Ok… It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?
We glided into Charleston Harbor in mid May to wait out hurricane season. Charleston is not completely immune to hurricanes, but we’re in a reasonably-protected spot, and it makes our insurance happy, so it’ll have to do. Since then, we’ve been back and forth between home and the boat. Coming back to land for a few months has been bittersweet for me, but I am working to try and be present wherever I am so that I don’t sit around missing the boat when I’m on land and missing my life here when I’m on the water. We are busy with a kitchen remodeling project that has our house in utter chaos, and thanks to the jacked-up supply chain, some of the things we ordered in February won’t be here until October. Namaste.
I continue to grind through the process of getting my US Coast Guard Merchant Marines Captain’s License. After passing the exams earlier this year, I had a veritable mountain of paperwork to complete to document everything I had ever done and everywhere I had ever been on a boat. I had to go through background checks, get a Federal transportation worker’s ID, a CPR card, take first aid training, a drug test, and in June I had my physical to be a sea captain (which involved more than the normal physical exam stuff plus a hearing test and a thorough screening for color blindness). I had to amend and resubmit a couple of the forms, so I am still waiting.
For Father’s Day, the children suggested we all meet in Charleston on the boat for the weekend, which was just wonderful. Kyle’s wife, Rachael, was unable to join us this time, which was a bummer, but the five of us were able to meet up and spend time together.
We took everyone out for a day-sail that turned out to be its own mini-adventure. We sailed around Charleston Harbor for a bit before dropping our anchor and cooking out and swimming. About 2:30 p.m., we weighed anchor and started making our way back to the dock, which would normally take a little over an hour, when we noticed some foreboding clouds ahead. Then the radio crackled with a warning from the US Coast Guard that there were storms approaching our exact location, bringing 55 MPH winds! Time to lower the sails and make some speed with the engines. I revved them up higher than usual (but not dangerously high), and moments later the high-temperature alarms on both engines went off. This should not be happening . All the while, the winds were increasing on our nose as the clouds and rains blew in.
Karen took the helm while I jumped into the engine compartment to troubleshoot, but everything looked normal. After a few tense minutes, the engines cooled down enough for us to run them at much lower RPMs. We were able to fight our way through the storms and get back to the dock. Later, I tore the engines apart as much as I dared, in order to try to figure out why both of them overheated simultaneously in conditions where they should not have. I did not ever get a conclusive answer, but a hull diver I hired later reported that barnacles, which had collected on the propellors, could have caused this. Okay… maybe…
One of the hacks/tactics sailors employ is that whatever is going on, you always act like everything is normal around anyone who is a guest on your boat. We kept our cool and got everyone safely back to the dock.
In early July, I got to take a few days to go fish with my friend Dan in Islamorada, FL. We went out in some really choppy conditions that rewarded us with several mahi-mahi. One of my favorite things about that whole experience is taking the fish from the boat to the restaurant for their “hook and cook”.
The next week, I returned to Charleston to check on Gratitude in the wake of tropical storm Elsa. There was no shortage of projects to tackle, but everything was in surprisingly good shape. While I was there, I got some fantastic news that our family would be officially expanding! Clint, our oldest, had proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Sierra. We love her and are delighted with this development!
In early August, Karen and I returned to Gratitude and had friends from Atlanta come join us. Lauren and Caroline were classmates of mine in Leadership Atlanta (class of 2013), and we’ve maintained a close friendship ever since. Lauren came with her husband, David, and while David had maritime experience, this was Lauren and Caroline’s first taste of sailing. We took it easy, heading out through Charleston Harbor to the area around Ft. Sumter where the first shots of the US Civil War were fired. It was a really fun afternoon!
I’ll close this update out with a cautionary tale. Despite being fully vaccinated (Pfizer), I started feeling sick last week. The next day I was running a fever, and overnight I lost my senses of taste and smell. Uh oh! I got one of the new, highly-accurate and rapid PCR tests (I did not know such a thing existed), and an hour later was told that I did, indeed, have Covid. I have no idea where/how I contracted it.
Not to be outdone, Karen tested positive too. Our experience was very much like having the flu. I was surprised at how sick we got despite being fully vaccinated, but… I was equally surprised at how quickly our bodies turned things around. Thursday and Friday I was down hard. Then Saturday I felt good enough to get on my Harley and ride around for about an hour. By Sunday, I felt almost fully recovered. As I write this, Karen has also turned the corner and is almost fully-recovered. Fortunately for me, I’ve sweet-talked (read “strong-armed”) her into going back to the boat while we finish out our quarantine.