Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's Just Life

The wind is blowing from the NE 12-15 knots with the occasional gust to 17-20.  Both sails are up, including our new mainsail, which seems to have improved our speed.  We are riding along on a magic carpet with following seas 1-2 feet and it just feels divine.  

Bruce is tweaking the sails to get maximum speed, although he doesn’t really need to.  We have plenty of daylight to get to our intended anchorage.  My mind wanders…

Where did the summer go?  We had three and a half months to do our boat projects and get ready to leave on November 1, when our insurance officially releases us from storm season.  Granted we spent over a month traveling… but still, it’s all a blur.

No time to bake cake, we ran out to Public and bought 2
I have been reluctant to blog about mundane things.  Things that would be uninteresting to you, and that seem too small and numerous to me.  We rode bikes around Gulfport, we celebrated our birthday (October 17th, both of us) we had an early thanksgiving with our Daughter's family, we sold our beloved BMW for WAY too little money...
Thanksgiving Feast Preview in October
The “Biggies”…water maker installation and sewing a new mainsail cover are done.  Both took way too long… dragging out over days and days… interspersed with a myriad of other smaller fixes here and there.

Perhaps my reluctance has been due to the biggest boat project of the summer… the one that hung over our heads depressing our thoughts for the entire time… repairing the generator (groan - I know… THAT again???.

Sadly, it is done… maybe more like done for and not really done at all.  Bruce and I worked on it sporadically throughout our summer days in Gulfport.  We consulted friends and the internet and the Fischer Panda tech department.  We made a friend of Percy over at Florida Injectors.  Percy checked our injectors and our fuel injection pump and found them all in perfect working order… for FREE!  He also gave us free advice and even called to check up on us when we disappeared for a couple of days.  It is rare to find service like that these days… and he gave us hope... but it didn't fix our engine.

Finally when we thought we had it all back together and it still wouldn’t start, we gave up and left Gulfport to wait in St. Petersburg for our friend Jerry to swoop in to our rescue.  Bruce and I were both pretty despondent in our own way…. Bruce was ready to shoot the thing in the head and throw it overboard… I, forever the Pollyanna, just KNEW that we were one step away from a purring engine but just gave up too soon.  Our division of mind leaked out into all other facets of our lives until finally, Jerry and Sally on Encore arrived.  We spent some days in St. Pete enjoying the town and friends... then together we left St. Petersburg and travelled on.  At least we were moving again.  That did something to revive our spirits even though we weren’t heading very quickly for the Bahamas… we were still under way again.  

Happy Hour at Useppa with Encore and Liza
We hopped down the coast with Encore and it was while we were in Ft. Myer’s Beach that Bruce and Jerry finally convinced me, after several hours work… that our Fischer Panda was a lost cause.  They got it started but it made horrible noises that Jerry diagnosed by the sound of it to be a bushing.  I don’t know what that means, but he explained that it meant many more hours taking the engine apart and replacing things, then hours reassembling it all… and we would STILL have a 20 year old engine that may or may not work much longer.

We led Liza and Encore to Ft. Myers Beach
How much more time and money were we willing to put into this?  There was despair in my hearth when I admitted defeat.  No more.  It was at this point that I realized that Cruising had become our real life.  While I railed against this unhappy event marring our happy cruising life it hit me.  It isn't marring our cruising life... it is a PART of our cruising life.  You have to take the good with the bad...
Many thanks for this Thanksgiving with dear friends on Encore

Summer was no longer just a temporary hiatus from our headlong run from island to island.  No longer just a breather from… from what?  This is it.  I've always said that it takes 1-2 years to adjust to a new life.  Now that we enter our third year of Cruising...It’s our life now.  It is full of regular things like laundry and grocery shopping.  Things like repairing the stuff that makes our lives better.  Things like installing water makers and sewing new mainsail covers to make things easier for us… 

Just like land life, we are forever feathering our nest... working towards making things easier and better and more comfortable for us.  This is our home.  I know we're supposed to be "selling everything and moving onto a boat"... but I LIVE here, dang it!!!

In a fit of pique I had a little pity party.  So you mean we spent thousands of dollars on this generator only to finally admit defeat… (a few thousand too late in hindsight)  And we spent thousands of dollars on a water maker that runs on 12v but since our generator died, we now have to seriously ration power to keep the batteries charged up enough to run our water maker, and our refrigeration… to the exclusion of being able to turn on the house lights at night and maybe use the toaster?  (A little dramatic, I know... but while we're learning what our power requirements are... Bruce has been the SUPER Power Nazi)

Yes, he treats it like a queen!
You mean the small Yamaha generator that has been keeping our heads above water (in energy terms) won’t allow me to vacuum my house because my vacuum takes too many amps???  That’s it!!  That’s the last straw.  

But Bruce talked me down off the ledge.  The issues we are having with insufficient power are just temporary.  The short days of winter will pass and we will once again have longer hours to make energy from the sun.  Meanwhile… if I want toast, we can shuffle things and make toast.  If I want to vacuum, we can plug it straight into the little Yamaha and give it a go.  Soon, we will be back in the islands and the land of eternal summer… and things will be better.  

Something clicked in my mind.  I mentally stopped looking for perfection in all things.  I realized that in my old life, there was adversity and since this is my life now… why would I expect it to be any different.  It’s just life.  The figment of cruising to far off places full of sunsets and fruity drinks is just the up-side of this life.  There’s a downside that you don’t get to see but it is surely there.  

Then my mind returned to this moment.  Now safely at anchor off of one of the Ten Thousand Islands… a place that so few people ever see…  While sitting in the cockpit enjoying a beverage as we wait to see what sort of sunset is in store… the birds begin to work the waters all around us.  A huge fish leaps out of the water to a height above our line of sight and disappears back into the water with barely a splash… Did we just see that?  Bruce and I looked at one another and laughed.  And it felt good.  Slowly we are feeling the weight of summer at the dock slip from our shoulders.  

It was a good summer with many accomplishments… We spent time with our daughters.  It’s never enough.  We wish we could take them with us but their lives are full and busy and that’s good too.  We visited friends and family.  We got ready for this next season of cruising and we think we’re as well prepared as we can be for this next exciting year.  And what else can anyone ever really do…?  It’s just life.