Sunday 08 OCT
Yarmouth. First thing in the morning Glenn and I go for a long walk at the water’s edge on the Rails-to-Trail trail (yep, it’s here too), but not until I stop at the restaurant at which we had dinner last night to pick up my camera. I forgot it there. I’ve been pretty good with my possessions lately. Meaning, I haven’t forgotten my things all over town, my usual practice. This is probably more a function of the fact that we have brought very few things with us on this trip, not that I have become any more responsible. So, just as my hand reaches around to pat myself on the back, this realization pulls it right back. I’m no more in control today than ever, I think to myself. The camera panic has pointed this out. When will I be an adult? I wonder for the millionth time as I trudge. We walk to the lighthouse on Little Bunker Island. As we reach the end, a fog settles in. It hides all the chaos of the town behind us, simplifying the view. I snap a bunch of pictures and delight in how much easier it is to shoot through gray haze when you don’t have to see everything.
Later in the day, as I pull my phone out of my back pocket two twenty dollar bills fly out. I don’t notice them. A man catches me form behind waving the money at me shaking his head. Hey kid, he says, you dropped this.
Monday 09 OCT
Canadian Thanksgiving. (on a Monday? How do you recover in time to go back to work?)
Indigenous Peoples Day, AKA American Christopher Columbus Day
My dad’s birthday
When I wake up and before I even get out of bed I text my dad a silly Happy Birthday GIF of a cat sarcastically blowing a noisemaker. Right away he calls me back. We talk for a while. He sounds rested and happy. He’s in Romania just after an afternoon nap. He’s been there with my mother for four weeks and will be heading back to Florida in a few days. He says he’s had a good visit, but is ready to be home. Yea, I think, that’s long enough.
Sometimes I wonder what Romania is for him. For a very long time after he arrived in the U.S. he wouldn’t go back. I mean, for many, many years. I assume he had a lot of resentment for the place that, through its senseless oppressions, made him choose between his own self-actualization and the contentment of his extended family. I assume too, that facing the many inequities of his new home was a complicated, bitter pill at times. Leaving is hard, but arriving is hard too, that is. And then one year, he started going back to visit. It was good for him to see his mother and sister and to get together with friends. It was good to see the country changing, and also to see how it hadn’t changed. Still, one time while we were walking down an Italian street, he told me that his life – his identity – was without a country. Neither the country of his birth nor his adoptive one was “his” and, in turn, neither had his loyalty. I remember feeling sad for him that he couldn’t feel a sense of belonging. Today though, I feel differently. Maybe it’s better to not feel attached to a place. Maybe leaving should always be an option, motion should always be easy. Happy birthday, mobile dad, from your mobile daughter.
Tuesday 10 OCT
The day before departure. We do a bit of grocery shopping. Glenn makes stew for the overnight passage. I used to think these stews were silly overkill, but I have learned that even on relatively calm passages I don’t like to cook too much while we’re underway. So, now I appreciate them.
Wednesday 11 OCT – Thursday 12 OCT – Overnight passage
We leave with the tide at 5AM. Our direction is SW as the wind is from the NW @ 15-20 kph. The seas are good. We travel at 6-7 kph for the first half of the trip making excellent progress. At about 8PM though, the seas get a lot bigger and more confused, the temperature drops, and the wind intensifies. The rest of the trip is very difficult as the boat rocks and bangs for the twenty hours straight.
We take turns trying to sleep. Normally, each of us takes two sleeping shifts in a night. Lately I sleep 8PM – 11:30PM, then Glenn sleeps 11:30PM – 3AM, I go again 3AM – 6:30AM, and then Glenn again 6:30AM – 10AM.* After that, we are both usually awake and in the cockpit, joined sometimes by Ava. While our daylight time is not usually rigidly scheduled, we are conscious about upcoming night shifts and will sometimes nap to prepare. Today though, because of our lack of sleep throughout the night, we switch off in shifts trying to get a tiny bit of shut-eye whenever we can. We don’t have much success. The seas are relentless. Since I can’t sleep and I would get sick if I read, I listen to an audiobook – the Bruce Springsteen (AUDIO) autobiography, Born to Run. I almost finish it and it’s 18 hours long! (By the way, yes, it’s great. I’m not a huge fan, but the book, his writing and his reading, are thoroughly engaging and, of course, nostalgia-inducing.)
We arrive in sight of Cape Cod in the late afternoon. It is always thrilling to see land after being away from it, even for a short bit. This time the pleasure is deep. Unfortunately, because of the shape of the spiraling arm, the trip to the bay is so much longer as we have to sail all the way around its curvature (3 hours+!) This part turns me into a sniveling toddler. Seriously. I audibly groan and stomp my feet at how long it takes.
After we anchor we celebrate our landfall with stew and Project Runway and fall into bear-like hibernation.
*3AM – 6:30AM used to be the good shift to be awake because of the sunrise, but now it’s 6:30AM – 10AM. Too bad for Glenn!
