Living Aboard Feed

Living in Limbo

 

LIM-bo

an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

"the fate of the Contras is now in limbo"

synonyms:
in abeyance, unattended to, unfinished;

suspended, deferred, postponed, put off, pending, on ice, in cold storage;

unresolved, undetermined, up in the air, uncertain;

informal on the back burner, on hold, treading water, in the balance

"our mortgage approval is in limbo"

 

Yep. You haven’t heard from me because we have been in Limbo and Limbo is boring

Also monotonous.

Also, it makes me whinge and I’ve whinged enough here.

    (This is my current favorite word. It rhymes with hinge and is Great Britain speak for "whine".  It is my belief that babies whine and adults whinge. Neither is attractive. 

 

So I’m getting out of Limbo, even though we aren’t yet getting out of St. Augustine. The weather has not been conducive to painting – for the past five months. No joke.

It rained almost every day in May and was cold through most of April. It was frigid (by Florida standards) December thru March. (This is posted with apologies to all who endured this past New England winter. Been there. Done that. My blood’s thinned.)

Enough whinging. As I truthfully assure EW, “I still love you, the boat, and our lifestyle. Though the order may vary.”

I’ve discovered that being in Limbo gives an excuse to eat more and exhibit fuzzy thinking. Here is a sample of what can happen when one is in Limbo

Bacon_slices

Tipo Fathers' Day (That’s pronounced Tee-po. It’s a phrase we picked up in the Azores.)

For some reason (OK, I know how it happened, but it’s truly boring and immaterial and makes me sound like an idiot) so, for some reason, I believed that June 10th was Father’s Day.  

Earlier in the week told EW it was Father’s Day and promised him bacon. We haven’t been buying bacon because our temporary fridge system doesn’t keep meat all that well and, well, bacon. He was very excited. (He is quite easy to please. I love that.)

I also promised to make eggplant parmesan for his pre-Fathers' Day Saturday meal and he was very excited about that, as well. He picked up a few groceries on his West Marine run on Saturday morning, including a pound of his favorite thick-sliced smoked bacon. I had an invitation to actually go SAILING on Saturday and accepted it with great glee. (It was a wonderful day.)

Afterward, my hosts invited me to enjoy a bit of wine on the dock and I said, “No thank-you. I have to get to Rype and Ready before they close and get some Eggplant. I’m making EW one of his favorite meals for a pre-Father’s Day treat.”

Now, of course, they wondered whether EW gets special meals for the entire week before Father’s Day, but didn’t say anything until I mentioned the much-anticipated bacon for “tomorrow”.

I was gently informed that we were a week early. One person suggested that I not tell EW and just let him enjoy his day early, but I knew Favorite wouldn’t call a week early so had to confess. The Saturday meal and the bacon with over easy eggs were a tremendous success.

With a pound of cooked bacon (because not a great fridge) EW was delighted to indulge in those smoky, salty, strips of fat Sunday through Thursday. Bacon in a hearty spinach salad with chopped boiled egg was delightful however, EW did not enjoy the BST, or Bacon, Spinach, and Tomato sandwich, quite as much.

Favorite better call on Sunday because I have no desire to fry up another pound of bacon for EW’s real Father’s Day.


No, I'm NOT Used to this Weather

Yes, I know this isn’t the coldest weather Florida has seen. (The most recent worst winter here was in 2010—when we passed through on our way south. Coincidence?)

Yes, it certainly isn’t the coldest weather I’ve seen.

Yes, I’ve gleefully skied on much colder days.

Yes, I did live aboard this boat—year-round—for seven years in Maine and thrived.

No, this hat is not a good look for me.

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Here’s the thing. When I lived in Maine:

  • I was used to the winter
  • I had all appropriate clothing
  • The house/boat had a furnace
  • hen we lived aboard, we were on the dock, not on a mooring

I know the Northeast is having a horrible winter and yes, I’m delighted not to be living at below zero temperatures.

