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March 2013

Blame it on Steve from S/V Celebration–Well, Not Really

EW has a long list of projects, and he’s diligently working through it and ticking them off as he goes. Of course, after the water intake hose blew, the engine compartment took on a greater focus. He had already begun replacing the hoses, evidently just not in the right order.  Boat projects are like that. He finished replacing all the hoses and discovered that all of the hose clamps had issues. So, off to the marine store for stronger, better hose clamps. As he exchanged good for bad, he’d frequently exclaim, and show me how bad, bad was. See.  P3120112P3120116

You can see at left how the open style of the hose clamps caused them to degrade and break.

At right, the new style clamp – bumps, not holes. Solid. Solid is good.

 

He also discovered that a looming engine project had jumped to the fore. When we were back in Maine, he’d hired a yard to install new insulation inside the engine compartment. Now, some boats have easy access engine compartments. Heck, some boats have work shops inside  the engine room. Our lovely La Luna has an engine compartment that’s pretty tight. There is a smallish access door on the starboard side, form the pilot berth area; a large access door in the front, under the companionway;  and a medium access door in the galley. Basically, when EW is working in the engine room, nothing is sacred and all is cluttered. There is also access if one removes the AC/DC refrigerator.

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Here’s EW in the aft part of the engine room, behind Pine Top, our Perkins engine. I took the photo through the front access panel.

Here’s EW working through the galley access doors. He’s laying over Pine Top and the Cool Blue refrigeration system and he’s across from the stove and our main – now only – refrigerator/freezer.

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And, at left, here he is exiting the engine room through the hole where the old fridge lives.  Getting in and out is a bear, and involves lots of grunting, but once he’s inside, he can stand up.

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Let’s digress a moment to discuss that old AC/DC fridge.

When we moved aboard, I was delighted to have both a standard boat fridge and freezer and a smaller bar type unit. When we lived on the dock, I used that separate unit for produce. When we sailed, it would run on DC, but one day, before our cruise to Nova Scotia, EW asked me if I could live without it on the trip. “I think it’s using a lot of battery power.” You engineers or quick thinkers will already be wondering how well insulated a fridge would need to be if it’s situated inside the engine compartment. Exactly. I readily agreed to re-organize and stored dry goods in the fridge on the trip. Consequently, we used much less battery power and the chocolate melted. Afterward, that fridge was used only in the winter when we were on the dock. Once we left Maine, I used it to store the vacuum bagger.

Now, there were times when EW needed more access to the engine and we would remove this fridge from it’s hole. It wasn’t easy, but we could do it. I suggested that EW needed more easily accessible parts and tools storage and  that he he would have abundant storage if he removed the fridge permanently and build a nice teak-framed box unit with drawers – something that would be easier to remove for engine projects. I made that suggestion about 8 years ago.

Back to the present – EW had discovered that a section of sound insulation had degraded to the point that it was disintegrating and the ugly black matter was getting into pumps and other important bits. EW absolutely had to remove the old insulation. Oh joy. Two days and one bruised and battered captain had completed that nasty job without getting a lot of insulation in the rest of the boat. I do love EW.

So, he had new hoses, new hose clamps, and a cleaned-up engine compartment. We’re done, right? Time to move on to something else. No – and this is where I blame Steve, though that may not be fair to EW, because I would never want to imply that EW isn’t interested in having all of La Luna looking her best. Steve and Lynn are super people, a fun couple, and excellent sailors. They are both scary smart, and Steve is retired military.  He’s also learning to play guitar, so one day EW took a break and stopped by Celebration  to share a few licks with Steve. (Doesn’t that sound nasty? It’s what guitar players do, and seems harmless.) Of course, when two cruisers get together they discuss boat projects, which led to Steve showing EW Celebration’s engine compartment.

