09/26/2007, Boulder, CO
It has been three months since we posted our "more later..." post, and several of you - especially the Kathryns we know! - have asked how the reentry was going and what changes we were making.
First of all, most of us (all but Bill) postponed the actual reentry on borrowed (literally) time by spending a month in France. Since Cath was not granted a leave of absence, for the first time in the 20 years living in in the States, she could enjoy visiting my family at a proper, relaxed pace. Shelby and Spencer were more anxious to get back to Boulder and reconnect with their friends, but the French immersion always does them good, especially when Shelby's best friend from Boulder happens to visit Paris while they were there.
The biggest change we made was to put our big fat house on the market and trade down for one half the size in a more modest neighborhood and an easy walk to the schools (as in no kid shuttle in the morning.) When you've been living in about 200 square feet, it felt weird to rattle around inside with everyone in their corner not to mention wasteful in so many ways. Now we're close and cozy again and always within shouting distance! The new house has a combined kitchen-living-dining-piano-TV room room where we find ourselves cooking, doing homework, practicing piano and watching Canadian news all at once. Sounds chaotic, but we're enjoying the closeness in this last couple of years all together. (Perhaps we shouldn't speak for Shelby!)
Unfortunately, we hit the whole real estate/mortgage crash and the transient was both more stressful and more expensive than we would have liked. At one point we had two houses, three loans and no sleep! Yikes! what a mess, but we did finally sell to a young yuppie family from Austin that used to live across the street from Bill's high school. Small world!
Work-wise Bill returned to his old job 2 weeks after we returned to Boulder and Cath started a new job in a local Boulder software company (www.rallydev.com). She knew that was the right job for her when she learned the CEO had been taking his own family for 15 months cruising the Caribbean and the Mediterranean on a 58 ft sailboat.
Spencer was the least enthusiastic about returning to school: Shelby simply did not have time to ponder. Now a Junior in high school, she has been head down completing the online classes she started on Norska , successfully auditioning for the school musical and many choirs (Dream Catcher, remember your singing angel?), taking SAT prep classes, working on vocab lists, and getting her driver's license. Whew...
We find it difficult to make more changes congruent with the ideals of a simpler cruising life. Particularly when you have children, it is difficult to 'opt out', or to 'opt them out' because it's not an easily reversed decision should they choose to be more engaged in this craziness than we would choose for ourselves. Keeping doors open implies a certain sycophantic attitude towards society: gotta pull the grades, do the 'right' things to look good, etc.
Still, we do:
- walk and bike just about everywhere (schlepping groceries by foot through the rain is a familiar task to cruisers!), and
- eat together outside as often as we can (feels like cockpit dining).
We have yet to fire up the lawn mower in the living room when the wind dies outside: don't miss that part!
Last but not least we changed our personal email addresses to never forget the most beautiful natural place we saw in the trip - the Blue Hole on Long Island in the Bahamas. You may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. So long and fair winds.....
06/16/2007, Boulder, Colorado
It took us a while but we finally uploaded our 1,500 pictures and started adding descriptions. We plan to tag them to make them easier to view.
The URL is www.flickr.com/photos/connors. Select the 'Caribbean 2007' album.
We are still adjusting to land life..... more later....
06/07/2007, Boulder, Colorado
Death, taxes, and the end of our cruise: the inevitabilities we hope against logic to never see. We left Nassau with Dream Catcher the morning of June 5th and sailed together onto the Bahama banks. Just North of Macky Shoals, we went West to Ft. Lauderdale while Dream Catcher headed North West toward St. Augustine. We watched in silence as they disappeared into the sunset and their stern light sunk and disappeared under the horizon: such a sad, poignant goodbye. We were going to say our last goodbyes over SSB at our regular 8:00PM chat, but the SSB didn't work well enough from inside the marina to make contact. Perhaps its better that way...
After 30 hours, we pulled into Port Everglades as the log ticked off 2130 nautical miles. Dazed in thought, we didn't talk much while executing our well honed drill of striking sails and preparing Norska for port. The cargo ships, sport fishers, and the rush of people in a hurry to do something or other gave us the feeling of foreigners arriving as strangers in a strange land. With heat of being on land, the uneasiness eating at us, and the chance for the kids to surprise their friends on the last day of school, we were motivated to hurricane prep Norska and fly back to Boulder within a day.
Now in Boulder, we're struggling in the transition zone adapting to the real world. Is it so real, though? What have we learned? How have we changed? We're too confuddled (Shelby's word) at the moment to make sense of it all, but we are also committed to not passively slipping back into the same old game. We're so happy to see old friends, one of them the piano, but we also miss our new friends and a simpler, here-and-now life focused on experiences, places, and people over things. As we sort through our emotions we'll post a few last entries on our reflections. 'til then, we're safe and sound and sorting through all that mail...
06/03/2007, Atlantis, Paradise Island
We plan to leave Nassau first thing tomorrow, arriving Fort Lauderdale sometime between Tuesday night (if we have good winds and favorable wind direction) and Thursday night (if we need to stop and wait for better wind direction). Once in Florida, it will take us a couple of days to pack up, ship stuff back home and get Norska ready for the hurricane season at the same marina we used to keep it. Today, we got to enjoy more of the Atlantis slides and more of Jonathan, Linda and Jackson (who is doing much better today). The sun was finally out and the lines got longer quickly. Overall our Atlantis stay with family has been a complete delight.
