True Spirit

“True spirit” is a book by Jessica Watson, who is to this day the youngest person to circumnavigate the world. The book tells a great story about her life leading up to her wanting to circumnavigate the globe. It also tells of her actual circumnavigation and the time after. Some of the highlights of the book include her links to the videos she took on the sail, her brave and bold tales such as facing storms, and including the night she was hit by a massive cargo ship “Silver Yang”. Also it tells of her wonderful times at sea including a night where she saw a rainbow at night a “moonbow”. In “True Spirit, you can get a glimpse into what she experienced sailing around the world solo at 16. I loved the book, and found Jessica’s ability and determination to make her dream come true to be really cool.

My week in Charleston

We have been in Charleston, South Carolina for a week. On the first day we went to the markets where there are a million vendors and my dad bought a book about the history of Charleston. Each day I read a portion relating to what we were doing that day and then we went out touring. On the first day we went to the visitor’s center and bought tickets for the Charleston City bus tour. On the tour we learned all about Charleston’s general history. After that we went to visit Fort Sumter It was very interesting. We traveled there on a boat and our tour guide talked way too much. There was a ranger there who talked about the purpose of Fort Sumter, when it was built, the situation leading up to the Civil War and the fort’s role in the war.

The Market in Charleston

Cobblestone street in Charleston

Fort Sumter, the first shot fired in the Civil War

On the next day, my day and I took the water taxi over to the USS Yorktown which is a US Navy aircraft carrier. We took a tour down below and ate food that WWII soldiers ate — rice, meatballs and cauliflower. We went through the barracks and saw a generator and an engine that took up 5 rooms. We went up onto the flightdeck and saw about 20 planes that landed on the USS Yorktown. Then we went to the bridge and saw the NavStation. It made Troubadour’s NavStation look like an ant’s calculator. From there we went to look at the destroyer and went inside a giant cannon and watched a movie. Then we went over to the bridge on the destroyer. After that we went to the model war base for Vietnam in which American Navy troops camped. Then we got on the water taxi and came home. While I was there, I contemplated the fact my Grandpa Gillman was only 5 years older than I am when he served in World War Two.

The mess hall where we ate

Our yummy lunch.

Graham at the helm

The Yorktown

Today we went to the tiny Old Slave Mart museum. It was on one of only 7 cobblestone streets left in Charleston. Inside were facts about the history of slavery through the Civil war. The highest price fetched for a slave was $1,500 and that was when an African American person was 20. If you were younger or older than that, people would pay less for you. Babies and 60 year olds were only worth $50. We listened to an audio recording of what a slave auction was like. Slaves were hidden behind a curtain until the last minute. Then they could have been made to pull up their shirts or walk around to see if they were fit for work. It was very interesting but disturbing too.

The next day we went on the shuttle to the College of Charleston to see an art exhibit called: Return to the Sea: Saltworks. The artist, Motoi Yama Moto, is from Japan and always works only in salt. The major exhibit is a hurricane made up entirely of salt. It is cool. In a month, the public is invited to dismantle the exhibit by scraping the salt up from the floor and carrying it back to dump it in the ocean.

We were looking forward to one more day in Charleston but Chris Parker, the weatherman for water people said our weather window is for today so now we are scrambling around to get ready.

Oceanchild

I am writing this in the wee hours of the morning as my boys sleep.  It doesn’t really matter because all I have to do tomorrow is relax some more.  I am kept awake by the sound of krill pecking at the boat — tiny little fish most famous, to be sure, for their singular line in FINDING NEMO, “Swim away!” as Marlin and Dory are swallowed by the whale. They are generally quiet as they as miniature, except when there are thousands of them like now — pecking into the boat, hopefully cleaning the bottom.  Graham is nestled on the settee next to me in his Pokemon sheets and as I lookout the porthole past him I can see a boat called “Oceanchild” and I think how well that name fits this child who slumbers next to me.  I thought he learned to love the water on the Jersey shore but as I see him more and more in different waters everywhere and how he acclimates immediately, it occurs to me that he was probably born an oceanchild.

We are in lovely Charleston for a while as we make our way up the coast.  We had some trouble on the passage here as the wind died in the middle of the night and then the engine died immediately following.  We had to wait till first light for Matt to start working on it and after four hours and no fix we had to be towed 10 miles into the harbor anyway.  It was tedious but vacation nevertheless.  I keep thinking that if we were home right now, Matt would be away at his annual meeting in Chicago working 16 hour days, Graham would be studying for the dreaded Standards of Learning Tests and I would be rushing around as usual trying to jam it all in.  Instead, Matt doesn’t work as such, rather he makes Graham and me laugh in the carefree way that reminds us of why we love him so.  As we cruise I often think of how lucky we are to spend this family time together.  To some it may seem stifling, but I am appreciating this time with Graham who probably won’t want to be hanging around his parents for too much longer.  We get to play games at dinner like going round and round the table trying to name as many Troubadour absolutes as we can:  Always leave the head handle to the right, no food down the sink, if you take out a cold water, put a warm one back in, get rid of the cardboard at the grocery store — no cardboard on the boat (roaches!) and many more.

As we while away the hours, I try to tell Graham stories that are new — about him, about me, about life, his family traditions, anything.  When we were at home and I worked in the jails, substance abuse prevention programs, child abuse prevention programs, etc. we always stressed the importance of talking to your child from day one.  So I like to talk to him about anything in the hopes that when he needs to, he will talk to us about something.  I do a little bit of the same with Matt, purely for the entertainment value and to pass the time on a crossing.  We sit in the cockpit and I try to think of stories we might not know about each other (however, if you reference the November blog history, you will note that we took first place in the Newleywed Game in Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas),  It’s after 2 and it’s June 5th now so I’d like to give a shout out to my dear friend, Ken, whose birthday it is today!  Our love to you all.

The ANN-KRISTIN

I have come to really like boats, looking at them anyway. Most have white hulls, we have a navy one and a teak deck and people are always commenting on how pretty she is. And we are mostly cruising the same pattern that her former owners did for 5 years so we frequently meet people who recognize the boat because of her distinctiveness. I can’t believe I know any of this – like that she is a Cutter-rig Sloop – because a year ago I knew so little. Back to the colors of hulls, a beautiful red-hulled sailboat came into the marina yesterday. She is beautiful not because she is in pristine condition, in fact she was a little rusty all over; I was drawn to her because of her bright red hull in a Little Engine That Could way. And then I saw her name, the ANN-KRISTIN. I was immediately reminded of my Aunt Ann and her daughter, my cousin, Kristin – two of the strongest people I know. It made me feel a little closer to home. She was gone this morning before I could get a picture and I wondered if she was really there after all.