Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Catching up with the wind

Ummm.... wow. Over six months. Part of me just wants to pick up where my life is now and ignore the last six months but... a lot happened. First of all: Our vacation in the spring to the Virgin Islands on a sailboat with our parents. Yeah. A once-in-a-lifer.

So, in no order whatsoever, I am going to list some of the many memories. Hopefully, I'll never forget them. But this life is a vapor and I can't even remember what I had for breakfast on Tuesday... so.

We flew out of Boston on March 28th with Jim's parents, Ted and Meryl. We arrived in St. Thomas and started sweating, clambered into a taxi van which zoomed and weaved through narrow, winding roads all on the LEFT side of the road, arrived at our sailboat the 'Jema Joy,' changed into shorts and learned about our home for the next week. Shortly after, my parents arrived, looking like I'm sure I did: excited and nervous. You see, the Freemans are the sailors. The Porters are not. I had only sailed with Jim and his parents on a short little afternoon trip in Maryland once. My parents had never sailed. And we were about to set sail for eight days on a 45-foot boat. The excitement was definitely higher on the scale, but the apprehension was still there.

A lot of people raised there eyebrows when I told them what we were doing and who was going with us. But, as I'm sure a lot of you know, our parents were friends before we were born. I get along with my in-laws and Jim gets along with his. Now that the fact that we love each other is all out in the open, I will continue.

I wish I had the patience to go through each day chronologically and list every bay we moored in. My two mothers did a wonderful job of keeping journals and my mother-in-law typed it up and shared it with us... but I'm not going to do exactly that here. I'm sorry, Moms, if that disappoints you.

We slept the first night in the marina and sailed out the next day. Unfortunately, my mom was seasick pretty quickly. It's kind of a damper on the joy of the vacation when you're worried that one of your party is going to be nauseated for the next eight days. That makes it sound like she was being selfish. Believe me... the color of her face was not something we were wishing we had. My dad fought it off with carbonated beverages and belches. Thankfully, on the second day of sailing, with the help of some medicine, it was easier. By the third day of sailing, she was steady-stomached.

For every night, the guys would decide where we would stay (there was a really cool, chart in the boat that showed us where we were allowed to anchor or moor in various bays around the various islands). I didn't know this, so: Mooring is when there is a floating ball to tie up to. This ball has an anchor on it that has been specifically placed so the ocean floor will not be messed up by everyone dropping their own anchors. Anchoring is when you do just that - drop your own anchor. Usually it means it's sandy down below and there's nothing to destroy. This meant that either Jim or Ted would jump in and verify that we were good and hooked. This was all new to me.

Depending on the wind as your air conditioner was new to me too. It was amazing how much wind there was... it almost never stopped! So with all of the hatches open, it could be mighty gusty inside, which was lovely to sleep in. But with those gusts come rain and rain coming directly on your face and sheets is not so lovely. The flurry of activity from six previously slumbering adults to "batten the hatches" was hilarious. The immediate heat was not hilarious. Thankfully, there was really only one uncomfortably hot night.

Sailing itself was relaxing at it's best and pretty scary at it's worst. People who sail often would laugh at me... but when the wind would really push against us, the tipping of the boat was nerve wracking. It would be tipped over on it's side so far that one day.... I sat on the bench backwards. Imagine someone tipping your chair back... back... back.... until you realize that instead of just fighting gravity, it would be easier if the backrest was your seat and the seat your backrest. I wish I had had a video of the time we turned so sharply (it's called heeled over), my Dad, asleep on the couch down in the hold, was literally flung through the air. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt and I was able to laugh guilt-free.

Another new experience: trying to use the bathroom while holding on for dear life. Each foot would be shoved against any wall, door, corner, or cabinet for extra hold. One arm gripped a handle on the wall, while the other was splayed against the door. All you could do is laugh, grit your teeth, and try to relax enough to actually accomplish what you came there to do.

