Something’s Cooking Between The Sheets

Sunday October 7, 2012

Yesterday it was sunny and warm with a high near 80.  I wore a t-shirt dress to the boat show and was perfectly comfortable.  Things started to cool down a little over night and when we woke up this morning it was in the low 50’s.  And that’s the forecasted high for the full day.  It was hours before we rolled out of bed, sometime after 10:30.  When we finally did manage to drag ourselves into the cold cabin there were many breaks to dive under blankets between doing chores like washing dishes, and there were a lot since I made bread from scratch for the first time last night.  When Matt had crawled back in bed to spend some time with his e-reader I was shortly behind him and not long after that we were asleep again.

Forcing myself to get out of bed for the second time at 3:30 I knew I had to get a move on with my baking since dinner started at 6.  The two items I chose to make were corn bread and pumpkin pie.  I have never attempted either of these before.  Normally the issue with the pizza crust and cookies wouldn’t have me very confident but while cooking the bread last night we found out that I had the rack all the way at the bottom and too much heat had been applied while cooking.  We moved it up a few rows for the bread which ended up coming out really well for my first attempt and now I was 80% sure the corn bread and pie would come out a success as well.  First to be made was the pumpkin pie which I did cheat a little bit with and bought a pre-made crust if only for the fact that we didn’t have a pie tin.  All the ingredients mixed together really well and soon it was in the oven to cook.  When that came out and smelling absolutely delicious it was replaced by the cornbread in a muffin pan.  Just as the second batch was coming out the clock was striking six and we were hurrying to get next door.

Long underwear had been put on again as no matter how cold it seemed to get each time we’d go over there, Andy and John were content to sit in the cockpit.  I was surprised when they led us down to the cockpit right way.  Going through the tradition of having a large glass of wine set in front of me by John, Andy pulled the turkey out of the oven.  He had gone to the butcher a few days before and had them cut an 8 pounder in half which just fit into his oven.  It was wrapped in bacon, drenched in maple syrup, and looked and smelled so good.  While we munched on the maple soaked bacon Andy mashed up some potatoes and it was time to eat.  I’ve never had a bad meal while over here and this was no exception.  I actually thought my corn bread muffins (which ended up a little on the dry side) brought down the meal a little when compared to the turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy,  asparagus, and salad. When we were done eating there was a huge mess of dishes in the sink for Andy to clean but he tackled them like a pro while the rest of us lounged around the dinner table.  After our stomachs had the chance to settle the pumpkin pie was brought in from the cockpit where it had been set to cool.  Andy cut it into slices and paired it on a plate with a scoop of mango ice cream.  At first I was wary of the combination and planned on keeping the two completely separate on my plate but it turns out they actually go very well together.  Plus the pie came out so well that I think I’ll be baking another one just for the two of us sometime.

It’s been so nice being included by Between the Sheets for the roasts they’ve done so far and even nicer for them to include us in their Thanksgiving.  I think they’ve come to think of us as honorary Canadians.  Since we do come from a state with multiple access points to Canada and after spending too much time with them we start saying “Eh?” and something halfway between boat and boot.  The temperatures had dropped just right to fall temperatures and we had all of the same entrees and sides as we normally would back home that it was almost like we were celebrating American Thanksgiving.  Which the only thing we’ll probably do when we get to it is have a deli sliced turkey sandwich.  So thank you very much Andy and John for giving a little piece of home to us.

I know, I know.  More photos of food.

But it was soooo good!

John gives this Thanksgiving a thumbs up (and a tongue out)

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Bigger isn’t Always Better

Saturday October 6, 2012

Up early again, we had gone off to the boat show for the second day with the thought in our heads of ‘We really didn’t need to spend second day here‘. We were still pretty satisfied with everything we got in yesterday, but the tickets were already purchased and we figured we may as well use them.  Personally I was just excited to just stroll on and off boats with nothing dragging me down like all the gear we had purchased yesterday.  Trying to visit some of the boats we didn’t get to the day before, we went up to the line of Tartan’s first.  There was a group of three, ranging in size from about 34 feet to 45.  We were used to the previous day when brokers or other hired help would keep a steady flow moving on and off the boat to keep it from getting too crowded on deck or below.  Tartan didn’t feel like doing this.  While we watched four people stand in the cockpit before they could make their way below, we decided to wait on the steps leading up to the boat until all four of those people had gone below before letting ourselves board.  It was amazing on how many people behind us didn’t get the concept of a line and would try and push their way past us on to the boat.  Then after getting on and seeing there was no room to even move around the cockpit they’d look back at us with and idiotic expression on their face and remark, “Oh, were you in line?”.  Yes, you mouth breathers, we are in line.  It’s something us civilized people like to do to keep order.  One couple that asked us this replied with “Well we’re just going to sit in the cockpit until there’s room to go below” and still tried to cut in front of us after we were on deck and had moved out of the way to let other people off.  Some people have no sense of others.  They’re probably the same people that will take up a whole aisle in a grocery store with themselves and their cart.  Drives me insane.

