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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Year. Clean Slate. Now What?

Where will our adventures take us this year? Or next?  We do not know... yet.  Galapagos, April 2015, we swam with the penguins and snorkeled with the sharks.  
This New Year's, like that day. we kicked up our heels, and danced.
New Years... the time to reflect, to connect, and to plan.  

What is your best-ever New Years?  


In our five years of cruising, we had our highs and lows to kick off the New Year (recap follows).  Join me for a look around, a look back, and a look ahead.... 


And please, share your stories, feelings, musings!  


Countdown Recap - Our Last 5 New Year's Eves


2018, Portland, OR, USA:  Dancin' the Night Away with Friends
A nearly full moon ringed with a nimbus ushered in
New Years with longtime and newfound friends.
Portland Oregon, along Old Town's waterfront

in this river town.
We're slowly getting caught up with friends and family, who for years were as much as a half a world away.  

Thank you, Ellen and James, and your friends, Melinda, Sandy and Peter for this New Year's eve. 

It was a lovely night of swapping stories over good food, good wine, ponderous thoughts, prosecco toasts and dancing, appropriately, under a magnificent nimbus moon.

This is our first year "back home" in Portland Oregon after years abroad. You made it feel more like home.  Ironically, perhaps it's because we all see ourselves as travelers, explorers, still sorting what our next adventure will be.










2017, Sydney, Australia:  World-Beater Iconic 
We were in the midst of one of the most iconic New Year's epicenters in the world... ooohing and aahing at mid-summer fireworks and light shows under Australia's Sydney Bridge.  We were but a stone's throw from the bridge itself - tightly packed in along with about 200 other boats. Click here for more Sydney New Year's 2017 flashbacks.

It was an epic last journey on our sailboat Journey, before selling her about a month later.  We had a plan, to sail for five years, make it at least to Australia, then likely sell the boat there.  Amazingly - we did it!  
Sydney Bridge, New Year's Eve, post-firework view from Journey.  We were well on the way to reclaiming the anchorage
2016, Tutukaka, New Zealand:  Drenched
We were aiming for a New Year's Eve in Whangarei, where we could join up with our friends who'd proceeded us there, and stay awhile.  We were about a 4 hour's sail from Whangarei when it was obvious getting there would send us through near gail force winds.  We're far bigger fans of prudence over tales of valor, given the choice.Thus, we tucked into the nearest refuge we could, which was tiny Tutukaka Marina.  Shortly after our arrival, the rain torrented down with a vengeance well into New Year's Eve.  

We felt tremendous relief we'd made the right decision, even though we didn't know a soul there.  Bedraggled, we meandered over to the marina's festivities, where the youthful crowd drank heartily, rocking their bodies to the party vibe.  A little bewildered, we decided our piece of calm aboard the good ship Journey was more our speed.

It was a good time to reflect back over one heckuva a year... We's spent about a third of our days under sail, over 10,000 miles, and across the world's most vast ocean, the Pacific.  What were our favorite stops?  Click here to find out.
Classic New Zealand rolling hills; North Island between Tutukaka and Whangarei, scrubbed clean after New Years eve storms.
2015, Old Town Havana, Cuba:  Best Ever!
We slipped into Mariel Hemingway Marina a week before then Vice President John Kerry visited.  We wanted to experience the forbidden, exotic fruit of neighboring Cuba before it became yet another place where US travelers went far from home, to munch a McDonald's Big Mac or sip a Starbuck's coffee.  Indeed, Cuba's culture is amazing, and the genuine warmth, ingenuity and resiliency of the people we met, everywhere was incredible.

Fortuitously, we found ourselves there as New Year's approached, and decided to escape the isolated confines of the marina and experience the magic of Old Havana in celebration.  We left with an overnight bag, but without a plan.  Lady Luck was more than kind.  Who could possibly imagine we'd spend the night drinking Cuba's fine Havana Club rum as "part of the family," learning about Cuba's "casting of the waters" and "clean sweep" traditions

