Friday, May 16, 2014

Between two worlds

We made it back to Fort Myers about 2/3 of the miles under engine, which is much better than sometimes, tied up to our strangely familiar dock, and, a week later, are still dealing with the culture shock. 

I think it was the Publix our first day back where we first noticed it.  Shelves, coolers, racks, stands, cases, piles, cartons of products.  The sheer number of choices was disorienting, and we found ourselves carefully considering each option one-by-one.  It would have taken hours to do a basic shopping trip.  Because in the Bahamas there is one choice, if you are lucky and the supply boat has recently come.  How do we Americans do this?  The sheer quantity of quality is astounding when put in perspective of the rest of the world.

But now we are on the road, going to the wedding of a friends' son, seeing our doctors, seeing our family.  Immersed in America at the ground level.  Hotels, brands, restaurants, brands, airports, brands, cars, brands, SUVs!, brands, people, people, people.  And more people.  It feels like we are adrift between two worlds: our new one of self-reliance, simple living, and the physical truth of the ocean, and our past one of 2010's America. 

Our response is not unique.  I recommend the blog of Kintala, especially Tim's entry on being far from their new home:

..The Cruising community is not much like America. These are people with different motivations, different ideas of what it means to be responsible, with a close and personal relationship with the natural world. They are from Canada and Europe and are not nearly as impressed with Americans as Americans tend to be with themselves. Most know well their turn will come to need a little help, and so they offer the same with little hesitation. ..

We have two weeks of road trip ahead of us before we can go home...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Our Last Leg

We made it Across. It was of course on a mis-forecast wind. Mr. Parker predicted 10-12 out of the SE which would have been ideal to go WSW on, but nooo, we got 3-5 kts dead behind us. So we motored. Of all our sea miles, we have done not much better than a third under sail, which cruisers all say is actually pretty typical. When you have to be somewhere, to make a current window, a daylight window, a weather window, sailing is just not reliable enough to plan around. When you are on a ten-day passage it kinda doesn't matter, you take what Nature throws at you and you speed up or slow down near the end to time your arrival. I am thinking that the real art of an experienced sailor is getting the sailing right.

What are these clouds telling you about imminent weather?
But we did make it Across. We came across the “COLREGS” line, the international maritime law boundary, just after eight in the morning at Turtle Reef Light. Then we worked our way down the Hawk Channel to anchor about 11am behind Rodriguez Key. They spell “Key” in the Bahamas as “Cay” but its pronounced the same way, BTW. As a treat we went for our first US happy hour in 5 months at a little place that was several miles by dinghy. Ha ha! Miles in the dinghy? No problem! Our experience is beginning to show.

From there we ran the next day 40 miles down to Boot Key Harbor. Another frustrating long day of motoring with light winds dead behind us. One small gift from providence was the utter lack of crab pot floats. The last time we were in the Hawk Channel, it was infested with floats, one every 50 ft in some patches.  The season is ending and the harvest has been poor (hmmm .. wonder what happens when you put out 800,000,000 traps each year?) so we didn't have to strain to spot the floats in the waves then dodge them by altering course every few minutes for fear of being entangled.   

We really like the mooring field at Boot Key in the city of Marathon, FL. It has everything a liveaboard cruiser could want. Chandleries, groceries, attractions like the wonderful Crane Point Preserve, all-round protection from the weather, and lots of other cruisers in a real community. We finally caught up with our friends the Hackneys and their 5 kids on their catamaran Take Two.  It was wonderful to see how their kids have grown up in the real world and we had a great time trading lessons and experiences even with their 3-year-old.  The cost of Boot Key is in having to pay for a mooring ball and put up with the soupy water of the basin.  Die-hards look askance at boat people who stay in Boot Key, tends to be liveaboards, not “real” salty cruisers, but it is a great place to hang and enjoy ourselves.

The harbor at Boot Key
The Family Hackney on Take Two
But everything comes to an end, in the end. We have to be in Houston for a wedding on 16 MAY and have air tickets on 15 MAY. We have a huge list of work to get done on the boat. So we can't hang here forever. We have been looking for the weather window now for a week and it will open on Monday. Our run is an overnight 20 hrs to Fort Myers by way of Cape Romano. We really enjoy overnights because it feels like real cruising. The prediciton is for 10-12 from the ESE (hmmmm.. where did we hear that before?) for TUE and TUE night all the way up the west coast of Florida. Ideal for running up because the land to the east keeps the sea state from getting nasty. So this morning at 09:45 we dropped the mooring lines to our ball and set off for Fort Myers... the last leg, for this year.

On our way out of Boot Key Harbor