I’ve been having vivid dreams lately. A few nights ago I dreamt that I had to sing a particular song on stage. I knew it was a dream for two reasons: first, those in charge gave me a new outfit that magically made me 20 pounds lighter and twenty years younger; and secondly, I was sure I’d nail the song and wasn’t at all worried about singing alone on stage.
A dream like that will stick with you in strange ways—I need to find a store that sells that outfit, but I have no desire to sing on stage—and I’m stuck with an earworm. In case, like EW, you are unfamiliar with that term, it’s a song that keeps playing in your head, over and over and over again. A well-known and very annoying earworm is “It’s a Small World After All”. Got it? Sorry about that.
That is not my song, and I can absolutely understand why I’m singing my new song. First of all, we are moored in the Matanzas River. (This can mean “Bloody” River, “Slaughter” River, or “Massacre” River, depending upon to whom you speak.) But history has nothing to do with my dream or song. We can blame it on the neighborhood.
To wit: Nola and Jerry from Alaska,
Zach from St. Augustine,
and these three boats,
and finally, let’s not forget our own floating castle (from a photo taken on the hard in Maine.*
So, what was I singing? Not :”It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moondance”, though EW has been known to hum a verse or two as we pass her by. Nope. I stood on that stage and proudly crooned, “Moon River”.
“Old dream maker, you heartbreaker. Wherever you’re going, I’m going your way.”
I’m as young as I’ll ever be, and I’ll never be a singer, but I keep thinking about losing 20 pounds and EW and I often dream of our next sailing adventures.
*For those of your wondering about why I didn’t take a photo of La Luna moored in the river—I did. But EW didn’t want me to use it because he hadn’t cleaned the transom. Men.
A final note about the theme. The other names from the cosmos in the neighborhood include Juno (wife of Jupiter), Night Music, and Star Gazer. It’s that kind of crowd.
In the meantime, “Two drifters, off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same, rainbow’s end; my huckleberry friend, Moon River (and EW) and meeeee.”
While there have been a couple of cruisers’ gatherings, most of the folks are passing through for just a few days, so if we meet them at all, it’s by chance on the shopping bus, in the laundry room/lounge, or on the dock. On Thursday, we took La Luna to the fuel dock for water and diesel and EW met Lily and Elias, a young couple with ties to Maine. Elias knows enough about Mainahs to clearly state that he isn’t one, but his Grandfather was. The family still has a cottage on the coast up there and Maine is in his heart. Maine does that to people.
Right after that I was scurrying up the dock to dump the garbage and met a couple coming down the ramp. I said “Good Morning,” and they replied with strong southern accents, so I performed a classic double-take when I caught a glimpse of the lady’s bright yellow sweatshirt, emblazoned: “Shin Pond Established 1982”.
“Is that Shin Pond in Maine?”
She smiled, equally surprised, “You know Shi-in Po-ond?” (Imagine strong southern accent for this conversation.) Of course I know Shin Pond. It’s northwest of Island Falls, and and Daddy used to go fishing there with a couple of buddies. They played cribbage, cooked and ate camp meals and maybe caught a few fish. He loved those trips, hauling his small aluminum outboard up on a trailer with his friends along for the ride.
For most of the first quarter of my life, I lived in Central Maine. (We won’t mention those 6 months when I was 5 and we lived in Salem, New York; but we can talk eagerly of the next three years in The County, in Island Falls, Maine.) My folks were from Maine, and my dad liked to camp and fish. Moreover, my first career job with Maine Public Broadcasting Network took me all over the state so I know Maine. When I moved to Portland in the 80’s I quickly discovered that most people my age raised south of Brunswick knew little about central and northern Maine,and the few central or northern Mainahs living in Portland never expected anyone to know where their small home town was.
In short, I suspect I’m one of the few Maine cruisers who know Shin Pond, and I’m 99% certain that Martha, Mitch and I were the only folks in the marina who’ve been there. So, how did this woman know Shin Pond? Remember—you have to imagine a strong southern accent and an excited happy voice.
“We-ell,” she replied. We have a home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a few years ago we swapped houses with these people from Shin Pond. They stayed in our home and we stayed in theirs for January and February.”
(Now who would you think got the better end of that trade?)