Later, Wayne watched in amusement while one of our gay host's  stellar dancing lead managed to make me appear graceful.
Charming Old Town Havana, Cuba.  Our favorite New Year's Eve location -- thus far....
2014 Sarasota & Marathon Florida USA: Dad's Hospitalized, Wayne "Batches" 
We were about to head off cruising and grave concerns about my Dad's health prompted me secure a rental car at the worst possible time of the year in the Florida Keys to see my Dad in Sarasota, leaving Wayne in Marathon, to batten down the hatches on our boat, alone.... In the wee hours of New Year's eve, I brought Dad to the hospital, ultimately getting him set up for some much-needed respite care that likely saved his life. I wasn't sure if he'd be there when we returned from cruising... fortunately he's still kicking at 93 years old today.
Shortly after Christmas, 2014, I left Wayne waiting in Boot Key, Marathon when I road-tripped across Florida
to check up on my ailing father.  New Year's rang in with Dad still in the hospital in Sarasota.
2013 Grand Case Saint Martin, Eastern Caribbean:  Hunkered
Grand Case is normally a casual beachside gastronomic delight. However, on our New Year's eve there,  storm-driven waves blasted off the faces of the waterfront hotels. We stayed snug aboard our boat, riding it out.  Celebrations could wait.  While AirBnB still shows lovely images of places to rent in Grand Case, my understanding is most accommodations and attractions are still several months from re-opening as they rebuild from the intense damage wrought by hurricane Irma.
Casual yet topnotch cuisine on a sunny afternoon at St. Martin's Grand Case waterfront.  However, New Year's eve we hunkered aboard, while storm waves violently lashed the shoreside hotels.  Today, the area is still rebuilding from hurricane Irma.

Ruminating Our "Now"
We arrived back in Portland Oregon seven months ago.  We are incredibly grateful for the many who've helped us out... our families, friends, employers.... Though we still live on a boat (an amazing story, how that came about), we've not moved it more than 12 miles since late July.  In a sense we've become "dirt dwellers," with full-time jobs, a car and an address. We are still here, yet still feel "uncommitted." 

While we've never been more electronically connected, so often we are more distant than ever from those as sometimes as close as a few feet away.  

"What percent of the time do your customers eat and interact with their cell phone, tablet or laptop, rather than talk to each other, or you?" I asked our waitress at the restaurant by the laundromat we usually use.  Most interact more with their devices than each other, she told us.  It's what we expected, a habit we've noticed seems more the exception than the rule these days wherever people congregate, whether in private or in public, even in more socially interactive settings.

Even (especially?) in our own lives, for months now we've worked alternate hours and days.  Our time to connect when we're together and awake can be calculated in minutes per week.

Then there's "virtual friends." When does a friend become "just a Facebook friend?" When we no longer see them, don't know when and don't care.  When it appears something big is happening in their life, and we don't even pick up the phone (or even private message or text) to ask what's going on. In our heart of hearts, we know they would love a person-to-person, real-time, private conversation, an arm around their shoulder, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, and we don't offer it.  

Does this distance add to the divisiveness and intolerance we've seen?

Perhaps.  As we make choices for friends (and more and more,  "e-friends" and "groups"), news and entertainment, our scope narrows.  We effortlessly find ourselves aligned with others who tend to believe what we believe, support our version of the truth.  The "us" versus "them" becomes more entrenched.

Something's gotta give.  And that something is the need for a deeper, more understanding, more caring human connectedness.  It's time to build bridges, not walls.

Our One Resolution
We define ourselves by what we have done, what we are doing, and what we hope to do. 


Yes, since May, these posts are more a throwback, a placeholder for "What Next."  Lucky as we feel to achieved our "trip of a lifetime" goal -- 5 years travel by sailboat through 30 countries, 20,000 miles, halfway around the world -- our life is far from over.  

Stuck as we feel at the moment, we know this is a transition period.  We're not sure yet what will change, but rest assured, we will be in a different place well before this time next year, literally, figuratively or both.  It will be place where we are once again more connected in a positive way, with each other and the world beyond us.  

And You?
Are you living the life you want? If you're not, what are your plans to change it?  As we start this new year, let's take this ride together, and make our lives, and the world we live in, a better place.  


FYI
I will be presenting at the Seattle Boat Show January 29th and 30th.  One presentation is on provisioning (and keeping gluten free in the process), another on lessons learned crossing the South Pacific and am also on Northwest Women in Boating's panel discussion. I'm also working on my first e-book, on what it takes to go cruising.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas, Post-Cruising -- Just Aint the Same

Kudos to brilliantly witty cruising cartoonist Sarah Steenland for cannily capturing what tropical cruisers do for the holidays versus "the rest of us."  Check Sarah Steenland's FB page to tickle your funny bone some more.
What do the holidays mean to you?

