Cannot remember how often we hear people tell us, “You’re living the dream". Well, isn't that one of the main purposes of life? Doesn’t it make perfect sense to live your dream, whether it be the American Dream, the nomadic dream or the dream that completes you? Whatever that may be, you could say, "the buck stops here" when it comes to sorting that out. So, when we hear, "you're living the dream", we think, of course we are just like we hope you are living yours.
We define love as thought, unity, relationships, intimacy and food. Both Janet and I grew up with tradition in Russian and Polish families. Food was always the focal point of gatherings. Janet’s mother and mine were not great cooks although my mom was a formidable baker and Janet’s mom, after taking cooking classes through Brandeis Women, became an excellent cook. My paternal grandmother was a Polish, over the top, cook and baker. My maternal grandmother was a Russian who, due to her upbringing in a poor farm family, made dishes with organ meats and root vegetables, generally cooked to mush. Both of our aunts and uncles were very capable in the kitchen and, for the most part, knew how to turn out good meals.
In our household, Janet is primarily the baker, and I am the cook. We collaborate constructively, and are critical and supportive of each other’s culinary shortfalls. We found, over time, that eating our own creations is a lot more satisfying than chowing down in a restaurant. Another important element is a clear understanding of the difference of eating for eating sake and dining. We find that when the goal is to dine, the combination of quality of the dish’s ingredients, presentation, wine, beer or spirit, music and conversation complete the experience. Consistency is important and we practice it daily.
So, what’s love got to do with it? If you don’t love the elements and the elements don’t emit love, the loss can be dramatic and turn something special into a mundane experience. We have set a goal to make our meals a special event and have done that on our home on the water, Ocean Suite. The concept is not new to us, having practiced the same when we lived in our sticks and bricks and the two years, we spent traveling in our motor coach.
People have asked, how do you do the preparation and crafting food on a boat? It is easy and our galley has everything we need to make it happen. The quality of ingredients and the skill in preparation are all that is needed. Adding lots of love helps to set the environment. There is something magical about creating your own international dishes, selecting your atmosphere, beverage and music that you don’t often get in a restaurant. Now, don’t get us wrong, dining out can be a great experience but having all the pleasing elements come together is not always a reality.
Aside from baking, which is an ingredient and measurement science, cooking for us is loosely based on formal recipes, extracting the ingredient’s and doing our own things. Over time, it becomes easier to eyeball quantities of the dish and know when it’s too little or too much, so the combinations and preparation time produce the best outcome.
If you currently cook and bake, keep going and hone your skills. If that’s not your bag, give it a go. Start slow and easy. Boil water and get good at it, crack an egg without mixing in the shell, cook some pasta or rice. Get something going and experiment until it’s pleasing to you. No doubt, you will mess things up and produce inedible slop but keep on keeping on. Most of us love to eat and with practice, success and failure you will find the love and express it in one comforting dish after another.
Living aboard and cruising, in what is basically a traveling home, is remarkably similar to residing in a sticks and bricks. What is different, almost everything. Now, that may sound like a contradiction and for all intent and purposes, it is. As restless individuals we enjoy being on the move. Travel is a passion for us and using the water as our road and boat as our vehicle, with the added benefit of it being our home, it fits our needs.
After over 500 nautical miles cruising from Boston, through NYC, the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Albemarle Sound, Cape Fear River and all of the tributaries in between we find ourselves, going on two months, in N Myrtle Beach, SC. Our initial plan was to spend a month here to regroup and have some time to lay out our route as we move forward. COVID-19, as for all of us, altered our plans. With a vaccine, actually two, approved, we wanted to stay put until we could get our shots. We realized within quick order that there was no national or state distribution protocol in place. The time frame and level of roll out was to say the least, haphazard at best. Janet registered us for shots in N Carolina as little or nothing related to vaccines is available, at this time in S Carolina. She put us in the system that is managed by Epic. Our current health care providers are using it and all of our medical records are with them. N Carolina contacted us, and we were able to set up appointments for our first shots. That will not be until the middle of February which means the second booster shot will not be for four weeks after that. Do the math, we will have to stay put for another month. Not so bad for us because the weather will be breaking, and we will begin our next travel and exploration phase. 500 nautical miles may not seem like a lot but considering we averaged about 40 per day and staying in areas for a period of time, there is little comparison with travel on land.
