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.
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.
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.
Well, Be the Ship fam, it was not (simply) a battery switch that needed repairing. IRENE needed a new alternator. You know what takes a long time? Figuring out that IRENE needs a new alternator and then removing the engine cover/shield and taking the old one out. You know what is a miracle? The marine store in the neighboring town just happens to have the exact one we need IN stock. From there it just gets more neighborly when an employee at the boatyard who lives in that town volunteers to pick it up after work (no delivery) and bring it to work with him in the morning. 7:30AM, knock on the door. Time to get the new one installed.
As the details of this particular adventure were emerging, I made a list of immediate things to be grateful for. Here’s the list that emerged as the alternator was being pulled out:
We are in a safe place on the dock at Zimmerman Marine.
We are in a welcoming place (Zimmerman and Holden Beach).
We have met a very competent marine technician / electrician / captain. His name is “J”.
Zimmerman’s does not charge a dock fee, in addition to the hourly rate, while your vessel is here being repaired.
We are close enough to the beach that I can ride my scooter there.
The boatyard is next to Lou Lou’s Waterfront Restaurant.
The sun is shining.
There is a convenience store 1.5 miles from here.
I have several paintings to finish.
Doing, can also be a soft energy such as, taking time for unfinished things, breathing, moving, stretching, napping, reading, painting, writing, meditation, research, observing everything.
We have cell service.
The laundry is done.
IRENE got a wash down this morning.
No hurricanes nearby.
Only a few days of travel until we reach Charleston.
We have air conditioning.
We have choices and free will.
The sun is shining.
We are breathing.
We have a lot to be grateful for.
Writing that list reminded me of how therapeutic it can be to write a list. Just a list of items that flow through your body mind complex because you focus on listening to it. I can think of a multitude of other lists that I will write for myself, in the future. Right now I am going to extemporaneously type of list of unedited things that cross my mind.
If you breath intentionally and focus on the light in your body, you can expand your energy by several feet. (Try this.)
Sushi. I love sushi. Yesterday, David and I had those clear little salad wraps with Thai Chili Sauce. OMG, my brain melted.
It is not hard to be nice to other people. Hold them in your mind or send them love from your heart chakra even if they are physically far away or standing next to you. I focus on my belief that we are all one from the same one infinite creator.
IRENE. I am standing and writing at the chart table. She’s so rock solid. Nordic Tugs have a ton of ship integrity. If you don’t believe that you are the ship; if you’re still waiting for your “ship to come in”; take heart, look inside and at least, know you’re a tugboat and you gotta love that.
Chris Stapleton. Listening to him sing resonates at another octave for me. We are listening to one of my Pandora playlists and his songs get me singing along . He and I harmonize like magic is happening.
That one has me dancing too and I am reflecting on movement and how important it is in my life. It feels like I write about this aspect of myself a lot. My definition of movement is huge. From the most subtle forms of breathing, being in meditation, to dancing on the deck, it is all UPlifting and expansive, necessary and so attuned to honoring the body we find our self in. It literally moves us out of this density and into more “light” places and higher and higher frequencies.
Got some pictures over the phone today from Anna. God, they moved me. I shared them on a group text with my siblings and my sister Kathy responded about how being a grandmother can fill your heart. I have to agree. And seeing your own child becoming their own person, what a friggin’ courageous heart breaking open act that is. I mean it. Every age, every milestone, every transition, every move, every love, every hope or dream that are theirs, they’re like yours too and your heart breaks open, again and again.
Schools are reopened. One of my favorite people on this planet has announced this will be her last year teaching. If I have any regret, it’s that I won’t be there being her colleague through it. I believe everyone born, got a gift. Her gifts are many, but the one that gives me goosebumps (truthbumps my friend Carol calls them) is her deep knowledge and wisdom regarding young children and literacy. When presented with the choice of going deep or long, she said, “no way”, and continues to go both deep and long. This is so important. We need this love of literacy, of reading, of words, of writing, of communicating, of embracing the alphabet, literature, across all languages, in our lives and in our children’s lives.
