BVI, day 7

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We saw another rainbow this morning as we were leaving Scrub Island.

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This morning Stan caught a shark! We decided to eat fish tacos for lunch with the fish the guys caught (not including the shark). By doing so, we took the risk of fish poisoning. Fish poisoning is from a toxin found in certain reef fish. We had an illustrated page that told us what our risk would be if we ate certain fish. The problem was that there were a lot of fish that looked very similar.

Fish poisoning is not like any regular food poisoning. It is like food poisoning on steroids. It can last for years, cause hospitalization, and in some cases death. This was something that I didn’t want and I was nervous that someone else’s interpretation of the guide for safe fish could be subject to error. I suggested that perhaps someone who knew how to sail the boat should abstain, but I didn’t get any takers. We all risked eating the fish.

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Monkeys Point is paradise. It’s the kind of place I could stay at forever. It had a secluded white sandy beach and the bluest water. I am glad that we did not go there the night before, the weather wasn’t the best for the beach. I would’ve liked to stay here longer, but our trip was coming to an end and we had to make our way back.

Paul and I explored the beach while the others went snorkeling. We were hoping to find a place for supper, however the only building on the beach was the property of a private resort. That night we would be eating supper on the boat as well.

We hooked up to a mooring ball that was not maintained. Tim reinforced the mooring ball with rope. It was still very windy and we did not want the wind to whip the boat into shore. The sand swirled around into our eyes on the beach. But at least today is warm and sunny.

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We still had to pay a mooring ball fee of $30 to stay at an unmaintained mooring ball. That is what we had to pay every night for a maintained mooring ball.

This cairn was located at the end of the beach. There were coconut trees on the beach. The guys were entertained by trying to take a stick and knock one down. They were unsuccessful in their efforts.

This spot had the best beach by far. It was very secluded, but on the flip side there really wasn’t anything to do there as far as restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Would I go back again? Absolutely!

 

Thailand, Day 9

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We left the hotel early in the morning to take a speed boat to the Coral Island beach. Today we were going to spend most of the day on the beach. I couldn’t wait. The water was a brilliant color of sea green with a white sand beach. The water was a perfect temperature. Every few minutes we felt a slight stinging sensation on our skin. We thought that it might be from tiny jellyfish. A couple of times we saw hundreds of small fish jumping up out of the water being chased by a bigger fish.

We set up our towels on comfy lounge chairs before the other hordes of tourists started pouring in. It was close to the Chinese New Year and there were many tourists in the area on vacation from China.

While at the beach especially, and in other places, I noticed something different. I noticed that the Asian people at times walked around with parasols. They wore long sleeves and pants even on the hottest days. Where they not hot? I thought maybe they were more modest than the rest of us in bikinis and shorts.

Our tour guide said that the Thai people do not want tan skin. In their culture, having tan skin means that you are out in the sun a lot working like the poor people. In fact, they have a big market for selling skin bleaching products. The only thing I bleach is my hair.

Where I’m from, if you are tan it means that you have time for leisure. I went to the tanning bed before my trip. I was quite the contrast to the Asian women who have dark hair and light skin. There was a single girl in our tour group that was getting hit on because she had pasty white skin.

It really made me question my own standards of beauty. I personally believe that having bleach blonde hair and dark tanned skin is beautiful. I want a -10 inch waist and the body of a Barbie doll. Thank you Mattel for creating an unattainable masterpiece of beauty perfection. Now being in my mid-40’s and having 3 C-sections, I am not going to be too hard on myself. But I honestly feel like crap about how I look when my summer tan starts to fade. I would go to a tanning bed year round if I didn’t feel like it was unsafe.

Most teenage girls in the 1980’s spent a lot of time slathering themselves in baby oil or dark tanning oil and laying out. At that time, no one ever told us it was unhealthy. Paul and I went to the tanning bed before this trip. We didn’t go because we thought it would make us look nice. We did it because we are very adventurous outdoors and didn’t want to burn. We did get a little pink on the day we spent at the beach.