When we came down through Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle Sound we were taken by the pristine beauty of the area. So many quaint Civil and Revolutionary era towns with extensive maritime history. At the time of our transit through we did not stop, stay, and explore as much as we would have liked to. Covid put a damper on that with many closures of businesses and necessary restrictions that would have taken the fun, personal safety, and general ability to move freely in those areas away. We are hoping that by the time we get back up there along with having the vaccines, Covid will be under better control. Albemarle Sound is famous among sailors and cruisers for the historic towns and tributaries on the Albemarle Loop. There are nine marinas that give boaters a place to hang their hats for a short or longer stay, depending on exploration plans. Boaters can also find numerous anchorages as well. We, most likely, will start our trip north from our current location or Charleston, SC. We are not firm on that yet. Continuing north we enter Pamlico Sound and continue up the Alligator River to our first stop on the loop, Columbia, NC in the Albemarle Sound. The route we will take will put us on a W – NW course around the western part of the Sound and then along the northern coast heading east. The end of the loop, for us, will be the Albemarle Canal which we will transit to Norfolk and into the Chesapeake Bay. This is a spectacular cruising area with combinations of open, deep water giving an ocean like feel and view along with small tributaries that offer a natural setting. Janet and I found the Chesapeake to be a visually spectacular area is known for some of the best cruising and sailing in the world. This along with quaint towns and a plethora of incredible fish and shellfish make it a place we intend to spend the late spring and summer.
Life, as it has been for most of us, is dependent now more than ever to be flexible and go with the flow. Not much choice in the matter short of living dangerously with respect to Covid. Being overly careful and sacrificing social activity has become a way of life which we are sure will implode with delight when the time is right. The mantra, we don’t live in fear or we will not be controlled sounds good on paper but in reality, is just foolish ignorance. Frankly, we are afraid, and we will comply the advice of experts. We believe in real science and not be experts ourselves, have to rely on what we hope are professionals looking out for our best interest. That fear is keeping us from letting our guard down so that we can enjoy our current course of living and future plans. So, that is where we are in our quest for travel and version of adventure. We are looking forward to returning to Europe as well when it is safe to travel. Our thought for now is, even if the green light is given for travel abroad, we will not go until extreme social distancing and other firm restrictions are safely lifted as, at least for us, it would be too limiting and that is not acceptable for us.
Seems like everywhere we have cruised there are memorable experiences. One stretch that has been consistently enjoyable is North Carolina. From the bottom of Virginia to the Outer and Inner Banks we have enjoyed the areas visited. So many historic towns and villages with interesting culture, hospitality and plentiful fish to eat and add to that, good marinas and vast waterways like Albemarle Sound, Pamlico Sound, the Pungo and Neuse Rivers and you have a completeness rarely found.
Sounds like a bed of roses, well it is not. There is a price to pay for the pot of gold. It is called weather. Yes, how could being all that, not come with a price. The waterways in that part of the eastern seaboard can be some of the most challenging for mariners. Raging seas are not uncommon and it is imperative to plan well for comfort and safety. Fog, chop, huge swells can definitely ruin your day. Fortunately, our due diligence helped us to avoid most of but not all of the perils described. If stink happens, the only thing you can do is deal with it and at times we did. It is all part of the adventure and journey.
Several recommendations for areas that would be enjoyable places to visit in that area are Manteo on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks, Oriental and Beaufort, NC. We could probably list another dozen but those three would satisfy mariners as well as land lubbers. Sometimes you just want to go to an interesting place and chill. Well these towns fit the chill factor bill. We do not know about you, but we thrive on chilling out. No, we are far from lazy people and if you like walking, biking, exploring, kayaking historic sites then that is our definition of chill. If party hardy is what melts your butter, find someplace else to go.
So, what is next for us? We are trying to get set on a winter destination where we can "chill", be warm, relatively Covid safe and have some pleasant cruising locations. Our first choice would have been the Bahamas but that will have to wait until a vaccine is available and so will Florida. We are thinking S Carolina might be our best bet for now. We live by the rule that everything and every option does not suit everyone. How are you applying your options as it relates to your lifestyle in the crazy world of 2020?
Miyamoto Musashi, the great Samurai warrior wrote in The Book of the Five Rings, “Do not wish for an easy life, wish for a harder one and the strength to endure it’. The meaning of water in relation to life is flexibility. As full-time cruisers, Janet and I have learned this firsthand. A lifestyle on the water requires constant adjustments due to weather and logistics. We all know that life, at times, may not be easy or fair and it is the journey that demands the drive and strength to move forward. As we approach our first one thousand nautical miles in Ocean Suite, we feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The diligence in planning along with the actual transit in the ocean, sounds, bays, rivers and other tributaries we have cruised so far have given us the confidence and enjoyment to continue and grow. The cruising community has been nothing short of welcoming, with a desire to help each other with full commitment. We believe our many years of sailing have, no doubt, prepared us for this challenging lifestyle. This along with our love of water ignites our passion.