Barbara's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Start to Her Birthday

*With a tip of the sailing hat to Judith Viorst and Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Birthday - Book

The Set-Up

OK. Just let me be up front, our enforced stay in lovely (some people’s favorite stop) St. Augustine has made both EW and me a tad very testy at times. On the worst of days, both of us were testy and discouraged at the same time. Fortunately, usually one of us is upset and the other one has perspective so we recover fairly quickly.

I am thankful that Stew was indeed the larger person on the morning of my birthday.

I have a two-day-a-week office job, usually Sundays and Mondays, but this week I had to swap with the full-time person and worked Wednesday and Thursday. Now, I truly have no ownership of the 24 hours that is “my” birthday. After all, I share the day with about 19-million folks and some of us have to work. So, trust me when I say that actually going to the office didn’t bother me. In fact, I had a great day at work.

It was the getting ready that flummoxed me.

I had to get up by 6:15, had prepared the percolator the night before and planned a fairly relaxed 45 minutes before EW took me to shore for my shower and bike ride to work. I woke up at 5:00 and could not get back to sleep. I had also stayed up later than EW the night before. These facts are important as when in the states, we purchase 2 or 3 cards for the other and secret them in places to be found in the morning. EW had no opportunity to do that.

In the meantime, I discovered that the $30.00 I had gotten in “change” during a grocery transaction the day before was missing. I (quietly) began a search of every bag, all the pockets in my man-purse, and pretty much all spaces probable and improbable. That’s not an amount that will inhibit us, but it really made me mad—at myself—on a day when I had been taking stock of all the things I had not accomplished since my last birthday. So I was ready for a blow-up.

I started to prepare for my day, scooped up my favorite (and one of the most valuable) pair of earrings, stomped through the boat and heard one of them fly through my loosely clasped hand. The second frantic search of the day began at about 6:30. I needed a flashlight, and our go-to light was not where it is supposed to STAY and that necessary third search of the day set me off from pissed-off-bitch to possessed-woman-spewing-venom. I woke EW up, trying to contain my bile as he didn’t deserve it (though he had miss-placed the flashlight), used another light, found the earring and got ready to go. All the while I told him what had been going on with me, trying to keep my tone neutral and give his neurons time to wake up.

He prepared the dinghy. I prepared me and my gear (including lunch, a coffee, and my shower backpack) and off we went to shore at 7:10 in the morning. Just one mooring later I signaled him to turn back as I had forgotten my flipping SHOES! (At least I knew where they were.)

EW Earns His Wings (Again)

In the meantime, he maintained his cool, wished me a happy birthday, and tried to stay out of the line of fire. On the way in he casually mentioned he had “found some cards in your backpack”. I, in turn:

1. Didn’t even question what he was doing in my backpack

2. Immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was talking boat cards which I thought we were out of—because I hadn't ordered them as promised.

3. And started apologizing for not ordering any new ones. (Because, after all, I was a horrible person.)

He remained silent. When we got to the dock, he handed me my backpack and I asked him if he had taken the cards as he should have them (after all, I didn’t deserve them). He rolled his eyes and refrained from saying, “You idiot!” before explaining that he had placed all THREE (!) BIRTHDAY cards in one pouch in my pack, thinking I’d find them when I got ready.

Yeah. No. And Yeah. I felt about 6 inches tall. (And 1-foot wide, but that’s another post.)

So we paused at the stone bench and I opened my cards. One with a cute dog, one with the promise of wicked behavior and this one—which in the infinite wisdom of the universe, I opened last.

Birthday card

Yeah.

I stared at the card.

I looked at EW.

I said, “I’m not sure I should open this.”

And we laughed. We laughed and hugged and I did open it (despite wondering if I’d get immediately struck by lightning.)

Lesson Learned (Again)

But I didn’t get struck by lightning. And I kissed him and apologized and had a really great day. And he forgave me and came ashore after I got out of work and we went out to eat together, and listen to music together, and watch the Red Sox together for a while.

And they won. And I had wonderful awesome birthday messages, a super great card from Kathy, and a song from Judy and Stephen. And my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Start to my birthday became another funny story about living together on a boat.

