Posted by: nosmokingsails | March 24, 2011

About to Leave Key West

Our (hopefully) last day in Key West is here!  Rob is busy fixing up the boat to be ready for our tomorrow departure while I am doing some work in the library and giving you one last update before we sail offshore for a while…

 

I just finished a mural at the new second shop for Eaton Bikes, where Rob worked as the head bike mechanic.  Here’s a couple shots of it:

You can see more of the mural on my personal website:

http://kristenringman.wordpress.com/art/

***

And now for more of Key West:

Bo’s Seafood Shack: how I wish more restaurants were made of trash!  So cool!

A really cool porch with orange curtains!

Definitely one of my favorite cemeteries…so peaceful and a nice place to run in solitude.

My favorite place to eat in Key West – all organic, and some amazing raw foods that I will miss badly when we leave!

(Speaking of food:)

A creative way I decided to eat Spirulina!  While working with the stray dogs in South India, my dear friend Ann taught me how to mix the deep green powder with curd (yogurt) in order to feed the puppies some intense vitamins.  (They were probably cuter than me with green all over their mouths after eating this!)

A pretty guest house called “The Banyan” on Whitehead Street.

A dog street performer who took dollar bills from people into his mouth and then placed them all in this bucket!  This seriously seemed to be the best way to make money in Key West!  The dog’s owner just strummed his guitar and didn’t really have to be impressive at all because people LOVED to give this dog dollars!

A really cute basset hound that another performer used to do tricks.  The hound liked to bark for a while and be told to do something many times before he ever did it, though!

The basset hound’s owner juggling fire way above our heads!

Fort Zachary Taylor and the greenish moat surrounding it.  I saw two baby loggerhead turtles swimming but they hid from me before I could get out my camera!  They were so beautiful, though.

A sign post by the beach at Fort Taylor.  This was my favorite beach in Key West, though I never actually swam here – just swam off our boat!

Some cool art along the bike path at Fort Taylor.

A pretty turtle art bike on showcase during the art bike auction at TSKW (The Studios of Key West).  Many other bikes were really beautiful and intricately painted, like the Beatles bike, but my phone couldn’t get great shots of any of them really!

A typical Key West sunset from the deck of our boat…

One of our favorite ships in Key West, the Jolly Rover, with red sails we plan to have one day!

Okay – that’s all I can do before we leave, wish us luck as we sail up the gulf stream to somewhere south of Cape Hatteras in (hopefully) one sail!  Rob’s friend Dan is with us to make things easier and split the watch shifts up a bit more.  We plan to duck into the ICW if we do hit some weather, though, and will be safe!

We plan to stop briefly in Norfolk, VA, before going offshore again to RI, so I may or may not be able to post then.

Much love to everyone…and we will see family and friends very soon!

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: nosmokingsails | March 7, 2011

Key West

Okay, I’m a really awful blogger and I haven’t blogged in over a month, and we have been in Key West since the first day of February!

What have we been doing here?

Well, the first three weeks passed pretty quickly with us searching for jobs (mostly for Rob, but even I tried to be a vet assistant!)…it took us three weeks before Rob fixed some treadmills at a gym and landed us free memberships for the rest of our time here and then proceeded to get a head bike mechanic position at a bike shop!  We were excited, but lately Rob works 65 hours a week and I’m working overtime, too, trying to make up hours for when we plan to sail north offshore.

We enjoy the gym memberships because of the free showers!  Before that, we had to pay $4 per shower at the docks.  Not fun.  And we also have to pay for dingy dockage here, $80 a month, which isn’t ridiculous but it sure makes us miss the free dingy dock on Block Island.  Our boat is also anchored across the main ship channel to the north-west of Key West, which means it’s a longer dingy ride to shore, and the wind and the waves can make it a wet dingy ride pretty easily.

I work mostly at the library, which sadly has no comfy couches or chairs for people to lounge in, but it is open most days, so that’s good.

I love the banyan tree in the library parking lot:

The other trees around town are also really cool.  Most of the houses literally look as if they are squeezing their way up between massive trees that seem to be the ones in charge here.  The stray chickens everywhere also seem to hold places of power (especially when some houses have a sign outside their fences telling tourists to help the locals by killing off and eating their stray chickens!).  Cats are also – everywhere.  Some clearly look like strays but others look like plush little toy pets.  I once spent the evening throwing bits of tuna at the shy ones, which they ate ravenously once I walked at least 5 feet away.

