Long Distance Cruising Feed

Rip Van Winkle Cruisers’ Syndrome Or Our Cruising Mindset

I love hearing (usually on NPR) the recitation of  the Beloit College Mindset List, designed to remind professors exactly how old they  are and how clueless they may  be about the popular culture as compared to each year’s crop of college freshmen. In preparation for this post, I perused the 40+ items on the 2016 list and present my favorite 10. (The word “favorite” is relative.)

The Mindset List for the Class of 2016  

  1. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
  2. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
  3. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
  4. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather. (That hurts.)
  5. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. (I haven’t gotten used to this, and still make sure my own straps are tucked away. The safety pin is your friend. Raise your hand if you have sewed little snaps into a top and attached a ribbon with the corresponding snap to corral that bra strap.)
  6. Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles. (Go us!)
  7. They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
  8. There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’ (I miss the tan ones –and while we are on that subject, what happened to Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms? Such a loss.)
  9. L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
  10. History has always had its own channel.

Copyright© 2012 Beloit College
Mindset List
is a registered trademark

Our Mindset is more like that of Rip Van Winkle. We are missing a few years. Five to be exact. While we aren’t totally clueless, we have a decided lack of clue regarding at least three things. (This is in addition to the already much-discussed cell phone/Android/data we had issues with upon setting foot ashore.)

So, in no particular order, here are three things we’ve had trouble understanding:Product Image, click to zoom

1. Lacy shorts for daytime wear. What’s up with that? I don’t mind that they are short. (You should see my hot pants, rompers, and skirt lengths in high school. Think long legs, hot pants, and mini skirts. Actually, that was one of my best eras.) Digressing. But these are lace short shorts made of some light weight material with an overlay of crochet or lace. I first saw these in St. Thomas worn by cruise ship tourists, but since I don’t take anything the average cruise ship tourist wears as actual real world fashion,  I continued to be surprised when I wander the streets of St. Augustine and saw numerous women wearing short lacy shorts. I don’t get it. How do they get through a day without ripping, tearing, or catching the lace? Heck, I couldn’t walk from one end of the boat to the other without catching that lace on something. I’m all for comfort and movement, which is good because I have never mastered fashion—though I’m not sure that lace hot pants paired with cowboy boots can be called “fashion”. And speaking of fashion, these lace shorts are available at Nordstrom's for 158.98—down from $265.00. Are you freaking kidding me?

2. On-line Shopping. Yes, this existed long before we left, but not to the degree it does now. This week,  Walmart bought Jet.com not an airline, apparently, but an on-line shopping company that does better than Walmart on-line. (But nowhere near as well as Amazon.)  Walmart has an on-line shopping experience? Who knew?  In case you think I’m overstating this, let me offer some info: First, here’s a chart to show you how much things have changed since we left in 2010:

NOTE: I found this chart at a post done by a high school economics class. Good going, kids.

You will note that on-line retailing tripled while we were gone. (I’m not saying that I didn’t help a bit, but that’s a whole bunch of packaging.)

Second, I offer Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, and Bark Box. This is what got me going. I remember record clubs and book clubs but a CLUB FOR RAZORS !Seriously blows my mind. Do you really have to go online to order some $1.00 razors to be sent to you on a regular basis? Can you really  not remember to pick them up at the grocery store? Speaking of which, do we really need to have food shipped from wherever  it was grown to a warehouse/kitchen for portioning, and then sent from there to your door so you can make three  “fresh” meals without going to the store. After all that shipping, it can’t be all that fresh. As for Bark Box, that’s not about fresh, but about spoiling your pooch with a few of  the new, new things for dogs, delivered in a box . (OK, I’m a dog sap, this sounded kind of cool for a one time gift. The option of once a month for a year, though? That’s crazy.) For the record, I love shopping on-line, for some things. And it was a necessity  in the islands.  When you are in the USVI it can be the only way to find something you need, like your favorite Teva’s. When in Grenada, I had to ship sandals to a friend’s brother who was flying in for a visit. Bless him. I do not mean to shame you for purchasing on-line. I’m just surprised at the speed with which it’s taken over. Dollar Shave Club? Really? (OK, I may be shaming you for the Dollar Shave Club.) (And I am definitely overusing the word “really”.)

3. Apps. Again, something that was around before we left. But in 2010 EW  had a two-year-old iPhone and I had an oldish Blackberry, so our smartphones weren’t all that smart. (And we certainly weren’t.) (And I will swear on a stack of fixed portlights that smartphone was a two-word phrase in 2010.) My  co-worker just bought a new desktop computer and it  has Apps. So, let’s recap: smartphones got apps so that they could work more like computers, and savvy businesses made their on-line sites work better with smartphones and created apps and those Q boxes to help other businesses market to those with smart phones, and now desktop computers have apps to be more like smartphones. Dog chase tail much? (Send it a Bark Box!)

