Wednesday, September 17, 2014

And the Awards Just Keep Coming...

So because I'm such a sucker for the Q&A... I'm responding to a SECOND set of questions for the coveted Liebster Award!  Thanks SV Terrapin for the gracious nomination!  

-  What was the defining moment when you knew that you had to set sail?  We had been planning for years but I really could not imagine leaving my job.  I loved my job and it was such a huge part of who I WAS, I just couldn't really do it.  But... after a couple of changes in Administration and a few years of adjustment that didn't go like I had hoped, I felt that the place was no longer "mine" and that the time to set sail had finally come.  Note:  I could never have left if we hadn't had Cruising plans.

- What's the one comfort you wish you had while cruising? A bigger bathtub!

-  How long do you plan to be out?  Is it until the money runs out or are your plans finite?  We plan to cruise until it isn't fun anymore.  I would imagine that we'll stop when one or the other of us finds the lifestyle too physically demanding or dementia sets in...

-  What is the most awesome place you've visited so far? I really can't answer that with just one place...  I really have loved just about every place we've visited for one reason or another...  Maybe that's the secret to happiness while cruising!  

-  What is the least awesome place you have visited so far? Because of my answer to the previous question, I have no un-awesome PLACE, but I do have a least awesome THING... bugs!  No-see-ums and mosquitos!  They keep you from being able to sit outside and enjoy the evening.  

-  What advice would you give our family as we're about to set out? Put Aimee on the helm.  Even though you're newer to sailing, we have found that having the stronger person handling the dock lines and anchoring to be a safer and more sensible choice.  Many women are reluctant to take the helm, but... may find that their natural talent for it will surface with a little encouragement.  

-  What is the one place that you can't wait to visit?  Well right now it's the Bahamas. We didn't make it there last season so we're ready and rarin' to go!

-  Wine?  Beer?  Margaritas?  Bruce is the Beer man but I (Tammy) prefer Margaritas of the three... but I'm more of a fruity pineapple/rum drink girl really.  Besides... it's hard to find a good Margarita outside of South Texas!

-  Do you ever get sick of your crew?  What do you do for personal space on a boat?  So far... no!  I lounge in the bed with a book or the iPad while Bruce hangs out in the cockpit alone, also with his Kindle...  Our coping skills are evolving.    Here is the latest post on the subject.

-  What is the one non-essential item on your boat that you would not want to live without?  The freezer.  Lots of people cruise happily without one... but it's really nice to have the luxury of frozen meats and lovely ICE!  

There you have it!  Since we've already made our nominations on our first Liebster award post, we'll forgo those now.  Thanks again to Terrapin!  Maybe our paths will cross some day!  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Learning How To Fight - Random Thoughts At The One Year Mark

This is a time for reflection.  We are rapidly closing the loop on our first Cruising year.  It hasn't been a conscious thing, this comparing of then to now...  My mind has just begun to whirl around and we're realizing that so LITTLE of how we thought it would be, has actually turned out to be true!

Thankfully I was right about one thing.  We STILL enjoy being together 24/7.  I keep remembering a conversation with a co-worker in which she marveled that I would wish to be with my husband ALL. THE. TIME.  I remember my answer to her...  And most of that is still true today... only now, we're learning how to fight.

We still don't fight in the normal sense of the word... like yelling at each other and throwing sandwiches...  Our "fights" are still more like heated disagreements although we have come VERY close to raised voices a time or two.  We've still managed to keep things mostly civil, and our less-than-civil conversations are few and far between... most of the time.  But we can always tell when something is brewing...

We don't really have the normal things to fight about that couples do.  We aren't trying to raise small children together, we don't have money problems, neither of us is a lazy-good-for-nothing-lout... and although according to any man, there is no such thing as enough sex... well, we won't go into that here, er, um where was I... Oh yes...

The stresses of cruising are teaching us how to fight.  Understanding the stresses that are affecting the other, and how each of us deals with and reacts to them has been a true learning experience.  It starts with one or the other of us just being a little bit "snippy".  Un-pleaseable, impatient... grumpy!  Usually this means "I need a little space".  No problem, lets just take a little quiet time... I go to our room and read, Bruce does his exercises in the saloon or maybe goes and sits in the cockpit for a while.  But it's brewing...

Then Little Bickers erupt about stupid stuff... "Why can't you just close the microwave door instead of telling me that I left it open... AGAIN!"  - "For the same reason you tell me that I left the solenoid for the stove on AGAIN instead of just flipping the switch yourself!" kind of stupid stuff... This may continue on for some time until we both  begin to feel some building resentment.

Then, being adults... we remember that communication is key.  We wait until we've had time to cool off and are both mentally in a "better place", and we talk it over.  We analyze it.  Why are we having these idiotic conversations???  What we've realized is that we deal with stress in different ways and the underlying stresses are not always evident to the other.  Usually the stress that caused the argument has nothing to do with the actual thing we argued about!

