Thanksgiving, which needs to be held 3/4 of a mile from the Municipal Marina this year. There was a discussion about “transportation” and how many people the three or four car owners can take to and from.

“Um…Ninety percent of us walk farther than that to go have a beer every dang week!” “Of course!” “The only difference is that we’ll need to carry a bunch of stuff – drinks, our own plates and service, and a hot or cold dish. We need one or two cars to take the two to six folks with mobility issues and all the stuff. One trip and we’re done.”

We are cruisers. We walk, we take our dinghies, we help each other. Sometimes we are tacky and it’s not always fun but all of it—every single good and bad thing about this lifestyle—is all part of the adventure.

And that boys and girls, is why we cruise.


Where Did We Go Right? Every Step of the Way

So, one of my current projects here in October of 2017 -- seven years after leaving Maine--is cleaning up this blog. That project involves going through all nearly 900 posts, editing, categorizing, and putting in the location of La Luna when the post was written.  At some point in St. Thomas, I decided to rewrite a post begun in 2010. That new version was not published. Here it is—a post written for Valentine's Day 2013.

We've enjoyed two Valentine's Day celebrations "at sea" and a lot of water has passed under the hull.

Currently, we are at 18.19.054 North and 64.57.563 West, anchored off of Water Island in St. Thomas. We are meeting with LeeAnn and Peter Bonta, friends we met in Grenada and going in to listen to Grandsons perform at Tickles. Music has always been a part of our lives. Our first official date was a B.B. King concert. EW has had a guitar forever. We have enjoyed many performances together. Now we meet musicians in the islands and EW gets to play with some of them -- like the outstanding Peter Bonta.

Four songs define our relationship for me. Boats to Build by Guy Clark; Where Did We Go Right, as performed by Jonathan Edwards; Living the Life, by David Jacquet; and "Honey I'd Do Most Anything for You, as performed by Martin Bogen and Armstrong.  It's a little late for Valentine's Day -- but here are ours, and EW's favorite romantic songs. They make me smile. 

Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day.

First Guy Clark's "Boats to Build". We love that song. I played that CD over and over the year we bought La Luna while I made a new dodger. (A task known as the "Project from Hell" until we hauled out five years ago during the "Year from Hell".) Still like the song, though. EW sang it with David Jacquet at our party a few weeks ago.

Here's Guy with Verlon Thompson performing Boats to Build:   

Love that song.  "It's time for a change ..."

Our new song is, of course, the one written for us by David Jacquet AKA MoJoCaster on Twitter and Mojo Twanger on YouTube. David is a singer, songwriter, and guitar teacher who ran the open mic night after our part at J. P. Thornton's. The next day, David sent us this song:   

Gonna sail around the world, just me and my girl, we'll team up with the winds and the tides and the seas. Don't wait for me. Don't wait for me. When the sun goes down just know that we are smiling.... We're living the life. Me and my wife. 

Wonderful.

 

For the past year and a half, one other song has found a place in my heart, "Where Did We Go Right?" Jon hadn't performed this song for a while but I heard it on a CD of his and asked him to sing it for us when he played at Jonathan's in Ogunquit last year. He has since performed it again when we are in the audience and graciously dedicated it to us. Here he is. 

 

"And what we have is what everybody's trying to find

Peace of mind

In a world turned upside down

Our love keeps spinning around.

And you know it makes me wonder

As the rest run for their lives

Where did we go right?

Where did we go right?"

        Song by David Loggins and Don Schultz

 

You know, when I was 10 or so, I adored "The Sound of Music". Years later, EW was stunned (and a bit taken aback) to realize that I still know most of the lyrics in the soundtrack. One of the songs was of course, "I Must Have Done Something Right".

It's the same feeling. Somewhere we took a right turn and we are heading in a new and adventurous direction. I am blessed. 

Hope you follow along.


Post Irma Spam—Part Two

Boat Projects and the Cruisers Who Live Amongst Them.

EW was actually very upset that the boat was not finished when we moved back aboard. I never expected it would be and had already started contingency planning. Hey, we’ve been married for 32 years and we’ve lived on a boat for 15 of them. This is not my first rodeo.

IMG_7155[1]The port settee is our living space. We have two ratcheted cushions for seating and there’s an American Gothic feel to our meals as we eat side by side, facing the same direction. I could go on, but just let that sink in.

