Life Aboard LULU

November 25, 1999
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November 21, 1999

Lenny is all over but the t-shirts. Although he did us no harm, he sure was a pa in in the butt (or, more precisely, in the sternum.) While it was exciting and challenging to live through, wondering each moment what the next would bring, it did keep us in dock 11 days, instead of the five we would have stayed to wait for the other boats and the official awards ceremony.

This, coupled with the five extra days in Hampton, has almost made us forget the nature of our life plan - hanging on the hook, reading, relaxing, being retired. The amount of energy we've spent over the past four months is prodigious: First getting Lulu ready, dicor-wise, then rushing to Hampton, only to prepare her systems-wise and sail-wise, then entertaining a four-person crew for 6 days, along with intense partying with fellow rallyers. And waiting, waiting, waiting to start the voyage South. Immediately after, the emotionally-charged seven days at sea getting to Virgin Gorda, then the exhaustive (both emotionally and physically) hurricane preparations, coupled with surviving the hurricane itself and its agonizingly slow decision to leave us be and depart the general vicinity, followed by the rigorous chore of reassembling the boat again -- unknotting and storing chafed lines and filthy fenders, plus replacing the sails and cleaning the decks of the assorted storm debris -- leaves, vegetation, palm fronds. And then, finally, during those two days of waiting for the winds and seas to return to normalcy - a period of champing at the bit to get out of the marina.

This morning while walking back to the boat I saw a hummingbird -- flitting is too slow a word, maybe whirring is better, about a bush, landing momentarily on flower after flower, actually pollinating them. Its frenzied, jet speed was another reminder it's time for us to slow down - it's at hummingbird pace I feel we've been living.

We are leaving this morning (Sunday) for an anchorage - at last!

November 23

Leaving the harbor was a milestone. Somehow it seemed the first moments we felt we were actually amid the Virgin Islands and living here. As we passed the reef, the seas were absolut ely calm and an intense aqua, the islands in front of us and ahead of us to visit - Tortola, Beef, Scrub the 3 Dogs - Great, West and George -- and the far shores of Virgin Gorda, all sharply clear. And, NO WIN D to sail! After 100-knot winds just a few days ago. Felt like we were back in Long Island Sound. Well, no, the lush, tropical colors quickly disabused us of that notion.

We motored up to Gorda Sound, a big pond-like area, and found an absolutely dese rted anchorage for Feisty and us to share. Not a house in sight: just a single, white strip of beach. We had an idyllic first night out, featuring a gorgeous moon shimmering on the water and the inauguration of o ur new barbecue. Early to bed for the past two nights. For 8 solid hours each. I feel like I am repaying a massive sleep debt. Possibly 40-years-old. Meanwhile I'm married to the Nap King of the Western Hemi sphere. He is much happier now that I'm spending at least 8 hours next to him in bed. Who knows what could follow!

There are two big resort hotels in Gorda Sound - Biras Creek and the Bitter End Yacht Club. Both of them are totally closed, but buzzing with activity, as crews of employees clean up after Lenny. They're putting doors back on, rethatching bungalow roofs, burning dead plants and palm fronds up on the hills

These closures, plus others around the islands, means there are hardly any chart er boats around, so we pretty much have the water to ourselves. Except for the giant motor yacht that p ulled in guzzling fuel for its noisy generator, launching speedboats with roaring engines, dragging screaming water skiiers behind them. (Power boaters are so inconsiderate!)

That was last night. Today it's an actual cruise ship disgorging plump, straw-ha tted Long Island matrons (not you Lynn, you're skinny these days) and their gold-chained, cigar smoking d aytrader husbands. They're all headed for the only open commercial establishment -- the tiny Beach Bar across the sound. (We see this through our fabulous self-stabilizing binoculars many of you gifted us with.) I have not yet heard the giant screech that will occur when they find out all the merchandise-c hallenged hotel gift shops are closed.

We will be leaving here tomorrow (if not sooner, depending on who pulls in next to us later) for Trellis Bay, where we will have what has been billed as a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at De Loose Mongoose. I am shuddering to think what mongoose tastes like.

It will be a bittersweet day, I'm sure. We will be meeting up again with about 40 of the scattered 1500 Rallyers, but our thoughts and feelings will be focused on our children, grandch ildren, good friends and all the wonderful, raucous, gluttonous celebrations of previous years at our house(s).

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. We know how much we have to be thankful for, this year especially. Our triplets lived through their early-arrival ordeal and are flourishing, as are our children and Veronica, of course. Not to mention that we have this chance of creating and living out our own little retirement paradise, right here in Paradise.

We miss you all.

Louise & Gary


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