I know I mentioned our arrival back to the marina greeted us with a mountain of work but after a week of boat chores that were not so pleasant we rounded the corner into week two on board and now we are settled in and enjoying fall-like temps and embracing open air living once again.
This girl is forty one years old…Pelican, not me, and she is a constant challenge as we live and love her. Everywhere you look there is wood. Leaks have rotted out some areas and softened up others but Mac chases them down as fast as he can. Today he replaced a small area of wall in my galley that had to be taken down to the fiberglass skin and he reworked a door jam that had gotten soft. He pulls out all the soft areas and replaces them with cement board. Tomorrow he will add new facia board and trim with molding and she’ll look good as new. He has been using this process for a few years now and just as every gal has concerns about aging our gal is holding her own amongst her peers. We see lots of vessels out there in a lot worse shape than Peli!
Meanwhile, I try to stay out of the skippers way and spend the morning cleaning and scrubbing the v berth walls and cabinets and get busy shining brass hardware throughout. I use Bona cabinet cleaner for the mahogany interior of the boat; walls, cabinets, holds and hatches, all wood, all need TLC. A microfiber cloth and a little elbow grease and she shines right up. For the brass I have a fabulous new discovery that removes the grime and tarnish with little effort. Simichrome Polish is amazing!! I bought this little tube from Vermont Country Store last summer when we visited family there but you can get yours on Amazon by clicking the link above. See for yourself! You literally only need a dab and the results are outstanding!
The weather’s too pretty to work all day so it’s a dingy ride to have some lunch at Up The Creek at Broad Creek Marina where a bucket of suds is in order to wash the work away. Afterwards we dink into Harbor Town to drool over several new arrivals along the docks including a 42’ Nordic Tug that looks like they just took delivery. Fine indeed! All in all it was a perfect fall day on Hilton Head Island. A little work, a little play. Feeling blessed to be here.
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There’s a mindset that comes with boating and clearly I was not in it when we returned to Pelican after being away for a while. The heavy rains of recent days have taken a toll on things on board. Despite my cousin’s vigilance in checking our vessel the damp and dirty have settled on her like a blanket. After months of not-so-salty living I am out of practice and out of patience for the effort it takes to get this girl back to livable. It’s so blasted hot outside that we have to run two air conditioners 24/7 and that makes for a claustrophobic feel to things. Worst of all the roaches have taken up residence on board in our absence. One jumped on me at night the first night back and when I couldn’t sleep I got up to read and three of them were crawling the walls. I am freaking out!! Time to sell… or scrub! Yeh, this is the stuff that boaters don’t share. Just when you think you have everything spruced up the way you like it you leave her for a few weeks and the elements take over. Leaks cause stains. The dampness brings bugs. The old girl just looks old and tired upon our return. And I feel old and tired looking at her. So after assessing the damage and more than a few cuss words, out come the rubber gloves and the Bengal roach spray and then the boric acid gets replaced in all the nooks and crannies. Check out my methods in Tips and Tricks.
Now I can’t lie. My job is easier than the skippers. He has been under water scrubbing the bottom of the Pelican and the dinghy for two days. The props are pretty crusted over with growth and he can’t crank the engines until he checks all the exhaust intakes. He finds our zincs are pretty bad so he’ll be down there again tomorrow I suppose. Yes, I know, these are first world problems. But the few days after one returns to the boat are filled with not-so-pleasant tasks. The good news is the heat moved out last night and there is a lovely north breeze today enabling us to open her up and let the fresh air blow through. I’m thinking Fall might just be peeking around the corner!
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Everyone knows where they were when the towers fell. You don’t even have to say the ominous date, anyone over 25 knows. Yesterday marked the 18th anniversary. In some ways the tragedy of that day and all of it’s sadness has given way to a certain melancholy felt by a lot of Americans. A longing for the intense patriotism that permeated our entire population as we watched together, cried together, prayed together, sang together and buried our dead together. We were united. We set politics aside for a while, looked in each other’s eyes, hugged our kids a little tighter and loved a little freer.
I remember the Christmas of 2001. It just seemed we needed something under the tree besides stuff. I sent out a request for letters requesting the answer to 10 simple questions. I don’t even remember what they were but something like: Whats the best advice you have ever been given? What’s your best Christmas memory? …stuff like that. I printed the emails containing the answers I received (and there were many) and placed them into our tree branches. In between the unwrapping of gifts, the stocking surprises, and snacks and bloody mary’s we puledl out a scroll and one of us would read it. We laughed. We cried. We rolled our eyes. We sobbed. We hugged. I still have those pages in my Christmas scrapbook and every year I pull them out as I put up the tree and remember the day.
