Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Still more accomplished, and a whole new low

A big pitty nose checking in on us from the cockpit

With just days to go before we leave, we've accomplished quite a few things around here although when we do cast off our lines we still won't have everything done. And let's face it, who is ever completely and totally ready to go?

This week we took advantage of the one wonderfully wind free day (it's been blowing like crazy here) and managed to spray our bimini with 303 (I only hope it had time to cure before the torrential downpour that hit us in the middle of the night), and Hans once again hoisted me up the mast. And once again I had to acclimate myself to dangling in the air far above the deck. The reason for this particular hoisting was because in the past, every time I've gone up and down the mast, I've taken note of the fact that the port side spreader light was full of water.

Every single time.

And for some reason this has bothered us. I'm not sure why, because we tend to avoid overnight passages (or at least I do), and we've only used these lights twice (all they really do is illuminate the deck). Our steamer light is much more important for overnight passages and it works just fine. Hans jerked me to a halt at the offending light, and after my heart stopped racing and I could breath normally without fear of hyperventilating, I unclenched my arms from the mast and leaned out just far enough to get a good look.

And honest to God, that damn thing was dry. No water. The lens is discolored, no doubt from rust, but it's dry, it works, and that's all that matters. Every move I made was very deliberate as I felt like I was going to plunge to my death every time I moved. I peeled off the old electrical tape, reapplied new Gorilla tape, and called it a day. Hans later informed me that I was up there for over an hour. It seemed like minutes to me.

Another trip up the mast. How many of these pictures do I really need?

My whole new low occurred a couple of days ago when I designated the day to sewing new cockpit cushions. This was a project we'd both decided could wait until next year but then Hans noticed that the closed cell foam contained within the phifertex covers was disintegrating in sand-like crystals all over the cockpit. So, in addition to my trip up the mast and waterproofing the bimini, I cut out new cushion covers. I got up bright and early the next morning and was joyously sewing while watching our TV 'sans cable' (Direct TV was cancelled last week and I'm really enjoying our free digital antenna with 'this TV' network being an absolute scream and tonight we're watching the original Fun with Dick and Jane) when Hans came back to the boat with an insurance customer. Originally he was supposed to meet him elsewhere but something fell through and apparently our boat was the only option.

I consider Hans' insurance business dealings confidential so I decided the best form of action was to head out on foot (we sold our vehicle last week) and get some shopping done. Thank God I went to the Dollar Tree and not Wal-Mart as I'm fairly certain I could have earned a place of honor in the next People of Wal-Mart blog. When 'The People of the Dollar Tree' becomes a blog (and best selling book) I will for sure quit shopping there (I don't want my sheer hideousness to be the reason for my short 15 minutes of fame). You see, I actually set out on foot in public, wearing my pink (working aboard the boat) shorts, a black and red Bull Dog high school hockey (15 years old and still in excellent condition) sweatshirt, orange flip-flops, and God forbid, no makeup (dare I mention I hadn't showered or washed my hair yet either?). I still remember the time 30 some years ago when I crawled to Thrift Drugstore suffering from the worst sinus infection ever, without makeup, and lived in fear someone might recognize me. Heck, compared to how I looked the other day, I could have been crowned Miss Universe.

Three completed cushion covers.

Tomorrow, before we leave, our morning schedule is full. Hans has to hoof it over the bridge for a return visit to our dermatologist, I need to fill up our water tanks, and then this evening I discovered we're out of some very basic staples.

So, I'm telling you right now, tomorrow there will be a very clean and nicely dressed shopper visiting Wal-Mart.

However, I promise to refrain from wearing my Terlet Queen Sash.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Chipping away a little bit at a time

After one provisioning run

When I realize how lazy I've been these last three-plus years while living here at our marina, I'm absolutely appalled. I've now spent the last couple of days on the phone trying to straighten out things that should've/could've been taken care of the whole time we've lived here, and since I've had to leave messages in some cases, this will probably continue into next week. I detest talking on the phone, it's almost like a phobia for me so this is particularly agonizing. And even in this age of the internet, you'd be surprised at what still needs to be accomplished by mail. In the next few days I'll take a walk to the library in order to print out a ton of PDF forms that will need to be filled out and mailed.

Another fly in the ointment is the fact that changing our address isn't just an easy matter of filling out an online form with the post office. We receive our mail here at the marina and we can't change it in that manner because this is a business and not a residential address. Everything needs to be taken care of one item at a time; family, credit cards, banks, insurances, investments... Today in addition to making phone calls, sitting on hold, and still rearranging all of our boat crap, we both walked to our dentist for our last cleaning and check up. Last week we paid a visit to our dermatologist where we both had biopsies performed and were zapped for pre-cancer cells (gee, thank-you Teen magazine for informing me when I was a teenager that a sunburn would help rid me of acne. BTW, it didn't).