Friday 13 OCT
We sail to Plymouth in the morning. The wind is good and the seas are flat, so sailing is a pleasure again. We check in and get a mooring ball in the harbor. ($35/night – compared to the yacht club which would cost us $4.50/foot or $175.50 per night, which I assume comes with nightly full body massages performed with serums made of infant’s giggles. Seriously, Plymouth Yacht Club, it’s just a rock.)
Saturday 14 OCT
This morning I am greeted by four outstretched arms that wrap me up in big, toasty hugs. It’s nice to finally meet you, we all say to each other. We have come ashore in Plymouth to meet up with Mike, his wife Liane, and their son Henry. Mike is my blog’s biggest fan, reading every post, tracking every position, and, most importantly, donating thousands of dollars to our Patreon site. (Just kidding. Mike is Glenn’s best friend from high school. Plus, come on, we would never have a Patreon site.)
After more than twenty-five years of hearing about each other, the six of us finally meet in the flesh today for the first time. And it feels like old friends, not new. Instantly we slip into chat mode. Trekking through the rain in pairs Liane and I navigate to a local lunch spot, Glenn and Mike catch up behind us, and Henry (aged 9 on the outside, ageless font of wisdom on the inside) and Ava bring up the rear giggling. Over the course of the meal, the conversation flows as if we know each other much better than we do. We agree on so much: politics (whew!), social questions, the virtues of pressure cookers, sports (by which I mean that none of us know anything about sports, except that pink football player uniforms are adorable.)
Mike is a researcher working on cancer drugs for a pharmaceutical company and Liane is a massage therapist. Two areas of life about which I know nothing. I mean, I know how to pressure Glenn into giving me massages, but that’s, you know, not that hard. So, I have a bunch of questions for each of them that make me sound like a freak (what’s it like to touch people for a living?) But here’s the thing, Glenn and I know very few people outside of architecture. This is not by choice, really. We just have jobs that cloister us in tiny ivory towers. So, when we do finally escape into the wilderness, we are I am a bit wide-eyed. Anyway, this is all to say that even with my dumb questions the conversation flows easily.
After stretching out our lunch for as long as we could with more rounds of drinks and fries, we go in search of something to do in the rain. We bounce around some museum ideas. Glenn wants to see the cordage museum (yawn) but it’s a bit too far on foot, Plimoth Plantation sounds cool, but it’s all outdoors. How about, uh, the rock? Yep, that’s where we ended up going. Plymouth Rock. Luckily under Doric cover and with an amplified story-telling guide, who unfortunately bears a great resemblance to the Canadian border officer that issued us a huge fine, which distracts me from his jokes somewhat. Anyway, it’s fun to learn a little something more about the mighty myth of this humble, split, half the size it used to be, moved from its original location, probably never stepped on hunk of granite. We linger again pretending to be a little more interested than what we really are… next, next, what should we do next?
Can we go see the boat? Asks Henry. I think he wants to go or maybe he has sensed that the grown-ups have run out of ideas for distraction. Either way, this little question warms me up. Before this moment I really liked this kid, but now I’m touched. He’s interested in what we are doing. He’s curious and game. I want to reach down and give him a squeeze, but instead I just smile. Of course we can. The guys and Ava end up going without Liane and me. It doesn’t seem worth it to have Glenn make two dinghy trips in the rain. Besides, there’s a warm, dry bar behind us that has been chilling a bottle of wine for me. Liane and I go in and girltalk. I miss this part of life. I have a few good women friends with whom I cherish my scraps of time. Being on the boat has reduced this time to fragmented texts and once in a while a call or Facetime. Not enough.
After a while the other four return to us. They don’t say much about the boat, so I’m not sure how insane Mike (or Henry for that matter) think we are. Instead, we go on chatting where we left off. We use the restaurant like our living room, buying drinks only to have a reason to be allowed to stay longer. Henry grows restless and goes outside for a bit. He stands in an area where we can all see him. Soon he starts to sing along with one of the songs playing on the speaker. It’s heartbreakingly cute… and familiar. As an only child myself and the parent of an only child, I recognize these moments of self-reliance and occupation. Then he turns sees us watching him sing. Liane mouths the words joining him, but he’s shy and stops. We all giggle and enjoy his sweetness.
Eventually, because I mean what else are we going to do? We go to another, and final, restaurant of the day. Wood’s, a casual seafood spot with bisque in Styrofoam and lobster rolls with too much mayo. I’m not sure any of us is really hungry, but we eat again. Glenn gets lobster, which takes him forever to eat, maybe to make the night last longer or maybe because he always wants to get his money’s worth. It doesn’t matter, it’s all over too soon. But we are, by now, old friends.
We have been on the move for over four months now and I am far from tiring of it. I feel like I could go on forever at this pace from place to place. I am not sentimental about home and, while this may be temporary, I don’t yet miss it. However, today did make me wish for more nights at home near a stove with good friends for company.
Sunday 15 OCT
We prepare to leave tomorrow by doing nothing in preparation. Glenn gets his wish of going to the cordage museum and I get mine of not.