While walking from boat to boat I also had a question answered that I asked Matt from the previous day, which was ‘Why are there no kids around?‘.  Every year we used to go to Strictly Sail in Chicago and you would be dodging strollers left and right.  Yesterday we saw only two strollers the whole day and very few people under the age of 18.  Today there were strollers and kids everywhere.  Then it hit me that yesterday was a work/school day, and of course Saturday would be the day that all the families would be coming out to the show.  We actually didn’t have to watch out for too many strollers here in Annapolis, but there was one family we kept managing to follow from boat to boat that had two kids under 8, and I felt bad for the brokers and owners when those kids kept jumping up on furniture and slamming doors and cabinets open and shut.  Except for the brokers on the Tartans.  That’s what they get for their lack of traffic control.  Things really got better when we started viewing some of the nicer catamarans like the Lagoons and you had to sign in with a representative.  It was all adults and they did a great job of monitoring how many people were on a boat at a time.  I couldn’t even imagine living on the size and luxury of those cats, but at a certain size it almost stops feeling like a boat and more like a condo permanently on the water.  Takes a little bit of the nautical feel out of it.  Not that we’ll ever turn down a sail on one though should anyone think of inviting us (hint, hint).

One thing I do love about these boat shows is that they still make me love Serendipity just as much as the day we bought her.  As I said, we’re quickly becoming the smallest boat in most anchorages and while visiting the show, there is not much shown that’s the same size or smaller than ours.  But while viewing all these upper 30’s, 40, 50 & 60 foot boats, I can’t help but think how she is just the perfect size for us.  Yes, sometimes we do go crazy with the lack of storage and that extra 4 or 6 or 10 feet can sound really tempting until you figure everything that goes in with it.  Our 34′ was $55,000 when we bought her.  Should we go up to 42′ that cost would be around $140,000.  Then the parts are more expensive should you need to replace them.  You need larger lines, winches and sails.  Per foot the price goes up any time you stay at a marina and in some countries you enter and when something goes wrong you may not be able to fix it yourself any more.  So is all of that worth a little extra storage and an enclosed shower?  Not to me.  And once everything is put in it’s place, our boat is actually pretty comfy to relax, sleep, or even cook in.

Forcing ourselves to stay as long as we could, once the rain clouds came in and we felt a few drops on our face we loaded back on to the shuttle bus to go home.  Getting dropped off we crossed the street to do a little grocery shopping for Canadian Thanksgiving the next night that we had been invited to.  Then bugging Matt, because all our friends had between 2-5 cases of beer on their boat while we only had four cans, we went next door to the Rite Aid to stock up.  Besides getting a sample of American Harvest Vodka mixed into a Screwdriver, we found a new beer we had never seen before called National Bohemian.  It was only $14.99 for a 30 pack!  But then there was also 30 packs of Bud Light for $17.99.  Which one to choose?    We went with both and now can proudly say we also have at least two cases of beer on our boat.

Sitting on a bench enjoying the city.

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Boats ‘N Shows

Friday October 5, 2012

I keep getting my geography mixed up from where I’m currently at and what used to be home.  Right now back in Michigan it’s dipping down to the 60’s and even 50’s which is normal for early October, but we’ve been having pretty warm weather here in Annapolis and today is forecast for low 80’s.  Have I just not realized how far South we’ve gone or am I just mistaking one week of great weather?  We walked over to the Naval Stadium where a shuttle was taking people down to the show and when we arrived there was already a line to get in.  I wondered why Matt felt the need for us to get there thirty minutes before opening, but he had a specific boat he wanted to get on and heard the lines get long incredibly early.  So as soon as the cannon went off (literally) we ran through the opening and back to the docks where the Gunboat s/v Sugar Daddy was sitting.  There must have been early admittance for some people because we were already in a line when we got there.  It only took a few minutes before we were allowed to board though and walked through admiring the large catamaran.  It was light and airy and something I would really enjoy living on except that something of this size needs a crew to help operate everything.  Kind of defeats taking off into the sunset alone.

When Matt was done drooling we toured a few other boats including a Shannon 57 and a prototype from an Italian designer who had an impressive lineage of auto designers in his family back in Europe.  Touring a few more boats we made the mistake of stopping at one of the vendors, Henri Lloyd, so Matt could pick up a few shirts on special.  Then I had to bring the large bag on board with us rather than leave it out by the lines to possibly be stolen as and soon as he stopped at one more vendor I told him that the bag would not be making it on any more boats.  So we spent the rest of our first of two days at the show visiting all the vendors and spending way too much money on things that were unfortunately necessary for the boat.  There was a highlight though when we met up with one of our blog followers, Phil, who lives in the area.  Over a refreshing beer we talked about the fun parts as well as the pain in the ass parts of our trip and listened as Phil told us stories of his sails on the Chesapeake and plans to make it South himself next year.  I love meeting people who’ve been following us along the way and it’s great to hear when they also have plans to leave.  The sailing community is such a great one.

The galley inside the Gunboat, Sugar Daddy.  Yes please!

The aft cabin in the Shannon 57.  To be able to let my feet dangle off a bed again….

Since I can’t afford a framed map like this in our boat I’ll have to settle for a photo of it.

