“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

It’s a chilly morning here on Mistress.  The morning found us with a cold northwest wind blowing, mixed with grey skies and rain in the forecast for the afternoon and coming night.  It’s a good morning to sit with a cup of coffee and contemplate life.  I started a pot of beans to simmer for a supper of red beans and rice later tonight.

Today is a blog entry less than a book entry.  I’ll get back to that, and maybe there will be something that can be gleaned from whatever slips out of my mind.

My buddy, Capt. Miles and I left Thursday morning to motor 200 nautical miles up the intracoastal waterway from Corpus Christi to Kemah Texas.  What can be driven in a car in less than four hours took us three days averaging 5-7 knots depending on the current.  For those who have spent time on a farm, this is the equivalent of driving a tractor across the state of Texas.  We only traveled during the daylight hours, as the ICW is also fairly narrow and a highway for commercial barge traffic.  It’s a monumental pain to traverse at night.  Mostly it was a pleasant and uneventful trip, minus a blown fuse that delayed our departure by a couple of hours and me hitting a low-lying buoy left behind by a dredging operation.  It hit fairly hard and scraped some paint off just above the waterline that I need to repair now, but otherwise Mistress just knocked it out of her way.  She would not be deterred from this trip.

Mistress has a high prow and the cockpit sits low at the stern which makes it difficult to see anything that’s low and directly in front of you.  That issue was compounded by the dinghy stowed on the deck.  So now I know I need to keep someone on lookout when going through cluttered water.

Both of these incidents happened within the first four hours of the trip.  The fuse before we ever left the dock and the collision before we made it to Port Aransas.  But the fuse issue would have been a much bigger issue had it happened after we left.  As it turned out, it was a fuse I didn’t know existed on the engine panel and I didn’t have a replacement.  But a quick trip to the auto parts store resolved that.

Hitting the buoy bothered me more because those kinds of mistakes can be catastrophic.  The fact is there were two of us on the boat and neither saw it.  That’s the way these things, but it also showed me the resolve and strength of my boat.  I knew she was tough, but she took the opportunity to show me.  We live and we learn, taking our knocks and pressing on trying to be better.

The rest of the trip was a joy.  The new engine purred as we motored our way up the channel through wildlife habitat areas filled with a plethora of different species of birds and dolphins playing along side the boat.  At night we anchored on the edge of the channel and ate well, consuming copious amounts of venison and fried potatoes.  The first night I slept in the cockpit, wrapped in a blanked under an almost full moon.  The second night we both passed out soon after we ate supper and got a glass of rum in our bellies.  The cold of the day had drained us both of energy.

We passed under the I-45 bridge into Galveston Bay around 3 p.m. on the third day and motored into the marina around 8 that evening.  Penny flew in and met us in the rental car and we drove the 3 1/2 hours back to Corpus.  I finally landed in bed around 1 a.m. The next morning we got up, turned in the rental and she and I drove back to Kemah to move the boat to its slip and drank a bottle of wine as we watched the fireworks ringing in the new year.  We then proceeded to sleep for the next 12 hours.

It’s been a full week capping off a very full year full of change and growth and good days and hard days and laughter and tears and building a new foundation with the hope that this year will be better than the last. Sometimes you have to get through the scary places in order to reach the really beautiful places.

So for all of you out there trying to get to a better place.  Keep going.

Happy New Year everyone.

– the Pirate Professor