There are also some unusual restaurants here, like this one, which is parked in a gas station parking lot:

In general, we like Key West but I don’t think we love it yet.  I’m not sure I can ever stay in a place with no actual woods (even if the streets have almost as many trees as a forest), and no hiking trails within walking distance.  I miss nature.  And by nature, I don’t mean the rowdy tourists stumbling down the streets with open beer and mixed drinks spilling out of their hands.  That’s one thing we definitely strongly dislike about this place.  But we can avoid the (one) street with a bar on every block.

I do love the artsy side of this city – all over there are bikes painted with all kinds of things, pirate bikes, hippy peace bikes, polka-dotted bikes, and flowery palm tree bikes.  I love three-wheeled adult bikes that have a huge crate in the back so you can ride all over with shopping bags and all kinds of things with you!  I also love the cemetery, where so many graves are on top of the land in pretty white blocks of stone.  There’s a banyan tree there, too, that seems to cuddle all the graves under it and causes the ground to rise and fall around it.

I still haven’t made my way to Fort Zachary Taylor, where there are some hiking trails apparently, though it costs money to enter the park.

We’ll be here only a couple weeks more or so, and then we will be doing a super scary and exciting offshore passage north – speeding past all the places we stopped on the way down, hopefully even speeding past the creepy Cape Hatteras (but only if the weather is supposed to be PERFECT)…and we aim to reach RI by mid-April!  Hopefully, weather will not deter my dreams of being once again in the arms of my beloved Willow.

 

Stay tuned for more photos and stories about Key West, which I hopefully will get the chance to post before we leave!  Much love to the northerners we will be seeing soon!  And apologies to anyone on our way north that we won’t actually have the chance to stop and see!

Posted by: nosmokingsails | January 29, 2011

Trouble in the Upper Keys

While it only took Rob and I a few days to reach Islamorda, and motor into the Little Basin of the Upper Matecumbe Key, the wind in the keys proved to be fierce.

Here’s a couple shots along our way:

This is Key Largo’s very own pirate ship!  It’s name is Queen Anne’s Revenge II and it takes people on lovely sunset cruises!  (It was named after one of the famous pirate Blackbeard’s ships.)

And here’s what the green waters of the Keys look like when a storm is approaching on the horizon…(this is a view towards the tiny islands south of the Everglades).

Now the story: the day we arrived in Islamorda, we realized that we should motor into the Little Basin, which was surrounded by mangrove clusters and therefore more protected than the anchorage just north of it.  We took our dingy to shore and spent the day at the library.

When we got back to the boat that night in the dark, our boat was busy dragging anchor in the high winds.  We dragged anchor all the way to shore!  Luckily, instead of smashing into one of the docks, we landed against some mangrove trees.  Rob spent the entire night throwing anchors out and pulling us away from shore.

The next day we were able to motor farther out and we’ve spent a week here now and have not been blown to shore again.  Rob did spend another night throwing anchors to keep us in the middle of the basin, though.

Here’s a shot of the place where we crashed against the mangroves (and where we did not get a hole in our boat! Yay!):

It looks so peaceful here, but it was scary that night!

Then, a day later, I noticed our floor was wet and we lifted the panel to find our normally dry bilge filled with over 600 lbs of water.   Rob tasted it to make sure it wasn’t sea water and it was sweet. He opened the trash to find that I mistakenly dumped a nearly full bottle of maple syrup that had gone bad into the trash without pouring the syrup out first :(.  Our water tank had somehow been leaking for weeks probably, and all the water poured through the trash before filling the bilge.

Rob has spent the past many days getting the water out, diagnosing the problem to actually have just been a faulty pipe that he has now replaced, and cleaning everything up.  I’ve spent the past week at the library catching up on my editing job.  Fun.

We planned to leave here today, but once again, things aren’t finished when we would like them to be, so now we have to wait until tomorrow morning to head farther south.

