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Random Thoughts by Mary
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Random Thoughts
by Mary

Living aboard vs. cruising
February, 2010

I love cruising. I'm not so sure about living aboard. The two concepts are separate in my mind. Yes, cruising means living aboard; but not vice-versa.

To me, cruising means traveling to different places. We stay a little while in each place and then move on. There's the adventure of the passage from one place to another. The sea is beautiful and ever changing. Conditions can be challenging. It is interesting and exciting and keeps us on our toes. When we're cruising, our boat is perfect. There's always something new to explore wherever we stop. It's great.

But when we spend a long time in one place, we're "living aboard" with all the attached inconveniences. We can't afford to stay in a slip for more than the occasional one or two nights, so we have limited electricity, we must haul our fresh water to the boat, and land transportation is often a problem. That's why I don't like to stay in one place too long. When we've arrived at someplace new, these are minor issues because there's exploring to be done. But after a few weeks, the galley is just a tiny kitchen. The top-loading refrigerator is a real pain in the butt because whatever I want is buried underneath something else,. The head is just a miniscule bathroom. If I'm going to stay in one place, I miss the conveniences of living on land. Suddenly becoming a dirt dweller again looks pretty good.

As I write this we've been In Vero Beach, FL too long. A nice little condo somewhere sounds very attractive. We still have some repairs to do before we can leave. I hope they get done soon. I wanna go sailing! GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!!!!

 

Sounding like a local
February, 2010

Wherever we travel, there's a always a certain level of acceptance that comes from sounding as though you're a local. Not necessarily a native, but someone who knows the local terminology. Even when you tell people that you're "not from around here" you're not treated as much like an outsider if you have at least some of the right lingo.

In Minnesota it may mean nodding knowingly when someone says "uff da". Sometimes it's food related like knowing what a grinder is.

In Massachusetts, part of it is in the pronunciation of some of the town names. We stay in Salem, get our annual physicals in Haverhill and do some of our shopping in Peabody. Salem isn't a problem but the other two will get snickers from locals if you pronounce them they way they're spelled.

Haverhill. No, it's not Haver-hill. It's Hay-vril with the emphasis on the first syllable. That's the easy one.

Peabody is more difficult to master. It's not Pea-body. Its Peeb-dee - again with the emphasis on the first syllable. Takes some practice to avoid putting a vowel between the b and the d. It's all just part of our ongoing education.

 

Dreams vs. Reality
October, 2008

We had big plans when we began this adventure. We were going to sail the South Pacific visiting all the wonderful islands. We'd circumnavigate Australia. We'd continue heading west going around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, cross the Atlantic and finally end up in the Caribbean and back in the US after as many years as necessary to see all we wanted to see. It sounded wonderful - it still does.

But we've come to realize that we won't do that. Perhaps if we'd started 10 or 15 years earlier it would have been achievable. But now we simply don't have the energy and stamina to undertake an expedition of that magnitude.

Well, one of the most important characteristics of our lifestyle is flexibility. Circumstances change as new information becomes available and new plans get developed. So the reality is that we'll stay in the western Atlantic and Caribbean and that's not exactly hardship. There are a lot of islands to explore and we'll try to get to some different ones every year. Maybe not as ambitious as the original dream, but there's plenty of adventure to be had in our own hemisphere.

Endless Summer - without A/C
June, 2008

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. How about "For every advantage there is an almost equal and opposite disadvantage"?

Don't get me wrong; I still think that I'd rather be too warm than too cold. But living with constant heat does take some getting used to. Even when we lived in San Diego, we had a winter of a sort - cool enough to need jackets and a furnace in the house. Now that we're following the sun I have a new perspetive on living in an endless summer. I sort of understand the way of life described in the deep south in the days before electricity but I still can't imagine what it was like at 90 degrees with 85% humidity wearing the many layers of clothing they wore back then. Heat is debilitating.

Even wearing the scanty summer clothes of modern life, it can get very uncomfortable when there's work to be done. We do our chores in spurts with rests in between to have a cool drink and let the sweat dry off a bit. There's not the constant moving from one task to another that we were used to. And it is very easy to postpone those sweat producing tasks until they become big jobs instead of mere tasks. So am I complaining? Maybe grumbling just a little when I've got sweat dripping off my nose; but not really. It's mostly a matter of adjusting to it. We don't have air conditioning. If we did have, we'd spend far too much time down below staying cool. We'd miss the passing parade of life and that would be a shame. As I write this, we've been in 80+ degree temps for as long as I can remember. We did wear sweatshirts one night while on passage but that was unusual.

