The Lewiston “Team Rock!” 7th graders sent me some excellent questions. The questions and my answers are below.
*Emma–Are you going to run out of money, since you had all those unexpected repairs?
We each set aside money for the long trip, including money for “contingencies” like major repairs. But we’ve certainly spent a lot more than we expected so far! We might find we didn’t allow enough for contingencies. If we run low, we will still find a way to complete the trip, but it may change our financial plans. For example, I’m not planning to go back to paid work when I return home, but maybe I would have to get another job for a while to bring in more income.
*Renee–How is the culture different in South Carolina?
My impression is that people in South Carolina, and in the South generally, are more outwardly friendly than in New England. They are much more likely to say, “Hello, how’s it going?” when you simply pass them in the street. And more likely to make eye contact and smile. I think this is an aspect of traditional “southern hospitality.” I don’t think people in New England are unfriendly, though — just more “reserved.”
There are far more African-American people in South Carolina than in Maine. Where we were in Charleston the mix seemed to be about 50-50. Blacks and whites appear to get along with each other very comfortably, at least on the surface. I find this interesting, given Charleston’s history as a center of the slave trade. I was told that half of all the slaves brought to North America came through Charleston. The people in this area seem to have accepted this as an unfortunate part of their history, but it is in the past — a lot has changed in 150 years. On the other hand, some people still identify with the Confederate South, and may still resent the “aggression” of the North in the Civil War.
*Alia–What will your next stop be?
Originally the plan was for our first stop outside the USA to be Cuba, just 90 miles from Key West. But due to the trade embargo the US has against Cuba, this was not allowed. You may have heard that President Obama is relaxing the restrictions on travel to Cuba, but he does not have the power to lift the trade embargo, so I believe we are still not permitted to go there. Instead, the first stop on the Blue Planet Odyssey is Montego Bay, Jamaica. We do not expect to stay there long. It is mostly a place to rest after our first long-ish passage at sea — about 800 miles, I think — before we continue on to the San Blas islands in Panama.
*Ahmed–Have you gone snorkeling?
Well, yes, but not the kind of snorkeling you have in mind. We thought we might do some snorkeling in the Florida Keys between Miami and Key West. But we had very strong easterly winds at that time, which stir up the water and make it difficult to see the reefs and fish. The commercial snorkeling trips were all canceled. We ended up sailing by without stopping. Since arriving at Key West, I went “snorkeling” to clear a lobster trap line from our propeller. That’s all so far, but I expect we’ll have many chances coming up to do more interesting snorkeling.
*Katelyn I.–Will your trip go overtime since you had this unexpected delay?
Although we’ve had unexpected problems, and spent an unexpected amount of time “on the hard,” I wouldn’t say we’ve had a delay. We allowed time for working through problems, and we actually arrived in Key West ahead of our plan, due to the jumps offshore and through the night, rather than staying on the Intracoastal Waterway. The all-important date is January 10th. That is when we, and most of the other Blue Planet Odyssey boats, are scheduled to leave Key West and the USA. As long as we can be ready to go then, which of course we plan to be, then we’re still good.
*Jordyn–Thanks for telling us about your Thanksgiving. Will you be having a New Year’s Eve party?
Bill and I will be traveling back to the boat on New Year’s Eve, arriving just after midnight. So we won’t be joining a traditional party. But in the sense that New Year’s celebrations are about new beginnings, we will be right there — beginning our “odyssey.”
*Jaden–Since you only had a few inches to spare in parking the boat, what would you have done if your boat had been too wide?
I’m not sure! There is another way to pick up a wide boat, which is with a crane. The boat yard probably would not have been able to do this right away, and I’m sure it would have cost us more, so I’m glad we didn’t have to experience this alternative. Probably the first thing we would have done is call other boat yards in the vicinity to see if they have a lift wide enough for us. But I haven’t seen another yard with greater capacity, so I think we were lucky to be referred to the yard we’re at.