Island time

Still no Wifi to upload some better pictures and share the long story of life on a boat in Cuba. – Just for now: Island time is different, and offers different challenges. But life is good and challenges make the adventure in the end. We are about to leave Havanna tomorrow and than head along the northern coast westward over the next couple of days to reach Mexico early next week.

… and gone.

It finally took more time to get off the mooring ball. Strong winds, gray sky, maybe the US shed a tear after having me in the country for so long. As I write this message we have crossed the Seaward Territorial Line and are in interantional waters aiming for cuba. – Good bye America, it has been an interesting, unexpected and very intense time with you.

I am not coming back

Last week I had another article published in Fort Myers Beach Island Sand Paper. In case you missed it there you can now read it here: 

I am not coming back

Water released from Lake O leads makes Fort Myers Beach waters nasty
Trying to avoid water contact

The water along the inland rivers that I came down towards the Gulf of Mexico, was mostly muddy and brownish. It even turned black more and more often arriving at the Alabama swamps. Especially when I had to sneak for a night in smaller creeks to anchor away from barges and currents.

That is different from sailing on an ocean: Offshore water is always clear and the same time very colored. Inland Water is mostly dark, filled with mud and often even worse.

Looking over an ocean its water varies with the sky, turning from an intensive blue on sunny days to green, when covered under a light haze. It provides a feel of freshnes. Although sometimes, on a rainy day it is just a lifeless gray; but still a clear one.

Bending over the side one can easily see the boats kiel, rudder and the windvane shining through. The color seems to be somewhere deep behind it, like when looking at a wallpaper through an ice cube. Somehow this is a fortune: One of the most important skills a sailor on a long passage needs to keep from becoming insane, is to see the ocean in a different way each time he looks at it.

Leaving Alabama into the Gulf finally the water turned back to these colors. It was still apart from the the light blue which I first saw arriving in Nassau Harbor a few years ago. Ever since it was that color that was kind of pulling me to the back to southern salty waters. Driving me through Mid-West, being my symbol for the Caribbean I was heading for.

A few days later I bypassed Tampa Bay, to late to make a landfall and so I just kept going into a third night at sea. A nasty squall sneaked off shore and crawled up to me with no thunder and lightening, well hidden in the dark and causing a sleepless night and some damage around midnight.

As the sun rose I aimed for the nearest port I found on the charts. – And coming closer to shore, there it was: My Light Blue, from white sand reflecting a high sun in shallow water just off Sanibel Island; the color I had aimed for since leaving Lake Michigan.

Passing Bowditch Point Park it was gone and I sailed through brown again. It was OK for me. I had had my fix of blue and even if I would have loved to spend a summer in more clear water, I did not mind staying here. I swam off the beach, dived around the boat and going back and forth in my dinghy there was barely a day without being somehow in direct contact with the Water that came in and out of the Pass.

All that changed around June. The brown became darker. On a calm day at slack tide the surface was often covered under a thin oily looking film. And patches of brownish algaes float by. Still we saw weekenders towing kids in tubes along the pass and could only hope they would not have to suffer from this. Unnatural for someone living on a boat, to prevent water contact became a sudden challenge. Then one of the boaters in the mooring field got sick. A swollen leg, fever turned out to be a water born infection from a little scar cought while cleaning his hull. Finally he spend a few days in a hospital, filled up with antibiotics and lost a good chunk of money that otherwise was meant for living here.

The Water became a topic all over the mooring field even before the media picked up the enormous water release from the Inland. Talks on the dinghy dock turned more and more from „how nice this place is“ to „how nasty this water is“. And not few days went by with someone saying what is the biggest loss for community that lives on tourism: „I guess I am not coming back here again“.

Talking politics

No, this stays a sailing and travel website. But sometimes politics affect sailors and than talking politics becomes talking sailing.

At a few moments along this trip I figured to be a little too young for the adventure I am on. Not so much because of missing life experience or lacking wisdom that only spoken through a weathered face has its authority. Anyways, the following might sound so even it came from younger lips.

I often feel too young because everywhere I dock, tie up to a mooring ball or walk along a dock I am about twenty years below the average age. – Fortunately a gap that slowly closes as the journey goes on …

Most people do not work on their cruise like I do and so it is only natural, that only a few cast off before their retirement.

Even outside the US people have recognized that something remarkably mentally deficient goes on in the US. A government that „shuts down“ due to a fight over budgets and its citizens health. Politics, that are normally rather far away from most sailors lives. But talking to people on docks and moorings opens how fast gambling in government comes close. It is as simple as this: People fear missing social security checks. And they don’t blame one or the other side in the government, they blame both for being incapable of handling their business.

Like these sailors, all sorts of public life are affected in one way or another. What a timely coincidence, that tropical storm Karen is approaching the US gulf coast and is putting real lives at risk on the far end from the gamble in Washington, DC:

NHC shut short Due to the shutdown of the U.S. government, postings on the NHC Facebook page will not be as timely or updated as frequently. We urge you to go directly to the NHC website at www.hurricanes.gov for the very latest information regarding the tropics.
Rest assured, the National Hurricane Center remains operational and will continue to provide its mission.“

Right, they stay in business. But facing the lack of money NOAA‘s National Hurricane Center (NHC) just had to consolidate manpower to keep things. Sure no one there is going to just turn off his or her computer to leave a few hundred miles of shoreline in Alabama and Louisiana in the state of a „hurricane watch“. But even this slight cut in communication is dangerous. How many of the 239.000 following the NHC on Facebook will have missed the above post. How many will not receive timely updates as they rely on being informed the way they have been before?

I might have not a weathered face, but playing with money seems dangerous to me if it is money that is important for other people.