Made the trip up to New Jersey to meet up with my uncle, whom I haven’t seen in something like twenty plus years. Was good to get some time off the boat as well, to step back from the constant lists and things to do. The day before I left was a full on day of prep work for the putting the water tanks back in and getting the deck all set up to repaint the non skid. This I was having done while I was away and Phil was overseeing the painting job for me. Started work at around six that morning and didn’t finish up and begin to pack my bags for the trip till nearly ten that night. There seems to be a very disproportional amount of work to sailing at the moment.
Meeting uncle Gerry was like catching up with an old friend, got along from the get go. Was pretty stoked as I got the chance to meet his young fella, Riley, as well. Another member of the family I hadn’t met previously, all the new family has definitely been one of the cool things about this trip so far. Spent the day hanging out and checking out the area and even went for a look at the local surf, looked fun, but cold. Later we went for a look at where uncle Gerry used to live before Sandy came through. It was unreal to see the damage that was done and was still blatantly evident after all these months. Seeing whole houses, or sometimes just pieces of them, moved off their foundations and with wall and entire rooms missing really gave an insight into the power of the ocean and that storm. Be lying if I said it didn’t make me, and Kuhela, feel pretty small. His apartment had water damage to chest height and he lost pretty much everything in the storm. But in some ways gained a lot too by the different perspective it offered him. Was really good talking to him about things like that.
Later that night we ran into the next-door neighbor, who had been out surfing that day and was sitting around a fire in the back yard. Great to sit down and have a chat with a couple crew from the area and before you know it he had lent me wetsuit, hood, booties, gloves and a board and we made plans to go for a paddle in the morning. Stoked. Of course the following morning the temperature had dropped and the swell died a bit, and even with the light snow flurries drifting through the air I couldn’t wait to get down to the beach. Air temp .5 degrees, water 3 degrees. It was small but clean and I was amped to get in the water. Lasted for a bit longer in the water than I though I would and got a few couple fun little lefts that put a smile on my face that even the slap of the freezing water couldn’t wipe off. Came out after about an hour and ran to the car, teeth chattering and hands on fire, laughing all the way. The laughter dies away a bit though as the feeling came back to my hands. DAMN that hurt. Those boys that surf in water like that are tough, good on em. It really struck me that I grew up watching films of guys traveling the globe surfing and the great people they meet along the way, and the way the boys up there lent me all the gear and looked after me really made me feel like I was in one of those movies. For me its all about the people I meet along the way (and the waves, and water, and scenery, and…)
Was able to sit and chat a lot with uncle Gerry, which I think was pretty good for both of us. I learned a lot and put some things into perspective for myself. Kinda hard sometimes when your working on a project like this alone, it’s a really good thing to talk and share with people you connect with on a certain level and its something I've missed a lot since leaving home this trip.
Unfortunately there was some more family I didn’t get that chance to meet up with, but will hopefully get to meet them one day. Flew back down to Florida and was greeted by Kuela, with her freshly painted decks, and looking awesome. Really felt like home when I got back. Felt good to be back on board and listen to the sounds I am becoming so familiar with, ropes as they creak or the lantern as it swing back and forth. It was an awesome trip on so many levels, but now, back to work.