Throwback Thursday: The World is Not Enough

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Sometimes they’re not always the highlights but instead the downfalls.  Because sometimes, cruising sucks.  You can even be in paradise yet still find it sucking for a multitude of reasons.  This is where I found myself in late June after 10 months out, while sitting in the Bay Islands of Honduras.

We had just come from they Cayman Islands where we said goodbye to Brian and Stephanie, but made new friends of Nate and Jenn, a couple our age living on the island, and even brought Nate with us on our sail over as he was headed to the same place as us anyway.  Cruising through these beautiful islands I should have been so happy but for some reason being on a boat in the Caribbean, or anywhere really, was the last place I wanted to be. Read on to find out how you can have the whole world in front of you and sometimes it’s still not enough.**

You can find the original post here. Along with a lot of wonderful comments from a lot of readers and one really rude one from some guy.  What the heck?, man.

Friday June 21, 2013

Sailing Bahamas

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to admit this, but I don’t think I can hold it in any longer, especially with all the negative hints I’ve probably been dropping lately. I’m burnt out on cruising. At this moment I don’t want to do it any more. Neither of us really do, actually. I don’t know exactly how or when it came about, when the excitement and thrills turned to dread and loathing, all I know is that I want off of this boat and out of this lifestyle. Lately every day has been a struggle, and the worst part is, I can’t even figure out why. It’s not like anything has suddenly changed, that we’re in a terrible place, or have just faced weeks and weeks of bad weather, which could leave anyone yearning for their life back on land. The situation is the same. It’s somehow me that’s now different.

To figure out where this may have started, we’d have to go wayway back. Both of us had been thoroughly enjoying our travels until Hurricane Sandy hit us last October. The storm wasn’t bad, in fact, we had a nice little hurricane party in honor of it, but right after that the weather turned to shit. We spent the next month where the highs were in the 50′s, low’s in the 30′s, and the sky was overcast every day. But, we held out hope that things would get better. Traveling from Georgia to Florida, the sun broke from the clouds, I was able to peel off a few layers, and white sand beaches with clear waters were almost within our reach. I should not have spoken too soon. That evening we had our accident, which left us in Florida’s First Coast for three months while we waited on insurance, fixed the boat, and prepared ourselves to leave once more. Christmas was spent alone, on the hard in a boat yard, but we both still held hope that things would get better.

Finally, they did. We entered the Bahamas in mid-March, to the sunny days, crystal clear waters, and white sand beaches we both had been dreaming about. Reunited with good friends we traveled the islands, caught and cooked fish and lobster for dinner, and had bonfires under the starts at night. It was perfection, everything we could have dreamed of. Holding out hope had payed off a thousand times over. From the Bahamas we crossed over to Jamaica and Cuba, still with our friends, and still having the times of our lives. There were the normal hardships, sure, living on a boat doesn’t come without it’s difficulties, but for the most part all of these initial annoyances had become second nature by now. My rage didn’t pop up when I had to move all the pots and pans from our oven to the navigation station so I could use it for cooking, or when I had to use three of the steps on the companionway to temporarily store the contents of our chill box as I searched for the strawberry jam all the way at the bottom. We both became masters at unpacking and repacking our aft cabin/storage area to reach the paper towel stored all the way at the back. It wasn’t really hard anymore, it was just….how it was now.

So this still leaves me grasping at what has changed. I can tell you that it happened in Cayman. Here we were on this beautiful little slice of paradise, and after about three days there, I could have cared less. I wasn’t interested in walking the streets or browsing through the windows. After a couple of fun days of snorkeling, I didn’t feel like getting in the water anymore. Our lives became centered, for a short time, around boat work, and I figured that it, along with our rolling anchorage, was what was putting me in my foul mood. I think the only reason we got off the boat most of the time was because our friends made plans that involved us, and even though I’d go back to my ol’ happy self while we were with them, as soon as we got back to Serendipity, the unhappiness sank back in.

Matt was going crazy in his own mind with never ending boat repairs, and this constant creaking noise that’s been in some of the floor boards ever since our accident. I think he was tired of the cost and the work related to cruising. I was just…tired. I wanted creature comforts again, I wanted to go home. One night, when Matt did his usual song and dance of not wanting to cruise, I gave in. (For those of you who don’t know, even though cruising was originally his idea, by the time we were getting ready to leave, he changed his mind and decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He was happy with his life at home, and with all the money we’d saved up, we could have had a very comfortable lifestyle there. A condo on the 14th floor in the heart of downtown? That’s all starting to sound very nice now. But back then, it was me who still wanted to go, dragging him along, somewhat kicking and screaming at the beginning.) I never knew if these were serious request before, I’d always talk him back into the cruising lifestyle, saying that when he got older he’d regret that he didn’t travel the world, but this time, I wanted out just as bad. When he said “That’s it, I’m done with it”, as he tends to do at least every other week, I replied, “Me too, let’s go home”. But, to switch up roles, it was him that talked me into staying, stating that we’d at least get ourselves to Guatemala and re-evaluate there.

