Tuesday, December 13, 2016

the Capitol




I know, I know, it's been over 4 months now since I have last written.   Most of you who have been following me know that I have a tendency to fall off the face of the earth when I go through any major changes, and so I totally forgive you for not sending out a rescue party, but for those who don't know that, all I have to say is...gee, thanks alot....just kidding (not really).  Truth be told, I have been procrastinating this post now for quite sometime.  Partly because life in NY has been super busy, partly because I have been a little uninspired, and mostly because I haven't really had the strength to allow myself to feel the sadness that surrounds me with life on land.  We are currently living in Queens with my parents, working away, desperately trying to save money so that we can continue this adventure.  

Before we had even left Grenada, I found the idea of NYC to be so incredibly enticing and I couldn't wait to get home and spend some quality time with my family, friends, and estranged lover, New York.  I couldn't wait to feel at home again, getting back to my "city-girl" roots, and being surrounded by culture once again.  I had longed for the fast paced, have-anything-you-could-ever-desire energy that  NY so plainly offers, that I forgotten just how much I had idealized it.  Upon arriving within the first few weeks did I realize that New York no longer represented all things familiar and homely, and for the first time, I feel so completely out of place.  This has been a difficult transition as I don't know if I have ever felt this way before about my beloved city... but the feeling is much like "a fish out of water" (pun intended)...

When I first arrived, all I could do was adamantly compare NYC to "the Capitol" in The Hunger Games.  I know, I know, it is not fair for me assume that the majority of our readers are 13 yr-old teenage girls (although I do secretly wish to be an inspirational figurehead for all post-pubescent teens out there), and so I'll go into detail a bit here as to what literary reference I'm making.  In the book/movie, the Capitol (according to wikipedia) is a "technogically advanced, utopian city where the nation's most wealthy and powerful live....[it is] known for its fashion and food....and [residents] are extremely shallow, always looking for ways to be noticed...In order to have a good time at a party and eat as much as they want, Capitol residents drink a liquid that causes them to vomit, thus providing enough room in their stomachs for more food.  [They] seem oblivious to the fact that many of the residents are starving..." Though this may be an extremist point of view about this city, I can't tell you how often this rang true when I first started to regain my land legs.  I would go out and try to enjoy myself after a long week of working doubles bartending, and all I would think was, man, this is so indulgent.....look at those girls decked out in Chanel, rocking killer heels, drinking $15 cosmos, and eating foie gras melted over Waygu steak tartare.  Sounds glamorous,  right? Until you realize that a night out on the town equals one week out on the ocean, a pair of Chanel boots equals a couple months out, and damn, look at all the homeless people sprawled about the city.  While the elite get caught up with who the coolest designer currently is, where the next "in" rooftop bar is going to be, and what drug to snort to help lose weight, the rest of us are trudging through life, packed like sardines into the subway, living life like its some sad Groundhog Day, making ends meet so that we could live the same godforsaken day over and over again.  I know, I'm sounding a little dark, but this epiphany has never rung so true.  

Initially, I had every intention of documenting these feelings and getting it on paper so that there would be some tangibility to all I was feeling and all I had realized, but alas, we must realize that we are humans, and as humans, we are highly adaptable.  All things that initially seem so foreign and strange, slowly wiggles its way into your life until it starts to feel commonplace.  The life that you once saw as absurd, starts to feel a little more normal, and the life you dream of becomes just that....a flitting dream.  I can't tell you how many times I have cried and reminisced over the mere thought of a night watch with Moitessier gliding through the water, with the warm salt air caressing my skin.....all the while sipping on my $15 Cosmo in some fancy new, hip place.  Whereas the idea of sleeping in a rocking boat on anchor in the middle of nowhere was once so normal and mundane now seems so incredibly far away.   I can't tell you how often my heart aches for that.  I can't even imagine what it's like to freedive anymore and I often find myself sounding like a senile old lady asking Frank if I actually know how to freedive or sail a boat.  Whereas once upon a time, our daily worries revolved around whether or not we caught a fish for dinner, now our worries are dominated by how long we will be stuck in traffic for, and when we will finally have the money to start a new adventure. This has been completely eye opening, and I can't deny that getting caught in the quicksand of life is not exhausting.  I find myself telling myself that this is not real.  That this only seems all too real because of the pain of suffering for the greater good.  

