Life on Board Feed

Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly, Boats Gotta Float

Those of you who use Facebook know that we are back in the water and living aboard and very, very thankful. We also are grateful to the many who helped us, supported us, hugged us, housed us, fed us, loved us, made us smile, and provided excellent advice.

There are two parts in getting a relatively undamaged boat back into the water, 1. Paying for it; 2. Doing the Heavy Lifting.

Paying For It

We choose to have only liability insurance on La Luna. We believe in liability insurance for our own protection and it is required for entering marinas all over the world. Even after reading our policy, it was not clear to us that liability would help in our situation. After all, La Luna had successfully traveled on her own sometime during Hurricane Matthew and arrived in one of the best possible spots without coming into contact with anything other than mud, small trees, and mangroves. She didn’t damage anyone’s personal property, and that is all we thought liability would cover.

You who read (and understand) the fine print, you who grilled your insurance agents, you who are both boaters and lawyers or insurance agents—all of you may know that your liability insurance (in most cases) kicks in when your boat goes walk-about. We did not know that. For over a week post-Matthew we thought we had to pay to get La Luna floating again. It was not an easy week, yet we continued to be thankful, saying “Once she’s floating, she’s our home again.”

Many other boaters were not as fortunate. This tug left St. Augustine recently with Polaris, Mental Floss, Nyght-Bryte, Anticipation, and at least two other loved sailing vessels. We know Polaris was totaled. Certainly, the others on deck are secured like cargo rather than someone’s current or future dream.

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Thanks to David Wiggins, marine surveyor and hurricane insurance expert sent by Boat U.S., we learned that having your big, heavy boat beached on someone else’s property is not something the landowner likes all that much, so our boat was a liability. Thanks to EW’s hours of phone calls (on a Sunday) and thanks to those agents and adjusters who reached out to us in our time of need (on a Sunday), we learned that $14,100 was a reasonable fee for a heavy boat in that predicament, (Whew!) and that our insurance would cover all but the deductible (Double Whew!).  Sunday was a very good day. Before we went cruising, we purchased insurance through Boat US, and recommend them. Once we left the country, we opted to purchase Markel Insurance through IMS Jackline Insurance and have found both the agent and the claims office to be excellent.

Doing the Heavy Lifting

We lost track of the days; moving, worrying, seeing to La Luna, and trying to figure out how to move her. There is a strong Facebook Group of local cruisers here and that became the go-to method of communication. Phosphorescence was lying right next to us, but her owner was on a Cruise Ship somewhere in Panama. We messaged with him and worked with his brother and with his insurance agent, David Wiggins. EW also began talking with any of the other boaters who wanted to communicate and whose boats were near ours, nine in all.

One was “up a creek” and able to winch his boat out to deep water over the course of days with help of the extreme high tide. Others opted to go with a crane and barge from Fernandina, which didn’t actually arrive in St. Augustine until after our boats had been hauled. EW talked with a highly recommended local barge and crane company, Yelton Marine Construction.  While he is impressed with the owner and crew, it was decided that their rig was too small to handle ours in the best possible way. EW also talked with DIVECOM Marine, a salvage company from Tampa. Their method would have included skidding La Luna over the mud using a big tug and trash pump and all sorts of stuff. Again, nice guys, but not our favorite method; I am sure they were able to help others in the area. In the meantime, McCulley Marine Services arrived with an 110-ton crane on a barge and a nifty tug operator who looked like Father Time. Owner, Boo McCulley drove up from Fort Peirce to seek out business and therefore help folks like EW and me.  David Wiggins, who has worked 26 previous hurricanes, had hired McCulley previously, recommended them, and chose them to haul out our temporary on-shore neighbor, Phosphorescence. Once we met with Boo, EW immediately decided that he wanted them to handle La Luna, as well.

Time note, all of this happened before we called our insurance company. EW nailed that down on Sunday, the day the crane moved into position for both La Luna and Phosphorescence. I love it when a plan comes together.

On Monday morning it was all about the tide as we gathered along the shore, joined by a surprising and heartwarming number of friends for support. Kirsten and Rocky rented a car and drove down from Georgia, Cathy made the trek again from Amelia Island, Joe dropped by from “Camp Elkton”, and Lisa and Matt came by from a few blocks away. The barge lifted Phosphorescence first. The crew was careful, skilled, and a delight. I called them engineering Bubbas and mean that in the best possible way. The barge operator called me “little lady” and assured me they’d have the boat on the water by noon. The others all “ma’amed” me and kept dismissing my praise as just a day in the life. EW says that they were careful y treated La Luna as if she were an eggshell.

