A Gay Ol’ Day of Sailing

Sunday July 17, 2011

As much as we would have like to stay on the boat last night we were dog sitting for Matt’s mom, which left us running out the door just after 8 am to get to the marina as soon as possible.  Our holding tank was brimming full and we wanted to have it emptied before any big crowds or a strong wind made it difficult to get to the fuel docks.  There was more of a breeze on the lake than we expected when we got there although forecasts had called for none, but it was luckily going to push us right into the dock.  Sorting through the 20 or 30 fenders we have in our lazarette we pulled out 4 and began to attach them to the stanchions.  I hailed Harbour Towne to make sure there would someone available to evacuate our tank and was informed we were second in line.  Matt navigated through the narrow channel and we waived at another boat passing on their way out.  I overheard the guy in the cockpit call up to the bow ‘I’m going to turn this around and come back’ which to me meant they must have been going to the fuel dock as well, the person ahead of us in line,  and came up on the wrong side.  I tried to relay this to Matt as he probably saw the empty dock and though it was free for the taking.  As well as sound normally travels over water it was not traveling over our boat and he did not have a clue what I was trying to say as I repeated myself over and over again that the space was not free for us.  Since I still wasn’t positive what was going on as we came up on the dock I had the dock lines in my hand just in case, determined not to bonk someone in the face this time.  The woman on the dock ushered us to the smaller end as Matt was in fact trying to play ‘cutsies’ in line.  Fortunately this area had a pump as well and we were able to start getting the poop out and the fresh water in.

When the other boat had made it’s way out of the channel and back we realized it belonged to our friend Tom who we met last year at Eldean’s when him and his wife Connie also had their boat in storage there.  Even though we had been aboard their boat a few time to admire it they had unfortunately never able to see our boat due to it being 60% ripped apart until the week before it was put in the water.  While Tom’s boat was also getting pumped at the fuel docks I gave him the 60 second tour of Serendipity which received lots of compliments, especially on the teak.  Then we wandered over to his Catalina 44 named Andiamo.  Since the last time we’d seen it there had a new dodger & bimini outfitted for the boat as well as personally designed covers and pillows for the berths.  It was a beautiful boat and I could imagine myself spending weeks at a time on it.  It was light and airy and felt 10 times bigger than ours.  When Matt finished the job of filling the water tanks he came over to look around as well.  He was mesmerized by the dodger/bimini and kept giving me sideways glances as if to say ‘When are you going to finish ours? They were supposed to be done months ago’.  We all stood there talking for awhile and enjoying the morning sun and heat until the attendant kept stopping by to ask if there was anything else she could do for us, which is the customer service way of saying ‘move your butts along, I have other people trying to get in here’.

We took that as a cue to move our boat down about 300 feet to the end of Tom & Connie’s dock at Harbour Towne where we tied off and climbed into the shade of Andiamo where we talked for awhile about Holland vs Muskegon and how much they were loving their new slip and the area.  After not too long though we started receiving texts from friends of ours that were on the way to spend the day with us and were now only 10 minutes away, so we had to quickly shove off and get back to Torresen’s to pick them up.  This was the weekend of the Chicago Mac Race which left plenty of large slips open that we’d be able to steal for 10 minutes to load everyone on.  Pulling up to the marina we saw our friends eager and waiting to spend the day ‘yachting’ as they referred to it.  These were two friends, Jared and Jeff that I worked at Outback with, plus Jeff’s boyfriend Darryl and his friend Sara.  Putting our friends to work before they even stepped foot on the boat we were throwing out dock lines and scrambling to get them cleated without causing trauma to the boat (we’re getting much better at this).  There were no mishaps and we were able to get everyone plus the food and liquor on board in record time.  Then proving the Sabre is much better than the Hunter steering through this particular channel we successfully back our way out into open water and while Matt began to steer us toward the channel to the big lake I made sure to secure the very large and very well stocked cooler down below deck.  It would be a sad sad day if that had gone overboard.

Both Matt and I were so happy to have these friends out with us as it’s almost impossible not to have a great time with them.  Before we could even clear the channel Jeff and I were perfecting our mixology skills below deck  where he worked on vodka and juice combinations and pulled out a premixed container of something that looked like the Ecto Cooler Hi-C juice boxes I used to drink as a kid.  As for myself, I was able to triumphantly open a beer for Matt and pour some boxed wine for myself.  Containers of hummus were opened and pretty soon we had a nice little spread going in the cockpit.  Unfurling the sails and then cutting the engine it did start to feel a little like a high class cruise that most landlubbers would expect ‘yachting’ to be.  Too bad the teak deck was on back-order and I had given Geoffrey the day off from pouring my white wine or else they could have seen how high class things really could be.

 

Aren’t those just the cutest smiles you’ve ever seen?

After an hour or two of Mediterranean snacks and neon green libations we were either too stubborn to let the now early afternoon chill ruin our day, or the sun actually did come back out and start warming things up.  Soon after slathering on sunscreen and working on our summer glows half of the crew was ready to get in the water and we lowered the sails to let ourselves slow to a stop.  Granting it may have appeared to a non sailer that we were almost to a standstill, apparently Darryl didn’t realize how fast one knot of speed could still be because while we were still making a little bit of forward movement he jumped off the side and had to play a little bit of catch up as we slowly but surely began to leave him in our dust.  After that we thought it may be a good idea to trail a rope off the stern for any other possible stragglers.  In wasn’t long before Matt, Jeff and I were also in the water, jumping off the bow and trying to catch the rope before we were passed by.  Once the boat was actually at a standstill we were all flipping and diving off the side and like kids lined up at a water park we’d climb up the ladder just to do it over and over again.  To make things even more fun we also threw some of the fenders into the water trying to prove to each other that they could be ridden.  They can’t.

 

Hey guys!!!……Guys??!!

