Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lily's Excursion

On Mother's Day, it is helpful to remember that, although it is difficult to be separated from your children, for whatever the reasons, being a mother is not about personal comfort, but about walking a spiritual path. Being a Mother is a spiritual endeavor. You learn during pregnancy, labor, delivery and during the joyful days and years of child raising, that your life is not meant to be entirely your own. To realize that you temporarily have no freedom to live life on your own terms, or comfort level, or time schedule, can be intimidating and frightening. Who wants to surrender their self-centered existence? However, loving someone else unconditionally, as happens when someone depends so entirely upon you that your forget your need to come first, turns out to be one of the finest blessings of life. You realize that you will survive the temporary loss of control when you are in the midst of a great and noble enterprise. My daughter Lily's birth was such an occasion. Every birth is a blessing, but some come with trauma that leaves a lingering presence upon a person/people, and ultimately is an immense gift. William James talks about the 'deep deflation of ego' which happens during a spiritual awakening, which allows a person to fully surrender their internal consideration and concern for self, in order consider the best welfare of another. When Lily was being born, there was a sense of growing concern because things were not proceeding swiftly. She was large; I was narrow in the birth canal. She had to adjust down a difficult channel and when she finally was crowning on the third day, she and I were both at the end of our energies and she needed to get out another way and quickly. I had an emergency cesarean performed by an doctor entirely unsympathetic with our effort to have a home birth. He later wrote in the newspaper, warning off others who might try to follow our example of trying to have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean, which I had with my son Jesse's birth after I developed toxemia five and a half weeks before his due date. It required an emergency c-section and he was unable to be with me, while I was in intensive care for 3 days, recovering. Determined not to have a repeat of that life-threatening situation, I was fiercely focused on taking all possible precautions and measures in order to have the perfect birth with Lily, who I knew would be a girl. Expectations are dangerous things. I believed that where there was a will there was a way. It didn't go the way I anticipated, because we ended up in the emergency room after three and a half grueling days. I woke up after it was all over to find that the only person in the room was the nurse, cleaning up, who gave me the play by play. Lily was not put into my arms until after I had to watch as they gave her a very painful shot with a needle inserted into her finger, filled with antibiotics. It was not easy for her; she was in acute pain when she and I were finally able to bond, after her marathon birth and the insulting shock of the injection. Despite this, she, in fact, did get a chance to go through a 'trial of labor' as the doctors put it, and she came out safe and alive, despite some stress at the end of the birthing process. We did survive the ordeal of the Doctor's letter to the editor, casting aspersions upon us for trying to go it outside the confines of the hospital. Because of this denunciation, we felt more protective of our family unit, more sensitive to Lily's birthing and the impact it may have had on her, and our own need to heal from the wounds of surgery and the chagrin of public censure. Some post-partum depression ensued but there was eventual healing. Lily was a great joy as a child, very much her own person from the beginning. If I believed in mythological beginnings, I would say that she was a little Buddha, very self-contained and full of a powerful presence. She had a mighty spirit, which continues to this day. Sailors are intrepid souls, and she sails upon the celestial seas. Thanks for being my first born daughter, Lily! Also, thanks for requesting that I write about your birth. Uncharted waters are before you. More shall be revealed!

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Ventures

People may have noticed that my account got spammed. Never matter, we are involved in new ventures that are promising, and have centered our focus in the USVI, for the summer. Hope to hear from each of you, and keep in touch. Thanks for reading; we may continue this dialogue in a different format. Live up to your potential, it is a wonderful life!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ebbing and Flowing

