Relationships at Sea Feed

Where Did We Go Right? Every Step of the Way

So, one of my current projects here in October of 2017 -- seven years after leaving Maine--is cleaning up this blog. That project involves going through all nearly 900 posts, editing, categorizing, and putting in the location of La Luna when the post was written.  At some point in St. Thomas, I decided to rewrite a post begun in 2010. That new version was not published. Here it is—a post written for Valentine's Day 2013.

We've enjoyed two Valentine's Day celebrations "at sea" and a lot of water has passed under the hull.

Currently, we are at 18.19.054 North and 64.57.563 West, anchored off of Water Island in St. Thomas. We are meeting with LeeAnn and Peter Bonta, friends we met in Grenada and going in to listen to Grandsons perform at Tickles. Music has always been a part of our lives. Our first official date was a B.B. King concert. EW has had a guitar forever. We have enjoyed many performances together. Now we meet musicians in the islands and EW gets to play with some of them -- like the outstanding Peter Bonta.

Four songs define our relationship for me. Boats to Build by Guy Clark; Where Did We Go Right, as performed by Jonathan Edwards; Living the Life, by David Jacquet; and "Honey I'd Do Most Anything for You, as performed by Martin Bogen and Armstrong.  It's a little late for Valentine's Day -- but here are ours, and EW's favorite romantic songs. They make me smile. 

Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day.

First Guy Clark's "Boats to Build". We love that song. I played that CD over and over the year we bought La Luna while I made a new dodger. (A task known as the "Project from Hell" until we hauled out five years ago during the "Year from Hell".) Still like the song, though. EW sang it with David Jacquet at our party a few weeks ago.

Here's Guy with Verlon Thompson performing Boats to Build:   

Love that song.  "It's time for a change ..."

Our new song is, of course, the one written for us by David Jacquet AKA MoJoCaster on Twitter and Mojo Twanger on YouTube. David is a singer, songwriter, and guitar teacher who ran the open mic night after our part at J. P. Thornton's. The next day, David sent us this song:   

Gonna sail around the world, just me and my girl, we'll team up with the winds and the tides and the seas. Don't wait for me. Don't wait for me. When the sun goes down just know that we are smiling.... We're living the life. Me and my wife. 

Wonderful.

 

For the past year and a half, one other song has found a place in my heart, "Where Did We Go Right?" Jon hadn't performed this song for a while but I heard it on a CD of his and asked him to sing it for us when he played at Jonathan's in Ogunquit last year. He has since performed it again when we are in the audience and graciously dedicated it to us. Here he is. 

 

"And what we have is what everybody's trying to find

Peace of mind

In a world turned upside down

Our love keeps spinning around.

And you know it makes me wonder

As the rest run for their lives

Where did we go right?

Where did we go right?"

        Song by David Loggins and Don Schultz

 

You know, when I was 10 or so, I adored "The Sound of Music". Years later, EW was stunned (and a bit taken aback) to realize that I still know most of the lyrics in the soundtrack. One of the songs was of course, "I Must Have Done Something Right".

It's the same feeling. Somewhere we took a right turn and we are heading in a new and adventurous direction. I am blessed. 

Hope you follow along.


E-Words and M-Words

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Some people, as I do, forget a word, but remember the first letter and make up the rest. (Some of you do this, right? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.) This is not age, as it’s been a “challenge” for a long time, and probably is a result of doing too many things at once, having a conversation and thinking of something else, or of making intuitive leaps and landing on the wrong lily pad. In any case, confusion can result.

EW was made aware of this very early in our relationship when he asked me to pick up a six-pack of Molson, and I returned with Michelob. There’s a big difference between Molson and Michelob, but when questioned I still replied, “Well, it’s an ‘M’ beer.” EW was not amused, yet we (well I) have had “M-word” challenges for the past 30 years.

Recently, someone posted an article on Facebook with this title:

Proven Study Shows Men Are Wrong 85%

Of The Time When Arguing And Won’t Admit It

I don’t agree with the article, but loved the headline anyway. It rates right up there with my argument stopping comment, “I wish you wouldn’t be so insistent when I know I’m right.” 

And yes, this is all going to tie together.

IMG_0939 - CopyYesterday, we were excited to head up into the hills for yet another Saturday Pot-luck Jam. This one was hostedIMG_0965 by Richard and Sharon, friends of Coach and Diane. Richard and Sharon have spent the last year taking care of a lovely home on St. Thomas. Silk Cotton Villa is available for rent when the owners aren’t on the island. There are four lovely en-suite guest rooms, the owners’ apartment, and a kitchen/dining/living area completely open to the pool and view. Jerry, EW and I were to ride up with our friend Bethany who would pick us up at Crown Bay, after assuring me she had plenty of room in her car for three people, two guitars, and accouterments. Just as we gathered to wait for her, Bethany called to let us know she was 20 minutes late. No worries, let’s grab a beer at Tickles while we wait.IMG_0966

EW suggested that I call Bethany to ask about her car; I did and told the men that she would be in a black Escalade. I was kind of surprised that she had a car that big, but she has been a diving instructor and has a largish dog, so didn’t question it. I was thinking of other things. (You know where this is going, right?)

So we relaxed in an outside booth at Tickles where we could watch the traffic. Time and time again, EW would say, “Is that her?” and Jerry would reply, “No. That’s not an Escalade. Those are huge. That’s not a huge car.” Yes, Bethany was on her second pass when we decided to wander to the parking lot, to find her smiling from her black Ford Escape.

EW rolled his eyes and said, “Of course. It’s an E-car.”

Well, duh.

We had a great afternoon. How could we not --- look at this place?IMG_0955

That evening on La Luna EW and I were talking about our day and of course, he brought up the “E-word”. “How could you have gotten it wrong? he asked, “ You told us it was an Escalade right after you got off the phone with her!”

He’s right, but I find it fun to blame him when I’m wrong, so I said, “You should have known. You know what I’m like. Remember the Molson?” He looked at me. “That won’t work. You waver. Sometimes you’re spot on and sometimes you go all M-word. What am I supposed to do? How do I know which way you are wavering — I can’t second guess you all the time. You’re … you’re wavery!”

