24/11/2011/8:41 am, Vero Beach, Florida
Our table and filled plates at Thanksgiving Dinner.
Karin, Ed, John, Tom, Chris, Lori, Russ, Jim
23/11/2011/9:15 pm, Vero Beach, Florida
As I think back over the years, it is always people for whom I am most thankful. The people who show up when I am most in need; the people who love me no matter what I do; the people who teach me lessons; the people who encourage me and lift me up; the people who nudge and prod me forward. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Wednesday, the day before American Thanksgiving was a bit of a rough day. I didn't sleep well the night before - thinking of all the things I had done wrong in my life and all the wrongs that had been done to me. I got up and read for a couple of hours in the night, managed to distract myself in the morning by going shopping with my good friend, Nancy, (a million thank you's, Nancy), ignoring the new problem of water in the bilge, and then sanding the handrails on our cabin roof. (There is really nothing quite like sanding to settle the mind - unless it is brushing on that first coat of cetol and seeing the grain of the wood spring to life - but that will come in a day or two ...)
About 4 o'clock, Jim and I closed up the boat because the clouds looked ominous, put our concerns aside, climbed into the dinghy and went exploring through the mooring field. We spotted a boat from Moncton, NB and stopped to say hello to Paul and Cathy (Lucia - I think - I'll have to go look again) who had just arrived in. And then Connie and Ken (Oz) called to say they had driven up from Ft. Pierce and were at the dinghy dock. We picked them up and brought them out to Madcap and settled in for Happy Hour. We first met these two (from Toronto) a couple of years ago in Norfolk, Virginia as we started down the ICW and always treasure our reunions. Amid the "How are you? ... what are you doing?... where are you going?... oh you must go here or there...do you know?... have you met ... ?...how is ... ? ... Have you seen ... ?" it hit me. Thank goodness for friends.
It is people - friends - who make this life we have chosen to lead so very, very special. Sure, we have wonderful, treasured friends at home, but these friends who understand that we survive and prosper only through the helpfulness, understanding and support of others are a breed apart. I know it is overly simplistic to compare ourselves to early settlers like those I've read about, but there is surely some degree of comparison. We absolutely could not lead this life were it not for the knowledge and encouragement of people we meet along the way. We need a mechanic? Someone knows of a good one. We need a haul out? Someone knows of a nearby yard. We need a leak fixed? Some one knows what to check first, or second or third. We need a ride? "I'll pick you up" or "Here are the keys." No matter how many glitches we may encounter, there will be friends to help us surmount them and to encourage us along the way.
We had a magnificent couple of hours with Ken and Connie - talking of our various plans for the coming season and remembering the friends we have in common. Chris and Peaches - I want you to know we thought of you fondly as we devoured a full bag of pistachio nuts!! We'll try to emulate your hospitality as we stock these goodies this year.
We know that whatever our needs, there will be a friend to help. We know that wherever we go, someone will have been there before. We also know we can pass on the wisdom we have gained. We can offer our own help and support.
This day ended so very much better than it started. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Thanks for helping. Thanks for being present.
23/11/2011/6:03 pm, Vero Beach, Florida
For the first hour after we left St Augustine, we said, "How wonderful it is to be out here and not dealing with shallow water, bridges and passing boats." For the next 12, I wasn't in much condition to say anything at all, and for the remaining 19, interspersed with long periods of silence we said, "Maybe there are advantages to coming down the ICW." It was too rough to read or knit or play scrabble or do little boat jobs or any of the things we usually do on passages, and that made it seem loooong, even though, compared to coming down the ICW, it is a short way to get from St Augustine to Vero Beach.
It was supposed to have been a benign trip. And I suppose it was, really; the winds weren't all that high; 12-15 kn and from the east, so not on the nose, and the seas weren't all that terrible; 6-8 ft, and we weren't plowing into them, but there was no consistent direction; we corkscrewed this way and that way the whole trip. After two miserable trips down to the cabin, once to heat water for instant soup and once to change into warmer clothes, I quit going there and announced that crackers were all that was being served for meals for the foreseeable future. On more than one occasion, Jim remarked that meals were a whole lot better on the Norwegian Sun. It went from a humourous remark about 12 hours in, to a plaintive wail by the end of the trip. However, I noticed he didn't go below to do anything more than fetch a bag of potato chips either!
Once we entered the Ft. Pierce Inlet and headed up the ICW to Vero Beach, we felt much better, and even managed a fairly decent chicken stir fry for dinner before falling into bed.
Vero Beach is full of boats for Thanksgiving week and the coming cold front. We found Polar Pacer and Passages (New Hampshire) here among many other familiar boats and look forward to meeting up with more folks at the Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.
In the continuing saga of glitches, we discovered that our batteries were reading only 12.3 after 32 hours of motoring. We knew they were a little "iffy" but had hoped to get another season out of them. However, that was just too low a reading for us to last any time at all without running the generator many hours each day. So after a good sleep on Tuesday night, Jim woke with a plan to replace them. Vero Beach turned out to be the perfect place for this because Indian River Batteries had Trojan 6 volt golf cart batteries (exactly what we needed - 4 of them) for $115.each. (lower than any other price Jim found.) They delivered them to the marina and took away our old ones. By 4 o'clock, Jim had installed and hooked up the new batteries and we were cooking. So ... I think we got our Christmas presents early! Just what I always wanted - new batteries!
Tom (Polar Pacer) was in a mast climbing mood, and after he went up Passages mast he came over to Madcap and we winched him up to our spreaders with a new line for our radar reflector. Two fixes in one day - yippee.
After cleaning up, we went out to Nancy and Jim's (Solitaire) for a delicious pasta dinner - making a perfect ending to an altogether pretty good day!
Wednesday brought another glitch and some fun. Aaargh - will the glitches never end? I was just leaving the boat to go shopping with Nancy when the high water alarm blared, meaning there was more water in the bilge than there is supposed to be. Jim quickly hit the switch and emptied it, but the question remains, "Why was all that water in there?" We thought the new muffler had fixed that. So - another problem to explore and figure out.
While the two Jim's stayed aboard their vessels, Nancy and I went off on a "girl outing" and had just so much fun while we upgraded our cruising wardrobes a bit more. We each found cleaner boats when we got back - such nice men those Jim's are - but no easy discovery about the water on ours.
For the afternoon, we went about our boat chores, each trying to ignore the bigger worries and just pay attention to what we were able to handle. And isn't that just the way of life anyway?