And yes, we have and use apps. We were middle-aged and ignorant, not ancient and Luddites. (Though I’m feeling that “middle-aged” is perhaps pushing it a bit as I might not live to 110.)

Oh lord. We aren’t lost cruisers. We’re just old. Say it ain’t so!

On a (slightly) more serious note. Yes, this is yet another “transition” post, because IMHO there haven’t been enough of these done by cruisers. In other words, after feeding my dream, helping us to choose a boat and many of the extras, giving great advice while we were at sea, on the hard, or in a secluded anchorage, my cruising and blogging gurus did not do so well on the transition ashore. We will be taking off again for Round Two, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of this stuff for all of you still “at sea”.

Trust me. You’ll thank me someday.


The Quieter You Become the More You Can Hear

 

I talk too much.

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

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

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

Not my brightest moment.

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

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

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

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

Because I talked too much.

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

 

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

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

passages to date

 

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

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

But I will stop whinging and start listening.

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

whinge

(h)winj/

BRITISHinformal

verb

gerund or present participle: whinging

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

    "stop whinging and get on with it!

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


Squirrel!

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

Also squirrels.

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

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

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

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

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

wait for it…

(you know it’s coming, don’t you?

……..

….. “Do you know Barb and Stew Hart?”

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

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

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

Squirrel!

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


What Are You Reading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you reading?

 

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


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.

Capture

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. 

.


Shin Pond Meets South Carolina

While there have been a couple of cruisers’ gatherings, most of the folks are passing through  for just a few days, so if we meet them at all, it’s by chance on the shopping bus, in the laundry room/lounge, or on the dock. On Thursday, we took La Luna to the fuel dock for water and diesel and EW met Lily and Elias, a young couple with ties to Maine. Elias knows enough about Mainahs to clearly state that he isn’t one, but his Grandfather was. The family still has a cottage on the coast up there and Maine is in his heart. Maine does that to people.

Right after that I was scurrying up the dock to dump the garbage and met a couple coming down the ramp. I said “Good Morning,” and they replied with strong southern accents, so I performed a classic double-take when I caught a glimpse of the lady’s bright yellow sweatshirt, emblazoned: “Shin Pond Established 1982”.

“Is that Shin Pond in Maine?”

She smiled, equally surprised, “You know Shi-in Po-ond?” (Imagine strong southern accent for this conversation.) Of course I know Shin Pond. It’s northwest of Island Falls, and and Daddy used to go fishing there with a couple of buddies. They played cribbage, cooked and ate camp meals and maybe caught a few fish. He loved those trips, hauling his small aluminum outboard up on a trailer with his friends along for the ride.

Shin pond

Fishergirl_0001For  most of the first quarter of my life, I lived in Central Maine. (We won’t mention those  6 months when I was 5 and we lived in Salem, New York; but we can talk eagerly of the next three years in The County, in Island Falls, Maine.) My folks were from Maine, and my dad liked to camp and fish. Moreover, my first career job with Maine Public Broadcasting Network took me all over the state so I know Maine. When I moved to Portland in the 80’s I quickly discovered that most people my age raised south of Brunswick knew little about central and northern Maine,and the few central or northern Mainahs living in Portland never expected anyone to know where their small home town was.

In short, I suspect I’m one of the few Maine cruisers who know Shin Pond, and I’m 99% certain that Martha, Mitch and I were the only folks in the marina who’ve been there. So, how did this woman know Shin Pond? Remember—you have to imagine a strong southern accent and an excited happy voice.

“We-ell,” she replied. We have a home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a few years ago we swapped houses with these people from Shin Pond. They stayed in our home and we stayed in theirs for January and February.”

(Now who would you think got the better end of that trade?)

“Seriously? Did you have a good time?”

“It was the best vacation we ea-vah ha-ad!”

“Did it snow a lot?”

“Oh my yes!” She beamed. “It snowed nearly every day!” Her husband interjected, “We wanted snow. It was a bad day if we could see Katahdin and it wasn’t pouring down snow.” (We Mainahs know that snow doesn’t pour, but I ignored that.)

  • She continued, “I made a snow fort! And I made a snowman every day! These people who own the store in town? Well it’s a store and gas station and little restaurant? They do everything! Anyway they insisted on loaning us their snowmobiles! They didn’t want any money or anything. We had the best time!”