Here in St. Augustine, we are on a mooring in a very bouncy Matanzas River (Disclaimer: Today is Thursday, January 4th and it is not bouncing. The prior three days included north winds with gusts to 50. Bouncing.) This is the coldest weather we have experienced since February 2010. How cold is it? We had ice on the hatches this morning, and the laptop would not start until I had brought her to shore and warmed her up. Bitch.

My dear land friend, Lynnelle, thinks we are crazy and asked whether we were alone. Heck, no. There are folks who have arrived via boat for the fourth year who usually enjoy spending the entire winter in St. Augustine. There are others who timed their stop for the holidays and Nights of Lights. And there are others who have been stuck waiting for the weather to change because the only thing worse than living aboard in this is moving in it.

Most of us are from northern US and Canada and every blessed one of us has friends on Facebook who have said, “You’re from (Maine, Ohio, Toronto, Rhode Island) you should be used to this!”  Our friends have an added statement, “You lived aboard in Maine. You should be used to this!”

Yeah. No.

Let me count the ways:

  1. When we lived on the dock in Maine, we shrink-wrapped the boat, which provided added insulation and kept the ice off the deck.
  2. When we lived in Maine we had a working furnace that could be run 24 hours—like a real home furnace. We had four zones. We were prepared.
  3. When we lived in Maine we had appropriate boots and clothing. I had Thinsulate-lined L.L. Bean boots—the warmest boot ever. I wore them with leg warmers to keep warm to my knees. I had a black down coat that came nearly to my knees and had a hood big enough to go over a hat. Now I admit I do not need that kind of gear for St. Augustine’s winter, which would be grounds for yanking my chain, but I came here in 2015 with no real winter clothing at all. We had to go to the thrift store to purchase blankets for the 3 cool days we endured in 2016.
  4. When we lived in Maine we lived on the dock. We did not have to get into our dinghy in now 53-degree water, the Tohatsu did not have to start and run in 34-degree weather, and we didn’t have to bring dry clothing with us because we were guaranteed to get soaked.
  5. Also, I’m wearing an impossible number of layers. This pile is everything I took off before this 20180104_092613[1]morning’s much-needed shower. We did 4 loads of laundry, nearly all of it every cold weather item we owned. I actually put on business attire after my shower until my warm casual clothes were washed and dried.
  6. Two words: Cold Bra. I don’t wear a bra to bed but do pretty much always when upright. Putting on that puppy every morning requires determination, fortitude, and one small squeak.

That’s enough. I am not really complaining. (OK, maybe a bit.) This is not the coldest winter Florida has had, but it’s the coldest I’ve experienced aboard since 2010 (when we had all the comforts noted in 1-4 above. I know that dear friends are now enduring the storm Grayson, and a number of these friends are living aboard. It will not be fun. It will be horrible. They will have much better stories and much higher ranked bragging rights.

And we are fine. We have a propane heater that keeps us comfortable when we are up and bundled  (all those layers.  And we are both sleeping surprisingly well at night. I figured out why. We have so many blankets that we’ve created our very own weighted blanket which evidently helps alleviate anxiety. What, me worry?

Nah, I’ll just go to sleep.

This too shall pass.


We are Claiming our Dream and it is....Cleveland

On December 16, EW and I will have been in St. Augustine for two years, which would we absolutely awesome if we were ready to leave—but we are not. We are determined to be out of here in May, though because there will be no more hurricane seasons in Florida.

A Dream Must Be Specific (But may be subject to change.)

When we set sail, we were truly living our dream and incredibly excited, and we felt that way for 99% of our first five-years of cruising. (That 1% represents a brief moment in time during the “Endurance Crossing in 2014”.) We are still living our dream but a cruisers’ dream is not a fairy tale. Boats break down. We get health issues. Boats need repair. We find bad weather or it finds us. Do you have any idea how many things can go wrong in this cruising life? Most of us can imagine the worst, but I’m talking about those things you don’t think about, like an infestation of bugs, or losing the dinghy motor overboard, or (and this happened to at least one person I know on Facebook) you are knocked down by a severe reaction to lime juice and sunlight.

Seriously, be careful with the lime juice. Here’s an article that starts with “When life hands you limes, don’t juice them outdoors.” Who knew?

