On May 17th, 2023, IRENE left her winter home Marlin Bay Marina in Marathon, Florida, bound for Galveston, Texas. Her tower was lowered and she was secured for transport at the Marathon Boat Yard. IRENE headed west as David and I were headed north.
On the same day IRENE left port, David arrived at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Venice, Florida, to have knee replacement surgery. While the knee surgery was planned months in advance, the boat sale came as a “surprise” to us. It turns out there was someone else out there that dreamed of owning IRENE and making her his own. His persistence combined with the number of stairs on the boat and the cost of storing her for six months made the decision a pragmatic one for us. Bittersweet none the less.
Two beauties, ready for their next assignments.
Our last month in Marathon was a combination of laying real low (mostly by the pool), packing up to move out, and eating at all of our favorite places. David and I agree that Marathon is one of our “love territories”; sand, sun, blue-green waters, big-hearted people, fresh food, palm trees, sea creatures, boats, and expansive blue skies. Your life is your medicine and in many ways, Marathon healed us from the inside out.
Currently, we are hunkered down at my sister Kathy and brother-in-law, George’s, beautiful home in Port Charlotte, Florida. David is recovering and getting used to his new knee. I am assisting him in all the ways; nesting in this comfortable space, cooking, creating stuff, and beginning a new, part-time job. We have a vacation week planned in St. Augustine at the end of June, just before David checks back in at Sarasota Memorial on July 12th to replace his other knee. Then, more recovering while we plan our next moves and adventures.
Keeping in mind that nothing in this life is permenant, I am not sure what will become of the Be the Ship blog? Not sure what will become of anything in fact, but naturally hopeful. In the meantime, let’s all keep creating who we truly are in our concerted effort to return to source. Remember, what sets dreams in motion is action. Take some. Show up. Joy is truly your birthright. I hope you all wake up one day and recognize your whole life is a miracle.
Lately I have possessed an obsession to learn more about cooking. Not like I haven’t always cooked, because I have. When it comes to making David’s top ten meals (most of which his mother made) I’m pretty much a James Beard award winner in the comfort food category. Before we moved to the boat I had a full on land kitchen that included a collection of cookbooks. I loved those books. The recipes inside them served as enjoyable reading and as blueprints for some great dinners. In fact, my first born grew up and became an excellent chef; so there must be a spark of a possibility in my DNA too, right? But those cookbooks that I prized for their beautiful photographs and the delicious recipes they contained never taught me how to invent food. And even a loving chef-son has to work so much and so many late hours, that cooking alongside him was a rare moment. Now, the stars have aligned and for some reason that I can’t explain, I have a a curiosity about how to make a from scratch meal with what is fresh, local and in my tiny pantry. I know where to find local produce in the middle of these islands and even where to buy the freshest fish straight off the boat. I’m a Northerner learning to cook perfect, well sourced grits. And just like that, my cooking is less about nostalgia and is “all about patience and trusting my senses” (Edward Lee). There’s no recipe book for that. Apparently I had to be today-years old to see that making David his beloved mom’s meals and doing something I love are one and the same.
I had to live this long and this adventurously to fully merge my senses enough to embody this expanded passion. I registered for a streaming service called “YesChef”. It’s an immersive experience of learning from the stories and kitchens of great chefs from around the world. Anthony Bourdain remains my first chef heart center throb however; now he is joined there with Francis Mallman, Erez Komarofsky, Edward Lee, Nancy Silverton, Asma Khan, and Kwame Onwuachi. The language of good food is a world language; it’s a love language and these chefs have inspired me, deeply. Their art and wisdom have moved me to tears a bunch of times. I cried when Francis Mallman removed his eggplants from the outdoor fire and peeled off the charred skin to press them and create Eggplant Milanese and prepared a simple salad (made with his hands only). I have watched Erez Komarofsky’s story multiple times and each time I am in awe of the Galilee countryside, the natural produce he picks to prepare his dishes, all things fresh and beautiful. I yelled “YES” and ran for my journal when Asma Khan shared her journey from a childhood in Kalkuta to her own restaurant in London. She was reflecting on her return to India where she founded a communal kitchen and restaurant for women to cook their Bengali regional foods. Many of them went on to become entrepreneurs and changed the fabric of the culture there. Asma’s words from my journal, “I cleared a pathway for generations to come. Clearing the way I applaud as they pass me. I want them to be better than me. ‘She’ is standing on me. What all of you see is my victory, you see my success, there was ‘no failure’. No one was there interviewing me; I carry the scars of the doors that closed on my face”. I imagine how Asma feels, while simultaneously being deeply humbled, as I insist to David that he inhale even more deeply, the aroma of the ginger, garlic and lemon grass I am cooking down with the green curry. (Saffron Korma goals are born in those moments.)
There’s a light shining out of my fingertips and beaming from my body to the world as I am standing in IRENE’s galley, on the shoulders of giants.
Living aboard IRENE, sitting on this dock, and turning my attention to the food I am preparing, I have made a few personal discoveries. For example, I discovered that love and salt are analogous. This alchemic magic should not surprise me, yet somehow, it does. Salt works through two chemical processes, osmosis and diffusion. Both are natural ways of seeking equilibrium and both are forms of movement and they are transformable. Understand this and your food and your life will both taste better.
