Pleased To Meet Yu

Thursday December 27, 2012

Just before the holidays we had a comment on our website that said something along the lines of ‘Just found your website through your surveyor, we happen to be in the boat yard right next to yours, we’d love to meet up sometime‘.  We love meeting new people, we’ve done it plenty of times through the website, and didn’t think anything of it when we set up the date.  The couple that contacted us are Frank and Yu, and are outfitting their Hans Christian 41, Moitessier, living on the hard in St. Augustine until they are ready to leave.  Yu has been working at one of the hotels in town to save up the kitty and Frank works on the boat with hopes they’ll be tossing off bow lines in late 2013.   Setting a date to meet up for just after Christmas they let us know they have a car at their disposal they said they’d swing over and get us where we’d then run into town to grab a drink.

Giving directions for the 1/4 mile drive next door (no, really, we are that close to each other) they picked us up after dinner where we then told them since they were the locals we were at the mercy of wherever they wanted to take us.  Jumping into the car we did introductions and they almost apologized for sending an invite to meet us over the internet.  ‘We didn’t know if you guys would be weirded out, some people you’ve never met send you and e-mail and want to get together.‘.  We also then found out that they’ve spent all of their time getting their boat ready so they haven’t been out cruising yet to find out that’s how you meet half your friends.  People you’ve never seen in your life that stumble upon you and since you have this huge common link you don’t think twice about a chance to get together and share experiences and revel in the fact that there are other people out there who are just as crazy as you are.  So were we weirded out?  Not at all.  It’s how I met one of my current best friends that I now talk to every day.

Taking the car to the center of town and actually being able to grab a parking spot because of Yu’s access due to work, we headed out on St. George St, a cobblestone road shut down to traffic and is filled with bars and restaurants.  They did have a certain place in mind to take us, but after getting lost in conversation and having passed it without realizing we just kept moving on to the White Lion, the place I had mentioned a few posts ago for having $1 tall boys on Monday nights.  A few days late, or early, for that special but after finding a table in the corner as well as some relatively cheap beers on the menu.  It’s always nice going out with another couple that understand your budget because they’re on it too, and you can share in the experience of looking for the best deal.

Before drinks could even come out we were deep in conversation about boats, mostly into all the work that has been put into Moitessier.  Having spied on them through their blog (as everyone with a blog will do) we had already seen many of the projects that had been undertaken, and the beautiful woodwork Frank had a hand in.  I still couldn’t get over a propane tank he had made from scratch and tried to think of an excuse of why Serendipity might need something similar just so we could have something that stunning on our boat.  Trading all kinds of stories we found out about their wedding in Barcelona, their time spent living in New York City, and Yu’s previous career as a fashion designer.  Upon hearing that I couldn’t pay attention to anything else boat and my mind wandered to cute outfits that could be made if I could wrangle up some fabric.

We must have been having great conversation though because before I knew it we had gone through two drinks at the bar and were making plans to go back to Moitessier for a look-see and a night cap.  Feeling bad about finishing the alcohol of people we just met there was a quick stop at the gas station where Matt and I grabbed a six pack and some mini frosted doughnuts before we all went back to the boat yard.  Climbing up the ladder to the deck it just felt like normal as opposed to stepping off a dock or taking a dinghy over.  We got the quick tour of the boat, which felt twice the size of Serendipity.  For the first round of drinks we all gathered in conversation about how we came into sailing and first boats we owned.  Sitting at their settee (which is probably the size of our whole salon) we were able to look around and see the hard work they’ve put into their boat and how stunning it looked.  Although they got a great deal on it and are putting in the work to make up for it, they are going to (and already do) have an amazing boat when they’re finished.

While the boys talked more boat, Yu and and I got lost in our bottle of wine and conversations of Theology.  In my head I was sounding witty and astute, but going onto the second bottle of wine I wouldn’t be surprised if I was W. Bushing my way through the conversation, making up words and ideas that only made sense in my head.  The conversation between us must have been very fatiguing since we were both ravenous and Yu needed to heat up some pasta for us to snack on while we went back to our conversation.  By the time the last sip of wine was taken from the second bottle we opened my eyes were drooping and all of us were ready for bed.  Giving hugs and saying good-bye Matt and I climbed down the ladder and Frank drove us back to our yard.  Looking at the clock as we passed through the gate we realized it was four in the morning.  Hopefully all that wine wasn’t making me miss signs to get the eff off their boat because it was getting to late, but I think all of us were having such a good time that none of us realized how late it had gotten.  But if we can find new friends that we get so lost in time with our first night out, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other and it’s going to make our time here much more tolerable.

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I Won’t Be Home For Christmas, You Can Count On It

Tuesday December 25, 2012

So here it is on Christmas, and we’re sitting in a boat yard in Florida, on the hard for three weeks now. Not exactly where we thought we’d be at this time, and not where we wanted to be either, but you take the cards you’re dealt and do with them what you can. We’ve had multiple offers to spend the holidays with friends and their families, but we decided that if we’re not going to be with our own family we’d rather spend the holiday just between the two of us. Although thank you very much to everyone who offered to take us in. And we did try to make it home to see all our family and friends that we left behind, but we just couldn’t find anything cheap enough to justify the trip. Plane tickets, car rentals…dropping hints to family to send one of the two our way. None of it worked and  I was even completely ready to hijack Rode Trip’s rental car, steal it from them while they were sleeping after having gotten us to Pennsylvania. It’s really not that far from Michigan. You think I’m joking, but I was really at that point. Either Matt’s more sensible or a better person than I am, and he talked me into staying in the boatyard. (Although I think my plan would have worked)

 The days leading up to the holiday have been very uneventful. We forced ourselves off the boat on Saturday to do just a little provisioning and stocking up on things. This has started becoming a common occurrence with us, going to the store every few days, not even because we really need anything, but just to get ourselves off the boat. And as much as I hate to admit it, the landlubber life has already started effecting me. During that grocery trip all I could think was ‘We better really stock up, because what if Monday or Tuesday comes around and we don’t have something that we need. The stores will be closed and what will we do then?’. It took me a moment to remember that we only used to have the opportunity to go to the grocery store every few weeks, or having to going on foot, that was as often as we wanted to go. Ran out of milk? Don’t eat cereal. No fresh meat? Heat up a can of soup for dinner. I’ve already become spoiled by the convenience of getting whatever I want whenever I want it that I don’t remember we used to go even more so without, and we’ll (hopefully) be back to that soon.  Right now it’s still a few miles round trip on bike, and everything we buy has to fit in our backpacks or strap on to the bike rack, but for us that really is convenience.

Since then we have done nothing. I partly blame it on insomnia and some very odd sleep schedules we’ve been having lately. With no early morning departures or places to be, we’ve fallen into a habit of watching t.v. until just after midnight (or 2 am for Matt) and allowing ourselves to sleep in the next morning. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll set an alarm for 9:00 to force myself out of bed and get a little writing done or do something even mildly productive. Somehow both of us had a terrible bout of insomnia the night before (or morning of) Christmas Eve. We tried to go to bed at 1 am and after an hour of laying there we weren’t any closer to sleeping and got back up, just surfing the web and trying to make ourselves tired. At 3 we tried to go back to sleep and again had an hour where sleep was completely eluding us. Back up and on the computers. Soon it became a joke to see if we could stay up until the sun rose since it may as well have been three o’clock in the afternoon to us. Finally at 6:30 am my eyes were starting to droop enough to the point I thought I could try bed again and Matt was thirty minutes behind me. Needless to say, we were completely useless after we woke up for the day at two in the afternoon.

