Lights Out

Thursday January 31, 2013

My last few days in Arizona were very nice and relaxing.  I did attend a Jazzercise class with my mom on Tuesday morning though, and I’m still having trouble sitting down!  I’ve been bending my knees a little bit and letting myself fall the rest of the way.  Those women really know how to make you sweat!  Now don’t think I’m too out of shape, I was doing all the advanced moves, but there were a lot of women in their 50’s and 60’s keeping right up with me.  My legs were jell-o as I walked out the door, but not weak enough that I couldn’t jump behind the wheel and drive us home.  It had been almost six months since I’ve driven any kind of vehicle, and I think I did pretty well at it.  I’m sure it fit right in with the rest of the snow birds, running a few lights, and suddenly slamming on the breaks.  (I’m just kidding, I only did that once)

Getting ourselves cleaned up it was another day of shopping, where I think I can say I’m successfully stocked up for the next few months to come, getting everything I need that I may not be able to outside of the country.  It may have been more clothes and make up, but the way I see it, this will hopefully be my last girly shopping spree I get for the next four years or so.  If the boat gets back in the water and things go according to plan.  So I see it as necessary and won’t even worry about where I’m going to fit all of this new stuff once I get back.  But that day I didn’t go crazy, it was just a few small things that are replacing old things I already own.

The next day was spent around the house relaxing, and doing a faux packing to make sure I could bring back all my new things.  Even with a newer, bigger bag from my mom, it of course did not fit.  But that’s what UPS is for, and the rest of my belongings should be arriving a few days after me.  Then it was off to a wonderful day of electronics where nothing was behaving as it should.  I tried to make a spreadsheet to print boat cards on, and after the three hours, literally, it took me to get up our name, boat name, and website, my mom and I found out we couldn’t print the cards.  My laptop wouldn’t connect with her printer, and her computer couldn’t open the ‘Open Office’ document I had used to make the spreadsheet.  That’s ok, I can live with that kind of hassle.

The real kicker came that night when I was trying to do work on my new laptop and my password wasn’t working to log in.  Truth be told, I had been having that issue for a few days, but just dismissed it since I still had my other laptop which has all my photo editing tools, so I was on that 90% of the time anyway.  But yesterday we really wanted to get to the bottom of it, and dedicated four hours to trying to solve the problem.  This included a call to Best Buy where they stated that if we didn’t buy their plan, they couldn’t do anything to help me, and a call to my uncle who’s in IT, but not familiar yet with Windows 8.  Finally and thankfully my dad was messing around with different options of the password I thought it should be and was able to get in.  Why did I ever add a 2 to the end of my password?, I never do that!  But once it was fixed and the stress was gone, I was able to enjoy the last few hours of my vacation sitting around and unwinding with my parents.  Can it really get any better than watching Mrs. Doubtfire with a bowl of popcorn in you lap and an ice cold Pepsi next to you?

Then it was back to the grind today, two flights and two thousand miles to get back home.  It was much more fun getting through security this time though, with two laptops to take out, and when they ran my bag through the scanner three times I thought I might not be getting on my flight at all.  I still have no clue what they thought I was carrying with me that my things needed to be inspected that closely.  But all was well and after holding the line up for only about five minutes, my bag came through and I was on my way again.  In the sky and ready for electronics to come out I happily grabbed my now fully charged Nook, woo hoo!, only to find….it wouldn’t turn on.  WTF?!  Really, electronics?  Still?!  Luckily for me, the guy in the seat next to me was watching Limitless on his touch pad, and must have known I was peeking over his shoulder because he left the captions on.  Thanks airplane guy!

Landing in Jacksonville, I was greeted by Matt, who looked exhausted from his hard day of labor on the boat.  He told me he had completely lost track of time and thought it was much earlier than it was when Chris came knocking on the hull to bring him to the airport.  His clothes and hair still had a little bit of dust on them, but after a week away, it was the best thing I could have ever seen.  We met Chris at the van, and then in a total surprise to me, we went to dinner to a place just up the road called Sticky Fingers.  It was a BBQ restaurant, and between the three of us we split the ‘Ribs for Two’ meal, coming with more food than we could all put away.  Our platter came with four slabs of ribs, each with a different sauce, and even one dry rub.  It was all delicious, and as usual when we go out with Chris, I was ready to fall into a food coma when we left.

Back on the road and coming into St. Augustine, we drove around town for a little as it was the last night before the ‘Nights of Lights’ are shut off until November.  It was actually really sad as we drove past, my face pressed up against the glass, knowing that the next time we’re out everything is going to look a little less magical.  Part of me wanted to get back to the boat, grab the camera, and run back out to capture all the beauty that we had admired, but taken for granted for the past two months.  As we pulled into the little side streets of the Lincolnville Historic District where our marina is, it hit me that I really felt like I was coming home.  This wasn’t just some random city that we were passing through anymore.  All the streets and buildings were comforting and familiar, and as much as I still want to get out, I am really going to miss it when we leave here.

Punching in the code for the gate and walking into the yard, it felt really good to be back.  Climbing up the ladder and expecting to immediately be bombarded by my furry little friend, Georgie, in true cat fashion, completely ignored me as soon as I walked through the door.  Then I saw what Matt was talking about in the email yesterday.  He was not lying about the mess.  The last step of the companionway was missing, all of our belongings lay out across the floor, and there was only one small spot to sit.  I didn’t even know what to do with my bags I had just brought back, there was no place to put them.  But this has to mean progress, right?  That something was actually done in my absence.  It may be an extra cramped space to get used to, but if I close my eyes hard enough, maybe I can pretend I’m back at my parent’s house, sprawled out in the queen size bed that I have all to myself.

“And kick, ….. and sweat…..”

Three hours to make this?  I don’t even know how that happened.

In St. Augustine News

Wednesday January 30, 2013

 

Since I’ve been a little lax on what Matt has been up to in St. Augustine, here is the report I received from him tonight.

The boat is trashed!  I’ll try to straighten it out before you come tomorrow.  I don’t even have a place to sit inside the boat right now.  I’ll be sleeping on the floor tonight…. It is that bad.

I just finished grinding the fiberglass. I used tarps to block the dust, but I still spent over two hours wiping the entire boat down.  There is dust everywhere, and it is really itchy!  I had to empty the vacuum three times just to get all of it.

I only got the tabs ground on the area where the fridge compressor is, the water tank area, bilge by the mast, and the settee by the bulkhead to the v berth ( where the tv is). I still have to do under the stove and sink, but may save that for another day.  Today was miserable!   It was so hot under the tarp I thought I was going to pass out.  I couldn’t see half the time because of the dust, and the grinder couldn’t reach in some spots do I had to use the dremel… Which isn’t large enough to do much.  I also cut through the fiberglass by the bilge pump into the cabin floor.  Its a small spot, but still noticeable, and I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it.

The microwave is 90% in.  I still need to do trim work (which i will have to make by hand)  mount a new 110v plug in that area, and mount bumpers to prevent the microwave from sliding back into the cabinet when the door is shut.  Because of the slope The worst it looks crooked in the cabinet.  It 100% level and perfect 90 degree corners, but with the slope of the cabin top, it looks really twisted.  Ugh!