I have discovered that love and fat are analogous too. As I am learning more about how fat works in food, I am reminded again of the chemistry of love. Fat affects taste and determines texture. The unlikely kindred roots of every love and delicious food are clearly a combination of “crisp, creamy, flaky, tender and light”. Render your heart in love like the fat to crunchiness. Imagine your beloved and how your hearts seem magically joined– Two things that have no obvious means of joining together give in to the force and the result is creamy and wonderful. That’s an emulsion. Achieve tenderness by adding fat early like butter in your pie crust, and keep it cool ;-D
One more area of ongoing discovery, acid. It’s not only the lemon for chasing tequila. Acid is meant to be more subtle than that. If salt and fat are synonymous with love, I’d say acid adds a little romance to the mix. Acid brings the balance. It makes your mouth water. I appreciate the joy of contrast in life and consequently, I was quick to recognize that tucking a little acid in every dish to bring the contrast is essential. IRENE’s tiny pantry already included multiple vinegars, pickles, cheeses, a fresh lemon and a lime. Maybe I didn’t offer David a romantic Valentine heart filled with chocolates, but I can throw together an alluring Caesar salad (thank you Nancy Silverton) and make my own mysterious Hot Vinegar (thank you Edward Lee).
Cooking can be a world of conscious creation and chemistry; of history, love, nature, and stories. Whether it is preparing food or making something with paint, clay, wood, movement, or words, the joy of creating is where we can feel our relationship with the one infinite creator (which we are). As my friend Carol Morgan told me, “everything you enjoy is yours…it’s not something you have, it’s what you are”.
So my friends, if “relearning to cook” on a boat on the water can lead me to deeply enjoy my life just as it is, then surely you might consider savoring every moment of your life in this physical world while you are here too. Create a mouth watering journey of your own. Do it for yourself which is the same as doing it for the world. To paraphrase Francis Mallman from his Patagonian frontier home and retreat, “The Edge of Uncertainty”: Do it from a place of joy, intuition and optimism. Please send pictures. I dream of applauding you.
It is the first day of February, 2023. The past month was filled with inspiration garnered from other peoples’ lives and other peoples’ actions. Generosity, bravery, kindness, wisdom, excitement, energy, communication, reassurance, and love; I have been recipient and witness to all of these. January just packed all the juicy stuff in it and by the grace of God, we got through it. So, on this first day of the second month of 2023, I say, hallef***inlujah.
January in Marathon brought many old cruising friends back into our realm, and this first day of February, some are saying farewell. Such a great reminder that we are all travelers. We are all one traveler. Even when we are safe in the harbor, we live with the knowing that we will move, and move again. More wisdom from January thanks to all the family members and friends who reached out as David reconciled a health challenge. Much love and many thanks to each of you. He is feeling better and optimistic too. Reciprocity is everywhere and that is the perfect word to describe how we find ourselves; travelers on both sides of every horizon.
As I alluded to above, the first of every month in a marina, boats depart and new boats arrive. Today, this very morning, is no exception. We said good-bye to some fine neighbors today and as I am having a morning coffee aboard IRENE, the idea of a “new” month and fresh starts, is on my mind. My thoughts have wandered from the folks around us off to explore new harbors, to a few dear friends who are standing on much more profound precipices of beginning again in new dreams. I am sending up a prayer to my beloveds embarking on the freedom of dreaming again; moving to new territories; setting sail across new oceans; to all my dear loves gathering the courage to follow your guidance and break free; I salute you. David Whyte, one of my favorite poets, words are ringing in my ears: “The world is made for us to be free in”.
In his poem, The Journey, David Whyte also wrote metaphorically that there are times when leaving becomes arriving. This idea makes the way forward inevitably, exactly how we arrived here. I believe he was writing about how the difficulty of walking away from something profound, like a relationship, and how it isn’t actually about the act of ending that particular relationship, or the physical act of leaving that person, place or period of time that is heart-wrenching. Reflecting on David Whyte’s words now, I think he is expressing that the truly difficult part of “leaving” is abandoning the dreams you dreamt in that time or place or with that person. Particular dreams are gone and life has to be reimagined, through a feeling of grief. And, I do feel a bit melancholy today, watching boats leave the basin and fading across the horizon. The poem is written for the traveler, but I feel it is also for the ones that stay behind, to cheer us all on our ways. Here is the poem:
Above the mountains the geese turn into the light again
Painting their black silhouettes on an open sky.
Sometimes everything has to be inscribed across the heavens
so you can find the one line already written inside you.
Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that
first, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.
Sometimes with the bones of the black sticks left when the fire has gone out
someone has written something new in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving. Even as the light fades quickly now, you are arriving.
David Whyte has written many books of poetry and my favorite poem of his is called, Everything is Waiting for You. I hear this poem in my mind a little differently than it’s actually written. Rather than one “Everything”, I hear it with great emphasis like, “Everything, everything, everything, is waiting for you”. So to those dear loves, my friends, who are stepping out off a limb or sailing into new worlds, let David Whyte’s words be pressed on your mirror… and add these too: “Life is fierce and difficult. There is no life we can live without being subject to grief, loss and heartbreak. Half of every conversation is mediated through disappearance.” And I will add- The other half, through your courage; because the other half could be pure magic.
All this thinking and slight sense of melancholy, began last month, at the start of the new year. Someone referred to our life on the water as an “experiment” (the “Florida Experiment” to be precise). This language of life being an experiment has stayed with me since, and I am close to concluding with a near belief that all our lives are “experiments”. Sometimes misinformed and void of any intentional methodology, but experiments none the less. We all came for experiences and we create our experiences. I suppose that is the ultimate form of experimentation. We have a few theories, we try them out, we draw a few conclusions. Some things are beyond our free will, but for the most part, we decide. We follow our own guidance and move on.