On to the rest of our evening.  It was still fairly early when we got back and, surprise surprise, the guys still wanted to do more crabbing.  This is after Brian caught two more earlier today bringing the current total to fourteen. I stayed back at the boat to do a few important things like brew my first coffee in days and tidy up a little bit.  When they came back an hour later to pick me up they had two more crabs in the bucket.  Now time to head back to Rode Trip to cook them up.  Throwing a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and our game of Bananagrams into a bag we rode back over to the Westsail.  Having put the crab trap in the water over there as well they pulled that up to find another crab in it and also pulled up the chicken bone on a string to find one chomping on that as well.  Eighteen crabs for the four of us!!

Never having cooked any kind of shellfish before we left it up to Brian who seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Half of the crabs would go into a large pot with a can of beer and some Old Bay Seasoning and be steamed alive.  I thought I would freak out about watching something be cooked alive but instead I was right next to the galley watching with wide eyes and interest.  To get the crabs from the bucket into the pot he employed a trick of grabbing them with potholders and then dumping them in and quickly slamming the lid shut.  This worked great for the first three or four that were dropped in, but since we normally had to get multiples in there at one time since they were entangled in each other (they like to try and dismember each other while in the bucket) the second time he went to grab a batch there was one that fell out on to the counter.  After slamming the lid down on the ones that did make it in the loose one had already tried scuttling into their pantry area.  Every time the potholder would come at it the claws would raise and start snapping and since it had backed itself into the area we could not do a sneak attack from behind.  After some coaxing it came forward enough that it was scooped up and put in the pot.  The heat was turned on and not even ten minutes later we had a pot full of red steamed crabs.

Each throwing one on our plate we made our way up to the cockpit to eat since we knew it was not going to be a clean meal.  Going for the legs first we each managed to find a way to pull some meat out and dip it in the melted butter.  It was delicious!!  Just as good as anything we would have gotten in a restaurant.  Except fresher.  After finishing the legs, the bodies took a little more work since we had to separate the top and bottom part of the shell and then take out the gills and remove some other hard bone/cartilage parts before getting to more meat.  All of us were surprised at just how much meat we could actually get off each crab since we thought if they were just large enough to be legal that there was a reason you would throw anything smaller back.  But we all went back for seconds and soon the next pot was on for thirds and fourths.  If there was one negative though, it’s that my hands would get so messy while trying to pull apart my crab that it was hard to also sip on my wine.

In the end there were still six crabs left and we told Brian they were more than welcome to all the leftovers.  Moving below out of the cold we sat around the table and I suggested we play a few rounds of Bananagrams.  This is a gift we got last Christmas from Matt’s Mom, but none of us had played before.  I’ve heard it’s great for boats since the tiles you work with don’t move around much and won’t blow away.  I thought it would be something like Scrabble, and it is, except each person makes their own.  All of the tiles eventually have to be used which means that sometimes you’ll have a great crossword going and then have to rearrange it to accommodate the new letters you’ve just picked up.  I thought that I might actually have a chance to win since I spend at least an hour a day writing but as soon as we called “Peel” Brian was busy arranging letters into words that all flowed into each other.  Needed to take on five extra letters including a X and a J and a G?  No problem, he easily slid them in to his crossword.  When he destroyed the rest of us the first few rounds we thought we’d make it more difficult on him by making him draw two letters when everyone else was taking one but he still came up on top.  He credits it to lots of Scrabble paying in college.  When the rest of us were too defeated to play any longer Matt and I realized it was after midnight and we still had to get up early to go to the boat show again the next morning.  Since we did so much shopping today and not much touring, that’s what’s on the list for tomorrow.

From bucket…

……to pot…..

……to my dinner plate.


Runaway crab dinner from Jessica Johnson on Vimeo.

Brian’s Bananagrams.  How do you even compete with that?

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You Can Swim, But You Can’t Hide

Thursday October 4, 2012

Spending another day just trying to get boat related things accomplished such as a few loads of laundry in town and trying to figure out why our engine would not start we heard the familiar sound of knocking on our hull.  Brian and Stephanie had come over to see what we were up to and let us in on a little secret.  They knew how badly we wanted to catch a Chesapeake Blue Crab while in the area and while taking a leisurely kayak ride down the creek that morning Stephanie had seen a few hanging out on the walls of the bridge just a few inches under the water.  They had a net and a bucket in their dinghy and were ready to go crabbing.  We jumped in their dinghy but realizing that four people plus hopefully a lot of crabs inside one dinghy might get a little crowded, we made a pit stop at their boat so Stephanie and I could jump into kayaks to follow the boys in the dinghy and also scout out spots along the bridge before they got there.

