Friday, January 15, 2016

Failure to Launch

It sounds cute when it's a fun filled movie complete with quirky characters and popular actors, but for cruisers the term Failure to Launch isn't fun at all.

Today was the day we were supposed to put the Knotty Cat in the water and make our great escape.

It didn't happen.

I'm probably partially to blame for this as last night I bemoaned the fact that unlimited hot baths, comfortable king size beds, and being able to jump into a car at a moments notice was soon to be history. Be careful what you wish for.

Yesterday when we initially visited the Knotty Cat I was relieved to have overcast skies and cool temperatures since we would be working outside for most of the time. I have to admit though that even with these conditions we were still sweating at the end of the day (that damn Florida humidity just never goes away) and I hoped today would be just as cool.

At 9 AM this morning, just as I was drying my hair (when will I learn that any attempt at taming my hair in Florida is a direct invitation to trouble?), the marina called to inform us that all launches for the day were being cancelled due to the weather. We looked out the window and, Holy Crap! We could barely see the whipping palm trees through the slashing rain. And just to make things more interesting there was a tornado warning until 5 PM. You can imagine what Wilbur thought when Hans took him out for his morning constitutional. So then another decision had to be made. We'd used up the last of our credit card points for this hotel room which meant we'd have to come up with cash for tonight. Or we could try for a room at a hotel where we still had some credit. The hotel with the credit had just one room remaining and would only accept pets under 25 pounds. And while Wilbur has been on an odd kind of hunger strike lately, no way could we diet him down to that weight in one day.

This doesn't even do justice. Outside our hotel window. It just dumped rain.

My jeans were soaked nearly to my knees after trekking through Walmart's parking lot. It rained so hard a frog leaped into our car when Hans opened the door. We don't pick up hitchhikers so out he went!

So we ponied up the money for one more night here and then went on a provisioning run.

Provisioning. It kills me. I don't like shopping to begin with but starting from scratch yet once drives me nuts! Salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, coffee, do I need sugar? flour? Not really so I'll skip those for now. Lunch meat, bread (Hans and I never agree about bread, but since I was the one shopping... he had to sit in the car with Wilbur), condiments? I bought mustard, laundry detergent (there went a chunk of change), back to the spice section for cumin and chili powder (no way can I make chile without those), TV dinners for tonight (yay for hotel room microwaves), and on and on. A couple of hundred dollars later I was done and I've barely scratched the surface, but it's a start.

We've been told to arrive at the boat yard as early as possible tomorrow as they will now have two days worth of boats going in the water. It's a long drive and arising before the crack of noon isn't my thing.

Why do I have a feeling there will be a long line ahead of us and it won't make a bit of difference when we get there.

Oh, one more thing. I've lost count of how many posts I've written about our (completely outdated yet thank god we have them or we'd be totally screwed) solar panels. If I've said it once, I've said it a bazillion times; we've nearly lost them too many times and we need to be more careful with them yada, yada, yada.

Did we learn any lessons? Apparently not, because after putting up all our canvas (dodger and bimini, and aren't they just wonderful 'wind catchers'? I'm glad we didn't remove our hurricane straps) before we departed the boat yard yesterday, we also decided to leave the solar panels out in order to 'juice up' the batteries. Sure!! Because one day of solar power is really gonna make a big difference after not being used for nearly seven months! Duh!

So once again I'm not looking forward to what we may find tomorrow.


Wilbur loves his new nest and would prefer to stay

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Whole Dirty Story


After sitting for nearly seven months on the hard, our Knotty Cat welcomed us back today with filthy open arms.

Oh, my, where to start.

Well, she's just plain filthy.

Mildew. This seat was spotless when we left last summer.

I moved a line and this stain remained. Only one spot among many.

I feel like we left our teenager alone for the summer with hopes of her showing some personal responsibility and making us proud. Instead, it would appear our girl partied the summer away knowing full well we'd clean up her mess upon our return. We found dried up frog/toad carcasses scattered on the deck, wasp nests, too many cocoons containing God knows what, a half finished bird nest, tarnished stainless rails and lifelines, grimy dirt, and it was obvious that hygiene went straight out the window as everything that wasn't covered in bird poop was covered with a green haze.

Our dinghy outboard is mounted on a rail. You can just make out some branches from a bird nest in the middle.

You can see it a little bit closer.

Tarnished stainless rails.