When we’d had enough swimming and frolicking it was time for sustenance in the form of perfectly grilled cheeseburgers and a family size bag of ruffled potato chips.  It was already getting so late in the afternoon at this point that our lunch was probably coinciding with the early bird dining specials.  No one was close to calling it a day, and even though Jared had to take a nap below to regain some energy we pointed the bow back at the horizon and kept cruising, putting off the inevitable that we’d eventually have to go back.  Slowly the sun kept dropping lower and lower in the sky and while we were halfheartedly hatching plans to call in sick to work the next day and just make this an all night party, responsibility got the better of (most of) us and we began to follow our trail home.  It was a perfect day on the water and we were all so eager to do it again that I forced everyone to promise they’d be back for the weekend of my birthday.  How can you turn down a request like that?

Collecting up belongings and putting everything back in order we readied the dinghy to start getting our friends back to shore.  Completely disregarding the capacity limit we squeezed all four of our guests plus all of their belongings and skipper Matt in to keep from making multiple trips.  I said my goodbyes and watched them float away with bow and stern slowly sinking into the water.

 

 

 

Photos from the day

 

 This is getting to be a pretty familiar pose

I love the reflection in Jared’s sunglasses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humpty Dumpty Got Pulled Up the Mast

Sunday June 26, 2011

After a few weekends spent moving into our new place and spending Father’s Day with my dad who happened to be in town for the weekend on business, we were finally able to make it back to the boat.  It was a little strange going there for the first time since the move because after all the changes recently happening in my life (new home, new job, loss of my puppy) the boat was starting to feel like the only constant in my life.  Except Matt of course, but he’s become such a part of me that I forget to include him as a separate entity sometimes.

Waking up in the morning we were so excited to get out on the water and do some real sailing after being out of the game for a few weekends which was starting to feel like a lifetime.  Plus I’ve been reading up on my sailing books and and wanted to pay decent attention to the sail trim instead of falling into the pattern of Matt being the line handler and I the helmsman as we always do.  Motoring out to the big lake it was just before noon and it was obvious there was a race taking place that day as all the yachts from MYC were following our lineup out into the open water.  Shortly after exiting the channel we unfurled the jib, raised the main, and cut the engine.  Wind wasn’t very heavy but there should have been enough of a breeze for us to at least point in a direction and slowly amble along.  But no matter what way we positioned ourselves there was nothing filling the sails and they’d just luff and taunt us while the racers cruised steadily by.  Trying every point of sail we were getting no kind of forward movement.  Even copying the compass heading of all the boats on the water that were leaving us in their dust we did nothing but stay stationary.  Finally when three other racers passed us with their mylar sails perfectly trimmed to this illusive wind Matt threw his hands up in the air and questioned, “What are they sailing on?”.  I just had to laugh at him and reply “…..skill”.

After clearing out of the way from the more skillful sailors we decided that with the lack of wind and waves it was as good of a time as any to remove our radar from the mast so we could sell it and use the money towards a newer model.  At first I assumed it would be my ass making it’s way into the sky which scared me a little, and when Matt said it would be him going up that scared me even more.  Not because I know he is afraid of heights and didn’t know how he’d handle it up there but because it was going to be me hoisting him up.  Now if you remember a few posts back I’ve mentioned there is a complete lack of muscles on my part.  I can’t even hold a paint brush above my head for more than 5 minutes without getting exhausted.  And the fact that just a few weeks ago I needed to be relieved from raising the genoa because I couldn’t complete it myself.  I was assured that because of the gear reduction in our winches it would be enough for someone even as weakly as me to raise a 160 lb male 60 ft in the air.  Even if there was a way I could get him all the way up though I didn’t know if I’d be able to let out the line gently enough to keep him from crashing all the way down or even pulling a Mission Impossible act where I stop him six inches from the deck surface.

After working the halyard around two winches I was told that I could do this and to start cranking.  Inch by inch the halyard became taut and Matt slowly became suspended in the air.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, there wasn’t much of a strain at all, it was just slow and steady all the way up.  Once he was where he needed to be I cleated the line and went blow deck to work with the wires at the bottom of the mast that he was working with at the top.  10 or 15 minutes in he’d realized that the wires were not coming undone as easily as he’d hoped and instead of swaying around in the breeze while I fiddled around for who knows how long trying to fix it, that it would be easier for him to be brought back down to take care of it himself.  With beads of sweat coming down my forehead I followed the instructions of keeping one hand on the line wrapped around the winch and making slow 1-2″ counterclockwise turns to gently ease him down.  Before I knew it he was safely back on deck and I was quite proud of myself for not killing him.

After getting everything in order and Matt up the mast a second time (which was slightly more difficult on my arms) the wind that had been hiding from us all day was starting to make more and more of an appearance and although it wasn’t dangerous it was definitely making for a bit more motion at the top of the mast.  Like the pro that he is though, the radar was successfully removed and lowered to safety and he was shortly behind.  Getting everything safely secured we cashed in on the fresh breeze we couldn’t find before and turned back towards the racers ready to hold our own.

 

 

 

 

 

* Here I was thinking I was so special for getting Matt ‘all the way up the mast’, and now I go back and realize it was only about 20 feet up.

Well We’re Moving on Down, To the West Side, To Trailer Parks and Crime, We’re Going to Die

Friday June 17, 2011

As of today we are officially homeless.  Or more acurately living with Matt’s mom, but the only home we have of our ‘own’ now is on the boat.  When the house went on the market last fall and we were still planning on leaving this August she very graciously offered free room and board to us for what we all assumed at the time would be 3-6 months max.  Of course plans change and now we have just over a year before we’re leaving but the offer still stood and we decided to take it.  A year of rent free living plus free electric, gas, water, internet/cable?  We’ll take it!!  This is definitley going to help to add to the cruising kitty.

For the past few days there have been boxes scattered all over the house, although due to the fact that all of the furnature and appliances are staying behind there isn’t too much to move overall.   Last weekend Matt had taken a van home from work for me and I was able to get everything to his mom’s in two car loads.  We only left behind what we needed to make it through the week.  And as of today the papers are officially signed and we’ll probably never walk back into that house again.  I didn’t think I’d be sad about moving, I’d done it so much as a child that I’d never gotten attached to a house before, but walking out the door one last time I almost mustered up one tear.  This was mine and Matt’s first home together and I was really going to miss it.