Even though my kayaking skills appeared much better than they had been years ago when we owned our own, that or the kayak I was borrowing was much lighter with much better paddles, I still arrived at the bridge a few minutes after everyone else.  While Matt and Brian ran along one wall scouring the water line for anything with claws I didn’t want to get in their way and just lazily paddled on the other side.  I hadn’t even been looking at the wall for ten seconds when I spotted one.  I had no net, I had no bucket, but for some reason my mind was thinking I might be able to be helpful by scooping it up with my paddle and dumping it onto the top of the kayak until I could get it to the bucket.  My paddle went in the water just inches away from the crab when it sensed my presence and scuttled away.  Realizing I would most likely be useless as far as catching I went to check out the guys and see how they were doing.  Already they had a rhythm down where one would stand and slowly move the dinghy across the wall by hand and the other would stand near the bow on lookout with the net.  As soon as they saw something the dinghy would be stopped and the person with the net would dip it in the water behind and under the crab and come up on it with a sneak attack.  A much better formulated plan and pretty soon they were coming up with something on every swipe.  Not that every one was a keeper though.  Luckily Brain had studied the rules and found out that it’s illegal to keep any females or any males under 5.5″.  Most of the initial catches had to go back and although I’m sure they didn’t want to be dumped into our ‘keeper’ bucket they weren’t doing a good job of letting themselves be dumped back into the water either.  Their claws would get wrapped up in the net and Brian or Matt would have to stick their hands in and try to work it free.  This is where being an bystander really worked out for me.

We were originally guessing the lengths at first until Stephanie went back for a tape measure.  At this point we already had three in the bucket and the goal was to have one crab for each person.  When the fourth keeper was pulled out of the water we celebrated that we’d be able to have a crab dinner the next night, probably with lots of sides since a crab in itself (especially one that measures less than 6″) would not be a hearty meal.  But the boys were ambitious and wanted to keep crabbing.  They went back to search all the walls they had already gone through on the swinging bridge and then moved up to a fixed bridge a few hundred feet up the creek.  We were now two hours into this fishing expedition and my back was starting to kill sitting in one specific position.  I think Stephanie was feeling the same way and after paddling next to me we both slouched down in our seats, letting the current carry us wherever it felt like.  That happened to be the docks of the apartment where BMac lives and he was just getting home from work, ready for Brian and Stephanie to treat him to a sail before he treated them to dinner.  The boys stopped their fishing but when they came back announced they had twelve keepers in the bucket.  Maybe sides won’t be necessary after all.

Being transported first back to Rode Trip so I could drop of the kayak and then to our boat I was happy just to pass out on a cushion as I had already been feeling a little under the weather all day.  Or maybe it’s just exhaustion from our busy boat life.  Projects during the day and get togethers at night.  No one said this life was going to be easy.  Like sipping Painkillers at the boat show tomorrow and then ending the night with a fresh crab dinner with friends.  Not easy at all, but someone’s gotta do it.

This lucky little lady gets to be thrown back.

We caught this one while he was busy munching on a fish.

Our bucket of crabs.  Much better than a barrel of monkeys.

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Rode Tripping

Wednesday October 3, 2012

They say that in life it’s not about what you know, but who you know.  Well we happen to know some people who know someone with a car.  When you’re in our lifestyle that can come in very handy.  These some people just happen to be Brian and Stephanie, but they have a friend who coincidentally lives in an apartment on the creek in which we’re anchored.  The friend of our friends, also named Brian but called BMac for short, that if Brian 1 would take him to work in the morning they could have use of his car until he got out at 3:30.  Being the great friends they are they asked us if there’s anywhere we needed a car to get to and if we’d like to tag along with them.  It was a no-brain answer and although we expected for them to be knocking at our hull at 7:30 in the morning (we usually get woken up at 10:30 in the morning with neighbors doing that to stop by and say hi) we were surprised when we rolled out of bed on our own, still after 10:00, and no one had been knocking on our door.  We assumed we missed a text and the opportunity and would be on the boat all day.  Nope.  An hour later we did get that text and  were picked up by dinghy shortly after that.

When pulling up to the docks (or beach more accurately if I haven’t described it before) we saw a nice sized jelly fish sloshing around in the water.  We knew there were tons of little ones floating around that were only the size of a wine cork and couldn’t do any damage to you, but this was one of the first actual big ones we had seen.  Much better than the first one I saw which was less than five minutes after getting out of the water the first, and only, time I tried bathing in the creek.  It was mostly clear with long tentacles and blood red oral arms probably measuring over two feet in length.  After that there was no more water conservation as far as showers went.  Anyhow, parked at the end of the street was a car just waiting to take us wherever we wanted to go.  And where do four cruisers who finally get their hands on a set of wheels go?  West Marine.  Like you even had to ask.  While the guys did their browsing of intricate parts and nuts and bolts, Stephanie and I browsed the magazines by the counter.  A copy of Blue Water Sailing caught my eye with headliner across the top of the issue.  Go young, Go now.  30-Something Cruisers.  Strange, I don’t remember the interview for that one but somehow they knew we were out here.