Probably one of the scariest moments was our very near collision with another boat. Whenever someone is using the wind as their power, they have the right away over boats using motors. So, we  had the right away. Ted saw the catamaran headed towards us but knew we had plenty of room... sorta...kinda.... well, not anymore!! Jim grabbed the air horn and rain up on our bow and blew it and someone came running up from the downstairs portion of the boat and grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it away just in time! He gave us a sheepish wave... we waved without smiling. Personally, we didn't feel like waving back. Did you seriously just put your boat on autopilot (err... autoboat?), turn it out on the ocean, and go make a sandwich?! Good. Grief.

Snorkeling. Oh. My. Goodness. My brother was kind enough to let us take his GoPro and we used it for a LOT of underwater pictures. Everyone snorkeled accept my Dad (too much fishing to be done!) Even my Mom! She hates getting her head and face wet but she did it and loved it! We saw Dory, Nemo, Gill, Deb/Flo, Bloat, Mr. Ray.... even Crush!! Augh!! Well, a smaller version of Crush.
And Jim saw Bruce.
Or Bruce's smaller cousin.
While we were in the water.
As we were rapidly swimming away from the spot, trying not to become terrified (too late), Jim's mom wouldn't stop asking questions about what it looked like. I was like, "What is this National Geographic?! Who cares?! Shut up and swim, woman! There's a man-eater back there and you want to know how big he was?!" (Meryl, I love you. You know that).
Jim's reply: "Well, he wasn't a baby shark... but don't worry, it wasn't Jaws either."
To which his mom said, "It was big, wasn't it?"
 I was like, "SWIM!!! SWIM FOR YOUR LIVES!!!"
And it WOULD be on the day that we were probably 75 yards from the boat. But thankfully, it was on our last day... or I don't know if I could have got back in. Yes. I know, I know. "It's the ocean, Amy! Of course there are sharks!" I KNOW!! But I like to imagine that they are never ever in the actual spot I am in at any particular moment.
Woof. But we are alive and not missing any extremities.

On Monday, (April 1st, 2013) we sailed into Soper's Hole in Tortola to check in with British Customs. The guys behind the desk charged us $16 extra because it was a holiday. A holiday? Yes. It was Easter Monday. You know... the day after Easter? Duh, tourists. Cash only, please. Wow. You aren't sketchy at all. We filled up our water tanks while we were here and bought a pizza. The mothers waited forever for the pizza and when she brought it out to them, the server said, "It's a little burned...You okay with?" Meryl looked at it and said, "Yeah. It is burned. Can we have a discount?" The lady replied, "It's not that burnt!" Sorry! You asked us if we were "okay with!"

The glory of the sunsets and sunrises (not going to lie, I only saw one) was incredible. Like His mercies, they were new every morning (and night).

Even with all the wind, the dampness of the ocean made it difficult for your towels to dry. If you wanted a dry towel for the next shower, you would need to hang it where it would get the most sun and wind, usually in a very obvious spot. You would then announce to the rest of the crew, "This is MY towel. I put THREE clothes pins on it. It has a frayed edge. It is blue." But it didn't matter to my dad. After every shower, he would somehow mention what towel he used... and I only think it was actually  his once. My mom would be like, "Dennis! Why is MY towel wet? I laid your's on the counter!!" And he was like, "Oh! I thought it was the one on the door!"After about the third day, my husband hid his in a spot so that nobody could find it. I don't think he cared if it wasn't dry... as long as his father-in-law didn't use it.

Our return trip was safe. Unfortunately for my parents, they had to fly from St. Thomas to San Juan for their flight home. This is basically a stone's throw of a flight. Translation: little bitty plane. And the pilot (according to them) looked like she was about sixteen. But they made it safe and sound, as did we.

It was glorious. And maybe... maybe we can do it again.

Oatmeal! I had oatmeal for breakfast on Tuesday! Ta-daaah!!!