Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Annapolis Boat Show: A Salve to My Soul

I am currently coming down from the high that was the Annapolis Boat Show. To think I almost didn't go...it blows my mind because, for me, it was more than a boat show; it was a cathartic salve to my soul. It was long embraces from friends, tears shed with longtime blog followers, and deep belly laughs over too much tequila with my sailing brothers and sisters. It was meeting online pals in real life for the first time, being stopped when walking from A to B  by blog followers just wanting to say hi and express support and it was raising money and awareness for our beloved British Virgin Islands...The Annapolis Boat Show was so very much to me but more than anything it was a reminder of one of the main reason's we love being sailors and living aboard: the community.

***

Going to the boat show was not even on my radar. A few weeks ago, however, I got a message with the generous offer to stay at the home of some friends of friends, free of charge. They had extended the invitation to a few other folks in the form of a group message, mostly bloggers and vloggers (all of whom are dear friends, Tasha from Turf to Surf and Cat and Will from Monday Never to name a few) and finished the note with "It will be great to get you all together." I agreed. It was uncertain how Scott and I could make this happen (child care for three littles is not easy, thank you to Scott's mom for saving the day!), but, due to a nagging gut feeling of "needing" to go, we did make it happen and the weekend was marked on our calendar.

As often happens with plans in the sailing world, things changed and less than a week before we were to fly to Baltimore, our friends at Nanny Cay found our boat at the bottom of the marina. A tailspin of sadness and heartbreak washed over us as we saw the pictures of Legato being hauled from the sea, and despite knowing her fate, the pictures were salt on our very raw wounds. "I need to go to Tortola" Scott solemnly told me two days before the show. "I have to go down and see it all and try to figure out how to get our life back on track." And with that, it was decided that he would go to Tortola, and I would go to Annapolis by myself.

We had been housing Puerto Rican evacuee-turned-friend Diana Margarita since Hurricane Maria, she and I met online immediately after Irma and had been coordinating relief efforts together. In an incredible and very serendipitous turn of events, she not only became our roommate here in Chicago after being evacuated pre-Maria, but also became the Executive Director of the relief group Sailors Helping. As such, she had a very relevant place at the show. We traveled together, two hurricane displaced and emotionally drained island girls, and we emerged from the show buoyed by the love and support of our community.

***

There was much work to do at the show and it started almost immediately upon landing. I had over 400 t-shirts to sell and when I saw the multitude of boxes my heart sank, "How on earth will I sell all these?" I thought to myself. It seemed impossible. Luckily I had some friends and volunteers help me out, not the least of which is one of my most favorite longtime sailing/blogger friends Tasha, from Turf to Surf and Chase the Story. Together we were a dynamic duo, and with the help of my neighbor Claudia and her family, as well as the awesome duo behind Sailing Lunasea and Diana of Sailors Helping, we sold out of everything in under four days. I could not believe it. Humongous thanks to our good friends Mia and Andy from 59 North Sailing for letting us squat in their booth when the BVI Tourism Board was unable to accommodate us (apparently it did not have a 'sell' license). Our booth was "the" booth and was always hopping', the love for the BVI is legit!

I was also invited to speak on a Cruising World Magazine panel geared toward boats heading south and what was to be expected. My Puerto Rican friend Diana was on the panel with me, as well as fellow boat mama, circumnavigator and longtime online friend, Behan Gifford of Sailing Totem. Meeting her was amazing. We squealed, embraced, and both shed a few tears out of sheer joy of finally meeting in person, as well as some tears in solidarity. As a fellow boat mom and live-aboard, she completely empathized with our situation. The panel was a great success and the message was clear: the islands will prevail! "Our beaches are still golden, our water still blue, and our drinks are still cold!" The subject matter requires a separate blog post, which will come, but all in all, it was a great discussion and another chance to share the stage with and meet some amazing people.