Rob has a potential job in Key West, so we are hustling down there within the next few days.  I’m excited for larger grocery stores and hopefully a library with a much faster internet!  And finally, a place to STOP and REST for a month or more…the only thing missing right now is my doggie Willow.  (I am trying my best to not fly home to RI and bring him back here with me!)

I also miss snow more than I ever have.  Every time I leave New England for the winter, it snows more than ever, which makes me never want to leave.  I dream of the Little House on the Prairie winters  I remember seeing on TV as a child – where the snow was 10 feet high and they had to climb out the second floor windows to scramble over to the barn with the animals.  So amazing!  Maybe next year?

Posted by: nosmokingsails | January 29, 2011

Banyans

When I saw my first Florida Banyan tree, I really freaked out.  I’ve loved these trees since my first trip to India in 1999.  I even have a tattoo of one on my lower back.  I walked between the trunks of the second largest banyan tree in the world during that first India trip.  It was located down the street from the famous “City of Joy” in Calcutta.  It had over 1000 aerial roots digging themselves back into the dirt from the branches.  The central trunk had been cut out of the tree years before, but it still grew healthy and wild.  Banyans represent the tree of life for me more than any other tree because their branches just hang down and go back into the Earth and join the roots.  A true circle.

Little did I know, Florida has banyans, too!

This was the first banyan tree I saw from our deck as we motored towards Miami on the ICW:

And then when Mesa and I drove to the park, there was one street lined with banyan trees that reminded me of some of the streets in India.  I felt so at home beneath those trees!

A close-up of one roadside banyan…

A wider shot of the same tree – but here you can see the tiny road off to the left and on the right that glowing light looks like a doorway to fairie lands to me!

Down in Islamorda, on Upper Matecumbe Key, I found another banyan by the side of the road:

Light just seems to play when I find banyans…like real magic.  I’ll be out searching for more of them as we head farther south…

Posted by: nosmokingsails | January 29, 2011

ICW to Biscayne Bay

Here are some photos (finally) of the ICW south of Vero Beach:

The blue-green waters along the boat…I spend hours on deck leaning between our hulls…just looking.

A cutie little Saloon where you can just tie up and eat! (There were a lot of restaurants along the southern Florida ICW where you can tie up…though we were too busy motoring south to bother!)

Okay, maybe this house made me a TINY bit envious of those people who can afford such luxuries…(though the ICW is a bit crowded down here, and when we do have a house, all the animals I want to adopt will need LAND for running!)

Downtown Miami.  A lot of tall gray things and many boats in the ICW here – it gets prettier as we motor down Biscayne Bay, to the Coconut Grove area where Mesa lives…

In Biscayne Bay, we spent one afternoon sailing with two guys we met through Mesa, Joe and Tyler.  I was so excited when the boys put up my favorite red spinnaker sail to head back to Miami!

As the sun set, we sailed onwards to anchor back in our spot north of Dinner Key in the darkness.

One day Mesa took me walking in the park south of Coconut Grove, where there were both alligators and crocodiles (though we saw neither).  Crocodiles live in the salt water and they do attack people at times, so we had to be careful!  Alligators only go after dogs and children, however.

These clusters of mangroves on a beach looked as if they could get up and walk around on their little legs at any time!  Ah!

During my walk/run through the mangroves, I spotted this little bird amongst the muddy roots.

When we did leave Miami, it was the morning after January 19th’s full moon.  Here’s my last shot of south Miami and the setting Moon:

Rob was sleeping as I pulled up the anchor at dawn and motored us south across Biscayne Bay – here’s my view of the sunrise:

Posted by: nosmokingsails | January 14, 2011

Delray Heroes

On the 6th of January, we were busy motoring through bridge after bridge after leaving Vero Beach and then West Palm Beach behind us.  Just after going through Delray Beach we suddenly had a problem with our engine!  Rob turned on the dingy engine and tied it up close to the boat so our dingy kept us moving slowly forwards while I steered and Rob went into the engine compartment to investigate.