Still, though, telling myself this isn't enough sometimes....and I find myself being completely inundated by the notion that life will always find a way to catch up.  And then I think, what about the people who aren't suffering for the greater good?  What about the people who don't have a dream to live towards?  What about them?  How are they able to get through this?  I have these thoughts often and often times these same thoughts coexist with the contradictory questions of what the fuck am I doing with my life,  When I'm sitting down at a fancy restaurant eating fresh shucked Kumumoto oysters doused in a champagne mignonette with my successful fashion designer friends, (all the while wondering if this meal is really worth it) as they talk about their careers and apartments they own in Brooklyn, and my friends with families that own houses in Queens, these thoughts haunt me and make me wonder if what I am doing is the right thing.  In these moments, I think to myself, I should be preparing for the race, the finish line, keep one step ahead of Life.  Luckily (and perhaps unluckily) for me, I am still not convinced (famous last words).  There is a part of me that worries about the future.  A very large part of me that I'd hate to admit to or recognize. These thoughts haunt me and I have an overwhelming amount of guilt and fear for living the life that I strive to live.  There is a feeling of frivolity that goes along with this lifestyle, and I fear that it is perhaps a little wreckless. I liken it to feeling like the nototorious hare, you know, the one in that story that takes a nap in the middle of the race overconfident in his abilities, only to find that the tortoise has slowly and steadily reached the finish line.  

And through all of this, I find it ironic that New York was the lover that initially enticed me into this secret love affair with the Ocean.  Without New York and all the oppourtinutieus it has afforded me, perhaps I wouldn't have had the gumption and foresight to live the way that I do.  Without New York pushing me past myself, making me live my life like I'm in a constant mid-life crisis (which mind you, I have been doing since I was 16), perhaps I would've just kept on living this other mundane career driven life and perhaps I would not have tried to live the life thus far that so many older people have told me to be grateful for.  I'm not sure what the right answer is, but my gut tells me that I am not yet done with the ocean and all the lessons it has yet to teach me.  My gut is also telling me that the road that lies ahead is not gonna be an easy one and to prepare for never feeling like I'm at home until I figure out just what that means.  Until then, I will leave you with knowing that no, Poseiden and Mother Nature, I have not yet written you off.  I have not forgotten about you though at times it seems I may have.  You are always on my mind, and no matter what, I promise I will find  a way back into your arms again.  

The view outside my job
World Trade Center Transportation hub 
Still my favorite building in NY...
The lovely Chelsea
View from the Highline
The East Village, my favorite underdog
This is me looking up at the bright side....
....while being stuck in traffic for 2 hours
Good ol' Williamsburg Bridge
Ferry rides

Monday, September 5, 2016

Grenada



After leaving the Tobago Cays, we spent several weeks  hanging out in Grenada and preparing the boat to be left for the remainder of hurricane season.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but we had planned now for some time to leave the boat in Grenada and go back up to NYC for the season just to rebuild the kitty a bit.  To be honest, I have been dreading writing this post as I'm not sure if I was quite ready to leave my life when I did (yes, I'm currently back in NYC, more on that later…), and writing about Grenada only leaves me with the empty feeling of missing Moitessier and all that she represents.  

Anyhow, Grenada was absolutely amazing.  The few weeks we spent there really made me excited to come back and spend some more time exploring all the little anchorages along the coast of Grenada.  Aside from it being a beautiful island rich with history, the locals really make this place a diamond in the rough.   I'm not sure what it was, but everyone seemed sincerely happy.  This energy was certainly contagious and everywhere you go, people seemed open to making small talk or simply passing on a smile.  Though it is still a poor island, you never got the sense that people were unhappy.  Fruit in Grenada was also pretty stupendous, and the "Saturday market" in St George really shows the wide array of tropical fruit that can grow on the island.  Essentially, "Saturday Market" is an open spaced market with outdoor stands packed with fruit, vegetables, eggs, and any other miscellaneous items you could think of.  Every piece of produce is packed with flavor, and fresher than anything I have ever had, and all at very nominal prices.  Tomatoes actually tasted like heirloom tomatoes, watermelons were crisp and sweet, mangos were meaty and juicy, and the guanabanas were tart and florally.  I even had the pleasure of trying a wax apple for the first time, and it was amazing with its texture much like a pear, and its flavor similar to eating a rose.  Sounds odd, but it was really so tasty!  

Saturday Market
Views from Fort George...