Today was a day to try to get back in the swim of things. I will shortly do my 50 laps in the pool, which I did yesterday and decided to keep to a daily routine. We have a sweet opportunity to enjoy a yacht next to us, during the evenings, which the owners have allowed us to use at their dock slip, which has cable TV and airco. This is a marked change from being at anchor rolling around in the harbor, where the boomboxes blare from a beachside hotel every weekend. We are docked at a slip we have free use of, courtesy of Niles, who is glad to keep Bob nearby the boats he works on. The slip is on a dock directly adjacent to the waves and open water; it has East views to the North Side of St. Thomas, St. John and Tortola. Just beyong the water entry to the South, it is hilly, undeveloped and lush; behind the other long side of the horseshoe shaped dock, is the hill where the village condos are nestled. Off to the short side to the North, it is open until the view is punctuated by the beach condos with water views interspersed and where the beach is accessed. Walking anywhere is a treat. The brick herringboned walkways are canopied with prime shrub, tree and vines; a foliaged nirvana. My kind of place! The 'genius loci'-- the spirit of the place-- is alive and well tended. Bob works with Niles, who runs a yacht brokerage and management company, call Amantha Yacht Services. Of the 75 slips, Niles manages about a quarter of the boats, which involves a lot of servicing, which Bob has been hired for. On any given day he is in and out of some amazing vessels, yet is nearby the boat here, where I have been diligently attempting to catch up with organization and upkeep. He has also done a good bit on our boat while I was in Maine, but now I can pick up my part of this partnership and get to work on brightwork and other fun activities aboard, such as keeping the demon dampness, which is endemic to the Tropics, from becoming too established in the corners of the boat, and in clothing, books and other potentially mildewy spots. The whole boat needs constant attention in keeping the elements at bay. It's not all glamor! The pool is mercifully close by, just above the first set of village condos behind us here at the Marina. Above there the village style condos go up another few rows to the top of the hill, where you can see over the other side into Red Hook Harbor, where the village center is, and you can see over that Harbor's hills to the Atlantic beyond, where St. Croix lies 40 miles away. This spot, called Sapphire Village/Beach Resort and Marina has much to recommend it, now that I have seen the pool and poolside grill, and walked to the top and more of the lush vegetation found higher up the hill. It is beyond my ability not to appreciate the landside accoutrements, but we are both mindful of continuing to earn our freedom chips and to take our excursions to nearby places. We will certainly have to reach beyond the Virgin Islands soon but there are so many discoveries awaiting us here, within a few days of travel, that longer voyages right now seem unecessary. I intend to get my Captain's liscence with Bob's coaching, since he has just secured his diploma for passing the test while I was away. One thing I have realized is that there is such a need to be realistic about what one brings on board. More than what is necessary is just a burden. This is a lesson which I am getting most eloquently from myself now, since I did not give it due consideration from others warning us, and Bob's reminding me. You don't need to have everything on board; you can make do with samplings. More food only spoils, more items to store only have to be kept clean and mold free. More parts for the boat, carefully stowed, make sense. That is how I will gradually fit myself back into the boat. While on shore, one can expand and experience the luxury of growing; on a boat you have the other joy--of minimizing, contracting yourself into the essentials, the constriction that allows you to exhale the excess from out of your boat's body. We are breathing a new, and a welcome, kind of life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dreamlife Return

After having returned back to St. Thomas yesterday from five weeks in Maine, staying with my Mom after my Dad died in January, I have been acclimating to life here. From blizzards to balmy weather, with the corresponding emotional upheavals, it has been a memorable transition. The first acclimation to being here was after a baptism by water; our Bermuda passage was so far beyond my expectations that I switched into endurance mode. Accomodating to here, from that Nantucket sleighride, was a simpler matter, having made the boat my home away from home. Going back to land, to baths and real beds in bedrooms and doors with locks and cars and trucks and all that I could want to ddrive to at my disposal, and movies, it was like going back to a regular existence, even with the constant state of snow. Coming here, I thought it would take a longer time. It hasn't. It has just taken sleep and swimming and sunning and socializing. It is easy to enjoy being back. For just a day, it felt as though I was returning to a vacation existence. Today, after sleep and time with Bob and relaxing and enjoying the weather and our new situation at a slip at a Resort Marina, I have let myself enjoy the idea that I could be peaceful here. I can settle into the rewards of a life of ease and loveliness, at least for a time, while it is possible. I have a table where I am typing, under a canopy by a pool, and nearby is a turtledove cooing and ambling around. There are geckos and iguanas in the trees, and people have dogs on their boats--one boat even has a pet white heron that comes in for fish. People are pleasant, warm and courteous. Bob has made great new friends on board the other boats. He goes to the grill that is next to the pool, where people come to sit, drink, play poker some nights, watch TV and read. There are some glamorous types of boats too, for instance a gorgeous boat owned by the CEO of Lowes that is a client of Bob's (he works for a yacht broker/manager, which is why we get a company truck and free slip). Mostly the people seem very delightful, and come from many places, usually the States It could not be more relaxing. This blissful day is a marked contrast to my extreme difficulty leaving Maine, and my Mom behind, while she endures blizzards and I am poolside and content. I have encouraged her to come, maybe someday she will be open to it. For now, she has her liife and she just wants to stick to it there. I can stay in close touch, that will work better. My kids are homesteading nearby and the newness of that is mixed in with valuable experiences in self-reliance. I am there for them better if I am here. They will be happier knowing that I am being busy being me. It will be a new time, a unique chance. While I am not content to be a Marina Queen I do intend to make the most of this general state of bucolic existence.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Casting Off Again

