Boat Life: Adventure or Ordeal?

DSC05686

Sometimes a word or two accomplishes more than a lengthy explanation.

“You have to ask yourself, is this an adventure or an ordeal?” Grammatically a question but delivered as a directive, Donna aboard sailing vessel Magic Carpet, effectively and sufficiently responded to my explanation for Seamore Pacific leaving the marina, only to have to return two days later. An adventure or an ordeal, are litmus for perceiving and responding to life aboard Seamore Pacific. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that at one time I naïvely imagined that 6 months of cruising the Sea of Cortez would be an indolent sail from one sandy cove to the next, no fuss or muss, and my biggest decision of the day would be whether to wear the blue swimsuit….or the blue swimsuit. But cruisers with experience know this just isn’t so. If not careful, the dream to experience this beautiful part of the world could easily turn into a begrudging chore.

Although Donna gave me the words, it’s for me to define what an adventure is, and what counts as an ‘ordeal’.   Thus far the delays and set-backs have all come back signed, sealed, and stamped as “adventure.”   A hoop-hollering adventure that is starkly different from the simple scenes I had imagined.   Until Seamore Pacific can employ a fulltime recreation director and ship’s purser, umbrella drinks and the plight for even tan lines have to go. They are no longer on the A-list.   Bug screens…potable water…high tensile chain…those are the items that keep our adventure alive in the midst of sometimes feeling mentally fogged in.

Provisioned and raring to go, Seamore Pacific left San Carlos Marina last Monday.   The long list of maintenance and preparation was finally down to two items; small enough to fit on a post-it-note. As they say, “one is never fully ready to leave the dock.” There is always something to do on a boat. The temptation to get everything done before departing will more often than not, keep sailors from cutting the umbilical cord. Tip top boats rarely make it out of the harbor. Keeping this in mind, our plan was to leave the dock and spend a few days at anchor, work on our post-it note list, and let our legs and my nerves adjust to being away from land. If all went well, we would sail to the east coast of Baja.

In the United States, and especially living in a large city like Phoenix, when something breaks, it’s relatively easy to locate a fix. Internet, phone service, UPS, Fed-Ex, Postal Service, or hopping in the car and driving to the store are tools at hand. It’s not the same in Mexico. There is always an extra hoop to ….let’s just call it an adventure to experience when an items breaks. For instance, we have Wi-Fi at the Marina but it is so insanely slow that if we need to do some serious internet communication, we go and find it at either Captain’s Club, Hammerhead’s, or Barracuda Bob’s.   Thinking we would bypass all of that by getting the latest I-Pad and switch out the SIM card with one by Telcel actually just turns out to be a carrot on a stick. First, a drive to Guaymas to the BIG Telcel sign in the sky. Relieved to see only about 20 people in line ahead of us, we waited for our number to be called. The very nice gentleman found 1 SIM card still on the shelf, but first we needed to get in a line to pay for it. After paying, we circled back through and received our new SIM card. Asking a few more questions, we learned we also needed to purchase cellular time. So, back in line to pay for cell time followed by going to another place to have an account activated. Because our plans are to sail to remote places that lack big Telcel signs in the sky, we tried purchasing a cruising season of internet. No such adventure. We can only purchase 3 GB at a time, it expires after 30 days, and then we must return to Telcel in the sky if we want anymore. Not sure how we will swing this but I’m sure we will figure it out. We surely aren’t the first cruisers who scrounge around for internet time.

But just to show how amazing this whole adventure is, last Monday when we left the dock, we planned for it to be our little shakedown before the crossing. 6 miles up the coast, west-north winds picked up to 20 knots on the nose. Wanting to avoid a lumpy and slow ride to San Pedro, we ducked into Bahia Algadones and set our anchor. By that time it was blowing hard and my nerves were as tight as the strings on a violin.   Admittedly, it takes me a few days to relax and give into the overwhelming power and energy that is created when wind and water move a 9 ton boat like it’s a feather.   Anchor set, it was time to work on our post-it-note list….commission the water maker. Why just sit around being nervous if our chain and anchor are strong enough…my worries, not the Captain’s.

“Honey, do you think the chain will hold the boat and keep us from dragging onto the reef?”

“Yes dear.”

“But when I compare it to the chain other boats carry, ours seems a bit small.”

“No dear.  It is high tensile chain and the size our windlass system calls for.”

“Is our windlass system big enough?”   And I don’t give up with questioning until we run through every system on the boat. It’s what helps me mentally keep this an adventure and hopeful avoid an ordeal.

