Tuesday, January 30, 2007

St. Augustine, FL

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." --Job

A disaster has fallen on our cruise, which is the reason for my disappearance from the website. Karl insists on calling it a blessing, and I would, too, if I could, but it's hard to be so circumspect about it. Entirely due to our own fooliness, our computer, containing all our electronic charts and navigation software, has gone missing. So has $900 worth of blocks and slides for the boat, without which we cannot sail, three guidebooks, one newly purchased, and my purse, containing wallet.

It happened when, in attempting to row against four knots of current at night back to our anchorage in St. Augustine, the oarlock on our dinghy broke. It was starting to rain, it was thirty degrees outside, and I was near-hypothermic and crying. Karl dragged the already-leaking dinghy across the pavement to the seawall across from where Secret was anchored and threw it in the water. I jumped in to find myself kneedeep in water and unable to clamber back up ove rthe sea wall. Karl jumped in to rescue me only to discover that our dinghy was already on its way to sinking. We put the bag containing the computer and everything else back up on the seawall to rescue it.

Our only choice, or the only choice that seemed obvious at the time, was to swim back to the boat. We threw off our shoes as the nose of the dinghy dipped underwater and the oars drifted away. The boat was so close, but swimming fully clothed in ice-cold rain against an insatiably strong current was more than we bargained for. I'm a stronger swimmer than Karl is, and by the time I got to the boat and clambered up the swim ladder, he was gasping for air and I was desperately afraid. He finally made it back to the boat, his baggy clothes water-logged, shivering violently. Thank goodness for our twenty-degree trail sleeping bags. We huddled inside them, shivering, for what felt like hours. Any plan we had to immediately retrieve the bag was abandoned, despite it having nearly everything that our journey depends on.

The first sympton of hypothermia is foolish decision-making. I look back now, days later, still grieving was feels like an unbearable loss, and I think about everything we could have done differently. So many things, so many stupid decision. I guess I should be happy we have our lives. People have drowned for far less.

In the early hours, when we woke up, exhausted, the bag was still there, barely a hundred yards away. It might have been a hundred miles for all the difference it made. By the time we hauled our anchor up and raced through the lift bridge, it was gone. We spent $70 to dock and chased through the streets of St. Augustine, looking for anyone who had seen our bag, but it was lost.

I keep praying that the goodness o fhumna nature will be proved to me, that some kind soul will return to us what means so much to me but so little to anyone else. The computer was six years old and we had broken off the corner of the case and soldered the power supply directly to it--it was next-to-worthless. But St. Augustine's fairly crime-ridden and everyone we've talked to has told us to give up. I haven't yet, but this was a week ago tomorrow and every morning my dull, hopeless feeling increases.

All of my recent blog entries were on that computer, as was a ton of music, many pictures, our budget--things that can't be replaced. Of course, we can solve the problem with vast quantities of money--money we barely had to begin with.

I feel like it's all my fault. I was too proud of that Apple--my one nice thing--too attached to it. I loved that computer. And now it's gone.

We did manage to salvage the dinghy, thanks to the generosity of some amazingly kind liveaboards, and someone else, completely unknown to us, gave us a pair of oars and oarlocks yesterday morning. Karl, in his enlightened way, is looking on this as a gift, a way for us to remove our dependence on earthly things. I try. I pray daily, hourly, for God to help me accept the loss as part of some larger plan, but it's so hard. I can't see it.


An-Magritt said...

Sweet Melissa,
I am astounded to read of your loss and the difficulties the two of you have encountered. It is wonderful that the two of you survived; that loss would be irreplaceable. I pray that whatever path or current lies ahead, opens up to both of you.
HUG, An-Magritt

Anonymous said...

Melissa and Karl,
I'm sorry too to hear about the loss of the computer and graphs..but Karl is right you have to look at it on the bright side of things. You didn't lose each other, and you did find some kindness in St. Augustine when you got the dingy back. Not to mention that you made it through a storm with tornados (on land). I know that you two will make it you continue to push yourselfs and the boundaries, so a little push back is expected, but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger..Whatever you decide I know that you won't give up on adventure you guys never will.
It's part of you, you wouldn't be happy if you weren't on a trail or on the sea or on a mountain..or somewhere making memories.
Well, am I ever happy to know that you two are alive.
Give us a call Karl, when you get the phone working.
Love you,
LEAH and J.P.