“Seriously? Did you have a good time?”
“It was the best vacation we ea-vah ha-ad!”
“Did it snow a lot?”
“Oh my yes!” She beamed. “It snowed nearly every day!” Her husband interjected, “We wanted snow. It was a bad day if we could see Katahdin and it wasn’t pouring down snow.” (We Mainahs know that snow doesn’t pour, but I ignored that.)
She continued, “I made a snow fort! And I made a snowman every day! These people who own the store in town? Well it’s a store and gas station and little restaurant? They do everything! Anyway they insisted on loaning us their snowmobiles! They didn’t want any money or anything. We had the best time!”
These adventurers are cruisers now, waiting out the rain to head south. Her husband confided that when they sell the boat, he’d buy a home in Shin Pond in a heartbeat.
This is why we cruise. To meet people like this, with a sense of adventure and stories tell. Long after they’ve sailed south, I will forget their names, and what kind of boat they were on. But I will remember the joy they found in retirement, building snowmen at Shin Pond.
At left, Martha aboard M&M Journey, wearing her sweat shirt. The next morning they headed south on the ICW to a location where the sweat shirt won’t be necessary.
She’s a gracious woman, and a great sport. I hope they visit us on their way north.
Dear friend Jaime, of S/V Kookaburra has “tagged” me on Facebook, letting me know how much she misses me. Her posts mainly center around two things: Walking and Dogs. (I much appreciated the post that connected walking and red wine. We’ve not combined the two yet but may have to try it when she visits St. Augustine later this year—in the spring, when it’s warm.) I miss her, too.
The other day, Kirsten of S/V Night Music invited me to go for a long walk. In addition to sailing, and playing the guitar, Kirsten is a dog lover, so she shares my need for “fur fixes”. Fortunately, St. Augustine offers plenty of opportunity for beautiful walks and fur fixes from friendly canines.
Kirsten’s first choice would have been a 9 mile round trip jaunt, something I didn’t think my legs and feet would yet appreciate, so we shortened it to 5 miles, north along the water, through a beautiful neighborhood, past the Fountain of Youth, and one third of the way across the Usina Bridge to Vilano Beach. (And yes, now I have a goal of making it all the way to the beach and back, preferably on a morning when the temperature is above 60.)
We took photos.
And near the marina, I introduced to ….. this little guy:
Well, this is where he used to be:
And here’s a slightly out of focus shot of me rubbing his chin. MMMMM.
And here’s a blurry shot of an excited pup:
And here’s a shot of Kirsten getting him to be still as she got a fur fix:
And finally, a happy and handsome dog, posing for the camera:
He’s a young adult toy poodle who acts like a well behaved Labrador puppy—a trait designed to melt the hearts of Jaime, Kirsten, and me. His people, Karen and Kerry, always allow me a bit of play time.
He’s a big happy dog in a portable little dog’s body. I loved him at our first meeting.
Now here’s the thing, when he was a pup, the gray areas were a bit more white, so they named this tiny little boat dog…
Wait for it…
Wait for it…..
How cool is that?
Sunrise from the deck.
View of the Usina Bridge from the Catholic park.
Kirsten and me
View north of the Usina Bridge.
Christmas decorations with color (finally!). These people will probably be run out of the town of white lights before next year.
We miss the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. To be fair, we’ve yet to see an episode with the new host, but we miss Jon Stewart. We like to laugh. We like to laugh at smart stuff and at dumb jokes. We laugh at ourselves and, more often than is probably kind, we laugh at each other.
The other day, EW and I walked out to Winn Dixie on Route One for a few groceries. He went one way, and I went another. As began to pass an aisle two middle-aged men, each pushing a cart, bumped and jostled each other in fun. As soon as they saw me, an older (dang it!) middle-aged woman, they stopped and looked sheepish. I laughed. I also shook my head in that “men will be boys” manner we women have and laughed some more as they parted the carts to make way for me. A third man, obviously their friend delighted in their embarrassment and laughed as much as I did.
Ten or fifteen minutes later I headed to the snack aisle for popcorn to see their friend and one of the “perpetrators”. “Here she comes again!” the innocent man said. I laughed a bit and wished them a good morning, and he came up to me. “It’s so nice to see someone laugh,” he said. “So many people walk around with sour faces.” I agreed and said, “We laugh a lot. Maybe because we live an unconventional life.”
