Betty Robinson and Li Li have arrived in Annapolis, Maryland after leaving Stuart, Florida some two weeks before. "Li Li" is short for "Living Life" and that is exactly what she and Betty have been doing, for some time now.
The trip was 11 days and 1,000 miles, but actually began many years ago.......
How do you describe or even measure an experience that you have, in some form or another, been preparing for 1/2 of your adult life? How many times in your life have you asked yourself, in the middle of a busy day or stressful meeting, "what am I doing this for?" How will you feel when you are finally living the answer?
There are very few experiences in life that are really as rewarding as you had dreamed that they would be. Almost without exception, your first extended cruise is one of them. Not that there is anything at all bad about that perfect holiday weekend you will spend on the boat in your favorite anchorage, or even that sunset you will watch on a Wednesday evening, from your own slip as you escape just for a couple of hours. But nothing can compare with the first time you leave the dock with a destination that you have never seen before. Where each anchorage is completely made up of sights and sounds that are as new to you as if they had never been seen.
Something happens to you as you enter your fourth, fifth, sixth day - and your body begins to realize that this is not a weeks charter. You "live" here now, or at least for the foreseeable future. You walk from the stateroom, to the galley, to the coffee pot, to the aft cockpit with that same comfortable flow as in your home - because this is your home now. You don't wake up at 5:30 AM with a list in your head and a jump in your pulse as you take a moment to orient yourself. You wake up on your boat, somewhere new, on course for somewhere different and yet you still wake up at home.
As you travel the high rises of Florida, the Tiki restaurants and Mojitos give way to the broad grass marshes of Georgia and South Carolina. The accents on the radio change. The menu switches from Cuban and Creole to Shrimp and Grits. You can travel for hours or anchor for the night and feel you are the only person who has ever been here. Or you can tie up at a small town dock fully expecting to see Andy and Opie come down to fish. You can cruise slowly into Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington or pass them by and feel like there should be a National Geographic Cameraman over your shoulder.
You will follow your own progress on your charts, check your boat and her systems, and begin to have a sense of comfort as you learn her so well that you check your speed by the hum of the deck on your bare feet. What was once so complex and intimidating becomes familiar, even comforting as you take care of her and she takes care of you.
When you "arrive" you feel a sense of accomplishment that is somehow different than all of your accomplishments in the past. You did not defeat an opponent, or out maneuver a competitor, or outperform your peers to get here. You just pointed in a direction, lived along the way, and then arrived. Finally you will realize that you did not really "complete" anything except one leg of a journey with no real end in sight. Just like Life - only more so.