Casting off
This is a nautical expression that has plural meanings for me. As I write this, there is the major storm Juno still working its worst outside, as I try to sleep in my parents bedroom. My mother, recently widowed, does not want to sleep in here with its memories, so I am in here, with my fathers things staying untouched on the shelves and desk nearby.
Casting off....
In the Hornblower novels which I am working my way through, as a diversion, I am reading of his casting off to head to the frigid waters of the Baltic, an unfriendly sea, to my thinking. It is frigid here, with this raging storm, yet I have been staying with my mother, who is the center of my family, and my time here has been heartwarming. I dread leaving her now, but it is time to assume my responsibilities to my chosen lifestyle, and be getting back to Bob, whom I miss.
There can be many unwelcome places to cast off from, or to, but the common meaning of these words implies a person offloading something unwelcome, as in an anchor dragging one down. So it isn't the destination so much as the act of disengaging, that is the focal point. Casting aweigh.
I have only a few more days here before casting off to return to the boat, and living aboard in the tropics. It is a queer experience, seeing the extreme change of weather, knowing that I will leave all this foul weather behind. Very soon, I will be trading boots for sandals.
It is also queer to have experienced such an extreme of adjustment, in losing my father, having one day back here before saying my last goodbye. I am still adjusting. Nothing new there.
I have, it seems now, cast off into a new direction, in becoming the eldest in the family without a male head of household, and so I have grown into a new role. Traditionally, I am the one responsible for the care of my mother, yet here I am, about to re-embark while leaving her here with other family members around here, and me, literally sailing off in the distance. I worry about her future welfare.
This is an intensely personal time, with experiences I wish to share, but it seems rude to open them to the informality of a blog. While it seems disrespectful to our family process, it could be helpful to others to open my processing, fresh as it is.
I have taken some time away from writing to escape from exploring my feelings.
I find this act of writing surprisingly cathartic, and it comes so easily to me that I can justify it on the grounds of healthy emotional expression.
Back to the title, which means the most to me when I apply it to the act I am about to once again undertake, which is to cast off into the unknown in my life.
I realize that the great opportunity in taking on something that requires you to leave so much behind, is that you can--I can--allow great changes into my conduct of living.
When something so completely disrupts the everyday flow and habit of life, it can make  conscious the moments that happen. 
I see more about my life than I did before. I am aware of its uncertainties, but that is not the gift, so much as that I am aware that nothing is written in stone. 
There are inevitabilities, but challenging myself to encounter what they portend (is that a nautical term...port end?), has been  freeing.
For instance, I can go back and find that I have to get used to being confined to a boat sized existence all over again, regaining what I might have lost, or being seasick again. Yet, that will come or not, it is not so much a matter of control over my will as it is a matter of allowing a lack of control to affect me without disturbing my equilibrium.
In plain talk, I have already changed. I go back to a newer me than the me I was when I left to embark on this journey. 
In a sense, I have grown younger. If it does not sound uncaring, I could allow myself to even say that I look forward to leaving again. Not because I am leaving my family behind, because they go with me, in a truer way. I am eager because I am going to go back again to this voyage of self discovery, and to the joy of knowing the meaning of those words personally. A voyage to my self. This makes the loss of my father, who was a consummate explorer, less of a loss than a chance to remember him in the places that will remind me of him.
Since he was an airman, I can find him in the skies. He is surely along for the ride, in my own airborne. and seaborne, soul.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Heart's Journey

I left the boat in Bob's care, while I flew home on the soonest possible flight back to Maine. My mom called me to come to be there, as my Dad was declining fast. As it turns out, my flight on Monday was just in time, because my Dad died at 9pm on Tuesday night, with family around him.
For a live-aboard, coming into a strange environment can simply mean that you have set foot on dry ground. Adding to that strangeness is the bizarre permeation of extreme cold, the darkness of the sky at this latitude, and dullness of clothes contrasted with the paleness of people.
Of course, the environment around somebody transitioning out of this life is the real factor. I will be experiencing delayed grief, due to the intensity of the last few days. None of us had any real time, to let our feelings come up, until about midway through the service, which was yesterday morning, when we all got through our speaking parts.
I played piano for an all sing to 'Try to Remember', and sang an a cappella solo on ; 'Suddenly There's a Valley', not an easy song, but it worked out. My sister Wendy read her own poem and Karen had some reminiscences, as did my late sister Lisa's son, Danny, who talked about his childhood relationship with Grampy.
We were all at our best, and, as these things tend to happen, we all relapsed last night. Too much delayed grief, wine, stress and chores contributed their part, and we reverted to lousy communication form.
It isn't ever good when material possessions become part of a family dispute, but it is nasty to deal with when the grief is fresh.
As a live-aboard, one good thing is that the boat is already full enough, so there is no question about my being able to take additional things on board.
Other people have more struggles about what they want as mementos. On a boat, you are in a living organism, in a way, almost like a mammal, and it rolls and pitches in the water. You learn to do with the basic needs getting covered.
I am glad to have my attic treasures back in Maine, but they have no day to day place in my life; that is reserved for adventures outside and in the transition zones, like the cockpit and deck. Life is simpler without so much stuff. Bob has been preaching this to me for awhile now, and it is becoming clear.
Although I sympathize with my family and their struggle around the 'things' that were in my Dad's life, I know that my Mom can handle all of that in her own good time. I trust her to make her own decisions.
Being on a boat is making me a better person. I am grateful for this new life, with all its restrictions. They are opening more to experiencing every new day.
I also know that my Dad is in my heart--he is with me as I go on this journey. What a freedom! What an adventure! This is how to share your life---put things in your heart, where there is always room.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts on My Dad's Life