We had a glorious time at the beach. We got back to the hotel in mid-afternoon. Paul really had his heart set on getting another massage. Our tour guide told us that if we wanted a massage that we needed to look for a Thai massage and not a body massage. If you went to the body massage place, you would be entering a brothel.

We went to an upscale massage parlor, but they were booked for the day. We walked around town until we found a place that offered Thai massage. They had one opening for a massage bed and one for a chair. I took the chair massage. Paul was led to a massage bed that was separated from 2 other massage beds by a curtain. I was seated out in the main area. My masseuse only knew limited English.

While I was there, I watching the bugs climb up the wall and saw a girl at the bar next door curling her eyelashes for the night. It didn’t seem like they spraying down any of the tables or chairs between clients. I did feel some comfort when a courier dropped off a see through bag of clean towels. A new masseuse came in and changed her shirt in front of Paul because there was nowhere else to change into her work clothes. She jokingly told him if he looked, she would charge him.

After the massage, we walked down to the end of the street. There were rows and rows of bars with at least 50 girls lined up waiting for a man that night. They were scantily clad, some dressed in sexy school girl outfits. It was early in the evening and they were just sitting there waiting watching as we passed by. We walked by a body massage place and saw signs of 3 for the price of 1. I really don’t know the difference between the prostitutes in the body massage parlor and the girls waiting at the bar.

The 2 nights in Pattaya, we saw some very young attractive Thai girls eating fancy meals with corpulent repulsive old white men around 40 years their senior. Although totally acceptable in their culture, I had a really hard time with this. What two (hopefully) adults consent to do should really be no concern of mine… I kept thinking of how I would feel if my teenage daughters went out with a man older than my husband. I couldn’t get past it.

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This was our last picture of our view of the city in daylight. Tomorrow we are heading home.

Day 4: Vow Renewal Ceremony

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Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.  Ruth 1:16-17

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Captain Tom officiated our vow renewal ceremony on the beach. I read my original vows from the book of Ruth. Paul found a few words to speak online as he no longer had the original words. I sang Morning Has Broken and read a few words that I wrote.

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It seems like yesterday that I said these words to you.

I chose my vows from the book of Ruth. I remember getting criticism for stating the words ‘may the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely if anything but death separates you and me’. Could I keep that commitment not knowing the path before us? To think that Ruth said these words to her mother-in-law!!!

It has been a wonderful 20 years. I would like to think that we already encountered our hardest days in life before we met. Those struggles strengthened our determination to fight for us.

I recently heard it said that nothing changes much in a day but when we look back everything changed. What is 20 years? It is 7,300 days to be exact. Days that go by in tortoise speed but looking back it went by as quick as a hare.

I’ve heard that slow and steady wins the race, but not in any race I’ve ever competed in. But this is one race I want to face hand in hand slow and steady with you. I am not ready to finish this race fast and can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.

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The day before our 20th anniversary (the vow renewal ceremony)

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Our wedding day.

 

Day 3: Our journey to Washington Island

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We had another late start this morning. George was having electrical problems and issues with his inboard motor. Capt. Tom was able to solve his electrical issues, but fixing the motor would involve taking it out. That wasn’t going to happen, so George tried to sail as much as possible on this trip so he wouldn’t have to use his motor.

It wasn’t long after we left the marina that I got a message about a problem at work. After all, it was early Monday morning. I felt frustrated. I wanted to be able to get away!

But is that really what I wanted?

I hardly slept the night before due to worrying about my teenagers at home. I felt a lack of control being away.

It would take many hours to get back by sailboat. Once we got to Washington Island, it would take a long time to get home by car. You need to take a ferry to get to and from the island. If there is bad weather, sometimes the ferries don’t run.

It can be a difficult passage by boat through Death’s Door. It is the point where the waters of Lake Michigan and the bay collide. There are 3 marinas on the island. This trip we are going around Death’s Door and not through it.

Washington Island is very secluded which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

On our way, we passed a schooner full of tourists.

Wisconsin is a truly strikingly beautiful home state. There is nowhere else I would rather spend my summers.

