The morning of New Years Eve found me ready to return to Dudley and Belle Bateau in Florida after the long holiday break in PA and MD. I waved goodbye to my parents in PA as Jean-Luc served as my chauffeur again, and the long drive to BWI felt quite short as we chatted incessantly about the holidays and plans for the New Year. We even ordered two textbooks for him during the drive, using my iPad, so they would be waiting for him in NC at the start of Elon’s winter term on January 4. Love technology when it works and makes life a bit easier.
BWI airport was a breeze on the eve of 2016. Easy security, familiar shops, and a packed SWA flight with lots of families bound for Disney World. Thankfully, all the parents were well-behaved this time. Dudley picked me up at the Orlando airport in our weekend rental car and we arrived Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach in time to score an outdoor table at Atlantis, a restaurant we had chosen for this evening.
We were unaware at the time that the town’s fireworks had been moved from the beach to a parking lot across from the restaurant. Yep—we would have front row seats to the 9 pm fireworks from our table. Well, that was a nice welcome back gift!
While we finished dinner, people began lining up on the streets to secure a good viewing position for the festivities. The fireworks were spectacular for this small beach town. Afterwards, we walked on the beach, enjoying the warm ocean breeze and smelling the occasional waft of wood burning in several beach bonfires along the shore.
We finally arrived at Belle Bateau around 10 pm, and I put off unpacking until the following day. It was good to be home. We tried to stay awake long enough to watch the Times Square celebrations, but alas, we are sailors. Landlubbers may not know that sailors’ midnight is 9 pm. True story! So we were simply not capable of keeping our eyelids open for the official start of 2016.
New Years Day dawned with some harsh realities as I tried to ease back into boat living. I don’t mind water conservation, or being mindful of collective amperage, like “can I run the hair dryer while Dudley is toasting his bagel?” Nah, I’m cool with all of that. What I do mind is when marinas have broken pump-outs and lack the convenience of a traveling pump-out boat (for a refresher on pump out operations, see one of my most entertaining blog posts: The Grateful Head and Other Realities of Living on a Boat —Day 32).
Yep. Our marina in NSB had suffered a broken pump-out operation shortly after we arrived on December 16, and it was still not operational after our holiday absence. They had parts ordered, but the holidays had interrupted both the deliveries and the laborers necessary to do the job. So we were being mindful of our personal business, and having to make trips to and from the bathhouse many times each day. And night. Those 4 am runs to the bathhouse are not fun, in any kind of weather. Our gauges were showing 75% full in our holding tank, which certainly wasn’t full. But we had no idea how long this repair would take. The Captain encouraged me to use the head when I needed to, like in the middle of the night, but visions of erroneous gauges and horror stories of overfilled holding tanks motivated me to trek to the bathhouse. And plead with the marina staff to get that pump fixed!
Other realities of boat living became more apparent as the New Year began. The work we contracted on the hull, topsides, and brightwork was off to a slow slow start.
We had hoped that more would have been accomplished while we were away. Some of this work is quite noisy, so living on a boat below decks can be quite the migraine-inducing experience when work is being done above decks. I am thankful for the local coffee shop as my favorite get-away spot.
Our accountants met with the IRS on our behalf on the 5th, which resulted in more IRS tasks to do, including numerous calls to vendors requesting billing statements that are too old to still be attainable on-line. Take our advice: always download your billing statements, not just your bank statements, for every bill that you receive electronically. Every. Bill. Every. Month. You may not know until years later that the IRS is going to become quite enamored with a select group of your vendors.
But honestly, our days are filled with more bright spots than dull ones, or so I keep telling Dudley. We continue to meet new people and enjoy the two quaint towns that comprise NSB. Our evenings are often filled with a home-cooked meal, enjoyed in our cozy salon, while watching the West Wing series I gave him (us) for Christmas and of course, the last season of Downton Abbey. And for all of you who pay for cable, as we did as landlubbers, here’s a news flash: we still watch the same shows we used to watch on land, but now we watch for free. It’s amazing to me that we paid for cable when we watched so little of it. The only station I miss is CNN. Otherwise, that TV antenna at the top of our mast brings us the programs we enjoy for free. Had we ever stopped to think about this when on land, our cruising kitty would be looking far better!
So we send greetings to all of our friends and family as we welcome the New Year. We are enjoying our temporary residence in New Smyrna Beach and look forward to what 2016 will bring. We are living a dream, with all of its ups and downs. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.