It was our propeller.  We had to anchor at mile 1042, inside this tiny mam-made lake.  Within 10 or 20 minutes of our anchoring we got hit with a huge 10 minute lightning and rain and thunder storm!  Luckily, when the anchor dragged, Rob let out more line and we got within 20 feet of a dock filled with motorboats but we didn’t drag further!  It was scary!  If the anchor didn’t grab on somehow, we totally would have been smashed against the docks in the 50-60 mile an hour winds!

We ended up calling up Marina Delray and these two amazing guys there were able to find us a new propeller within 24 hours and one of them actually drove over to our lake and gave it to Rob the very next day!  Their names were  Humberto and Patrick,  our own Delray Heroes!

We were able to make it to Ft. Lauderdale on the 7th, and as we were motoring into town looking for a place to anchor, our friend Mike from another boat, “Bay Tripper”, came up beside us and led us to the sweet little Lake Sylvia where he and his wife and their infant baby were already anchored!  It was so nice to be there for a couple days, get some groceries, and spend time with the “Bay Tripper” family.

On the 9th, we left Ft. Lauderdale and made it to Rob’s friend Mesa’s house in Coconut Grove, on the south side of Miami by Dinner Key.  And guess what?  Our third gated community! This is getting weird…but things do come in threes.

We have been in Miami for nearly a week now and plan to stay around til Tuesday or so, and then, although we originally planned to go to Bahamas from Key Largo – we are thinking of heading to Key West first instead.  It’s a bit easier to try and hit Bahamas on our way north anyhow, and later in spring.  And in Key West there may be some work we can do to help pay for those pesky repairs we’ve had to make on the boat.

Stay tuned for photos and other words…and sorry for the long gap in posts!

Posted by: nosmokingsails | December 28, 2010

Lazy Days in Vero

Vero Beach.

We came to Florida with words written by our previous trimaran’s owner, John, claiming that we should anchor near G 91 marker of the ICW outside Wabasso and take the “Jungle Trail” to the beach.  Little did we know, the “Jungle Trail” was a sand road, lined with fancy homes, golf courses, gated communities, and wildlife preserves.

We ended up anchoring more so between R 100 and R102, where two small mangrove and pine islands blocked our boat from view of the docks and homes along the edges of the land.  We found a really private little place, on Christmas Day, and spent that day alone with me reading Christmas stories aloud to Rob and watching some of our favorite Christmas movies.

Side Note:  We are IN LOVE with this season’s Family Guy Christmas episode called “The Road to the North Pole”.  Please go to Hulu. com, whether you are deaf or hearing, and watch this episode!!!!  Look up Family Guy and this episode is the latest! (It has a variety of subtitles available for the deaf!)  It is a bit morbid and the sense of humor takes some acclimatization, but it’s amazing and beautiful and we adore it.

Before I get ahead of myself, (which yes, I already have), we spent a few days in Titusville, FL.  We visited the Titusville Municipal Marina, which was so friendly and sweet.  We really enjoyed making friends there and connecting with some fellow snow birds from the north.  We also were able to meet up with my friend Heera, whom I had only known for a few weeks that I spent in Kalimpong, North India, back in 2005.  It was incredible to see her after so long and exchange stories of her time in America going to grad school and my life since I saw her.  We also met a wonderful woman, Shell, who was our waitress at a special restaurant called  Klober’s Cobbler Eatery.  She used to work at a hostel, so she was able to smell travelers from across the room.  And she ended up inviting us into her home and letting us take showers!  (Tho she wasn’t slow to reward the man from the Marina who told us to go to her restaurant with a free dinner there).

We have been anchored in the same place in Wabasso/Vero Beach area since Christmas because we spent a couple days with one of our favorite cousin’s of Rob’s, Billy, and his son Kashi and wife Amy, where they lounged on our boat with us, played uno, and watched dolphins.  They also drove us to get supplies like our new winch from West Marine!  We still need the hardware to install but now we also have a generator.  (Though we still need a part to make it charge our batteries….ridiculous how these thing are – each new tool or appliance requires parts we didn’t expect and more trips to hardware stores are required…it is great we have friends!).

