Life on Board Feed

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.


As Winter Ebbs in St. Augustine (We Hope)

Capture Frost MapIt’s been an interesting winter in St. Augustine. When we arrived before Christmas, we enjoyed 80-degree temperatures. In January, as regular readers know, things went north. EW had to buy blankets, and we both needed more long pants. Getting out of bed in the morning was shocking. Don’t even mention using the head.

Well, it must be mentioned. You know when you have to get  up in the middle of the night and you shuffle to the head, half awake, take care of business and shuffle back to bed to fall immediately asleep? Yeah, well that didn’t happen during our two months of winter. That cold seat would wake the dead if the dead have to use heads. This phenomenon was the topic of discussion. I began to huddle under the warmth of our Jaguars blanket 10 or 15 minutes after EW, who noted my lack of bounding out of bed, by saying one morning, “It’s safe to get up, I’ve warmed the seat up for you.”

Busted.

One cold night, he suggested bringing the seat into bed with us. NOT going to happen.

We ate more, and accomplished less.

We wore knit hats while preparing breakfast.

Our few pairs of wool socks were worn more and washed less as we just couldn’t do laundry often enough to keep up.

And then, there was the day. when our early morning trip to shore gave me the opportunity to see something I haven’t seen in a while….frost. In Northeastern Florida, frost happens. Those of you who haven’t read the early years of this blog, may not know that we lived aboard for 8 years prior to cruising. We lived aboard in Maine. Year round. Of course back then, the furnace worked, we had a fluffy duvet, and boots. Here, at least we could congratulate ourselves for having stored many of our fleece jackets, tops, and vests. I may have worn all of mine at one time the coldest days.

I’ve seen many cruisers wearing Keens with socks, and here it’s acceptable. (Unlike when tourists wear socks with sandals during a Maine summer. That is just wrong.)

We have been assured by natives and those who’ve lived here for a while, that Valentine’s Day marks the end of cold weather. I’ll let you know. We’ll be going to an Oyster Roast in the afternoon and hope the two-day heat wave continues and we have another 70-degree day. (Looks like that's a hope not to be realized.) The map at the top of the page represents the average “last frost” according to a local weather source; and the lovely teal color suggests we could have a frost as late as the 21st.

Looks like this year St. Augustine will be above average, as the upcoming week shows lows in the 40’s and daily highs reaching into the 70’s most days—just not on Valentine's Day.

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It’s springtime in St. Augustine. We’ve survived our two months of winter, and send condolences to those of you in the Northeast US during your current cold wave. Hope you have plenty of wood, gas, or oil at home. I strongly recommend hot chocolate and cuddling. During the worst days we enjoyed hot chocolate with a “nudge” of rum. Sure beats marshmallows! As for the cuddling, EW and I slept each night entwined, moving practically in unison as we spooned first on one side and then on the other, wrapped in each other’s arms all night long.

Winter in St. Augustine isn’t all bad.

By the way, EW has promised me pancakes for Valentine's Day and he found real maple syrup. We have both agreed to accept Vermont syrup, but it was a big discussion in the store. 

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Women Who Cruise

IMG_0415We have met women who are solo sailors. We’ve met women couples who cruise. And we’ve been very lucky to meet Maria and Cathy, an intrepid couple of thirty-something sailing women who decided not to wait for the “right” man, but to buy a boat together and go cruising. I have such respect for all of those women (and am delighted to call many of them friends).

It is no secret that I sail because EW is a sailor, and that I cruise because I adopted and fully embraced his dream, and this is true of biggest majority of cruising couples we meet.  In some cases they learned to sail together, and in some cases they formed the dream together, but most we meet who are our age are cruising because the guy wanted to cruise.

P8100785So women adapt. Some keep their home or a cottage to call home. Others opt to leave the boat during the summer to visit friends and family (especially grandchildren), and others like me are “all-In”. Our home is the boat and we stick with it for most, if not all, of the year.

IMG_3456Some folks chug their way down the inland waterway. Others sail outside, hopping from port to port and waiting for the best weather to sail to the Bahamas. Intrepid sailors head straight from New England or Virginia to the Virgin Islands, while others opt to put their boat on a ship and send her down alone.

