No one deserves a hurricane. Not one island, not one state, not a city or town, and certainly not all their people. We are still reeling from the videos, stories, and photos of Hurricane Matthew and now we have Irma. We none of us “deserve” Irma. None of us want to meet her. All of us are thinking, “Not here.” “Not now.” “Not me.”
Please, Irma, no.
Irma, who is beating down on the Leeward Islands, may have a human’s name, but not a human’s heart or will. Irma just happens. She will happen to the Leewards, islands which you may know only know as a cruise ship stop or a great honeymoon location. We stayed for months in those islands. We have friends there and we fear for them. No, Irma, don’t go there.
Irma, who may make a bearing for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where we have even more friends as well as family. No, Irma, don’t go there!
All sources indicate it’s too soon to tell where Irma will impact the US. Will she turn north early or late, leaving Florida relatively unscathed and head to another state? While we would breath many sighs of relief for ourselves and our friends in St. Augustine, we would definitely worry about friends and family from Florida to Maine—or those along the Gulf in Louisiana and Texas.
So, no, Irma, please don’t come here.
But don’t go there, either!
As we all know, our thoughts mean nothing. We don’t have the option for “No Irma”. We don’t have any options except to get ready to leave—or to stay. We plan to leave, but where do we go? That’s going to be decided by Thursday as we watch and wait and learn more about Irma.
Irma the relentless, growing monster of wind and rain and destruction.
No, Irma. Please. Not here. Not me. And not there, either. Not any of them, either.
NOTE: “Category 6” does not refer to a new level of storm, It’s the name of the hazardous weather column on Weather Underground.
Nope, that’s not a new swear word. It’s what many of us call those who have moved off the boat and onto land: CLODS. Cruisers Living On Dirt.
Please note, we are only temporary CLODS and this has been part of the plan since we came to St. Augustine. EW was always going to varnish the interior which is nearly impossible while living aboard. With the deck job added, it became imperative that we move off the boat.
We are delighted and so very fortunate to have a space for June and July that is clean, air conditioned, and quite near the boat. On May 31st we moved off in 6 dinghy loads. Yep, that was a barrel of laughs.
Actually, EW had been out of town on a quick trip to Maine with Jerry and Betsy French (Hi, Jerry!) so I spent the holiday weekend packing. I vacuumed-bagged the cold weather stuff, boxed all dishes, books and – well everything in the main salon, galley, and master stateroom.
Every damn thing.
Some boxes were labeled “STAY” while others were labeled “GO”.
“STAY means STAY!” I told him when EW blindly grabbed the first box he saw. Yeah. though he’d been out of town and missed the packing moment of three flipping days, he didn’t ask any questions, just started putting boxes in the dinghy.
“Oh,” he said. “Good plan.”
After that, things went very, very, very, very, very, very smoothly.
Let me count the verys (veries?)
1. Though rain and thunderstorms were predicted, we had none until that evening.
2. We had no wind and no chop.
3. We found a parking spot right in front of the marina (well it was 6:30 AM)
4. There was a small boat slip near the second ramp so it was a straight shot up the ramp and to the car.
5. Once the car was loaded (before 10:00 AM) with everything except the main salon cushions, Stew moved it to the rental and found a place right in front (We can’t use the driveway and since we don’t have a car, no big.)
6. We were done and eating a lovely lunch by 1:00.
I call that a win.
I have a desk here and have been working like mad.
Five days a week, EW packs his lunch and goes off to the mines. He’s making great progress and has removed all the teak from the stern and along the port side up to just past the gate. He’s also stripped 75% of the teak in the master stateroom.
Lordy, lordy I love that man.
I also love having a real refrigerator/freezer. The landlords may find nail marks on it as EW may have to pry it from my grasping hug.
I am very grateful for this space. But except for the fridge/freezer, I can’t wait to get back on board.
We are not ready to be CLODS. (And miss all this fun?)
Let’s start with the Bikes. Soon after we arrived in St. Augustine, I imagined EW and me riding around town on lovely old-fashioned bicycles. (There are no hills here.)
It didn’t happen. Our friends Kirsten and Rocky from S/V Nightmusic bought a bike for Kirsten while they were in town last year and left it here under EW’s care. I had trouble riding it and thought that I may be the only person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike.
This year, Malcolm and Laura from S/V Thistle were here for 6 months and purchased two second-hand bikes from a thrift shop. We bought them when they left. “Bluebird” has wide handlebars, big tires, and (at first) a low seat. I considered the ability to plop my feet down the adult version of training wheels and spent a bit of time over two weeks to get comfortable. Yesterday, EW raised the seat and I’m a real bicyclist.
I like it so much that I found myself smiling while biking and this morning I passed my destination because I was enjoying the ride. (I smile more and my basket is smaller and in the front. Plus I love dogs. Other than that, I feel like this when I’m riding my big girl’s bike.)
That brings us to Radio. One of the reasons I’ve not been prolific on the blog is that there are a whole lot of important things pulling at my time now that I am a “liveaboard” instead of a cruiser—particularly a working liveaboard. I’m working to make money so that we can fix the boat and become cruisers again, socializing with cruisers, spending time with EW, and doing all the normal life things one does—except I live on a boat on a mooring and we have no car.
