Sea Life Lessons

In my last post, yesterday, I said I might not post as frequently for a while since my boat life seems to be on hold for the winter.  But this morning I read a post from Union College’s chaplain, Rich Carlson, that is spot on with where I am.  Maybe you will resonate with it too…

An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to “breathe” water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.

Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond.

Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster’s response to its suffering. Not every oyster can do this. Oysters that do are far more valuable to people than oysters that do not.

Sand is a way of life for an oyster. If you are soft and tender and must live on the sandy floor of the ocean, making pearls becomes a necessity if you are to live well.

Disappointment and loss are a part of every life. Many times we can put such things behind us and get on with the rest of our lives. But not everything is amenable to this approach. Some things are too big or too deep to do this, and we will have to leave important parts of ourselves behind if we treat them in this way. These are the places where wisdom begins to grow in us. It begins with suffering that we do not avoid or rationalize or put behind us. It starts with the realization that our loss, whatever it is, has become a part of us and has altered our lives so profoundly that we cannot go back to the way it was before.

Something in us can transform such suffering into wisdom. The process of turning pain into wisdom often looks like a sorting process. First we experience everything. Then one by one we let things go, the anger, the blame, the sense of injustice, and finally even the pain itself, until all we have left is a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live it.

My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging. Riverhead Books: New York, NY 2000.



So we are now at our daughter’s house near Minneapolis Minnesota.  Many of you know she is a Chocolatier.  What that means is she makes awesome chocolate goodies!  She works part time in a cute little shop called L’More Chocolate, and I got to spend an evening watching her (and pretending to help out some).

Chocolate needs to be tempered very carefully- meaning brought to a certain temperature for a while, then a different one, then used at a very specific temperature.  We made truffles, which involves coating some molds with chocolate, waiting for that to set, then adding the filling (ganache), waiting for that to set, then adding chocolate for the bottom of the truffle (backing).  Does that sound like I know what we’re doing?  Well, kind of…



Here Becky is “Shelling” – adding chocolate to a mold.  The chocolate is kept at an even temperature in a large pool under a grill, and some is continually pumped up and out this faucet.


Here she spreads it to get in all the molds.  She will then invert it, leaving only a thin layer in each of the molds.  Then she scrapes off excess, which goes back into the chocolate pool, where it is brought back to temperature, and pumped out again.


Now, when they are adequately set, she fills each mold with the right amount of ganache, which we have made of lighter chocolate and any of hundreds of flavorings.


Here she is adding ganache to some white chocolate truffles.  Some finished ones are in the neighboring tray.


Once those are set, it’s time for “Backing”.  She is doing some white chocolate cameos here.


When all has been set up adequately, you get to knock them out of the trays.  This is great fun, and sometimes a bit difficult.  Knocking the trays quite hard, upside down on a hard surface will usually get most of them out, but it may take a few attempts.  And if one falls out when you’re on a downswing, you might smash it!  Then you have to eat the evidence…

So that’s what she does at work.  At home it’s for fun, and with no huge machine to keep the temperature at exactly 87.5 degrees, it’s a bit of a challenge.  But she made a bunch this week for a fundraiser at her daughter’s school.  It will be an auction Saturday night, and this is what the boxes look like:



There are also little bags of Bark, which are awesome too!  I’m sure they will be popular at the Fall Fiesta!



So now for some not so exciting stuff…  Our boat will be longer getting fixed up than I was hoping…  and then it will be winter and cold where she is.  So we probably will be road tripping (on land) for most of the winter.  I’m not going to compete with my daughters in putting cute pictures of my grandkids online, so I will most likely cut back my blogging for a while.

A Mazing Fun

The day before Michael came to visit, we drove to Annapolis for the United States Powerboat Show.  About 700 boats and lots of extras to look at too!

Then we drove “home” to our boat just in time for the storm.  But you’ve heard enough about that!

The day after the storm our good friends Jeff and Marilyn Emery came to visit.  They stayed with us on the boat even though the power was out in the whole area.

We spent a day touring Yorktown – site of a very critical battle for American independence.  We had a very good guide who explained battle strategy and layout of the fortifications.  Really fascinating!

The old town of Yorktown is elegant, surrounded by beautiful woods and a nice shoreline.

The Victory Tower was erected to celebrate the triumph at Yorktown.

A sign at the Carrot Tree where we had lunch…


Jeff and Marilyn seemed to enjoy the kayak…


Lotsa Love –


We had to stop at Fort Nonsense… a fort which was commissioned and built, but never saw action, prompting it to be called by such a flattering name.  Only some earthworks remain, but it is a beautiful walk!



Cherryl wasn’t cold… she’s hiding from bugs!

We putted around a very unique miniature golf course… all about cows.  Lots of fun – especially one hole where the best play was to purposely use the water feature!

Monday we started to Becky and Kevin’s house where we would meet our other kids, Karen and Loren, and all our grandkids for almost a week!  What fun!

The most A Mazing thing was the corn maze. (Maize Maze??)  I have never been to a real corn maze before, and this one is the biggest in Minnesota!  It looks like it covers several acres!  Great fun!  Hard to take pictures inside a maze, however, because all you see is corn.  The grandkids tired of it pretty fast, but I loved it.