Sometimes during these past two years, I’ve had to keep reminding myself that we are still living our dream. But, then I hear of someone who must sell their boat due to family or health issues, or those who lost their boats during this horrible hurricane season, or even those whose life partner has decided they are done cruising—and I know that I’m living my dream and that EW feels the same, and I am incredibly thankful.

Claiming Our Dream Motivated Us When We Lived Aboard in MaineIsles des Saintes Fishing Port 6-2-2011 7-04-16 AM - Copy - Copy

So, what did we do back B.C. (Before Cruising) to keep us focused? We planned and plotted and researched destinations. We imagined anchoring La Luna in a beautiful Caribbean Harbor, or going through Scotland’s Caledonian Canal, or sailing into Quebec City. Deshaies in Guadeloupe was the first Caribbean anchorage that met my dreams, we have not yet opted to go to Scotland, nor did we get to Quebec before we left the northeast. Still dreaming and planning and plotting—claiming our next adventure is what keeps us going while we live the dream of the live-aboard (boat project and working) life here in St. Augustine.

So…Cleveland?Summer trip 2017

Well, EW still continues to surprise me after over 33 years together. One day this summer we realized we would not be ready to set sail in 2017 and began talking about where we would go if we left here in the spring of 2018. Here are his exact words, “I’ve always wanted to sail to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Really? Can we parse that sentence?

Define “Always”. Well, the museum didn’t open until 1995 (10 years after we were married) and I’ve never heard him say this. So I’m not sure when his “always” started, but I’ll let it go.

Sail to”  Since I didn’t grow up on the Great Lakes, I keep forgetting that one can actually sail to them from here. So yes, you can “Get the-ah from he-ah, de-ah”, as my dad would have said. You can, but it’s a heck of a sail.

As for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s not on my bucket list, but I’m game. (Heck, I was willing to sail to Gambia!) I’m sure Cleveland will be interesting, and there are a lot of great stops along the way. (Such as—ta-da!—Quebec City.) Now, we are still in the planning stages and cruisers know that living the dream requires us to cast our plans in sand but here is what the 2018 dream looks like right now.

Current Plans for 2018 Include the Following

I make a bunch of money. We fishing the decks, get the bottom cleaned, and get new rigging. (Both of us have a lot to do to make that happen.) Then, we leave here and sail as quickly as possible to Maine. This may require going to Bermuda, or going to Providence, or just going. Yes, Maine people, we plan to stay a couple of weeks to see as many of you as possible and to eat lobster. (Alas we will be too early for corn on the cob.) From Maine we’ll head to Nova Scotia, again bypassing many “must do” stops for other cruisers, and aim for Cape Breton Isle and the Bras d’Or Lake, where we will spend a week or so. W will exit to the north, and sail into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where we will spend time with whales and visit Quebec City. (See, I’m getting something out of this.)

By mid-August, we will transit the St. Lawrence Seaway which will take us from the ocean to Lake Erie. (How cool is that?) Watching the weather, we’ll sail to Cleveland and dock just steps from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Seriously. I mentioned this dream trip to folks who sailed to Florida from the Great Lakes. Guess which was their favorite stop before getting to the Erie Canal? Yep. Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Erie Canal

From there, we’ll again watch the weather (the Great Lakes scare me a bit) and skip back to Buffalo and EW’s family, plus take the mast down before going down the Erie Canal. Down the canal (down my foot – EAST again) and down the Hudson to New York City, where we plan to have a bit of time for to play tourists before heading south to the C & D Canal and more touring and family in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington D.C.

Claim Your Dream

It’s ambitious, and we have a lot of things to get done before we can go, but this will certainly keep us motivated and focused. Right now, this is the dream we claim for 2018 and we're going to do everything we can to make sure it happens—after all, it’s apparently something EW has always wanted to do.

What’s your dream for 2018. Claim it. Reach for it. I dare you.


Think Like a Cruiser

IMG_7130[1]We’ve been stuck fortunate to have been living aboard in St. Augustine for nearly two years. And we still have about five months to go. I will tell you that there have been days when I’ve despaired of ever getting back out to the cruising life and I greatly miss it. We are in limbo, neither having moved ashore nor able to set sail and go where the wind takes us.