I haven’t seen it. When I was telling this to a few other cruisers, Carl from La Creole, who also knows Steve, said, “Oh man. That’s bad. You can eat off of Steve’s engine.” By this time, I knew it was bad – but it was too late. Steve has come up with all sorts of interesting ideas for their boat --- really, really good interesting ideas. How good? Well, back in the states they were boarded by the Coast Guard for a regular boat inspection. When the boarding party saw Steve’s engine compartment they asked for permission to bring folks aboard to show them what an engine compartment should look like. That’s bad – well, it’s good, but it’s bad for other cruisers.

P3170220The next thing I knew, EW was painting Pine Top. And then, he decided to tackle the fridge. Now, as many of you know, EW and I renovated a home together and a lot of that process would involve me thinking up ideas – such as a library wall in the den – and EW implementing them. The storage box/drawer unit is just such a project. Big, expansive, a lot of work. Here’s EW’s brilliant work around:P3150154

 

Take all of the fridge parts off the back of the fridge, making it lighter, smaller, and easier to remove when he needs access to the engine room.

 

 

 

Put it back in place and store stuff in it.

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We are a good team. I think up things and he makes them workable.

We had re-wired the engine room in Hampton, and now that EW’s completed all of his other engine room projects, we have a well-appointed and safe engine room – perhaps not to the standards of Steve on Celebration, but I can live with that and EW will have to. He has many other items on his project list, and  I wouldn’t want to eat of the damn engine, anyway.

Here’s the newly painted Pine Top. P3300033and the neatened up engine room with the fridge box installed. Oh yeah, that wouldn’t get hot at all when Pine Top is running. Right.

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The Nearly Perfect Guest

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We’ve frequently invited our friend Mike Taber down for a visit. Mike is a sailor – both racing and cruising, and a long-time friend, co-worker, and former boss of EW. When Favorite participated in the World Finn Championship in Marblehead in 2001, Mike generously hosted us at his home and on his boat. Expertly driving us around the race course on a damp, gusty,sometimes rainy day. That’s a true friend. Since Mike knows we are planning to leave the Caribbean and head to distant shores, he decided to take five days and fly down for a quick visit. We were thrilled. His boss, wasn’t, but put up with it. Mike is the New England rep for Sea Hawk paints, a bottom paint we switched to in Trinidad. We are delighted with the paint, but Mike would have been welcome anyway.

P3250340Of course, as soon as his visit was confirmed, EW set Mike up to be his personal shopper, providing a list of boat parts to be found hither, thither, and yon. Not only did Mike successfully find every item, he noticed that the wrong raw water intake fitting had been sent and took it back to get the right one. That’s the fitting that caused the high water alarm to blast during our last guests’ visit. Thanks to Mike, we have the correct fitting and a permanent fix. (Well, as permanent as you can expect on a boat.)

I, of course, provisioned and cleaned for his visit – though these posts may cause you to believe I only clean before guests, that’s not true. However, the pre-guest cleaning is definitely designed to be more thorough and to have everything clean when they arrive. Normal cleaning means I do one thing one day and another task on another day, making sure that everything is clean sometime that week. Just soP3190232 you know.  Part of that before guest or once a week cleaning includes the bane of my existence, the companionway ladder. The deep treads on this wooden structure are covered in a diamond-patterned non-skid that is a bitch to clean and impossible to keep clean. If we were running a charter boat I’d have to clean this sucker every flipping day. We are not running a charter boat. This type of non-skid is porous, and attracts dirt like nothing else I’ve ever seen. This is important to our story, so bear with me.

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Above, before cleaning. At left, after liberal use of Amazing Roll-Off and a scrubby.

Remember these photos.

 

Mike had an agenda for the visit:100_0097

  1. Visit with us – particularly EW.
  2. Relax.
  3. Have no email/phone contact with folks/bosses/customers.
  4. Have a Pain Killer (or three).
  5. Sail.
  6. Snorkel.

