Thursday, October 28, 2010


Evan and I were in Wilmington, NC a few days ago. We stayed two nights, hoping to rest up and recharge after the day-in, day-out motoring from Oriental, NC. Alas, we did not get much rest. It turns out that when back on land, and in a city, we relapse into pre-cruising mentality and go about from one thing to the next to the next.

These things in Wilmington being: catching up with a Wilmingtonian friend I had met in NY this past spring; going to the movies; shopping for shorts (impossible to find at this time of year!) and a puffy jacket (I'll be meeting the family for Thanksgiving in a cold place); grocery shopping; doing laundry; boat stuff shopping; restaurant sampling.

Then we got on the boat and spent 7 hours glued to some task or another: spying confusing channel markers (whose brilliant idea was it to paint the marker number nearly the same color as the signboard itself?); keeping an eyeball glued to the depth sounder; steering against very choppy waters in Snow's Cut and Cape Fear River; making lunch without sustaining too many bruises. It wasn't the worst sailing we've seen by a stretch--it was actually fun at times in the way that driving over a really gravelly road at high speed can be fun--but it was not relaxing. 

So, once we arrived here in Southport, we decided to take a few days off. We were tired, plus the weather forecast for boating wasn't great for the next few days anyway. Now I don't want to sound like cruising isn't as amazing as most people think it is--how can you complain about taking off on a sailboat, you ask--but driving a boat through shallows and currents and traffic requires all the same concentration and undivided attention as driving a car, if not more. Do that 7 hours a day for a few days in a row, and one's bound to be a little tired.

Oh, for wide easy waters where we can use our auto-pilot...

In the meantime, I am perfecting my banana bread and asparagus/portobello risotto, and getting some writing done. (It turns out that the forward berth doubles quite nicely as a private place to write too.) I am also stalking the giant blue heron that hangs out in this marina sometimes. And, of course, listening to snapping shrimp (Evan explains).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oriental, NC

My surprise birthday brownie may belie it, but I turned 33. 

I spent my birthday a few days ago in a friendly town called Oriental, NC. It was a very pleasant town, and we ran into a whole bunch of fellow cruisers we've met along the way. There were plenty of jarring moments, though, as I walked around, for every other billboard or store sign has the word Oriental in it.

See, starting from when I was in high school, the word "oriental" became a big no-no. "Oriental" was an adjective to be used to describe objects from "the Orient" (which, confusingly in British English, included pretty much everything east of Europe) like vases or rugs, not people. I cringed if someone said, "My son married an Oriental." As people started using the term "Asian" to describe people from Asian countries, anyone who used "Oriental" to refer to an Asian person was obviously either really old (too old to get with the PC program), lived nowhere near Asian people, or was racist. 

Thing is, there is nothing Oriental, or Asian, or east of European, about Oriental, NC or any of the establishments there! Weird and a little hilarious! (Why the name Oriental then? Apparently, the town was originally Smith Creek, but was renamed after the USS Oriental shipwreck nearby in 1899. Perhaps the ship was headed East?) I turned off the PC-radar, which was going haywire.

I went to get a haircut at the local salon Studio 55 and fell to chatting with my hairdresser, the septuagenarian customer next to me, her hairdresser, and the nails and facial lady, too, who was, by the way, the only Asian I've seen in NC so far. We talked about hair, bronzing a pair of 15-year old boots, cruising, and teeth.

Septuagenarian Catherine: "I may be old, but I have perfect teeth. My dentist asked me the other day if I'd been drinking tea again."

Her stylist, Mary: "What? Tell me, 'Am I a Southern woman?'!"

My haircut, which you can see in the picture above, cost me just $18 plus tip.

After Oriental, we moved on to Morehead City, just across from Beaufort, then on to a beautiful anchorage in the Marine base Camp Lejeune. Now we are in Masonboro, just outside Wilmington, NC, for a few days before going into South Carolina. Here are some recent pics:

Being American--the South

We crossed the Mason-Dixon line over a week ago, right before entering the Dismal Swamp Canal, and it marked my first time in the South. (I don't count the visits to my sister in Sarasota, FL, since only 33% of Floridians are native-born, according to the state's 2005 census.) Menus are dominated by meat (including alligator, at a gas station grill on the Alligator River), which has me craving gigantic fresh salads. Looks-wise, the pines and cypresses of VA and northern NC have given way here in southern NC to yellow-green marsh grass, oaks, and small palms.