So, back to the water maker….the boost pump just wouldn’t work. For a moment I started to get ticked off. Were we destined to always work, pouring time and money into the boat and not have a chance to sail? But, here is where adventure looks different now than it would have 10 years ago. The Captain “fired” up his Telcel Wi-Fi hotspot, took out his cellphone and called the water maker manufacturer. All the way to California! First he spoke to the designer and then the engineer/CEO.   The conclusion was that we needed a new boost pump. A new one would be shipped to the marina. Wow, how adventure some to be sitting on a boat, anchored in a beautiful bay in Mexico, and arrange for a part to be shipped. We have heard horror stories about how long it takes for parts to reach Mexico, partly because they go through customs and the delivery services are different here. But, this story ends very differently. A happy conclusion.  Using a tracking number we were entertained to see our new boost pump arrive and depart San Diego, to Ohio, to Guadalajara, to Hermosillo, and finally to Marina San Carlos. Only 4 days.   Yeah, returning to the marina was not in our plans, but it has added richness to our experience.   We attended Palm Sunday services; the water maker is working like a charm; the larder has been restocked; and we are ready to leave for Bahia Concepcion  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%ADa_Concepci%C3%B3n,_Baja_California_Sur  .  We will study the wind forecast and if all looks good will leave later today, tomorrow, or the next.   Fingers crossed, Seamore Pacific and crew will enjoy a smooth 18 hour crossing.

DSC05607

DSC05622

DSC05688

Day Off: the captain hired a rigger to climb the mast and fix a broken antenna. Yippy!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Life is Good: When the Sky Isn’t Falling

Multi-Tasking.  The very nice lady behind the counter at Super T, washes and dries her laundry while at work.

Multi-Tasking. The very nice lady behind the counter at Super T, washes and dries her laundry while at work.

The famous logo and product line, “Life is Good” is one of my favorites. The captain and I have several Life is Good T-shirts, depicting sailing, kayaking, and exercise. For the last two weeks, life has been good for Seamore Pacific. But in our quest for carefree adventure we have encountered serious physical work, termites, ladders, cold, and no bathrooms. Behind the simple, ultraistic drawing on a Life is Good t-shirt, I’ve learned that camping has its bugs, kayaking brings on blisters, running causes chafing, and living on a boat requires….denial, delusion, and repeating the motto, “life is good” a thousand times; even when it’s not easy or convenient.  Dinner 2 SNS Two weeks ago, after 10 months of working and urban dwelling, the Captain, Francis, and I returned to our boat. Sitting in the Sonora, Mexico work yard of Marina Seca, she greeted us with open arms. Skillful staff had moved her from secured storage to the work yard to await our arrival. Excitement was in the air, as owners just like us filed in to claim their fiberglass and wooden family members. I heard sighs of relief, grinding, sanding, and storytelling.   Except for the constant grit and grime, I find boatyards fascinating. People from all walks of life and professions are breaking sweat by day and dreaming by night.     DSC05036Having Francis with us, we thought it best to stay in either a posada or casita for the 2 days it would take to launch Seamore Pacific. Life is good though. On day 4 we were still nowhere close to splashing. Nature has the final say in sailing and nature had determined that the tide wouldn’t be high enough to launch until the following Thursday. The little posada we were staying at was free of grit and grime but to make it comfy we needed to personalize it with blankets, towels, and rugs. And then there was the issue of termites in the headboard having midnight munchies. The captain was wigged out by the noise they made. I was wigged out by the tunnels they had created. We are from Florida, so we are used to termite damage but for some reason or another, this experience was just not in our “life is good” repertoire.   Patio for SNS Bedroom casita 4 We waited 10 months to be on the boat- why let jack stands; climbing a ladder; no onboard bathroom; and boatyard grime stand in the way. Cheerfully we cleaned the thin layer of dust from inside Seamore Pacific’s sole and hauled our stuff up the ladder to make our boat back into the home she is. Perched 10 feet in the air, in the Tetakawi mountains, we grinned just as silly as a stick figure character from a Life is Good t-shirt. Staying aboard a boat while in the work yard takes patience, tolerance, and a strong bladder but for us it was worth the trade-off of being in our own space. Francis readily agreed. Our boat yard days quickly took on a rhythm of physically exhausting work during the day, a tepid marina shower at 5 pm, and then a nighttime walk to a local restaurant.   Chicken enchiladas, papas locos, cheeseburgers in paradise, and margaritas made up for all of our inconveniences. Sooner or later, the topic of food always comes up within the rich conversations shared by sailors. However, despite our good life in the boat yard, launch day did arrive. Except for a below-the-waterline leak, and strong winds, launch day was just like any other ordinary day. The time to switch gears had arrived. I was trading in land for water. What an adrenaline rush, to hear the captain announce, “We have a leak.” It got my attention in the same manner as a rattle snake did, when I crossed paths with him at midnight on the Pemberton Trail in McDowell Mountain a few years ago. Another example of when life is good, I tabled my emotions and searched diligently for a positive outcome; helping Captain Chameleon narrow the water leak to a hose fitting. Captain Chameleon shut off the thru-hull valve taking it down to a tiny trickle of ocean water to seep in, but subsequently a non-functioning toilet. Not perfect by any means but we continued on. In cruising, I’m learning that life can only feel good when I stay calm, stay with the mission, and keep my expectations and fears from sky rocketing. In short, it’s been a physically exhausting week. We have sanded and painted the hull, started sanding and varnishing the teak, fixed all water leaks, and formulated a plan for replacing the hot water heater, head (bathroom) shower faucet, and a few sail lines. Aside from that, we have enjoyed well thought out meals, deliberately prepared over conversation and easy laughs, (spaghetti, pizza, and barbacoa over rice). When the sun goes down I transition to sleep by cozying up with a good book, under a fleece throw. I go through every boat sound I’m hearing…is it a leak? Are our dock lines secured? Is the sky falling? Once I’ve checked all possible catastrophes off the list, I give Francis a good night kiss, switch off the cabin lights, and say to the captain, “Isn’t Life Good?” For which he reassuringly responds, “Yes” Good night, S/V Seamore Pacific

