the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Almost six months since I last posted here. I feel guilty for abandoning this blog, my writing, my boat. I have been adrift, as usual, trying to find my way, trying to cut a path toward peace and stability, but also toward love and adventure. The world is not enough. I want so much more. 

Spring and summer had ups and downs. Filled with music (among the highlights, David Gilmour, Ween, Dead & Co., a Phish run over my birthday weekend, Rebelution, The Green, and a crazy sparkly spinning four days camping at Lockn’ Festival). Filled with love and with tears as the surfer and I navigated our first year together. Filled with change. 

Just over three weeks ago we, (the surfer, pup-dog, and the cats), moved off of Ambrosia and into a small house ashore. My attempt to purchase a home was shot down due to the student loan disaster that haunts me. But we rented a little (less than 800-square-foot) house around the corner from where I rented prior to buying Ambrosia. It’s too small, too expensive, and has only one closet for storage in the whole house, but for the time being it’s ours. The move has been very, very hard on me. Between saying goodbye to Ambrosia, the strain big changes put on a relationship, and the financial pressures, I sometimes just want to get in my car and drive until I get to Cali. But I’m trying to hang in there, be strong, be patient, believe in myself, my future, the surfer, and love.

I haven’t seen Ambrosia in two weeks. She was in the water when I left her but has since been hauled and blocked for storage on land until she sells. She’s listed on craigslist in Annapolis and Washington, DC, as well as The  asking price is what she surveyed for when I bought her four years ago. I may not get that much, but it is a fair number considering the upgrades I made and the ones she would still benefit from. I am hoping someone will buy her soon, love her as I did and more, restore her to her former glory, sail her far and wide, and give her plenty of adventures. 

I’ve spilled a bucket of tears for her in the past month. I stood alone with her in the dark at the dock, having moved almost everything off of her, and cried. I told her I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t sail her away, didn’t give her all that she needed. So sorry that I failed her. I don’t enjoy sailing but I loved that boat. She was the only home I’ve ever owned, kept a roof over my head when I would have been homeless, kept me safe, kept me going when all hope was lost. She saved my life in so many ways. And I failed her. Now she sits on the hard with all those other boats and dreams people have abandoned. And she must be so sad and lonely. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

this is not a sailing blog

Apologies for the long gap between posts. I don't have any good excuses; sometimes life just gets in the way. 

A couple months ago I was reflecting on my dissatisfaction with work and financial aspects of my life. I decided to try writing down the things I enjoy and the things I am good at. Unfortunately, the overlap between those lists is slim. Pretty much writing and cooking. There are other things I'm good at, but I don't enjoy like arguing and lawyering. There are plenty of things I enjoy, but am not very good at like singing and snorkeling.  I don't know that I'll be able to limit my work sphere to writing and cooking any time soon, at least not if I want to put food on the table, but I think I do need to place greater focus on finding a path that may eventually lead me there.

I also started writing down the things I don't enjoy and the things I'm not good at. At the top of both lists: sailing. I don't know if I don't enjoy sailing because I'm not good at it, or whether I'm not good at it because I don't enjoy it. Probably a mixture of both. But it was a relief to let myself acknowledge that reality and stop forcing myself to do it just because everyone expects me to. I love being out on the water. I enjoyed heading out fishing before dawn, the water glassy, hardly another boat to be seen. I enjoyed the days in Miami when I just threw lines and drank rum runners, took sun on deck, and snorkeled a bit, with no responsibility for navigating or taking the helm. But far and away most of my pleasant boating memories are from power boating. I can't say I have ever enjoyed sailing; sailing is something I suffer through to get from point A to point B or because I feel pressured to learn and try. 

I understand that many people are passionate about sailing and can't imagine life without it. For me, taking the boat out is about the last way I want to spend my sparse, precious free time. Particularly because I live aboard and have all the stuff of life strewn about, (cue the sailors looking down their noses at me for still owning more than two pairs of shoes). Getting the boat ready to take out involves hours of preparation and then hours getting things settled upon return. Taking the boat out means a day of stress; I can't relax, can't enjoy some cocktails, have to be on constant guard not to run aground, not to tangle up in crab pots, not to draw the attention of the Coast Guard or DNR, having to make sure guests know where flares and fire extinguishers reside, and making sure there are PFDs to go around. All of that is "work" in my book; it is not play, or fun, or relaxation. If other people enjoy it, that's all well and good; I wish them fair winds and following seas. I enjoy running but I don't expect everyone else to think it's the cat's meow or somehow "better" than anyone else's chosen hobbies.

