I know… it’s been over a month since the last post. It’s been weighing on my mind but as we travel down the Intracoastal, the days are basically the same. We travel during the day, usually about five to six miles an hour and average about fifty to sixty miles in a day. That’s as much as most people travel in forty-five minutes to an hour in their cars. Not much happens and everything happens. Most of the trip is through marsh lands and back country areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and then finally, hopefully, Florida. Not much happens. Then again… everything happens. Life happens. I’ve wanted this to be about more than sailing. I’ve said it so many times that I myself am sick of writing it so I know you’re sick of hearing it. That said, when we anchor out, take Jet ashore and then travel fifty-miles to another anchorage and repeat the whole drill, it doesn’t make for exciting or stimulating reading. I’ve been contemplating and agonizing over how to inject witty repartee into this experience of… the world at 5 MPH. Funny thing… In the midst of all of this, Life happens.
We knew to expect the unexpected when we left Rock Hall. We knew the elements would play a major role in this journey. We quickly discovered that getting Jet to shore every night was not as easy as we thought. Who knew that for about two-hundred miles along the water-way, there would be no Terra-firma to speak of. Just endless mounds of swamp grass and deep, thick, black, smelly mud. We knew we could encounter engine failures, part failures, bad fuel, and countless other “unknowns” along the way. BUT… we were prepared. Mentally, physically and emotionally… we were up for the challenge. Financially? Not so much… our cruising kitty was on life-support when we left Rock Hall but we had to get to Lauderdale to start Phase 2 of PHASE II. We had a plan. We had a “budget” of sorts and had the utmost faith in ‘V’s’ ability to get us there. We didn’t however, expect Life to hit so hard.
This past Monday… October 15, we had engine trouble. We had just two weeks before replaced the fuel pump and thought we were done with that subject. Not so. We left St. Augustine on a clear, crisp and hopeful morning bound for Daytona but the engine, after running fine all week, quit. Like we ran out of fuel. Right in the middle of the channel. Just as it had when the fuel pump went. Melody poked her head out and said, “What’s going on?” I said, “I’m not sure” and ran to drop an anchor. We did the checks and looked over everything we could think of. I started to think maybe bad fuel. After about 1/2 an hour we decided to contact a marina we passed about a half-mile back. We decided to try to fire up the engine and get back to Marineland Marina and do a more thorough search. The engine miraculously fired up. I held my breath and put it in gear. Off she went. Drove us right to the slip. As we were tying up, the engine stalled and Melody’s phone rang.
Some of you may know, docking can be stressful. A big, heavy boat moving without brakes. Wind, currents, tides… it can be hairy so my friend Tommy and I, along with Eric from the marina got “V” situated. As I walked back to the cockpit, I could hear Melody sobbing deeply and I knew…
See, a week or so prior her mom suffered a heart-attack back in Little Rock. She’s been battling Lupus for a long time and her body had become frail and weak from that horrible disease. She was a delicate woman with a mesmerizing soul. I never once heard her complain even though she lived in constant and severe pain. As we were moving south, Melody’s sister Michelle was holding vigil at the hospital and giving us regular updates on her condition, which had been stable. She told us that mom was sedated as the doctors were trying to slow her ever increasing heart rate. She would let us know when and if we needed to get on a plane and go to her.
Well… Monday… our engine failed us just as Kathryn’s was failing her. My girl… the love of my life was sitting in our v-berth sobbing and heaving as she got the news from her father and there was nothing I could do. This little “adventure” of ours became one of the most insignificant moments of my life. I was helpless. Cut-off. Isolated and grasping for straws. It’s all well and good to be “off-the-grid” until someone desperately needs your help and you can’t get there. As it turns out, my friend Tommy’s son Luke lives in Daytona. We booked Melody on a 6:00 flight and he graciously drove to get her and then drove her back to Daytona so she could make the flight.
Kathryn Lynn Beadle. Kathy. Melody’s mom. Michelle’s mom. Matthew’s mom. Michael’s wife. Jim’s former wife and Sydney, Slade and Bella’s grammy passed away Monday afternoon. Kathy loved to fish. She loved her kids and adored her grandchildren. She gave everything of herself to everyone but herself. Her body was ravaged but her spirit was untouched. She was five-feet tall and as tough as nails. Her resolve was unlike any other I’ve ever known. She had a smile and a positive outlook for you every minute you were in her presence.
Now… here I sit. Waiting for parts… Cocoa Village Marina. Engine problem. Melody is in Little Rock with the family. She’s tending to all of the “business” that one needs to tend to when someone dies. I am not with her. We have Jet. We couldn’t board him and make all the arrangements needed in the time we had. We have a broken boat. Funds are low and I’ve still got two-hundred miles to go.
This is a story about a journey and I’m trying to wrap my head around the big picture. The irony is that this summer we went to Philadelphia to be with my family. My dad’s Parkinson’s was doing damage. My mom suddenly had heart troubles. We decided that we’d spend Christmas with Kathy and now I’m dying inside about that decision. I looked at my phone today and saw a text from Kathryn that she sent me on my birthday this past summer.
“I’m good. I’m feeling happy that you spent your birthday with Melody on the boat. I hope you are sleeping through this heat. I love you Chris and I pray that you had the best day ever. xoxo” Well Kathy… I miss you. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you this week. And I pray that you now have peace. Pain free… Peace.