Which, while on the topic of traveling, I have another confession to make. We HATE passages. Seriously dread them. It’s not that they’re scary or overwhelming. They’re just incredibly boring and uncomfortable, and for days at a time. I didn’t mind them too much while going down the eastern seaboard. It was mostly just day traveling down the ICW, and the few hops out into the Atlantic, usually only for 24 hours, or 36 max. Were those passages comfortable? No, probably some of the worst we’ve had (damn you Northern Atlantic!), but, the excitement was there still, because every passage meant more miles south. Closer to warm weather, closer to clear waters, and closer to sandy beaches. But ever since we left the Bahamas and there are no more ‘day trips’, and neither of us are now too fond of the thought of traveling in a boat. Worst.Cruisers.Ever.

I thought a change of scenery might help, but the feelings haven’t changed since we’ve gotten to Utila. For the past few days, Matt’s been doing his best trying to cheer me up, telling me we can do whatever I want, but it still hasn’t made a difference. Have I already become jaded? It almost feels like no matter what island or location I could place myself right now, the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, or the azul waters of Greece, I wouldn’t be happy. Which, in the end, makes me feel ten times worse about the situation. How spoiled must I be to lead the life I do, and not have it be enough for me? Who knows, maybe it’s just the waves rattling my brain around too much, and I haven’t been able to think straight lately Or maybe, the world is not enough. I really hope it’s the first one, because I can’t wait to get those feelings of excitement back.*

Ragged Islands Bahamas

I feel like my life has gone from this

Chesapeake in fog

To this.

 

*Editor’s Note (a few weeks later):  We are now in Guatemala, and back to our regular selves.  Time spent in a marina, living a somewhat normal life again, has done wonders for our attitude.  I can’t say I’m still looking forward to crossing the Caribbean Sea again, but, maybe after a few more months the excitement will restore itself.  I’m also finding out from a herd of other bloggers right now, that cruising can make one…a little bipolar.  As bad as I feel for anyone else going through these emotions, I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one.

**The good news is, after all the miles we logged in 2014 with passages ranging from 3 days to 28 days, we’ve discovered that we do like sailing again.  The hard part is in fact those 36-96 hour passages where they’re not over in the blink of an eye yet you don’t have the time to settled into a groove.  Maybe not the worst cruisers ever anymore?

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The Hunt for Pumpkin Hill

Monday June 17, 2013

Do Not Enter Trail, Utila

Waking up bright and early this morning, I wanted to make sure that I could get all three of us checked into Honduras before our little secret was let out that we had not actually checked in on the mainland, as everyone was assuming we had. Quickly stopping by Nate’s hostel, I picked up his passport and once more made my way back to the customs and immigration offices. Only to find out that it was a holiday, and they would not be open until 11:30 am. I could have taken the dinghy back to the boat to wait out those extra couple of hours, but the boat didn’t have internet, and I was still itching to get it whenever I could. Back to Trudy’s hostel, I sat at a table by myself, working and fooling around online for awhile until Nate spotted me and stopped by. He asked what we were doing that day, which is laughable, because we never make plans. Ever since Rode Trip left us to make their trek across the Atlantic (which, by the way, they’re doing well and averaging about 4 knots a day, from what I can see on their website), we’ve had no one to make plans for us, and usually aimlessly wander the streets in search of something to hold our interest. We had somewhat talked about taking a hike around the island though, and when I mentioned this to Nate, he said that a new friend of his told him about a place called Pumpkin Hill, the highest spot on the island, and that it was a good place to hike to.

After getting us legally checked in (“When did we get here? Oh…this morning. We just got here this morning…”), I gathered Matt and we met up with Nate once more at his hostel before beginning our hike. The rain that had been plaguing us on and off for the past few days did not look like it was going to let up this afternoon, I prepared myself by wearing a swimsuit for the hike since I was 90% sure I’d get wet anyway. The three of us set off on the main road across a little bridge, taking the advice of Nate’s friend, that it would ‘only take us 20 minutes’ to get there. We walked on the dirt road, rounding the corner of the island and not seeing anything that resembled a hill in front of us.  We did stumble upon an assortment of vacation homes, and, playing the game that we normally do when we arrive at a new place, started a round of “Ok, I could live here”.  The houses were great, and on great beach front access with waves from the sea rolling in and crashing on shore, but then I thought to myself “No, I don’t want to live on this island.  There’s nothing for me here.”.  Hmmm, that’s never happened before.  I don’t know what it is, this island just hasn’t captivated me yet.