The engine bay is about 3/4 of the way painted.  I can’t get into the aft cabin to paint the back area yet, but at least the front is done.  The steps will still be out when you get back… It’s a small jump to get down.*

I talked to the keel bolt guy from California and let him know that we wouldn’t be needing him anymore.  The costs were just jumping up too much, and he (building keels and knowing all about them) didn’t really think that him coming all the way out here was necessary anyway.  He gave me some really great tips though on how we should be able to work with the yard to do the job ourselves.

What do you think about keeping the hot water heater?  We haven’t used it yet and it takes up a 3x3x3 space that could be used for other items.  I’m not sure if we will ever use it, but I also don’t want to wish we still had it either.   We could always get one of those solar showers that everyone uses the time we want hot water, and that works without running the engine.

Also, what about the sink in the v berth?  If we got rid of that I think we could get much better use out of that space.

So it looks like Matt has been pretty busy while I’ve been away.  Things are finally progressing, and with any luck, we might actually be out of here in a few weeks!

*I found out from Matt that it was absolutely necessary for the engine to come out with the transmission.  The yard knew what they were talking about, and we were lucky we listened to them.

(Also, when I talked before about the fiberglasser, he was not part of the yard, just a vendor.  Everyone here at the yard has been very helpful and quick with their work)

Mama I’m Coming Home….Again.

Thursday January 24, 2012

I knew this was going to be an early morning, and a somewhat rushed one too, they always are when you’re traveling, but I was not expecting the knock that came on hull sharply at 8 am.  The alarm had been set for fifteen minutes after 8 where I had planned on taking a quick shower, shoveling down some breakfast, and making sure all my bags were packed before departing for the airport at 9:30.  My parents ha offered to fly us out for a visit, and I was only more than happy to take them up on it.  So this even earlier wake up call that we were not expecting left us with questions of “Who is it, and what do they want?”.  Opening the door after a few seconds of pounding on the companionway and voices coming from outside saying, “Let me in, it’s cold out here!” we opened the door to find the guy that was going to be taking out the transmission and engine.  Who as far as we knew, wasn’t supposed to show up until 1:00 that afternoon, after Matt had gotten back from bringing me to Jacksonville (he has to stay behind for all the projects to commence this week).  Unbenounced to us, and even though he knew we were leaving that morning, the guy thought he would pop in for an hour or two to get the process started before the big work of actually removing the engine was to come that afternoon.

So before we were even fully awake or had the chance to get out of our pj’s, we were busy moving all the items from the aft cabin up into the v-berth and salon to make room for him to work.  And all of these new items were now being piled on top of everything we’d already moved out of the port side settee.  A project that had been done on Sunday night to make room for another guy that was supposed to come on Monday to repair all our broken tabbing.  To which he never showed up on Monday.  Or Tuesday, or Wednesday.  The boat was now literally a disaster area.  Still having to stick to my morning schedule, after helping Matt remove the bottom two steps for better access to the engine, I grabbed my shower supplies and went to get ready.  The real trick came though after I had gotten back, and needed to get dressed.  I hadn’t been smart enough to bring my change of clothes with me and was now forced to change in the head.  Which was now also full of crap that we were trying to get out of the way.  There were some real acrobatics involved changing in a space that small with no floor room.  Back in the salon   I was maneuvering around the small space, unpacking and then repacking things into my bag until I was finally ready.  We sent the engine/transmission guy packing, I gave Georgie a long hard snuggle for as long as she’d let me hold her, and took one last look at my home that I hadn’t been away from for almost six months.

Waiting outside the boat yard gates for us was Chris, and we started the hour long journey up to the Jacksonville airport.  Matt was along for the ride as Jacksonville has a very large and well stocked West Marine, and there are definitely a few more things we could use.  Getting dropped off I said a quick and hard goodbye to Matt and went to check myself in.  Initially at the wrong counter, too.  Good thing I noticed I was on US Airways and not United before I got up to the counter and made a total fool of myself.  But soon I did have my tickets in hand and a lot of time to kill when I realized I had never eaten that morning because the galley was ‘blocked’.  Having been offered Starbucks on the ride up but originally declining, the one shining in my face at the airport looked too good to pass up, plus it had a seat right next to an electrical outlet, so I rushed up and ordered a venti caramel macchiato and a scone.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was surfing the internet with a large drink in front of me that I remembered I’d probably still want to give myself an hour to get through security and to my gate.  Which left me 30 minutes to chug a piping hot 20 oz coffee.  Tried as I might, there was still a good 1/3rd left when my timer was up.

Quickly getting through security and the new x-ray machines that there is so much conspiracy about (it was my first time using one), I was sitting in front of my gate in a matter of 10 minutes.  After having passed a Starbucks inside security.  Damn.  We just didn’t have perks like that back in Grand Rapids.  Making sure I was one of the last people on the plane, because, who wants to sit on one any longer than they have to?, I was once again lucky enough not to be seated next to an over-talkative cat lady.  (Wait, that’s not going to be me now, is it?)  During the first leg of the journey (there was a layover in Charlotte) I became engrossed in the in-flight magazine and came across a very interesting book review for something I might need to find and check out of the library.  It’s mostly based on sayings parents will tell their children on safety that have rolled down the generations, and if they’re actually true or not.  Kind of a Myth Busters of ‘Don’t run with scissors’.  Before I knew it we were landing and I had to almost run through the terminal to get to my next flight, which was boarding as I got there.

During the next four hours of that flight I read up on Aruba in the same in-flight magazine (can’t wait to get there), edited some photos, and listened to music.  I can’t wait until I can get a new charger for my Nook and having that work on the way back.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the watches in the cockpit or the past six weeks of stuffing myself behind the desk at the nav station with my computer, but the seats on the plane didn’t even feel very small to me.  Bringing on two big bags since I’m not checking luggage, and then having them sit at my feet since the overhead compartment was full cramped my foot space a little, but it really wasn’t a bad ride.  After landing I walked through the Phoenix airport and it’s many levels to find my mom waiting for me at the baggage claim.  A few big hugs and we were on the way to the car where my dad was waiting for us and a cold Pepsi was waiting for me.  My favorite!  Then when I walked into my home away from home and went into the bedroom to drop off my bags there was a jar full of Skittles waiting for me on the nightstand.  Another favorite.  And the cherry on top, after getting to see my parents of course, was my engagement/wedding ring that had been stuffed away in a bank, ready for me to wear during my stay.  Do my parents know how to take care of me, or what?  I may have just walked in the door, but I can already tell this is an amazing week spending some much needed time with family, and possibly, getting spoiled rotten.

In St. Augustine news:  The pulling of the engine/transmission did not go as smooth as we had hoped.  Smooth as in, our companion way is no longer that.  Because of a few cords that should have been disconnected and were not, while the engine was being pulled out of the companionway by the crane, it snapped back and sent the engine flying into the wall.  From what Matt described to me, even with the height of the door handle for the head, there are now 7-8 pencil eraser size dents, and they’re deep.  I haven’t heard if they can be filled, but it sounded like the only way to fully repair this would be completely replace that wall.  Poor Matt.  At least he has chocolate chip cookies to soothe his pain.

Cute couple dancing to Frank Sinatra at the airport.

Comforting to read while you’re flying on a plane.