Albert L. Goodrich, beloved family man and aviator extraordinaire, died peacefully in the loving company of his family on Tuesday night, January 6th, 2015, just two weeks shy of his 84th birthday. He and his wife Corinne celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in December.

Al had lived through 12 years of Alzheimers. He and Corinne gracefully navigated through the course of this illness from their home, called 'Back Acres Ranch', on Goose Rocks Road in the 'Port'.

A native Mainer, and ten generation Kennebunkporter, Al came from humble beginnings. "I was born on the banks of Tyler Brook," Al was fond of saying.  After beginning his education at one of Kennebunkport's two-room schoolhouses, Al graduated from Kennebunk High School.

His father, George Goodrich, was a lobsterman in Cape Porpoise and his mother, Sadie ran the roadside clam hut called 'Sadie's Swimming Lobsters' on the Mills Road. Dad loved to recount the stories of his youth, including the time he helped his father beat the flames from the fire of '47 off the roof of their home at the age of 17.  He is in a famous early photo of the town, playing baseball in the road down in the center of Cape Porpoise, in order, he said, to 'hold up tourist traffic'.

Al had a sociable nature, a talent for adventure and a head for detail. He was an unhurried man, painstaking about his talents which he developed into hobbies, and achievements. He also encouraged these traits in his daughters, in whom he took evident pride.

Al took a lively interest in the world and was a lifetime learner, acquiring many skills along the way that inspired friends and family to live to up to their best potential. He demonstrated the confidence that a person could do anything they chose to with their life and believed that a person's circumstances created opportunities to explore.

His love of flying led him into building model airplanes, which evolved into buying and flying and then building them himself, in his hangar, on their property, where they made a landing strip in the field and took off with children and grandchildren in tow.

His mechanical aptitude and deep curiosity led him to work on motors and build things that helped save time and trouble.

He also built two homes and barns and workshops and a hangar and furniture. They were the penultimate do-it-yourselfers; they didn't preach their lifestyle, they simply lived it.

When he started forgetting, Al accepted his situation with grace and patience. He had by this time built an 'ultralight' an experimental aircraft and was an honorary member of the EAA.

Al decided early on that lobstering was not for him. Instead, he left his Swampscot Dory behind to take up a twenty year career in the Air Force. At that time, you could not become an officer without college background. However, Al was one of the last people eligible to join the Cadets, a pilot training program. He earned his B.A. in history while working his way up the ranks to becoming, eventually, a Major, Crew Commander and pilot of B-52's. Al flew over 100 missions in Vietnam and flew in many overseas engagements, including Korea.

After his retirement, which came in his forties, Al worked at a variety of careers as teacher, supervisor, and was a pilot for his own charter company, 'Call-Air-Inc.'

After his four daughters were teenagers, he and Corinne built their first house on the Stone Road and moved the family to Kennebunkport, where they worked on their land. They cleared woods, built ponds, gardens and stone walls, raised Polled Hereford cows, grew a Victory Garden and practiced an early version of what would later be called 'sustainable living'.

Many people grew up watching his famous home-built Piper Cub airplanes take off and land from the hangar and runway on their land near Goose Rocks Beach.

When the grandchildren came, they were treated to the classic country farm experience, along with trips in the plane with Grampy. He raised four daughters: Laurie, Lisa, Karen and Wendy, who raised 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Through this all, their home has welcomed friends and family.

Saying that Al Goodrich will be sorely missed is an understatement. That's the way how it is, he would say to us, smiling.