We both have a point. But sheesh, he has over 30 years of experience with me. He should know when I say Escalade, I could mean Eclipse. Or vice versa.

But he does have a point. I am all wavery. Or I would be if that were a word. And I’m right about that and most other things. If EW disagrees, he can get his own blog.

As for the Saturday jam at the Silk Cotton Villa, we can both agree it was an E-word—Excellent!

Tour the Villa

The above photo was taken from the Silk Cotton Villa Website. Check it out!


What's Sauce for the Gander is Sauce for the Goose

IMG_7964Does it make me a goose that I inveigled EW to cut my hair?

Evidently not.

It takes the best hairstylists (like Darleen in Maine and LeeAnn at sea) a few cuts to learn about my hair. As we cruise the islands of the Atlantic I only give each professional one shot at it before moving on and getting another cut in six weeks or so.

Faithful readers will know that I have given EW two horrible cuts in years past, but he still agreed to let me try again and I’m now cutting his hair – and learning his cowlicks – to his satisfaction if not to perfection. After my last professional haircut in the Azores, I suggested that EW should take scissors in hand and save us some money.

P1220009First, I had to seriously absolve him of all guilt if things went bad. (This is where the inveigling came in. I know that means “persuading someone to do something by means of deception or flattery”. Of course, you would have heard if I hated my haircut! Of course, you all would know that EW did it.) But, after all, I did this to him, so how much worse could he do to me?

Don’t answer that.

I wet my hair, clipped it up in sections that could be lowered for cutting at the appropriate time, and arranged a crate and cushion salon chair in La Luna’s saloon.

We began. He has no idea how to cut hair, and I only have a little bit of knowledge (which can be a dangerous thing.

  • I knew that if I parted my hair in the middle for the cut, that when I styled it with a part on the right, it would naturally have shorter strands framing my face.
  • I knew that if we cut the first underlayer a bit shorter than the rest of it that my hair would turn under naturally. (How much is a bit?)
  • I knew that cutting straight hair straight can be a challenge. (My mom gave me crew cut bangs when she kept evening them up until they were so short they stood up straight. I was only five but didn't let her take scissors to my hair again. Ever. Oh yeah, it would be fine if EW screwed it up. I don't hold a grudge. much.)

The rules were as follows:

  1. I’d take the clips out when the time came.
  2. I’d agree on the length to start with.
  3. EW would try to make the top layers a half inch longer than the first layer.
  4. EW would not keep snipping to make things even. Crooked was better than too short.
  5. And (most important and a partial lie) I would absolutely absolve EW of all blame for a bad haircut.

IMG_7968It went quite well. He actually offered me a mirror – which was both good and bad, I tried not to micro-manage (but it is my hair), and we kept our sense of humor. We learned what to do next time. It ended up much shorter than what I had wanted. (EW learned NOT to hold the strand of hair tight while cutting as it springs up afterward. About a half inch.) However, it isn’t shorter than the cut I had in St. Lucia, or when I asked LeeAnn to cut it short so I could go for 8 weeks without a cut.

I like it shorter and may keep it this way now that I’m living with my hairstylist.

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Afterward, I cut EW’s hair, giving him the mirror and I did better than the last time. 

Neither LeeAnn nor Darlene nor any other professional stylist have to worry that I’ll never get another professional cut. Nor do they need to be concerned that either EW or I will take their clients.

However, I look marvelous, don’t I?


Friends - Again

This blog has a whole lot of posts about friends. As friend/cousin Jeff says, “I love you a whole bunch of lots.” Well, we love our friends a whole bunch of lots and I tend to write about what I love. For the most part, cruising sailors seem to be outstanding friend-makers, and those we’ve gotten to know talk often about special friends back home, or cruising friends who keep in touch from distant ports.  EW and I are incredibly fortunate to have wonderful friends; childhood friends, friends we met in our late teens and twenties, friends we met just a few years before leaving Maine, and many new cruising friends-for-life. Thank goodness. I don’t know what we’d do without our friends. Here are a few examples – with apologies to those not mentioned:

IMG_0087EW met Jim in third or fourth grade. (That’s what EW said. Jim could probably quote the exact time – but then Jim wouldn’t be installing bulkhead supports for the auto pilot when I asked him.)   Jim and his lovely wife, Marcia, visited us last year in St. Thomas, and this year they drove over 6 hours one way to have lunch with us during our short stay in Florida. Jim is on the class reunion committee so we made sure to get a photo he can show to the rest of the class of ‘64. It’s not the best photo of either of them, but the conversation, laughter and love overflowed the table at that lunch. P2222714Ed lived across the street from EW. P2212663Ed was a few years older and as EW says, “He used to beat me up.” Evidently both got over that. Like Jim, Ed and Lynn came to Maine for our wedding nearly 29 years ago, visited us in Maine over the years, and were must-sees whenever we went to the Buffalo area.  Ed and Lynn visited us this year in St. Thomas and we had a lovely time showing them the sights on St. Thomas and St. John, catching up on the gang, and sharing stories about our adult kids, recent adventures and past exploits.

Kathy and I met the first day of school in fifth grade. The two of us met Cathy when she was assigned to our freshman triple at UMO almost (gasp!) forty years ago. We three have been dear friends for life ever since. Kathy and Cathy know more about me photo (14)than any other two people on earth – even EW. (For example, EW didn’t know until recently that I knew almost all the lyrics from all of the songs in Sound of Music. Kathy knew that. Nor does EW know everything I did in college or before I met him. Kathy, Cathy, and I have sworn vows of silence.) Cathy and her husband, Stu, have visited us on the boat in Maine and in Grenada. We hope to see them while we are across the Atlantic, too. This past March, EW and I flew to Florida mainly to get our driver’s licenses in our new home state. We stayed with Cathy and Stu, and Kathy drove nearly 9 hours one way to stay there with us. Cathy let us use her car to take our driver’s test. (Or planned to. We didn’t have to take a test. Woot!) Kathy and Cathy spent a day shopping with me for boat things – not giving up until I had everything on the list. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, drank wine and other beverages, hugged, shared, and loved. They both pretty much dropped everything in order to spend time with us over those five days. I cannot express what that meant to us.