 
 

Un-health Food Heaven

Tuesday January 22, 2013

I don’t know how many of you know this, but for as much time and money as Matt has put into getting fishing poles, lines, lures, basically anything for us to catch fish while we’re out on the boat…he does not like fresh fish.  A few summers ago when I’d make these delicious fish tacos made with tilapia and a to-die-for mango salsa, he would turn up his nose at it.  While I was trying to get into a healthier diet around the same time and would serve fish and vegetables for dinner, he’d make a peanut butter and jelly.  There is only one way to get this boy to eat fish, and that to deep-fry it.  Turn it around like that, and he loves fish.  Any restaurant we go to, he’ll search the menu for fish and chips.  Drown it in tartar sauce and he’s in heaven.  If you ever ask him the question “If you were stranded on a deserted island with only three different foods, what would they be?”, his first answer would be tartar sauce.  (And then Ranch dressing.  Apparently he thinks he can live off condiments)  So to help Matt out with his fried fish fetish, in steps our friend Chris.  While bringing us out to see the manatees a few weeks ago he was giving us a rundown on all the great places in St. Augustine to visit (a few among dozens), he told us about a seafood restaurant called Schooners which is a favorite to locals and is rated for having some of the best fried fish in town.  Wanting to make sure we experienced it, we set up tentative plans in the future and Matt and I were more than happy to take him up on the offer to try it out.

So this week, when we all had free time in our schedules, Chris picked Matt and I up from the boat yard to take us the few mile drive to the restaurant.  As soon as we stepped in the van we were greeted with a smile and a plate of his famous chocolate chip cookies.  If he hadn’t raved about this restaurant so much the last time we were together I would have been ready to call off dinner and dig into the cookies instead.  But knowing that I might still get a chance to eat one back at the boat that night before Matt scarfed them all down (They are seriously his favorite thing in the world, I think they could now be added to his list of three foods to be deserted on an island with), we continued on to the restaurant.  Walking in at 6:30 on a Tuesday night, the place was packed.  Always a sign there must be good food if it’s hard to get a table so early in the week.  After being seated with a menu in front of me I browsed through and could see why the place was so popular.  Scrolling down my eyes landed on items like fried shrimp, fried scallops, fried oysters, and fried crab cakes.  They also offered all of those items, non-fried, but that’s not the reason we were there, was it?  Everything looked amazing, and I wanted all of it.

Chris wasn’t going to let us off easy either, he also wanted us to try all of it.  I couldn’t decide which one of the entrees I wanted, so when the server came I ended up doing a combo platter with stuffed fried shrimp and fried scallops.  Even that was a tough choice because the gator tail looked very interesting, and where else would we get a chance to try something like that? Chris was already one step ahead and put in an order of gator tail for an appetizers, but not before he said that I had to try the Minorcan Clam Chowder, so an order of that went in as well.  Soon the food began coming out and while we discussed all the repairs on our boat (or the current lack thereof), I started sipping on the soup that did live up to it’s recommendation.  It’s a slightly spicy soup and very specific to the region because of the Minorcans that originally inahabited the area back in the mid to late 18th century and used it on almost all of their food.  It’s made up of fresh Seville orange and Datil pepper season and gives a nice little kick, but wasn’t too overwhelmingly spicy.  So far, score one for Schooners.  Next to come out were the fried gator tails.  Neither Matt and I had any idea what to expect of these as we had never come across them before.  Breaded and seasoned, they were served with a slice of lemon and sauce for dipping.  Taking a bite the texture was a mix in between chicken and lobster.  I’m pretty sure this place has their recipe for this dish down to a T, because these little bite size pieces of meat were perfection.  I’m serious, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better piece of fried food.

I must have forgotten somewhere along the way of eating soup, gator tails, and salad that there was actually a main dish on it’s way and never slowed down to save room for my  entree.  When it was set down in front of me my eyes grew as big as dinner plates, it looked extremely appetizing, but there was so much food!  Did I mention that it came with two sides and two hush puppies?!  I don’t think my eyes had quite caught up with my stomach yet though and I was still ready to tear into this plate of un-health food heaven.  Picking up the first piece of fried food goodness, I took a bite of my stuffed shrimp, which was fried shrimp stuffed with crabmeat.  Omg, it was so tasty.  The breading was very light and flaky, and would start to crumble in my hands as I ate.  Picking up the fallen pieces I’d just dip them back in the sauce and jam it into my mouth.

This is about the point where my stomach started to beat out my will to keep eating.  Not ready to throw in the towel just yet though, I forced myself on like a food challenge champion and also went after the fried scallops and hush puppies.  I don’t even know if I can describe how good this meal was.  I’m pretty sure I’ve already used every word out there.  It was savory, delectable, heavenly.  I didn’t get very far though, before having to stop and request a doggy bag.  Looking over at Matt, his plate was clean.  Looks like he enjoyed it just as much as I did.  When the option for dessert came, even though we had been planning on sharing a slice peanut butter pie, Matt and I were at the point where we could not put one more bite of food in our mouths and didn’t want to ruin what would otherwise be a good experience by making ourselves literally sick.  Although among Chris’ many recommendations among St. Augustine there is another place, The Gypsy Cab Co, that is also supposed to serve a sublime peanut butter pie as well, and it just might give us all an excuse to have to go out again.  I think I can manage to pencil that in.

 

*And in case you think I give glowing reviews to everything, it’s only because most everything we’ve had deserves it.   But I will say that if you’re in St. Augustine, don’t bother going to O.C. White’s.  We’ve been there twice, and in our opinion, the food is overpriced and bland, especially when there are so many better options just up the road.  (Ok, their crab sandwich wasn’t that bad)

Fried gator tails.   I could eat these all night.

Bliss in the form of sugar.

 

A Boat Cat With No Water

Friday January 18,  2013

We’ve now had Georgie for about two months, and she seems to be settling into boat life pretty well.  Even if she’s now a boat cat on a boat with no water.

Neither of us had been cat owners before, but after our dog passed it left a fuzzy little hole in our hearts that needed to be filled.  A dog was at the top of Matt’s list again, but we’ve heard horror stories on customs and quarantine on dogs and thought it would limit our travel destinations.  So we left, animal free, with the constant begging from me to get a cat. They’re small, easy to care for, and never need to leave the boat.  I didn’t even think I was begging or nagging too relentlessly, but with the help of some friends while heading down the ICW we wore him down enough that over Thanksgiving weekend we went to a no-kill animal shelter in St. Mary’s Georgia ‘just to have a look’.  We knew it was over as soon as we stepped up to the property housing 207 cats, and two hours later we had Georgiana in a pet carrier and on the way back to the boat with us.

We’re still getting used to boat life with a cat, and she’s still getting used to a life with just two humans, but here are some of the things we’re learning along the way.

 

  • It took us three attempts to finally get a litter box that works for us on the boat.  The first one we knew was going to be temporary.  It was an open plastic container that we had laying around until we could do some damage at a pet store.  The second one was a hooded litter box with a flap to keep the smell out.  Two problems were (with that model at least), Georgie could not push through the flap, so part of it was always open, and it dragged so much litter onto the floor each time she went in and out.  The third (and hopefully final) solution was a tweaked Rubbermaid container with a lid.  We purchased a 20 quart plastic storage container that had a lid with a nice deep lip and a hole wide enough for her to get in and out of with ease was cut at one end.  This allows her privacy and us not to have to see everything she does in there.  It keeps the smell out and also keeps 99% of the litter in the box or on the lip.