By one, both vessels were off the mud and Phosphorescence was on her way to a safe dock. La Luna was (mostly) upright and (somewhat) in the water. Unfortunately taking care means taking time and we had lost the super high tide. No worries. She would stay in slings, held in the water by the crane until the next high tide when they would carry her out to deep water as tug and barge moved to a safe anchoring spot near the dolphins to the south. It was agreed that EW would join them and stay aboard that night, while I spent one last night with Jae-p on UB I.  EW has been singing the praises of the McCulley crew ever since. Not only did they take care of our home, they worked very hard to take care of EW the night he slept on board, even to the point of making him coffee the next morning.

On Tuesday, October 18, I loaded the dinghy with the incredible amount of items we’d taken ashore before and after the hurricane, and rendezvoused with EW aboard our brilliant and forgiving floating home. Once we had tossed everything down below, the crew prepared to lower her the final six inches into the water, and then removed the slings, and towed us to a very temporary anchorage. Once again, I found myself in tears as I thanked each of them for all they had done. One of them replied, “I love my job! I get to do this and I get to make you happy!”

And that was it. Friends from Ann O'Malley's (Irish Pub, Buffalo fans, and Air B n B apartment) had offered to tow us to our anchorage near the mooring field, but our boat was too heavy and the winds too strong. We hired Tow Boat US who ably placed us in a safe temporary spot. This week we are putting things back in place below decks, cleaning, and fixing. EW removed the burst muffler and we ordered the new one. By the end of the week, we will be on our new, inspected mooring once again, living the life in St. Augustine.

NOTE: We took photos from two cameras, but the smaller outdoor camera didn’t work. Trust me, the boat looked great hung next to the tug overnight, and the dinghy was full on Tuesday morning.

The Tug, Barge, and Crane on Monday morning.

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Cathy, wiggling past a downed tree on a compromised dock to give me a hug.

Kirsten, chatting with EW.

Photos not taken: Rocky, Joe, Matt, Lisa, and my boss and owner of the Black Raven, Gunner Hedquist.

 

 

 

 

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

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Sometime in the afternoon, they (somehow) moved La Luna from the port side to the starboard side of the tug. Once in deep water, they adjusted her in the slings, dove on her again to check for damage, and helped EW make sure all was well.

He spent the night on board La Luna, where I joined him on Tuesday.

 

We are so happy and relieved, but this is one adventure we never want to repeat.


Have You Seen My Funny Keyboard? I Seemed to Have Lost it Somewhere.

I think funny.

I often talk funny and tell funny stories in a funny way, including things that have happened recently.

I dream funny dreams.

I Facebook funny. In fact, I crack me up on Facebook almost every day.

Writing lately, not so funny.

This live-aboard boater has misplaced her writing mojo and she wants it back. She wants it back RIGHT NOW!

I take notes for future blog posts. The notes are funny.

The posts, not so much.

I practice by telling a story to a friend during a long phone conversation. She roars.

I write it. Meh.

Or worse, I sit down to write one of those informative yet humorous posts and something else appears on the screen apparently typed by my own fingers. Something a tad melancholy.

From whence did that come?

I am not often without speech. (OK, I am NEVER without speech.) (Rim shot, but low hanging fruit)

I am definitely not a doom and gloom person.

I am, however, a cruiser who is not cruising and that has been a problem for me.

We are liveaboards. We are not currently cruisers. We may even (Gasp!) take our sails down and store them for a few months. Why let the big old sun shine down on them if we aren’t going to use them?

We are cruisers who are living aboard. I haven’t been thrilled with all things St. Augustine or many things Florida. (I saw TWO snakes here, which is two more than I’ve seen in the past five years. What kind of a state is this?)

Yes, we are cruisers living aboard and we like living aboard. We have no desire for a house. Life isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s good. Since we left Maine in 2010 things have gone very well. Let me count the ways:IMG_0966

1-100.   All the places we visited from October 2010 until December 2015. (That’s a rough estimate and includes multiple visits to various islands. OK. Really, it’s a guess. It’s a literary license kind of thing. Going back to counting now.) Sure we liked some places more than others. And sure, there may be one or two we will bypass the next time, but overall, this was a blast and I wouldn’t have missed any part of it. (Except for EW’s bout with shingles. That can go to Hades.)

101-972  (Also a guess) All the people we we met along the way. It doesn’t matter that I pull up IMG_4665some boat cards and have no idea who those people are. Neither does it matter that we can tell a wonderful story about world cruisers we met in Nassau in 2010. We can provide you with very detailed accounts of a number of their experiences, the washing machine they called, “The Guest”, what she was wearing when we were invited aboard for cocktails, and what they served for snacks. Yet we have no idea what their names are. It doesn’t matter. Everyone enriched us. Also every local person—from the angry guy on the dock in Atlantic Island New Jersey, to Dingis Gennel, and Carmel in Grenada, to the interesting, helpful, non-English speaking alternator repair guy in Colon Panama—left an impression on us. If not a great impression, one that salted our stories with reality. Every cruiser— from the Canadian in New Jersey who gave us the keys to his car so we could get to West Marine to the newbies and the circumnavigators we’ve met in St. Augustine—have all enriched our lives and encouraged our dreams. Many of them have shared their wonderful stories and more than a few have helped us create wonderful stories together.