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that I had had dinner with two war vets, and that it got me thinking about history and race. Not because I thought they were racist--they weren't at all--but because hearing them talk with Robert, the lockmaster in the Dismal Swamp, about their fathers and grandfathers who had served in WWI and WWII made me realize something: I am not as American as they are.

I know this sounds controversial but bear with me.

Growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs that I did until the age of 13, I was usually one of two or three Asian kids in my class. (Yes, in a city that is as diverse as Los Angeles--technically speaking--there were still places in it during the 80s where a Korean kid got nothing but "You know kung fu?" or "Ching chang chong.") It wasn't until I moved to the New York City area in my high school years that I knew what it felt like to blend in. There were so many ethnicities, subcultures, and a real sense of pride in being New Yorkers, i.e. different from the rest of America, that I felt right at home. The myth of America as quick melting pot seemed real in New York, and I could really believe that I was just as American as any other person--white, black, Asian or whatever ethnicity you like.

But all of America is not New York, where the present reigns supreme, and identity is whatever you want (or choose) it to be--and in as little time as you need. As I listened to these guys swapping stories about their fathers and grandfathers who served in this and that division of this and that branch of the U.S. military, I realized that a part of their identities were fashioned for them a long ways back, and that they shared common roots that I could never share. If I were to compare ancestral notes with them, we'd discover that we were either on opposite sides of history, or, as a Cat Power songline goes, "I'm on the same side as you, I'm just a little bit behind."

Just a few decades ago, South Koreans (and, in a more complicated relationship, perhaps, South Vietnamese) were dependent on the U.N./U.S. for military aid and economic aid. To most GIs, South Koreans of that post-Japanese colonialism and Korean War era resembled backwards peasants, emaciated refugees, charity cases. So even though Americans and South Koreans were never enemies, their first acquaintance wasn't exactly as equals. But then, the years go by, and Asian-Americans become "the model minority," entering Ivy League schools and the professional class, and even mainstream pop culture, and that first impression become obsolete, right?

I think the answer in 2010 for most is yes. However, I don't think that was the case with my parents' generation that immigrated in the 1970s. How could it be? If I were an American who had never known anything of Koreans but what I saw in the Korean War, wouldn't it take time to reconcile that primary experience with some new presentment? A Korean-American friend of mine who served in Afghanistan was aided and attacked by Afghans; how could he not have complicated feelings were he to come across an Afghan here in the U.S.? I imagine that his rational mind would differentiate between an Afghan in Afghanistan and an Afghan here, but could there also be an involuntary and immediate association with the only other time he encountered Afghans? If so, would the old association only lose primacy with time and continued dilution with more modern experiences?

But do the modern experiences--Asian-Americans who speak the same slang in the same accent as white Americans, play suburban high school football, work the same job in the next office, marry outside their ethnicities--really erase the first perception? After all, as much as Americans take pride in defining Americanness in terms of the democratic pioneer spirit--if you're entrepreneurial and build something from nothing in the U.S., you've earned the right to call yourself a true American--there remains an aspect to American identity that runs much deeper and holds greater value as a common denominator with Americans than education, common lifestyle, or even money and affluence. It's what my new cruiser friends and Robert the lockmaster shared. It's the reason that most U.S. presidents have trouble winning over Americans if they never served in the military, or no one in their family did. There's something about having spilled blood for the U.S., (voluntarily or not), that takes American-ness deep down to its roots. It's what perhaps drove Japanese-Americans during WWII to enlist--how else and more clearly to prove their American-ness? (Sadly, one generation's sacrifice wasn't enough: Japanese-Americans were still perceived to have their roots elsewhere, in Japan not the U.S., and divided loyalties.)

Maybe it's appropriate that I'm thinking about all this in the South, where the country's history is etched all around me, where the question of what an American is was most deeply tested, and where the common denominator of military service by two ancestral Americans may very well have divided them on opposite sides of a battlefield before time and new fights brought them back together.

(Please see my comment below, too.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dolphin on the ICW!

Dolphins ran right next to us today in the ICW, between Camp Lejeune and the Wrightsville bascule bridge!! The waterway is not more than 1000 meters away from the Atlantic in places, and the dolphins come up through the inlets and play in the bow waves of sailboats. We had heard of this for a while, and they finally showed up today!