Sometimes the connection between the present moment and the thoughts and decisions we made “in the past”, that created this now moment, are so far between that it seems impossible to our minds that we are the creators of where we find ourselves and the “experiment” we are going through. And yet, at some point, we decided. Everything began with an idea, with a thought, with the words and wishes we spoke aloud and the ones we never uttered to anyone. It matters not, because both count. Frankly, the ones we repeat in what we think are our private thoughts, they may actually count more with their energetic persistence, depth and sincerity. Everything is energy, and that includes thoughts and feelings.
I suppose this means that we conduct our life experiment in large part, unconsciously, in the ways we are deeply programmed to behave. All the ways we learned from our earliest moments and through twelve years of school and in every aspect of life; programmed by our families beliefs, religion, western medicine, television, print media, by movies, through the stories and social media. And through the constant retelling, revisiting and identification of our traumas, and through our ongoing agreements to colonial beliefs and behaviors. Deep, deep programming that tells us to we are good when we are compliant, it’s better to be quiet, it’s good to make sacrifice, suffering isn’t optional, be less than your full human self. Sit a particular way, use certain words, don’t show up, but act like you did. Find the one special person and stay with them for life. Get a career and stay with it even if you’re miserable. Make sure you have more money when you die than you spend when you’re alive. Buy a house, strap yourself to a mortgage, stay in one place. Fit in; do as you’re told; don’t rock the boat. The unconscious experiment is ongoing. The journey to freedom, to ” everything, everything, everything” that awaits us, is to move. To act. To choose sovereignty over our experiment, our life, our passions, our purpose, our path; this is the highest pilgrimage ever.
Godspeed us pilgrims home; even when we have no idea where the path might lead.
I leave you with David Whyte’s incredible voice. I could not love this more.
IRENE has been tied up to a dock in Marathon, Florida, since November 1st. Eight weeks tied to a dock is a long time to float in one place. For me living aboard her, it’s a long time to be in one place too. I’m not sure who is more fortunate, the boat or me? The boat sits quietly, bobs on the waves, feels the wind blow across her, provides shelter and beauty for people. Me, on land, drives car in multilane, fast traffic, rides an electric scooter on uneven pavement, flies on airplanes among coughing and sputtering folks while enduring delays at overcrowded airports, hits up the laundry-mat, grocery stores, coffee shops and waiting rooms; considers the correspondence between everything and energy, words and frequency, and between falling apart and rising up. One thing is certain, life on land moves a helluva lot faster than on water.
Meanwhile, during the same eight weeks, we have been brushed by a November hurricane, observed a lunar eclipse, experienced solar flares, witnessed falling stars, read about changes in the earth’s magnetic field, worked on boat repairs, walked on solid ground, encountered lots of people, traveled near and far, spent time outside and inside- clearing, cleaning and organizing space, revisiting short term goals and more.
In November, David and I were treated to a luxurious visit to St. Kitts with David’s sister Kathie. We swam in the beautiful Caribbean Sea, traveled to Nevis, made some magic chemistry in the kitchen, saw the Atlantic from new shores, met beautiful and kind people, and felt that feeling that comes up when we mediate on life at its imagined best where we are the cause and the effect too. We offer infinite gratitude for those experiences to Kathie, to the planet, to the universe and to ourselves for saying “yes”.
We flew back St. Kitts on Thanksgiving Eve. Since we were in Miami, halfway between the boat and Port Charlotte, we drove north to my sister Patty’s house for the holiday. We spent three nights there and had a delicious blast, including spending a day in Venice visiting our long time Vermont friends and neighbors, Mike and Marie. They treated us to a tasty lunch on Venice Beach. All this time among family and friends it became apparent that when people love you, they attempt to fatten you up. I presume the evolutionary function of this to make more of you; more to love, more to wrap their arms around and to ensure ya’ll might live longer. Of course, these are offsetting goals when you factor in butter, wine, french fries and cheesecake, but we welcomed the love and gobbled it up with gratitude.
We returned to the boat to greet December by immersing ourselves in the spirit of the holidays. We went shopping in Key West, wrapped gifts, listened to our favorite winter songs and some Christmas music, watched a couple of old movies, wrote cards, cooked some more, visited the Post Office and UPS to ship a few boxes, and enjoyed the colorful lights on all the boats in the basin. Then, on December 13th I jumped off the mainland again and headed to St. Thomas, USVI, to spend two weeks at Christmas with our daughter Anna, her partner Don, and our two magnificent granddaughters, Isla and Olive. I cannot thank David and the universe enough for gracing me with this trip and time. I missed rare December cold spell in the Keys and I missed David however; I don’t like the cold spells and two, David was under the weather 90% of the time so better that he had uninterrupted quiet and full control over the thermostat.
Meanwhile, I am still experiencing the challenges of limited technology and for no apparent reason, this blog site isn’t able to upload images from my Apple Photo Cloud. I’m left with only a handful of images to share with no rhyme or reason why some stick when others will not. That is it folks. A few words to convey profound experiences and even fewer grainy images that tell part of a story, just like the old days. Wishing you all a 2023 filled with purpose, passion, prosperity, peace, a pioneering spirit, and people and places you love. All the “P’s” to propel you up, up, and way UP. I hope to see you there.