06/02/2007, Atlantis Marina, Nassau, Bahamas
Rain, rain, go away... In fact, Barry PLEASE go away and be quick about, if you will. A couple of days ago we were the only sailboat in the marina, now we have nine as folks fled the anchorage when the gale warning was issued. Dream Catcher gave it up, after dragging three times, and came in just a few slips down. Good thing too, because we're out of beer, they have some, and I can't bear to pay the going brewskie rate here. Seems destiny is keeping us together just a little bit longer, much to our delight.
Turns out we never saw more than 30 (even less in the marina), but its been windy, constantly rainy, and cold. Norska, Dream Catcher, and Asolare (John, Ann, and Kolby (9 years old)) have been terrorizing the water slides and what not. No lines because everyone is inside gambling or drinking, so we had it pretty much to ourselves until they closed the rides :( Despite all, we had a blast together and insist on doing everything that's free with the slip!
We've been spending some time with Bill's brother Jonathan, Linda, little Jackson and their friends. They've had a rough vacation what with arriving a day late and. now, Jackson caught a cold (in Nassau!) while out in the nasty weather yesterday. Hopefully they will end on a better note.
Who knows how and when we're going to get home. After tropical storm Barry (we are thankful it stayed West of us) it seems we'll have no wind and if there is a light wind, it'll come from the West: yuck. We might try to anchor, perhaps in the Berry Islands, and wait for a South or South East wind before heading across. We'll see...
06/01/2007, Paradise Island
We finally connected with Jonathan, Linda and baby Jackson yesterday afternoon - they had missed their connection in Miami due to weather. They were pretty pooped but Jackson was holding his own. We went to a buffet dinner together - after months of limited food availability (which shrunk our stomachs) we could not believe the amount of food there was, and were not able to sample as much as our eyes wanted. Food was expensive for the value. We toured Atlantis - what an incredible place - a mix of Las Vegas (casinos) and Disney World (ultra clean and sophisticated). Spencer and Shelby were beside themselves. The aquariums and the lagoons have an incredibly large concentration of fish and sea life (sharks, rays, turtles, moray eels, coral reef fish, jelly fish, ...), some we saw ourselves while snorkeling, others we did not (like reef sharks - thank goodness). We checked out the water slides and today we will actually go on them. The weather is deteriorating quickly and we are hoping marina cancellations will allow us to stay 2 more days, as we have no desire to anchor in Nassau Harbour, which we will need to do otherwise. The funny news is that Dream Catcher decided to turn around after passing Nassau, when they encountered 10 foot seas (forecast was 4-6 foot seas) on Wednesday, so they have been anchored across from the Atlantis marina since we arrived. We can even see their boat from our slip. Last night, they dragged 3 times. We feel so bad for them but today Jan will join us to tour the park while Jim watches the boat. She is so excited! we are so happy that we likely will do our final journey to Florida together. At this time, we won't be leaving Nassau until Monday at the earliest.
05/30/2007, Location: Guess
Clean up, clean up, everybody every where! Let's polish stainless and repair! We all had to make the boat shine for Atlantis Marina, and we were all anxious to we see Jonathan and Linda and Baby Jackson! At Rose Island, Mommy, Papa and I went snorkeling, but there wasn't much. Shelby and I had sworn an oath the finish math before Atlantis, so we finished our last tests with outstanding results:). The next day we set out for Paradise Island, and everybody was high strung for docking. Except us kids. We were skippin' and hoppin' and saying ooohs and aaahhs. Yup. Docking was a piece of pizza (every says cake, but I like pizza better) and we were helped by a guy in a really spiffy uniform. It was great. We are the only, and very lonely sailboat:(. We did some quick touring and got some smoothies at Jamba Juice, but then Mommy made me do the laundry and write a blog.
05/28/2007, Highborne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
The winds backed down today to 18-22 for a wonderful upwind sail to Highborne! Dream Catcher left early this morning (they chose to wait out the wind yesterday at Warderick Wells) to catch up and we're enjoying what will likely be our last evening together. So sad. It is said that family are those with whom you have many shared memories. If so, Jim and Jan are definitely family to us and we will miss them something terrible. It looks like another 20 kt. day tomorrow and we're hoping to make the run to Bottom Harbor, just outside Nassau, so we can slip into the marina first thing Wed. and get some chores, like laundry and provisioning, done before J&L&J arrive. Cath and I went for what may be our last snorkel as well:( very nice reef just North of the anchorage, but a lot of current. Snorkeling the Exumas is tough because the best reefs are in and around the cuts and the current is fierce except within an hour either side of the low and high tides. The kiddos decided to stay onboard and get ahead on math homework to make sure they don't have any distractions while we're in Atlantis! Good thing they stayed, it turns out. Dream Catcher's dinghy freed itself and rapidly drifted away. Shelby, as she is justifiable proud to note, coordinated the rescue effort with a local powerboat and all turned out well in the end. I think the kids have arrived at being true cruisers. Not only can they take care of themselves on the boat and water, but they can help others as well.
On a culinary note, we can confirm that MacDuffs on Norman Cay (it's actually rather chic for a burger place) was indeed most excellent and the hosts easy going and friendly. Definitely a must stop for those passing through. There was one other family there: some folks from Atlanta staying at a friend's house on the island.