We are merely liveaboards just as we were in Maine for eight years. But now, we are liveaboards who have cruised and even if we currently don’t feel the deep peace and satisfaction we get when living the full cruising life—we still feel like cruisers from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes. Accordingly, while we may act like dirt dwellers in polite company, we have the hearts, souls, and minds of cruisers.

So for you newbies and plan-to-bes, here are a few examples of how to think like a cruiser.

Think Like A Cruiser: Know the Difference Between a Vacation and an Adventure

va·ca·tion noun 1. an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling.

ad·ven·ture noun 1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

When you’re on a one- or two-week camping vacation and it rains for three days straight, and you’re cold and wet and are not having any fun, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and possible for you to pack it up and head to a motel or home. You are also allowed to complain to friends and family about how miserable you were.

When you have embarked on a months- or years-long cruise on your sailboat and encounter a storm with 30-knot gusts, 10-foot seas, rain, and the threat of waterspouts—causing you to sail for over 24 hours in the slightly wrong direction to avoid shoals or crossing the Gulf Stream—you cannot quit or complain. You must maintain your watch schedule and you must present a positive attitude (feeling some fear is OK—that means you’re paying attention).  You are on an adventure. Any adventure of long duration or in a difficult location will include rough weather, broken down parts, and boring dead calms. Adventure Happens. Get over it. Afterward, you are allowed to complain to fellow cruisers about how miserable you were as long as you also relate one funny story. (The Dinghy at Cape Fear in 2010.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Simplify and Be Proud

Back home, I enjoyed decorating for the holidays, hosting parties, and “doing it up right”. As cruisers, my (never magazine worthy) standards are considerably lower. This year, EW’s birthday  “card” was made from two napkins and a Guadeloupe dish towel knotted together to form a banner with “Happy”, “Birthday”, and “Stew” taped to the three triangles.

While cruising, our holiday celebrations have ranged from a high of the sunrise Christmas carols and tomfoolery in Emancipation Park in St. Thomas to the low of a sad little Christmas feast of packaged Stolen and a small shot of Schnapps on our “Endurance Crossing” in 2014. We do have one plastic shoe box of Christmas ornaments on board, but no decorations for any other holiday. And while we recognize that some cruisers do carry more crafts or special decorations on board, I’ve never been made to feel inadequate for not doing so.

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One of my friends has, though. One year she attended one of the well-known cruisers’ Thanksgiving celebrations along the U.S. Southern Coast and learned that they were expected to “decorate” their white-paper-covered table. Being more like me than a sailing Martha Stewart, her party took magic markers and traced their hands to create large-size kindergarten turkeys and colored them. “Awesome!” I thought as she related the story. Until she said that one cruiser took one look at their table and called it “Tacky”.

That my friend was judged is not acceptable. We have simplified our life and cruised off into the sunset or sunrise to a place where we don’t have to comply with keeping up with the Joneses anchored next to us. Do not judge us as we will not judge you for filling your boat with Halloween Costumes, plastic eggs, and accordion tissue turkeys. (Well, maybe we will a little but we won’t do so in public.)

Think Like a Cruiser: Walk it Off

IMG_7143[1]EW and I have chosen not to purchase a car while we are here in St. Augustine—both a financial decision and a philosophical one. Since 2010 we have lived a life that didn’t require the use of a full-time vehicle (or often any vehicle) and didn't drive at all for two years while in the Caribbean. We walk, we ride two third-hand bikes, or we take the bus; every so often we rent a car and a bit more frequently we have relied on the kindness of dirt-dwelling friends for the occasional ride. The point is, that our default is to walk or take the bike. I’m on the edge of the planning committee for the St. Augustine Cruisers’ Thanksgiving, which needs to be held 3/4 of a mile from the Municipal Marina this year. There was a discussion about “transportation” and how many people the three or four car owners can take to and from.

