Monday, October 20, 2014

A lazy update

We are strapped to a dock in Beaufort South Carolina and enjoying the "break" from traveling. From here we will jump offshore to Florida and hang out in Fernandina Beach for a bit. We are ahead of the pack for now but they are slowly catching up to us.

Our time here was well spent with our daughter Nicole and our grandson Aiden. He is growing up fast and seems to change every week. The visit was too short but we got our playtime in with the little guy and we were blessed with a smile from time to time. We also witnessed a few diaper fills and a spectacular hose vomit scene in Nicole's car. Go Aiden!
What impressed us was how much Nicole and Jonathan have grown as parents. They are doing a great job and their love for the little guy really shines. We are very proud grandparents.

He always falls asleep when I hold him

Aiden is not too pleased with the Bills hat.

Poor guy didn't like the bright sunshine.

Tough for Grandma to let go.

Debra and I enjoyed our 33rd anniversary recently. We walked around town (pub crawl) and enjoyed our day well into the evening. I had a nice reminder of our good time in the morning when the sunlight hit my bloodshot eyes. Some people never learn. Debra just shakes her head.
Thirty three years of wedded bliss. Who would have thought someone would stick with me that long. I consider myself to be pretty lucky in the relationship department. Deb should definitely win an award for patience.

So here we are on our way to the Bahamas and beyond. Lots of things to do before that happens this winter. I'll post about the list of things that need to happen before we jump the stream. Nothing too major, just items to make our life less stressful while we are away from the states.

We enjoy every day in a relaxed pace right now. We see old friends and make new ones. We do a little boat work some days, and then others we read a good book and nap in the sun. It's nice. Blood pressure is down and the only stress is boat related and  (knock on wood) it's normal stuff.

I admit to being a tad lazy about blogging lately. Lazy days in the Sun do not provide enough material for posting unless you want me to write some poetry.

the sun hit the water
our day was now over
the anchorage was quiet
conversation got lower

out of the dark
into our realm
a ghostly vessel creeps
dark strangers at the helm

rattle of chain
shouts from the bow
the shadow grows near
they're close! holy cow!

the wind will increase
the boats they will travel
the strangers will shout
my evening will unravel

the sun returns
the night was long
everyone is ok
the strangers are gone

relaxed in the sun
i dream of a night
where the ghostly vessel creeps
i am nowhere in sight


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's a shit! It's a no good.

When I worked at GM, ages ago it seems now, there was this little Italian guy who never really mastered the English language. He ran an assembly line making little plastic valves for an emission system. A kind fellow, always smiling and polite he would try to make small talk with me even though I barely picked up what he was getting at. I was one of the manufacturing engineers in his department and responsible for keeping his line running when he could not. Once a week I would get a call to his line because it was down for whatever reason and little Tony needed help.
I would ask Tony what the problem was and he would reply, "It's a shit! It's a no good." Then the little bastard would walk away to get some coffee leaving me with a dead machine, a screaming foreman, and no clue as to what happened. There were some long days and nights trying to figure out what went wrong while Tony shot the shit with the ladies and added more sugar to his coffee. I would mumble to myself how just once I would like to be little Tony, sucking java and flirting with the ladies (even though most of them didn't know what the hell he was saying) and not a care in the world.

As we motor sailed down the Chesapeake Bay towards Portsmouth we saw the wind had died and our headsail was sagging. It was time to roll it up but it got half way there and stopped. A couple more tugs and it still wouldn't budge. I went up to the bow and tried to man handle the drum but realized it was no use. She was jammed. The aluminum track had slipped down over the turnbuckle and the top collar had pulled clean off the track. Crap! I had to manually wrap the headsail and because I am not ten feet tall it looked like hell. Big and puffy and loosely hanging on. I wrapped a few sail ties around it and prayed the wind wouldn't pick up tonight. Deb asked what happened. I really didn't know so I just said it's jammed and walked away from it. I might as well have said "It's a shit! It's a no good."