Even though we weren’t good for much of anything else, we were still able to participate in a little holiday tradition we’ve had going since 2004, which is watching ‘Love Actually‘ within a week of Christmas. It it such a great movie, and my second favorite movie of all time, only coming in after ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’. And after having watched it nine years in a row now, I’m pretty sure I have all the lines memorized. Which is fun for me, but not so fun for Matt when he has to suffer thrugh the next week of me quoting lines from the movie in the most random ways, and always in a British accent. Like when I hand Matt something he isn’t expecting and he asks “Is this for me?” and I reply with “It’s all for you….sir.”. Or even more randomly when they don’t fit into the conversation at all and I just blurt out lines like ‘Which doll for Daisy’s friend Emily? The one that looks like a transvestite, or the one that looks like a dominatrix?‘. (Referring to Barbie dolls dressed in feather boas and leather skirts) I’m so lucky that he puts up with me.

Christmas morning we woke up with the excitement of any other day. ‘Oh, what, it’s Christmas? I didn’t even remember’. It wasn’t even until a few hours after we woke up that we looked over at the presents and cards we had received from family but refrained from opening, hoping it would get us a little into the holiday spirit. There were humorous cards, a little Christmas money, and Matt even got a few new shirts. On any other day I would have been ecstatic to open the gifts we received and feel thankful for everything we’d gotten from our family and friends, but even gifts (and money!) couldn’t take me out of my funk and I spent the day in a depressed mood. Who knows if it was because we were in a pile of dirt and rocks all by ourselves, that we weren’t with friends and family, or we knew that even all of our cruising buddies were with theirs, it was just a shit day and I wanted it to go by as quickly as possible. And with being the only one on board that felt like that, there was no company for my misery.

Originally thinking that I’d use this day as an opportunity to try and re-fit the fitted sheets for our v-berth I had planned on dragging the cushions over to one of the ship sheds which would be completely abandoned on this day and have all the space in the world to spread things out. I’ve found that sewing projects are much tougher when you’re trying to measure a piece of fabric and you can’t draw a straight line because the 2×4 table that’s your only flat surface won’t allow you to mark the length you need in one shot. But while having my little self pity party I couldn’t assemble the motivation to get any projects done and sat around on the computer all afternoon, not doing anything of real importance, except writing a few Thank You cards that I wanted to get out the next day.

For our big Christmas dinner I tried my hand at making orange chicken and while it didn’t turn out a total disaster, it looked nothing like what we’d be served at Panda Express. So if anyone could give me hints on how to bread chicken in a 10” skillet I think it would make my life a lot easier as we now seem to try and make Chinese food at least twice a week.and I have become no closer to mastering it. Dinner was enjoyed in front of a glowing tv screen while watching Rambo which is something we’ve both made it 30 years without watching up to this point. Then throwing on a Christmas themed movie I relaxed with a glass of red wine in my hand and cat cuddling in my lap. Surprisingly that was all I needed to turn my day around and I could go back to feeling content again. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that keep you going, and I guess for me it’s movies and wine.

 

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If I’m Lying, I’m Mayan

Friday December 21, 2012

Although the yard has now shut down until after the new year (not a big deal for us since the insurance company still hasn’t approved our claim yet), they decided to shut down with a celebration. A little cook-out with grilling and drinks that we had just found out about the day before the party, to be held for employees and anyone like us that’s stuck in the yard for the holidays. The party started and noon and went until ‘question mark’, usually once the beer runs out, so we used the morning to run errands since once we get settled in the afternoon it’s hard to force ourselves to do anything. We got back just as the tables were getting set up and waiting on the boat for a few minutes until we could be a few minutes fashionably late we made our way over to the masses. The grill was fired up but the first round of burgers and dogs had already been passed around so we found the beer cooler in the back and made some conversation with a few of the employees that have been helping us along since we’ve been here.

 When the next round of food was ready we filled our plates and placed ourselves along the long picnic table between other cruisers in the yard. One of the women sitting next to us we had just met a few minutes earlier as we had scouted out the beer cooler together and then for a bottle opener as both her and I seem to have taste for beers without twist off caps. Sitting at the table we also had the chance to meet her husband who I’m pretty sure is actually Jeff Bridges since he looked and sounded exactly like him, but was just going as another alias to try and lead a life out of the spotlight. (I’m onto you ‘Marshall’, aka ‘The Dude’) As we told them the sob story of how and why we were stuck in the boat yard in the first place they countered it with an even worse story of how their catamaran ended up on some nasty rocks where it stayed for a few days until multiple towing attempts were able to get it off. Their boat survived and after a year of extensive repairs to the hull they were back on their way again. I can’t remember if that was before or after they were de-masted off the coast of North Carolina, but it seems they have worse luck than we do and each time they just pick up the pieces and keep moving on.

One other thing we learned from them was how easy it is to become stuck in a boat yard for long periods of time. Any boater knows that you can expect most projects to take at least three times as long as you originally expect them to. Things never go as smoothly as you wish them to in your mind, they’re more labor intensive than you think, you don’t have the parts you need, and usually one project breeds at least two new ones. We’re hoping that because professionals will be doing the work on Serendipity that we won’t run into some of those issues, but on the flip side, The Dude warned us that when someone else is working on your boat you’re on their schedule. And you may not always be at the top of their list. No one here at the marine center has made us feel yet that this would be the case with us, but let’s just hope that once work starts we get a speedy recovery.

The party was a big hit and while there we gorged ourselves on more hamburgers, hot dogs, oyster, pie and beer than we’d normally eat in a few days. True to my prediction, people started disbanding as soon as the cooler began to empty, and true to our holiday traditions, just like thanksgiving, we closed the place down and continued to sit around with drinks in our hands as the mess around us was cleaned up. This time we did help some things get into the trash though, so I don’t feel quite as bad as last time. Then standing in the hot Florida sun (nicest day we’ve had here so far) we continued our conversation with our new friends until our beers were empty and we parted ways. Getting anything else productive done for the rest of the afternoon was not going to happen so I got online to tell my friends Merry Christmas and I love them (‘Cause if you can’t say it at Christmas, when can you, eh?’) before passing out for a spectacular afternoon nap.

Waking up the next morning I found that the world did not end, but I’m pretty sure hell had frozen over. It had gone from sunny and mid 70’s the day before to overcast and 50. One of the things we had made sure to pick up the day before while out and about was getting a small space heater for the boat. We currently had a camping heater that runs off those little green cans of propane, but a can only lasted a few hours and it could become very expensive keeping ourselves warm over the winter while constantly having to refill them. So instead our new heater plugs in to any AC outlet and has been doing a fantastic job of heating up the boat.