I am crying now. (Her humility overwhelms me.)
Lastly, what has come up is the concept of stories. How we all have so many stories that they would fill books and libraries and lifetimes of telling. The irony is, when we focus on being present here and now, the current composition; those stories are the ones that change our lives. Life doesn’t happen in reverse and stories that are exclusive to the past, they’re a kind of addiction to people; I noticed this. Honor them by loving now. Imagine it forward. Bring it all along for the ride, As Baba Ram Dass said, “Be here now.”
Here’s a now story.. Something bizarre and slightly disconcerting happened Thursday night. After the boatyard closed they locked up the gate with a cable and padlock. We had the combination so we could walk to Lou Lou’s for dinner. As we were sitting on Lou Lou’s deck enjoying dinner, we watched a decrepit sailboat pull into the slip next to IRENE. It was dark as we were walking back to the boat and we saw the couple from the sailboat opening the gate and leaving. As we passed them, the man said to us, in a a kind of Boris and Natasha cartoon accent, “Vee vill see you in dee morning”. OK, right? They had the gate code. At daylight, the staff of the boatyard were perplexed about the boat and as it turned out, it was a total wreck. The boat had been abandoned there. All registration numbers had been removed and the serial number erased. Apparently, these things happen. Now it is on the boatyard to recycle it. No easy or inexpensive feat. Also, it turns out that the folks who do the dirty work of abandoning the boats get paid handsomely by the boat’s owner. My heart goes out to the folks at Zimmerman who are all employee owners and will bear the cost to responsibly deconstruct the boat. She had been a seaworthy vessel at one time and was built with good bones. Keep floating, little boat.
In other news, the alternator was successfully installed and Zimmerman’s let us stay over Friday night so we could do some provisioning and make a trip to the pharmacy for Davo. Miracles do prevail. Good people abound. We had a lovely Friday night on the dock. It is flounder season so there were a lot of boats out casting nets for bait and others fishing for flounder in the ICW. Lou Lou’s had a band on the porch and they played a lot of songs we knew. We prepared a simple dinner, followed by chocolate. A bright and beautiful crescent moon rose above us and in the moonlight, the abandoned boat looked like a respectable little vessel. Life goes on. Best to have a blessed point of view in the this life.
Holden Beach has been a good stop for us and we are infinitely grateful for our new boatyard friends. At the same time, we are happily looking forward to the amazing natural world that South Carolina has in store for us. Onward, friends.
The last time I sat down to write for the blog, we were headed south on the Virginia side of the lower Chesapeake Bay, anchored just north of Deltaville in Little Bay. Our plan was to get to Hampton, VA on Saturday evening for one night, in order to escape the incredible business of going through Norfolk on a Saturday. Opting for the calmer waters of an early Sunday morning. That’s just what we did however; the conditions became very difficult.
We left Little Bay just before sunrise, to benefit from the tide. Unfortunately, the wind picked up out of the east and kicked our beam all the way to the inlet at Norfolk/Hampton. It was a long six hours of rocking, side to side. My giant mug of coffee may have been the make or break factor in whether or not I cried. I drank it all and I did not end up crying, but I did whine, a lot. David’s strategy for this is to pretend he is losing his hearing. Occasionally, however, he can be funny. For example, when I was whining I tried distracting myself by analyzing why there are exactly zero other boats headed to South Carolina or Florida alongside us, suffering too. This led to me draft thinking and talking about animals (not humans) that migrate south: monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, and Humpback Whales. David simply responded by saying we are “Snow Whales”. I thought that was hilarious and I also loved this because whales are one of my spirit animals.
We got by the difficulties and as usual, we were better for accepting the moments just as they came to us. Anyway, I don’t really want to take sides with one kind of natural phenomena or weather over another. It is not in anyone’s best interest to wish for only sun or only rain. I suppose we are at our human best when we acknowledge all the sides of everything. Perhaps this is the root of being whole; of being one. Who wants to love with half a heart anyway? Certainly not this Snow Whale.