 

 

P3250327We are proud to announce that all goals were achieved. Mike is a goal-oriented kind of guy. We also taught him to play Mexican Train Dominoes and suggest that the Massachusetts Lake group of friends prepare themselves for a new obsession. If any of that group read this post, do note that Mike is very sneaky.

He knows boats, so he pitched right in and took over tasks or helped with anchoring and grabbing moorings.

He eats anything except Brussels sprouts, which is good because he is the only recent guest who neglected/refused to fill P3210236out the Preference Sheet. I found one of my dinners to be sub-par, but he and EW ate with gusto and I redeemed myself with the key lime pie. The dinner at left was nearly perfect, if I do say so myself. Mike wanted this photo of the presentation. 

He’s a great raconteur and a good listener. We all talked a lot and most stories were punctuated with laughter.

 

He has this amazing little camera that works underwater and takes both stills and video. Some of those photos are in this post.

 

 

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He took us out to dinner one night, though we all elected to do a “Pain Killer Pub Crawl” and dine on appetizersP3230321 at each location.  The best Pain Killer of the evening – and the best fried pickles Mike’s ever had  -- were found at Tickles.  The best appetizers were the artichoke dip at the Pie Whole, and the mussels at the Twisted Cork. It was a good night, but not all of the bars offer Pain Killers. That’s probably a good thing.

As we were taking the dinghy through the cut between Hassel Island and St. Thomas,  I mentioned that we sometimes had to watch out for seaplanes as this was one of their preferred landing directions. No sooner than the words had crossed my lips and a sea plan flew low over our heads. No hats were lost in this adventure, but it felt darn close!  Those pilots do watch out for us. Bless them.

So, why wasn’t he the perfect guest? Well, for two reasons:

 

 

P32403221. As you may recall from the article about the forward cabin, I spent time making it more inviting for guests. One of the things I did was finally finish the custom sheets, so that they <hopefully> won’t come un-tucked as easily as they have in the past. (Again, apologies to our dear friends/guests Cathy and Stu, because  they have been victims of the unfinished sheets on numerous visits.)  When Jimmy and Marcia visited, Marcia had to leave the boat due to mal de mer, so Jim stayed in the forward cabin alone. He found it to be much hotter here than in western New York, (big surprise) so he slept on top of the sheets, not providing a good test of the new, improved version. Mike took it three steps farther. He brought his own sheets! Really. How bad is that? He brought his own towel, too. I assure future guests that we do provide sheets and towels for your stay.

2. At some point, I had mentioned the companionway non-skid to Mike. But he’s a guy and apparently didn’t understand my angst.  A couple of days later, he and I were on deck and I suggested he watch his step when leaving the cockpit on the starboard side as the non-skid is wearing out there. In this case, the non-skid is a special cabin-top paint with sand or some other grit in it. Since we pretty much use the starboard side to get aboard the boat at anchor, that small patch of non-skid is less effective. Mike cheerfully suggested that we could purchase a diamond-back non-skid and stick it down there. I narrowed my eyes in disgust, and he did note that. “Oh! If you don’t like it in the beige color like you have on the steps, you can get it in white.” Stew had joined the conversation in time and made that  wince and a sharp intake of breath, combined with a slight head shake, to warn the other fellow that he is treading dangerous ground. It was too late. “Mike,” I said sweetly, “the non-skid on the companionway is white.”

Good thing the Pain Killer Pub Crawl came after that conversation. I’ve (mostly) forgotten it.

Mike is welcome back at any time. I’m sure he’ll never mention the non skid again, and I bet he leaves his sheets at home where they belong.

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I Yam What I Yam. Unless I'm a Sweet Potato

Here’s the ugly truth about staying in St. Thomas over the winter: for some reason they don’t import many of the wonderful fruits and vegetables available on the other, more fertile Caribbean islands. Instead, the grocery stores are full of carrots from Canada and apples from .. wherever one gets apples in March. There are a couple of stores who have better local produce, but you have to work for it.

