Well, Dang him! I have promised two Matthews that we will not hold this storm against them, so this danging is only meant for 2016 Hurricane Matthew. He can go straight to H. E. double hockey sticks and the sooner the better.
Knowing that this blog has been AWOL lately and that those folks not on Facebook have had no proof of life, let me confirm that EW and I are alive and well and not stupid.
We will not stay on the boat during the storm.
This breaks our hearts. It makes my stomach hurt. And I'm angry that we are here for this rare storm. Our safe zone was supposed to be Brunswick Georgia. As of this morning, we may get the high tropical storm winds as Matthew passes through much too close to shore (now, maybe even hurricane force winds) but Brunswick may get hit with a category 2 hurricane.
This is not good for any of us, and our hearts go out to the people of Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. We are fearful for our friends and family in Georgia and the Carolinas, and particularly concerned about those who are aboard their boats in those areas. We wish the best possible outcome for everyone.
It is past time when we can hope for what has historically happened or the possibility of the storm swinging back to the east. It's time to put on our big girl and boy pants and do what is right. We will prepare the boat as best as anyone could do and we will head inland to stay with friends. And drink wine.
Maybe lots of wine.
We will have our phones and electronic apparatuses with us. (Why isn't that apparati?) Do check in on how you are faring, and feel free to contact us if you're worried. I will do my best to update the blog and Facebook at least daily.
October 2016 has been very interesting.
All who want the rest of October to be boring with a chance of fun, raise your hand.
Also, please "Think East". East is a good thing. Go East young, Matthew. Go East.
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
Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather. (That hurts.)
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.)
Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles. (Go us!)
They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.”
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.)
L.L. Bean hunting shoes have always been known as just plain Bean Boots.
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:
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:
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”.
We are settling into our new life as (gasp) (choke) mere liveaboards here in St. Augustine. During the off-season, our friends and acquaintances are (choke) (gasp) all dirt dwellers. That’s OK, some of our best friends and all of our dearly loved relatives are dirt dwellers. We just forgot what it feels like to be liveaboards.
Yes, it took me over seven months to get over it. I have (mostly) ceased to compare this life with that of cruising and think more often about how living aboard in St. Augustine compares to living aboard in South Portland. Both areas have a strong sense of history. One area is much more modest in how they promote such history. St Augustine can evidently claim to be the oldest continually inhabited “city” in America. (Of course, no one here counts any actual native communities in that discussion. Evidently city life in America began in 1565.) “Oldest” is the town’s favorite superlative and it’s not always used wisely. Seriously, would you want to be a patient of the “Oldest City Dentist” Think about it. I keep imagining Tim Conway in one of his old man sketches, with a dentist drill.Here he is a butcher. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ry8khR922g
On shore, there are people who recognize us as new locals and we are now “regulars” at a number of events. Well, since the majority of our events involve music, EW is the regular and I’m the “Band-Aid”. One of his favorite venues is the Saturday Market at the Amphitheater where he gets to stand in the hot sun and play for over four hours with 5-20 excellent musicians. I like the market, and have made friends with some of the vendors but I opt to arrive two hours later than EW, who is generally one of the first musicians to arrive and one of the last to leave.
I check out all the booths, chat with vendors, and act like a professional Band-Aid by getting coffee, water, and snacks, and (once) holding music for EW and four others learning a new song. Near the end of the morning, I purchase produce. The corn here is almost as good as that in Maine, but it’s impossible to purchase corn picked that day.
You know you are NOT from Maine if you think yesterday’s corn is fresh corn. On the other hand, you haven’t had a peach unless you’ve had yesterday’s peach from Georgia or South Carolina.
For your enjoyment and edification, here are shots of the market, and a video of EW leading the group in Teen Age Wedding. As you can tell, he tries to enjoy himself. Truly he is so tickled that these outstanding—many professional—musicians will play so joyfully with him. How can you not smile at this? One man, living his dream.
