Friday, December 31, 2010
My favorite New Year's Eve memories are the years my son (who will be 28 this April) and I spent watching Nickelodeon's Count Down while we held night long Yahtzee marathons.
This New Year's Eve finds Hans, Wilbur, and me in our little apartment along with my youngest daughter, who, while on Christmas break, is apparently suffering from a nasty bout of food poisoning (I'm not sure if she'll ever order a grilled chicken sandwich from a mini mart again). So far today, all she's been able to ingest is: one bite of toast, some Gatorade, and a half can of coke. Wilbur has been full of sympathy and has spent far too much of his time with his head deep in the toilet with my baby girl who could really do without his concern.
Maybe not the best way to start off a new year but hopefully things will get better.
This Thursday, Hans, Wilbur, and I will drive to Charleston, South Carolina where our Knotty Cat has been languishing since the beginning of November. We will then restart our journey south to Florida, and hopefully the Bahamas.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I found one big roll of wrapping paper at Target (can you tell!) and still have a ton left over.
One of the only safe places to keep everyone's gifts was on top of Wilbur's crate (a place he avoids at all costs but still ended up spending some time out on Christmas Eve**).
**where bad little pitties go who eat things they aren't allowed to.
Hans is a Leo so I was very happy to find a cute little lion ornament that I taped to one of his gifts.
Wilbur was very happy too (STUFFY!).
We caught him with Hans' lion before he did too much damage.
Monopoly! For the boat!
When I first met Hans a few years ago he reminisced about the time he and his two brothers nearly came to blows over a game of Monopoly. Insults (Socialist! Greedy Pig!...) flew and the game only ended when the board, tokens, motels, and money went flying in all directions.
Of course I thought this was terribly endearing and asked, "How old were you?" expecting to hear they were perhaps ten or twelve.
"Oh, it was just a couple of years ago," was the answer.
Last year when I mentioned to Hans' younger brother that we like to play Scrabble and that I hate to lose he said, "Whatever you do don't ever play Monopoly with him, a few years ago he actually made me cry."
So here I am with my present and Hans insisted on taking pictures.
If I'd know pictures were involved I would have done something with my hair.
Wow! A box full of newspaper!
Oops! Here's another present.
I remember doing this very same thing to my grandmother years ago.
Uh-oh, a VistaPrint box.
Please tell me he didn't get me dirty business cards.
Sonofagun another present.
I wondered why the hell I could hear Hans cutting and taping for so long when I knew he only had a couple of presents to wrap.
And finally the last box.
A dolphin pendant for my necklace.
In years past, Hans has given me a sailboat and a light house, and I'm hoping dolphins really are good luck because I'll be wearing this when we get back on the boat.
Wilbur loves the holidays.
At Labor Day he (stole) ate most of a pumpkin pie.
At Thanksgiving he (stole) ate most of a butterscotch creme pie.
And last night on Christmas Eve he ate (stole) a whole bowl of shrimp.
Ahhh! Visions of thirty shrimp tails are dancing and hopefully digesting in his head!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Christmas has come to mean many things to me over the years.
When I was in the first grade it was the sheer excitement of making paper chains for our Christmas tree out of green and red construction paper, watching The Grinch and Rudolph on TV, fighting with my sister over who got to hang what on the tree, Santa Claus, and of course all those wonderful presents.
When I had kids of my own, and it was all about waiting until they were asleep (which seemed to take forever) so I could try to quietly sneak all their presents under the tree, and I can still remember how thrilled they were when I (with a lot of drama) complained that Rudolph and his cronies had left chomped up bits of carrots all over our deck, and did anyone happen to see Santa's sleigh tracks (made at around 3 AM with a broom handle) on the deck?
Then I was suddenly single with two jobs, and three kids who didn't care if I put up a tree or not as long as they got presents. Honestly, I tried to keep the Christmas spirit alive, but it's tough when December was the month the township snowplow knocked over my mail box and when I called my dad for help, I had to first get past my mother (who doesn't have a job but wants to tell me about what a bad day she's had and how my father is driving her crazy). It's the December where it snowed every single day and I found myself shoveling the driveway (in between my two jobs) at both 7 AM and midnight thus leaving me feeling like a wrung out dishrag, or the infamous December when the muffler fell off my car and the starter on my daughter's car died, and the only time I had left to shop for presents was Christmas Eve.
And finally, December is the month of the company Christmas party. The entire month.
