Sunday, May 31, 2015

Alone Again

Jenn is visiting home, celebrating her mom's 70th birthday. My mom just left a few minutes ago, after spending 2 weeks cruising with us. There is a very big difference between 3 people and 2 people and 1 people. ;)

With 2 weeks to visit, we were able to find a nice cruise of 200 miles or so from Marathon up to St. Petersburg. It's comfortable for us to go about 40 miles in daylight - rise with the sun, have a nice breakfast but don't dawdle, then get sailing. Cruise at 4-5 knots (I like to travel when the wind is favorable for us), and 8-9 hours later, drop the hook somewhere protected from the swell but windy enough to keep the bugs down. I also have a bridge up for sale, vintage, classic. I wish it were like that every time. All sailors do. So, since I can't guarantee 5 days of that in a row, I budget double or triple that time to account for reality. That gets us about 2 weeks to travel 200 miles.

The first day was great, leaving Marathon early in the morning after getting my mom from the airport in Key West. We borrowed a car, since her flight got in late enough the bus would have been inconvenient. That was the first time I'd driven a car since early November, in DC. Before then I'd driven a car for a few days in mid-September, then mid August. Everything happens so FAST in a car! It was scary. Anyway, the first day of sailing was perfect. 15 knots of wind on the beam, we sailed about 45 miles due north to the mouth of the Shark River. There was a great rainstorm just as we arrived, but the wind died, so we just stopped where we were. Beautiful rainbow, and deck showers for the girls.

Next morning the wind was lighter than predicted (and I hadn't figured out the typical daily weather patterns for this area yet) so we motor-sailed for the morning, then the wind picked up from the wrong direction in the afternoon. We just dropped the anchor where we were for lunch before the wind came up, since Florida is freakishly shallow. The whole trip we've been sailing in depths we'd normally anchor in: 10-30 feet. Creepy. You get used to it, which is even scarier. The wind picked up after lunch, but from the wrong direction, so we raised anchor (the waves had built up quickly, Jenn got a little tossed about on the foredeck) and headed in towards land to look for smoother water. We anchored about sunset, the wind died, and within 10 minutes was blowing 15 knots from the SE, a perfect wind for us to sail in. I was disgusted, but we were all tired so we didn't do any night sailing that time.

Next day we sailed and motor-sailed the rest of our intended journey from the day before, up to Indian Key, in the 10,000 Islands portion of the Everglades National Park. Actually, the previous 2 nights had been off the Everglades as well. Active Captain told us people had been yelled at by the Park Police for anchoring too close to Indian Key, so we left it a wider berth than I would have liked and settled in. Here we could just barely get some cell service, which was kind of nice to feel civilization not too far away. The wind forecast for the next few days was not favorable for us, but we had time, so we spent 3 nights at Indian Key. There is a great tidal beach, and we waded around the whole island collecting shells and watching wildlife. We also found another beach that almost connected 2 other islands, which had lots of old horseshoe crab shells, and scallop shells, and other pretty ones collected for jewelry and assorted scoops.

With good wind we headed around the shoals that stuck 7 miles out from land. As we came up near Naples, a serious thunderstorm built up and caught up to us. Wind gusts to 35 knots ish, and pouring rain, and lightning! Since we were only a few miles from land the waves weren't bad, and our boat is so good at reefing the wind is easily managed as well. Lighting is another story. There's nothing we can do about it, except not be there. So we sailed as fast as we could out of the path of the storm, but not fast enough. We ended up soaked from the rain, and Jenn did lots of work keeping the sails under control, and my mom helped and didn't get too scared when the boat started heeling way over in the pounding rain and wind and waves. No lightning, and a beautiful rainbow for dinner afterwards. The wind came up after the storm very favorably for us, so we kept going all the way up to Ft. Meyers, another 6 hours or so. We anchored about midnight off Bunche Beach, since conditions were calm.

Left early the next morning, and soon a whole gang of boats were sailing out of Ft. Meyers! We had a good wind forecast, so we weren't able to stay for a day or two in Ft. Meyers to see some of Jenn's friends that live there. Darn. We'll just have to go back another time! The wind died about mid-day again, in a pattern I was beginning to recognize. Then it filled in from the NW, a terrible direction for us, as the land heated up and built thunderstorms. We outran the first one, but the second got us just as the sun was setting. Once again with the wind and the waves and the lightning. Ugh. Lightning scares the dickens out of me. Especially when you're sitting on a 40 foot metal pole with nothing around you. My mom went below to bed, so she could be dry. After the storm passed, Jenn and I alternated shifts through the night to take advantage of the good wind, and the wind that was forecast to be in Tampa Bay that we wanted to take advantage of.