We dropped anchor in front of Portsmouth at hospital point or whatever it's called. I call it barely enough room to anchor. It was crowded and I felt that all the nice nice boats were looking at the sloppy headsail on the old Morgan. That annoyed me so I let out one hundred feet of chain and let her swing with the wind. I was a tad irritable at this point and I hope all they could think about in their bunks was the thirty thousand pound Morgan moving around out there.

We motored up the Lizzy River towards Great Bridge and the folks who were going to repair the furler. We were happily motoring along when we noticed the first bridge, a railroad bridge was not up. A call on the radio produced an unintelligible garble. Maybe Tony had moved and his brother got him a job with the railroad.

We circled for about forty minutes. In the distance I saw the second railroad bridge was up. Cool. A train consisting of three cars finally rolled over the bridge and then twenty minutes later the bridge opened. I called the Gilmerton Bridge operator. This bridge is directly next to the second RR bridge. The gal says she's sorry but the Railroad bridge is down and she can't open until it's fixed. Sure as shit the freeking second bridge must have closed right after we got through the first one! The Gilmerton operator says to call the No.7 bridge operator to ask about the No. 5 bridge. Really? You people don't communicate with each other? I called the damn RR Bridge dude but got no answer. We waited. And waited. An hour later a tug calls us and says he's coming through and wants me to stay clear. OK. Mushmouth gets on and says, "Sailboat cap$%^ $%^$ the bridge$%$#&^(".  I had no clue. The Gilmerton bridge operator then tells me to go to marker 22 and wait there until its clear. OK. WTF is with all the ordering around?

I get to marker 22 and there's like six feet of water and the wind is blowing me in the shallows. I do a quick circle and here comes the tug and barge. The Gilmerton operator goes "CAPTAIN OF THE SAILBOAT YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!! I laughed and told her everything is cool. We circled around and slipped past the Tug. She didn't reply when I thanked her for the opening and to have a nice day.

The rest of the journey to Atlantic yacht Basin was a peach. We got to the marina and tied off. It then rained all night and the next day. When the sun finally came out so did the staff. "You have to take that headsail off so we can look at it." they said. Um, no. I can't. "Why not?" they replied.
Because...It's a shit! It's a no good.

Now under a crane. One that's not tall enough to get someone to the top of my fifty nine foot mast. You would think with all the sailboats on the ICW that...oh never mind. We hauled a small dude (not me) up the mast to unpin the headstay and gently lower the furler and sail to the ground. After the guys took a look at it and perused the manual I gave them, they concluded that the two pins in the drum that were holding up the aluminum extrusion had both backed out and allowed everything to slide down onto the turnbuckle. Re-seated pins and two extra pins later and we were back in business. Deb and I were directly involved in the process, from running people up the mast to lowering the furler assembly, removing the sail and consulting on the repair.

At the end of the workday the lead tech on the furler job came over to shake my hand. He thanked me for making the job fun and helping him out. He said he loved talking and working with us both and was happy everything went together so well. He also told us to be sure to write :)

I always thought little Tony had it licked. Let someone else fix it. Not my problem. I learned a long time ago that Tony had it all wrong. You can't go through life letting someone else solve your problems. There will be times when you need assistance, but you better learn from them because the problem will repeat itself eventually and your help may be a long way away.

Not sure if I could have solved this one on my own. I did learn a few things though. I learned I could loosen my backstay and drop the headstay without the rig coming down. I learned that the furling's aluminum piece can bend almost like spaghetti and not break and I can lower it with the halyard. So maybe at a remote dock somewhere I can repeat this procedure with a few helping hands.

Little Tony, I am sure you are still around somewhere enjoying an espresso and chatting up the ladies. I can tell you that those ladies would have been a hell of a lot more impressed had you bought them all a coffee at break time with your sleeves rolled up and your hands dirty from getting the line running again.

I do remember that coffee that little Tony used to make. It was a shit! It was a no good.


