Monday, October 26, 2015

A year later...

It hardly seems feasible that it has been a year since returning home from the Great Loop.

When I came home a year ago, I was very excited about getting back to work with all my favorite people in Nogales.  My clinic director called me, ten miles south of crossing my wake,  telling me "enough was enough", they needed me back at work.  I returned to Arizona, only to find that the chief operating officer had different ideas on how the Nogales clinic would be running after my clinic director retired, the following February.  She wanted interchangeable nurse practitioners, who were willing to work in any and all of their clinics at a moment's notice.  Continuity of care was not a line item on their budget.  After three months, I was not rehired.  It was beyond disappointing, as I really missed all the people I had worked with for so many years.

While in Arizona, I was able to reconnect with colleagues and friends, and in February I started working part-time for another company out of Arizona.  After a few months of telecommuting in Arizona, one of my friends found an advertisement for a part-time psychiatric nurse practitioner in Southport.  I started working "in-person" a couple weeks ago; so far I love my new job.

Without work or income when I returned, I decided  to sell Annabelle.  Dock fees, maintenance, and insurance alone would cost at least $500/month.   I shipped her up to Virginia, where she had repairs done at Tidewater Marina, before being sold to a gentleman from Maryland.  (I call him a gentleman, but in reality, he irritated me to no end.)

I miss her very much!  I miss the sunrises and sunsets.  I miss the peacefulness of anchoring out.  I have looked at other boats, but nothing has fit the bill, the way Annabelle did.  I imagine that my next boat will be slightly larger, hopefully for two people instead of one.

I look forward to new adventures, but don't know what they will be.  I dream of going through the canals in Europe and sailing in the Caribbean.  Whatever my next adventure is, I would like it to be with someone.

Many people have asked how I made it back to Southport so quickly.  Tom, from the fast boat No Compromises, got home to Southport a couple months after me, then Mark and Jane arrived three months after Tom.  I had to be very careful on Annabelle, because she was smaller and slower than the other boats.  Also, I was traveling alone.  If the weather was good and the seas were calm, I took advantage of it and went as far as I could go.   I stopped in places I didn't expect, and sometimes bypassed the places I hoped to stop.  I think back to Soloman's Island, hearing all my friends planning a party for that evening, while finding myself on picture perfect, glassy waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  Reluctantly I moved onward towards Annapolis.  I anchored at an island in Lake Michigan, when the marina was full in Charlevoix.  Yet, it was all perfect, in its own way.

A friend suggested I read the book Travels with Charley, by Steinbeck.  I have learned to understand his descriptions about taking a journey. "A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.  We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

When I returned home, and found myself without an income, I floundered and felt like I had no clear direction.  I related the feeling to being in the fog on Lake Ontario, only the opposite.   On Lake Ontario, I couldn't see anything, but my course was clear.  After I returned home, I could see just fine, but had no bearings on where I was going.  My acupuncturist from Arizona, a wise young woman, suggested I be open to other ideas about my future.  She said it was clear I couldn't go backwards, but must move forward;  a different door would open.

In this last year, I have started writing about my journey on the Great Loop.  My plan is to publish a book, a memoir, an easy read, filled with some of the more interesting stories I had on the Loop.  It will not be a travel guide, or a how-to book.  My hope is that it brings the trip to life in a way that anyone can understand, boaters and non-boaters alike.

I have joined a writer's group with inspiring authors.  I have written my first draft and have a long way to go before the book is complete.  I have incredible respect for writers, whose works are written, re-written, edited, revised, and then edited and revised a few more times.  It is more tedious than navigating up the New Jersey Intracoastal waterway, and as time-consuming as preparing for the Loop.

I am no longer floundering, I have found my path forward, and hope all who read this anniversary posting are doing well.   May we all find the path we choose to go down, or at least have enough vision to see the one we have taken.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crossing my Wake

On Friday, October 24th, I crossed my wake. Here is the blog for the last few days of this adventure.

