September 17, 2013 , Port Louis Marina, Grenada
"Well dear..." says Dave, sipping his morning coffee, "today looks like a perfect day"
"A perfect day..." queried I, "how's that?"
From where I sit, every day looks like a pretty perfect day, especially when the morning starts off with me holding a hot cup of espresso java (even minus the cream).
"Well, there's not too much wind at the moment".
"And doesn't look like rain..."
"And the water in the marina is pretty calm..."
"So, how do you feel about heading up the mast?"
"Gee, love that coffee... I thought we were going for a walk?" I asked, trying to change the subject.
And so, coffee drank and a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and Canadian Back Bacon later (after all, you have to have one last meal, just in case, right?), Dave begins what turned out to be a very long process of getting me all rigged up so I can go up the mast.
Out comes the dark green Boatswain's chair. First he hooked me up with two separate lines, double checking the clamps and knots,
"Just in case one of them let's go".
"IN CASE one of them lets go?" I repeated?
Dave dances around me for a while, mumbling and hemming and hawing, until all was perfectly to his satisfaction, and then he double checks them again.
Then he took out the tools. Yippe... He knows how much I love to play with tools.
A few moments later I was armed with a couple of screwdrivers,
"Just in case you get up there and need to tighten something..."
He then tied them to each other, and to the chair, just in case they were to fall out of the pocket, or out of my hands, and end up being gravity propelled, pointy end down, towards Dave's head? Seems like two of us could get very hurt doing this type of thing. Should this post come with a warning of "do not try this at home?"
In the other pocket went a few black tie wraps (black are best for UV protection) and pair of pliers/cutters.
"Oh, honey, go get my camera please... " and when he came back, I snapped a shot, and placed the strap over my shoulder.
All rigged up, and dripping sweat in the hazy morning sunshine, I smiled and waved to the passer-by's who smile back at me as they figure "better her than me". Dave heads aft and steps into the cockpit, starting the laborious task of winching me up, higher and higher, and I have to admit, I'm kind of pretty darn excited about being elevated to dizzying new heights. He has that effect on me...
He winches me up. One turn, grunt, second turn, grunt... Stop. Turn, turn, grunt. Stop.
"What..." he peeks out from under the dodger...
"You forgot to kiss me good-luck...!"
I could just HEAR him sigh. But I did see him squint all lovingly like at me, glare of the morning sun in his eyes, and get back to the challenge of hoisting me higher and higher. Grunt, winch, turn, stop.
Maybe I shouldn't have had those amazingly greasy gravy filled scruinchy cheese poutines back in Quebec City??
Turn, grunt, lift, semi-turn, grunt. Dave is starting to sweat. Maybe HE shouldn't have had that second helping of Donair's at Tony's Donair back in Halifax??
I crane my head backwards and my eyes scan the sky around me, wispy white clouds floating aimlessly by, and the very tall, silver mast looms overhead as a point of reference. It somehow looks like a never-eneding way and Up and Up I go, one winch turn at a time, totally enjoying the view.
Dave pokes his head out of the shaded cockpit, and yells,
"How YOU doing??"
"GOOD, keep going"...
Pretty Port Louis Marina. In St George's, Grenada.
Maybe it was the height that made me lose my mind and before I could think it through quite properly, I allowed myself to unclamp my knees from their tight hold of the mast, I let my arms let go of their hold and fall to the side, and then up in the air, and I let myself swing swing to and fro, gently and all that... squeeeal... you really couldn't wipe the grin off my face at this point in time.
"Woo-hoo !!" I yell,
"What... ?" Says Dave, "WHAT ?"
However, I had a job to do and focus I must. My first task was to reposition the radar reflector off the first set of spreaders, hook another tie-wrap on each end oh, and let's take some pictures. Perhaps I'll have a drink too, but damn, I forgot the water bottle on deck !
Break over, it was time to take me up higher, and so I yell at the Capt'N to keep going... what was he doing in the cockpit, having a break ??
Up we go, one winch turn at a time, up, up (grunt) and up... we reached the second set of spreaders.
