Friday, January 15, 2016

Failure to Launch

It sounds cute when it's a fun filled movie complete with quirky characters and popular actors, but for cruisers the term Failure to Launch isn't fun at all.


Today was the day we were supposed to put the Knotty Cat in the water and make our great escape.

It didn't happen.

I'm probably partially to blame for this as last night I bemoaned the fact that unlimited hot baths, comfortable king size beds, and being able to jump into a car at a moments notice was soon to be history. Be careful what you wish for.

Yesterday when we initially visited the Knotty Cat I was relieved to have overcast skies and cool temperatures since we would be working outside for most of the time. I have to admit though that even with these conditions we were still sweating at the end of the day (that damn Florida humidity just never goes away) and I hoped today would be just as cool.

At 9 AM this morning, just as I was drying my hair (when will I learn that any attempt at taming my hair in Florida is a direct invitation to trouble?), the marina called to inform us that all launches for the day were being cancelled due to the weather. We looked out the window and, Holy Crap! We could barely see the whipping palm trees through the slashing rain. And just to make things more interesting there was a tornado warning until 5 PM. You can imagine what Wilbur thought when Hans took him out for his morning constitutional. So then another decision had to be made. We'd used up the last of our credit card points for this hotel room which meant we'd have to come up with cash for tonight. Or we could try for a room at a hotel where we still had some credit. The hotel with the credit had just one room remaining and would only accept pets under 25 pounds. And while Wilbur has been on an odd kind of hunger strike lately, no way could we diet him down to that weight in one day.


This doesn't even do justice. Outside our hotel window. It just dumped rain.

My jeans were soaked nearly to my knees after trekking through Walmart's parking lot. It rained so hard a frog leaped into our car when Hans opened the door. We don't pick up hitchhikers so out he went!


So we ponied up the money for one more night here and then went on a provisioning run.

Provisioning. It kills me. I don't like shopping to begin with but starting from scratch yet once again...it drives me nuts! Salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, coffee, do I need sugar? flour? Not really so I'll skip those for now. Lunch meat, bread (Hans and I never agree about bread, but since I was the one shopping... he had to sit in the car with Wilbur), condiments? I bought mustard, laundry detergent (there went a chunk of change), back to the spice section for cumin and chili powder (no way can I make chile without those), TV dinners for tonight (yay for hotel room microwaves), and on and on. A couple of hundred dollars later I was done and I've barely scratched the surface, but it's a start.


We've been told to arrive at the boat yard as early as possible tomorrow as they will now have two days worth of boats going in the water. It's a long drive and arising before the crack of noon isn't my thing.

Why do I have a feeling there will be a long line ahead of us and it won't make a bit of difference when we get there.


Oh, one more thing. I've lost count of how many posts I've written about our (completely outdated yet thank god we have them or we'd be totally screwed) solar panels. If I've said it once, I've said it a bazillion times; we've nearly lost them too many times and we need to be more careful with them yada, yada, yada.

Did we learn any lessons? Apparently not, because after putting up all our canvas (dodger and bimini, and aren't they just wonderful 'wind catchers'? I'm glad we didn't remove our hurricane straps) before we departed the boat yard yesterday, we also decided to leave the solar panels out in order to 'juice up' the batteries. Sure!! Because one day of solar power is really gonna make a big difference after not being used for nearly seven months! Duh!


So once again I'm not looking forward to what we may find tomorrow.

 

Wilbur loves his new nest and would prefer to stay



Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Whole Dirty Story

 

After sitting for nearly seven months on the hard, our Knotty Cat welcomed us back today with filthy open arms.

Oh, my, where to start.

Well, she's just plain filthy.

Mildew. This seat was spotless when we left last summer.


I moved a line and this stain remained. Only one spot among many.