I am indeed a very fortunate person. I need to remember that.

I’m also a good person who just had a bad day. I need to remember that, too.

 

Birthday three cards

Oh, here’s the inside of “THE” Card.

Birthday inside


Propane, Rolling Round My Brain

Oopsie.

Sixteen years of living aboard and we just got bitch-slapped by our boat.

La Luna, we love you.

We don’t totally agree about the timing, as in when she started dinging us. I feel it was only a two-day challenge, P7270075but EW thinks we may have been bombarded for a week. At right is our lovely queen berth in the master stateroom. We love our center queen in the stern. EW sleeps on the left side of the bed (your right as you look at this photo) and I on the right. Always. For over 30 years. I think that started when we … never mind, that would be a TMI moment.

EW felt a bit under the weather, intestinally, last week. He now thinks that was the first symptom and maybe he’s right. The propane locker is located near his head.  (That red bolster pillow is pointing to the locker.) Of course, there is a vent in the locker and we’ve had no issues for 16 years. We have carbon monoxide “bitches” in galley and master stateroom. They have been known to cry “Car-Bon Mo-NOX-ide! Car-Bon Mo-NOX-ide!” or “Fire! Fire!” depending on the moment. We have a hard-wired propane sensor under the stove in the galley. We thought we were covered.

Think again!

The other day, EW had to change propane tanks. (For you who don’t boat or camp, we have permanent tanks that get refilled. They have been inspected and have new valves and EW is meticulous about making sure they are safe when he changes them.) A day or so later, I smelled “something” in the master stateroom. It was a little something, more like a small dead animal than propane. Hey! I cook with propane daily. I know the smell. (One would think.)

When it persisted, I checked for the fictitious dead rodent, and then mentioned the smell to EW the next evening as we crawled into bed. “Hmmm. That may be propane. Don’t make coffee until I check it in the morning.”

Hmm? That blasé answer may have been sponsored by propane hazed minds. We hadn’t slept well the prior night (or 2) and I was feeling logy. EW, who sleeps closest to the propane locker was feeling worse but thought it was an intestinal thing.

The next morning, EW arose and immediately checked the propane locker and swore. There was a leak at the regulator. It was easily repaired, I made coffee and we went on with our day. Now, depending on which of us is right, we had slept next to the leak for 3-7 days.

Flipping big oops!

I’d been invited to take a trip on the Black Raven that day so I could take photos and videos of EW being a pirate, but I just felt too icky and sleepy. In fact, I took a two-hour nap instead and still slept for 8 hours that night. (I’m normally a 6-7 hour a night person with very few naps.)

At that point, “duh!” I looked up propane poisoning.

OMG!

Not good.

Here’s the thing, for over 30 years of boating, any discussion/article about propane safety that I’ve seen and heard has dealt with the possibility of propane leaking into the bilge and exploding. That’s a bad thing. That’s why we have a propane sensor below the stove. We’ve had issues (hey, things happen) and the sensor actually prevents propane from flowing if it detects a leak, making it difficult to blow up the boat.  We’re careful and always turn off the propane—not just the burner—when we aren’t using the stove. In fact, we have a rule of turning off the propane before turning off the burner so we bleed the line every single time.

We are safety conscious—but we blew it. (Pun intended.)

After it was fixed, Stew also had a great night’s sleep. In fact, he slept until 10:00 AM on the 3rd. Now, we’re both rested, lively, and back to normal. We are also lucky and not stupid. This week I’m buying a propane sensor for the master stateroom where the carbon-monoxide bitch is useless.

I’m looking for one that is battery operated and doesn’t talk. Two electronic bitches on the boat are plenty.


When Cruisers Own a Home

 

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When those who cruise still (or later) own a home, they “get” it.

They tell you to bring your dirty laundry when you go to dinner. Often, they let you know that you’re invited to arrive early enough to take a shower prior to the meal.

They offer a ride to the store.

They get it.

To be fair, as liveaboards for over 16 years, we have land-lubber friends and family who also get it and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

This weekend I saw a whole new level of “getting it”.