Epiphany

Life happens while you are busy living your dream as well as making other plans.
My Dad died tonight at 9:00pm. It was a day full of family gathering and togetherness in the nursing home where Al Goodrich, my dad, spent only about a week and a half at the very end of his 83 years. He lived through 12 years of Alzheimers which he and my mother navigated from their home, called 'Back Acres Ranch' on Goose Rocks Road in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Staying power is a profound thing--it can help you sustain through tough times, rough weather, rocky patches and blowouts. It's a decision, which my mom, Corinne, and my dad, Al, made at the beginning of their lives together in the military; and their staying power helped them to cope with the ups and downs of life, because they decided that they would. They lived in a generation that understood sacrifice and unselfishness.n
My parents did not just cope together, however, they flourished. Partly because they did not require much except their own elbow grease and a clear set of priorities based on right-minded living, and partly because my mother is a genius at making everything work and making it look easy.
Also, my Dad knew what he wanted and they made it work for them. They were full-fledged partners in their life. Last month, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Dad was unhurried and painstaking about his talents and developed them into hobbies that inspired other people.
Although not an intellectual or philosopher, per se, he took a lively interest in the world and was a lifetime learner, acquiring many skills along the way that in a way that inspired his children and others to achieve to their best potential. He demonstrated the confidence that a person could do anything they chose to with their life.
He believed that a person's circumstances created opportunities to explore.
His love of flying led him into building model airplanes, which evolved into buying and flying and then building them himself, in his hangar, on their property, where they made a landing strip in the field and took off with children and grandchildren in tow.
His mechanical aptitude and deep curiosity led him to work on motors and build things that helped save time and trouble. He also built two homes and barns and workshops and a hangar and furniture. They were the penultimate do-it-yourselfers; they didn't preach their lifestyle, they simply lived it.
My Dad came from humble beginnings. "I was born on the banks of Tyler Brook, 77 years ago", my Dad would say, long after he turned 77. 
After beginning his education at one of Kennebunkport's two-room schoolhouses, Dad graduated from Kennebunk High School.
His father, George Goodrich, was a lobsterman in Cape Porpoise and his mother, Sadie ran the roadside clam hut called 'Sadie's Swimming Lobsters' on the Mills Road. Dad loved to recount the stories of his youth, including the time he helped beat the flames from the fire of '47 off the roof of his parents house at the age of 17.  He is in a famous early photo of the town, playing baseball in the road down in the center of Cape Porpoise to hold up tourist traffic, he said. He had a talent for adventure and a head for detail.
When he started forgetting, Dad accepted his situation with grace and patience. He had by this time built an 'ultralight' an experimental aircraft and was a member of that esteemed organization, the EAA, who have stayed friends with my parents, who are considered honorary lifetimes members.
Prior to this, my Dad decided early that lobstering was not for him, and left his Swampscot Dory behind to take up a twenty year career in the military. At that time, you could not become an officer without college background. However, my Dad was one of the last people eligible to join the Cadets, a pilot training program. He earned his B.A. in history while working his way up the ranks to becoming, eventually, a Major, Crew Commander and pilot of B-52's.; he flew over 100 missions in Vietnam.  He flew in many overseas engagements.
After his retirement, which came in his forties, Dad tried a variety of careers as teacher, supervisor, pilot for his own charter company, and finally moved the family to Kennebunkport where they built on their land and raised cows, grew a Victory Garden and practiced an early version of what would later be called 'sustainable living'. 
When the grandchildren came, they were treated to the classic country farm experience. He raised four daughters who raised 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Through this all, their home has welcomed friends and family.
Saying that my Dad will be sorely missed is an understatement. That's the way how it is, he would say to us.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sailing Through This

1/5/15
I'm coming back home to Maine, on a flight that gets into Boston at 10:30pm, having just watched the movie 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day' on the plane. It was in Spanish but the message got through.
It is the classic children's story about how everything that can go wrong, does; yet, when the people, despite their circumstance, pull together for each other, even the worst situations work out. The movie showed how the people felt empowered when they decided to turn their situations around, and how making that choice allowed unexpected good results to occur.
That's the kind of can-do positive orientation that I was raised on. I could make excuses for myself and create a sorrowful outlook as I am going back, due to my Dad's being in his last days. I could settle into a melancholy or sentimental sadness or fall into existential drama or regretful thinking, or go into my usual pattern of trying to make sense of it all.
Instead, I intend to keep aware and stay centered and calm. I could reject this as being superficial thinking, but I know that it works.
As the movie built up in its drama the people in the airplane were also going through their own loud, complaining, negative mindsets. It's not bothering me, though, and, instead, I am just keeping steady.  Sometimes you can be in the vortex of howling ferocity and stay at the calm in the center of the storm. I seem to be there.
The weather has been extreme, with cold up north and heavy winds and rain in the islands; and with the full moon, it seems prime for what is going on in this airplane. People seem to be falling into fitfulness all around me.
Prior to boarding, everyone heard, on the airport TV, that a plane was held up for 28 hours on the tarmac, and an elderly person died on board as a result.
That undoubtedly has added to the anxiety in the air, and snappish high voltage behaviors. I don't have to react, it is just what it is right now. It feels as though I will be able to sail through this. If all it takes for me to do this is to make a simple decision to make the best of a 'bad' situation, I am ready. It may not be much, but it is the sanest way of thinking.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Reversal