Work yard at Marina Seca

Work yard at Marina Seca

The tarps took a beating.

The tarps took a beating.

Barren & Dark

Barren & Dark

Cobweb

Cobweb

Boat critters

Boat critters

Boat-sweet home after a day of tender loving care.

Boat-sweet home after a day of tender loving care.

Cozy bed SNS cozy kitty SNS

Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee

Francis' Galley

Francis’ Galley

Sunrise.  Launch Day!

Sunrise. Launch Day!

Moving Crew

Moving Crew

These guys are amazing...skillful, friendly, efficient.

These guys are amazing…skillful, friendly, efficient.

Moving Day 2 SNS

Marina San Carlos...here we come.

Marina San Carlos…here we come.

It's always exciting to see a boat go in the water...even when not my own boat.

It’s always exciting to see a boat go in the water.  Marina friends saw Seamore Pacific on the launch ramp and stayed around to see her splash.

#x%#!!!!!  We have a below the water line!  "Grab some masking tape Ethel!"

#x%#!!!!! We have a below the water line! “Grab some masking tape Ethel!”

Life is Good...leak stopped and boat is still afloat.  Lots of cleaning and canvas work to put up.

Life is Good…leak stopped and boat is still afloat. Lots of cleaning and canvas work to put up.

Bimini up

Bimini up

Seamore Pacific...Phoenix, Arizona

Seamore Pacific…Phoenix, Arizona

Wild Horse.  Life is Good

Wild Horse. Life is Good

Wild Guy.  Life is Good

Wild Guy. Life is Good

Seamore Pacific Trivia:

  1. How many steps to the marina bathroom?   Answer: 624 steps round trip. When it’s blowing 30 knots or in the dead of night it feels like 1248 steps.
  2. How many days did it take to make Seamore Pacific free of “below the water line” leaks? Answer: 4 days. I’m happy to say that water never reached the bilge pumps and we now have a working toilet. Life is really good when the boat floats.
  3. Who sells the best bacon in San Carolos, Mexico? Answer: Santa Rosa’s market. They smoke all of their meat on premise. However, we can’t just stop with the bacon, we also cart home pint size tubs of guacamole, spinach, garlic, cheese, barbacoa, refried beans, and tortillas. Plus, Santa Rosa is on the way to Ruth & Rudy’s Bakery….their chocolate éclairs up the ante on what is good for the soul.
  4. Besides being sea worthy, what makes for good living on a boat? Answer: hot water, ice cubes, a warm bed with soft sheets, absorbent (and pretty) towels, strong dock lines/anchor rode, a cozy settee, ample lighting, a well provisioned galley, and a boat kitty.
When life needs more color

Life needs more color

DSC05031

Sunrise over Marina San Carlos

Sunrise over Marina San Carlos

Syncing Ship

cropped-cropped-dsc0466611.jpgThursday, January 1st was supposed to be the day we sailed away. That was the plan. Rock solid and pretty, the plan was to glide out of work by New Year’s Eve, wake up early Thursday and toss our gear into a freshly washed and waxed car, then drive south across the border, scooting into San Carlos by happy hour. The formal itinerary called for Seamore Pacific’s mainsail to be unfurling just as Captain Chameleon and I raise a cerveza and sing, “Its 5 O’clock Somewhere.” Bon Voyage couldn’t have been any more perfect than if Jimmy Buffet and Martha Steward had planned and packaged it. Reality check- the ability to execute travel plans is lost on the two of us. Captain Chameleon’s motto is, “I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t know when I’ll get there.”