Last year we celebrated Christmas day getting an all-over tan on one of Sydney's sunny beaches.  The prior four years we joined fellow cruisers in festivities, whether it was a get-together at a local restaurant or a potluck on the beaches of New Zealand.

This year's celebrations start after I close the evening tills at West Marineexiting into freezing temperatures. At least we close an hour earlier that night.  "Gift cards, anyone?"  

Wayne works Christmas night, his usual graveyard shift at Horizon Air.

Christmas afternoon, thanks to prompting from a good friend, we'll resume our US "Jewish Christmas" tradition of the movies and Chinese food out.

After 5 years, it was nice to light my menorah for Hannukah -- one of the few items we kept in our minimal storage whilst cruising. For the first time in my life, I had to jog my memory for some of the Hebrew blessing over the candles.  That was a shocker.  It came back quickly -- whew!

As live-aboards, Wayne viewed my little nordic pine, our lone concession to Christmas decor as "one more thing on the counter." Clutter is the enemy in small spaces.  I found it a better home.  

The ability to catch up with my scattered family for the holidays over US phone systems -- if not in person -- was nice. Part of our return here was prompted by a desire to spend time with family. Bit by bit we're making the rounds.

Crossing the Sauvie Island bridge, we caught the tail-end of Portland's fabulous Christmas ship parade on the way to a colleague's marina. There we joined the congenial crowd, toasting to the ship's passing and swapped cruising tales in the marina's aptly named and unapologetically ramshackle "Man Cave."  

Cruising taught us it is presence, not presents that make our most cherished holiday memories.  We have no idea where we'll be in a year.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whoever you're with in spirit or in real life -- we wish you a Happy Holiday and an Awesome New Year.  Especially, Steve and Patty of Armagh, who our best Christmas gift would be finding out you've arrived safely in Hawaii after you long passage from Samoa.

Location Location
We're hunkered in Portland Oregon (N45.47.449 W122.47.189), living aboard the good ship Serendipity, where we still embrace a relatively simple lifestyle, thanks to the generosity of our friends Larry and Nancy.

Up Next
Please pardon the light posts.  There really truly are still some catch-up posts and still some adventures ahead.  Meanwhile, when not working or doing some freelance writing gigs, my writing time is getting gobbled to complete my first e-book -- about cruising!  The goal is to finish it in time to be orderable for Seattle's Boat Show in late January.  Just started it about a week ago - so it will be a push.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Cruising: Sweet Memories

Thanksgiving... Thankfulness at its best requires fond reflection.  Given my hiatus from blogging and cruising of late, the time seems right for a nostalgic blast from the past, as well as an breif update.  Indeed, we have much to be grateful for -- this is but a teeny tiny piece of it.  

We trust that if you are reading this post now, you too are blessed with internet access you are by its very nature connected and also probably not starving.

What is cruising like on Thanksgiving, celebrated in places far from family?  
Here's a quick recap on our last 5 years spent somewhere other than home, although in many ways, wherever we were at the moment, aboard the good ship Journey, was home for us.

2016:  Our Most Untraditional -- Fraser Island, Australia
Chris and Chris of Scintilla, a few days before Thanksgiving at Fraser Island's resort bar,
where I was finally able to repay them for picking up our drinks in Vanuatu.
Fellow "Yanks" (the nicer term Ozzies use for those of us hailing from the USA) Chris and Chris of Scintilla, who call themselves "C2" eagerly organized hosted Thanksgiving dinner with us and another Statesider, Eve of Auntie.  

It was kinda different to be in a UNESCO world heritage site for Thanksgiving last year, "stuck" there a bit longer than anticipated do to challenging sailing conditions.  Our larders were pathetic and grocery shopping in this remote natural treasure was not an option.  No turkey, no cranberry anything, no sweet potatoes, no stuffing, and no pumpkin pie.  Even if we hadn't been on Fraser Island, turkey was not common in Australia or New Zealand.  The only meat we had left was about a half-dozen frozen chicken drumsticks and one chicken breast. While none of us had the traditional trimmings, we had each other, and the right spirit.  And it was good -- right down to seeing real, live pink dolphins (which did not eat!).  