When Hans sold our vehicle via a hand-shake deal on Saturday, we had until Tuesday (Monday was a legal holiday and the DMV was closed) to get the bulk of our provisioning done. Monday morning we were ready to take off when an insurance customer called (Hans is an agent), and since I always make myself scarce during these calls anyway, I grabbed our lengthy list and took off without him. In the end I think this worked out for the best as I didn't have to waste time in constant search of him. How a big guy like Hans can disappear so quickly in a store is beyond me and I've threatened to dress him in a pair of lederhosen with a leash, and maybe a lollipop to keep him busy.

The stars must have been aligned just right for me because everywhere I went where I needed help, I got it! Even at JoAnn Fabrics (they have the worst reputation in the world for customer service but this one is pretty good) one of the clerks dug around and found a 30% off coupon for my expensive outdoor canvas.

I got home around 8 PM and I'm pretty sure a hazy cloud is still hovering over 66th Street as a result of my still smoking credit card.

We say good bye to our vehicle

The days are counting down quickly and there's still too many things that need to be done. But if we waited until that happened, we'd never leave.



Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Reality of Leaving...


... has all of us in an uproar.


Three garbage bags for Good Will

Wilbur tip-toeing around a bunch of 'yea or nae' crap in the cockpit.

We've known for far too long that we were going to try to cast off our lines in early 2015 yet we are finding ourselves horribly unprepared. Part of our dilemma has to do with Hans putting our vehicle up for sale on Craig's List a week before he should have. At least that's what I keep harping about to him since it was sold within a day, so now how the hell are we supposed to finish our provisioning, get stuff to the post office, take loads and loads of crap to the laundromat, and most of all, get Wilbur to the dog park where he's been fraternizing, sniffing, pooping, running, ramming his head into crotches, shoulder checking pooches who need to be shoulder shoulder checked, chasing down and 'rolling' pups (someone has to do it and they should be thankful Wilbur is kind about it), and most of all leaping onto picnic tables (picnic being a loose term as no one in their right mind would ever think of eating on a table at a dog park) in order to smooch (actually, I'm being polite here and it's known as getting the 'tongue") as many people possible before being thrown off, for the past three plus years.

Yes, our Wilbur has a bit of a reputation here on the gulf and he and I are finding it difficult to 'quit it'.


We immediately had several offers from fellow cruisers to use their vehicles for our last minute runs. However, since Monday is a holiday and we can't transfer ownership until Tuesday, we're going to try to get as much done as possible during this window of opportunity. This will involve trips to the post office (early Tuesday morning), WalMart, Home Depot, Gulf Port, West Marine, Winn-Dixie, Best Buy, JoAnne's Fabrics (a completely unexpected mess), PetCo, Wilbur's vet, U-Haul for propane tank filling, and God knows what else. Since I really hate to borrow from our neighbors, we may actually rent a vehicle for a day or two, it just depends on how much we can get done.

And I still need to coat our canvas with 303 and get up the mast to take care of the water that's sitting in one of our spreader lights.


The past few days have seen us gutting the boat of stuff that we will not need to go cruising. I filled three garbage bags full of fabric scraps, patterns, and sewing notions for Good Will. We boxed up Hans' hockey gear along with our winter coats that will be sent north to family where we'll pick through that stuff next summer. Our live-a-board neighbors have been gifted items (crock pot, toaster oven) that are peachy keen to have while living in a marina.


I came back from vacuuming and washing our vehicle (for car candidate/buyer number 2) to Hans saying, "We have a situation." My heart just stopped and I couldn't imagine what the hell to expect short of WW III. All it turned out to be was that our cockpit cushions (due to have been replaced a couple of years ago) are literally falling apart and now sand-like crap (from the 20 year old closed cell foam) is sifting all over the place and filtering down into our lazarettes. This past summer we tried to get an estimate on replacing these cushions (somewhere in the $1,600 range) and I decided I'd rather cruise with ugly (therefore who cares what we do to them) cushions, yet now Hans thinks I should whip up some new covers, in, oh say, the next few minutes. Hence the need to visit JoAnne's Fabrics and I just can't wait to try sewing at anchor.


Wilbur totally senses something is up, and uncharacteristically for him, he jumped ship two times today. Wilbur is very seldom left alone and yet the last few days have upset his equalibrium. We were gone for nearly four hours the other night when we were treated to a farewell dinner with our dog park (very best) friends, and the day before that we dared to leave him while we tried to get some shopping done. Gone are Wilbur's and my lazy days while Hans was at work.