With unlimited freedom and two hours we went crazy and also hit up places like Home Depot, Safeway, and Walgreens.  No taming some crazy kids like us.  Did I mention we even hit up Sonic?  On foot of course, the car was left next door while prescriptions were being filled.  Since we had used up the whole afternoon running errands that would have taken us days otherwise there was no time for Matt and I to be dropped off before BMac needed to be picked up from work.  So Matt and I sat in the back seat of a strangers car with large drinks in our hands (was there a no liquids rule in this car?) as we swung by to pick up some unsuspecting guy that had no clue that two extra people and their junk would be occupying his car that day.  Without skipping a beat he opened the door to the back seat and started to get in as if it were an everyday occurrence that his car is taken over for public transportation.  Quickly playing a game of Chinese Fire Drill though, people were moved from their seats so that BMac could drive, Brian went into the passenger seat, and Stephanie squeezed into the back with me.  There was no mention about the drinks in our hands.  Whew, I did not want to give up my coffee with extra espresso on this rainy day.

We were dropped off at our boat by Brian 1 and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Later in the afternoon as the sky was clearing up and we were preparing dinner we heard a knock on the hull.  Popping our head out we saw our friends from earlier and they asked if we’d like to come over for game night later.  They were just about to go back and make dinner themselves but said we could show up any time after.  A few hours later we were trying to dig out anything from our quickly diminishing beer supply and locked up our boat.  When we climbed in the cabin they were just finishing a pizza Brian 1 had made from scratch and there was enough left for me to find out it was delicious.  They would just have to rub it in, wouldn’t they?  Although I felt no guilt in devouring pieces from the next two pies that went in the oven.

Then Apples to Apples came out and it’s always interesting playing with people you still don’t know really well and tying to play your card to the judge.  Matt and I are so used to ourselves and friends back home being so sarcastic that we’ll always throw down a red ‘Prostitution’ card to match the green ‘Innocent’ one.  This group liked to be a little more literal when matching cards and our humor wouldn’t always get through.  It’s always a good time while playing though and I recommend that every boat and house has it.  After a few rounds of winners we went back to just talking and drinking, reminiscing about when we were young.  Since the whole crew was born in ’82 or ’83 we somehow got on the subject of early 90’s TGIF line-up and made a game of trying to remember what made it up.  Full House was the easy first guess and it was still a few minutes before anyone could come up with the next show, Family Matters.  When my Perfect Strangers (remember Balki?) was disputed we turned to the source of all knowledge and finally Googled the line-up.  Ending the night we also found and remembered the show Dinosaurs from the TGIF line-up and spent the rest of our time watching clips of it on You Tube and yelling “Not the mama!”.  How did we ever like that as kids?

Still not sure I’d even want to go swimming with this guy.

Game night on Rode Trip.

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Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday October 2, 2012

Since our friends from Antheyllide have been anchored in the creek with us for the past few days but our only chats have been while they’re holding up their full size bikes in their dinghy and have stopped by to say hello, we invited them over for a few cocktails since they’d be on their way once more the next morning.  They finally got the tour of our boat which doesn’t normally happen unless it’s spotless because of someone’s OCD.  Even as they dinghied up Kim’s first question was “Is it your boat that smells like apple pie?”.  We had just replaced the air freshener in the head and apparently Glade was doing a great job of making our boat smell Fall fresh even from hundreds of feet away.  I just hope it doesn’t start attracting other boaters who think we’ve cooked up a tasty treat.

After the tour was done with comments of “This is the perfect space for the two of you” and “It’s totally your style” (our boat is suddenly becoming the smallest in the lot and we’re getting a little bit of larger boat envy) we settled into the cockpit to enjoy the strangely warm evening.  We had just gotten through the first bottle of wine and lots more helpful hints of places to visit or avoid on our way down to the Caribbean when Brian and Stephanie joined us as well.  They were just in time for Stories from our year in Venezuela as told by Antheyllide and they were not the kind of stories we had heard from other cruising blogs.  Stories included were How our friends found a dead man in a boat (on the can) a day before we arrived to see it ourselves (besides the body); How we thought we might be arrested for accidentally overstaying our Visas; Getting bullied by officials into paying $0.35/gallon for diesel instead of $0.08; and best of all How we came across multiple shipwrecks of brand new boats that ran into reefs.  ‘Oh, you’ll be fine’ they comforted on that last one, ‘I’m sure it won’t happen to you’.  I had never personally put much thought into it before but apparently it was one of Stephanie’s biggest fears.

I had also not known until hearing this that if you’re boat is deemed abandoned or wrecked, as in you can not get it off/away from it’s current location, that it’s open to scavengers.  As soon as you step foot off that boat the locals, including police, will come and strip a boat bare, usually selling pieces to unsuspecting cruisers passing through the area.  Clothes, dishes, and even silverware are taken from drawers.  Winches are sawed right out of the cockpit.  As soon as you’re off the boat it’s a free for all.  And it’s all legal.  I could not imaging setting off on this journey, getting into a storm where we had to be pulled off the boat and going back to it a few days later only to find out it’s been completely picked apart by someone who got there before we did.  Although we’ve both decided that our boat would have to be sinking before we’d abandon her, and I would much rather the sea have her than for someone to pick her apart.

*Knock on wood.  I’m not willingly going to give my boat to anyone, even the sea.