When I last wrote we were anchored out at Cape Canaveral, Florida. We had ducked behind the bridge to the mainland in a heavy north east wind. That north, north east wind never left us and we had the wind at our backs for several weeks. I can only recall one day of traveling where we had beam seas for a few hours. This seems miraculous and we are incredibly grateful for this good fortune. Abundance, indeed.
The less easy side of the story is of course the time and distance we have to travel each day in order to stay within the calendar we had created for ourselves. Mainly, we hoped to reach our winter slip in Marathon on November, 1st. Planning our daily travels was a bit more complex due to navigating some of south Florida and the ICW’s most shallow waters. There is a stretch between Biscayne Bay (just south of Miami) all the way to Marathon, where even at mid to high tide, especially on a waxing and full moon, the depths are between 4 and 6 feet (for miles). We draw four feet before fuel and water so of course, this will cause concern. The good news is that the bottom is mostly sand, and there will be turtles, magnificent sea turtles.
The more we live a life traveling on the water, the more appreciative I have become for the energy the water offers us in return. Otherwise, I think this life might be too rigorous for us. I say out loud to the beautiful blue waters of south Florida, to the dolphins, manatees, turtles, seagulls, frigates, pelicans, flying fish, tarpons, rainbows, sun, moon, enormous clouds, the beautiful blue sky and more, “Thank you”. Thank you for placing so many miracles along our path and in this world. Each of them is life giving and life affirming. As we live in the moments we are in, both the stressful and the amazing ones, we simultaneously envision a safe harbor in our future and recognize the past will be past.
IRENE has been running like a dream since we replaced the inverter back in Westport, NY, and then her alternator in Holden Beach, NC. But, as we were waiting for the Atlantic Avenue draw bridge in Delray Beach, FL to head to the City Marina and a slip along the ICW, her bow thruster failed. I turned it on and we heard only, “click, click, click”. Kind of a worst case scenario for me at the helm with a big north wind, in a narrow body of water, turning 90 degrees into a 15 foot wide slip where the wind would be on our starboard beam. Fortunately, we read the wind right, had a hand with the lines on the dock, and were safely tied up without the use of the thruster. Extra heart palpitations not necessary, after all. A call to a local boat mechanic and an early evening house call diagnosed the issue was with the thruster’s switch. We will be ordering one and having that replaced once we are in Marathon. Silver lining, dinner that evening with David’s brother Bill and his husband Lee at the sweetest little art house in Delray Beach, Dada.
Little did we know that the windlass, which is the motor for our anchor chain and anchor, is somehow tied into the same switch system. We found this out at our next stop, an anchorage in Hollywood, FL, called South Lake. We were preparing to anchor when I turned on the windlass and hear the now notorious, “click, click, click” sound. This is an even bigger game changer for us as it means that until it can be repaired, David and I have to manually lower and raise our 45 pound anchor, and at least 100 feet of chain, each time we anchor out (which is most of the time). In an attempt to assuage my upset over these two events (yes, I cried) David reminded me multiple times, “This is how they did it in the old days”. Well my friends, while I do long for simplicity, I am not interested in suffering. My response was, “one more week of llittle boat on the prairie”.
Hollywood was a deep anchorage in approximately 28 feet of water, which is less than ideal to begin with however, pulling up that much chain from a muddy bottom was an enormous work out. Imagine how you feel after you rake a couple of acres of wet leaves. That was us. We opted for a longer day of travel after that to minimize the number of stops we would end up making before reaching Marathon. In fact, we made it all the way past past Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key Biscayne, all in one day of travel. We anchored in the Key Biscayne National Park water off Elliot Key in 7 feet of water. It was beautiful however; that north wind blew hard all night and even though we were protected from waves and most of the wind, the anchor dug in exceptionally well. In the morning, we had a hell of a time pulling it out of the wet and compacted sand.
Based on our experience at Elliot Key, we opted for another longgggggger ass day of travel all the way to Islemorada. Islemorada is a town south of Key Largo that encompasses six of the northern Florida Keys and surrounding coral reefs. It’s beautiful, but its shallow waters and numerous crab pots make make navigating the area challenging. The distance traveled overall made it worth it because it meant we could drop the anchor in one place for three nights and save ourselves some of the struggles with the chain and the bottom of the sea. From Islemorada, only a five hour journey to Marathon. Only five hours yet, David said that last day of travel was among the most difficult of the entire 2000 miles of summer traveling for him. Tired and sore from pulling up the anchor, his eyes tired from watching for crab pots with the sun reflecting off the water, seeing the shallows become shallower then charted, and with the wind behind us on an 89 degree day (you can’t feel the wind when it’s directly behind you), it was definitely rough out there.
We persisted and we made it safely to Marathon. We docked Irene with no thruster and 15 miles an hour of wind pushing us off the dock. We didn’t exactly set an example for perfect docking under the circumstances, but we didn’t entirely suck either. What a joy to have the boat safely tied up, to feel the wind on our faces and to be offered a cold beer by an old friend. I write all of this from a place of deep gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings the universe has bestowed upon us and our travels. Not only for the end of our current travel, but for our entire journey.
Irene needs a good washing now (and seemingly always) to get the salt off her, but the miles are on David and me for ever. Since leaving Fort Meyers in April of 2021, we have traveled over 10,500 miles. We set out knowing that circumnavigating the US’ interconnected waterways would be at least 6,000 miles, but we would not have guessed that we would keep going from the Keys and return to our beloved Lake Champlain in Vermont, by boat, and then back again.
