Saturday, May 28, 2011

We haven't sold the boat yet, but that one detail aside, we are getting our heads around life ashore in the woods. It comes upon us once in a while that we're detaching from one life as much as adapting to another.

It's strange to realize that we will no longer be saying, yes, we live on our boat, spend the winters sailing in the Caribbean, yes, it's a very nice life. I enjoyed peoples' reactions, and got used to their envy. It made it very hard to kvetch about the tough or tedious bits. I'm wondering what will make us special now. Our friend John, also a cruiser, recently cut off his really impressive ponytail. When I asked him how he felt afterward, he very candidly said he'd miss the attention it brought him.

That's part of how I feel about selling the boat. There was something special about ND that reflected well on us. Every new anchorage, heads turned on passing boats and dinghies, and we so often got the wave and the shout "beautiful boat!" She was always unique among other cruising boats. One admirer called her "the prettiest girl at the dance" and I think those sorts of comments kept us living up to the boat. I had to learn to be a sailor, and the boat often enough rewarded my efforts that it seemed worthwhile to keep learning and to get attached and committed to doing things well. Things I got to be proud of: going up the mast to actually fix stuff, sailing at night in lousy conditions, developing muscles and callouses and skills, bringing home the bacon (fish). And those informal "races" with other cruisers. I accused Randy of being rather competitive on a passage with a couple of other boats, and he said "I'm not racing, I just want to get there first." We usually did, and it was mostly because of the boat (and the willingness of the crew to put down a book and trim sail). Two things I heard over and over from the Captain: Life's too short to sail an ugly boat, and If a boat looks good, it will be a good sailer.

In six years, we visited 20 countries and over 70 islands, lots and lots of them many times. We sailed and motored and motor-sailed some 7,000 miles. In all that, the boat never failed us, and Randy's experience, knowledge, and considerable skills kept us safe. He taught me to be a sailor in his very quiet way, and his confidence in me seemed to be pretty consistent. The first time he hoisted me up the main, I got just below the spreaders and barked down "I DON'T THINK I CAN DO THIS." He just kept cranking on the winch, and saying "You can do it!, don't look down, you're fine!" And of course I was. Bastard. He promised me adventure, and he delivered, and it was grand. I was going to say, generally grand, but that would be peevish.

Since July 2005, which was the first blog entry, in which I noted that we were "beat to a snot" before we'd even moved onto the boat, I've posted 287 blog updates, and as of this afternoon, there are 67,877 hits recorded. Randy's mum mostly? but also early followers from the Dartmouth Yacht Club (I can only imagine what they thought as we headed out into the fog, me clutching a bottle of Ativan...), links from friends' blogs, and people from dozens of other countries. There are occasional comments from people in far-flung places that I don't know, and that's always been cheering. Someone in Moldavia stumbled on us last week, probably looking for sailing adventure tales. What did they get? Food, fishing, snorkelling, laundry, and now lawn-mowing and black flies.

Given that this blog was intended to cover our sailing adventures, I'm wondering about carrying on with it. In the spirit of not wasting raw material, I will start to turn into a book (you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll barf at some of the more graphic bits) when I get my domestic life in some sort of order. I was folding laundry yesterday, looking out the window at the woods behind the house, and thought, I've folded laundry in an awful lot of places, "awful" being the operative word, and wondered how I could keep the blog magic alive.

I'll ask my kids. They'll be brutally honest, and they don't read the blog anyway. Then I'll do whatever I want.

Thanks for reading.

(photo by Pepe Millard on Beez Neez)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Two nights in a bed that doesn't move. The noises in the night are birds and bugs. Traffic is gauged by cars-per-hour. I'm addressing personal hygiene issues, and re-learning the limits of the hot water tank. (How many kinds of hair conditioner can I combine and what is the optimum sequence?) Dishwasher and laundry-systems worship has begun with fervour. Fridge is stocked, food is on our minds, and the traditional champagne has been quaffed (at breakfast, hurrah). Last night we had smoked haddock fish cakes a la Chef Randall, with Elaine's bread and butter pickles and Edna's brown bread. Really, we are at least on cloud 7.