Captain Chameleon knows where he is going. He just isn’t into planning out every infinite detail. A guy of chameleon complexity, he also isn’t one for taking chances and he is far from being reckless. Tell him to be somewhere at 5 and he will make sure to be there at 4:45. The Captain’s reply to my question of, “what day are we heading to the boat?” turned out to be a valuable exercise in determining the value of time. The wise Captain knew that I needed to settle into non-occupation mode and he needed to get used to having Martha Steward organize his day. And so, the syncing of Seamore Pacific began…

The first sign that Seamore Pacific was syncing was when I awoke on January 2nd without an alarm clock. I love mornings when they start off with my own internal clock saying it’s time to wake up. Yesterday my internal alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and so I made a pot of coffee and welcomed the day (SOS….sign of syncing). I couldn’t help but smile at a flashback from nursing school when I would stand in the shower at 4 am and cry because I hated mornings. And then there was the other flashback, when Captain Chameleon would either start his day at 3:45 am or end it at 3:45 am.

What was innate for Captain Chameleon on January 1st and later became obvious to me, is the need to be in-sync with boat living. In other words, we needn’t get crazy and knock each other down following a specific plan for re-entry into live aboard cruising. Besides syncing mobile devices, setting up an inReach handheld satellite device, stowing new batteries, ordering auto-pilot spare parts and grease for the propeller shaft, there is the ambient features to incorporate.  Sailing is very physical. But living aboard a sailboat, in another country deduces to physical locomotion.   In our experience, when we are not sailing we are walking; to the Mercado for groceries, the hardware store for gadgets, and every street taco vendor within a 50 mile radius. We love walking.

So, on January 5th we downsized from 2 cars to 1 (SOS…a sign of syncing). Why keep a “his” and “her” car to drive a mile to the market when we can peddle our bikes? In Phoenix, we have become accustomed to the easiness of hopping in the car to drive a half-mile. Part of our love for Seamore Pacific is the walking that we do, so why not do more walking and bike riding when we aren’t on the boat? Now a one car…2 bike…4 Saucony…and 8 flip-flop family…we hoofed it the other night to a local pizzeria ­­­­to celebrate. Syncing or not, I really do like this, Don’t-Know-Where-I’m-Going sailing fellow.bikes in garage

With nine days of syncing we are in good shape and on our way to the boat. We left Phoenix one afternoon and crossed over into Mexico at dusk.   Professional and helpful, the Mexican officials inspected our car, gave Francis the A-O-K, and handed us our travel visas. We are good for 6 months.   What about Ruby? Well, part of what came out of syncing was a last-minute request by Grandma to keep Ruby. Everyone loves Ruby and her adorable face. The question took me by surprise. What would we do without Ruby on board? But, the Captain was selfless and correct to identify that sailing was never Ruby’s gig….it is ours and not hers. When we took Ruby over to Grandma’s house, I swear Ruby was humming to the tune of, “its 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Taking into account our GPS location and relaxed state of mind, we believe it will be 4, 5, 6 or 8 more days before we actually arrive in San Carlos and climb aboard Seamore Pacific. Like the Captain says, “If we knew where we were going, then we would know what time we’ll get there.”

SOS, GPS, and LOL.

 

Seamore Pacific is Syncing….

DSC04904

 

getting to stay home

Francis is packed

Syncing the In Reach

Syncing the Delorme

Waiting for Health Certificate

Waiting for Health Certificate

 

 

~ Afternoon walk ~

DSC04925

coastal

sleeping

pellican sos

 

Remembering Columbus Day.

DSC02713Twelve years ago, on this very weekend, I nonchalantly extended a, “How do you do,” to the Sea of Cortez. It was Columbus Day weekend 2002. I was happy to meet her, because she had something I wanted. Salt, waves, sand. Five months of ocean-free living was turning out to be harder than I expected, after Captain Chameleon and I switched lanes and moved from a little island in the Florida Keys to the big, dry, metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona. No regrets for moving away from paradise, where every day my view was of not just one, but two bodies of water (the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico), and yet I was literally feeling like a suffocating fish; on her last impatient breath to have someone drop her back into the ocean- in time for a Columbus Day Regatta.

My new co-workers, full of good intention tried to mend my homesick heart by suggesting I rent a houseboat on Lake Pleasant over Columbus Day weekend. It was the last straw. Go to a lake to celebrate Columbus Day? For pity-sakes, have they no respect for Chris? Or empathy for an ocean junky-island dweller-Frangy-Pangy-Key Lime snob? When an invite came to join Captain Chameleon’s sister and her family at a beach, one hour south of the border in Mexico, I was in!