“Um…Ninety percent of us walk farther than that to go have a beer every dang week!” “Of course!” “The only difference is that we’ll need to carry a bunch of stuff – drinks, our own plates and service, and a hot or cold dish. We need one or two cars to take the two to six folks with mobility issues and all the stuff. One trip and we’re done.”

We are cruisers. We walk, we take our dinghies, we help each other. Sometimes we are tacky and it’s not always fun but all of it—every single good and bad thing about this lifestyle—is all part of the adventure.

And that boys and girls, is why we cruise.


Moving Back Aboard

Irma Was Not a Help

NOTE: While I had every intention of getting these posts up in a timely fashion, time is skewed after a hurricane event—even one during which we have sustained no damage. We are now getting into a routine on the boat, we’ve moved back to our (inspected) mooring, and life is getting back to normal as we know it. Let’s look back at the week a couple of weeks:

The Plan for Moving Back Aboard

IMG_7112We were fortunate to have found an apartment to use from essentially June 1-September 13 and we are grateful beyond words. Even though the boat projects aren’t done (not by a long shot!), we were delighted to move back aboard.  I had planned the moving project with great care for the Wednesday, September 13 move.

1. EW agreed that Thursday the 7th would be his last day for working on projects and that he would spend Friday clearing up his tools and debris so that I could spend all of the weekend and some of Monday and Tuesday getting the boat ready for habitation.

2. We decided to rent a small storage locker and store all the things that we didn’t need when living on a project boat (and way too many things that we hadn’t yet decided to get rid of). Do note, some of those things to be stored were in the apartment and some were still on the boat.

3. We decided to rent a cargo van that would allow us to move in one go.

4. We agreed to bring La Luna into the dock at St. Augustine Marina so that we could get things on and off more easily.

It wasn’t going to be easy but it would be organized, planned and doable by two crazy cruisers used to living an adventure.

Plan B for Moving Back Aboard

Here’s what really happened.

1. We watched Irma obsessively and worried about our many friends and relatives in her path. (Our anxiety IMG_7012levels peaked in that time between Irma hitting St. Thomas and us hearing from EW’s cousin Jeff and Barb Hart the First—they are fine. They also made it through Maria with few issues.)

2. On Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th I started calling marinas and boatyards from St. Augustine to Georgia and found “no room at the inn”. EW had removed a bunch of bent and broken toe rail (some from Matthew most from an incident at sea) and had a lot of holes in the deck. His priority was to get the new toe rail on and it did not go well—even with steady and patient help from our friend T.S. (who prefers to remain anonymous—those aren’t even his initials).

3. Within those two days, we learned of  “Not Really a Marina” a never used tiny marina with floating docks in an excellent location up the San Sebastian River. On Wednesday the 6th, EW called me and said he and T.S. had decided we needed to move the boats NOW to make sure we got a spot at Not Really a Marina. I agreed and we spent the rest of the morning moving the boats. EW then went back to toe rail because…holes.

4. By Saturday, the boat was secure, the toe rail installed and the holes filled. We had numerous invitations for IMG_7028evacuation out of St. Augustine, but after talking with other tenants in the building elected to stay and invited T.S. to join us. By this time, we expected Irma to come near us as a CAT 1; we and the building were good for that. We continued to watch the weather obsessively, the guys watched a bit of football, and there was a pre-hurricane party and sandbagging

5. Hurricane Irma happened to St. Augustine. As one local explained later, “It was a wind event. The flooding event was similar to Floyd, but the wind was worse than Matthew.” Good to know. The apartment lost power for 2.5 days, the boat did great, most of the docks on the St. Augustine marina were destroyed or severely damaged (worse than Matthew), 8 boats broke free from the moorings, Conch House Marina—which never recovered from Matthew—was destroyed, and a few boats/docks were damaged on the San Sebastian River. We walked over to the boat the day after Irma hit when it was still pretty windy. I had never seen wind waves with whitecaps going upriver before and could only imagine what it looked like at the height of the storm. (Due to Irma going up Florida’s west coast, St. Augustine got wind from the south. They aren’t used to that here. I’m not used to anything hurricane here.)

