Here is what I have to say about the Bahamas:
We've been pushing ourselves and our sea dragon pretty hard since last autumn, and it was wearing us down like a barnacle belt sander. Magically, once we crossed o'er into Florida, the cold faded, and sunshine shone down and seeped into our very ventricles. At LAST I dug out my bikini, the poor thing blinking like a mole interrupted mid-hibernation.
First Fernandina Beach, then the outskirts of Jacksonville, then St. Augustine, where we thought we might stay but were soon afflicted with the epidemic tourism which spawned such symptoms as coughing up tram-sized mucus globs and spontaneously speaking in reenactment tongues. Gorgeous city, no historically-preserved-doubt about it, but tooooo much for us! Drakka was looped to a city mooring ball in the Matanzas river (which is the old Spanish word for massacre, I overheard??), and doing her familiar quease-inducing rollick, which sucks my vitality and leaves me feeling like an oyster smooshed by a bulldozer. C strummed up a couple of bikes on Craigslist, which gave us feet-wings, a much-missed luxury. Not without paying the price of land-insult to Davy Jones, however, as in his attempt to bungee cord one of the cycles to Dinkerbell, C teetered and PLOP! Fell abeam, smack into the black drink of the night river. Aside from his soon-to-be-pronounced-dead phone, which had been in his pocket, he climbed up the swim ladder in an instant, and we both laughed ourselves silly.
We proceeded south to Marineland, because we'd sniffed out a cheap marina that was a clam's throw from the beach. It's harder than you'd think to get to the beach from a sailboat! One cannot merely run that vessel up on shore, unless of course they want to be there eternally. Protected waters that are ideal for anchoring are usually marshes and condo developments away from the ocean front and require (gasp) vehicular transportation.
Folks, Marineland Marina is paradise. All the little factors merged to make one heavenly harmonious hub. No bugs! Economical docking fees! Free laundry! Studly dockhands! Well-delivered sarcasm! Delightful community of fellow boaters! A bike path to BBQ! Dolphins everywhere (did you know dolphins can use their echolocation to see that you're pregnant!?)! All of this, and right across the street from the ocean which bade us swim in it's frothy teal waters on the daily. Marineland became our Bahamas.
We planned to stay for a week, and soon upped it to a month. After all, we had some... dom dom dom... Decisions to make.
Three manatee-sized factors were hovering over our immediate future:
1. Hurricane season, which starts in June, and is forecasted to be quite nasty this year.
2. The sea monkey, which starts in August and is forecasted to be who the hello knows, least of all C & Me.
3. Our relationship, which started two Augusts ago, and was forecasting to be threadbare if we continued aggravating it with the rigor of a gale thrashing a palm tree.
We looked at one another and said, "Hey, where did our honeymoon phase go?" Between the financial tetris, boat maintenance, navigation responsibilities, and the disparity between our temperaments, we were demanding a LOT from each other. Leaving plankton-sized crumbs for love, romance, and sometimes for patience. We triple-dog-dare-adore each other, but that's easy to lose sight of when when the day leaves you feeling like a bulldozed oyster. Yeah, we were succeeding, but in a Captain & First Mate kind of way, not in a Pirate & Sexy Mermaid kind of way.
After long talks, bouts of pouts, sad spells and spurts of optimism, we decided to put our sea dragon up for sale. I know! Bittersweetness has never had such a pungency! I fight the urge to spit it from my mouth even now as I type! Even if we didn't sell her, we'd have to haul her out through hurricane season, pay for the storage, and live on land anyways (that or go north which we'd just run away from like shells out of hell). And truthfully, if I may take an extra helping of blame, I just plain old don't love sailing. I love the security of the ground beneath my feet, and I adore the shelter of trees. Sailing makes me feel denuded, vulnerable, and kiwi-green. Could I honestly envision a future of that, with a baby on top? Looooord help me!
So we scoured and prepared our salty dragon, photographed and listed her, and sat back to wait. She sold in the blink of an octopus eye. No nibbles, no bites for days, then all of a sudden arrived Kevin & Kim, excited and earnest, who made an offer the same day. A swell offer, fluffed up a little extra "for the baby". Neptune had spoken. We accepted, then wavered in shock for a few days. Thank goodness the ocean was nearby, to calm our jittery insides. Equally sweet was our recently acquired counsel of elders, fellow live-aboards who'd grown invested in my belly and our story. They were calm for us, having lived longer lives and seen more changes, without the panicked urgency of myopic youth.
We had one final week with Drakka in Marineland, a parting honeymoon to say goodbye. One last week of naps in the gently rocking cockpit. Of fighting for foot space in the wedge of the V-berth. Of pooping in our beloved composting toilet. Of cursing the sound of rigging clanging in the wind at night. Of palming her teak and plugging her leaks and preserving every memory.
We are headed northwestward, with just about every possible factor up in the air. We are playing life confetti. Floating marbles. Cloud poker. It is uncomfortable to say the least. There is work to be found, housing, a midwife, a community. Where will this sea monkey soon-to-be tree monkey be born?!? BUT. We know there is family, and there is health insurance.
When we met nigh on two years ago, C tossed out a wild dream of living on a boat. And holy hammerheads we did it! Just because our drooling imaginations anticipated rolling nude on exotic caribbean beaches doesn't mean we didn't make the dream come true. Hope has the luxury of being boundless. Hope accepts no notches on no belts. It can eat as many everlasting gobstoppers as it pleases. In the end it was simply different. Which it always is, isn't it? You could probably tell me your own story of a dream that came out different. Dreamerents. Differdreams. Dreams have wills of their own, too. That's no reason not to tickle them, taste them, and throw them up in the air.