Some moments, I can hardly believe the trip is over. Even though the road trip seemed to go fast (rather faster than we were used to going) It was a big help to break it up with a visit with Randy's son Ian, Jill and Dean (formerly of Delilah) in Cambridge, and Bill and Janet (trioconbrio) in Breadalbane, NB. They speak our language, lowered the stress level and treated our fatigue with vitamins A and F (alcohol and food, and in Janet's case, C [curry and chocolate chip cookies]). They made the hardest parts of the trip so much easier.

But dat finish. Now, we pay attention to the major weather system in our area, which is black flies, but when the sun shines, and it has, we can see a huge expanse of the lake through the trees, which are just starting to leaf out. We have a trillium, the myrtle is blooming, several random tulips are glowing in the grass, and the ferns are unfurling. The early spiders are gorging on black flies (go girls, go). Squirrels are awake.

The car is unloaded (you could almost hear a sigh of relief as the rear end rose up to normal), Marjorie is in the driveway, and when the bugs move off, we'll get her down to the lake, and explore in style. Met a neighbour at the grocery store and he said, "I hear you've got a new boat." Back in the village! Now, where to put boat-life stuff in land-life space. An ongoing process. I'm okay with the idea that I'll be discarding some more of what we packed and hauled. It's just the way it works.

The oldsters are in fine form, Randy's Mum, Auntie Mary and my Dad, and if you detect a smirk in the photo of Dad and me, it's because I'm in the process of taking the first game of cribbage.

It's a homecoming really full of relief and appreciation. We are happy to realize that we still love this place, and it feels so right to land here. We need to rest our bones and our brains for a bit, and we're not exactly winding down from the last few months, but we're getting there.

I've been to Frenchy's. Randy's just sitting down with a plate of fresh scallops for lunch. All's right with the world. Now somebody make an offer on the boat please.

A visit with Jill and Dean, aka Dill and Jean, in Cambridge. Vitamin R was shared.

We talked and talked and talked and talked.

And celebrated getting together again after...4 years?

Meat. Yay.

Someone else is driving the boat, but the Capt is watching.

First Keith's! those who like it, like it a lot.

Stuff that used to be in the car.

We both look like we're going to win this game, but one of us didn't.

Randy's new Lake Annis hat.

Homecoming celebration.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We're back in the Big D - Digby, Nova Scotia - at Randy's mum's house. I've made a token trip to the Frenchy's (bought a book) and Marj is in the kitchen watching Randy prepare fresh haddock for supper. Home to Lake Annis tomorrow. So glad to be back, even though it's gray and cold and blowing 40 knots. It's warm inside and no danger of dragging tonight.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Out of the water, one more time.

Takes a whole bag of these little dammers to get us through the last couple of days...

The Beverly Hillibillies hit the road. We had to unload, cull, and reload in this parking lot so Randy could see out of the back window.

Somewhere in South Carolina. Now that's friendly.

Ian at work on the Odyssey full of revellers on the Potomac.

Being tourists in DC.

Spa moment before hitting the I95 one more time. Cucumbers from last night's salad. Didn't do a bit of good.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Yesterday was haul day, and it seems like a week ago.

By 7 am, Randy was hauling me up the mizzen to stop and lash the wind generator, before I'd even brushed my teeth. The haul went well, thanks to Tracy, Roosevelt, Dennis and Dave. ND is resting quietly in the "Canadian" yard behind the marina,and it's very pretty, albeit very dusty, but lots of trees and grass around, and otherwise very clean. It was a brutally busy day, emptying and cleaning the boat, filling the car, many trips to the dumpster, and so many trips up and down the ladder with heavy stuff.

At the end, the last bits going into the car, well, it was like jamming bodies on the subway in Japan. We just shook our heads and pushed, and then I folded into the tiny space left in the passenger seat and went to drop one last bunch of freebies at the marina and say goodbye to the folks we'd met and helped us out in the last week. They were getting ready for a giant party and bbq, huge grills on wheels with large hunks of pig roasting and giving off wonderful smells. But we were done, left them the tail-end of our liquor supplies, and headed out.