Postscript: Small World Moment. The woman guitarist in the pink top is Lynn Healey. Stew met her a couple of months ago, and then she left St. Augustine to perform with her band. He had told me about her and she is just as nice as he said. Here’s the small world part: Lynn knows Peter Bonta and has played with Bob Perilla and Bill Kirchen—friends of Peter and LeeAnn, formerly from Two Much Fun.
And so we are reminded that the cruising life is still with us.
Regular readers know that next to me, Favorite, our families, and La Luna EW loves music best. (Sometimes some of us may temporarily pale in comparison, but I’m not complaining)
Now that I have a job or two, and now that EW is the only music guy in the mooring field, I don’t always go to his events. He’s OK with that and has expressed chagrin that he may be a bit obsessive. In addition to Saturday morning, his favorite weekly schedule includes music jams on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights. (And the perfect Monday has two events.) Sometimes I go with him and sometimes my role as a “Band-Aid” consists of simply helping get the guitar into and out of the dinghy.
Such a night was last night.
EW left early enough to stop for a shower on the way to the venue. We tie the dinghy from the stern since the nearly constant IWW traffic of power vessels create waves that cause lots of bouncing and chafe along the side. EW doesn’t put the ladder down because he’s a macho kind of guy. Last night I was on deck, stationed along the starboard side with the guitar ready in the cockpit when I glanced back to see EW perched with one leg on the ladder while bringing the other over the lifelines. Unfortunately, the handle for his draw-string Stewart brand bag was looped over his foot. I started aft to help, but disaster struck before I could reach him and the bag fell in the water. EW moved to the lower step, hung on and reached for the bag….
You are all waiting for him to fall in. You are nasty people.
Before I could arrive with the boat hook, EW snagged the bag and tossed it on deck. I told him to get the dinghy ready while I got a new bag and dry clothes. Now, EW and I have two different methods for this shower-on-shore lifestyle. I always wear boat clothes or exercise clothes when going to the shower, leaving my clean clothes in the bag. EW dons his clean clothes on board and takes just his towel and shower stuff.
In the sopping wet bag, I found his towel, socks, and a shirt. I knew he was wearing clean shorts and they were still dry. I replaced his bag and grabbed a towel, socks, and a shirt. I am a good Band-Aid. He thanked me profusely, and off he went.
Let’s move on.
During the evening, EW messaged me that he was having a great evening. (One I would have liked to witness.) He said there may be photos on Facebook. (The photo above was taken by Frank Reed.) He said he did a great job on “Dixie Chicken” and that people really responded to him.
EW had a good night.
So, I’m on deck enjoying the breeze and reading on my Kindle, when EW comes back to the boat. I grab his guitar and we hear our neighbor hailing him. Zack and his family live in Pointe Vedra; he’s moored right behind us and plays the bass and the two have jammed a bit. Stew took the dinghy over to Zach’s for a short visit. I stayed on deck and read. A while later, after messing around with guitars, EW and Zach were back on deck and I could hear…something…a mild agitation..scrambling. Shortly after that, EW and Zach arrived alongside La Luna requesting strong flashlights—our dinghy had gone walkabout on a dark night.
For the next couple of hours, I remained on deck while EW and Zach tried to figure set and drift and to find Lunah Landah on a cloudy night. I called the marina to notify them, watched the lights of the search dinghy, noted when they had returned once to fuel Zach’s dinghy, and refused to worry. Shortly after midnight, they returned in victory, Lunah Landah having fetched up on a private pier over on Anastasia. In the meantime, the marina office had called me to see if the friend helping search for the dinghy was from mooring 47. “Yes.” “I’ll let his wife know, she called worried about him.” It was that kind of night.
So, EW returned victorious and relieved, and I offered him a “nudge” (known as a “nip” in some circles) and a chance to relive his various victories of the evening and to tell me about his new music friends. One he described thusly, “There was this one old guy. Well, I’m not sure how old. Hell, he’s probably my age.” When I stopped laughing he continued. It had been a great music night. He was elated. One of his new friends was a woman who plays the fiddle and she joined in when EW played “Another Cup of Coffee”. Later, a couple invited him to a rehearsal of their band on Wednesday. (Yet another music night.) EW was pumped.
