It's that time of year again: October is over; the time has changed; and the cold fronts are rolling through with greater frequency. After living in the South my whole life, I can safely say that I am not a cold weather girl. I love the sun, a warm breeze, light clothing, and being able to leave the windows and doors open. After spending three years aboard our sailboat Illusion (through 12 seasons) without heating or AC, it's natural that I feel a strong urge to get a move on and "fly" south when the weather gets cold.
Back in 2010, when Brian and I made our first trip to the Bahamas, we did a little dance when we crossed into Florida. But we quickly came to realize that we really needed to reach South Florida before we could expect milder temperatures and turquoise water. That year was particularly cold. Temperatures had reached freezing in Annapolis just a few nights before we began our trip south. It was so cold on the boat that Brian and I bought a camp heater - the propane kind that is safe to go inside a tent. We put it at the foot of our bed and slept under a sheet, a blanket, a sleeping bag, and a wool blanket that my grandmother had given me for Christmas the year before. I think I wore four shirts to bed that night. I could see steam coming off my breath in the morning and was thanking my grandmother profusely for that wool blanket.
Then we headed south. The wind was fantastic for sailing down the Chesapeake Bay the first night, but we didn't have a dodger (aptly named because it blocks the cockpit from the wind). Not smart. Apparent wind plus freezing cold wind chill, a frost warning, and sea spray make for a very cold sail. We dropped anchor around 3am because it was, well, freezing! That was a recurring theme throughout our trip south. Most boats leave Maryland around the beginning of October, so we were a month behind from the onset. Then we stopped for a week in Yorktown to see my family and install our radar, and then we opted to take the (much) longer route and stick with the Intracoastal Waterway instead of sailing offshore the whole way, which can be dicey that late in the year. We did do a couple very uncomfortable stretches offshore, but I'll save that for another story. We spent Thanksgiving in Swansboro, NC, and finally by Christmas we were in Vero Beach, hunkered down under 30 knots of cold front for two days.
When I think of where I want to be when it gets cold, I feel an urgency and a desire to be floating on a mooring ball at the Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove, FL. I want to be sipping mojitos, listening to latin radio (Salsa, Salsa, y Mas Salsa!), and staring out across Biscayne Bay. We can sail the bay just about every single day and, if we feel like it, if the weather permits we can be in the Bahamas in a day. Just thinking of all that warm weather, clear water, and glorious sailing makes me antsy.
But there is more to it than just escaping the cold. I came away with a whole new perspective on where I live and how it is shaped by the land, weather patterns, seasons, and eco-systems. All those days in between here and there were worth all of the long days and hard work. Mentally, it was refreshing. Just moving to a new place for a short period of time was enough to shake things up. I spent two months intensely focused on getting south. It required attention, dedication, and at times physical stamina, which if you think about it is the perfect recipe for connecting mind and body (isn't that what yoga is all about?). I came home rejuvenated, excited, and with new direction and purpose. And while I was happy to settle in for nine months, every time the cold weather blows in I feel the calling again - that need to break away, unplug, and clear my head.
Did you know that from Savannah, GA, it is only a two-day sail down to St. Augustine, FL (and that's if we take it slow and anchor overnight in Brunswick, GA)? I'm pretty sure we could be to South Florida in a week depending on weather. It's so tempting!
If only Selah were finished! ;)