August 13, 2014

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

"You only start living once you reach the end of your comfort zone" …. unknown.

I wrote a new song last year titled Beyond Your Wildest Dreams… and the more I think about it, that pretty much sums up the way I view 2014 so far… Cruising for the past 7 months has indeed been an episode beyond my wildest dreams… Please humor me as I sprinkle a sampling of those song lyrics in this post… 

I say grab life by the tail and swing it over your head...

SING! … about everything.

SMILE! … a very long while.
DANCE! … and take another chance.

LAUGH! … for your own behalf.

CRY! … till your eyes run dry.
PRAY! … for another day.

CREATE! … your masterpiece

EXPLORE! … beyond your back door.
IMAGINE! … things you cannot see.

And if this all just seems … too simple to believe.

It's inside you and me … 
and it's beyond your wildest dreams.

At the beginning of this year, I asked myself a question ..."When was the last time I did something for the first time?"  

That question has entertained me all year.

No matter how big or small the deed, I have freely chosen to take more risks, and have do more "firsts" than any other time in my life.  

Sure, piloting a sailboat solo across the Gulfstream and deep into the Exumas was a first for me.  But there have been many other firsts that have occurred since January 1st, too many to name… some are as simple as smiling at a stranger, befriending a homeless guy, spearing a lobster, attending an all black Bahamian church, learning to use a chart plotter or just reaching out to some person or direction that is foreign or new… it's like getting out of my comfort zone on purpose.

And so the list of new "firsts" goes on, and it continues to this very day… some "firsts" are very simple and easy while others require more guts and stamina… Someone once said, "new accomplishments that don't kill you make you stronger."  I agree.  Some days it's sort of like walking on hot coaIs.
If you've been following this sail blog, you will know that this incredible journey began on January 1, 2014.  Since that time, Glory Days has carried me safely over 1500 miles all through the Bahama Islands and back up the east coast of Florida.  Although I have owned, sailed and crewed on several other boats for many years, this was my first time to the Bahamas, and my first time as captain of my own vessel in a coastal and off-shore situation.  Beginnings sure are sweet, and I'm licking my chops as I plan the next venture for Glory Days coming up this fall. But for now, I need to tend to business in my native Georgia and allow life to unfold.

So Glory Days will be taking a little rest over the next 3 months   

At this very moment, she's resting in dry dock storage in a small community called Green Cove Springs, located on the St. John's River about 30 miles south of Jacksonville.  In sailor terms, she is said to be "on the hard" now.  

When I drove away from her on August 1, I left her high and dry behind a barbed wire security gate.  I couldn't help but think of it as "boat prison."  Someone later told me it would be easier on myself if considered her time on the hard more like time of rejuvenation in a spa for her… 

Its as if she's getting rested and groomed for the next big outing.  Either way, the change will be good for us both, and hopefully she's safely protected during hurricane season till I can get back there.

She's a fine boat.  And I must admit, it has been a very good run, and this captain will return in fall, after some well needed time to "regroup" on the mainland.


Last year, I began the Glory Days blog under the subtitle "Peeking Through The Prana."  I knew that the energy force of this new lifestyle would be huge and thick with goodness...  I was right. So peeking through the prana of it all is exactly what I did.  As I unpeeled layer after layer of this delightful energy force, I liked what I saw, and was soon engulfed in this lifestyle, this culture. There would be no turning back now.

But after a couple months into the trip, I felt the need to DO SOMETHING worthwhile while cruising, as opposed to just only "peeking" ... I wanted something more than a journey into self indulgence of me me me and the great blue sea... so I changed the blog subtitle, and my way of thinking, to the phrase "Sailing To Serve."  What the heck does that mean, you might ask?  

Service to others is our highest calling and so I've made it my personal mission to open my eyes to areas of need, to befriend total stranger, to go out of my way to make a difference, and to try my best to complete one random act of kindness each day along the way.  I have found that this goal is a tall order, but to my amazement, things just seem to fall into place perfectly and the Universal Plan seems to balance it all out in divine order. 

"Sailing to Serve" has loftier goals for the next go " around, and I can hardly wait to get it all going again.  If you've been a follower of my rambling thoughts, poetry, songs and discoveries I thank you … 

I had a rather daunting epiphany this week as I prepared to navigate Glory Days on her final 70 miles towards her summer storage resting place.  7 months of  living aboard and exploring unique places was suddenly about to come to a rest.  Mind you, I did not say an “end”.  As I laid my head to sleep that night four words, The Beauty of Cruising, would not leave my mind 

There are cruisers with far more experience than I who could probably describe it much better than me, but I will share my discoveries of this unique lifestyle called cruising as best I can here.