Sunday morning from Hampton through Norfolk was very calm. Only a few cargo ships, Coast Guard boats, Navy ships, and one barge. We left long before the locals would be out celebrating the weekend. It is a long cruise through the city at wake speed. Many miles later, a few railroad bridges and one lock to contend with, and we made our way down the river to Chesapeake, Virginia. This river basin is a magical spot and is the last of Virginia on the North River, before Coinjock, North Carolina.
North Carolina waters welcome you with the vast expanses of shallowness. Vaster and shallower than you have ever imagined. Sometimes, you also see past the dunes and marshes, all the way out to the breakers. It can be very beautiful and also challenging (which seems to be a theme in this world right now)… Because there are so many inlets, the effects of the tides are obvious with the Intracoastal Water Way in NC. Traveling this route becomes a series of steering and setting the wheel by subtle turns of the autopilot to follow the deepest tracks over the shoals, and hand steering when the current is strong. I personally find navigating shoals and shallow water fairly stressful. IRENE draws 4 feet so when I consistently see less than 6 feet I know it is time to consciously begin all my strategies to UPlift my self. If you hear me apologizing before I begin anything else, that means I chose not to whine. You’re welcome.
It has been many days of travel through North Carolina. It went like this: Hampton,VA, Downtown Municipal Docks to Chesapeake, VA. Chesapeake, VA to Coinjock, NC. Across Albemaro Sound to the Alligator River. Alligator River to the Pungo River’s Slade Creek. Slade Creek to Belhaven, NC. Belhaven across the Pamlico River to Oriental, NC. From Oriental, across the Neuse River, past Beaufort to Camp Lejeune’s Mile Hammock Bay. Mile Hammock Bay to Carolina Beach, NC. Carolina Beach to Cape Fear to Holden Beach, NC. Our next trip will lead us into South Carolina. These long trips are somewhat unavoidable as the distances between protected anchorages and affordable marinas can be quite far and we travel at less than 10 miles an hour (average 7.5 -8 Knots PH). Here are a few images from along the way-
Back in Belhaven, NC, we lost our parallel electric battery switch and consequently, our house batteries do not recharge when we are underway and we need to plug in to shore power more often then we prefer to. We had hoped to have the folks at Zimmerman Marine here in Holden Beach take a look and replace the switch asap. We returned their intake paperwork on Friday, August 26th, but they can’t see us until today, September 1st. It seems that shipyards and marinas are overwhelmed by the amount of work versus their capacity to complete it all. Stay tuned on how this fix goes for us and feel free to send positive thoughts and prayers. Better yet, encourage all the mechanically inclined people you know who are looking for a great career to find a boat technician to mentor them and join a worthy and important field. Then, send me their number. 🙏🏽
PS: writing this on my phone in the middle of a very hot and humid night…apologies for typos, spacing and lack of succinctness 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊
David and I have had some long-haul days since we left Point Pleasant, NJ. A full day south to Atlantic City, followed by a full day to Cape May. A New Jersey, Atlantic Ocean wrap, blessed by following seas and slow rollers. And then, surprise, the long ride up out the Cape May Canal and up the Delaware Bay, and down the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal to Chesapeake City, Maryland, was fairly uneventful. It was fast with a following tide and calm through a morning fog that burned off into an overcast afternoon. By evening we were on the community free dock in Chesapeake City, MD. We spent two nights on the that free wall. Met some lovely people and from our perch there, witnessed a lot of boat traffic on the canal and in the basin. I love that little canal town in all its quirkiness.
Once you exit the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal heading south, you are in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a bay in the sense you may equate with “a bay”. It’s like the way Lake Michigan is kind of a lake-ocean. The Chesapeake Bay has over 11,000 miles of shore line along six states. It’s a very big bay. Mariners take entire summers to explore the Bay’s rivers and estuaries and even then, simply could not see her entirety. We have never ventured into the two largest cities along the Chesapeake, (i.e. Baltimore and Washington, DC), but we have thoroughly enjoyed smaller communities like Annapolis, Oxford and St. Michaels. In fact, we are in St. Michaels now, enjoying a week on land at David’s sister and brother-in-laws home. IRENE is in a slip at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in downtown St. Michaels. She looks great there all shiny after a water line cleaning while we were on our anchor in the Wye River.