  • She’s more vocal than our dog ever was.  I haven’t been around too many cats in my life, not as much as I have dogs, but I’ve always remembered cats as quiet beings.  Not ours.  Luckily it’s not the kind of ‘howling and keeping you up all night’ kind of noise, but she’s definitely trying to communicate with us.  A lot.  I’ve gotten to the point where I think I have them figured out, and they seem to fall into four categories.  1.  Feed me.  You will know when her bowl is empty.  She won’t wake you up in the morning, but as soon as you’re out of bed she’ll let you know that she’s hungry until there’s food in her bowl.  Don’t even think of trying to feed yourself first.  2.  Let me outside.  We think it goes something like this in her mind, “This boat is so god-awful small.  I’ve checked out every nook and cranny that you’ll allow me to. Please let me out where I can at least watch what other people are doing”.  If it’s a nice day the companionway is open anyway and she can roam as she pleases, but on the few cold days we’ve had here she has to let us know she wants out herself.  3.  I’m bored and I’ve already played outside.  This cry usually comes later at night after we’ve closed up the boat to keep the bugs from getting in.  Her bowl still has food in it, her litter box is clean, so I can only assume she wants attention.  We’ll pull out a few of her toys and either she’ll go crazy chasing after her laser pointer or the plastic ball with a bell inside.  4.  Still have not figured this one out yet.  I’ve gone through steps 1-3 and she’s still meowing at me.  I keep telling her that with no options left I’m going to take it to mean “Please pick me up and swaddle me like a baby”.  So I do for the thirty to sixty seconds it takes for her to wrestle her way out of my grasp.  Then the meowing stops and she ignores me for a good thirty minutes.

  • We don’t know what she thinks about water.  And not what’s in her bowl, but the stuff that’s supposed to be keeping our boat afloat.  The first ten days we had her, we were very leery of letting her up on deck because we weren’t sure that she didn’t know to not jump off.  “What’s that stuff down there?  It looks fun…I should pounce on it!”  So we mostly kept her below deck and when we did let her up we monitored every move and even had to try and stop her from jumping from the cockpit into the dinghy which was hanging on davits.  Then, luckily for her, and unluckily for us, we encountered a bit of bad luck which has now had us sitting on the hard for six weeks.  She can roam the deck all she wants and has the good sense to know that a 15 foot drop is not good.  Let’s just hope that sense stays with her when we get back in the water.  (No, we’re not putting netting up on our boat)

  • She gets lost on our boat.  Easily.  Cats really are curious creatures and she loves to try and get into every nook and cranny possible.  She has an affinity to try and jump into our bathroom cabinet each time it’s left open.  Our garage (aft cabin) is her playroom, and she ends up in places when we don’t even know how she got there.  One afternoon we realized we hadn’t seen her in awhile but didn’t think much of it.  Then, while both of us were sitting on our computers, we heard a scratching noise coming from the space that holds Matt’s clothes. Sure enough, I open the lockable latch and she comes tumbling out.  A few hours earlier I had noticed Matt’s clothes had spilled onto the floor, shoved them back in and closed the latch without ever seeing her.  This is not a big space and it is full of clothes.  She had to have already been so nestled in when I started putting the clothes that fell to the floor back.  Then just today she went missing but we could hear little “Mew, Mew” coming very faintly from the aft cabin.  After tearing it apart and not finding her we took our search to the cockpit and found her inside a lazarette.  Which had never even been opened!  We’re still trying to figure that one out.

  • Her favorite spot to sleep is on my pillow.  If I’m lucky, it’s way off to the side and I can still turn from side to side without ever running into her.  The past few nights though, she has been situating herself right in the middle.  If I try and slide her to the side she just get up, pace in a few circles, and drop herself down right on top of my head or face.  I think I’ve finally outsmarted her and found out that if I let her fall asleep first and then slide her down off the pillow on to the bed, she’s too tired to care and will just stay there.

  • She’s a pretty chill girl.  She’s taking to life on the boat very well and did great for her one and only sail with us.  While cruising over 3-6 foot waves she slept nestled up in the v-berth and even stayed there when we started slamming on the bottom and was completely calm while being shoved into a backpack for a possible evacuation.  She doesn’t mind when we pick her up and toss her out of the way to get to a part of the boat, and if the sun is out you better believe she’s on deck rolling around and soaking it up.  Even though she hasn’t visited them yet, she’ll be the perfect island girl, relaxing outside in the warm breeze and eating up fish scraps.

 

There’s plenty of other things we’re continuing to learn about her each day.  Like how if we let her out and close up the companionway she’ll come pawing at it when she’s ready to come back in.  Or that she likes to greet me when I come up the ladder by waiting at the top rung and nuzzling her face against it until I giver her a nice good scratching.  She’s definitely different than a dog, much more independent, but she’s the perfect pet for us on this trip and we’re loving her companionship.  We’re watching her grow up before our eyes, but I can’t help but hope she’ll hold on to some of her kitten tendencies.  Like kneading us with her front paws, that’ll always be my favorite.

No matter how many times I tell her certain areas are ‘not for kitty’, she just doesn’t listen.

“Gotcha, sucker!”

Flashing for beads.  Such a naughty girl.

 

Click on the monkey’s fist to read others bloggers on this topic.

The Monkey's Fist

 

The Day That Keeps On Giving

Wednesday January 16, 2013

So I guess I can finally talk about it on the blog now.  We didn’t want to say anything until we knew for sure how we were going to go about fixing it, but now we do.  If you’re sly on boats or read between the lines, you may have picked up that even though work has been progressing I keep complaining that we’re going to be here for awhile still.  That is because we originally thought the keel would be dropped, put back on the next day, and after a few more small things we’d finally be on our way.  But as anyone who’s done extensive work on a boat will know, one project always leads to another and another.  And it’s not until you start taking apart your boat that you realize how many more things need to be done to it.  We’re finding plenty, sure, but we’re at the point now where if it’s not dire we plan on working on it later, hopefully while traveling.  But when the keel came off, we were hit with the news that 6 of our 8 bolts are suffering from crevice corrosion and need to be replaced. This is bad news for us for two very big reasons.  1.  It has nothing to do with the accident of coming in the inlet, it’s just due to the old age of the boat, so this fix has to come from our pockets and not from insurance.  2.  Somehow, even though we’re only a few hundred miles from the boating capital of the world, there is no one in this area that can do the repair.  So what we were left with is the option to ship the 5,000 lb keel up to Rhode Island or Toronto at $2,000 round trip just to get it there and back, or to find someone that could fly to St. Augustine to do the work.

After having the yard search high and low for anyone in the area that could do the repairs, and then putting a thread up on the forums, we got information that there is a guy in L.A.  that is capable of fixing it and flies wherever you need him.  Doing a little more research and finding he comes highly recommended, we secured him to come out and replace our bolts.  It will be half the cost of shipping it to Toronto, but will still come in somewhere near $3,000.  So that’s one kicker, another two months of cruising budget coming out of our pocket, but the other is that this guy is not available to come out until February 12th.*  Best case scenario is that after he’s finished we get dropped back in the water in late February and have just over three months to make it down the 2,000 miles or so to Grenada/Trinidad.  We’re not even sure if that’s possible, and that’s if everything goes smoothly and there are no more delays.  It can be done, sure.  But we will be running.  A lot of the islands will need to be skipped and hopefully visited at another time.  If things don’t go well and we get held up even longer, we may be stuck in the States for hurricane season yet again.  We’ve even been toying with the idea of leaving the boat in Florida and going back to Michigan for the summer to get jobs if it comes down to it.  We’ve cruised the States and we’re over it.  If we’re going to be sitting around for months in a place we’re not absolutely in love with (although this is a lovely town), we’d rather be putting money back in our pockets.  Besides, we have a few friends with sailboats back home that we can bum rides off of.