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I’ll Have What He’s Having

Monday October 1, 2012

With the sun in the sky and a desperate need to get away from the boat and all it’s little projects we called in on our friends Brian and Stephanie to see if they’d like to join us on a little tour through town today.  The large 9 hp had been put on the dinghy and we were going to ride up the Severn River to Spa Creek and dock in the heart of downtown.  No long walks for this girl today.  Coming up to that dinghy dock it was already pretty crowded but we managed to squeeze in and tie off.  Getting right down to window shopping we went into some of the prime real estate shops right on the water like The Pink Crab filled with flowery dresses and then next door to Sperry Top-Sider where I looked to see if there was any chance the shoes I wanted were on clearance.  They were not and I’m assuming that store does not have a clearance section.  Helly Hanson did though but it was all bulky winter coats that I couldn’t fit on the boat.  Matt shakes his head at the four jackets/coats I already have but they all get tons of use.

Leaving the classy and yacht inspired stores we moved on to the more touristy ones along Main St.  There were plenty with shot glasses, t-shirts, and mugs letting you know you were in Annapolis and signs decorating the walls saying things like ‘Do one brave thing today then run like hell’.  Back on the street we found a hopscotch court in between a few buildings and although Matt and I shrugged our shoulders as how to play, Stephanie and Brian were quick to throw stones on the numbers while hopping the length out and back.  When they finished our eyes wandered up and down the road of where to go next.  Then in front of us it stuck out like the sore thumb it is, the orange and green front nestled into the subdued whites, blacks, and reds around it.  “You guys hungry?” we asked?  “Yeah, we could eat something” they replied.  Cutting across the street we walked into Chick & Ruth’s and found the main floor full of other patrons.  We were led to the upper section and were the only ones up there among ten or so tables.  The menus were set in front of us and we were told they’d give us some time to look them over.  About fifteen minutes is necessary since this is a 12 page menu.  As we flipped through the pages we all kept coming back to the lump crab cakes and one other thing.  Happy hour started at 5 and they offered half off beers and wines.  It was just going on four o’clock and we almost debated leaving and coming back an hour later but with no real plans we figured we could eat and still stay long enough to enjoy the hops on special.  As the waitress came to take our order we went around the table and ordered the same thing, the lump crab cake meal.  We also let her know that we’d be there for quite awhile, unless she had the power to change happy hour to 4:00.  No luck on that front.

When the food came out all talking stopped as our faces were suddenly stuffed with some of the best crab cake I have ever tasted.  The food was so filling though that my plate stayed in front of me well into happy hour as I picked at it’s remains while enjoying Sam Adams and Fordham for about $1.75 a bottle.  I don’t know why it took us almost a week to get here but I hope there’s at least one more visit while we’re in town.  Before we could even exhaust the four drink limit we were all to full to let anything else cross our lips.  Paying our tabs we were back on the street where the temperature had dropped about ten degrees and a light rain was starting.  Even though it was early in the evening most of the shops had closed already and we wandered into the next open one we found.  It was a spice and herb store and while drying off we took in the names of all the exotic spices and lifted the lids to get a smell.  Some were a specific spice alone and others were rubs and marinades for grilling.  There were way too many tempting ones to choose from and while Matt and I eventually left empty handed our friends picked up a few ounces to kick up the top notch cooking they always seem to pull off.

Thinking we’d head back to the dinghy and call it a night as it was cold and dark and sprinkling we spotted a bar on the second floor of some shops with neon lights flashing through the windows and we felt it deserved a closer look.  Getting to the top of the stairs we found it was not the night club we imagined it to be but a restaurant/buffet instead.  It still deserved a beer though and we sat next to the windows that drew us in and watched the lack of action out on the street.  Even though we didn’t find the club we impulsively started searching for as soon as we thought we had come upon one (I miss a loud thumping techno beat!) I’d still label this day a success.  This is why we’re out cruising.

*Yes, Chick & Ruth’s did have wifi and I was finally able to get my work done.  So many reasons to love this place.

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The Annapolis Roast Of Between The Sheets

Sunday September 30, 2012

Today I was on a mission to find internet.  We needed to pick up a few groceries since Between The Sheets had invited us over for another roast that night and we needed to bring a dish to pass.  Since Matt was still immersed in boat projects I offered to go myself and let him stay to get things done.  With my laptop secured in my backpack I had written down the names of two groceries stores in the area and directions to them so I could leave the phone with Matt and still communicate with him if necessary through my laptop.  Making me start the outboard on my own to make sure I could do it myself on the way back as well he chuckled in the cockpit as I had to use all my force and even put my foot on the motor leverage as I yanked back on the cord to start it.  On a 3.3 horsepower.  I swear it wasn’t this hard before.  Finally I got it started and pushed off, weaving through the other anchored boats on my way to shore.  Not sure when to put full power behind the motor and then cut it so I would easily coast to shore I stopped a little too soon and had to jump in the water to pull myself up.  Yanking with all my might to pull the dinghy up on to dry land with me it didn’t get as far as I’d hoped but our lock was long, so after wrapping it around a bench I knew even if I had to wade back out a little to get it, it wasn’t going very far.