For me, the beauty of cruising is multi dimensional.... People ask me, "How do you stand being on water out of sight of land all the time?"  Well, its not like that at all Sure, there are times when you make a long passage, but for the most part you have already arrived at Point B, and the journey from Point A was just a brief and beautiful means to an end.  It's not all time trapped on a boat once you get there, there's islands to explore, people to meet, markets to shop, meals to prepare, fish to hunt, songs to write, aromas to smell, and visions to manifest.  A new port or anchorage brings a whole new set of adventures and quests.

But what it really boils down for me, is that cruising allows me to experience ALL of the beautiful outdoors 24 hours, 7 days of the week. You're basically living outside. Your entire day and night is outside… Even when you're down below, you're really outside.  

You soon become such an integral part of each 24 hour segment, and you learn to love it and embrace it, and anything less is is just unnatural.  Sun, birds, wind, rain, heat, cold, daylight, and darkness is what you live by and what you experience from dawn to dusk .... you wake with the sunrise and prepare your bed when it sets... Things like cars, traffic, shopping centers, television, and roadways are just not in the equation anymore.  Suddenly, it's all about the environment, Gods gift of nature, and the people that enter your lives along the way.

You learn to embrace all phases of the elements, and you learn to know that outdoors is where it is at.  If it rains, you close hatches.  If it’s hot, you run fans If it rains a lot, you get out a bar of soap. If you hear a voice, you listen.  If you see a miracle you get out the camera.  
Then there are some personal adaptations you must make. You learn to use showers that are shared by total strangers that came before you.  You learn to haul your groceries a mile or two back to the boat.  You learn to save small bits of hardware that could come in handy later.  You learn to cover your fresh cleaned laundry so the salt spray from the dinghy ride does not nullify all your work.  You learn to keep knives sharp and batteries maintained.  You learn that your favorite shower is the spray nozzle on a garden hose at dock near your boat.  Soap and water pressure make a fine shower under a blue sky circus or under a nighttime star parade.

 .... at dawn clouds may creep above you, and you actually take the time to stop and watch them for more than just a minute or two .... you know that wherever your boat is is your home and you get to take it with you.  So in essence, you're never really very far from home.
I've also been asked, "So what do you do all day?"  Sometimes I just need to breathe, some days sit and stare, some days I'm busier than a beehive with a long list of tasks,....slowing down from the pace I keep is an area I'm working on because it’s pretty much high energy for me all day then there's that good old 4 o’clock nap if I’m lucky.  It's ok to be alone with yourself.

If I feel the need to talk I can always talk to a fellow boater nearby who clearly has the same interests as mine... I rarely know much about the news nowadays ... but after years of being a news junky, I’m very ok with this now... if something’s really big, I’ll hear about it, and I can instantly access the information should I care to do that... the political climate never changes nor does the fighting in the mid east... I know it will be there, and from my perspective, all I can really do is send prayer... World prayer consciousness that starts with me.  Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  I figure me alone being the change in a small part of the world has more power than just watching all the violence and corruption on tv without doing anything about it.

I also get the question, "And what about when you return to land life?"  

During those times when I do leave the boat, and return to terrestrial life, its a different paradigm entirely..and to be honest, it is an area that I struggle with It is not easy being back in the land life after months of living carefree on a boat... I have to remind myself that land life is all most folks really know, and I need to accept that... suddenly, you realize that the time of the sunset today does not really affect your day anymore because you cannot see it from your home even if you wanted to... (sometimes it peaks through tho... be ready for it.) When on land, I also loose track of the way the clouds swoosh and sway throughout the day because I’m too busy tending to things in my "human doing" mode instead of human-being mode of thinking. 

So please allow me to divert from the rambling on the beauty of cruising and give you a brief synopsis of the most recent journey aboard Glory Days 

 Let us continue now with the final blog entry for this part of the journey...

This is the route we would take.  Depart from St. Augustine, sail 30 miles in the Atlantic to Jacksonville, then 30 miles south to the red circle, Green Cove Springs.

Before Dixon arrived, I spend a relaxing afternoon on St. Simon's Island they have a nice little village area with a historical lighthouse.  A public pier below makes for a nice place to take an afternoon nap which I did as I listened to the pounding of waves on the rocks.  The Brunswick River Bridge is in the background.

So after a couple week in Georgia, here I was back in St. Augustine. and during the last week of July, 2014, we began moving the boat to her summer home. Here are a few scenes from St. Augustine, July 26, as we were about to leave.

This guy wanted to trade boats, but I said no.

I've seen this little blues combo twice now… I forget their name but they really rock and have a good feel for the blues.