Palm trees on Utila

Vacation home in Utila Honduras

Continuing down the road, we were just turning a corner that was leading us into a wooded area, and we hoped hills, when it began to rain.  I was ok with this, I had even dressed for it, but it was when we rounded another corner and saw that the entire road was flooded in rain, I started to rethink our plan of an afternoon hike.  Each of us tiptoed on the sideline of the lake like puddle, trying to keep our feet as dry as possible.  I had also anticipated something like this and worn water shoes, Matt was in flip flops, but poor Nate was in non water friendly foot wear, and would practically walk through the bushes to keep from submerging his feet in the murky water.  That only lasted so long before each of them lost balance at some point and soaked their shoes all the way through.  By this time, I had given up trying to stay dry in any way, shape or form, and was busy splashing through each lake puddle we came to.

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walk in rain

(Above photo courtesy of Nate Smith)

 

On and on we walked through the muddy paths as it rained on and off.  In and out of woods, open expanses and small slopes, but still no hills in sight.  We took a few minutes to wander off the beaten path and explore the shore in an area that was covered in small black coral fragments, and waves came crashing in to the shore.  I decided that, however unlikely it was, this is the spot I would build my house if I ever lived on this island, however impractical it was.

Coral Shore Utila

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Back on the muddy path we wound through pastures filled with cows and finally out on to a main road.  We thought we might be getting close, and although we had no sense of direction at this point, decided to make a right hand turn since we figured following the coast line would probably put us closer to wherever the hill was.  Walking down this road, it once more turned from pavement to dirt, as they all tend to do, and it began pouring on us once more.  Finally fed up with our searching, we hailed a truck that was driving past to ask for directions.  From the one person on the island that doesn’t speak any English.  We got through that we were looking for Pumpkin Hill, and he motioned that we had been going the wrong way, and for us to hop in so he could give us a lift to where it actually was.  The three of us climbed in to the truck bed, which was already filled with large rocks being transported from one location to another.  There was barely any place to sit, let alone hold on, and when he started going we bumped back and forth, ducking our head for low branches on the side of the road that the driver seemed to be aiming directly for our heads.  After a five minute ride and countless times of almost getting thrown off while flying over bumps in the road, we were deposited by a dirt path on the side of the road and told to follow it up, where we would find Pumpkin Hill.  Or that’s what we gathered from the Spanglish being exchanged between us.

truck ride in Ultila

 

The three of us began the trek up this muddy hill, also filled with lakes of puddles, and probably ready to turn around, but at the same time, determined to find Pumpkin Hill.   We were constantly being passed by locals on 4 wheelers and figured that would have been a much better way to take this trip.  Through the next 30 minutes we followed the path through more fields and calf deep puddles.  Then abruptly, the road ended.  At the end of the road was a somewhat large mound next to us, we assumed Pumpkin Hill, but no trails leading up it.  Multiple times we walked up a narrow dirt path, only to find it led to someone’s private home, and had to wander back down it to the main trail.  Walking through open fields of what looks like is supposed to be a new development eventually, we searched the hill from every angle and still came up empty handed.  There would be no climb to the top today.  A little disappointed, but mostly cold and exhausted, we claimed defeat and began the trudge back to town.

Trail to Pumpkin Hill Utila

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The World is Ending, Bring on the Guifity!

Sunday June 16, 2013

skid row t-shirt

Last night as Matt and I were cooking dinner, we could tell a storm was about to blow through the area. First the clouds highlighted to a soft but brilliant pink, and off in the distance of those clouds were faint strokes of lightning. While grilling up a few steaks in the cockpit, I enjoyed the show, wondering when the storm would actually hit. Soon after we sat down with hot plates in front of us the rain began, not even a sprinkle, but an instant downpour. We poked our heads out and looked around, but everything seemed more or less normal. Cutting into the very under-cooked meat in front of us (20 minuted on the grill for rare…really?), we felt some sudden wind shifts and threw on our cordless Raymarine remote to check the wind speeds. 28…32…36. Somewhat worried since we anchored on top of eel grass and we weren’t sure how well our anchor was holding, we tentatively went back to eating as our eyes zoomed in on the remote anytime we felt a gust. Soon, not only were the winds reaching 40 knots, they were well sustained there and still climbing. At this point it was really time to worry and I took position behind the chart plotter to monitor things like depth and the distance between us and the buoy marking the reefs directly behind us, making sure we were not moving, other than a little swinging from side to side.

