I am sitting in the corner of the most delicious, delectable, delightful cafe & juice bar in Lewes, Delaware. It is called Nectar. It is warm and bright and cheerful. I had Avocado Toast and a green drink called "Smarty Pants" for breakfast. This is the second day in a row that I have had this wonderful nourishment to start my day. Yesterday we came here with Mary and Judy. They live here. They are the Moms of my friend and former coworker from my 9-1-1 days in Aspen, Stephanie. When Stephanie saw one of my facebook posts about sailing south from Staten Island she offered to connect us with her Moms. I often feel shy about meeting friends or family of friends, but I'm never sorry when I overcome that shyness and connect. Mary & Judy have been so very generous since we arrived. They gave me a ride to West Marine to exchange some defective binoculars the first day we were here. The next day, they met us for brunch and introduced us to Nectar.
They said that it was their first time coming to this little cafe, too. One of their daughters had been recommending it. They were as pleased with their first experience here as we were and they told us great stories and we all had some great belly laughs with breakfast. What a treat! After brunch we walked over to our boat, just a block away on the Lewes (pronounced Lewis) City Dock. Mary & Judy again offered to chauffeur us to do any errands we might need to do. I mentioned laundry and they insisted I bring the laundry to their house and use their wifi while it was washing. How could I say no to that? So Adam stayed at the boat to work on the water maker (more on that later) and I went over to Mary & Judy's house with them. Now I have clean clothes, clean cozy pajamas, and clean long underwear! If you have easy access to a clothes washer and dryer, you might not find these things as exciting as I currently do. Then again, I have long been "entertaining" Adam with my very bad songs about how much I love my pajamas, so maybe it's just me. Oh, and I don't want to forget to mention the bonus KITTEN at Mary & Judy's house. Kittens are even more therapeutic than kitten videos.
After Mary & Judy brought me and the clean laundry back to the boat Adam & I went for a little walk and got dinner. When we returned to the boat after dinner, we found a little package waiting for us on the companionway. It was from Dick & Shirley, a package of homemade cookies and a sweet note. We met Dick & Shirley on the dock, between brunch and laundry. They are sailors. They've had their fair share of sailing adventures and were able to offer some advice about the possible routes from here. It is so difficult to put into words how it feels to find a gift waiting for you on your boat when you are far from home.
So many highs and lows have happened since last time I sat down to type a proper update. It is really easy to assume that everyone sees what I post on fb and knows what we're up to because of those posts, but I realize, from looking at friend's fb pages, that its actually hard to piece together a big picture of what is going on in my loved ones' lives from the series of short updates on fb. It's really easy to miss things.
With this post, I'll attempt to paint the big picture and also answer some questions that people have asked us both online and off. Here goes:
What are you doing so far north, on a sailboat, in December? This is a big one, yeah? Well, we bought the boat in late July, I honestly don't know where August and September went.... We replaced both head (toilet) systems on the boat, twice. We had the rigging inspected. We had to get a new dinghy. We had to take everything out of every nook and cranny in the boat and clean it. We (Adam) did some work on the engine. We cleaned the bilges. We had a bent bracket repaired. We visited Boston a couple of times with our wonderful friends, Neil and Nina, and they came sailing with us a couple of times. We went sailing with the lovely Bob & Darcy a couple of times. We met them on the dock in Tiverton and they were so generous and kind to share their stories and expertise and to take us sailing on their boat and introduce us to their friends in the area. We replaced the mattresses in both of the staterooms (bedrooms). We cleaned and scrubbed and repaired and organized and tried to learn all about our boat and upgrade our sailing skills. We went to the boat show in Newport, Rhode Island. I took a sailing lesson specifically for women at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol and met the fabulous Mary MacDonald who became a fast friend and later sailed with us to Block Island on the first leg of our journey south. Brent, who hired me to work at the Aspen 9-1-1 Center in 1997, connected me, via fb, with a sailing friend of his, Nicola, who has been generously sharing her knowledge of sailing ever since. Nicola then added me to an incredibly helpful fb group called Women Who Sail, which led to an in person meet up where I met several amazing women (who sail) -- Lisa, Clive, Meghan T. We ended up spending the rest of the day with Meghan and meeting her sweetheart, Chris, a tattoo artist, and having such a great time. Every one of these stories of meeting people deserves it's own blog post. They all seem touched by magic, serendipity or synchronicity, or maybe those things are just the magic of authentic human connection. These connections are the nectar of life to me. And they require me to show up, to reach out, even when I feel vulnerable and/or shy.
A longtime friend of mine, Gabriel, recently expressed surprise when I told him I felt shy about meeting a friend of his in NYC. He said, "I was unaware that emotion was in your repertoire." Yes, I experience shyness and since we sold our house and started traveling around, it seems to be magnified. Just this morning, the internet told me that anxiety can be exacerbated by perimenopause. Thanks hormones. Thanks internet. So, where was I? Oh yeah, authentic human connections, serendipity, synchronicity, magic... these things require me to show up even when I feel social anxiety. I had to say yes to invitations and yes to offers to be introduced and yes to offers of assistance. If I had said, politely, no thank you, because I didn't want to be a burden or I didn't feel I could overcome the anxiety, I would have deprived myself of a lot of soul food.
