Gratitude, Maryland

Where to start? Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland…all places I wasn’t expecting or hoping to to blog about at the end of June 2020, but that is the way of adventures.

I’m writing from the dining room table of my good friends, the Goods, who have kindly and warmly welcomed Bill and I to stay with them while the Maggie May is, again, being repaired.

After seven years of fixing up an old boat you might expect there would be nothing left to fix, at least for a while. But sometimes you have to fix the thing that a contractor just did a terrible job fixing, so bad that it failed utterly within a few weeks. (This is not the first time this exact thing has happened with the Maggie May.) And sometimes that thing that was fixed and failed is the bottom of the boat, arguably the most important part if you fancy staying dry. 

This is a long tale in full, and one that could benefit from a longer format and some emotional distance by the author, but in short, we had the boat hull completely redone over the past few months in Deale, Maryland, spent about three-quarters of a year’s boat-living budget, and within a week of setting out found that Maggie May’s bottom was covered with a half-inch or more of barnacles that could only be removed by power sanding the bottom of the boat and repainting.


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This was the failure of the paint we chose, or possibly the marine contractor who applied it. Or both to some extent. Or us for choosing the wrong contractor and/or paint. So far neither business is taking responsibility. So we are left holding a heaping handful of slimy barnacles (no offense barnacles, you are actually slimy in the literal sense), and the loss of another half-year boat budget, several weeks of time, and our crushed hearts. 

The added loss of savings may ultimately have the effect of ending our dream of a sailing circumnavigation. That is a hard pill to swallow after dreaming and planning for 15 years. But it’s possible that the global pandemic already ended that dream and we just don’t know it yet. 

I didn’t want to write this blog, have been putting it off, hoping we’d be back on the boat already and I could write with optimistic hindsight, with the perspective of someone on the ocean, looking back. (With any luck that will be the next blog.) So much of what I have worked on over the past decade (see the Borderlands Project ) has been sad or at least tinged with grief in some way. I liked the feeling of offering only hope in this blog, a documentation of discovery and joy. But the world is filled with sorrows much deeper than the travails of Maggie May, and resilience and gratitude are good offerings too so I’ll finish on this note…

A day or two after we found out that the hull paint had totally failed, Bill was feeling especially low, and we were talking about our options, when suddenly a Carolina wren started singing. If you know this little bird, you know that it has incredible pipes, certainly some of the strongest per-ounce in the bird world. But this was the loudest I had ever heard a wren sing. It was not because this particular bird was  so especially loud, but because it was so extremely near. Bill looked up the companionway stairs and saw the wren perched on our main sheet. About 5 feet away, the bird was belting out the sweetest, most determined song. It brought tears to Bill’s eyes and prompted him to say, “Ok, I get it buddy, message delivered.” Then, about five minutes after that, Bill got a text from our friend Maribeth who was asking how his back was (she had read my previous blog). Bill explained what was happening with the boat and Maribeth replied with a Mary Oliver poem, Just As the Calendar Began to Say Summer, about going to nature to unlearn society’s obsession with success, machines, oil and money. 

The poem ends with these lines: 

By fall I had healed somewhat, but was summoned back to the chalky rooms and the desks, to sit and remember

the way the river kept rolling its pebbles,

the way the wild wrens sang though they hadn’t a penny

in the bank,

the way the flowers were dressed in nothing but light.


Youghiogheny River in Western Pennsylvania, rolling its way to the Mississippi River and onto the Gulf of Mexico. We hope to meet these waters again one day far downstream in the SV Maggie May.

It’s impossible to say what will happen with this adventure. We hope to be back on the boat by next week and will proceed with a new dream of taking the journey as it comes, resting tired spirits and cherishing each moment for what it brings. It is a helpful reminder that the boatyard where Maggie May currently resides is just down the road from Gratitude, Maryland.