Now we are spending time once again with our New York City buddies, Dave and Mami.  Dave’s mother happened to live, not in the center of Vero Beach, where we assumed we would be sailing today.  But she lives right off Jungle Trail Road!  They are actually .6 nautical miles north of our current location!  Crazy!  So we don’t have to move at all, not for a week or so, since we planned to spend time with Dave and Mami while they are here.  Tonight, in fact, we might just be lounging in a jacuzzi.  And tomorrow, a nice holiday party for the members of Dave’s mother’s very own gated community!  (Why are we like magnetically drawn to gated communities?!  This is strange to us, but like any new path or a new river we happen to be motoring down – we have learned to truly “go with the flow”….)

Posted by: nosmokingsails | December 22, 2010

Waves, Marshes, and Palms

So sorry to have taken so long to post here. We have been busy getting to Florida!

We left Dataw Island at 3:30pm on December 14th, and sailed away into the ocean once again. Both of us had been yearning to get back out there and actually SAIL again. The NOAA reports said the wind would be a positive NW 10-15 knots, and the seas did not look very high, despite the windy conditions offshore in the days before our departure.

I didn’t start to feel afraid until it had been dark for a few hours and the boat was shaking more than it usually does. The starboard ama kept bouncing out of the water and slapping back down again. It’s done it before, but this time I was so scared I cried for a few minutes, and then it was like, the Fear curled up inside me like a sleeping wild animal for a while.  And I was able to drive for a good few hours in the darkness before Rob took over.

While I was sleeping, or trying to sleep, I kept telling myself the boat was NOT going to flip over, it was not going to flip over.  But sleeping in the starboard bunk inside meant I felt it every time that ama came out of the water and slapped back into it again.  Little did I know, Rob was at the wheel watching the occasional 8 foot wave splash over our entire deck (this has never happened to us before).  Luckily, by dawn, when I took over again, the winds and waves had subsided somewhat.   We were 10 miles offshore for most of the sail and during that night the worst that did happen was our main sail winch (the main sail was down) exploded before Rob’s eyes.  Losing the winch made it so that we can’t go offshore again until we replace it.   It’s so important to have two working winches on the mast – as a safety measure besides hauling up the sails!  And if one of the winches exploded, the other could just as easily.

Ironically, we ended up motoring into a shallow Georgia inlet with the ocean as calm as a mirror of blue and green and silver.  Pelicans flew and floated around us along with the gulls and cormorants.  We eased into the bright yellow Georgia marshes as if that rough night behind us had been a mere mid-winter’s dream.

That sail was 24 hours long in total, and then we spent a few days in those Georgia marshes.  Tucked away down a creek where a baby and mother dolphin played and two palm trees watched over the blades of grass.  We relaxed in warm sun and still shivered at night, but it was refreshing to shiver a little bit less anyways.  And we got some work done on the boat.

When we left our little haven, however, we ended up motoring through brilliantly beautiful fog.  Dolphins joined us and swam between our hulls.  Hardly any boats were in sight for the many miles we covered before anchoring and then motoring again through another gray day of light rain.

My mom asked if I saw the wild horses and armadillos on Cumberland Island, but sadly, that island was covered in fog along with the rest of the land and waters around us.  We passed through Fernandina Beach on the 19th, only stopping briefly for gas and….showers!  They were great showers.  And this meant we only went 5 days without a shower!

It was cold that evening in Florida but certainly not as frigid as the Carolinas.  And the next day we set off again and covered 55 miles.  That night we anchored across from a beautiful palm-filled park and watched the full moon rise over the trees.  We wanted to see the Eclipse, such an amazing thing to be happening on this wonderful Solstice!  But I woke up at 1:15am with a headache, and it was really cold outside.  I managed to drink down my tea and sit in my sailing gear on the wet roof of our cockpit and watch the moon become filled with a red shadowy glow.  I named many new constellations in my head, watched some shooting stars, and thought about the sacredness of it all.

We slept late this morning, but still managed to get in a decent amount of miles today, and are currently anchored just below Ponce de Leon Inlet.  I was told my late aunt Leslie used to visit the town just across the water, New Smyrna Beach, so I feel her spirit beside me under the light of the moon shining down like a white sun.

As part of our Yule celebration, Rob made sushi for me, which was yummy.  And I’ve been frolicking around the deck today in my starry green dress.  Yes – it is finally warm enough for no sleeves during the afternoon!  (Only in bright sunlight, however.)