Last night, after mooring by Marina Cay, I called my Mom and discovered that she and my sister had tried to call to tell me to come home quickly, as my Dad is dying.
This news is not unexpected, but facing it is not something you can do unemotionally. Bob and I went early to sleep, as we hadn't had any the previous night, due to our collision with the car ferry. In the morning we set out quickly for St. Thomas, arriving at 2:30 with good wind.
We passed our friends Tom and Andy, on Captain Tom's charter boat, the H.B. Welch enroute to Cruz Bay, St. John. We shot moons at each other across the waves; this is the day of the full moon, and it rose beautifully over the harbor tonight. It's high up there now, keeping me up, but I am glad for the ability to do my own reflecting.
I am leaving to go to Maine tomorrow and won't be back at least until January 30, when the return is set. I will miss Bob, Calypso and the Virgin Isles and our new friends of course, but I am looking forward to seeing my family and pets again.
Mom is picking me up in Wells and it will be so good to be with her. Of course, she has her mind full of things going on there, as my Dad has not been given a prognosis for many more days. I have been through a similar loss; this is a time for family to come together. We need each other. It will be strange, though, to spend so many days back on land since we became live aboards on Oct. 21st. The sea legs thing is only part of it; you grow accustomed to your boat beneath you.
Since this is a blog about the sailing life, I'll mention that we watched the movie 'Virgin Islands' tonight, about the couple who came to live on the (formerly) deserted island, where we moored at Marina Cay, and made a stone house there and called it home for several years in the 30's.
We appreciated the distraction, as our trip back to St. Thomas today was consumed by trying to get through to AT&T and Jet Blue, which took a ridiculous amount of my and my sister Karen's time; she  helped on internet and phone to the airlines, while we were out of range.
It would be nice to be technology free as the islanders in the movie were, but that really is  'Fantasy Island'. Nowadays, I am just trying to deal with technology efficiently and not get too crazed.
Then, as now, there is the expression 'island time', which means that things happen in a more relaxed way down here. We waited for the launch to come to get us from Trellis Bay to go to Marina Cay, which was almost an hour late. It did come, eventually, with no word of explanation.
Weather sounds bad back home and there is a weather advisory for the flight.
I know I sound very matter of fact, but when I think about what I might write about my Dad, it gets hard to move through the emotions. I plan to speak at his service, that much I know. The rest is fog.
What is true about my Dad is that he tried, he really tried, for as long as he could, to deal with his illness and stay in loving connection with all of us, until he had no reserves left. He has operated on fumes for a long while now and my Mom and he learned to navigate by the winds of the moment.
Dad learned 'island time' right there in Maine-- on the porch in his chair,  taking time to eat, walking through the flea market, driving with Mom in the car to get coffee or watch the trains go over the road or driving by his old homes. He was an unhurried man. He showed me how that is done, too, with grace and usually some means of good humor.
People will talk about him as a lover of his family - his girls and our Mom, that much is indisputable.
What I hope to share is how influential he was in the lives of each of us; how, for me, he was, (despite our major differences), the guiding model for my sense of purpose and mission in life. It goes without saying that he and my Mom were of one accord in their raising us, at least in front of, if not behind, the scenes.
He was able to lead by example in the way he accepted his life's duties. He enabled me to have not just faith, but confidence in my own ability to lead my life. That is not something you teach, so much as observe and follow, especially if you are encouraged to believe you can do it, whatever it is. My Dad did that for me. He did actively support me, I always knew he cared about the person I grew up to be.
Sitting on the deck of Calypso as we set out down the Sir Francis Drake Channel, I had a sunny, breezy few minutes to think about how he influenced me to be able to take on the challenge of starting to sail this summer at the age of 58. He built and flew his own airplanes and that never was my thing,  just as boats were never his thing. My grandfathers, the two Georges, both were the boaters of the family, as was my late husband Michael.
I just never thought I could become a captain myself, but I will be. I am already knee deep into courses, and Bob is taking his captain's class in the two weeks I will be away. We are in our life, just as my Mother and Father were committed to their flying and farming. My Mom and Dad started raising cows and started a 40 acre 'freedom farm' in their mid-life. They grew into new ways of living their lives fully.
I don't expect to fish, but having done the farming and land design and activism and writing, I am ready to sail into uncharted waters. That, for sure, I got from my parents, and from my Dad, I got the courage to lead the way for my family, and others, to see that this can be done, at any age-- living your dream, I mean. Bob is with me, and my Mom was with my Dad. They had each other, all the way through their long goodbye. I remember the good things, because they are all good things--the things I learned I am able to take into myself, that's because I love him and know he loved me.
I am lucky to have his loving inspiration and guidance in my life and that will never, ever end.
My Dad used to say many things but the message behind the man was simple: he loved us. Very, very much.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dawn Inspection