I want you all to know that I really liked most of the people I worked with at GM. Most were hard working friendly people. I liked Tony as well. His only fault was when he encountered something he didn't understand he was too quick to bail and refused to get training. I put up with this for years and it bothered me to no end. One day I pressed, and tried to train him on an issue. There was a moment there when I realized the problem with Tony was that he couldn't read. He also realized I had figured it out. We looked at each other and I could see his eye's watering a bit. I dropped the issue, patted him on the back and bought him some of that shit coffee.
I ran into little Tony years after he retired. He still looked good and rested and he never did improve his language skills. I'm not sure but I think he said retirement was the shit. I was all good.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bug Sex

I kept hearing a buzzing or whining sound when we were at anchor just south of the Alligator Pungo Canal. It was dark and I went into the cockpit to get one last look at the chartplotter before I turned in. As I stood there listening to that whining it sounded like a group of crotch rocket motorcycles in the distance. I thought, damn if it doesn't sound like a lot of bugs. I better make this fast. I lit up the chartplotter and checked our position and then THE SWARM descended upon me. What the hell! The chartplotter was covered in bugs. I jumped up and thats when I realized that the entire bimini was covered in mosquito like bugs. In fact, the entire boat was covered in them! I was covered in them! I shook em off and dove down below and closed up quickly hoping by morning they would go away. None were biting and the few that got below were easily killed. All night they buzzed and whined, but I slept easy. Just harmless bugs. Meh.

I woke up and crawled out of bed in my zombie walk to the propane tank so I can heat up some tea. Must. Have.Tea. When I got to the tank I realized I was standing in a bug filled orgy of epic proportions. No. Biblical proportions! Every inch of the deck and cabin top was covered in green goo and dead bugs. It looked like the Jolly Green Giant had explosive diarrhea all over the boat. Son of a biiiiitch! I really can't explain the shock of what I saw. It was everywhere!

I ran for a bucket with bugs all around me and started splashing the deck. I tried to wash off as much as I could but it was futile. Shit was everywhere. The deck was stained. It was going to need scrubbing and probably some rubbing out. Hard to describe how I felt. It was one of those verbal moments where you make up fking swear words quietly and you curse the boat, the bugs, the place and you finally call yourself a friggin idiot for thinking this cruising life was such a god damn great idea. I finally yelled for Debra to help me up here. "Hey Deb, come look at what all the buzz was about last night!" We cleaned up what we could but it was like cleaning up after woodstock. It would never be totally clean. I did finally calm down and warned Deb that we would be scrubbing the boat once we got to the dock in Oriental. I had to clean it. I couldn't stand it.

This is after we threw buckets of water on it.

I watched some of the little bastards in action. They would jump on each other for a little bit and then one would fly away, soon to be replaced with another humper. When the one getting humped would move a little there was a green spot left behind. Imagine how much action it would take to coat a whole deck in enough green spots to where it was running a green river down the deck. Disgusting.

With as much cleaning as we could do without a hose we got under way. Later Deb brought up lunch. A veggie wrap in a green spinach tortilla. Really? No thank you. I'll just eat some fritos.

We carried the little bastards with us all the way to Oriental NC where we hosed down the boat and scrubbed the whole damn thing with a stiff brush. There was a dead pool of bugs behind the boat. Next step is to rub out the green spots and re-wax.

One thing I failed to mention. We had those solar powered lights hanging on the lifelines at night. They are nice for coming back to the boat in the dark or when you have to go out on deck at night. Not so nice in those bug filled anchorages. Just saying.

Life on a boat.


I still think this cruising life is great, despite the bug orgies.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Liebster Award

A Liebster Award!  It’s nice to be recognized. 

Thanks to one of my seven followers I have been recognized as having a blog worth visiting once in a while.  For that I get a nice graphic to paste and possibly a few new readers. A thank you goes out to Melissa and Mike on SV Galapagos for the recognition. They have a great blog which I highly recommend reading. I believe I discovered them on the Three Sheets Northwest site.

I was pretty comfortable with the few dedicated followers I have (Thanks Mom) but now I may reach the ten count which puts pressure on me to actually write something worth reading.  With the award I have questions that need to be answered. You the reader see the answers to these questions and then y'all get to know us a little better and proceed to delete us from your feed reader. So here we go.

