Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Importance of Getting off the Dock and out of my Comfort Zone

I had no idea how much I missed floating free on the water. Getting "off the dock" is a phrase anyone who owns a boat is familiar with. The dock, with all it's amenities, conveniences and plusses, comes with a host of negatives - not the least of which is tethering your boat to shore. When you are "on the dock" you are, presumably, not "out there" (insert outstretched arms indicating the great wide open). So, when Scott got three day's off in a row and asked if I wanted to sail over to Norman Island and anchor out for the night, I cannot even believe I thought twice.

Turns out, I had no idea what I needed.

When you live on a boat in a marina, particularly with toddlers, sometimes anything that requires a little more of your already depleted energy (like untying dock lines, prepping the boat for sailing, and related things) seems like too much. I mean, we're so happy here. We have a little routine, the girls have fun every day...Why did we need to leave? "Umm....I don't know...." I answered lazily when Scott posed the question of a day sail. "Seems like it would be a lot of work for just one night out?" I added in a sort of question/statement. Scott is familiar with this not-so-great side of me. The side that, instead of leaping in head first with an excited, "Sure!" sits back and thinks about all the 'what if's'; making a list of reasons why 'xyz' is actually not a good idea. It's not one of my better traits. I could totally justify my line of thinking: Why rock the boat when we were so comfy and happy right where we were? No sooner had I had that thought when it dawned on me that this was precisely why we needed to go. Because - and pardon the cliche - life happens outside the comfort zone. If I've learned anything, I've learned that.

"Let's go" Scott said.

Pushing my reluctance aside once and for all I replied with a firm, "Okay."


It was a perfect sailing day, as it so often is down here. The breeze was fresh, the waves gentle, and the sun beaming. I cannot adequately explain how or why it happens, but anyone who loves sailing knows the feeling: once we raised the sails and shut off the engine, I felt my heart and soul lighten. Being out on the water, sailing with my girls in this incredible paradise we are so lucky to call 'home' just about made me burst with gratitude. Isla took her spot on the bow, standing quietly and keeping watch. She has always been an old soul and sailing with her is a pleasure, she just takes it all in as she gazes at the water in silence, looking for turtles and dolphins and anything else that might catch her imagination. I took my seat next to her on the cabin top; wind ripping through my hair, sun warming up my skin and thought to myself, "this is bliss". I turned around to Scott who was driving. "Thank you," I said. "I totally needed this." He smiled, the twins seated contentedly next to him snacking on popcorn. We had a near-perfect sail with all the girls happily awake, enjoying the scenery and sitting on deck with me, giggling and waving to boats on the horizon.

We grabbed a mooring ball at the Bight at Norman Island, put the girls down for a nap, and I came back on deck to take in our surroundings. It was, literally and metaphorically, a breath of fresh air. Being surrounded by water instead of other boats and docks was bliss. Just as catching the wind in your sails does something to lighten your soul, so does simply floating peacefully at anchor. The world is quieter. The boat feels bigger. Your senses perk up. You breathe a little easier. It is instantly soothing and relaxing and creates a sort of paradigm shift in the mind where you feel incredibly free. Scott got to doing a few boat chores before laying down for a nap, while I grabbed my book and basked in the cockpit. It felt positively wonderful to be in the breeze, something that is sorely lacking on our buttoned-up boat in the marina. At the dock we spend precious little time in our beloved cockpit. For one, it's so hot and secondly, being so close to our neighbors makes relaxing in the cockpit slightly awkward. At anchor? Different story. Our cockpit is our living room and I absolutely love it. I pushed open all our hatches, unzipped our dodger window, and aired out the boat with sunshine and fresh breeze.

The girls woke up from their naps and played happily on deck. Scott and Isla inflated our Airis Paddle Boards and we loaded the kids up - me with the twins, Scott with Isla - and paddled ashore to the beautiful beach. Sadly, we don't have any photos of this excursion because I didn't want to take my good camera on the paddle board, but we rowed to the beach where the girls played happily in the sand and Scott and I enjoyed some afternoon cocktails. We met up with some blog followers and island friends that work on Norman, lingering beach side until the sun started slipping down the horizon and it was time to head home for dinner and bed.


The next morning, the girls were up with the sun and ready to play on deck again. Giggles, squeals of joy and belly laughs ensued and, again, I thanked Scott for pushing me outside my comfort zone. Work was calling, however, and after a morning paddle and beach excursion, we needed to set our sails for home. We sailed back in a building breeze; grateful, rested and rejuvenated from our 'mini-vacation' off the dock. I didn't know it at the time, but I needed that little time away so very badly. It would have been so easy for me to convince Scott to stay back and pass on this opportunity. And it would have been fine. We would have had a nice day. We would have had fun. But it would not have re-charged my batteries, filled me to the brim with gratitude, and inspired me quite like our trip to Norman did. Nope. Getting out of my comfort zone was imperative and refreshing. It's a lesson that I, no doubt, will have to learn over and over again, but next time I won't need nearly as much convincing. I am sure of that.

