2013, a great year and a turning point for Pandora and her crew

It’s Christmas day 2013 and I find myself thinking back on the last few years and 2013 in particular.  It’s a wonder to me how much our lives have changed in such a short time.  While I enjoyed working while I was part of the “employed set”, I am so happy to be retired.  I used to think it odd to hear some of my “mature” friends, comment that they wondered how they had ever had time to work now that they were retired.  Now I get it.    With sailing for longer periods things are a LOT different.  We now count our time aboard in months as opposed to days with an occasional few weeks thrown in now and again in the “old days” when we were on vacation. It’s hard to believe that it has now been nearly two years since I retired and Brenda and I moved from New Jersey, where both of our boys were born, and brought up, back to CT.  Note:  Brenda and I met way back when in CT and High School.

Now we have left the hustle bustle of the NY suburbs to live in a quaint New England town where we used to vacation and now live.  It is a treat that goes beyond my imagination from just a few years ago. Our sons, Rob and Chris, are doing well and enjoying life.  Rob has moved to MD and has a great job with Becton Dickenson, a medical company and is living with a terrific woman, Kandice.  Christopher, our youngest is a newly minted PhD in Physics, as of Friday the 13th of December, if you can believe it.  And,now that he has completed, by his count, over 500 weeks in that discipline, he decided to take some time off and purchased a ticket, round trip thankfully, to Thailand, if you can believe it.  I can’t even spell it let alone find it on a map.  

You might find yourself asking “why Thailand”?   Simple, it’s cheap and on the meager savings of a “semi-starving” grad student, it’s  affordable, sort of.  His mother would prefer if he were going to Epcot in FL.  I think I agree. As it’s so fresh in my mind, I can’t resist posting a photo of Chris in his lab the day after he defended his thesis and was anointed “Dr. Chris”.  The lab reminds me of the home of a mad scientist and looks a bit like the electrical system on Pandora.  Only he knows how it all works.  Sound familiar?Of course, a major difference in his lab verses Pandora is that a single square foot of one of these tables cost more than Pandora.  Good to have Uncle Sam paying for all of this.  I wonder if I might get a grant to support Pandora?  Why not, it seems that he is giving money to just about everyone who asks.  Why not me?  Hmm…

Change is certainly been a word that described the last year or so.  We now split our time between our home on the hard and our floating home.  Our “neighborhood” is a lot bigger, no longer defined by the street that we live on.  I have to say that I’d be happy if I never see snow again.  Being in the Bahamas last winter was one of the biggest turning points for us and I am hooked. Winters in the tropics are better.  Not a hard concept to grasp.

While in the past I have defined winterizing in talks with fellow boaters as how much antifreeze is needed to keep their boat in good shape over the winter and what sort of cover they use.  Now, “winterizing” means something very different.  It seems that the only “antifreeze” we need is rum and sunshine.  I like how Pandora’s winter, and February in particular, looks these days.A few years ago this was what February looked like.  We see a different kind of white these days, thankfully.Another major change for us is how we define our “community”.  In the past, our community was largely the town where we lived.  Yes, we had friends in other places, but now we are a part of a “movable community” that is defined by the season and location as opposed to a fixed geographic location.   Nearly every day I get an e-mail or see a post on Facebook from someone checking in from some far off place.  In the last week I have heard of friends who are sailing around the world, some who are making contact from the British Virgin Islands and some down near Granada and of course, the Bahamas.  Yes, some are traveling from New England like us but others hail from Germany, Austria or other far away exotic places.

That’s a big change, a really big change. Now that we live on Pandora in our own exotic places for months at a time, the word “local” takes on a very different meaning.  I guess that local for us now is where we are at any given moment. As we count down the weeks till we head back to Florida and Pandora, I find myself wondering what the next few years will bring.  Will we continue to winter in the Bahamas or will we include the Caribbean or perhaps the Mediterranean?

Brenda and I really want to spend time traveling in Europe but now that we have an ocean going boat, perhaps the best way to see Europe might be from the deck of Pandora. Yes, boat ownership is expensive but not nearly as costly as hotels and I can’t say that I can imagine being able to afford what we’d have to spend to be in hotels, month after month.  Thinking about that makes living aboard sound downright cheap.  

As a classics major in college, oh so long ago, Brenda remains fascinated by the countries bordering the Mediterranean so it seems to me that we might best combine time on Pandora with time exploring those ancient lands.  What better way to way to see Greece than to sail there, just the same way as the ancients did.

Yes, if you know Brenda, you are thinking at worse, “no way” or at best, that it’s going to take some time to convince Brenda to meet up with me and Pandora in Gibraltar but I’m willing to give it a try.    Besides, I have photographic proof that she has fun aboard.  Doesn’t she look happy, if a bit crazed caught in the act of celebrating her birthday last January in warmer climes almost a year ago. Yup, there’s hope, great hope, for the future.  As Brenda once said, “Bob and the dog, ever hopeful?.  Yes, that’s me and so far, so good. 2013 was great and here’s to a wonderful 2014.

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