Well, friends, we are ready to go! After three months in marina, the last of the tasks has been completed. The refrigerator is stuffed with food and the bulkheads are crammed with cans and dry goods. The water maker, solar panels, dingy davitts, AIS and SSB radio have been installed and all systems are go. The rigging and sails have passed inspection and endured what repairs they required. The new toilet and plumbing smell delightfully un-head-like. The new teak cockpit table is varnished and sturdy. We have roared around in our new dinghy and with a brand-new outboard motor and installed both on deck. The ditch bag is filled with everything we can think of that we hope never to use, including a small stash of dark chocolate and honey, which cleans and disinfects wounds and never goes bad. Whew!
Ryan has completed a myriad of other tasks to get the boat ready to go. My contribution has been largely interior and decorative, furnishing useful galley supplies (such as a Breville immersion blender that also functions as a mini-food processor; a hold-load of lock n’ lock boxes and globe glass solar lanterns for the cockpit).
Our weather window has opened and we are going to step into it tomorrow morning at 9 am. We expect to sail most of the way for three days, crossing the Gulf Stream at 32 N, off the coast of Charleston, where it’s narrow and runs west-to-east. We need to arrive in Whale Cay, in the Abacoes, by Sunday morning to avoid the high winds expected to stir things up dangerously Sunday evening and Monday. If we can’t get there on time, we’ll either round the Abacoes and head for the Berry Islands or veer off course to Memory Rock on the North west Abacoes.
For the passage, I have made the following dishes: Beef, barley and lentil stew; Arroz con Pollo (both using stock from scratch); Bacon, onion, and gruyere quiche; cornbread with unbolted flour (crunchy!); and roasted potatoes. I brought three cookbooks: Deb Morgan’s Kripalu Seasonal Menus; The Boat Galley Cookbook by Carolyn Sherlock and Jan Irons; and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The latter is my Bible, the book I could not do without. It’s big and bulky but well worth its weight and volume.
O, and of course I’ve loaded up the Kindles with largely free or very cheap classics, Melville and Burney and Hardy and Woolf and Edgeworth and Dickens and even Goethe, in addition to some great Sci-fi, Doris Lessing’s Shikasta (which I’ll be reading for the 10th time) and Nancy Farmer and Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler, the great classics of Sci-Fi in my opinion. Also old childhood favorites: Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights and the Collected Stories of Poe. Also Marlon James and Tiphanie Yanique and Anne Carson.
It’s currently raining in Oriental, as it has been for the majority of our time here. It patters down with irritatingly regular gentleness. It has soaked my hat, which I set out on a flat part of the deck to reshape. I hear tell that I will enjoy sunny, lovely weather in the Bahamas. But as I’ve never been there, I don’t really know what to expect.
And then there is the worry I carry, a heavy burden, my concern for my son, who has not finished college or found a job (although he says he has looked), or found a direction for himself in this life. He is a wonderful, charming, beautiful person, a joy to talk to, a Mensch, intelligent and engaged in thinking outside the norms that most people don’t even recognize. I love him very much. But I also worry. What will become of him? How will he pay his bills? He lives with his girlfriend, who has little money, barely enough to feed the two of them. I pay their rent, but only until April, and that is far longer than I had expected to do so. The plan was that he would get a job or go back to school and start his life. My intention was to help him launch, to move him out of the house, like a mother bird, shoving her fledglings into the air. All of these details amount to so little about him. I despair of understanding him. I try not to feel guilty. It is the nature of motherhood to feel guilty.
Thank you, my wonderful friends, for your thousand kindnesses to me. I miss you all! I will write next when I have an internet connection. I can’t say when that will be, but I expect it will be soon.