I feel like we left our teenager alone for the summer with hopes of her showing some personal responsibility and making us proud. Instead, it would appear our girl partied the summer away knowing full well we'd clean up her mess upon our return. We found dried up frog/toad carcasses scattered on the deck, wasp nests, too many cocoons containing God knows what, a half finished bird nest, tarnished stainless rails and lifelines, grimy dirt, and it was obvious that hygiene went straight out the window as everything that wasn't covered in bird poop was covered with a green haze.


Our dinghy outboard is mounted on a rail. You can just make out some branches from a bird nest in the middle.


You can see it a little bit closer.


Tarnished stainless rails.


But first, we needed to hoist Wilbur aboard. Remember, our boat is on the hard which means the deck is way up in the air and we can't just step aboard. We need to climb the skimpy swim ladder that drops down from the stern. This means that at 5 feet 0 inches I have to lift my leg up somewhere in the vicinity of my armpits in order to get a good foot hold (and yoga is not one of my strengths). And since Wilbur is shorter than me, we had to strap him into his life jacket and when he saw us drop the main sheet over the side in order to tie it around his middle he went ape-shit. Wilbur has the memory of an elephant and I'm pretty sure he recalled us doing this exact same thing to him years ago when the line got tangled and he ended up doing an unplanned mid-air somersault.


"As God is my witness, I will never be hoisted again!"


We finally got the little man aboard and then proceeded to assess the situation. I made Hans go below first as I felt if there was a nightmare to be discovered, he could handle it far better than me and I was thrilled beyond belief that nothing major seemed to be amiss.

We put our solar panels out and they immediately began charging our batteries.

After yanking the hell out of the generator cord it finally caught and also started charging the batteries.

Our inverter decided to work even though it was a big stinker at the end of our trip last year and only performed when it felt like it.

I was able to prime the water pump (we'll find out about the hot water tank tomorrow), our cabin lights work, the refrigerator hummed for the couple of minutes we turned it on, and we didn't find any major water damage from leaks.

I will admit that I was disappointed to find that the phifertex shield that wraps around what I call our 'windows' (official term is dead lights) failed. We had this wrap made for us a few years ago and it keeps the tropical sun out of the inside of the boat. The problem is that it's held in place with glued on snaps and not snaps that are drilled into the boat. I found some gorilla type Velcro on the boat and I'm going to see if I can fix it on the cheap. We really don't want to drill holes if not necessary.


Failed phifertex. I hope to fix this tomorrow.

But, I have to say, I believe my happiest moment occurred when I realized that even though our girl partied the summer away like it was 1999, we came home to a boat absent of crabs cockroaches.


I can live with that.

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to the Boat and Reality

 

Poor Wilbur. He has one tiny space in the back seat. He's a good traveler.

 

So six months after putting The Knotty Cat on the hard in Florida for what we thought was going to be a couple of months, we are now ready to get back on board.

Everyone keeps asking us if we're excited. Hans will tell you yes. Me, not so much.

I think this is probably because Hans handles problems in a much calmer manner than me. I already dread finding out what's gone bad or failed since we left her in June. For example: did any hatches leak during the insane rains of this summer (and if so, is there mold?), are the batteries okay, do all the systems still work, how about the water pump; the hot water tank? And my one big fear; cockroaches! We've never had them but you never know what might happen while you're gone. And if we do have a lot of issues, we really don't have the financial reserves that we had in the past. Hans quit his real job over a year ago and we managed to rip through most of our savings in about six months.

While we were in Pennsylvania this summer I worked as a waitress while Hans continued his insurance sales as a PA and Florida agent. And then in November when business got busy at the inn, he joined me and played the piano in the dining room on the weekends.

This year's Christmas tree.

 

Lunch with Santa this year. Five years ago I burned my elf outfit swearing I'd never do this again. Never say never!


I know a lot of cruisers take time out to earn money so they can continue to live this lifestyle but for us, these jobs just supported us while we were on land. Let me tell you, the Dollar Tree and Dollar General got quite a bit business from us this summer. Of the two of us, I'm the tightwad, and one day at the grocery store I told Hans we had exactly twenty dollars to spend on groceries for the week. We got lucky and chicken was on sale. That week we had: white chicken chile (McCormick's best seasoning packet ever), grilled chicken salad, grilled chicken with fresh green beans, and two days worth of crock-pot chicken noodle soup (I used a pack of frozen vegetables but forgot potatoes. It was still good).