If that news isn’t bad enough, the day just kept on getting better.  We were excited for any kind of progress to commence, so we were very happy that while strolling through the yard today we were stopped by one of the workers that told us he had time right then and would like to swing by and get the transmission pulled.  We bound back up the ladder and sat there while he went to work in the aft cabin, expecting to have the job done in 20-40 minutes.  That’s how long it’s taken Matt to do it in the past and now we had a pro doing it.  After an hour he pops his head out and says that he can’t reach some bolts because the engine is in the way and what other kind of access to we have to the engine?  We lift up a few steps to show him the access and he shakes his head at us.  “I’m not going to be able to get in there.  These are going to have to come off.”  After a few grunts from Matt, he pulls out his screwdriver and begins disassembling the steps.  The guy goes back to work and after another thirty minutes pass he comes back out.  “I still can’t get to the bolts I need.  We’re going to have to completely remove the engine for me to get the transmission out.”  We were dumbfounded.  How can Matt do this project so easily and someone that works on boats for a living wants to basically tear our boat apart.  Holding our politeness for as long as we could we told him to get a quote started and we’d talk about it more.

Having an engine pulled is a big deal.  It’s a very heavy object, and in our boat, situated in a very tight space.  It’s going to mean taking a lot of things apart just to make a space big enough for it to get out, and then some pretty heft equipment to lift it from where it sits.  The only positive is that while it’s out we can check/replace/fix any small things on it while it’s easily accessible, and replacing the motor mounts, another job that has to be done, will be much more simple with the engine out of the way.  Plus, insurance would once again be picking up the tab.  Here’s the thing though.  Matt took a look at the engine/transmission after the guy left and found out that he was going about it completely wrong.  Should Matt have the desire, he could still go in there and 20 minutes later have the transmission removed.  (In all fairness though, the bolts the guy was trying to remove are impossible to get to.  It’s just that there are a different set of bolts that will still get the transmission off)  The motor mounts can still be replaced with the engine in, it just makes it a little more difficult and time consuming.  (But we have…plenty of time)  Lastly, by having the engine removed it will make our insurance claim even higher.  And when you’re in a situation where you need to get a new insurance carrier (ours will only cover us through the Bahamas), you want to keep the claim as low as possible.  So we’re still debating what to do.  I think we’ll wait for the quote to come back before making a final decision.**

But that’s not all.  The day kept on giving.  Walking up to the boat shed to grab our bikes for a ride up to the grocery store we found that the men’s bike was missing.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but these are the yard’s bikes that we use.  Since we’re basically the only people that ever use them, the office has been nice enough to let us keep the keys to the locks full time and if anyone else asks for them, they send them over to our boat and we happily hand them over.  That happened yesterday, but I had gone back to the office this morning to see if the keys were back, which they were.  Somehow we had both keys, and only one bike.  Searching the grounds near the boat that had borrowed the bikes yesterday we did not see it and were completely clueless to where it has gone.***  See, this is what happens when people lend away things that don’t belong to us.  We’re really hoping it pops back up soon since that is our main mode of transportation and Walmart is much to far too visit on foot.

Then the cherry on top.  Going back to Serendipity to hang out for the rest of the afternoon now that we had no place to go, we walked down the companionway to a foul smell.  Both of us started sniffing around and asking “Did it smell like this when we left?”.  Sometimes Georgie has some really nasty farts, or her litter box will smell for just a minute right after she goes, so we thought that might be it.  And then we realized that to make room for the transmission guy we stuck her litter box in the head to get it out of the way and had not put it back.  Uh oh.  Moving around other things that had been taken out of the aft cabin and were now sitting in the salon we picked up the engine cover and found a nice little treat waiting for us.  On the quick soaking, fibrous rug no less.  And it was m-e-s-s-y.  Gagging while wiping it up, I had to quickly rush it outside and take the hose to it.  It’s not her fault, we know.  It’s ours for taking away her bathroom for half the day.  It was still the last thing I wanted to find waiting for me when I came back.  But now I think I’m getting to the part of the day where I’m almost jaded for bad news.  Got something else for me?  Bring it on!

 

* 1/18/13.  Just got a call from the keel bolt guy in L.A.  He can move his trip up from February 12th to February 2nd.  Finally some good news!

**We’re also a little weary to pull the transmission ourselves because we’re then liable for any issues connected to it.  It may be something best left to the pros.  And if they say ‘pull the engine’, we just might have to trust them on that.

***We found the bike the next day.  It turns out there is more than one set of keys, and the people that borrowed it the other day somehow scored the other set.  So while it was gone during our first yard sweep, we later found it chained to their boat.  Apparently they thought it was their’s to use exclusively.  They’ve been splashed and are gone now, and we’re pretty happy about that.

Curry Up With That Wine

Sunday January 13, 2012

While sitting aboard Rode Trip yesterday where we quickly stopped off before other adventures, I turned to Stephanie and noted, “We really need to have a sundowner on here”.  This random thought while hanging out comes somewhat from our first week on the hard when we were invited by fellow boaters to join them for one, but while on our way we ran into and started up a conversation with a completely different set of people in the yard and lost track of time (in actuality, Matt couldn’t stop talking boat), and we missed our sundowner invitation.  They actually had to come find us in the yard and let us know they couldn’t hold off on dinner any longer, and could we do it another time?  Very embarrassing.  Anyhow, knowing we wouldn’t blow off Brian and Stephanie  for random people on the street, I still wanted my chance at that sunset drink before we ever leave this town (which is probably never).  Even better than our last opportunity, they are in the harbor with beautiful views instead of up a creek where we sit.  Plans were made and they even promised to cook us chicken curry, something we’ve surprisingly never had before.

On the way we stopped at a local gas station to provide some libations for the evening.  I don’t know how strange I must have looked to people filling up their tanks as I’m trying to shove a six pack of cans and a six pack of bottles into a backpack that’s already containing a bottle of wine and my fuzzy slippers.  (What?, my feet get cold)  The thing barely zipped up, and the whole bike ride over I was expecting it to burst open.  Brain was at the dock ready to dinghy us over and within seconds of stepping onto Rode Trip we had each cracked a beer  and were enjoying the sun going down and casting golden rays on the homes sitting on shore.  Before we could get ourselves too far into relaxation mode though, there was work to be done.  Stephanie had graciously offered to cut Matt’s hair, something that hadn’t been done in four months, since our Delaware Bay crossing.

 It’s not a hard job, just buzzing the clippers across at one length, but after the last cutting we were finding hair in the cockpit for two weeks and I was not looking forward to that kind of mess again.  So this time, before the sun could get too low for us to be able to see,  situated at the bow with the wind to their backs, Matt was shorn and clipped and I just sat back enjoying my beer.  The clean-up was surprisingly easy, but I’m pretty sure that had something to do with the fact that his hair had grown so long that it gained enough weight not to be blown around in the breeze.  Instead of enjoying the show with me, Brian was down in the galley preparing dinner.  Once there was not a trace of a haircut up at the bow the rest of us moved back to the cockpit while starting our second round, and watching the sky turn from pink to a blazing red.