We all make it work, and we all sail until it doesn’t work for us.

P8100730I still love this life. Sure, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve been caught in bad weather, and boat parts have failed, and we need to make some money to fill the cruising kitty and to fix the boat. But I love this life. So far, I’ve loved living in St. Augustine on the boat, where I’ve gotten to meet many women who sail: Women from Alaska and Santa Cruz, and Maine, and nearly every state down the Eastern seaboard; women from Australia, Germany, and Belgium; women who are retired, women who have taken a sabbatical, or women who are still working as they cruise. In short, I’ve met women from all walks of life who may have nothing else in common but the dream to travel aboard a small sail or power vessel..

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We never run out of things to say to each other. We can never do enough to help each other. We never run out of questions to ask each other. And if we are lucky, we form strong friendships, nurtured via email and Facebook and the occasional phone call—and the dream of meeting up once again in another port.

This was not why I embraced cruising. This is my bonus.

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Transitions!

IMG_3460Are we still Cruisers, or are we “Live-aboards”?

So far, we are still Cruisers at heart and have been able to share some of our stories with excellent boat guest, Mike, former Grenada Cruiser, Lee, and a number of Cruisers who are passing through on their way south to warmer temperatures and adventure.

While we envy them, we know we are incredibly fortunate to have had five excellent years At Sea.

And while we look forward to cruising in the future, we are happy to be here, closer to friends and family, where EW can work on the boat with the expectation of easily finding parts and help, and where I can earn money to fund our projects and future adventures.

We wish it were warmer. Somehow we missed the memo that stated the winter weather pattern includes temperatures from 37 to 80, in cycles frequently book-ended by rain or heavy winds. I was talking to one of the marina staff who discussed the recent heavy winds from the north and the expect not-quite-so heavy winds from the south.  “The south winds can be easier on the boats,” he said, “but when the winds are north at least the bridge acts as a strainer to keep loose boats from crashing into the docks.”

I immediately imagined a giant strainer, letting water and wind through but preventing boats. It was not a comfortable image, but I appreciated his colorful word choice.

EW has put new chafe guard on the mooring lines, we have two separate lines—not one line used on two sides of the boat, and we check for chafe every day.

We’ve lived on the boat for 13 years and I’ve not yet tired of it. We’ve lived mostly at anchor for the past five, and I’ve not yet tired of that either. So, getting ashore in the dinghy isn’t a problem for me.

For the past five years, we’ve shopped for parts and provisions by walking and riding in a a variety of local buses, so riding the clean, warm, local bus or the Port of Call Cruisers’ Bus is a joy.

We have found an excellent farm stand just a one mile walk away, so I have good quality fruits and veggies at very reasonable (if not Grenada) prices.

The locals are friendly, even if many are nonplussed by our cheerful “Good morning/afternoon/evening!” We were taught well by friends and strangers in the Eastern Caribbean, and still greet nearly everyone with whom we make eye contact. (OK. I admit it. Sometimes I just do it to be different or perverse. It’s kind of fun.)

So, it’s been a month. How is our transition going?

  • We are finding our way around.
  • We are learning (with help from former Grenada cruiser Lee) where the best music venues are.
  • We like the marina and its staff.
  • EW is taking a guitar class on Monday evenings, and has started on the boat projects. that can be accomplished in cold weather.
  • EW also wins the “Attaboy” award for finding two extra blankets at the Animal Shelter consignment store. One is brown fleece, and the other is a Jacksonville Jaguars quilt. (As long as their luck or lack of it doesn’t rub off on us, I’m OK with it. I also cover it during the day with a blue fleece that matches our décor.)
  • I am still looking for a job. If you know a small to medium company who wants remote help in hiring key personnel, let me know. We don’t want to move to Jacksonville, and we don’t really want to get a car, but there are many fewer jobs here than we anticipated. I’m applying for retail work, registering with agencies, and networking my socks off (not really, it’s too cold to go without socks). I have to remind myself that it’s only been a month and that nearly two weeks were during the holidays. Evidently transitions require patience too.

We are good. We are still cruisers, but are currently staying in one location.