The inn closed with a success on New Year's Eve and it was time to head south. We stopped in Pittsburgh for a couple of days to visit friends, spent two days with my son and his wife, and then three days with my daughter. Our last two days here in Florida at a pet friendly LaQuinta Hotel used up the remaining points on our credit card.


Don't get me wrong. We may not be rich but we're not destitute either. We'll just continue to find work where we can and in the meantime we'll still have a roof over our heads.


Where we go from here, I'm not sure. I have an idea where I'd like to go but until we get re-situated it's all up in the air.


Our hotel mattress tester. This one got 5 stars.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Continues to be Interesting

A beautiful fall day in Pennsylvania


When we put the Knotty Cat on the hard in June and came back to Pennsylvania, it was with the intention of staying a few months and then heading back to Florida (actually today marks the day we planned on being on our way). But if there's anything I've learned in my lifetime, it's that most plans are written in sand and subject to change.


Yes, our plans have changed and in a weird twist we've somehow experienced a bit of role reversal too.


For the four years we lived in a marina in Florida, Hans had a full time job while I held down the fort on our boat taking care of the dog, the laundry, the cooking, the beer management... I guess you could say we had a typical 1950's kind of lifestyle.


But even though Hans was gainfully employed, we both agreed that neither of us was getting any younger and so Hans quit his job, we went cruising, and blew through about a years worth of savings in six months. At the beginning of this year we left the St. Petersburg area and headed south. We were lucky to get to the Dry Tortuga's and Key West before jumping over to the Bahamas. We pounded across the banks to the Exumas but of course this had to be the worst weather the Bahamas had experienced in the last thirty years and because of this we failed to reach Georgetown. At the end of the day I really don't care because we ended up sitting in Blackpoint Settlement for nearly two weeks, and as far as I'm concerned, it just didn't get much better than that. Our cruising friends even named our happy hour sight, 'Wilbur Beach', after our lovable pit bull.

Unfortunately, at one point during our time in the Exumas, we were out of GPS range (no internet or phone) for nearly two weeks and upon calling home I learned that my dad had been in the hospital. When we returned to the states Hans and I decided to put our girl on the hard and 'head home' for a couple of months. And this is where it got interesting.


How to get around (we had no car), where to live (we had no house), what to live on (we had no jobs). But we forged ahead anyway. It was during a conversation with a friend from whom I'd previously purchased three Corollas (and soon ended up with my fourth) that we miraculously found a place to stay. A couple of days after arriving here I was sadly informed of the death of a former coworker. Upon attending her memorial service I met up with many of my former coworkers and they asked me if I was coming back to work with them. "Oh, no, it's thirty miles away from where we're living," I said. The following week I hit the floor, stumbling running. So just like that, we had a car (thanks to a 3% transfer fee, interest free, credit card loan), a wonderful basement apartment (you have a pit bull? No problem!), and my old waitressing job at an historic inn.

But, time was flying by quickly and then we realized that since open enrollment takes place during the month of November, Hans, being an insurance agent, couldn't possibly do his job and navigate our boat down the Intracoastal Waterway at the same time. So we said, "What the heck, let's stay through the end of the month." But then what about Christmas? This year we can't afford to turn around and fly back for just a few days and anyway that's also when things get super busy at the inn. But wait! It will also be time for us to move out of the place we're currently living. And then another miracle occurred; we were offered a place to stay in the town where I have my job and as an added bonus, Hans is the now the dining room pianist on Friday and Saturday nights! The family that works together.... (I just hope we don't have a knock-down-drag-out-fight in the middle of the dining room some evening).

The other night Hans remarked, "You got us a car, a place to live, and you've found work for both of us."

