Friday, November 27, 2015

Me and Yu, and Yu and Me, No Matter how They Tossed the Dice, it had to be....

After tossing the dice around trying to figure out whether or not we should head north with Moitessier, we finally decided that it was foolish to bring the boat up.  We had debated for a while as to where to keep her and work while we built our kitty again.  We had considered Charleston, Savannah, New York, and other coastal cities, but the problem was Frank and I wanted to be in a place where we could easily pick up work as well as get paid well enough to be able to save a little money for our next big adventure.  The southern cities were viable options because it would never get too too cold on the boat where we had to worry about shrink wrapping and all the glorious cold weather related troubles.   The reason we didn't go that route was because for some reason in the south, skilled labor is not lucrative.  New York was a possibility because both Frank and I could pick up well paying work, and be with our family and friends, but the problem posed here were all the expenses involved just to keep warm.  High dockage fees, shrink wrapping, as well as installing a hydronic heater that would be suitable for living aboard and could be left running for long periods of time unattended, were all factors that kept us from going forward with this plan as well.   We'd be going into debt just to not freeze and that made no sense.

So here we were sitting around for a month in St Augustine, twiddling our thumbs and trying figure what our next step was, when it occurred to us that we could work in the US Virgin Islands.  Since it is a US owned territory, we are legally able to work.  And since the USVIs, particularly St Thomas, are rich with tourism, job opportunities are abundant. That on top of the whole crystal clear blue waters thing, being able to spearfish every day, and being close enough to other islands that were just day sails away that were culturally diverse, really swayed the decision.  

During this time also, our dinghy got stolen....yup...different blog post, but what the fuck?  After dealing with all that and coming to terms with this decision to go into more debt and moving south instead of north, we immediately flew up to NY so that we could both work for a month and save up as much as we can.  During this time, Frank had decided to take the STCW-95 class and get his certification as he is hoping to work as crew on other boats, because from what we hear, this is a common requirement to work on boats.  On top of all that, Frank picked up some metal work with his friend, Zach, where he learned to MIG weld.  He also managed to squeeze in some time to get an abscessed tooth pulled....YAY! And squeezed in some time with his family.  Quite a hectic month.  

I managed to find 2 bartending jobs during this month, and worked doubles for days on end and spent some time with my family, as well as by myself.  It had been 4 years since we had ever visited NY in the fall, and no matter how exhausted I was, I always made it a point to have dates with NY.  Going to museums, walking around the city, and just eating good food by myself was something I hadn't done in a long time.  After spending so much time with someone always around me but in isolation, I was now by myself doing my own thing in the opposite of isolation...NYC.  Since Frank and my schedules were polar opposites during this time, I hardly got to see him, but oddly it renewed our relationship.  I realize how important it was for me to be alone.  Alone with my thoughts, alone to do my thing, alone in interacting with people, alone in my decision making.  Again, that didactic juxtaposition of not having something for a while in order to realize how important it is to one's life.  In this case, it was my alone time.  Being by myself again and not being a part of a "unit" made me feel whole again, like I had been missing myself, if that makes any sense?  I realized that I am actually pretty good company and that I quite like myself.  Hopefully on our next date, I get to second base....

Dates with NY.....
Upstate NY...
Fall...I've missed you most of all....

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Under the Sea….

Foraging for food was the highlight and the goal for most days in the Bahamas.  We got into a routine where every morning, we'd get up, eat breakfast, lather ourselves with sunblock, and pack the dinghy with all of our spearfishing gear, and head out and try to find a new reef to dive on in the surrounding areas by trying to read the water.  At this point, we had gotten very good at reading the water and distinguishing between sea grass, rocks, or coral.  Depending on what we were trying to spear, we'd try to scout out the best spots for what we wanted to hunt.  This was done basically by me just sticking my head in and checking out what was around.  If we were hunting lobster, we'd try to find smaller, low lying rocks with ledges where the lobsters would hide.  Sometimes, we'd get lucky and see the antennae from above and at which point, it was just a matter of diving and spearing them.  We found that we'd find lobster in water anywhere from 5ft to 30 ft, so long as there were rocks for them to hide in. We also discovered that finding one lobster also meant that there were definitely more around as they tend to cluster in groups. 

Our biggest lobsters of the trip….
An iphone for comparison

There was never a scarcity of fresh fish or lobster, and we prepared it in every way imaginable.  Raw, pan fried, lightly floured and deep fried, steamed, ceviched, grilled, made into salads, into paella, or poached in coconut milk. We tried every imaginable way to prepare the fish, and even with this in mind, at times I found myself completely sick of both lobster and fish and wanting a hotdog, chicken wings, or a burger.  Haha, first world problems.  We discovered that if you deep fried trigger fish, since the meat is very hearty and fibrous, that it tastes A LOT like fried chicken.  Now take it one step further, if you dip it in Heinz BBQ sauce, the flavor is much like a McDonald's chicken nugget.  A very welcome respite when you've been eating fish for literally 3 weeks straight.  