Oh sure, Christmas parties are just peachy keen and tons of fun when you're an attendee of one or perhaps two, but just try being a waitress for an entire month times ten years of them and then see how you feel.
Putting up with beer deaf drunks, bossy wives who envision themselves as Mistress of the Manor, discovering the freezer is broke when it comes time to serve 48 scoops of liquid ice cream, struggling with fifty pound trays of dirty dishes on your shoulder all night long because for some reason everyone wants to congregate in the only narrow doorway to the room... I did this for over ten years and I'll never forget the weekend I clocked in over 32 hours (in addition to my full time job) from Friday night to Sunday evening at a beautiful private club.
I still remember how tired I was on Friday night (and was already wondering how the hell I would make it through Sunday) after the first party ended at around 2 AM and we still had to tear down the banquet tables and put up round ones for Saturday's brunch. After Saturday's brunch we tore down those tables, completely rearranged the dining room, ordered pizza, and folded about a thousand napkins in preparation for The Big Party.
The Big Party was thrown by a wealthy local contractor who was a good customer, employed a lot of townspeople, and we were to be on our best behavior.
I knew it would be an interesting night when I saw men arriving in everything from filthy jeans and flannel shirts to leisure suits and cowboy boots, to women in ball gowns and homemade tattoos to flannel shirts and cowboy boots.
At these parties the waitstaff is usually given three to four tables of eight to ten people each. The menu is set; meaning everyone gets the same soup and salad, and a choice of three entrees (beef, fish, chicken, and the occasional vegetarian dish). This allows everything to run smoothly (for the most part) and hopefully a good time is had by all.
I immediately knew I was in trouble when I discovered that one of the men I had to wait on had such tremendous BO that it made my eyes smart and I felt like I had my nose jammed deep in his armpits all night long. He exacerbated the problem by dousing himself with an entire bottle of Aqua Velva and I then spent the rest of the night taking a deep breath before launching myself at his table, expelling it after I left, and ended up feeling like a Japanese pearl diver for the remainder of the evening. I felt very bad for the man at my next table who had a terrible speech impediment and I acted like I didn't notice it at all and was very patient even though we were expected to get our orders to the kitchen 'yesterday'!
No one understood that their Prime Rib would be 'medium' (and no I can not turn medium into rare!) and all the men ordered an end piece. Just how many end pieces do you think a prime rib has I wanted to ask.
As I was madly clearing soup cups, dropping off salads, refilling water goblets, and serving drinks, a man from a neighboring table (not mine) flagged me down, and since I had to be polite and couldn't say "Sorry you're not my station," I was forced to acknowledge him.
He was of the 'filthy jeans' club and he and his cronies were having quite the wild time. He was laughing so hard he could barely speak but unfortunately he did. "I want you (by now he was doubled over with laughter), I want you (snicker, snicker) to take this ( he held up his cup of untouched french onion soup) to that table ( he pointed to a table clear across the room) and tell them (snicker, snicker, and by now his friends were guffawing with laughter too) that it's from me."
I was stunned, decided to take my chances (after all it was my word against his), said, "No," and walked away.
In the middle of trying to serve the main entree one of my customers stopped me and instructed me to watch him. He then went through a very dramatic demonstration wherein he performed a magic trick and bent a spoon. By now I was numb with disbelief as I'd realized earlier in the evening that this particular group of construction workers were the very ones responsible for building the elementary school that all of my children had attended. I still thank God that I never possessed that nugget of information when my kids were younger or I probably would have ended up with ulcers because I surely would not have been able to afford send them to private school.
Anyway, the magician waited with bated breath for my praise.
"Wow!" I exclaimed, and he glowed with pride. "Honest to God!" and here I placed my hand over my heart and he sat up even straighter. "I haven't seen that trick since the sixth grade, and I wasn't impressed with it then either!" As I walked away his friends howled with laughter and punched him in the arm.
I did feel horrible though when the man with the speech impediment gave me hell on one of my trips to his table. He had been shut off at the bar for being drunk, was very upset, and implied that I was the one responsible. I'd only served him one beer and having no idea what he was talking about I assured him I'd done no such thing, but he never did believe or forgive me.
