Black Friday

Friday November 25, 2011

Not that I would ever be one to line up outside of a store at 4 am for Black Friday prices, Matt still had errands for me to run when I expected to be sitting at home all day watching movies in bed and maybe getting a little work done on the dodger.  He had purchased a spinnaker pole to use on the trip and the gentleman he aquired it from was going to be at a marina just up the road from ours today and I would need to go pick it up while he had the unfortunate task of working through the holiday weekend.  For the non sailors out there, a spinnaker pole is a long aluminum pole that many boats use to attach to one end of the spinnaker while the other end attaches to lines on the mast to keep the giant sail in the air.  Since our boat has an asymetrical spinnaker it isn’t necessary (and I may have just given a completely bogus explanation since we’ve never used one) but we thought it would be good to have in days of really light wind.  It would force the spinnaker sail or even our genoa (large head sail) to stay fully open and catch any wind that may hit instead of just flapping in the lack of wind.  The size pole we’re looking for is normally $1500 new and the one we found was in great condition for only $300.

After having a quick lunch with Matt in town I hopped in my car and zipped out to Muskegon.  The place I was heading to was Great Lakes Marina, somewhere I’d driven by 100 times but had never actually been to.  When I pulled in the entrance the big white gates infront of me were closed and locked.  Calling the phone number I had been given for Al, the seller, I reached his wife.  She explained the gates I was currently parked by could not be openedand I’d have to use a different entrance just up the road.  That entrance also had a gate that was locked but could be opened with a passcode.  I was given the code and hung up with Ruth letting her know I’d be around in just a minute.

Realizing there was no place to turn myself around I backed fully into the main road.  Good thing it was the off season or I could have been waiting an hour for an opening.  Pulling into the correct entrance I felt like a country club member as I punched in the code and the gates opened in front of me.  Parking behind Al and Ruth’s truck I jumped out it was much cooler by the water than in Grand Rapids.  As I pulled on a jacket Al wedged himself out from where he had just been working under his boat and after introductions jumped under his boat cover to work on getting the pole for me.  Sliding it blindly through a hole in the cover Ruth and I stood up on tip toe until it was low enough to reach our hands and we gently got it on the ground.  Looking it over it appeared to be in great shape and I handed the money to Ruth while Al strapped it on my roof rack.  I assured him it didn’t need to be too tight as I was only going up the road to drop it off at my own boat, but with wind gusts near the water jumping up near 25 knots he didn’t want to take any chances.  I thanked them again and prepared for my one mile journey up the road.  (After meeting me and finding out I was married Ruth asked if Matt and I were newlyweds.  Do I really look that young?)

Since I had chugged about 30 oz of Coke during my lunch with Matt and my drive to Muskegon my bladder could handle no more and I pulled right up to the restrooms when arriving at Torrensen’s.  Getting back into my car I looked in my rearview mirror to the row our boat is in and saw a black Ford pickup.  Nemesis’ truck.  I wasn’t 100% positive so I decided on using a trick of driving to the mooring balls near the edge of the water, trying to glance down the row to get a closer look of who the vehicle belonged to.  That didn’t help me too much so I took a ‘walk’ down an adjacent dock to get a view of his boat and see if there was work going on there.  I didn’t want to appear as if I was staring or get too close and let him realize I was there, but it definitley looked as if there were people on his boat and a blue tarp was going up.  Since I obviously looked out of place standing on an empty dock at the end of November I quickly made my way out of sight.  Trying to get one more glance I walked through a row of boats but could not get close enough to see his.  My heart was pounding knowing he was there, the last thing I wanted was a confrontation about how dirty he might still think his boat is because of us and not have Matt around to defend me.  I would have no idea what to tell him if he started asking about his boat or how it got cleaned off or what we would do for him if it still wasn’t up to his expectations.

Since I didn’t trust the spinnaker pole to make the 30 mile journey home on the expressway I had no option but to wait out Nemesis until he left.  I figured I’d head down to the lakeshore for a walk.  Pulling into a parking spot I grabbed my mittens and zipped my spring jacket up to my neck.  The waves were rolling in force and the wind was gusting vigorously.  Walking through the sand to the beginning of the boardwalk I could seethe waves crashing over it which ruled out going any more than a quarter of the way down it.  There was one brave soul who was kite surfing in the breakers and I stood to watch him for a few minutes before retreating back to the warmth of my car.  Driving past the marina again the truck was still there and I wondered what else I could do to wast time.  Most normal people would find a hidden parking spot and suft the web on their phone for the next hour but I was still in the dark ages in that area without internet on my phone.  I figured the car could make it a few miles to the main drag of Norton Shores and I could look for entertainment there.  After finding there were no craft stores in which I could buy decent yarn for the two scarves my brother just requested I make for Christmas I settled on a spiced coffee and a Vanity Fair to read while I sat and waited.