And what does one do on the day the world is supposed to end? Well, if you didn’t know, there’s supposed to be a time that goes along with the date, 11:11 am, so when that came and went I tried to think in terms of time zones, but it wasn’t looking likely that I was going to perish in two hours either. So I sat at my ‘desk’ with cat on lap and tried to get some work done. Coffee was made to stave off the cold, but it was obvious that we weren’t going to be going into the cold that day, just another day hanging around Serendipity in the boat yard. ‘Summer vacation’ continues and each day we keep wishing we’ll get to the point when school will start again. Or that summer vacation will be bathing suit and beach weather and it would be easier to force ourselves outside. Maybe warm weather would also force us to be more productive on the boat as it always seems easier to pick up a project when the sun is shinning and a nice breeze is blowing through the hatch. It looks like we’ll have plenty of time though, to find out what will force us out of our lazy lifestyle and give Serendip all the care and work that she needs. Or we can continue to sit around and wait for the zombie apocalypse to bring us down since the Mayans apparently got it wrong.

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Fa la la la la

Wednesday December 19, 2012

Sitting inside the cabin in the early afternoon, just like we’ve been spending most of our days lately, there was a knock on the side of the hull and I sprung up to the cockpit. Peeking over the side a loud yell of “Friends!!” escaped by mouth, because standing on the ground were Brian, Stephanie, Scott, and Kim. This was not unexpected as we had been planning on their visit for some time now, but it didn’t make seeing them any less exciting. Not even bothering to put on shoes I bound down the ladder landing on the rocks in my bare feet and attacking my friends with bear hugs, one by one. After nearly four weeks we were reunited with our boat buddies, although just for the day since they were visiting in a rental car before Brian and Stephanie drove it up to Pennsylvania for the holidays. By the time I was done squeezing the air out of everyone Matt had made his way down the ladder as well and began showing off the damage while Stephanie and I, both worn out on boat issues, sat back and caught up on every day life and how we were dealing with sitting in one place. While everyone was checking out the hull they must have thought everything was being held on by a piece of thread because seeing it in person they kept commenting “Oh, that doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would be”.

 Inviting them on the boat we showed some of the damage to the woodwork and where the tabbing had cracked. Then it was time to hear what was holding them back as well, and each couple told the horror stories they were having with their engines and all the work that was going into getting them fixed. All the trials, errors, and lessons learned from taking on the projects themselves. Sitting in the salon with a drink in our hands and enjoying some incredible mint and chocolate chip cookies Kim had made we went through every detail of what we had been up to for the past few weeks until it was like we had never left each other’s sides. Everyone was also able to fawn over Georgie (or Peaches as Brain likes to call her), and Kim, who was very jealous of Tasha’s photo op with Georgie sprawled on her lap, was able to get her own. While the night was still young though and our stomachs were starting to growl we packed all six of us into the compact car in search of a good yet reasonably priced meal. Since Kim and Scott had been here before they recommended a Bohemian type cafe offering things from pizza to gyros to tacos. I tried my hardest to talk the guy behind the counter into giving me the Thursday night happy hour special of a taco plate and a beer but was unfortunately turned down, although very politely, since it was neither Thursday nor happy hour.

When we finished eating we decided to leave the car in the parking lot and walk into town since there is rarely a place to park unless you’re visiting a certain establishment, and only while you’re there. It was weird being swept back to a life where you even had to think of such things as parking since now we tend to forget that things like that are even necessary. Having been just outside of the ‘Nights of Lights’ I waited for Stephanie’s face to light up as soon as she saw them coming up to the Lightner Museum, and boy did they. The way the lights are set up here really is like something out of a fairy tale. There’s not too many to make it gaudy or overdone, but just placed perfectly on every arch or wrapped around each palm tree. It’s easy to see why they’ve made National Geographic’s Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights, in the world!

Wanting to share the beauty of the courtyard inside the Lightner Museum I began to lead the pack up the pathway where we became blocked by one of the trolley tours that had stopped right in front of us, blocking our path forward. Everyone on the trolley was in good spirits, yelling out ‘Merry Christmas!’ to anyone passing by, and they were also wearing what looked to be 3-D glasses. Stephanie, being a pro on anything fun, explained they enhance things like Christmas lights, changing the bulbs into shapes of things like stars and snowflakes. Overhearing us, a guy on the trolley pulled of his pair to hand around to the group of us as we each held them up to our eyes and went ‘ooh and aah’ as all the lights turned to snowflakes. Why weren’t we going on this tour?! It looked amazing, plus everyone riding was in such good spirits that it didn’t take us long to start yelling ‘Merry Christmas!’ back to anyone that smiled at us. Once the trolley left and we had given the glasses back I was really excited to go show the courtyard now, only to find the gates locked. Peering behind the cast iron bars, Kim and I did our best to describe the beauty to Stephanie, the coy pond in the center with the stone bridge that crossed. Luckily this will not be their only visit down though and the next time they come we might find the gates open, or at least a way to scale them.

Continuing down the street we were shown a statue down an alley way by Kim that has an interesting back story from the last time they were here, and pressed our faces up against the shop windows on cobblestone roads. Carrying on we did more window shopping, looking at stain glassed masterpieces and popped into an art gallery with some beautiful pieces of work that could regrettably not be photographed. (And regrettably they got that message to me too late) Next door at A1A Aleworks I pointed out the microbrews to Brian and we agreed that we’d have to stop in for a round the next time around. Across the street, Stephanie and I lost everyone else as we wandered around a soap shop, picking up scented candles and soaps while admiring all the displays.  Back on the street we ambled down historic St. George Street while moving about aimlessly through other shops including a chocolate shop and a magic store where we were treated to a ten minute magic show demonstrating all the tricks available for purchase.  There were a few that we were almost tempted to buy, the flaming wallet at the top of the list.  I mean, who wouldn’t love to be standing at the Starbucks counter and when you open your wallet to pay the bill it bursts into flames?  With a candid camera type show the wallet would pay for itself…and keep itself stuffed.

Progressing on we stopped for a quick disco party under some strobing green and red lights on an open patio.  We found French Fry Heaven and perused happy hours and daily specials at restaurants.  Showing them the $4.99 beer and hand rolled cigar combo that was popular at a few shops we were unable to convince them of it at this point, but maybe ‘next time’.  At one point Stephanie exclaimed, “This town is amazing!! I’m having the best time ever, and I haven’t even been drinking!!”. So we’re pretty sure it won’t be hard to lure them back for maybe even a full week once Rode Trip is up and running again.

By the time we were ready to head back to Serendipity we were so high on the presence of each other, the beauty of the town, and the cheer of everyone around us that we could not contain our own excitement or Christmas spirit. There were not as many trolleys running now, but each time one did we would yell out at the top of our lungs, a chorus of mismatched “Merry Christmas’” between the six of us. By the time we got back to the side street that housed the rental car I think a few of the drivers began to recognize us and probably thought we were drunk or just harassing customers. As one trolly pulled on to King Street we belted our normal chorus, but no one on board responded or even looked at us. It’s like their conductor got on the speaker just as he spotted us and told everyone to ignore the group of crazies off to their left. Treating us like a group of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s he must have advised, “If you don’t move…they won’t see you”. We weren’t going to let the tourists dropping energy levels ruin the rest of our night though as we hung out in the parking lot testing out Brian’s new pole spear before climbing back up Serendipity for a night cap.

Being the amazing friends that they are, Kim brought rum for us to drink, and Brain and Stephanie had made their own ginger beer. With Dark & Stormies in hand we spent the next few hours relishing in each other’s company for as long as it could last. For a short period we weren’t three boats that weren’t stalled from traveling, we were our old gang, laughing and socializing, and looking up more crazy videos on Youtube. (Really Scott and Kim, you hadn’t heard about Double Rainbow?) When it was time for everyone to leave I had the instinct to stow away in the trunk, following them along and letting the good times continue. But all good things must come to and end and the high we’d all been feeling through the day suddenly plummeted as we realized the fun was over. But in the morning that low will be replaced by the excitement and anticipation that we’ll get to do it all over again someday soon.