 

P1000021P1000040 Of our many sailing fP1000023riends, two couples who stand out from the past year are Jaime and Keith from Kookaburra,  and Peter and LeeAnn from Two Much Fun. Jaime and Keith got stuck with us when we moved to a nearby mooring for our 18 months in St.Thomas. When everyone else we knew cleared out for hurricane season, Jaime and Keith became our support system, euchre partners, dominoes competitors, pizza night guests, and weather reviewers. They had already lived in St. Thomas for over a year, and are two of the most helpful, giving, people you could meet.They also love to laugh and are dog saps like we are. Jaime and I walked three miles nearly every weekday at 6, getting to know each other and every nice dog on Honeymoon island. I don’t think I’d have survived St. Thomas without Jaime and Keith. Peter and LeeAnn return to St. Thomas each winter, where they operate their boat for couples only charter. (It is an awesome week. Check them out. LeeAnn is an amazing cook.) Peter is an outstanding musician and excellent teacher. LeeAnn cut our hair (expertly) tried out new recipes on us, and became a wonderful friend while we listened to the guys practice and perform. Thanks to LeeAnn, I’m a Band-Aide, not a Groupie; a Band-Aide has much more status. Peter spent hours and hours over the past three years, helping EW improve as a guitarist and performer. Heck, if it weren’t for Peter, EW wouldn’t be a performer. Peter helped EW live his dream. 

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In fact, that’s what friends do. They support your dream, listen, learn, provide guidance, a shoulder, perspective, and encouragement. Our friends back home don’t want our lifestyle, but they love us and are thrilled that we are sailing our boat. We are thrilled for them, too – and love to hear about the grandchildren, PhD daughters, new homes on the lake or in Florida, world travel to Paris, and China, moving across the country to hold that grand-son and grand-daughter more often, meeting the man to love forever, sailing in Boston Harbor, and more. Sometimes it feels a bit lopsided because our dream requires help from folks back home. Their support is a tangible thing, whereas we can mostly just listen, learn, advise, love, and admire. P1000047

That’s where paying if forward comes in. We can never repay what Jaime and Keith, Peter and LeeAnn, or many other cruisers have done for us. And we can never repay the favors and help we’ve received from our conscripted support system back in the states. They didn’t volunteer for this, but stick with us anyway. We can pay it forward as much as possible, and help other boaters, and help back home – when we can, from a distance.  We do what we can under the circumstances. But always, always we are so very thankful for all of our friends. They know our faults, choose to love us anyway, and help whenever possible. We are rich in our friendships. As we finally cross the Atlantic, we know that we are missed and will miss all of them. We also know we’ll meet up again. We have to. They are our friends. And we love every one of them a whole bunch of lots.h

Photos:

  • EW and Jim
  • Ed, Lynn, and EW
  • Ed, Lynn, and EW walking on St. John
  • The most recent of a million photos of me and the two C/Kathys
  • EW and Keith with Jenn from Jenn’s Restaurant in St. Thomas.
  • Jaime opening a present
  • Jaime with the pup
  • Kirk, EW and Peter jammin’
  • LeeAnn, Peter, and the darling Mimi – saying good-bye the morning we left St. Thomas

Why This Works for Us

During a delicious dinner and a lovely evening aboard Kookaburra, Jamie and I realized that both couples had twenty-something wedding anniversaries coming up. How nice. I love every year added to those we’ve shared together and I love hearing about others celebrating wedding anniversaries. (As I write this, Rebecca and Mike from Zero to Cruising are celebrating their 10th. Congrats!)

Jamie brought up something else that she and Keith had noted on their recent trip back to Massachusetts, most of their long-time friends have marriages that have lasted. I think she said that there is a group of six from college days, who are all still happily married.

That helps.

My two closest friends from college, my two most long-standing forever friends, Cathy and Kathy have also remained happily married for over 20 and over 30 years, respectively.  In fact, when I was reminded of Kathy’s 30th – four years ago – I was aghast. “That can’t be,” I said. “You got married the year we graduated college.” Kathy knows me well, smiled, and patiently broke the news, “Barb, our 30th year reunion is this year.”  I got over it. We were 10 when we graduated.

001_1The day this posts, EW and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. One of the reasons our marriage works is because most of our friends and family – including our sailing friends – have also been able to keep their marriages, strong and predominately happy for many years. Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and establishing expectations 003_3help us through the less fun times. And that positive reinforcement has been provided by our divorced love ones as well. Heck, I married a divorced guy. That’s how I got Favorite, the bonus son.

But I digress. In addition to the modeling and support noted above, there are at least three other main reasons our marriage and this lifestyle work for us.

So, here they are – in reverse order of importance:

 

Number Three

We both like this lifestyle, and have fully embraced it. But you know what? We fully embraced the “Fixer Upper” lifestyle as well. Once we decide on something as a team, we pull together as a team. Come hell, high water, Cape Fear, or mudding sheetrock.

Number Two

We each have our own creative outlet. EW has his music, and I write. We make sure to plan some time for each activity every week, we listen to and encourage each other, and we absolutely enjoy and celebrate the other’s progress and successes.

And the number one reason --- drumroll please --

Number One

We both have an extremely developed sense of humor and share it often. When I was talking with Jamie, I told her about the deal EW and I have. When we first met, he was never getting married again, so we moved in together. I told him I’d only live with him for two years without a marriage proposal and then I was gone. He proposed after one year, but qualified it. “I’m not sure I can be married for life,” he said, with brown eyes twinkling. I glibly replied, “that’s no problem, but I want a 50th anniversary. When I was young, a number of my aunts and uncles celebrated Golden Wedding Anniversaries and I want one.” “OK,” he said, “but then I may be out of here.”

Ever since, on our anniversary, EW has always mentioned, “One down, forty-nine to go.” or “Twelve down, thirty-eight to go.” Somewhere in there, I let him know I wanted first refusal on his next fifty years. We call that “the option”.