This morning Hans and I were scrabbling about in the gravel underneath our vehicle in search of an elusive tiny cap to the transmission fluid (I'm still questioning why Hans felt the need to mess with it to begin with...) when all of a sudden a third party offered his help. This third party was Wilbur, who just couldn't stand the fact that his peeps had abandonded him yet once again. I nearly fainted when his big fat pitty nose came sniffing around the corner and I immediately marched him back to the boat. Later on he once again stepped off the boat when he saw me talking to a fellow live-a-board. For his own safety we'll keep him tethered to the helm for the next few days.


"Whhhaaaaat? Is this for me?"


Yes, Wilbur, it is. You are, once again, officially allowed in Bahamian waters.


I'm not kidding when I say my head is pounding and when we went to WalMart today I just froze up so we came home with a lot less stuff than we should have. We are woefully unprepared for departure and I have to remind myself that we will be on American soil for the next few weeks. Even though stuff might be a bit more expensive the further south we move, it will still be far cheaper than what we'll pay it the Bahamas.

This is if we ever get there.










Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Devil is in the Detail(s)


Another haul out. I only wish I got this much attention

I'd forgotten exactly how many details need to be accomplished before embarking on a cruising life.

But I'm being reminded very quickly and we've only begun to touch the tip of the iceberg.

Early in December I sent away for Wibur's pet permit to the Bahamas. We're still waiting for it but hopefully it will arrive before the end of February.

I knew my passport was due to expire in mid March (when we hope to already be in the Bahamas) and I probably should have renewed it awhile ago but of course I had to wait until it was nearly Christmas to take care of it. So, amid buying, wrapping, and shipping presents, I got a haircut and drove over to Walgreens in order to get the worst passport photo ever taken. The strange thing is, it didn't look that bad in the store and even stranger was how fast those fine people at the Passport center sent me my new book. I think when they saw how hideous that picture was they wanted it out of their office as quickly as possible.

Actually, this hideous picture is direct result of when Hans had to have his passport renewed a few years ago. Hans is a Canadian citizen and Canada's government has totally different hoops to jump through. Hans has done this several times over the years so we were both surprised when the Canadian government sent back his old book, his new picture, and a polite letter explaining that his request had been denied. Hans immediately called the number contained in the letter and asked for the polite lady who'd written it. Of course no one knew who she was (it would appear that all governments whether they be US or foreign, share the same policy; act baffled and if at all possible,, so the buck was passed... again and again.

One young lady who really wanted to help (obviously new to the job) tried her absolute hardest and after placing Hans on hold several times informed him his best bet was to hire an attorney. In another attempt to be helpful, and right after Hans' reaction, she reeled of another phone number and hung up.

The man who answered the phone at the new number (an obviously seasoned government employee who hated his job, hated the world, and most of all hated Hans) was furious and before Hans could even explain why he was calling, shrieked "How did you get this number? Who gave you this number?" This was his stock phrase and he screamed it every time Hans tried to get a word in edgewise. "That person doesn't even exist! It's just a name they print on letters!" he yelled when Hans said he only wanted to talk to the lady who sent him the letter, and when Hans said that sounded kind of stupid, he got, "How did you get my number? No one's supposed to give out my number!" We never did figure out why he even has a phone if no one's permitted to call him but if I had money to burn I'd rent a bill-board and display his number (preferably along side a buxom beauty) for all to see.

So, the problem with Hans' passport? He smiled. And you're not supposed to smile on a Canadian passport.

A new picture of an unsmiling Hans was taken and a new passport was delivered.


Bearing the whole smile/don't smile issue in mind, the picture taker from Walgreen's and I decided to take no chances, so I didn't smile. I did smile on my last passport but since rules change all the time...

While we're staying in a motel while the Knotty Cat gets her bottom painted (among other costly things) we decided to get our local boater option (SVRS: small vessel reporting system) taken care of. Along with DTOPS (a $27.50 decal) we should be able to clear back into the United States quickly and efficiently, if and when, we ever leave. We had the DTOPS decal when we arrived back from the Bahamas back in 2011 but we still had to report to immigration within 24 hours. Supposedly with the added SVRS option we may only have to make a phone call. Hmmmm... I'm not holding my breath.

I won't go into the agonizing details of our trying to find the Office of Immigration via our GPS and Google maps, it's just too painful. But after many U-turns we finally called and a live person actually answered the phone and low and behold the office is located right beside the gift shop inside the airport. Within minutes the nicest lady in the world (and I mean super nice) issued us our official SVRS numbers (to be kept with our passports) and there was no charge.