 

 

 

 

Now onto our new residence.  Most people assume that when you move from your own starter home to your parent’s home that it will be a move up.  Larger house, nicer furnishings, and a lot of the things you couldn’t afford when you’re young and just starting out.  I can joke about it here because we joke about it to her face, but moving in with his mom was almost a step in the opposite direction.   Open the cupboards and you’d find all mismatched plates and glasses with half of them being plastic.  There’s actually a plastic Ronald McDonald plate from 1992 that is used in rotation quite a lot.  Tupperware is a washed out Hillshire Farms Deli Meat container.  All of the washing detergent, toothpaste, and cold medicine come from Dollar General.    It would almost appear as if we just moved into a frat house.  I think half of our moving time was spent teasing his mom about the almost role reversal going on here between the two generations.   If changes like these won’t prepare us for living on a cheap budget during our circumnavigation I don’t know what will.

All kidding aside, with 7 grandkids rampaging through the house from time to time it’s great to have plastic dishware and if you don’t have OCD like Matt you use what works instead of having to buy brand name tupperware containers or laundry degergent.  (Although I always did the laundry in our house and I will stand beside Tide)  It may not be what we’re used to but there’s no reason it can’t work.  Besides, in a few years this will look like high living to us.  Showers, air conditioning, and easy access to our food?  Psh, we’ll be begging for these luxuries in the future.

Notice how I didn’t go on about storage space though.  We didn’t bring a ton of material items over with us but we did have to bring enough to get us through a full year in a four seasons climate.  If I were still working at the OB I could whittle my work wardrobe down to two pairs of black pants and two work shirts…but now that I’m at an office job (that no one knows I will be leaving in a year) I need to have an array of nice tops and pants and can’t been seen in the same outfit too many times without my fellow coworkers wondering if I do in fact come from the trailer park across the street.  And since there was not an abundance of storage space even before we came, making room for two new people has left us with our bedroom, part of the attic, and one shelf in the bathroom to keep all our belongings.  I’m sure we’ll make it work by learning to live in a room packed full of boxes or learn to live solely on essentials.  Or maybe it will be like living on the boat were I’ll have to move around six boxes and unpack a container just to get to a pair of shoes.  Only 13 months to go until we can finally leave on our adventure.   The countdown starts now.

 

What to do with all these boxes now that the closet is full?

Oh, and there’s an ongoing joke in the house now that things will continue to downgrade and we’ll eventually move down to frisbees to eat off instead of plates.  I can see Chris eyeing the dog’s right now.

*I should mention the crime part in the title is only because when Matt lived here 10 years ago his car was broken into twice on the street.  Since then the neighborhood had really changed and things like that don’t happen anymore.

What’s Blue and White, and Wet All Over?

Sunday June 5, 2011

It’s our boat, because she’s finally back in the water!!  Somehow this years transition from on the hard to in the water seemed to go by much quicker than last year but that could be because I spent far far less time on her in 2011 than I did in 2010.  I think I made it out to the boat yard a total of six times for hard labor vs the countless times last year.  Which means that Matt deserves a big thanks because 90% of the work was done by him.

For our first night back on the boat I wanted nothing but the best and picked up two NY strips for dinner, drizzling in a delicious teriayki glaze along with greek pasta salad and a classy 1 liter bottle of White Zinfandel.  It was a little sad making this trip without Mazzii now and the boat seemed so much more empty without her there.  And not just because she took up so much space.  Our wonderful neighbors on Buen Tiempo happened to be out that night as well and asked where our cute little dog was.  Having to explain the story again partly it felt like salt in the wound and partly I just went into autopilot retelling the same story that I’ve probably told about 50 times now to friends and family.

One of the first things we had to do when we arrived was to flank the sails (or attach them to the mast and furling roller).  Luckily winds were light and we didn’t quite have the debacle we did last year where I was almost flung off the boat like some kind of bucking bronco ride.  I don’t know why, especially since I had just finished the torture of bottom painting less than a week ago, but for the genoa Matt thought it would be best for me to control the winch.  The first half was easy and I was actually quite proud of myself but once there was enough sail up to start flapping in the light breeze it was beginning to take all my strenght to make one full turn.  When there was only about one foot left to raise we switched places where he finished in 10 seconds.  That’s ok….I loosened it for him.

Dinner was absolutely excellent although we still have a little work to do on figuring out how our grill displaces temperature.  Less than 10 minutes on the lowest setting and the outsides were getting black.  I forced Matt to pull my off as I still like some pink (red) in the center and I didn’t want to kick off my summer with a well done steak.  However, after cutting into the steaks the center was still raw and purple.  Back onto the grill they went.  Mine came back off after only another two minutes to a perfectly red center while Matt’s still stayed on a little longer and ended up being more red than he wanted, but he didn’t want mine to get cold while I waited for him.  So sweet.  : )  For the occasion I had pulled out our ‘good’ wine glasses that came with the boat.  As I was climing around the cockpit I moved my glass to the side as to get it out of my way.  Wouldn’t you know I forgot it was there and while making a wild gesture with my hand it got a good smack.  Click…. click…. plop.  I guess those don’t float like I thought they would.  This would be the reason why I’m not allowed to have nice things.

*I wasn’t being sarcastic earlier, I really do like those glasses

 

Not wanting to spend our first night on the boat watching movies like we can do any night at home we sat in the cockpit until the sun went down and turned the sky and water all kinds of brilliant shades of pink and purple.  I retired down below before Matt as I was loosing light for my Nook and was also beginning to lose too much body heat.  Since he had just installed a wifi antenna on the boat he was happy to stay out there all night long on his laptop cruising the forums.  I guess his night wasn’t much different than at home.