Our daughter Katie and my brother Dave were both in Manhattan the day the towers fell. That Christmas the greatest gift our family shared was the fact that they came home to us. Katie was walking out the door of her hotel room to catch a plane home after being in the city with a friend. She had been at One World Trade Center shopping just twenty four hours prior to the time the second plane hit. Dave had been working in the city for weeks, training for a new position with his company. Somehow they found each other through the chaos and shared an evening. She wouldn’t make it home until Saturday when a train got her as far as Meridian and her Brian picked her up.
This morning my friend Kathy Wilkinson posted Boatlift , a video on Facebook that I had never seen. It’s powerful. Watch it all the way to the end. It’s full of rich quotes I would rather you heard from the sources than read in my post. I’m humbled by these people. Since a lot of my readers are boaters I felt compelled to pass this along. I’d like to think all of us salty folks would have joined in this effort had our vessel been in the area. I hope anyone close to the Abacos and Grand Bahama, should they be able and allowed, might be moved to do a similar thing.
My Gautier kitchen came alive this weekend with the sound of peeling and chopping as I finally found some beautiful home grown tomatoes at Four Seasons in Moss Point. In an effort to always Shop local! I stopped in there yesterday in hopes of avoiding the grocery store all together. Avoid I did! I piled tons of fresh veggies, numerous cheeses, Amish butter, some great local sausage on the counter where the sweetest gal was trying her darndest to learn a new computer system. Having been through this once or twice Mac and I assured her she was doing fine and not to get flustered. She was so apologetic for making us wait. Her hands were sweating from pure nervousness so Mac asked if he could help with the touch screen. Sure enough it responded to his touch. We were able to complete our shopping and were on our way. Crazy!
I love good gazpacho. Cold, fresh, summertime soup. Get the recipe below and make some today before the summer tomatoes disappear!
4 large fresh tomatoes
1 white onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 seeded jalapeño pepper
2 seeded cucumbers
1/2 cup cilantro
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
Juice of 1 large lime
Chop everything into small chunks. Then all goes into the Ninja food processor on medium until well blended to a smooth consistency.
Season to your liking with salt and pepper and Tony’s Chachere’s seasoning. Chill (overnight is best) to let the flavors blend. Serve with your favorite garnish, scallions, cilantro, feta crumbles, sour cream…you decide. Enjoy!
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I write this from 30 thousand feet. We are bound for Cleveland for what was supposed to be a gathering of my sibs to work a project of my brothers choosing at his lakehouse in Michigan. Turns out we will also be gathering with numerous McLaughlins as we have lost our matriarch, Aunt Peggy. She lived 96 years but succumbed to injuries from a fall last week. Peggy was a beautiful soul. Busy to the end trying to please all who crossed her threshold. There was always a cold drink offered and you could rest assured the top of the can had been wiped clean in her care. She knew every birth, every middle name, every graduate, every juicy family tidbit. Her penmanship amazed. Her generosity astounded. Her love for family radiated from her.
Her white living room saw activity only on Christmas Eve when songs were sung with Mitch Miller and yummy cheesy puffs were passed along with a killer whiskey sour. The men in the family always received her extra care, never allowed to touch a dish or clear a plate. Peggy ran a tight ship. She was clearly the captain. An executive secretary for thirty five years, she put organization and loyalty front and center and I suspect she might have an opinion about the “me too” movement though she was much too much of a lady to ever say so. Distance never afforded Mac and I the time to join is all the moments of her life but we cherish those we did have with her. I know Heaven is going to benefit from her organizing and arranging. Jesus will probably tap her to keep His calendar. For surely none before her could do it so well. Farewell sweet Peggy. You will be missed. Read More
Our bayou home is exploding with green! We arrived back in Gautier to find everything in spring bloom. It is my favorite time of year here. The sky is an amazing shade of blue, the trees are lacy with new growth, the breezes are fresh and brisk and the summer heat is still several weeks away. This is truly when Mississippi puts on her best face.
The back deck of our home has a view to the west that affords us wonderful sunsets. It overlooks the Sandhill Crane Refuge with a great view of Bluff Creek, part of the Pascagoula River System. As a matter of fact we found this house 36 years ago while cruising these waterways.
We have a symphony of wildlife sounds this time of year with gators groaning their mating calls, birds chirping sweet songs, and frogs croaking into the night air. It’s a concert of sounds that says spring has indeed arrived. This is different than the summer sounds when cicada send their cries into the humid air as the dusk settles in. It’s a beautiful contrast to weeks ago when the bayou was enveloped in winter’s dead quiet. It’s magical and amazing.