Truth be told, though, if I hadn't ever seen a dolphin before, been indoctrinated by Flipper and popular culture to regard dolphins as highly intelligent, human-friendly, wonderful creatures, and alert to the fact that we would be spotting dolphins, I might have been a little bit scared. After all, I was until very recently an urban landlubber, one who grew up on JAWS and for whom a dorsal fin poking out of the water and coming at you is normally not a happy squeal-inducing sight. 

But I am now a sailor, and so after the initial, irrational eek! I spent the next two minutes cooing, "Hello dolphin! Hello! Hello!" 

(And thinking that I was so glad to be seeing the dolphins in the wild and not in some giant SeaWorld tank or Cancun "swim with the dolphins" cove. For reasons on that, click here and here.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Evan and I anchored for the first time the other night, just off the Pungo River. After seven hours of traveling, it was a wonder to sit on the water for this sunset.

The Kindness of Strangers

In Elizabeth City, I noticed a few stray black cats hanging out in a tranquil parking lot. I snapped some pictures, since I miss having a furry pet around.

Just as Evan and I started to cross the street to continue on our way, a woman in a teal sweatshirt crossed diagonally from an apartment building and entered the parking lot. Just like that, black shadows emerged out of bushes and I don't know where.

The lady feeds the cats every day and was fine with me taking pictures, "as long as you're not with the newspapers." She had already been told off by cops, so she was quick about it. I asked whether the town had a catch-and-release program (the cats get fixed), and she said "No way, this town won't spend the money for that." Oh well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Artesian water

A few facts about where we were up til this afternoon: Dismal Swamp water is supposedly so clean (because it is so acidic, no bacteria can grow in it) that it was barreled as drinking water for ocean passages. It was even slated to serve as drinking water for astronauts until, alas, reverse osmosis technology came along. The water is red and foamy, thanks to tannins from the cypress and juniper forests. The evening around it smells like honeysuckle. The Dismal Swamp was part of the Underground Railroad: it is only just that the swamp should have sheltered the slaves passing through it, considering that it was the slaves who dug the Dismal Swamp Canal for US Army Corps of Engineers in the first place.

A slideshow will be up as soon as we get 3G or faster Wi-fi than this coffeeshop in Elizabeth City has.

Out of the Rain and Into the Potluck

We left Hampton, VA, for the Dismal Swamp Canal, knowing that there would be rain. We got loads of it, plus a very brief thunderstorm, so we just crossed the bay to Portsmouth and tied up to a dock there until the storm passed. The rain backed off just enough to get going again, and we made all the bridges, which have very strict opening times. Norfolk, VA was one big industrial site, scenic in its own fascinating way.

Once we passed out of Norfolk and entered the Deep Creek River, however, the water narrowed, and we passed through bucolic woodland. The rain stopped just as we entered the river.

A few hours later, we arrived at the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, which was created in the early 1800s. We just barely made it in time to get through the first lock, which is run by a fantastic guy named Robert. His pitt-sharpei mix, U-Turn, stood watch while we got lines in order.

Once we got to the other side, we coasted in to the last slip on the free dock, and the sun broke out. We sat enjoying the first real dry moments of the day.

Finally, we went to our first cruisers potluck, an induction of sorts into the community of long-time cruisers. Dinner and drinks were fun, and the company was great. Still, as I washed up that night, I realized with some vague wonder that I'd just been in a boat with two men who had, serving in different decades, fought for the U.S. against Asian enemies. They had been nothing but warm and funny with me, and I liked them a lot. But there is a part of me that wonders how they would have greeted me decades ago, before I opened my mouth and spoke the same English that their daughters and grand-daughters speak. I don't know many senior war vets, or even American seniors of the WWII or Korean War age, so I am curious.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Time and places are becoming a blur...

I can't believe my last post was on Sunday and in Reedville! Just now, tracing our steps from Reedville took many more moments than it should have. Is my recall memory going to mush, or is the cruising life so mellow that even my brain wrinkles are relaxing? Early this morning, in attempting to figure out whether we should go over to the marina lounge for a complimentary weekend breakfast, Evan and I realized that we had no idea what day of the week it was!

Well, it is Thursday, and poor Deltaville was the town that had completely slipped from memory. And what a strange one for my memory to lose hold of, since that was the marina with a swimming pool!  We went swimming in temperatures of the upper 80s--in October! Of course, the water was so cold that one icy plunge cooled us off for hours. 