973-1,963 (A low estimate) Stands for all the big and little things that went wrong, broke, wereIMG_9977 lost overboard, or purchased in error. We fixed most of them, went without others, and are creating joy by tossing others (figuratively) from the boat. It wasn’t always pretty, but when La Luna’s parts had issues, we took care of her, and she brought us safely back to the States.

1,964-2,252 Are all (approximately) the family, friends, and acquaintances who waved good-bye, accepted that we were going to be gone a long time, and helped us in both tangible and intangible ways. A surprising number of them have been faithful readers of this blog.

2,253. EW. He’s not first on this list, but he’s first in my heart. He infected me with his dream and I IMG_9937have no regrets. None. Even the endurance crossing. (Though I do regret not getting the propane tank filled in the Canaries. My bad.) What a ride we’re having.

2,254 & 2,255. The two years we will be here, enjoying all St. Augustine has to offer, working, and providing La Luna with required TLC.

2,256. The next cruise, encompassing the Yucatan, Cuba, Eastern Caribbean, the Azores, and (fingers crossed) mainland Portugal, with side trips in Europe.

2,257. The United States of America. Even during a nasty, crazy election, I am delighted to be here and proud of my homeland, my heritage, and my country. (Some of the people, not so much…but that also goes for cruisers and local folks we met every where. People is people.)

Things weren’t perfect on the first cruise, they won’t be perfect on the second, and they aren’t perfect here in the US, or here in St. Augustine. But I am happy, incredibly fortunate often funny, and usually grammatically correct.

Now if I can just find that mojo.


The Quieter You Become the More You Can Hear

 

I talk too much.

I talk too much most, if not all, of the time. Surprisingly, I am married to an extrovert. (How did that happen?) So, after we’ve spent time alone together at sea, neither of us can stop talking when we finally meet up with folks IRL. Just ask all those lovely English speaking folks we met during out second and third weeks in Guadeloupe in 2015. After completing the “Endurance Crossing”, and barely staying married during the process (there are not lawyers at sea) we couldn’t keep our mouths shut in Guadeloupe.

I also talk too much when I’m stressed. And frankly, as some of you have surmised, I’ve been a bit stressed with this move to a (for now) permanent mooring, the search for a job, and this re-entry into the US thing. In November, dear cruising friends, Sandy and Jeff on S/V Magic Inspiration left St. Augustine after staying here two years for the same boat/cruising kitty reasons. We didn’t’ arrive here before they had once again headed for the Caribbean, but she offered to guide me through the transition via phone and emails.

I thanked her and didn’t listen to the underlying meaning: You will be uncomfortable. Let me tell you the ways.

Not my brightest moment.

So, I’ve been talking a lot and complaining more than I should. Sometimes after meeting people I think, “Did all of that come out of my mouth? What is wrong with me?”

Yesterday, I experienced exactly one of those moments, when I met up with Marcie and David from S/V Nine of Cups. We had first met in the laundry room just after they had arrived and I gave them a quick rundown of stores and services. EW had also met them for a bit, but none of us had boat cards at the time, so I was delighted to see them again when we bumped into each other on the ramp. We conversed. (OK, I conversed, they listened.)

They are lovely people and I hope they will contact us and come over for sundowners when they head south after a summer in the Northeast. Know what I found out during the last few minutes of a long “conversation”?

Not only have they been around the world, but they went south of Australia because they wanted to see Tasmania. They have ventured where few other American sailors have sailed and talked about being the only foreign vessel in most of the south Australian ports. They have stories and I almost missed it.

Because I talked too much.

For now, I am reduced to perusing their blog: http://justalittlefurther.com/

 

When he reads this, EW will roll his eyes and agree and at least think (if not exclaim) “No S#it!” when he reads this. I’m OK with that and I may even live it down someday.

In case you think I’ve overstated this, here is the chart of their passages:

passages to date

 

I think they went around the Horn TWICE! Holy Crap!

I have GOT to listen more and talk less. A whole lot less. I won’t undergo a personality change. I’m extroverted and just a tad domineering. (Cue EW eye roll.)

But I will stop whinging and start listening.

I love the term “whinging”. I learned it from some Brits we met in Guadeloupe. Hey, I didn’t talk all  the time!

whinge

(h)winj/

BRITISHinformal

verb

gerund or present participle: whinging

  1. complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.

    "stop whinging and get on with it!

That last line will be my new motto. “Stop whinging and get on with it!”


Squirrel!