 

 

 

 

In the morning the sun was shining in a cloudless sky and although winds were low we made way for the big lake to drift around all day if nothing else.  It didn’t take long for it to warm up enough for a fleece and yoga pants to turn into a bikini. I can’t say the same for Matt though since he’s always bikini ready.  There wasn’t much to do with the sails because of the lack of wind so while Matt sat back and stared into the horizon I pulled out my notebook to read up on auto and home coverage for the new job I just started.  This is how we spent most of the day, me switching reading materials a few times or joining in on the blank gazes over the open water.  There were no exciting stories this day, nothing of great interest happening, just two people who missed the water back on it and ready to start another season.

 

 

Eye’ve Had About Enough of This

Monday May 30, 2011

We’ve been working hard to get the boat in the water as soon as possible this year, but since up until two weeks ago I’ve spent every Sunday working (at an actual paying job) I haven’t been able to help Matt and the progress has been a little slow.  Since he’s working on more intricate things, the supposedly easy job of painting the bottom of the boat was left to me.  Matt had been able to do this last year by himself in only two hours and his only advise was to move fast because the paint dries even faster.  He had applied two coats with one can of VC 17, very thin ones, so this year we bought two.  And since I did have a fight against the quickly evaporating paint, I was told it should not be poured into a paint tray to then be applied to the roller, but rather be put in a squirt bottle (like for hand lotions) and squirted directly onto the roller.

Even though this had been a two hour ‘Matt’ job, I was giving myself a two day time limit since I’m well aware of my strengths, or lack thereof.  After the waxing and polishing last spring I knew my arms would not last very long on a project containing the entire hull.  May I just say that I did want to pump iron to put some bulk on my arms over the winter, since my job of waitressing consists of carrying heavy trays above my head for hours at a time, and  I did not want to go into work with weak and wobbly arms after an extensive workout.  Losing a whole tray of food onto someone’s head would not be worth it.  So as I prepared myself to paint a hull I knew it would be hard and time consuming for me, but I had no idea just how much that would be so.  Even though I expected my arms to get tired from the workout, I also expected that the paint would actually spread when applied.  Not so much.  At least not for me.  I originally asked Matt for a 4″ roller because I knew I’d have to put most of my weight behind it and figured the more weight I could put into a smaller space the better.  But no matter how hard I tried, every time I’d go to roll the paint it would come out spotty.  And even though we had purchased two quarts this year….it was still only two quarts.  I did not have the luxury of fixing the problem by just throwing more paint on it.  I’ve probably said this before, I know it happens a lot, I don’t mind a time consuming project as long as there is progress being made.  But when you are working on something and it isn’t going anywhere…..it’s maddening.  This is what I felt like on the first day of bottom paint application.  Almost 8 hours later of hard labor, this is what I was left with.

 

I think I’m done now

 

Day two: There is no way this is going to get done.  Not this weekend anyway.  Which means that Memorial Day weekend will now be spent painting as well.  I think it made everything worse today, going in with defeat after the lack of progress made the day before.  Although the dark skies looming overhead did give me hope that maybe we’d be rained out..but then that would be just one more day I’d be behind.  Then at some point during the day a stroke of genius struck me.  Finger paining.  I may not be able to get the paint to spread on a roller, but I sure as hell could apply it to my gloved hand and spread it over the hull pretty easily.  I was pretty happy working along like this until I shared my plan with Matt, and he told me that ‘finger painting’ wouldn’t spread it easily and I’d have to go back to using the roller.  Boo.  Just when I thought I was getting somewhere.  So back to the roller it was.  Working like this for a few hours I was making even less progress than the day before because my arms were sore and could only be held up for two minutes at a time before needing a break.  Nearing the early evening Matt and gone in the cabin to do work and left me outside alone to work.  Without any prying eyes I decided to go back to finger painting.  Screw it, it was progress!!

I was actually quite happy working along with this and could have kept going all night except those dark clouds from earlier were now becoming even darker and there was thunder in the distance.  I assumed that we would go home with the rain but the direction was ‘keep working’.  When the rain actually did start I was saved from getting wet by actually working underneath the boat.  Cradled in the boat’s cradle I sat there while my bum slowly started to lose feeling.  People who were passing through the lot gave me strange looks as I worked that way, and a few even came over to tell me that severe storms were on the way and I should get moving.  After about three ‘warnings’ I was finally able to convince Matt that the whole boatyard was fearing for our safety and that it might be about time to pack up.  With my two days gone I didn’t get all of the painting done, basically only one side, but it was still feeling like success to me!

(05/22/11)

Seeing as the world didn’t end yesterday like it was supposed to, we went back to the boat and put in more work so we could get it in the water as soon as possible.  I knew I was going to have a long day in front of me, but at least the sun was shinning and temperatures were close to 80.  My first order of business was to re-tape around the water line again before I could get into the daunting task of actually painting.  Matt jumped into the lazarette to start painting that a nice clean white while I struggled with with the 20 knot winds blowing my tapes sticky sides together down below.  It was definitely getting more spacious in the yard with more and more boats going into the water, but it seemed that 70% of the people still on the hard were out working on their boats today.

After spending close to 30 minutes trying to perfectly apply the tape to the waterline I started gathering up my painting supplies while praying for 7:00 to come as soon as possible.  But with it not even being 11:30 yet I had a long way to go.   I was also nervous about switching to the 9″ roller we purchased on our way out since I wasn’t getting very far with the 4″ one last week.  If the new roller that was twice as big, was twice as hard to use, I had no idea how I was going to get through the day.  I started fresh on the port side instead of being discouraged by what I didn’t finish over on starboard.  I squirted a little bit of the paint on my roller and was elated when it glided across the bottom actually spreading the paint in a much larger area than I was able to achieve before.  I started happily painting away thinking that the first coat on this side and a second coat on both sides could very well be completed by the end of the day.

