As usual, I am super guilty of not updating our blog in a timely manner. Those of you who follow our Facebook page have a bit of an idea of what has been going on, but the biggest reason I haven’t written is because about a month ago, my mother passed away after a brief battle with lung cancer.
Here are the highlights (and lowlights) of how we got from Annapolis to Ft. Lauderdale just in time for Christmas.
- We froze our butts off on the ICW all the way from the Chesapeake to Fernandina Beach, FL (low). Once again this year, we just didn’t have good weather or temps for outside passages, then once we did, at Charleston, we realized our muffler had sprung a leak and didn’t feel confident enough to do the overnight passage with a brand new one.
- While we spent a lot of precious cruiser kitty cash tied up at marinas to ward off the sub-zero temps (low), we made a point of spending time in places we haven’t before (high), like Morehead City, NC (where we caught up with my uncle and his wife), Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach, SC (we left the boat there and drove to my mom’s in central FL for Thanksgiving), Savannah, GA, Fernandina Beach, FL, and Cape Canaveral (where we went and toured the Kennedy Space Center).
- Finally, once we hit the Florida border, the weather warmed up and calmed down for a week or so, making it possible for us to finally do two easy overnight hops, avoiding the ICW in the state. We landed in Ft. Lauderdale on December 19th, almost a year to the day we arrived in 2013. So much for making it to the Bahamas for Christmas this year!
A few days after Christmas, and a few days before we planned to make the hop from Miami to Bimini, I got a call that my mother was in the hospital with pneumonia. I had been planning to drive up and see her anyway, but once I got there, I received news that I wasn’t particularly expecting – a CT scan had found a large tumor in her lung. While she hadn’t been in great health for quite a while, and had been a pack a day smoker for most of her life, the news that it wasn’t treatable and that the doctors were recommending hospice care instead of cancer treatment knocked my siblings and I off our feet.
Brian moved the boat to Loggerhead Marina in Hollywood, FL so it would be safe to leave unattended (he came back and forth), and I stayed up in Lakeland, FL with Mom. She was able to come home and spend her last two weeks with all of her family around her, mind still sharp as a tack, putting all her affairs in order to make things easy for us kids (like she always did). It was both the worst month of my life, and the best – it was heartbreaking like nothing I’ve ever experienced, but I so treasure the time I had with my mom.
Mom gave me some extraordinary gifts in the way she raised me – she encouraged me to be independent and curious about the world. While I know our move to boat life scared her to a degree (mostly because we were giving up stable careers in NYC), she also was so excited for us as we experienced new places, and shared our eagerness to set off on the adventure. In those last weeks, she made sure we knew how proud she was of all of her kids, and just like I’ve been all my life, I was in awe of her strength and bravery.
I still can’t believe she’s really gone – that I can’t call her at the end of a passage and say “We’re here!” and know she already knows, since she’s been tracking us on Marine Traffic or Facebook the whole way. But I know that she will still be tracking us, and making sure we are safe…and at the end of every travel day and every passage, I’ll still let her know we’ve arrived safely, and hear her say back, “yup, I’ve been tracking you!”
So, what is that next passage? After over two months tied to a dock (and a month of that spent living on land for me), we are so ready to get out there cruising again. Since it’s now nearly March, we decided that although we’re not excited to do it, we should bite the bullet and make a direct passage of 7-9 days from Florida to the USVI’s. We have Captain Bruce on deck to go with us, our engines have had a second once-over from our new favorite engine guy, Tony Roberts here in Ft. Lauderdale, and as I said in my sell to Brian of the plan, once we get this passage over with, we don’t have to make any passages over 24 hours for YEARS (if we decided to leave the boat in the Caribbean during hurricane season, which for the moment is our plan!)
We hope to leave early next week, and I’ll post all of our tracking info once we have our weather window and are set to cast off our docklines!