Cover art by CARLY GLOVINSKI from the Group Exhibition: Call and Response
at MoCA Jacksonville currently on show.
Wednesday 27 DEC 2017 – St. Augustine
The days after Christmas are low-lying. We mostly laze about doing not much and too much – not much moving and too much eating. At times we worry, so we go to the gym’s treadmill or do YouTube Zumba for twenty minutes. By now, we have been living with my parents for two weeks and have forgotten we are visitors. Today, for instance, we stay in bed late into the morning, go out all day on supply runs for the boat, eat lunch out in town rather than come home, and saunter back through doors without kisses or hellos. We are no longer on our best behavior. (Were we ever?) We are no longer enthusiastic or careful. My parents are, again, roommates we encounter on the way to the kitchen or bathroom. I like it better this way. Everyone is free of the obligation to perform the affections presumed present. Everyone regains independence. For us, the conversion (back?) to familial familiarity usually happens around day 5 of a visit. By that day we have, in a very short span of time, performed all of our favorite group outings. We have: gone out for sushi at our local place, shopped at the outlets, shopped at the non-outlets, taken a couple of beach walks, grilled mititei, and, without fail, witnessed a big ole fight between my mother and me.
“The fight” happens this year too. Like every other year, it is a dumb thing over something as impossibly trivial as cake. That is this year’s version anyway. For a while after “the fight,” each of us feels misunderstood and victimized by the other; each of us keeps a wide distance for a day or two. Then, there is a talk. Then, a reconciliation. Then, a resumption. I suppose this ritual is somehow necessary, since we keep reenacting it year after year, even though we both dread it. And again, I like the period afterwards better than the one before, because there is a reduction in the expectations being made on me. Or at least I think this happens. After “the fight,” the atmosphere, to me, feels lighter and more forgiving. My words and gestures are less scrutinized, less important and I am more… visible. And it is a relief. If I had it my way, I would live much closer to my parents and have much more contact. Then, this issue of being seen wouldn’t ever arise. In my fantasy universe we wouldn’t have to reintroduce ourselves to each other’s habits and quirks (and the way they have shifted), we wouldn’t have to make ourselves visible time and time again, because we would be seeing each other all the time. Changes would be incremental, misalignments smaller. Plus, our contact would be more continuous and less constant, more air, less pressure.
In the evening Glenn and I go to see a movie, The Square. This Swedish film was this year’s Cannes Palm d’Or winner and it is a gigantic piece of self-loathing garbage. It stipulates that if you’re an elitist, wealthy, lover of high art you must also be a self-absorbed, prejudiced, sexual predator. (Giant eye roll.) It is a childish bunch of tired clichés by a dumb director who has confused liberalism with neoliberalism. Worst movie I have seen in five years or longer…
Thursday 28 DEC 2017 – St. Augustine
By today we are all ready to get out of the house for a more adventurous “trip.” Glenn goes to the boat to do some work. The rest of us, mom, dad, me and Ava, go to see a table that my mother has ordered for her living room. She wants a second opinion. Meaning, she doesn’t want my dad’s second opinion, which apparently is not favorable. When we get to the showroom I get a bit apprehensive based on the objects around us. The place has a shabby chic kind of aesthetics-of-authenticity that I don’t love. Mostly they carry a collection of fake distressed stuff that looks like it was dragged back from one’s extensive, exotic, and nonexistent world travels. There’s pock marked wood, wicker, and “worn out” textiles on clean-lined pieces. Ok, it’s not my cup of tea, but I try and stay open-hearted. The table she has ordered is a chunky hand-hewn wooden plank and wrought iron affair that has been sitting in the back of a horse stable of some Scottish castle since the sixteenth century. What a find! My second opinion is… no, and so is everyone else’s. Table order cancelled. (Honestly, it wasn’t horrible, it just wouldn’t have gone well in the room.)
When we get back outside it’s cold and rainy, but I’m not ready to go home. This is our last full day together and I get somewhat pre-nostalgic at our inevitable parting tomorrow. It’s always this way. I’m indifferent for the last half of our visits until the last day when I realize the remaining time is suddenly so short. I soften a lot in these moments. “Let’s go to the art museum,” I toss out as we are getting back into the car. By this I mean the contemporary art museum in the center of Jacksonville, from which we are only about fifteen minutes. A little bit begrudgingly, everyone
drags their feet agrees. I’m the only one who’s ever been to this museum and I think my folks will like it. It’s small, bult with a nice collection. I always see something I like there. We go. It’s fun. It’s probably a little more fun for me than everyone else. Afterwards, riding my high I talk everyone into a pizza place I know about across the river. And then finally, home.
Friday 29 DEC 2017 – St. Augustine
Glenn and I start the day with some grocery shopping, leaving Ava to sleep in and catch the last bits of her grandparents’ rays of attention. We bring the food to the boat and load the shelves; we put the jib on the furler and furl the headsail; and we make a visit to Chick-fil-a for a last “blessed” lunch for a while. When we get back to my parent’s house we have laundry folding and packing to do. We finish everything, load the car, and leave for the marina, arriving at about 3PM. At the dinghy we realize we have to make two trips, so Glenn and I load half the gear and then I say goodbye, a hug and a kiss for each of my parents, and I’m off more quickly than I wished. As I ride to Netzah, eager for the next phase of the trip, I am also heavy with sadness at leaving my parents. I always, always wish I had more time with them.