IMG_6810Now, non-boaters might think that repairing the toe rails and stanchion bases, and removing the teak decks would have no impact down below. Non-boaters would be wrong. Ninety-nine percent of the things on deck are bolted through the deck to the living space below. EW has had to remove the genoa track from both sides of the deck (non-boaters, imagine a long, narrow piece of stainless steel with holes every inch or so.) Now imagine those bolts going through the deck and into many parts of the boat because it’s really long…from master stateroom to the galley (or pilot berth on the starboard) to the main salon. At a dam angle.

In fact, here’s a photo before it was removed. (To the left near the cabin.)  And yes, I know they aren’t exactly an inch apart, but there are still at least a thousand nuts and bolts to deal with here. (Do NOT shake your head at me. It will seem like a thousand when we put them all back.) 

Side note, these were removed with the volunteer (?) assistance of Matt from S/V Kook Cat and Tim from S/V Scout. I will be the volunteer when we put the tracks back on. Also, a small piece of duct tape was placed over each hole and every blessed one withstood the hurricane.

How the Deck Job Messes Up the Cabin

Removing it impacts the bookshelves next to our bed, both clothing lockers, the aforementioned pilot berth, every cupboard in the galley and the three cupboards along the port side that are also used for food and dishes. On the starboard side, we have a slightly different configuration so the cupboards are not impacted.

Add the stanchion bases and other random parts that had to be removed and you know why we are living in (somewhat) organized chaos. We didn’t even bring the main salon cushions back to the boat. Lest I make this sound sad and trying, note that EW is more bothered by this than I am. He feels he should have been farther along, and I am delighted he is fully back to normal and able to do so much. As for the mess, I am resigned and calm and having a “make it work” moment. Most of the time.

Barb at Sea Loses It

When I assured EW that I was OK with it. That I’d make it work. That we’d do just fine. (Cheesy grin.) I also said. “You can have the bed we aren’t sleeping in and you can have the entire dining space, table and seats and under the table. I (well we really) get the galley, chart table, and port settee for living.” Both of us were a bit surprised to find out how sincere I was. I have never once complained about the mess on the dinette side of the boat, but let him leave one box of screws out overnight on the living side...whoo-eee…I surprised myself with my vehemence.

Step away from the tools, Barb. Step away from the tools.

His tools and screws haven’t  trespassed on the port side since.

 

 

IMG_7156[1]

  Note the lack of cupboard doors in the galley because—genoa track. And you see pretty much all the dishes I have for the duration.


Post Irma Spam—Part One

NOTE: I’ve been going through the old posts lately (more about why later) and was reminded of my old “Spam” posts. The first was as we left the Bahamas in 2011 when I had a few juicy tidbits of stories that hadn’t made it in a post. The title of “Spam” certainly wasn’t because we eat it (Ick) but because the grocery store in Georgetown carried a plethora of varieties of Spam. I didn’t even know there were multiple varieties of Spam.

So, Post Irma Spam.

The Forward Cabin. We had to order a new mattress because the one we had put up with since St. Thomas in 2014 was a piece of crap and I threw it out when we moved off the boat in May. Irma messed with our schedule when we moved back aboard, so we moved into the forward cabin where there is a lovely firm foam mattress in a double-narrowing-to-smaller-than-twin bed. One person (that would be me) sleeps against the hull (wall to you landlubbers) and the other can somewhat more easily get in and out. On good nights, I would get up when EW did, trot to the head after him, and then he would wait and crawl into bed behind me. On other nights, or when I woke up earlier than he did (pretty much every damn day, lately) I had to crawl out.

Remember the Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones movie, “Entrapment”. Irma Spam Part One CZJThis was kind of what I had to do to get out of the bed, only instead of going under laser beams, I had to go over EW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX2_LCUkhDs

I am not as agile, thin, or flexible as CZ-J but a video of my efforts would have been entertaining if you like slapstick. First I tried simply placing a leg over top of EW and lifting myself over. That rarely worked. So, channeling my inner Catherine Zeta-Jones, I stayed on my tiny portion of the bed and rose into a crouch, stepping over EW. I actually achieved success with this to the point that when he got up an hour or so later he’d say, “How did you get out of bed?” Wish I’d told him I went up through the hatch.

I’ve never actually noticed this before because – well—sleeping, but EW sometimes sleeps with one foot on the bed and his bent knee becomes an obstacle. I first realized this when I hit that obstacle in the night, startling both of us. (EW is funny when startled from a deep sleep, and my inevitable giggles do not amuse him.)