It was so hard to drive away. Equal parts relief and awful distress. It was a bit like abandoning the boat, not knowing what's going to happen next. It will be easier when we know where she's going.

We made it 15 miles down the road to the Comfort Inn in Orange Park. Rum, and then extended showers, cause boy, we were filthy with dust from the yard. Both so tired we only slept a few hours and then lay there thinking useless thoughts...I forgot to tidy the drawer with the wine glasses...etc...etc.

Breakfast is included at the Comfort Inn, and we had coffee, tea, cereal, a danish and a bagel, all pre-packaged or in disposable stuff, and managed to generate 30 pieces of garbage just at breakfast. No recycling on offer.

Suitably caloried-up, we repacked the car. My mother was standing behind me, I swear, as we hauled half the stuff out and re-sorted and discarded and repacked. It happened every year at dawn in the driveway of 75 Dogwood in Scarborough as Mum and Dad packed the car for our annual trip to Nova Scotia. It's in the genes.

We left a big wheeled duffel bag and a cooler both mostly filled with clothes and junk and books that I guess we didn't need after all. The lady at the desk said that the housekeeping staff would take it all and share it around. What will they do with spare snorkel tubes?

The Subaru still squats aft, but Marjorie is secure on the roof and didn't move an inch all the way from northern Florida to Santee, South Carolina, which is where we are tonight. It's sort of like New Minas, without the charm.

What have we seen and heard on the way? Randy was accosted by a two women in the Publix store: "Would you eat collard greens with mashed potatoes?" "No," he says, never having run into a collard green. "See, I told you so," says one woman to the other and off they go.

Bumper sticker: "A lady with a gun has more fun."
Roadside bar: "Rehab Saloon."
Billboards: "Open heart surgery now available."
"Jesus is our accountant."
"Country Cookin makes you Good Lookin"
"Judgement Day May 21 - The Bible Guarantees It"
and at the Florida Citrus Center, you can purchase "Gator Head Wind Chimes." It was hard to drive by.

We ate fabulous bbq for lunch at Ken and Candi's BBQ, shared a serving of brisket, beans and coleslaw, and got a free sample of smoked turkey. Good eatin. Hoping for a big sleep tonight and north again tomorrow. On, on.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

I used to think that casuarina trees were pretty untidy looking, but after several years, I find them beautiful and feathery. Also prone to dying and falling over because of erosion on the ICW.

Pretty bridge in St. Augustine.

More urban motor sailing. We go to sleep listening to helicopter patrols.

Randy gets ready to varnish, and the next thing you know, there's a giant hatch of green-pooping bugs pasted all over the boat.

See below for short blog update...
You've gotta love how your computer knows where you are, and knows to provide you with ads from local businesses. This photo greeted me in my hotmail, urging me to click and get a coupon so I can eat at a local restaurant in Green Cove Springs. Whoooo, daddy. Get me some a Looks like they're preparing for a Klingon feast.

We are eating up canned goods and fridge goods as fast as we can before haulout. (So no restaurant trips, even though we've got a car.) I bought way too much emergency food for the Bahamas that we didn'ttouch. Canned carrots are to be avoided at any time, and three bean salad sounded like a good idea at the time. UHT milk, saltines, beans, just too much stuff. All going to the nice people who hang out in the boatyard at Green Cove Springs.

There's a table in the laundryroom for things you want to give away, and I've been in everyday with loads of stuff. I think people dash in once I exit to see what weird stuff I've dug up. They take it all though. I figure if we once thought it might be useful on a boat, they probably have the same outlook, and when they sell their boats, they'll make the return trip to the "free stuff" table.

We're running out of time, and we're running out of steam. Varnish had to wait until today, when the plague of bugs finally, mostly blew away. They were all over everything for about three days. Not biting, but they left little greeny-blue spots of bug-poop all over the boat.
There's satisfaction in noting that it's the last time we have to do all sorts of tiresome jobs. The car is going to be very, very full of our boating life stuff, in spite of the giant giveaway, and the logistics of getting the rowboat on the roof of the car ... well, there are many things that keep us awake at 2 am. We just want to be done and on the road.

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