To those boating enthusiasts, cruisers and AGLCA Loopers please don’t overlook the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Don’t be too quick to be Florida bound. If you come down the TennTom “Go west young man!”. There are countless miles of waterways in the numerous river systems along the 90 miles of this state’s coastline. We have wonderful fresh water gunk holes in which to drop your hook or you can head south a few miles to our uninhabited islands that are part of the pristine Gulf Islands National Seashore.
We have remarked several times since arriving home that we have seen many majestic and magnificent places on our cruising travels but our own back yard affords us some of the best sounds, smells, views and experiences that we have had in our lives. We are grateful for that. So until the sultry summer season descends with the stinging yellow flies and oppressive heat I can be found in my happy place on my back deck reclining in the chaise sipping something cool with a good read in hand or propped up and watching the action of the bayou, just listening.
Today is my birthday. Which means another year of my life has gone in the record books. I’d have to say it’s been a very good one. Ten years ago if you would have told me I would be living aboard a boat and taking each day as it comes, on the East Coast instead of the Gulf, in Chacos instead of dress shoes, not concerned about the color of the year, not checking the numbers, not working the buys, I would have said you were looking at someone else’s crystal ball. But here I am. Saltier than I was on my last birthday, sporting gray hair and new age spots and reflecting on all the blessings this adventure has afforded me.
Just like learning a new skill has it’s challenges, retirement also has to be learned. At least for me it did. I love the mornings, lazy, slow, no stress. But come 10 o’clock or so I find myself getting antsy to be somewhere, see someone, create something. So if I haven’t already done so that’s when I get busy walking (I like to average at least 100 miles a month) or get busy cleaning (on a boat there is no lack of places needing to be scrubbed). Somehow in retirement those small projects seem to expand to fill most of the day.
On cruising days I have a set routine. I spend the first hour of the day being certain the day’s menu items are iced down in the day-cooler for quick and easy access and not in the fridge so I don’t open it while cruising since the power won’t be on. I prepare the flybridge by taking camera, binoculars, cruising guide, pens and pencils, paper charts, street maps, phone chargers, earbuds, solar chargers, coozie cups, sunscreen, bug spray, (I’m sure I forgot something) all up to the helm so they are accessible while we are underway. Down below there are things to be secured and stowed even for the shortest excursions because one boat wake from a go-fast-hot-head can rock our world and break the dishes.
Once underway you just settle in. Life at seven knots will help you do that. Nothing happens quickly. You learn to be present in the moment. Take in your surroundings. Get on plane and keep it between the navigational beacons. Notice things. Enjoy!
Winter is trying to shove Spring back like a big brother trying to shoulder bump his younger sibling out go the way. I lay in the V berth listening to the howling of the wind as the lines creak under the strain of the gusts. It’s Monday, although that shouldn’t matter in retirement life but somehow one never shakes the Monday thing. My routine every morning is pretty much the same. I prop myself up, grab my phone and open my Jesus Calling ebook to see what He has to say to me this morning, heeding advice once given me, “Don’t speak to anyone in the morning until you have spoke to Jesus”. It is amazing how absolutely spot-on those reading can be, how they always speak to something that is happening in my life. Today is no different. There are so many people in need of our prayers. So many struggles I hope He will ease. So many burdens I pray he will lighten.
I then pick up my “Streams in the Desert” daily devotional, a gift from a dear friend years ago, and flip to today’s reading. This reading, with its references to wind and seas really speaks to me in the quiet comfort of my trawler bunk with the gale force wind whipping outside. And this is one I chose to share:
An old seaman once said, “In fierce storms we must do one thing, for there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” And this dear Christian, is what you must do.
Sometimes, like Paul, you cannot see the sun or the stars to help you navigate when the storm is bearing down on you. This is when you can do only one thing, for there is only one way. Reason cannot help you, past experiences will shed no light, and even prayer will bring no consolation. Only one course remains: you must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord. And then, come what may-whether wind, waves, rough seas, thunder, lightning, jagged rocks, or roaring breakers-you must lash yourself to the helm, firmly holding your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant promises, and His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. Richard Fuller
Mike and I often use our trawler lifestyle as a metaphor for our journey through life. Our vessel isn’t glamorous. She’s not quick or slick or sexy. But when the seas get rough and the winds pick up she takes the waves as they come. A trawler cuts through the swells and rights herself in the current, making herself ready for the next wave. Sort of how my morning devotional does for me. So until tomorrow I’ll keep clinging to the rail and trusting in our ship to keep me on course until the wind subsided and the sun once again begins to shine.