#1. What’s the worst mistake you ever made on your boat?
Besides the purchase? Kidding. We love our old girl. Personally I think I've made lots of little mistakes with this beast but I'm hard pressed to think of any one thing that stands out. Maybe the time we left Toronto Canada bound for Sodus point NY and the weather turned to shit and the seas built to over ten feet.  We both had misgivings about leaving that morning under a clear sky. All the forecasts called for a “not too bad” sailing day. The wind and waves would be with us, but we both thought it could possibly be a mistake yet we never expressed this to each other. This was the first time I was actually scared to be out on the water. We had a relatively new boat in extreme conditions and the feeling that I fucked up had me quaking in my Sperry’s. We surfed down ten to twelve footers sometimes getting a little sideways trying to make home port before dark. The Morgan got pushed hard but she handled it well. We were one slip of the wheel or a wave over the side from being in an ugly situation. We survived, and kissed the ground after we tied up. Lake Ontario is extremely Bi-polar and we knew it. She can turn from sweetheart to bitch within an hour. From that point on if we have our reservations about something we express it.

#2. What is your secret fear about living/cruising on a sailboat?
OMG what a question. Me? Biggest fear? There are so many to choose from. Let’s keep it cruising related and I can narrow it down. As we gain experience out here the list of fears gets smaller. Running aground isn't so bad. Eight feet of water is plenty. There is always the ever present fear of being eaten alive by a large fish. I never got over the jaws movie and if I ever meet Spielberg I'm going to kick his ass. I've taken enough statistics courses to know the odds but I still hear the music whenever I'm in the water.

I guess my biggest fear in cruising is not having control of the boat. Whenever we are in a tight space or in current in front of a bridge I go through scenarios of engine or steering loss. I do not like the feeling of not being in control. One of the reasons I do not like to fly. Now that they closed off the cockpit I sit there wondering if the pilot just got served divorce papers after his wife discovered his wild weekend with the tranny flight attendant, and now feels his life and mine are worthless. I have enough small plane experience to know the basics so maybe, maybe I could at least keep it level until coached. I know a certain Tim and Deb that are laughing right now, but hey it’s knowing all possibilities of survival are cut off that makes me freaked out to fly. Back to cruising…
Some people fear sinking which is totally understood, but we have plans for that. We have a raft, dinghy, life jackets, EPIRB, flares, radio and what not. I don't have plans for my rudder falling off.  

A good husband would say he fears losing his wife overboard but I know Deb does not take risks with her safety. She is always secure and in a good spot on the boat. ‘Till death do us part pretty much refers to me making the exit.

#3. What do you like and dislike most about being a blogger?
When I started this blog it was just a way for me to tell a tale of two about our sailing adventures and other weird events of life.  Sometimes my strange quirky personality comes through and I’m not sure how it’s received. I do not want the blog to be a total travelogue. That would be like watching your parent’s slide show from Europe. “Here’s your father holding up the leaning tower of Pizza.” It’s Pisa Mom!
I really didn't think anyone would visit the blog except the kids once in a while and maybe some close friends. It amazes me sometimes when I see people from around the world taking a peek. Maybe someday my grandkids will read the blog! Maybe if it was limited to two sentences and an animated GIF they might. I'm not very good at keeping a written journal and I tend to leave it for months at a time without putting any ink on it. No one after my generation can read cursive anyway. My grandkids would have to have it translated.

I like to tell a tale and try to keep it humorous. Sometimes it works, most other times it doesn’t. Some topics are better left without humor but I tend to find it in a lot of things we experience. Of course I am the only one who finds some of this stuff funny. Even Debra will look at me sometimes and wonder why I am always smirking. Blogging can also be a lot of work. That is why I tend to disappear from the internet from time to time with or without Wi-Fi. A lot of times there just isn't anything going on. Having a facebook page really helps sometimes when you want to show a quick photo with comment or let people know where you are. Problem is that facebook has stolen some of the updates that would normally appear in blogger. Not sure of the future of blogging.