These adventurers are cruisers now, waiting out the rain to head south. Her husband confided that when they sell the boat, he’d buy a home in Shin Pond in a heartbeat.

This is why we cruise. To meet people like this, with a sense of adventure and stories tell. Long after they’ve sailed south, I will forget their names, and what kind of boat they were on. But I will remember the joy they found in retirement, building snowmen at Shin Pond.

IMG_3496

At left, Martha aboard M&M Journey, wearing her sweat shirt. The next morning they headed south on the ICW to a location where the sweat shirt won’t be necessary.

She’s a gracious woman, and a great sport. I hope they visit us on their way north.

 

  • PHOTOS:
  • Shin Pond Map
  • Photo from the town’s slide show
  • Me with Daddy’s boat

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.


Reflections on 2015 and the Past Five Years

IMG_7655

People.

For us, and I think for most cruisers, this lifestyle is all about People; People-with-a-capital-P. P that rhymes with T and stands not for Trouble but for Team, or Togetherness, or Touch (as in Staying in). And these People, these precious friends, loved ones, and relatives range from those we’ve known all our lives, to those we’ve met at sea.

photo (14)P2212662

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just as parents of toddlers seek playgroups and other parents of toddlers, cruisers seek other cruisers. Our lifestyle is rare among the general population and we cruisers share a language, similar stories, trials, and triumphs. Get us together and you can’t shut us up. (OK, shutting me up sometimes is difficult in any situation, let’s not go there.) We love to share favorite recipes, fixes, harbors, weather reports, bars, marine stores, tools, boatyards, bottom paint, and stories. We learn about each other’s  families, food allergies, collections, hometowns, pets, and drink of choice. We form fast friendships that last for years. We find forever friends and stay in touch even as we anchor in different harbors, sail on different seas, or swallow the anchor and move ashore.

IMG_9872_stitch

CaptureFrom June 2014 to now, EW and I have sailed more than 7000 miles. This stunned me. I checked it twice and asked EW if this was possible. “Oh easily,” he replied. Dear friends for life and non-sailors Cathy and Stu who continue to provide a wonderful welcome to Florida, have expressed how brave they think we are. Yet we know many others who have sailed greater distances in more treacherous waters. We don’t feel brave. We feel very, very fortunate. And while we have some sea stories, such as the “Endurance Crossing” or the “Horrific Passage”, or the long trek north from Panama, even those stories are about the People; family back home, people helping us with weather, people watching anxiously for reports of our safe progress, people welcoming us to the San Blas, Isla Mujeres,  Key West, Miami, and St. Augustine, and the people we’ve met on boats and on shore.

Pat on sidewalk

mo and rossi 1You’ve heard it all from me. How supportive our families have been (especially my late sister, Patricia, our champion, and our son Mo, AKA “Favorite”); how much fun we’ve had with the many wonderful cruisers we’ve met, from Hampton, Virginia in 2010 to nearly every port we’ve visited; and how delighted we’ve been to make new friends on shore—especially those in Grenada, St. Thomas, and the Azores.

IMG_2835

 

 

 

For us, it’s all about the People: People who keep us informed and included on Facebook, People who sailed to Guadeloupe just because they knew we needed an English-speaking friend. People who offered medicine and aid when EW had shingles. People who cook; laugh; tell great stories; listen; help with projects; need help from us; show us outstanding snorkeling areas; walk with us for fun and exercise; need fur-fixes as much as I do; play music with EW; and organize hikes over hill, dale, mud, and cow dung.

IMG_1703

The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 finds us on an adventure of a different sort. La Luna will live on a mooring, rest, and get some much needed TLC. (Those 7000 miles were much harder on her than they were on us.) Our cruising kitty (MEOW!) will also get some much needed TLC, and EW and I will work. We will also visit with friends, relatives, or other cruisers, such as Cathy and Stu, and Kathy, and Andy and Linda, and Lauren and Rob, and Pam and Nick, and John and Dora, and Mike, and Vicki and Bob, and Peter—and many more with whom we have not yet connected.

IMG_2122P2222730

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve already met new friends, some of whom will drop by on their way back north after a winter in Florida, and others who have left armed with names of boats and friends they will meet as they follow our path through the Bahamas to the Eastern Caribbean.

Cruising. Starts with “C” which rhymes with “P” and stands for People.

EW and I wish all of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous, New Year. Whether you travel great distances by land, air or sea, or stick close to home we wish you wonderful adventures and “smooth sailing”. Most of all, we hope that each and every one of you feel as fortunate and loved as we do, for we love you all.

