Gosh, it's been ages since I've posted on this blog, but we have been REALLY busy. Who ever said retirement was relaxing?
The highlight of the past month was a boating trip in the British Virgin Islands. Our voyage had been planned last year at a dinner party when we were visiting Cave Creek, Arizona. Elizabeth and Cyril Boisson and Lynn and Jeff Hollahan made up the starboard (Arizona) side of our 48 foot catamaran, while Irene and Tony Vouvalides (from Hilton Head), Suzanne and I occupied the port (East Coast side) cabins. Each couple had their own cabin complete with queen bed and en suite head (shower, toilet and sink), much nicer than my stateroom aboard a US Navy destroyer. (Hardly seems right, dontchathink?)
Tony and Irene were real sports, because on the very day we invited them on this trip, just an hour before they had signed up for a week's cruise aboard a 48 foot catamaran in the US Virgin Islands! That meant they would be living aboard a sailboat for two weeks. They were real troopers... or CRAZY!
Our shipmates were all members of Helping Parents Heal, a support group for parents who have lost children that allows the open discussion of spiritual experiences and evidence for the afterlife. In fact, Elizabeth is one of the co-founders of HPH. Suzanne has spoken to several of their chapters and fully supports their mission. Our four kids (Carly, Morgan, Devon and Susan) were present with us throughout the week; after all, they had brought us all together! We had many spiritual discussions and visits from our kids speaking through Suzanne that week - more and more evidence that they were right there aboard the sailboat with us.
Lest you think that we had to get by on typical Navy food (let me recall some of the shipboard delicacies from the late 60's/early '70s: SOS, fried Spam, horsecock (salami) sandwiches, frozen pineapple crush, and bug juice), none of those meals were served aboard our boat. Thanks to the caterer at The Moorings, where we had chartered our brand-new catamaran, we enjoyed local fish, roti, fresh fruit and veggies, etc..... I gained about 4 pounds on this trip. (Of course, Cyril and Tony, our diligent bartenders, may have been partially responsible for my weight gain with their rum drinks, Champagne, and other potent spirits.)
Cyril also served magnificently as our Grillmeister, French Chef Extraordinaire, and Uber Dinghy Driver. Elizabeth was the ship's fashion coordinator; a former model, Elizabeth impressed us with her perfect runway walk and stunning wardrobe.
Jeff (AKA Long Arms) was an admirable Director of Selfie Photography - no one came close to having his reach. Lynn is an amazing wildlife photographer - she sent us some of her butterfly photos, which were National Geographic quality. (Oh, and Lynn's runway walk was also remarkable!)
Tony was our Resident Naval Historian and Sailing Master, but regrettably, we had almost no wind the entire trip, and had to power from harbor to harbor. Irene put together a mean fruit plate, kept the deck clean enough to eat off of (well, almost), and as social director, brought along a fun game to help us all get to know each other even better.
One night was spent on a mooring off Cooper Island, which claims to have some of the most beautiful sunsets in the Caribbean, due to the view westward down Sir Francis Drake Channel. Suzanne and I jokingly refer to locations like this as "hateful places"...
A great stop for hiking was Peter Island, the largest privately-owned island in the BVI, which is owned by the family that owned AMWAY. Deadman's Bay, shown here, is a beautiful and very popular anchorage.
We also had one fun discussion about the value of past life regressions; I was given some undeserved (well, in my mind, anyway) grief when I referred to past life transgressions... one of which was apparently revealed during a hike ashore when Suzanne found out about my "other life" as an island charter boat captain and beach bum...
Our trip back home did have one funny moment. Here we are loaded in our plane from Tortola to San Juan, Puerto Rico. You are looking at the pilot and half of the passengers! The guy in the right seat next to the pilot is a passenger... I was glad that he wasn't a suicidal jihadist on vacation in the Virgin Islands! All he would have had to do was grab the controls and we would have been swimming with the fishes. Our luggage was loaded into small pods behind the engines, and as we were taking off, Suzanne noticed that the strap of her backpack was sticking out of the cargo hatch and flapping in the wind. Yikes!
Back in Florida, My Lovely Bride suggested that I get some pine bark (AKA wood chips) for our garden. Being a basically lazy lout, I decided to blithely ignore her request until she repeated it about 17 times. All was going well until I saw some lawn guys spreading pine bark in a neighbor's yard. I thought, "Darn! Now Suzanne is going to see how good Jerry's yard looks, and I'll be sleeping in the garage..." I quickly asked the lawn guy for an estimate, wrote a check, and proudly announced to MLB that I would have the pine bark installed in a few days. She said, "Ty, I am so impressed. That will be a lot of work, just driving back and forth to Wal-Mart, and then lugging and spreading lots of pine bark. You will get a special reward when you're done." (Okay, folks get your minds out of the gutter... it was to be one of my favorite meals.) What I didn't know was that three enormous pallets of pine bark would be delivered and then spread out by a team of three burly yard guys. They did a great job, saving me about 25 round-trips to WM and days of backbreaking labor. Thanks to Demarius (seen here), Chance and Ferlin for your hard work!
We were pleased to have a visit from two friends from D.C., Anthony and Annette Baker, who are now cruising the east coast of the US and the Bahamas aboard their Morgan 43 sloop Magnolia. Anthony and I had worked in ballistic missile defense (BMD) on the Navy's SM-3 missile project before we went sailing. It was great to see them again - they have been out cruising for four years and are now expert sailors, with lots of sea stories and storms under their belts... including one lost anchor during a storm in the Bahamas (and yes, they actually recovered their anchor after a harrowing night). All part of a sailor's life...
We then drove down to Sarasota for Suzanne's next events, hosted by Unity of Sarasota. We enjoyed a delightful dinner with Rev Amy Zehe, her husband David, Gail DiNoia, and her friend, Judy at the Zehes' home. Both events at Unity, Heart Gifts and Living in the United States of Awareness, were very well-received.
While in Sarasota, we stayed at a huge RV resort. One day found us walking around gaping at the gaudily-decorated golf carts awaiting the start of the annual Homecoming Parade. The Villages has some fancy golf carts, but these were decorated to a much higher level than we have seen at home.
Finally, I ask every male reader to evaluate the professional capabilities of the plumber who designed this portion of a men's head ("head" is a Navy term for toilet). Now, c'mon... this guy must have failed plumbing design 101!