April 1. A Special Day on La Luna.

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

So sue me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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La Luna at Sunrise 04-05

 

 

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

 

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

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


Feeling Like A Cruiser

Pelican Cats PawCruisers cruise.

Liveaboards live on board.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does a real cruiser feel like?

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

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

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

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

The tide rose as the tide always does.

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

Cats Paw

 

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

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

Affirmative.

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

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

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

Whew.


Tacking

TACKING:

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

--Discoverboating.com

 

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

--Barbara J. Hart

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even better, I’d love a broad reach.

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

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

 E W and Jimmy

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


Achieving Joy and Black Holes

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.

IMG_3414While 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.

P_20161114_102523_HDRWhen 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.

Whew.

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.


Cleaning, Fixing, and Love from Home: Life After Hurricane Matthew

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Harts At Sea

 

 


Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly, Boats Gotta Float

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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They  took great care of her while we watched, shed a few tears, and took photos. And then she was safe.

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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.


People Are Wonderful

Harts At Sea

 


What Not To Say After a Hurricane

IMG_6189First of all…the St. Augustine community, the cruisers, the marina staff, everyone we have met during the past year, and especially our friends have been outstanding post-Hurricane Matthew. Please note that this is a time of stress for pretty much everyone in this community, whether boater and non-boater. It is heart-breaking to walk down any city street to see most of a home’s belongings piled in the yard. Cars and homes were smashed by trees; sewer water flooded stores, restaurants, and homes; and boats broke free to crash into docks, on shore gazebos, other boats, bridges, and mangroves. One marina was nearly destroyed and St. Augustine City Marina has major damage. They are not accepting reservations for at least a few weeks.

IMG_6201We are cheerful, optimistic, and helping each other. One of our favorite bars got up and running in two days, and is asking for Home Depot and Grocery Store Cards for their staff and clients who lost nearly everything. Another woman purchased cleaning and personal care products and made up 50 bags to give to those who need them. People are helping each other. Stew and I are certainly grateful every day for all the help we’ve received.

Still, some people don’t get it.

The first was a local boating lady who stood to one side and listened as I talked with David at the marina just after seeing our boat. David already knew La Luna’s location and was appropriately and sincerely concerned for us. I told him the boat was in great shape and we just had to figure out how to get her back in the water. As he walked away, the woman turned to me and said, with deep sympathy, “What kind of boat was she?” I was not in the mood. “She was and still is a Cheoy Lee designed by David Pedrick. And don’t talk about my boat in the past tense.”

Oops. Guess she struck a nerve.

The Facilities Manager of the Bayview Retirement Center where La Luna ran ashore kept making a joke about all his new boats and how he was going to put a rope around them. I was not pleased. After dropping our anchor to shore (a signal that she was being tended and not available for salvage) we learned that Florida actually has a law that prevents others from claiming your boat for salvage. (First Florida boating law I’ve liked.)

Gawkers have wandered down to the waterfront and usually joke a bit before they realize it is our home they find so droll. I pretty much handle that just fine. The St. Augustine Police Department has been amazing, first going out in a vessel the day after the storm to seek lost boats. They came to us during our first visit to La Luna, moved close enough to read her name and converse with us, and offered their condolences. They also made sure she was our boat and took our contact information. Other police officers have stopped by to check on us and the boats. Last I heard, the SA PD found 29 boats and posted their names and  coordinates on Facebook so the owners could find them.

EW and I love the Coast Guard. I have two wonderful, brilliant, and accomplished nephews who have made their careers with the Coast Guard, and we have met many other members of their force in our travels. My recent favorite was the CG plane who flew over us on our way up from Panama and who contacted us. Sure, he was probably trying to determine if we were drug runners, but we had a delightful conversation.

Unfortunately, communication skills were lacking in the CG crew who showed up in a truck when EW was aboard La Luna. Like the SAPD they came within speaking distance and said, “Are you leaking oil or gas?” That was it. No, “Good morning, Captain, is this your boat?” No, “I’m very sorry to see this.” No nothing. EW answered in kind. “No, we are not, but frankly that is not my first concern.” They left.

Now that the storm is over, some folks who weren’t affected want things to get back to normal pretty darn quick. There have been Facebook rants by area venues asking the public to give them a break. Evidently, some folks are ticked that the free concerts held on St. Augustine Beach have been suspended.

Really? That’s a problem for you? The person who posted the rant suggested that everyone worried about their fun take a measuring tape out to four feet and make a mark around every room on the ground floor of their home. Now imagine all of that stuff wet with sewer water. Get over yourself.

The lovely catamaran we are now guests aboard is on the north dock which has no power so EW and I are currently onshore charging all electronic devices while I write a couple of posts. This vantage point lets us listen to David Morehead respond to the calls from folks who are anxious to start their cruising adventure and want to include the beautiful city of St. Augustine. Some of them have been rather insistent that David provide them with a mooring or slip. At least one implied that there weren’t a lot of options nearby, and David suggested he check online to see the area damaged and why there were few options.

And for those of you who love music, don’t mind the smoke, and have a place in your heart for the Trade Winds—The Oldest City’s Oldest Bar—they will rise again. When we walked past two days ago, a crew of bar staff, patrons, and friends were removing everything from the bar and dismantling the stages. Already there are Black and Decker Workmate Benches on the sidewalk where soaked plywood had been stacked. We will soon listen once again to “Those Guys”, and Joe and Rusty, and Dewy Via, in St. Augustine’s iconic bar.