Dear friends Jerry and Nancy from Cape Elizabeth, Maine gently tweaked me about not posting on this blog in a month of Sundays. (Well, according to them a month.) Let’s contrast this with a sailing fan, who isn’t on the Internet every day and said, “Loved that new post of the poem. Very nice.” It’s fans like that who keep me procrastinating.

Also squirrels.

Remember the movie “Up”? As dog lovers, particularly Labs, we loved the special collar that allowed the dog to express his thoughts, and how frequently he interrupted any conversation by shouting, “Squirrel!” Similarly, I have meant to write a post (or six). I’ve started a post (or six). But I haven’t finished one of them, and I’m blaming it on the squirrels.

Squirrel moments have removed a train of thought from my brain and caused posts to derail. (The previous sentence is an homage to Jerry and Nancy.) This has been a month of squirrel moments—to be honest, all of 2016 has been filled with squirrel moments—and all those squirrels have made it difficult to hold on one topic long enough to finish a blog.

And let’s be honest, for me “Squirrel!” means “People!” It can also mean “Dog!” but “Dog!” moments tend to pass while “People!” usually equals talking, gathering to talk more, and sharing stories and recipes, which is really just talking. Let me tell you about a recent such moment.

I was in minding the Black Raven Pirate Ship’s store when a cruiser walked in to see what we had. It’s a slow month for children’s adventures in St. Augustine, so I had time to chat. (See above.) Greg is an outgoing and funny guy, originally from Texas, now from Virginia, who was temporarily sailing alone while his wife went to visit the grandbabies. (Did you get that?) They are buddy boating with (are you ready?) Dave and Jane from South Portland, Maine. (Big Flipping Squirrel!) Greg, being a wise main, immediately called Jane’s cell and told her to “Get over to the Pirate store right now!” Jane had been in the shower, but for reasons still unclear, actually reached out through the curtain and took the call. She arrived impressively quickly, dressed, with hair only dripping a bit.

Introductions got lost with Greg’s exclamation, “She’s from South Portland, Maine!” meaning both of us. And the “Do you knows” began. When Dave showed up, he simply entered the fray and we discussed moving their moving aboard date, our leaving Maine date, and who we all knew from the marina in South Portland. As I thought we were nearing our shared friends, Jane looked at me and asked….

wait for it…

(you know it’s coming, don’t you?

……..

….. “Do you know Barb and Stew Hart?”

Being quick on the uptake, I said, “We are Barb and Stew Hart.”

Jane squealed and hugged me. Being me, I hugged back. Since her husband knows Jane really, really well he just looked delighted. Jane then stepped back and said, “You are the reason we did this!” And then she turned to Dick and stated, “This is Barbara. I read her blog posts to you!”

Now remember, this was all while I was working on a very quiet morning, but still, I needed to go back to work. As things tend to go in St. Augustine, Jane and her bevy of buddy boaters were leaving the next morning, so she invited us to a cockpit gathering that evening. We had planned to do something with Lynn and Keith from Otter and I told her that they, too, were at sea in part due to reading and laughing at our exploits. Jane promptly invited Lynn and Keith, and this explains how things have been going in St. Augustine.

Squirrel!

Jane pulled together a fantastic cockpit party including the temporarily solo sailor, Greg, and Diane and Bob, the third boat in that buddy boating triumvirate. The food was fantastic. Jane gave most of the props to Diane who is an outstanding, inventive chef. It was a great evening, with lots of stories. Some of the funnier ones weren’t ours. I love that. And I love living on a boat. 


What Are You Reading?

IMG_4631We have purchased few books in the past five years, fewer still in the past two. We’ve relied on book sharing with other cruisers, which tends to be both limiting and surprising. I love reading books on  my Kindle but pretty much abhor paying the full hard-cover price for an e-book. This had been a Facebook discussion among writers a couple of years ago—a discussion I didn’t have the data time for doing much other than putting in my two-cents, so I don’t know if they came to a consensus.

Consequently, while we have never run out of reading material, the majority of our options tend to be genre books enjoyed by other cruisers. That’s OK. We like genre books though we like to supplement them with non-fiction, biographies, and (especially EW) historical non-fiction. Thus, we discovered Lee Child. He became our new Robert Parker. (Back in Maine, with successful careers, we bought the new, hard-cover Spencer for Hire books because we just couldn’t wait for the paperback version.)

Since early Jack Reacher books are frequently on sale or offered at reasonable prices on Amazon, and since “Santa” purchased a couple of the newer books as e-books, we are nearly caught up with the series. A couple of weeks ago, I perused the lending library in the Marina lounge and found the hard-cover of  “Make Me”, which had been published in September of 2015. Score!

I immediately began reading it while the laundry was tumbling in the dryer.  Shortly afterward, a distinguished looking cruiser came into the lounge and also looked over the offered books, picking one to read. He saw what I was reading and asked, “Did you just get that from here?” I tried not to crow as I answered in the affirmative, and offered to make sure he got it next. “You going to be here a few days? Both my husband and I will have to read it before I pass it on.”

