Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Take to the Seas?

Hello, newcomers! Welcome to my blog about travels down the coast and to the Bahamas in a good ‘ol boat named Echo II.

A good ol’ boat, according to my salty—er, that is, experienced—sailing partner Pope, is an historic hole in the water into which you pour new money. On the other hand, he swears that newer, more modern boats have similar abilities to suck your accounts dry.

If you have a self-trained handyman/mechanic on board, like I do, the expense is slightly less significant than the blood (literally), sweat, tears, time, and energy poured into repairs and maintenance. Pope has learned diesel mechanics and plumbing; replaced the fuel and water lines; rewired the 12-volt circuits; cut his hand open on a hose clamp; and sprained his ankle on the dock.
I sewed custom pillows and blankets, created mosquito screens, and packed a household into 100 square feet. Every night, I recreate the bed, under which we store items used during the day, and  unpack and repack the galley (kitchen) when we start and stop.
We both work on sails and dock lines and haul anchors.
You’re probably wondering, why would anyone want to live on a boat and put up with all that work? Not to mention the risk of falling overboard or breaking down offshore. 

Pope’s answer: meet new people, see new places, have an easy-going lifestyle, take lots of naps. (In between boat repairs.)

Amber’s answer: You can go to places accessible only by water. My first ride in a sailboat was across Chesapeake Bay. As a former backpacker, I immediately understood the value of getting away from traffic jams. When we chartered a boat in the British Virgin Islands a few years later, I was sold-- at least on the concept of sailing to tropical islands, sipping rum cocktails, and meeting up with other sailors at tiki bars.

Of course, the reality is not quite as romantic. Yes, those photos show attractive places to which we've sailed. However, there is no air conditioning, and the mosquitoes come on board at dusk. There’s a good reason why those beautiful islands with white sand beaches are deserted: no-see-ums and sand fleas. My legs are covered with bruises from lifelines and ladders. The engine balks when you need it most, and leaks antifreeze or diesel fuel at other times. The head (toilet) malfunctions and backs up. The boat leaks…in multiple places that so far have proved impossible to track down.

Crisis is a constant companion. In between, we meet people and see places accessible only by water. The romance is tempered by hard work.

That’s my story, anyway.

Pope sees it differently: The same trips consist mostly of sunrises and sunsets and idyllic roaming around attractive islands. In between, there are a few challenges that allow him to test his ability to spear the beast.

Together, the pessimist and the optimist are heading south for several months on an old boat, living in a confined space. We will try to accommodate--and appreciate--each other's perspectives and enjoy the ride. Stay tuned to this space for the fun and foibles of our long journey.
P.S. I've been asked how to post comments on this blog and receive a notification when I have posted something. My limited understanding is that you have to download and use Google Chrome. I invite you to check in periodically, watch my Facebook page, and email comments to me, via my home email or the one connected to this blog (see profile), and I'll consider making the comments public.

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