Saturday, June 8, 2013

Who was that Tropical Storm...?

... It was Andrea, that's who.  But unlike last year's Tropical Storm Debby, who unfortunately became one of those party guests who doesn't understand that by midnight her hosts really wish she'd get lost, Andrea caught on quickly and left as soon as things started to get soggy.

When Hurricane Season began on June first, Hans had taken to calling me from work in order to warn me that 'weather' appeared to be moving our way. "A huge system is approaching," his frantic voice mail would announce (I rarely have my phone with me). This would cause me to become a bit paranoid and instead of hitting the tennis court or gym and getting some exercise I would hole up below with Wilbur (and too many Keebler Cookies) while awaiting the 'big blow'. After a couple of warnings that resulted in a bloated stomach and sunny blue skies I told him to knock it off.  He apologized. And then came Andrea.

On Wednesday night I'd read on my computer via MSN that a tropical storm was approaching, but since Chicken Little Hans didn't say anything to me, I opted to sleep in the next day. On Thursday, Hans left for work, I flipped my pillow to the cool side, shifted Wilbur's stretched out paws complete with sharp pitty nails from my midsection, and had just dozed off when all of a sudden the shit hit the fan. 

What sounded like the wailing of banshees jerked me wide awake. I well remembered that sound from the time we anchored in the Sassafras River in Maryland back when I was a complete novice to this whole sailing thing and I've never quite forgotten it.  I leaped out of bed and in the middle of trying to wash my face the power went out and I started to panic. I frantically wiped the soap out of my eyes and was very thankful that I was able to reset our inverter when the electric kicked back on. I finished washing up and finally opened the companionway door to a gray world of gusting rain and wind.

After the whole Debby experience I'd vowed that we'd be prepared for the next storm but we weren't. I put on my swimming suit bottoms, foul weather coat and nothing else (if you don't want to wash it, don't wear it is my motto) and got to work. I slogged through ankle deep water to get ice (if I don't have ice for drinks then don't mess with me), took Hans' hockey gear out of our dock box (before it could get soaked), took down anything that might blow away, retied our dock lines, and moved our dinghy.

I didn't get down below to check things for quite awhile but I wasn't too worried as our boat is pretty much water tight unless we stupidly leave a hatch open. Needless to say, I was horrified and totally pissed off to find our berth completely soaked. We recently bought two new air conditioners and while the one in the salon area appears to be on perfect behavior with full intentions of earning an Eagle Scout Award, the one in our berth is the spawn of the devil. I watched in complete horror as it spit rivulets of water from its cold air vent in rhythm with the drumming rain, all over our big fat feather pillows and Memory Foam mattress pad. 

The rest of the day revolved around my adjusting the dock lines in tune with the tide, sitting in the driving rain at the bow of our boat with our hose in order to fill the water tanks because I forgot to do that the day before, trying to tempt Wilbur into the cockpit so that he'd empty himself on his potty patch and not down in our already sodden berth (the only thing that got out the door was his nose, whereupon he fled to his favorite spot on our settee where he sulked for the rest of the day with a full bladder), listening to all the tornado warnings, and rotating our sodden pillows in front of the two fans I set up in our berth in hope that things might dry out before 2014. 

And, then, as late afternoon approached, Andrea grew bored with us and headed north. I felt slightly insulted, kinda like when you've put up with a totally ignorant guest and all of a sudden they blow you off for something better. Wilbur finally came out and relieved himself, I tossed all our wet towels into the cockpit, and took a shower.

Hans arrived home to a clean wife and boat, a dry berth, homemade chili on the stove, and an empty dog.

Just before the water crested our docks. It rose about six more inches after I took this picture.

Wilbur's ears blowing in the breeze.

After Hans arrived home we decided to bail out our dinghy.  I bailed while Hans supervised!

What a difference. This is how our docks normally look.

And this is what a vicious pit bull looks like after a nerve wracking day . Scary, huh!

Late his afternoon while relaxing in our cockpit we experienced a typical Florida cloud burst and normally I enjoy this since our bimini protects us like a screened in porch. But I knew better. I went down to our berth and sure enough the air conditioner was spitting water like crazy. We turned it off and tomorrow it goes back to Walmart for an exorcism.

And to think this was just the first storm of the season. I hate to think of what's to come.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

At Sea or in a Marina, Life is Always Interesting While Living on a Boat

Wilbur enjoys a Bloody Mary morning.
Hmmm, so what's happened here at our marina since April?

Thanks to an unusually low tide, a boat across from us would have completely sank instead of settling onto the bottom after a simple hose worked itself  free of a clamp. I did take a couple of pictures but I'm not going to post them as I wouldn't want anyone doing that to me.

 The man who fell off his boat this past March ended up spending two weeks in the hospital with three days of them in intensive care. He developed pneumonia within hours of falling in and I really didn't think he was going to survive. I told him that recently, and he laughed and said he's done dumber things in his life. He'll be 80 this month!

Our neighbor fell and broke 3 ribs. Hearing his screams of pain during the night when he coughed and his ribs didn't realign themselves properly is something I never want to experience again and I'm sure he doesn't either. Of course his cat chose to fall overboard that night too. It wasn't the first time and it won't be her last.