When it comes to the sweet potato, we are definitely in the Caribbean. In Grenada, when in doubt, I learned to ask the market vendor, “Are those your  sweet potatoes or my  sweet potatoes?” We cruisers were the only tourists in Grenada during hurricane season, so the market vendors have gotten used to our strange ways, and simply smile and reply, “Yes, these are your sweet potatoes. Ours are over here.” In Maine, sweet potatoes have orange skins and orange flesh. In the Caribbean, sweet potatoes have kind of orange skin and white flesh and a lot more natural sugar. They also have a shorter shelf life, at least on a boat.

This was particularly distressing since EW twice brought home Caribbean sweet potatoes when I asked for North American sweet potatoes or yams. He swears on his guitar that the ladies in Red Hook assured him that the sweet potatoes were orange under their skin. I knew as soon as I opened the bag that he’d been had.

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At the left are USA Yams – what my mom and dad always called sweet potatoes.

At right, Caribbean sweet potatoes. The skin may have some orange in it, but the flesh does not.

 

 

 

 

We recently shopped at a different grocery store – one we hadn’t discovered until now. They have a pretty good produce section with items imported from other islands, and South and North America. That store has the Caribbean sweet potatoes, labeled as Sweet Potatoes and sitting in a bin amongst ginger, dasheen, and other local staples. At the other end of the produce section, I found a bin appropriately labeled, “USA Yams”. Now that’s clear.

So of course, we should try the local sweet potato. I’ve been told that some prefer to steam it and others bake it. This seems to be a family thing, an either/or, sort of like making biscuits in Maine with either Bakewell Cream or baking powder. One does not do both. Well, I’ll probably try it both ways. Wonder if I can get EW to actually purchase Caribbean sweet potatoes on purpose?


Thank Goodness it Happened HERE!

This actually should have been listed in a recent post as one of our phrases in La Luna language.  We’ve said it a lot over the past two years – and loyal readers of this blog may be sick of the philosophy. But really … at least it happened here.

The alternative phrase would be, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” I don’t like that, because it implies that EW and I aren’t trying to keep La Luna afloat and safe. We, particularly EW, work very hard to repair, install, tweak, paint, clean, sew, and keep up with all boat projects. Since we are planning a long-distance sail in a relatively short while, EW has been working diligently to complete a long list of boat projects. Recently, while we were enjoying the much anticipated visit of Jim and Marcia, we encountered Another Project that has become a big, giant “whew” moment. Thank goodness it happened here!

First of all, EW had been worried about the batteries which had not been charging fully. Our friend Ross, from One White Tree, suggested that we needed to go into the dock and equalize the batteries. EW opted to do so a couple of days before Jim and Marcia arrived, allowing them to get acquainted with the boat in a slip. We had a lovely first night together, enjoying sparkling wine and snacks with cruising friends from La Creole and Ocean Star for an impromptu welcome to the Caribbean party for Jim and Marcia.

The next day, we had planned to sail to Buck Island, snorkel with the turtles, have lunch, and return to our anchorage off of Water Island. Diana and Ross from One White Tree had agreed to join us. After we left the dock, I scooted over in the dinghy to pick them up, then EW turned the boat into East Gregerie Channel. And then .. the high water alarm went off. This is never a good thing. I’ll refer you to Diana’s excellent blog post on the incident, after all, she was the only one with time to take photos. Jim sailed the boat. I unfurled the jib – badly, and Ross and I worked to fix my big, huge, mistake with the jib sheets. Diana pumped the bilge, and Marcia handled the chaos beautifully.  There were no photos were taken during these exciting moments.