And then he quieted down, paused and looked at me. “When you got clothes for me, did you notice that anything was missing?”
“I didn’t have any boxers.”
“They weren’t in the wet pile. I assumed you were wearing the clean ones.”
“No,” with a look.
I smiled. “You were commando all night?”
He grimaced and I laughed.
“Well, you had quite the night, Old Man, quite the night!”
1. A hot summer here in St. Augustine is hotter than a hot summer in Grenada and Panama. One might have thought (as I did) that being closer to the equator would be warmer than being up here in the southern part of North America.
One would be wrong. For the past two weeks, every day we’ve had a warning of a “Heat Index” of 101 – 107.
2. The sun doesn’t set in St. Augustine until very late. (Well, late by Caribbean standards.) The phrase “cruisers’ midnight” refers to 9:00 or 10:00 PM when cruisers usually call it a night. After all, when sunset is around 6:30 PM, that’s about 3 hours of darkness. Here, the sun doesn’t set until around 8:30, so midnight is midnight. We rarely stay up that late, but we’ve had “issues” with our pizza/movie night. I’m just not ready to watch a movie before dark, while EW is definitely ready for pizza around 7:00. We have compromised. The pizza is usually in the oven by 7, and we start the movie during daylight, It’s not the same, and we can no longer set it up on deck unless we are prepared to actually stay up until midnight.
4. St. Augustine is a Destination Wedding town, about which many people say, “We’ve chosen our venue in St. Augustine”. Weddings have venues as if they were conferences or concerts. Though that began when we still lived in Maine, it has a whole new meaning here in St. Augustine. The marina office is across the street from one of the more popular venues, so we frequently see wedding parties, guests, limos, flower bedecked horse-drawn carriages, and tasteful wedding signs. This one amused us. Greatly. You’d think the person who had written it might have offered an edit of some sort. Ah well. I assume it is a happy union. (I could not resist.)
5. This is a music town. There are a whole bunch of singer/songwriters per capita, and we enjoy many of them. EW plays weekly at the open jam at the market. This week I performed as “Band-Aid” when I was asked to hold up some music for EW and four others who were learning new tunes after the event ended.
6. Working. Yeah. That job thing. It’s been a dry year in St. Augustine, but I am now moving forward with two jobs because this is a gig economy. Let me just state that St. Augustine is a tourist town not at all like Portland in that tourism is pretty much the only industry. When you add the economy, interesting Florida labor practices, and my evidently advanced, unemployable—age the sum includes few job opportunities. I currently have two jobs, one in the store of the Black Raven Pirate Ship, and one as an HR consultant and sales for a Jacksonville company that represents the Predictive Index.
A. Black Raven Ship Store. First of all, they take pirates and colonial history very seriously in St. Augustine. At any point in time one can walk down the street and see a fully garbed pirate, or colonial muster. (And it is “garb”. Call them costumes at your peril. They carry real swords. I am not kidding.) I am not a garbed pirate. I sell tickets to the ship’s adventures, prepare the little treasure chests for the kids, and man the counter in the store three mornings a week. These are not Black Raven Pirates. This is a few from a Pirate Krew who dressed in garb to go out on the town. This kind of thing happens in St. Augustine.
B. Through the miracle of Maine networking, blogging, and Facebook, I was reconnected with Steve Waterhouse, who had been a consultant in Maine many years ago. That lovely man remembered me with favor and offered me a consulting gig with his organization, Predictive Results, which consults and sells the Predictive Index. I can work from the boat, and make calls on potential clients in Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and nearly the entire country. I will most likely focus in North Florida and perhaps a bit in Maine. In the meantime, I’m learning more about this very interesting tool for employee assessment and strategic management. I am also learning a whole new business vocabulary, having nothing to do with belaying lines, hoisting sails, or navigating though coral heads. It is no secret that I’m a short-timer with the Pirate Store and will resign with plenty of notice once income from PI is a constant.