“Are you sure that if we leave our house at 7:30 a.m. and drive south, south west, that by noon we’ll be sitting on a beach in Mexico?”

“Yep, I’m sure of it. We’ll be sitting on the beach, drinking Dos XX with lime, and sucking salt air in through our nostrils,” replied Capt. Chameleon.

“Yippy. In that case, I’ll take my Dos XX with Key limes!”

Our VW Bug was packed to the gills with every beach item that we owned, plus a Key Lime Cake, when we headed to sea. Our only regret was that it was just for one night. With only six weeks into new jobs, neither one of us were comfortable asking our bosses for time off to go hang at the ocean. It would be 11 years before we worked up that kind of courage.

I adore the Sea of Cortez but admittedly, my feelings for her were pretty nimble at first. That’s often how it goes for me though, guilty of judging a book by its cover. I’m wiser now, from years of being delighted by books with ugly covers. Now, when the urge to judge a book; Captain Chameleon’s travel plans; or a bargain hair salon send my snobbish chin to the skies, I’m usually able to find the where- with-all to pause, get my nose out of the air, and turn to the first page.

********

“What do you think about pulling a camper down there and making it our second home?” Captain Chameleon was smitten with Puerto Penasco (aka Rocky Point) on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez.

“No thank you.”

I didn’t say it, but I found the town ugly and dusty. Except for the beautiful beaches, it had nothing in common with the picture I was carrying around in my head. My “second home” picture was of Coastal Living homes, Martha Stewart gardens, and Bon Appetite cuisine.

But then something magical happened (or maturity, practicality, and down to earth thinking) and magazine living gave way to figuring things out as they came and on a boat budget. Saving, so that one day we would have options; options to buy another boat, go cruising, or just sit by the ocean and dream of more Columbus Day’s to come.

DSC03474

DSC04157

DSC04500

DSC04507

What I saw when I looked up from mopping the floors. Beautiful.

Digital StillCamera

*********

Favorite times celebrating Columbus Day with Capt. Chameleon:

  • The Annapolis Boat Show!   It was my first boat show and first time in Chesapeake Bay. It was spectacular. We drove from Florida to Maryland with a cooler of fresh stone crab claws. Arriving first in Bethesda to visit family, we cracked the claws and opened a bottle of regional Chardonnay. The wine was to die for. Lucky us, after the boat show we returned to family and spent a weekend wine-tasting our way through Maryland and Virginia.
  • Columbus Day Regatta off Eliot Key, (Key Biscayne) Florida. My first time to sail longer than a sunset cruise, we headed up the coast from Marathon to Elliot Key. What an experience. I was not prepared for the bodacious crowd but it was fun! To this day, when I serve up Red Beans & Rice and cheese bread it takes me back to that weekend.
  • Weekends at Corona Del Mar, our little oasis by the sea. It’s what kept us optimistic and committed to working hard, saving, and planning for our next boat adventure. It’s also the place we’ve forged incredible friendships with other adventure seeking people.
  • Twelve years ago on our trip to the Sea of Cortez where Capt. Chameleon looked over longingly to a man windsurfing. Without saying anything, Capt. Chameleon reached into the cooler, pulled out 2 beers, and walked down the beach to where the man sat resting. In several minutes the man lay stretched out in the sand, drinking a beer, while Capt. Chameleon took the guy’s windsurfer for a ride. Excited, I watched him slice through the waves, the colorful sail the brightest thing for miles around. Then, the sail went down and Capt. Chameleon sat on the board. Far off shore, I was worried he was injured. Silly me. He was sitting there enjoying a beer and his spectacular luck of windsurfing on Columbus Day. The board that hangs in our guest room reminds me of that day.
  • Shelter Island Boatyard in San Diego. Wow, has it been a year? This time last year, we cruised in from Catalina Island and hauled Seamore Pacific out for a bottom job, thru-hull, and electrical work in prep for the Baja Ha Ha XX.

The End,

From Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Columbus Day 2014

Digital StillCamera

Sea of Cortez

DSCN1095

Windsurfers make great room accents…

DSCN1093

A cheap shot (cheap camera) on my beach walk. The Sea of Cortez

DSC04410

My beach cruiser Lulu. I ride her around Phoenix to remind me of being at the beach.

DSC04490

Treasures from the sea.