I seem to have digressed from the question... Why are you still so far north, on a sailboat in December? Let me try again, to answer it. Boat maintenance. More boat maintenance. More boat maintenance. Learning. Organizing. Cleaning. Replacing. Sailing a bit. Hours and hours on the phone and internet trying to procure boat insurance. Quite a bit of time waiting for boat registration stuff too. Oh yeah, and then my Granddaughter was born! And we had to go back to Colorado to meet her and bring our RV and Jeep back there. That took up a couple of weeks in October. Once back in Rhode Island at the end of October, we prepared in earnest to sail south -- provisioning, stowing things, restowing things, waiting for the right weather to sail.
While waiting for the right weather to sail to Block Island from Tiverton, Rhode Island, we met Seth and Tracy on the dock. Like us, they had recently bought a boat. They were provisioning, doing the last bits of things to sail south to Norfolk, VA. We went to see their boat, we all had coffee together on our boat, we went to the boat stuff consignment store together, then lunch, we talked and talked and talked and somehow discovered that Seth's daughter is the girlfriend of Tim DeChristopher, a person I have admired from afar for years. Back in 2011 I wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to pardon Tim who had just been sentenced to prison for a valiant act of civil disobedience. (Want to know more about that story? See the documentary Bidder 70.) The next day, Seth, called to say that his daughter, Meghan K., & Tim were on their way down to visit him. We invited them all for spaghetti on board our boat. I was so anxious about meeting Tim. I talked too much and too fast. Meghan & Tim & Seth were delightful guests and Adam was a perfect host, as usual. I played the entire evening over and over again in my head after everyone left, horrified by my chatterbox tendencies. I wished I had been a better listener and asked good questions instead of nervously making small talk. The next time we saw Seth, however, he didn't seem to have noticed my lack of social graces, instead he told us how great that evening had been for his relationship with his daughter. Wow.
Oops, I did it again, I strayed from the facts of our journey off into human connection land. Sorry. I'll try again.
On November 4th, 2016, we got up and got ready to sail. We dinghied over to collect Mary M. and Meghan T. from the dock and drop off the trash and recycling. We said Bon Voyage to Seth and Tracy and their crew. They were heading out to Norfolk, VA that very moment. Meghan came out to see the boat and wish us a good journey. She & Chris will be starting their own journey on their own boat soon. After dropping Meghan back at the dock in the dinghy, I encountered dinghy engine problems and had to row myself back to the boat. So, we got a later start than we'd have liked to. But it all turned out well. Mary, Adam & I had a great, beautiful sail over to Block Island and a fun evening on board. Mary brought wine and we had a respectable dinner. Next morning we took Mary to shore where she caught a ferry back to the mainland. It was another bittersweet moment in a year that has been so full of them. It is exciting to be on our way, but so hard to say goodby to friends when you aren't sure when you will see them again.
On November 5th, we sailed to the opposite side of Block Island to a larger and more protected anchorage where we waited for a couple of days for the best weather to sail toward Long Island Sound. I was so excited to ride our bikes around to explore Block Island, but Adam's had a flat. It had happened in Boston on the day that we explored the Harvard Natural History Museum. That reminds me of meeting up with Tracy and brings such a smile to my face....
to be continued because my Mom called as I was in the middle of writing this. and I answered. and then my son called. and I answered. and the waiter, Alex, from Belarus, who works two restaurant jobs here in Delaware, and has also earned his private pilot's license, and is working toward his commercial pilot's license, and has worked through a very expensive lawyer to become a US citizen and loves to travel, stopped by to chat. and.... well... we are still trying to go south. It's very slow progress, because.... weather... and sailboats travel at a different pace. and while we are waiting for the right weather, there are such interesting people. and I want to know their stories. I want to know what is it like to be them, to live their lives. I want to know how they got to this here now and where they want to go. and so often when I ask them, they tell me. and then so often, we become friends. and when they ask me about where we've been and where we're going, it all comes tumbling out in a chaos of words, I can't seem to hold any parts in.
..... a couple more facts:
We are waiting in Lewes to get a new heater delivered for the boat. One that can heat the cabin while we are underway. This seems perhaps like an unnecessary expense if you are going to stay in the warmth of southern waters, but Adam would really like to sail Alaska's Inside Passage one day. And with that in mind, a proper boat heater seems like a very good investment. Also, who knows how long it will take us to get to the warm waters of the Florida Keys or Puerto Rico. We certainly don't know.
Also, Adam put in a new intake pump for the water maker back in Rhode Island and it has been working really well since then, up until a couple of days ago. Yesterday he tried to fix it and decided he needed to order another new pump, so that's ordered and we have to wait for it to arrive.
When will we sail again? After the heater and water maker are functioning properly and the wind is blowing at 25 knots or less. Which way will we go? We are most likely going to sail up Delaware Bay, through the C & D canal (Chesapeake & Delaware), and down the Chesapeake. But there is a small chance, with the right crew and the right conditions, that we could sail straight south to Norfolk. We haven't decided for sure yet.
wherever you are, may your days be filled with authentic human connection. may you be surrounded by deep love, deep joy, and deep peace. (also, I wish you fresh air, clean water, nourishing food, comforting shelter, rewarding work, access to lifelong education .... and a clothes washing machine and warmth.)