Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Where will our adventures take us this year? Or next?  We do not know… yet.  Galapagos, April 2015, we swam with the penguins and snorkeled with the sharks.  
This New Year’s, like that day. we kicked up our heels, and danced.

New Years… the time to reflect, to connect, and to plan.  

What is your best-ever New Years?  

In our five years of cruising, we had our highs and lows to kick off the New Year (recap follows).  Join me for a look around, a look back, and a look ahead…. 

And please, share your stories, feelings, musings!  

Countdown Recap – Our Last 5 New Year’s Eves

2018, Portland, OR, USA:  Dancin’ the Night Away with Friends

A nearly full moon ringed with a nimbus ushered in
New Years with longtime and newfound friends.
Portland Oregon, along Old Town’s waterfront

in this river town.

We’re slowly getting caught up with friends and family, who for years were as much as a half a world away.  

Thank you, Ellen and James, and your friends, Melinda, Sandy and Peter for this New Year’s eve. 

It was a lovely night of swapping stories over good food, good wine, ponderous thoughts, prosecco toasts and dancing, appropriately, under a magnificent nimbus moon.

This is our first year “back home” in Portland Oregon after years abroad. You made it feel more like home.  Ironically, perhaps it’s because we all see ourselves as travelers, explorers, still sorting what our next adventure will be.

2017, Sydney, Australia:  World-Beater Iconic 
We were in the midst of one of the most iconic New Year’s epicenters in the world… ooohing and aahing at mid-summer fireworks and light shows under Australia’s Sydney Bridge.  We were but a stone’s throw from the bridge itself – tightly packed in along with about 200 other boats. Click here for more Sydney New Year’s 2017 flashbacks.

It was an epic last journey on our sailboat Journey, before selling her about a month later.  We had a plan, to sail for five years, make it at least to Australia, then likely sell the boat there.  Amazingly – we did it!  

Sydney Bridge, New Year’s Eve, post-firework view from Journey.  We were well on the way to reclaiming the anchorage

2016, Tutukaka, New Zealand:  Drenched
We were aiming for a New Year’s Eve in Whangarei, where we could join up with our friends who’d proceeded us there, and stay awhile.  We were about a 4 hour’s sail from Whangarei when it was obvious getting there would send us through near gail force winds.  We’re far bigger fans of prudence over tales of valor, given the choice.Thus, we tucked into the nearest refuge we could, which was tiny Tutukaka Marina.  Shortly after our arrival, the rain torrented down with a vengeance well into New Year’s Eve.  

We felt tremendous relief we’d made the right decision, even though we didn’t know a soul there.  Bedraggled, we meandered over to the marina’s festivities, where the youthful crowd drank heartily, rocking their bodies to the party vibe.  A little bewildered, we decided our piece of calm aboard the good ship Journey was more our speed.

It was a good time to reflect back over one heckuva a year… We’s spent about a third of our days under sail, over 10,000 miles, and across the world’s most vast ocean, the Pacific.  What were our favorite stops?  Click here to find out.

Classic New Zealand rolling hills; North Island between Tutukaka and Whangarei, scrubbed clean after New Years eve storms.

2015, Old Town Havana, Cuba:  Best Ever!
We slipped into Mariel Hemingway Marina a week before then Vice President John Kerry visited.  We wanted to experience the forbidden, exotic fruit of neighboring Cuba before it became yet another place where US travelers went far from home, to munch a McDonald’s Big Mac or sip a Starbuck’s coffee.  Indeed, Cuba’s culture is amazing, and the genuine warmth, ingenuity and resiliency of the people we met, everywhere was incredible.

Fortuitously, we found ourselves there as New Year’s approached, and decided to escape the isolated confines of the marina and experience the magic of Old Havana in celebration.  We left with an overnight bag, but without a plan.  Lady Luck was more than kind.  Who could possibly imagine we’d spend the night drinking Cuba’s fine Havana Club rum as “part of the family,” learning about Cuba’s “casting of the waters” and “clean sweep” traditions

Later, Wayne watched in amusement while one of our gay host’s  stellar dancing lead managed to make me appear graceful.

Charming Old Town Havana, Cuba.  Our favorite New Year’s Eve location — thus far….