So, on Tuesday the 12th, we still had no storage locker, nothing had been moved back aboard, the boat was still a mess and dirty, and my head was spinning. Thankfully, our kind landlords moved our drop-dead moving day to Friday the 15th. 

Stay tuned. Moving back aboard made for a fun day.

IMG_7038

One last check on the lines before Irma.


The Not Me Syndrome

Oh, man.

No one deserves a hurricane. Not one island, not one state, not a city or town, and certainly not all their people. We are still reeling from the videos, stories, and photos of Hurricane Matthew and now we have Irma. We none of us “deserve” Irma. None of us want to meet her. All of us are thinking, “Not here.” “Not now.” “Not me.”

Please, Irma, no.

Irma, who is beating down on the Leeward Islands, may have a human’s name, but not a human’s heart or will. Irma just happens. She will happen to the Leewards, islands which you may know only know as a cruise ship stop or a great honeymoon location. We stayed for months in those islands. We have friends there and we fear for them. No, Irma, don’t go there.

Irma, who may make a bearing for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where we have even more friends as well as family. No, Irma, don’t go there!

In the US, on Monday, September 4, the Governor of Florida has already declared a state of emergency ahead of Irma. Oh, heavens, no. No, Irma, please don’t come here!

And there we get to it: the Not Me Syndrome.

All sources indicate it’s too soon to tell where Irma will impact the US. Will she turn north early or late, leaving Florida relatively unscathed and head to another state? While we would breath many sighs of relief for ourselves and our friends in St. Augustine, we would definitely worry about friends and family from Florida to Maine—or those along the Gulf in Louisiana and Texas.

So, no, Irma, please don’t come here.

But don’t go there, either!

Please.

Don’t.

As we all know, our thoughts mean nothing. We don’t have the option for “No Irma”. We don’t have any options except to get ready to leave—or to stay. We plan to leave, but where do we go?  That’s going to be decided by Thursday as we watch and wait and learn more about Irma.

Irma the relentless, growing monster of wind and rain and destruction.

No, Irma. Please. Not here. Not me. And not there, either. Not any of them, either.

 

NOTE: “Category 6” does not refer to a new level of storm, It’s the name of the hazardous weather column on Weather Underground.

 

Irma 9.4.2017


Watermelon, Cupcakes, Radio, and Bikes

It all fits together.

Let’s start with the Bikes. Soon after we arrived in St. Augustine, I imagined EW and me riding around town on lovely old-fashioned bicycles. (There are no hills here.)

It didn’t happen. Our friends Kirsten and Rocky from S/V Nightmusic bought a bike for Kirsten while they were in town last year and left it here under EW’s care. I had trouble riding it and thought that I may be the only person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike.

This year, Malcolm and Laura from S/V Thistle were here for 6 months and purchased two second-hand bikes from a thrift shop. We bought them when they left. “Bluebird” has wide handlebars, big tires, and (at first) a low seat. I considered the ability to plop my feet down the adult version of training wheels and spent a bit of time over two weeks to get comfortable. Yesterday, EW raised the seat and I’m a real bicyclist.

I like it so much that I found myself smiling while biking and this morning I passed my destination because I was enjoying the ride. Image result for Dorothy Wizard of oz on bike(I smile more and my basket is smaller and in the front. Plus I love dogs. Other than that, I feel like this when I’m riding my big girl’s bike.)

That brings us to Radio. One of the reasons I’ve not been prolific on the blog is that there are a whole lot of important things pulling at my time now that I am a “liveaboard” instead of a cruiser—particularly a working liveaboard. I’m working to make money so that we can fix the boat and become cruisers again, socializing with cruisers, spending time with EW, and doing all the normal life things one does—except I live on a boat on a mooring and we have no car.

This morning I had a networking breakfast at 8 and a live interview on a radio station at 11:30. They were only a mile apart so I rode my bike to the first, stayed at Café Bistro and worked, and rode my bike to WSOS, 103.9 for the interview.