Things were going along well enough, and I had even taken a few breaks to chat with a fellow boater that was admiring our boat and had plans himself to leave soon and complete ‘The Loop’ with his wife.  Work was starting to slow down a little in the mid afternoon, and I was back to my position on the cradle painting areas above my head.   I was reverted to using a combination of the roller and finger painting, as a hand was much easier to lift above my head than a roller for these places.  I must have been getting a little sloppy and put too much paint on my gloved hand because when I went to raise it above me to spread, a big fat drop fell off and landed right in my eye.  Now it is never a good thing to get paint in your eye, but marine anti-fouling paint is highly toxic.  For a split second I thought to myself, ‘Ha, I don’t even feel anything.  So much for toxic’.  And then the burning started.  It was bad!!  Luckily we were only a few hundred feet from the restroom and I sprinted over there to flush my eye out while yelling “Matt!!  Matt!!”, although I doubt he heard me and wouldn’t have been able to do much to help anyway.  Busting open the door and throwing on the water, I started throwing handful and handful right onto my face.  When this didn’t feel like it was doing much I realized it might be best to get my contact out so it wasn’t blocking anything.  Trying to peel it off was so difficult, it felt like the paint had tried to attach the contact permanently to my eye.  Once it was finally free of my eyeball, the cool water felt like it was finally starting to take effect and I spent 5 more minutes with my face practically under the spout.

Deciding it was time to find Matt so he could tell me exactly how much trouble I had just gotten myself into, I marched back to the boat, unable to keep my eye open.  Climbing up the ladder to the cockpit with a paper towel covering half my face I don’t even think I had to tell him what happened before he knew.  Without freaking me out about how I probably just blinded myself, he pried it open to have a look and asked how it felt.  Although it was blurry and painful while open, it felt fine as long as I kept it closed.  I got a spiel about how we probably wouldn’t be able to know anything for sure until it had some time to recover, and I was pardoned to the car to begin a little of that recovery time.  While sitting fully reclined in the front seat with a cold paper towel over my face I thought about how this could permanently affect me, and how I might be sporting a bedazzled eye patch pretty soon.

 

Happier times

 

After an hour of praying for full recovery, I choose to get back to work as we still had a lot of daylight left and that bottom wasn’t going to paint itself.  Using some of the frog tape, I attached the paper towel to my eye as a makeshift eye-patch for the day.  Not wanting to get under the boat again and risk blinding myself completely I went to work near the bow and slowly plugged along until it was time to go home for the day.  Not before trying to capture exactly what my eye looked like though.  Those who do not want to see an extreme close-up of my eye, look away!  For those that find these things cool, look at the B-U-B-B-L-E that has formed on my eyeball!!

 

Ok, so it doesn’t look that bad here.  But it did hurt like hell.

The next day my eye was still a little sensitive and I wasn’t even going to try putting contacts in.  The bubble was still there but the redness had gone down.  There was a chance that I might just be alright after all.  Finally coming near an end of this 2 hour turned into a  4 day project, my body was exhausted.  The bottom paint had to be finished since the boat is being launched in a few days.  All I can say is on this last day I worked hard and breaked hard.  When Matt was away on one of his many trips to Home Depot I’d sprawl myself on the dirt ground and soak up the sun.  There was a crew that just came back from a race, celebrating with beers, and I was half tempted to walk over and ask for one myself although I couldn’t actually pull myself off the ground to do it.  At the end of the day, Serendipity’s bottom was fully covered in a beautiful copper colored paint, and I could look forward to visiting her the next time in the water instead of on the hard.

 

Finally finished!!

 

*Note:  I made an appointment with my eye doctor five days after spilling paint in my eye.  When I pulled up to their office I checked my eye in the mirror and it appeared to be perfectly back to normal.  I walked in the door and cancelled my appointment.  Looks like I’ve made a full recovery!!

Rest in Peace, My Maserati

Wednesday April 20, 2011

 

 

Some sad news, our sailing greyhound is no longer with us.  It’s something we were not expecting at all as we hadn’t even known she was sick and was still pretty young as far as greyhounds go.  I think the story would best be expressed in the letter I sent my family:

Hi everyone.  I have a bit of bad news, Matt and I had to put Mazzii down yesterday.  The doctors believe she had multiple cancers, they just didn’t become apparent until a few days ago.  The (really) sad part was that even just a week ago she seemed perfectly healthy and at 100%. 

 Tuesday night she got sick and we assumed it was something she had eaten, we’ve been giving her a lot of table scraps recently.  She threw up quite a few times that night and was completely dehydrated by the next morning.  We let her drink a ton of water Wednesday, but apparently if a dog gets dehydrated to the point there is nothing in their stomach, if they drink too much water too soon their body can’t handle it and they throw it back up.  When we figured that out Wednesday night we started giving her small amounts of water at a time, but she still wasn’t interested in food.  By Thursday she seemed to be keeping her water down (mostly, and in small amounts), but still wasn’t interested in food.  I called the vet to make an appointment for the next day, but Matt and I just thought that maybe she had a virus and would only need a few days to get over it.  So when Friday came and Mazzii seemed slightly better (she was eating peanut butter and moving around more), we thought she was starting to recover and cancelled the vet appt.

Saturday night Matt noticed that she had a yellowish hue to her and we thought maybe she had jaundice (or a dog version of it), which we knew would be more serious than we thought and we contemplated taking her to the emergency vet.  We decided to hold off for one more day when we found a clinic that was open on Sundays and would be much cheaper than the $1000-1500 of taking her to the ER.  I was unfortunately at work when Matt took her, so I don’t know all of what went on there.  They did some blood work and it came back normal, but when they did an ultrasound they noticed that her gallblader, liver, and kidney all looked enlarged, which were signs of cancer.  They said it was hard to tell though b/c she was still so dehydrated, and at this point hadn’t eaten any real food in five days.  They suggested we take her to our regular vet the next day for a 2nd opinion, but they said it didn’t look good and she wasn’t likely to survive any surgeries.  By this time Mazzii looked terrible, she didn’t even look like herself.  She had dropped about five pounds, all her exposed skin was yellow and her eyes were almost swollen shut.