It became a game for us to try to forage every type of edible underwater creature there was. Anything from conch, to sea urchin, to sea snails, to fish, to crab, to lobster, we found the thrill of the hunt to be quite addictive.  At times, we were scared to go in the water, especially in the end after Ashley left, because we spotted sharks on nearly every dive.  With one less person on the lookout for them, it became a little nerve wrecking to get into the water as they would appear very suddenly and seemingly from out of nowhere.  On Ashley's last day in the Bahamas, we were on one of our usual dives, when suddenly I hear her shout "Shark!"   Protocol for us is that when one of us spots a shark, we just swim for the dinghy as quickly (and as calmly) as we can while trying to spot where the shark is.  Well, this was one of the days where I didn't spot the shark and just swam for the dinghy as quickly as I could.  Little did I know at the time that I was being chased by a 10 ft shark (which to this day is questionable as to what type it was), and didn't know until I was hoisting myself onto the dinghy and look down to see this thing about a foot from my fin.  Poor Frank was much too far from the dinghy at the time, and watched in horror as the shark chased me, thinking all the while what he was going to do if I needed to get a hospital that was a couple days sail away.  I don't know which is worse, seeing the shark chase you, or seeing it chase someone you love so dearly.  Needless to say, Ashley didn't go back in since she was the one who spotted it out of nowhere and was good and traumatized.  Frank and I both forced ourselves back into the water shortly after, because if we didn't, we'd be too scared to ever go back in and we had more then a month left in the Bahamas at that point.  In the end, despite all the shark and barracuda encounters, we made it out unscathed…though I can't say the same for the creatures you see below.  Yes, a lot of fish were harmed in the making of this blog post….

Typical day's haul (from Bottom Up)….Queen Triggerfish, Grunts,
Jackfish, Ocean Triggerfish, Red Hind
Bucket of 10lb+ lobsters
Bucket of Chicken
Whelps…delicious but pain in the ass to eat...
Frank caught the largest Channel Clinging Crab I've ever seen!
Sea Urchin aka Uni….favorite thing ever
23 Lobsters speared in 20 minutes and a more reasonably
sized Channel Clinging Crab to boot!
Ashley speared the largest fish of the trip….Mutton Snapper!
Big guy in 5 feet of water!

Friday, September 25, 2015


Sorry about falling off the face of the earth.  Being off the grid and on deserted islands does a lot to demotivate you from any type of writing. I guess you can say we were having a little too much fun in the Bahamas.  Where did we go?  What did we see?  Well, I won't bore you with every single detail of everyday, but we pretty much explored the whole of the Bahamas; Bimini, Berry's, Exumas, Long Island, Cat Island, Eleuthera, etc.  I will write about the highlights in other blog posts.  It's been a month now since we've been back from the Bahamas.  

Right now, we're in St Augustine awaiting weather windows to get north.  We are still not sure where exactly we are taking Moitessier, but right now the priority is to get her somewhere and work again to rebuild the kitty. The past couple of months in the Bahamas have been, not to sound cliche, life changing.  I can't say that I'm not having a little trouble adjusting to the "real world" again.  Living the life we have been living the past couple months have really changed my perspective on things.  Since most of the places we stayed in were deserted with no place to buy groceries, every day was spent spearfishing and hunting for our dinner.  It was always an adventure looking for a new reef to dive on.  There is something about having to hunt for your food and being nomadic that brings you back to your primal, animal self.  I can't seem to find the words to articulate just how gratifying that can be. We live in a society so full of technology and ease that we forget that we as a human species are ultimately animals. 

Living life where all you need to worry about are satisfying those needs without the distractions of social media, television, materialism, etc is incredibly rewarding. Being at the mercy of Mother Nature, where weather dictates your plans for the day, and whether seeing a shark determines if you will be predator or prey, and simply living life going with the ebb and flow of things can be very humbling.  You start to realize that you are not a god, and that you are in fact a mere mortal.  It makes you appreciate all the luxuries you've ever had in your life, and it makes you grateful for how easy it's been for us in the first world to obtain something as simple as fresh water and produce.  It also makes you a little indignant to the society in which you come from because you realize that so many people around you will never ever come to this realization and live life trying to fill it with material goods and other useless crap.  I know because I've only been back a month and am getting sucked back into these filthy habits of frivolity and consumption.  What is it about society that does that to you?  You can be so cognitive and aware of what is important, but somehow the moment we step back into the "real world" we just revert back to our default selves.  Is it adaptability that forces us to be this way in order to fit into society?  We are after all a social species.  Haha, I'm sorry for the existential rant....I know this was supposed to be a post about the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, so here are some photos to give you an idea of the beauty of these islands...