We have dear friends in St. Augustine who are off for a cruise this summer, seeking cooler air, fewer hurricanes, 20180624_125010and more light-houses, ports, restaurants, and beaches. In addition to preparing and loading the boat, they prepared their home: turning off the water, emptying the fridge and pantry, setting the air-conditioner to a lower level, and hiring a lawn service.

As their dear friends, we and another boater have access to the home (and workshop!) and check it frequently.

They left their Internet service, have strong Wi-Fi and readily agreed to let me go over there for as long as I needed in order to move this blog to Word Press.

I spent much of Saturday and Sunday in their home. It was one of those times when the only accomplishment was to have “learned a lot”, but it was (sort of) time well spent.

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While I waited for things to download, I did a housekeeper’s check of the home and found a whole lot of dead flies. Dead flies in the sink, on the windowsills, and a whole bunch on the floor. It was my pleasure to remove the bodies and it’s something I’ll be sure to do before they return.

But here’s the thing. Here’s where they really “get it”.

They had said that if we get yet another hurricane this season, we three were welcome to hunker in their home, and they left us notes.  This was not an idle comment. After they prepared their home to be left, they prepared it for us, providing notes, water to flush the toilet, and a pair of reading glasses (because I have frequently shown up there without mine).

How cool is that?20180624_125041

Some of the weather gurus have dialed back their dire predictions for the number and severity of hurricanes this season. I hope they’re right. Even so, if one heading our way is not more severe than Matthew or Irma, we’ll be taking our neighbor, Tim, our water jugs, food, and butane stove on over to the home that’s set up for us. We already feel welcomed. They certainly “Get It.”

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Living in Limbo

 

LIM-bo

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

"the fate of the Contras is now in limbo"

synonyms:
in abeyance, unattended to, unfinished;

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

unresolved, undetermined, up in the air, uncertain;

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

"our mortgage approval is in limbo"

 

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

Also monotonous.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Bacon_slices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No, I'm NOT Used to this Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. No.

Let me count the ways:

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

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

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

Nah, I’ll just go to sleep.

This too shall pass.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So…Cleveland?Summer trip 2017

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

Really? Can we parse that sentence?

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

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

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

Current Plans for 2018 Include the Following

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

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

Erie Canal

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

Claim Your Dream

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

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


Think Like a Cruiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Like a Cruiser: Simplify and Be Proud

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

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

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

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

Think Like a Cruiser: Walk it Off

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

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

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

And that boys and girls, is why we cruise.


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.


Post Irma Spam—Part Two

Boat Projects and the Cruisers Who Live Amongst Them.

EW was actually very upset that the boat was not finished when we moved back aboard. I never expected it would be and had already started contingency planning. Hey, we’ve been married for 32 years and we’ve lived on a boat for 15 of them. This is not my first rodeo.

IMG_7155[1]The port settee is our living space. We have two ratcheted cushions for seating and there’s an American Gothic feel to our meals as we eat side by side, facing the same direction. I could go on, but just let that sink in.

IMG_6810Now, non-boaters might think that repairing the toe rails and stanchion bases, and removing the teak decks would have no impact down below. Non-boaters would be wrong. Ninety-nine percent of the things on deck are bolted through the deck to the living space below. EW has had to remove the genoa track from both sides of the deck (non-boaters, imagine a long, narrow piece of stainless steel with holes every inch or so.) Now imagine those bolts going through the deck and into many parts of the boat because it’s really long…from master stateroom to the galley (or pilot berth on the starboard) to the main salon. At a dam angle.

In fact, here’s a photo before it was removed. (To the left near the cabin.)  And yes, I know they aren’t exactly an inch apart, but there are still at least a thousand nuts and bolts to deal with here. (Do NOT shake your head at me. It will seem like a thousand when we put them all back.) 

Side note, these were removed with the volunteer (?) assistance of Matt from S/V Kook Cat and Tim from S/V Scout. I will be the volunteer when we put the tracks back on. Also, a small piece of duct tape was placed over each hole and every blessed one withstood the hurricane.

