So the Burnetts are hangin’ out in St. Thomas. Cruisers with kids (who give a shit about homeschooling) sometimes just…hang out. We have finally resumed our boat school after a six week hiatus and things are going surprisingly well. There have been minimal emotional breakdowns (from both the kids and the parents.) And hell, let’s not be sanctimonious…we are still in St. Thomas because we are waiting on some packages of parts from Amazon. Amazon delivers to St. Thomas! (But slowly!) It turns out that “waiting for parts” is a good opportunity to educate your kids!
Slowing down a bit has also given us an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing out here. And to take on chores to prevent corrosion. At the six month post-launch mark, well, mainly we are preventing corrosion. “Stainless” steel, apparently, only lasts six months. So at sunset, Greg scrubs corrosion from the radar mount while Mel reflects on the state of modern medicine. Such occupations are equally productive. Meaning futile.
Of course, Mel should be more optimistic. At this very moment, Richard Branson is only a few 10’s of nautical miles away on Necker Island, taking successful corporate entrepreneurs through obstacle courses and shit. Maybe that is the solution? Doctors need more obstacle courses! No? Sigh. Doctors are not record company or airline employees. They are just…different. And that is the whole problem. Great! Another problem Mel hasn’t solved.
The last few weeks have been fun but humiliating. In front of various guests, the Burnetts have managed to foul a prop because of their own error – twice. A beloved swim ladder caught in a mooring ball pennant (because we forgot to raise it) and bent. (Note the use of passive voice. Passive voice is helpful when one does not want to assign blame. I’m talking about you, “The Stupid.”) Wave heights have turned out to be 3 feet higher than predicted, producing nausea and fear in our guests. For perfectionistic professionals, all of these factors out of their control, and all of these opportunities to make a time-consuming mistakes, are frustrating. You are super-smart and want to impress a client? Trust me, DO NOT TAKE THEM SAILING!
Ego totally deflated, Mel has turned to what she used to be pretty good at—neurology. She must keep up her skills, because clearly neurology is the ONLY thing she is good at! Certainly it isn’t tying bowlines, or assisting in dousing the ParaSailor (Mel would like to add this enigmatic aside: FFFF UUUUU ParaSailor! I DO NOT LIKE YOU!!!!! Show me a woman who likes her spinnaker, and I will show you someone delusional! Or with eyes in the back of her head!) However, she became worried after she was forced to take a nap, exhausted, after spending 3.5 hours registering and booking flights and hotels for the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April in Vancouver. Crap, she thinks to herself, I used to do this after work??? Have I fallen this far?
But Mel wakes up the next morning and does her Jillian Michaels workout in her hull. And she puts on her shorts, which don’t quite fit because she has lost weight since she started this. And then she goes upstairs and educates her children, quizzing them on Lord of the Flies and Alice in Wonderland, now knowing that Allie can’t spell but remembers everything she hears, and Tommy reads at three times her speed but needs classical music to focus. Maybe after school the kids jump in the water, playing, “King of the Kayak.” They have fellow cruisers over for happy hour, share conspiracy theories about Donald Trump, and then Mel prepares a meal that they provisioned for three days ago, by wheeling the Burley cart over to the Pueblo grocery store down the road from the dinghy dock. “Sorry,” they say to the middle aged folks who look into the cart, expecting a cute baby. “No baby, just food.” At sundown, they watch (and hear) the cruise ships depart from Charlotte Amalie, googling their history on their spotty internet. “The Carnival Glory can take about 3000 passengers and has ‘Fun Ship 2.0’ upgrades!” Mel swats a mosquito, pushing thoughts of chikungunya and zika virus out of her head. That night, she puts fresh Neosporin on all of her cuts, remembering to turn off the generator before she goes to bed.
And as she dreams, she thinks of this: As humiliating as cruising can be, it is SO.MUCH.BETTER.THAN.DICTATING!