Guna morning

July 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning we woke up to the sounds of singing in a language we don’t understand. A female voice came wafting our way from Wichubwala, one of the hundreds of tiny islands that make up Guna Yala. 

When we arrived at our anchorage late last night, our arrival was the talk of the town.  First there were flashlights on us, then whistles and calls, busy talk in the Guna language, and finally shouts our way – HOLA!!! – in Spanish.  Our electric engine typically affords us the dignity of ninja stealth when we limp into anchorage late, but not here.

Today we start a honeymoon of sorts.  This isn’t a vacation, but certainly a new chapter.  For the past six years we have pushed forward, and today we begin forming our days differently.  For the first time in a long time, we woke up wondering what to do.

A sleepy look out the porthole revealed no fewer than four Guna cauycos paddling along in any direction.  With the singing and now the sounds of kids splashing around nearby, how will our days here unfurl?

hull gazing

June 21st, 2017 § 10 comments § permalink

If you already know that I live on a boat, it may surprise you to learn that I have a true phobia of deep water. Luckily (ha) I get a lot of opportunities to work on this particular irrational (or is it?!?  arrghhhh!) fear.

When I see from our charts or from our depth sounder that we are in very deep water, I get a chill in my blood as soon as the realization hits me.  It never fails. I imagine how small my boat is, and how we are just a speck in the infinite, and the infinite is full of sea monsters layered like taco dip for fathoms below.

This has happened enough times that the response has lessened, my blood more room temp, and now I just remember that we have done this before.  Our boat is so tough, and if we just let it carry us, we reach the next shore.

It is the repetition that retrains my brain.

Another aspect of this phobia is that I cannot  – CAN NOT! – look upon the underside of a boat while it is in the water.

During our courtship, F and I would go to boatyards and walk around looking at the wide array of boats, mostly up on boat stands and under repair.  I called this “hullgazing”. During the refit(s) of our own boat, I got up close and personal with our hull, scraping, sanding, glassing, and – at long last – painting.

That very same hull, floating in water, fills me with such horror that I had not looked upon it once in the 4 years we have owned her.  My reptile brain must see it as an orca.  (Was I orca food in a past life?)

Now that we made the jump over to the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, I had to divulge this facet of the phobia to F, and sheepishly ask him to come watch me jump overboard for the first time.  So he was treated to the graceful sight of me flopping over the side, flailing my limbs around (one second of which he captured in a deceptively tranquil photograph that I immediately circulated on social media) and then scramble my way back up the boat ladder.  Step one complete.

Over the past few weeks I have returned to the water, first applying swim fins and mask, then circumnavigating the boat, and finally, looking briefly back at the boat from underwater.  Each step jettisoned me back to the cockpit, gasping and soggy.

Yesterday, I admired the hull of our boat for the first time, even inspecting the anchor for good measure.

Fear is worth examination.  With attention and time, it is possible to disassemble these bombs and move past them.  What do we gain access to when we have less fear? For me, this impacts my sense of safety, my ability to come and go as I please.

And I am sure that before long, F will realize that he can now ask me to help scrub the hull.

wheels turning

November 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Now that we have migrated up and down a few times, we have had the benefit of exploring many costal towns during high and low seasons. This summer, F and I charged into Ocean City, MD on a high of saltwater taffy and crab cakes. This time through, in November, reveals the seasonal economic malaise that strikes many tourism-reliant towns.

In July, I poked around outside of the amusement area in a sport fisherman’s paradise, among low-key beach homes and newer upscale residential on the waterfront:

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November highlights where resilience is lacking:

oc_fall_16_03 oc_fall_16_02 oc_fall_16_01 oc_fall_16_00

How many places do you know that look like this for eight months out of the year? How do full-time residents cope financially, culturally, and socially?

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