7. Technology. It’s been a recurring theme. Those five years created all sorts of gaps in our knowledge. We each have a cheap AT&T Android phone and I am beginning to grasp how smartphones have taken over. I actually said to someone this week that the best way to reach me for social things is to text. I used to hate texting. Texting was the way you could reach your refrigeration tech, and not good for much else. For some reason all marine refrigeration techs do not answer their phone, they text. Even the one in Guadeloupe who spoke very broken English. I digress. Frequently. The point is that I didn’t “get” texting until now… long after it had become a way of life. This five-year gap has caused me to be late to the party on most things technical. So I am delighted, delighted I tell you to actually witness a new technological fad in the making. Pokemon Go! I’m not playing (our cheap phones don’t have a lot of memory, and I really don’t need a new way to waste time) but I love hearing about something new as it is happening. Makes me feel all current.
8. Politics. Whoa! I’m actually happy to be here during this election year. If not, I would never have believed it. Plus now I can answer the questions on Wait Wait Don’t Tell me.
9. NPR. I am in NPR heaven. Kind of. Maine Public Radio will always be the NPR affiliate of my heart, but Florida does have many of our favorite national programs. I assure you that it’s not our fault that both Garrison Keillor and Michael Feldman both retired shortly after we returned to the US. I also had to break it to EW that Thomas Louis Magliozzi died while we were at sea and that the Car Talk shows we have been enjoying are all repeats.
10. Time marches on. Frankly, it’s dragged a bit here in St. Augustine. We are just now getting used to being back in the states. Transitions are tough. We are determined to make it work here, get the boat and cruising kitty fixed and go on another adventure. In the meantime, we’ll make music and evidently party with pirates.
I often talk funny and tell funny stories in a funny way, including things that have happened recently.
I dream funny dreams.
I Facebook funny. In fact, I crack me up on Facebook almost every day.
Writing lately, not so funny.
This live-aboard boater has misplaced her writing mojo and she wants it back. She wants it back RIGHT NOW!
I take notes for future blog posts. The notes are funny.
The posts, not so much.
I practice by telling a story to a friend during a long phone conversation. She roars.
I write it. Meh.
Or worse, I sit down to write one of those informative yet humorous posts and something else appears on the screen apparently typed by my own fingers. Something a tad melancholy.
From whence did that come?
I am not often without speech. (OK, I am NEVER without speech.) (Rim shot, but low hanging fruit)
I am definitely not a doom and gloom person.
I am, however, a cruiser who is not cruising and that has been a problem for me.
We are liveaboards. We are not currently cruisers. We may even (Gasp!) take our sails down and store them for a few months. Why let the big old sun shine down on them if we aren’t going to use them?
We are cruisers who are living aboard. I haven’t been thrilled with all things St. Augustine or many things Florida. (I saw TWO snakes here, which is two more than I’ve seen in the past five years. What kind of a state is this?)
Yes, we are cruisers living aboard and we like living aboard. We have no desire for a house. Life isn’t bad.
In fact, it’s good. Since we left Maine in 2010 things have gone very well. Let me count the ways:
1-100. All the places we visited from October 2010 until December 2015. (That’s a rough estimate and includes multiple visits to various islands. OK. Really, it’s a guess. It’s a literary license kind of thing. Going back to counting now.) Sure we liked some places more than others. And sure, there may be one or two we will bypass the next time, but overall, this was a blast and I wouldn’t have missed any part of it. (Except for EW’s bout with shingles. That can go to Hades.)
101-972 (Also a guess) All the people we we met along the way. It doesn’t matter that I pull up some boat cards and have no idea who those people are. Neither does it matter that we can tell a wonderful story about world cruisers we met in Nassau in 2010. We can provide you with very detailed accounts of a number of their experiences, the washing machine they called, “The Guest”, what she was wearing when we were invited aboard for cocktails, and what they served for snacks. Yet we have no idea what their names are. It doesn’t matter. Everyone enriched us. Also every local person—from the angry guy on the dock in Atlantic Island New Jersey, to Dingis Gennel, and Carmel in Grenada, to the interesting, helpful, non-English speaking alternator repair guy in Colon Panama—left an impression on us. If not a great impression, one that salted our stories with reality. Every cruiser— from the Canadian in New Jersey who gave us the keys to his car so we could get to West Marine to the newbies and the circumnavigators we’ve met in St. Augustine—have all enriched our lives and encouraged our dreams. Many of them have shared their wonderful stories and more than a few have helped us create wonderful stories together.