From Amelia Island, I headed off-shore to Jekyll Island. It was a beautiful day, and the temptation to go out into the Atlantic, instead of up the Intracoastal Waterway, was just too strong.  The waters were calm, and it was a peaceful day.  I arrived at Jekyll Island around lunchtime, and spent the afternoon riding my bike.  Offshore, in the Atlantic, it is easy to set the auto pilot to head a course, and relax.  I headed out as the tide was going out, and back in with following seas through  St. Andrew's Sound.  The breakers were fairly steep, so it felt like surfing.

Fishing ship in the shallow waters, near the inlet.
From Jekyll Island, I headed to an anchorage for my second, and last night in Georgia.  I had some birds following my boat for a while, like I have seen them follow fishing boats.

My first stop in South Carolina was Beaufort, after a very long day.  I stayed at Lady's Island Marina, where TJ, the dockmaster, was very helpful and accommodating.  When I called, he said that docking could be tricky with the strong current, but he would help in whatever way he could, including running someone out to my boat to help me.  I replied that I would see how it went as I approached the marina.  I checked out a picture of the marina on my iPad, then I explained my plan for docking to him.  I headed up into the current and crabbed my boat into the fairway sideways.  Docking went smoothly, and it was good to know that he was ready and available for anything I might need.  The following morning, he came down to my boat and helped with my lines, even though I left before they opened.

Lady's Island Marina

Sunset from Lady's Island Marina
My next stop was Charleston!  Another beautiful day, and another great day to go off shore.  As I headed to Charleston, I passed Folly Beach, where I purchased my boat, Annabelle, a couple years ago.  Although, I didn't technically cross my wake, I felt I had come full circle.
The lighthouse at the north end of Folly Beach
Although I have been through Charleston, I had never really taken time to be a tourist in Charleston.  I stayed at Charleston Harbor Marina at Patriot's Point, where I have friends, Tina and Doug.  I enjoyed having dinner with them, and Doug took me in the morning over to Downtown Charleston.  Throughout the night and into the morning, we had howling winds.  When I woke up, I quickly realized the current and winds would be too strong for my boat to leave the dock.  In the early afternoon, when we came back from downtown, the tide was slack and the winds had subsided.  I had already paid for my second night, but decided to take my opportunity to leave my slip and head north.  Almost Home!!!!  Three hours by car, but three days by boat!

I had almost four hours to head up the ICW, where I found an anchorage spot.  I cut it close, anchoring just as the sun was setting.  Two other sailboats were already in the anchorage.  The following morning as the sun came up, I was headed north and the two sailboats headed south.
Anchorage at Graham Creek
From the anchorage, it was a long day north to Myrtle Beach.  I could not make it as far as the famous Barefoot Landing Marina before dark.  I called around 4:45 p.m. to Grand Dunes Marina, asking if I could tie up to their fuel dock after they closed.  It turned out to be an easy place to tie up, the transient dock is an extension of their fuel dock.  I pulled in at dusk, which gave me enough time to rinse off my boat, before having dinner, on my last night.

Leaving at dawn, my favorite part of the day, I headed home to Southport!

Grand Dunes Bridge in Myrtle Beach, at sunrise.
As I approached Southport, Towboat John brought my son, Dean, to my boat, so he could be with me as I crossed my wake.  He boarded just south of town.  Southport Marina was not able to accommodate my boat, so we headed a couple miles further to Deep Point Marina.  We passed my neighborhood pier, where Glen and Beth took pictures, and headed to my new slip.  At the marina, I was welcomed home!  Officially, a Gold Looper!!!!

Random Thoughts:
People say, "Wow, you went fast!"
... Me and the older guy on the bike were going about the same speed. I only traveled on days, which I felt the weather and sea conditions would be good.  There were many days spent in towns along the way, waiting for a good weather window.
The older dude on his bike, and me trying to catch up to take his picture!

"You are so brave to have done this yourself."
... Brave is doing it with someone else!  I have been doing things on my own for over twenty years, I have it down.  Being with someone else is something I need to work on, and takes much more courage.

