Water had never done to land before…"~Robert Frost
After spending nearly a 2 months working in Charlotte Amalie, we have finally pushed off and moved on to St Martin. We initially thought that we would spend the season in St Thomas working, but after some complications with family life back at home with Frank losing a someone very close to him, we decided it best to just move on and get the boat somewhere safe during hurricane season so that we could deal with the things that needed to be dealt with back in NY. I spent nearly a month on my own in St Thomas, working in hospitality and getting to know this little island, which surprisingly turned out to be amazing. There is a tiny community here of young transplants that have decided to uproot and LIVE their lives. Though there is a sense of transience here, with people coming and going every season, you can't help but bond with the semi like-minded folk (I say this because well…they're not cruisers, but wanderlusts nonetheless), who have the same insatiable urge to live life on their terms.
Not gonna lie, being left alone anchored on the little waterfront of Charlotte Amalie, with the prospect of being alone with Moitessier without Frank, initially terrified me. With anxiety ridden thoughts running through my head…What do I do if the anchor drags? What happens if the dinghy conks out on me? What if someone boards the boat? What if the weather picks up? What happens if there is a hurricane? or simply, How the fuck am I gonna manage without Frank? These thoughts haunted me and I could only allow myself to take it one day at a time as I reassured Frank to fly back up to NY to take care of what he had to. Reminding myself that what Frank was going through emotionally was exponentially more taxing than what I had to undertake, I pushed myself to be a more independent sailor, and more self sufficient human being. The things I had taken for granted while Frank was here became all the more apparent to me as I found myself hoisting 5-gallon jerry jugs of gasoline onto Moitessier, walking to town to grocery shop alone, waking up in the middle of the night from any foreign sounds, diving on the boat to clean the bottom, and driving myself on the dinghy to and from work, in other words, simply being responsible for everything that I did. I made it work though and came out a stronger person in the end. I even made some wonderful friends from work while I was there. Thank goodness as that was truly my saving grace allowing me to avoid the blanket of loneliness that inevitably would follow with being by myself on the boat. That coupled with my family coming to visit for a week (which by the way was wonderful), and my sister staying with me on the boat until Frank returned, made the transition of being a lone captain to being an independent one all the more doable.
My sister even called me a "badass" at one point, which made being without Frank on MoMo (have i never mentioned that's Moitessier's nickname?) all the more rewarding, as she says she can't imagine having to do any of it period, let alone by myself. This compliment was followed by trips to the market where I hauled 6 gallon jugs of water in a cardboard box carefully balanced on my shoulders, dove to clean both the dinghy bottom and MoMo's underside, and naming her first mate where she had to learn to do all of the things that I normally undertake when Frank is here. It really brought light to all Frank and I have overcome as sailors, and all that we've taken for granted in terms of all the daily hardships we overcome that we don't recognize necessarily as "hardships" but simply "things that need to be done." Though I'm far from calling myself "salty", I'd really like to think that I'm ever so slightly more "seasoned."
One of the most disheartening things about life on the water is all the moments that you miss out on with those that you love so dearly. All the what ifs, all the guilt….unfortunately, this reality truly hit home for Frank. I cannot imagine the pain he's had to endure of losing someone he held so dear, on top of the stress he has had to deal with upon coming back and having to deliver the boat to a safe haven. But alas, that is the way of boat life, I suppose. The hefty price you pay for seemingly endless sense of "freedom."
Anyhow, so here we are…after briefly cruising the British Virgin Islands, which by the way are so spectacular in terms of both land and underwater beauty…we rushed over here after a small window that had opened up that wasn't 25 kts of wind on the nose with big seas. We got here with 15 kt winds and small seas, making the trip over from "the bitter end" of Virgin Gourda to Marigot Bay in St Martin pretty straight forward, a mere 16 hours with us averaging about 5 kts. Greeting Mother Ocean after only a couple of months of being landlocked was surprisingly frightening, and hoisting the fouled anchor that day had my hands shaking on our Cetol stained steering wheel, making me wonder if I would make it through the nightsail. But Poseidon was gentle with us, perhaps knowing what we've been through, and he welcomed us back to the ocean with open arms, greeting us with a sky alight with a beautiful lemon wedge moon, trails of twinkling phosphorescence, and the mermaids singing us along as Moitessier sliced through the ink black ocean…