Tuesday, December 30, 2014

End of Another Year

Ferry bums
I never quite know how to wrap up the end of a year. Most of what I do not remember I do not want to remember, and some of what I do remember, I do not want to remember. For this year, the mark of an ending may be changing the name of this blog to Life Near the Water. More on that later. All in all, this was a good year, but it had more than its share of devastating changes locally.

No doubt the biggest change, a good one, for us personally was our move from the boat to a house on land (thus the change in name of the blog). We now live in a jolly green (two shades of green) Deltec that Cam named Jabba (the Hut). We made a mad dash (less than 48 hours from start to finish ) to the mountains and retrieved our stuff from storage where it had languished for almost five years. Most everything survived in good condition, and it is delightful to see things we, in some cases, had forgotten we kept. 

We also hosted our Annual Christmas Open House for the first time in five years. It has always been a gathering of friends, and this year it was a gathering of our newer friends met since we moved onto the boat.

We still have Wild Haggis, and we hope that not living on her will make it easier to take her out -- fewer household things to secure before leaping through waves.

We had been off the boat only a couple of weeks when a friend left a cryptic voicemail asking me to call him (he lives in the mountains, but has a boat on our dock) so that he could "bring me up to date." I called and learned that LZ Sea Dogs, his boat with another friend, burned and sank. The cause remains unknown, but likely resulted from a short in the shore power connection. The salvors said they had never seen a burned boat that left less debris. Burned, all burned and melted and the keel sunken deep into the mud.

Cutting a shroud

Sunken bow

Melted boom at gooseneck

Tud and Bill in shock

All that is left of a forty foot sloop

It was a shock, the more so because it could happen to any of us without notice or warning. But a boat is still a thing. It is the loss of memories that cuts more deeply. And yet, the bigger shocks, the most emotionally demanding, are the detours in life that touch, or collide with, us as people -- accident and terminal illness. Friends and family have had more of both this year than usual. It comes with age to some degree, but that makes it no easier to shoulder.

So it goes. The days pile into weeks and months until another year of four seasons has slipped away and an irretrievable piece of life with it. We move ahead. We change. The world changes around us. We cling to friends and loved ones and mourn the pain of those who suffer.

May your new year be the best ever.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

                                                                                                                                                                   ― Heraclitus

Saturday, October 25, 2014


A week ago, Hale Kai , Kindred Spirit, and a transient red trimaran all departed – 1,2,3 -- the same morning southward ahead of strong northerly winds, islands bound. It is John’s maiden voyage and Bill’s seventeenth.

This week, the wandering crew of Ullr returned, stopping at their favorite marina on their way south from summer in Maine. Our dear friends on Celebration heaved to at Town Dock (vacant for the first time in weeks) for several hours to catch up, to enjoy an evening of M&M’s Music Night to which they introduced us almost five years ago,  and to bid us farewell. They have sold the boat after ten years living aboard her and  are delivering her to the new owners in Florida. Over the holiday season, they will visit family and friends before joining another couple for a two and a half year circumnavigation as part of a Jimmy Cornell rally.  

Boats stop and tie up. Crews rise soon after the chill of autumn dawn evaporates with the fog, and they leave. Friendly conversations are brief. There is too little time to spark lasting friendships.

My Dream escaped for some quiet time and fishing in South River. Chet is going to crew with Mark to take Katkandu to Florida; he thinks they will embark next week.

Days shrink and night are cold. October is nearly gone, but the surrounding pine forest boasts no jubilant colors like the maples, oaks and poplars in the mountains.

The blues move south like the sailors, inciting a shark feeding frenzy off Cape Lookout.  Sharks going south get hungry too.

But our cove is barren of fish because commercial gill netters sweep it clear every week, hauling a hundredweight of fine sea trout, flounder and more. Banned in most states, indiscriminate over-fishing is legal here.

Gill nets kill simply by drowning anything they snare. Gill nets kill without regard to size or species or even edibility. Whatever the gill netter does not want to keep, he discards over the side. Dead.

Rays sometimes become entangled and fight to free themselves, heaving and rolling and fouling the net in the futile hope of freedom. The rays want no part of the net. But the fouled and knotted net angers netters, so they bludgeon the rays as they remove them and toss them aside. Dead. The netters kill the rays as if the rays fouled the net intentionally and as if killing the rays will deter them, which death certainly does.

Meanwhile, recreational fishermen casting with rod and reel for a free meal and a peaceful evening have fewer fish to catch. A line cast into our deserted cove returns only wet.

Autumn is perfect outdoor weather with bright and breezy days and cool to chilly nights; “…the evening is spread out against the sky/Like a patient etherized upon a table.” Autumn mornings wake with warm light and soft mists gliding over the river. “The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,/…made a sudden leap,/ And seeing that it was a soft October night,/Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.”

Time and southbound cruisers pass us by. “I grow old…I grow old…/I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”

I am J-A-P.

Excerpts from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
By T. S. Eliot

Friday, September 19, 2014

Autumn, Maybe

Strange rain squall.

Following a deluge early in the week that left the creeks and farm ditches swollen and spilling from their banks, the winds eased around to the north and now blow happily a cooling breeze. Water temps have begun to drop, and nights are cool enough (and, so far, dry enough) to open the hatches and portholes.

Inside out...outside in.

As did the UK's royal family of Windsor, the heads of Parliament and Scots around the world, we watched with passion the run-up to Scotland Decides, the historic independence vote. Although the vote was No, the Scots had already won when the Prime Minister and other party leaders, panicking over a poll showing that the Yes movement was leading, agreed to devolve more powers to Scotland in advance of the Decision.

Scottish saltire...or M...flying on Wild Haggis

When the sailing film, All is Lost, was released last year, The Old Theatre quickly acquired it. The house was packed...and disappointed. Only a landlubber could have missed the serial follies.

Nonetheless, the failure of All is Lost highlighted the local interest in sailing films. Yes, you would think that obvious. A list of good sailing flicks flowed into TownDock's editor. As a result, The Old Theatre's film committee recognized the opportunity for assured success. Tonight, White Squall will screen as the Friday Flick -- as always, all the free popcorn you can eat.

The surest sign of autumn along the ICW is the beginning of the cruiser migration south. Here, Hale Kai is leaving in a couple of weeks, and Kindred Spirit launches her maiden voyage to the islands mid-October. Katkandu is pondering her departure date and meanwhile enjoying sport runs to the taverns and nightlife of Beaufort.

The C-Brats, a friendly lot, have returned for their annual visit. A C-Dory from upriver in New Bern was enjoying a pleasant run yesterday until it reached the bend of the river at Minnesott Beach. Suddenly, it collided with heavy whitecaps driven by a stiff 15-20 knot northeast wind. The last half of the journey to our cove was rough, but the captain smiled as he recounted the tale.

Fair winds and cool air.

Sailing into a vortex?