I was in paradise and found myself to be feeling completely miserable. Is this all there is for me?? Worry?? I couldn’t seem to let go of the worry about my kids or the stress of work. More than anything I really wanted to enjoy this time away.

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Near the end of our journey for the day, we stopped at Schoolhouse Beach. The water was 150 feet deep near this rock formation. Once we rounded the corner, we sailed into the cove to get to the beach. I’ve heard that there is only one other beach in the whole world that has the same geological rock formation, in Iceland.

We rafted up in 20 feet of water near the beach with 3 other sailboats. It was a hot day and it felt good to jump into the icy water. There wasn’t any sand on the beach, just smooth white rocks the size of the palm of my hand. The water was clear and it was amazing to see the rock bottom.

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I took a picture of the beach from the boat. I didn’t want to take my camera or my phone to shore on the dinghy. This picture does not do it justice.

Most of us jumped into the water from our sailboats. We had an incredibly hard time climbing the rocks to get to shore and kept falling into each other. It was easier to crawl or slide to a place to sit. Some of the rocks had paint splattered on them but I am not sure why. The rocks were comfortably warm against my skin.

We spent an hour at the beach until the rumble of distant thunder prodded us to get back on course.

The Pacific shore

The last few days of our trip to CA, we visited the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

After we left the winery, we drove to the marina in Oceanside with the thought of possibly renting a sailboat. We watched gigantic waves crash with a loud thundering crescendo over the breakwater. We saw a sailboat raise its main sail, get to the breakwater, then turn back around only to lower its sail again. We were out of our element. We decided it would be too risky.

I also thought that I could go surfing for the first time. I was afraid of sharks and sting rays, but frankly maybe I was afraid of the wrong things. When we arrived at the beach in Carlsbad, the waves crashing into the shore were above our heads. Just standing on the shore when the waves came in caused enough force to knock me down. I decided to watch Paul on the boogie board first before I attempted to do it myself. Then I saw a big wave crash Paul’s body into the ground like he weighed nothing.

Again, we felt out of our element. Those waves were for experienced surfers, not first timers. I also thought that I could swim in the water. No one was doing that. It would have been difficult to get past the waves.

Alcoholic beverages were not allowed on the beach. I thought that was strange. I don’t think that I have ever been on a beach in Wisconsin where people weren’t drinking. Maybe it would be different if our summers were year round. The warm sunny summer weekends are like holidays here. They don’t happen often enough.

Another thing I noticed about the town of Carlsbad was that it was very pedestrian friendly. They had a nice running track. Also, when pedestrians crossed the street they pushed a button that turned on a yellow flashing yield light. All of the traffic stopped to allow pedestrians to cross. The first few times, I ran across as fast as I could and waved a little sorry wave. Pedestrians cross at their own risk at home.

While we were in Carlsbad, we stayed at the Pelican Cove Bed & Breakfast. The owner, Nancy, was very helpful. She made excellent breakfasts and gave us little tips about where to eat and what to do. The room was not air conditioned, nor did it need to be. We left the windows open at night. It did get a little loud. Quite a few trains traveled through town.

The houses in Carlsbad were very close together. From our room, we could see into the house next door. We could smell their cooking and hear them talk. That is a bit unusual in WI. Even in Milwaukee, where the houses are close together, people at least have a small yard to mow. Some people didn’t have a yard there at all. There wasn’t a feeling of privacy, but that didn’t seem to matter.

We also noticed that Carlsbad is a very dog friendly town. People take their dogs with them everywhere. We saw more people with dogs than kids. We were at several restaurants where there were dogs inside. People in WI leave their dogs at home. I have never seen a dog in a restaurant here unless it was a service dog. A man next to us in the restaurant told us that he had his dog genetically tested to see what his pedigree was. How unusual.

Someday, I hope to go back. It was a lovely place.

Sailing empty beaches with a dose of sibling warfare

  

Yesterday we were able to check sailing off of an acquaintance’s bucket list for his 50th birthday. It was a hot day in WI. We were asked earlier this month by his wife to surprise him with a sail. In the morning, we were able to sail into town for some lunch and live music. The winds were light, but that meant we didn’t do a lot of heeling which sometimes freaks out the newbies. 