"Did you get lonely?"
... I guess I had my moments, but they were few and far between.  I had a lot of support, both on the water and off.  For the most part, this journey was done with other people, who share a similar passion.  There were times it was shared with people I met along the way. I am grateful for the handful of people who came on my boat during any part of this trip including my Mom (in New Jersey), my son (from and to Southport) , Joie (Annapolis), Jim (Waterford), Michael (Canajoharie) , Mike (borrowed from Shiver me Timbers) , random guy at the Big Chute Railroad Lock, Jim (Bluenoser), and Lolly (Knot So Fast).  Of course, I can't even begin to list all the people I met along the way, who gave a helping hand, advice and friendship.

"You should have a gun on your boat!  What will you do for safety?"
...  I didn't stay in places where I didn't feel comfortable.  I know I can be naive, but I also listen to my gut instinct.  Steve, from Atla, once texted me, "Tanya, are you intentionally avoiding the free places?"  I texted back, "Yes, sometimes I am."  Other people urged me to have mace or wasp spray.  I had a dive knife, which could have served many purposes.  Gratefully, I never needed it for anything.  Not only did I feel safe, I generally felt I was around people who were watching out for me and protective of me.

"It doesn't seem like you could have stopped anywhere along the way."
... There are many places I didn't stop, and certainly, I didn't stop at all the many places people recommended or that I had thought about going.  I found it easier to be flexible.  There were some great little towns, which weren't on my list of places to go, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  There were small marinas, which had great people.  It was all good!  In any given day, I might have picked a few options on places to stay.  I have always tried to have a plan A, B, C... etc... and sometimes the entire plan gets scratched.  There were places I stayed one night, and places I stayed a few days.

"What did you eat?"
... a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  I also ate in restaurants, cooked on my boat, and generally ate the same kinds of food I would have on land.  The most different food I ate, was the gator empanada.  One of the most interesting restaurants was Henry's Fish House, up near Perry Sound, where the only parking was for boats and seaplanes.  If you ask where the best butter tarts are, I would tell you Campbellford, Ontario.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Heading Home

Tonight, I am at Amelia Island Yacht Basin. I will be out of Florida tomorrow, and heading up into Georgia.  I expect to be home in just over a week, weather permitting.

After I left the Vero Beach Mooring field, I had some electronic issues.  My chartplotter was turning itself off, and my voltage meter was reading a low voltage of 11, when it should have been reading over 12.  The engine should have been keeping the batteries charged.  I was worried about my alternator, so I headed to Loggerhead Marina, on the north side of Vero Beach.  I pulled into Loggerhead at 7:45 a.m. and was met by great staff, who were very accommodating.  I checked my alternator belt and tightened it.  I checked my batteries, and they were all good, with plenty of voltage.  One battery terminal had some corrosion, which I cleaned off.  Then, everything seemed to work well. It was a good day, no problems with the alternator!  I made the best of the situation, and enjoyed the company of a few Canadian boaters, who were on the same dock, preparing their boats for the Bahamas.

After my relaxing day at Loggerhead, I headed to Daytona Beach.  I realized I would be there for a couple day due to a storm coming in.  I stayed in Daytona Beach for three nights, waiting for the rain and winds to subside.  I arrived in Daytona just before Biketoberfest.  Basically, it is the fall version of Bike Week in Daytona.  Harleys line the streets.  One of the guys who worked at the marina, offered to show me around town on his day off.  He took me to the biker areas and I tried to understand the whole biker thing, but wasn't able to.  In the end, I just wanted to get back to my sweet boat.
Daytime, one day before Biketoberfest started, you can imagine what it looks like after dark!
 As I was approaching St. Augustine, I noticed an older man, John, standing on the hull of his capsized sunfish sailboat.  He was drifting down the river.  I pulled alongside of him, and we managed to get his sailboat tied up to my boat.  We used my crane to pull his sailboat upright.  He lost his centerboard in the process, but otherwise, was not hurt.  I towed him to the other side of the river, where he lives on an old trawler, in the marshes.
John has boarded Annabelle, and we have a good line on his sailboat to help turn it over.

The mast is out of the water!

John didn't lose his life jacket, it was tied to the boat.

John, paddling back to his trawler in the marsh.
Here are a some pictures I took along the way:

Pirate ship for tourists at St. Augustine

St. Augustine Fort

Bald eagle flying from ICW channel marker
Marshes near Amelia Island