The boat is my home, the only home I have ever owned. I do love her and she has saved my life in many ways. I plan to stick with living aboard for a while more to save money and, with hope, save up for a down payment on a house. From the outset this blog has been about how the world is not enough. It's a blog about a girl rebuilding her life, the challenges of pets, being broke, the ups and down of love and loss, and now and then it's about making boat living work. I hope the story here continues long after Ambrosia has found a new captain to sail her away to bluer seas. But this has never been a sailing blog.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


New Year's Eve the surfer took me to DC to see a funk band from Brooklyn, the Pimps of Joytime. I love dancing with the surfer and the music was fun and groovy. Definitely my first NYE being kissed at midnight by someone I love. We danced the night away and then spent New Year's Day walking all over DC and through the National Zoo. 

Our first date was five months ago today. It's definitely a challenge nurturing a relationship in the small confines of a boat, where the only way to "take a break" when there is a disagreement is to take a walk. Not every day is a cakewalk for us, but the good outweighs the challenges and I wouldn't want to be with someone who always agreed with me or expected me to always agree with him.  Ups and downs, this one has my heart and I hope I have his.

After an unseasonably warm December, winter arrived. Initially I'd only seen one brief bit of snow, which didn't stick, but we've had some cold nights/mornings, even down into the high teens. And typical winter aboard... we've had north winds blow water down the Bay, leaving us a couple feet below the dock. Pup dog doesn't like it when the cabin top is level with the finger pier. Those are the days that I'm in the galley and the port light looks out under the pier.

Just a few days later we were high above the dock, but it's just about as difficult to board (other than being able to at least move the boat closer to the pier since we aren't stuck in the mud). I would have had a very difficult time getting pup on and off the boat during the high tide, especially as the winds were howling (we were under a gale warning). So thankful to have the surfer here with us; where I would struggle to lift the dog, he can lift the pup with relative ease and doesn't have my fear of falling.

Pup and I both seem to have a fear of falling. I have to keep telling her she's brave, that she has to just "puppy up" and deal with it to get on and off the boat, get down stairs. I don't expect her to be fearless, I'm certainly not. The surfer seems to think I'm silly and scared of everything and I admit, the list of things I'm not afraid of might be shorter than the list of things that terrify me. But being brave is not being fearless; being brave is being scared as hell and doing something anyway. I'd rather be brave than fearless and it's probably my fears that have kept my recklessness in check so that I'm still alive so much longer than I ever would have expected. I just have to remind myself not to give up when things are hard, or sad, or frustrating. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm braver than I know and I can get through anything.

Here are some photos of the very high tide we had in early January.

The water didn't overflow the docks but was ankle deep in portions of the parking garage.

Water was rushing into the parking garage. We moved our cars to the back wall. Luckily it never rose too much or made it all the way to the back of the garage or my storage locker would have been swamped.

Lots of snow on deck after the late January blizzard.
One Saturday, the surfer and I played disc golf out on the Eastern Shore and pup got to spend most of the time off-leash wandering the wooded course. At some point she found something especially interesting, not sure if it was deer poop or a dead animal. Then at a party that evening she and another Lab decided to tear open several bags of garbage and have a party. I thought for sure her being sick the next day was related to one of those excursions, but it seems it was just a boring old urinary tract infection. Nonetheless, we were worried because she was shivering, listless, drinking copious amounts of water, and peeing excessively. She had to take an urgent trip to the vet that Monday and was on antibiotics for a few weeks. Naturally, her need for urgent medical attention coincided with me having less than $10 to spare after setting aside just enough cash for my commute to work for the week. Luckily, the vet let me float the bill until I got paid the next Tuesday. Even when I knock myself out to get hours at work, nothing seems to make a dent as the bills just keep rolling in. Alas, I didn't hit the Powerball numbers. But the surfer took good care of pup dog while I was gone long days to work so that gave me some peace of mind that she wasn't sick and alone. 

With more bitter cold on the horizon I couldn't take the risk of damage to the engine so I had the mechanic winterize the Perkins diesel. It means staying in the slip until Spring, but odds were that would happen anyway, and the peace of mind that I won't have a cracked engine block is well worth the $75 bill from the mechanic. Unfortunately, I still have to keep a 60 watt bulb going in the engine room (and sometimes run a heater in there as well) to keep the bilge pump from freezing up in the cold. 