When we took her into our regular vet yesterday we knew that we weren’t going to be coming back with her.  We had spent the entire day plus the night before not leaving her side, and even let her sleep in the bed one last time after keeping her in the sunroom for the past five days due to her getting sick and ruining the carpet.  When the vet saw her she didn’t even need to do any test to confirm what the other vet said.  She said what we already knew, and that was there was no getting her better even if they figured out exactly what was wrong with her.  We made arragements to have Mazzii cremated and get her ashes back.  I’d like to take her on the trip with us and leave little parts of her everywhere we go.

I’m not sure if it’s fully sunk in for Matt and I yet, it all happened so quickly.  We’re taking it pretty well, although there’s still reminders of her everywhere.  There’s so many times (and there will be many more) where I walk into a room and expect her to be there.  It will be hard getting used to life without her, though I’m sure we’ll be ok.  She was a great dog and we’ll miss her terribly.

She really was a great dog.  And not because she was the first and only dog I’ve ever had.  She was a part of our family, she made us feel whole.  From the days she was so excited to see us when we walked through the door and we knew she needed us as much as we needed her to the times she pretended the only thing she wanted to do was get 100 miles away from us although we all knew better.  She put up with our weekends on the water and even learned to get as excited about the word ‘boat’ as she did for ‘car’ or ‘walk’.

And then there’s just the details of her.  The big doe eyes and the softest fur I’ve ever felt.  How her ears were so silky and how they’d half perk up when something caught her attention.  Her missing toe on her front paw which allowed us to call her gimp.  How she’d lay down right on top of me and slowly slide off onto the bed or couch letting her get as close as possible to me.  The way she’d get an attitude when we’d kick her off the bed at night and she’d actually huff as she plopped down on her dog bed.  How she could sprint a lap around the house in under five seconds and could fake left and then fake right when you’d go to chase her.  There are a million things to miss about her, and I’ll never forget a single one.

But to keep the memory alive, here are a few links to videos of Mazzii:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxZ5QeE-PQg&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAxK71ltpzs&feature=youtu.be

I’ve Got My Heart Set on Anywhere but Here

 Friday February 18, 2011

This will still be my view in 12 months

 I’ve known in the back of my mind for awhile that there would probably be no way around this and as of yesterday the news is concrete.  We’re going to have to push back leaving for about year.  Now instead of leaving in August 2011 like originally planned we’ll be leaving in June or July of 2012.  I did not take this news well.  It was becoming excruciating just counting down the next six months, but to add about 12 more to that I actually stormed upstairs to pout for the rest of the night when Matt gave the final verdict.  There also may have been a few tears shed.  And aside from that episode on the boat last summer it would pretty much take my dog dying to make me cry so you can tell this meant a lot to me.

There are a few reasons we’re allowing ourselves this extra time.  One of them is the house not selling quite as quickly as we’ve wanted it to.  We knew it wouldn’t sell right away but I think four months on the market is what we were hoping for.  Now it’s been five and a half and although there was one offer where we could have signed the papers already, the buyer found out that two people in the neighboorhood were having a disagreement and said he ‘couldn’t live in a place where people didn’t get along’.  I think he was a little messed up in the head.  Now with all the time that’s gone by it would pretty much take someone walking in the house tomorrow and saying they want it for us to feel comfortable enough to deal with moving and making all the final preparations on the boat to be able to leave on time.

Another reason is that as you may have read a few months ago, we’ve decided to possibly expand our trip by going all the way around the world should the urge to keep going still be there once we hit the Bahamas.  So a 2-3 year trip around the States and Caribbean could now be a 3-4 year circumnavigation which means we need to have enough cash in the bank to make it all the way around should we desire.  This brought up many discussions of stopping to work along the way (we found out you can get a work visa in New Zeeland between the ages of 18-30), but going back to number 1, we were afraid we’d be all set to leave with the exception of the house possibly still being on the market.

And then the icing on the cake although this hasn’t been affecting us as much as I thought it would, the company I’ve been with for the past five years has downsized me right out the door.  So now my part time waitressing job at an Australian themed restaurant has now become my as close as I can get it to full time work.  Thank god for that 2 hour wait every Friday and Saturday night.  So far I’ve been able to keep things pretty close to where they were before, but I’ve heard it becomes a ghost town in the summer.  Crikey.  I’m going to need to start looking for additional/replacement work.

So there you have it.  We will be stuck on land for one more year.  One more year of work, one more year of scraping and saving, and one more winter (damn you Michigan!!).  I guess there are upsides to it too.  That’s another year to spend with friends and family, one more year to get to know the boat and prepare it exactly how we want her, and one more year to scrape and save.  Plus Michigan summers are unbeatable and almost worth the torture of snow and cold, so I think if I can get through the next two months until warm weather comes I just might be ok.  Check back with me in a year though, two winters and I may not be as optimistic.

 

Think I’ll miss winter walks like this in the park?

Mazzii seems pretty indifferent

Strictly Sail Chicago

 Friday January 28, 2011

Only a few small projects have been worked on for the boat this month.  The table in the salon Matt had taken out a few months ago is complete.  He shaved off a few inches from the aft  end to make squeezing into the port side settee a little easier.  He was also able to refinish the teak and add a triple stainless steel tracker cup holder which is great because it doesn’t take much for me to knock over basically anything.  My progress on the dodger is slow, but at least it’s still progress.  After having it out with the sewing machine and some nasty name calling on both sides we decided that time apart would be the best thing for us and I’m still sewing by hand.  It is incredibly time consuming but the stitching just comes out terrible when I try it any other way.

Then there’s also that one thing in late January that most sailors in the mid-west look forward to, and that’s Strictly Sail Chicago.  We planned on going only on Friday since it went into our schedule better.  It’s about a 2.5 hour drive for us, so after dropping off the sailing greyhound at grandma’s , picking up another solar panel in Michigan City, and passing through 3 toll booths in a car where the drivers-side window doesn’t go down, we made it to Navy Pier just before the show opened.