He slumped. They were heading south tomorrow, but would return in a month or two. “No worries. I will save it for you.” We exchanged boat cards just before his wife walked into the room. “Oh! Is that the new Jack Reacher?” Her husband and I laughed as he related what had been discussed moments before.

The next morning, I opened an email from them, saying they had put another Jack Reacher novel on the lending shelves. Since EW and I had read that one, we left if for the next person, though I checked when we went ashore to find that it had been snatched up. While we try not to keep many books and few hard-cover ones on board, “Make Me” has a temporary place of honor in the main salon, with the boat card from M/V Erban Renewal taped inside. It will be waiting for you, Julia and Steve.

IMG_4634As for my next book, I was delighted to find a paperback copy of “Wild”. Even cruisers who’ve been somewhat out of touch know about this book and the subsequent movie. Or at least, I did. I’ve been reading it slowly,stopping to savor, do something else, and enjoy later. This bitingly honest book resonates with me. I don’t know whether I would have liked Cheryl Strayed when she was in her 20’s, and certainly wouldn’t have approved of many of her choices, but her struggles were not my struggles, and her lessons are not my lessons. I am awed by her decision to walk a huge section of the Pacific Coast Trail in the 90’s --- alone. And I see parallels with some cruisers I’ve met and read about who also survived and succeeded despite a lack of knowledge, insufficient preparation, and incorrect gear.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to undertake a cruise, a hike, or another feat without more understanding of what is needed. Still, this seems to have been the right choice—and perhaps the saving grace— for Cheryl and most of those sailors I mentioned. I am struck once again by the knowledge that I am not the person who would have set sail in my 20’s, with little or no technology. And I am once again in awe of those who preceded me, showed me the way, and fed my dream.

And perhaps I was wrong about the difference between what Cheryl and I needed to learn. As Cheryl said at the end of the book:

“That it was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was…That it was everything. It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close. so very present, so very belonging to me.”

What are you reading?

 

P.S. Note that in the link at Amazon, an e-book copy of “Wild is   $0.81 MORE than a new paperback copy. That is just wrong.


Lonesome Socks

Many of the memes that show up in social media were themes of cartoons, writers, and essayists long before Facebook came on the scene. Take the mystery of lost socks, dryer eating socks, lonesome singles socks, etc.

PinterestFor the past five years, we didn’t have that problem. You don’t lose what stays safely folded in the drawer and we rarely wore socks. When we did, it would be for a day’s hike, so laundry day would include exactly four socks. You can’t lose one of four socks as easily as you can lose one of 14 socks. (It’s also more difficult to lose socks when you wash a few clothes in a bucket, wring them dry by hand, and hang them on the line. Evidently losing socks is also a first world problem.)

Now that it’s warmer in St. Augustine, where the spring weather apparently goes from 90 to 60 in a 24 hour period, I have begun to prepare to launder all the wearable fleece and warm blankets prior to storing them under our bed for the next (fingers crossed) nine months. Over the past three months, I have frequently returned home from the laundry with one or more lonesome socks.

Let me be the first to say, that part of this may be a result of a new storage method I am trying. Instead of rolling socks into a ball and folding one over the other, I am letting them truly rest, to thank them for warming and protecting our feet. I fold them into little bundles and store them upright in plastic containers, a la Marie Kondo, author of The Kon-Marie Method, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Unfortunately, while our socks may be better rested, they don’t stick together as well. I suspect that sometimes (often) we will pull one sock from two pairs, wear them, and find after washing that we don’t have mates when we match them up for their relaxing bundles.

The other week, EW asked me how long he should hold on to his bereft, lonesome socks. “It’s not giving me great joy to have them in my drawer.” Joy is another of Marie Kondo’s words, or that is the word her translator used to describe her technique. EW does not utter the word, “Joy”, with actual joy in this context. In fact, it was “said sarcastic”, as they say in Maine.

IMG_4636I recently did a monster load of laundry and decided to pull out our sock bins as I stored the freshly washed and appropriately folded clothes. Guess what? Every sock now has a mate and has been repatriated to its appropriate sock bin, folded gently with his or her buddy.

I also found my long-lost yoga pants. Clearly I have not yet mastered the Japanese art of tidying, but my socks have great joy and are no longer lonesome. EW is thrilled. (And that’s a very soft, lower-case thrilled, with some mild satisfaction but no real joy.)

And for you inquiring minds out there, now you know: Briefs.