"Looks good, Capt'N..."
Should've brought the stainless cleaner and wire brush to scrape off some rust...
At the very top of the mast, the windex tried to point in the direction of the non-existant wind. All the wiring looked good. And the camera blinked red as the batteries ran out of power.
And so I sat, for a split second in time, just inches away from the top of the mast, changing the batteries. Smiling. Breathing in the zen of the moment and capturing that memory forever.
Batteries changed and rigging check complete, I signalled to Dave to bring me down. One bumpy inch at a time. Bump, bump, down, bump, down.
And so it was, as Dave had predicted, a fantastically great day, even though we never did go for that walk.
September 15, 2013 , Port Louis Marina, Grenada
"Welcome to Grenada" smiled the very toothless Grenadian man, as we trudged out of the airport, "you need a cab, mon?" We had already made arrangements and quickly smiled back "Thanks, but no thanks, we have a ride" and sure enough, there was Joe George and his trusty white van, waiting for us.
The next morning as we were sitting in the cockpit, enveloped by the humid, hazy sunshine, happily sipping our freshly made espresso coffee, we were greeted with more smiles as a few locals passed by our boat, "Welcome back to Grenada, Capt'N, welcome"... and we greeted them back with smiles and a "Good Morning".
Without missing a soca beat, they continued "you need your boat washed, Capt'N? Hull scrubbed? Boat waxed? I can do that, mon, I come back tomorrow?". And we smiled, as we thanked them, and said "Thank you, no, we got it, man !"
Putting our boat back together was going to require a list or two, but I think the biggest challenge was just to remember how to manoeuvre around each other, without bumping into each other, in our presently very cluttered 40 feet of space.
We started with the very obvious task of unpacking the luggage, and like opening a can of worms, the "stuff" we brought back, just spilled out as the zippers came unzipped. Ziplock baggies were unlocked, bubble wrap off, and our things were quickly placed into piles.
I am happy to report that the vacuum bags we'd purchased sure did a great job. What was once a very bulky comforter, blanket and some extra towels,
quickly got the air sucked out of them as they magically shrunk into a rock-hard piece of plastic to be stowed under our mattress.
A quick cursory inspection proved there were thankfully no issues with anything we'd left behind in the boat. No evidence of bugs. A few small rust spots on the stainless faucets and knobs found in the heads, that, quickly came off with the stainless cleaner. No mold. We wiped things down again, and Dave sighed happily as the engine purred to life.
First order of business was to re-install the bimini and dodger that Michael had re-stitched during our absence and had thoughtfully brought back right away so as to provide shade for our work in progress.
A lunchtime reunion with friends Doug and Wendy over wings and chicken roti at the Yacht Club was great fun. They offered up the use of their dinghy (as ours was still on the bow of Banyan), so we could hop across the way to Foodland to get some provisions for the next few days.
Before we could even disembark from the borrowed dinghy, we needed to remember how to drive it with confidence, how to come alongside the rickety wharf, and as we were trying to do all that, a young local was already by our side, "Welcome, welcome. I have some fruit, you buy some fruit, mon"? and we looked at each other, Dave still in the dinghy, and I've got one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock. Let me clamber out gracefully I thought to myself, before I figure out what he's selling and for how much. "Here try some, try some, mon, it's freshly picked..."
If only I could remember what it was called, but it was similar to a lychee fruit... a little fuzzier on the tongue though.
Moments later, dinghy was locked, and we were ready to cross the busy street, when the dishevelled lady who had been standing there, started to jabber at us. "You goin' to the stor', I need coking ol. I need me some cokin' ol, you buy me som'?"
We got inside the store and giggled as we walked through the aisles, ya, we're back in Grenada. Dave went one way, and I t'other, and as we arrived at the cash, I noticed he had picked up the cooking oil for the lady. And as our provisions are being rung through, the jabberin lady mysteriously appears behind us at the cash register, with a purchase of some bananas, a packet of something or other and a can of tuna.