Thank you.

(Bonus points for those who know the musical reference. Kathy, Chrissy and Beth, I’m counting on you.)

EXTRA BONUS if you can answer this question, found at the top of a lighthouse in Panama:

IMG_1721

I don’t know who Olaf is or what he’d do. If I could list every person who has made me feel connected, special, and loved this year, it would be an insanely long list and include friends, relatives, former colleagues, and many cruisers. But not Olaf. I don’t know Olaf.


New and Old Friends at Sea

I. Technology  in Key Biscayne

My smartish phone broke in Panama and would not read a SIM card. I spent a frustrating five hours walking all over Key West before a charming man in a small shop helped me determine that it was, indeed, toast. Technology has advanced a whole lot in 5 years (can you say “Android”) and I am not ready to spend $600 for a phone. Still we need to communicate, so yesterday EW and I walked to an AT&T affiliate store and purchased a SIM card for the old, not-so-smart phone I had in St. Thomas. We still don’t have data, but we can be contacted and can contact others.

Though it wasn't easy in Key Biscayne when we communicated via Sailmail with dear cruising friends Bob and Vicki from Fox Sea, we did get together. We had met them in April of 2011 in Antigua and instantly became friends (that they are excellent and eager Euchre players helped cement the friendship). In addition they are outstanding travelers who have had incredible adventures since we parted ways. Of course we have stayed in touch and they emailed us to say they were currently in Miami, “With a car if you need to get anywhere. We would love to see you.” We didn’t need the car, but we did need a friend fix and invited them to the boat for an early dinner, story sharing, and (of course) a few rounds of Euchre.

The men won more card games.

The Harts won in the friend department. Have  I mentioned that we had rainy weather in Key Biscayne? Well that Monday was miserable, with driving rain on their appointed hour of arrival. EW got drenched going in to get them. I got drenched helping EW with the lines, and Bob and Vicki got drenched getting out to the boat. Towels and a change of clothing all around, plus coffee with a shot of whiskey, and we were good to go. It was not a quiet night. Bob and Vicki also had boat problems in Panama and also have stories about getting parts and making things work. They spent time in Guatemala and Mexico, and left their boat for a few months to crew on a boat going from Australia to Africa. Along the way they took tours to visit with native populations, watch birds, and seek out snakes at night in South Africa. (Why?) We sold them on the Azores and commiserated with them about Panama. It was so incredibly wonderful to see them that I can’t even tell you. There aren’t many people you can invite to your boat in a driving rain, especially when they must take a dinghy ride to get here. However, I know that Bob and Vicki aren’t the only ones who would visit us in those conditions. We are very fortunate to have such wonderful friends.

II. Under the Sea in an Octopus’s Garden With You

P1010310

Flash back to November 1-3. The day before we left the San Blas, we played with new friends, and we are thankful that EW got to enjoy one last and outstanding snorkel adventure before heading back to the states. This was the first time he’d been snorkeling since our time in the San Blas in July. (Having shingles will do that.) Back in July, Jaime and Keith had pointed out a reef they called "The Japanese Garden". It's a dinghy ride (though a longer one than normal) from "The Pool" and we invited Dani and Tate from Sundowner to join us as their dinghy is powered by "Ole Crappy", a 3.5 little chugger.

P1010297

 

 

 

Dani and Tate invited folks from other boats,  whom they had met in Provedencia. Altogether we were three dinghies, and 8 people, from five boats. It's how we roll here in the San Blas. Everyone raved about "The Japanese Garden", which offers scores of beautiful and interesting fish, spotted lobster, at least one (late and now eaten) barracuda, and incredible coral of all different kinds.

 

P1010338P1010348

P1010350

P1010356

Afterward, Tate and Steve from "Tango" went off for further fishing while the other two dinghies attempted to motor around back of the islands for the "scenic" route. One of those dinghies motored all the way back. The other captain took the path less traveled had to rely on two blonds to row through the shallows.

Dani and I are good sports.

That night, Dani and Tate hosted us for dinner of marinated and pan fried dog snapper, mmmmm. They both love to cook, and we love cruising with folks who love to cook. Dani and I planned a joint birthday gathering for EW (the 6th) and Tate (the 3rd)to be held on Monday night. We were going to invite 6 other boats and ask them to bring the standard munchie to share and your own drinks for a night of (crowded) revelry on deck. I was going to make carrot cake.

By now you know that on Monday morning, I tuned in for our first time listening to Chris Parker as a "Sponsored Vessel". We paid for the month of November and had fingers crossed that we would get a window by the 10th. I had plans for those 9 days; plans that included at least two San Blas adventures, much swimming and snorkeling, and many short but important boat projects.

