01/01/2010/2:30 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
A new year; a new decade! How is it possible that 10 years have passed since Jim and I stood on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario to ring in the new millennium?
Little did we know at the time that, before the decade was over, we'd buy a sailboat ... and then a bigger one ... and sail from Gananoque all the way down the St. Lawrence Seaway and River to the Atlantic Ocean ... and then sail all the way to the Bahamas. Little did we know we'd have so much fun that we would move back to Halifax after almost 20 years away and then sail off to the Bahamas again to start the next decade.
Well - that last part was supposed to happen. According to our plan, we were supposed to be in Green Turtle Cay enjoying the Junkanoo today. But then - it is those "supposed to's" that can get a person looking at things all backwards. Perhaps we are "supposed to" be right where we are, having exactly the experiences we are having. One decision causes an effect and another decision causes another effect and Presto! Here we are!
After a delightful 2 weeks in Nova Scotia visiting family (Mary Beth, Liam and Alex pictured above with Jim and me) and enjoying a wintery Christmas, we arrived back in Fernandina Beach late on Wednesday evening. Jim had arranged with Sheila from Relax and Ride Cab Company to pick us up at the Jacksonville Airport and drive us back here to the marina. They have a good system there - the prearranged drive parking lot is right outside the baggage area, and Sheila was waiting for us. ($60.00 flat fee for the 45 minute drive - not bad considering that it is $55.00 from downtown Halifax to the airport - a 35 minute drive)
We slept in late, had a good big breakfast of eggs with peppers, onions and cheese along with raisin scones whipped up in our own little galley, washed down with a couple of pots of coffee. Just as we were about to head up to the lounge and check e-mail, who should come striding purposefully down the dock but Steve! We had thought they'd be gone, but in good cruiser fashion, one day rolled into another and into another with the last minute jobs and they were still here. (They DID leave this morning, Jan 1st)
The great result was that we could spend New Year's Eve together. After an afternoon of provisioning for us, and packing for them, we met to explore some of the party venues in Fernandina Beach - starting with a glass of champagne their home. We moved on to Florida House on 3rd Street where business was steady and our bar tender was harried, and where we perched at the bar to observe the fashionable folks enjoying their dinners. Some of the ladies had lovely, skimpy little dresses and a couple of the men wore kilts! - not a common sight here in the south I wouldn't think.
Moving on, we checked out Wicked Davey's where just a few early folk were starting the evening (9ish). Our cab driver had told us it would be a good place to party, but the party must have been happening later. The musicians were just setting up as we left, but I'd go there again sometime since it has good old-time-bar atmosphere and Sandi said there is frequently live music. We had worked up a hunger by then so we checked out Arte's for pizza but, to our surprise, they were just closing down. The obvious place for us to wander next was Pablo's - the Mexican restaurant favoured by all of us. I can see why that place does an excellent business. Steve and Sandi - regulars from when the place first opened were greeted with big hugs; the food - as always - was excellent; our waiter hailed from Hungary where Steve had often worked and where he and Sandi lived for several months and which made for animated conversation.
By the time we delivered our dear friends to their boat we were all pretty tired and bed felt good. I tried to stay awake until the magic hour but sleep came too quickly and for the first time in a good number of years, I missed the ringing in of the New Year. It was a wonderful way to spend the evening though, and we were so happy to be able to spend one more evening together before Princess and Madcap head off on their journeys south. Although our timetables are different for the moment, we know we'll see each other again in the Bahamas.
We woke up to cold wind and rain for New Year's Day, and Jim and I spent the morning packing away some of the bags of food and supplies I picked up yesterday. By 3pm the sun was out and it had warmed up - a bit! We'll probably pay one more visit to Harris Teeter this afternoon, (open today along with many of the other larger stores) and we'll dine on scallops, shrimp and cheesy grits tonight. We plan to take the outside route to St Augustine on Sunday morning after we've taken care of laundry and "finishing up" chores.
With full hearts, we send our best wishes to all of you for a creative, successful, hopeful and happy New Year!
17/12/2009/9:18 pm, crew in Halifax, NS / boat in Fernandina Beach FL
I'm happy to report that at last inspection on Wednesday we had a functioning freezer! Steve and Jim finished putting it all together late on Wednesday and by the time we left the boat Wednesday evening, we had some cold happening in that box.