Monkey Sea, Monkey Do

DSCN0607I cut off my eyebrows when I was four years old.  Asked for a Dorothy Hamill haircut when I was eleven.  And purchased vienna sausages, a gallon of water, and a flashlight because Hurricane Andrew was coming to town; I was twenty-six.  Agree, none were wildly successful moments, but in hindsight they became my stepping-stones to the sea, where half the year Captain Chameleon and I live aboard s/v Seamore Pacific in Mexico, and the other half of the year we live in a house in Phoenix, go to work, buy food, and consider whether our hair is too long.

Some people do well in life by setting 5-10-15 year goals.  They have my complete respect, but I tried that approach once and it felt awkward.  Awkward as in walking on the beach in high heels or sailing a skiff up river.  The Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do approach is natural feeling. An alternative to goal setting and it takes little courage to execute.  One minute there are eyebrows and the next it’s, “look at me mom.”

So how does Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do work?  Well, one day I saw my mom cutting hair and perhaps tweezing her eyebrows and it made sense to combine the two.  It had a long-lasting effect.  My brows didn’t fully grow back until my late teens.  By that time I was years past copying Dorothy’s spins on our kitchen linoleum floor.  Whether it was the drag of sock feet on linoleum or the limp texture of my hair, I never succeeded in getting my hair to lift to the heavens in a spin like Dorothy could on the ice.  Sadly first one, and then two strikes against the monkey.

The third time was a charm though.  On August 22, 1992 I received a frantic call from mom to say;  “There is a hurricane headed your way!  You better leave Miami now. Now, little missy.”  There was actually more to the conversation that I’ve edit out to make this a G-rated blog.  But essentially it came down to my not having any experience with hurricanes. Having moved to Florida from Missouri a few months prior, my interests were in soaking up the afternoon sun, pool side; working the evening shift at Homestead Hospital; and exploring area beaches and dating Captain Chameleon on weekends.  Life was good and it was about to get more exciting.  After hanging up the phone with mom, I headed over to K-Mart to see what others were doing to prepare for Hurricane What’s His Name.

Hurricane Andrew made landfall August 24th.  Just as my mother predicted, I took a direct hit.  Fortunately I wasn’t alone.  On hurricane lockdown at Homestead Hospital, my co-workers and I faired well and I am proud of the work and commaradery we displayed in caring for our patients in the ICU.  Once the eye of the storm passed the National Guard moved in and secured the area so that we could air-evac the patients out.  36 hours after reporting for work, I left tired, befuzzled, and grateful that I was merely a traveler and didn’t stand much to lose. My landmarks were gone.  A new kid in town, I wasn’t sure where I needed to drive to get home. I headed my hurricane ravaged truck north and followed the leader.  Monkey See-Monkey-Do wasn’t so bad after all.  I eventually made it home to find Captain Chameleon.  He had left the Florida Keys to avoid Hurricane Andrew and ironically met him face to face.   Despite the complex being in shambles, under guard, and without power we slept soundly that night.  The next morning I called my travel recruiter to discuss options.  He suggested I head north to Deerfield Beach.  No jobs in the Florida Keys, he said.  Hmmm.  Hmmmm.  Hmmm.  Going north didn’t feel right.  It felt awkward, as in walking on the beach in high heels or sailing a skiff up river.  But, just then I saw a monkey sailing south to the Florida Keys.  My life took a U-turn to paradise and it didn’t take any courage, goal setting, or big bank account.  It was the Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do.  If others can move to paradise, why can’t I?  So I did!  With Captain Chameleon.

That’s my story of how I ended up in the Florida Keys.  I believe with all my heart that I was destined to be in the Keys and eventually I would have made it there on my own (I watched a 60 minutes program on Key West when in high school and felt a connection) but to get there fast, I followed someone and took their lead.

The Captain and I are 4 months and a few days away from heading back out to the boat.  Landlocked, this weekend we reminisced about Hurricane Andrew, pulled out our provisioning list for Seamore Pacific, and briefly chuckled about our long hair adventure.  Captain Chameleon let his hair go long 18 months ago and it looks super great.  Pepper and a bit of salt, his hair is gnarly and appealing.  My hair is also long.  Longer than most women my age.  The Captain likes it.  I like it.  But is it “age appropriate?”  Do I continue with long hair, knowing that many say it’s a sign I’m chasing my youth?  So many silly questions….  All I need to do is what I’ve done so far; Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do. Here is to long healthy hair at any age!

I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher

 

 

photo (1)

Look & Sea. Photo by S. Baker/ Retirement Legs

I Ain’t Raising No Street Walker.

 

pool3

Flashbacks are a funny thing. Funny, not in “ha-ha” but funny in the purpose they serve. And funny because the dividing line between reality and flashback is like the tide; sometimes it’s apparent and other times I’m squinting my eyes wondering, “Is the tide coming in or going out?” Is this a flashback or is this reality? Throw in a bit of Deja vu and things get even stranger.

