Home for a Midwest Wedding

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Author:  Miranda
Location:  Michigan and Wisconsin

 

I’ve been living overseas for more than eight years now.  I can always feel the distance between myself and home.  Sometimes the feeling is just there.  A benign annoyance that behaves only if fed properly with visits back and Skype dates.  But, sometimes it pulls.  And nags.  And claws.  And throws a full-on, fist-pounding, legs-sprawling, tears-in-the-middle-of-the-check-out-aisle tantrum in your psyche until you can feed it.  Aside from the obvious quality time with family and friends, mine especially likes to be fed good beer, cheese curds, Packer football, and other gloriously Wisconsin pastimes.

This past year of sailing the South Pacific has given me a multitude of things I can be thankful for (personal growth, sailing knowledge, confidence, strength, inner peace, reflection, time to read a pile of great books, etc, etc… ) but a fast, reliable Internet connection has NOT been one of them.  Therefore, I’ve been out of touch.  Understandably so.  I’ve embraced this as part of the growing process that comes along with embarking on such a trip.  But, that doesn’t make it any easier, and I was ready for a break.  I needed my people.  It was time to go home.  And missing middle brother’s nuptials even if we were a half-a-world away was certainly not an option.

So, we packed up the few items in our wardrobes that weren’t already full of holes or engine grease stains and hit the airport.  It’s amazing how quickly your clothes get beat up and you turn into Captain Ron.  Yeah, I’d say this summarizes my look aboard Tayrona most days:

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Our unsightly clothing behind, we didn’t have much to carry with us.  Each suitcase we brought did have it’s corresponding empty duffle bag inside earmarked for all the boat parts we’d be shlepping back with us from the U.S.  Our flights from Fiji to Chicago went smoothly, although it is incredibly disheartening to, in only 17 hours, take back all those miles you fought tooth and nail to achieve.  One year on a sailboat = one ten-hour flight and one four-hour flight aboard a 747.  There’s a gut-punch to efficiency for ya.

After my folks picked me up at the airport (Pete took a third flight to get him over closer to his parents in Michigan), we didn’t stop our chatterboxes from flapping the entire trip back up the Green Bay.  The drive flew by, and then it was an immediate un-pack, re-pack before heading up to the cottage for the night.  After getting all their free-loading kids out of the house, my parents have been able to buy a small, but oh-so-adorable, cottage on their favorite lake.  And, I hadn’t seen it yet!  All the siblings came up to meet us later, and we had one of those dinners together in which you can’t remember what was said but do remember laughing throughout the entirety of the meal.  Sweet Jesus, I needed that. 

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The following day, it was bachelorette party time for my future sister-in-law.  Let me tell you, when you haven’t used it in over a year, putting some actual make-up on your sun-beaten face can be a very exciting thing.  And, if the wedding is anything like the bachelorette party, this is going to be one, rocking good time ladies and gents.

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So, this would be how my trip stateside would be bookmarked.  Bachelorette party my first weekend home, wedding on our last.  The in-between was jam packed full of long-overdue quality time with my folks, my siblings, my grandparents, my family and friends.  Including…

Plenty of relaxation and family fun at the cottage:

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A good amount, but “never-seems-like-enough” time with girlfriends:

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Enough cards and games with some of my favorite folks to keep me happy for a bit:

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A Packer game with killer seats:

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Downhome fun at my best buddy’s little brother’s wedding (with one handsome date):
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And while I was galavanting with friends and family in Wisconsin, Pete was also having himself a grand time in Michigan with his clan.

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Then, I don’t know how it happened, but in the blink of an eye three weeks flew by, and it was time for the big day.  Being both my little and next eldest brother, Adam and I have seen some ups and downs in our relationship as siblings.  The downs were characterized by those cherished teeth-knocking-out, storage-shed-locking-in, I’m-breaking-all-your-favorite-toys moments of childhood.  But, I’d say we got all those nasty moments thoroughly sussed out before, say, 1998, and we’ve been very close ever since.  Now, we have a bond that comes only from conversations at the bar that start “No, our childhood fights were so much worse than yours. Get this…” and I can’t imagine having a kinder, more thoughtful, and caring set of brothers than I have now.

And there is no one in the world better suited for the antics of my brother Adam than Becky.  I love the guy, but, Becky, is a saint.  She just gets him.  And loves him despite all that.  (Kidding!) Adam’s a great guy, a special guy, and he found a woman who makes him happy and loves him for everything that he is.  What else can you hope for as the big (just slightly protective) sister?

Wedding festivities started with homemade bouquets and centerpieces, a low-key bachelor party for the out of town boys (and I got to tag along), and, of course, rehearsal dinner fun.

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The wedding day was beautiful, touching, and, as predicted, one hell of a good time.  But, can we please do it all over again?!  It all went by much, much too fast!