After lunch we sailed to the beach. We spent several hours swimming. The beach that is boat to boat on the weekends was practically deserted. The photo that I took doesn’t do it justice. We had a bit of an issue. I tossed Paul his hat, wine glass, and the bottle of wine. Except he didn’t catch it all. The bottle sunk to the bottom, we saw a few bubbles and then it was gone. Who would’ve guessed? I was thinking of the floating message in the bottle.  Paul did end up stepping on the bottle later so I didn’t get in too much trouble. Lol. 

My friend and I gossiped about our mutual friend Cori. She is the one that got first place last weekend on the half in our age group while I took second. She beat my time by 10 minutes. My friend told me that Cori works out almost 30 hours per week. I thought that my 5 hours were a lot. She works out as much as I work! It just bothered me that she can stay up all night partying and whip me. Did I tell you that she smokes too?? Geez, I shouldn’t be such a crab because she always has been helpful giving me pointers even though I am technically competition. Albeit, not that much. When I heard how much she works out, she can have that first. Someday when I am independently wealthy I will work out more, but not that much! 

Anyway, after having an absolutely gorgeous day sailing, the other couple took us out to eat for their gratitude. They have been wanting to sail for a very long time and almost went for a weekend almost a decade ago. They had everything planned then found out that their hosts wanted to take them for the weekend without clothes. Good thing they didn’t put any money down for that trip!

Paul and I almost slept out on the hook for the first time this week. It was a hot, sunny, wind free evening when we left home. When we got to the marina it was cool, cloudy, and windy. We anchored at the beach in 3 to 4 foot waves and strong winds. Paul was afraid that the anchor would let loose and crash us into shore. That was the end of that idea. Maybe next week…

When we got home last night, I received a call from my son saying that the car wouldn’t start. Angel and I went out to get him last night around 10 PM. After the great day of sailing, it seemed like I was in another world. Back to reality! The car needed towing. On the ride back home, Alex and Angel fought something vicious. Alex got out of the car and started walking the 15 miles home. By the time I straightened things out and we all got home it was after 11:30PM. Seems like there are a lot more fireworks in fights when siblings are teens. And to think I thought I would be able to come home and go to bed after sailing!

Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. One thing is for sure…my life is always an adventure!

19th anniversary sail continued…

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And just like that, Sunday morning arrived and it was time to sail home. It was a warm day with agreeable winds that would blow us back home.

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This is a picture of Paul attaching the whisker pole to the jib sail. This allowed us to open our sails wide to let the breeze carry us home.

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It can be lonely out on the open water. We saw a couple of birds, boats, and this big cargo ship on the horizon. Paul said that the only time he sees me fully relax is when I am on the sailboat. We can be heeling at a sharp angle with me calmly snoozing.

Today we have been married for 19 years and together for 21.

A few years ago, I saw an older couple walking together hand in hand on the beach. We had the opportunity to talk and I asked them how long they have been together since they looked so happy and in love. They responded that they have been dating for 6 months or some similar period of time. What I don’t see is what I want to be. I want to be that couple that has been together over 20 years walking hand in hand on the beach.

I worry about the changes that this next year will bring. We are facing the loss of our first parent this coming year. Saying good-bye has been a difficult process. Plus, in a few short weeks, we are sending our firstborn off to college and into the adult world.

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On the last leg of our journey, another sailboat pulled up along side of us. They warmly greeted us with shouts we could barely hear then continued sailing a different way. Our paths intersected for a short time.

Paul had to be back early for play practice, but we had a few minutes to stop at a quiet sandy beach. We let the cool waves take us to shore. When we got there, we found a little sailboat stuck partially under the sand. We carried the pieces to shore. It was sad to see the broken abandoned boat. It felt like we were seeing a lost dream. The wind must have taken it from its home.

No matter where the winds of life end up taking us, I am happy to be with a great man.

And for that brief moment in time, we were able to walk hand in hand on the beach.