 

 

 

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If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Electronics

December 18, 2012

Love having this little baby in the cockpit.

 

We’ve only been cruising for just over four months now, but it’s already been plenty of time to figure out what works and what doesn’t as far as all our electronics go.  And that’s not even in a ‘broken or working’ sense, more of a ‘this was a good purchase/feature, or not’.  Because if we knew then what we know now, we probably could have saved ourselves a lot of money on things we added that aren’t really that necessary.  While talking to our friends Ron and Jackie who will hopefully be on our tails in just a few years, they asked what the best pieces of equipment to outfit their new boat with are, probably thinking they need a lot of the top of the line pieces we just purchased.  Some things we’re definitely happy we got and will be recommending they do the same, but some things we got were just….unnecessary.  So if we could help more than one person with outfitting their boat in preparation to go cruising, we happy to throw out some opinions and advice.

But remember, this list is just meant to only be a piece of advice and our personal opinion.  Every sailor is going to have a different idea of what works for them and it may not match with ours.

 

What we Love

This is a list of what we feel are the best purchased we made as far as electronics.  Things we couldn’t live without and we would definitely recommend to other boaters.

 

    • Autopilot.  Hands down this is the number one best purchase we could have added to our boat.  Any time we’re out on the water it gets used.  I could not imagine having to steer by hand for hours on end, it’s both physically and mentally tiring.  With the set up we have now we only hand steer through narrow or winding areas like inlets, rivers, canals.  Whenever we’re in a big body of water we just engage the autopilot and keep an eye on the horizon, and on the chartplotter, changing course by a few degrees or multiples of 10 when we need to.  I don’t think we’d have the discipline to be on the water without it.  I tip my hat to any of you that do.  (Our autopilot is made up of Raymarine SX10 Computer; Raymarine rudder position sensor; Raymarine linear drive type 1; Raymarine st6002 head unit).

 

    • Cockpit mounted VHF.  Don’t worry, that’s not the only one we have.  There’s also a Standard Horizon GX2100 at the nav station.  But I have found it almost indispensable to also have one in the cockpit at all times.  It sits right next to the wheel and the autopilot controls, and we have it on whenever we’re traveling.  It’s usually just monitoring channel 16, but any time we need to hail a lift bridge, respond to a hail from a passing boat, or hail Tow Boat and the Coast Guard (cough, cough), it’s always at arms reach.  Rarely do we ever use the one at the nav station while we’re traveling, and since I, helmsman and VHF correspondent, can’t be at the wheel and down below at the same time, it makes it very handy to have one available above deck. (Our cockpit mounted VHF is a Standard Horizon RAM 3)

 

    • AIS. Automatic Identification System.  This favorable little device is a tracking system used on ships for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data.  We only have the receiver part of this which means that we can pick up other ships transmitting, but not the transceiver which would allow them to pick up us.  It’s still very useful for us though since who we need to keep the biggest eye out for on the water are the large containers/tugs/ect., that are traveling in the 10-20 knot range and are not likely to change their course to move around us.  Meaning that on a bad night they could run us over before we ever saw them.  But with AIS they send out a signal that we pick up on our chartplotter which shows their location, their speed, their direction, and usually their destination.  We also have a way to set it up where our GPS reads their coordinates and speed against ours and will notify us if we’re on a collision course and can tell us when it will happen down to the minute.  This takes so much pressure off on night watches or when you’re exiting the Charleston Channel at 5 am and you can’t tell if those bright lights are 1 mile away or 10.  (Our AIS is Standard Horizon GX2100).

 

    • Vessel Systems Monitor.  Although this falls into the somewhat frivolous category since there are other ways around getting this information, we still love ours.  In one little screen that we have mounted at the nav station it shows the current charge of our batteries, how many amps we’re bringing in from our solar panels, how often our bilge runs in a 24 hour period, and even the level in our holding tank.  There are so many other things it monitors as well: all voltage, amperage, watts, frequency, ect.  But did you hear me?, it monitors the level in your holding tank!  Which means that I don’t have to squeeze myself into a lazarette, unscrew the top to the holding tank, and put my face up against it to see how full it is.  I have a pretty strong stomach, but constantly checking poo levels does not fall into the category of things I like to do.  (Our VSM is a Blue Sea Systems 422)

 

  • LED Lights.  Any lights we have been able to change to LED, we have done so.  From cabin lights, to the masthead light, to our navigation lights.  They are incredible at conserving energy which is great because we make all of our own and it’s all we have to go on.  LED lights use 1/10th of the power our original lights did, so we don’t feel bad lighting our cabin up like a Christmas tree at night.  Plus with sunset coming so early the closer you get to the Equator, you want to make sure you’re never left in the dark because you’re worried about conserving your power.  Now if we could just get something going with these in the cockpit, we’ll be all set!  (We currently have Sensibulb and IMTRA LED lights, but have been having issues with the Sensibulbs flickering)

What we like but could have done without

These are the things that although we like them and have not had any issues with them, were not necessary purchases.  Either there was a cheaper route we could have gone or a roundabout way we could have done it.  But since they’re already on the boat…..happy to have them!

 

    • Chartplotter.  For those of you who follow along you know that I love my chartplotter.  I stare at it all day long whenever we’re traveling because I constantly want to know our position, our speed, and even the time of day.  (Imagine me whining ‘Are we there yet?’.)  I live by our chartplotter.  But there’s another and cheaper way we could have done this.  Introducing…. da da da daaaa…. an iPad.  It can do the same exact thing as your chartplotter.  All of your charts can be loaded on there, it can talk with your other devices, and you can take it anywhere.  There are also really nice waterproof cases that make it almost indestructible on a boat…given that you don’t drop it in the water.  It’s what our friends on Rode Trip have been using and they’ve been very happy with it. (Our chartplotter is a Raymarine C95)

 

    • Instruments.  Things like depth sounder, wind speed, and boat speed.  These are very important things and I’m not discrediting them altogether, but the reason they make the list is because all that information is viewable on the chartplotter.  The instruments we have came with the boat, but honestly, they’re never looked at.  Remember how my eyes are always glued on the chartplotter?  Most of the time we don’t even see the ones mounted in the cockpit because they’re covered with chairs or lines. (Our instruments are Raymarine ST60)

 

    • Radar.  This actually is something I would consider a necessity.  It’s just something that, surprisingly, we haven’t used very much yet.  That’s probably because almost everywhere we’ve been so far in the U.S. is so well charted that we don’t need to check it against radar.  It will go on sometimes during night watches just as a little something extra, but then you have to be zoomed in very close (usually within a mile or two of your position) on the chartplotter which in turn doesn’t give you the wide view and a chance to see other boats transmitting AIS.  I’m sure it will become very useful once we’re out of the country and the charts may not be as up to date, but at the moment it’s not getting the kind of use we thought it would. (Our radar is a Raymarine 418)

 

