Here we were, just over a week ago, waxing the hull at the Westport Marina in Westport, NY. The marina owner/mechanic, Larry, was finishing up his work on IRENE and we are headed back down to put her in the water when he’s done to depart. We do not have a specific schedule, since it’s always a bit weather dependent and now with hurricane season upon us, a bit more so. There are a few stops we know we will be making however for sure; New Baltimore, NY (replacing our windshield wiper motors and components there); St. Michaels, MD ( staying a bit with David’s sister, Kathie), and a couple of other places in the Chesapeake we weren’t able to stop at on our last two trips north. Stay tuned!
It is kind of ”just sinking in” that the boat is our home. It’s our ”house”. After spending the last six weeks between docks and dry land, I can safely say the thing I miss the most from the land-side of life is a full sized refrigerator. Never take that thing for granted. What a spacious invention. WhileI love my tiny boat kitchen, the tiny frig presents some big challenges. One thing that has been reinspiring me in this area has been revisiting Rachel Khoo and her “Tiny Kitchen” work. I love the way she models how to be bigger than all of your challenges and breathe life into around it so the problems and weaknesses becomes strengths that we adapt to! For now, I am GREAT at making coffee on a boat LOL. Her journals are inspiring too and I am making more of an effort to incorporate watercolor painting into my own journals. (Thank you, Rachel.) I can tell you that when you set your sites on overcoming obstacles and doing hard stuff or things you’ve never done, you gotta do the work the best you can. ”Do your best and leave the rest.” After all, I am bigger than that tiny frig and someday, my painting will be too!
It felt good to be moving again. Slightly bittersweet to know we only had a couple of days left on Lake Champlain. While we could have stayed longer, there are other factors that are part of the equation. We knew that the blue-green algae was beginning to bloom in the Champlain Canal locks. We knew that the lake level (and canal levels) were going down. We knew we wanted to be in St. Michaels, MD, the second week of August and in Charleston, SC, the third week of September. We know that getting in and around New Jersey can be complicated by weather and tides. So we began without regrets and fueled by gratitude for six weeks of beauty, pleasure, friends and family. Albeit, not an ordinary scenario for either. In fact, Emma has been lamenting the fact that our family is spread out, unusually so, and that we can’t physically “be there” for one another on a daily basis. It’s true, but we are an interesting family. And, love is love, wherever you are. As long as we are alive, our bodies are just a plane, train, car, bus, or boat ride away. In fact, Emma is in St. Thomas with Anna, Isla, Olive and Don, this week! Lots of photo postcards from her to share with you here.
Meanwhile, on IRENE. We spent our first night back on water (our last night on Lake Champlain) anchored at Fort Ticonderoga. It’s a stunning spot on the lake and a beautifully historic place. The wind picked up out of the west overnight and we left at the crack of dawn, headed to the Champlain Canal. Ten locks over the course of two days in front of us. Not an abundance of anchorages or free walls along the way, but a lot of nostalgia to look forward to. The Champlain Canal will be 200 years old in 2023. I find that pretty amazing and I feel so blessed to have had many opportunities to travel this particular corridor.
About midway through the Canal the waterway joins the Hudson River. At least that’s how it reads on a chart. The Hudson is my favorite river of rivers. I love them all, but this one resonates with me in so many ways. I can hear Pete Seeger’s voice. I feel the stories of my childhood; Rip Van Winkle, the Headless Horseman, Sleepy Hollow and more. I see the profoundly beautiful images of the Hudson River School Artists in my mind’s eye, and know the depth of the maritime history that the Hudson represents. The Adirondacks and the Catskills create the most stunning wilderness beyond her. An ”Ode to the Hudson” would have to include something about how this place is mirror for heaven or God even.
Heading south on the Hudson, our last swim in the river’s fresh water was at an anchorage just south of the Saratoga Battle Field at sunset. These serendipitous moments are not lost on me. I am aware of the symbolism and timing of things and our incredible fortune to be present in these moments. Around Albany, NY, we start to watch the tides and current closely. Both are huge factors in how fast we can travel and how much fuel we will burn. It’s hard to believe that the tide in the river can change over four feet and the current can effect us by several knots (miles per hour over water), but they DO. The numbers of barges increase and the river gets wider and wider as it returns to salt water. The New York Harbor is the river’s last hurrah and it doesn’t go out to sea quietly. The number of ferries, sailboats, barges, tows, waves and wakes are innumerable, but there’s only one Statue of Liberty to wave you out to the Atlantic.
The wind was light out of the south as we headed in the Atlantic to make our way 36 miles to the Mannesquan Inlet at Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The ocean was just a light chop and the swells were far apart offering us a fairly smooth ride up the coast. Of course, no day can be 100 percent easy now, can it? As we approached the inlet we hear a US Army Core of Engineer dredger announce they are in the inlet and the marina radios us that there’s a broken down boat on the fuel dock and to ”go around to the narrow slip for diesel”. Oh, and the wind has picked up considerably. I start to worry out loud about these new obstacles and David says, ”You can have all the anxiety you want but you’re not going to have any problems getting by the barge or docking her”. That was exactly what I needed to hear. Readers, it has been 15 months since we began this life on the water and while not perfect at all aspects of steering this ship, we have improved considerably. To have grown in our competence with some ease and a bit of grace, this is just cause for celebration.
I suppose the bottom line today is to simply remember to embody what you learn. Display it. Be it. Stay UPlifted. Keep showing up and giving it your all; even the things you don’t want to do. Show up fully. As Sylvia Earl put it so eloquently, ”Have a wild love for the world…Run toward the beauty of the world. Be enchanted by the everyday places and what greets your senses….Nourish your capacious love for this place”.
There you grow 😉