I busied myself roasting spiced almonds and making fudge to deliver to cruising friends in the area, tried to get some good pictures of the pelicans on the fish dock, and managed to get most of our things packed to fly home. Those pelicans are so picturesque but I keep missing the best shots. When I came out of the washroom in the morning, there were three lined up with perfect silhouettes on the rail, but I was carrying towels and shower bag instead of a camera. We've seen them hitching rides on the fishing boats as they go in and out of the harbour, but by the time I run for my camera, the boat has always moved too far away. I saw a boat yesterday with a pelican perched on the outboard motor as it put-putted along!
Steve, Sandi, Jim and I all got ourselves cleaned up and went out to dinner at Bonito's on Centre Street for superb seafood. We hadn't been there before, but it is on our must -go list from here on. The tuna, scallops, kobe steak with half a lobster and grouper that we each tucked into were perfectly prepared and beautifully presented. Our shared starters of oysters and calamari were also right up there with the best we've had. (Blair and Mary -we SO wish you were there too!!)
Sandra and Steve got up at 3:30 am to drive us to the Jacksonville airport on Thursday morning ( now that's friendship!), and by noon hour, Mary Beth was picking us up in Halifax. The flights connected like clockwork and luggage came too, but the switch to cold weather was dramatic. We were enjoying humid weather in shorts and sandals on Tuesday. Wednesday was cooler but I was still in capri's and sandals. On Thursday, Halifax was experiencing the coldest day so far this winter -13 C (about 9 F!!) and with the wind chill it felt even colder.
Nonetheless, we are both delighted to be home for the holidays and are looking forward to enjoying the company of our family. Our boys fly in from Ottawa on Christmas Eve so we'll all be together here, while Madcap sits safely in Fernandina Beach. Once we get back there on Dec 30th, we'll reprovision, celebrate New Year and make our way further south. Who knows where - although Bahamas are the next goal - and who knows when - although soon is the preferred time!
In the cruising world as in the rest of life - it really is the journey, and not the destination that matters. Our journey is rewarding, exciting, challenging and worth every bit of effort, time and money we put into it. We keep being reminded that "smooth", "as planned", "without incident" are not necessarily the best ways to experience what life has to offer!
16/12/2009/9:03 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
What a wonderful evening we had on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, Jim washed the boat down - and got rid of some of the Charleston bird poop - while I went Christmas shopping. He then did the hunter-gatherer thing and brought home a filet of mahi mahi. I have to tell on him - he bought it at the fish market right beside the marina - but he still brought home the fish! I coated it with panko bread crumbs and pan fried it, roasted the sweet potatoes I had left from the Oriental farmers market, added a handful of cherry tomatoes and poured a nice chardonnay. Wonderful dinner from sea and garden. What a difference fresh makes. Those sweet potatoes (sprinkled with chipotle chili powder) were candy sweet and spicy. The fish was tender and moist. Oh - so simple, and oh- so good.
I missed out on going to an art class with Tina because I forgot that it was tonight, but we made up for it by wandering up Centre St to find the Christmas Jazz Jam at Indigo Alley. There is nothing quite like live music - whether it is a formal concert of beautiful work or just a gathering of folks who love to make music. We walked in, got a couple of drinks and found places - first against a wall and then on chairs - to sip and listen. There is a thriving jazz and rock community here and we were thrilled to hear some very good jazz with carol singing in the pauses between sets. I was a happy woman - a chance to sing and an opportunity to listen to fine jazz and mingle with the local folks. We chatted with several people and enjoyed their warmth and enthusiasm - although when one rock band member told me she is an expectant grandmother and she is 15 years younger than me, I felt positively old! There were young people - including children in strollers - and old folks and a bunch in between. They mostly seemed to know each other and we learned that many of them play in random groups, meeting up at Indigo Alley on alternate Thursdays. They were so warm and friendly it felt good to be there. (In my next life, I want to play an instrument and be one of those folks taking turns on drums and bass and guitars and saxophone and keyboard - playing for the joy of it. For now, I'll listen and appreciate them!)