This morning I had a networking breakfast at 8 and a live interview on a radio station at 11:30. They were only a mile apart so I rode my bike to the first, stayed at Café Bistro and worked, and rode my bike to WSOS, 103.9 for the interview.
EW said I did well. It’s been a long time but evidently, I haven’t forgotten my media voice either. During the half hour interview punctuated with cool oldies music (Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones to name two), Nicole and Kevin mentioned cupcakes. Specifically,Sweet City Cupcakes from St. Augustine. I love cupcakes so I rolled with it.
After the interview, Nicole said, “Wow, I suppose since you’re on a bike, you can’t take the cupcakes.”
“You really have cupcakes?”
“Yes,” she said, as she opened a cupboard and presented me with a box of four beautiful cupcakes. I told her I would find a way to carry the cupcakes, and I did.
However, I had to make a stop at Rype and Readi, one of my new favorite St. Augustine haunts, to pick up fruit for a fruit salad. There was no room in the basket for the fruit, so EW got a call.
“Honey, can you come in and pick me up --- and meet me at Rype and Readi? I have my bag and cupcakes and can’t add the fruit.” Since EW’s bike has no basket (yet), I asked him to wear his backpack. Cupcakes may have motivated him to agree but probably he would have done it anyway, 'cause he’s a nice guy.
So I purchased a half watermelon, a pineapple, and strawberries, and Sebastian gave me three ripe mangoes, and I waited for EW to arrive. I had my purse/laptop case and the cupcakes in my basket and the bag of produce waiting for EW. He rounds the corner and I wonder why his backpack straps are invisible.
He looked at me, “You know,” he said, “On my way over here I remember the backpack and thought, ‘You had just one job.’”
So, we put the fruit in the basket, put the cupcakes on top, and dangled my heavy bag from the handlebars. It worked.
I have learned, however, that small bike baskets are not the best place to carry cupcakes. I may have to get a large basket in the back like Miss Gulch. (And no, I am not going to get a small black dog to ride back there. He’d only eat the cupcakes.)
For lunch, I put the cupcakes on a plate and reapplied the frosting. They were not pretty but I assure you they were delicious. The chocolate one with peanut butter frosting was our favorite. Evidently, at one point it looked like this
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.)
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.
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.
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?
First 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 the 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.
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.
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.
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.
While 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.
When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They took great care of her while we watched, shed a few tears, and took photos. And then she was safe.
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.
First 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.
We 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.
I love hearing (usually on NPR) the recitation of the Beloit College Mindset List, designed to remind professors exactly how old they are and how clueless they may be about the popular culture as compared to each year’s crop of college freshmen. In preparation for this post, I perused the 40+ items on the 2016 list and present my favorite 10. (The word “favorite” is relative.)
The Mindset List for the Class of 2016
Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather. (That hurts.)
Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. (I haven’t gotten used to this, and still make sure my own straps are tucked away. The safety pin is your friend. Raise your hand if you have sewed little snaps into a top and attached a ribbon with the corresponding snap to corral that bra strap.)
Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles. (Go us!)
They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’ (I miss the tan ones –and while we are on that subject, what happened to Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms? Such a loss.)
L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
Our Mindset is more like that of Rip Van Winkle. We are missing a few years. Five to be exact. While we aren’t totally clueless, we have a decided lack of clue regarding at least three things. (This is in addition to the already much-discussed cell phone/Android/data we had issues with upon setting foot ashore.)
So, in no particular order, here are three things we’ve had trouble understanding:
1. Lacy shorts for daytime wear. What’s up with that? I don’t mind that they are short. (You should see my hot pants, rompers, and skirt lengths in high school. Think long legs, hot pants, and mini skirts. Actually, that was one of my best eras.) Digressing. But these are lace short shorts made of some light weight material with an overlay of crochet or lace. I first saw these in St. Thomas worn by cruise ship tourists, but since I don’t take anything the average cruise ship tourist wears as actual real world fashion, I continued to be surprised when I wander the streets of St. Augustine and saw numerous women wearing short lacy shorts. I don’t get it. How do they get through a day without ripping, tearing, or catching the lace? Heck, I couldn’t walk from one end of the boat to the other without catching that lace on something. I’m all for comfort and movement, which is good because I have never mastered fashion—though I’m not sure that lace hot pants paired with cowboy boots can be called “fashion”. And speaking of fashion, these lace shorts are available at Nordstrom's for 158.98—down from $265.00. Are you freaking kidding me?
2. On-line Shopping. Yes, this existed long before we left, but not to the degree it does now. This week, Walmart bought Jet.com not an airline, apparently, but an on-line shopping company that does better than Walmart on-line. (But nowhere near as well as Amazon.) Walmart has an on-line shopping experience? Who knew? In case you think I’m overstating this, let me offer some info: First, here’s a chart to show you how much things have changed since we left in 2010:
You will note that on-line retailing tripled while we were gone. (I’m not saying that I didn’t help a bit, but that’s a whole bunch of packaging.)