Pictures will have to be added in another post.  But one other exciting thing is that Rob went ashore from that first Florida anchorage and brought me back a huge palm leaf that looks like a giant fan.  I tied it up to the mizzen mast immediately.  Our boat now looks a bit like a tribal jungle warrior, and we burn sage so much that the image truly fits us.

Happy Yule and all the other holidays to everyone reading.  Much love and blessings, and much snow to those that want it (for the first time in my life, I don’t want to see snow – the lush green trees, the sleek blue-gray of the dolphin’s bodies as they dive, and the snow white of the egrets is plenty festive enough for me).

The photo of Rob’s palm gift to me:

Posted by: nosmokingsails | December 13, 2010

Dataw Island, SC

If you read my last post, you might be feeling bad for us right now.  Please do not despair, we have found a strange little refuge on Dataw Island: where the upper-class people get to live in quiet security and play golf until they fall over and die.  A seriously heavenly place for the people who dream of unlimited golfing, tennis, yachting (it’s not called boating here, it’s called yachting), swimming pools, jacuzzi bathing, and even croquet on brilliant green manicured lawns framed with palm trees and live oaks with their Spanish moss hanging like bits of fancy sea green lace.  The only requirement to live here is that people must always wear white croquet outfits!  And the only danger here is sending your golf ball flying into one of the little ponds and actually trying to retrieve it.  You can lose a hand!  Hmmm, but what creature could be doing this?!

Is it a rabid dolphin?

Or maybe there is something special monster on this island, just to keep the golfers on their toes?

Okay, I’ll tell you – it’s just a wee old alligator.  Yes, they live with alligators.  Alligators who apparently lose their way during the warmer months and end up in private pools or garages or even homes!  What fun!  Upper-class alligators!

The only other danger here might be the guy who continuously upgrades his gold cart in order to win the golf cart RACES they have here.  Chris Huber.  Seriously, this rouge man sped by us one day and disappeared around a bend faster than any car!  (Well, maybe not that fast, but smaller things look faster…don’t they?)

Rob and I, or mostly me, were a little nervous about coming here to visit my Uncle Richard, but Richard and his wife Valerie have taken us in like the cute little strays that we are.  They’ve given us a hotel-style bedroom and private bath, and unlimited laundry!  They’ve also taken us to restaurants and shown us the nature sites around the island (which are also amazing, and more to our liking than the golfing).  I’ve gone running and tried to spy on the alligators in the ponds but they are in hiding right now.  I bet they have little condos to snuggle into down there.  With fireplaces, of course!

We were also a little nervous about the Chihuahua we heard lived here.  I mean, really, is that even a dog?  All 8 pounds of it?  We discovered delight in the little creature named Daisy, though.  And she smells just as doggie as my Willow, which comforts me in his absence.

Uncle Richard and a live oak tree that is over 400 years old.  Amazing tree that guards the cemetery where the old owners of Dataw Island’s plantation are buried.

The thick arm of the old oak, spreading itself over the graves and covered in Spanish moss.  I think I could handle being laid down beneath this view forever.

Uncle Richard with Daisy!  I thought he looked like a cross between my father and a young Santa Claus!  Here he might be saying, “Look at what YOU could have under your Christmas tree!”

In the vein of showing older men with doggies, and so you can get a look at my daddy, here here is with Willow on top of our favorite NH mountain:

My dad looks a bit like a stray here, too, but I think one week on Dataw Island will clean him up good!  If you want some more fun, please listen to the country song: “Redneck Yacht Club” and gaze at this picture of my daddy.  It’s funny also because he really is NOT a redneck at all (yes, he can play golf with the best of them, though I think he might not be as adept at racing golf carts – in my head, I see my poor mother flying out the side of one as he races around a tight corner!  Ah!).

Anyways – we will be leaving this heavenly place as soon as the wind is right.  Stay tuned for further adventures…

Posted by: nosmokingsails | December 10, 2010

What we are REALLY doing here, SC

Okay, I feel like I need to clarify something here: my dear grandmother called this trip a honeymoon for us and I need to explain that it’s definitely not a honeymoon!  I think I can best do that by describing some of the past week of our journey (and that’s what this is — a journey).

