All Wrapped Up
06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
Beth / -2C in Halifax, NS, probably warmer in Ft. Pierce!
The end of a sailing season is always bittersweet, and this one has extra layers of seasoning. We left a place we love and ended up over 1000 nautical miles northeast - on the way back to another place we love.
We didn’t plan it that way – at least not at first. Yes, each individual move was planned – there were no accidents - but the plans evolved from week to week. We changed directions according to our gut feelings, and we changed our timing according to the weather (with backup from our gut feelings).
In November, we were going south. In December, we were going a wee bit north, but only for a while. In January we were hurrying north. In February we were lingering. In March we were saying, “This is enough for now – let’s go home.” We never did say a proper good-bye to our dear friends in Rio Dulce. We didn’t anchor and play among the cays and reefs of Belize one last time on our way through. We relied on our own company far more than usual; we swam less and we sailed less. And in the end, we didn’t get as far north as we had thought we would.
We experienced our worst passage ever and survived without mishap. We experienced our slowest passage ever, and survived that one too. We forced ourselves to adjust to a “hurry up … and wait” pattern. We benefited from excellent mechanical and refrigeration experts in Rio Dulce, excellent medical care in Isla Mujeres, and excellent haul-out crew at a new-to-us boatyard in Florida. We didn’t encounter a single cranky or unhelpful customs and immigration official in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico or the USA. We spent waaaay more time on a dock than in any other year – and chalked it up to reasonable use of the cruising kitty. We visited only 4 new anchorages this year, had 2 great land trips, 5 overnight passages.
We didn’t run out of propane in the middle of a meal, or before the morning coffee was made. We didn’t lose any boat poles or fenders – just one jacket and a phone. We did lose weight! We dragged a few times despite the new Manson Supreme anchor, but we didn’t hit anyone or go aground. We still don’t like re-anchoring in the middle of the night. Our most spectacular day of sailing was near the end of the trip – from Key West to Marathon. Our worst was from San Pedro to Isla Mujeres.
We loved spending the prelaunch weeks with fellow cruising friends at Tortugal Marina in Rio Dulce, and the Christmas season with old friends in Placencia, Belize, and with even “older” friends at the end of the season in Vero Beach, and meeting new friends here and there in between. One of the greatest joys and blessings of our cruising life is the new friendships we have made – some that last for a season or two and some that will be forever – both so valuable and so welcome.
Besides the people, we have enjoyed the company of iguanas, dolphins, pelicans, ospreys, frigate birds, herons and gulls. We still get excited whenever we hear the breath of a nearby dolphin or see the flukes and shiny backs as they curve up above the water’s surface, and we rush to the foredeck to watch them play. We grab the binoculars for a closer look at ospreys and frigate birds; we laugh at the sploosh and splash when pelicans hit the water to capture their dinners.
We still marvel at the stunningly blue-green-aqua-turquoise-emerald-jade colours of the Caribbean waters, at white icing-sugar sand, and pebbles that rattle and roll in the tide, at frothing surf and mirror-still water. We still love the ability to live so close to nature – under the moon and stars at night, and the hot sun or cloudy skies of day, and even in downpours as long as they don’t last too long; we love seeing the exact times the wind shifts, and feeling the change in temperature and humidity; we notice how small we are, sitting in our cockpit not even a metre above the sea that is a thousand metres deep, and sailing (or motoring) with not another boat or sliver of land in sight.
And now Madcap is high out of the water at Riverside Marina in Ft. Pierce, secure on jack-stands with heavy blocks and tie-downs at the ready as hurricane season approaches. The sails are at Mack Sails in Stuart for inspection and minor repairs. We covered the top with garden netting to protect her from some of the sun’s rays, and stuffed the through hulls with stainless steel scrubbies to keep out the bugs. We washed down the interior surfaces and lockers with vinegar and water, removed all the food, and plugged in the dehumidifier, and climbed down the ladder one last time.
Jim and I are home in Halifax now, shivering as a final bit of winter deposits a dusting of snow across the lawns. We will go back to Florida in the fall to move Madcap farther north, and next spring we will bring her home to Canada. At least that’s the current plan!
We’re planning trips to Newfoundland, where Mary Beth and Graham are about to welcome our first grandchild into the world; we will enjoy visits with family and friends at the cottage. As we say goodbye to our last season of Caribbean sailing for now (but not forever) we look forward to new adventures sailing back up through the waters of the North Atlantic, and a trip to New Zealand next winter.
And that’s a wrap for this year. Check the gallery for some more pictures.