Monday, November 25, 2013

It's that time...

Time to hunker down. Time to play in the leaves. Time to store stock in the freezer and hide potatoes in the bilge. Time to bake in the evenings for the extra warmth. Time to call the shrink wrap people. Time to air out our warm clothes. Time to slow down. Time to reflect and be grateful.

Time to start tracking airfare sales to Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last Dance

This is the time of year when we are never sure which time out on the boat will be our last time for the year. Spring seems light years away, and we're trying to squeeze the last drop of autumn goodness before retreating into our winter semi-hibernation. We have our fleece and woolens and hats on tight, but we're also barefoot and wearing sunglasses. The wind is blustery but the sun still warm and the Chesapeake is blissfully quiet.

We aren't wandering too far from home, as our nighttime nav lights are busted and it's too cold to spend the night on the hook without a heater. Most recently we just meandered up a local river while roasting a turkey in the oven to stay warm. We dropped the anchor for turkey lunch in a quiet little cove surrounded by fall colors.

Naia was so thrilled to be underway, she didn't care about having to be bundled up or only getting our for a few hours. She lights up when she sees we're untying.

It always seems so perfect, and I always wish fall could last until late April. I realized the other day that part of my sour outlook on winter is because it's such a dramatic shift in our rhythm and lifestyle. Normally we live an outside life, and we go in when we need something. We need food, we need to sleep, we need clean towels or sunscreen. And then suddenly we are living inside and going out just because we need that breath of fresh air. We scurry out like little squirrels emerging from our tree hole. We layer up and have a walk or a time at the park, but then after the required outing time, we scurry back in, noses pressed against the glass, wishing for long warm days again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

bridge games

Bridges and sailboats don't mix. Part of what makes the trip down the ICW so grueling is the 8 jillion bridges of every shape and size you need to pass under, through and around. When you sail the open ocean or the Chesapeake Bay, you never think about it. Head down a river though and all of the sudden you're faced with this.

Here on the lovely Severn River on the Chesapeake there are two bridges to pass under before really getting into the river. And passing under means making sure your mast can clear the center bridge span. Every year you read of some boat getting dismasted under a bridge. Either they tried for a side span, didn't check the charts, miscalculated their mast height, or literally fell asleep at the wheel.

A prudent sailor never, EVER passed under a bridge without consulting a chart to confirm the clearance height. And then you need to consider the tidal range as well depending on how many feet you might have to spare from the tip of your mast and the instruments that perch on top of her, to the steel and stone underside of a bridge.

But as you approach you begin to fall victim to the mind game of perception. Hmmmmmmm....

Everyone is watching carefully. Oooooo, a bridge. Hmmmm, is our mast growing or is that bridge shrinking?
"Mama, dat don't look right."

And then the big psyche out. We're gonna HIT!!!!!!!!!!!! (remember, boats don't have breaks...)

You open one eye and look up and wonder why you don't hear a crash and a scrape. Oh, wait we cleared. Yes of course we cleared. It's a 75 foot bridge and our mast is 63 feet. Exhale.

Even though I know, it gets me every time.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


This is the time of year where I feel totally drunk on fall in the best kind of way. It's that part where everything is vibrant and beautiful and awe inspiring and optimistic. It's "I love you man!"

It's that part where you literally have to pull your car over to take a few photos because it's that amazing (and even then the photos are never as breathtaking as what you just experienced.)

It's that part where we stop to collect leaves, knowing full well we can't keep them. Their color, their waxy perfection is so transient. Like the first lines of a Robert Frost poem, I know in my heart I can't keep it, but they somehow come home with us anyhow, scooped up in little hands with hopeful hearts.

It's that part where you think the dazzling day is done. You think it's last call and you button up your sweater and start to head inside and then THIS happens.

I start taking photos so rapidly, so intently knowing it is changing by the minute, fading and sinking. I am so inside the image I fail to see there are three other people who have perched themselves around the marina, cameras in hand for the same reason. We're all toasting this party we call autumn on the east coast.

And now I sit in the cool, dark, long night looking at my photographs from the wild week of color and light, and I close my eyes and secretly hope that the hangover come December (and January, and February) won't hurt as badly as years past.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Boat Trick-or-Treating

We are so lucky to have a great neighborhood at our marina. Not just the boats, but the little area around our marina is wonderful as well. We are tucked in to a dead end off of another dead end, and there are just a handful of kids back here. It's perfect for Halloween because all of the kids usually trick-or-treat together in a group, and everyone knows to expect them. Zach actually left a funny sign up in the laundry room this year, letting everyone know that the kids would be coming around on Halloween and exactly what time too. Wish I had snapped a picture of it!

For a few days before Halloween, treats were being left on our boat. Homemade brownies and bags of candy.

Because these are the only kids in the neighborhood, they get spoiled. rotten. Most boats don't just hand out a piece or two of candy, they hand out bags and handfuls of candy. The kids walk boat to boat, and know where to go because there are lights on or more than likely someone waiting with a big smile in the cockpit.

(SuperJen's daughter A, above as a mermaid)

 (2012 trick-or-treating gang, above and below.)

My trick is to keep a bag of slightly less junkie junk foods along for the walk. I stuff honey sticks, organic lollipops, stickers, whistles, play dough, baggies of popcorn, etc. As Naia's bag filled up with candy bars and such, I swap it out for the other treats. Then she feels like she is part of the big kid action without a struggle over candy she's not ready for yet. I also keep her in a life jacket. I went back and forth on this, but decided it was better to cover up her costume for safety, than worry fading daylight on the thin rickety finger piers next to each boat with cold water below.

After the boats, we walk around the block to the handful of houses around the marina and the same goody bags and armloads of candy are waiting for the kids. If you saw their haul, you'd think they hit a big city neighborhood when in fact they only go to about 10 places. By then it's dark, and chilly. The kids are happy, the parents are tired, and Halloween is coming to an end for another year.

I so love this time of year. I love seeing their little imaginations take flight, seeing the pure joy, and knowing that the night will be all about them. This year both kids had a firm idea about what they wanted to dress up as. Zach was the cutest Harry Potter ever!

And Naia was stuck. She either wanted either be a ghost, a hunter, or a skeleton. And NOT a nice, friendly skeleton mama... a mean SCARY skeleton. And so here she is, so very mean and scary.


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