After dinner, along with clearing tables, we were required to continue running drinks for everyone. I was standing at the bar waiting to place an order when the bartender, without missing a beat, and while shaking a whiskey sour said to me, "Laura, would you please go into the kitchen and see if you can find the remainder of this gentleman's tie? He seems to have misplaced it." It took me a moment but I looked at the man next to me and nearly died when I saw that his necktie did indeed stop short about three quarters of the way up his shirt front. I felt my face burn and I waited in horror for the 'gentleman' in question to raise hell about being insulted. Instead, he gave me a big smile and after he left I realized he was same man who'd been ordering CC & gingerale from me all night long (and lucky for me I hadn't noticed the tie issue since he'd been sitting down) but was really getting 'well' whiskey and 7UP because the bartender said he'd never notice.
An executive and his wife got into huge fight and she retaliated by jerking all over the dance floor in her very low cut gown with one of the construction workers, who having no idea he was being used, turned beet red with the unexpected pleasure of being chosen, and the exertion of trying to keep up with her.
The last of the guests left at around 2 AM and once again we had to rearrange the whole dining room for Sunday's brunch. Only then were we finally able to sink our exhausted bodies into the comfortable sofas of the darkened bar and enjoy the moon sitting low over the frozen lake. With beers in hand we gossiped about the single 'sequined evening gown' who seemed to spend quite a bit of time with the married 'Fu Manchu mustache', found out some of the guests had taken bets on which would happen first; the executives wife's dress would 'fail' or her dance partner would drop dead, and tried to figure out a remedy for getting the smell of sour sweat out of my nostrils.
We got through Sunday's brunch, and re-set for a late afternoon company party which I'm sorry to say was very staid and therefor very boring (ie: no sequins, magic tricks, cowboy boots, or dirty dancing), and finally after cleaning up the dining room from that party I went home.
I'm still not overly fond of Christmas, mostly because I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of futility I endured for so many years, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise to hear that I still don't put up a tree or decorate (but I'm not a complete Scrooge and have stored all my treasured ornaments in a box in my sister's basement). But Hans is a whole different story.
You can see Hans has put up not just one, but three trees!!
I just shook my head and said, "Fine, but you're the one who gets to take them down after Christmas!"
Merry Christmas, Happy: Holidays, Hanukkah, and Festivus, or just plain old Bah Humbug to one and all from Laura, Hans, and Wilbur!
Monday, December 13, 2010
This has been a very cold December and no one knows it better than our Wilbur. When we try to get him to go outside to do his business, he does what I call an illegal U-Turn which means he whips around and heads back inside before his hindquarters even get near the frigid cold air.
Today he was terrified and tried to get away from the snow flakes that were falling around him and ended up looking like someone trying to dodge acid rain.
Actually it was kind of sad because he's such a sweet dog and I hate to see him afraid of anything.
I spent today condensing a bunch of food provisions from their cardboard boxes to zip lock bags.
Since Wilbur will be sailing with us, he felt the need to supervise.
I had quite a few Hamburger/Tuna Helper dinners and I was surprised to discover that each and every one of them requires a different amount of water/milk/and butter.
And since I packed more than one type of dinner in each gallon zip lock bag, in addition to including an identifying part of the cardboard front of the box, I also had to cut out the directions. Dear God, this is getting complicated!
Here are the gutted boxes sans their identifying fronts and directions.
Two storage boxes have now been condensed into one!
Now for the mystery of the missing fitted sheet! I mentioned quite awhile back that I'd misplaced one of the custom made fitted sheets for our boat. I had literally gone through the entire apartment and even though I never throw anything away I still couldn't find it.
And then today I finally decided to either finish the backpack I started to make this summer from scratch (meaning no pattern) or just throw it out. Anyway, I unzipped my bag and discovered that in an attempt to see how it would look with something in it, I'd stuffed our sheet into it!!! I'm thrilled to pieces because only yesterday I'd checked eBay for queen size fitted sheets and the only one I could find started at around $20.00 and I would still need to alter it.
This is my still unfinished back pack complete with raw edges.
Here it is!!!
The missing fitted sheet!!
And since a back pack is great for taking provisions to the boat, I'm going to go ahead and finish this one. At least I'll have something to carry our sheets in.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
When we left our girl in Charleston, SC this fall we debated about whether to winterize her or not. And since we were (and still are) going to return to her at the end of December, before it really gets cold, we were advised not to.
Well guess what? Not only is it going to get cold this weekend, the temperatures are expected to plummet into the teens.
In South Carolina!
So not only did we suffer through the hottest summer on record this year, we are now experiencing the coldest it's not even winter yet on record.
After receiving a concerned call from the boat yard (where the Knotty Cat has been drying out) that they were expecting temperatures in the teens this weekend, we needed to make a decision. Should we just pay them to winterize her, or should we rent a vehicle (which we would need for at least three days) and drive down there and do it ourselves.