973-1,963 (A low estimate) Stands for all the big and little things that went wrong, broke, were lost overboard, or purchased in error. We fixed most of them, went without others, and are creating joy by tossing others (figuratively) from the boat. It wasn’t always pretty, but when La Luna’s parts had issues, we took care of her, and she brought us safely back to the States.
1,964-2,252 Are all (approximately) the family, friends, and acquaintances who waved good-bye, accepted that we were going to be gone a long time, and helped us in both tangible and intangible ways. A surprising number of them have been faithful readers of this blog.
2,253. EW. He’s not first on this list, but he’s first in my heart. He infected me with his dream and I have no regrets. None. Even the endurance crossing. (Though I do regret not getting the propane tank filled in the Canaries. My bad.) What a ride we’re having.
2,254 & 2,255. The two years we will be here, enjoying all St. Augustine has to offer, working, and providing La Luna with required TLC.
2,256. The next cruise, encompassing the Yucatan, Cuba, Eastern Caribbean, the Azores, and (fingers crossed) mainland Portugal, with side trips in Europe.
2,257. The United States of America. Even during a nasty, crazy election, I am delighted to be here and proud of my homeland, my heritage, and my country. (Some of the people, not so much…but that also goes for cruisers and local folks we met every where. People is people.)
Things weren’t perfect on the first cruise, they won’t be perfect on the second, and they aren’t perfect here in the US, or here in St. Augustine. But I am happy, incredibly fortunate often funny, and usually grammatically correct.
I also talk too much when I’m stressed. And frankly, as some of you have surmised, I’ve been a bit stressed with this move to a (for now) permanent mooring, the search for a job, and this re-entry into the US thing. In November, dear cruising friends, Sandy and Jeff on S/V Magic Inspiration left St. Augustine after staying here two years for the same boat/cruising kitty reasons. We didn’t’ arrive here before they had once again headed for the Caribbean, but she offered to guide me through the transition via phone and emails.
I thanked her and didn’t listen to the underlying meaning: You will be uncomfortable. Let me tell you the ways.
Not my brightest moment.
So, I’ve been talking a lot and complaining more than I should. Sometimes after meeting people I think, “Did all of that come out of my mouth? What is wrong with me?”
Yesterday, I experienced exactly one of those moments, when I met up with Marcie and David from S/V Nine of Cups. We had first met in the laundry room just after they had arrived and I gave them a quick rundown of stores and services. EW had also met them for a bit, but none of us had boat cards at the time, so I was delighted to see them again when we bumped into each other on the ramp. We conversed. (OK, I conversed, they listened.)
They are lovely people and I hope they will contact us and come over for sundowners when they head south after a summer in the Northeast. Know what I found out during the last few minutes of a long “conversation”?
Not only have they been around the world, but they went south of Australia because they wanted to see Tasmania. They have ventured where few other American sailors have sailed and talked about being the only foreign vessel in most of the south Australian ports. They have stories and I almost missed it.
Dear friends Jerry and Nancy from Cape Elizabeth, Maine gently tweaked me about not posting on this blog in a month of Sundays. (Well, according to them a month.) Let’s contrast this with a sailing fan, who isn’t on the Internet every day and said, “Loved that new post of the poem. Very nice.” It’s fans like that who keep me procrastinating.
Remember the movie “Up”? As dog lovers, particularly Labs, we loved the special collar that allowed the dog to express his thoughts, and how frequently he interrupted any conversation by shouting, “Squirrel!” Similarly, I have meant to write a post (or six). I’ve started a post (or six). But I haven’t finished one of them, and I’m blaming it on the squirrels.