  • Handheld VHF.  That’s right, we have three on board.  And guess which one never gets used? In fact, the only time it ever did get used was while coming up to locks on the Erie Canal and I’d be standing at the bow with boat hook also in hand, hailing the lockmaster.  Which could have as easily been done from the cockpit.  They’re usually short range, die quickly, and may not be as waterproof as you’d hoped.  (My fault for leaving it out in a rainstorm)  That’s not to say they’re bad all together.  If you buy a good one, keep it charged, and stow it out of the rain it could be a very good alternative to a cockpit mounted VHF.  (Our handheld VHF is a Uniden Atlantis 250)

 

Now that I’m finished I’m actually surprised by how many things are in the ‘need it’ category instead of the ‘it could have waited’.  Sorry Ron, looks like you will have a lot of shopping to do for Hullabaloo.  But again, what works for one boater may not work for another.  There are tons of variables to take into consideration: type of boat; sailing destinations, personal preference; level of proactiveness (I’d say we fall somewhere in the middle there).  But I think our best advice would be ‘You won’t know before you leave’.  Meaning, it probably will take a few months of living on the boat, traveling, and finding out for yourself.  So if you have the ability, leave with the bare minimum and stop along the way to pick up the things you find you need.  Preferably while you’re still in the U.S., it would probably make it easier to get what you’re looking for and have all the necessary tools to get it installed.

Busy day in New York Harbor.

 

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The Eight Year Itch

Sunday December 16, 2012

(circa 12/04)

 

We were hoping to have been celebrating this in the Bahamas, I had visions of us watching the sunset from the cockpit while sipping a certain bottle of cherry wine that I’ve saving for a few years now, but our wedding anniversary is instead being celebrated in St. Augustine. While I thought we might be able to go into town and spring for a beer or a dessert, Matt surprised me by telling me we could actually go out for a meal. At a real restaurant. It’s surprising because he doesn’t put much stock into any kind of holiday or dates that are usually cause for celebration, even his birthday, but this seems to be the only one he really seems to care about, which if I had to pick only one I guess I’m glad he chose this one. The plan had been to get out on the bikes early in the day and finally check out the beach for once. In the two weeks since we’ve been here it’s actually something we haven’t done yet but keep telling ourselves we’re going to. But summer vacation schedule got in the way and after waking up just shy of noon, eating, showering, and getting ready we only had three hours of sunlight left in the day. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but we’ve heard there’s a charge to get onto the beach and we figured it would be better spent enjoying a full day there.

 Still enjoying the rest of the sunny and warm afternoon we hung out with Georgie on deck to let her do some exploring and bat at all the lines running from fore to aft. She seemed to enjoy the chance to do something new and after some time searching and slinking she picked a spot on the coachroof to roll on her back, throwing her legs up to the sun and soaking in the warmth. Then for a little while I was able to revert back to my previous life of getting ready to go out for a night on the town. Straightening the hair, putting on eyeliner, and rifling through my clothes to find that perfect outfit and matching it with just the right accessories. Something that probably would have been much simpler were it ten to fifteen degrees warmer, since almost everything dressy I have is in the form of a dress and not suitable for the cooler nights we’ve been having. And even though I wasn’t sure if I’d even need it when we left, my one cardigan had been sitting in the dirty laundry bag for over a week without much chance of quickly being pulled out at thrown on. I knew I should have brought that second one! Finally deciding that jeans and a nice tank top with my jacket over it would suffice (keep in mind, I can be a girly girl, these things sometimes matter to me) we pulled the bikes out for the ride into town.

Since we’re so used to to taking a left on the first main street and then following it to the highway where all the main stores are we were surprised at how quickly we made it down to the Bridge of Lions in historic St. Augustine where we locked up the bikes for a walk around. Having our hearts initially set on a certain restaurant we found out they didn’t have the meal that had been on special the last time we had passed by, the whole reason we were going there. Still being early in the evening we decided to stroll the streets until something caught our eye, taking in the ‘Nights of Lights’ while we walked. Strolling past Matanzas Bay we watched the horse carriages wait to pick up customers and throngs of people enjoying drinks and food on outdoor patios. Passing a Mexican restaurant at the end of the road we saw they had a special on premium margaritas and live music playing that night. Glancing at the menu posted outside we kept it in mind but but weren’t sold yet. One other thing we also found was a restaurant next door that apparently has a great happy hour going on Monday nights, only $1 for tall boys of PBR, Steel Reserve, and Miller High Life. Not too sure about the first two (in fact, I don’t think I’d touch the second one), but the champagne of beers really isn’t too bad. We vowed that if and when Rode Trip made it down we’d have to hit the place up with them, eventually stumbling back to their boat for the night which would just be a half mile up the road.

Taking a tour of St. George St. with all of the tourist shops and other restaurants nothing jumped out at us there either and since I absolutely love Mexican food we went back to that restaurant to see if there was anything on the menu that Matt would like as well. He eventually found a few things he could live with and we walked inside, asking for a seat on the patio upstairs. Of course in the basically empty restaurant they seemed to be the only tables that were taken, but we were still seated next to the live music, a guy playing the guitar. Straight away we ordered our margaritas and browsed the menu until I found the tostadas that I had been craving and Matt surprisingly went with something other than a burrito. His all time favorite food is Chinese, but I keep trying to convert him over to Mexican. We compromise and eat both a lot of the time.

Listening to a wide variety of music on the guitar we heard classic rock, alternative, and top 40, but thankfully no Christmas music, which he promised us he would not play. Singing the first few lines to Jingle Bells to see if anyone was still paying attention though he was quickly heckled, by us, and went back to playing much more ear pleasing tunes. When the food came out the portions were so large that I had no idea how I’d be able to eat it all and in the end only cleared half of my plate. The rest was taken to go and shoved into the basket of my bicycle, in a vertical position and sure to start leaking at any moment. It wasn’t enough to send us right back to the boat though and I still wanted to cross the Bridge of Lions to see what was on the other side since we had never gotten around to it earlier that morning. The bridge itself is very pretty and looking down at the water below it felt very different to be crossing over it instead of passing through it.

Neither of us knew what was on the other side on Anastasia Island except that it eventually led to the beach. We had both assumed because that it was ocean front property that it would be filled with mansions and really fancy shops, and we were very surprised to what we found. All we could see were budget hotels and hole in the wall bars and pubs. The strangest part of it all was even though it was just past seven pm the area was completely deserted. There were few cars driving down the road and no one out on the sidewalks. Very different from where we had just come from where I would not have been able to twirl in a circle without smacking someone in the face. The whole feel of this place was just very…eerie. Maybe that was partially due to the couple of hearses we saw parked near the road? (For the haunted tours) I’m sure during the spring and fall months when the sun is blazing and it’s perfect to spend all day by the beach this is a happening seaside town, but in the middle of December it looks like it was abandoned. Getting as far as the Alligator Park we turned around to head back to the boat yard.

Like I said, I had been saving a certain bottle of wine for this occasion, and I had hoped that while drinking it from our cockpit we’d be bobbing around in a tropical cove watching the sun go down and the stars come out. I thought about saving it until we actually did find that spot but right now you could make me just as happy in a turquoise water cove with just a glass of water so the bottle of wine was still opened. If you ever get up to Cherry Country (Traverse City, MI) make sure you go wine tasting and make sure that tour ends with at least one bottle of cherry wine. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good. With glasses in hand we strolled the yard to look at other boats at the docks and Matt listed all their features while I just nodded my head up and down. I don’t know how he can hold such a massive knowledge for everything boats, but I just let him go off on his tangents and pretend I know a little about what he is talking about. We eventually ended back up on the deck of Serendipity, trying to pick out the stars through passing clouds. It definitely wasn’t a bad anniversary for ‘having to settle in a boat yard’, but please, please, let me be in a tropical location next time around!