I am not exaggerating in the least when I quote James Joyce’s Ulysses: “Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” And the also famous line, “Me. And now me.” Both true for “me”. I suspect David may give a nod to a different line from that epic story, “The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.” Haha. I remember reading Ulysses in school and thinking what an insanely exotic and giant tale it was, but it turns out it wasn’t a myth after all. It is alchemy bottled up in a perfect decanter, dispensing each of our stories, because to learn, one must be humble and life truly is “the greatest teacher”; and James Joyce was a fucking genius. We are home again. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
On Monday morning, October 10th, with Hurricane Ian behind us, we set out on IRENE towards our winter home in Marathon, Florida. We had a full supply of passion and hopeful expectations for the journey. We traveled from morning to late afternoon, not just that day, but everyday, for 8 days. From Charleston to Church Creek at Wadmalaw Island, SC. From Church Creek to Spanish Point in Beaufort, SC. From there to Bull Creek (near Hilton Head). Bull Creek to Savannah, Georgia. From Savannah to New Tea Kettle Creek (seriously, up the creek a couple of miles). New Tea Kettle Creek to Floyd Creek at Cumberland Island, GA. After Cumberland Island, the Atlantic ICW brings you into Florida where we anchored in North Sisters Creek, south of Jacksonville. From Sisters Creek we headed to St. Augustine for two nights. Then three more travel days to Palm Coast, New Smyrna and then down the Indian River. Twelve days since departing Charleston. I just want to say, “holy shit”. I was not prepared for so much traveling, and all that it entails, day after day. In fact, by the end of day number 8, my body/mind complex called out for assistance by way of stillness, and that is the reason we stayed in St. Augustine for two nights rather than one. David was prepared to keep moving, but he was happy to accommodate my request, and settle in for a windy day of reflection on the mooring to rest and recharge for the duration of this journey.
Life on the water has transformed my definition of what it means to be strong and courageous. I believe the nexus of our strength and grit is not an amalgamation of physical attributes and drive to push on no matter what, rather, it is located at our heart center where we compose our lives, where we honestly identify our needs, where we birth and nurture our passions, and where we find the ears to hear. We all got a heart right there in our center to open up and create the life we want to live. It is a much truer composer and compass than the brain. Now, we are anchored in Cape Canaveral, Florida, with 400 more miles traveled. The wind is blowing out of the north, the current is flowing, there’s some big fetch from the Indian River, the tide is going out, and I am sitting here writing this missive to me and you from the strongest muscle I got.
We are incredibly grateful for these fair weather travel days. It means we have been able to cover a lot of territory and make good time towards our destination (approximately 400 miles). And of course, each day contained opportunities to appreciate the beauty of places, to commune with the natural world, to learn, and to encounter new people and all the energies. Albeit, while moving our bodies and navigating and steering and taking care of the boat and taking care of our basic needs and communicating and trying to get some rest and remembering to eat well and check on the anchor and just breathe. You know, life in a dense body.
This is not an observation from “life on the water” because I was on land when this occurred. This is me reflecting on a conversation with our 11 year old grandson, Xander . I had just returned to Charleston from a Spirit-Led retreat in South Dakota when upon my return, he and I took a walk together.
Xander and I were walking and talking about my trip and he asked me a few questions about things I “believe in”. I answered his questions and he responded “other people might think” xyz … It doesn’t matter what the xyz was because it doesn’t actually exist. What I found deeply moving and meaningful is that an 11 year old asked about how to absorb and feel when other people may judge you, or express something that is not exactly kind about you. Such a good question to be asked- at any age, and most definitely at the tender age of 11.
Initially, my response confused him. I said, “What other people think about you or me is none of our business ”. From there, we had the best conversation.
Long talk short, I shared my understanding that how other people judge and talk about us “isn’t our business” because it is a product of their mind; a product of their imagination. The only suffering it is causing or that is occurring, is within them. It lowers their frequency. That’s what judging others does to the one casting shade. It causes suffering in the mind and experience of that person. Therefore, suffering is optional. I suggested we forgive it, let it go and keep being our most authentic selves.
This really resonated with him, and that’s what this world needs. People caring so much they pause and feel and wonder and learn with grace and ease. Roger that.
It has been an intense time in this corner of the world as a major hurricane gained strength over the warm ocean waters and powered its way up the Gulf of Mexico, coming to shore at the exact place where David and I began our Great Loop journey and subsequently crossed our wake on December 4th, 2021; Cayo Costa, Florida. Hurricane Ian hit land with a wicked fierceness and a magnitude unparalleled in recent years. Arriving near high tide in the vast Charlotte Harbor (30 miles long by 12 miles wide), the strong winds pushed a near ocean of water into the bay and consequently up the three rivers that flow there; the Peace, Myakka, and Caloosahatchee. Thus causing immense damage across many communities along the shore and inland from the harbor. The level of destruction is immeasurable and many lives will be changed forever, and difficult, for a long time to come.