We paid for our stuff, and started walking away, and she rushes up behind us. "You have my cokin' ol'?" and we continued across the busy street, in the heat, with cars honking as they rounded the corner. Nothing like being chased for some cokin' ol'...
"Scuse me, you have cokin' ol', you buy for me?". I placed my bags on the ground and as I went through the bags, I found the cooking oil, along with, surprise surprise, a can of tuna, that I know neither one of us had purchased, as tuna has been banned from our boat due to excessive indulgence on our voyages south last year.
I handed the bottle of "cokin ol" to Dave, who handed it to her. Then she continues on "You have my tuna". This was not a question, but a statement. "No, I don't think so" I remarked, trying my darndest to play innocent.
"You don't understand, you have my can of tuna, the cash lady took my tuna, it's in yo' bag".
I'm thinking t'weren't the cash lady that threw in the can of tuna halfway through our order, t'were this lady herself trying to pull a fast one on us. Wasn't the cokin' ol enough?
"Yes, there's a can of tuna in this bag", I said.
"You don't understand, that's my can of tuna, the cashy lady put it in there".
"Yes you're right, it's your can of tuna, we didn't buy one".
She's starting to get agitated, "that's my can of tuna".
"Yes, it is. But we paid for it"
"You don't understand, it's my can".
This was going to go on forever, and it was hot. I looked at Dave, who looked at back at me.
"How much was the tuna?" and before she could think, she said "it was four dollars".
"Alright then, give me four dollars and I'll give you your can of tuna". She continued a little quieter this time "you don't understand, the cash lady put it in there".
And this time I had had enough, "No, you don't understand. We bought you your cokin' ol'. We paid for the tuna. You give me four dollars, and I'll give you the can of tuna".
She walked away, knowing her scheme was over. We dinghied back, put the provisions in the cold fridge, just before the skies opened up and the showers hit with full force.
We are happy to be back onboard, allowing the very gentle lull of the water sway us to sleep at night. There's still lots to be done however a few items got crossed of our lists. We have lots to be thankful for, including break-time that included two of our very favourite things...
Welcome to Grenada !
September 14, 2013 , Port Louis Marina, Grenada
We left home to come home.
Life for the past few months was lived in what was, for a very long time, home. We spent our time visiting with friends and family, which is another kind of home. We travelled through different provinces to what was once home before, and realized that memories are a different kind of home. And now we've come back to our Banyan, a current and very different choice of home.
We are, at the moment feeling a little lost between worlds, true gypsies I suppose as we feel we don't quite belong anywhere. And so we're left wondering just what is home?
Our journey "home" started early in the morning, and we were a tad anxious when we saw the airline attendant affix the bright orange sticker indicating "heavy load" on our suitcases, and we eyed each other warily, yet did a silent dance of joy when she informed us, that after all that serious shopping and stuffing and wrapping of stuff with bubble wrap and ziploc bags, our luggage weighed in at just point zero three and point zero two pounds (respectively) UNDER the required weight restrictions of the flight scale. Bonus!
After a few weather delays both flights departed successfully and we finally arrived, along with our very heavy luggage, in the very dark of night with insanely familiar scents (this is Spice Island after all) and sounds (remember the honking cabs and roosters crowing?), with its palpable humid lush green heat that is St George's, Grenada.
You can just imagine two tired and sweaty travellers (Dave was wearing jeans and socks, after all), arriving at Port Louis Marina, and walking the last few steps on the maze of dark docks of night to get to F (faraway) dock, heaving our heavy luggage bags onto a forlorn Banyan as she sat in her berth, steady and safe, waiting to welcome us home.
We opened the glass companionway that is the door to our home, without a whisper of wind to be felt anywhere, and into the depths of darkness and heat that was our sauna of a home we crawled, found a bag of chips (BBQ !!) that had to do for a midnight snack, along with a bright yellow surprise of "welcome home" banner from friends, and once we connected to the Collective, discovered that we obviously missed our very own welcome back party, complete with jell-o shots (thanks to Mike and Rebecca and fell into bed, exhausted, as we tried to uncramp our bodies and legs from the very small airline seats that we'd spent much of the day in.