"That's okay sweetie," I said. "And after you walk the dog, be a dear and fix me a drink."

Is there nothing we won't do for a buck?


Never underestimate a Northwestern, Pennsylvania woman.


Wilbur's happy as long as he's with his fambly!


 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A great reason to come home





On 7/11, Hans and I attended my son's wedding.

It started on a Thursday when the parents of the groom met the parents of the bride for the very first time, and I realize in this day and age of helicopter parents this is a bit unusual. But, we live many states away, my son is 32 years old, and we'd already met his future bride (a fabulous girl) and loved her, but I do realize her parents might have been wondering about us.

I have to admit we had to do a bit of scrambling to prepare for the big event. After putting the boat on the hard, we drove a rental car to Pennsylvania where we then found a place to stay for the summer, ditched the rental and bought a car (that we'll sell after we go back to Florida this fall), and I fell into a job. We then had two weeks to get ready. I'd already buzzed Hans' head with clippers I purchased at Walmart (no more Christopher Lloyd look for him), and I, who had been cutting my own hair with rusty scissors for three months, was now sporting a style I can only refer to as a Bahamian mullet with gray roots. However, I was very careful and didn't cut it so short that it couldn't be fixed before the big day.

So, in addition to a good cut and color, I needed some clothes that weren't sweat stained and full of holes. After visiting a local upscale department store, along with the Salvation Army and having no luck (I've found some of my greatest buys at 'Sally's'), I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to drive over an hour away to a mall, and I hate malls. As it happened, I found myself in the vicinity of a consignment store that I'd shopped at many times in the past and not only did I find a dress for the rehearsal dinner, I found one for the wedding. Add a pair of Payless shoes ordered blindly online, I was good to go.

I love this dress!



Hans and the groom

Friday, the rehearsal dinner was very wisely held at the hotel so no driving was involved, and I was looking forward to a hot bath as I had to be up bright and early in the morning for make-up and hair with the girls. However, Hans' brother and his partner arrived very late from Toronto and of course we invited them to our suite for a get together and didn't end up getting to bed until around 1AM. We had a great time but needless to say, late night hours don't sit quite as well on my mid-fifty self the way they did years ago and I'm afraid I created quite a challenge to the make-over team the next morning. And after years of living on the boat I'm not used to wearing a lot of makeup and when I looked in the mirror I couldn't help but think of Baby Jane, so when I got back to my room I rubbed a good bit of it off.
 
Hans and his baby brother

Selfie Stick fun during the hair and makeup session. A super nice group of girls

The ceremony was performed by the same priest who married the bride's parents thirty-two years ago (actually, their wedding was his first). He's well into his 80's now and we all held our breath when his feet got tangled in the aisle runner and it looked like he was gonna take a header right into the bride and groom but, thankfully, he stayed on his feet. This very same priest (who was so sweet and had a wonderful sense of humor) also performed the bride's brother's wedding last year and I was told he inadvertently had them repeat their vows twice. Now that's a marriage that should surely stick.

The reception venue was incredible (and as a veteran waitress I should know). The weather cooperated beyond belief which meant guests could mingle and enjoy drinks and appetizers both inside and outside before the actual reception began. Thanks to the DJ (and believe me a DJ can make or break a reception), the dance floor was never empty and if the guests weren't dancing, they were in the photo booth. Now, the last time I saw a photo booth was way back when I was a teenager and 50 cents would buy you 4 black and white pictures (of such poor quality they would fade within weeks of their development) of you and your weird friends. Well, times have changed and in this new digital age we were offered all kinds of props and masks like Super Heroes etc... so Hans and I opted for the police line up theme. All I can say is, I really hope to never be arrested as I'd hate for that picture to be blasted over the Internet, it was that bad.


As a waitress, I know hours went into setting this up. Inside those envelopes were scratch off lottery tickets. We didn't win anything but someone at the next table won $50.00


And I guess no wedding is complete without the horribly uncomfortable guest known as the Drunk Uncle. However, in our case it was the Drunk Usher.