20170425_121710EW said I did well. It’s been a long time but evidently, I haven’t forgotten my media voice either. During the half hour interview punctuated with cool oldies music (Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones to name two), Nicole and Kevin mentioned cupcakes. Specifically, Sweet City Cupcakes from St. Augustine. I love cupcakes so I rolled with it.

After the interview, Nicole said, “Wow, I suppose since you’re on a bike, you can’t take the cupcakes.”

“You really have cupcakes?”

“Yes,” she said, as she opened a cupboard and presented me with a box of four beautiful cupcakes. I told her I would find a way to carry the cupcakes, and I did.

However, I had to make a stop at Rype and Readi, one of my new favorite St. Augustine haunts, to pick up fruit for a fruit salad. There was no room in the basket for the fruit, so EW got a call.

“Honey, can you come in and pick me up --- and meet me at Rype and Readi? I have my bag and cupcakes and can’t add the fruit.” Since EW’s bike has no basket (yet), I asked him to wear his backpack. Cupcakes may have motivated him to agree but probably he would have done it anyway, 'cause he’s a nice guy.

So I purchased a half watermelon, a pineapple, and strawberries, and Sebastian gave me three ripe mangoes, and I waited for EW to arrive. I had my purse/laptop case and the cupcakes in my basket and the bag of produce waiting for EW. He rounds the corner and I wonder why his backpack straps are invisible.

He looked at me, “You know,” he said, “On my way over here I remember the backpack and thought, ‘You had 20170425_131856just one job.’”

So, we put the fruit in the basket, put the cupcakes on top, and dangled my heavy bag from the handlebars. It worked.

I have learned, however, that small bike baskets are not the best place to carry cupcakes. I may have to get a large basket in the back like Miss Gulch. (And no, I am not going to get a small black dog to ride back there. He’d only eat the cupcakes.)

For lunch, I put the cupcakes on a plate and reapplied the frosting. They were not pretty but I assure you they were delicious. The chocolate one with peanut butter frosting was our favorite. Evidently, at one point it looked like this


April 1. A Special Day on La Luna.

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.)

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La Luna at Sunrise 04-05

 

 

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.

 

Sailing to Windward Harpswell 9-3-2007 2-23-54

EW Escaping New England 10-19-2010 12-34-44 PM

 

 

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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.


Feeling Like A Cruiser

Pelican Cats PawCruisers cruise.

Liveaboards live on board.

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?

IMG_2024First 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 IMG_2073the 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.

Cats Paw

 

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.

Affirmative.

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.

Whew.


What Not To Say After a Hurricane

IMG_6189First of all…the St. Augustine community, the cruisers, the marina staff, everyone we have met during the past year, and especially our friends have been outstanding post-Hurricane Matthew. Please note that this is a time of stress for pretty much everyone in this community, whether boater and non-boater. It is heart-breaking to walk down any city street to see most of a home’s belongings piled in the yard. Cars and homes were smashed by trees; sewer water flooded stores, restaurants, and homes; and boats broke free to crash into docks, on shore gazebos, other boats, bridges, and mangroves. One marina was nearly destroyed and St. Augustine City Marina has major damage. They are not accepting reservations for at least a few weeks.

IMG_6201We are cheerful, optimistic, and helping each other. One of our favorite bars got up and running in two days, and is asking for Home Depot and Grocery Store Cards for their staff and clients who lost nearly everything. Another woman purchased cleaning and personal care products and made up 50 bags to give to those who need them. People are helping each other. Stew and I are certainly grateful every day for all the help we’ve received.

Still, some people don’t get it.

The first was a local boating lady who stood to one side and listened as I talked with David at the marina just after seeing our boat. David already knew La Luna’s location and was appropriately and sincerely concerned for us. I told him the boat was in great shape and we just had to figure out how to get her back in the water. As he walked away, the woman turned to me and said, with deep sympathy, “What kind of boat was she?” I was not in the mood. “She was and still is a Cheoy Lee designed by David Pedrick. And don’t talk about my boat in the past tense.”

Oops. Guess she struck a nerve.