Saturday 30 DEC 2017 – St. Augustine
We leave St. Augustine late today. We have the mooring ball until 11AM, check out time at the Municipal Marina. Since the current is strong against us until noon though, we wait it out as long as we can. Originally, we were planning an early start because we were planning an ocean sail, but as Glenn checked on the weather this morning he became uneasy at the new predictions of higher-than-expected seas. “What should we do?” he had asked me, before making a decision. Questions like these make me feel some of the weight of his burden. The choice is tricky. Going by ocean we get speed. We can cover the 165 miles to Fort Pierce in a day and a half. But the sail will be an overnight in choppy, high seas. Going by IntraCoastal Waterway we get safety and comfort, but it will take us four or five days to cover the same distance. Given that it’s been so cold, speed sounds good as it will get us further south quicker, plus I don’t want to sound be whimpy deferring to my sea sickness, so in my can-I-get-another-lashing voice I say, “OK, let’s go out on the ocean.” He hears my well-hidden trepidation. For a while we weigh other options. Maybe we could we go out and then duck in at Ponce de Leon Inlet, 60 miles south of here, if it’s too rough. Maybe we could we go out and then return back here if we want to test things. By the end of it though I admit that I’d rather, uh, do the opposite of rough it.
At 10:45AM we call the Bridge of Lions and request an 11 o’clock opening in order to head south on the ICW. We cross under and stop at the fuel dock and load up on diesel, gas, water, and last glances at St. Augustine. I’ve grown very fond of this town. On this visit I had some time on my own to drift and poke around. It is a beautiful place for sure, but I also like the independent vibe of the place. I may even miss it…
We motor to a spot on the Matanzas River by the fort. We drop anchor in the swift current at about 3PM. Within ten minutes we are joined by three other sailboats heading our way.
Sunday 31 DEC 2017 – Halifax River, Ponce de Leon Inlet, FL
We get an early start because we want to get at least to Daytona Beach, 40 miles south of here, today. Normally, we can do this, but the prediction of the currents by our Navionics app has been less than accurate lately, so it’s hard to tell what we may be up against throughout the day. Sometimes on the ICW the currents can be so strong that it slows our speeds down to sub-2 kts. This happened when we were coming into St. Augustine, just as we could smell the pizza and ice cream natch, we got hit with a massive current and wind against us. We were almost standing still at times. Today, we see predicted an early favorable tide, so we pull up the anchor and jump on the boost. We get lucky. The current helps us all day, getting us to Daytona by 1PM. We have split the day into four 2.5-hour shifts, but as we have moved so well, I hardly have to put in any time on my shift. We anchor next to a large, old catamaran in the Halifax River, a branch off the ICW just north of the Ponce de Leon Inlet about ten miles south of Daytona Beach.
For dinner I make a Niçoise salad and we have some chocolate for dessert. Afterwards, to try relax but fail, we play Cards Against Humanity. Ava wins, but not before getting mad at us for telling her not to laugh at her own jokes. In our defense, this wasn’t because we didn’t want her to have fun – as she read it – but rather because we didn’t want her to give away her own answers. So, we’re all a bit mad and then, oh yeah, it’s New Year’s eve, we remind ourselves. Dates are rather meaningless out here. Anyway, it’s late, by which I mean 9 o’clock, so we drink a Pro Secco toast to the new year and promptly fall asleep to the sound of fireworks.
Monday 01 JAN 2017 – Sea Love Marina, Ponce de Leon Inlet, FL
The nights on Netzah have been very cozy. There’s a chill settling over Florida at the moment. The outside overnight temperatures are in the low forties, but inside our insulated aluminum shell it’s warm and dry. So far in this cold patch we haven’t used our little propane heater, our bodies alone provide exactly enough warmth. And in bed, under the covers with the right pajamas on, the temperature is perfect. Plus, our sheets are clean and I have added new mattress pads for extra softness. I couldn’t be more comfortable, I think to myself this morning as I prop up my pillow and reach for my phone to read the mornings news.
Comfort is a strange state of being, no? This word, this sensation, comes up once in a while in my world because some people think that the point of (some aspects of) architecture is comfort – as in corporal comfort. If you think about it though, to feel this comfort is to NOT feel something. To be perfectly comfortable one should not feel one’s own body at all. One should not feel one’s own body struggling against gravity via the mass of some furniture or object one encounters physically because the most comfort comes when one feels, uh, absolutely nothing. In perfect comfort, then, one’s big, lumpy, heavy body should be held in perfect suspension, sometimes completely against gravity, but one should not feel it.
“We have to move!” yells Glenn panicked and fraught as he reaches the cockpit. “Right now! We are dragging anchor. Get up!” He slams down the urine container he was intending to empty. We had already decided not to motor today as the winds will be at gale force in a few hours, but had expected to stay anchored in position.