Besides the pool, though, I have fond (though apparently fleeting) memories of Deltaville for the fragrant  fir trees, the great dollar store in town, ubiquitous birdsong, my first successful carrot cake, and the discovery of Carl Hiaasen's entertaining and very warm "Nature Girl."

After Deltaville, we moved on to Hampton, VA, which I was excited about because that's where I had had an Amazon Kindle shipped. Now I am a die-hard book lover, and I will never ever forsake paper books, but the Kindle is fantastic for when I can't find a bookstore or am not around long enough to get a library card. So now I have stocked up with a whole bunch of classics that have entered the public domain: a bunch of Russians (Chekhov short stories, Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" and "War and Peace," Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot"), Proust, Melville's "Moby Dick," and--at Evan's request--P.G. Wodehouse's "My Man Jeeves."

Next up, we leave Hampton to finally enter the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (the ICW), which will take us to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal and beyond.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fly in the Ointment - Solomons, MD to Reedville, VA

Our cruising guidebook warns of the abundance of flies and no-see-ums in the Chesapeake Bay in autumn. Apparently, they try to take refuge on your warm boat since it's getting colder outside. We finally encountered this phenomenon today.

No more than an hour into our Solomons Island --> Deltaville leg, the cockpit became infested with flies of all kinds: tiny, translucent amber flies that camouflaged themselves on the wooden companionway; thick black flies with oversized, bulbous red eyes that resembled flower pistils; smaller hump-backed cousins--bison of the flies; and long black flies with a white spot near the head and a single thin white stripe on both long twitching antennae.

It got to the point where I would inadvertently smoosh one by sitting in a different position, or putting my water bottle down. Or a larger variety would buzz millimeters from my nose, making me leap up and bump into something. It was completely gross and annoying. I still can't figure out what business these flies have miles away from the shore. Some of the tiny flies looked like they could barely make it from one side of the boat to the other. A few flies died not long after arriving-- too spent, I suppose, to enjoy the free ride. Well, they didn't enjoy it, and neither did I, until their numbers thinned out and we hit some gorgeous water.

Since we were running short on time before nightfall, we decided to stop in Reedville, where the entire town stinks like the fish processing plant upwind. I'm looking forward to the short hop to Deltaville tomorrow.

Solomons Island, MD

We left Annapolis yesterday and unfurled the sails (yay!) down the Chesapeake to Solomon's Island, a small island full of beautiful trees, picnic tables, dogs, touring motorcycles (you know, the ones with radios and cupholders), and, of course, boats. We arrived just before sunset and biked the length of the island, stopping off for some bbq at an outdoor stall blasting Arrested Development Gob's magic theme song (Europe's "The Final Countdown," thanks Shazam) on a radio station called Hair FM. Then we got  some really delicious key lime pie at a far less screechy, laid-back place called Kim's. A pass on a bingo evening, and we tucked in early for a peaceful evening on a mooring, since we'd gotten up at 6:30am and were going to have to again. Not the most exciting day of our trip, but definitely one of the most pleasant so far.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

US Sailboat Show: Parting with money can be fun

Sometimes, like when we discover a rudder has to be replaced, parting with money is absolutely horrendous. Other times, like today, it is very much fun.

Annapolis hosted the first day of the annual US Sailboat Show, and Evan and I went with two minds about it. I wanted to go aboard all the open house yachts. I say yachts, as opposed to sailboats, because most are pretty luxurious and cost more than 100K. These are not the 20+ year-old sailboats Evan and I come across. Evan, on the other hand, wanted to talk shop and do business with trade vendors, since he'd already visited the boat show once and drooled over the boats he couldn't have.

So Evan went to do errands, and I went up and down the docks visiting boats. And I was surprised to find that I really only lusted after one boat: a 30-foot racing yacht from Turkey called Sensei.

Beautiful teak decks and very clever design!/album.php?aid=155946&id=167917876417
All the other yachts left me unimpressed. Sure, some were huge. Others had microwaves and fancy fridges. Most had big bathrooms. But the wood finishes felt surprisingly thin in a lot of the boats, and the metal hardware on cabinets and such felt flimsy. I wouldn't pay $200,000+ even if I had it. I soon left the fancy yachts and rejoined Evan, and how much more fun were the tents full of vendors! I came away with two bags--one tote and one pouch--made from recycled sails; a great polartec anorak (less than $25!); shampoo/body soap that lathers even in saltwater; and a bunch of free pens. Little (but happy) fish in the pool of big spenders (a large number of which were wearing ballooning-pelvis pants, aka pleated khakis).

