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?)
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.
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.
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:
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 some 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, were 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 have 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
As 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.
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.
For 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.
I 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.
Social 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.
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.)
EW 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.)
What 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.”
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.
When 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.
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.