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With a wrestling-themed Grand March…. of course…. Wedding-1-2

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And so, the beast has been fed.  For the time-being.  Saying good-bye is never easy, and this time around it was tougher than I’ve ever remembered it being.  Such is the life of the sailing nomad, I suppose.  I’ll be back soon.  I swear I can still smell those cheese curds…

Several pictures courtesy of Jenna Lynn Photography. 

Find the whole lot of them here: Jenna Lynn Photography- Becky & Adam  

 

 

 

Makemo, Tuamotus

Keyphoto Makemo 1
Author: Pete
Location: 1632.116S’ 14412.192W’
Date: May 17 – 22, 2015

 

May 17: Ran under the spinnaker to within a mile of Makemo before dousing the sail and motoring through the pass. There was a little rage going on, and we were a few hours early for slack tide, but current seemed minimal and we only encountered one knot against us as we muscled through. In the anchorage we floated our chain to avoid coral snags which plague boats in this region, attaching fenders at 10, 20, and 30 meters on 40 meters of chain in 13 meters of water. Being Sunday, nothing was open in town, so we snorkeled the lagoon and found significantly fewer sharks than in Raroia.

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May 18: Spent the day snorkeling in the lagoon and went for a long run on the island. My legs haven’t been asked to walk more than 10 meters at any given point so they voiced their objections about an hour and a half run loudly. The town is cute, with people biking all over on trikes, mothers riding around with one naked baby standing on the crossbar and an infant swaddled in blankets in the basket in the back. Found some internet at the post office in front of the harbor. Later than night had our friends Martin and Lexi over for drinks. We met them in Galapagos, and they were on our Tangaroa radio net on the big crossing, but we missed them in our Marquesian island hopping.

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May 19: Snorkeled outer reef and the pass. The undulating coral bed off the island was fantastic. In the pass a wall made for excellent snorkel drifting too. Went over to Martin and Lexi’s boat, Pao Hana for dinner and drinks again.

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May 20: Haircuts in morning. Liza busted out the trimmers and scissors and gave Felix, Martin, and I all haircuts. It took a good deal of the morning and when we finally weighed anchor to sail north in the afternoon, the glare off the lagoon was terrible. You couldn’t see the coral heads coming, so we made it about ten miles north, then pulled into a nice beach and set anchor again. Along the trip we caught a 50 cm Green Jobfish, which turned out to be really tasty. We made a bonfire on the beach that night and cooked the fillets in the coals with potatoes, carrots, onions, and old bay. Heaven.

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May 21: Flew the spinnaker on our morning sail to north anchorage. We pulled in and were immediately welcomed by our friends on Georgia, Continuum, and Free Spirit, but also the gray-green serpentine forms of black tip reef sharks. Dozens and dozens of them. I’d go so far as to say ‘shark infested.’ Apparently the two local guys up from the town in south Makemo had harpooned and cleaned a mahimahi in the anchorage.

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To their credit they invited everyone in the anchorage to a seafood bonanza at the copra shack they were using for a week as their fishing camp. Vaienui and Jonah were in their late 20’s, local boys excited about showing off their culture and fishing prowess. When we showed up in the afternoon they had great green slabs of mahi grilling on chicken wire over oil barrels with palm wood blazing. On the grill they threw a dozen blue lobster and a local chicken they macheted on the spot. To top it off they caught a dozen coconut crabs the size and disposition of snapping turtles, a delicacy in the area and in Tahiti. They were bright blue and orange, really beautiful crustaceans. Several of them went into boiling pots of water. The cruisers brought side dishes, desserts, and lots of booze to add to the feast. The boys didn’t have plates or forks, so we brought some. They encouraged us to go for the local style and crack the crab legs with the back of a machete, split and de-vein lobster by hand, and dug into the steaming mahi with our fingers. It was awesome. They showed us how to tear open the coconut crab abdomen and scoop out the gray goop they they likened to foi gras. It was a massacre. Shells, legs, bodies strewn across the rough table and weaved palm table mat the boys had made. Everyone had a ball. We left the treats and booze for the boys and gave them some money for the amazing spread. They insisted that they couldn’t accept the money, that the food and firewood was free, but we wore them down and they seemed pleased with the gesture. We all sat on the dock under the starry moonless sky and talked in broken French and English. It’s a lot tougher to communicate at night when gestures are removed from one’s arsenal of translation.

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May 22: Left Makemo Atoll today at what was supposed to be slack tide. The northern pass has a constant ripping current that we watched for three days before attacking. I lined up the boat with the two green navigation cans, unfurled some main, and ran into the melee with the engines roaring to keep some traction on the ripping water with the rudders. Deep swirling vortices pulled the bow this way and that. At some point we were making 13 knots. Weaved and staggered through the eddies until the pass spit us out like being shot from a cannon into a moderate rage. It was all very exciting.

Now we’re heading toward Fakarava under spinnaker, another atoll with some surfing potential. Should be there tomorrow morning after a quick overnight sail.