I’m OK with that, and I know I will be warm again.

One day.


Walks and Dogs

IMG_3458Dear friend Jaime, of S/V Kookaburra has “tagged” me in Facebook, letting me know how much she misses me. Her posts mainly center around two things: Walking and Dogs. (I much appreciated the post that connected walking and red wine. We’ve not combined the two yet but may have to try it when she visits St. Augustine later this year—in the spring, when it’s warm.) I miss her, too.

 

IMG_3464The other day, Kirsten of S/V Night Music invited me to go for a long walk. In addition to sailing, and playing the guitar, Kirsten is a dog lover, so she shares my need for “fur fixes”. Fortunately, St. Augustine offers plenty of opportunity for beautiful walks and fur fixes from friendly canines.

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Kirsten’s first choice would have been a 9 mile round trip jaunt, something I didn’t think my legs and feet would yet appreciate, so we shortened it to 5 miles, north along the water, through a beautiful neighborhood, past the Fountain of Youth, and one third of the way across the Usina Bridge to Vilano Beach. (And yes, now I have a goal of making it all the way to the beach and back, preferably on a morning when the temperature is above 60.)

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We talked.

 

We took photos.

 

 

 

And near the marina I introduced to ….. this little guy:

Well, this is where he used to be:

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And here’s a slightly out of focus shot of me rubbing his chin. MMMMM.

And here’s a blurry shot of an excited pup:

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And here’s a shot of Kirsten getting him to be still as she got a fur fix:

 

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And finally, a happy and handsome dog, posing for the camera:

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He’s a young adult toy poodle who acts like a well behaved Labrador puppy—a trait designed to melt  the hearts of Jaime, Kirsten, and me. His people, Karen and Kerry, always allow me a bit of play time.

He’s a big happy dog in a portable little dog’s body. I loved him at our first meeting.

Now here’s the thing, when he was a pup, the gray areas were a bit more white, so they named this tiny little boat dog…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…..

Orca.

How cool is that?

 

Non-dog photos:

  • Sunrise from the deck.
  • View of the Usina Bridge from the Catholic park.
  • Kirsten and me
  • View north of the Usina Bridge.
  • Christmas decorations with color (finally!). These people will probably be run out of the town of white lights before next year.
  • Posing bird.
  • Wild Orca by San Juan Islands Whale Watching

Finally! A Music Night in the U.S.

IMG_3457Cruisers with kids make a special effort to anchor in harbors where there are other boats with kids. Some fly a kid-themed burgee and many try to connect on Facebook and plan routes accordingly.

While we are in St. Augustine I may have to get EW a guitar burgee so he can more easily find folks with whom to play music. Every time we’ve met new cruisers and exchanged cards he asks (hopefully and more and more wistfully), “Anyone on your boat play music?”

On Thursday, we took the Port of Call Cruisers Bus to various shops and stores, and talk of the harsh winds, unexpected cold, chafe gear, and dogs took up most of the early conversation. I win the wife award for bringing up music, though setting up a play date hadn’t been my intention. Just before we pulled into the parking lot for the fish market/produce stand a European sailor heading for Cuba and I were chatting about the kinds of things she was taking down to give to the folks she would meet in Cuba. I asked her if she had thought of guitar strings and reeds for woodwinds. She had not, but decided immediately to grab some before they took off.

IMG_3445While she and I were in the fish market, EW, Kent, Kirsten, and Rocky gathered for a confab in the parking lot. Turns out Kent and Kirsten also play guitar and sing. Quicker than you can say “Jam Session” one was planned for that evening.

After much texting we decided not to take the dinghies back ashore to the lounge but to stay out in the harbor. Kent graciously invited us to his catamaran—the only vessel of the three big enough for three guitars in the salon. This was never a problem in the Caribbean where three guitars can agreeably if not easily squeeze into any cockpit, but it was much too cold, windy, and drizzly to play on deck last night here in Northeastern Florida. IMG_3448

Turns out Kent is a professional musician/architect with a trained voice and excellent guitar skills. Kirsten also has a lovely singing voice and is about at the same level on guitar as EW was when we first set out five years ago. EW was EW at his finest. On tune, some good guitar licks, gravely voice, and fierce rock star face. Rocky and I were the band-aids, pouring wine, replacing empty cans of beer with full ones, and offering Rocky’s outstanding home-made guacamole.

