[photo: looking out toward the misty ocean]And just that suddenly, the winds which had been blowing strong and dry from the north, shifted. Now they became softer, moister, gentler, and most importantly, from the south. Winds bringing springtime. Winds we could travel on, these winds from the south. Winds we could ride homeward back to Annapolis.
First, we had to prepare the boat, switch from small-floating-dockside-condo mode to vessel-under-way mode. We’ve gotten used to setting things down on flat surfaces, surfaces that are no longer flat when we’re underway; things that could easily get tossed off needed to be stowed, and everything decluttered. There were a zillion projects to do. We made lists, and a list of all the lists, and spread out the chores over days so we wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. We topped up fuel tanks and scrubbed the growth from the hull – amazing how much accumulated in the 4-1/2 months we’ve been stationary at the dock here. We prepared the boat to run on its own power and solar panels instead of the fat yellow cord that supplies electricity from the dock. Hoisting the sails, just our own kind of flowers spreading their white triangular petals to the spring sun, making sure the lines ran free and there was no winter mold or critters hiding in the folds. Land-based toys like our scooters and backpacks were stowed away, and out came the life jackets and nautical charts and guidebooks. We rented a car for seemingly endless trips to the hardware store, grocery store, and yes, the liquor store; everything we need to be independent for a while. We also visited our favorite places one last time (for this year, anyway), to hear the old-time sea shanties sung a local pub, our last visit to the historic fort guarding the city, our last chile relleno meal at our favorite funky family-owned Mexican restaurant, and soon (not just yet, but very soon) our last people-watching stroll up St George street, dressed in historical costumes or pirate garb, posing with/for the tourists .
The really hard part, though, was not the scramble of errands. The “problem” anyone should be proud to have – how, exactly, are we ever going to have time for visits with all the friends we’ve made while here? I can’t remember when we’ve had so much fun, or met so many people we liked all in one place. The friends we’ve made here have ranged widely, some kind, some a laugh a minute, some smart, some just a little odd, and all have enriched our lives.
I hate goodbyes and I’m not good at them. As far as I’m concerned, goodbyes are the very worst thing about living on a boat and traveling, worse than scary storms or big waves or odd sounds in the night. But we packed the schedule with a little time for Melissa and Rosaire and Jose and Shelley and Diego and Dave and Trish and Bill and John and Mark; spent a night laughing uproariously playing liar’s dice and eating pizza with Tiger and Pearl and Grace. I’m gonna miss you guys so much it hurts. We realized how much our thoughts were already on the ocean passage ahead, when we went to a cookout at new friends Michelle and Tony’s and spent much of the evening focused on getting insights on the tricky harbor inlet from one guest, Larry, who happened to be a former TowBoat US operator. If the weather holds, we leave tomorrow. The empty ocean calm will be a phenomenal contrast to the happy-crazy-busy times we’ve been having.
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