But first, we needed to hoist Wilbur aboard. Remember, our boat is on the hard which means the deck is way up in the air and we can't just step aboard. We need to climb the skimpy swim ladder that drops down from the stern. This means that at 5 feet 0 inches I have to lift my leg up somewhere in the vicinity of my armpits in order to get a good foot hold (and yoga is not one of my strengths). And since Wilbur is shorter than me, we had to strap him into his life jacket and when he saw us drop the main sheet over the side in order to tie it around his middle he went ape-shit. Wilbur has the memory of an elephant and I'm pretty sure he recalled us doing this exact same thing to him years ago when the line got tangled and he ended up doing an unplanned mid-air somersault.

"As God is my witness, I will never be hoisted again!"

We finally got the little man aboard and then proceeded to assess the situation. I made Hans go below first as I felt if there was a nightmare to be discovered, he could handle it far better than me and I was thrilled beyond belief that nothing major seemed to be amiss.

We put our solar panels out and they immediately began charging our batteries.

After yanking the hell out of the generator cord it finally caught and also started charging the batteries.

Our inverter decided to work even though it was a big stinker at the end of our trip last year and only performed when it felt like it.

I was able to prime the water pump (we'll find out about the hot water tank tomorrow), our cabin lights work, the refrigerator hummed for the couple of minutes we turned it on, and we didn't find any major water damage from leaks.

I will admit that I was disappointed to find that the phifertex shield that wraps around what I call our 'windows' (official term is dead lights) failed. We had this wrap made for us a few years ago and it keeps the tropical sun out of the inside of the boat. The problem is that it's held in place with glued on snaps and not snaps that are drilled into the boat. I found some gorilla type Velcro on the boat and I'm going to see if I can fix it on the cheap. We really don't want to drill holes if not necessary.

Failed phifertex. I hope to fix this tomorrow.

But, I have to say, I believe my happiest moment occurred when I realized that even though our girl partied the summer away like it was 1999, we came home to a boat absent of crabs cockroaches.

I can live with that.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to the Boat and Reality


Poor Wilbur. He has one tiny space in the back seat. He's a good traveler.


So six months after putting The Knotty Cat on the hard in Florida for what we thought was going to be a couple of months, we are now ready to get back on board.

Everyone keeps asking us if we're excited. Hans will tell you yes. Me, not so much.

I think this is probably because Hans handles problems in a much calmer manner than me. I already dread finding out what's gone bad or failed since we left her in June. For example: did any hatches leak during the insane rains of this summer (and if so, is there mold?), are the batteries okay, do all the systems still work, how about the water pump; the hot water tank? And my one big fear; cockroaches! We've never had them but you never know what might happen while you're gone. And if we do have a lot of issues, we really don't have the financial reserves that we had in the past. Hans quit his real job over a year ago and we managed to rip through most of our savings in about six months.

While we were in Pennsylvania this summer I worked as a waitress while Hans continued his insurance sales as a PA and Florida agent. And then in November when business got busy at the inn, he joined me and played the piano in the dining room on the weekends.

This year's Christmas tree.


Lunch with Santa this year. Five years ago I burned my elf outfit swearing I'd never do this again. Never say never!

I know a lot of cruisers take time out to earn money so they can continue to live this lifestyle but for us, these jobs just supported us while we were on land. Let me tell you, the Dollar Tree and Dollar General got quite a bit business from us this summer. Of the two of us, I'm the tightwad, and one day at the grocery store I told Hans we had exactly twenty dollars to spend on groceries for the week. We got lucky and chicken was on sale. That week we had: white chicken chile (McCormick's best seasoning packet ever), grilled chicken salad, grilled chicken with fresh green beans, and two days worth of crock-pot chicken noodle soup (I used a pack of frozen vegetables but forgot potatoes. It was still good).

The inn closed with a success on New Year's Eve and it was time to head south. We stopped in Pittsburgh for a couple of days to visit friends, spent two days with my son and his wife, and then three days with my daughter. Our last two days here in Florida at a pet friendly LaQuinta Hotel used up the remaining points on our credit card.

Don't get me wrong. We may not be rich but we're not destitute either. We'll just continue to find work where we can and in the meantime we'll still have a roof over our heads.

Where we go from here, I'm not sure. I have an idea where I'd like to go but until we get re-situated it's all up in the air.

Our hotel mattress tester. This one got 5 stars.