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.
Just one more mail has to arrive, than we are ready to go. Eough "very important" ToDo items are checked and impatience grows. Today we are going to the airport to check out with US Customs and then "thumbs pressed" – leaving Wednesday.
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
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“.
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:
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.
The people around me are getting impatient. Projects are due to be finished, boats have to get ready to depart. As fall arrives the season will begin. My Fort Myers Beach maintenance summer heads for its end and still the list of undone tasks appears to grow while many projects took and take longer than thought.
It is the privilege of making a plan to put all this aside and to focus on the upcoming episode of Paulinchen Worldwide. We have named it the the IncaSailTrail and it is about this: A journey to the very roots of the central and southern american culture. – Back in time and high in the Andes to ancient Inca towns and to Mayan places on Yucatan.
The trip will start mid to end october from Fort Myers Beach and head out to Cuba, along the Yucatan Chanel and we expect to reach the Panama Canal in Winter to make a passage into the Pacific.
Being there, how can one miss the Galapagos islands, just about ten days off shore from the canal mouth. The place that inspired Darwins theory of evolution, changing the view on life for a whole planet. It will mark the most western extend of this expedition for now that more aims for southern directions and back to the continent. Along the Ecuadorian coast we will reach Peru and Chile.
Extended stops along this path are planned for tanking excursions into the mainland. A training to hike the IncaTrail in April or May.
From there the path will head on to eventually reach one of the most rural and remote parts of this planet. Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of the American continent.
Planing such a trip involves preparation. We need to be self supporting for weeks. More challenging than the practical work on the boat is the theoretical preparation. Besides permissions to hike the Incatrail and to visit certain parks like the Galapagos Islands we also need to do our own research and find historians for the Mayan, Inca cultures and for general central and south american history. People that can help us sorting out the real important places and stories. (In case someone knows someone, we really appreciate you hint!)
Than some missing equipment, like a new diesel heater had to be found and installed before Paulinchen heads into the cold. A thing that seems to be quite rare on the used parts marked in southern Florida … And finally, after living almost four years mostly off a 55W solar panel a wind generator must be found and placed somewhere on the boat.
So days are getting shorter and the project schedule gets tighter, but hey, isn‘t it good to just have a plan?
[button color=“#fff“ background=“#000″ size=“medium“ src=“http://www.Islandsandpaper.com“]…previously published on Fort Myers Beach „Island Sand Paper“[/button]
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Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. A week or two to think about what has been archived and what are the goals to go for: A camping trip into the woods or laying back on a mountain lake shore, just watching clouds passing the blue sky. A changing scene generates new inspirations and frees the mind. Like changing wallpapers at home can make an old house look new, another lookout can help to refresh an old life. I experienced this every time I felt uncomfortable with what I did. A week focusing on the problem while looking ad fresh images always revealed the way I would go next. It made and enlarging time between jobs to travel and finally led to where I am now: Living on a boat in Fort Myers Beach. And doing so changed the pattern.
Wallpapers at home stay the same and a vacation means to return to them at the end of a trip. Sometimes this is the bad part of a journey, returning from an exciting place to face the reoccurrence of the day to day life that was just left behind. But what, if the wallpaper change is the day to day life.
I live aboard for more than five years now and since than returning home has changed a lot. Sailing back to Paulinchen‘s homeport does not feel like returning home anymore. Over time it just became a destination on the trip, to finish a circumvention not to end the voyage. My home is floating along changing scenes and seasons. And a vacation has become to see friends and family at the life I have once lived.
I met Island Sand Paper Editor Keri at Matanza’s Upper Deck, a casual bar at the motel ashore from where Paulinchen is currently docked. And maybe my office dress (Shorts, Flip Flops, T-Shirt) and having my computer with me made her write that the bar became my regular office here in Fort Myers Beach. In fact, it was for that day.
And so we started chatting over a beer about cruising, living aborad and how I got from where I once lived to where I am now. Her article was published in Island Sand Paper and you can read it online on the newspapers Website.
Looks like this summer turns out to become a rather slow one. Good for me, as there are many projects on the list and a maintenance season here is maybe even better than the original planned one in Trinidad. Lets just hope I will not get blown away… because after staying already for a while in Fort Myers Beach I decided to even stay a bit longer and spend the rest of Hurricane Season here. Only I had to head out of the US for a two week trip to renew my US cruising permit. A requirement that sounded a little odd to me and everyone else who heared about the fact that although my visa would allow me to stay, my boat had to leave and come back.
Finally the day I was almost ready to head out I took the bus to the airport to obtain departure papers and surrender my current permit. But than I met Office Blending and her colleague – the nicest officers ever! „Impossible“ became „possible“.
Of course they could not issue me an extension for my cruising permit but I did not need one. I was fine with leaving in fall from here straight out of the US for Cuba or Mexico, whereever the wind wil blow me. So they agreed to give me a permission to stay in Fort Myers Customs jurisdiction until end of hurricane season. Once again it’s proven that phone calls and emails are a total different thing from talking to someone face to face.
How else could I better party this permission than with a parade and fireworks the next day in Fort Myers Beach? Well it was not really my party, so: Happy Birthday USA, at the same time!
[gdl_gallery title=“FMB-Independence-Day“ width=“150″ height=“100″ ]
Over a lazy Sunday morning coffee I was thinking about what it tells about me that as a kid I never got much interested in Lions, Tigers or other classic predators. Instead I could spend hours on reading or watching films about Pandas, Koalas, Manatees, and other animals most boys that age would think of as maybe cute, but pretty boring? And I began to wonder if there is some sort of mental connection to this and that it is the reason why I cannot catch any fish besides lots of Tuna at open sea while next to me the guys pull out one after another. – At least I am far from starving.
But maybe this non predator attitude is also why I am more annoyed than thrilled of what most people think of as an exciting action. I never was a great racer nor sports fanatic. Most times playing a game when someone else won I was more happy it was over than sad about not wining. To me a perfect day is a calm one that just provides all I need to survive it.
The same happens when it comes to bad weather. Currently I am waiting for the arrival of what still has a 10 percent chance of becoming the Gulf’s first tropical Storm in 2013. Thats a low chance and if the remains of Pacific Storm Barbara will become that, they have to hurry up. – Tomorrow it’s here.
Currently only gusty winds, some thunder and lightning and lots of rain are forecasted. In up to 30 knots on anchor I would set a second hook if I had not lost it the other day. But I have sailed in worse than that and anchored in worse too. If so had to be done to get somewhere but I never asked for it. On a mooring ball designed for yachts up to 50 feet here are probably not many reasons to be afraid.
The only preparation will be to dig out my generator from the aft compartment this afternoon because the solar panel will not keep up pumping sunlight into the batteries to work below deck.
But even out on a hook this weather would be more annoying to me than thrilling. I won’t want it, but can’t change it. So I stay put, and wait for it to pass over. If that sounds maybe a little bored, it’s not. Think of me as of a Koala just cewing another eucalyptus for hours watching the rain go by and the sun come up and go down again. Is there a reason to ask for more? No!
Look what’s in the mail today 🙂
Many many thanks to Angela and Clive who are cruising onboard „Cosmic Dancer“ currently somewhere on Lake Erie towards the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as I find a way to get a Caribbean chart installed, the Garmin will be Paulinchens new – and first – chart plotter!
Also in case someone needs some virtual cooling this summer, these guys probably have it for you. The England based „Cosmic Dancer“, just departured from Chicago after a quite long winter towards Greenland where Angela, Clive and some friends have not at least sort of a little „hiking“ planned.