divorce · dogs · Sailboats · Sailing · Uncategorized

Risky Business: It’s not just a movie

Well it’s happened. The company  I worked for was effecitively shut down on Monday and I am again without a job. I feel as if everything I’ve worked so hard for the last few weeks is at risk of being lost. The marina and boatyard I worked at wasn’t just a job. It was my home. I’m a bit at a loss as to what to do now. I found the work I did meaningful there. At least I thought it was until my boss told me otherwise.  That cut me to the core a bit. I know she’s angry and hurt that things didn’t go the way we all wanted them to.

It’s risky trying to be a friend and an employee.

My life has been a series of risks recently that haven’t paid off well. I’ve been a part of the “play it safe” crowd for so long that I thought if I just closed my eyes and leaped for once it might pan out. Unfortunately it seems I’m just free falling into nothingness again.

Someone asked me today if I had a magic wand what would I do with my life. Honestly, I have no idea. I wish I could find a way to make the blog/writing my actual job. I wish I could travel all over the world with Ava in our boat. While money doesn’t buy happiness, it bought a boat that needed maintenace, slip rent, and fuel to do all of the above with. I’m beginning to think that maybe I got in over my head with this whole “Travel/Adventure” thing. It’s lonely on the boat, even with Ava. I feel like I’ve not been fair to her recently either. Working at ESM allowed me to have her with me in the office on days I was tethered to a desk. Now she’ll have to stay on the boat or in a doggy day care (which she HATES) while I’m out looking for work. Crap she sounds more like a baby than my dog.

There was a great deal of risk involved when I moved back home. I took the chance that Kenny might come back if he saw that I had found some normalacy and happiness here. Obviously that hasn’t worked out in my favor.

Life is risky business. Everyday we take chances in love, with friends, with family.  I suppose it’s worth the risk though. What is the saying “it’s better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all.”

I seem to be rambling so I’m going to pour myself another cup of coffee and hope that I find some solace in it, and maybe a job. Yeah a job that would be nice right?

via Daily Prompt: Risky

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Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Life Over/Life Beginning

Ava is currently barking her head OFF! She is usually very quiet but today the roofers are here and she is quite sure they mean to do me harm. I’ve noticed she’s been extremely protective of me lately. It’s actually a comfort as I have felt pretty vulnerable lately. The last few days have been very tough. I keep trying to keep things in perspective. I have come so far in the last few months, even though I’ve seemingly been gut kicked pretty hard again. The company I work for has been forced out of business, so once again I’m on the hunt for a job. I really loved living and working here so it was a bit of a blow.

On another note, I’ve me some crazy, incredibly wonderful people here at this job. They come from many different backgrounds, businessmen, military, attorneys, you name it. We all share a love of the water though. One of the highlights of my morning is to join them with a cup of coffee on the docks. We talk about the weather, the latest maintenance on their boats, sometimes the government and social issues. I enjoy the diversity their opinions. I’m going to miss my co-workers. I’ve formed a friendship with them and right now has been a time when I’ve really needed friends.

This weekend we had the joy of experiencing a hurricane at the Marina. Hurricane Nate showed up unwelcomed. We hauled out boats with the travel lift for 48 hours. It was hard, slow going work. As the storm got closer, neighbor began helping neighbor in the marina. I tied up boats, tightened lines, and worked alongside our other clients to make sure everyone was taken care of. I slept through most of the storm itself. We thankfully didn’t get hit as hard as expected. Not a single boat was damaged due to the storm. In fact, the only boat that sustained damage at all was mine. The wind caught the Rialto Zephyr as I steered her into the travel slip to be lifted out of the water. She smashed into the pilings busting out a navigational light and bending my pulpit and stanchions. I’m just glad no one was hurt. The current and the wind were too hard to fight. The tidal surge did create a bit of mess. Docks floated up and washed away, but overall it was a successful storm prep. It made me realize how much I’m going to miss working here all the more.