Come this anniversary, I fully expected to hear, “Twenty-eight down, only twenty-two to go.”

The day before this anniversary, EW gave me a passionate kiss before leaving for his captain’s job, leaned back, looked deep into my eyes and said, “I’m thinking of taking you up on that option.”

I Red heart EW.

Twenty-eight down,  infinity to go.



A Boater's Language and Our Private Language

Most of us who cruise have learned the language of sailing. Port and starboard, head, galley, sheets, painter, companionway, and boarding ladder all roll off our tongues with ease. In fact, most of us have been known to inquire of a landlubber hostess, “May I use your head?” When you think about it, that’s an unpleasant sentence for folks not in the know. “Use it for what?” “For THAT? How disgusting!” I was not a sailor when EW and I met, and he didn’t have a boat at the time, but I was still made aware of the correct terms and expected to use them. “If a rope is doing something it’s a sheet, halyard, a dock line or painter.” I was in love, so I learned.

A sailor’s language also consists of words or phrases that are universally known, but not required by the captain. Before we left Maine we participated in a charity regatta. When our dear friend, Lynnelle, called her mom in Texas to tell her that she was going to participate in a sailboat race, her mom asked what possible help her daughter could  provide. “I’m going to be rail meat, Mom,” Lynnelle proudly replied. Her mother gasped, “Lynnelle Lynn, that’s just nasty!”

Those of you  who’ve followed for a while know that EW and I have our own private language aboard. We are those kind of people and some of our words or phrases followed us from land home to floating home. Here are a few examples:

  • Lake Eggs are poached eggs, so named because Favorite’s grandparents – EW’s parents -- would make them for him when he visited them at the lake cottage. The slotted spoon is the Lake Egg Spoon.
  • Butter Broom is our term for pastry brush. Favorite had never seen me actually use it as a pastry brush but the broom was often deployed to apply garlic butter to Italian bread. He called it the Butter Broom over 20 years ago, and it remains so today.
  • Like many boaters, we’ve named some of our mechanical crew. The Honda generator is Jenny, the autopilot is Casey, and the wind generator is Gramps.
  • Long before my time, there was a radio show called Fibber Magee and Molly. Evidently they had an overstuffed closet. My cousins still call the catch-all closet or drawer the Fibber and I’ve picked up on that. Of course we pronounce it “Fib-bah”.

I asked some of our boating friends to share their private language, and didn’t get much. Lots of folks call their autopilot Otto, One friend said that they always called the engine in their former boat Mr. Wonderful Engine, Sir, but hadn’t named the engine in their new-to-them boat. That engine has provided months of overheating angst and I suggested it was past time to give him a good name, and perhaps a tot of rum. Not sure if that did the trick, but everything’s fine now. Naming things can be very important.

Recently, we’ve added three new phrases to our lexicon. I’ve had the cold bug from hades and have not been a happy camper. This has gone on for weeks and EW is getting as sick of it as I am. Things have gotten a little slack here and I was low on patience. Now, EW will readily admit that he has a problem finding things. I’m not sure whether it is nature, nurture, or gender oriented, but the man has serious CFS – Can’t Find S##t. Here’s how it goes, EW will lose something and begin to look. He gets exasperated and sighs and mumbles while he looks. He looks in ridiculous places – because why look in the most logical first. He looks past the item because it was upside-down or at the left of the counter when it should have been on the right, or some other foolish excuse. It’s uncanny.

P3110103I was feeling lousy but we had to eat, so I purchased an acorn squash and told him that if he peeled and chopped it, I'd make Trinidad Squash Soup. For the purpose of this narrative, it’s important to understand that EW puts the clean dishes away 99% of the time aboard La Luna. I was trying to write something, coughing and feeling sorry for myself when I heard EW banging and mumbling in the galley. EW couldn’t find the vegetable peeler. I paused to watch. He checked both sinks, he got the flashlight and looked behind the stove, he looked in the vegetable peeler storage area – three or four times, his efforts got louder. “I just used it yesterday, and I know I washed it,” I stated. This means that it couldn’t have gone far and that wherever it went, EW did it. He understood the message and was not pleased. Finally, I shooed him out of the galley, walked between the counters and looked. To the right of the lift-up storage area for utensils was a pile of five or six clean utensils that he’d dropped there. Among them was the vegetable peeler. I found it in fewer than five seconds.

Wasn’t there a game show in which someone would bet he or she could name that tune in a certain number of seconds? I should do that the next time EW loses something. I’m sure he’d see the humor … or not.

NOTE: These photos are a re-enactment. Above, the pile of kitchen utensils, located approximately 3 inches from the compartment where they normally reside, would have been further camouflaged by a large acorn squash and chef' knife on top of the white cutting board.

P3110104

At left, we have the peeler peeking from behind the scraper. Bad peeler!

 

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And finally, the dramatic reveal.

Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I was feeling just miserable enough to be a bit snarky at my discovery of the vegetable peeler. You know how we sometimes get, ladies? Men CFS and women LTTT – Love To Tell Tales. Despite my bronchial crud, I was invited to cocktails aboard One White Tree a couple of days later, and dropped by in the dinghy earlier in the day when Diana was talking with Donna from Ainulindalë. I told them about the vegetable peeler and shared that I had used a new phrase that morning when EW couldn’t find yet another thing, suggesting this new lost item was “with the vegetable peeler.” He was not amused, but Donna and Diana loved it. So much so that when EW and I showed up for cocktails, Donna’s guest, Linda, made a funny comment about the vegetable peeler. I glanced at EW, who was chatting with the guys,  turned back to Linda, and gave her the throat slash signal, meaning “ixnay on the eelerpay”. That La Luna event hadn’t yet reached humorous status for all on board.