Perhaps even cooler than the maze was the corn pit.  Bordered with hay bales was a square, maybe 70 feet, and at least 2 feet deep with dried corn kernels.  When you jumped in, you sank in almost to your knees!  I had so much fun acting like a little kid!  You can’t picture how crazy it feels to be up to your knees in corn!  Loved it!



Then today we loaded a couple of Off Road Vehicles in a trailer and went to an off roading park.  So we all drove the cool Polaris OHVs all over forest trails with beautiful fall colors blurring past us.  The kids had a little tiny 4 wheeler that we could adjust the throttle down to jogging speed, and they loved just driving around the flat dirt area.  It’s good that I live on a boat, or I’d probably be thinking I need one of these crazy toys!

Kevin warms up the miniature 4 wheeler

Peter gets a little ride…

Bryan loves to make the mud fly!


Kevin shows off some cool suspension travel:


Our Second Hurricane!

So with Florence, we had a couple of weeks notice that she was coming.  Michael was supposed to hit Florida, and die long before it could get anywhere near us.  Not an issue! Except Michael did not read those forecasts, and just kept marching north.  With one day notice that we may see winds of 50mph, we thought we were prepared.  Turns out we were not as prepared as we thought.

Water level came up 3-4 feet, covering and damaging some docks.  Winds came up to 63mph by our instruments.  Power went out in the whole area about 2 am, and now it is Friday night and still not back.  Not much sleep last night!  So no WiFi, and internet almost impossible.

The sailboat above is the biggest catastrophe we have seen.  Many other boats are in storage here, but this one didn’t make it. I guess I am just thankful that our boat is relatively unharmed.  Our bimini top is torn, but repairable, and we lost a cover for a grill on the flybridge.  Otherwise fine.  In a few days I hope to be someplace with more power and internet, and I’ll put up some more pictures.

Ok, It has been a few days now… we got power back after being out for two days.  I tried to get some video footage of the dramatic wind and rain, but it didn’t turn out too well.  So here are a few pictures of the marina the next morning.

This is same boat shown above, and you can see the mast bent over two other boats!
This floating dock washed off the piling holding it.

The ramp to the marina store was ripped off and washed 20 feet inland.  Lots of rubbish was floating in some areas.

Someone’s dinghy was blown a long way onshore, and covered with trash.





Plans are for Changing

Before we left the Atlantic Yacht Basin, we managed a few more kayak trips.  When the river flooded, it put lots of debris in the water.  We used our kayak to do good deeds… we picked up lots of trash and small branches that were floating around.  But the last couple of days we saw HUGE logs, and even bigger timbers.  Any of these can do serious damage to a boat, particularly the propellers.  One boat started south a few days ago, only to return shortly with a bent prop.  So we used our little foot powered kayak to push these big timbers out of the way, and hopefully keep them tangled in bushes on the shore.  A few were bigger than our tandem kayak, and one was about 20 feet long and two feet wide!  Took a bit to push it!

When we left, we went up the ICW to where it technically starts, mile marker 0, in Norfolk, Virginia.  It’s pretty cool to sail right by dozens of navy ships.  A great way to feel small! And not only were there big boats ships, but monster ship eating cranes and a hovercraft too!

This is the USS Wisconsin viewed from the water

We were planning on stopping just the other side of Norfolk, to spend the afternoon and evening and check out Ft. Monroe.  But our little 6 year old granddaughter was in the hospital, and we decided that Cherryl should fly there and help out.  So we decided to press on to Deltaville, Virginia.  We calculated the time required, and figured we’d be there with an hour and a half of daylight left.  Here’s where it gets very hard to write this…  as we were steaming into the harbor where our marina was, Cherryl was out getting our lines and fenders ready, and I was at the helm.  I swear I looked down at our farthest outboard chart plotter, to adjust the range and see projected depths better, for only a few seconds… but then I looked up, and we were bearing right down on a post in the water.  We were half a second from hitting it, and you don’t stop freight trains or trawlers in half a second.  So I sideswiped a post.   Damaged our pretty boat. AUUUGGGGHHH!!!  The good news is that nobody was hurt, except my heart. And Deltaville is a very good place for repairing and upgrading your boat.  I have a friend whose boat had a very nice battery upgrade done here, and I will need to do that before too long.  The other bad news is that there is a long line of boats waiting their turn for attention.  So who knows how long this will take!

So a BIG LESSON here is: don’t text and drive!!  I wasn’t texting, and wasn’t going much faster than some runners run… but even a few seconds at that speed changed my world.  If you text on the road the consequences could be far more dramatic.  Don’t!

The Bible gives me hope and assurance of forgiveness, even when I do something really stupid.  That’s what keeps me going.  But my daughter reminded me of another book that is also inspirational… Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss.  So I think I’ll risk the copyright police and quote some of it here…

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose…

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

It goes on in a very Seussian style to say you don’t quit, you just keep on going… even when it feels you are all alone, and decisions are hard to make.  It’s really a great inspirational book – if you haven’t read it in a while, re-read it.  It’s not just a kids book!

So here we are in a different marina.  I have no idea how long we will be here.  On our port side is a narrow dock and the back wall of a shed, with boats in the water but under the shed roof on the other side of that wall.  But the view out the other side of the boat is nice – a bit of open water, and other sheds and boats to look at.