Mostly on our schedule that day was attending seminars, all put on by the same hosts, John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal of s/v Mahina Tiare III.  John and Amanda are a very nice couple who charter expeditions on their boat through New Zeeland and the South Pacific.  As much as Matt and I would like to join them for one of these trips our pockets aren’t quite deep enough at the moment so we thought we’d see what kind of information we could pick up on dry land.  The first seminar we attended was ‘Ocean Voyaging Preparation’.  Not that we’d be completely unprepared without this seminar since all that Matt does from the time he wakes up every day to when he goes to sleep is research things online that will prepare us for ocean voyaging, but it’s nice to have the chance to hear from someone person to person on what it is like.  We were the first ones in the seminar and John was more than happy to greet us and get us set up with an itinerary, a free copy of Blue Water Sailing, and lots of other goodies.  As other people started to file in Amanda came to have a seat near us to ask about our sailing experience, boat, and future plans.  For some reason I was overcome with a terrible bout of shyness and wasn’t able to get out much more than my name and my boat.  I’m used to Matt being the talkative one between us and since he was in another conversation I was on my own and words just seemed to escape my mouth.  It was a shame because the seminar was very helpful, and some one on one time could have benefited me greatly.

After the first seminar we had a few hours to kill and decided to see if we could find me a good deal on foulies.  We checked out a few vendors including Slam and Henri Lloyd, where I hobbled around getting ‘dressed and undressed’ about 10 times, before I settled on a nice pair of drop-seats from Gill at the very low price of $79.  At the sight of the decent quality and cheap priced tag Matt picked up a pair for himself as well.  Only problem is that except for size and the drop-seat on the back of mine, they look exactly alike.  We worried a little that if we had to get them on in a hurry how we could keep from mixing them up.  I told Matt I’d be more than glad to sew some flowers on the leg of his so we would know who’s are who’s.  Bright pink flower designs?  I think he’d love it.

With an hour left still before the next seminar we made our way to the area of Navy Pier with all the food stands.  Years in the past I had always picked McDonalds because I thought I was being cheap and saving us a little money.  And every year I’d forget that the cheapest combo on the menu of a McDonalds located in Navy Pier is about $7.  So this year I got what I was really craving and that was a burrito from a stand I’d been eyeing our past two years here.  I was so excited to dig into it until I took a bite and realized it was the most bland thing I had ever tasted.  Since Matt ordered the same thing as me I asked if his had any flavor.  It was the same thing for him.  Guess I would have been better of with my chicken nuggets.

Looking at our watches we realized the next seminar by the Neals of Panama to New Zeeland was starting in 15 minutes.  Racing back to the room we thought we were making it in with two minutes to spare and pulled the doors open to take a seat.  When we saw the room was already full and the lights were dimmed we realized we had read the schedule wrong and were already late.  Quickly taking a seat in the back I pulled out my notebook to jot down any information that might be helpful to us on our own journey through that area.  We got a lot of good information on the islands, even where to find free showers and the cheapest food at market.  And since we’ll be hitting some of these islands just after the Marquesas where we’ll be living of the government regulated cost of bread since a burger at a restaurant can run upwards of $18 USD, those are good things to know.  With 30 minutes between this seminar and the next one of Mastering Storm Avoidance & Survival Tactics we thought it best just to stay put and not interrupt again.

At the end of the next seminar with more good notes it was only around 5:00.  The past few years we’d be able to wander around for hours looking at each booth and what they had to offer.  Now we were a little older, wiser, poorer, and slightly jaded.  We knew every booth because we’d already been there before.  The great prices that had seemed so low before were always beat out with deals online (as Matt found after his hours of research).  Other than the seminars there was nothing for us this year.  Although it was great to get out of the house for a day and cross that magical line between Michigan and Indiana where the 28 straight days of overcast weather turns into sun (it literally happens every time we go to Chicago), all I wanted to do at that moment is pick up my dog, throw a movie on the projector and enjoy a glass of wine.  It’s always nice though to have that reminder of what’s waiting just around the corner for you as the snow melts and the covers begin to come off boats.  Mid-west winters can be tough, but they never last forever.  I can almost taste summer now.

(photo not taken by me)

Sunday November 28, 2010

‘ Globetrotting’

In the planning for our upcoming trip we’ve gone back and forth about plans to stay in the Caribbean and the States or to sail all the way around the world.  The very first initial plan for us was to sail around the world anyway, but I was terrified of sailing across an ocean and begged Matt to let us stay near land.  In my defense, this idea originally came up less than a year after I had stepped foot on a boat.  I was far too unskilled and unknowledgeable in sailing to want to take a journey like that.  I liked knowing that should something go wrong I wouldn’t be more than a few hundred miles from land.  There were also a few other factors of wanting to stay stateside.  Once was time.  I figured this would just be a sabbatical where we’d be picking up our lives and careers right away and didn’t want to be away for too long.  Matt had a tentative work opportunity waiting for him if he could be back in 2013.  I don’t have anything waiting for me when I get back but I also didn’t want to start all over in my mid 30’s.  Plus I always had this strict timeline in my head of when I wanted to start a family, and even being gone 2-3 years was pushing that back.  Change that to a 4-5 year journey and in my mind I was f*%#ed.  Then lastly and more importantly is Mazzii.  By staying in the states and Bahamas we could bring her with us.  Anything past that and we would half to jump through a million hoops and pay out of our ass for the honor of her company.  And the thought of having a dog that large on an ocean crossing and constantly having to stay close to the boat for her….not going to work when we’re trying to see the world.

Then about a year ago Matt introduced me to sailing blogs.  Slapdash and Bumfuzzle….I was addicted.  Up until that point I had no real idea what cruising would be like because I hadn’t heard stories of anyone that had actually done it.  It opened my eyes to the possibilities in front of me.  Reading these stories was so exciting and inspiring.  After all, what they were doing wasn’t all too different than what we were planning.  Except they were crossing oceans and visiting multiple continents while we’d be ‘crossing the Gulf Stream and visiting multiple states’.  I was getting a little jealous.  I’d try joking to Matt that ‘Hey, maybe we should just go all the way around’.  Although over the past summer I don’t think he was too impressed with my knowledge to learn and wasn’t sure if I could be trusted for night watches or if something were to happen to him and I’d be left to handle the boat myself.  I had to agree, I didn’t try as hard as I should have.  And then there’s Mazzii.  Neither of us could bear the thought of leaving her behind.  We love her almost as much as we love each other and (mushy part here), didn’t think we could get through the days without her.  Even tropical weather and crystal blue seas can compare to her deep brown eyes and the kisses we get from her each morning.