“Oh,” he said, waving his hand toward his friend. “We live on boats.”
That explained it. One was on a sailboat and the other was a power boater. Evidently, all three lived in the small marina behind Theo’s Greek Restaurant. We all agreed that sailors and power boaters could be friends. We shook hands, exchanged boat names, and moved on smiling.
Last night, EW and I played our new favorite board game, Tock. (Thank you, Travis and Quincy, from S/V Party of Five.) It’s a game for four, but Travis taught us that two people can play two colors and we’ve been having matches almost daily. I started to notice how often we laughed during the game—usually when “killing” or moving our rival’s marker. At one point we were laughing so hard I couldn’t count my move. That’s pretty cool for a couple married over 30 years.
So, for the first post of 2016, your moment of Zen, an oldie but a goodie. My attempt to enter the dingy via the “Gavin Method.”
Helping you laugh more in 2016. It’s good for you.
Some people, as I do, forget a word, but remember the first letter and make up the rest. (Some of you do this, right? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.) This is not age, as it’s been a “challenge” for a long time, and probably is a result of doing too many things at once, having a conversation and thinking of something else, or of making intuitive leaps and landing on the wrong lily pad. In any case, confusion can result.
EW was made aware of this very early in our relationship when he asked me to pick up a six-pack of Molson, and I returned with Michelob. There’s a big difference between Molson and Michelob, but when questioned I still replied, “Well, it’s an ‘M’ beer.” EW was not amused, yet we (well I) have had “M-word” challenges for the past 30 years.
Recently, someone posted an article on Facebook with this title:
Proven Study Shows Men Are Wrong 85%
Of The Time When Arguing And Won’t Admit It
I don’t agree with the article, but loved the headline anyway. It rates right up there with my argument stopping comment, “I wish you wouldn’t be so insistent when I know I’m right.”
And yes, this is all going to tie together.
Yesterday, we were excited to head up into the hills for yet another Saturday Pot-luck Jam. This one was hosted by Richard and Sharon, friends of Coach and Diane. Richard and Sharon have spent the last year taking care of a lovely home on St. Thomas. Silk Cotton Villa is available for rent when the owners aren’t on the island. There are four lovely en-suite guest rooms, the owners’ apartment, and a kitchen/dining/living area completely open to the pool and view. Jerry, EW and I were to ride up with our friend Bethany who would pick us up at Crown Bay, after assuring me she had plenty of room in her car for three people, two guitars, and accouterments. Just as we gathered to wait for her, Bethany called to let us know she was 20 minutes late. No worries, let’s grab a beer at Tickles while we wait.
EW suggested that I call Bethany to ask about her car; I did and told the men that she would be in a black Escalade. I was kind of surprised that she had a car that big, but she has been a diving instructor and has a largish dog, so didn’t question it. I was thinking of other things. (You know where this is going, right?)
So we relaxed in an outside booth at Tickles where we could watch the traffic. Time and time again, EW would say, “Is that her?” and Jerry would reply, “No. That’s not an Escalade. Those are huge. That’s not a huge car.” Yes, Bethany was on her second pass when we decided to wander to the parking lot, to find her smiling from her black Ford Escape.
EW rolled his eyes and said, “Of course. It’s an E-car.”
We had a great afternoon. How could we not --- look at this place?
That evening on La Luna EW and I were talking about our day and of course, he brought up the “E-word”. “How could you have gotten it wrong? he asked, “ You told us it was an Escalade right after you got off the phone with her!”
He’s right, but I find it fun to blame him when I’m wrong, so I said, “You should have known. You know what I’m like. Remember the Molson?” He looked at me. “That won’t work. You waver. Sometimes you’re spot on and sometimes you go all M-word. What am I supposed to do? How do I know which way you are wavering — I can’t second guess you all the time. You’re … you’re wavery!”
We both have a point. But sheesh, he has over 30 years of experience with me. He should know when I say Escalade, I could mean Eclipse. Or vice versa.
But he does have a point. I am all wavery. Or I would be if that were a word. And I’m right about that and most other things. If EW disagrees, he can get his own blog.