19th anniversary sail

   

Seconds tick into minutes. The gears of time grind onward clicking minutes into hours. Hours turn into days, then months, then years, then decades. Before I knew it, I spent half my life with the same person. Sometimes I want to stop the sand from flowing through the hourglass so fast, suspend time for awhile. I wish our days were as numerous as sand on the beach then I won’t have to grasp time so greedily before it slips away.

Paul and I left Friday morning to sail to our destination, a beautiful resort in Door County for our 19th anniversary. The winds were against us. But we didn’t have time to go any other days, we had to force it. Last minute I decided to pack my rain coat, even though we weren’t expecting rain. I took the above picture as we were leaving. A few minutes later, I exchanged my shorts for pants and put on my rain coat. We were sailing against the wind and 3 to 6 foot waves were smashing into the bow soaking me. We had to motor for 2 hours under these conditions. I barely kept down my breakfast. I guess that is what happens when nature conflicts with your schedule.
 

After several hours of fighting the waves, we finally were able to sail through smoother waters. We did sail awhile for fun, but it didn’t get us towards our destination. It is ironic how something seemingly small, like the wind or a slight change in direction, can set the whole trajectory off course. Marriage is a lot like that at times too. The funny thing is that we don’t really notice the little changes at the time. Only when we look back with a great amount of reflection can we try to chart where we went off course. 

 

We arrived safely at our destination and were very warmly greeted by the other sailors. We were even offered the use of a car if an emergency arose at home which I came close to taking them up on. Lol. I AM the worried mother of three teenagers after all! We toured a larger sailboat and were offered a sail the following morning. We politely declined to explore a new beach. 

The next morning we motored 45 minutes to a small beach that was remote to get to from land but rather crowded by water. We were planning on blowing up our dingy and having a picnic on shore followed by a swim. The spot where we anchored was rather weedy. Then we noticed that the beach was full and the water was empty. So we decided to ditch the whole dingy idea and head back to the resort pool. We were talking about the beach we explored with someone and how the people didn’t seem to care for the water. We were told that the water was 61 degrees! Bbbrrrrr!! I’m glad we decided to eat our lunch aboard and head back to the resort pool. I even went into the hot tub and sauna for awhile. 

That is summer in Wisconsin. 

To be continued…. 

Drowning, my fears – 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

I, myself, have never been afraid of drowning. Maybe I would’ve been if my brother drowned that warm spring day.

It is a topic of conversation that never goes away. Why did my mom let my dad talk her into leaving the 6 year old me in charge of watching my 3 younger brothers alone in the water? Was I always the protector or did I become that way? 

A few weeks ago, my brother told me that he has nightmares of me watching him drown. How can he remember? He just turned two. I remember everything that happened that day. I stood on the dock paralyzed with fear watching my brother gulping water and gasping for air. As he flailed his arms, my 3 year old brother exclaimed excitedly over and over that he was swimming. My autistic 5 year old brother stood in the shallow water flapping his hands oblivious to the surrounding peril. 

I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t seem to move. My mom came back to check on us and saved my brother. I knew that I failed because I couldn’t protect him.

I never was afraid of drowning. I was afraid of watching others drown.

Fast forward another 6 years to when I was 12. I watched my baby cousin in their swimming pool while her mom was at work. She was sitting in the water on a pool chair. She fell off the chair backwards into the water. I grabbed her leg and pulled her out. I was so happy that I didn’t panic and let her drown. But everyone else seemed so angry. My uncle got scolded from his wife for letting me watch my cousin in the pool. No one seems to remember that I protected her, that I didn’t let her drown.

Fast forward another decade after I had children of my own. We were told as new parents to never leave your baby unattended even for a few seconds in the bathtub. If the phone is ringing in the other room, let it ring. I suppose this is not a problem anymore for the new generation of parents.

Then my kids got older to the age where I didn’t need to sit and watch them bathe. I could go in every few minutes and check on them. One day I checked on Arabella in the bathtub after there was an unusual period of silence. I opened the tub door to find her floating in the water fast asleep. For a brief minute, as I gazed at her motionless body, I was terrified that she drowned. It was the most horrible anxiety ever. I thought that I failed to protect her.

