Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving II

No Name Harbor Thanksgiving 2014
Our first cruising Thanksgiving on Kintala was in Oriental. We had been out barely six weeks. Four of those six had been spent during a long month of being tied to the dock while we struggled through cold temperatures and ugly storms, both weather and broken-engine related. Looking back it seems an even worse start to our cruising life than it felt at the time, and it felt pretty grim at the time. It was also the first Thanksgiving spent without any of the family nearby. I was as unsure of myself as I have even been, desperately missed my girls and their families, and was not the least convinced I had the skills necessary to make things better. But there was no choice other than going on and hoping that things wouldn't get any worse. Yet that Thanksgiving day was still a good day. We were thankful that we had made it out at all as many people never get a chance to even try to live their dreams. We were thankful that we had managed as many miles as we had; that the engine and other maintenance tasks appeared to be under control. And, not to put too fine a point on it, I was thankful that I had not manged to kill us both and/or sink the boat ... at least so far.

A year later Kintala is floating easy in No Name Harbor. People ask me for advice about many things cruising, about our “experience” in the Islands, on how to safely get across the Gulf Stream.  They ask about fixing their boats and judging the weather, and that is something that still surprises me. On the other hand the attrition rate during the first year of cruising seems much higher than I would have expected. Being a cruiser is not the same as planning to be a cruiser and, for some, the difference becomes crushingly obvious very quickly. Anyone who is looking forward to a second year has climbed an enormous learning and experience curve. One that is very much behind us on this Thanksgiving II.

We still have much to learn (and I still desperately miss my girls and their families), but this is our life now and we have gone a long way into settling into it. A large part of that has been setting aside what we thought cruising meant to us, and accepting what we it does mean to us. We are not "blue water adventurers" but rather a middle-aged couple who managed to retire a bit early to go exploring in nearby waters. I admire friends who have sailed around the world and who plan to keep going, but there is no chance I will be following in their wake. I like sailing. I like that we have put in some 2000 nm while using - maybe - 200 gallons of fuel, including motoring down the ICW. I like being out on the open ocean with no land in sight. I even like sailing at night, so long as it is one night at a time. But I really like sitting out unruly weather snug and comfortable in a pretty place, puttering around on my boat, meeting different people, and exploring different places.

Good friends, good food
In that mellow light, Friends Mizzy and Brian (of sailing about half way around the world fame) and Friend Bill (of Airline driving fame) joined us for Thanksgiving dinner on Kintala. Deb worked galley magic and our feast had all of the fixings. Sailing and flying memories filled the cabin. The combination of friends, food, and sitting quietly at anchor while the remnants of the latest cold front brought perfect weather, made for a day so fine as to take one's breath away. It doesn't always work out this way, but on this day we managed to be among the Royalty of the world. We have family who loves us in spite of our wandering ways. Deb still trusts that I will manage to not sink the boat or kill us both, and keep our Tartan as a functioning home at the same time. Friends sail waters nearby and far away. Being an accepted member of that tribe is an honor bestowed on the few and the lucky.

This was a thanks giving day, indeed.

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