How the Deck Job Messes Up the Cabin

Removing it impacts the bookshelves next to our bed, both clothing lockers, the aforementioned pilot berth, every cupboard in the galley and the three cupboards along the port side that are also used for food and dishes. On the starboard side, we have a slightly different configuration so the cupboards are not impacted.

Add the stanchion bases and other random parts that had to be removed and you know why we are living in (somewhat) organized chaos. We didn’t even bring the main salon cushions back to the boat. Lest I make this sound sad and trying, note that EW is more bothered by this than I am. He feels he should have been farther along, and I am delighted he is fully back to normal and able to do so much. As for the mess, I am resigned and calm and having a “make it work” moment. Most of the time.

Barb at Sea Loses It

When I assured EW that I was OK with it. That I’d make it work. That we’d do just fine. (Cheesy grin.) I also said. “You can have the bed we aren’t sleeping in and you can have the entire dining space, table and seats and under the table. I (well we really) get the galley, chart table, and port settee for living.” Both of us were a bit surprised to find out how sincere I was. I have never once complained about the mess on the dinette side of the boat, but let him leave one box of screws out overnight on the living side...whoo-eee…I surprised myself with my vehemence.

Step away from the tools, Barb. Step away from the tools.

His tools and screws haven’t  trespassed on the port side since.

 

 

IMG_7156[1]

  Note the lack of cupboard doors in the galley because—genoa track. And you see pretty much all the dishes I have for the duration.


Post Irma Spam—Part One

NOTE: I’ve been going through the old posts lately (more about why later) and was reminded of my old “Spam” posts. The first was as we left the Bahamas in 2011 when I had a few juicy tidbits of stories that hadn’t made it in a post. The title of “Spam” certainly wasn’t because we eat it (Ick) but because the grocery store in Georgetown carried a plethora of varieties of Spam. I didn’t even know there were multiple varieties of Spam.

So, Post Irma Spam.

The Forward Cabin. We had to order a new mattress because the one we had put up with since St. Thomas in 2014 was a piece of crap and I threw it out when we moved off the boat in May. Irma messed with our schedule when we moved back aboard, so we moved into the forward cabin where there is a lovely firm foam mattress in a double-narrowing-to-smaller-than-twin bed. One person (that would be me) sleeps against the hull (wall to you landlubbers) and the other can somewhat more easily get in and out. On good nights, I would get up when EW did, trot to the head after him, and then he would wait and crawl into bed behind me. On other nights, or when I woke up earlier than he did (pretty much every damn day, lately) I had to crawl out.

Remember the Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones movie, “Entrapment”. Irma Spam Part One CZJThis was kind of what I had to do to get out of the bed, only instead of going under laser beams, I had to go over EW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX2_LCUkhDs

I am not as agile, thin, or flexible as CZ-J but a video of my efforts would have been entertaining if you like slapstick. First I tried simply placing a leg over top of EW and lifting myself over. That rarely worked. So, channeling my inner Catherine Zeta-Jones, I stayed on my tiny portion of the bed and rose into a crouch, stepping over EW. I actually achieved success with this to the point that when he got up an hour or so later he’d say, “How did you get out of bed?” Wish I’d told him I went up through the hatch.

I’ve never actually noticed this before because – well—sleeping, but EW sometimes sleeps with one foot on the bed and his bent knee becomes an obstacle. I first realized this when I hit that obstacle in the night, startling both of us. (EW is funny when startled from a deep sleep, and my inevitable giggles do not amuse him.)

But the final indignity occurred during our last night in the forward cabin. I softly rose to my feet, hunched over so I could clear the cabin top (ceiling to landlubbers), and then slowly and artistically (again channeling CZ-J) I lifted my right leg and brought it to the edge of the bed outside of EW. I missed my handhold, bumped my left foot into EW, spun a quarter turn and ended up curled in the fetal position at his feet. He was concerned I had been injured, but I only damaged my dignity and she’s used to it by now. Sean Connery would have probably killed me.

So for those of you who agree to visit and sleep in the forward cabin, we know. We truly do know that two people staying up there so they can see us is an act of love. Also, if we hear strange noises we won’t automatically assume fun.