Bruce feels an enormous weight of responsibility for keeping the boat in good working order.  Just the routine maintenance alone is a grueling task, and when the added duties of troubleshooting and repairs pile up, he becomes more tense and less patient than usual.  While I can't SEE these pressures... they are weighing upon him almost constantly and can come to the surface at random times.  It's times like this that Bruce feels that I take his contribution for granted a little too much...

My stresses stem from the responsibility of planning our course and making sure that we are well provisioned and watered.  There are SO many things to take into consideration for getting us happily and flawlessly from here to there:  tides, currents, weather, where are the trouble spots, where will we get groceries, water, fuel?  These things fall on my shoulders because I am the one who CARES about them.  Bruce could happily just take off and somehow, probably get to where he's going (or maybe somewhere else) without dying... But I want to get to where we're going in relative comfort, leaving little to chance.  It's times like these that I feel like Bruce takes my contribution for granted a little too much...

We have realized that these stresses do exist and are very real to each of us.  We have learned to value these things even if we don't fully agree with or understand them.  We've learned to communicate and express our frustrations and to give the other space to come to terms with our issues.  

The fact that Bruce has actually begun to step up to these conversations is, to me, a sign of growth.  He used to just clam up when we disagreed, thinking that if we argued, it meant that we didn't love one another.  I've actually had to coax him into stating his case, so that I have an opportunity to understand where he's coming from.  This is a HUGE improvement in our ability to communicate.  And it ALWAYS ends in a better understanding on both sides.  We are amazed sometimes at just how far apart we are in our thinking .

It baffles me that he doesn't know the difference between a boat rag and a dish rag.  And it baffles him that there even IS a difference... and that I CARE!  Clearly I am the one with the hangups here, and I grant you that.  He is a saint for putting up with it... still.  It is a daily wonder to me that he hasn't killed me yet.  In fact, back in the beginning of our relationship, we used to think that we were SO much alike.  Now, we can scarcely believe how very DIFFERENT we really are from one another and still manage be happily married.  Yes, opposites truly DO irritate the crap out of one another attract.  We talked about this while floating in the pool the other day.  

We both feel like we've come a long way in our communication skills.  We still have some work to do, but what good is having all of this 24/7 togetherness time if we're not using some of it for a little marital growth?  Happily, we always come back together in the middle and feel like we've achieved something positive in the end.  

Are we getting sick of our own company?  Definitely NOT!!  In fact, we often pass on the opportunity to go and socialize with other people we meet, in favor of just hanging out...Together...Forever...Still!  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sailing With Rhyme & Reason - A Book Review

Wow!  I really don't know where to begin.  I guess I'll start with acknowledging the virtue of K's advice not to read this book until we'd been out Cruising for a while. We received our copy as a Bon Voyage gift from the author and his wife.  Had I been of a more faint-of-heart type woman and not the spearhead of our Cruising venture, this book might have turned me against it!

I've always wondered why there seemed to be only books fanning the flames of cruising dreams and not so many that doused them.  Well, here it is baby!

Bob and K Jack are friends of ours from home who were former cruisers.  They cruised around Mexico and even bought a home and lived there for a while after their cruising career was done.  It was for this reason that I was very interested in their story, as I've always thought it would be a neat thing to find a spot we like and just stop cruising there!  But that part isn't in the book so let's get back to the Cruising part...

It is much easier to be objective about a book when not personally acquainted with the author and characters.  I guess I was predisposed to love it, thinking it would be a reflection of the people I knew.  I had no idea that this book would be such a raw and candid peek into the lives of Cruisers who did NOT find cruising to their liking.

There is no candy coating, no sweetness at all.  Just the stories that led the couple inevitably back to their home port, with all future dreams of continuing on as cruisers dashed by their memory of their sailboat,  Rima grinding on the coral reefs of Mexican waters.

Normally if I don't like a book, I don't do a review... so that means I must like it, right?  Confused?  I loved the book!  Bob's writing style, the way the book is set up, the short introductory vignettes...  I love it all.

Bob's humor and candor are infectious and although cruising didn't really work out for them, this book is WELL worth the time to read it... which isn't quite long enough.  I read through it in a day because I just couldn't put it down.  It is full of unexpected little phrases that are so clever and funny, I'm seeing Bob in a whole new light.

And as for K... this is her.  Read this and you'll know her.  She is the kindest sweetest most tenderhearted woman I've ever met.  You'll fall in love with her quiet strength.  You won't be able to help being affected by her part in this story.

I've always respected Bob and his sailing ability.  After reading this book... I have doubts about my own ability to navigate the waters of the Western Caribbean.  How could we find success if THESE two didn't???

The intro to the book on Amazon says everything that I haven't... If sailing in Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce are in your future, it's kind of pricey but this book is a must read.  It's the real deal.  How is it that all Sea Stories begin?  This is No Bull Shit!