I left the wonderful party at eight so I could go to bed early, and while alone, I thought a bit about this story. EW really CFS, and he can often laugh about it. “It’s with the vegetable peeler.” is a great way to suggest that the lost item is in the most logical, easiest place to look. It’s a good line. But to be fair, I also suffer from a failure to find things. In my case it’s my reading glasses. I’ll be at the computer or Kindle, get interrupted by a door yard call, boiling tea kettle, or immediate desire for lip balm, jump up and remove my glasses under way to deck, galley, or stateroom. This is a boat, for heaven’s sake. How often could I lose my glasses in fewer than ten seconds on a boat? On average, at least once a day, I then spend 30-60 seconds or more, retracing my steps and looking for my glasses.  So, if I’m allowed to tell EW that his lost item is “with the vegetable peeler”, he gets to say, that my lost item is “with your glasses”. It’s only fair. And it’s true.

So those two new phrases look like keepers and I’m sure they’ll be repeated on board for years to come. But they aren’t my favorite new addition. The winner of our favorite new phrase comes from a reader of this blog, who commented on the recent dinghy article and the link to the old post about the red dinghy key that isn’t a key. From England, S/V Phoenix of Hamble said that he and his wife both forget to attach the safety cord to the outboard motor, and then wonder for a while why the motor won’t start. I’ve gotten much better at this, but struggled for the first year. It was embarrassing. Anyway, my new best friend from England writes that he had his wife love the blog, and have named the cord the “Hart String”.

I love that, so we stole it. As one of us heads up the companionway to go for the first dinghy ride of the day, the other will say, “Do you have the Hart string?”  Thank you, Captain of the Phoenix, we look forward to hearing about your cruising adventures.  And Linda, when you come back from Puerto Rico with Donna and Kirk, you can mention the vegetable peeler to EW. It’s funny now.


Married for Life, But Not for Lunch? What 24/7 Really Means

Which do you think would be more stressful on a marriage?IMG01822

1. Selling your home and nearly all of your belongings; moving most of the rest, including an 85- pound Black Labrador, aboard a new-to-you 47-foot boat; and living aboard, year-round, in Maine for 8 years.

Or
2. Cutting the dock lines, leaving Maine, and setting sail for a Cruise of Indefinite Length in that same boat and with that same spouse. (We lost Jake, the Lab two years prior to setting sail.)

 

AT RIGHT: Our former home.

 

IMG01488If you thought as I did that moving aboard, and living on the dock through eight Maine winters would be more stressful than living on the hook on a familiar and loved boat, with a familiar and loved spouse -- you’d be wrong. The difference is the marketing phrase:  24/7.  There is comfort in that phrase if you’re talking about convenience stores and emergency rooms -- not so much if you’re talking about life on board with one’s beloved spouse. Trust me.

 

 

 

 

ABOVE: One winter on the docks.

BELOW: On the hook in the Bahamas. (Yes, I am aware that I have nothing to complain about.)

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Much of my blog during our first year as cruisers focused on two issues: Boat Projects and Our Relationship.  Both issues could only be kept in perspective through humor and love, and humor may have been the more important of the two.  We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary the year we left Maine, and I believe that we fought more during our 26th year of married life than we had in all of the prior years. I tried to explain this to a couple from our yacht club back home who met up with us a few months into our second year as cruisers. They took a one-year sabbatical, sailing down from Maine and making it as far south as Guadeloupe, before heading back home. When we last talked, they said that they were glad to have done it, but that they weren’t ever going to cruise full time.  I tried to tell them that the first year was the worst, and told them how much better things were in Year Two. It’s true. We still undertake planned and unexpected boat projects, but not to the extent that we encountered in our first year at sea. And we still have some disagreements, but they are much fewer and farther between than the epic fights of our first year.  Good thing, or I’d have had to kill him.  (Just kidding. Violence never occurred to me. Really.)

My sweetie, EW , and I moved aboard our 47-foot Cheoy Lee cutter in May of 2002. We had a five year plan, during which we would live aboard year-round, on a dock in Maine, while we worked to prepare the boat and our finances for the Cruise of Indefinite Length. Five years turned into eight years of sailing on weekends and vacations in the summer, and actually enjoying the challenges of Maine winters:  northeasters, ice, record-breaking tides, sleet and snow, breaking docks, and living under shrink wrap. When we first lived aboard on the dock, EW would set off every morning for a 45 minute commute to his office up the coast, and I would depart a bit later for my 10 minute commute to an office just across the river. Life was certainly more interesting than it had been living like normal people do, but we never experienced what we called the “Oh. My. God!” moment, when one or the other of us would realize that we had made a big, huge mistake. We, and our black lab, Jake, took to living on the water with good humor, mostly realistic expectations, and the willingness to “get her done”. In the winter, EW schlepped fuel down in jugs, we worked with our neighbors on Saturdays to get water via hoses lying on the bottom of the bay, hosted parties with the other live-aboards, and organized storm procedures. It was a great neighborhood, and our marriage thrived. Sure, we still had moments of discord, but that was no different than when we lived as normal people do in a home on land.

In fact, the move from home to boat was only a move of one mile from our home of 15 years to a marina in the same town. We voted in the same place, shopped in the same grocery stores, ate in the same restaurants, and participated in life in southern Maine much as we had before. We no longer could host our large Thanksgiving celebrations, but were exempt from hosting the much larger family Christmas party. Life was good, and we were working together toward a ginormous goal -- leaving our jobs, setting sail, traveling to distant shores, and living on the hook -- just the two of us, together -- twenty-four/seven. How romantic!

Not so much.

Babara with HeadsetBefore we even left Maine, I was shocked to discover that our future life at sea wouldn’t always one of romantic harmony.  In the spring of 2010, five months before our planned departure, we opted to save money and “practice” by leaving the dock and taking a mooring near EW’s Yacht Brokerage office, forty-five minutes north of Portland. For the prior five years, I had been working as a consultant, with an office on the boat, and could fairly easily work from Brunswick as I finished my last client obligations.  EW would commute to work by dinghy, giving him more time to tackle a boat project in the evening. He was delighted. As was I, until he began to come home for lunch - in my office! I would be working on the laptop, or talking on the phone and he’d clamber aboard, bang around in the galley, and sit down at the other end of the dinette, munching and crunching on a sandwich and chips. I was chagrined to discover that I resented his presence, and a bit appalled when I realized that this would be my life -- this invasion of my space. This lack of control of when lunch occurred, this lack of alone time, and this togetherness was what we had been working towards for the past eight years!


