It is three o’clock in the morning. I can see stars in the sky through the open v berth hatch. The weather has cooled so that we can open the boat to let fresh air come through. I’ve put the blankets back on the birth. It’s wonderful! There are no bugs, low humidity, light breezes. The marina is amazingly still with fewer bilges pumping the constant air conditioning discharge. Fall has arrived.

We are at 200 days on this adventure. There is so much we have learned. I look back at the things that kept me awake before we left the dock in March. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being inadequate. Fear of becoming bored. Fears conquered and now forgotten! It’s almost laughable! Before we left, when we both were gripped by frequent fears Mac would ask me, “Why are we doing this? Why are we leaving the most beautiful waters of Destin?” I’ll admit, nothing yet has compared to Destin’s turquoise waters. But my response to him has always been, ” Because there are people out there God intends us to meet and places he wants us to see”. Now, after 200 days aboard I can tell you I could not have known how true that statement would be when I said it last winter. But I surely know now. Places and faces that have touched us would require a novel to convey. But certain ones do stand out.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned the folks we met on Easter on Dog Island off of Carabelle. Since last week’s storm I can’t stop thinking about people like Katie, the fourth generation owner of the Hicks in Thomasville. I hope her business and home are all right. Or the two couples, also on Dog Island that day, from up the St Marks River, just out enjoying Easter Day on their pontoon boat. How about the bartender in Appalachia who claimed she was the model for the big-boob tip jar. I pray Hurricane Michael left them all with their homes, lives, and boats intact.

There have been so many harbormasters, lock tenders, deck hands, tow boat drivers, and boat captains who have shared local knowledge and stories of times on the water. Like Mick at Tarpon Springs Municipal Marina who watched over Pelican while we went home to bury Jane. He talked more than Mac has ever talked!

Had we not made this trip we would have missed the Moorehaven gang of merry men (and women) who welcomed us, drove us, fed us, and laughed with us. Had we never left the dock we would never know that all of the lock walls on our waterways are covered with stickers from people’s boats, brokerages, businesses and marinas. Just consider the tow boat captain who talked us through the whiteout near Indiantown as we passed each other with three tornadoes threatening overhead. He was an angel sent from Heaven at just the right time.

People. There’s the classy ones of Sarasota. The sexy ones of Vero. The rainy day musicians of Ortega and the happy hour seniors of Englewood. The helpful couple who watched us run aground and then came out in their boat to tell us where better to put down anchor. Lifesavers!

Last week we had brunch with The AGLCA Harbor hosts, Dick and Louise Heusinkveld, who came to greet us on the dock. They are neighbors of Moms. They have left their boat in NY for winter and are back home in Hilton Head for a few weeks. Small world.

There was Scott and his dog Sam on the park bench in Beaufort who asked to borrow our boat while we went to brunch. We were tempted to say “sure!” What an interesting chap. By the time we walked on it was nearly time for dinner.

There’ve been couples over cocktails. Buddies over beers. For now we are nestled on the I dock at Shelter Cove on Hilton Head with new pals all around. They are mostly live aboards.

There’s Roz and Shawn on the Nordic Tug who live and work here at the marina and clearly are the glue. His voice can be heard all day long shouting greetings in all directions as he traverses the docks in his club car doing chores.

Cindy and Tim are on their beautiful DeFever. They sold it all to do their adventure. They won’t be here in Hilton Head for long but we’ve enjoyed our times together.

John and Lucy live on the Lucy, an older sailboat, with two huge poodles that need walking all day! Maybe that’s why he can’t seem to smile but she makes up for it with her jovial way.

There’s Larry on his sailboat, Freedom, and Hillary on her catamaran with three kids! And pretty Jill living on Dad’s boat with only her puppy for company.

There are full timers, part timers, and some timers all around us. Transients on their way north and loopers on their way south. Like Rick and Jamie from Colorado who have about had it with the heat! And Nancy and Sam on the Albin from Lake Hartwell. They are newly retired and ready to cruise north to Charleston. I hope they lash down all that furniture!

Clearly there have been so many more than 200 faces. So many more than 200 places. Each has something to teach us. We have so much to learn. This life is so different from life on land. No one discusses their cars or their lawns. There’s no talk of remodeling homes or building sheds or fire pits. We are joined by a different bond. We all love and embrace life on water with its challenges and blessings. Each wave across the waterway or hail on the radio is another story unfolding, another dream being lived out on the water. As for us, with 200 days behind us we are thankful for each friendly face and interesting place. So here’s to the adventures ahead! Here’s to many more friendships and faces, and many more enchanting places. Come along, won’t you please!

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