Preparing the boat to be left on the hard was quite a daunting ordeal.  Aside from the anxiety of having to leave MoMo for an extended period of time in a place that could potentially get hit by a hurricane, the fear of hauling her out took precedence over all others.  For months, I have been dreading this very moment, going over the precise details of exactly what I needed to do get her into the slings.  For those of you who don't know, driving a double ended sailboat is much like what I imagine driving a mac truck on ice would be.  No brakes, no control....  And since Moitessier has a big ol' bowsprit, we had no choice but to back the thing in.  Now another thing you may not know…we suck at close quarter maneuvering.  Come to think of it, you may already know that.  Normally, between Frank and I, I'm usually the more laid back one, throwing caution to the wind and playing things by ear, but for days before our haul out, I was an unrecognizable nervous wreck.  All of this was compounded by the little fact that Frank had also injured his back days before our scheduled haul out, and so the task of prepping all the things that needed to be done for Moitessier to be left for a long period of time was left mostly to me.  Yay.  These tasks included cleaning out every nook and cranny and spraying it down with Lysol to aid in the prevention of mold while the boat was left unattended, getting rid of all food stores to keep critters away, cleaning out the fridge, stowing everything on deck, removing all sails and stowing its lines, removing the solar panels and bimini, topping up the batteries, flushing the dinghy motor, stowing the dinghy, draining the engine, the list goes on….I'll admit, I didn't handle the stress very well, and became an irritable neurotic mess, working frantically around the clock, nitpicking every detail of every thing that needed to be done.  I knew this behavior is what psychologists call "transference,"putting the stress of hauling out onto other things in my life, but even knowing this did not help my situation, as I found myself neurotically vacuum sealing and labeling our food stores.  Oddly, during this period, Frank and I did a role reversal, and I became him and he became me.  He was the lackadaisical one, telling me not to worry, that it will all get done, just chilling and ignoring my detailed to-do lists…me, I was rigid and militant, losing sleep for a week straight, staying up all hours of the night obsessing over every possible scenario of the haul out, dinghying over to the lift every single day to see wind direction and current, making lists on top of lists, and lists for my lists.


In the end, the haul out went very smoothly, much to my delight/surprise.   We had commissioned our boat buddies on Lyric to help, with Brad manning his dinghy alongside Moitessier, and Karen on deck to help with lines.  This gave me the vote of confidence to do what I needed to do, and somehow magically backed the boat in with no injury to our beloved home. Pretty astonishing considering we hadn't touched a dock since leaving the states. MoMo is now sitting soundly on the hard (growing mold), and patiently awaiting our return.    


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lovely Tobago Cays...


After a short jaunt from Bequia, we ended up hanging in the Tobago Cays for a couple of days.  Let me start by saying that these Cays are very similar to the Bahamas.  I mean this from a aesthetic, topographical perspective, where they are small low lying islands with crystal clear aquamarine water rich with coral.   Seeing it made me miss Bahamas so much, making me regretful that I took the amazing diving and marine life for granted at the time.  We never realized that the water visibility and coral of the rest of the Caribbean would be so lacking compared to the Bahamas.  Frank and I often long for the months we spent spearfishing, foraging, alone on deserted islands, and getting back to our primal roots.  There really hasn't been anything else like it since as the islands of the Caribbean are highly trafficked by cruisers, cruise ships, and tourists alike, and it's so rare to ever be alone by yourself in an anchorage.  

With that being said, I can say that the Tobago Cays are  beautiful with coral that was semi-comparable to the Bahamas.  I say this because a lot of the reefs here, sadly, are starting to die.  With Horseshoe Reef surrounding the cays,  spanning miles long, most of the coral is starting to be overgrown with algae, which is really sad as I can only imagine just how incredible it was when it was teaming with colorful, vivid, live corals.  I suppose it has to do with the amount of tourism here, with charter boats and cruisers every where you turn.   The really remote areas, where Frank and spent weeks without seeing single boat in the Bahamas, were always rich with different coral as well as a diverse variety of  fish.  Anyhow, I say this from a purely speculative point of view, I'm obviously not a marine biologist, so I really have no damn clue as to why all the coral is dying.  

Nonetheless, we really enjoyed our time here.  Though we weren't able to spearfish, as the cays are part of a protected marine park, we still spent our days free diving the reef, swimming with sea turtles, and exploring all the little islands.  The diving visibility is amazing and the reef is so tall that that you were surrounded by reef even in 40+ft of water.  Frank spotted a Hammerhead bigger than our dinghy, during one of our excursions,  just skimming along in 5 feet of water.  Though it would've scared the shit out of me, I am jealous that I didn't get to see it as I was busy exploring another part of the reef.  I have never spotted a Hammerhead before, and when I imagine big scary sharks, Hammerheads always seem to make an appearance next to the Great Whites, so they're definitely on my bucket list.  It was a pretty cool place to anchor your boat in as well, since the cays are protected from the seas by Horseshoe Reef, you feel like you're just anchored smack in the middle of the ocean with tiny little islands surrounding you (along with the million other boats).  All in all, very well worth the $10EC per person per day they charge you to stay.    

Petit Tabac...
…little island where they filmed a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean
Cool cairns off the end of the beach
Boats everywhere :(
Hi MoMo...
Proud parents
Baby reef sharks...
Just swimming in the shallows on shore
Sea Turtles everywhere….
This was awesome…it's called a Sea Robin...
…also known as Flying Gunard.  Looks like a butterfly!
Uni
Stingray about to bury himself
I love these little cactus flowers
Sun set in the cays...
Full moon shot at the bow