So then the talks turned to ‘I’d love to sail around the world….but I couldn’t leave Mazzii’.  And ‘Visiting other countries would be great….but I’d feel terrible about leaving Mazzii behind’.  Having these conversations more and more, one thing dawned on us.  Would Mazzii even want to spend two years on a boat?  Sure her ears would perk up every time she heard the word boat and dinghy rides are a past time I’m sure she’ll never get sick of.  But when the dinner bell rang on Sunday nights and it was time to go home she was more than ready to hop in the car on the way back to her own bed.  Plus the fact is this dog was built for speed and we didn’t know how she would handle being away from land for a day or two at a time.  Soon conversations turned to ‘Let’s start with her and see how she does.  If we hit New York…North Carolina …Florida …and she doesn’t like it we can rent a car, take her home and carry on without her’.  Home being Matt’s mom’s house who graciously decided to take in our saildog should we decide she isn’t up for the trip.

In the end we decided we’re going to take the leap without her from the beginning.  Who knows, we could hit Detroit and realize that we can’t live without her and change our plans all over again.  But the tentative idea is that we’ll leave just the two of us and make our way down to the Bahamas, and if we’re loving life at sea we’ll turn West and just keep going.  If not we’ll stick to the original plan.  Or who knows, maybe after six months of living on a boat we’ll decide it’s not for us and either come back home or travel somewhere new.  The best part is that we don’t have to decide right now because there’s  nothing holding us back.  Once you sell your house and quit your job….life is just kind of open.  All I know is that there are too many wonderful things in the world for me to see rather than just staying put.  But where it stands now we’re going to  pull up anchor and head into the unknown and not experienced. We’ll just have to see what’s wiating for us.  After all, it’s a big sky.

Sunday November 21, 2010

‘Sew what?’

Well the boat has been out of the water for about a month now.  While Matt has done most of the winterizing on Friday afternoons while I’m at work I have spent a few Sundays out with him prepping it for the winter and getting the cover on.  A cover that we had been very excited about since it was cloth, durable, and best yet, came with the boat.  This was our first winter having a boat out in the elements and we felt sorry for a few of the boats surrounding us that just had a tarp slung over their boom as we pulled out our custom cloth cover.  Once getting it in position though, we were a little surprised that it was not long enough to go over the toe rail.  No matter how tight we tied it on each side there was still a few inches of deck visible all around the boat.  We thought about buying a tarp to cover the remaining part but decided to see how just the canvas held up through the beginning of winter.

I thought I was going to be on easy street until spring when the cover came back off the boat.  Hahaha, I was so wrong.  The vinyl windows on our dodger were pretty old and falling apart, so they needed replacing.  Matt purchased sheets of 30 ml vinyl online and thought with my excellent sewing skills (the fact that I’ve hemmed a pair of pants), that it would be right my alley.  He also thought the Brother sewing machine he bought me for our anniversary a few years ago was the perfect machine for the job.

 

I don’t know why we’re replacing these, they look perfectly fine to me.

My sewing machine and I have our good and bad times.  Once in awhile she’ll do exactly as I ask her to and run smoothly.  Most of the time though it’s a nightmare where my thread is getting tangled up and I always have an ‘Error 1’ message flashing at me on the display screen.  Before I could even think about working with the devil of a sewing machine though, I had to take out the further of the two sets of seams so that I could cut the existing vinyl down as close to the exposed part of the window as possible.  After watching an online video I found out it was best to leave the existing vinyl on to keep the structure stiff until the new vinyl is sewn on top of it.  Once that is secure you take out the other seam of the previous window and pull it out.  Sounded easy enough.  I don’t know why I haven’t learned yet but I thought I could finish this project in two weekends.  Uhhh….yeah.  It’s been two weeks and so far I’ve replaced one of seven windows.  And it was the small one.

I’ll back up a little bit and try to explain.  Parts of this project would have been much easier if it were the first time these windows were being replaced.  It was not.  From the looks of it we were the third people to put a new layer of vinyl on.  And each person before neglected to fully remove the layer before them and I had three layers of vinyl where the seams were to rip out.  Or more accurately, three layers of seams to be ripped.  Some of the seams were nicely spaced where it was’t a problem to get underneath and tear the thread but other ones were just a few millimeters wide and I could barely get my needle under it.  I think it took me three hours to do about five feet.  Then came cutting those three previous layers back by about an inch.  I’m not even kidding when I say it broke a pair of my scissors.  Grabbing a back-up pair I made Matt finish that part and promise to buy me a heavy duty pair of scissors to work on the rest.

 

Then came the sewing.  Oh my god, the sewing.  First was getting the machine to actually work for me.  Once I got the bobbin to stop from tangling and could sew a decent line on the scratch fabric I tried moving onto the dodger.  To get at the right angle I’d have to roll the extra fabric into a space that was six inches wide by three inches high.  Did I mention my sewing machine is not very big?  And of course, of course when I moved from the scratch fabric to the real thing the bobbin would get jammed or the stitches would look like total crap and I’d have to take them out and start over again.  Can you tell I’m frustrated?  Sorry for the rant, but projects like this that should be simple enough and then make me want to rip my hair out because I just can’t get it right tend to drive me crazy.  In the end to save myself a little sanity and my sewing machine it’s life I’ve decided to do the sewing by hand.  It may be taking me ten times longer but it already looks so much better and can be kind of cathartic for an hour at a time.  So this is why it has taken me to weeks to do 1/7th of the project.  Good thing I’ve got a lot of winter ahead of me.