Ahh, we sighed, as we fell into bed. We're going to miss our home away from home. We're going to seriously miss our family and friends that we call home. And yet, we're glad to be home.
July 22, 2013 , Dartmouth, N.S.
I never dreamed there was a possibility such as this, or of an Adventure such as this. Now I can't imagine a life other than this.
Dave and I left Halifax almost a year ago this week, and sailed and motored and motor-sailed ALL the way to Grenada. Which is kind of truly and really, pretty mind-boggling !!
Our year has been filled with Adventures, A bit of Boredom, Lots of Change, Dynamic Duo in the face of Diversity, Fun-Filled Friendships....
And after almost 365 days of life on Banyan, travelling on the ocean's vast lane highways, and with over 4600 nautical miles now under our belt, what do we have to say, other than Yee-Ha, Wow, and OMG?
Just what has happened to us as during this time? Well, re-reading our blogs, we know what has happened. But what, if anything, has happened to us as a result of all this? Have we changed, and how?
I hemmed and hawed and with pencil to paper and eraser in hand when Dave politely asks,
"What ARE you doing?"
"Why trying to list the side effects of cruising" I happily responded, to which he replied in all seriousness,
"There are side effects?"
Well, we've become water saving, space hoarding minimalists, forget to wear our shoes when we go to land, bathing in the biggest bath-tub ever is normal, still can't catch fish for supper, have an unnatural fear of lurking barracuda that follow Banyan and constantly scare us while snorkelling, sun kissed long haired gypsy-hippy'd fools? All for the cause of wanting to Live our Dream?
We used to live in a three level house and sometimes felt that that wasn't big enough, large enough with room enough to hold all of me, my life, all that was important to me, my husband, my clothes and oh, lets not forget my shoes. "In that order?" asked Dave noting that he'd been tossed in there somewhere between my clothes and my shoes. Ah, the womanly price of glamour, right? And no, cruising is nothing like Glamping.
With time we went from two households to one, then none and eventually we put all that was left of our stuff INto and ONto 40 feet of boat, and waved bye-bye as we sailed away from home, IN our home (and only half of the shoes we owned, plus one).
"What's the side effect in that?" Dave asked as he's waiting for me to find that replacement thing-a-ma-jiggie we know we packed and brought with us.
"Well, I know it's in here somewhere..." I said, "just give me a second to find it. I mean we live in 40 feet... how long could it take?" and he laughs as I twist my body into a serious pretzel look-alike in order to dig down and deep and most likely upside down to find the IT we' re looking for. So it's official, we're now acrobats!
And speaking of IT, since we couldn't find IT, we now have to go to the store and hope to buy IT. If we need an item or something breaks we can't just jump in the car and go to the store that we are used to being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and find IT in the seventh aisle of similarly related items where you can feel the stress mount as you want to ensure you get the best product at the best price, bring it back only to find out there's a part or screw or two missing.
Now-a-days, we clamber into dinghy, and if we're lucky we remember to put on our shoes and close the hatches (always close the hatches !!), then try and find the store, sweating the uphill walk in blaring sun and heat, only to find out it's Siesta time. So we grab a beer at the nearest bar, lime with the locals as we wait, and then head back and although the sign says open at 3:00, it's 4:00 and the door is still closed. So you go back and have another beer. That's island time. Then you go home and try again tomorrow.
Living life on Island Time. What a concept. In our land-lubbing life we were driven to get ten things done, at once no less, to make room for ten more that needed doing and all the while multitasking at twenty other things, and somehow missing the point to it all.
"Today was a good day" I say.
"Why?" says he.
"We got our laundry done?!"
"Does that imply that we're getting kind of lazy?"
Getting provisions, doing laundry, shopping for IT, all have become major events where one task can easily (if all goes well) take all day, and usually requires celebratory drinks at the end of it all. Oh my, I feel we may be getting close to becoming alcoholics?