House Concert 101

IMG_4436Social Media can be a beautiful tool. Last week, EW and I were tagged in a Facebook post from our dear friend and former cruiser, Peter Bonta. Peter is EW’s guitar guru. We met him and LeeAnn during our first season in Grenada, nearly five years ago, and found new friends-for-life. IMG_4433

They sold their boat and are now living in Italy. (How cool is that?) Due to the miracle that is Facebook, Peter forwarded a post by a musician friend of his, David Watt Besley, announcing a private home concert in St. Augustine. And, due to the magic that is synchronicity, EW knew the host of the concert: Scott Sweet, a musician and luthier who had fixed EW’s guitar pick-up. (This is not a truck that looks like a guitar but a port to allow his guitar to be amplified.)

IMG_4425IMG_4424EW called Scott, got the particulars on the concert, and invited a few of our friends to join us. Kirsten, who had attended the Flager guitar class with EW, and Don and Betty-Ann, former cruisers who are now very interesting CLODS here on the river, all jumped at the chance for this limited seating event. Don and Betty-Ann kindly invited the three of us to dingy to their dock and ride to the show with them. (EW repeatedly assured them that they were invited because he knew they liked hearing new music,not because he was angling for a ride. Betty-Ann smiled, winked, and said, “Oh, suuure,” a phrase only a southern lady can pull off with the right inflection and timing.)

IMG_4483-001What an amazing evening. Scott had made chili, moved out most of the living room furniture, and set up chairs for 30 or so folks. We all brought snacks to share and our own libation—just like a boat party—and then we were enthralled by three songwriters performing in turn for three hours. St. Augustine is an amazing town. As Don said, after talking with Barry, an outstanding local artist who attended, “You just never know where you will meet someone with incredible talent, here in St. Augustine.” (That’s especially rich when you know that Don is a phenomenal architect.) I nodded sagely at his words, thinking, “Um, you  are an incredible talent.” IMG_4463

David Watt Besley, formerly from Virginia where he knew Peter, now lives here in St. Augustine, with his wife Theresa. He performs regularly in town on and on Anastasia Island.  Check out “Hopeless Romantic” on YouTube. (I couldn’t get it to link here.) It’s a beautiful song and one he performed that night.

David had invited two songwriter friends from Georgia, Jefferson Ross and Levi Lowery, to join him for this home concert and a public event later in the week. They enthralled us in turn with excellent, surprising, touching, witty, and highly intelligent songs—none of which we’d ever heard. It was a magical evening. We listened to some of their music the following morning (as they had sold CDs at the show) and suggest you check them out. Levi Lowrey has a strong website with four or five music videos allowing you to sample his songs. Jefferson Ross has a great website, too, and is currently offering :The Dogwood Cats” as a sample song. IMG_4450

IMG_4448When we introduced ourselves to David, he was delighted to hear that Peter had sent us, and edified Peter during the show. Now, I’ve friended David on Facebook, so important information doesn’t have to travel through Italy to reach us back here.

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The next morning, as EW and I talked about the event, the word “magic” was uttered by one of us. Regular readers and anyone foolish enough to ask about our favorite harbor will know that we frequently refer to the Azores as magical.  Perhaps the magic has followed us here or has been with us all along. Perhaps we just have to make sure we pay attention, opt to try the unknown, and expect to find talented people and magical moments here in St. Augustine….or anywhere we drop the hook.


Back in the U. S. of A. with Technology, Hair Salons, and Snakes

It has not been a quiet week in St. Augustine. In fact, this place is as social as our first year in Grenada—and we are trying to earn money, pay bills, and fix the boat. I’ve had to decline invitations to kayak in order to write. Plus, despite reaching our third month anniversary of moving here, we are not acclimated to being back in the U.S. Of A:  this new state, new technology, daily news, old technology we hadn’t mastered, seeking a job, snakes, weather, any technology, snakes, getting haircuts in salons, and more.

Land dwellers we meet here worry about how we get groceries and do laundry. After five years of cruising among many island communities, we are old hands at dinghying, busing, and walking. We have a cart and aren’t afraid to use it. I drive the dinghy as well as EW, and will go anywhere he would go with it. We can dinghy to one dock near a Win Dixie and one near a Publix. Getting to the stores isn’t the problem, buying too much, stocking junk food, and finding the best deals and best produce: these are my first world problems for weekly provisioning. (We had to ask someone what a “BOGO” was—”Buy One and Get One (Free)”. It’s up to us to find out whether that is really a deal or not.)

technology and snakesTechnology, as you may have surmised from the second paragraph, has been a challenge. We are so ignorant and there are so many choices that we really messed it up. (Mostly I messed it up. EW just went along for the ride.) Seriously, it seemed that every week we were spending at least half of one day, researching, traveling to the stores, and purchasing a phone or a data plan. After a bit of backing and filling and one restocking fee, EW and I purchased cheap ZTE AT&T Android phones that do everything your $500.00 phones do, though with less clarity. We can live with that. Heck, we were in Panama for 6 months; clarity has not been a option for us for a long time. We have bundled everything (two phones and the I-pad) into an AT&T account with 15 gigs of data each month. We have unlimited talk and text in the U.S. of A., Mexico, and Canada, and very limited data.