Having been involved with computers and electronics all my life there are times when I say “Enough!” and unplug my brain. We are out here to live an adventure by boat, not writing short stories. I am not a fast writer and the words do not spill for me like it does for others, so if I spend all my time telling you about what I did then how much am I really experiencing? Some people can do it. I really admire their, energy and skill at writing it all down. 

When you first start blogging you are kind of anonymous and you can write whatever you feel without reservation. Once you lose that anonymity your writing changes and you become a little more reserved in your expressions. I suppose I should quit being a wimp and just write what I feel without worrying who sees it but I am a wee bit more careful now about what I write. Too many people out there with guns.

#4. What is the most important thing to look for in a sailboat? Just one thing.
What is one important thing to look for in shopping for a sailboat? Fun. That’s right, fun. Look at the boat and ask yourself, “Will this boat be fun, or a lot of work?” If work, then does it have the potential to be fun? If it’s not going to be fun to sail and reside in then what the hell is the point in buying it?
Our boat choices over the years have resulted in fun times. We didn't own classics. We didn't own racing sleds. We didn't own “blue water boats” either. However, they were all a lot of fun to sail and cruise around in.

#5. What thing do other boaters do that irritates you?
Where do I begin? Actually, let me just say that 99% of the people out here are great. They are helpful, friendly and operate their boats in a safe manner. There are a few though that can raise your blood pressure to unsafe levels. Being on the ICW we see the best and worst, so here are my top five things boaters do that annoy me.
  • Common courtesy. If you are going to pass me from behind on the ICW please call me and let me know your intentions. Do not sneak up on me at 30 mph, or pass me just fast enough to throw a three foot wake.
  •  Don’t crowd me Bro! If I’m waiting for a bridge to open in 20 mph winds and a 2 knot current keep the Fk away! Have you seen the scratches in my gelcoat? I will hit you before I hit the bridge or run aground.
  • Flocking. We anchor because we like being in nature and away from crowds. We try hard not to crowd someone already there. Some folks feel it’s necessary to drop the hook close enough to pass us a sandwich. Why? It’s like the movie theater. You have the whole place to yourself and no matter if you are in the back, the front, side or middle someone always plops their ass right next to you or worse right in front of you. Flocking irritating it is.
  • Where are you? Fishing boats with no lights. I saw you one minute and the next you are gone. Are fish scared off by navigation lights? What’s with the incognito bullshit? Sailboats, especially dark hulls without anchor lights. You guys are just asking for it.
  • Slow the flock down.  Some folks, power and sail, are just too damn stressed by having to be the first one in an anchorage or getting the last mooring ball or bridge opening. We have been cut off many times. We have been passed with inches to spare. We have been waked into a death roll by someone who had to wait another 10 minutes for a bridge 500 yards away. We had a sailboat at peak rpm pass us and then slow down to idle speed to scope out an anchorage. Now that I sound like the old guy in the neighborhood yelling for you to get off his lawn, let me repeat that it’s only a small percentage of folks that annoy me J

5. Journey or destination? 
Journey of course. We own a sailboat. If I blasted through the water at over 25 knots I might be inclined to say destination because the ride would be more like driving a car. Ooh, was that a slam on my powerboat friends? J  The journey is awesome. Night skies with mystery lightning. Shooting stars and bioluminescence in the night sails along with cloudless lightning were amazing. Leaping Dolphins and flying fish as your travel companions make you smile away the hours to your destination. Sometimes the destination is not worthy of the experience in getting there.

6. Which sailboat reference book would you recommend someone absolutely have on board? Which sailing adventure book?
Tough one to answer. For a sailboat reference I would pick Dennis Conner’s “Sail like a Champion”, but I’m an ex racer so I find it cool reading. I learn something every time I read it. Yes I've read it multiple times. You would think we would sail more often. I also use Beth Leonard’s Voyagers Handbook. Tons of good info in there.
Not sure I've read a sailing adventure book. There was a book long ago that was about a guy sailing with three women. I do not recall the author or title as we no longer have a room filled with books I can go to, but Deb reminded me that I liked it. As I recall it was not very well written but detailed enough to keep me interested.