After being on our feet and talking all day (I have a whole new respect for anyone that does trade shows like this for a living!) we'd retire as a group to the "Casa de Bach" where we ate, drank, and talked about everything under the sun while being surrounded by like-minded sea-gypsy souls. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be sitting on a porch enveloped by people who "get" you; people with whom you already share so much in common that friendship happens instantly. We all stayed up way too late, drank way too much, but the laughter - oh the laughter! - it was so, so good for my soul. I am smiling ear to ear thinking about it.

***

By the weekend's end, I'd lost my voice, was completely exhausted and felt like my legs had run a marathon, but what was depleted from me physically during my four frenetic days in Annapolis, was replaced ten-fold emotionally. I was as high as a kite leaving that place... Hopped up on joy. Walking on sunshine. On cloud nine.... Bonds were deepened, new friendships forged, and I was again reminded that if we have good people around us to make us laugh, hold us tight and empathize with our hurt, we have everything we need to move forward.

Community by definition is: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals, and Annapolis showed me that we not only have this, but we have it in spades.

*

Thank you again Jeff and Cam for forcing me out of my comfort zone and bubble of post-Irma-ness (for lack of a better word) - and opening your home so generously to me and all the others. We love you both so much! Your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten!

If you like the shirts and hats you see in these photos, PLEASE BUY SOME
All proceeds go to the VISAR BVI Relief Fund. Thank you so much.

We are also still accepting donations for our BVI relief efforts HERE
Help us reach our goal of $200K!
Diana and I working the Virgin Unite Fundraiser party on our first night.
These two. Seeing them was SO emotional. They are our neighbors at Nanny Cay. Here they are, working to rebuild our amazing Nanny Cay community from afar...they are back on the ground now and we cannot wait to see them soon!
The sailing badass Andy Schell of the 59 North Podcast. Not only a super nice guy, but a super accomplished sailor. His wife  Mia is equally bad ass.
C is for Community! Mia Karlsson of 59 North Sailing (love her!), and Nanny Cay neighbors Claudia, Ted and Anne.
My partner in crime in all things. Tasha from Turf to Surf. An amazing human and friend.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD! Terysa and Nick of Sailing Yacht Ruby Rose.
Party people. We work hard, we play hard. Tasha of Turf to Surf, Will from Monday Never, and Me.
LOVE THESE TWO. Seriously meeting them was a highlight. Jennifer and Mark of Sailing Lunasea.
How long have I known Carolyn Sherlock from The Boat Galley? A long time. She replaced my sunken copy of her amazng cookbook for free. Because she's amazing like that. Love her.
I love these two. Cat from Monday Never, Terysa from Ruby Rose, and me.
Old friends Paul and Sheryl Shard of the television show Distant Shores
After hours shenanigans. The shenanigan game was strong with this posse. Megan from Missing Vissers was another highlight new friend.
So. Much. Laughing.

Bad-ass boat girls who pretty much make my world a better place. I love them all.

My partner in crime, Tasha, at the end of the show. Photo courtesy of the Annapolis Boat Show.

4 comments:

Adele Smith said...

I've been a 20+ year sailor in the Caribbean, on the windjammer style ships, although not a bare-boater, or charter sailor myself, I LOVE reading your blog. I, and many of my jammer buddies, have always made an effort to help the islands when needed. Particularly Grenada and the Grenadines after hurricane Ivan. I want to thank you and your friends, new and old, for all the efforts y'all have made in the last few months after the newest storms. Hope to meet you in person one of these days. Met Scott a number of years ago right after he became captain of Diamant out of Port St. Louis.

Sailing Totem said...

Feeling this on so many levels!! It really was exhausting, and it was AWESOME, and somehow along the way to being sore from standing/smiling/laughing ... the salve. xoxo

Mangoes Marley And Mermaids said...

The sailing community...what can I say? It was so hard for me to understand the strength of the bonds we would make until we were actually out there living this lifestyle! So glad you decided to go to Annapolis and encourage the healing to continue. Wish we could have been there as well to give you a great big hug (and meet some more of our online only (so far!) friends), but it just wasn't in the cards this time around. Virtual hugs, my friend!

Chris
S/V Radio Waves

Ed said...

Those girls sure are growing , and are all beautiful little girls.

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