Last week, two flashbacks converged at about the same time. One flashback was my mother saying, “It is because I’m not raising street walkers.” I was about 12 and had asked my parents if we could move to town. The answer was no.  My other flashback was from when Capt. Chameleon and I sailed from San Diego to Turtle Bay, Mexico. After losing our autopilot the day before, we were taking constant turns at the wheel. Into our third night of crossing, with strong following seas and going downwind at 20 plus knots, being a novice, I was functioning outside my comfort zone (scared!) and the endless darkness was casting a scene. As Captain Chameleon was sleeping I was basically hallucinating at the helm. As though it happened yesterday, I clearly remember believing that on my port side the shore was in hollering distance, and that I was seeing marina lights and boats, and that it was imperative that I dodge crab-pots to sail Seamore Pacific through a tight channel. In reality, I was far from land and my mind was playing tricks. Maybe the delusion of being close to land is what kept me from panicking. Anyway, I’ve carried that scene with me until last week when I instantaneously realized that it wasn’t real! The shore wasn’t close, I wasn’t seeing marina lights, and there were no crab pots to dodge. It was all in my head. In truth, I was fatigued, feeling alone, and fearful of how the boat and rudder lifted out of the water with each rising wave. I was resisting any semblance of being a tiny speck on the dark ocean. Truly, besides the cockpit, the only other things visible were the stars, moon, and an endless silver froth of tumbling sea water. It was definitely a new experience for me.

The flashback of my mom saying she wasn’t raising a streetwalker? That was real. No delusion, except that growing up, I would have given…as my grandmother used to say, “My eye teeth!” to have the chance to live in town, and walk the streets of Marshfield, Missouri- looking pretty like Julie McCoy, cruise director of the Love Boat, or Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.  But instead of living in town, we lived thirteen miles outside of town. Thirteen miles is exactly 68640 feet.  I was over 32,500 steps from the town square. I might as well have been living on the planet of Pluto.

It was funny when these two flashbacks converged…get this…it was last week when I was riding around the town square, perched on a bale of hay.  Yes! Celebrating my 30 year class reunion, a dozen or so fellow classmates rode on a float in the Marshfield, 4th of July parade. We rode past crowds of town folk,  faded buildings, distant places, and hometown streets that sent my mind into motion with a flurry of memories. It only took a city block for me to recognize that I had changed from the girl that I once was.  That there were no marina lights outside Turtle Bay.  And that I’m glad my momma didn’t raise a street walker.  Sorry about that Julie and Ginger.

Flash forward….counting down to January when Captain Chameleon and I plan to return to Seamore Pacific for more Sea of Cortez adventures.  Seriously, no hallucinating this time.

DSC03697

DSC03713

 

DSC03704DSC03708

DSC03709

DSC03695

Dad making homemade ice cream on 4th of July

Dad making homemade ice cream on 4th of July

Summer Bee

Summer Bee

Mom's flowers

Mom’s flowers

DSC03718

Arrived back in Arizona to find Monsoon had beat us.

Arrived back in Arizona to find Monsoon had beat us.

DSC03917 DSC03879 DSC03878 DSC03873DSC00063 Moon over Sea of Cortez

 

Serendipity Dance

At Sunrise.  Coming into Sunrise Aid Station 24 hours into a 100 mile run.

If you get the choice…I hope you dance. Lyrics by Lee Ann Womack. Photograph by Seamore Nautical Spirits.

In some ways, my ITunes playlist resembles my land based closet. It contains more songs than I really need.   I go through phases where I only listen to the same songs, over and over. Then by serendipity a song I haven’t played in a very long time catches my attention and it’s like uncovering a forgotten pair of sandals or an old favorite bikini. I hit the play button and our attachment to one another is rekindled.

The song, I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack is one of those songs that had dropped off my playlist favorites. Back when I downloaded the song, the inspiring words and tempo took the edge off of an otherwise intolerably long, lonesome, and blazing hot Phoenix summer time run.   Preparing my legs and mind for a 100 mile endurance race, the simplest way to log a bunch of miles was to run close to home rather than use time driving to a premier running location up in the cool, crisp air of Flagstaff. But, it was inevitable that 6-8 hours of running in an oven would lead to fixating on quitting. A cool comfortable house with a backyard swim has a mighty pull over gritty, hot, asphalt pounding.   Resisting the voices in my head to skip the miles, go home, and chill out were overcome by the voices of Lee Ann Womack, Jimmy Buffett, Lady Gaga, Guns and Roses, and Cher. Oh, and the boys at Circle K.

