Putting A Bow On 2014

At the end of a year, everyone seems to be driven to go back over the prior 360 or so days, ruminate about the ups and downs, pick at the scabs. I’m no different, but as a writer, I’ve been browbeaten by the publishing industry into believing I must find a unique approach to the topic.

Obviously I can’t fall back on the Christmas Letter, the Annual Review, or the Top 10 Things I Learned formats, but winter days are short, so, I jot down a quick sketch of our 2014 so that friends will know where we are and that we haven’t killed each other yet.

Previous stories about our life aboard have centered on weather and travel. I wrote copiously about the challenges – and beauty – of living aboard a boat during Boston blizzards. But one year ago Sunshine and crew seized the weather window and sailed out of New England, leaving the frozen north behind.

Here’s how the rest of the year went:

  • Christmas through February – Cruising the ICW, a story told in nine parts.
  • March through May – On the shore of Factory Creek in Beaufort, South Carolina we found two of the things we were seeking – palm trees and a workshop. So we settled in to try life in the south and make Sunshine even better. First project was replacing some damaged balsa core in the cabin ceiling. What a mess, but what an improvement.
  • June – Combined two weeks with our kids, the World Cup, and a cruise through Florida for the best vacation ever.
  • July – Back in Beaufort, we remodeled a house.
  • August – Drove to Virginia, where we turned nocturnal for a month, installing displays in Kohl’s stores. That was an adventure. Also hit the beach at OBX, the mountains of Shenandoah National Park, Monticello and the museums in DC.
  • September – On the way back, took a side trip to Tennessee and hiked the Appalachian Trail with our son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Tiffany. It was good to spend some time above sea level. We both love hiking and don’t get to do it much. Tom had a big birthday.
  • October through December – Back in Beaufort, Tom turned his attention to ports and hatches. I focused on yoga, writing and helping a client launch her book.

Weather and travel, in the back seat

We’ve entered a (temporary) phase of semi-settlement. The weather is near perfect, we have little to complain about except gnats. This town has given us the ability to get things done on Sunshine that we certainly couldn’t do at anchor. It’s convenient to everything, yet small and intimate. It’s provided paying work for us both.

Still, we yearn to be moving again. I get choked up every time a boat leaves the marina, bound for another port.

Tom spends the greater part of the day in the shop with the guys. They argue politics and work on vital projects. His expertise is sought after. (Opinion? Not so much.)

Anytime someone wants to install a microwave or anchor windlass, he’s the go to guy. He always did have the reputation for being able to fix things, but then he built the world’s most beautiful teak hatch for a big trawler. The other day somebody asked, “Has the Smithsonian called about the hatch yet?”

Meanwhile I fell into the job of marina bathroom cleaner. Everyone values me highly, because if I’m on the job then they don’t have to stick their head in the toilets.

Can you see we have a small disconnect here?

And aren’t you glad I’ve refrained from writing blog posts and sharing pictures of my daily life?

Those who know me well are probably still stuck back several paragraphs going “What? Wait. Nancy is cleaning? No way.” Because they know I have a life-long hatred of cleaning anything. But I remind myself that I’m proud to be the kind of person who does whatever it takes. I wouldn’t be living this lifestyle if I weren’t. So I stick it out. I do a good job. But I do it f’in fast y’all.

Sunshine looks a little more spiffy now. The temporary plywood hatches that helped her blend so well with derelict boats in anchorages have been replaced with her original hatches, all cleaned up and rebuilt. We also installed the rest of the sleek new aluminum port lights, replacing the leaky plastic ones and making good progress toward my goal of Endryment.

Oh, I can’t help myself …

Here’s What We Learned This Year

  • Life is sometimes a cruise, sometimes a grounding, and sometimes a dock. All are good in their way.
  • Wifi can be just as difficult in a marina as at anchor. No more whinging.
  • Air conditioning has it’s place, and that place is the Low Country of South Carolina.
  • Talk is cheap. You can argue for months about the right way to do something and get nowhere. But spend a few weeks creating something worthy and suddenly you’re golden. (See The Tao of Steve, but don’t be too literal about the analogy.)
  • Our planned Cuba trip may be a little different than we anticipated. Thanks Obama!
  • We’ll be heading west this spring to love up a new little boy in Portland, OR and a new little girl in Valier, MT.

Merry and Happy to all of you!

And come on 2015!

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