Monday, December 29, 2008

Waiting for a window

Kristen here - It's Monday the 29th and we're still in Beaufort, NC. We, along with two other cruising boats are waiting for a weather window to head south. A weather window is a period of time where the waves are low and the wind is moderate that is long enough for your passage. Our passage will be about 1 1/2 days, so we are looking for a 2-3 day weather window. That way if we end up taking longer, we'll still be comfortable. Originally it looked like today would be our day, but now its looking like tomorrow. Waiting is difficult. When you decide to move on, you want to do it right away, but sometimes you have to wait days or even weeks for the proper window.

While we're waiting, we've been keeping busy. The kids have been making daily trips to what they call "pony island". A waitress told us it is actually called Carrot Island, and the wild horses there are the famous Shackelford ponies. They originally lived on Shackelford island, but after a hurricane flooded the area, they moved to Carrot island. They are taken care of by local Vets and fed by people as well. The island is great for collecting shells because one side faces the ocean, and it is only accessable by boat. Therefore not many people scavange the beach. Yesterday Marit found 4 sand dollars there! We also saw live sand dollars, and what we looked up later to be a whelk egg carrier. It was this snake shaped thing, rooted in the sand. I didn't want to touch it for fear it might be poisinous.

It's funny being in a new environment like this. At home I know what is safe and what isn't, but here I don't. Also along the beach we found something shaped like a straw sticking up out of the sand. Being curious, I started digging around it. At the same time I didn't want to touch whatever it might be. As water started filling the hole, I was digging blind. Then fearless Kaitlin started to dig. I tried pulling on the straw part to get it out, but that just broke off. So after about a foot of digging we gave up. Later on that day I found a smaller version which was attached beneath the sand to a small worm. Now I'm glad to not have seen its mother!

At dinner two nights ago we tried a new dish. We've had raw oysters plenty of times, but here they served steamed oysters. I'm a big fan of steamed clams, and I could take or leave raw oysters. Well, these steamed oysters were just wonderful! No sand in them, and they were sweeter than clams. And the best part is that we're surrounded by them. And that means free food!! The waitress told us how to catch, cook and eat them. She said to make sure you get oysters that are always underwater. Don't take them if they're out of the water during low tide. This way they will be less sandy because they are always breathing, or processing water. So next time we're on pony island, I'm bringing a bucket!

Yesterday we went to Fort Macon The fort was built by the Confederates during the civil war to ward off Union troops. The top of the fort is covered with soil and grass, so that from the water, it looks like a hill. It was a bit odd being in a place that housed the Confederate army. It makes me wonder what southerners now think of the Civil war. One thing I've learned by meeting new people, is that we all are similar. Cruisers are from many different countries, but we all have the same needs and problems and joys. I've also learned that where you are from drastically affects your life.

For example, Karen was telling me last night that in Holland friends are just as important as family. Now in my experience, friends move away because that is just how life goes in the US. People move around a lot, but your family is always there. She said that Holland is a small country, and people move around, but stay within the country, so nobody ever moves far away. She said she felt free to leave and go cruising because she knew her family was taken care of by their friends.

We also talk a lot about the differences in how people speak. In the US we tend to dance around subjects. We worry about offending someone, or making someone feel bad. We often say something is a good idea when it isn't. One example Martin gave was a phrase that means something is close to good. I don't remember the exact phrase. But in English it would be taken as a compliment. In other countries it means something is utter garbage. He said in Holland, everyone is very direct. They say exactly what they mean. It's nice interacting with someone like that because you never have to worry about what they're really thinking. Well, at least so far it's nice!

Today we are back at the town dock. We moved here yesterday. We will make use of the showers, the clothes laundromat, and the marina car. Christmas vacation is over for us, so we'll also start school again today. I'm sure the kids will be thrilled!

Hopefully our spot dot will move tomorrow, if the weather permits.

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