One of the couples we met during the Great Loop, and have stayed in touch with since, reside in Cape Coral, Florida. Their house was destroyed in the hurricane and their boat was spared by inches from coming up, over and off their floating dock. I reached out to them to express our love and received many messages in return. We ended up on the phone together discussing the current state of the waters around Cape Coral, Fort Meyers, Punta Gorda, and the rivers that flow into Charlotte Harbor. We talked too, because David and I are scheduled to be at the Fisherman’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda for November and December, so the safety and pass-ability of the waterways there is vital to any travel. What they shared was predictable and awful, none the less. They told us that most waterway markers are missing, blown off in the storm. They said the waters are black and it is impossible to see into the water therefore impossible to spot debris, sunken objects and such. They shared that throughout the water from south of Tampa past Fort Meyers and Naples, and in the ICW there are sunk and partially submerged cars, houses, boats, roadways, trees, and more. The entire area is considered a disaster area and the waterways are currently off limits to recreational boaters and travelers. There are still rescue operations happening and much of the area has only intermittent power, phone service and internet/data capacity. In other words, this year, we will not be able to go to Punta Gorda by water. We will be there in spirit and return again, we hope, in April of ‘23. Fingers crossed.
It occurred to me that in times of great difficulties, during experiences that diminish us, we pray for strength to endure what life has brought us. We don’t pray for “easy”. We focus on emerging from what has the potential to destroy us. We pray for strength to transcend what hurts us in order to help ourselves and others. As it is during times of great joy, the power behind that prayer, that space we are holding, is love. Love for yourself, love of life, love of other people; loving the moments as you live them. We come from love, we are love and we return to love.
By the time Hurricane Ian reached us here in Charleston, it had been knocked down to a category 1 hurricane. Winds ranged from 40 to 85 mph and were accompanied by very heavy rain and local flooding. We were very lucky. Thank you to the many of you who reached out to check on us. Thank you for your concern, your prayers, your thoughts, your love. We could feel the positive energy. We gathered up your light and pulled it in around us and it helped us to stay UPlifted and generate more good thoughts while we lived in the flow of not knowing how our boat would fair.
David and I had gone to prepare IRENE for the coming storm. We doubled up on her lines and secured anything that could “fly around” during the inevitable heavy seas and rocking and rolling on the dock. We did all that we could there. On the home front, we shopped for a few foods to prepare ahead and a few favorites to enjoy in the inevitable event we would lose power. Also, a big trip to the arts and crafts store for paint, charcoal pencils, new markers, ink, special paper and more. The best remedy to address anxiety is to prevent it through engagement, especially through DOing. DOing anything with the intention of consciously engaging in it. My theory here is that by DOing things we become fully present in the moment and the mind focuses on the moment you are in. Simple and effective. So, once our preparations were completed and we had many intentional conversations with the grandchildren about the coming storm, and fairly quickly, we got to happily and calmly, DOing things- Cooking, creating, reading and resting. Twenty-four hours later, IRENE weathered the storm beautifully (only the dock buckled). The house stood strong with minimal water inside from just one side door, after 8 hours, the power was restored, and behind it all, we remained calm, centered and loving.
My friend in South Dakota, Carol https://xinaallen.com/ Morgan, recently shared a personal story about something that is currently difficult and causing sadness within her own family. She reflected on some learning that occurred with her and her sister as they had been feeling badly about the situation. For those of us who have lived long enough and through enough “storms” this may be familiar, but it is always good to be reminded. The learning was essentially: it is important to acknowledge sad and/or heavy feelings as they come to us and to feel them in your heart. Keep them there inside your feeling heart, not in your mind, they’re not for your head; they aren’t there for analysis. After you have held them in your heart-space, release them, because when sadness and other heavy feelings are invited into our minds they bring exponential density that invites fear and suffering. All the “what ifs”, “should haves”, “I wishes”, and “he said she saids” are the stuff fear is made of- and fear erodes your peace and makes it impossible to rise UP and live life fully, joyfully. Not only during the difficult times, but especially during the difficult times.
In the meantime, I called our marina in Marathon, Marlin Bay, where we are already scheduled to stay from January 1st – April 1st, and I was told that miraculously, our slip was available for us in November and December. Since we are scheduled to leave here on Monday, October 10th, this was blessed news to us. And this nearly improbable outcome was just the beginning of a constellation of connected miracles. My next call was to move a departing flight to visit Anna in December, from the Fort Meyers airport to depart from Miami. Another miracle, seats available and in the end, I was assigned better seats and given a $200 credit. The next unexpected message was an invitation to fly directly from Miami to St. Kits in November for a few days at a villa with David’s sister Kathie and her husband Dan. An beautiful gift for us to explore a new place with people we love. New pathways to joy are opening for all of us. May everyone’s beloveds, friends, angels, guides, teachers and powers that be, surround you with as much grace and abundance as we are experiencing now.
Dear Reader, I begin with today and work back to our arrival in Mount Pleasant. Rather than edit for smoother reading, I wanted to begin by reassuring you that we are well. ❤️
We docked at the Cooper River Marina in North Charleston almost two weeks ago and buttoned IRENE up for a month. We will check on her periodically however; for all intents and purposes, for the hopeful duration of hurricane season, and while hanging with family, we are living on land. As I write this on the evening of Thursday, September 27th, 2022, we are watching Hurricane Ian bear down on the west coast of Florida. Currently, it looks like it will be a tropical storm by the time it reaches us. However; tropical storms pack plenty of wind, rain and surf. Focusing on preparation and safety now. Earlier today, David and I drove across the bridge, back to North Charleston, to reinforce IRENE’s lines and to bring all the things we store outside, inside. Even though the docks at the marina are beautiful, well constructed floating docks, with big winds and gusts, the boats are going to do some enormous rocking.
