It's now 2019: The economy is booming, boats are getting bigger, the boat fixers are so busy it's hard to get them to call you back, and the marinas are packed. I guess we miss the easygoing days of the better than average "good" economy, however... we tentatively adjust.
It's been more than a decade since we left Tennessee and we've covered a lot of water since those early days. One of the things that has become apparent after all these years is, (this may be disappointing to some), our boating lifestyle is never glamorous and rarely exciting, but it is the life we chose and for the most part it's exactly what we dreamed of. No, it's not for everyone, but it is for us - it's in our DNA and not an item on a list of things to do before we can't.
Our boating habits have evolved over time, as has our boat. No longer full time liveaboards, we have a home in Jupiter, FL. (Mel and I finally asked the question, "wanna live here?", one time too many.) We love our little beach house and the simple life we share with our dogs, nevertheless 90% of our time is devoted to boats/marinas, and still, 3 to 6 months a year is spent aboard.
Georgetown, SCOur M-O
For us, a good boat trip is to comfortably motor around till we stumble on an out of the way place that's interesting, but not too crowded, and become acquainted with the local culture.
That's the beauty of this boating thing; home is where the boat is.
Last year we spent 6 weeks in little Georgetown, SC and had a nice time, however, I don't think we would've felt that way 10 years ago. Georgetown's very calm and tranquil. At this point in our life, tranquility's a blast.
The AbacosYears back, The Abacos, Elbow Cay specifically, was home for a while. We once tied up at Sea Spray Marina thinking we'd stay a week and 2 months later we finally left.
That year, the late spring winds, as they often do, blew hard and incessantly into the summer months. The weather kept us tethered to the dock, however that didn't stop us from making the best of things.
Mel and I made lasting friendships during that long blow that have stood the test of time and in retrospect, if it weren't for those unfavorable conditions, none of us would've ever have taken the time to get to know each other.
During that, "Whisky Wind" (as Junior Maynard, the Dock Master, called it), no matter what kind of boat you owned or what your socioeconomic status was, we all had a part in each other's good time: everyone dressed similarly, ate the same food, drank the same booze; we were all trapped in paradise together, and life was good..
Every Saturday night was Junkanoo and a party.
Every Sunday morning was breakfast and headache medication via Brenda's Bloodies.
Every Sunday morning was breakfast and headache medication via Brenda's Bloodies.
Once, we spent 4 months at Compass Cay in the Exumas. The local culture around the Pipe Creek area was a trip and we were welcomed to be honorary members of the Rolle family.
After a while, our stores of food and drink were depleted and we learned to get by as the out-island folk do. The boys would bring us fresh fish and Tucker taught me how to waste not. "Clean the head, that's the best part", he'd say. Tuck was right, fresh fish head made an excellent stew.
Following a nice Bahamian lady's instructions, a few onions, potatoes, lady peppers, local thyme, a big clean Grouper head, thrown together and slow cooked in a big pot fed us all for 3 days. Spider crab, lobster, conch - as soon it was known we would cook, things just showed up on the boat and became dinner for those who wanted it.
Maybe it was the beautiful surroundings, possibly the island vibe, whatever, that long stay was truly a wonderful experience. This is when we first experienced the zen of, "being" or — how to exist in the islands and not go crazy. It took us a while, but eventually, we settled into island think. Need food? Go fish, or conch. Don't worry about the small things, don't get too excited, find some shade with a good breeze, and in between naps, watch the tide roll in and out, and the tourist come and go.
It was quite interesting sitting in the shade of Compass' overhang, watching the many boats excitedly running up and down the Exuma chain, picking up guests at Staniel Cay, anchoring here and there, then eventually coming back to Compass asking for shelter from the frequent blows.
There was work done, but it took a much longer than it would have taken in the states. And, no one cared. Soon it becomes apparent, the aim is to make the best of the moment.
We'd take our little Albury to visit the other islands and do what shopping we could, and soon, Mel and I became acquainted with some remarkable private island dwellers. They too were happy to have fresh company to get to know.
The Pickle Barrel Houses on Wild Tamarind Cay
Running up and down Pipe Creek everyday was like living in a dream. Sometimes I'd just stop the Albury and take in the view, absorb every shade of blue imaginable. I remember thinking how lucky we were to be experiencing all of this, and being part of it.
Late summer, with all the tourist gone, the place is truly amazing.
All of this became the norm and I grew comfortable running the little-known routes through the rocks and shallows; understanding which run to take at different tide levels, just like the natives. Every rocky point, every shoal, the water color, it all meant something, like abstruse road signs, and you'd better pay attention to the details or you'd quickly end up high and dry, or worse.
Hurricane Sandy - Over Yonder Cay
This was a magical time for us, however the spell was broken by September and the peak of hurricane season. It became apparent that it was time for us to move on and we left just days before Hurricane Sandy blew hard across the Exuma chain.
That four months was an unforgettable experience and we still like to go back and fall back into that life on occasion, but we understand, that's not our world, it's there's, and we're thankful they share it with us. We'll not wear out our welcome.
The Chesapeake Bay
A bit like the panhandle of Florida, the food is outstanding. Think local crabs and oysters prepared so many ways.
Cantler's Riverside Inn
We really like being around the folks on the Chesapeake. For the most part, they're an authentic bunch; they love the Bay and everything about it. We've made many wonderful relationships there over the years and we always enjoy going back
Wherever we go
We feel fortunate to be able to take our time, enjoy extended stays, and become acquainted with many marinas and port towns along our way. From Tennessee to Nassau, too many places to list; some small little out of the way places, others in big cities, but in all our travels the one thing we've always found to be true: No matter where you go, there you are. (credit either Confucius or Buckaroo Banzai)
If one takes the time to observe their surroundings with a curious eye, there's almost always something unique and compelling to be found. Maybe a funky little restaurant that serves up the best shrimp and grits, like the Beaufort Cafe, sometimes it's a good vibe and the enigmatic "being" thing takes over, think Compass Cay or Solomons. It can be the chaos of an urban harbor like Nassau or Ft Lauderdale, or the stillness of Georgetown up the Sassafras River, but if you're experiencing life from a boat, it's probably all good.
"And remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
We also love this verse from "The Boxer" — we too look for those places.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quartersLie, la lie
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know
So with all that said, I conclude with this visual...
At the end of a long day, there are few things more comfortable than following an old track line into a peaceful harbor and tying up as the sun sets.
What an awesome and inspiring article! We are currently Nordy shopping and would love to follow in your footsteps. So many people have been telling us the Norhavns draw too much water for the Bahamas but you are proof that is false. Do you have a recommended cruising itinerary or charted course of your travels you could post? There certainly is different care involved in a deeper draft boat but it also comes with many benefits.ReplyDelete