After that happened, I worried that my children would drown. I never liked my kids taking showers when I was gone or asleep. I mean, they could slip on a bar of soap, hit their head, and drown. I don’t let them go swimming alone. I feel the need to keep an eye on them when they are swimming in water.

Even having my 3 kids swim together at the beach in front of me in shallow water wasn’t enough. I looked away for a minute and then there were 2 kids. My youngest wandered off from her siblings and couldn’t be found. It was a large beach with a lot of people. In just a few seconds they got distracted and separated. I ran up and down the beach combing the water until she was found safe. Another terrifying moment. 

So I worry. Worry makes me feel like I have some control, that I will be prepared for the worst that could happen. I worry about the things I can’t control. I feel like I am responsible for everything that happens. I am the protector. Sometimes I even try to control when I need to let go. It leaves me a nervous wreck. 

Within this last month, my daughter became an adult. My son turned 16 and got his driver’s license. Sometimes I can’t even tell anymore if my worries are rational or irrational. I don’t know anymore. 

People that don’t worry tell me not to worry, to worry about things I can control, and that I need to trust God more. Believe me, I wish I was a carefree person. I have an extreme fear of failing to be a protector. When something goes wrong, I blame myself.

I want to relax. I want to let go. 

But sometimes the worry drowns me.

Less than an hour

It sure was a hot run yesterday. With the heat I wasn’t able to achieve a PR for yesterday’s 10k. I still finished under an hour which was my updated goal for this race. Even Lisa, the fastest runner in our group, wasn’t able to beat my previous times. She still finished ahead of me though. At mile 4, I started feeling a little light headed and my knee started to ache. But I kept pushing on. It is easier to talk your mind into running hard for a 10k after having a hard run a few weeks back at the marathon. 

With the heat, everyone in my group added on about 7 minutes to their PR for this race. Angel’s boyfriend Mitch completed his first 10k. I beat his time by a couple of minutes. I think that he would have been faster if he didn’t take a bathroom break at mile 2. Oh, and if he didn’t have to stop to throw up when the finish line was in sight. Maybe if he actually trained, he could be a really good runner. I spent the ride home giving him unsolicited advice on how to be a better runner. How annoying, right?? Since Mitch and Angel have been a serious couple for over 2 1/2 years, there is a possibility of me being a potential mother-in-law which severely limited his ability to tell me to shut up. 

I was satisfied with the results of the race. I finished in the top 10% of my age group and overall female participants. So, for today, I will not talk about how much I suck even though I would’ve liked a PR. Sometimes I feel so competitive that I think something is wrong with me. My husband and I listed each other as emergency contacts. Then I thought with the heat that perhaps this was a bad idea. If my husband collapsed at mile 2 and I was at mile 4 I would probably finish and go back for him later. Talk about being a kind and compassionate wife.   I just want to kick some butt!

After the race, we decided to go for a sail to swim in the ice cold water to cool off. The temps went from 80 to 90 degrees in the matter of a few hours with high humidity and winds that whipped enough for a good sail. We also went from having 5 teenagers in the house before the race up to having 8 in a matter of a few hours too. But we couldn’t take everyone sailing. 

Paul and I asked Alex the night before if he wanted to sail and he said “no”. So we stuck with our plan to take Angel and Mitch. We also took Arabella and her best friend. Arabella’s BFF has red hair and the whitest skin I have ever seen. Her skin burns when she looks outside at the sun through a window. She spent a lot of time hiding in the cabin of the boat. The winds were strong enough to heel pretty good, so strong that Angel went running towards the side of the boat in the middle of a jibe because she thought she would be sick. Thankfully, however, that has never happened yet even with rum dumb Randy last week. We had a great time at the beach and even found some friends to tie up next to. Let the summer fun begin!

All in all, it was a great day. I won’t complain about the hot days because we have been waiting a long time for this. Although, my friend did ask me to tell her when I sign up for another race so she doesn’t. Seems like it is always hot. I have never had to race in stormy weather though. 

Racing sure was a great way to spend (less than) an hour of my time!