Once we had anchored – the first time – it occurred to me to ask Diana to document our new form of guest entertainment. She did a great job. We attempted to anchor under sail in a rather crowded anchorage, and just didn’t get far enough into the anchorage before we lost our momentum. Since we’d furled the jib so EW wouldn’t be beaten to death by the sheets, we had no option but to anchor where we landed, and that put us rather very really, really close to the motor yacht Northern Star. When we first anchored, we could actually chat with their crew from our cockpit. That is never a good thing. We were just off their port bow, and explained that we had no engine, that EW could fix it, and then we’d be able to move, In the meantime both boats would keep an anchor watch. They would swing differently than we would, and, as their captain so graciously put it, “We wouldn’t want to damage your boat.” I think we were the burdened vessel as in it would be entirely our fault, but it was nice of him to show concern.

EW had diagnosed the problem while we were struggling with the jib sheets: the raw water pump hose that lets seawater in to cool the engine had ripped. Seawater was pouring into the boat. Seawater outside of the boat, good. Seawater inside, bad.  He had to go into Crown Bay Marina, purchase a new hose and install it. Again, for the rest of that day’s adventure, check out Diana’s blog. She’s very good. I’ll just say that the Motor Vessel Northern Star is my favorite yacht of all time. Thank you.

EW got her done, we enjoyed lunch and consoled ourselves with Diana’s outstanding frosted brownies. I was too late to go to Turtle Cove that day. Unfortunately, the wind and waves were contrary – something that can happen occasionally here – and as the afternoon went on Marcia began to feel ill, and we never did get to Turtle Cove that week. We were dreadfully sorry not to show Jim and Marcia the vacation we’d planned for them, so even though we’re glad “it happened here”, we wish “it” had held off for a couple of days.

Anyway – here’s the big “it”. EW had been changing the hoses, and changing that one before we left was definitely on his list. Unfortunately, he hadn’t gotten to it and she blew at a very inconvenient time. But here’s the thankful it happened here thing.  Once he had replaced the hose, he found we were still having some leakage, and discovered that the hose clamps he had used for every hose in the boat were all disintegrating. Every last one of them. He has purchased the stronger, better hose clamps and has been replacing all of the old ones this week. It’s a nasty, uncomfortable job, requiring him to lay across Pine Top, our Perkins diesel in an uncomfortable and bruising position. He swears a bit, moans, groans, and heaves a heavy sigh every so often, but he’s getting her done. More on that in a subsequent post.

Thank goodness it happened  here, where we have access to new, better hose clamps, and not in the middle of the Atlantic. Oh my.

While we opted not to subject Marcia to any more rolling seas, we had a wonderful visit She definitely gets the Best Sportsmanship Guest Trophy. We enjoyed a hot hike on Hassel Island, where Marcia kept an eye out for birds and proved that she knows how to attract them. This was followed by a lovely afternoon repast at the Cork and Barrel, and now EW and I have a new friend, Jim’s wife, Marcia. So glad that happened here, too.

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                                                                  Jim, Marcia, and EW on Hassel Island.


A Boater's Language and Our Private Language

Most of us who cruise have learned the language of sailing. Port and starboard, head, galley, sheets, painter, companionway, and boarding ladder all roll off our tongues with ease. In fact, most of us have been known to inquire of a landlubber hostess, “May I use your head?” When you think about it, that’s an unpleasant sentence for folks not in the know. “Use it for what?” “For THAT? How disgusting!” I was not a sailor when EW and I met, and he didn’t have a boat at the time, but I was still made aware of the correct terms and expected to use them. “If a rope is doing something it’s a sheet, halyard, a dock line or painter.” I was in love, so I learned.

A sailor’s language also consists of words or phrases that are universally known, but not required by the captain. Before we left Maine we participated in a charity regatta. When our dear friend, Lynnelle, called her mom in Texas to tell her that she was going to participate in a sailboat race, her mom asked what possible help her daughter could  provide. “I’m going to be rail meat, Mom,” Lynnelle proudly replied. Her mother gasped, “Lynnelle Lynn, that’s just nasty!”