I handled it by writing a blog post in which I confessed one of my hidden quirks. I thought it was a funny post that poked one of my foibles. When EW read it, his feelings were hurt. “You mean you don’t want me to have lunch with you?” Well, that wasn’t the message I had intended, but truly I didn’t want him to come home for lunch every day. However, this break was important to him, so I adapted. Some days I worked off the boat at an Internet café, and when I did work from home, I broke for lunch whenever EW arrived. 

Over the next year, we worked out many other things - most with humor and compromise, but more often than I would like to admit there were harsh words and tears before the humor. Still, we never had the “Oh. My. God!” moment at sea, either. This living on the water is an excellent lifestyle for us. Here’s how we make it work:

1. We apologize more often and more quickly. We still may snap or snark at each other, but we take it back or say “I’m sorry” and move on, usually within minutes.
2. We’ve forgiven each other for old news and past issues.
3. We each have embraced the opportunity to develop new passions, and fully support each other in those activities. EW has his music and I have my writing. I never tire of listening to him practice and can enjoy endless repetitions of the same song or chorus while writing or reading. When he participates in an Open Mike Night or Music Jam, I almost always attend, take photos, and proudly act as his “Band Aide”. I write for my blog, have self-published a book about our first year at sea, and have written a number of magazine articles. EW edits, praises, gives me the time and space to write, brags about me often, and -- most important -- cheerfully accepts his role as “The Topic”.
4. We find a few ways to each have some alone time on the boat. I may go grocery shopping alone, or play dominoes in Trinidad or Grenada, or meet with other cruising ladies for a walk or day trip. EW will go to another boat to practice music or help with a project, take the local bus to seek parts for something, or even participate in a poker night. What the one left does aboard isn’t relevant. We may read, watch a movie, make a SKYPE call, or write or play music. We may actually tackle a boat project.  A little time alone on the boat is precious to each of us.
5. We love to laugh, and can easily laugh at ourselves. For us, this makes this 24/7 lifestyle work. 

Instead of the “Oh. My. God! What have we done?” moment. Our life is full of gratitude and wonder that we are able to live aboard and fully embrace and enjoy this lifestyle. As we often say when sitting in the cockpit at sunset, “This does not suck.”

On the top!

ABOVE: 2011 in St. Lucia

 

Anniversary 3 St. Lucia 2011 7-6-2011 1-17-55 PM

AT LEFT: 2011 26th Wedding Anniversary, St. Lucia

 

Finally, this is my first post for Raft-Up, a site that offers boating bloggers the opportunity to blog about a particular topic each month. This month's topic is Relationships at Sea, one of my favorites. For other takes on this topic, check out Raft-Up. 


Anniversaries and "Another Projects"

EW and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary on July 6th. It was the perfect Caribbean Cruisers’ Anniversary – even if EW felt guilty early in the day.

This second year of cruising has been much easier – fewer unexpected (Another Project) boat projects; not quite as much sailing to windward; many fewer “intense discussion” (arguments). There will be no book about the second year because it would be a boring book for me to write. Nevertheless, right before our first guest couple’s visit (Cathy and Stu from Florida) one of the stainless steel uprights for the stern pulpit broke at the weld. Dang.

We decided not to fix it until our guests had left, simply cautioning them (and ourselves) to refrain from using that upright as a support when climbing aboard from the water. Last week, EW and our friend D’irv took the dinghy around to Prickly Bay to deliver one part from each boat to “TechNick” a welding and metal shop, owned by Nick somebody at Spice Island Marine. It was too rough to retrieve the parts via dinghy, so I walked with them a few days later, over hill and dale and hill from Secret Harbor to Spice Island Marine. We retrieved the parts, carried them back over hill and dale and hill in reverse order and sat our half stern rail on the bow while we took care of other, more important projects: snorkeling, writing, grocery shopping, book swaps .. well you get the idea.

Our anniversary was on the First Friday of the month, so by unanimous consent,  the monthly jazz/poetry event at the Granada National Museum was slated to be part of our celebration. EW suggested we hike to the bus route at 10 or so, take a bus to “the city” of St. Georges and enjoy the day there prior to the jazz at 5:30. I asked for a later departure so I could get some work done in the morning and we agreed to leave for town – showered and dressed up – just after lunch.

Of course, the stern pulpit had been eating a hole in EW’s to do list, so he began that project. It took, as most projects do, twice as long as EW anticipated. I was needed to hold the rail and help set the bolts. AT 11:00 AM we could be found perched on the stern, hot and sweaty with fingers blackened by caulk. “I’m sorry,” said EW.

“No worries,” I cheerfully replied. Despite not being able to tackle my list, I was actually enjoying working on this project with him. TechNick had expertly welded the two pieces back together exactly as EW had requested, and the eight bolt holes lined up perfectly. However, the weld had evidently added just a skosh of thickness to the aft end of the broken post mount and two of the bolts were not long enough to reach through the deck and accept washers and nuts.

Damn.

Of course, we didn’t’ discover this prior to gooping up the holes and mount area with gooey black caulk. If we didn’t’ complete the project that day, we’d have to clean up all of that partially set caulk and start again. After many tries to “stretch” the bolts EW hauled out his fastener box and found two appropriately sized longer bolts. Much longer -- they’d have to be cut. EW quickly discovered that I am not an effective vise. (I may be his vice, but am not a vise.) I was game though, holding the bolt with locking pliers, resting on a can while EW wielded the hacksaw. After a few passes, he exclaimed, “I keep banging into your thumb!” “I haven’t complained,” I replied. He looked at me. “That’s just wrong. We need a vise.”

I went on the VHF radio on the cruisers’ channel 68. “Query for Mt. Hartman Cruisers: Does anyone have a vise we may borrow the use of?”

You can imagine the responses. Bob from Spirit immediately replied. “I have a lot of vices. Which one do you want?” An unidentified slightly accented lady replied, “Sure! Alcohol, sex, or gambling?” I thanked them with much laughter, and was delighted to hear from Tom on Tiger Lily. “I have a vise you can borrow. It’s attached to a board so you can come and get it.” That was the response I wanted.

