My Dad and I brought Bear up the St. Mary’s River and dropped the hook just off the town of St. Mary’s around 6:30 this evening. Tomorrow, we will be busy changing the engine lube and transmission oil, getting a final pumpout, and topping off the diesel before bringing Bear to St. Mary’s Boat Services where she will be hauled for the winter. As it is my last night aboard Bear this summer while she is still afloat (I will probably be sleeping on her in the boatyard tomorrow night), I just wanted to share some initial thoughts about the summer.
It has been a great trip down from Norfolk these last three weeks, of which I will have quite a bit more to say in the coming days and weeks. I really want to thank my Dad for flying up to Wilmington and enduring the heat and long miles with me all the way down to here. I feel really lucky to have managed to spend so much time with my father as an adult. I also need to give a huge shout-out to my cousin Tim, who crewed from Norfolk to Wrightsville. I have known Tim my whole life, but I never truly got to be friends with him until now, and I am as grateful for that as I am for the time he took out of his life to help us out. I will put together a detailed crew report soon, as I know at least Tim is interested in hearing whether he outranks my father on the crew sheet.
I have quite a mix of emotions right now. I am excited to see Margaret in a few days. This is, by far, the longest we have been apart since we met. And it has been even more difficult because we had been spending nearly every moment sharing this experience together in the three months previous. I cannot wait to put my arms around her when I get back to Peoria next week.
At the same time, I am very sad that the adventure is coming to an end until next year. More than once today, I dreamed about just continuing on past St. Mary’s, to the Keys, to the Bahamas, back to the Chesapeake…anywhere but the slings that will lift Bear out of the water tomorrow. It has always been my dream to live aboard and travel the world in a sailboat. For this summer, I got to live my dream with Margaret by my side. All-in-all, it was an incredibly fabulous time. Why would I not be sad when it is finally coming to a close?
I would be lying if I did not admit that I am also feeling a bit of relief (or will be, once the boat is on the jackstands). We have had quite a few issues arise with various systems on the boat while we climbed a steep learning curve as new owners. While most of that is behind us, I still feel like I am just waiting for something else to break. Some difficult winds, currents, and weather and a lot of shallow water these past couple weeks has also strained me a bit. And, I can always find something to worry about on board, whether it is a thunderstorm on the radar, our holding at anchor, or, if nothing else more obvious presents itself, the condition of our seacocks or rigging that we intend to replace over the winter, which could make for a very bad day if they happened to fail at any given moment. So, while I would like nothing more than to keep on sailing, that first night in a bed ashore will probably be very restful.
I am also feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Margaret and I have been talking about doing this together for nearly the entire time we have been together. But we did not just dream about it, we actually followed through on our plan as a couple. In all, we traveled some 1500 nautical miles this summer, set the anchor down in dozens of different places, and had some amazing experiences. And, we are going to come back and do it again next summer, only it’s going to be even more awesome. We also learned so much about everything from twelve volt electrical to hurricane forecasting to coastal navigation. I was overwhelmed and a bit scared of the boat at the beginning of the summer; now, while I know I still have so much to learn, I am confident that Margaret and I can tackle any problem that arises. Through it all, I learned a lot more about myself, Margaret, and our relationship. And, hell, we just brought a boat from the middle of Long Island Sound to the very southern edge of Georgia.
So, as we frequently toast, “To the wind that blows, the ship that goes, and the lass that loves a sailor.”