Dawn found us sailing well under the direction of our Super Hero Cape, coming up towards Egmont Key and the entrance to Tampa Bay. Once we got inside the bay we found the wind was just a few degrees not good enough for us to sail straight in, so we motor-sailed under the Sunshine Skyway, a very impressive bridge. A few hours later we pulled in to the little mooring field in Vinoy Basin, right in the heart of downtown St. Pete!

Aletheia on the mooring ball
This is a great town. Lots of pleasure boats, Tampa Bay is a great place to sail, all of downtown is within easy walking distance, and it's beautiful! The locals have put significant effort into their infrastructure and social systems, and it appears to be paying off in spades. It feels remarkably young and vibrant for Florida, which I otherwise think of as America's retirement home. I love this town.

Mom & Jenn at the Chihuly Collection
So here we are, checking out the scene, having a good time. Our friends in Marathon should be up here in a couple weeks which is very exciting. Today I'm just adjusting to being on my own.

Freudian crop?

She'd be beautiful even in a burlap sack


Mustache glasses at the Salvador Dali museum

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Just in case you were wondering...

I realize I took on the Blog Everyday in May challenge excitedly without realizing that I won't be able to post my blog posts for an extended period of time. 

We are departing Boot Key Harbor on Monday, May 18th (WooHoo!) heading towards St. Petersburg, FL. No Internet. A guest aboard. Drinks to make. Dinners to cook. A boat to sail 200NM. I'll be a very busy first mate!

However, I will fulfill the Blog Everyday in May challenge, extending into June and continue writing offline. This type of writing has done wonders for my mind, my happiness and even my self-confidence. I'll complete the project for my own desire, to see what I come up with, to be and find more creativity, but to reveal myself in a different light and for others in the blogosphere, or family and friends just reading our blog, to get to know me better. To get to know myself better too. I'll post less than periodically. But complete, I will!

We have truly enjoyed our time here, making new friends, completing projects and visiting new landmarks, but we look forward to sailing Aletheia to a new place with greener pastures. Our varnishing project is near complete so I'll be happy to show photos soon. 

Off to Key West to pick up Nate's mum!

A memorial Manhattan of my father
Look mom, I made a new friend. She's the best!
Glimpse into varnished toerails 
Pool Night
Ship's Captain front and center
Boys talkin' boats aboard Moondance

 Love to all,
Jenn & Nate 

No Job?!

Topic: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?

This question is difficult to answer when not job-focused. So often one of the first question you get when meeting someone new is: "what do you do?" Your response is usually in the form explaining what you do for Work. Many Americans are known and identified by their careers, so it's an easy question to answer, but take your career out of the equation and then answer the question. It takes some thinking, at least it has for me!

I love to cook for others and try new recipes. I meet new people to gain new perspective and hopefully make a new friend. I run, practice and teach yoga whenever I get the chance. I create things. I spend time with family and friends. I do believe I live the best life possible by remaining optimistic, taking chances, and being open to new opportunities. That's what I do.

Friday, May 15, 2015

More than a moment...An experiment

Topic: A moment in your day

First coat of varnish on the starboard toerail
Since this body position and task has been part of my life throughout the last week and will continue into this week, it's only appropriate to give you a glimpse into a moment in my day...Varnishing!

It's more work than I anticipated and my back hates me right now, but I enjoy seeing my progress. To watch my boat come to life by sanding (lots of sanding) and paint brushing (lots of paint brushing) a little bit of magic onto the teak companionway, toerails and handrails, gives me simple joy. Varnished wood on a boat is also known as brightwork and boy are we getting after it! So, why stop there?! Enjoying the fruits of my labor, it's onto the interior brightwork for more sanding, brushing, varnishing and pure satisfaction. 

Before and after photos to follow!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Did I make you smirk?

Topic: Sell yourself in 10 words or less

Let's get a cup of coffee and I'll tell you!

Easy To Give. Hard to Receive.

Topic: A piece of advice you have for others

Allow yourself to be unafraid to try something new, but do it for You. Try anything once, even if slightly out of your comfort zone. Embrace the opportunity, but don't feel you must put yourself in harm's way; know your limits and believe you will and deserve a new experience. 

Yes, I'm sure you know where this is coming from! My sailing and liveaboard experience has got me thinking about how I felt and who I was one year ago to this day. It was nearly one year ago (give or take a couple days) that we verbally agreed to buy Aletheia which sent contracts and emotions into motion. Oh yes, I was afraid. I wouldn't have taken this leap of faith if not for my husband, so no I didn't exactly do this for myself. But, I do know about embracing opportunities, stepping out of the lovely arms of my comfort zone. I've always been willing to try anything once just to acknowledge my limitations and get the adrenaline boiling (slightly). It usually works out that there is always an opportunity for growth from a new experience. 