Thank you Chris and Chris and Eve.  Chris and Chris's boat is still in Australia, though they may temporarily be in Hanoi now.  Eve we believe is either still in Australia, or Indonesia-bound.  We hope to see C2 either in the Pacific Northwest or Mexico, though we're not sure when.

2015:  Kiwi Welcome -- A Kinda Sorta Thanksgiving in Opua, "Bay of Islands" New Zealand
Friends Steve and Patty of Armagh, a recent photo of them in Samoa, pilfered from Pam Selix of Pied de Mer's Facebook.
Out of the of the 30 countries we cruised, New Zealand earns our top vote  we most wanted to call home.  No surprise then the incredibly welcoming Kiwis from the local yacht club put on a Thanksgiving dinner at Opua Bay of Islands Marina's restaurant.  

Despite a lack of family-style servings -- Thanksgiving is a bit about gluttony, seconds and thirds -- the restaurant got it mostly right, even if the stuffing was coiled inside a turkey roll.  We appreciated one of the hosts, a local Bursco manager (the "West Marine" of New Zealand) earnestly asking for feedback on what they got right and should improve for future Thanksgivings. 

Mostly, we were stoked to celebrate the holiday with friends Steve and Patty of Armagh.  We met them originally in the Galapagos and cruised with them for many thousands of miles. We last saw them in New Caledonia.  They and Pam and Eric of Pied de Mer left a few days ago to spend the next month sailing from Samoa to Hawaii.  Guessing they will celebrate Thanksgiving when they finally arrive in Hawaii.  Please join us in wishing them a safe passage.  We hope to see them cruising in the Pacific Northwest or Mexico.


2013 / 2014:  Stateside Marina Potluck -- Jacksonville Florida's 
Best-Ever Marina -- Ortega Landing


Bill and Kate, the incredible behind-the-scenes hosts of Ortega Landing (image pilfered from Kate's Facebook). 
Kate is usually behind, rather in in front of the camera.
Jacksonville Florida surprised us -- we didn't expect to like it so much, but we did.  We picked it as a hurricane hole for between cruising seasons, a place to work while not cruising.  From practically our first day there, Allen and Michelle took us in as fellow Pearson owners.  We still feel touched by their incredible kindness and generosity, and miss them.  We are sad to hear Allen has his Pearson, Incommunicado, for sale, though whoever buys it will be getting a much loved and exceedingly well maintained boat.  Maybe they can even persuade Allen and Michelle to join them -- they'd be hard pressed for more enjoyable company.
Image pilfered from Ortega Landing Marina's Facebook page for Thanksgiving this year.
By the time you read this it is too late -- for this year.
Thanksgiving at Ortega Landing Marina was just one more reason that marina set the Active Captain (and our own) bar for excellence - kudos especially for that go to Kate and Bill.  The marina charged very little for an ample serving of excellent food, supplemented handily with a dazzling array of goodies brought from us cruisers, and more importantly, all-around good cheer.  

We especially miss Dee and Ron, Patty, and Don and MaryAnn and their adorable cat Kai, who we are long overdue to catch up with and Ann of Krazy Lady who we haven't seen since the Bahamas, but still keep up with frequently.  We have no idea where or when we will meet again, and look forward to the day.  Patty, sadly, we narrowly missed when she was in the Portland area on her 5th wheeler due to traffic and our picking up Serendipity (our current watery home).  I have faith we too shall meet again, though when and where is a mystery.

2012:  Ambassadors in Antigua


Lili and Tomaz, we thank you for one of our all-time favorite Thanksgivings.  Nothing pleased us more than the opportunity to share one of the very best USA traditions with you.  Who know how lucky it was for the two of us to be the only folks scrappy enough to live aboard our boats in the yard in the blistering tropic heat of St. Lucia?

Not only were we pleasantly surprised we were able to serve darned close to what we'd consider a "proper" Thanksgiving -- turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a salad, mashed potatoes with gravy and pie, for dessert, you taught us our most important lesson about celebrating Thanksgiving abroad. 

What we realize most about Thanksgiving.... what's most important of all is sharing it with someone.  In that, we are very blessed; for those here to share it with and those we're sharing it with in our hearts.  Thank you, all.

Lili and Tomas, I hope somehow we meet in Slovenia, I would love to see you and the stunning Slovenian countryside and love all the incredible underwater photos you share in your blog.  Looking forward to belatedly celebrating our Thanksgiving connection over Skype in the mean time.