Bob and I spent the night sharing watch, with my staying up until five and his taking the morning watch. It's 7am and we are not quite so amazed to have sustained no damage. We did, in fact, get hit more seriously. It must have taken place during the day, while we we touring Virgin Gorda.
There is a crack along the wood where the toe rail meets in the back, which was an unlikely place of impact, since it is protected by all the stainless stanchions around the wind vane--they were not touched. It must have been from a protruding part of the car ramp which hit us after all.
I heard Bob swearing after a further inspection, which revealed more issues. 
On the Port side, the metal car rail for the port side swim ladder was scuffed up for a length a foot and the metal lifeline stanchion there was bent a little, enough to require fixing to avoid a leak.
We are no longer cherry. We are however, sadder but wiser. It could have been so much worse, it's hard to conceive.  We had spotted one mooring ball but had chosen not to pick it up in favor of an anchorage that left us with boat damage and loss of sleep.  
We will always, henceforth, use moorings when available. It was expensive here: The first hour was free and then $5. per hour afterwards. It is getting tougher out here for cruisers, with fewer moorings and shallower, too, as the marinas cater more and more to catamarans.
Also we will never come within a mile of any large vessel and as far as possible from other boats. This is also easier said than done...last night, for instance, we were between a rock and a hard place, because we had the ferry eating up all the available space in the mooring field to our port, and the channel entrance to starboard, which we had to keep clear of. Letting out more chain in an anchoring, than in a mooring, you have a much larger turning radius. 
So far, we have been able to keep our distance boat wise, in tricky anchorages. But accounting for anchor dragging, which amounted to 200 feet in all, we should be counting our blessings instead of our cost in boat repairs.
Strangely, we just now spotted another sailboat adrift in the harbor, passing perilously close to a newer car ferry. The ferrymen put out a dinghy while we watched with our binoculars, and someone finally came out on deck.
They appear to have gotten by without collision, and are out on deck now pulling up their anchor, which they also dragged last night. Winds were up to 29 knots at times, gusting.
It shouldn't make us feel better, seeing someone else's dragging at anchor, but while Bob is make sounds of dismay up top, I am still glad that Neptune's trident didn't stab us more severely. We are alive another day, and the sun just broke out!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Things that go BUMP in the night