In other news. The kids school announced today they will be closed on Friday. Jay went to the grocery store and Farmer’s Market to pick up a few things and filled the vehicles with gas. I did our laundry and am gathering up materials for a long weekend of art and crafting with Hollis. Please use your imagination to envision the storm losing steam and getting tamped down before it hits land again. Thank it and wish it well. Send big prayers up for the people of Cuba and everyone, everywhere, especially our Florida friends.
September 16th, 2022
Of course, it takes an entire wagon load to move out our backpacks, our personal items and our laundry from the boat to the waiting car. By now we are happily installed in the room over the garage in Mount Pleasant (Charleston, S.C.). It’s a delightful space with an enormous soaking tub, for which I am very grateful. There is a graceful walkway behind the main house that invites us into the family room and kitchen of Jay and Melissa’s home. David thinks the walkway and back yard are the best aspects of the house. I find the entire structure beyond “best”, and beautiful in every way.
After arriving I noticed the one big irony of being on the land is how often everyone wants to go “to the water”. The house is only a couple blocks away from the ICW and the Charleston inlet. So far, we have been to a bar and a restaurant on Shem Creek and also on Sullivan’s Island. We have walked a nature preserve path out to the ICW and have taken several shorter walks and golf cart rides down side streets to the waterfront as well. All the water, the boats, the reflections, the perfect light, the tall and wide skyline, the waves and the dolphins, the big red sunsets, they are all still there.
In Other News
This past week, I gave myself a belated birthday gift and flew to the Black Hills of South Dakota for a long weekend, to participate in a Spirit-Led Intensive Workshop. Four nights and three days of good living in an powerful environment with beautiful souls. We did a lot of deeply personal work, ate incredible meals (prepared with love), spent time in the blessed and sacred Black Hills, and took self-care to the next level. I look forward to going back there, someday, to feel the profound and palpable energy emanating from the Black Hills and to spend time with old and new friends.
While I was off doing my thing, David stayed in Charleston and enjoyed being waited on by Hollis and Xander. He had a stress fracture on his left foot that was healing. The kids checked on him a few times a day, brought him ice cream, taught him to use the fancy remote, and kept him in good company. I am happy to report he is back on his feet and has mastered the remote. He has a fresh haircut, has begun a good book recommended by a friend, and is looking forward to jumping in the pool in the rain. Life is good.
It’s hurricane season so we button up
our little boat home.
We fill our bags for a month on land
and load ourselves and our belongings into the waiting vehicle.
God bless this day.
We speed across the bridge to the mainland-
and our driver accelerates to avoid
the “crazy blind driver” who has “almost killed us”.
Lord have mercy.
Arriving well and happy
we carry ourselves and our belongings up a flight of stairs.
We stand on the hard and unmoving floor and I gaze upon the tub
appearing like a sacred shrine rising up to greet us.
We look out each window to inspect the view
of life close up.
The leaves and branches outside the window are
“so lush, so green, so beautiful”.
We head back outside, our barefoot strides lengthening
as we are uplifted by the earth beneath our feet.
Walking to the main house, this new home,
we joyfully board the kin-ship.
Lord, hear our prayers.
Wishing you all well. Be happy. Be in alignment with your authentic and unique self. Bring love and kindness to all that you do and in turn, this reflective universe will return it back to you. Rise and shine on, friends. Until I write again…EnJOY 🎶
On a chart, or on a map, borders look like lines. Fine lines that depict boundaries and “distinct” places. For some period of time, most days, I am looking at charts and then, I am looking up. Back and forth between the lines and the world. Throughout this process I get to observe from a place of neutrality and play a kind of discernment game as we travel. I look for things that make one side of the line observably different or unique; for signs that the lines demarcate something noticeable. Simultaneously, every place has energy so there are the nuanced frequencies, vibes if you will, for places we pass through and inhabit. Imagine a map where you see the border lines, the outlines of the towns, the rivers, creeks, waterways, roads, mountains, and bays. Now, imagine you can take a translucent page, where colors overlay the map and depending on the local energy; the chart or map gets a shade of this color or a shade of that color, all representing a myriad of frequencies. I am not sure if was born with a soul contract to a certain place however; I believe it is more likely that I was born with a soul contract to resonate at a certain octave, and those places light up the colors over the map, for me.
South Carolina has a vibe and an energy that is familiar to me now. Here begins the landscape and ecosystem of the low country. This is the third time I have traveled through the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) of South Carolina. On the chart, it does appear that when folks sat down to draw that border line, they said, “shallow sounds and big rivers to the north and all low country grasses, creeks and marshes to the south”. Very nice state. Pretty high and bright octave.
Night one in South Carolina: Calabash Creek. This is the third time we have anchored in this creek. It sits at the crossroads of North and South Carolina, as well as a significant ocean inlet at LIttle River and the ICW. This time, we had to anchor twice due a strong current there. Once our chain was fully extended, we were just a little too close to the channel for comfort, as there are many tour boats and fishing boats that leave Calabash for the ocean and pass by there. In other words, their wake will rock the boat, regardless of where you anchor, so farther off the channel is better (and safer).
The first city along the ICW in South Carolina is Myrtle Beach. It is miles of slow and no wake zones. It is densely populated. On a Sunday morning, this means there will be a lot of traffic on the water. Therefore, we decided to leave the creek at sunrise to try and avoid a slow freeway experience on the water. Myrtle Beach appears to be a place for land lovers.