We looked to be doing ok, as far as keeping our position, but the winds would just not die down. They were still holding in the mid to low 40’s but even then we’d see stronger gust from time to time. 47…49…..52. The highest winds we’d ever seen, much stronger than anything we’d encountered during Hurricane Sandy last fall. I think we were both silently cursing ourselves for not being to a suitable hurricane hole by the beginning of June when it’s possible for storms to begin forming, but that extra month out on the water traveling had sounded so much more appealing. Hearts beating fast, we were ready to up anchor at any moment, although I doubt I would have felt comfortable putting it back down in the storm, especially in the dark, and had visions of motoring around the small bay until first light. Luckily, it did not come down to that. The storm, as strong as it was, was also very quick and started to die out after 15 minutes. When winds finally dropped back in the 30’s, we let out a sigh of relief, glad we were back down to something that now seemed so insignificant. They did stay in that range for the rest of the night though, and even though we promised each other to sleep lightly that night and keep an eye or an ear out for anything that seemed strange, both of us were completely passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

 

storm 2 headsail 3

Utila during storm

This morning was a usual wandering of town. Getting a lay of the land, eating out at what we hoped would be steeply discounted prices (compared to Cayman they were, but not quite the dirt cheap we were hoping for), and wandered from place to place, trying to find a good internet connection. Strangely, the best connection we found was at Trudy’s, the hostel Nate was staying at. After running in to him there, we found out he had plans to check out a few restaurants and bars that night at the recommendation of new friends at the hostel, and lost in all knowledge ourselves, we tagged along. First was dinner at an Italian restaurant where some throng of insects must have just hatched, and these fine winged bugs tried to make homes in our hair, clothing, and even food. The critically acclaimed pasta was somehow worse than my cooking, and it wasn’t long before we exited the restaurant and were on our way again. Our next destination, a hole in the wall bar called Skid Row. Nate had heard about it from other backpackers staying at his hostel, and apparently they were famous for serving some kind of drink called Guifity, and even though I still have no idea exactly what made it up, the bottle it came in was full of leaves, herbs, and possibly dirt. There was of course, a challenge that came along with the guifity. For the cost of $10, if you could drink 4 shots of it, you were awarded a t-shirt, a symbol of pride to be worn around town, of either great braveness, or great stupidity.

I was bored, sober, and needed a little excitement, so I found a drinking partner (who shall remain unnamed) to partake in the challenge with me. I may have also participated because, well, my drinking partner was paying for me to do so. A girl can’t just pass up free drinks, even if they come from a bottle with dirt inside. (Have I mentioned I’m a cheap date?*) My heart pounded a little bit as my mini Solo cup was placed in front of me, I’m terrible at taking shots, even when it’s something I like. Our bartender with her bouncy blonde curls poured us each a shot, and I examined it through the opaque plastic. Stupidly, I asked if there was a time limit, and even if there hadn’t been one in place before, there was one for me now. 4 shots in 2 minutes.Ughhh. But there was a free shirt of my choosing at the end, and I couldn’t turn away now. Not allowing myself to even sniff the substance for fear that it would go nowhere near my mouth, I rose my glass to cheers my drinking partner, and threw the drink down my throat, doing a short little dance after where your face gets scrunched up, your tongue sticks out, and you run in place for a few seconds, sure this will make the horrible taste in your mouth go away.

One down, three to go. The taste wasn’t quite as horrible as I expected it to be, lots of spices such as cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, seemed to come to the surface. It still wasn’t an easy drink though, and I forced myself to take the remaining three shots before my brain could catch up with what I was doing. I had taken them all, and in under the two minute time limit. Success never tasted so…earthy. Given that both my drinking partner and I had passed the challenge, we went to the collection of shirts where we riffled through every size, color, and style, until we each found one that suited our taste. Surprisingly, I did not go for the pink tank top.  It wasn’t long before the Guifity hit me full on, and I was a silly mess, changing into my new top in the alley next to the bar, and escaping both my chaperone’s gaze to wander down random docks and begin taking photos of nothing in particular.  It was time to put me to bed.  When Matt had gotten me back to the boat and tucked in to the v-berth, I rolled over and asked “What time is it anyway?”, thinking I’d finally cut loose and partied with the youngins.  “It’s 8:30”, he replied.  Huh.  Not even out past cruisers midnight.

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Guifity

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pink skid row shirt

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 *Since some certain friends and family are starting to remind me that my life is beginning to sound like a never ending booze cruise, let me clear one thing up.  I don’t drink much.  Usually one, maybe two drinks, when I actually do drink.  A wine here, a beer there.  And since I don’t drink much….I’m usually past intoxicated at that point.

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