I’m trying to think forward to the future as far as a new career. I have no idea what I’ll do now. I suppose as long as it supports my sailing habit and feeds Ava and I, it’ll be ok. Life while looking like it might be over, is actually starting to feel more like a beginning. I’m starting to realize that it’s all about cycles. Just like Mother Nature cycles through weather, we have cycles through life as well. Sometimes it’s grey and stormy, often it’s bright and sunny, but I have to keep in mind that these changes don’t always happen overnight. I have to allow myself to experience both the good and bad knowing that they don’t last. In the meantime, I’m going to ride this adventure to wherever it takes me. Jake1

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Uncategorized

Stormy weather, since you and I ain’t together.

via Daily Prompt: Interest

I’ve always had an interest, almost wild obsession with the weather. Maybe it’s the sailor in me that always keeps an eye to the horizon for the dark clouds that often roll in off the Gulf, or maybe it’s the energy I revel in as I stand, facing the wind defiant in the face of the storm.

While most children are afraid of storms, I can remember the excitement as I would watch them form over head. Thunder crashing all around only fed my interest. As I grew older, hurricanes began to fascinate me. I felt drawn to them. The power they displayed was amazing. It reminds me of one of my favorite Christian band songs where God’s love is described as a hurricane and we are a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. That word description has stuck with me for years.

My life being stormy on the other hand, isn’t fascinating or powerful. The storm clouds that have gathered over me and my family have often left a sense of impending doom. Storms are unpredictable. The whip through sometimes unexpected and often leave paths of destruction. They cannot be tamed. That’s my life as well. I feel the swirling clouds of uncertainty, the wind howling to me that my life will never be the same, the waves crashing over me giving me a sense that I’m just at the cusp of drowning. I fear these storms.Silhoutte1

Alabama Gulf Coast · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Life in a Southern Coastal town

A Sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind”  Webb Chiles

 

Sailing has become a form of therapy for me. When I’m out on the water, I don’t care about the present troubles I’m facing. The snap of the sails quite literally snaps me out of the funk that I’ve been in for weeks. I’ve been in a funk the last few days, though no one would know except my very close friends and family.  Today I decided the only way I could snap out of it would be some good ole’ southern hospitality. I’m lucky enough that I both live and work at a local marina in Fairhope, AL. At night before I go to sleep, I hear the shrimp boats as they make their way out of the channel and into the bay. They spend all night out there casting their nets. In the mornings as I’m having coffee in the cockpit of the Rialto Zephyr (my beautiful sailboat and home) the seagulls and the shrimpers greet me on their way back to the docks. This Friday the funk I was in led me to the decision that the only way to cure it would be to host a shrimp boil for my coworkers and fellow neighbors.

Gerald has been shrimping this bay for longer than I have been alive. His boat, the Miss Elise, is a traditional setup made for catching bay shrimp. She is well worn, but well loved. He pulled into the dock Friday morning with ice chests full of beautiful white shrimp. No sooner had he tied his lines, people were lined up with cash. He shook my hand and asked me about my “people” and how “my mom and ’em are”. He shared stories of some tough shrimping times as he scooped the shrimp 5lbs at a time into Ziploc bags. I love hearing his stories and sighed silently as I realized that this way of life is beign pushed to the corner of extinction.

The marina is filled with liberals, conservatives, wealth and not so much wealth,military, civilians, but the one thing we all have in common is our gypsy souls. Always keeping a weather eye out for adventure. I love to sit and listen to the conversations that happen when we are all together. In those moments, our differences don’t matter so much and we share food, companionship and sea stories. We laugh, we reminisce, we love.

I started a pot of boiling water and began to chop up the onions and garlic out at the pavillion. Soon I had several live aboards stopping by to see what they could bring to the cookout. They asked questions about traditional southern food, shared their favorite stories and recipes, and anticipated the shrimp, andouille, corn and potatoes that would soon be dumped out on newpaper and gobbled up in a free for all. Coworkers brought glass Root Beer and Dr. Peppers. Even a straggler from a subcontractor joined in our feast. All of the sudden, my troubles felt small as we shared a meal. I laughed, teased, and for once let go of the burdens I’ve been carrying all week. I reminded myself of how thankful I am to be home, how this life is worth living, and that you don’t have to look to hard to find yourself. These vagabonds are my as Gerald put it “people” and I wouldn’t trade living in this little coastal southern town for anything, well except some more of Gerald’s shrimp.

 

Next rounds on you boys!

Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Government · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

We did it! The little engines that could…

Ava and I officially live aboard my new boat! A few weeks ago, I came across a 38′ Rhodes Seafarer. The Rialto Zephyr had been well taken care of for a girl her age and I couldn’t pass up the deal. She’s large enough that Ava and I are able to live comfortably aboard. We’ve now fully moved in and it’s been interesting to say the least! Ava has adjusted to ship board life fairly well. I did however discover that I MUST close the hatch covers before I leave if she is staying on board. She has learned how to push them open and jump out! A few times I caught her out making friends with other boaters.

Life is different now. Not bad different, but different none-the-less. I’ve met some very interesting people at the marina. Sailors, Gypsys, Nomads. We have a lot in common. I love their stories, their personalities. They reflect a kaleidiscope of colors in our society.

Our journey through the intercoastal was incredible. Well, until we hit Point Clear, and by hit I mean literally hit a sand bar about 1 1/2 miles off the beach. We were watching dolphins play around the boat. What we didn’t realize was they were actually running the fish into the shallow sand bar. An hour later, we were able to free the Rialto Zephyr only to run aground again. I’ve learned that you if you see dolphins swimming fast towards the beach, you should probably go the other way. They are running the fish into shallows and your boat will end up in the shallows too if you don’t haul ass out of there!

It’s been an adventure to say the least but one that I’ve loved every second of.

Ava and I are starting to get back on our feet again. I was able to get a job working in the marina where my boat is. I love the boatyard and the work that happens there. Watching the guys resurrect a derelict boat and handing the client a beautifully painted work of art is amazing! Unfortunately, my job and my home has been a fight for the last two months. The city of Fairhope voted to take the marina over. Since part of my contract with the marina was that I have free slip rent, I’ll be paying the city that now. I’ve ruffled some feathers over how the city has handled the take over and I’m sure I’ve made enemies. I just can’t sit by and watch them run over the little guy or in my case, girl. Catherine, my boss, was handed a disaster. Her father had run the marina for years and not necessarily in the best management practice. The marina definitely needed repairs and upkeep, but Cat came in with a plan. Sadly it seems the city had a plan as well and that has been to shut her down. I’ve never been on to get into politics but I felt like I couldn’t watch this happen without voicing my concerns. Now it seems I’m being played out as the disgruntled employee, angry about her free lease ending. The city strategically took out sources of revenue at the highlight of the season by tearing down the fuel dock, then they voted to take the marina over, and now it appears they have secretly emailed clients telling to to demand their money back in order to pay rent to the city.  While it may not change my situation, if nothing else I want answers for our clients and residents of this city. Did the people of Fairhope write a blank check to the city for the renovations of a project that will cost over $2 million?

Enough of my work rant, other than the above mentioned struggles, Ava and I have made friends, found a new church, and maybe found a little piece of heaven here in Fairhope, AL. I wake up every morning to the sounds of rigging, clinking and tinkling, the bay lapping at the shore and boat, and beautiful sunrises. At night, I’m rocked to sleep by the waves and the gently tinkling of the rigging again. I can’t ask for more right now. I am healing.

 

dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Sailing with a Large Dog:

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When I first started dreaming about living aboard a sailboat, one of my largest concerns was how would Ava adjust to the small living space or even really being on a boat all together. While she loves the water and has been around it most of her life, she’d NEVER been aboard a boat. I wanted her to get used to the idea and also to start going over some of the ABSOLUTE rules. Let’s face it, Ava’s a big girl and one of my reoccurring nightmares was that she 1) knock me overboard, 2) that she fall overboard because it’s really hard to get back up on the boat for me. I can’t imagine trying to drag her 115 lbs. body from below. I started by taking her over to the marina with me when I’d go to clean. I always make her sit while I pull the boat closer to the dock. I also almost ALWAYS have her board before me. I’ve found that if she is onboard and steady on her feet I can ask her to move back and she happily jumps down into the cockpit.

The picture below shows her standing on the stern of the boat. This was her first favorite place. The cockpit of the boat isn’t all that large but from standing on the stern she can see me in the cockpit and the cabin. As I’ve mentioned before, Ava likes having me in her line of sight ALWAYS. She tends to get nervous if she can’t see me. On the first day, she was really nervous about how the boat would get near the pier and then float away. She couldn’t seem to understand that this didn’t mean to jump off the boat every time the pier was close enough to reach. Eventually she ignored the bumps of the pier and the rock of the boat. After a few days of learning how to wait till I pulled us to the pier, she really settled down.