And Now?  First Family Thanksgiving for Years -- Portland Oregon
Ron, Wayne, Tricia, Gunnel and Phil at Panama Canal's Gatun Locks, before we crossed it together in s/v Journey.

In a bit we head over to the lovely culprits who got my husband, then me, hooked on cruising, Wayne's Dad, and his wife Gunnel.  I feel particularly blessed for such incredible in-laws.  Phil and Gunnel are the only stateside folks who joined us in 5 years of cruising, other than friends Ron and Trish, who we are grateful for being their house-sitters as well as humbled to be among their friends, who joined us cruising (crossing the Panama Canal).  

We'll go with the traditional trimming, mostly. Turkey, my home-made cranberry relish, stuffing (trying out Trader Joe's gluten-free stuffing mix this year), traditional-for-me savory Southwestern sweet potato pie tweaked to sit inside a gluten-free gingersnap crust, and this year trying out Marilyn Michael of NW Women's Boating's Yam Curry Thanksgiving Surprise.

This year we miss celebrating Thanksgiving in unlikely tropical places, eating who-knows-what among our cruising friends and many international hosts.  Wherever you are, we are with you in spirit and wish you the very best.

For the rest of the family.... Mom and Dad, while we're not with you on Thanksgiving this year, I am so glad to finally be able to see you again.  Mary and Patty and Jason and Ryan and Lauren, Jack and Pat, Don and Deana and Elizabeth Brianna and Adam ... we hope to see you in the not to distant future and hold you closer to our hearts than our geography implies.


Dad and Adrianne, still sweet at 93 years old.
  
Mom and Richard, my two favorite lovebirds in Florida. June 2017.

What Next?

Larry and Nancy of Jacari Maru - still cruising.  May we do right by you on your former boat, now our Serendipity.
We do not know if 2018 will find us celebrating Thanksgiving in Portland or not.  For now, we are grateful daily to friends Larry and Nancy to entrusting us with Serendipity, our waterfront home.  We are employed, Wayne back Horizon Air, me, grateful for the support of my boss, colleagues and customers at Portland's West Marine flagship store (and to the folks in Jacksonville' Florida's flagship store for giving me my first and second seasonal jobs with West Marine there).

While it has been difficult to muster up the energy for posts of late, there are still stories  (and posts) to tell of adventures past, present and future.  Some of them will also be shared at the upcoming Seattle Boat Show in late January, where I will be presenting as part of NW Women's Boating's panel as well as a few of my own presentations.

More than anything, we are overwhelmed by the many who have showered us with boat karma, both from the boating community and the many places we've visited.  Wow!  We made it halfway around the world (our plan) on a small sailboat, relatively unscathed with more than a lifetime of unparalleled experiences in those five years.  We would love to spend the rest of our life paying it forward and back.  

Future adventures await.  We can hardly wait!  Cool pictures of cool places?  You betcha.  Don't forget it is those you love the most that make it all worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pacific Puddle Jump: Yes or No?

Prospective cruisers mulling crossing the Pacific  -- Is the Pacific Puddle Jump -- also known as the PPJ -- worth joining?

Every year about 200 boats loosely join up together to cross the Pacific Ocean as part of the "Pacific Puddle Jump," from the Americas to "Oceania" organized by the sailing magazine folks from Latitude 38. Most cruisers converge in French Polynesia, to celebrate their journey.  The video touches on celebrations in Tahiti and Moorea (with a little liberty taken by including 2 cruiser events in Tonga, though also attended by PPJers).

In our experience... there's no good reason not to join if you're committed to go.  Besides; it's free.