I have been thinking about clearing and cleaning. I mean, we think about those things all the time when we wash the boat, clean our spaces, do laundry, unclutter and organize our environments. It expands us. It creates more space around us for getting bigger energetically. Yesterday, I went to the boat to check on her, to make sure the AC was running and pick up a few things. It felt good to be on her, largely because we left her cleared and clean. Now I am reflecting on how we (our bodies) transform our own energy, do our energetic hygiene, get unstuck like cleaning out a messy space. Expending energy to expand energy. Exercising, eating well, eating light, drinking lots of water, reading a good book, writing, appreciating the beauty of absolutely everything, forgiving the hard stuff and loving large as the Bay; these are the unlimiting things that are the bulwark of infinite gratitude. We should all be as radiant, shiny, bright, and sparkling as IRENE. So here I am, polishing up my field, expanding my energy and keeping my frequency turned up.
David is having a more difficult time being big and bright right now as he has been suffering from an enormous head and ear ache. Sometimes it’s easy to go with the flow, but sometimes, we have to go in spite of the flow. We have to grow against the flow. You see this in nature all the time; plants growing in the rivers against the current, flowers emerging between rocks, trees reborn after hurricanes, and more. Their roots hold tight. Take note people, it can be done. It has to be done because life is school and it’s not designed to be easy. So prayer warriors, send big love to David as he lays low and strong while simultaneously enjoying the puppies, appreciating the beautiful flowering trees, hearing his favorite music, eating sweet watermelon, and taking shorts walks outside in the sun and wind. Everything passes, so be present for it while it’s here. I promise, you will never be bored.
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 😉
We could not have landed in a more beautiful spot if we had chosen it from a list of slips on the entire lake. As David’s son, Jay, was helping us get our Burlington reservation in order he asked, ”Would you rather be farther out or nearer the bathhouses”? We immediately said, ”Farther out”. When we pulled in past the marina’s breakwater, our slip was straight ahead in the second fairway. Blissfully spacious and no pelican poles! Ever grateful to Jay for his help making this stop happen and finding the most magical spot on the dock.
The Burlington Harbor Marina has done a phenomenal job of using high quality materials to build their docks and other structures. From the hardwood to the width, to the proper sized cleats, the docks are a dream. And it keeps getting better. We are feeling very fortunate to be here on the lake, at the gateway to the city, for a full two weeks. Far more scheduled and a lot more visitors then we have become accustomed to, but feeling very grateful for this time here, among family, friends and the beautiful natural world.
It’s been an inspiring two weeks in Burlington. We had the best visits and the best visitors. We were able to spend time with lots of family members and quite a few friends; so many of both that I’m not naming names because I might miss someone. If you’re reading this and we were able to spend time together, thank you. It was awesome and we love you.
A few highlights included- Going to a potluck and having a grown up overnight.
Hosting a little fourth of July spectacular on IRENE and watching fireworks just off her stern.
A friend picking us up to bring us to her home for a gourmet dinner (out of this world amazing).
David had a guys lunch with 8 of his high school classmates.
I got to go to a favorite restaurant, ate oysters and had a martini with one of the loves of my life.
We had a birthday celebration for three little loves who followed our adventures on the Great Loop.
I had the good fortune to spend time with one of the most intelligent and busy woman I know (talking ’bout you Dr. N.).
We had more than a few nights where we watched the sunset over the Adirondacks with a lot of our peeps.
All the siblings ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Naturally, I was so busy enjoying all the moments I mostly neglected to take my phone out. Alas, only a few images to share here now.