Best. Wine. Ever.

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There’s A Plus Side?

Saturday December 15, 2012

 

Guess what?  We haven’t been off the boat since our trip up to Walmart on Wednesday.  The weather has slightly been dictating our travels (even on land), and we try to look for low-wind days before taking the bikes out now.  It’s not like there’s anywhere we have to be, and Matt’s completely content as long as he has his laptop in front of him and access to the internet.  I think he could be on Yachtworld and Cruiser’s Forums for days straight without ever getting up.  I’m still waiting for the battery charger for my computer to come, but I’ve found I’m just as easily amused if the touchpad is charged or I can put a movie on.  Yes, these are the same people that are out trying to ‘experience’ the world.  So with nothing happening to write about, and not wanting to leave you hanging too long before something worth writing about happens again, I am going to start writing fluff pieces just to give you something to read.  The first one?

 

The Positives of Being Stuck in a Boatyard

 

This will also be broken down into further categories, which is surprising that I have that many things to list.

 

Monetarily:

Ok, I know this is almost laughable considering the amount of money we’re going to spend while in here, but again, I have to take the positives where I can get them.  Or maybe I should  term it ‘How we’re trying to recoup that big a$$ deductible’ since that may be better suited for what these are actually doing.

  • No diesel.  Since we’re not traveling anywhere, there is no need to buy gas.  We usually filled up twice a month at around $100 a pop, so there’s $200 recouped right there.
  • Fewer groceries.  You may be scratching your head on this one, but it seems like we’re actually eating less now that we’ve been on the hard.  Somehow we’ve reverted back to a summer vacation schedule where we stay up until 2 am and then sleep until noon.  Breakfast is now out, and it’s rare that we snack after dinner. Plus this is pre-drivers license summer vacation so we don’t travel out too much to fast food restaurants.
  • Bathroom facilities.  I know I’m grasping at straws here, but it still counts.  While on the hard we’re not using our head at all and climb down the ladder and walk to the bathrooms each time we need to go.  How does this save money?  Two ways.  No pump-outs, which have been getting upwards of $15-20 lately, and use of the yards toilet paper.  What?  That stuff is expensive in the Bahamas and I want to save all of ours for when we get there.
  • No friends.  With Hideaway down in Vero Beach and Rode Trip and Anthyllide still up in St. Mary’s there has been no one for us to hang out with.  No reason to pop open a few beers or that bottle of wine.  Or to check out that cool restaurant or go on that interesting tour.  Luckily our friends are on the same budget we are so thing are never too extravagant or expensive anyway, but spending time alone has helped to keep a little money in our pocket.  But we still can’t wait for them to visit though, and we will definitely open that beer while touring that museum just after going to that restaurant.

 

It’s Just Easier On Land:

These are the things that we took for granted back on land and we get to have them back now.  Just for a little bit.

  • Showers.  Ask any cruiser that doesn’t have access to this what they miss most about land and they will tell you a hot shower.  Now we have access to them every day.  More than once if we want.  It’s fantastic.
  • Immediate access to land.  As much as we love our lifestyle, do you know how tiring it can be to have to lower the dinghy, ride it in, and find a place to tie up every time you want to go to land.  We’ve become pretty accustomed to it, but on cold or windy days (something we’ve had plenty of on the way down) it can be downright miserable.  Like the two times we had Rode Trip over for drinks and then sent them home in the rain.  Sorry guys!  But having solid ground right at your disposal?  Sometimes I hop on and off the ladder just because I can.
  • Wifi.  This is not only to give us something to do during the day while we’re sitting in the yard day after day, but it helps me keep my sanity with 24 hour access to the website.  I’m not kidding you, I don’t even know how many times I would become unglued or fits I had because we’d go days without access to the internet and when I finally was able to get it, it would be for thirty minutes, only allowing me to get two posts up and maybe respond to three questions or comments.
  • Popcorn.  Yes, that’s right.  I am a very big popcorn lover and before we left one of the things we stocked up on at Sam’s Club was a box of 28 popcorn packets.  Which I didn’t find out until after we left that even with the battery at 100% and the engine running, our 700 watt microwave was not strong enough to turn more than just a few kernels into buttery goodness.  But, the yard happens to have a microwave and has been popping my bags to perfection.

 

Mentally:

Sometimes the mind can go a little wonky when your living space has been cut down to 1/4 of what you’re used to and all of your everyday luxuries are gone.  Stephanie and I often trade stories of our low points on the trip just to remind ourselves that everyone living this lifestyle has breakdowns at some point.  Here are a few of the mood boosters I get to take advantage of while sitting here.

  • Singing in the shower.  I don’t know if I ever mentioned it in this post, but one of my favorite things to do before we left was sing in the car at the top of my lungs to the radio while driving home from work.  There was no one to hear me, no one to judge me, and it just felt good.  Living on a boat you rarely to never get that kind of alone time, so while I still sing along to the radio a lot, it’s not the kind of belting, sing until you’re lungs give out kind.  And I miss that.  So now when I’m in the shower and no one else is around I get to go back to singing like my life depended on it.
  • There’s nothing to hit while on the hard.  Now that Serendipity isn’t moving at all, there isn’t a chance for her to crash into anything else.  And while I’m hoping our trip in the inlet was a once in a lifetime kind of catastrophe, I needed some time to collect myself before getting back out there.  For the first week or two I’d have panic attacks in the middle of the night with thoughts of everything else that could go wrong or happen to us while we’re out traveling. But I think this time standing still will help me to gain a little bit of perspective and confidence before we’re back out on the big blue ocean.

 

They may not be big reasons, but they’re just enough to keep me going.  During a bad day I can always look back at these and remind myself the things I have to be thankful while we’re here.  And who knows, when we’re back out traveling, looking back at this list just might make me wish we were back in the yard.  Probably only during a very bad day out on the water though.

Man, what I wouldn’t give for my old hot tub right now.  But hot showers are pretty close.
(circa 6/08)
Ok, I think I’m ready for anything now.  *
(circa 02/12)

 

*And yes, that’s the men’s size M foul weather jacket I got stuck with because it was on sale.  Does a great job of keeping me warm though.

 

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The Wheels On The Bike Go ‘Round and Rest, Round and Rest’

Thursday December 13, 2012

There has been a small miracle on Serendipity today.  Nine days after getting hauled out of the water and contacting our insurance company, they have finally sent someone over to look at the boat.  Nine days that we have been sitting here twiddling our thumbs because no work can be started, even the things we’d like to do ourselves, until insurance surveys the damage and approves the claim.  Hallelujah, the process of repair may finally be able to start.  We weren’t sure if someone from the actual insurance company would be coming out or if they’d hire someone in the area instead.  In the end they sent out a local surveyor to check out the damage and write up a report. The surveyor our insurance company decided to send out happens to be a guy that we almost went with in the first place when we hauled out.  And since insurance is paying for the person they send out themselves (right?) there would have already been a report done by this guy I’m thinking we would have been reimbursed and could have saved ourselves the money for our survey had we gone with him, but hindsight is….you know what?  I think I’ve had enough hindsight lately.  Moving on.