A very hot afternoon of running, I stumbled into the store and was greeted by two guys who took a cross eyed look at the sweaty, scarlet faced, salty heap coming through the door. With one finger on the 9 of 911, the other suggested I cool off in the Beer Cave with a Big Gulp of Mountain Blue Blast Power Aid. Hallelujah!  Lee Ann’s words, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” were my cue to leave the cave for another round of craziness; reluctant, but none the less willing to keep running.   I credit the Beer Cave and a host of songs for helping me keep it together that summer.

Mexico Photos by Gail 022This summer my runs are too short to warrant time in the Beer Cave; my closet is in need of major organizing; and I’m rediscovering songs on my ITunes playlist. Still replaying the events of sailing Seamore Pacific with Captain Chameleon, from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez, I listen to the words of I Hope You Dance and relate to it differently than I did as a Beer Cave tenant. “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean” is a humble reminder that ME, MY, and I are trivial… at a comical level. There is nothing that I bring to the ocean or take from the ocean that tops another. My affinity for the ocean and a seafaring life is teensy tiny potatoes. Yet, with social networking and the attention that comes with it, I can be fooled into thinking that what I am thinking and doing is super interesting. But it took years for Captain James Cook to map the Pacific Ocean, disclose the discoveries that he made, and receive “great job!” (a.k.a Facebook Like). His life and accomplishments are truly amazing; in the super spud category.Trail

 

So why the deep thought about social networking, potatoes, and the lyrics of I Hope You Dance? Well, just after I found the song buried on my play list, Captain Chameleon and I met up with friends in California for old fashion, face time. Enough Facebook visiting, I wanted person to person visiting. The event was the San Diego 100 mile Endurance Race. A special friend was there to run her fourth 100 mile race and a friend I met through her was also going to be there. It was a choice to be with friends and enjoy life outside the status quo.  To be in Cleveland National Forest at 3 am, looking up at the stars, waiting for frayed, tired runners ascending from a canyon in search of boiled potatoes for nourishment, blister relief, and encouraging words like “great job,” was a rush. I silently thought to myself as I looked around at fellow star gazers, “We are out here dancing to one of Life’s tunes.” Instead of sitting it out, we were here in Cleveland National Forest, under the stars, feeling small beside the ocean.   I don’t own a smart phone so I couldn’t share with the world what I was doing at that very moment. So, undistracted by any gadgets, I simply sat there under the stars, listening for my friend’s voice and shuffled steps to announce her arrival from the canyon.

Until my friend crossed the finish line, I had time to marvel at others choreographing their own style of dance; volunteers, parents, spouses, and children cheering the runners onward. Some danced with experience, others not so much. I came home from our weekend in California with a renewed conviction for simple kindness, simple adventure, and simply being present.Haul it

 

Three days after meeting our friends in California, Captain Chameleon and I drove to Missouri for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. It was great to be in the presence of family and friends. Facebook time had afforded me information about what was generally going on with each person but I had missed their voices, their expressions, their nuances. At the reception, before things started winding up on the dance floor, I had a rare chance to visit with Uncle Blondie, a quiet, hardworking man who married my Aunt Blondie. The mother of the bride and I were little girls when Uncle Blondie married our Aunt in the city park. We thought the wedding was SO romantic and that Aunt Blondie looked like a princess in her baby blue wedding dress and Chantilly lace veil. Catching up, after talking about blue wedding dresses, and before the evening’s champagne toast, he talked about a recent stressful event in his life and the ire’s of going from working for himself to working for someone else. He referenced a line from Lee Ann’s song; “Where one door closes, I hope another opens” as a belief he holds onto. There you have it…serendipity.

Blades of grass

DSC02731

Others who I admire for their dancing:

  • My brother and sister-in-law for shuttling their kids to practice and private pitching lessons, and cheering them through hours, and hours, and hours of baseball and softball games. They have beautiful tan lines and great kids to show for it.

 

  • For Maw and Papa for driving 8 hours because their eight year old granddaughter really (really, really) wanted to go to the wedding. She looked beautiful dancing with her Papa. If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she would say that besides dancing with Papa, she got to talk and dance with the bride.

 

  • Our friends Geo and Ni, they plant trees, a garden, and fruits of love with their 18 month old daughter.

 

  • Our sailing friends Happy Dance and Magic Carpet, both are scattered about the Sea of Cortez. We enjoy reading of your adventures. Unless we see you before then, make room for Seamore Pacific in 6 months.

 

  • Running buddies.  Without them…I’d have sat it out and missed the dance.

DSC03350

DSC02632

Francis and Henri Matisse

DSC02450

Nature’s dance

DSC02833

Drilled Beach Glass

DSC02797 DSC02752