8What is the most important piece of gear you carry on your person or keep handy in your cockpit?
Easy. Lifejacket. Always handy and always on when it gets rough. We should wear them all the time but in the safety of a large cockpit in calm waters we typically just keep them handy.  I still wear one when in the dinghy alone and at night they are always on no matter what the weather conditions.

9. How slow will you go before you turn on your engine?
Depends on where we are and where we are going but we have been known to try to sail in half a knot for hours before turning on the diesel. We did this recently in the Rappahannock River as we had a good portion of the day left to get to our anchorage. This used to drive our kids to the point of insanity.

10If money were no object, what boat would you choose?
If we were rolling in the dough we would hire Robert Perry to design us a custom boat and then go with his recommended builder. We would rent a place nearby and watch each phase of construction. The boat would be very similar to the M44 only updated with modern materials and maybe a tad more forefoot for maneuvering and changes to improve upwind performance. We would not get a boat bigger than 44 feet, in fact we would go smaller if we could. Sailing ease and performance would be number one, followed by living space and comfort. As we get older I’m sure the specifications will change.

Well there you have it. You know a little bit more about us thanks to the crew at Little Cunning Plan.
Now we come to the fun part. I get to nominate blogs for this award as well. The blogs I have selected are by some of the people we have met along the way. I had to narrow it down somehow. I enjoy reading all of them. Drum roll please.

And the Liebster award goes to (alphabetical order)…
·         Galley Wench Tales
·         SV Magnolia
·         The Life Afloat Archives
·         The Retirement Project
·         Veranda422
·         Wildcat Sailor Girl

Congratulations to all and to all these simple questions.
  1.  When did you first catch the sailing/cruising bug?
  2. Describe your worst repair or maintenance job on the boat besides the head. Everyone already knows that’s a shitty job.
  3. If you could turn back time just 3 years what would your cruising life be like today? If I could turn back time just 5 minutes I would have asked a different question because now I have that stupid Cher song in my head.
  4. Music soothes the soul. Do you listen to music onboard? What type of music and on what media? If it’s 70’s disco please decline the award and I’ll remove you from my feed. Just kidding. Feel free to add a mirror ball to the salon and dance all night long. I don’t judge. Much.
  5. Was there ever a time on the water when you thought "Oh shit!" and all the fun was over for that day?
  6. Wine, beer, booze or tea? Doesn't matter to me. I get high on life. 
  7. Has there ever been a destination you couldn't wait to arrive at only to be disappointed when you got there?
  8. What part of cruising do you dislike the most besides no flushing toilets or bloggers asking stupid questions?
  9. Describe the best time you ever had on a boat unless it was illegal, then just email me.

Thank you for reading and cheers to you all!
Paul and Debra

This is the first good WiFi we've had in over a month so I'm a little behind in postings. Chronological order is now whacked so it might be confusing as to where we are. Not sure it matters unless you are actually following us. Creeper.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oxford blah's

This post never published last week. For some reason it just did. Strange. Now I'm out of order. 

We are still anchored near Oxford MD on a gray and cold for us day. We were going to move but rain is coming and well, who the hell wants to be rainy and cold? So tomorrow we will move either to another creek or back to Solomon's for a refresh on fuel, water and food. 

The trek south is starting. We have seen many boats heading that way, many of them Canadian. We were one of the few boats going north but now the nights are cooler and my feet are cold so we are out of here soon. 

Oxford is a tiny town. It's the end of the season and the few places we saw in town were closed or getting ready to vacate until spring. Bartender told us it's a town of 500, soon to be 200 as the sailors go south. Not sure what people do here all summer besides sailing, drinking and eating :)

We got caught in an anchorage exposed to a 20 something north wind the other night. We had shallows to leeward and the chain was stretched so I was on watch all night. We held but it was a bit intense there for a while. Wind was predicted to be ten or less. Figures. 

If we broke loose we would have been washed up in the cornfield. Sailors of the corn. Never to be seen again. 

We managed to find sloooow wifi here so we will update a few times while I recover from a bout of stomach issues which showed up right after eating ashore. When a place says they are closing in two weeks maybe you shouldn't eat there.