Fifteen minutes later, we had bolts that fit. (EW uses the two methods for cutting a bolt and ensuring that it still works with the nut. I have no idea what that means. I just know it works.)

Here’s the thing. EW was a bit distressed that the project was eating into our anniversary celebration. I didn’t care. I was having fun, working with the sticky black stuff, helping him, on the deck in a beautiful harbor on a perfect day. This is cruising and this is our married life at sea. It was the perfect way to spend part the day. Once I realized how stressed he was about ruining our anniversary, I said, “No problem. I’d like us to be on the way by 3 at the latest. Other than that, don’t worry about it.”

We completed the job. I returned the vise and kept all of our vices. (They may come in handy later.) We showered, I put on my new best (only) dress --  a truly generous gift from Cathy who gave me her dress when she visited here – and we met Lynn from Silver Heels who had offered to show us a different, more rural walk to the bus stop.

I wore make-up.

We walked for 30 minutes in 85-degree weather over hill and dale on a rough path around goats, one very large bull and all of their droppings. It was wonderful. This is cruising.

We hugged Lynn, caught the bus, and went to BB’s, approved by Oprah and home of their famous crab back appetizer. We shared the 1-Anniversary. EW and me 7-6-2012 5-10-49 PMexpensive dish, enjoyed the view and had piña coladas for “dessert”.1-Anniversary Pina Coladas 7-6-2012 4-52-26 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary View from Nutmeg 7-6-2012 5-41-40 PM

Then we wandered the area, settling in at Nutmegs for a light dinner and their second-story view of St Georges’ Harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary Algy Talking 7-6-2012 7-08-13 PMWe made it to the museum before the 6:00 start with time to chat with many of the cruisers who had gathered for this event. I took photos. Folks wished us “Happy Anniversary”. We listened to good music, great music, incredible original poetry, and chatted with cruisers and locals. (Note to careful readers: The evening is advertised as starting at 530 – but this is the Caribbean. It never starts before 6:00)

1-Anniversary Peter and Algy cu 7-6-2012 9-12-05 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary Mom with three 7-6-2012 7-18-20 PM

1-Anniversary Two Saxes and a Bass 7-6-2012 7-13-57 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary Violinist 7-6-2012 7-46-35 PM

 

1-Anniversary Front Row Group 7-6-2012 7-04-18 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary Guitarist unfocused 7-6-2012 7-21-43 PM

 

 

1-Anniversary Trumpet 7-6-2012 7-17-39 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-Anniversary Peter and two cu 7-6-2012 7-28-02 PM

 

Let’s see ---

  • Boat project involving goop – check
  • Working with my sweetie – check
  • Walk through the trails to the bus -- check
  • Dining on deck in a Caribbean harbor – check
  • Evening out with friends and great music -- check

 

I’d call that the perfect cruisers’ anniversary.

I love EW.

 

New to Harts at Sea? I've written a book -- The Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward -- about our first year of cruising, from Maine to Grenada. It's available on Kindle (or Kindle for PC or Kindle for Apple) for only $2.99. No Kindle? You can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac at no cost. 


We Lost Our Sense of Humor. (Don't Worry. We Got it Back.)

When you lose your sense of humor, where does it go? Since laughter bubbles up out of a person, perhaps a lost sense of humor sinks into the bilge and waits to be invited back into the main living areas. We both lost our sense of humor last week, and in retrospect, it was pretty funny.

At the time, I said, “You can be sure that I won’t write about this!”  Evidently, I lied.

 

Honeymoon Beach

We were good-humored at Monday Movie Night on Honeymoon Beach. We had gone in early with Carl and Carrie so that we could enjoy the French fries from Joe’s. Not sure why it’s called Joe’s as Britt seems to run the place, but in any case, word was out about the fries and there were too many orders ahead of us before the movie started. No worries. We trooped across the sand, chatting with new and old friends, set up our chairs in front of the screen, and bought our hot dogs and sodas. The movie was Captain Ron, a sailor’s classic. It’s a funny movie, even though it gets most sailing, boat repair, and Caribbean geography horribly wrong. It was even funnier because two couples in our group know all the good lines and have the comic timing to speak them in that split second before the actor, causing us to laugh even more.

The next day, I gradually felt a bit icky.  By afternoon I had a mild intestinal “issue”. EW was perky, perky, perky.  Around five I said, “I’m not feeling great and don’t feel like eating at all. Do you mind taking care of your own dinner?”  “No problem, My Sweet,” EW said. “What’s wrong?” So I told him I had an intestinal thing and cramps. Said I didn’t feel like eating and didn’t really want to even cook anything. I went back to my book.

A while later, EW said, “I feel like French fries!” I assumed that he would take the dinghy into the island and get some from Britt. But no.  “That’s fine,” I said.

“I’ll make them!” He said. “Wouldn’t you like me to make you French fries?”

Um. No. Actually, I could think of few things that were less appealing than a pile of greasy starch.

“No thanks,” I said with a bit of an ‘are you kidding me?’ tone.

EW proceeded to haul the hot dogs out of the freezer and hum and bustle in the galley. “Do we have any butter open?”

“Yes.”

“Which oil should I use to make the fries?”  I couldn’t  have cared less and requested that he leave me out of it. He was hurt. Really. After all, he had offered to make me homemade French Fries. He was happy. He had cleaned the bottom of the boat and needed a high carb meal. He was making that meal. Wasn’t he wonderful? What was my problem?

I was crampy and somewhat sick to my stomach. I had an intestinal bug. But at that moment in time, EW was my problem. He hummed. He bustled. He carefully cut and peeled the fries and placed them in a bowl of cold water. When I saw that, I paused. “You really know how to make French fries.”

“Yeah,” he said, in a tone that meant ‘Of course, why wouldn’t I?”

Well. “We’ve been married for 26 years. In that time can you remember ever making French fries for me?” I asked, with a tone.

“Nope, guess I can’t”, he said.

