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.

 

 

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  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.

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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.

 

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Geoffrey Smith

8 hrs ·

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


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


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


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

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

On September 5th, 2017 those pictures changed.

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

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.

 

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April Sunset 2015 – Must be St. Thomas


CLODS!

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

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

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

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

Everything.

Every damn thing.

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

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

“Oh,” he said. “Good plan.”

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

Let me count the verys (veries?)

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

2. We had no wind and no chop.

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

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

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

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

I call that a win.

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

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

Lordy, lordy I love that man.

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

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

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


Optimism Keeps Us Going

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

No joke.

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

You HAVE TO BEEE-LIEVE brothers and sisters!

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

I am supercalifragilisticexpialidocious optimistic.

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

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

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

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

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

But I am optimistic.

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Moms, Friends, and Mom's Friends

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

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

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

I am a very fortunate woman.

I am also a very fortunate daughter.

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

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

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

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

That visit has been a cherished memory ever since.

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

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

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

20170511_093312

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

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

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

I am grateful that she had awesome friends like Colleen.

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

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

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

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

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

 _________________________

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


Watermelon, Cupcakes, Radio, and Bikes

It all fits together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You really have cupcakes?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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