First – we haven’t showered in over 10 days now.  This isn’t an unusual thing for people who don’t elect to stop at the $60-80 a night marinas.  We have a tight as a thong budget and we do also feel more secure about anchoring down in higher winds (which only bash boats against the docks).  And anchoring down is more private and closer to nature, which we love.

The whole song and dance of anchoring and then deciding to just east dinner and go to bed by 9pm (or sometimes 7pm) so that we can wake up at 6am and leave by dawn — or deciding to stay in a town and hunt down gas stations to hitchhike to (cheaper gas than marinas), and libraries for charging our computers or whatever else we need — is usually exhausting but not without an undercurrent of excitement.

However – when it gets to be 18 degrees at night and only 36 degrees during the day, there is a dark shadow over all the pretty marshes and pelican-filled skies.  We don’t have any heat, except for a cockpit that gets warm in the sunlight.  Sometimes we are trapped on a beach by a town with no cafes or libraries within reasonable walking distance (which means within 2 miles), and no way of replenishing our water tank.  And sometimes Rob needs to stay away all night (sleeping for one hour at a time), while I sleep fitfully alone in the bed, so that he can keep us off the beach (if we need to leave at a time that isn’t high tide), or to continuously check the anchor situation (if we have poor holding or if the winds keep changing and swinging the boat around).  We both get grumbly and drink our morning coffee with gloves on, using the stove like a little bonfire when we need more warmth.

And 10 days without showers is not romantic, either.  Although, this trip really has shown me how to be even more closer to “natural” than I ever was.  I’ve been wearing the same 3-5 layers of clothing for over a week because it is nearly every warm thing I have with me, which really doesn’t make me as dirty as I feel.  I haven’t run a 32 mile race recently or rolled in the dirt.  All I do is stand behind a wheel all day or walk a few miles at a time!  I’ve also learned that my hair actually gets less greasy after 10 days of not washing it.  And I don’t feel as conscientious about myself in these strange new towns.  I’m able to walk past all the normal people with their make-up and squeaky clean bodies and perfect clothes like a proper sailor, who has stopped worrying about how her hair looks or whether her outfit looks silly.  I wish more people forgot about these things and kept their eyes on the dolphins splashing in the water, or the way the live oak trees and the palm trees look side by side.  I think most people are probably like the well-groomed palms, standing in a perfect line along a highway, and I am a live oak covered in Spanish moss , witchy and wild.

Regardless of whether we have gotten used to the lack of hygiene, the cold is one more thing that kills romance (even when you sleep in a 20 degree double sleeping bag).

This trip isn’t about stardust or moonbeams (though we have seen more of that on the water).  This trip isn’t about a fancy hotel or dinner by candlelight (though we have eaten that way a few times).

This trip is not a honeymoon – it is a journey.  A vision quest of a sort.  It’s much closer to hiking a long mountain trail, only instead of 60 lb. backpacks, we have a 2 ton boat we need to get safely through canals and down wide rivers.  A baby we have to care for and watch ceaselessly, or else we might hit a rock and become filled with water and the journey is over.  Our journey of migration.  To the south: where the “honeymoon” might just be waiting on some island or another.

Please don’t take this to mean we aren’t happy or fulfilled by this journey, though.  We are learning things about each other and ourselves – like our limits and what happens when we are pushed WAY past them – and we are learning about our needs (and which needs we can actually let go of, like good little Bodhisattvas).

This is similar to the times I’ve spent in India or Kenya, in the way we are traveling in this new watery culture, sometimes learning so much it hurts or we burn out for the night like the snuffing out of the warm blue ring of fire from the propane stove.

Even the bad days are indeed worth it.  However – you might see us rushing to Florida in the coming weeks (or days?) because the cold really is one of the major reasons we are doing this – and it’s breathing down our necks right now, like the snow-covered monster it truly is.

In a way, we almost feel as if we are running from a war or something up north.  (And there really is exhilaration in this running, like my barefoot running over trails, where sometimes I fall down and bleed, but something, a fire inside, keeps me going.  And going.  The beauty of the next tree, or the discovery of what’s beyond the next bend in the path, or, in this case, the river, where dolphins guide us merrily along.

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