On Monday we moved IRENE 50 miles south to Westport, NY. The marina there is pulling her out for a power wash, fresh bottom paint, new zincs, a new inverter, and a fresh coat of wax on her hull. From there we will enjoy a few anchorages on the southern end of Lake Champlain before we begin a slow journey south. We hope to spend time exploring the Chesapeake, the Outer Banks (weather permitting), and a few stops we weren’t able to check out on the way north. There may be a road trip or two to celebrate a few big events on the family horizon. We shall see…
Currently sitting in Emma’s apartment with a view of North Hero feeling incredibly grateful that I have the privilege of learning with a certain amount of ease, grace and abundance. Not taking anything for granted. Being me, doing what I do and reminding myself that we are all right where we need to be and again and again, asking myself to reflect on ”why it’s important”.
For a little context, one morning on the dock in Burlington, I was listening to a podcast about quantum physics and how even black holes can collide and explode. That seemed kind of odd to me, that black holes act like quantum particles but, they do (and they send out some big gravitational waves). At the same time as I was listening, I had been pondering a couple of issues that I felt needed to be addressed. A couple of 7’s on the 1-10 obstacle scale. Then it “hit” me- I’m just electrons and quarks too. Maybe the best way to open a new door in reality is to crash into the obstacles? So I get to thinking, if I intentionally go toward the things that keep me awake at night and keep at it in an unrelenting, loving and intentional way, maybe I can poke holes in them and those holes will make a wave and become like portals and will open up for me to move through them. I imagine that is kind of how free will works. It alters reality.
In summary- Burlington was a blast. We are all expanding. Intentionally directing our freewill opens new doors. PS: Remember the love. PSS: Olive turned three months old. Time may have some gravity, but love sure doesn’t.
Just like that, we floated over a year. A few hours into this particular voyage, we transitioned from the Champlain Canal into Lake Champlain. Where the lake begins to widen out in front of us, David says, “This is as beautiful as any spot we have seen in the past year”, Indeed. The lake is 12 miles wide and the mountains on both sides create a breathtaking border to the scene. Blue sky and humongous clouds are a glorious roof over us and the entire expanse is visually epic. We set the autopilot to go sit on Irene’s bow and take it all in. We gulp in the mountains and savor every detail.
We were headed to one of the most beautiful anchorages on the entire lake, Partridge Harbor, on the New York shore. It’s a tiny natural harbor that is the perfect size for one boat and on that particular day, we were the fortunate one.
David grew up with a west facing window, overlooking Lake Champlain, near the head of his bed. From that window he watched sunrises and the moon rises over the lake. He tells me that he especially loved to watch storms as they developed and moved across the water. As he was growing up, the lake was his families back yard. In warm weather they would walk down to the beach below their house and swim, picnic, fish from the shore, build fires, roast hotdogs and more. In the dead of winter, his father would walk across the ice, sometimes for miles, to ice fish. Always a source of joy and comfort to him as child and as a man.
In the thirty years David and I have been together, we have always had a boat on the lake. For 16 of those years, we lived on her shore. We have met (and seen on NEBO) other cruisers who are spending time this summer exploring Lake Champlain. We are excited for them. We know they will be moved by her fullness of beauty, her pristine shorelines, her swimmable water, her depths, exquisite anchorages, and her life force.
I was reading the work of a marine biologist, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, and she references a quote by an historic marine advocate, Sylvia Earle who said: ”We have been fixated on outer space” and that the oceans, the seas, the bodies of water on this planet, these are ”inner space”. It is that and much more. We need to be paying attention to our waters. We have traveled thousands upon thousands of miles, across America’s waterways. We have lived on the lake and had family living in the Caribbean for decades now. We mean it when we say, conserving our planets oceans and waterways means preserving lives and preserving cultures. The future of Earth’s water and waterways is based on what we think, do, believe, and how we act in the now moments. As Ayana Elizabeth Johnson advocates, let’s ”get it right”. Pay attention. The future is listening.
As I write this, it is one week ‘til David’s 75th birthday on June 26th. I want to thank all the Water for making this time in his life more vital, the sun for the beautiful color of his face, and time for the lines that reflect his character.
It is also Father’s Day. As we reminisce about our fathers, let’s offer an abundance of gratitude to them for everything. And, to all you dads out there, I wish you a deep appreciation for your mad and crazy ride on this planet. Sending love.