Drunk Usher gave the toast at the rehearsal dinner. Actually, it was an oddly satyrical, yet nice toast, in that he pointed out the typical teenage and college obstacles our son faced and over came through the years, culminating in a successful career and marriage to such a wonderful girl. And like a ticking time bomb Drunk Usher then proceeded to socialize with many friends and family members from both sides. While some of his questions and comments could have been taken the wrong way by a few (he was later escorted to his room after falling asleep face down at the hotel bar) they really weren't, and luckily no explosions occurred. I didn't realize the extent of all this until early the next morning when the bridal party and I, while waiting in the lobby before departing for our makeup, were laughing ourselves silly over Drunk Usher's antics.

My son called me in a panic and my soon-to-be-daughter-in-law was mortified.

The bridesmaids and I assured one and all that Drunk Usher said absolutely nothing to offend any of us. However, don't think my son wasn't sweating bullets when it came time for the wedding toast, but by that time Drunk Usher was on his best behavior, and most likely fearing for his life, didn't speak. The rest of the evening flew by and I felt sorry for my son who seemed to constantly be on the run chasing down people at the behest of their three photographers. He later compared it to herding cats and also said he intended to sleep for the solid week of his honeymoon.

Another wise move on the bridal couples' part was to provide a shuttle service from the reception to the hotel, so when the evening ended somewhere around 2 AM, everyone was safely delivered back to their room.

Like I said before; for me, this was the wedding of the century. And while I've never desired to step back in time for even a second, I would re-live that weekend over in a heartbeat. It was just that great.

However, one thing I would change; I would not attempt to read a brand new library book in the bathtub after such an exhausting day. I may not have drowned but that stupid book ended up setting me back $28.95.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Adjusting to Life on the Hard


I'm woefully behind on my posts. I've yet to write about our return crossing from the Bahamas, our bizarre trip up the ICW where we put the Knotty Cat on the hard, and our road trip home. Since we've arrived here I've been busy beyond belief, but if only for my own reference I will surely get those posts written. Someday.


So, after living aboard our Knotty Cat for nearly four years at a marina in Florida (with a few small sailing excursions tossed in), and then actively cruising for 5 months, we've become northern landlubbers.

It's a temporary thing as we hope to get our girl back in the water this November and spend the winter, sans snow, in Florida, but in the meantime my son is getting married this weekend and we've neglected family for far too long. I love our boat and it is our real home, but I'm also excited to be back north where we have more than a couple of days to catch up with friends and family.

I discovered that after using a VHF radio for so long, it took a few days to get used to talking on a telephone. I found myself wanting to say, "Copy that," instead of, "Uh-huh," and, "Stand by," instead of, "Wait a second." It was also strange to not ask, upon awakening, "What's the weather like?" Many times during our drive north in our rental vehicle we commented on what we thought might be storm clouds and Hans would check the local weather info now that we had cell phone coverage.

We've both found ourselves still utilizing 'boat style' water consumption. Tooth brushing, dish washing, showering etc... water is turned on long enough to get whatever it is we're washing wet, turned off during the lathering process, then back on again for the final rinse. I'm able to take a full shower complete with washing my hair with a single gallon of water. And when we crossed back to the states and had no idea how much water was remaining in our tanks I took a shower with two cups of water. I certainly don't want to do this all the time but it does show how much water we can conserve if we really try.

One of the strangest adjustments we've dealt with has concerned Wilbur. Gone are the days where we sit below in the salon reading or watching TV with the companionway door open and Wilbur zips out into the cockpit, relieves himself on his potty patch, and then hops down below and puts himself to bed. We now have to leash him several times a day in order to take him out, and also just before bedtime (pajamas be damned). And if it's been raining... well, we have a little hot house flower on our hands and he doesn't like to get wet. We also make a point of wiping his paws every time he comes back in the house whether they need it or not. One downside though that I need to mention is the lack of doggy day care and boarding facilities here. We've traveled up and down the east coast with Wilbur and have stayed in many marinas and hotels along with taking him to parks and day care centers. He's always been welcome and he's never caused a problem. So you can imagine how stunned I was when Wilbur was turned down at a nearby day care center. They didn't like the expression on his face. I lucked out though when I found a kennel that doesn't mind pit bulls and I now have a place for him to stay during the wedding since for some reason he wasn't invited.