We would also need to decide whether Wilbur would made the trip with us or spend a few expensive days at Doggy Day Care where we've discovered he's hugely popular and always welcome.
In the end it was cheaper to have the yard do the work but what kills me is that it's only going to be needed for a total of three weeks!
Honest to God, three weeks!
Today we were informed that the Knotty Cat has been successfully winterized and I swear I can hear her purring all the way up here because yet once again, she's gotten her own way.
What a Prima Donna. She should give lessons!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Only after remembering that the Bahamas aren't exactly in my back yard, and anyway I just dare them to find Hans and me in a city that even after two years I still haven't fully learned to navigate, I opened the message.
Tremendous relief flooded through me when I realized it was not from an unhappy Bahamian government agency but from a friend of Hans' brother, and she lives in Elbow Cay. Michaela was very kind and offered to help us in any way she can and suggested we purchase The Dodge Guide to Abaco.
We've already bought quite a few navigational guides and Hans felt this was a bit redundant but since I've elected myself as the 'Queen of Everything to do with The Knotty Cat' I vetoed Hans and bought Mr. Dodge's book anyway. It arrived today.
Every time I turn around there's another package at the door and it's always something for the boat. In the last week alone we received a spot light (obviously used but we're going to keep it anyway), a propane detector (which I hope is not a reflection on my cooking), and just today....
The Abaco Guide!!
Hans also went to our local Verizon store and bought a FiveSpot Global Ready 3G Mobile HotSpot (say that 3 times fast after a couple of bourbons!).
Here is Hans proudly holding some of our latest acquisitions.
Supposedly, this 3G Mobile HotSpot will allow us to pick up a Verizon signal while we're in the Bahamas thus allowing us to use our computers! If it works we won't need the horribly expensive SSB radio system that a lot of sailors have had installed on their boats.
If it works.
So on the creative front I made a Beach Bag from some beautifully (and very heavily) embroidered fabric I bought in Ireland a few years ago.
This can be used for anything from shopping to shower room duty.
I also transferred some nautical charts to fabric.
And here is a wristlet I made from one of them.
I think my next project with the rest of them will be a tote bag of some kind that we can use to haul provisions.
Don't let it be said that the Knotty Cat isn't stylish!
Tomorrow we have to head on over to West Marine in order to pick up even more things that we've ordered.
I believe in my next life I want to come back as a tremendously needy boat!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Now just read that over again only this time using the music to My Favorite Things, because that's the only way I could find these particular lyrics charming.
Friday, November 26, 2010
However, I do remember the time the muffler fell off my car, and after I reattached it with a wire hanger and Duct tape (while flat on my back on my cold garage floor at 7 o'clock in the morning so I could get to work on time), Hans, who was still in his robe, inspected my work and commented that perhaps he would have done it differently.
Obviously, I didn't kill him.
When we found our port locker full of water and ended up replacing this hose ourselves, we were told not to use an elbow. Most likely because this particular hose 'bends' as a result of the wire that's spiralled around its whole.
Here are the leaky hoses we ripped out of the locker and replaced in October.
We threw them into the cockpit and even though they were already dead and rendered useless I thought they looked slightly evil, and was very happy to toss them into a dumpster.
We found out the starboard side locker hoses had already been replaced, and just this week we dug out our original survey and discovered that the work was completed shortly after we bought the boat.
Honestly, we don't even remember having it done!
Notice here that they used an elbow.
Together, Hans and I have discovered a lot of interesting things on the Knotty Cat and I'm not kidding when I say it took us two years to figure out the how the two water tanks worked as the original owners had them re-routed, and left no information behind.
But this fall found us performing our biggest repair yet as a couple and it involved our GPS antenna.
'Fritz' the GPS, decided to act up on a fairly nasty voyage in the Chesapeake and insisted upon showing us on shore a good bit of the time. Fritz became rather emboldened with his brazen ways and threatened to start up a union amongst our other electronics. I, however, who once belonged to a union, knew that if we didn't nip Fritz in the bud right now, he'd become a boil on our backside forever!
I want it on record to all union members that we gave Fritz many opportunities to mend his ways but he chose to ignore us.
So it gave me great pleasure the day West Marine personally delivered a new GPS antenna to us while we were on the hard at the Charleston City Marina.
