Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Velcro" Beach

Officially, this is "hook and loop fastener" -- known to everyone as Velcro

Vero Beach is also where I Hit.The.Wall, melted down and hated cruising. The town is nicknamed "Velcro Beach" among cruisers, because people tend to get "stuck" there and stay there far longer than they had planned . Usually they stay because the place is pleasant enough, lots of social opportunities to meet other cruisers, easy access to practical necessities, and inexpensive and secure docking, good restaurants and a nice beach. It's far enough south that it's finally warm, another reason for people to stay a bit longer than they originally planned if they were tired of the grind of pushing steadily southward. That's not normally been the case for us; I was never particularly taken by the town. Our friends Larry and Suzi of the Frugal Mariner blog are former cruisers who were the ultimate victims of "velcro." They bought a house in Vero Beach when they decided to move ashore. While we were in town they  were excellent hosts and showed us a couple of nice restaurants, the art museum and the botanical gardens, as well as their own lovely nautical-themed house, and it was plain that they loved their new adopted hometown, but for whatever reason that town still just didn't click for us.

We were having interesting conversations with pleasant people, and were safe from any bad weather.  But I was frustrated. We couldn't go on because of high winds, so we were stuck longer than we'd planned to be there ... velcroed! And not by our own choice, which made it infinitely worse. Although sticking around gave us a chance to join in to the regular Thursday evening happy hour jam session, still, I wanted to be moving again.  I was frustrated, in fact, I was done. I was sick of doing the logistics, the elegant dance of planning I usually enjoyed -- balancing the timing of the tides, weather routing, picking secure anchorages. I didn't feel like I was having 7 years of great cruising experiences, I felt like I was having the same experience, 7 times. The trip suddenly became a grind. We'd have one good day, then a series of windy ones, then another good one, followed by a series of windy ones. On the good days we'd run from the safe anchorage we were in, to the next safe spot, where we'd hunker down and wait for the next nice day and time to run again. I was ready to quit and try something else. Maybe camping in Alaska; or going back to Michigan and housesitting; parking the boat someplace and buying a car, or an RV, and exploring the Rocky Mountains; kicking the tenants out of our condo and moving back ashore for a while; going to the Galeon again...I didn't know what I wanted, but whatever it was wasn't what I had right now.

I tried counting my blessings.  Shoot, some of my friends had it so much worse than being trapped in Vero Beach by high winds.  Some of them were still stuck in North Carolina or Virginia (in November) with boat issues. I should be grateful that we were warm, and with a boat that was performing great.  But it doesn't work like that, comparisons don't.  There will always be someone better off than you, and someone worse off. But reality is what you feel right now, and what I felt was ... resentment. And even though many people we talked with thought our life afloat was a wonderful fantasy, we knew that really it wasn't all beach drinks with little paper umbrellas and magical sunsets. But still, I had chosen this life, and if I didn't like it then I had the power (and perhaps even the obligation?) to change it.  But there was really nothing wrong, we were safe even if trapped by weather, which only made me more frustrated. I needed some perspective.  My friend Beth said it best - the secret to her happiness is knowing the difference between an inconvenience and a tragedy. Logically, I knew that eventually the weather would moderate and we'd move on.  We wouldn't turn 85 years old and still be sitting in Vero Beach waiting for calmer winds to continue south. But I was having trouble convincing my hindbrain of that.

The weather finally moderated and let us move on, but I muttered and grumbled every morning as we got ready to get underway. I was so done. Life was too short. This ultimate frustration had happened to me once before, and there was no specific thing that made it better, it just gradually lifted, and lifted some more. This time was the same. As soon as the weather lightened enough that we could move on, my mood lightened as well. There were new places to visit, cruising friends to connect up with.  Onward!

(Note: My apologies, somehow the draft version of this post was published on 12/31/16. I had had a bunch of edits that were lost. 1/1/17 I've tried to update incorporating as many of the edits as I could remember. Disappointing.)