During my Mother's Day phone conversation with my 30 year old son, I told him that Hans and I are now swingers. After a long pause he told me I really need to learn how to phrase my comments to him in a way that won't give him a heart attack. I thought he knew that I meant we'd taken up swing dancing. Actually, I just like messing with his head.  About our swing dancing.  I love it. Hans, not so much.

I wonder how my son will feel when I tell him we have crabs. We've found two of these poor guys all dried up in our guest berth.
Hans and I are attempting to play tennis. We bought our rackets at WalMart and mine is designed for a 9 year old (the tag didn't state whether it meant physically or mentally).  Hans is experienced, I am not, but I'm very thankful for his patience. I do feel badly for him as he suffers from neck pain due to the car accident he had over a year ago and his mobility is not what it should be although it does level our playing field a bit. During the day I've been hitting a ball against a wall and in addition to sweating up a storm, I fear I now have tennis elbow.

The other day I watched a sailboat roar through the marina like it was in the Indy 500 so of course I ran up to our bow to watch. The renegade boat managed to turn around at the lower end (it was either that or run into a wall) while two men from the marina both armed with boat hooks, jumped aboard. Pretty impressive stuff.
The boat shot back up the marina, zipped past me and then attempted to get into its slip. It bounced off a piling and since we were at low tide all the oyster shells and barnacles that had collected at the high tide mark crashed into the water. The boat now skidded around toward the boats on the other side (our marina is U shaped with boats lining the inner long sides of the U. This creates a lane of water between that we use to get in and out). Luckily, it didn't hit anyone and revved up for a second attempt at docking. Wham! it slammed into the next piling and sent another cascade of barnacles into the water (at this point I wondered if we just might have chanced upon a rather unorthodox way to rid pilings in our marinas of those pesky and germ ridden creatures). The crew, looking and sounding like a band of pirates, shouted and brandished their boat hooks like swords as they caught the lines from the pilings and managed to screech to a stop before the cement wall stopped them.
Those poor people had just bought the boat and must not have had a survey done and this was their maiden voyage. Apparently the throttle only worked at full speed and was then only interested in going forward. It would eventually reverse but took forever getting there. Also, the rudder cable didn't care to cooperate and having its own agenda, didn't want to go where everyone else wanted to go. Considering all this, I think the man who jumped on board, took over the helm got this boat back into its slip did a pretty good job.

What I'll never forget was the look of sheer terror on the faces of the two women who were sitting in the cockpit while tightly clutching a toddler. The women's eyes were as big as saucers as they sat frozen in fear. The toddler's eyes were as big as saucers because he was being squished like a bug. But since we were at an extreme low tide and the water was about four feet deep I wasn't too worried about anyone disappearing from sight if they did sink.

This alley of water seems much more narrow when you're trying to maneuver  your boat in it.

Wilbur still loves going to the park, he likes whipped creme on his breakfast kibble, he sneaks up to the bow of the boat when he thinks I'm not looking because he's a big boy now, he peed himself when a dog from another boat knocked us over during a walk, he's still afraid of the neighbor cat and the Yorkie from a few boats away, he's very selfish and won't share toys with other dogs at the park although he feels they should all share with him, and last week during a dinghy ride he jumped out and towed us to shore.

Every thing tastes better with whipped creme.

Gee, I wonder what's going on over there?

"OMG!!" Wilbur exclaims in true teenager fashion, "When are you going to stop being a helicopter  mom and leave me alone??"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Sweating Season

Hans and I, both very much northerners (during those years we never did enjoy the more than 9 months of cloud cover at a time), are now entering our third summer as liveaboards here on the hot, sunny, and steamy western coast of Florida.  We are either becoming a bit more accustomed to the heat or we've just given up any hope of ever knowing what it's like to not sweat for 24 hours a day.

I'm still amazed at the destructive rays of the sun and we are only now feeling like we have a small handle on its power. After suffering through our first summer here we covered the dead lights (or windows that don't open) that surround our salon area with a sunscreen that snaps onto the outside of our boat. 
Then last summer we had a sun shade made for our western facing stern. It very conveniently zips into our bimini and means that we can now sit in relative comfort during the early evening hours and not feel like a couple of sizzling eggs in a skillet. In the very near future we'll be draping the Knotty Cat in her Home Depot patio curtains that supposedly block an additional 15% of the sun.  And last week we installed two air conditioners. 

Before: closed hatch with a sunbrella cover.

Open hatch.

After: we cut a hole in a Rubbermaid container, stuffed an air conditioner  into the opening and dropped it over the open hatch. It was a perfect fit.

Who'd think there was an air conditioner behind that box?

What a difference. 

I had enjoyed our open-hatch-fresh-air winter so much that I dreaded having to deal with another hot and closed up summer. But thanks to Hans' ingenuity we now have cool dry air down below and I think I may even be able to sew in comfort.

Hans was away on business last week and here's Wilbur watching for him during his evening ritual.

It's been a while since I've posted and needless to say life at the marina continues to be interesting.  I'll catch up on all the doings here on my next post.