We had a moonlight collision. With an old 100 foot steel car ferry called 'Idlewild'.  At Colison aka 'Collision' Point. Unbelievably, we sustained no damage to our boat. Do things like this really happen to other cruisers?
We are heading tomorrow to Monkeytown, on Guana Island, which is apt, because I felt like a monkey running around on deck just now, with nothing on; we were trying to push the ferry's stern off our front end, at 10 pm, with the nearly full moon over us and the wind blowing hard.
We needed to keep our wits; the wind kept shifting us around.  Fortunately we acted quickly and, I believe, saved our boat from sinking.
Bob says I am being overdramatic, but it isn't everyday you can say that you got crashed into by a tanker and survived.
We had just come back from dinner at Little Dix Bay Resort, the most beautiful place we have seen so far, and before that saw a gorgeous sunset nearly atop Gorda Peak, which had a view across the entire Sir Francis Drake Channel and Gorda Sound. 
Bob was almost asleep on the starboard settee, and I was reading in the v-berth, about the Resort's development by Rockefeller, when there was a double crashing sound right up hard against the front where I was, inside. It wasn't the usual tossing and anchor banging or dinghy crunching noises.  I thought someone had run into us. It was a freakout moment, the type where you know that what happens in the next few minutes will determine the level of crisis you will be dealing with.
I came on deck and Bob was already out there, trying to keep the  ferry off our bow with a fender. 'Idlewild' was moored further out than us, closer to Colison Point.  We saw it clearly, tonight, due to the bright moonlight. 
It was strange that we had any contact with it at all.  When we originally came into St. Thomas Bay, in Spanishtown, this afternoon, we gave ourselves extra rode on the anchor: at 35 feet depth, we put out 175 feet of chain. We were a long distance from the ferry, which was on a mooring.  It didn't look like they could swing around anywhere near us. Best to be safe, we reasoned.
We may have dragged anchor closer to them, and when they swung around, they hit us with their back end. They were resting on our anchor chain, so I ran to get the windlass control by the nav desk inside, and Bob's glasses. Then I took the fender from him as he ran back to the cockpit to put us into reverse. Before he did that I got the anchor snubber off the chain and once we were clear we brought up the anchor. 
We moved closer into the harbor area and re-anchored behind some catamarans and a monohull, but we are now wide awake and not at all clear that we aren't dragging. 
We inspected the starboard side and there is some blue paint on the toe rail, but there does not appear to be any damage to the wood. We were both drifting, not moving under power, so I guess that explains why we don't have a gash on the side of our boat.
Bob says he was afraid of the big car gate, sticking off the back of the ferry; he says that if we had caught the corner of that, it would definitely have caused some damage. Luckily we were hit by their port quarter and not the protruding ramp. 
It was a moment,  when I first came on deck and saw the dark shape looming in front of us. I had night vision difficulty, and I couldn't make out what the hulk was before the boat, but it looked like something sinking--that's how your imagination runs.  
Now we have moved to the new spot. We have tried to carefully gauge our distance to the boat in front of us, so we don't swing into it if the wind shifts around, which it is doing, but there is nothing for it but to stay awake and watch whether we are dragging or not. This place isn't called Pull and be Damn Point for nothing.  
The funny part of it is that we had told Rick Smith, captain of Cimarron, that we were going to play it safe and not try to enter the small bay in front of Little Dix Resort, because it appeared too shallow and too close to the reefs at the entrance. 
After successfully navigating around Anegada Island on New Year's Day (being chaperoned there by a large friendly dolphin) and its deadly reefs and 300 shipwrecks, we had some confidence in our anchoring in treacherous areas.
We are near the reefs fronting Spanishtown's bay, but the depths are all visible on our echo sounder's readings, although we are getting tired after a nice meal and a great sail from Anegada to here. The anchor appears to be holding.  Bob is asking me to check the radar screen down here at the nav desk as he makes a valiant effort not to appear worried.  I just read this to him and he said, of course, that he isn't really worried because he isn't sleeping and the boat is running so if something happens, he's (we're) ready. We probably won't rest much tonight after all the excitement. 
I am looking forward to being back on a mooring. This much adventure is a lot for just being two days into the new year!
Yes, I did look overhead to thank our lucky stars, which are brightly shining down on us.


--

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Be Who You RRRRR


After Sailing all morning, we arrived at the entry into the bay which Saba Rock, Leverick Bay and the Bitter End Yacht Club share, at the Eastern End of Virgin Gorda, at the Eastern End of the British Virgin Islands. Although it would appear to be a distant outpost, we were joined by a huge number of boaters, including some ridiculous mega yachts, actually resembling small cruise ships, one with five huge masts which seemed completely and literally over the top.
At five we were at Saba Rock, which has an interesting past, and we watched the Tarpons get fed; although they have no teeth, they apparently don't bite but I wouldn't want to mess with one, they are up to 4 feet long. The entertainer was making jokes as he fed them, while surrounded by people on the dock and on dinghies, taking pictures with go pro cameras.
We left to catch the Pirate show given by Michaels 'Beans' Gardner. They had a contest for the longest blow on a conch and I won! a bottle of rum, for making it blow for 50 plus seconds, longer than the guy did it. Bob was quite pleased. I bought him a captain's cap and he looks quite commanding in it.
That's it from here; the only thing I would say is that Michael's Pirate Show, at the end, had a message for everyone to be who they RRRR.. Sounds like good advice. We hope to see some fireworks, which get sent off at Necker Island at midnight, if we make it; but for now, the best thing about today was having another day in paradise with Bob and the next best thing was talking to my Mom tonight, and being glad to have had such a good set of parents. It's a nice way to end a year. Best wishes, All of You!


Anegada De Vida

We are on Anegada Island, a flat coral rimmed outpost island, site of 300 shipwrecks. We sailed early from Ford's Sounds, more on that later, but this is a great place to sail to and connect with the deep blue sea. Here's wishing everyone a fresh new year!