So bright and early this morning we had another person on the boat checking out the damage with basically a repeat track of what we heard last week.  “You really took a pounding, should have been a lot worse, you have a boat that’s built incredibly well.”  There was nothing new discovered that the first guy didn’t catch, but because of the extent of interior damage in small and hard to reach places, our surveyor today wanted to come back later with his son who would double check everything and get some more photos.  Having spent the past two and a half days on the boat without getting off we figured we’d quickly jump on the bikes and get some errands done before they came back in the afternoon.

The big thing on the list was to get a battery charger since we have also not seen the sun in two and a half days, and even when we had, the batteries were less than 60%.  It’s not good to let them get under 50%, but last night they were at a measly 8%!  And that’s still with only running the lights and chill box off them.  Something needed to be done to get that number back up, and quickly.  Checking the forecast and seeing at least three more days full of clouds and rain we knew we had to fix this little problem.  Remembering my panting and sweat filled bike ride a few days earlier I had no intent of biking all the way up to Walmart again, but Matt promised me there was an auto shop as soon as we hit the main drag and they should carry what we need.  Getting pushed over just a little bit by the high winds on our way there we arrived and while I stood outside watching the bikes, Matt was back out in less than 90 seconds, empty handed.  Apparently they had what we were looking for, but at the cost of $50.

Hopping back on the bikes we continued up the street to an Auto Zone where again I stood outside and Matt was in and out in two minutes, empty handed again.

“$50 here too?”

“Yup”

“What was it the last time you bought one?”

“I’m pretty sure I got my last one for $15”

“And how long ago was that?”

“About 15 years”

If I could get anything for the price I did fifteen years ago, I’d be ecstatic, but he seems to think we can still find something near that price range so we kept trekking up the road.  Getting to Target we found the same exact thing.  Determined that we wouldn’t pay this huge mark-up that has happened in the past fifteen years, Matt was quick on his phone searching Amazon and any other stores within pedaling distance that might have it in stock.  Standing in the aisle while he scrolled I’d shout out names like “Sears” and “Walmart” while he jumped on their site and compared prices.  Thinking he may have actually found a cheaper one at Walmart my legs became weak at the thought of making our way all the way out there with the winds gusting like they were outside.  Anything to save a few dollars though.

Jumping back on the bikes we crossed the street and worked our way up the hills (mountains) to Walmart.  Both of us had thought we’d seen a Sears on our last trip out but couldn’t be sure due to heat stroke so when I spied it out of the corner of my eye I shouted ahead and we pulled off to the side to have a look-see inside.  Nada.  Back on the bikes we went but at least I was able to grab that moment to catch my breath.  Before I knew it we had Walmart in our sights and overall it didn’t seem like as bad of a ride as it had before.  Probably because of the five stops we made along the way.  Purchasing the 6 amp charger for a steal at $29 (it really wasn’t a steal, the $50 ones we had been looking at were 10 amp) we were back outside and ready to make the non stop journey home.

Only, in the fifteen minutes we were inside the winds had shifted so they were directly on our nose, blowing at us in 25 mph gusts.  I could barely move forward even on flat ground and my only saving grace were the few small hills we went down.  Sometimes we’d get the shelter of a close building or some very tall trees where I felt like I was actually going somewhere and then out of nowhere a full gust would blast me in the face and stop all progress.  Matt was close to a block ahead of me and without him in earshot I started slinging curses into the wind which didn’t help me go any faster but helped a lot with the frustration.  Getting stuck at a stop light I could barely see Matt in front of me anymore but did look behind to find out I had a tail of a fellow cycler that apparently had been right behind me for quite some time.  Poor guy probably thought I had tourettes, or I was just run of the mill insane and hijacked the bike from some poor unsuspecting girl.  He crossed the street right after.

A good ten minutes later, after he stopped to wait for me, I finally caught up to Matt although I could have walked the bike faster than I was peddling.  I wanted to give up, to walk it the rest of the way back, but he wouldn’t let me.  Pushing on at my snail’s pace he stayed behind me until we made the turn and got out of the full force of the wind.  I’m just glad he didn’t go all personal trainer on me and try to push me to go harder, he would have gotten smacked upside the head.  Good thing after almost thirteen years he knows me well enough not to try that.  In fact, the only time we ever worked out together he pushed me so hard that I cried (which I never do), and we both vowed never to work out together again.  It’s those alien genes of his, they never quit.  But neither did I and after three hours (round trip) we made it back to the boat and still before the surveyor came back.

Another sweep was done of Serendipity and we should be expecting a report tomorrow that will also go out to the insurance company.  Finally!  I would love to get the ball rolling on this because I don’t want to be forced North because we’re still here when hurricane season is coming.

There’s been just a little bit of rain lately.

‘I must find the best price!’

Can’t we just stuff the cracks on Serendipity full of this and call it good?

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Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange

Wednesday December 12, 2012

One of the things stationed here in St. Augustine, and the reason Matt agreed to come here in the first place, is a little shop called the Sailor’s Exchange, kind of a consignment shop for everything boats.  Someone brings in an item they’d like to sell and it can be anything from winches to shackles to anchors  to books and magazines.  (By the way, we keep stopping in to see if anyone has brought in our anchor at which point we can buy it back, but no luck so far)  Once the item is brought in the shop decides if they want to buy it, settle on a price to give the seller, and then stock it on their shelf with a mark-up, but usually still cheaper than you could find the item elsewhere.  Plus it’s one stop shopping because you can find basically anything you’re looking for, but just like any consignment shop, you have to do a lot of looking first.  It’s a great place and we’ve already spent a decent amount of our time there.

Over the past few days I’ve been noticing something similar going on here at the boat yard that I like to call the ‘Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange’.  As far as restrooms tend to go anywhere you are, the women’s bathroom here at the yard is far superior to the men’s.  While their’s only has one urinal and one stall, we have one stall and a shower, plus a little table with a bowl of potpourri that’s littered with books and magazines for the taking.  If it wasn’t placed right next to a toilet without a lid, I think I’d have a few of those books on the boat right now.  But recently in addition to the bathroom reading available there have been…other things.  Things that people don’t want on their boat anymore and figured the women’s room was the best place to deposit them.

It’s a good idea in theory, kind of like a Goodwill with no money involved, but in the bathroom?  Right next to the toilet?  Those Correll dishes would be looking a lot better if I didn’t have to think of where I found them each time I was eating off them, no matter how many times they’ve been washed.  Some people were wiser and put things inside of bags which helped to protect them a little bit more, I guess, but made me curious enough to have a look through to see if there was anything I wanted bad enough that I would bleach it enough times to bring it back to the boat and store it there.  Let’s see some of the treasures available.

Plates, glasses, and athletic wear.  Thankfully we’re pretty stocked in the galley and the clothes were a little too big for me so those weren’t even a question.  Is it bad that I hesitated on the plates for a minute though?  I mean, they may be sitting right next to the toilet, but the design looks a little nautical, kind of like flags.  ‘I have a full galley……I have a full galley’.

A very essential pirate hat.  Just after we watched ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ no less, but let’s face it, it can’t compete with Captain Jack Sparrow’s hat.  I tried to think of any good reason to need this, and if we still had the opportunity to meet up with our friends Jackie and Ron in the Bahamas next month it would have been grabbed up in a second for all the fun we’d be able to have with it, but as it is, I had to leave it.