As for the Saturday jam at the Silk Cotton Villa, we can both agree it was an E-word—Excellent!
The above photo was taken from the Silk Cotton Villa Website. Check it out!
It’s been a busy week in St. Thomas. Most importantly, we were excited to have boat guests on Tuesday when cruising friends Steve and Lynn stayed with us on their way to the BVI. They are crewing on a boat heading up to Annapolis in the Salty Dawg Rally. Those who know Steve and Lynn know that they are outstanding sailors who have sold their boat and are renovating a home. But they’ve not given up the sailing life and we hope to entice them aboard for a longer visit.
In the meantime, they flew into St. Thomas late Tuesday afternoon, and we were ready for them. Yes, I had to clean the boat and make room in the forward cabin. Steve is the guy who kept his engine compartment so clean and well maintained that the Coast Guard (or Coast Guard Auxiliary) asked his permission to tour it with other boaters. Lynn is equally neat. This is a Facebook post from when she was getting ready to sell their boat. To contrast, this is a photo of La Luna when we were getting ready to cross to the Azores from St. Martin. Lynn, this is a mess.
I didn’t try to get to get La Luna to Celebration standards, but I did spend a few hours organizing and cleaning, and that’s not a bad thing. (Plus I’m done for a week. Woot.) Once again, I made my new favorite meal: barbecue chicken cooked in the pressure cooker. EW finished it off on the grill. Everything was nearly ready when they arrived, so we had a lot of time to catch up. And we had a lot to talk about: our crossings, the Azores, selling their boat, buying a home, renovating a home, neighbors, other boat friends, kids, and more. We talked long after they should have been asleep. It was so great to see them and hard to let go.
They wanted to take the noon ferry to Tortola, and EW and I had reconnaissance to do for friends on Kookaburra who need a new generator, so I suggested that it “wouldn’t be awful” if we all went in the dinghy into Charlotte Amalie. It was pretty windy, but I knew that even if we went to the closer dinghy dock at Crown Bay that we’d all get wet in the “rinse cycle”. How is a wet dinghy ride like being pregnant? Just as you can’t be a “little bit pregnant", on days like Wednesday you don’t get a “little bit wet”.
Still, I should have brought the poncho I have used to protect myself from the salt spray. (Especially knowing that when Lynn cruised she had made a Sunbrella wrap just for wearing on wet dinghy rides.) She and I took many waves over the bow. They guys didn’t fare much better. We were four drenched cruisers when we got ashore.
Our hair was wet and sticky with salt; my straight hair clung tight to my scalp in wet strands, making me look older and unclean. Lynn’s wavy hair was standing above her scalp in large curls. It may not be a look she would cultivate, but it wasn’t unattractive. She ran her fingers through it and laughed, saying, “People pay for this.”
“They pay for what?” I asked, thinking first of those who charter sailboats, paying for the “adventure” that is our daily life. But no.
“They pay for salt spray to style their hair.”
“They do not!”
“Oh yes. It’s a thing.”
Research has shown me that yes, it is a “thing”. One for which you can purchase a spray bottle of salt water for $25.00; or for which there are many recipes for salt water styling sprays. And this would be different from the cheap “White Net” styling spray my mom used 40 years ago, how?
Evidently this is how:
Who knew we cruising women had been setting a trend? Hey, EW! I have a “salty, sexy, sun-dried, wind-styled” mane! It would be a shame to wash that out.
I’m glad we’re cruising. Sometimes current culture back home is too much to contemplate.
We dropped them off at the wall, just past the Customs fence near the ferry terminal. There is no dinghy dock; just tires tied to a wall. The dinghy was bouncing in the breaking waves. (Did I already take responsibility for this trip? It was my idea. EW, Steve, and Lynn were good sports. Good sports who wore wet, salty clothing for the next few hours.) Back to that wall and the dinghy: We had to get Steve, Lynn, two small cunnin’ backpacks, a 50-pound L.L. Bean duffle, and a 6-foot long box up onto the quay. Fortunately, a young man waiting at a job site jumped from his truck and offered to help. Steve scrambled up onto the quay, and EW and I handed the bag up to the two men while Lynn held the dinghy.
