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March 2017

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.