Our path home was similar to our path to the Exumas. We moved from New Providence Island to the Berries and hung out a Great Harbour Marina for a few days, exploring the island and waiting for a good weather window to cross back over to West Palm. It was our first overnight sailing experience and Robert and I were grateful to have the crew of Cooke Monster and Dream Maker to cruise with. Adele touched my heart with a beautiful little fish she created from Bahamian shells. We promptly hung her in the cockpit to keep us company on the voyage and named her “Silly Suli”.

We left about 9:30 am and Robert and I took turns at the helm to give each other a break. It was a beautiful day on the ocean and it was an easy sail with a light wind behind us and the autopilot helping to keep us on track. We passed through areas where the big cruise ships were hanging out. Being out on the big open ocean sort of reminds me of hanging out in South Dakota. The sky is just so big and in comparison, makes it feel like me and our little boat are so small. The part that makes it so different from South Dakota is the power of the waves and swells. Many times, a swell would over power our auto pilot and send us off in the wrong direction. It was so comforting to be able to see our buddy boats on the horizon and talk to them on the radio with hourly check ins.

As night fell, it became so peaceful as the wind died down a bit, the sun set, and the stars appeared. I was mesmerized by the beauty and fell into a relaxed watch. It’s amazing how many stars are visible with no light pollution and no moon. We had enjoyed a full moon at Great Harbour just 2 days before so I knew we would have lots of light but had neglected to check the moonrise time before we left. I kept anxiously searching the horizon waiting for it to appear. Finally, a little before midnight, the moon rose in all it’s glory as a waning gibbous.

I listened to a story with 1 earbud on my watch and tried to encourage Robert to get some sleep. He rested in the cockpit but refused to go below and sleep. When my watch was over around 1AM, I promptly hit the birth and immediately fell asleep. Luckily, I can fall asleep pretty quickly.

As we got closer to the Florida a few squalls hit. We learned that it’s best to clear the deck before an ocean passage when a headsail sheet got stuck in our wagon wheel as a burst of wind backfilled the sail. Robert broke our agreed upon rule of not leaving the cockpit unless the other is aware in order to free it. He did have on his offshore life vest and was clipped into the lifeline and was trying to be thoughtful and let me sleep so I forgave him.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience and it helped build our confidence in offshore sailing and handling overnight passages.

We arrived in West Palm in the early morning and got some sleep then visited with our boat buddies to share the passage and lessons learned. That night we were welcomed home with a spectacular fireworks exhibit just off our bow! Welcome to the USA!

I must admit to having quite a bit of emotion since our return that I’ve been sitting with and trying to figure out. Part of it is sensory overload. The lights, the sounds, the people…It’s just all so MUCH after spending so much time on deserted islands with only our “pod” and floating weightlessly in beautiful clear waters.

I think another part is sort of like that “after Christmas morning” letdown. After all the preparations, planning, learning, doing, being…It’s just over. I can honestly say this was one of my top 10 lifetime experiences and it’s really hard to see it end. I’m confident we’ll go back as long as we are able as we’ve both agreed there’s no place we’d rather spend the winter months. We met so many people who we really connected with and we’ll miss them as they all go off in different directions.

I get to remind myself to stay in the present moment. There are so many things here, now, to enjoy and if I keep my mind in the past, I’ll miss them. So today I’m refocusing on enjoying the beauty of our country, the symmetry in the bridge, the history around me in St. Augustine, the feel of the nice long hot shower, the taste of the fresh berries, the variety of foods in the local restaurants and grocery stores, the beauty of the spring flowers in the gardens, the mating rituals of the local birds and connection with friends, old and new.

Every day can be an adventure no matter where when we can see the beauty in what is in front of our face every moment. Every person we meet can be a new connection if we choose it. On to the next adventure!

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