My plan at this point was to park in the empty lot across the street from our marina and keep watch until I saw his truck leave.  I would have to be the worst person ever to take on a stake-out as I would in no way be hidden and it would be quite obvious what I was doing.  When I got to my not-so-secluded spot it was only quarter to four in the afternoon, but with the sun already starting to go down it felt like it should be 7:00.  Flipping open my magazine I looked up and did not see any cars let at the marina.  I knew this would happen.  As soon as I spend my money on something to keep myself busy I would no longer need it.  Slowly creeping into the marina I pulled into my row half expecting that Nemesis would be hiding in the shadows ready to pounce out at me.  When I realized I was alone I went about pulling out the ladder and getting the pole ready to drag up.  Climbing onto my boat to unzip the cover I looked over to his boat and saw there was no cover on there.  I could have sworn that when I was on the dock trying to spy I was looking in the right direction and saw a dark blue cover going on his boat.  Was I not even looking at the right boat?  Was he never there at all?

Once I had our spinnaker pole stowed safely under our cover I took another look at his boat.  I could have sworn I had seen him there that day.  sure enough there was a bungee cord running from his mast to the bow preparing for a cover.  Climbing down the ladder I walked around his boat and saw fresh footsteps in the gravel.  Now the question was, why did he have the cover on his boat an hour ago but not when he left?  Was he in the middle of putting it on when he got a closer look at his fiberglass and realized it would need cleaning again?  Or worse.  What if he was fine and dandy, all set to put the cover on and leave it alone for the winter when he saw me show up, notice he was there, and leave right away.  What if it was because of me that he thought there was cause for concern and is going to have th boat inspected?  What if I just completly F’d everything up??!!  I began texting Matt like crazy letting him know what I saw.  He tried comforting me saying that maybe Nemesis forgot tools or necessary parts and would finish the job tomorrow.  One can only hope.

* When the cover finally did go on his boat a few months later it was not blue but tan.  I to this day have no idea if it was him out there that weekend.


Sunday October 23, 2011

I was quite surprised this morning when we left home and I still had full use of my arms.  I was originally thinking that I’d be so sore from Friday that I wouldn’t even be able to brush my hair.  I knew I wouldn’t have Superman strength that day (not that I ever do), but was confident I would get a decent amount of work done.  To help us even more we made a quick stop at Home Depot and picked up some 60 grit sandpaper for our sanders to help push through the layers of paint quicker.  Throwing up the ladder and climing into the cockpit when we got there it looked like a layer of dirt or dust was covering our boat and the boat next to ours.  There was still a little morning dew on the deck as well, so Matt rubbed the surface with his finger and it came right off.  We knew it would need rinsing off (as well as the boat next to ours) but we figured we might as well wait until the end of the day since we were just going to make a mess again.

Ther original plan of the morning ws for Matt to work on the hull of the boat with his larger sander while I was going to try again with the Makita sander lent to us by Jack.  This plan lasted all of five minutes where we still weren’t able to supply both of us with enough power and I was forced to go back to the chisel.  The good thing about working on the keel for me is that there was actually a good spot for me to sit on the cradle while working and I rarely had to lift my arms above my head.  Matt was zooming along with the coarser sandpaper ans were were on the road to having a ton done that day.  And that’s when he pulled up…..Nemisis.

Just as Matt was going to have me walk around the boat while he was sanding to see if the dust was floating anywhere, a black pick-up truck pulled into a spot by our stern and a man got out and walked over to the boat next to ours.  We immediately walked over and Matt apologized for us running our electrical cord through their boat cradle to get to shore power and offered to move it.  We also mentioned that we think some of the dust from our sanding had landed on their boat and we’d be happy to wash it off for him.  Instead of being greeted in return with the friendly boater reply of ‘Wow, thank you so much, that would be really nice’ that we were expecting, we got this instead.  ‘We had this same problem last year when someone next to us with a blue bottom sanded and got dust all over our boat.  It’s not going to come off with soap and water.’  Turns, and walks away.