Did I mention snakes? I’m sure I did. When Cathy and I went to Naples to visit Kathy (a dear Maine friend), Kathy with a K (obviously) made sure to always park where we could get out of the car without stepping in the grass. Because.. snakes. I remembered that but didn’t internalize it. Fast forward to going on a walk with Kirsten, a member of our cruising posse here in St. Augustine. Kirsten is from Anchorage, but spent time with their boat at Green Cove Springs last year and got introduced to snakes and their ways. Walking along AIA  where there was no sidewalk, she suggested we opt for the bike path walking towards traffic so we could avoid any snakes in the grass. There it was again. “Snakes in the grass.”

In the Caribbean, I got my hair cut on shore at various salons, and by (former) cruiser, Lee Ann, aboard “Two Much Fun”. My last haircut by Lee Ann was in May of 2015. From then until November, EW cut my hair and I cut his. Let me just say, we both made the right decision years ago when neither of us considered hair styling as a career. I had a professional cut by a so-so stylist in Key West who didn’t have much to work with in terms of starting with even lengths. And I had another cut here in St. Augustine in January by a very nice stylist who said it would take a couple of cuts to get it right. She is located a good 45 minute walk from the marina, and finding time to get there, get a cut, and get back was a problem, so I sought and found a reasonably priced stylist closer to the boat.

(Trust me, this all comes together like a Garrison Keeler story.)

Ashley is my new Darlene in Maine. (I’m sorry Darlene, you are still my favorite of all time.) Ashley has blue hair (this week) is an artist who paints with acrylics, and does great hair. Before I know how successful this would turn out, I was torn about changing from the more distantly located stylist (with whom I’d booked an appointment) to Ashley, so I phoned another member of our posse, Jody, from S/V Tarentella. Jody and Jim and their two dogs tootle up and down the coast from New Bern to Florida and the Bahamas. This year, they’ve hung around because St. Augustine is too much fun. Jody has a great laugh and burst out with it when I told her why I was calling (on my new, AT & T phone) while I walked around in the neighborhood of the then potential new stylist’s shop. Jodi convinced me to change stylists. (Most men and many women are snoring. Get over it. This was an issue for me.)

Early in the conversation, I had walked out of a parking lot to the sidewalk and into a neighboring parking lot, where I paced while talking with Jody. As we neared the conclusion of our conversation, I headed back to the new salon to make an appointment with Ashley. I was focused on laughing and talking with Jody and not the fact that I am now in Florida, when I innocently stepped off the parking lot onto a five-foot swath of lawn between lots, to see a snake slither from beneath my raised foot to the safety of a near-by bush. Poor Jody. She is hard of hearing in one ear and I wasn’t kind to her good ear when I shrieked “SNAKE!” “SNAKE!” before saying, “Oh. Sorry Jody.” Once she stopped laughing she assured me that her ear was fine.

Snakes and TechnologyOf course everyone has asked what kind of snake it was. I have no idea. It was covered in scales and had no legs. That’s enough for me. But then I thought about it and decided that it was time to put on my big girl pants and learn about the reptilian fauna in my new home state. DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE OVER 100 DIFFERENT TYPE OF SNAKES IN FLORIDA? (There are only 10 in Maine and none of them are poisonous—assuming New Hampshire’s timber rattlers stay on their side of the border.) This is when snowing in Maine for Easter doesn’t sound so bad to me. Ten non-poisonous snakes vs. over hundred, some deadly, snakes seems like a no brainer.

And there you have it: technology, hair-cuts, and snakes. Three of my most difficult transitions, all tied together. 

And for those of you who care, I love my haircut. Since the hair cut/snake incident happened on St. Patrick's Day, we were easily enticed to join Jim and Jody, and Rocky and Kirsten at Scarlet O’Hara’s. There, we discussed snakes and hair cuts among other things. I had fun showing how my hair fell back into place after shaking my head, and was asked to “perform” for Rocky when he joined us. After watching the shake and fall, he was asked whether he liked my new hair cut,

“Well it sure is active, he replied.”

And finally, yes, the amphibian in the above photo is not a snake. I don’t like snakes, and didn’t want to put one on my blog. Fortunately, the photos on this very nice Florida website change every few seconds. I just waited for a non-snake before taking the screen shot.


That Standing on a Stage Dream.

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,

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Zach from St. Augustine,

 

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and these three boats,

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and finally, let’s not forget our own floating castle (from a photo taken on the hard in Maine.*

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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.IMG_3980

IMG_3971A 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.”


Button, Button, Where is the Button?

Plastic Buttons

Yes, I know the actual (very ancient) game is “Button,  Button, Who Has the Button?” but bear with me.

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who lose things and people who find them.