Hair clippers, Mardi Gras beads, and Preparation H wipes.  I don’t even know what to say about this bag.  I don’t know if I should avoid the owner at all costs or hunt them down for some crazy nights of partying that could leave me with some of the most interesting stories I’ll ever tell.

I just have one question on this.  What happened to the dog??!!


I’d like to say that I left the restroom that night with nothing in my hands but that would be a big fat lie. There may have been a few athletic shirts stuffed at the bottom of one bag that may be a little too big for me but the quality was so high that I couldn’t resist at least trying them out.  And if they don’t fit I’m sure I could always pawn them off onto someone else, like Stephanie.  No one walking down the street has to know she didn’t actually run the Boston Marathon.  There may have also been a few magazines in my possession when I left, but they had popped up within an hour of the last time I had gone in so I’m fairly certain they didn’t have a chance for nasty particles to float on top of them.

The Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange only lasted for a day before everything was cleaned out.  Either someone really cleaned up, or management wasn’t fond of this program and disposed of everything.  I hope not though because it’s things like treasure hunting in the bathroom that make our endless days in the yard a little more interesting.  Just think of the things we could collect while we’re here.

Anyone else have similar stories to share?  What’s the strangest thing you’ve found at an exchange or the strangest place the exchange was happening?  Leave a comment with your story.  I’d like to know more than just Jackie and Ron are reading.

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Stagnicity Inflicts More Shopping

Monday December 10, 2012

I would tell you about our weekend, but other than the outing we had on Friday night, really nothing has happened. I believe it was a combination of cold, rain, and laziness, but we spent all of Saturday the boat with only venturing as far as the restrooms and showers of the boat yard. Sunday we made it all the way across the street for thirty minutes while seeing what the local farmers market had to offer. There weren’t as many tents as I thought there might be, but we still managed to spend all the cash we had on us, close to $30.

 Our first stop was to an up and coming bakery where there were samples of all kinds of cookies, breads, and cakes. Even if you’ve just finished eating it’s almost impossible to turn down one of their treats and I left with an apple fritter bigger than my hand while Matt had some kind of bacon & maple doughnut concoction that was really really good. We skipped the coffee stand right next to it, as tempting as it looked, and went straight for The Nut Shack next. Laid out on a table was just about every kind of nut imaginable as well as trail mixes and dried fruits. I think Brian and Stephanie would be in heaven at this tent. But then again, so were we. Stocking up on some almonds and trail mix we thought we were done with our spending for the day. But then the next tent over had apple butter for a ridiculously low price and the stand after that was stocked with clearance priced boxed foods, things like cereal, muffin mixes, and even Starbucks and Seattle’s Best coffee grounds. Probably overstocks from a nearby grocery store, we didn’t care, we just kept loading up bag after bag. Finally when our money was out we cut across the field back to the marina before giving away things like sunglasses or jewelry as payment for more things.

But that was only thirty minutes of our day Sunday and the rest of the time was spent on the boat, reading or watching tv. The worst part about the weekend for me (and still) is that the charger for my computer has gone kaput which means my battery is dead and I have no way to charge it until a new one can be ordered and shipped. Hence the lack of posts even though we’ve had constant internet connection. Trying to wrestle Matt’s laptop away from him is like (insert joke here). I’ve also found out that while I can access the internet just fine on our HP touchpad, trying to type on that thing is the devil. So all I can do is surf the net which now has me constantly reading travel blogs from The Everywhereist and upping my sarcasm level at the same time. If you’ve noticed a rise, blame her. Or Jackie and Ron (our Lake Michigan sailing buddies) since I’ve had the chance to chat with every day now and their sarcasm levels also top out pretty high. It’s part of the reason we love them so much.

Today we finally had to get off the boat and not only run some errand, but just be off the boat. Telling ourselves we’d finally make the six mile round trip to Walmart we were ecstatic to see the sun was out and it was actually warm which we haven’t seen in just over a week. We strapped our backpack on our backs and started pedaling. The ride out to the main strip was very nice, but I was still huffing and puffing a little bit to keep up with Matt. I think he believes he needs to ‘out-man’ his little one speed Huffy with a basket and cup holder on the front by peddling as hard as he can and treating it like a mountain bike. I was still enjoying the fresh air in my face though and it was much better than our ride on Thursday where we were being poured on. Getting past our normal stomping grounds of Target and Home Depot we began and uphill trek which really wasn’t that bad and only pathetic if you’re me, but by the time we arrived at Walmart we were both sweating and panting. (People of Walmart observation coming up) We didn’t have anything to even wipe off with but we figured our sweat soaked shirts made us blend in with the rest of the crowd shopping there. (What? We always had Meijer to compare it to at home)

Grabbing a shopping cart we tried to orient ourselves from the spots we were seeing in front of our eyes and blindly picking aisles to get out of other people’s way. Right away we were able to find the things that we had gone all the way out there for, a king size set of microfiber sheets that I may actually sew to fit the v-berth,’ and a 2 qt water pitcher that won’t spill even if it’s on it’s side in the chill box. We then continued to load our cart full of groceries even though we just stocked up, and while I convinced Matt we needed to stock up on more bottles of wine since our Three Buck Chuck had run low in Annapolis I couldn’t get him to budge on that one. Even though my mom pointed us to Walmart’s $3 bottles of wine so it’s just like restocking what we had run out of. One day I’ll just have to figure a way to get up here on my own….

Arriving back to Serendipity we stuffed everything into cupboards and the chill box until they didn’t want to close anymore. I’m almost this close to getting those nets that hang from your grabrails that you can throw food in, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. When everything was finally put away we got on to the fun things for the day like opening our very first sympathy package sent by my aunt. All of us made out very well, including Georgie. She was gifted with a soft fleece blanket to cuddle up in and a bag of treats. Just under that was The Cat Owners Manual which I was thrilled to see because it might actually give me insight on why Georgie does half the things she does. Like mew at me non stop when I’m in the galley or eat hard food most of the time and refuse it on other days. Or another moment today pertaining to her cat litter. The shelter sent us home with a big bag of pine pellets or something like that which is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and turns to powder when it’s wet. What we soon realized though it that every time she went potty and the pellets turned to dust they became incredibly difficult to sift out with the scooper. Then we wondered….are you supposed to wait until it’s all dust and then change it? Because that sounds disgusting and very unsanitary.

So while out shopping today we picked up a more traditional variety (after standing in the aisle for 20 minutes asking ourselves questions like Why do they all say ‘for multiple cats’? Does it work the same for just one? Or What’s the difference between High Traffic, Dual power, and Odor Eraser? They’re all claiming to do the same thing! It was a very difficult decision, but after going with one that claimed to cover up smells from number 1 and 2s we brought it back and quickly changed it out from the dusty pellets. At which point Georgie decided to crawl in it and lay down, treating it like her new bed. Noooot good, since cats won’t go potty where they sleep. But ten minutes later she showed us that she remembered it’s actually purpose and we could breath easy again. But that cat manual? I think it will come in very handy. Besides that we got some miniature bottles of Bacardi which was also desperately needed, and a few other things for Matt and I. In all, a very generous gift that brought huge smiles to our faces. As for what I’m off to next? I think I’ll sit down with that book and try to figure out why Georgie is the way she is.

 

 

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