We’ve been back in the Spice Island for five days now. A cruiser was asked the same question we’ve been asked on multiple occasions, “What do you do all day on the boat?” The reply: “I don’t know, but it takes all day to do it!” That’s pretty accurate. The days pass swiftly, and despite being busy all day there is little to show for it, at least at a cursory glance.
Everything — I repeat, Everything! — always takes much longer to do and is much more involved when living on a boat in a foreign country. A crisis has arisen regarding my next scheduled work time in Maine at the end of July. My temporary Maine license expires on July 9th. I can’t renew the temporary license because I’ve already done so once and there is a two-time limit. So, we are scrambling to obtain a 100-day emergency license while applying for a full license. I was emailed applications which I’ve since printed and completed. (Thankfully, we have wifi and a printer/scanner aboard.) Yesterday morning, Cindy and I took Dalí over to the carenage and walked through town looking for a notary to notarize a couple of the pages. While dodging rain showers, we walked to a total of six lawyers’ offices (Who knew there were that many lawyers in Grenada!) before we found a notary. Each of the first five had notaries, but none were in. We then dinghied back over to the lagoon, tied to a dinghy dock, and walked to the FedEx office to overnight the paperwork back to the States. I then fought with poor wifi to complete an online application, scanning in several supporting documents in the process. What fun!
It’s the rainy season here in the tropics. Everyday, we get rain. Sometimes we get a few hours of extended rain — or extended sunshine. But, it is not unusual to have an ongoing cycle of twenty minutes of rain, followed by twenty minutes of clouds, followed by twenty minutes of bright sunshine. In between the showers, we’ve been busy trying to accomplish a few boat chores. Part of that is the ongoing requisite cleaning of the interior and exterior (the exterior is in serious need of some intensive TLC). We’ve also tried to repair all the leaky hatches. Prior to our last departure for the U.S., we rebedded one hatch, while temporarily sealing the gaps in the seals of several others. The replacement seals which I purchased for two of the windows arrived during our absence. The instructions and the YouTube videos talk about how easy the job is to replace the seals. Don’t believe a word of it! On my boat, I’d have to completely remove and reinstall the hatches to replace the seals. After a couple of frustrating hours of accomplishing nothing, I decided we’d see how the temporary repairs hold up. I have the seals on hand if the leaking resumes. Yesterday, we completely replaced one of the hatches whose locking mechanism was broken. Additionally, I’ve removed and replaced the forward inspection hatch which was cracked and letting in buckets of salt water as the waves wash over the bow, which in turn shorts out my navigation lights. I attempted to upgrade our anchor swivel to a new heavy-duty Mantus swivel, but after much time and even more frustration, I gave up. I couldn’t remove the old swivel as the screw was frozen. Several applications of PB Blaster didn’t help. I’ll tackle it another day with a bigger tool.
All of the foregoing brings me to address the title of this post. Are we on a permanent vacation? I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually spend my vacation struggling with arduous and frustrating chores. So, no… this is not an extended vacation. Obviously, however, if you’ve been following our blog, we (most of the time) enjoy ourselves immensely. We feel so blessed to live on the water in our own “home,” able to move from place to place as we desire. We have more than our share of sitting on white sandy beaches, swimming in crystal clear waters, snorkeling and diving with the sea life, enjoying dinners in seaside restaurants, fishing off the back of our vessel… and the list goes on and on.
But this life we’ve chosen is more than a vacation, it is an adventure, replete with challenges, some of which are quite taxing. We must continually be attuned to the weather. We must be vigilant about boat maintenance (sails and rigging, motors, electrical, plumbing, water, etc). We are no longer sailing in the relatively protected waters of the Manatee River and Tampa Bay, but every passage from here forward involves facing the awesome power of the open ocean. There is an inherent danger involved in navigating the seas, so we must be careful. We must research the passages to future ports, as well as the ports themselves, to insure our safety and compliance with local laws and requirements for clearance into the country. On top of this, since I’m still working part-time, I have to deal with the red tape of licensing and staff-privileges in various states and in various hospitals and jumping through the necessary hoops to maintain a practice in medicine. This also requires coordinating travel back and forth to the states with our cruising plans.
I guess I’ve said all of this now because for the past five days, we’ve done little but work and stress and plan. We’ve had no time for island touring (although that is still to come). We did manage to spend a few minutes in the pool yesterday afternoon, once the bulk of my licensing crisis had been dealt with. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company and watched a couple of movies in the evenings. If you are interested in a permanent vacation, living and cruising on a boat is not recommended. If you’d like an amazing, challenging adventure, then this may be the life for you. For the foreseeable future, at least, it is the life for us. The challenge of living aboard and cruising from country to country is a rewarding one. More challenges lie ahead — and we look forward to meeting them.
Tomorrow, we move temporarily to the southeast side of the island. Since tomorrow (Friday) has the lightest winds for the next several days, we’ll head over to St. David’s Harbor in preparation for a haul-out on Monday, July 4th, for more serious boat-repairs.