2014 Sarasota & Marathon Florida USA: Dad’s Hospitalized, Wayne “Batches” 
We were about to head off cruising and grave concerns about my Dad’s health prompted me secure a rental car at the worst possible time of the year in the Florida Keys to see my Dad in Sarasota, leaving Wayne in Marathon, to batten down the hatches on our boat, alone…. In the wee hours of New Year’s eve, I brought Dad to the hospital, ultimately getting him set up for some much-needed respite care that likely saved his life. I wasn’t sure if he’d be there when we returned from cruising… fortunately he’s still kicking at 93 years old today.

Shortly after Christmas, 2014, I left Wayne waiting in Boot Key, Marathon when I road-tripped across Florida
to check up on my ailing father.  New Year’s rang in with Dad still in the hospital in Sarasota.

2013 Grand Case Saint Martin, Eastern Caribbean:  Hunkered
Grand Case is normally a casual beachside gastronomic delight. However, on our New Year’s eve there,  storm-driven waves blasted off the faces of the waterfront hotels. We stayed snug aboard our boat, riding it out.  Celebrations could wait.  While AirBnB still shows lovely images of places to rent in Grand Case, my understanding is most accommodations and attractions are still several months from re-opening as they rebuild from the intense damage wrought by hurricane Irma.

Casual yet topnotch cuisine on a sunny afternoon at St. Martin’s Grand Case waterfront.  However, New Year’s eve we hunkered aboard, while storm waves violently lashed the shoreside hotels.  Today, the area is still rebuilding from hurricane Irma.

Ruminating Our “Now”
We arrived back in Portland Oregon seven months ago.  We are incredibly grateful for the many who’ve helped us out… our families, friends, employers…. Though we still live on a boat (an amazing story, how that came about), we’ve not moved it more than 12 miles since late July.  In a sense we’ve become “dirt dwellers,” with full-time jobs, a car and an address. We are still here, yet still feel “uncommitted.” 

While we’ve never been more electronically connected, so often we are more distant than ever from those as sometimes as close as a few feet away.  

“What percent of the time do your customers eat and interact with their cell phone, tablet or laptop, rather than talk to each other, or you?” I asked our waitress at the restaurant by the laundromat we usually use.  Most interact more with their devices than each other, she told us.  It’s what we expected, a habit we’ve noticed seems more the exception than the rule these days wherever people congregate, whether in private or in public, even in more socially interactive settings.

Even (especially?) in our own lives, for months now we’ve worked alternate hours and days.  Our time to connect when we’re together and awake can be calculated in minutes per week.

Then there’s “virtual friends.” When does a friend become “just a Facebook friend?” When we no longer see them, don’t know when and don’t care.  When it appears something big is happening in their life, and we don’t even pick up the phone (or even private message or text) to ask what’s going on. In our heart of hearts, we know they would love a person-to-person, real-time, private conversation, an arm around their shoulder, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, and we don’t offer it.  

Does this distance add to the divisiveness and intolerance we’ve seen?
Perhaps.  As we make choices for friends (and more and more,  “e-friends” and “groups”), news and entertainment, our scope narrows.  We effortlessly find ourselves aligned with others who tend to believe what we believe, support our version of the truth.  The “us” versus “them” becomes more entrenched.

Something’s gotta give.  And that something is the need for a deeper, more understanding, more caring human connectedness.  It’s time to build bridges, not walls.

Our One Resolution
We define ourselves by what we have done, what we are doing, and what we hope to do. 

Yes, since May, these posts are more a throwback, a placeholder for “What Next.”  Lucky as we feel to achieved our “trip of a lifetime” goal — 5 years travel by sailboat through 30 countries, 20,000 miles, halfway around the world — our life is far from over.  

Stuck as we feel at the moment, we know this is a transition period.  We’re not sure yet what will change, but rest assured, we will be in a different place well before this time next year, literally, figuratively or both.  It will be place where we are once again more connected in a positive way, with each other and the world beyond us.  

And You?
Are you living the life you want? If you’re not, what are your plans to change it?  As we start this new year, let’s take this ride together, and make our lives, and the world we live in, a better place.  

I will be presenting at the Seattle Boat Show January 29th and 30th.  One presentation is on provisioning (and keeping gluten free in the process), another on lessons learned crossing the South Pacific and am also on Northwest Women in Boating’s panel discussion. I’m also working on my first e-book, on what it takes to go cruising.