After his normal broadcast, I checked in to introduce myself and to  remind him of our intentions. He came back with, "Can you leave today or tomorrow?"  EW was in the salon with me and at first we both looked at each other and shook our heads, thinking, "No way!" But Chris continued on with the weather, the possibilities, and that leaving even on Wednesday may be OK, but Monday or Tuesday would be better. After that, who knew when we'd next get such favorable conditions?

P1010359So we rallied. Big time. Canceled the party on La Luna, got on the radio to ask anyone in the East Lemons to call us if a veggie boat showed up there. (They tend to stick to the more western anchorages and not as many go to the Holandes this time of year.) EW went up the mast for one project, and then we said our good-byes, and hauled anchor for the East Lemons, arriving at 1430. While we were getting underway, Laura from Gilana called to let us know that the "staples" boat was in their anchorage, saying, "These guys don't often have a lot of fruits and veggies, when they come by I'll call you."

We got lucky, as that boat had plenty of good things. Laura got into the launcha to browse the items while her husband and captain, Mike got on the radio to me. The conversation went like this: Mike stated, "Potatoes." I said "Six, please." Mike said, "Rice." I said "Zero." And so on, down through my want list. They bought and paid for the stuff, put the chicken and broccoli in their fridge, and waited for me to arrive. Perfect. The generosity of cruisers never ceases to amaze me. In addition, Mike advised me about getting rid of that last bag of garbage,  and they agreed to hand off an item that belonged to another boat who was not in the anchorage. Mike and Laura took a bunch of monkeys off my back and enabled us to get underway.

At 0714 on November 3 we left East Lemons for Porvinir to check out of Panama.. We arrived and anchored just at 0830, in time for Chris Parker's broadcast and my second talk with him,  "Go for it." We expect to motor the first day or day and a half, have up to 30 knot gusts through the "convergence zone" and smooth sailing to just off Isla Mujeres. We hoped to get to the Yucatan in 8-12 days, and crossed our fingers that the weather gods would still love us at the Yucatan, so we could turn right and head north of Cuba to the east coast of Florida and up to Amelia Island for Thanksgiving with landlubber but great boat guests and life friends Stu and Cathy.

As you know, that last bit didn’t happen, but, say it with me….”It’s all part of the Adventure.”

P1010360

Oh, while we totally understand why Jaime calls this the “Japanese Garden”, both EW and I found that we had an ear worm that evening. We were both humming, “I’d like to be. Under the Sea. In an Octopus’s garden with you.”


Chugging Along

P1010212-001

I know I’m loud. Sometimes I don’t know how I am loud, but I am willing to learn and I can be quiet if I need to.

Before we knew EW had shingles he thought it was a 1) New bunch of bug bites, or 2) Sting from a jelly fish so we went snorkeling in the “caves” with Keith, Jaime, and Tate and Dani. This is a section of reef between the flats and the Caribbean Sea with caves, an underwater tunnel, and passages between huge mounds of coral.

I was meandering toward Keith when he gave me the “come here” motion and I meandered faster to see what he wanted to show me. It turned out that they had startled a largish nurse shark on the other side of the coral, and it had headed around to my direction so Keith wanted me to move out of the path of the shark.. No problem. When I meandered faster, I “chugged”, and the shark turned tail. “Chugged” is Keith’s term. Turns out I’m a loud snorkeler. When I kick to move forward, my flippers always clear the water and I make a heck of a lot of noise that I can’t hear because my ears are underwater. The fish (and that shark) can hear me coming from a mile away. That which may be good when one wants a shark to turn, is not good when one wants to get up close and personal with a tang, parrotfish, or turtle.

I can learn, however, and used my new knowledge to keep my feet still and let my arms do all the work—underwater, in long slow motions. Later in the week, when Keith invited me to snorkel a new-to-me reef while he hunted two lionfish, I promised “No chugging.”

Later, I told Jaime that this was not the first time “chug” had been used to describe me.

In addition to being loud, I tend to walk fast. In high school I remember some boys standing off to the side of the hall and saying, “Here comes the train! Chugga. Chugga, Chugga, Whoo Hoo!”

So basically, after blankety-blank number of years, not much has changed.

Well, except now I’m chugging in warm ocean water, and stopping to view the fish, anemones, rays, and turtles.

Whoo hoo!

To keep things honest, we’ve seen everything except a turtle, although they live and frolic in the Guna Yala, they are shy.  They probably heard me chugging.

P1010261