South of Myrtle Beach, the ICW joins the Wachesaw River. The river introduces fresh water to the salt water until it is more fresh than brackish. This is a wide and lush river where the trees grow right up to the shore. You can see remnants of old docks and camps in remote places, Eagles and alligators hunt the fresh water areas. You could be anywhere in the world. Green on green and blue and gray. I really like everything about it, especially how you can often see and hear the ocean shore just beyond the low country grass line.
We spent four nights in the heart of the river, right on the ICW at the Wacca Wachee Marina at Mullins Inlet (north side of Pawleys Island). We had intended to stay two nights however; there were four days and nights of 100 degree weather and high humidity and we needed to remain plugged in for AC. It’s not good for a boat to get moisture inside it. The best air for a boat comes from sunshine and a breeze from the bow to the stern blowing freely through her. In the absence of that, AC is an ok remedy.
Turns out that four nights is a good amount of time to accomplish things. The heat does beg you to slow down and choose pace over total number of things completed. At any rate, here is a partial inventory of things we did when we weren’t laying low or melting:
We washed the salt off of IRENE and gave her decks a good scrub and the windows received the squeegee treatment.
We took the dingy down and cleaned the hull and scrubbed IRENE’s water line. This was serious work takes a lot of collaboration. IRENE is long and wide, AND she is tall. The deck to the waterline is at least 12 feet.
While we were doing the waterline we also sprayed all the places on the stainless where there was a hint of rust. Rinsed that all down later.
We filled our water tanks.
We did laundry, ate at the cute restaurant there and had an instacart delivery.
Rested. Wrote. Read. Watched tennis. Cooked some good food and had a near ton of fresh fruit.
Met some really nice people at the marina and a gem of a human at the laundry who gave me a ride across a busy intersection to a nail salon. Maybe they didn’t build sidewalks there so that people could meet their neighbors? I don’t know, but it was so nice to get a ride on hot day from a person who shined the same lovely and bright colors as the low country.
On the fifth day, we moved. Our destination was to leave the river, cross Wynea Bay to the ICW as it passes through the Cape Romain National Preserve. It is an extraordinary place. This is the place that dolphins and egrets go to relax. On this particular day, we stopped after only 20 miles at the South Santee River and anchor at the first significant creek, Minim Creek, on the east side of the river. The wind was howling out of the east, but our anchor held fine and dolphins circled IRENE repeatedly to say hello and to welcome us. There were a lot of local fishermen as well, who for the most part, kept their distance and didn’t wake us too badly. The wind was spectacular for sleeping and we woke to a light rain and fog. It was also the first day of duck hunting in SC. Put that all together and we were happy to be back underway early.
Early mornings in the low country are spectacular and we were buoyed by the colors, the waves, the wind at our backs, and the rising tide. We made our way to a place we had never been before, Graham Creek. This is a deep creek all the way up to where it bends towards the ocean. Low country grasses and sparse trees block the waves from the ocean and from the ICW, so you get to see the creak opening to one side, the ocean to the other. You can feel the ocean winds, and you hear the ocean crashing, all in the absence of the boat rocking. We anchored in the middle of the creek, just before the bend, in 10 feet of water at mid tide. Everything was lovely until the wind died. It became too hot to be comfortable and rain was on the horizon. And did it ever rain! It was the heaviest rain David and I have ever experienced, including during hurricanes. We laid down and listened to the rain on the roof in a kind of disbelief that the clouds could hold that much water. After the rain, there was no wind, just humidity. OH- and a Kingfisher. He perched right on IRENE’s Bimini and sat majestically, for a long while. I have never been so close to a Kingfisher. For those few minutes, the heat was bearable.
From Graham Creek we headed to the Isle of Palms Marina on Isle of Palms, right on the ICW. It was a beautiful cruise however; once there, I had to come to the dock two times as the tide was going out and the current was stronger than visible or imagined. You know the expression about landing a plane is like a controlled crash? Heading a 25,000 pound boat at a dock at 4 knots with the wind behind you and current on your beam is kind of like that until you stop going forward, which hopefully, is with your boat parallel at the dock. In this situation, I do positive self talk like an athlete and remind myself that “practice makes progress”. At any rate, the second time was the charm.
Isle of Palms was a beautiful stop for two days. We had a spot at the end of the dock, facing the ICW. From there we were able to watch boats, ferries, fisherman, kayakers, sunrises, and crows. Crows! I feel like it had been a long while since I have communed with the Crows. On this day, I was walking down the dock and the crows were landing above me; circling and landing. I stopped to observe them and in turn, they stopped to observe me. We watched each other. Like dolphins, Crows are telepathic. On this day, as we were preparing to depart again, they were asking me to take a higher perspective. I definitely appreciated their communication as I was feeling a little “blah” about preparing to move. They reminded me, in the most beautiful way, to embrace the transitions. Sometimes I forget this. Also, I appreciate that the crows found me interesting enough to be curious about and engaged in staring at me for a bit. One even allowed me to take his picture before I walked on.
Our next stop, Charleston. 10 miles from Isle of Palms to the Cooper River Marina on the north east side of Charleston. That will be IRENE’s home base for the next month, before we begin heading souther again. David and I will spend a few nights one the boat, at the marina, before moving into the room over the garage at (son) Jay’s house in Mount Pleasant. As always, sending up hopeful prayers for a continued low activity hurricane season and another month filled with love.