And ah, sipping sundowners, what a novel idea. The whole world should stop and sip on sundowners with fellow friends and neighbours as a way to end the day. Most times it involves meeting people from all anchors of life, forging friendships while watching sunsets, sharing adventures and opinions and munching on appetizers.... only to leapfrog away as soon as the weather changes and the winds blow everyone to new and different destinations. But somehow knowing deep down that the next time you meet it will be some other place and time and it will be just as much fun as if you've never parted ways.
But it's also about NOT being there for birthday cake or Sunday dinners with family and friends "back home" that somehow even if you had a stable WiFi connection as your boat swings in the blowing winds, Skype wouldn't help to give you the hug you so desperately want and need.
We used to be motivated by schedules, a watch and deadlines. Now we walk and talk and breathe the weather and the wind shifts rule our lives. Analyzing five different weather reports at once might help us determine what time of day or night we need to leave, how far we might get, and the compass rose provides direction on how land can best shelter us for the night. Sailing can be romantic and breath-taking as we spot the whales or play at the bow with the dolphins, but scary as we watch for weather and water spouts and sudden squalls and hope never to experience a man overboard.
Coming back to land-lubbing life this past week, we've felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the Abundance that surrounds all of us, do you see it?
It's made us feel a little bit lost and somewhat in limbo. This life of (some) unfriendly stress-filled frowns, sterile pre-packaged life-in-a-box while waiting endlessly in lines. Do you really NEED more so you can DO more so you can HAVE more so you can BE more?
Would you believe that we miss waking with the roosters and walking the streets with the goats and cows. We miss opening a carton of fresh-from-the field eggs that are mis-matched in size and colour and buying fresh fruits and veggies involves receiving them with the Earth they grew in. We love the busses that honk as they round a corner and cram "just one more person" beyond 18 in an 8 person van and stop whenever and wherever.
This week we find ourselves turning off the water in the shower while we soap and shampoo in our habit of conserving. We're remembering to wear our shoes, but already feel the call to buy one or two more pairs, until we look at each other and say "Really? We'll be barefoot again before long".
We find ourselves sitting close and side by side, elbows touching, in this three floor house as we watch half an hour of T.V. on the 50 inch flat screen and look at each other bug eyed and say "What? Was? That?" as the mind-numbing show draws to a close and the negative news is on repeat. And what's with Reality TV?
But oh the hugs from friends and family which are nearby and constant and that's a side effect that's beyond measure, oh-so-priceless and VERY REAL.
The Zen of Life guides the Self to Living in the Moment. For the moment we're living life on a boat, exploring our World and enjoying the wonderful people along the way. The many amazing moments we have lived have carried us very far and we've certainly changed because of it.
We appreciate more, and require less. We've slowed down more and rush less. We play more, laugh more, smile more... we OWN less but truly HAVE more.
Living the cruising life is about a shift, a change in one's perspective, an acceptance of what is. There are side effects and they will be different for everyone. It's not harder, nor is it easier, than landlubbing life. We love our journey most days and some moments we don't. But always we've grown, and been challenged, and awed from it and by it.
And at the end of the day, as we watch the sun set, and sip our sundowners, we look at each other and gratefully acknowledge that "Life. Is. Grand". We've seen things that made us go Yee-Ha, WOW and OMG... and that is what we were aiming for.
Sun and Sand and Salt in all. Yee-ha, WOW and OMG !! Happy One Year cruising Anniversary to Banyan.
Looking forward to Serious Side-Effects from Season 2.
Click on the monkey's fist to read others bloggers on this topic.
July 14, 2013 , Dartmouth, N.S.
You can take the water away from us, but you can't take us away from the water.
"Dave, honey, maybe we should make that our new motto?"
We were thrilled to have a couple of kayaks at our disposal on this gorgeously beautiful day, and so we quickly hopped in,
the clear blue skies, refreshingly cool water and blue dragonflies flitting about everywhere.
We bravely headed out, destination unknown,
and before long the Capt'N was asking for a break, or rather truth be told, we were staying out of the way,
or going under bridges,
or finding out of the way places that we could explore.