Just before we left the motel for our visit to Immigration we pulled out our passports and layed them side by side. What a pair. With Hans' stern stare and my grumpy glower we make Bonnie and Clyde look like a couple of happy go lucky rascals.

Personally, I wouldn't let anyone who looks like us back into the country so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed on this one.


Someone looks like he enjoyed his hotel stay






Sunday, January 4, 2015

Let the Purging Begin

Hans and I really lucked out on our family trip to Pennsylvania for Christmas this year. We had no issues with snow (there wasn't any), we had sun shine nearly every day (unheard of when I lived there for 50 some winters, and doesn't that just figure), and our return flight (which we found to be completely topsy-turvy and had us leaving St. Louis, Missouri at 6 AM when we were indeed in Pittsburgh?) got straightened out and we enjoyed a smooth trip home.

We managed to stay awake to usher in the New Year and after spending a very lazy New Year's day watching the Twilight Zone Marathon, I decided the next day was time to start cleaning house (or rather boat).

How in hell have we managed to collect so much junk. While living on a boat.

Usually when the urge to clean out the garage (guest berth) hits me, I take one look at the mass of junk accumulated in there and calm myself by mixing a Wilbur Wow-Wow and settling down with a good book. But that just won't cut it anymore since we've decided to cast off our lines this month and start cruising again.

I'm still puzzled over why we have so many blankets, coats, gloves... for people who live in the tropics (because folks that's exactly what Florida is; the tropics), and don't get me started on all the hockey gear we have. Among some of the junk I yanked out of the garage was a massivesleeping bag. "But that's the sleeping bag I used when I lived aboard in New York City during that record breaking cold winter (a bazillion years ago)." Hans told me. It still ended up beside the dumpster (a place for great finds, I should know). Our heavy leather coats are going to get boxed up and sent north to sit in someone else's closet for our next visit as we do not need these in the Bahamas this spring. Since Hans no longer has to report to a desk job, I'm putting his huge Brooks Brothers dress shirts (they really do take up a lot of room) up for auction on eBay although we did hold onto three of them for future dressy functions. Also on eBay will be a size 3 Jessica McClintock cocktail dress (I wore it exactly one time) and a fancy schmancy propane/smoke detector because it needs to be wired electrically to the boat and we don't feel like doing that. We have battery smoke detectors and we're happy with those, and every time I cook we're reminded of how good they are.

Other than a lot more weeding, I need to make another trip up the mast to drain the water out of one of our spreader lights, take down our bimini and dodger in order to clean the mildew off of them and then treat them with 303 so hopefully they don't leak all over us when it rains. Clean, buff, and wax as many outer surfaces that I can reach, meaning not that many, but I'll bitch about it anyway.

At the age of twenty, our VHF radio has become a bit of a prima-donna and while she has no problem listening in on everyone else, she's taken a dislike to bridge tenders and refuses to speak to them. There will be no oil for that squeaky wheel, she's getting dumped like a first wife. We also need a breaker for our water pump (also acting up) since I'm pretty sure Hans wouldn't be able to live with me if that sucker failed.

Days before Christmas, divers replaced our old worn out feathering props with big new bronze props. We took the Knotty Cat out for a spin and she put on quite a show. We found ourselves zooming about at 7.1 knots under power. Our last trip (right before one of our propellors siezed up on us) had us struggling to make 5.

A very tired propellor. It did its job well for nearly 20 years.

The same week we were having fun with our propellors, we had also been wondering where the hell the water was coming from that we would sometimes find under the port engine. There are too many 'things' that could have been leaking, and during one of my stints in the engine room where I love to try out new yoga poses, I did find a very tiny drip on a fresh water hose. We thought that might be it but of course it wasn't. Finally Hans narrowed it down to the raw water impellor. Some people (very handy people) here at the marina told us how we could fix it quite easily by tapping out the wadda-you-call-it, buy a thing-a-ma-jig at the auto parts store, and jam it all back together. We called our old mechanic up north and he told us to replace it. Period. So even though our handy friends laughed at us, Hans went ahead and replaced both of them. I'm not crossing the gulf with something held together with spit and tie wraps.

Today we're getting hauled out in order to get her highness's bottom painted. Again. Of course today is windy and getting out of the slip should be interesting. We will then spend a few days at a luxury (pet friendly) motel where I sincerly hope no one gets murdered in the room behind us like the last time. They did capture the killer (the poor girl's ex-boyfriend) but not before he stole a couple of cars and killed yet one more person.

Now I've got to figure out what to do with all the stuff in our refrigerator since it will be shut off while on the hard. I hope Hans doesn't mind having chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

At least Wilbur will be happy!


Wilbur inspects the latest interloper.