Pulling the hand written directions out of my pocket I followed the streets to the first grocery store listed.  I had lucked out since it was only a half mile from the boat and large enough to carry everything I needed.  Filling up the backpack I walked out toward a shopping district hoping to find a cafe or restaurant that offered wifi.  Walking all the way down the road it was filled with galleries and and little shops but no cafes.  Basically ending up where I had started that morning I walked into a Mexican restaurant thinking that I could sit and enjoy a margarita or beer while working at least.  As soon as I got in the door I asked if there was wifi service and one of the employees told me they had gotten rid of it because of too many people in the area hacking into it.  Okay, did he know anywhere in the vicinity that might carry it?  Nope, they all got rid of it for the same reason as well.  Looks like I was in for another long walk.  On my handwritten map for the other grocery store I knew there was a Starbucks near it and debated if I should walk the two miles that way or search for something closer and possibly come up empty handed.

I was on a time constraint since Matt still had projects for me to do on the boat (as soon as one sewing project ends another one always starts) and I also had to prepare food for dinner and be there by six.  Doing my treadmill math in my head I thought if I walked really fast I could get there in thirty minutes, spend an hour there, and then have another thirty minute walk home.  Making my way out to the main road I followed another until I came out to the spot where the bus had dropped us off the previous day. Hmmmm,  I didn’t remember that being a short walk the first time and according to my map I was only half way there.  Walking and walking my thirty minutes had lapsed and I was hot and sweaty.  The backpack was heavy and that pesky little pain in my leg was coming back.  But the mission was strong and I continued forward with what seemed like no end in sight.

Coming up to the last intersection which would then lead me to the Starbucks on my map I saw there was one on this corner already.  Hallelujah, the end was in sight.  Almost wiping back tears of joy I hurried toward it when out of the corner of my eye I saw golden arches.  The first McDonald’s I had seen in about six miles of walking through this town.  If I walked just two blocks further I could enjoy an iced coffee and a sandwich for just the price of the coffee at Starbucks.  It was worth it. (Quickly while I’m on the subject, I’m all for the preservation of cute little towns, but you have your first fast food restaurant this far out of my way?  Throw a bone to us little guys.)  I walked in to find a bunch of students from the Naval Academy sitting around and enjoying a little freedom.  Once I had my food in my hands I did the normal ritual of wandering around and looking under each table for an outlet.  I was coming up empty and thinking there may still be a Starbucks run in my future when a gentleman sitting at one of the tables eyed me and asked, “You looking for an electrical outlet?”.  I’m guessing he had seen a lot of people do this dance before me.  I admitted that I was in fact searching for one and he replied that the only ones he knew of were in the ceiling.  Not really hearing that one before I asked him to show me and indeed they were embedded in the ceiling tiles.  Five feet above my head.  Pulling out one of the chairs from the high tops I positioned it under the outlet and hoping I wouldn’t be scolded by one of the employees, stood on it to plug my laptop in.

Logging into everything I was ready to get some real work done.  Going to open my Office documents it failed and needed to recover.  Starting the recovery process I was getting impatient.  The walk had taken a lot longer than I thought and even though I didn’t get a scolding from the McDonald’s employees for climbing on furniture I was pretty sure I was going to get one from Matt if I stayed out all day.  Document failed, would you like to recover?  Yes…yes I would like to recover that document very much.  Each time I got the same message though.  Once again I had all my work done and no way to transfer it.  Shut down again.  I was ready to pull out the tall chair once again just to throw my computer down from it and stomp on it a few times.  I think if I shut everything off and started it back again I probably could have recovered my documents but I had already wasted my time and my computer is sooooo slow (Christmas gift mom & dad (in-law)?) that I think I would have spent all afternoon there but I had to pack it in and head home.

Getting back to the boat I saw that Andy and John were visiting and everyone had a beer in their hands.  Double plus for me because it was a good excuse to crack open a much needed one for myself and they were also keeping Matt busy enough that he forgot I promised to finish my ‘chores’ before dinner.  As soon as they left I got to work preparing food to bring over to their boat in just a few hours.  In addition to the (real) salad I was bringing this time I thought I’d also whip up some chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  Although the batter looked and tasted great there was an issue while baking where the cookies didn’t really rise and came out a little hard and dry.  Messing up a cookie recipe that’s printed right on the bag of chocolate chips?  I’m starting to think the issue is with the oven and not the chef.  Throwing in some more cooking oil and lowering the temperature for the next batch I pulled them out of the oven just as it was time to head over for dinner.  Just as we settled into the cockpit a light drizzle started outside and I was glad I threw on long underwear since the nights have started to become very chilly.  Of course we were in the company of Canadians though who probably thought it was good beach weather.  (You know I’m just kidding and I love all you Canadians out there).  This time it was just the four of us as even though our other friends from before were in town they were in another creek.  There would be no Heart of Gold for us to sing along to that night but spirits were lifted when Andy pulled his bacon wrapped roast out of the oven.  Nothing like a good meal with great friends to lift ones spirits.  Maybe my life is more like a roller coaster than I thought, but at least I’m ending this night on a high.

*While I’m totally kidding about the new computer for Christmas (mostly), if anyone has an old or non-used laptop in their home that they’d like to get rid of, I will gladly take it off your hands.

The things I go through.