I rise up quickly and pull on clothes and then foul weather gear. When I get outside I see that we have drifted dangerously close to yesterday’s catamaran neighbor. The holding is poor here and the current is strong, I find out as I fight against it pulling up the anchor. As I continue to crank we seem to be getting nearer to the cat, which is also swinging. I stop and yell to Glenn that we are getting too close. “Keep going!” comes the response in such a panic that I wind now at double speed. Soon we drift away from the cat and I am relieved for a minute, but then we move close again. I can’t figure out why we are moving the way we are, but I keep cranking until we are free and Glenn pulls us to a safe spot by motor. We drop the anchor. Here we are more exposed, but far from obstacles in case we drag again. Directly in front of us is a face dock with plenty of space on it. We want to tie up there, but need permission first. At 8AM, more than an hour later, we get a hold of someone who lets us tie up at $1.75 per foot. Great.
We move the boat. Ava (wo)mans the bow line, her usual position. I am in my spot, the middle. Glenn handles the stern line. When we get to the dock, it is my job to tie off the boat. Typically, when no one is around to help, I wait for the boat to come alongside the dock and then hop to land to start the securing of the lines. In this case, first the middle line, then the bow line, then the stern, given the wind. This time though, when I go to jump, my left foot gets caught on my own docking line. As I’m in the air my leg gets pulled back toward the boat. Rather than landing on my feet, I land on my butt, on a cleat. My legs then go into the water and my body dangles between the dock and Netzah, which is approaching with her broad side. For a second, I am tangled in the lines and a bit stunned. I sit frozen and call for Glenn. When he sees me he looks dazed. Maybe he too thinks the boat is going to run into me, I worry. To my great fortune though, the wind is blowing the boat away from me. I get some time. I pull my legs out of the water. The boat never hits. “Tie the boat to the cleat,” Glenn yells out. And I do. Then I run to go catch the bow line. I feel the shooting pain in my back from the fall. I get to the bow. By now it’s swung far away from the dock. Ava throws the tangle of a line hard. Instead of unfurling, the whole clump drops straight down into the water alongside the boat. Shit. I run back to the stern. I can at least tie off that line. Glenn gets the stern line to me and I tie it off. Glenn then goes and helps Ava. He pulls up the bow line and throws it to me. I barely catch it but I do and with that the whole boat is secure. The three of us look at each other in disbelief. We have been docking for years. What just happened? Welcome to land, clowns! Yells the owner of the marina. Just kidding, no one was around, but I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Oh yeah, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
only scroll down now if you want to see my face burns.
you have been warned.
7 thoughts on “29. St Augustine to Ponce de Leon Inlet”
Again, I don’t breathe between your sentences. So descriptive in such a short distance. I had forgotten about incident at stove. Omg. Omg. Big hug and carry on my dear one. Love to you 3. You’ll get to warm calm soon I pray😘
Don’t worry about my face. It’s almost completely back to its old self. I’m fine. Now if I can just stay on my feet.
I hope you’re staying warm up there in the “north”. I see warmth coming in 2-3 Days. Hope you’re well!
Another great blog. Loved your description of the table your mother wanted to buy. I sometimes wonder how you feel about my “oh so traditional” furnishings since you and Glenn like the minimalist, mid-century modern look. To each his own, I say. Your facial injuries look frighteningly painful, but I’m glad to hear you’re finally recovering from that awful explosion. And the incident you had while docking sounded scary. Hopefully, things will be better for you from now on! Take care and stay warm. Love and hugs to all of you. ❣️😻
We are not that judgemental about furniture unless we have to live with it. Then we have opinions. I do love our furniture, both because of how it looks and because Glenn made most of it. But I don’t think badly of other stuff though. Especially not historic periods like early American colonial. Love it.
We are moving today finally. It’s been cold here, even below freezing, but when I start to get whiny I look at the Michigan weather map and think we don’t have it so bad. Plus, Glenn got me a sleeping bag/coat for Xmas. I wear that around and feel just fine.
I enjoyed reading your story of your trip to Ponce Inlet. Thank you for your compliment and including photos of my boat Shiris. She was built by Luke on the Hamble in England and launched in April, 1937.
1937! Wow, James. Thanks for sharing. It’s a pity you weren’t around when we were there. We would have loved to see more of Shiris. She’s a real beauty.
I sailed on Shiris 51 years ago (1969) on a 2 week holiday with 4 other paying guests/crew . The cost per person was £18 per week! Without doubt the best £36 I have ever spent. Shiris was owned by skipper David Brodie and was based at Dartmouth in Devon (UK). We sailed from Dartmouth to the Channel Islands (Alderney, Guernsey and Sark) then on to Lezardrieux in Brittany (France) before returning to Dartmouth via Isle-de-Brehat. I have sailed and owned many yachts since then but none of them had any where near the same effect on me as Shiris did. You are a lucky man, James! By the way, Shiris was yawl-rigged then, with a 70 foot mainmast.