Live it once. Tell the story forever.

One of the best things about “experience” is that while living it may sometimes be, shall we say “interesting”, the “telling” is nearly always fabulous for years and years afterwords.  Brenda’s sister Sheryl once said “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”.  However, sometimes experiences are indeed what you had hoped for too.  And that’s makes for an even better story.

For sure, the telling is even better when it’s actually fun from the beginning and with each telling later bringing back all of those great memories, again and again.  Of course, each time you tell the story it somehow becomes even more amazing.  “You should have seen the one that got away…” or “that storm was so strong, the waves…”. You know the drill…

Our trip to Cuba last winter has been perhaps the pinnacle of “experience it once, talk about it forever…”.

Of course, we wrote about our trip as we experienced it (see March and April posts on this site and Brenda’s at every opportunity we got, some 30 posts in all.   And the telling has gotten even better as since returning home to CT as we have talked about our trip to whomever would stand still and listen.  Fortunately for us, nearly EVERYONE is interested in hearing about Cuba.

We have given talks to many groups, 13 at last count including my upcoming talk to the Pelagic Sailing Club in Boston this coming Thursday.   It’s a thrill for me to talk to groups and I have jumped at nearly every opportunity I have been offered to tell our story including the members of the Essex Yacht Club and The Corinthians within the last week, both groups that have been a big part of our lives.   EYC wins the prize for the best poster.  That’s Chef Michael at EYC with us who prepared a wonderful Cuban dinner to cap off the evening.  Well done Michael. 11-12-16c-010For me, the only thing better than speaking to a group about our voyages, is speaking to a group that I know personally.

Each time I give my presentation, just seeing this photo of Pandora tied up at Marina Hemingway brings back a flood of memories.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, nothing gets a rise from the audience like this photo of me holding lobsters that we purchased from Cuban fisherman.  Brenda and I “ate” this particular memory at home just the other night as we had a freezer full of lobster tails aboard Pandora when we returned home from Cuba.  “You…Keep your eyes on the crustaceans!”4-16-16b-006Anyway, it seems that everyone tends to tell stories of the worst conditions and how they “almost….”.  Brenda likes to forget those moments and prefers to focus on “being anchored” as the memories that suit her best.  Lobster is good too.

Another story that always gets a rise is talking about our experience of going to the Rolling Stones concert in Havana.  Now, that’s a memory and a half, with the “half” coming from several of our traveling companions who drank plenty on the way to the concert.  They were hung over before we even got to the concert.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll and all, visiting Cuba was a really wonderful trip with only a few tears along the way.  And, speaking of “tears”, we encountered more than a few no-se-ums one evening, not the happiest memory of Cuba but still a great story and one that’s more fun to tell than experience.  As my mother used to say, “into every day a little rain must fall” but even rainy days and no-se-ums make for great stories to be told for a lifetime.

A good friend from way-back-when, Chris Blossom the marine artist, did a painting of our first boat,TAO as a birthday present to me in 1980.  At that point Brenda and I had only been married for three years.  Yes, we had a boat before we had a house.  “Brenda, what were you thinking?”

It’s  a wonderful painting and brings back a flood of memories of that evening, and many others spent sailing with Brenda.  Chris captured the experience perfectly as we ghosted along off of Penfield Beach in Fairfield CT one summer evening.  Now, that’s Brenda’s kind of sailing, err, becalming.11-12-16b-003Don’t we look like we are having a nice time? Brenda thought it was ALMOST like being anchored.  How about a little closer view?  It’s such a terrific treasure to us, both memory and picture.   And, it looks just like us.  Well, to me and Brenda it does.11-12-16a-009And, if you think I am making the “birther” thing up, there’s proof in the lower right hand corner.  “Happy Birthday Bob”  Chris was in his early 20s when he painted this 36 years ago.  Another lifetime.11-12-16b-021Russell Jinishian, the well known marine dealer, told me a while back that Chris is one of the five finest living marine artists.   Chris has an enormous body of work, but doesn’t have a website of his own.  I guess that’s because he paints pictures of “old stuff” and the Web for Chris, well it’s just so “new”.

I’m biased perhaps, but he does great work and he did one for me.   However, you can see his work, and there’s plenty, on Chris’s page at Russell’s gallery link.

Well, as I was saying, we love to remember the perfect times in our lives. Perhaps less so, the times that we’d rather forget.  However, some are so exciting that we recall them anyway, and always with a a growing fondness, if only because we lived to tell the tale, as the years go by.

Cruising Cuba was not what I would call “easy” as you are really “on your own”.   However, as a class A “you should have been there” sort of experience!  It was without peer, and what memories it has made for us.

While I wasn’t there, the image in this painting I mean, this painting, also from Christopher, certainly depicts an “experience” that Brenda would likely want to forget if she had been there.  We have this painting too, over our fireplace in the den.  It’s “on loan” from Christopher.  I sure hope he never “calls” the loan.   (forgive me but this isn’t the best photo Chris)11-12-16b-020Great detail and you can almost hear the gunfire. 11-12-16b-015The painting is actually a book cover that Chris did for an old Bantum softcover book, I think, “The Last Action of the Calcutta Lighthorse”.  This link tells the story of their amazing true story of the sinking of a German freighter in WWII.  It was later made into a movie.  Here’s the trailer.  Yes, a bit of a random link I admit, but here goes.So, we sometimes don’t enjoy every moment out there as we cruise or make our way through life but the stories are often great to tell and get better as you tell them again and again. I’ll bet that this trip, again one of Chris’s pieces, would make for some great tales. blossom_grace_harwarThis piece is of an experience that is more Brenda’s speed.   Chris painted this years ago when he and his family sailed in the Bahamas aboard their Luder’s 33, Acadia. That’s Acadia at anchor in the Exumas.  Bummer for us, but this and the prior piece are not part of our collection.  blossom-acadiaexumaSo, all and all, Cuba has proven to be perhaps the best “live it once, talk about it forever” experience that Brenda and I have ever had.  And to think that it all grew out of “gear failure” a little more than a year ago when I was on my way to the eastern Caribbean.   We didn’t make it to the BVI that year. However, for me, when I am given lemons, I make lemon aid.  And, let me tell you, I am making gallons and gallons of the stuff with this story.

Ok, Cuba… Been there, done that.  Now on to more memories.  I hope that they are at least as good an experience as the telling will surely be.   I guess we will just have to wait and see but “Cruising Cuba” is going to be a hard story to top. I’ll try, that’s for sure, so stay tuned.

For the record, as long as there is someone who will listen, I’ll continue to tell the amazing tale of Brenda’s and my two months in Cuba.   If you want to hear our story yourself, let me know.  Perhaps I can fit in a visit to your group as well.

Time to make new memories. I’m on it. Totally…

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