Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Final Leg...

Since my last post we have just been trying to soak up every minute of this adventure. Even though we have traveled these same waters on the way down, it is still exciting. There is always something new to see, or a new anchorage to try. Just last night I realized how close we are to getting back to NJ. Although we are still in NC, we technically could be home in just over a week. It depends on the weather, but the Capt’n is considering heading on the outside from Norfolk and doing an overnight straight to Cape May. The first Mate is not so excited about this idea! Hopefully we will still head up the Chesapeake, but again everything depends on the weather.

We’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on our journey, trying to think of a few things that we will miss. Well, a “few” turned into a whole bunch, and here is just some of the ones we will miss the most:

·          Links – Links has been our “Buddy Boat” since October, when we met in the Dismal Swamp. Tim and Jill have been a huge part of our trip. Since they have the same exact boat, they have been a wealth of information and our Gemini mentors. More importantly though, they have become incredible friends that we are going to have a very hard time leaving in a few days. Sometimes you meet people and you just click. We have had such a blast with them! We are definitely gonna miss our adventures with them, our dinners together, our laughter and Farkle!

·         Sunsets – We have been lucky enough to see so many spectacular sunsets. And along with the sunsets, comes the conch horn blow. Tim is the resident conch horn blower, and he’s pretty darn good. (He even won a t-shirt in a contest in Marathon) Granted, occasionally it sounds like a sick cow, but most of the time it’s awesome. Sometimes in a larger anchorage or mooring field you could hear 3 or 4 conch horns at sunset, it’s pretty cool.
·         Meeting interesting people – The cruising community is filled with interesting people. I don’t think there is one cruiser that we have met that we didn’t like. Ok, some are stranger than others, but they would all give you the shirt off their backs. They have all been friendly and super helpful. Can you imagine walking down the street and walking up to a house you didn’t know to knock on the door and introduce yourself? But, that’s the way of life with the cruisers. People dinghy up to say hi and exchange boat cards, and before you know it another ding pulls up and you have an impromptu happy hour. Which brings me to my next point…

Vince & Marianne from Bony Boy, Me, Bud & Tim
·         Finding a cheap happy hour – Being on a budget, we don’t go out to eat a lot…almost never. But if we find a cheap happy hour it’s like hitting the jackpot! Our favorite by far was a place in Marathon, Lazy Days. A long dinghy ride, but so worth it!
Tim & Jill, Me & Bud, Beth & John from Island Time @ Lazy Days
·         No schedule – This was a little hard to get used to, but we settled into it quite nicely! It wasn’t long before we didn’t even know what day of the week it was.  Actually the only time we had a schedule was when we had to leave an anchorage…sometimes at the crack of dawn. Which often led to my next favorite…

·         Reflections – The reflections of the boats, trees, etc., on the glass-like water on a calm morning. Just so beautiful and peaceful. Speaking of peaceful…

·         Sailing – Nothing is better than that moment when there’s enough wind to turn off the motor and actually SAIL! You would think that on a sailing trip of over 3300 miles, we would sail a lot, but since we were on the ICW, there’s been a lot of motoring. Any chance we could, we would raise the sails and at least motor-sail. We have been pretty lucky though, and have been able to just turn off the motor and sail quite a bit.

·         Being outside – Whether it was taking our bikes ashore and exploring new towns, or walking the beaches for hours collecting shells, just to be able to enjoy the outdoors during “Winter” has been amazing.
·         Dolphins – Dolphins, Dolphins, Dolphins! Love them! Not to mention all the other wildlife. The manatees, the eagles, the pelicans...can't get enough of 'em!

·         Bare feet – We went months in flip flops and bare feet. Who wouldn’t love that?

·         Stars – The millions of stars you can see, especially from a pitch black anchorage in the middle of nowhere.

·         Sounds – Whether it’s the sound of the water lapping on the hulls at night, or the crackling sound of the shrimp munching on the algae on our boat bottom, it’s relaxing. I now have a hard time with complete silence aboard.

·         Fishing – We fished….a lot! For hours…just fishing from the dinghy. Extremely relaxing, and definitely one of our favorite things to do. Whether we caught anything or not, it was just nice to be out there. We did catch our fair share of fish, but I must admit we did barter for some too!

·         QT – Quality time. This is definitely what we will miss the most. For the past seven months, the most time Bud and I have spent apart is probably about 3 hours. That’s a lot of together time! Surprisingly enough, we have gotten along splendidly. Of course I’m sure we both had our moments of aggravation, but all in all it has been great.
This trip has been our most amazing experience to date, and I hope we are lucky enough to do it again in the future. Of course it’s not all sunshine and palm trees. We have worked very hard along the way. (Contrary to popular belief!) There’s so much behind the scenes that needs to be done constantly. Little things we take for granted while living on land, like having fresh water or stocking up on groceries can sometimes take the better part of a day to accomplish. And a long hot shower is a real treat! But I wouldn’t trade any part of this trip. Actually there’s only 2 little things I won’t miss…crab pots & no-see-ums!
So, I guess we'll be home in a week or two. We are actually really looking forward to it. There's been a lot going on with our families that we have missed, and of course we need to get back to hopefully refill our "cruising kitty"!