The blizzard that came through the third weekend in January dumped two feet of snow over most of the Annapolis area. I made the tough decision to leave the boat, board the cats at the vet, and hunker down with the surfer and pup dog at the surfer's parents' house. We spent a few days snowed in, during which I fretted over the fate of the boat, but gratefully dockmates kept an eye on her lines and shoved some snow off when the weight of it, combined with the strong winds, had her listing to port. The entire cockpit was filled with snow upon our return, but the only damage was the loss of a fender--it must have become trapped between the pier and the boat and the line snapped (the line is still securely tied to the lifeline). A week later I noticed a fender floating into the adjacent slip and we grabbed the net to fish it out. Lo and behold--it was the very fender we had lost in the storm, come back home on the tide.

So... I quit school. I lost all respect for the massage therapy program at Anne Arundel Community College after seeing how they handled the creeper in our class who was repeatedly inappropriate with class members and could hardly identify any muscles other than the gluteus maximus on which he was quite focused. Despite his inappropriate behavior and his dangerous lack of knowledge of anatomy, he got to skate through the semester getting free massages and groping girls he would never otherwise be able to even buy a drink. I just couldn't get excited about having to be massaged by relative strangers every week and I definitely do not wake up and want to have to massage whatever random client may end up on my table. It'll also be nice not to have every guy I know "volunteering" to let me practice on him. Ugh. Anyway, relieved not to be spending money on tuition and not have school as an impediment to getting in hours at work. I am sick of jobs that require licensing in every different jurisdiction and massage would have just been more of the same, and more throwing licensing and membership fees into the wind. Time to move on.

The entire cockpit filled with snow.
While my running has slacked off to nothing of late we have been playing disc golf as often as weather and schedules permit. I got to try a new course, Rockburn, which was challenging, but a nice change of pace. I'm still far from being competitive with the surfer, but every once in awhile I even win a hole, and more and more often I manage to make par on a couple of holes during a game. I just bought a putter and another driver to add to my fledgling disc collection and replaced a lost "Nuke" for the surfer. I ordered the new discs from Amazon and there was no guarantee on what colors we'd receive. I like the funky green Mantis and the pale pink putter, but I'm jealous that they picked a bright pink for the surfer's Nuke when I'd love that color and he'd probably prefer anything else. C'est la vie. It'd be nice if there were more courses nearby. I probably most enjoy that playing disc is a way for the surfer and I to be out together without phones, television, or other distractions coming between us; it can be so hard to find that quality time when people can truly connect.

Pup dog adventuring while we played the course at Tuckahoe.

New discs; woo hoo!
Work is, as usual, draining, monotonous, and of uncertain duration. The latest I've heard is that the project will last until the end of February--which means I may be out of work in less than three weeks. Naturally, my budget cannot handle that sort of hiccup, so I need to cross my fingers they roll me onto another project and redouble my efforts to secure more lucrative, meaningful, and reliable income. In my heart of hearts all I want to do is write. I would love to be able to travel the world, experience all the different sights, sounds, flavors, wildlife, and cultures. But I think I would be happy in a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere if I could support myself writing and have the privacy I crave. 

I've certainly been having a bit of an existential crisis with respect to being aboard. While I love being rocked to sleep by the sea and love to be out on the water, I do not enjoy sailing. Sailing is a means to an end--travel, getting to an interesting destination--and is not something I enjoy in and of itself. I suffer through it because I don't really have a choice anymore, but I wish I had bought an old VW camper van back in 2012 and driven around the country having adventures, seeing new sights these past few years, instead of being stuck in one place, never able to cobble together the funds needed to fix up the boat and take her places. Being at the helm is a chore; it means a day of being the responsible one, worrying about running aground, having safety gear at the ready, not being able to relax and have a cocktail. I can't really fathom why someone would want to spend precious free time that way. I certainly don't. I want to get somewhere and then enjoy myself. I fear that on a boat it just isn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon. But the boat did save my life in more ways than one and she keeps me from being homeless, so for now, home is where the boat is. Whether aboard or ashore, I just want to find some peace, joy, and prosperity with my pack around me. Home and family are so incredibly important to me and I guess home is wherever my pack and I manage to land. I can hardly wait for spring to come, with warmth and light and hope.