Second, I offer Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, and Bark Box. This is what got me going. I remember record clubs and book clubs but a CLUB FOR RAZORS !Seriously blows my mind. Do you really have to go online to order some $1.00 razors to be sent to you on a regular basis? Can you really not remember to pick them up at the grocery store? Speaking of which, do we really need to have food shipped from wherever it was grown to a warehouse/kitchen for portioning, and then sent from there to your door so you can make three “fresh” meals without going to the store. After all that shipping, it can’t be all that fresh. As for Bark Box, that’s not about fresh, but about spoiling your pooch with a few of the new, new things for dogs, delivered in a box . (OK, I’m a dog sap, this sounded kind of cool for a one time gift. The option of once a month for a year, though? That’s crazy.) For the record, I love shopping on-line, for some things. And it was a necessity in the islands. When you are in the USVI it can be the only way to find something you need, like your favorite Teva’s. When in Grenada, I had to ship sandals to a friend’s brother who was flying in for a visit. Bless him. I do not mean to shame you for purchasing on-line. I’m just surprised at the speed with which it’s taken over. Dollar Shave Club? Really? (OK, I may be shaming you for the Dollar Shave Club.) (And I am definitely overusing the word “really”.)
3. Apps. Again, something that was around before we left. But in 2010 EW had a two-year-old iPhone and I had an oldish Blackberry, so our smartphones weren’t all that smart. (And we certainly weren’t.) (And I will swear on a stack of fixed portlights that smartphone was a two-word phrase in 2010.) My co-worker just bought a new desktop computer and it has Apps. So, let’s recap: smartphones got apps so that they could work more like computers, and savvy businesses made their on-line sites work better with smartphones and created apps and those Q boxes to help other businesses market to those with smart phones, and now desktop computers have apps to be more like smartphones. Dog chase tail much? (Send it a Bark Box!)
And yes, we have and use apps. We were middle-aged and ignorant, not ancient and Luddites. (Though I’m feeling that “middle-aged” is perhaps pushing it a bit as I might not live to 110.)
Oh lord. We aren’t lost cruisers. We’re just old. Say it ain’t so!
On a (slightly) more serious note. Yes, this is yet another “transition” post, because IMHO there haven’t been enough of these done by cruisers. In other words, after feeding my dream, helping us to choose a boat and many of the extras, giving great advice while we were at sea, on the hard, or in a secluded anchorage, my cruising and blogging gurus did not do so well on the transition ashore. We will be taking off again for Round Two, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of this stuff for all of you still “at sea”.
We are settling into our new life as (gasp) (choke) mere liveaboards here in St. Augustine. During the off-season, our friends and acquaintances are (choke) (gasp) all dirt dwellers. That’s OK, some of our best friends and all of our dearly loved relatives are dirt dwellers. We just forgot what it feels like to be liveaboards.
Yes, it took me over seven months to get over it. I have (mostly) ceased to compare this life with that of cruising and think more often about how living aboard in St. Augustine compares to living aboard in South Portland. Both areas have a strong sense of history. One area is much more modest in how they promote such history. St Augustine can evidently claim to be the oldest continually inhabited “city” in America. (Of course, no one here counts any actual native communities in that discussion. Evidently city life in America began in 1565.) “Oldest” is the town’s favorite superlative and it’s not always used wisely. Seriously, would you want to be a patient of the “Oldest City Dentist” Think about it. I keep imagining Tim Conway in one of his old man sketches, with a dentist drill.Here he is a butcher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ry8khR922g
On shore, there are people who recognize us as new locals and we are now “regulars” at a number of events. Well, since the majority of our events involve music, EW is the regular and I’m the “Band-Aid”. One of his favorite venues is the Saturday Market at the Amphitheater where he gets to stand in the hot sun and play for over four hours with 5-20 excellent musicians. I like the market, and have made friends with some of the vendors but I opt to arrive two hours later than EW, who is generally one of the first musicians to arrive and one of the last to leave.
I check out all the booths, chat with vendors, and act like a professional Band-Aid by getting coffee, water, and snacks, and (once) holding music for EW and four others learning a new song. Near the end of the morning, I purchase produce. The corn here is almost as good as that in Maine, but it’s impossible to purchase corn picked that day.
You know you are NOT from Maine if you think yesterday’s corn is fresh corn. On the other hand, you haven’t had a peach unless you’ve had yesterday’s peach from Georgia or South Carolina.
For your enjoyment and edification, here are shots of the market, and a video of EW leading the group in Teen Age Wedding. As you can tell, he tries to enjoy himself. Truly he is so tickled that these outstanding—many professional—musicians will play so joyfully with him. How can you not smile at this? One man, living his dream.
Postscript: Small World Moment. The woman guitarist in the pink top is Lynn Healey. Stew met her a couple of months ago, and then she left St. Augustine to perform with her band. He had told me about her and she is just as nice as he said. Here’s the small world part: Lynn knows Peter Bonta and has played with Bob Perilla and Bill Kirchen—friends of Peter and LeeAnn, formerly from Two Much Fun.
And so we are reminded that the cruising life is still with us.