Then, the young man reached down and offered Lynn his hand, saying, “I’ve got you Mommy,” with a Spanish accent. He later called me “Mommy” as well. It kind of made us feel old. But I’ve decided that he was actually saying “Mami” and that it still has the definition found in Urban Dictionary. If I’m wrong, I prefer ignorance, thank you very much. If I’m right, must have been all that “salty, sexy, sun-dried, wind-styled” hair.
And, in the category of “you can’t make this s#%t up, We arrived to find that the noon ferry was canceled, and they wouldn’t be able to leave until 2:00. Steve suggested it was time for a “painkiller” and who were we to argue. Evidently, the Big Kahuna has no qualms about serving drenched salty customers. (EW not only knew how to spell “Kahuna” but insisted on telling me that it’s the “surfer’s god”. Thank you, EW.) So, we got to spend another hour or so, visiting with Lynn and Steve in St. Thomas. I’d call that a win.
That evening, EW and I enjoyed a dry dinghy ride to Tickles in Crown Bay for Open Mic night. He didn’t play, so we sat at the bar with friends Ryan and Jenn and their entourage, and a number of musicians. It appears that Harvey has moved to St. Thomas. He’s right behind me, isn’t he?
NOTE: The bit about Harvey being behind me was stolen from my Maine Friend Candace K., who delights me with her creative posts from Maine and her travels.
Finally, EW got into the act today, snapping this photo of me writing this post. I like it. (Don’t get excited. The cushions haven’t been covered and we aren’t using this peach color. It’s just a throw over the foam.) I love the new laptop nest.
Mother’s Days with EW have been “interesting”. Only a couple of months after we met, EW agreed to accompany me to Waterville, Maine for a Mother’s Day lunch that included meeting my parents for the first time. (No pressure there.) Actually, Mom loved EW from the first, saying that he was “the best thing that ever happened to me”. Once we married, EW knew that if we broke up, he could go “home” to my mother for shelter, hugs, and sympathy. You may find that humorous, but it was no joke.
The next memorable Mother’s Day occurred less than two years after we married. We purchased a home one year and a 26-foot sailboat the following autumn. When Mother’s Day rolled around, we were working on a list of boat projects, but EW had joined the local volunteer fire department which had scheduled a training on Mother’s Day weekend. (You can bet I was all fired up about that.) Still, my folks drove down to Yarmouth where the three of us shared a picnic lunch. Daddy painted the boot stripe on the boat, and Mom played with our pup, Coffee. They didn’t get to see EW that day but still sang his praises. (“Yeah, yeah. I’m proud he’s a firefighter, Mom.”)
As I was fortunate to become more involved in Favorite’s life my Mother’s Days became a bit more special. (Mom adored him, too. Here Favorite ushers Mom down the aisle at our wedding.) Of course, when Mom was still alive, we visited with her and Daddy. Later, EW would find something fun and special to do. Once a special Mother’s Day Brunch in a Portland hotel with his mom and sister; at other times as simple as a picnic – with or without boat projects. Mostly with. It was that time of year in Maine.
Once we started cruising, Mother’s Day began to revolve around a breakfast or brunch prepared by EW, and (if we were in the right location) my wonderful Mother’s Day call from Favorite – who never forgets. We aren’t much for presents, but this year EW purchased a quart of maple syrup because we were tragically out of it, so I knew I could expect home-made pancakes and bacon on Mother’s day. On Saturday, EW received a phone call from our musician friend, Jerry. I knew what was going on, and could tell EW wasn’t sure if it would fly. He concluded the call by thanking Jerry and telling him he'd,“let him know".
Recently, Jerry has been organizing “Pot Luck” music jams. We missed the first one because he didn’t have our number and the second one because it was on a beach after it had rained. Sand fleas are worse on a beach after a rainfall, and EW wisely decided not to brave the poisonous (to him) pests. On the first Sunday in May we took a taxi up to the top of Dorthea to a home overlooking Hull Bay, where “Coach”, Diane, and their two friendly mutts, Waggley and Tramp live. It was a great day, Diane is a calm and gracious woman, and the view was to die for. The music was good, too. (That’s Mick on bass, Jerry on lead guitar, and EW during our first Tree Top Jam.)
