Another sunset in Marathon
I'm talking about the highs and lows of living aboard a boat (although 'highs and lows' could also be a weather reference which as we all know is extremely important when cruising).
I'm beginning to find a strange rhythm to the whole 'I love living on a boat-I hate living on a boat' thing. And it's almost cruel.
It never fails that after we experience a spate of good tidings and begin to relax about our life at sea and exclaim, "Wow, are we lucky or what?", fate turns around and smacks us right upside the head. Every single time.
If you follow our blog at all you'll know what I mean.
Just short of two months into our re-entry of the cruising life we've had to have our dinghy's carburetor rebuilt, we've ran aground (but got off on our own) a few times, dragged anchor several times, woke up to and also sailed into pea soup a couple of times, discovered a fresh water leak (our starboard water tank's overflow valve has joined the same troublesome union the rest of our working systems belong to) underneath the mattress in our berth, beat our brains out trying to discern why our batteries couldn't hold a charge, and ended up replacing both engines' alternators.
In between these trials, we've had friends join us for a week, met up with friends from years past, actually got to the Dry Tortuga's (Hans can scratch this off his bucket list), enjoyed some beautiful achorages along with beautiful sunsets (sunrises don't come easy to us), unexpectedly ran into friends from our home port of South Pasadena while we were in fabulous Key West, and lastly, after a horribly long day of enduring a 'washing machine' passage (my opinion, while Hans feels it was one of the best sails we've ever experienced) we found ourselves moored in Boot Key Harbor here in Marathon.
When we first went past Boot Key Harbor on our way to the Tortuga's, the mooring field was full with a thirty boat waiting list. This time, on our way back, we were immediately assigned a mooring and we considered ourselves lucky as a weather front was moving in from the north with threats of strong winds and we wanted to be nice and secure. Things were looking up; we were a short distance from the dinghy dock, there is an excellent library exchange here (we had 11 books to trade), and shopping is within walking distance.
A while back I received an email from a blog follower, and she and her husband were going to be in the Marathon/Key West area kinda sorta around the time we were, and perhaps we just might meet up.
Oddly enough, in Marathon, we did.
We made arrangements to meet our new friends on their boat for drinks and appetizers and they even invited Wilbur (honestly, they really did). We normally close down shop on the Knotty Cat by late afternoon, meaning we usually stay put before sundown. I remember the time we were anchored in the Potomac back in 2010 when Hans and I went to a spaghetti dinner at the Capital Yacht Club and we left a young Wilbur on board with all the hatches open. We had barely finished eating when a storm rolled in complete with winds that knocked over a nearby restaurant's umbrella tables, blinding lightning, and slashing rain. Panic set in because we could not see our boat and we were terrified it would drag and our baby was on board. As soon as the rain let up a bit and even though the sky was still alive with lightning we jumped into our dinghy (which was already ankle deep in water) and headed for the Knotty Cat. It was with total relief we found out boat still in place even though the interior was soaked. We were also relieved to find Wilbur none the worse for his experience and as he sat in his crate with water dripping all over him from above, his tail wagged furiously, and we both got big pitty kisses when we let him out. That was the last time we went anywhere in the evening.
This time we weren't worried. We were on a mooring ball and our friends' boat was a short distance away. We had a great time, Wilbur was thoroughly excited to be included and even managed to sneak in a few stinky pitty kisses, and before we knew it it was time to leave. Actually, we should have left sooner because the wind was really kicking up and dark clouds were rolling in. We jumped into the dinghy and as we sped away, all of a sudden it was like someone pulled the shades down and turned out the lights. The wind kicked into full gear and started screaming mournfully through the mooring field. We were so amazed we actually went in the wrong direction (very surprising since I'm pretty sure Hans has a compass built into his brain) and we found ourselves at the wrong end of the mooring field. We got turned around just as lightning began to flash and sharp drops of rain started pelting us. We bounced through the waves and of course most of them washed over the bow and straight into Wilbur's face, and Wilbur, who just lives for dinghy rides, decided this was no fun at all and tried to escape. I forced him down at my feet and then the waves crashed into my face. Normally, this totally pisses me off and Hans kept apologizing over the screaming wind but I told him I didn't care and to please just get us home. He did, and with the stern of our boat blocking some of the wind we managed to get safely aboard.
It didn't end there though. Even with the wind generator working overtime, our batteries didn't look as strong as they should (not a lot of sun earlier so the solar panels hadn't helped) and Hans decided to start up the Honda generator. During a slight lull in the storm he got it up and running and we plugged in all our electronics. But within minutes the oil alarm light on the Honda lit up and it promptly died. Oh my, I wish I'd taken a video of Hans in the cockpit trying to get that big stinker started again. He was already soaked to the skin, and after (over) filling the generator with oil (and please don't get Hans started on how inaccessible the oil filling thingy is) he started ripping the pull cord in a maniacal fashion again and again and again. I bit my tongue (for once) and didn't say anything about how at least he was getting an upper body workout. The generator never did start (although in the bright light of the next day she was quite happy to fire up) but with Windy doing the job she'd been hired to do, the batteries finally leveled off at an acceptable level.
We rinsed out our saturated clothing in the shower (clothes soaked in salt water do.not.dry!) and assured our friends via cell phone that we had arrived home safe and sound and it wouldn't be necessary to send Flipper (the aquatic version of Lassie) out to rescue us.
The day after? It was gorgeous with zero humidity and life was good once again.
Wilbur at sunset
I guess this means the shit's gonna hit the fan again and I'm not looking forward to it.