Garter snake in Ohiopyle State Park, PA

So far the past week’s detour has brought many things, including:

  • Moments on the Youghiogheny, Potomac and beloved Anacostia rivers, watching them rolling their pebbles, smoothing all hard edges as they make their water-way to the sea
  • A chance to hand off our car to Bill’s mom via his sister Laurie and her beau Bill on a country road in Ohio (Thanks Laurie and Bill!) 
  • Bill’s back fully healed!
  • A visit to the Double R creamery nearish to Cleveland for perhaps the best chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I have ever had
  • A discovery of some weird larvae living inside a pitcher plant in an Ohio bog
  • A flock of cedar waxwings in a serviceberry tree
  • A visit to the largest remaining expanse of old growth hemlock in Maryland

    Wild turkey in Garrett State Forest, PA

  • An opportunity to grill asparagus 20-feet in the air overlooking the Haven Harbour gravel boatyard
  • The best cherry pie I’ve ever had, made by the clever hands of Michele Good
  • A chance to spend some time getting to know the nearly 1 year old Henry Good–oh boy what a charmer. 


15 Comments on “Gratitude, Maryland

  1. Bless you for being willing to share the tough stuff, along with the good. You made me cry, for the situation you are in, and for the losses we have had. Ours have been loss of time with our kids, and that will come, in good time.
    Sounds like you’ve been masters of mindfulness-the lesson of the day. For all of us.

    • Thank you, and I hope you get to have some good time with the kids soon. I saw Dave yesterday, he misses you.

  2. Thank you, Krista. May a Carolina Wren, an Altamira Oriole and Earth herself, continue to carry messages of hope to you. Your willingness to be open, honest, vulnerable, introspective and generous with your insights are gifts to all who know and love you. The way you process life, so deeply and authentically, provides inspiration for me and for so many others. I’m grateful for your friends, your figurative ports in a storm, and I envy you the cherry pie. Stay safe and healthy, each and all of you. My love to Bill. I travel with you, on land or sea, as do all the “good angels.”

  3. Lessons all around us, every day everywhere.
    Hang in there crew! Lots of love to you both.


  4. My dad always said that things are never bad as they seem. The earth isn’t going anyplace.

    Looking forward to following your adventure.


  5. Krista- sorry you guys were sidetracked and I’m glad it brought you some unexpected adventures although at a cost. Your outlooks are inspiring and not surprisingly nudged along by nature. At least you didn’t come to the realization that the boat needed hull repairs while way out at sea. It’s important to look for the good these days and you remind me to do that in my own life. Cheers to many more adventures and I look forward to reading your stories along the way. Best to Bill!

  6. Oh wow. Well I think the Earth was asking you to slow down. Wants to spend a bit more time with you. Not quite ready to release you into the arms of the Sea. 💦 Maybe that little wren needed someone to sing a song to?

  7. Just looking at a tropical storm predicted to go that way, and thought I’d check in on you guys. I was hoping that you were safe somewhere and you are. Love, Betty

  8. My adventure of moving to Amsterdam has been put on hold due to the pandemic. When I get down about it, being quiet and listening to birdsong is the best and surest remedy. Love this beautiful post and feel our journeys will still happen. xo

    • Thank you Tim. I’m sorry to hear about your plans being delayed, but so glad the birds are helping to remedy your disappointment. We will get through it and find something wonderful on the other side. Love you.

  9. So sorry to hear of the continuing problems, Krista. But as always, beautiful photos! A couple of (likely bone head) questions if I may. 1. As a practical matter (a matter of function) what is the problem with barnacles? 2. What’s with grilling asparagus 20 feet in the air? Is that a thing?

    Fingers crossed for both of you and das boot! We’ll be thinking of you kids!

    Dave and Jackie McLane

    • Thank you Dave and Jackie, we appreciate and need those crossed fingers. So barnacles, attach themselves to anything and as they grow they build a hard shell around themselves. Boats require smooth hulls to move through the water, but barnacles create a high amount of friction that make it almost impossible to move. And asparagus, well, we had to live on the boat some of the time it was being worked on, and we had all this asparagus, so we fired up the grill. I hope to never do it again.

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