Christmas at Sea
Christmas at Sea
Soooo.... we got our halyard! We were able to sail as of Christmas Eve, and so we spent Christmas at sea. Unstuck. We got to talk to a few of you amazing humans even as we cruised down the coast. <3 Lovely.
The unsticking: The broker who sold us SV Banksy came through (again!) from Annapolis with a supplier for the (right/technical) rope for our main halyard. And thanks to the wonderful St. Augustine cruising community on FB, we found an awesome local rigger who could help us in the days before Christmas. Thank you again, Charles! (We had tried to go with a different local rigger and supplier the week prior but were let down at the last and very inconvenient moment…see last post.)
Once we had our halyard (the “line" that raises our main sail and allows us to sail at all), it was time to move on from St. Augustine…and our overstayed welcome! We headed south to Fort Pierce, FL on an easy overnight. Ryan and I did two-hour shifts this time, and that was better than the three-hour solo shifts we had tried earlier. Even still, I love sleep, and it's difficult for me to stay awake in the middle of the night. To help with that, I played some Christmas music and Beatles and sang (merrily?) along. With the motors going, Ryan couldn’t hear, and I don’t think anything else noticed. :) We were one of only three ships we saw (via radar/AIS) on the water that night…
To avoid the strong northerly current of the gulf stream along this part of the coast, we were staying close to land. This also meant we had cell service some of the time Christmas Eve and Day. It was wonderful to catch up with a couple of our family and framily members while we sailed and motored down the ocean. On Christmas, also Ryan caught our first fish, a local tuna “little tunny”:
While we had waited for our halyard, a friendly Fort Pierce marina–Safe Harbor Harbortown–had worked with us repeatedly to find dates we might stay with them. We ultimately could book only one night, arriving on Christmas. (A cancellation let us stay another night. Lovely!) While we were at the quiet Harbortown docks, Bill (SV Marantha) gave us a lift to the supermarket and the auto/boat parts store, and he and his wife gave us some good advice about how to navigate to the Bahamas to cope with the additional upcoming covid testing requirements. They also shared a couple of lovely stories. The Fort Pierce Safe Harbor marina was a very nice place to visit: friendly, clean, quiet. We would have stayed longer if we could.
Speaking of making friends at the dock…I forgot to mention the small-world big-world meeting of a Fort Collins business-owner while we were in St. Augustine. Was so lovely to meet you, Nigel and Sophia. Hoping to see you again over in the Bahamas?
After we left the Fort Pierce marina, we anchored out in Fort Pierce for a night, near an island made from dredging (much earlier). They call these islands "spoil islands". This name initially made me not want to get close! But then I learned that they were just previous dredges turned into state parks… areas allowed to grow into lovely little islands and camping spots.
We then had a GORGEOUS sail from Fort Pierce to West Palm Beach, where we anchored for a night before staying at the Palm Harbor Marina these past few days. Amazing upgrade on this sail: We had light and variable winds that allowed us to successfully use all three sails. Even more amazing of an upgrade: I did not take any seasickness meds and had no seasickness. YAY! :)
Palm Harbor Marina is clean and friendly. Also, the wifi works?! The nearby downtown is cute, sometimes closed to be just walkable, sometimes hosts lovely farmers markets. Dec 1-31 ish it puts on a holiday light show with huge, decorated sand castles. One of those sand castles encourages people to adopt rescue dogs.
Another first: We got to go through our first bridge (drawbridge) to get here! I was steering through the current and waves, while Ryan was giving me beta from the bow. It was super unnerving to have the very topmost part of your boat--the top of the mast--go through such a "narrow" opening. It's actually pretty wide, but you should see how your perception of it narrows with current, wind, timing, relative depth perception, other traffic waiting for you to make it through...
We had a beautifully chill new year's eve and day. And were lucky to see my cousin and her husband on the 2nd. Together we celebrated getting to connect (especially after missing the connection at Christmas), and shared a delicious brunch at a lovely little French restaurant. Bonus: The waiter was from the Champagne region of France so I even got to practice speaking a little French. (J’adore converser en Français comme c'est possible que tu sait.) Ryan and I were so happy to visit with Heidi and Kurt, and also to get to show them SV Banksy—we are hoping to have them come visit in the Bahamas!
For the next few days, we are in West Palm and then Riviera beach…until? Fingers crossed on the weather window around/after the 8th. We are hoping to officially enter the Bahamas at West End, Grand Bahama. There are lots of weather and covid variables to address before then…. While we wait, we are actually in a "slip", which is a reserved spot on the "inside" of a marina where the waters are more calm. Since we’ve been here, we’ve been able to buy some needed and wanted accessories (SUPs!!!) and receive needed boat parts and spares, as well as get our AC fixed. We’ve also done the majority of our provisioning. We’re sooooooo close to being able to sail to another country!
As I wrote most of this, I should note that I was barefoot, in a sundress, sitting outside on our lovely catamaran, a gentle breeze blowing. Warm flipflop weather and sunshine. Lucky and unstuck.
Unsticking Physically vs Mentally
So we got unstuck, and it was relatively easy physically--we were and are lucky. After feeling stuck without a halyard for a couple of weeks, we learned that some people had been waiting for boat parts for more than just a couple of weeks—some for 5-6 months! Whew. So thankful it only took us two weeks, and especially around Christmas time. (Thank you again to the amazing St. Augustine cruising community for the support and recommendations—and, ultimately, helping us find an amazing rigger rather last minute.)
As for mentally/emotionally...I’d felt rather bad feeling down and stuck in such a lovely spot as St. Augustine. I know that exactly how stuck any human feels has a lot to do with how one perceives the situation, along with how much sleep they get, how much stress they're dealing with…. For me, being stuck/unstuck indeed often depends on how much sleep I get, how many lovely walks I take, how much meditation and PT I do, how much exercise and sunlight I get. How much doggie snuggling I get to do. Much of that has been down... so the fun/suck ratio has been lower. Especially with sailing causing seasickness and causing so many hours to be spent not researching and writing but just staring at the horizon…though I’m thankful when I can do that! The horizon is lovely.
And as those of you who have lost a heart-dog might have experienced, the loss of a wonderful companion can be difficult for a long time. This was our first Christmas and New Years without Banksy. Last Jan 1st we were backcountry skiing and playing in the snow at Cameron Pass….
Another huge part of the stuckness or sadness I've had recently is because I lost a friend and mentor in the couple of weeks before Christmas. I’m still somehow not ready to write much about that yet. I’d been hoping to meet up with Lacy and his wife in the Caribbean this year—they were also planning to buy a boat and sail around together a bit….
As I write this, I’ve set up time to write with Ronica. We often write at the same time, in the same google doc. And Ryan and I just got back from a beautiful morning walk. So I'm practicing the small steps that move transitions forward… Ryan and I walked across Flagler bridge–the one we also went under! It looks like a MUCH wider opening when I'm not trying to drive a boat through it. :)