See entry below about winter!

Winter
February 13, 2008

It's been a pretty nasty winter across most of the US. Cold, storms and unusual winter tornados have made a real mess of things. I'm so very, very grateful to not have to cope with all that. It's hard to remember that I truly did enjoy winter when I was younger.

How stereotypes persist
October 18, 2007

Those of us who are not from the northeast, tend to think of folks from New York and New Jersey as being agressive, loud, and somewhat obnoxious. It's an impression that is as unfair as any stereotype - but, like any stereotype, reflects the reality of at least a small portion of people.

Normally, sailing offshore at night is pretty quiet because there's very little radio traffic .But our September passage from Block Island to Cape May was anything but quiet. In the wee hours of the morning, there began a radio "dialog" that consisted of a few morons making animal noises to each other over the VHF radio. One of them parodied the Coast Guard announcement that channel 16 is to be used only for hailing and distress calls. Someone on another boat/ship radioed to ask them to knock it off. Much laughter and obscenity ensued. Guess where we were. Off the coast of New Jersey. Another stereotype reinforced by a few jerks.

There's one in every crowd
August 19, 2007

There seems to be a critical mass above which any group of people will include at least one complete jerk. I wonder what that number is. Here at Newburyport Boat Basin marina it is the guy who cranks up his music so loud I'm sure it can be heard for miles.

 

New England towns

I love the colors people paint their homes. Bright colors with contrasting trim but none looks out of place. They're definitely not the cookie cutter homes of the developments. But the towns seem to melt into one another. They're all very historic and picturesque but after I've seen a few, they all begin to look alike.

Good Food:
June 15, 2007

Food - good local food - is one of the things we've enjoyed most thus far. The trick is to find the non-chain places where the locals go and then try the local specialities. In Texas we feasted on Gulf shrimp and some crab and Cajun. Annapolis was crab, crab, crab. We made it a mission to sample cream of crab soup wherever we ate. In South Carolina it's shrimp & grits and ribs. St. Augustine has Colombia, a Spanish restaurant where we stuffed ourselves. Southern Florida was a little disappointing until we found wonderful little Cuban restaurant but we were regular customers at a local citrus outlet that has luscious red grapefruit. Cruising has made our tastebuds very happy.

 

Pelicans:

How is it that birds that look so ungainly on land are so perfectly graceful in flight?

Cormorants:

These diving birds don't have oily feathers so they must perch on land occasionally to dry. How do they know when their feathers are dry enough?

We're in training

That's how we've approached this cruise down the ICW. And what an education we've been getting. Boat handling skills top the list. Navigating marked channels isn't always as straightforward as it would seem. Learning to identify appropriate anchorages - the guide books are wonderful but things change. Communication with other vessels and with draw bridges is pretty straightforward but can be frustrating when you can't get an answer from the captain of the tug boat you want to pass.. Communication with one another is also sometimes more complex than before - when underway we need to acknowledge and confirm that we've understood one another. I'm working on that but it's not been one of my strong points. There's also the problem of communicating from one end of the boat to the other when it is almost impossible to hear. We're working out signals for the different moves necessary for anchoring. Then there's the day to day living while traveling. Our meal habits are adapting. Where do the daily chores fit in? Navigating the ICW is often a 2-person job what with spotting the channel markers and dodging crab pot buoys and debris so chores get postponed.

We spent HOW MUCH????

The transition to a small fixed income has not been flawless. It has been an interesting learning experience for two self-indulgent people. We've quit buying "stuff" because we have no place to put it; but we do love food and nice restaurants and that has been our weak spot. We've spent more time at marinas than expected but that's mostly been to avoid being at anchor in stormy weather so we're ok with that. But too often when there's a restaurant within walking distance, we go out just for the sake of going out. Not good. Lesson learned.

I must have used itů

This comes under the heading of good record keeping - or not. I've got a good inventory system for food items. I made a detailed diagram of every storage space and numbered each one. Before we left we carefully noted how many of what was in each space. It was a good start but I'm not always diligent about keeping it up and that has led to some frustrations. I haven't always noted when I've used an item because I'm in a rush and I'll do it later (yeah, right); and I haven't always added new items to the list. I've got to make this work better.


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