“Comfort is your biggest trap and coming out of comfort zone your biggest challenge.” 
- Manoj Arora

Isla took her spot here and sat here for the entire 1.5 hour sail over.
Luckily it was calm enough that the girls could explore on deck underway.
Me and my girls. Mira was not thrilled at this point, but you can't win em all, right?
Pouty face.
Isla and Haven sat up here most of the way.
Sailing sisters.
Sisters, sharing a secret and a giggle, as they should.
We're working a lot on sharing these days. I was happy to catch this moment.
View from the aft deck.
Mira, our little steadfast observer.

My happy little wild haired Fraggle.
Sailing = snacking.
Daddy and Mira
Always polishing. It's impossible to stay on top of. Sigh.

Paddle board time!

Mira, testing out her balance.
The girls are SO happy climbing and playing on deck.
Daddy kisses
Our little peanut.
Watching these two interact is amazing. Being a mom to twins is definitely a gift.
All three of our little treasures!! This was unposed - they just did this on their own. Love.
If you were wondering if our kids had any personality...
Happy and free.
Her favorite spot to climb up to.

Sunrise exploration.
Good morning sun!

Sailing home. Thoughtful and contemplative.
Haven, driving with daddy.
All these photos are taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens (50mm) or Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens (wide angle) lenses. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

An Afternoon Away in Cane Garden Bay

We don't get out much these days. And by "out" I mean out of this marina, which I now affectionately refer to as "the village" (after the movie by the same name). With Scott putting in twelve-plus hour days, seven days a week, and me being on my own with the girls most of that time - "unsupported" outings beyond the gates of Nanny Cay are, more often than not, more trouble than they are worth. When Scott got a rare day off, however, we decided on an afternoon to one of our favorite places here on Tortola (and quite possibly the one where we hatched the idea to base ourselves here over rum drinks and a killer sunset), Cane Garden Bay.

The last time we were here I was laying on our paddle board at the shoreline while Isla played in the sand at my feet, when a pretty woman strolling along the beach approached us. I noticed her earlier, walking along the water, intermittently digging her toes through sand as if she was doing some sort of beach-combing. "Have you ever heard of coquinas?" She gently asked Isla. I sat up and we replied we had not. The woman, who I later learned was Liza, then proceeded to dig her foot in the wet, soft sand near the water's edge, and picked up a small clam-like shell. "This is a coquina" she told us. She dropped it back to the sand at which point it quickly burrowed out of sight. Both Isla and I were mesmerized. "Cane Garden Bay is the only beach in the BVI's where I have found them" she said. She then told us of her childhood in Florida where she'd dig for coquinas for hours, collecting them by the bucketful, a hobby that has continued into adulthood. She pointed out her boat and told me she was a fellow cruiser, and we've been friends ever since.

Not only did I gain a new friend that day, but a new beach hobby. Digging for coquinas at Cane Garden Bay is pretty much what we do now at Cane Garden Bay. And, believe me, it's addicting in a therapeutic, calming sort of way. Excavating at the waterline, unearthing one, and scooping it up before either a) a wave gently laps it away or b) it buries itself further into the sand over and over and over again is quite the 'thrill'. Fun for the whole family. So the day that we escaped Nanny Cay and hit up "Cane" (as it is known by locals) was no different. The surf was 'up' because a north swell had been running the few days prior making what is usually a very calm and serene beach more or less un-swimmable for toddlers but decent for coquina hunting. Accompanied by our friends, the Sunkissed Soeters, we hit the beach. The kids lined the surf, digging in the sand and plopping coquinas into buckets while the parents indulged in a little day drinking. More than a couple times the kids were drenched by a rogue breaking wave, but it didn't deter them enough to stop unearthing the clammy treasures.

We chatted with fellow beach goers. Witnessed a beautiful beach wedding. Collected (and set free!) bucket loads of coquinas and ended the day with a casual beach-side dinner with our friends to celebrate a very successful start to our new business. With full bellies we taxied home salty, sandy and happy from a day of fun in the sun. As the high season winds down and Scott and I begin to get a better handle on what sort of staff we need and improve our time management, we hope to have more family outings like this in the future. For now, we'll take 'em when we get 'em.
First order of business, refreshments! 
Stormer and Isla busy digging for coquinas.
Luuck and baby Rio
Mira comes over to check out a coquina. 
Isla couldn't get enough. Here's also a shot of a wave coming in. Usually this bay is flat calm.
The coquina! 
Adding some sand to the bucket to make a "home" for their coquinas. 
Daddy and Mira
Haven loves nothing more than tea parties on the beach!
The kids got front row for the sunset show, always a main event at CGB.
It never disappoints here. 
Two buddies, taking it in. And Isla seemingly getting a little fresh.
These two are "monkey see, monkey do" - one twin squats to pee, the other mimics (neither did, fyi)
Isla playing as the sun begins to set.
The celebration group. Fun day for all!
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