Back to that phone call from Jerry. From EW’s side of the conversation, I could infer that Jerry had called to say that Diane (mother of four) and Coach had invited us all back on Mother’s Day. EW wasn’t sure if that is how I wanted to spend “my day”. Well if I could have done anything I’d have been back in Maine for the lobster feed at my niece Jean’s home, but life isn’t perfect, and music in the treetops is pretty special, and really, how bitchy would I have to be to deny EW this opportunity? Way more bitchy than I am, that’s for sure. Coach kindly offered to taxi us up and back and the day was on.
It was a great afternoon. By the time we got there, Diane’s three grown daughters had called to wish her a Happy Mother’s day, so we were both waiting for our sons to call, and neither of us roamed without our phones until our day was complete. (Both “boys” called by 3:00 PM well within the “I haven’t forgotten Mother’s Day” time frame.
I learned why most musicians aren’t overweight. Playing music trumps eating. (It does not trump drinking beer, but one can do that easily between songs.) The potluck offerings included crab salad, fried chicken, potato salad, two home-made pizzas (moi’s contribution), Texas beans, and an amazing chili, cheese, chicken dip. EW ate the last two small pieces of pizza as we were in the car on our way back to the boat. That was all he ate for the entire day. He played music for six hours and drank beer. He had a really, really good Mother’s Day.
So did I.
After breakfast, I did laundry, made two pizzas, and was then transported to the treetops, where I could listen to great music, chat with smart women, eat good food and play with two cute dogs. I’d call that a Mother’s Day win.
NOTE: During our first Tree Top Jam, I chatted with Diane (remember, she’s from Texas) and mentioned we were out of Maple syrup. We are both charming women and we are both strong women.
Diane (with a Texas accent): Yew know you can make Maple Syrup?
Me: Yep, with a number of Maple trees, flowing sap, and a good fire.
Diane (Smiles then goes all serious again.): No really. You just need some maple flavoring and a little syrup. (I assume she meant Karo or some such thing.)
Me (Struggling to be polite.): Yeah. No. That …..
Diane: My kids just loved it!
Me: I really like you, and I’m sure your kids were fine with it, but that just won’t work for me.
She was tickled when I told her that I had gotten Real Maple Syrup for Mother’s Day. For those of you keeping score, while EW’s New York syrup is delicious, I have (of course) always favored Maine syrup. The only one available here at Cost U Less is from Vermont, so we compromised.
Here’s EW, Morgan, Jerry, and Mick on Mother’s Day.
Jerry and Diane and Coach all invited a few friends to listen and enjoy the day. Brian wins the Best Use of Smart Phone award when he quickly found the lyrics for one song.
It’s nice to know the right people. Friends on shore pointed out a lovely three-masted schooner and asked, “Do you know what boat that is?”
Hell, yes. Tom, Captain of the Schooner Mysticused to keep his own boat at the same marina that was La Luna’s home for eight years. Not being fools, we took advantage of that friendship and showed up one morning while Mystic was at anchor in St. Thomas.
Captain Tom and crew helped us aboard, but neither we nor the captain and crew were as elegant as this photo from their site. (This photo and the one of the interior came from their website. The sailing photos are mine.)
The Schooner Mystic is a new boat, built in 2007, and is beautifully appointed. The crew we met are all knowledgeable, and number at least two women skippers. The kitchen, not open to the public, is a restaurant style kitchen on a boat, and we were told the food is outstanding.
And yes, I know it's a galley. But this galley is a professional kitchen, so I'm calling it a kitchen. So there.
We were delighted with the opportunity to see how The Schooner Mystic was appointed, how much work it took to keep her in Bristol shape, and how much fun it would be to haul those sails. (As long as it wasn’t in our job description.) It was great to talk with Tom. After one or two more charters in the BVI’s they are headed back to New England where she will be available for charters during the summer.
Look for her on the water. She’s a beauty under sail.
We were truly excited to leave Guadeloupe for many different reasons, but we were delighted to sail into Elephant Bay in St. Thomas for just one…we knew we were home. Neil Diamond’s song reverberated in my head:
We’ve been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star …
On the boats and on the planes
They’re (We’re) coming to America
Never to look back again
They’re (We’re) coming to America
EW and I look back, and we’ll definitely visit foreign shores and islands again. But America is home, and we are proud to be American.
