Bon voyage!

Bon voyage!

It’s a few hours after sunset. We’re anchored at the entrance to the inlet at West Palm, a place that seems to sum up current American values to me. Nothing here is old or authentic. Bling is always better. Guys who were bullies in high school are now driving sport fisher boats, leaving massive wakes behind them and not caring one iota about how their actions affect everyone else. We watched as one boat named Hullbilly stop in the entrance of the channel to get bait from a bait boat, creating an even more blind corner and forcing everyone else to go around him.

But we tried to overlook the ugliness of West Palm – because we had just completed our first day on Lemonade. We’d made it roughly 30 miles down the coast. With no wind, we had to motor the whole way – a mode of travel that always feels wrong to me when I’m on a sailboat. Yet here we are.

Not without our share of drama. Yesterday’s tragic event was constantly on our mind. We also had a lot to do in a few short hours before we could get off the dock. We had been cleaning until after 10 pm and it was now 6 am. We awoke feeling strung out. Before high tide at 9:30 we needed to return a few items I’d purchased at the grocery store that wouldn’t fit on the boat, get coffee at Starbucks, park our car at our friend Portia’s (who’s giving it shelter for the month), buy ice, get back to the boat and transfer everything from the fridge to the ice box.

The night before we had taken a ton of house-made block ice (old milk cartons worked great for this) and packed it into our ice box to cool it down. To keep the food as cold as possible, I’d frozen the cheeses and meats overnight. I’d also made a lot of pickled items, turnips in miso, pickles in brine, that I’d kept cool in the fridge to delay the fermentation process.

Greg looked into the fridge and said exactly what he said the night before about the 20 bags of groceries I bought back: “I don’t think this is all going to fit.”

In researching provisioning in the Bahamas, I read on one blog that they were bringing 48 bottles of wine for a 3-week cruise. After assessing our remaining extra stowage space, I decided to bring only a small bottle of artisanal Swedish gin and a six-pack of tonic, for which I’ve planned a special crossing ceremony. I left the cachaça, the other gin, the vermouth, the vodka and the crème de cassis. I had made an error in not saving some bubble wrap from the packing process and now had no means of safely stowing any of it. They are now at Portia’s. It’s a decision I regretted as we split the one beer we had remaining from last night to celebrate our arrival. So much planning and still so many small oversights!

But everything from the fridge made it onto the boat. And the ice, thank god, is still icy. And we can re-stock our liquor supply in Miami.

Portia hugged us good-bye and the handyman, Rack, who was hanging around the dock, gave us an update on Pepé: he was alive and in a coma. Then Greg cast off the dock lines and took Lemonade out of the dock at Anchor Ave. one last time.

Still, it took most of the day for us to relax. And it didn’t help that we had to motor, and that the motor was spewing black-ish fumes. Why hadn’t we taken the boat out more, we wondered? So we would have worked out some of these kinks…

We cuddled up in the cockpit and watched the sunset and I made an impromptu meal out of the leftovers from the day’s lunch. This has become my favorite time of day. The cockpit, in the dark, with the lantern hanging above it and tea lights on the table, becomes a little private dining room. It reminds me of the private yacht I worked on, where the family ate the meals I prepared for them – except this time, I was sitting at the table.

It was finally starting to sink in: we were actually doing it – this thing we’d talked about for so long.

When I returned the few items at the grocery store the lady at the customer service counter seemed dubious when I told her that these items wouldn’t fit on the boat. “And we’re giving up our apartment, or I’d just keep them,” I told her.

“You mean you’re going somewhere on your boat and you don’t have anyplace to come back to?” You could see the wheels turning in her brain and her face betrayed her reaction: terror.

I smiled broadly as I raced off to the waiting car and hollered, “That’s all part of the adventure!”