Passing the Naval Stadium on my way back.

A fine bottle such as Three Buck Chuck must always be presented before pouring.

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Material Overload

Saturday September 29, 2012

With my leg feeling slightly better (I’m guessing it’s a pulled muscle or torn something from NY that never fully healed) and having been cooped up in the boat for two days it was time for another excursion to shore. Today we wanted to stock up on groceries at Sam’s Club and get a few things at the mall. Or Matt wanted to stock up on groceries and get things at the mall. I wanted to get internet. Thinking our touchpad would save us a lot of space in the backpack compared to my laptop I transferred over all my Office documents and photos to a card which I could throw into the touchpad and retrive. We set out on the three mile walk (each way) to the mall. When we arrived there our fist stop was at the Taco Bell in the food court. This is something we have been craving ever since we left Michigan and have searched out in every town with no avail until now. Sitting at a table with our gorditas I pulled out the touchpad ready to get some work done. Matt took it out of it’s protective case to search for the spot to insert the card I had downloaded all my information to only to find out that our touchpad did not have one. Five days I had been waiting to do this work and I was shut down. I was very disappointed to say the least, but at least I had Taco Bell to lift my spirits.

The next stop along the way was to search for new phone carriers since we are still not happy with our T Mobile service. Wanting to get back to AT&T we found one of their stores in the mall but when explaining to them what we’d like to do they said they did not offer their services for pre-paid plans. Looks like we’ll still be stuck with T Mobile for the next two months. Before crossing the street to pick up a few things at Sam’s Club we wandered through the mall looking in all the store windows. It had been a long time since we’d been in a mall, or really any place that had so many material goods in one location.

If we were back at our normal lives, this is probably where I would be on a Saturday afternoon. It’s hard to tell if I would actually be buying anything since for the past few years I’ve had it ingrained in my mind that I need to save for this trip. But I let my mind wander as if this trip had never been planned at all and I was just a regular girl out to spend some cash. I kept looking in the windows of things I wanted but now could not have. A new lamp or decorative pillow for the house. A comfy sweater and boots that would be great for Fall. The pair of sky blue skinny jeans that I had been looking all over for. Getting rid of all our possessions had been so easy at the time we had done it but for a few moments in that mall, all I wanted was to have it all back. The house, the car, the dog, and the wardrobe full of new clothes. Shaking myself out of it I just kept reminding myself of the tropical beaches that await me. This is all going to be worth it.

Back at the boat we were growing hungry and I was excited to make a BBQ chicken pizza that I had been thinking about all day. Feeling keen on my cooking skills after borrowing a book of ratios from Rode Trip I set out even making my own crust. Going through four difficult to reach areas of the boat I pulled out all the ingredients to get to work. My my wandered to if we were in a house and everything would be at my fingertips. Making a mess of multiple dishes and pans I looked at the sink and thought of all the work I’d have to do later washing them by hand. When Matt tried to ‘assist’ me in the galley topping the pizza crust while I rinsed dishes and put things away we constantly bumped into each other as there is no room for two people in the galley. I thought back to home where there was more counter space than I could ever dream of now. As the pizza came out the toppings were delicious but the crust was as hard as a brick.

I about broke down. For six weeks I had been telling myself that all the changes and difficulties were worth it and after only socializing with other cruisers I had begun to believe it and think that this new life was now normal. But after being thrown back in the ‘real world’ today, even for a few hours I was harshly reminded of how easy I used to have it and how difficult everything now seemed. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long actually, I thought my first breakdown would have been within the first week or two of leaving. But it’s been said of cruising that you’re life is now a roller coaster. When you’re up you’re up and when you’re down you’re down. Thinking about this a little harder I realized I had slid into this life so seamlessly that it hadn’t been much of a roller coaster but a straight line with a few ups which then led me back to normal. I had more frustrating days back on land than I’ve had since we’ve been on the water. Knowing this lifestyle would have it’s difficulties long before I moved aboard I let a lot of the so called bad days go thinking ‘So is the life of cruising‘. So I should be allowed to freak out once in awhile. If my days are usually ‘up’ or ‘normal’ with one bad day every six weeks I should consider myself pretty lucky. There’s always time to perfect that pizza crust and Matt’s rarely if never in the galley. Soon we’ll be surrounded by cruisers again and forget how normal people live with all the land based things we gave up. Plus, there are still a lot of highs to come on our roller coaster.

At least it looked good to start.

 

 

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Stagnant

Friday September 28, 2012 

 

For the past two days we’ve just been sitting in Weems Creek on the boat getting a few necessary projects done.  There’s talk about going back in to town soon as there are land based things that have to get done as well but my leg has been giving me so much pain for the past few days that I’m afraid to use it extensively.  Yesterday I wasn’t even able to put all my weight on it.  So I’ve been doing sewing projects on board, the lee cloth is finally done!, and Matt installed the new bilge pump and worked on the solar panels.  Somehow I thought that two straight days on the boat would be relaxing but there hasn’t been a free moment.  Oh, but there has been time to spy on the Navy’s Crew team that practices by our boat every day.  They’re always a nice distraction.

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