“Marissa I swear to god if you don’t let me down” before Chris could finish that sentence, I released the line that held him dangling above me just enough to drop him one foot. “You will what?” I asked with the main and safety line held tightly in my hand, as I threatened another amusement-park-like-drop. After another round of joking that I could leave him up the mast all night, I eventually lowered him back to the deck safe and sound.
When he freed himself from the bosun’s chair I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms tightly under his, resting my cheek against his back. It was dark outside, and our spreader lights had once again proven very useful as we finished replacing our lowers and tangs, finishing a lot of projects. Christmas lights on boats far and wide surrounded us in the harbor, the only reminder that Christmas was near. This year due to projects and other time nagging details we hadn’t had time to decorate, as usual, making Christmas spirit aboard Avocet an all-time low. Despite the lack of holiday decor, I am very proud of the fact we were able to get our holiday greeting cards out this year in a timely manner, all with the help of some good friends.
Speaking of friends, the past couple of months were unusual for us. It is very rare that we are able to welcome young sailing couples to our marina neighborhood, and even more so that there are multiple couples at the same time! In November we welcomed Mitch and Quincey to the marina who sailed their boat Esprit south from San Francisco bay in search of warm weather and new adventures. Following their arrival, our other friends Charlie and Sarah returned to their beautiful boat Blossom after a multiple month’s east coast escapade in their van. As if our neighborhood was not already perfect our new friends Brian and Brianne (AKA Breezy) joined us aboard their boat Rocinante. Yeah, that’s right! Three boat couples all of the similar age were welcomed to the marina making our neighborhood the absolute best for project support, provisioning trips, and good ol’ fashion company.
In times of COVID, it can be so tough forming new friendships, especially since we are normally unable to properly socialize. However, due to our close proximity on the docks and the fact that we were so involved in our projects we all kind of formed a little quarantine bubble making sure we were all safe, healthy, and taking the right precautions to visit with one another. It was a sense of normalcy in this otherwise turned around the world, reminding me that good days will come and there is more to this boat life thing beyond the breakwater.
Brian and Breezy were the first to break up our dream-team neighborhood once they had finished their boatyard and in-water projects. Although they left the marina, we wouldn’t let good people like them go so easily. Chris and I drove to their first port after departure with pizza in hand, because there was no way we were letting them go without having Topper’s pizza, a local favorite! As they continue to sail south to Mexico, we are tempted to drop everything and follow them due to their magnetic personalities and fun vibes but have to remember that it is all in due time. The crew of Rocinante will be missed, but we look forward to chasing after them and sharing laughs with excellent wine in hand hopefully soon.
With Rocinante gone it was just the crew of Blossom and Esprit remaining. Sarah had planned a lovely holiday get-together but due to our travel plans, Chris and I had to decline, which absolutely gutted us knowing that Blossom would be the next to leave the grasps of the Ventura Harbor. We had promised each other to rain check and get together next Christmas… maybe somewhere tropical and at the mercy of our anchors.
Although we were convinced Charlie and Sarah would be leaving sooner (especially since Sarah was quite literally about to sail Blossom out of the slip herself) Mitch and Quincey left us by car, Utah bound, to spend the holidays with their families… but not before Chris could borrow some Loctite for our rigging project. Having neighbors close by willing to carpool to the store, share tools, or give advice was absolutely an invaluable blessing that we will never take for granted. When the rigging project was complete and Chris was safely returned to the deck, we shared a moment of solace hugging and reminiscing our major progress the past year as well as lightly mourning the loss of our cool neighbors.
With drinks in hand, we made our way to Blossom for one last visit before they would be leaving us. Charlie and Sarah were still very obviously working hard on stowing things and preparing for their departure, but we promised just one drink and we would be out of their hair. Sarah and I looked over new paint options for Blossom while the boys discussed the Perkins engine. I appreciated Blossoms’ comfortable interior and our conversation, soaking it (and the wine) all in. When our glasses were dry, we said our “see you laters” and “fair winds” before retiring to our boat.
The following morning Blossom was southbound, and through hell or high water, Sarah was getting them out of the harbor and back on the nomadic track. I admire her adventurous spirit and determination, two traits that have greatly inspired me. As Blossom left the breakwater, her tanbark sails canvassed the horizon as if symbolizing that they were officially cruising once again. Meanwhile, Chris remained consumed by our interior projects on Avocet, and I got back to work to fund the dream.
Although we will miss our friends, I have no doubts we will see each other again. That is the beauty of boats and this lifestyle; the wind will bring us together, and will split us apart, but can always bring us together again. This is only the beginning, there is a literal ocean of good people out there that we haven’t shared anchorages with, and we look forward to meeting them all.
We hope you have a safe, fun, and festive Holiday Season whether you spend it in solitude or with others. Chris and I look forward to sailing into 2021 and hope to share our current projects with you all soon!
Marissa, Chris, and Cleocatra