"Well, this should be easy." Hans and I said to each other after examining the directions, and then after about eight hours of rewiring that big stinker we realized why boat yards charge so much for their work
We still have no idea why the many, many wires, deemed necessary to keep a boat running, need to be secured every three inches or so with tightly cinched tie wraps and then run deep into the bowels of the boat. After trying to fish our new antenna wire (taped to the old wire) through this myriad of craziness, we finally said the hell with it and bypassed most of them.
This was only after we realized that we forgot to thread the wire through the nut on the outside of the boat first, and then had to pull it out and start all over again.
Another problem was the fact that a running fan in the engine room (where all the fun wiring stuff was taking place) made it necessary for me (in the cockpit) to shout very loudly to Hans (in the engine room) in order to be heard.
After yanking (and swearing), pulling (and swearing), ripping (and swearing), we lost the new antenna wire in a very tight conduit (and yes there was a lot of swearing).
We figured out a way to bypass most of the tie wraps, along with the nasty conduit, and finally got the new wire through. Our joy was short lived however when we realized it still wouldn't work and an hour later found that a blown fuse was the culprit.
We walked into the boat yard's part's store at closing time, just as all the employees were getting ready to quit for the day. While they found a fuse for us I proudly explained that we'd spent the day replacing the antenna to our GPS. "Yeah, we know." remarked one of the mechanics who'd been working on our boat, and everyone laughed. "Really? How'd you know that?" I asked.
And he happily answered, "Oh, we all heard you."
Never let it be said I don't exercise my vocabulary any chance I can.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A little winery in Maryland had been selling some of the bags I make and when I realized that we no longer had a need to stop there (now that the Knotty Cat resides elsewhere), I picked up the remainders.
I have a total of 5 bags left and if anyone wants one, they are $25.00 each. Shipping within the lower 48 states is free. Everywhere else, add $5.00.
Just send me an email (my email address is located in my profile) if you're interested.
I have one of this particular bag.
It has three pockets on the outside front and three on the outside back.
These are slip pockets, therefor there are no snaps or Velcro to secure them. They're good for stowing your sunglasses, crossword puzzles, maps, etc...
The handles are knotted rope that have been run through grommets.
Each bag closes with a magnetic snap and has an inside zippered pocket with a cork zipper pull.
I have 4 bags featuring wine cork fabric for the body, and wine cask fabric for the outside pockets.
These bags have two pockets in front and two in back.
Three have gold handles.
One has a cream and white handle.
This one has gold handles.
The outside pockets.
Again, a magnetic snap closure with an inside zippered pocket.
This is the only bag that has cream and white handles.
This much I know; if these don't get sold, everyone in my family is getting one for Christmas and will be sporting about with wine themed bags whether they like it or not.
I'm just not sure which one Hans would like!
Monday, November 22, 2010
One of the things I like about the Chesapeake are the many anchorages that can be found just about anywhere.
But, I've discovered that the ever popular St. Michael's, Maryland, might just possibly be the Bermuda Triangle of anchoring.
We found this out for ourselves a few years ago. After hanging lazily on the hook for a whole weekend, our Knotty Cat waited until 3 AM and then quietly lifted her anchor and innocently drifted into a sexy french catamaran that Hans and I had gushed over earlier in the day. Using her swim platform, the Knotty Cat neatly punched two holes into her rival, just above the water line. The owner was extremely nice about it and thankfully our insurance company made everything all better.
Then a couple of years ago we decided that it would be uber fun to watch the Fourth of July fireworks from the bay of St. Michael's. I have no idea why, since this is tantamount to being in Times Square on New Year's Eve when idiots who otherwise never get out, do, and create mayhem for everyone in their vicinity.
We weren't disappointed.
The above picture shows just a few of the boats that anchored that weekend. Anyway it was a dark and stormy night (I've always wanted to write that!), and a powerful storm complete with wild bolts of lightning and slashing rain ripped through the bay long before the fireworks were due to start. Suddenly, like a bunch of earthquake evacuees, everyone (except us) frantically tried to weigh anchor and beat feet out of the harbor (I'm not sure why, as all this meant was they'd be underway in some pretty crappy weather). We immediately noticed that a boat had drifted uncomfortably close to us and was having some difficulties. The captain was running fore and aft in a wild attempt to unfoul his anchor, and I couldn't help but notice that his female counterpart sat on the sidelines and did absolutely nothing, leaving me to ponder the intelligence of women who wear hot pink velour sweatsuits in public.