However, just as I have done things of which I am not proud, I am not proud to be associated with every individual American all the time. (Don't get me started about the typical "ugly American" travelers I've seen during our travels. That's another topic.)
During our travels in the Azores, Canaries, and Guadeloupe, I often tried to keep up with news from home, but more often failed. All broadcasts were in Portuguese, Spanish, or French, and our time with Wi-Fi was limited. For this reason, many of the European sailors we met were more up-to-date on the news from the US than we were. Some of them were brave enough to ask gentle questions of us, trying to determine why we (as in Americans) “hated President Obama”, as more than one person phrased it.
Now, through the generosity of friends we are on a mooring in St. Thomas with a Choice internet box; and by virtue of being in St. Thomas, have access to news on the radio. That is 90% great, but within a few days of arriving:
Conversely, I was able to feel great pride in knowing that our US Senator, Susan Collins (also from Aroostook County in Maine) was one of the few Republican senators to refuse to sign the infamous letter to the President of Iran.
Finally, eager to find out what is going on with friends and family, I spent time on Facebook, where I was surprised to find both friends from home and boating buddies posting or re-posting horribly racist and insensitive comments.
Since we now “reside” in Florida, I no longer have the option to vote for Senator Collins and have no influence on the first two bullet points.
But what is my responsibility on the final one? One of our boating friends reposted this:
I was appalled. My first thought was to “unfriend” her, but I like her. We disagree on politics, but that doesn’t mean we disagree on everything, or that I haven’t learned something valuable from her posts or those of other strong conservatives. My second thought was to comment, but I have seen those s#$t storms on Facebook and Twitter and did not want to start one. (NOTICE: Comments on this post will be welcomed from all parties, but please remain respectful.) In the end, I simply “told” Facebook I didn’t want to see any posts from the person who was my friend’s source. However, I will share my intended comment here: “I disparage hotdogs, have never worn a bikini, and my relationship with Jesus is not your business. I would say that Muslims come to America for the same freedom of speech and opportunities that enticed my ancestors and yours.”
My silence bothered me. There are many quotes from smart people--- including Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ginetta Sagan --- who all expressed that there is a time when it is not right to keep silent. Of the quotes I found, I think MLK’s is most appropriate for these times: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
My friends are not bad people. (Even if I think the person who wrote the original FB post may be a bad person – and I’m pretty sure I have no use for the person who commented.) My friends have opinions they wish to share and have perhaps taken the easy way out by re-posting something that is bad. I’m not without blame. I have been vitriolic and spoken rashly and I have re-posted things better left unsaid. I hope someone holds me accountable for it. (I know that Eleanor, one of my friends, business colleagues, and office mates years ago did a great job during our conversations. We certainly rarely agreed about politics, but we were always true friends.)
I have been scornful of those elected officials and so-called journalists who cannot listen and learn and engage in conversations about various issues. I love listening to reasoned and learned “foes” who disagree. But we need to remember, we aren’t “foes”. We are supposed to be on the same side. America’s side. This morning, as all of this was spinning around in my caffeine-fueled brain, I listened to a conversation on NPR in which they were discussing that letter signed by 47 Republican Senators.
Two statements, made by two different participants resonated with me. (These quotes are not exactly accurate as I didn’t have a pen in time)
The first: “We are falling down a slippery slope of name-calling and backbiting that makes it impossible to get things done.”
And later: “If your first reaction on discussing the partisanship is to blame the other party, then you are not helping.”
I am proud to be an American. I will always be proud to be an American, even if I am not always proud of our leaders. I will not always remain silent. Friends in my timeline have posted ugly, nasty, hurtful things about individuals and groups. If you express those comments to me face-to-face, I will object – respectfully. Since I still don’t believe Facebook is the place for debate, I will not always respond openly on social media sites. But I will not remain silent. We are friends. We can disagree. I will read your jokes, rejoice at your triumphs, cry when you are hurt, and learn from our differences of opinion whether they be about politics, economics, anchorages, food, or fashion. (Or the Oxford Comma; of which, as you will note, I’m a fan.)