Yeah, that's a scary face.


Last night I took Wilbur out into the damp late evening and marveled at the sight of lightning bugs (or fire flies), and listened to the loud chirping of the tree peepers. How many times as a kid did I collect lightning bugs in a jar (only to find them all dead the next day)? And how could I have forgotten falling asleep to the sound of those little tree frogs? It's been a long time. When I told Hans about the hummingbird that flitted around Wilbur and me tonight, he was jealous. Hans has never seen a hummingbird 'in the wild' as he puts it. I hope that changes this summer.

 

We've landed in a small town with one stop light, houses with porch swings, sidewalks, and complete within walking distance; locally owned hardware and grocery stores, a library converted from a church, a dairy isle (our first local purchase took place here), a post office, a (really good) pizza place , a very clean laundromat, a family restaurant, a couple of bars, an excellent Chinese take out (set incongruously in a beautiful Victorian home), a thrift store, and be still our hearts; a liquor store and beer distributor. And there's even a lake close by where Hans has crewed a couple of times in some sailing races. I swear I'm gonna run into Beaver Cleaver and Eddie Haskell any time now.

Sailing dinghies


I consider ourselves fortunate that we're able to do this. It's nice to get off the boat for a while, explore a new town, and enjoy a summer away from the heat of Florida. I know when fall arrives and it starts to get cold here we'll be more than happy to move back aboard, but for now this is our life.

 

I guess Hans and I are officially snow birds.

A very common sight

 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm With Stupid.

 

Poor Wilbur lies atop my foul weather gear. It was used far too often during this trip.


When we reached the end of our voyage and reversed our route to head home from the Bahamas, we suffered a disastrous re-crossing of the Exumas Banks from Nassau to Cat Cay, and 'I'm With Stupid' is what I truly feel our boat should be named. I'm not kidding when I say we experienced a text book Sail Magazine 'what we did wrong' with very little of 'what we did right' kind of experience.


We departed Palm Cay Marina (where we performed a successful surgery on Windy), anchored in West Bay for a night, and then crossed the Northwest Channel (with a touch of the Tongue of the Ocean) the next day. Along with a cruising couple who'd left us in Blackpoint in order to reach Georgetown and then actually caught back up with us, we dropped the hook together at the Northwest Shoal anchorage for the night. We were feeling pretty darn good about everything and early the next morning we both hoisted our mains at anchor and beat it for the long trek to Cat Cay just south of Bimini.

The wind was perfect, we put out the jib, shut the engines down and exalted in a beautiful day at full sail, until the wind died at noon. So we furled the jib and let the main do its thing.

At one point we noticed a line dangling in front of our dodger and were shocked to find it was the topping lift from our boom. Hans had tied it with a bowline knot and a couple of half-hitches several years ago and I guess after all the slamming and banging we endured over the last couple of months it finally gave way. The fully raised mast is what kept the boom from swinging around like a billy club (or smashing down on our on bimini). So while under sail Hans was able to tie it back to the boom.

Not long after that I remarked that I didn't like the look of the clouds way off to our port side and shouldn't we drop the main? Since we now had next to no wind and about seven hours to go (we'd already been underway for five) Hans agreed. Why I didn't say something, I don't know, but when we started furling the main into the boom I thought it sounded strange. Damn! The topping lift Hans had tied off earlier had too much slack in it and was now caught in the boom furling mechanism tight as a drum. And there was no releasing it. We had no choice but to drop the main onto the boom and try to secure it. Our main is new and crackly and stiff, so dropping it was a chore. We ended up with each of us standing on either side of the boat while we tossed a long dock line back and forth over and under the boom and cinched it tight. In that short amount of time we got pretty soaked because those pesky clouds I'd spotted earlier had moved in and it had started raining.