Here's what we got out of it
  1. A sense of community -- PPJers get a list of who all is crossing that vast stretch of ocean (the closest stopping point to the Galapagos is a minimum of 3,000+ miles!) more or less at the same time as you are.
  2. Lots of great information tips
  3. Streamlined country check-in to French Polynesia including the waiving of the normal bond (additional entry fee) via a paid third party
  4. Cruising info session and celebration in Tahiti, French Polynesia regarding French Polynesia and Tonga.  By chance there was also an enhanced sense of place from the local Marquesan leaders, who just happened to have been in town then.
  5. Celebration in Moorea,  French Polynesia, our grand introduction to French Polynesian culture -- food, dance, traditional competitions and even comical lessons on how to wrap a pareu (pronounced pa-ray-oh). 
  6. Improved safety - when Nirvana Now was sinking, boats quickly queued up to successfully rescue them.  Randy and Dawn, formerly of Nirvana Now, have since resumed cruising, on another boat.
Additionally, here's a couple PPJ bonuses we did not take advantage of, even though they are worthwhile
  1. Get-togethers (info seminars, parties and swag) in Mexico and Panama 
  2. Regular communication before, during and after the crossing via SSB (aka ham radio) network (only because, regrettably, we did not have a working SSB)
Admittedly, we do wish we spent more time in the Tuamotus, which we cut short in order to make the planned events in Tahiti and Moorea.

We are still in touch with many fellow PPJers.  Some are still cruising.  Others, like us, are currently not cruising, though most of as are dreaming or planning of when and how we can, still lured by the ocean's sweet song.

Location Location
This post is a retrospective primarily from June 18, 2015, when we arrived in Tahiti (S17.32.380 W149.34.210) at the newly re-opened town marina, and Moorea, June 20, 2015 (S17.30.229 W149.49.217).

Currently, we are living aboard another boat in Portland, Oregon (N45.47.449 W122.47.189), a sweet, homey live-aboard Puget Trawler aptly named Serendipity in gratitude for the incredible generosity of the friends who entrusted her to us.

Up Next
Work and family matters called, slowing posts.  There are still stories to be told of our long sail, relatively current watery and other explorations here in the States and eventually, new adventures, when and where are still TBD.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Rescue: Damsel in Distress

Agathe, who traveled with us via overnight passage from Lamen Bay, Epi, Vanuatu to Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu felt a bit embarrassed about how much of her stuff she brought aboard with her.  Considering it was intended to carry her through to Indonesia,
it didn't seem out of line to me.
Vanuatu (retrospective).  Not long after I introduced myself via kayak to other cruisers in our Lamen Bay anchorage on Epi, curiously, one of them hopped on her kayak and swiftly paddled to catch up with me.  Her name was Agathe; a 20s-something French gal crewing aboard a neighboring boat from New Caledonia with a hunky-looking French captain.  Agathe's English was far better than her captain's (and my) French, so she did most of the talking when I dropped by their boat.

"Are you looking for crew?" she asked.  From our earlier conversation Agathe knew we were headed back to Port Vila Vanuatu.

"No," I replied, explaining Journey was a small boat, we were the crew.  She shared that she was looking at taking the island's supply boat to Port Vila Vanuatu but it wasn't leaving until the morning... if she could get on.  Then it dawned on me -- she really wanted to get off "her" boat, ASAP!    I asked if that was the case and she agreed, emphatically.  Sensing her urgency, and relatively confident in my husband's penchant for chivalry, I promised to check in with my captain right away about giving her a ride to Port Vila Vanuatu, noting I was pretty sure Wayne would be okay with it.  While we didn't doubt her competence, we'd happily bring her her aboard as a guest rather than crew, as long as she was ok with our tight quarters.

True to form, Wayne agreed we'd rescue Agathe, including Wayne's picking her up at "her" boat and ferrying her over with all her possessions. 

"Can you be ready within the hour?" we asked. That's when we planned to leave on our overnight passage to Port Vila, carefully timed to travel through reefy areas in good daylight, sailing through the safer open ocean through the darkness.  Agathe agreed she would be; though it meant quickly gathering everything she brought aboard for her intended multi-month passage to and through Indonesia.   Her "stuff" it turns out, was considerable, yet all together by the time we needed to set sail.
Nothing like a hasty transfer of one's worldly possessions to make them look even bulkier than they are.  It was refreshing
to have someone's stuff besides mine taking up space (as Wayne is far more minimalist than me).
I once desperately bailed early as a sailing crew member myself, and was reasonably sure that was one more reason Wayne would want to help out Agathe, too.  In my case, the captain I crewed went into a depression as deep as the stock market crash that afflicted him during my cruise with him.  My escape  from the wilds of British Columbia took the form of a very long bus ride, followed by a ferry, then a hitched ride  to Bellingham, where Wayne took off work early from Everett to drive the hundred or so miles to get me.  I still remember how relieved I was to leave, and for Wayne's help in making it happen.