Food was soon placed in our laps and right away we began to dig in.  I have no idea why we never thought to make chicken curry before, it was delicious!  It seemed relatively simple too, comparative to lots of other meals I’ve been making.  It must be that elusive curry powder that’s sold in every single store but has never made it’s way into our spice cabinet.  The sauce on top of the rice was thick and creamy, and the raisins and cashews added were amazing.  I think we may have a new staple in our meals from now on.  When we finished there was no blueberry cobbler or ice cream to follow this meal, but we did have a fruity blush wine that I had been saving for our bon voyage with Rode Trip ever since they were originally supposed to make a break for the Bahamas back in Beaufort, NC.  We have certain wines aboard given to us by family or friends before leaving, and all of them have been saved for special occasions.  It was a nice chance to finally break one out again, even if the reason was bitter-sweet.

Keeping ourselves occupied in the salon now to get out of the wind, we talked long after the bottle of wine had run out, enjoying our remaining time together, since who knows when we’ll have the chance to meet up again.  There will be of course one more good-bye outing tomorrow night before Rode Trip heads back into the big blue on Tuesday, but since fate has thrown us a (very large) curve ball, this may be the last time the four of us ever sit together on this boat.  Tentative plans are for all of us to make it to or near Grenada for hurricane season, but plans can change in an instant and we could end up in completely different spots on the globe.  But as to quote one of my favorite movies, “I can’t think about that right now.  I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

I’ve Had An Affair…..With A House

Saturday January 12, 2013

* Be forewarned, this is going to be a long post with a lot of photos, but we did so much today, and none of it was worth leaving out.

 

We knew Brian and Stephanie were going to pick us up at the boat yard at 9:30 in the morning to go to the farmers market on Anastasia Island, so I had set the alarm for 8:30 an figured that would be enough time for a nice shower, breakfast, and a chance to wish a happy 30th birthday to my best friend Jackie, someone who, had we not shipwrecked the boat, would be with us right now in the Bahamas.  I had been awake enough in the morning to know the sun had been up for what felt like too long, so when Georgie began stirring and rubbing against me I thought it was time to get up, even if I was a little early for the alarm.  Jumping down out of the v-berth and stretching my legs I walked up to the phone which we always keep at the nav station (to force ourselves out of bed to turn it off) and found it was reading 9:20.  Crap!  My utter of shock did not escape Matt, who was already half roused out of his sleep, and within seconds he was out of bed as well, pulling any clothes that were laying around over his head.  Within that ten minutes we were both able to get clothes on, feed Georgie, and rush out the companionway.  Slipping on a brand new pair of Sperry’s I had just gotten (thanks mom!) I didn’t think anything about the fact that they hadn’t been broken in yet, but I figured we’d only be walking around the market and a tour of the college later and they wouldn’t be an issue.

Getting picked up by a family friend of Brian’s, someone we’d be spending the evening with at their house, we were dropped off at the market and free to wander around.  There are surprisingly three weekly markets around St. Augustine, on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  We’ve heard this is the one to hit, and as soon as we walked up it did not look like it was going to disappoint.  Matt and I had our sights set on finding the guy with the maple bacon doughnuts, but couldn’t go five feet without stopping at one booth or another to look or sample.  A few of the things we stumbled upon were tables full of dips, handmade coconut creations, and a band with about seventeen members, almost all of them on some form of guitar or banjo.

While Matt and I will usually quick browse a booth, smile, and walk away, Stephanie loves to get to know people and will stop and talk to them for ages.  The two of us just feel bad if we strike up a conversation with someone, admire all their goods, and then walk away without buying anything.  Or maybe we just haven’t come up with enough excuses of why we don’t need a sea shell wind catcher or or a tie-dye sarong.  There were a few times the three of us had drifted down five booths and found Stephanie behind us still chatting and exclaiming things like, “You made a plant holder carved from a coconut husk in the shape of a duck?  That’s amazing!”.  Come to think of it now, she’s the perfect distraction  to use while walking away without buying anything because the owners will be so engaged with her they won’t even know we left.  It ended up working out pretty well for us since the only thing we did buy were a batch of mini doughnuts  since our guy from the Lincolnville Market wasn’t there.  Not that there weren’t a million things I didn’t have my eye on though.  I even found the perfect tote for a child that I was tempted to buy and save for if/when the day should ever happen we’d have one to give it to.

Next came the long walk back to town, something I wasn’t expecting.  After the first mile the canvas started to wear and tear on my bare feet, but I continued to hobble along, keeping pace with Stephanie, although the boys had long gotten ahead of us.  We did catch back up just before the bridge when a few out of town college kids, already drunk even before noon, stopped us to see ‘what was happening’ that night.  “You guys go to Flagler, right?”, they asked as they stepped into pace with us.  I don’t know if it was the large amounts of vodka in their water bottle talking, or all of us could pass for under 25, but we had to let them know that “Sorry, we don’t know what’s happening because we’re planning on having a quiet night at home with some friends”.  They told us they’d probably end up in Orlando anyway, which if that is the case, I really hope they have a sober friend driving their asses there.

Now walking on tip toes (literally) by the time we crossed over the Bridge of Lions, I pleaded with Stephanie to take us to Rode Trip where I could be fixed up with some bandages.  What I was actually hoping would happen is she would tell me there wasn’t time and I’d have to pop into the store attached to the marina where upon purchasing bandages I could sneak in a 20 oz Pepsi (or Lime-a-Rita), but she’s too darn helpful and soon we were walking down the dock towards their dinghy.  As we climbed in it hit me that we hadn’t been for a dinghy ride in six weeks, but the motions were still fluid, such as me crawling in so I didn’t fall over the side.  I’ve never been cool enough to just step in one unless it’s starting out on land.  Moments later we were climbing on Rode Trip and I had to give her a big hug since it had been a long time since I’d seen her and there was actually a sense of loss.

While I was choosing which Disney Princess bandage to cover my wounds with, Brian popped off the cover on the floor of the cockpit to show Matt the engine and all the work that had been done to it.  We saw the shiny new paint job, and got a thorough explanation of what had been done since the last time we had been aboard.  Enjoying the sunshine and divinely warm weather hitting us over the weekend, we sat on deck with mugs of cider in our hands and thought “Why wasn’t any of our trip down the ICW like this?”.  It was the cruiser’s dream and it took us four months to experience together.  A bluebird sky with nary a could in it.  Real warmth where it felt great to be in shorts and a t-shirt and have a slight breeze blowing over you.  Just enough movement in the water to let you know you were on it, but not enough to make it uncomfortable.  It was perfect.  It reminded me what was in store for us and that all the hassles we’re having now with be worth it once we’re set free again.  I could have enjoyed it all day, but still on the docket was a tour of Flagler College and none of us wanted to miss it since it was the 125th anniversary and they were offering free admission.  (Thanks again for the tip, Chris!)

I’ve missed you Rode Trip!!

Disney Princesses make everything better.

 

Getting to the college, the long lines that had been wrapping around the block that morning were now gone.  Stepping through the archway entrance we were handed pamphlets and told that a few areas that were normally closed to the public, even during regular tours, would be open today in celebration of the anniversary.  A little history of the place is that it was originally opened as a hotel back in 1888 by Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil.  Back when it opened the only way you could get a reservation was to book a room for 3 months, and you had to pay for it up front whether or not you used all that time.  It has the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass coming in at 79 windows.  Through extensive restoration, almost everything is original.  From the paintings to the furniture to the Tiffany chandeliers that hang from the women’s wing.  In 1968 the hotel was turned into a college where  students get to keep this piece of history going by attending classes, living on campus in the old hotel rooms (female dorms only), and even eating in the great dining hall.

