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.



  1. The warmth MUST be right around the corner!!!! I am watching weather reports for that bit of news and will light a candle with celebratory thoughts of you and Rob basking in warmth.
    Sounds like you have chosen a hard and good life!!!
    Love Terry

  2. Hope you and Rob have many more dolphin pods guiding you along the way to the warmer , turquoise waters of the Bahamas. I am sure it will be worth the journey. Love you and miss you, MOM

  3. loved reading your personal story. keep safe! aunt debi

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