Along the bumpy waves and strong currents, although it's been a recent discovery of mine, this journey has been for Me. I'm no adrenaline junkie and I like my comforts, but I have learned to become more resilient, appreciate the ups and downs that life throws at me, to adapt to changing circumstances, to find patience and embrace my emotional rollercoaster. 

Of course, this advice links into other areas of life experiences other than cruising. However, I have been able to embrace this challenge/advice fully through cruising. And saying to myself, "If I can do "this", I can certainly do "that" is a wonderful mantra that I've fully embraced by saying yes to this challenge. My own advice that I share with others has given me the gift to embrace yet-to-be-seen opportunities, to be unafraid of what comes next and lastly, to accept my limits. We all deserve to grow into a better, smarter, and braver person even if it happens in the least way you expect it!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Friend Love.

Topic: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don't have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member.

I've chosen to write about one of my lifelong friends. Someone I've known for 31 years! We met in day care when we were both 4. Through nap time, story time and snack time, our friendship has remained effortless. I was always playing at her house or she at mine. Her dad would ask my mother to drop me off at her house so "the girls could play". Her mother is like a second mom to me.

What makes my friend Meredith great? Why do I love her? Although she never slows down, she always makes time for me. Always there when I need to talk, to listen, for comfort, for laughs, for tears and for everything in between. We've certainly gotten into our fair share of trouble, always coming out one up with some sort of lesson learned. 

It seems as we get older, we get closer. We connect, understand and support the other. We are sisters. I love her because she loves me. We're soul friends. I love her cooking, her taste for music, her taste for beer. Her love for her dad. Whenever her mom comes to visit, she's always got an itinerary planned. She's methodical. Thoughtful. She's mindful, but speaks her mind. She puts her soul into her work. 

One of her many selfless acts came at the tragic loss of her good friend and local [Frisco, CO] chef. She worked tirelessly to create a successful event to raise money and establish two culinary scholarships in his name. I was beside myself at her effort and accomplishment. I was unable to be there in person to help, but I wish I could have seen it all come together. I was so proud of her. I love her because she sees an opportunity to do good, to help make a difference and she spares no details.

My hope is that as our mothers remain friends, we remain friends and our future children will meet to become friends. I'm lucky to love a friend like her.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Admitting is Refreshing

Topic: Things That Make You Uncomfortable

A topic most people would rather avoid; however, acknowledging these 'things' that make us feel uneasy are the very things we should confront to get to the next level, for personal growth. Find an opportunity to come face to face with one or all of your discomforts, even if these things are inconsequential.

I start my blog entry with the definition. And although it makes me uncomfortable (or feel stupid) to look up the definition, I'm ok with admitting that I do this quite often with words, even elementary ones.

Uncomfortable (adj). 
  • causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort; 
  • causing or feeling unease or awkwardness.
So, here I admit a few things that make me uncomfortable (based on the above definition) without going into too much detail and in no particular order. I'm already feeling twitchy and fraught.
  • any variety of snake
  • sailing at night
  • talking about politics
  • public speaking
  • asking for help
  • disapproval
  • getting older
  • interviews
  • restaurant menus
  • confrontation
  • silence
Can you name the top three things that make you uncomfortable? It's ok to admit them here!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lily Said It Best

Ok, so already on Day 2 of the Blog Everyday in May Challenge and I'm having writer's block! Damn! I've chosen to skip around a bit and select an easier topic. I'll need to get over the idea that writing has to be perfect and just write! After three attempts on three different topics, I'm going to share one of my favorite quotes...

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down" - Lily Tomlin

I am by no means an innocent or expert in slowing down. Frankly, I suck at slowing down. It makes me uncomfortable, but grateful for Lily's wisdom, this quote hones in on my current life and what I've learned from this quote. My first impression of this quote reminds me of an antacid commercial and having an upset stomach. The only way to avoid an upset stomach is to be conscious of what you're putting into your body and not to get one in the first place. The only way to slow down is to not allow time to control you and to realize and think clearly about what you are doing at this moment. No one wants an upset stomach! No one wants to be controlled by time. Although time is a constant and clearly inevitable, this quote reminds me to honor life at a bit slower pace. To appreciate the organic things around me (colors, noises, movement). To take a moment to breath and allow my body to feel alive. To see what is actually right in front of me. Could be nothing or it could be everything. Important things can be unseen if you're speeding through your days.

Never in my life have I slowed down so much, so drastically, all at once. This has been a great challenge no doubt because I enjoy keeping myself busy like a bee. My life usually consists of filling my social calendar, taking on numerous priorities at work and distracting myself with to-do lists and new projects. Being busy makes one feel important. And don't get me wrong, I love making to-do lists and seeing my items get checked off the list. It's very gratifying and I to, feel important.