At one point
we, I, yelled "RACE",
but someone didn't want to play!
Ok, bumper kayaks it is...
When we left last year, we gave ourselves one year before making any major purchases of the fun kind. We thought it best that we experience the lifestyle for a while before we would really know what works For Us; how we might use it, will we be in areas that it's feasible to use, and will we really use it, or will it end up in some aft lazarette using valuable space and growing mold?
And so, after looking at a few ideas (kayaks, paddleboards, windsurfers...), we've been seriously leaning towards Kayaks, the Inflatable Kind, AIRIS in fact.
The prime directives for our current lifestyle is anything we get needs to be rather small and lightweight, easy to store, easy to carry, easy to use. Having tried them a few months ago, we found them to be surprisingly incredibly stable on the water.
The question now is do we want a tandem one (which still has the option to be used by only one of us), or do we want two individual ones (at almost double the cost). Hmm... decisions, decisions...
Either way we're back on the water.
"Yes dear..." says the Capt'N, and I laugh, reminding him gently that "I won!"
July 13, 2013 , Dartmouth, N.S.
All that "prep" work of the last couple of weeks finally, and I do mean, FINALLY, culimnated to our not getting hardly any sleep the night before we left and then walking out on the tarmac to board this,
and what a great airline Caribbean Air is.
From the moment we got dropped off at the airport, to the lady with the plastic gloves that searched the contents of our bags, to walking up to the counter just a few steps away to get our boarding passes et al, to going through security, boarding the plane,
"But Dave honey, can't we stop to pick up a coffee?"
"Dear, they're calling for passengers to board..." says the habitually punctual husband of mine,
"But Dave honey, we have an hour before it takes off and I neeeed a coffeeee...."
and yes, we were early, and yes the plane did take off half an hour early, because, well, everyone was on it.
What a simple process. Efficient. Personalized. Friendly. Smile-ful. Pleasant. Relaxed.
I do believe the hardest part for Dave and I that morning was putting on long pants in the Grenadian Heat of early morning. He even wore socks. UGH.
We hadn't been 20 minutes in the Toronto Pearson Airport, we already felt stressed. The frenzied activity, the lack of smiles, the cold attitudes, the bureaucracy of technology, ushered like mindless robots through lines of automated systems that are supposed to make our lives easier but don't smile back at you. That instead of speeding us up so we can DO, DO, DO !! more, have us waiting in twice as many lines that all took three times as long than if a real live person assisted us, with everyone more frustrated at the end.
Oh and Air Canada's Customer Services sucks. It wasn't so much that we lost our duty free rum punches, it was the blatant lack of respect and the very obvious childish mantra of "if I ignore you, you will go away". And so you know what Air Canada, we will go away. For Good.
So since we couldn't participate in Saturday's Grenadian Hash, we chose to do our own hash, one that was a bit visually different,
Posted speed limit signs ?? Fields devoid of cows and bulls and goats, and nowhere did we hear the roosters crowing.
However the sounds of nature enveloped us in the beauty of the day, the birds singing and the wind rustling through the trees, the smells of the evergreen pines so different from the rotting jungle mangoes.
The blues of the water just as spectacular in a cold type of way.
We saw mama duck leading her family
until she reached the under-the-bridge current where we saw them all get spooked or decide to Iron-Man-Duck it to the other end of the lake,
Who knew ducks could move so fast? For such long distances ?
Once off the street we ventured into the perfectly prepared path,
where the banana leaves and razor grass were simply replaced by expansive and soft ferns,
and trying to cross the river skipping across stones not quite as feasible.
Abandoned boats along the way had us missing our Banyan,
but as we relaxed into the afternoon, and then what do we see crossing our view but these ?
And so we're taking a few days to allow ourselves to get settled into a different routine. With no passage making to plan, no weather systems to watch out for, no water aerobics in the morning, no volleyball to play on Tuesday afternoon... we can't help but feel a little lost.
However, it's simply wonderful to be welcomed back into the love, friends and family that we have missed so much.