That may be a bit harsh. I lose my reading glasses regularly. I also find them. EW rarely finds anything I’ve lost. EW rarely or never finds anything he has lost. Heck, EW can’t find the jar of pickles in our tiny boat fridge. Witness a conversation on the night in question:

EW, as he paws in the fridge: What are the pickles in?

Me, from the master stateroom: The clear glass canning jar.

EW, only slightly sheepish: Oh. There they are.

Did I say our fridge was tiny? It’s a boat fridge. There is a top door in the counter and a bottom door for the lower section. EW was correctly looking in the top section. It’s probably 2X2X1.5 – if that deep. We aren’t talking a lot of space here. Yet, he couldn’t find the pickles.

But this isn’t about pickles. This is about our strengths and weaknesses, and about belief. I believe that I can find anything EW has lost. He believes that something he can’t find, is lost forever. This is not new. I have been finding things for EW for over 30 years. You think he’d believe in my abilities by now. But no, if he can’t find it, it can’t be found.

I was out of sorts on the evening in question. I’d hadn’t accomplished much on my “To-Do” list and was feeling uninspired. Technology had foiled me again and again. I was a bit grumpy, a little chilled, and had a stuffy nose due to spring pollen on this cold February in Florida. EW has a thumb drive (do we still call them that?) that includes guitar picking lessons he has been anxious to try. Due to some of the technology issues, he can only view that drive on the Dell—the same Dell upon which I write. Since I was pissy and not writing, he opted to practice Lesson One.

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Afterward, he put away the guitar, his massive notebook with pockets, his tuner, and his capo…and lost the all important thumb drive. I heard him huffing and puffing and exclaiming under his breath. I let it go for a while, but couldn’t ignore it as there is no peace on a boat when one of those aboard is huffing and puffing. (Or sneezing, or snoring for that matter). “What’s wrong?” I asked from my comfy nest. “I just put everything away and I can’t find the thumb drive!” I was not in the mood. “You’ll find it. If not, I’ll find it tomorrow.”

A couple of hours later I was more sociable and enjoying a glass of wine with EW in the main salon, and he started up again, looking in improbable spots for the drive. This is what always gets me. When he looks for something he looks in the places in which it is less likely to be. It’s painful to watch. Or he looks exactly where it should be, as in the pickles in the tiny fridge, and can’t see it because he isn’t looking for a clear glass jar with pickles in it. (To be fair, these are refrigerator pickles that I made and first put in a LockLock. But we had an actual conversation about my moving them to the clear glass jar through which one can SEE THE PICKLES!)

OK, maybe that doesn’t sound as fair as I intended. EW wants me to inform you that the top wasn’t clear. Whatever. He can get his own blog.

Moving on. There I was, curled up under a fleece blankie, sipping wine and reading and he starts searching in all the wrong places for his thumb drive. “Stop,” I said flatly. “Just stop. I’ll find it.” And I flung the fleece from my body and flew off the settee. (That may be my all-time favorite sentence.)

“Don’t trouble yourself,” EW said with not a little exasperation. “Really.” I said, nearly as exasperated. “ I’ll find it in less than five minutes and we can move on with our evening.”

I started the search first with EW’s awesome music notebook that has pockets and a couple of thumb drive holders. He hovered and huffed. “I’ve already looked  there!”

This is a common theme to our (my) search missions. EW has a searching disability. It’s not his fault. If something is not exactly where and how he expects it to be, he doesn’t see it. (Remember the pickles in the clear glass jar?) This is not a male/female thing, or a Hart/Huff thing (like being on time), or an age thing. As long as I’ve known him, he hasn’t been able to find things. Fortunately he married a woman who is really great at finding things.

Back to the search when EW was hovering.

“Don’t hover,” I said. “It doesn’t help. You know I search by starting where you’ve looked. Go away.” (Remember, I wasn’t feeling up to par and perky.)

So he went away, and I searched. He was right, it wasn’t in the red notebook. I moved to the forward cabin and his guitar case, where I was surprised not to find the capo and tuner in the little cubby under the guitar neck. Those were perched atop some of his music books in his blue music book tote. Aha! A clue!

I pulled the tote into the light of the main salon, and dug into spaces around the bottom of the books, pulling out the tragically lost thumb drive. “Here you go.” I didn’t expect much of a response beyond  the normal, “Where was it?” followed by his sincere thanks. I got both, but first he said, and I quote, “I need to stop the timer.”

Yep. Once I had grouchily stated that I would find the damn thing in five minutes, he stalked three paces to the galley and set the kitchen timer. This is a noisy, beeping, process that I missed while I was digging in the red notebook.

“You timed me?!” I may have screeched.

‘Well yeah. You said you could find it in less than five minutes” He grinned, winningly. ”You did. You had one minute and forty-seven seconds left.”

After thirty years, he may not be able to find anything but he can still surprise me and make me laugh so hard I have to cross my legs.

I love EW.