This quote can also be repurposed in any situation. It's a constant reminder that slowing down is key to a fulfilling life. So often we go about our day, blindly, getting from Point A to Point B and not remembering how we arrived or how we felt during the time getting there. I've been guilty of this many times! This quote keeps me in the present moment when I find myself distracted by something other than what I'm doing, which, truthfully, is very difficult for me. It's important to get a little slap in the face and come back to present time. I'm always planning for the next event, the following day. SLAP! But on a sailboat, we're actually living day-to-day, living in as many moments as possible. Yes, some days are not living moment to moment. I get irritated by slowing down too much and slowing down isn't something I'm particularly good at, but it helps me to think methodically about how I'm doing things. More questions can arise when slowing down. Mistakes can be avoided when slowing down. Lessons can be learned when slowing down. Slowing down doesn't have to be a magic little pill for a perfect life. But it's a nice mantra to keep in your back pocket. From time to time give yourself a gentle slap in the face to remind yourself about how you're moving and thinking through life, day-by-day. Find relief by slowing down. Stop and smell the roses.

What's your favorite quote (from a person, book, etc)?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Never Pass Up a Beer

To be quite honest, there isn't much happening in our lives at the moment. We've been in Marathon, FL since April 1. It's hard to believe how quickly one month can be taken by the wind. We've kept our minds and bodies occupied, but Aletheia hasn't moved much. We've traveled a bit up and down HWY 1 up north to Tavernier and south to Key West. The weather has been sweltering, recently rainy and cloudy, but looks to clear up. So living on a boat isn't all sunny skies, steel drums and rum drinks, although I suppose it ought to be. 

To stimulate these quiet days, and to practice my blogging/writing skills, because I'd love to be a more articulate and captivating writer, I've chosen to take the Blog Everyday in May challenge. Through most pieces of information, I found this challenge through the Internet Grapevine and found myself here. There are 31 suggested topics for each day. Below is the first suggested blog topic. Consider these yourself and give it a go!

I'm already behind since accepting this challenge, but I can skip a day, make it up later or not write at all. If inspiration strikes on a topic my fingers will do the work. Although, the goal is to take a topic and run with it, to eliminate the pressure of writing something "cool", "here's what we did today" or even something enjoyable. Just write for the sheer joy of expression.

Day 1: The Story of Your Life

To tell my life story usually means talking about my loved ones and how they have impacted my life. But for this challenge, I write about how I have impacted my own life. Here goes... 

I grew up in rural Ohio among my 4 siblings, loving parents, a house always filled with activity and privilege, summers spent by the pool, winters skating on the pond, relatives coming and going, and surrounded by the best circle of friends I could ever hope to have. Dad, my greatest role model, although I didn't get a chance to realize it, died when I was 15. Athletics has and always will be my lifestyle - cheerleading, gymnastics, running, yoga. I've carried my athletics with me through youth into my 20s and 30s. I've been given the gift of enjoying my workouts, turning physical exercise into a meditative practice, escaping the world around me. I've had a diverse and challenging career, all involving marketing and event planning, which I'd like to integrate back into my life at some point. I'm not done yet. Fortunately, in my youth, I've had the privilege to semi-retire twice to untie the docklines and visit new places. Spring 2007 for a 3-month sail in the Caribbean and most recently Summer 2014 to cruise our 36' home with my husband. Both journeys he has had to pry my butt from the office chair, but I'm always willing to give something new a try in order to grow from the experience even with hestitation (see Mark Twain quote). The over-arching story of my life has been this recent journey. Here, today, is where I've learned the most about myself, where the story of my life has collided with my past, present and future. I've learned I'm not as brave as I'd like. I thought I knew myself better, even at 34. Black water frightens me. Reading books has become a new hobby. I love to cook in a small space. I'm still in love with yoga. I've had lots of time to mediate on my past and how to shape my future. I need to love more. Encourage more. I pause to honor sunsets. Running is what I do. I've run over 60 races in my life. I get compliments on my white teeth. I love to make others laugh. I'd like to get a sunflower tattoo. I want to be my husband's #1 cheerleader. I'm afraid of change. I love visiting VT. I never pass up a beer. I'm a social butterfly in the sailing community. I know more about sailing then I realize. I like sailing. I can't wait to become a mother. I get homesick. I prefer land. I love shoes. Maintaining relationships is crucial. I want a veggie garden. I love to floss. I have a lot to learn.

As I write, I realize the story of my life is ever-blossoming, evolving through blank pages. My story isn't a chronology of events. It's a story of expression, emotions and realizations. A story of how to love myself better so I can love others. Call it rambling. Call it incoherent. Call it incoherent rambling! My needs and wants, positive and negative traits are all part of my character. This is my life story...for today.