But the final indignity occurred during our last night in the forward cabin. I softly rose to my feet, hunched over so I could clear the cabin top (ceiling to landlubbers), and then slowly and artistically (again channeling CZ-J) I lifted my right leg and brought it to the edge of the bed outside of EW. I missed my handhold, bumped my left foot into EW, spun a quarter turn and ended up curled in the fetal position at his feet. He was concerned I had been injured, but I only damaged my dignity and she’s used to it by now. Sean Connery would have probably killed me.

So for those of you who agree to visit and sleep in the forward cabin, we know. We truly do know that two people staying up there so they can see us is an act of love. Also, if we hear strange noises we won’t automatically assume fun.


Moving Back Aboard

Irma Was Not a Help

NOTE: While I had every intention of getting these posts up in a timely fashion, time is skewed after a hurricane event—even one during which we have sustained no damage. We are now getting into a routine on the boat, we’ve moved back to our (inspected) mooring, and life is getting back to normal as we know it. Let’s look back at the week a couple of weeks:

The Plan for Moving Back Aboard

IMG_7112We were fortunate to have found an apartment to use from essentially June 1-September 13 and we are grateful beyond words. Even though the boat projects aren’t done (not by a long shot!), we were delighted to move back aboard.  I had planned the moving project with great care for the Wednesday, September 13 move.

1. EW agreed that Thursday the 7th would be his last day for working on projects and that he would spend Friday clearing up his tools and debris so that I could spend all of the weekend and some of Monday and Tuesday getting the boat ready for habitation.

2. We decided to rent a small storage locker and store all the things that we didn’t need when living on a project boat (and way too many things that we hadn’t yet decided to get rid of). Do note, some of those things to be stored were in the apartment and some were still on the boat.

3. We decided to rent a cargo van that would allow us to move in one go.

4. We agreed to bring La Luna into the dock at St. Augustine Marina so that we could get things on and off more easily.

It wasn’t going to be easy but it would be organized, planned and doable by two crazy cruisers used to living an adventure.

Plan B for Moving Back Aboard

Here’s what really happened.

1. We watched Irma obsessively and worried about our many friends and relatives in her path. (Our anxiety IMG_7012levels peaked in that time between Irma hitting St. Thomas and us hearing from EW’s cousin Jeff and Barb Hart the First—they are fine. They also made it through Maria with few issues.)

2. On Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th I started calling marinas and boatyards from St. Augustine to Georgia and found “no room at the inn”. EW had removed a bunch of bent and broken toe rail (some from Matthew most from an incident at sea) and had a lot of holes in the deck. His priority was to get the new toe rail on and it did not go well—even with steady and patient help from our friend T.S. (who prefers to remain anonymous—those aren’t even his initials).

3. Within those two days, we learned of  “Not Really a Marina” a never used tiny marina with floating docks in an excellent location up the San Sebastian River. On Wednesday the 6th, EW called me and said he and T.S. had decided we needed to move the boats NOW to make sure we got a spot at Not Really a Marina. I agreed and we spent the rest of the morning moving the boats. EW then went back to toe rail because…holes.

4. By Saturday, the boat was secure, the toe rail installed and the holes filled. We had numerous invitations for IMG_7028evacuation out of St. Augustine, but after talking with other tenants in the building elected to stay and invited T.S. to join us. By this time, we expected Irma to come near us as a CAT 1; we and the building were good for that. We continued to watch the weather obsessively, the guys watched a bit of football, and there was a pre-hurricane party and sandbagging

5. Hurricane Irma happened to St. Augustine. As one local explained later, “It was a wind event. The flooding event was similar to Floyd, but the wind was worse than Matthew.” Good to know. The apartment lost power for 2.5 days, the boat did great, most of the docks on the St. Augustine marina were destroyed or severely damaged (worse than Matthew), 8 boats broke free from the moorings, Conch House Marina—which never recovered from Matthew—was destroyed, and a few boats/docks were damaged on the San Sebastian River. We walked over to the boat the day after Irma hit when it was still pretty windy. I had never seen wind waves with whitecaps going upriver before and could only imagine what it looked like at the height of the storm. (Due to Irma going up Florida’s west coast, St. Augustine got wind from the south. They aren’t used to that here. I’m not used to anything hurricane here.)

So, on Tuesday the 12th, we still had no storage locker, nothing had been moved back aboard, the boat was still a mess and dirty, and my head was spinning. Thankfully, our kind landlords moved our drop-dead moving day to Friday the 15th. 

Stay tuned. Moving back aboard made for a fun day.

IMG_7038

One last check on the lines before Irma.


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.

 

clip_image005

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.

stthomas

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.

 

IMG_0355

 

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?)