My oldest friend, Dixon, came down again for some good times on Glory Days.... for 5 days we were on the boat together as we made our way towards Green Cove Springs. .... the first day we stayed at St.  Augustine and just enjoyed reconnecting and taking in the local sites... good food, good live music... and motoring back in the dinghy on a jet black night to the comfort of our floating home 

...then we proceeded to sail 30 miles north in the open Atlantic to Jacksonville ... in terms of weather and wind conditions, we had a little bit of everything ... first there was too little wind, then there was too much wind, then there was a full blown electrical storm whipping right on top of us.... We quickly dropped the sails and motored directly into the storm.... at one point we could only make 3 knots when the waves were bearing down on the bow... but we continued on through loud screeching sounds of sharp thunder all around for about an hour

This mid day thunderstorm brought us back to our senses… thunder and lightning crackled all around us as we donned our rubber soled shoes and prayed for a break… Batten down the hatches and ride it out is about all you can do.

 after all, a mast is like a lightening rod all alone in an open sea... thankfully we were not struck...  I’ve done that before, and it is will scare the living sense right out of you... but that's another tale for another day.

Plan it out… write it down and keep up with your engine maintenance and you'll minimize a few things that could go wrong.

The 2nd day we dropped the lines and departed St.  Augustine.... Just as we were in the pass entering the Atlantic, I caught a small jack fish on the lure... There was a feeding frenzy on the surface of the water so I cast my lure and landed this guy on the first cast. It was a good omen.

We soon entered Jax on Sat. afternoon with a good northwesterly blowing us through the entrance channel... ships, barges, and tugs seem to be common place here and we just carried on with the best of them.

 ... Jacksonville is a huge commercial port... and we soon found a perfect anchorage just in front of the Dames highway bridge at highway 295.... a dinner of grilled flounder was just right...

The next day, Saturday... we took it easy again...traveling only 3 hours to a free dockage that Jacksonville allows boaters to use... so nice... I think this was the day that we actually took 2 naps... and I even flirted with a third.!... lazy day in the summer sun.

Before entering the downtown district of Jacksonville, we anchored here near the Dames Bridge… all of this area is pretty heavily used by ships, cargo barges, tug boats and pleasure craft...
Just stay out of their way  Ship repair and construction facilities below.

Sunset in Jacksonville was sweet… it made for some great kick-back time before the 30 mile trip south the following day along the St. Johns' River.

The fact that Jacksonville offers FREE marina dockage for transients is unheard of in urban areas.  Any boater can stay right downtown free for up to 72 hours.

Leaving Jacksonville Monday morning, July 28 gave me my first opportunity to cross beneath what is called a "lift bridge"… It may sound simple to do, but with a very strong following tide on your stern, you must be extra careful not to get too close… because the bridge opens quite slow, and your vessel is moving faster than normal due to their very strong river current.  You really don't want to bang your mast into the bridge ...

Traveling south on the St. John's river was a real pleasure… it is a HUGE river that flows north.  Even tho we were moving against the current, it is not so noticeable because the river is easily 2-3 miles wide… If fact, we caught a great wind on our beam and were able to sail quite comfortably  at 5-6 knots all the way to our next stop for the night.
We discovered this quiet little marina called Knights Boat Landing… No one here so we just tied up Glory Days and enjoyed the comfort of a dock slip… no showers here, but what the heck, free power and water.  I'll have to remember this place again on the trip north next time.
Here, Dixon enjoys cooling off with a fresh water shower, dockside… you can't beat it.

We obviously made the most of our stay here.. playing tunes, eating well and taking a little side trip of Black Creek as you can see from the photos below.

Here's "Smiley" again...
My kind of rest area...

Just a few scenes along the river… Suddenly we felt like we were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn exploring the river...

Our 5 day sailing venture had to eventually come to an end… we made our way to Glory Day's new resting place known as Green Cove Springs… It was here that Dixon left, and I would be on my one again … It took the better part of 3 days here to prepare her for the summer storage … It was a nice way to end a great week…

Here you see Glory Days being hauled out… I got lots of jobs done here like removing the sails, changing all the engine fluids and filters, and putting 3 coats of Simco stain on the woodwork outside…

… easy does it….

Yuck… barnacle growth had taken over the prop and shaft… It was so bad that I had to dive below and clean it before we could even leave St. Augustine… There's still lots of work to be done here

Another verse from Beyond Your Wildest Dreams...

LOVE! … more than you can dream of.

GROW! … Let your roots take hold.
BLOSSOM! … And just release it all.

GIVE! … So others may live.

RECEIVE! … All you need.
HOPE! … That everyone will see.

BREATHE! … Energy.

PLAY! … A little each day.
BELIEVE … In things you cannot see.

And if this all just seems … 

too simple to believe.
It's inside you and me … 
and it's beyond your wildest dreams.

And this is where she will rest now… I have to remind myself that it's not "boat prison" … it's a spa!


 I have quite a few miles of video editing to do… 
so please STAY TUNED and the next posting here will be a compilation of scenic and harrowing tales from the world of GLORY DAYS!

Some of my new songs will serve as the soundtrack of the UPCOMING VIDEO FEATURE!  ITS A WORK IN PROGRESS!

Until then, FAIR WINDS TO ALL!