Those of you  who’ve followed for a while know that EW and I have our own private language aboard. We are those kind of people and some of our words or phrases followed us from land home to floating home. Here are a few examples:

  • Lake Eggs are poached eggs, so named because Favorite’s grandparents – EW’s parents -- would make them for him when he visited them at the lake cottage. The slotted spoon is the Lake Egg Spoon.
  • Butter Broom is our term for pastry brush. Favorite had never seen me actually use it as a pastry brush but the broom was often deployed to apply garlic butter to Italian bread. He called it the Butter Broom over 20 years ago, and it remains so today.
  • Like many boaters, we’ve named some of our mechanical crew. The Honda generator is Jenny, the autopilot is Casey, and the wind generator is Gramps.
  • Long before my time, there was a radio show called Fibber Magee and Molly. Evidently they had an overstuffed closet. My cousins still call the catch-all closet or drawer the Fibber and I’ve picked up on that. Of course we pronounce it “Fib-bah”.

I asked some of our boating friends to share their private language, and didn’t get much. Lots of folks call their autopilot Otto, One friend said that they always called the engine in their former boat Mr. Wonderful Engine, Sir, but hadn’t named the engine in their new-to-them boat. That engine has provided months of overheating angst and I suggested it was past time to give him a good name, and perhaps a tot of rum. Not sure if that did the trick, but everything’s fine now. Naming things can be very important.

Recently, we’ve added three new phrases to our lexicon. I’ve had the cold bug from hades and have not been a happy camper. This has gone on for weeks and EW is getting as sick of it as I am. Things have gotten a little slack here and I was low on patience. Now, EW will readily admit that he has a problem finding things. I’m not sure whether it is nature, nurture, or gender oriented, but the man has serious CFS – Can’t Find S##t. Here’s how it goes, EW will lose something and begin to look. He gets exasperated and sighs and mumbles while he looks. He looks in ridiculous places – because why look in the most logical first. He looks past the item because it was upside-down or at the left of the counter when it should have been on the right, or some other foolish excuse. It’s uncanny.

P3110103I was feeling lousy but we had to eat, so I purchased an acorn squash and told him that if he peeled and chopped it, I'd make Trinidad Squash Soup. For the purpose of this narrative, it’s important to understand that EW puts the clean dishes away 99% of the time aboard La Luna. I was trying to write something, coughing and feeling sorry for myself when I heard EW banging and mumbling in the galley. EW couldn’t find the vegetable peeler. I paused to watch. He checked both sinks, he got the flashlight and looked behind the stove, he looked in the vegetable peeler storage area – three or four times, his efforts got louder. “I just used it yesterday, and I know I washed it,” I stated. This means that it couldn’t have gone far and that wherever it went, EW did it. He understood the message and was not pleased. Finally, I shooed him out of the galley, walked between the counters and looked. To the right of the lift-up storage area for utensils was a pile of five or six clean utensils that he’d dropped there. Among them was the vegetable peeler. I found it in fewer than five seconds.

Wasn’t there a game show in which someone would bet he or she could name that tune in a certain number of seconds? I should do that the next time EW loses something. I’m sure he’d see the humor … or not.

NOTE: These photos are a re-enactment. Above, the pile of kitchen utensils, located approximately 3 inches from the compartment where they normally reside, would have been further camouflaged by a large acorn squash and chef' knife on top of the white cutting board.

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At left, we have the peeler peeking from behind the scraper. Bad peeler!

 

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And finally, the dramatic reveal.

Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I was feeling just miserable enough to be a bit snarky at my discovery of the vegetable peeler. You know how we sometimes get, ladies? Men CFS and women LTTT – Love To Tell Tales. Despite my bronchial crud, I was invited to cocktails aboard One White Tree a couple of days later, and dropped by in the dinghy earlier in the day when Diana was talking with Donna from Ainulindalë. I told them about the vegetable peeler and shared that I had used a new phrase that morning when EW couldn’t find yet another thing, suggesting this new lost item was “with the vegetable peeler.” He was not amused, but Donna and Diana loved it. So much so that when EW and I showed up for cocktails, Donna’s guest, Linda, made a funny comment about the vegetable peeler. I glanced at EW, who was chatting with the guys,  turned back to Linda, and gave her the throat slash signal, meaning “ixnay on the eelerpay”. That La Luna event hadn’t yet reached humorous status for all on board.