As when I "escaped" my crew captain, Agathe's relief at her escape was palpable.  She slept most of the passage, despite our getting slammed repeatedly in 25 knot winds.  

When she was awake, she filled us in on why she'd wanted off that boat.  She and the captain had been friends, and she agreed to crew only under the condition she was crew, not "friends with fringe benefits." As their trip progressed, and the captain came to understand she hadn't changed her mind about the nature of their relationship, he became overly controlling; repeatedly trying to convince her everything she did aboard was wrong.    His behavior shut her down to the degree she retreated to her cabin, only coming out when absolutely necessary (or - in the case of Lamen Bay - to find a way off the boat).  

On a brighter note, Agathe entertained us with her adventures in New Caledonia, where she'd lived most recently, as well as her time traveling and working with competition show horses in Australia.  Her sunny disposition blossomed by the minute.
Agathe on Galley Wench Tales' kayak in Vanuatu, headed off to see which if her friends would her her a temporary spot for herself and her stuff.
Fortunately Agathe's cruising friend in Port Vila had a good sized skiff ferry here and her stuff.
Shortly after anchoring in Port Vila Vanuatu, Agathe took off on my kayak to check with her legions of friends there.  Within two hours of her arrival, one of Agathe's friends returned with her to transport her stuff while she decided what to do next.  She had multiple offers among her cruising friends there to take her in, bring her back to New Caledonia or join others on passage to Indonesia.... 

Eventually we met Agathe again when she returned to New Caledonia, where she remains today, about a year later.

There's no doubt in our minds that Agathe has what it takes to beat the odds on any challenges she encounters.  

We are grateful Agathe gave us a chance to pay forward a little of the incredible boat karma we've received from so many other cruisers, current and past, as well as many locals and expats.

I hope you too you get the chance to rescue or at least assist another cruiser in some way shape or form, supporting the caring and vibrant community of those of us who cross oceans great and small.  It is the foreshortening of distance between our hearts rather than the nautical miles we cross that make up the moments we will treasure the longest and most dearly.

Ironically, the whole reason I introduced myself via kayak to our fellow cruisers in Lamen Bay was because I felt incredibly dissed when the three other boats in our prior anchorage socialized away for days without inviting us.  I vowed to not do the same to other nearby cruisers in our future anchorages.  You just never know what happens when you choose to put yourself out there, with a smile and an offer of friendship and assistance.
What next for us?  Who knows?  While this tile stayed aboard s/v Journey when we bought and sold her,
we know our journeys are far from done.
Location Location
This post is a retrospective of our September 5-6 2016 stop in Lamen Bay, Epi, Vanuatu (S14.44.750 E168.18.729),  aboard  s/v Journey, our now former Pearson 365 sailboat.  This is one of many stories left still to tell of our cruising halfway around the world, which ended in February 2017, and was followed by months of navigating Australia by Land Cruiser.  

Now back in the US, we are currently living aboard another boat in Portland, Oregon, aboard a lovely Puget Trawler, Serendipity (N45.47.449 W122.47.189). 
Our current live-aboard life is not without its challenges.  This sign's been up for the "better" part of the last few weeks in our marina.
Here we still are experiencing culture shock greater than we did in the 30 countries we traveled through cruising (part of the reason www.GalleyWenchTales.com posts slowed, along with working full time and the effort that it takes to re-establish when you come back without even a knife, fork or spoon).  Perhaps what makes the US and Portland so strange is we expected life abroad to be different than "home."  However we have changed greatly in the 7 years since we left Portland, and we are not alone in observing Portland has changed even more than we have.  

Up Next
For now, my intent is to continue to fill in some gaps of our grand cruising travels in this blog, interspersed with a bit of what's happening now and answers to questions we're most often asked.  We enjoyed getting out on Serendipity this summer in the Pacific Northwest (more posts in store on that).  We anticipate more cruising and travel in our future, but exactly when, how and where are TBD.  In another week I'll be flying out to Florida to help my Dad and his wife transition into a memory care facility; a reminder of the importance of finding ways to be there for family and the preciousness of life.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fire

Columbia River water, September 5th, 2017, morning after the Eagle Creek fire began.  Jantzen Bay, Portland, Oregon.
A tangerine moon shone eerily through the hazy night sky.  Riding my bicycle home from West Marine Monday eve I was puzzled by debris hitting my eyes.  Yes, I'd heard about the Eagle Creek fire which started earlier that day, was still raging, but it was over 30 miles away.