They played for five hours.

IMG_3455It was a great night during which both EW and I thought fondly of all the wonderful music nights we shared with so many musician friends and band-aids in the Caribbean, Azores, and Canaries.

I think that guitar burgee may be a great idea.

NOTE, the black twelve-string is made by RainSong and is carbon fiber. Kent says he can use it as a paddle. EW says that Fatty Goodlander has a similar six-string model. I say we don’t have room for a second guitar.

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Wheathah or Not–We Can Handle It

It’s been a cold week in St. Augustine. Not as cold as it was in Maine or Buffalo (or North Tonawanda) but we expected cold when we lived north of the 40th Parallel. This is Florida. This is the state whose residents I mocked in 2010 on our way to the Bahamas. Dear Friend Dora reminded me of my derision during one of our recent phone conversations. “Now, you be careful. You made fun of how they bundled their children when you were in Fort Lauderdale.”

I did. To my defense, it wasn’t nearly as cold in Fort Lauderdale on the occasion of their 2010 Christmas Boat Parade as it was here this past week in St. Augustine, which, by the way, is about 350 miles farther north. As I recall, I had intended to purchase a few bathing costumes and was appalled that the stores had down jackets and no tank-top two-pieces.  “Who would buy these here?” I exclaimed. Often. To EW. At the Christmas Boat Parade we learned that a lot of people purchased cold weather clothing, and many purchased down items, bundling their toddlers nearly like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story”.

OK. That may be a bit of an exaggeration. Still, for the past five years I have been continually amazed at the amount of winter clothing offered for sale in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Panama. You will never make me believe that those who live in St. Thomas over the winter need footed P.J.s.

IMG_3408We needed them this week. Nights dipped into the 40’s and the winds blew in the 20’s with gusts to 40. This was serious people. As one woman (who dingied ashore for her shower in footed pajamas) said, “We don’t fight when it’s this cold. We need to keep each other warm at night.” I assure you that EW and I cooperated and were either spooned or entwined all night for three nights.

When the winds were in the teens to twenties, we went ashore for a bit, bundled in fleece and wearing (gasp!) real socks. Wool socks. Wool socks pulled up to our knees. (One older bagger at Publix yesterday wore brogans, knee socks, and shorts. Be still my beating heart.) On the day of the worst wind, the only people who went ashore were those with jobs. The rest of us stayed with our boats and monitored chafe, and made and ate soup, and baked. Yesterday. EW IMG_3401and I were delighted to find much reduced seas and went ashore for much needed showers and a trip on the Port of Call Cruisers’ Bus. Every person on board talked about soup and cookies. These are my kind of people.

During the siege, we were delighted  to hear from La Luna’s former owner, Peter and his wife Barbara who dropped over to St. Augustine to take us out to lunch and to hear about our cruise. Peter has been keeping up on this blog and wanted the “Rest of the Story” and Barbara is a lovely, gracious woman who had thoughtful questions and lovely stories of her own. Nothing will warm a person up like meeting up with friends.  I love that we seem to be living at a “crossroads” of sorts and will continue to see old and new, cruising and land-lubbing friends while we live and work here.

Today, we have a reasonable breeze and sun. I’m back to going barefoot on the boat but our Dear Friend Jaime would be feeling the chill right now.  It’s no longer 64 on the boat, but isn’t much above 70. This is a shock to our systems after Panama and I’m grateful for that gradual re-entry from there to here. I’m also glad that we had fleece hats, jackets, and vests stored under the master bunk.

We are Mainahs. (Well, one is a Mainah transplanted from Buffalo.) In any case, we can handle the cold.

Above, two of our neighbors in 30 knot winds. By the way, we knew the winds hit 30 when the wind generator stopped. There is a safety on it that causes it to cut off at 30. That happened often one day and night. Unfortunately two vessels anchored north of the bridge, where the current and waves can be rougher chaffed their mooring lines, smashed into the Bridge of Lions, and broke their masts. Here's a link.