We looked at eachother in shock with a kind of ‘what do we do now?’ expression while we walked back to our boat.  That day we had been working on the Starboard side of the boat while their’s is to our Port side so luckily we didn’t have to look at Nemisis and his wife while they worked on their boat.  Sanding again was obviously not an option while they were there, at least not with the power sander Matt was using.  Both of us took shelter behind the keel, completely hidden from view of Nemisis and his wife.  We started hand scraping just to be doing something and wondered how long this other couple would be here.  We were desperate to run up the ladder of their boat and show them how easily the dust does actually wipe off but we figured the best course of action was would be to stay where we were and attempt cleaning it after they had left.  It felt agonizingly long but an hour to an hour and a half later we could tell they were packing it up for the day.  By this time Matt had pulled out the palm sander to do work on some of the hard to reach areas on the bottom of the hull.  I saw Nemisis walk up first and tapped Matt on the shoulder.  We both turned around as Nemisis explained that the dust was in fact very bad and he would be contacting the service department at Torrsen’s the next morning to see what chemicals could be used to clean his boat without damaging it.  He said we should expect to be hearing from them (Torrsen’s) soon and again walked away to his truck to leave.

This is where Matt and I differ on our feelings of the situation.  He feels our neighbor has every right to be mad since it was our fault his boat is ‘damaged’.  He also feels that this guy has every right to treat us as inconsiderately as he did because it’s understandable that he’d be upset especially if this was the second year in a row this has happened to him.  Then there’s me.  Although I agree this was our fault and we should be the ones to take care of it, I feel we should be treated better than we were.  We told this guy immediately about his boat as soon as he pulled up that day.  We admitted it was our fault and the next words our of our mouth were ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to fix it’.  Yet still we could not get one Thank you or I appreciate that out of him.

So when they pulled out we raced up our boat to get a closer look at his.  The morning dew was long gone and our finger rubbing did nothing this time around.  Matt started pulling out cleaners and we mixed them in a bowl with water and applied it to his fiberglass with a wet rag.  Nothin’.  We pulled out every cleaning supply on board and it was not getting any closer to coming off.  This sent Matt into a panic.  He imagined that Nemesis’ boat would have to be pulled into the service area to be cleaned and polished professionally.  He started calculating the cost in his head, what our deductible was and what we would have to pay out of our pockets.  He was obviously too scared to keep sanding any further that day so we moved to the next project on the list, putting anti-freeze in the lines.  It took us less than a half hour and we were still left with a little over two hours of daylight.    Since the only project available for us to do that day was sanding and Matt was still in such a panic we decided to go home so he could begin his hours of research on the internet of what takes paint from fiberglass and what the cost of a professional cleaning would be (expensive).  In the end the plan was for me to drive out as soon as the sun was up the next morning and give another attempt to clean it since I couldn’t get away from the explanation that the morning dew wiped it right off as soon as we had gotten there.

Rolling out of bed the next day in the dark I put on grungy clothes and packed nice ones in my car for work.  I made the drive out to Muskegon with a stop at Meijer on the way for some rags and cleaning products.  The first thing I did when I pulled in to the marina was stop into the service center and make them aware of the situation and that I was going to try cleaning it myself since I knew Nemesis would be giving a call there later that day.  The guys in the building were super nice and helpful with information and possible solutions for our problem.  One even said he would walk out with me to take a look at the ‘damage’.  Unlocking the ladder from our cradle he leaned it against the boat and climbed on deck to have a look at the two boats.  After standing up there for a few seconds he glanced down at me and said, ‘What dust?  I don’t see anything on either boat.’.  I explained it was a thin covering that looked like dirt and was on the cockpit and deck.   He verified that he still wasn’t seeing anything and invited me up to take a look.  When I was on our deck everything did in fact appear clean.  There had been rain the previous night and it must have washed everything off.

Upon closer inspection there were still a few small dots on the fiberglass if you looked really close.  The service guy said everything looked good enough to him and stepped down the ladder to go back to work.  That made me feel so much better because even if a call were placed to the marina that day I had someone on the inside to back me up.  Still wanting to make everything as clean and shiny as possible I pulled out my rags and started giving both boats a good wipe down.  When I finished, to me, they looked cleaner than they had before any sanding had even started.  I texted Matt that everything was ok and he didn’t have to keep stressing himself into a heart attack, we’ve lived to fight another day.