Once I thought she was comfortable enough getting on and off, we started to explore the cabin and the bow of the boat. She wasn’t particularly fond of the cabin at first. While there is more room in the cabin than the cockpit, it’s a small narrow space. Well that was until she found she could lay on the cushioned seats! Now whenever I walk into the cabin she happily jumps down the companionway onto the seats. IMG_1457

She very cautiously made her way to the front of the bow yesterday. I don’t think she would try to go up there by herself just yet, but when she saw me climb the and sit at the pulpit she joined me. There is definitely more room there so she was able to walk around and stretch out.

There are definitely some disadvantages to having a large dog on a sailboat, but I think if you take the careful time planning it can be an enjoyable experience. Ava and I are mostly day cruisers, spending time just here locally on the Bay. She is not ready for anything longer than that right now. I would eventually like to be able to spend longer time at sea, but that will involve potty training her for the boat. Another issue for sailors who long distance sail with large dogs is that many marinas don’t allow large dogs. You always want to contact the marina you plan on docking at and checking their policy or you might get a surprise when you arrive. If your dog is too large for you to carry, you might want to work on training them to get into a smaller boat or dinghy. Many marinas will have you anchor out and have a service to pick you up. I’ve been extremely lucky that the marina where I dock is very pet friendly. There are grassy areas for her to “take care of business” before we leave and since we just sail for a few hours, that works for her. I’ve read some tips on potty training your dog for long distance sailing. I’m going to research that a little more and then I’ll let everyone know how it goes. For now Ava is learning to be a sailor and I’m happy to have my sweet girl join me on the water.

divorce · dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

I Like Big Cups and I Cannot Lie: Southern Grind Coffee Shop at the Wharf

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I decided early this morning to get out of the house. I was in a bit of a funk yesterday and I knew if I didn’t SNAP OUT of it, I would remain that way for an indefinite amount of time. I’ve really been missing the friendship of my church family in Salem, NH (www.graniteunited.com For anyone in that area CHECK IT OUT) so I thought I’d visit a church I’d heard really awesome things about. Church, however, has become a painful experience for me lately. Ken and I were faithful and volunteered in several ministries. We served beside each other and I loved every second of playing the keyboard while he played bass guitar. Now, I’m usually brought to tears at worship songs that we played together and attending church nearly brings me to hysterics. So, I talked myself out of going, which made me feel even worse actually. My mom had seen the mood I was in and suggested that we head over to the Eastern Shore of Alabama to the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area. The weather was beautiful and I thought well at least I’ll get my mind off my troubles. I’m so glad I went because we explored the Wharf, a shopping and dining stop, that offered everything from beach style bars to home furnishings. It’s also the home to my new favorite destination coffee shop, Southern Grind Coffee Shop. (www.thesoutherngrind.com)

Southern Grind is the CUTEST, ocean/beach themed coffee shop I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The cool turquoise and sand color palette immediately created a very serene atmosphere. The shop is filled with sea inspired decor, candles and artwork created by the owners themselves. Not to mention, they are DOG FRIENDLY! The outdoor seating area is fittingly called the “Pooch Porch”. There are water bowls, treats, food dishes and if you are in need of anything, don’t hesitate to let the baristas know and they will take care of you and your four legged friend!

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I didn’t have the opportunity to dine in, but opted for a coffee that was spot on. The only downside of this little gem is that for me, it’s a little out of the way. However, you can bet that if I’m in the Orange Beach area I’ll be stopping by. Several of the dining venues offered pet friendly outdoor seating. The Wharf itself has a boat dock, an amphitheater for amazing concerts, mini-golf, and an arcade. It’s a great place to take the family for some fun!  If you’re looking for some “down-time”, they also had several spas to help you relax and get your beauty on. I was really impressed and will definitely make the Wharf at Orange Beach one of my weekend entertaining visits.

For more information on The Wharf at Orange Beach you can check out their website at http://www.alwharf.com

Thanks for a great cup of coffee and a delightful find Southern Grind! Can’t wait to see you again!