Give us some time, people. Some restaurants and stores have re-opened. Enjoy those and wait patiently for others.  More importantly, there are people who have lost everything or nearly everything. If you can, help them. We have lost nothing except water under the keel. Just like the Mary Ellen Carter, La Luna will sail again. In the meantime, treat those of us in St. Augustine, Flagler, and points north with a bit of sensitivity. We have maintained our sense of humor, but some things just cut a bit too close to the bone.

In closing, I will resurrect a comment the musician Fond Kiser made when we were discussing our first year in St. Augustine. He had just moved back here from Austin when Hermine joined us. I mentioned that we had arrived in time for the area’s coldest winter in years, hottest summer on record, and now a potential hit from a hurricane in an area known for being safe. “Hmm,” said Fond in his charming accent. “The city may want to take up a collection to pay to have you move out of town.”  After Hurricane Matthew, they may want to consider his suggestion.

NOTE: The link above for the Mary Ellen Carter was performed by Stan Rogers, who wrote it. We learned it from Maine’s Schooner Fare and I have to share that version out of loyalty. (And because I raised a stein many, many times as I belted out “Rise Again! Rise Again! Let her name not be lost to the knowledge of men.”

 

Honest the Next Post will be about People Helping People


So This Happened (Part One of La Luna Encounters Hurricane Matthew)

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We are fine. We are truly fine.

The boat is mostly fine.

I asked the universe to move Matthew to the East and he moved, but not far enough.

I asked that our boat come thru relatively unscathed, and attached to the ball, and she did—but the mooring ball and tackle detached from the mooring and La Luna drifted/scooted to shore.

I must learn to be more specific.

IMG_6136We don’t know when, but we do know that we are one of three boats in the marina (all big) who broke their tackle. Over 29 boats broke free from various spots in St. Augustine, ours is one of the least damaged, and the only one in our new “neighborhood” who did not damage anything on shore except a few mangrove bushes. We were very fortunate.

IMG_6160IMG_6278We did this. It was a decision based on what we knew at the time, the options open to us, the very strange direction of Matthew, and an engine with a problem that happened just before evacuation day. Given what we know now, we would have arranged a tow up the San Sebastian to a dock there. Instead, we prepared La Luna more thoroughly than most boats in the mooring field. An incredible number had their headsails on (shredded). Many did not take advantage of the free, very tough, fire hose donated by the St. Augustine Fire Department. Many of them did not add extra mooring lines. We did all of that.

Like the rest of St. Augustine, we did not fully prepare for an event that has never before occurred: a tide and surge so high that it washed up over the sea wall into the Marina tunnel area between the onshore showers and the lounge. In fact, when talking with the crew before we evacuated, one of them said that in 20 years he had been there that area has never gotten swamped.

This was a 100-year storm. This is the storm that reminds us that we aren’t in control; the storm that reminds us that even the best plans for living in a hurricane zone can be wrecked by a storm that comes just 5 miles closer than we wanted to generate a surge never before experienced here. We don’t make excuses, but we aren’t beating ourselves either. One of EW’s phrases is “You make the decision, and you make the decision right.” We are together, the boat is fine, and once she’s back in the water and we check the engine, she will be 99% just as she was when we left her.

That makes us very, very fortunate.

Others lost their boats. I mean lost as is couldn’t find them; I’m not sure whether all have been found at this point. Others lost their boats as in being destroyed. Others will have huge repairs to make before boating again.

IMG_6142IMG_6146There are at least 10 boats within a few hundred yards of us. We have been meeting on Facebook or at the boats and are working together to find out how we can get our vessels back into the water. This is a puzzlement.

IMG_6182La Luna and the others floated in on an extremely large surge, over what is normally (and what are now) mud flats. Imagine a barge even getting in there, where they would be aground in 2 feet of water. Now imagine the crane lifting La Luna up and putting her…..where? Down on the other side in mud and water? Not likely. We are looking at using a trash pump and maybe air bags, to help slide her, tilted over (probably with water weights like those used to get vessels under bridges—although in our case it will be to keep the keel from plowing into the mud.

 

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Anyway, this is what we think will work. We saw one post on Facebook that mentioned tying the line around the boat, not on the chocks. I like that idea, but not sure how it will work. Our hope is that La Luna can stay canted to port and swing around to be hauled bow out to deeper water where we will anchor. The marina will not allow any boats back in prior to checking all mooring balls and fixing the docks. Those who remained safe through the storm have stayed. The docks are badly damaged and if the north dock had failed, they could have lost all the boats in the marina.

This was a big one, folks, with a death toll nearing 600, of which over 30 were in the US.  How sad. How devastating. My heart goes out to those families. We are fine. We will get her back in the water and move home again.

 

Next Post: People Who Need People and the People who Help them

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Friday Morning Coming Down

Good morning from Elkton, Florida. We are safe, worried about La Luna, but safe, well-fed and loved by the cats. The power has flickered and Comcast is off, but we have cell phones, data, and a TV on an antenna.
Yesterday morning we debated moving inland. EW and I made that more difficult as we would have had to use two cars for the four of us and two cat carriers. Deb packed a bag of precious things and I reduced our needs to one bag plus our precious things.
We decided to stay, noted the location of a nearby pet-friendly shelter, and prepared two locations inside the house in the event of a tornado. All of that creates stress, but we have been pleased with our decision...so far.
Now, it is 9:52, the storm has arrived, and it will get worse, but it has moved a bit East so we will not have a direct hit, either here or where La Luna is. The storm is approaching St. Augustine. The Bridge of Lions has closed as they have now reached winds sustained at 40 knots. I just saw the first row of boats tied at the marina. We keep hoping that the TV crew will move south and show the mooring field.
We are all safe. All we can do is hope that La Luna comes through unscathed. I must say that the TV stations we've watched are doing a great job. I thank them.
Here is Sophie.
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