Last entry I talked about Renata. I did that because it occurred very recently and more recently than this week.
This week, we took a week off for birthday and anniversary celebration.
I turned 60 this past week, and JoAnne and I have been married now for 40 years. As I said before, I am not sure how she has put up with me this long, but I’m very happy she has, and proud to be her husband. I did a quick Facebook post honoring her, posting images and a statement. I would try to recapture it here, but it will simply repost on FB and I’m sure a lot of people are tired of seeing it now. haha.
We did a little road trip, traveling to Georgia to see Stone Mountain, something JoAnne has wanted to do for some time now. We spent a couple of days in a very nice hotel there. We also visited a local restaurant here on Oak Island, called Swain’s to try their sea food. It was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not the worst.
We found a nice brewery near Atlanta and tested several beers. All of the beers were very good. I tried five tasters and wound up with my “standard go-to beer”, an Irish Red Ale, which was so smooth, it made Killians (not my most favorite, but one that most will know) taste like cheap crap. (Which, I suppose, technically it is after so many craft brews under the bridge.)
The only thing of note on the trip (other than a good time) we had was a massive amount of rain yesterday. Torrential downpours throughout the day made traveling difficult and cost us about an hour or so of time in going so slowly at times. At one point, we couldn’t even see ten feet in front of us and were doing 25 mph behind a large truck so I could see his lights and keep an eye on the road lines. Going off the road would have been very dangerous and probably we’d still be stuck, as there was water flooding the sides of the roads and median.
Eventually, we made it back here, and surprisingly, we had very little leaking going on in the hard rains. I had placed a large tarp up to reflect the sun off the decks a few days back, when it was choking us with heat and humidity, which actually helped reduce the heat, and apparently the leaks. So I now know most of them are coming from the top of the main cabin somewhere. I’ll continue looking for them.
Turning 60 sounds awful to some. Especially you younger folks, right? I’m sure many can’t even imagine being this old. I certainly couldn’t when I was 30 and in the military. I figured I’d never make it out alive anyway. But, I did. And I have made it past several dangerous things in my life, including a nearly “heart stopping” heart attack. We’ve both had our share of dumb and awful things happen to us over the years. An accident once in Colorado nearly got us both killed. A guy ran a red light. My “quick thinking” and previous “training” I’d had years before kicked in and I managed to put more car between me and him, than had been between him and JoAnne split seconds before.
The car was destroyed, as was his own vehicle. JoAnne was injured but not anywhere nearly as severe as it would have been had I not acted. We’ve had two “butt kickings” out “there”, neither of which was really all that bad, but it did give us a deeper respect for the ocean, and the weather. Mother Nature will surprise you when you are not watching closely. A boat is as good as it’s master. Sometimes though, a boat is better than the Master’s skills and the skipper can do almost anything stupid and survive. Except if they don’t care for the boat correctly (as in the last blog entry). Eventually, doing nothing at all, can kill you.
Cancer tried to get her. My heart tried to kill me. Together, we’re stronger than ever before, but also, we’re more wary, we’ve slowed down, and realize that while we want to go-go-go, we can’t-can’t-can’t hurry. Taking our time and eking out as much from life as we can takes not only courage, but perseverance, and thinking, reasoning and time. You can’t always just rush in and get it done. Sometimes, you seriously need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you’re going to do it.
Setting sail is easy to do. But, when you live aboard, it’s more difficult, because you become comfortable leaving things laying about, sometimes you don’t take all the precautions you would in a seaway, like wearing your flotation device or keeping your radio on all day/night. You don’t have your wind equipment turned on constantly and tend to guess the wind speeds from experience. You don’t always remember to close certain hatches at a dock… until it rains hard and you were away from the boat, and your bed gets wet.
You sometimes get bugs in the boat, even though you try hard not to introduce themselves, or you take precautions against them. But, you learn, you cope, and you deal with everything. From an emergency, to simple day-to-day things. And sometimes, you watch as someone else’s dream sinks beneath the waves, helpless to help them. And yet, you go on.
As to the boat, and the ants…. they seem to have fled or died finally. We have tried two different kinds of ant traps, both of them seem to be attracting those left and both having different sorts of poison in them, they have pretty much left. I have seen no sign of any of them since our return yesterday evening.
Our plan at this point seems to be – because we do not set hard dates now for anything – to try to get a good weather window sometime in October, to depart for the Bahamas. The plan is to head south, outside the Gulf Stream, and sail directly to Marsh Harbor. We will probably use that as our hub to explore as much as we can see in three-six months time there, and return to our “home” here by not later than April, to try to catch decent winds and weather.
All of that depends on the boat, the crew, the skipper here, and our ability to accomplish it. I am extremely confident of our ability to accomplish it. I’ve seen “Lesser Humans” come through here who’ve accomplished more. No, I’m not insulting them, I’m stating the obvious. Younger people with much less experience than we have now, having accomplished wondrous things that we have not. We can, and we will do them though.
At 60 life has become shortened. Time on this planet is meted out in moments and memories and we intend to make the best of them. We don’t want to wind up stuck in a dock for the rest of our lives, living like the crew of Renata, watching as our home sinks beneath the waves due to lack of hope, caring or whatever finally took it’s toll on Renata.
While time is slowing ticking away, we are still learning, as are all people, every day. Each event is a learning event. Each day is a time to reflect on your skills (or lack thereof) and move forward. Tomorrow is a new day, with new learning events.
A sailor never becomes a complete expert in everything they do, but they surely have skills that most can only dream about. Sailors KNOW what they know, and know there is much they do not know. Sailors are not afraid to test the waters, sail the tides or do without things they would like to have, but do not. Sailors learn as they go, and they pass on to others as they can. This sailor never stops reading, never stops learning, and will never give up.