The first thing we did upon entering was walk down the hall housing the office of the College’s president, something that’s normally closed even for regular tours.  We learned this used to be the men’s hall and and contained things such as a billiard’s room and a barber shop.  Next we climbed the stairs to another area that’s also usually closed to tours, the Rotunda.  Taking in the beauty that the student’s get to enjoy everyday we then made our way to the dining hall.  It’s at this point that Stephanie blurted out, “This is like being at Hogwarts!”.  And honestly, it kind of was.  Just the history and the opulence of the place.  They may not offer Defense Against The Dark Arts, but throw on a knit scarf over a robe and while wandering around in your free time you may not know otherwise.

We had one more stop before Rode Trip’s family friend was to come back and pick us up, the Memorial Presbyterian Church.  But before we could get there I needed food in my stomach.  Three mini doughnuts was not going to be enough to last this girl until dinner.  We wandered aimlessly toward St. George St. hoping to find some kind of bakery or snack shop when Stephanie had the great idea to hit up French Fry Heaven.  We drooled over it the last time they were here, why not stop in and see what all the fuss was about? As we searched through the menu of Angels vs Saints (steak fries vs sweet potato) Matt shook his head about ordering any kind of Saints.  Not as much of a sweet potato lover as I am.  We settled on a bacon/cheese/ranch combo and after they loaded up our cone we went outside to eat.  They were delicious, but if I had known how much melted cheese was going to be on them I think I would have asked for one scoop instead of two.  Everything was drenched in cheese and it was almost hard to taste the french fry.  Brian was sweet enough to let me taste a few of their cinnamon sugar sweet potato fries though, and then going back to help Matt finish ours we were sufficently stuffed.  At $9 for a large fry and soda though, the prices reflected that we were in the heart of a tourist hub.

Making the jog a few blocks over to the church we walked up the front steps and in through the door.  Everything again was so ornate, another building commissioned by Henry Flagler, in memory of his daughter and granddaughter that died during childbirth.  Right after their passing he began building and had it finished in just under 365 days, with the grand opening celebrating the anniversary of their death.  The church was also full of beautiful stained glass windows, all of which had just been restored in the last ten years.  Talking to one of the local college kids that was a volunteer there, he gave us all the facts and history on the church and pointed us to the mausoleum where Henry Flagler, his first wife, daughter and granddaughter have been laid to rest.  Peeking through the bars we viewed the beautiful glass ceiling of the dome and then made our way outdoors to wait to be picked up.  While waiting we were treated to the church bells ringing, something that normally only happens during services.  This time it was to announce the closing of the tours at the college next door.  What was even better, is the bell ringer was never told how many times to ring, so he kept going.  Matt and Brian suggested he go all the way up to 125 to celebrate the anniversary.  He did try to make his way there, but eventually had to give up somewhere around 110 when his arms gave out.

Different styles to order the heavenly fries.

Om nom nom nom.

Someone needs to clean up the bums on these streets.

 

For the final event of the night we were picked up and driven about 20 minutes north of St. Augustine to the home of Bob and Susan, Rode Trip’s family friends that they had been spending the past few days with.  Two things dawned on me as we walked inside their home.  1.  It was our five month cruising anniversary.  Hooray, a reason to celebrate!  2.  This is the first time in five months that we had been in any kind of house or home.  Walking into the hallway and seeing the regular staples of a home, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen…..it felt like a life I vaguely remember but was light-years away.  We were led right to a three season’s porch where a yummy mango salsa was laid out with chips.  Beers and wine were offered and the six of us sat around talking about boats, sailing, and the four of us travelers, about our travel so far.

A few hours later we moved to the formal dining room where we were treated to a delicious homemade meal that even rivaled Brian and Stephanie’s cooking.  After the meal had been cleared away and I already felt like I couldn’t fit anything else in my stomach, dessert was placed in front of me and I couldn’t turn it down.  Not only did it look way too tempting (it had ice cream, we never get ice cream!), the blueberries used to make it had been brought down from their hometown in Pennsylvania and saved for a special occasion.  Which apparently we were.  How can you turn down an offer like that?  So we continued eating until even the freshly opened bottle of wine at the table became unappetizing and I could not have another bite to eat or drink.  Then the strangest part of the whole day happened.  The six of us situated ourselves back in the living room where an NFL game was playing on the tv.  Somehow Matt and I went from just glancing at the game, to watching plays, and then even slightly understanding them and rooting for a team.  What was happening to us?!  (We are usually interested in zero sports).  Five hours back in a house and we were already becoming domesticated.  Before it could go any further we were taken back to the boat where we could pick up our vagabond life.

Closer To Getting Nowhere

Thursday January 10, 2013

Just as we had rolled out of bed this morning, we got a text from Rode Trip saying that we better be up and ready because they were on their way over to visit.  We had mentioned to them that the keel was coming off today and we all wanted to watch it, and maybe open a bottle of wine to celebrate.  We weren’t given an exact time from the marina, they had only said sometime in the afternoon, so we assumed it would take place between one and four.  Since they had come in late morning and there isn’t much to do while hanging around in a boatyard we thought we’d make the trip up to Sailor’s Exchange (not the bathroom one) since it was on their list of things to check out while in town.  Walking down the dirt road the marina is on, that apparently has been under construction for over a year, we passed the boat yard where Frank and Yu are, and saw them climbing down the ladder from their boat.  We waived and continued on our way until their car pulled up behind us and they offered us a ride.  Piling four people into the backseat of a hatchback was a little crowded, plus it was a very bumpy ride, but we all got there in one piece and tumbled out the doors once they were opened.

Instead of flocking to my normal area of books and magazines once inside, Stephanie and I poked around the antique are for a little while and looked through all the country’s flags that were for sale.    They still haven’t picked up a Bahamian courtesy flag yet, but for the price of $13 they were asking here, they weren’t going home today with one either.  Doing a sweep of the aisles I tried to get interested in all the little blocks and water pumps and things that might be useful to the boat, but they could only hold my attention so long and soon I was in the book corner, flipping through magazines of places we still hope to travel one day.  Stephanie soon joined me and we talked about jumping off points to the Bahamas while looking at maps and where we’d like to check in.  They have a tentative plan to jump out from St. Augustine if the right weather window comes, otherwise, just like us, they’ll probably go over from Lake Worth to West End.  After we got that out of the way and wondered what our guys were up to, or how much money they were spending, we went in search and found them at the check-out counter.  Brian was leaving empty handed, but Matt had found a block with an attached cam cleat for us, and also a casting net for catching shrimp and small fish to be used as bait.  From what we hear they’re supposed to be great, and even Brian has brought in handfuls of shrimp with his already.