Water surface, morning after Eagle Creek fire, in an adjacent slip to ours in Jantzen Bay Marina.
Ash on one of the other docks on Hayden Island from the Eagle Creek Fire.
Then again, when Mt. St. Helens blew its volcanic top in 1980, I recall hearing one of my colleagues -- who was in Astoria, over 100 miles away from the explosion --  comment, incredulously, "The ash-filled Columbia River flowed as sluggishly as the Ganges."

Mt. St. Helens forest area; 1980s explosion compared to the same spot in 2013.  Image pilfered from this CBS news story.
While Mt. St. Helen's, the United States most devastating volcanic explosion, will never be the same, visible recovery began before a year was out.  Still in recovery, today the Mt. St. Helens area is teaming with life.  It is different life, yet it is also thriving with biodiversity.

The Columbia Gorge Natural Scenic area is an incredible treasure that drew me to relocate from California to the great Pacific Northwest.  Like so many other Gorge visitors, past and present, this amazing wonder of mighty rivers, bubbling streams, soaring peaks and verdant valleys, stately forests, vigorous ferns and winsome wildflowers holds a place near and dear to my heart. 

Ash highlight the spiderwebs.  The spiders, continuing in their spidery ways, appeared undaunted by the event.
While I grieve the fire and its devastation, it cannot erase my memories.

Reports this morning say the fire is at last beginning to be contained, though over 30,000 acres thus far are affected.

It is bad.   Surely, much of the wildlife was unable to outrun the fire.  Not only are many ancient trees forever gone, we do not yet know how much of the Gorge's scenic beauty is lost.   

There are also many far-reaching effects, including for the first time in its 30 year history, Cycle Oregon was canceled.  What a contrast so shortly after the tourist high brought on by the "Path of Totality" solar eclipse.

Ashes dust the blossoms of the Jim Canton Rose Garden at our marina.
Yet Lt. Damon Simmons, a spokesman for the Oregon State Fire Marshal, explained "The gorge still looks like the gorge.  It's not a wasteland. It's not a blackened, destroyed no-man's land. There are trees everywhere and they look good. That's not to say there isn't damage to some of those trees," he said. "But it's still a beautiful drive through there and it still looks good."

Ash on a boat in our marina.  Due to our covered slip, we were spared some of the Eagle Creek Fire ash.
Is there still a snow of ash falling?  There was yesterday....

One of my marina neighbors in his dust mask.  My throat burned
from the fire.  Others complained of headaches and stomach aches.
Admittedly, I write this from a mountain retreat in Estacada, to get a brief respite from the ash and some of the smoke.  

Later today, I will return home.  When the ash stops falling, I will do a proper clean-up.

Before long, I will return to the Gorge, to those areas that allow it.  The Gorge will need our loving support more than ever.  More than ever, I regret not making it further up to my beloved Gorge sooner, since returning to the area.  Several times we'd planned it, turning around just before Multnomah Falls.






A diligent neighbor washing ash off his trawler.   I will follow his suit when the ash stops falling.
Consider this a reminder that change is the only constant we can count on.  Do not put off seeing the natural wonders at your doorstep, and beyond.  Capture those images and experiences in your hearts and with your cameras and your words.  You never know what it will look like tomorrow.

At the same time, I am hoping some good will come of this disaster.  That controlled burns become more actively used to prevent fires like the Eagle Creek fire from reaching the proportions it has.  That together we can join the efforts assisting with recovery (note:  an update will be posted linking to donation-accepting organizations most effective and efficient in that regard).

More than anything, I hope that new life will blossom, that otherwise would not have.

Even this iPhone image reveals how terrible Portland's air quality's become as a result if the Eagle Creek fire.  Jantzen Bay Marina.

Location Location
We are currently docked in Portland, Oregon (N45.47.449 W122.47.189), living aboard a new-to-us Puget Trawler we call Serendipity.

Up Next
While there are still many GalleyWenchTales to tell of our journeys, we're still settling into our new home.  New adventures await, too. Meanwhile, sometimes the here-and-now is dramatic enough -- like the Eagle Creek Fire and Total Solar Eclipse -- those stories take precedence over our sailing sagas.