An anchored yet unoccupied boat on our port side suffered two separate assaults from renegade escapee vessels gone wild, and the offenders didn't even bother to leave polite notes of apology under the windshield wiper of the victim! I've often wondered how long it took the couple of that particular boat, who rowed back after the storm, to discover the damage that had been inflicted upon them.
A motor boat full of drunks just scraped past us and I swear I saw the nasty tonsils of the chick who leaned over and screamed, "You need to have more lights on!" And I screamed back, "We have our anchor light on you idiot! Maybe you need to read Boating for Dummies again!"
And as suddenly as the storm started, it ended and we enjoyed an incredible firework display.
For some sick reason we went back the following year only this time with my youngest college age daughter and a couple of her friends. The only irritation we suffered that night was the party boat that anchored right beside us. Complete with bad '80's music, pulsating disco lights, and hysterical drunks, they were kind enough to leave us in peace at midnight.
Other than that, Hans and I have spent many peaceful nights at anchor and we have our system pretty much down pat. With some simple signals from Hans, I maneuver the boat to port, starboard, or straight ahead, and before you know it we're on our way.
Or at least I thought so.
How well I remember the weekend when some of Hans' hockey friends sailed with us, and with Hans at the bow and me at the wheel, I was smugly explaining our system to them when Hans made a signal I'd never seen before and unfortunately, I'm one of those people who speak before thinking and everyone was treated to, "What the F#*@ was that!?"
One of the funniest (and saddest) anchorings I've ever witnessed was during our last weekend on the boat this summer, and yet once again St. Michael's played a starring role. It was late in the evening when we heard what was obviously a domestic squabble aboard a boat quite close by, and I was immediately jerked back in time to my bartending days where I was often forced to witness abusive behavior between couples thus leaving me very grateful to be poor and single, yet not stuck with an idiot!
I also sincerely hoped I wouldn't hear a splash in the night and wind up being a witness in court.
Come morning, I informed Hans that one of the nearby boats was a lot closer than it'd been the night before, and it only took one bellow from the captain to realize this was the domestic squabble boat.
Then the fun began.
The captain went up to the bow and the little woman (surely his wife because no man would ever treat a date in such a nasty manner) sat at the helm. He then screamed out signals complete with intense fist punches and the poor woman reciprocated by flooring the engine. The boat responded by flying in reverse thus yanking the anchor line tight and I felt myself holding my breath because I just knew what was coming. I wasn't disappointed and the captain started bellowing again. This time the boat shot forward causing the anchor line to stretch in an alarming fashion along the starboard side. This went on again and again, and all the while the captain continued to scream and punch the air.
Finally (and most likely out of sympathy), the anchor gave way and the (un)happy couple sailed off into the wild blue yonder.
I'm just glad I didn't have to testify in court because I'm afraid I would have been tempted to show that idiot some real punching!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
And I'm sure anyone reading this and who's spent any amount of time on a sail boat is splitting a gut right now.
But let's talk about about docking the boat, lifting the anchor on the boat, and (gasp) attempting to make repairs on the boat, as a couple!
This particular post will address docking the boat which is very much at the bottom of my 'let's have fun' list. Winds, currents, and narrow slips have created many heart thumping moments for me.
Actually, my issues with fenders (while docking) are something new. In the first two years we owned this boat we almost always tied up at the same docks so of course I knew exactly where to place the fenders. The thing is though, that no dock is ever the same. Some are floating and therefor the fenders have to hang way over the side nearly at water level, while some docks are fixed and depending on the tide, the fenders might need to be just over our deck. This means that each fender needs to be retied to the rails which isn't a big deal but when you only catch sight of your dock moments before tying up it can be quite a race.
A few days into our trek on the Intracoastal we were quickly approaching a dock when Hans told me to toss the fenders over the side. I realized that it was a floating dock and that our fender lines needed to be lowered but I hadn't had a chance to touch even one when he yelled, "What are you doing up there?"
Me (quite incredulous): "Getting the fenders!"
Hans: "What the hell's taking so long, just drop them!"
Me (wondering if he could possibly be serious): "They need to be retied, they're too short!"
Hans: "Just throw them over and get that bow line ready!"
Me (not sticking my tongue out and retying a couple of fenders anyway): "I'm going, I'm going!"
Afterward, Hans was very puzzled and once again asked me what the hell I'd been doing up there.
Me (quite angry by then): "I was doing my hair, that's what!"
Hans (genuinely puzzled): "Really?"
