'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Life’s little twists and turns

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Way back almost two years ago, I wrote This Blog about “a friend” who, on the eve of leaving for an extended and long planned Cruising sabbatical, learned that he might have prostate cancer. The spoiler of that post is that the “friend” was me, the story was autobiographical, and in the end, I didn’t have cancer.

But that experience galvanized both of us to LIVE life more, to DO things that mean something to us, to really step up our game, and not just coast through life, easy as that seems sometimes. I can’t say we’ve done that, 100% of the time, but we did sell out and go cruising, we have taken some chances and reaped some rewards we would otherwise have passed up, and we’re still working at it.

Part of that original post mentioned that there were four couples (including me & Nicki) all planning the same thing, and that part is absolutely true. All four couples departed in the fall of 2016, and one of them – like us – stored the boat south and went back to Maine for the summer. Like us, they returned to the boat in late fall, did a lot of work on it, and then launched for new adventures.

Unlike us, they’ve returned to Maine, because one of them has stage 4, Metastatic cancer.

That’s bad.

I cannot begin to know how that feels. I know that just the 30% chance of having a relatively treatable cancer was enough to rock me off my foundations, but for these dear friends, who face a very grave threat indeed? I can’t know.

We can weep, we can rail against the unfairness of it, we can pray, we can offer what help we have to give, but in the end, we’re powerless to effect the course they must track. A course that will, in all likelihood, never take them back to their boat, and the cruising they were just beginning to taste.

Sometimes life doesn’t wait for the timing to be perfect. Sometimes the end really is just around the corner. Sometimes the reaper really is just outside your door. I’m not saying be reckless (though some people will claim you are if you follow a dream they don’t understand), nor do I counsel going off without planning and knowledge. But I also know how easy it is to put off dreams, to accept virtual adventures and crappy reality shows as “good enough” substitutes for real-life experiences.

Don’t believe it. They’re not.

That thing you’ve always wanted to do? That trip you’ve planned, the date you’ve never asked for or the skill you’ve never taken the time to learn?

Do it. Do it now. There are no valid excuses anymore.”

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The changing of the plans… Again.

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Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor is a generally lovely place, but it’s not cruising.

That said, it is a perfect place to prepare to GO cruising, so I keep telling myself that’s what we’re doing. We’re preparing.

Provisioning? Check.

Water and fuel? Check.

Sea legs restored? Check!

Today (March 14th – pie day!) was supposed to include a shake-down sail. It’s been almost three months since we had Sionna out in open water, sails up, rail down and making way, and it feels somewhat like a distant memory. We know it’ll come back to us pretty quickly, but still it feels like a good idea to go out and test everything once before we actually drop the mooring for the season and head out to explore.

But today the weather isn’t cooperating. Wind, yes, it’s 12-15 kts from the northwest – plenty of wind, maybe a little too much, but the problem is temperature. While the northeast US is getting ready for the 4th major snowstorm in three weeks,

Southern Florida is experiencing unseasonably cool temperatures and winds from the north and northwest – odd for this time of year when the northeast trade winds have usually begun to dominate. It’s not uncomfortable, but it does dampen our enthusiasm for a “relaxed day on the water” to test our ship. At 65 degrees and blowing, it’s not very relaxing.

So here we sit. I made my version of breakfast muffins (frimbled* egg with salt, pepper and oregano, slices of Parmesan cheese on a buttered English muffin), and lots of hot coffee, then paid some medical bills (ouch), wrote a blog post, and chilled for a bit. This afternoon I’m making Caprese, to take to a little dinner and Rum Punch competition with some boating friends tonight. Plans? What plans?

I think I’ve mentioned that we’d thought about heading up along the east coast of Florida this spring? Since we can’t really do the Bahamas this year, what with all the eye stuff still pending, we figured we’d check out that section of the ICW between here and Stuart, FL that we skipped on our trip south in 2016. But then we got talking one night, and realized that we didn’t really want to deal with getting around Miami, finding a different place to store the boat, all that stuff, so the plan changed to seeing a bit more of the Keys, instead.

We’ve yet to get out to the Marquesas Keys and the Dry Tortugas (the latter is just 97 miles west of Marathon), and both are supposed to be worth the trip. There’s a significant fort on the Dry Tortugas, actually, which you can tour – sounds interesting.

So maybe we’ll go there. Maybe. We’ll see.

* “Frimbled” – An egg which has been hard-cooked in a skillet after first being very lightly stirred to break up and distribute the yolk without mixing it appreciably into the white.

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What is a marathon? Where is Marathon? Are the two somehow related?

Well, a marathon is a long, arduous race, and sometimes the term is also applied to a process or an experience – or a business meeting… For us, it’s a pretty good description of the last few months, what with this eye thing of mine.

But we’re taking a break from all that. I function pretty well on one eye, Nicki’s got two good ones, and we’re tired of dealing with the promises and disappointments of the medical industry, so we’re back on the boat and enjoying a different sort of Marathon: Marathon, Florida.

Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor is a pretty unique spot.

First, it’s in the Key’s, so it’s warm pretty much all the time. 82 degrees on February 27th? Check.

Second, it’s cruiser and live-aboard friendly, meaning that when you tell someone that you live on a boat, by choice, they don’t automatically assume you’re either insane or running from the police. (Granted you MAY be both, but you’re given an opportunity to prove it. This isn’t the case in some areas of the state…)

And Third, there is a spirit here since Irma tried to erase it last summer that’s almost tangible. It’s throughout the Key’s, actually. Shit got real, a lot of people lost pretty much everything, but they didn’t loose hope. They took care of each other, took care of business, and they’re still standing. That’s worth a lot, and you feel it.

It looks like we’re here for about a week this stop. We need to make the 170 mile drive back up to Bradenton on Tuesday, for our court appearance on our Anchor light fiasco , then drive 170 miles back, but once that’s behind us we’re thinking to work our way east, along the Keys and then north along the Florida east coast. It’s an area we never really intended to visit, but without time to head to the Bahamas as we’d originally planned, and with an inclination to revisit a couple spots we enjoyed (Vero Beach and St. Augustine), plus a desire to be in position for the Bahamas NEXT winter, it seems to make sense.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

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