Making the long walk back to the boat yard we walked up just in time to see Serendipity hanging in the lift.  Punching the code into the gate and running in we found out that we were too late to catch the full show, the rudder and keel had already been removed.  We missed the big show, but we were still able to watch them set the boat on a new set of blocks just ahead of where the keel remained and then drive off with the lift.  From what we could gather from the workers, the rudder would be shipped off the next day for repairs as it was definitely now obvious that it was bent.  We’re not sure what method they’re going to choose to fix it, but Matt thinks it will involve them splitting it down the middle, making a cast with the good side, molding a new half, and then piecing it back together with foam and fiberglass.  We don’t know how long that will take, but it’s not looking like we’ll be put back together tomorrow as we’d hoped.  Since Serendip will have to be lifted regardless just to get the rudder back on, the keel will stay off as well until everything is ready.  The only good news is they assured us we’d still be stable enough for us to continue to live on the boat on the hard, even without the keel attached.  Music to our ears since we thought we’d be spending that time in a hotel or forced (willingly) to the other side of the state to stay with family.

While Matt went through the details with the yard workers and wallowed in pity that we wouldn’t be put back together right away, Brian and Stephanie and I decided to take up an empty part of the yard to try out the new casting net.  Since Brian already had some experience with his and I’m terrible at learning from books, I need to see it to learn it, we figured it was a great opportunity for me to become a casting pro.  Unraveling it from all the line it was bound in, he showed me the different parts and the steps to get it ready to throw.  Not that I knew anything about casting nets before this, except it was a great opportunity to provide us with some shrimp cocktails, I honestly thought it would be as easy as picking it up and throwing it in the water.  Oh no.  There are many more steps to it than that.  Letting Brain take a few practice runs himself so I could see how it was done he showed me how to loop the rope in my hand and then gather the top half of the net in it.  The next step was to separate half the net from itself by wrapping it across your leg, and then gathering that half to then wrap over your arm holding the rope.  Here’s where it starts to get tricky.  After that part have to look down where the bottom and weighted part is starting to run up and cause two different heights between the net still sitting by your legs (Still with me?  Confusing, I know) and then grab that part and put it between your teeth.  When that’s done you take the net that was draped over your arm and let it fall back down, causing a triangle shape that I can still never make out.  Now you’re ready to toss.  Standing with your back to the area you want it to end up you do some kind of discus toss, letting it release from your arms and mouth, and it should open up and drape over the water.  Theoretically pretending there was water there and not dirt, you’d let it sink for a few minutes and then yank all the line in which closes the bottom and secures your catch.  I did a few practice rounds myself which weren’t as terrible as I thought, but one thing I wasn’t expecting is how heavy the weights on the bottom were and the net did not go very far from where I tossed it.  Looks like if we’re going to be having shrimp cocktails soon, I need to work on my upper body strength.

Why don’t we have this on the boat?

50 Cent Wednesday

Wednesday January 9, 2012

Last week when Frank and Yu had introduced us to Scarlett O’Hara’s here in the historic part of town, we were so enamored with the Wednesday happy hour special that we had decided right there that we’d be back the next week.  Hoping a ride into town in their Subaru we even found a parking spot in the exact lot as last time, although it looked like there must have been an event going on in town because the area was packed.  Even when we walked up to the patio at Scarlett’s every table outside was full and the outside bar was full with plenty of college kids.  It looked like spring break had started, but about two months early.  Walking inside we could see it was just as packed and after doing a lap of the restaurant and going upstairs and down we thought we’d be out of luck finding a table, but just as we were about to leave I spotted a table that had just been vacated.  It was on the other side of a set of stairs that we needed to walk around to get there, but so paranoid that someone would scoop it up before we could get there I threw my purse on the table, almost hitting the waitress that had just walked up to buss it.  Throwing out a quick apology we all rushed around and sat down before anything could happen to our newly reserved spot.

Taking menus even though we already knew what we wanted, the question then became: wings, shrimp, or oysters, and how many of each?  Yu had verified that the oysters she had last week, although delicious, were not very filling, especially in quantities of five or ten.  Craving them since I had seen her sipping on them last week I had been smart enough to throw back a granola bar before we left, but I was still starving.  I knew I could do a combo of wings & oysters, but for some reason in my mind the numbers of the combination seemed very important and it wasn’t until our drinks arrived at the table I was finally able to come to a decision.  Probably because I had just finished updating our cost for the year, and even $0.50 appetizers were throwing me into a frenzy with the budget.  Even a combination of 15 total would only come to a bill of $7.50, but I couldn’t bring myself to go that high.  So I went with thirteen to save myself a dollar.  Yes, I am a little crazy.  Welcome to the world of non-retired cruisers.

Sipping our 2-4-1 margaritas I commented on how many young people were out that night.  “Lots of college kids”, I observed.  “Right”, Yu responded, “They’re all back from Christmas break now”.  Duh.  I had completely forgotten that we were in the heart of a college town.  I don’t know how it didn’t dawn on me since we were planning a tour of Flagler College over the weekend with Rode Trip, who just got down from St. Mary’s.  I didn’t have too much time to dwell on my slowness for long since the food came out and soon my fingers and mouth were stained orange in buffalo sauce.  Between bites of food we talked about what it was like to be a cruising couple, how you’re together all the time, and how the boat is now like a child between the two of you.  We got to hear about some of the stupid things they argue about now that would never have come up on land and I mentioned that when you’re together all day every day it gets hard to find chances to miss each other like what used to happen, even if we were just going off to work.  It definitely is a different lifestyle, but between the four of us, none of us would take our old lives back over what we have now.  And it’s becoming much more rare now that I hear this statement from Matt:  “But we could have had a condo in the heart of downtown overlooking the river!”.

Before we could get into it much further though, we got a text from Brian and Stephanie (on Rode Trip) who said they were on their way to meet us.  After a few minutes of staring outside at street signs and correctly give directions, they were walking in the door and we tried to throw a few chairs at the end of our booth to accommodate them.  They also joined in on the wing special even though the rest of us had finished, and once they had finished we were going to find another bar.  Just before they had gotten there though, and just before the 2-4-1 drink special ended, Matt, Yu, and I put in orders for one more round of margaritas.  Which in our minds meant that he would get one, I would get one, and that would be our 2-4-1.  The margaritas came out and we hadn’t even gotten five sips in when our server comes back with another round on top of that saying “Sorry, I couldn’t hold these behind the bar any longer”.  Apparently 2-4-1 in her eyes meant that we were each going to get two for the price of one.  Specifics.  Gotta remember those next time.  So even though all of us wanted to get out and explore new parts of the town, half of the group was trying to chug down two margaritas each just to get our money’s worth.  I think the good news was that we’d have our fill of alcohol for the rest of the night and could therefore spend less any place we went after.

Relying on Frank and Yu for local knowledge again, we let Yu pick the next bar based on cheap beer prices and the fact they had a pool table.  This next place happened to be the American Legion and had just a little bit different of a crowd than Scarlett’s.    Seating ourselves at a round table off to the side we could tell that for most people inside the bar it wasn’t a place to be lively and upbeat, but a place to drown sorrows.  Hopefully all of our happy chatter wasn’t going to be a buzzkill for their solitude and time spent reflecting.  That thought only lasted a half a second though, and then we went back to enjoying ourselves and enjoying the $1 jello shots they had to offer.  Only one though, I still had four margaritas in me to keep down.  For the next few hours we just spent time hanging out, enjoying old friends and introducing them to new friends.  Yu showed off her pool skills and I tried to find all the techno songs I could on the jukebox.  We didn’t end up closing the legion down, but it was a great night out and I hope we can drag ourselves out of bed in the morning to get in as much time as possible with Brian and Stephanie while they’re here.

The old gang is back together again!

Street acrobatics.