The only reason I didn't throw him overboard is because he knows how to parallel park the Knotty Cat and I don't.
A similar event occurred in Swansboro, North Carolina when, during a rain storm complete with gusting winds and strong currents, we shot into Dudley's Marina like an Indy Five Hundred race car. One second Hans was telling me to drop the fenders and the next second he was yelling, "What are you doing? Don't worry about the fenders! Throw them the bow line!" But we had swooped in so fast that one of the guys on the dock actually reached out and snagged the line leaving me to run as fast as I could to the stern where I'm embarrassed to admit that that line promptly got hung up on an old GPS antenna (BTW, that antenna is going to get ripped out as soon as we get back on board after Christmas). With Hans putting our girl into reverse the helpers were finally able to secure us.
If I ever win the lottery I'm going to buy a ton of fenders and tie them at every possible level they'll ever be needed.
That should give me plenty of time to do my hair while docking.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I've been thinking about it and have come to the realization that traversing the Intracoastal via boat is a lot like driving your RV off the Interstate and taking a back road instead.
Gone are the wide open spaces in which to sail and all of a sudden you're motoring along in single file among a variety of other boats you might otherwise never see, along a very narrow strip of water, leaving no room for error.
Given the close proximity of your fellow travelers, you really need to make an effort at being polite, and after applying your deodorant for the day you should also respect each other's space.
This brings me to AquaMan.
I have a feeling that years from now many a sailor will reminisce about the legendary autumn of 2010 when AquaMan wreaked all kinds of havoc while roaring down the Intracoastal and leaving many a damaged vessel in his wake (and I mean that literally!).
My first hint that something odd was afoot came one morning from a few random radio transmissions. And I have to tell you right now that travelling along the Intracoastal really isn't very relaxing. When we were out in the Chesapeake and Potomac this summer we hardly ever had to listen to our VHF and instead, enjoyed a variety of radio stations. But in the Intracoastal you constantly have to listen for the captains of boats who want to overtake you, and also get updates on what's ahead of you.
Anyway, I started hearing some odd chatter on the radio. "Hey! Cruiser who just passed marker twenty, this is a no wake zone!" Then a diesel dock shouted out the same concern. One woman came across loud and clear with, "Hey Dirt Bag! What's wrong with you? Slow down! I hope you never need help from anyone because you'll never get it." This marauder of the water was finally identified and I hoped that AquaMan (whom I envisioned wearing a blue Anti Super Hero costume) was heading away from us and not toward us.
But then I heard a captain warn, "Attention everyone in the vicinity of fixed bridge Such and Such, AquaMan just went past me and refuses to comply with the no wake rule." We had just passed a fixed bridge and I got that Uh-Oh feeling and when I looked behind Hans I saw a huge Cruiser bearing down on us. I watched the captain of the monohull who'd made the broadcast try to steer into the huge wake that AquaMan had created and his mast whipped back and forth like a metronome.
"Holy crap! He's not slowing down!" I shouted and watched in horror as AquaMan roared straight for our stern. I grabbed our air horn and while standing on a seat in the cockpit I gave it five short blasts. AquaMan didn't slow down so I blasted it five more times. By now he was just off our starboard side and I added huge, slow down gestures with my arms and since I was wearing my foul weather gear I probably looked like a giant Tweety Bird flapping hysterically around the cockpit. I was so pissed off by then that when he finally roared past us at about 20 knots of speed, I turned the air horn on him full blast.
My ears were ringing but AquaMan and his Boy Wonder never even glanced at us giving us the impression that they were either completely deaf or just totally rude. They didn't even have the decency to wear blue Anti Super Hero costumes either!
I jumped down off the cockpit seat, hurried down below, and spread eagled myself all over the galley in an attempt to keep everything (including my computer) from flying all over the place when the resulting wake hit us.
The Coast Guard had been informed of AquaMan's behavior and radioed everyone that they needed to know the type of boat and registration number if possible and that a picture would be of great help. I'm just mad that my camera battery was dead because I could have gotten a really good video! Shortly thereafter AquaMan's registration number was broadcast for anyone who might need to file an insurance claim.
We didn't suffer any damage and I was finally able to locate my coffee cup in the garbage can where it had been tossed during the wake.
Here I am at the helm with my trusty binoculars as I keep a sharp look out for markers and future trouble makers.
I almost look like I know what I'm doing.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Let me show you what MapQuest looks like on my computer.
That little red figure is our Knotty Cat!
