Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thanksgiving on the hook. With a spin.

I realize Thanksgiving is long gone (wow, it was over a week ago; an eon these days I daresay). But regardless of how much time has passed I'm going to post now or forever hold my peace (like that's ever happened!).
Two years ago we anchored out for the holiday (I still refer to it as the Turkey Tour) but last year Mother Nature put the nix to a repeat performance so were stuck here in the marina (Oh, the humanity!).
This year, with the weather acting up, we figured if we wanted to spend the holiday at anchor this was only going to happen if we left our slip on Thanksgiving Day in order to zip over to Boca Ciega (a whole 45 minutes away), drop the anchor, and get to cooking. Luckily, I baked our apple pie on Wednesday and was trusting my pressure cooker/fabulously new fun toy, to allow me to get a full Thanksgiving meal on the table in a timely manner.
Even though it was pretty windy here in the marina I managed to get us out of the slip without mishap (this is an important detail considering what happened later). While we were motoring over to our trusty achorage we were a bit surprised at how slowly the Knotty Cat was slogging along. Hmmm, the tide must be working against us (a favorite excuse of ours) we thought (even though the wind really should have been giving us a boost). As for me, I didn't care about the wind or the tide dammit! I had a turkey breast to cook.

Honestly, I'm really looking at the chartplotter! And I got all kinds of crafty with my photoshop stuff here.

It was extremely windy when we anchored and Hans tried to convince me that our wind generator would supply our batteries with ample juice until the next day and that I should start cooking 'right now'! I knew that no way was 'Windy' going to keep up with our activities and insisted that we unfurl our portable solar panels. The only problem with that plan is that in all the years we've had these solar panels we've never really come up with any kind of permanent solution for keeping them from blowing overboard. And so we put dinner off for an hour or so while we came up with a solution. I dug out some sailcloth, brass grommets, duct tape, and got to work. We completed one panel (we have two) and I deemed this enough to get through at least one night because dammit! I had a turkey breast to cook!

Sail cloth glued underneath each panel with brass grommets at the corners. We tied the panels to whatever was handy; cleats, life lines... We had a lot of wind but thankfully these guys stayed put.


I started dinner much later than I'd intended but luckily my pressure cooker saved the day (oh, don't think there isn't a huge pressure cooker post a'comin' because there is!!).

My new toy is on the left. It's magical.


Mashed potatoes. The real deal.


Hans is happy, dinner is finally on the table.


From start to finish I had dinner on the table in two hours. It included: turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and crescent rolls. As I've already mentioned, I'd baked our pie the day before.


We ended up enjoying a rather cold and windy yet nonetheless wonderful holiday at anchor, and instead of venturing out into the gulf, we decided the next day, and the day after that to just stay put. For the first time in my life, being lazy turned out to be a wise decision.


After a relaxing Sunday morning in the cockpit with our coffee with all the fixin's (I'll never tire of this term for coffee laced with Irish liqueur and whipped creme. And btw, Wilbur won't eat his breakfast on these particular days unless it's also topped with whipped creme; wow imagine that) we decided it was time to head on home so we started the engines.


Wilbur and his whipped creme topped breakfast.


We weighed anchor the way we always do; Hans on the electric windlass and me at the helm.

"Away!" Hans shouted, so I spun on a dime to starboard in order to head into the channel.

"Let's go that way instead," Hans pointed in the opposite direction. So I throttled the Knotty Cat full speed ahead and cranked the wheel hard to port but the Knotty Cat kept spinning on a dime to starboard as if I'd never changed course.

Hans asked me what the hell I was doing and in order to prove I wasn't nuts I gladly handed over the helm. I watched him (and not without a little satisfaction) struggle with the Knotty Cat's nonsense as she continued to pirouette about the anchorage. Hans wondered if perhaps we'd lost our transmission. He finally figured out that our port engine was working properly but the starboard engine; not so much, so he shut it down.


At this point my stomach was in knots but Hans was very calm. We were so busy discussing what might be wrong that we motored right into the middle of what we discovered was a sail boat race (I cringed in horror as Hans calmly crossed astern of a few of them but, once again he was quite calm) and headed for our marina. Wilbur must have sensed my unease and got into the act by pacing and panting in the cockpit. Luckily, he's docked with us so many times he knows when it's time to go below and he couldn't get down there fast enough when we approached our marina.

I'm just incredibly thankful that we came back on a day when the wind was basically non-existent (compared to the day we left!) because otherwise I'm not sure how we would have backed into our (tight) slip on one engine. We were also fortunate that our neighbor was working on his boat and was able to hail the neighbor on his other side to give us a hand. I have to admit, Hans did a calm and admirable job of docking us.


The next day as soon as I left the boat to run errands, Hans started up the engines. I'm pretty sure he finds that he can concentrate on the job at hand much better without my yipping at him the whole time. Anyway, when I got home he was quite excited to share this discovery with me; apparently our Knotty Cat is quite the prankster, because the starboard engine now goes forward when shifting in reverse, and in reverse when shifting forward.

Our trusty diver getting into the water to check the propellors.


It turns out, our propellors are old, and tired, and need to be replaced. We have feathering props and the one on the starboard side was solidly froze up in a contorted angle (probably like me when I attempt yoga). New propellors have been ordered and they will be of the boring 'standard' kind as opposed to the fancy schmancy feathering kind. Feathering props run around $3,000 each. Not happening here!


Once the new propellors arrive, a diver is supposedly going to replace those big stinkers here at our slip as opposed to being hauled out at a boat yard.


Why do I feel like that sounds too easy? Probably because I've been there, done that, way too many times.