Squirrel moments have removed a train of thought from my brain and caused posts to derail. (The previous sentence is an homage to Jerry and Nancy.) This has been a month of squirrel moments—to be honest, all of 2016 has been filled with squirrel moments—and all those squirrels have made it difficult to hold on one topic long enough to finish a blog.
And let’s be honest, for me “Squirrel!” means “People!” It can also mean “Dog!” but “Dog!” moments tend to pass while “People!” usually equals talking, gathering to talk more, and sharing stories and recipes, which is really just talking. Let me tell you about a recent such moment.
I was in minding the Black Raven Pirate Ship’s store when a cruiser walked in to see what we had. It’s a slow month for children’s adventures in St. Augustine, so I had time to chat. (See above.) Greg is an outgoing and funny guy, originally from Texas, now from Virginia, who was temporarily sailing alone while his wife went to visit the grandbabies. (Did you get that?) They are buddy boating with (are you ready?) Dave and Jane from South Portland, Maine. (Big Flipping Squirrel!) Greg, being a wise main, immediately called Jane’s cell and told her to “Get over to the Pirate store right now!” Jane had been in the shower, but for reasons still unclear, actually reached out through the curtain and took the call. She arrived impressively quickly, dressed, with hair only dripping a bit.
Introductions got lost with Greg’s exclamation, “She’s from South Portland, Maine!” meaning both of us. And the “Do you knows” began. When Dave showed up, he simply entered the fray and we discussed moving their moving aboard date, our leaving Maine date, and who we all knew from the marina in South Portland. As I thought we were nearing our shared friends, Jane looked at me and asked….
wait for it…
(you know it’s coming, don’t you?
….. “Do you know Barb and Stew Hart?”
Being quick on the uptake, I said, “We are Barb and Stew Hart.”
Jane squealed and hugged me. Being me, I hugged back. Since her husband knows Jane really, really well he just looked delighted. Jane then stepped back and said, “You are the reason we did this!” And then she turned to Dick and stated, “This is Barbara. I read her blog posts to you!”
Now remember, this was all while I was working on a very quiet morning, but still, I needed to go back to work. As things tend to go in St. Augustine, Jane and her bevy of buddy boaters were leaving the next morning, so she invited us to a cockpit gathering that evening. We had planned to do something with Lynn and Keith from Otter and I told her that they, too, were at sea in part due to reading and laughing at our exploits. Jane promptly invited Lynn and Keith, and this explains how things have been going in St. Augustine.
Jane pulled together a fantastic cockpit party including the temporarily solo sailor, Greg, and Diane and Bob, the third boat in that buddy boating triumvirate. The food was fantastic. Jane gave most of the props to Diane who is an outstanding, inventive chef. It was a great evening, with lots of stories. Some of the funnier ones weren’t ours. I love that. And I love living on a boat.
I first heard this poem read by a minister who had a strong Maine accent, and who included the poem as part of his eulogy for my Uncle Clayton. This poem still brings Uncle Clayton to life for me and always makes me smile.
Now, we live on a boat on the Matanzas River where we watch, meet, assist, and befriend those moving north or south. Here is my ode to our current life:
The Boat At the Side of the River
There are hermit souls that live withdrawn In the peace of their self-content; There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart, In a fellowless firmament; We are sailor souls that chart our course Cross oceans, along rivers, and straits. But while I live in my boat at the side of the river Let me be a friend to my mates.
Let me live in my boat at the side of the river, Where the race of sailors go by- The sailors who are good and the sailors who are bad, As good and as bad as I. I would not sit in the armchair seat, Or scorn each vessel’s traits. Let me live in my boat at the side of the river And be a friend to my mates.
I see from my boat at the side of the river, At the side of the highway of life, The mates who press with the ardor of hope, The mates who are faint with the strife. But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears- Both parts of the sailors’ fates;- Let me live in my boat at the side of the river And be a friend to my mates.