Our main lashed to the boom.


Whew! we said, aren't we glad that's out of the way and cranked up the engines just as the shit hit the fan. The non-existent wind kicked up and we were suddenly seeing 20 plus knots on the beam and it kept getting worse. Poseidon then pulled a filthy shower curtain around the Knotty Cat and let loose with all kinds of mayhem. The wind continued to build, and our boom, thanks to our lashed down yet billowing main sail, started swinging back and forth with a vengeance. We ended up utilizing yet one more dock line and this time we tied it around our main sheet and yanked it tight to a rail. I leaned out and ventured a peek at the main, shuddered, and staggered back to helm where I stood for the next five hours in the wind and rain. Wilbur, who normally stays with us in the cockpit, hustled his little pitty butt down below when the rain started slashing through the cockpit.


That black line tied to the main sheet kept the boom in place


We slalomed and slid up and down the waves that had built quickly and they were pretty sizable considering we were only in 12 feet of water. I'd hate to think what we would have experienced if we'd still been in the Tongue of the Ocean which is thousands of feet deep. The wind settled in at a steady 30+knots, the gray clouds continued to empty buckets of water on top of us, and while Hans sat in the captain's seat, I found I was most comfortable standing and grasping the handles of the helm and companion way with each hand (the next day I wondered why all my knuckles ached). I ventured down below in an attempt to use the head and even though I did my usual crab walk I still managed to get body slammed into a couple of walls.

Every time I slid the companion way door open to check on Wilbur, I was apprised of yet one more horror taking place down below. Stuff was falling all over the place, and when Wilbur expressed interest in coming up top, he immediately lost his footing and fell heavily on his side. He turned tail and shot back down below where he panted heavily even though he had plenty of water. At one point he stood with his front legs on the companion way steps and it wasn't until later that I figured out why. The settee where he would usually lie now contained along with various miscellany, our heavy road rocker, and our berth (I didn't get down there until we anchored) where he likes to nap, was covered with tons of books. These books reside on a shelf in the center-most part of the boat and I'm still amazed that they fell. I finally quit looking down below when I saw the garbage can had tipped over and my 'First Mate' Tervis Tumbler was in pieces on the floor.

And once again we forgot to roll up our portable solar panels but I'd tied them down pretty securely on top of our upside down dinghy stowed on the bow. Except; Dear God! I'd forgotten to secure the dinghy itself to the deck and a couple of hours into our little adventure I was horrified, when we fell hard to starboard, to see the dinghy slide in an alarming fashion across the deck and come to rest on the lifelines. Hans forbade me to go up front and try to fix the situation I'd put us into but I was afraid the dinghy would become airborne and take out our fore stay. This also put a huge strain on the solar panel connectors because they were now stretched to the limit and we'd already ripped those connections apart in Ft. Myers.

I guess there's something to be said for wishful thinking because for the next few hours (and I mean hours!) I stood there clutching the helm and willed that damn dinghy to stay in place. It did. Finally, the wind and rain started to ebb and at around 7PM we finally motored into Cat Cay and dropped the hook in surprisingly calm water. We stripped off our foul weather gear and after comparing our pruny fingers and toes we set about straightening up the boat. I was totally beat and after our friends expressed their intention to cross the Gulf Stream to the USA the next morning I told Hans no way was I up for that. We didn't have enough weather information and I also felt that after such a long strenuous day we shouldn't push ourselves.

Of course the next day turned out to be a perfect 'crossing' day and the Atlantic resembled a huge mirror; absolutely calm with zero waves. By the time we realized this, it was too late.

If this were that Sail Magazine article I'd list what we did wrong along with what we did right, but you can already see what we did wrong along with basically nothing done right.

Thank goodness for Lady Luck.

 


At the end of the day; our friends from Island Bound heeling nicely.