I left the wonderful party at eight so I could go to bed early, and while alone, I thought a bit about this story. EW really CFS, and he can often laugh about it. “It’s with the vegetable peeler.” is a great way to suggest that the lost item is in the most logical, easiest place to look. It’s a good line. But to be fair, I also suffer from a failure to find things. In my case it’s my reading glasses. I’ll be at the computer or Kindle, get interrupted by a door yard call, boiling tea kettle, or immediate desire for lip balm, jump up and remove my glasses under way to deck, galley, or stateroom. This is a boat, for heaven’s sake. How often could I lose my glasses in fewer than ten seconds on a boat? On average, at least once a day, I then spend 30-60 seconds or more, retracing my steps and looking for my glasses.  So, if I’m allowed to tell EW that his lost item is “with the vegetable peeler”, he gets to say, that my lost item is “with your glasses”. It’s only fair. And it’s true.

So those two new phrases look like keepers and I’m sure they’ll be repeated on board for years to come. But they aren’t my favorite new addition. The winner of our favorite new phrase comes from a reader of this blog, who commented on the recent dinghy article and the link to the old post about the red dinghy key that isn’t a key. From England, S/V Phoenix of Hamble said that he and his wife both forget to attach the safety cord to the outboard motor, and then wonder for a while why the motor won’t start. I’ve gotten much better at this, but struggled for the first year. It was embarrassing. Anyway, my new best friend from England writes that he had his wife love the blog, and have named the cord the “Hart String”.

I love that, so we stole it. As one of us heads up the companionway to go for the first dinghy ride of the day, the other will say, “Do you have the Hart string?”  Thank you, Captain of the Phoenix, we look forward to hearing about your cruising adventures.  And Linda, when you come back from Puerto Rico with Donna and Kirk, you can mention the vegetable peeler to EW. It’s funny now.


Flash Back: Moving from Love Nest by the Sea to Love Nest ON the Sea - Part 1, The Decision

NOTE: This post is in response to the www.Raft-up.net topic of the month regarding moving aboard. They've asked new live-aboards, long-time live-aboards, and those in the midst of the move to write about their experiences. I'll post Part Two later in the month. Here's Part One -- making the decision and moving aboard.

 

Bath Renovation_0002

After we married, EW and I had a hellish year trying to purchase a home. It was the wrong time to buy, there were issues with his divorce documents, and we kept looking at old, run down houses. (EW is a fearless do-it-yourselfer.)  Ultimately, we purchased a four-square in South Portland, one block back from the Fore River, and two blocks from Centerboard Yacht Club. There was a smidgeon of a water view from Favorite’s bedroom and the window in the upstairs hall, so we referred to our home as our “Love Nest By the Sea”.  Since the home needed a whole lot of work, this was often said with some sarcasm. Fixing it up took 9 long years, partly because we took every summer off to sail, and partly because we decided not to complete renovations during the two years Favorite lived with us while in high school, opting to subject him to an ugly but not destroyed, main living area. That’s another story, but let me say that undertaking a full home renovation, and doing much of the work ourselves is an excellent test for living aboard.  

NOTE: The photo at top is proof that EW is a fearless do-it-yourselfer, that our love nest needed needed a lot of work, and that I was clueless. Honestly, I didn’t know we had this in us. Somehow, we could see the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

Really.

Rainbow Connection

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Bubs in Bath

 

 

 

 

 

There was a lot of work and angst between the rainbow and the treasure. At right, I’m tearing apart the upstairs bath as one of our first projects. Oh joy.

