Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friends with Benefits

Midnight here at Staniel Cay, never thought I'd be back here again so soon after our last epic adventure.  We've spent the past couple of weeks with our new friends on Sailboat Furminger.  We met them back in St Augustine, and like us, they are a young couple that sold everything to live on a boat to learn the invaluable lessons that Poiseidon grants us all when we decide embark on this lifestyle.  We had convinced them to join us in the remote Berry Islands, and what fun we have had.  Weeks have been spent spearfishing, partying, laughing, talking, and getting to know one another.  I often forget to mention this on our blog, but one of the most glorious things about boat life are the people you meet.  The friends that you make on boats are none like the ones you meet on land.  Somehow, no matter where you are from (they are french canadian), you almost always instantly bond.  Perhaps it's because those you meet out here are often times like-minded wanderlusts who understand that though this life may seem like paradise at times that it's always a challenge.  Maybe it's because we are on remote islands and we have no one but each other.  The closeness you feel to these friends, even when you've only spent a couple weeks with them is indescribable. This feeling of community and understanding, of what's mine is yours, and no matter what I have your back is so rare that it makes you want to continue to meet more like-minded folk.  We give to each other what we have, and likewise, and there is no counting who paid for what, who's food is who's, who did this and who didn't, because out here, none of that matters.  It's odd to be thinking about these things because in our western society, we all have a proclivity to keep tabs on what we gain from one another, but in this world (at least how Frank and I live), there is no such thing.  Don't get me wrong, not everyone is this way, but when you do meet others that have the same philosophy of communal living as you, it's like taking in a deep breath of air after a 30 ft dive.  

This lifestyle can certainly take a toll on you, the constant hangups, the shit that breaks, the weather that is incessantly challenging your testicular fortitude, the loneliness, the isolation of not having people around you that care about you, the feeling that no one understands, the loss of who you think you are because suddenly you are this tiny little speck of a unit in a little home you call your boat on the big, bad ocean.  I don't mean to sound like an ungrateful little shit, but sometimes, I just want to be normal.  I want to want the things that everyone else has…stability, a comfy salt-free bed, cable television, access to a supermarket. These aren't things that you would say to your landlubber friends who seem to think that your life is a dream come true.  These aren't the things that you would say because let's face it, we are living a dream, waking up every day in paradise, but who's to say that living your dream is necessarily a fairy tale?  These things your boat friends understand because, well, they've been there.  They've been scared shitless, they've vomited into a bucket during watch, they've had petty little fights, they don't think you're crazy for wanting to put a gaff hook in your partner's throat…they understand.  I often bring this topic up in my ramblings, but it's so very true that living in this way forces you to face up to you and who you really are and make you question every thing about your life and what you want from it. There is nothing here to hide behind, and every day you are faced with the choices that you make and the things that you do or don't do.  You simply have too much time to face up your own demons, and sometimes who you think you are is not exactly who you are at all.  You discover that you can't overcome everything, that you can be weak and troubled, and sad, and that it's ok.  That you can be an ungrateful little shit in paradise, because well, that's just who you are.  

Gotta love the Berries….
Trigger, grouper, grouper, grouper, testosterone…
Love this couple...
Dinghy rides…..
Nurse Sharks at Staniel Cay 
Another one bites the dust…
Thunderball Grotto
Another young couple we met in St Augustine on
 a boat… Cameron...
Me, Jackie, and Dani….boat ladies
Our version of Xmas lights this year…

On a side note….I got the most touching email the other day from a complete stranger that simply warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes…hello Phil.  It made me realize just what I have and how far we've come, and though I may bitch and whine, it made me realize how different I am from 5 years ago, and how much I'm just the same. Same old optimist, same old over thinker.  Thank you for reminding me of how much I have and how far we've come.  It's readers like you who inspire me to continue to be candid about my life and honest about this journey.  I try hard not to candy coat things because we all tend to do that when we write about our lives, and perhaps it's a coping mechanism, but thank you for encouraging me to continue to write about the "gritty truth"…Thank you for making grateful once again for the life I have and the life I chose.   

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Long Time No See...

West End

Well, we're back in the Bahamas.  After 4 days of motoring down the Intercoastal, stopping at the same anchorages we stopped at the last time, and hopping across from Fort Pierce, we are finally back in the Bahamas.  If you remember (not that we're so important that you WOULD remember…), but on our last trip, we hopped over from Miami to Bimini.  Well, this time, we came to the West End.  

After waiting too long for a weather window to open up so that we could sail on the outside, we decided to just grin and bear it and take the Intercoastal as there was a small craft warning off shore now for quite some time.   We saw a small weather window potentially opening up for a Gulf Stream crossing when we left St Augustine, and hurried down to try to be at the right place at the right time if it did open.  Believe it or not, the weather forecast was ACTUALLY accurate 5 days out.  (Oh man, praise the lord, Jesus Christ!)  When we got to Fort Pierce, we realized that our window for the crossing would be opening shortly, and in order to intercept it, we had to leave at sunset, sail 8 hours down the coast, and head east for 12 hours before landing in West End. The trip itself was uneventful, though pretty bumpy with the wind on our nose and some choppy seas.  Comparatively, I would say the first time crossing from Miami was an easier trip because of the angle that you have on the stream.  With that route, you start slightly south of your destination which allows you to use the stream more to your advantage and fight it a lot less.  

Being back on the ocean again was intimidating to say the least.  It has only been 3 months since the Ocean and Moitessier rendezvoused, and the experience was no less exciting than the first time.  Like 2 new lovers meeting for a date, butterflies filled my stomach with nervousness, excitement, and warmth.  I was overwhelmed with emotion when going out of the inlet, and to be honest, I couldn't really pinpoint why.  Perhaps it's because it would be a while again until I am back in the comforts of the things and the people that I know and love.  Or maybe it was the unknown of what lies ahead.  Or maybe it was realizing that I would no longer be getting fresh water showers on a regular basis that had me sobbing like it was my last day on earth.     Or perhaps it's knowing that I'd once again be alone with my thoughts and self reliant. Back to a world, where you're constantly humbled by your surroundings, and that though you may be self sufficient, try as you might, YOU are no longer the one that's in control.  But really, who among us are actually in control.  Whether living on a boat where Mother Nature pulls the strings, or living on land, where the illusion of control and safety allows you to live complacently and let life pass you by.  One way or another, I'm not quite sure which one is the key to my happiness, and often I find myself torn between the two. Sometimes, I want both and neither all at the same time.  And ultimately that makes me a crazy person, which makes sense cause you have be crazy to live on a boat, right?   

Sunrise on the ICW
Double Rainbow at Fort Pierce....good omen or what?