We are friends. We won’t always agree, and I will not always remain silent. In real life, I will object to hateful comments, and vote with my ballot and my pocketbook. In social media, I will respectfully reject and object to hate, and --- if provoked ---will vote with the unfriend button. In return, if I post or re-post hurtful, racist, or hateful comments, please call me out on it. This is not the time for silence. It is the time for conversation. It is time to remember that we purposefully friended each other and that every one of us is also proud to be an American.
The Canary Islands, and to a lesser extent, the Cape Verdes islands are gathering points for folks crossing the Atlantic. This is a busy time in the marinas, and Marina Lanzarote was filling up as we left to return to Graciosa. Two weeks prior, the marina had allowed us to move to a dock where we could use the Honda generator, and where our neighbors were one workboat and ten or twelve local racing boats. After the sailboats left for a race back to the nearby island of Fuerteventura, we shared the dock with Pablo, Marco and their crew as they worked on their new, second or third hand workboat. They’d purchased her from an Englishman. Pablo speaks fairly good English and is a delight – a diver, business owner, and racing sailor. He reminded me of Favorite, so after we became friends I did gently ask him whether he knew “about his boat’s name”.
He looked chagrined and said that he did. They will change her name to Tandem Alpha, to signify that two strong men own her. He and his crew didn’t mind the generator – and in fact they made more noise than we did, and we didn’t mind that.
As the days progressed and the marina began to fill, more and more cruising boats joined us. One French gentleman asked why we ran the generator, but he was out near the end of the pier and assured us the two hours she ran in mid-day didn’t bother them at all. Over the next few days, more and more French boats were placed near us, one docking stern-to right across from us.
The first day they arrived, I went over and apologized for running the generator, explaining that our transformer had died and we had no choice but to run Jenny while we installed the solar panels. They were very forgiving, only asking whether we ran it at night. Upon assurance that Jenny would only be operated up to three hours a day between ten and four, we were forgiven. (It had been our experience in the Azores that the French were more disturbed by the use of the generator than any other nationality.)
Now that we were good neighbors, they told us that they were crossing the Atlantic in order to head up to Virginia for the Hermione Project. At least 20 boats from France will join this replica of Lafayette’s ship and follow in her wake from Virginia to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, stopping in New York, Boston, and Castine along the way. It sounds like a great thing to do, and certainly patriotic, but they won’t see much of Maine as their schedule is a little tight.
In addition to what EW and I called the “French Contingent”, other sailors from other Atlantic rallies filled the docks. There were folks participating in this year’s ARC, most of whom will leave directly from Lanzarote, while others will first stop in the Cape Verdes; and folks from Jimmy Cornell’s Odyssey – some just doing the Atlantic crossing, and others planning on joining his around the world odyssey.
EW and I have no plans to join a formal rally, but were delighted to be asked to join the “Atlantic Crossing Group”. This Google Group of sailors was formed in 2013 by a couple sailing to the Caribbean who wanted to stay in touch and share ideas with others who were crossing. The folks we partied with three weeks ago in Graciosa all belong to this group. We were welcomed with open arms and made new friends from the US, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and Turkey. A number of them were very helpful during our double quest for solar power and butane. There are musicians in the group, and we took over one of the docks one evening for an impromptu jam session. This was our kind of group.
When I signed on, I noticed that the description calls us “over the hill” sailors. I both resembled and resented that remark and said so in a group posting. Now I have to come up with a new description. It’s that kind of group – do-it-yourselfers and delegators – our kind of people. While we truly enjoyed all the people we’ve met, my favorite new sailing friends are Lucy and Ben. I’m appalled that I have no photos of them. They are from Great Britain, and are good sailors, except they can be known to shed quite a bit. One of the boats from Great Britain have not one, but two Labrador Retrievers on board. Big, gentle, loving, tail-wagging labs. I fell in love. Their people,Jack and Fizzy, are neat, too.
As always, EW and I will set our own course, point of departure, and destination – but we’ll keep in touch with our new friends via sailmail and SSB. Life is good at sea.
At left and above, a gathering of the members of our group who were at the marina. Other members were en route from Gibraltar or Morocco, anchored in Graciosa, or sailing in the Canaries or Cape Verdes. It’s an independent kind of group.
At the top of the post, looking from our “meeting” to boats on the dock at Marina Lanzarote.