Day trip to Baltimore

Yesterday we rented a car and drove up to Baltimore. We started off in Fells Point, which is an old waterfront part of town, much like South Street Seaport and Fulton Street in New York.

We grabbed lunch at a no-frills diner called Jimmy's Restaurant under an autographed photo of Bill Cosby with Jimmy. This was on my paper placemat.


The Philly cheesesteak I had was good that it took me immediately back to my college days in Philly. The cheesesteaks I had during school came from a nondescript food truck, and I had one almost every day. The other things I ate on a daily basis were Korean bulgogi, also from a food truck, and Papa John's pizza. I really do not remembering eating much else.

After lunch, we walked a little north of Fells Point. Pubs and clothing boutiques gave way to Hispanic groceries, social clubs and churches. One building caught my eye and we paused, for in each second-story windowsill, there was a pigeon or two roosting and looking down at us. Then we looked through the first-floor storefront, which was all glass, reflecting the bright buildings across the street, and we noticed it was an old-school barbershop. Evan said he needed a haircut, so he went in. While I debated whether to take a picture of the pigeons, the barber came out and threw a few crumpled slices of white bread onto the sidewalk. The pigeons swooped down, and a few more from the neighborhood flew in too. Despite the fact that I have softened considerably towards pigeons ever since my law firm days, where I shared an office with an off-duty animal rights activist for a year, I do still flinch when a whole bunch of them swoop around me at once.

the real birds
spot the fake birds
So I hurried into the barbershop. It looked exactly as though the last twenty or so years had never happened, and it turned out that the barber, Julio Rodriguez, has been cutting hair there for 37 years. He gave Evan a haircut I've never seen on Evan, very short, which I liked very much!

Then we headed off to the American Visionary Art Museum in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. The museum showcases artists who are self-taught and/or "outsiders" (mentally ill, homeless, recluses, e.g.). WOW. Museum art rarely carries such a visceral impact. The "outsiders" used a lot of broken glass and mirrors in sculptural paintings, a choice of material that was eloquent both visually and politically. Much of the art was also incredibly playful and made you feel like a kid all over again: home-made robots, giant pedicab floats, and wooden models.

Where next? We decided on a whim to go see Fort McHenry. Sadly, we pulled up to the gate were a National Parks ranger told us we had five minutes. That was exactly enough time to pull into the parking lot, hop out and get within a few hundred feet, survey the land and water around it, and run back to the car to make it out on time. Spontaneity has its pitfalls sometimes.

Dinnertime took us to the north of Baltimore for our reservation at Woodberry Kitchen. (This I planned days in advance!) We were early, so we parked and walked a bit of the Jones Falls trail in Druid Hill Park, a path through a very wild park. After half an hour, the woods opened onto manicured lawns that had strange looking things that a few guys in their 20s and 30s were throwing small frisbees at from a long distance. It turns out that it's a sport called disc golf, and it even has a professional association. If you've never seen it, here's a YouTube video of a guy playing it in Druid Hill Park. (Warning: It's 9 minutes long.)

On our way back to the restaurant, we walked past a down-on-its-heels public playground.

It was hard to believe that less than three blocks away were brand-new, very modern-designy homes in the redeveloped Clipper Mill that, it turns out, start at $499,000. After dinner, the drive home took us past more of the same urban neglect that the playground had given us a taste of. We passed through west Baltimore on our way to the highway back to Annapolis, and what we saw had Evan and me wondering if this is where "The Wire" took place. (We haven't seen the show, unlike every person we know who's ever heard of Baltimore.) First we saw a few houses boarded up, then a few more, then entire blocks. As Brian, the Baltimore native who fixed our watermaker, said when we told him that New York was pretty much transformed from how it was in the 70s and 80s,

"That's good to hear. There might be hope for Baltimore after all."

Let's hope so, because Baltimore has so much of some of what makes for a great city: history, great food, eccentrics, diversity, a unique beauty, and charisma.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Visiting Land Life

Last night, Evan and I took advantage of a sailor friend's offer to use his Vespa to get around town, and we drove in the evening chill to watch "The Town" at Bow-Tie Cinemas, a 15-minute drive outside the historic downtown area of Annapolis. (Good but 95% on RottenTomatoes?) I was thrilled to be doing something from my everyday life before cruising, much like I was thrilled to go out on a sailboat when I lived on land. It's odd, what becomes a treat in what context.

