I am in the thick, green, wet and sparkly Maine woods. My writing station set up with tea, breakfast, and Merlin bird app, to help identify my singing neighbors hidden all around me. I’ve showered, laundered, and the world has almost stopped rocking. After 600 miles more or less, I’m off the boat. All is good.
No—I haven’t jumped ship from any more calamities. Kip and Brad, the last of our crew, are headed up to Vinalhaven late this eve. I jumped off yesterday in Portland to pick up my granddaughter Jinny, who arrives this weekend. I’m staying at a friend’s cabin while he’s away, so I have the place gloriously to myself. And by coincidence, pals from Vieques live five minutes away, just a bend or two down river.
To just sit and be, quiet and still; alone feels like a dreamy gift after seven days with sometimes five of us on board. This last half of the trip — roughly 270-some miles from Long Island Sound through Cape Cod, and up to Maine was really great. The weather was wonderful; the crew, experienced, motley and fun; we’re more comfortable with the boat, and have worked out a lot of the kinks. We’ve learned the boat, like any baby, needs a little burping to get the air out of her system every morning, just as soon as we’ve let go of the moorage the engine dies. Now, instead of panicking and swearing, we know the routine. Kip and Brad have it down. Something they did l last night trapped air in there somewhere… But now, before we careen into one of the neighboring lobster boats or stunning sailboats, she’s burped, and we’re on our way. We’ve sailed a lot, motored a lot, motor-sailed a lot, and had a heck of a lot of fun and adventure. With almost/maybe/roughly 600 miles total it’s a lot of everything under our belts.
The whole journey, from Annapolis north was somehow “bigger” than I anticipated. Not just longer but more to take in and learn from. Everything about the boat of course, and re-learning sailing basics (I’m sure the men would laugh at the word learn there) — I’d anticipated that. But I feel like I saw and learned more about this part of America than I had really thought about beforehand. I now have a sense of what “The Eastern Seaboard”, or at least that little coastal slice of it, is all about. It’s such a wonderful, unique perspective to see the edge of something so large, the edge of this continent that has become a country, that has been divided into states, and learn firsthand how rivers and bays and sounds, even the tides and currents help define all of that, and the ensuing cultures, communities and economies. Sitting here I just looked up the definition of it…
“… the Eastern Seaboard connotes the coastal settlements from Boston to Philadelphia, an area of heavy urbanization, in which are islands of great poverty and conspicuous wealth, business and financial centres, major educational institutions, and a high level of social and cultural sophistication.”
Along that we’ve tied to ragtag old docks that we weren’t sure would hold us one night, been given neighborly mooring balls, and pirated one or two others. We’ve anchored, heck we’ve been towed by the Coasties, and turned down the opportunity to spend $600 a night just to park our boat in the luxury of Newport Rhode Island and some of the most beautiful sailboats ever. Bad weather kept us there for two nights so we were able to wander the historic town and see the crazyass mansions of the Gilded Age. How perfectly appropriate for today and this new second coming of such.
In both the first half of the trip and the second, we were sailing and mooring and hanging out during national, somewhat patriotic holiday weekends. So lots of flag waving — from yachtsmen and fishermen, and mansions — both Mc and real. We’ve met lots of wonderful people helpful and friendly, and also witnessed a fair amount of not quite hostility, but edge. Sadly lots of Trump flags still fly. Maybe that’s why I decorated ours with a peace sign to fly for the fourth. I want to be able to love my country but somehow felt it was important for me to demonstrate that I’m certainly not part of that…
Oh well didn’t mean to get off into politics. It’s just that it’s sadly there. You can feel the political divide. You can learn to work around it. From my time in various Latin worlds I am learning to greet everyone I pass with a hello and eye contact — sometimes it’s returned with a smile, sometimes it’s not. I try.
Another interesting, unanticipated part of the trip was experiencing what it is to be the only female on a boat with four men. Funny a good handful of pals warned me that it might be hard. I sort of laughed it off but the truth is it was sort of more challenging than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I love/like/admire each and every one of the guys I was with — but that business of Mars and Venus. Wow it’s true. Even truer than I knew.I kept wondering if it might be challenging in reverse, how different the conversation would likely be. I’m not complaining — I’m just saying I am grateful to be here in the quiet of this morning and not listening to anyone talk about gear or equipment of any kind. I actually have a lot of jumbled feelings about all this and I would like to write seriously about it I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sort it all out. The bottom line is our genders really are different. I don’t know anything about fluidity and I hope I’m not offending anyone by making these observations that might seem to stereotype…
I also learned from Kip the magic beauty of sailing at night. He’s always told me it was one of his favorite things. Now I get it. We only had a sliver of a moon, so we had jet black star studded skies. But it was the fourth so we also had fireworks for pretty much the entire Massachusetts coast. I’m talking Plymouth as in where the pilgrims landed. And here we are celebrating our country’s birthday. Dozens of communities lighting up the horizon from miles offshore.
I only wish I’d learned, the biggest lesson but I think that might take a while. I’d love to learn from Kip how to handle virtually anything that’s thrown in front of him with calm and clarity, and of course humor. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stay as steady, but it is a rare and wonderful thing. It keeps me feeling safe and happy. I know we are on course and if not, we will get there.
The boat should arrive to its new home in a cove on Vinalhaven late tonight. I’m sad not to be there for that but I am equally happy to be here. It is as they say, all good. Feel so goddamn good to know we did it, or we’re doing it.
Truth is, as fun as this adventure has been, and as strong as those lines are that hold us to the docks or the moorings or the anchors, none of those lines and fancy knots (that I will likely never get right) are as strong as the love and connection to family and friends. Ha! I’m crying. For me the whole goal of writing is to to convey my thoughts and elicit emotions. So this feels good.
Thanks for being there as I unpack, and wind my way.
For past adventures, LA FINCA Love, Loss, and Laundry on a Tiny Puerto Rican Island