Isn't she cute (Please say yes!! She's quite vain and every little bit helps)!
When we entered the Charleston Harbor, Tuesday afternoon, we only had about eight miles to go in order to get to the boat yard, but the current was so strong it took us three hours to get there. We tried to take advantage of the small amount of wind we had and put up the jib.
I swear we cheered when we hit 3 knots of speed!
This is the 186 foot bridge we passed under on our way up the Wando River.
Once the Knotty Cat was hauled out and we realized she had some missing and loose bolts on the plates that held her prop shafts in place, we had hoped things could be tightened up and we'd be on our way.
Well, it wasn't to be.
Wires that should have helped stop corrosion had been cut by the previous owner (which explains some of the problems we've been having), our propellers (lying in pieces on that cardboard) are no longer manufactured so the mechanic will have to be creative for the couple of parts we need, our engine mounts should have been replaced 500 hours ago, and the forever leaking stuffing boxes are going to be replaced with Dripless Shaft Seals.
This shaft was ripped out the next day. It was corroded and needs to be cleaned up.
Since the estimated time for all this to be done will take a week or so we decided to come home. We'll head back down after Christmas and resume our trip at that time.
Friday we ended up renting a car and then drove to Florida where we spent the night with some friends. Off to the airport the next morning for our flight to BWI, and then an airport shuttle to Kent Narrows where our car was parked. Five hours later we walked into the apartment and I realized I'd left a bunch of paperwork on the boat. Nothing valuable, but I wanted to file a health insurance claim and now I don't have any of my forms! We also had very little food in the cupboards and ended up eating cheese and crackers for dinner.
The good news is, we get to pick up Wilbur this afternoon and I only hope he remembers us!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
We then rejoined the wagon train heading south, with Myrtle Beach being our next goal. We were in a rather narrow stretch of water when we realized a barge with a large load was coming up behind us and sure enough the captain hailed us. What was disconcerting was that he asked us to identify ourselves and then wanted to know just where we were as he couldn't see us (I bet he has cataracts and drives a Buick on his days off!). We provided him with our location and then slid over to starboard as much as we could and watched him run over a big green can as he plowed on by.
We listened as he radioed other boats ahead and gave them directions on what he wanted them to do. Upon being told to please move over and let the barge go through a bridge opening first (at 65 feet it's a fixed bridge and doesn't raise but the channel was very narrow right there), one captain radioed back that he was certain he didn't need to move as he was traveling along quickly at 5 knots. The tug boat operator said too bad; he was going 7 knots and to please move over. The other captain once more said he was just fine and then the barge operator told him to KINDLY MOVE ASIDE OR I'LL RUN YOU OVER. He moved.
We ended up seeing the barge again as we approached the Swan Creek Bridge (a swinging pontoon that opens hourly unless you're a barge and then it opens up period!). We're not sure what happened but we could see all kinds of mayhem going on. The barge was almost sideways and big plumes of diesel exhaust belched from its innards as it tried to reverse, and the boats hovering around it looked like a bunch of rubber-neckers at a wreck. Someone even had the nerve to radio the bridge and ask if they could pass behind the barge. I don't think anyone even bothered to answer him.
Unfortunately we hung back too far and with the current working against us we were unable to reach the bridge in time to get through. But luck was with us because since it was an hourly bridge it had to open in ten minutes anyway.
This got me to thinking about the three mile stretch of waterway just ahead called The Rock Pile. Our cruising guide says to monitor the radio and make sure no barge traffic is coming towards you as there is not enough room to maneuver. I hope no one was heading north when that barge went through because it really is narrow with big flat rocks jutting into the water from the shore and I was very relieved to get through it with very little boat traffic.
Last night we ended up docking at Bare Foot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC, and for the first time in a week we went out to eat because Hans wanted to watch the Raiders. The Raiders won, the wrap I ate was really good but made me sick, and we were up at 6 this morning and on our way again.
Today we are headed for Georgetown, SC, and our guide says there are some good anchorages there. If all the good spots are taken maybe we'll pretend to be a barge and tell everyone to move over.
Friday, November 5, 2010
By the way, if you ever want to be thoroughly entertained; find your nearest drawbridge, make some popcorn, pull up a chair, and be prepared to enjoy yourself.
I got out my trusty binoculars and saw that the captain and his 'woman' were standing in the cockpit and apparently weren't taking calls. Just when it seemed like the big boats were going to charge through, the two little sailboats got into the act and like two little old jaywalking women, crippled their way through the opening.