The Facilities Manager of the Bayview Retirement Center where La Luna ran ashore kept making a joke about all his new boats and how he was going to put a rope around them. I was not pleased. After dropping our anchor to shore (a signal that she was being tended and not available for salvage) we learned that Florida actually has a law that prevents others from claiming your boat for salvage. (First Florida boating law I’ve liked.)

Gawkers have wandered down to the waterfront and usually joke a bit before they realize it is our home they find so droll. I pretty much handle that just fine. The St. Augustine Police Department has been amazing, first going out in a vessel the day after the storm to seek lost boats. They came to us during our first visit to La Luna, moved close enough to read her name and converse with us, and offered their condolences. They also made sure she was our boat and took our contact information. Other police officers have stopped by to check on us and the boats. Last I heard, the SA PD found 29 boats and posted their names and  coordinates on Facebook so the owners could find them.

EW and I love the Coast Guard. I have two wonderful, brilliant, and accomplished nephews who have made their careers with the Coast Guard, and we have met many other members of their force in our travels. My recent favorite was the CG plane who flew over us on our way up from Panama and who contacted us. Sure, he was probably trying to determine if we were drug runners, but we had a delightful conversation.

Unfortunately, communication skills were lacking in the CG crew who showed up in a truck when EW was aboard La Luna. Like the SAPD they came within speaking distance and said, “Are you leaking oil or gas?” That was it. No, “Good morning, Captain, is this your boat?” No, “I’m very sorry to see this.” No nothing. EW answered in kind. “No, we are not, but frankly that is not my first concern.” They left.

Now that the storm is over, some folks who weren’t affected want things to get back to normal pretty darn quick. There have been Facebook rants by area venues asking the public to give them a break. Evidently, some folks are ticked that the free concerts held on St. Augustine Beach have been suspended.

Really? That’s a problem for you? The person who posted the rant suggested that everyone worried about their fun take a measuring tape out to four feet and make a mark around every room on the ground floor of their home. Now imagine all of that stuff wet with sewer water. Get over yourself.

The lovely catamaran we are now guests aboard is on the north dock which has no power so EW and I are currently onshore charging all electronic devices while I write a couple of posts. This vantage point lets us listen to David Morehead respond to the calls from folks who are anxious to start their cruising adventure and want to include the beautiful city of St. Augustine. Some of them have been rather insistent that David provide them with a mooring or slip. At least one implied that there weren’t a lot of options nearby, and David suggested he check online to see the area damaged and why there were few options.

And for those of you who love music, don’t mind the smoke, and have a place in your heart for the Trade Winds—The Oldest City’s Oldest Bar—they will rise again. When we walked past two days ago, a crew of bar staff, patrons, and friends were removing everything from the bar and dismantling the stages. Already there are Black and Decker Workmate Benches on the sidewalk where soaked plywood had been stacked. We will soon listen once again to “Those Guys”, and Joe and Rusty, and Dewy Via, in St. Augustine’s iconic bar.

Give us some time, people. Some restaurants and stores have re-opened. Enjoy those and wait patiently for others.  More importantly, there are people who have lost everything or nearly everything. If you can, help them. We have lost nothing except water under the keel. Just like the Mary Ellen Carter, La Luna will sail again. In the meantime, treat those of us in St. Augustine, Flagler, and points north with a bit of sensitivity. We have maintained our sense of humor, but some things just cut a bit too close to the bone.

In closing, I will resurrect a comment the musician Fond Kiser made when we were discussing our first year in St. Augustine. He had just moved back here from Austin when Hermine joined us. I mentioned that we had arrived in time for the area’s coldest winter in years, hottest summer on record, and now a potential hit from a hurricane in an area known for being safe. “Hmm,” said Fond in his charming accent. “The city may want to take up a collection to pay to have you move out of town.”  After Hurricane Matthew, they may want to consider his suggestion.

NOTE: The link above for the Mary Ellen Carter was performed by Stan Rogers, who wrote it. We learned it from Maine’s Schooner Fare and I have to share that version out of loyalty. (And because I raised a stein many, many times as I belted out “Rise Again! Rise Again! Let her name not be lost to the knowledge of men.”

 

Honest the Next Post will be about People Helping People