Today, though, was an even bigger treat in terms of reliving my landlubber days. After Evan and I strolled around historic downtown in the early afternoon, I spent the rest of the day doing some of my favorite things that are impossible to do on the boat:

--turtling around used bookshops;
--petting every dog whose owner says yes;
--walking aimlessly and taking pictures;
--enjoying the smell of flowers and trees and and wafts of cologne/perfume from people passing by;
--hanging out in a window seat at the local coffeeshop, people-watching with pen, notebook and coffee; and
--chatting with complete strangers over a counter.

Ah, the pleasures of life on land, especially in an actual city.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Yesterday we put another 10 hours under our belt as we sailed down the Chesapeake Bay from Chesapeake City to Annapolis. It was a gorgeous day with plenty of sun and little waves. Sadly, there was practically no wind, so we motored. We skirted lobster and crab pots, a few tankers, and plenty of speedboats and other sailboats.

Then we passed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which marks your entrance in Annapolis waters. The water glittered sequin-like with late afternoon light, and *that's* when we saw what a popular boating spot looks like.

We will stay here for a few days before moving on to explore some of the many detours off the Chesapeake. After that, Norfolk, VA.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Chesapeake City pics

Sun, at last!

Rainy day yesterday:

Groceries, or "Here, take my car!"

During the one break in yesterday's nearly non-stop, 24-hour downpour here in Chesapeake City, MD, Evan and I set out with our recently-acquired, collapsible granny cart to see the town and get some groceries. Chesapeake City is actually not a city, but a historic village of wooden houses dating back to the mid-1800s, so it came as no surprise to discover that the village has no grocery store. Our only hope, a storefront marked General Store, turned out to be a giftshop.

The nearest gas station convenience store was over a mile away, and the nearest supermarket about six miles. No public transportation. We decided to give the gas station store a try for eggs and veggies and such.  We snapped pics of neat old houses on our way out of the village, but then the sidewalk ended and it was time to concentrate on avoiding cars and cart-destroying pebbles. It also dawned on us, now that walking to the store was no longer that scenic, to call ahead and see if the gas station store even had what we wanted. It didn't.

So we turned around and retraced our steps; we would just have to wait for Annapolis to get our groceries. Two minutes later, a woman stopped her SUV to ask if we were ok. We told her we were fine, just looking for a grocery store! She said ok, glad we weren't stranded, and drove off.

When we reached the edge of the village proper, the screen door to a small white wooden house sprang open, and a tall man came out and asked us if we were looking for something. He'd seen us pass the first time, then again this time, and figured we might need help. We told him about our hunt for groceries, and he said, "That's way on the other side of the bridge. Can't walk that. I can drive you if you want. I'm just hanging out here."

What? Evan and I couldn't believe it! Was it the granny cart? Walking to and fro with no obvious destination in sight? To top it off, then he said, "Or you can take my car! Here, take the car. I trust you." He went in and fetched the keys and handed them to Evan. (Hmph). I asked him his name; it was Jeff, and we shook hands all around.  Off we went, Evan and I driving a slightly beat-up Volvo to Redner's Warehouse--Employee Owned supermarket, which was miles away. I still couldn't believe Jeff trusted us to take his car! And he'd have done it without knowing our names! He wasn't even a sailor! (Boat people, like Gary back in Manasquan, often offer to drive cruisers around on errands because they have been in their shoes before.)

Then we got to Redner's, and I have to say I was impressed. I don't know why I have the impression that American supermarkets should be, by and large, crappy and full of only processed food, because so far that hasn't been the case. (I think my prejudice stems from one popular explanation for American obesity, which is that most Americans don't get unprocessed, fresh food in their supermarkets. Based on my short experience so far, I would guess it's not so much that fresh ingredients are completely unavailable as Americans might not choose or know how to cook with them. But I digress a la Jamie Oliver.) ShopRite in Manasquan was great, and Redner's here was amazing! It had KIMCHI! It also had great organic selection too. Prices were extremely reasonable, much lower than, say, Gristede's back in NY. We got more than eggs and veggies, needless to say.

After we'd dropped our groceries off on the boat, we drove back to Jeff's with cookies and chocolate for him. He came out as we were parking, thanked us for the goodies with a "Glad I could help!" and that was that. I was a little disappointed not to chat with him and get to know a little about him, but wow, he really did offer his car just to be of help.