I know there are star-strewn skies ahead And seas of wearisome height; That the waves roll on through the long afternoon And strengthen throughout the night. But still I rejoice when the sailors rejoice, And weep with the sailors that moan, Nor live in my boat at the side of the river Like a sailor who dwells alone.
Let me live in my boat at the side of the river Where the race of sailors go by- They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, Wise, foolish- so am I. Then why should I sit in the armchair seat Or scorn each crew’s traits- Let me live in my boat by the side of the river. And be a friend to my mates.
We have purchased few books in the past five years, fewer still in the past two. We’ve relied on book sharing with other cruisers, which tends to be both limiting and surprising. I love reading books on my Kindle but pretty much abhor paying the full hard-cover price for an e-book. This had been a Facebook discussion among writers a couple of years ago—a discussion I didn’t have the data time for doing much other than putting in my two-cents, so I don’t know if they came to a consensus.
Consequently, while we have never run out of reading material, the majority of our options tend to be genre books enjoyed by other cruisers. That’s OK. We like genre books though we like to supplement them with non-fiction, biographies, and (especially EW) historical non-fiction. Thus, we discovered Lee Child. He became our new Robert Parker. (Back in Maine, with successful careers, we bought the new, hard-cover Spencer for Hire books because we just couldn’t wait for the paperback version.)
Since early Jack Reacher books are frequently on sale or offered at reasonable prices on Amazon, and since “Santa” purchased a couple of the newer books as e-books, we are nearly caught up with the series. A couple of weeks ago, I perused the lending library in the Marina lounge and found the hard-cover of “Make Me”, which had been published in September of 2015. Score!
I immediately began reading it while the laundry was tumbling in the dryer. Shortly afterward, a distinguished looking cruiser came into the lounge and also looked over the offered books, picking one to read. He saw what I was reading and asked, “Did you just get that from here?” I tried not to crow as I answered in the affirmative, and offered to make sure he got it next. “You going to be here a few days? Both my husband and I will have to read it before I pass it on.”
He slumped. They were heading south tomorrow, but would return in a month or two. “No worries. I will save it for you.” We exchanged boat cards just before his wife walked into the room. “Oh! Is that the new Jack Reacher?” Her husband and I laughed as he related what had been discussed moments before.
The next morning, I opened an email from them, saying they had put another Jack Reacher novel on the lending shelves. Since EW and I had read that one, we left if for the next person, though I checked when we went ashore to find that it had been snatched up. While we try not to keep many books and few hard-cover ones on board, “Make Me” has a temporary place of honor in the main salon, with the boat card from M/V Erban Renewal taped inside. It will be waiting for you, Julia and Steve.
As for my next book, I was delighted to find a paperback copy of “Wild”. Even cruisers who’ve been somewhat out of touch know about this book and the subsequent movie. Or at least, I did. I’ve been reading it slowly,stopping to savor, do something else, and enjoy later. This bitingly honest book resonates with me. I don’t know whether I would have liked Cheryl Strayed when she was in her 20’s, and certainly wouldn’t have approved of many of her choices, but her struggles were not my struggles, and her lessons are not my lessons. I am awed by her decision to walk a huge section of the Pacific Coast Trail in the 90’s --- alone. And I see parallels with some cruisers I’ve met and read about who also survived and succeeded despite a lack of knowledge, insufficient preparation, and incorrect gear.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to undertake a cruise, a hike, or another feat without more understanding of what is needed. Still, this seems to have been the right choice—and perhaps the saving grace— for Cheryl and most of those sailors I mentioned. I am struck once again by the knowledge that I am not the person who would have set sail in my 20’s, with little or no technology. And I am once again in awe of those who preceded me, showed me the way, and fed my dream.
And perhaps I was wrong about the difference between what Cheryl and I needed to learn. As Cheryl said at the end of the book:
“That it was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was…That it was everything. It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close. so very present, so very belonging to me.”
What are you reading?
P.S. Note that in the link at Amazon, an e-book copy of “Wild is $0.81 MORE than a new paperback copy. That is just wrong.