Now I love French fries. We had even had a discussion once about not making them on the boat due to the large amount of hot oil in a moving galley. He had never made them for me in all of our married life and there he was, happy, happy, happy, about making French fries when I didn’t feel up to eating them. What part of this reality didn’t he understand? What was left of my sense of humor scurried into the bilge under the forward cabin, as far away from us as possible.  I took my book and moved to the cockpit so I didn’t have to smell the sizzling oil and the fries in the making.

He popped up into the cockpit and stated as Britt does, “Fries take 10 minutes. Extra crispy fries take 12,” smiling cheerfully. I didn’t give a … well you know. There was nothing left to give. I glared at him. He was hurt by my defection.  I went back to my book with a sigh that meant, ‘leave me alone.’

Mr. Happy couldn’t let it go. Once his meal was prepared, he once again popped up into my supposed fry free safe seating zone, waving his plate of loaded hot dogs and sizzling hot crispy fries. “Doesn’t that look good?”

“Get away from me!” I had lost it. He was stunned, stunned I tell you, by my rejection.

What part of “I don’t feel like eating, cooking, or looking at food” did he not get?

And frankly, I was ticked off that he had actually made fries on the boat when I was ill and couldn’t eat them. I was more than ticked off. I was not in a loving mood.

That morning, when EW had single-handedly cleaned the waterline while I had gone ashore to do laundry, he had scraped up his right hand on the barnacles. He had cleaned his wounds and applied anti-bacteria cream and adhesive bandages. Normally, I would have been sympathetic.

After his repast, the galley looked – well -- messy. I am normally the dishwasher and don’t (normally) mind at all. But I had decided early in that evening’s war that there was no way I was going to assist in cleaning up that mess. Ever.

Here’s how that conversation went:

EW asked, “What should I do with the fry oil?”

I charmingly replied, “I don’t give a damn.” He was not pleased.

A while later, he said, “I don’t think I can do the dishes with my hand like this.”

And I smiled and said, “Then they’ll sit there until your hand heals. I’m not doing them.”

These were not my finest hours.

He was stunned.

I remained uncaring. “Did you get all cut up like that with your gloves on?”

“No. I forgot the gloves and just kept going anyway.”

“I have no sympathy for you. I’m going to bed.”

Oh, I can be nasty.

EW cleaned the galley and washed the dishes. I went to bed and slept very well, thank you.

The next day,  I imagined all of this as it would be played by one of those British comedies. He would be waving a hot platter of crisps under her nose. She would turn green and run for the loo. The audience would laugh uproariously.

It was kind of funny.

Our sense of humor peeked up through the floorboards and gradually came back to live with us, but we haven’t yet actually laughed together over this episode yet. Maybe someday.

He owes me a batch of fries. I’ve found the fry oil in a bottle in the fridge. I’ll wash the dishes.

 

NOTE: Yes, EW has read and approved this message. He even laughed. I love EW. He also took me to lunch at XO in Redhook once I felt better. I had a marvelous CBA – Chicken, Brie, and Apple sandwich. 

NOTE 2: The photo of honeymoon beach was taken from the website, www.water-island.com. If you don't have a sailboat, this is a marvelous property to visit when in the islands. You can find out more about Honeymoon Beach at this website for beach lovers

 NOTE 3: If you like my sense of humor and haven't checked out my book -- Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward -- you can find it on Amazon for Kindle for just $2.99. Tell your friends. Heck, tell your enemies. Thank you.

Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward


Songs of Love

In a post on October 17, 2010 "Where did We Go Right?" I introduced you to three of our favorite songs. Here's a recap, with the addition of our fourth favorite song (which is actually our first).

We've enjoyed two Valentine's Day celebrations "at sea" and a lot of water has passed under the hull. Currently, we are at 18.19.054 North and 64.57.563 West, anchored off of Water Island in St. Thomas.

Music has always been a part of our lives together. In fact, our first official date was a B.B. King concert. EW got me to commit to that date when we first met, then wooed me for the three weeks leading up to the concert. During that time, we saw each other every day except for two days when I had business engagements in Augusta.During the second day, I arrived home to change for a reception to find a hand written note from EW. He hadn't the words to convey his feelings, so he wrote out the lyrics of a Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong song, Honey, I'd Do Most Anything For You. Prophetically, one of the lines is "I'd cross that ocean wide." At the time I didn't know he meant with me instead of for me.

Much later, after we moved aboard La Luna, EW picked up a Guy Clark CD and Boats to Build became an instant favorite. I played that CD over and over the year we bought La Luna while I made a new dodger. (A task known as the "Project from Hell".) Still like the song, though. EW sang it with David Jacquet at our public farewell party shortly before we left Maine. David kindly sent him the music for the song, and EW has continued to practice it and played it during many of the Sunday jam sessions in Grenada. 

Here's Guy with Verlon Thompson performing Boats to Build:      

Love that song.  "It's time for a change ..."

Our new song is one written for us by David Jacquet AKA MoJoCaster on Twitter and Mojo Twanger on YouTube. David is a singer, songwriter, and guitar teacher who ran the open mic night after our part at J. P. Thornton's. The next day, David sent us this song:     

Gonna sail around the world, just me and my girl, we'll team up with the winds and the tides and the seas. Don't wait for me. Don't wait for me. When the sun goes down just know that we are smiling.... We're living the life. Me and my wife. 

Wonderful. David isn't a sailor and has no first hand knowledge of our dream, but he got it right in this song -- except for the "we'll fish when we're hungry part", and I can't hold that against him.

Two years before we left Maine, one more song found a place in my heart, Where Did We Go Right? as performed by Jonathan Edwards. Jon hadn't performed this song for a while but I heard it on a CD of his and asked him to sing it for us when he played at Jonathan's in Ogunquit. He has since performed it again when we are in the audience and graciously dedicated it to us. Here he is. 

   

"And what we have is what everybody's trying to find

Peace of mind

In a world turned upside down

Our love keeps spinning around.

And you know it makes me wonder

As the rest run for their lives

Where did we go right?

Where did we go right?"

        Song written by David Loggins and Don Schultz

Somewhere we took a right turn found ourselves heading in a new and adventurous direction. Thank you for following along with us.