Spoiler alert: Living aboard is much easier.

Fast forward to the last part of 2001. We had a fully renovated home, and in fact, realized that we had to start in again on the first rooms we’d done.  EW was working as a yacht broker, commuting 45 minutes to work, and often working six or seven days a week. Before that, he had sold marine supplies for a wholesale distributor, rarely worked weekends and was often home by 5:30. Now, I was alone more on the weekends, I was bored, and I had actually begun looking for another “fixer-upper” – which would have been a terrible idea. Favorite was self-supporting and living in California. Our first Lab, Coffee had passed away, and Jake the Sailor Dog had moved in with gusto. Jake did everything with gusto. Finally, we had experienced tremendous losses.

2001 was a tough year. My dad died right after New Year’s in 2001. Three much loved relatives had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000 and 2001, and we lost one of those in July of 2001.  On September 10, 2001, EW and I flew over New York, and marveled at the Twin Towers. The next morning, they were gone. While we were not personally affected by the horrors of Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York, I took it personally and spent hours on the web reading the New York Times profiles of all of the victims. This is not something I would recommend, but the result was that I was open to great change. I was struck by how many mentioned that their friend or loved one had “lived life to the fullest”, and how often travel, sailing, and adventure were listed as past-times. Of course the questions had to be asked, “Was I living my life to it’s fullest potential?” “When was I going to travel?” “Would I sail to distant shores?”  After fifteen years of marriage with EW, I had become an accomplished coastal sailor and navigator. Our stated shared dream was to live on a boat and sail the world. What were we doing to move toward that goal? 

I had been doing the research. At the time www. Sailnet.com published articles by cruisers and day-sailors. I don’t remember reading any traditional blogs in 2001, but I lived for Sue and Larry’s posts on Sailnet. Both of them had sailed extensively prior to meeting and marrying. Both of them were good at boat repairs. They had purchased a Formosa Peterson 46, moved aboard, and were doing major repairs on the boat, writing eloquently and with humor about the lifestyle. Let me give you an idea of my infatuation with Sue and Larry. EW and I had decided to attend the Newport Boat Show in September, and though we knew we weren’t in the market for a new boat, we eagerly toured all prospects at the show, subjecting them to three tests:

  1. Was it dog accessible? If Jake couldn’t get down the companionway, we didn’t consider the boat.
  2. Did EW feel it was well built? If he wasn’t happy, we didn’t consider the boat.
  3. Did it meet what I thought we needed for a comfortable live-aboard experience? Since I had never lived aboard a boat, I relied on Sue and Larry’s information, saying often something like, “Sue and Larry, said that this cockpit would be very comfortable and safe.” After listening to this drivel for about a half hour, one broker asked me, “This Sue and Larry, are they friends of yours?”  EW rolled his eyes and stated, “They don’t even know she exists.”

So, here’s  where we were in January of 2002:

  • EW was a yacht broker without a boat
  • We lived in a fully renovated home – for the most part
  • We were empty nesters, except for Jake the Sailor Dog
  • We had been forcefully reminded that life is short
  • We were ripe for change
  • We had good jobs, excellent friends, family close by and far away, ties to the community, and an excellent neighborhood

It was time to shake things up. Early in January, EW proposed a road trip to a junk yard for boats in Massachusetts as he had seen an ad for a Alden 50 that had been in a fire and was for sale. EW is a fearless do-it-yourselfer. Thankfully, even he realized that this charred interior was beyond his capabilities and our time/money. However, I walked around below, observed the layout and stated, “I could live-aboard this.” It was all he needed to hear, and he began to seriously search for our boat.

We viewed the boat that was to become La Luna on January 19, 2002 and called our neighbor that afternoon to ask him to recommend a realtor. He immediately stated, “You’re going to sell your house and buy a boat. I hate you.”  We actually hadn’t originally planned to go whole hog in that fashion. Well, maybe EW hoped and planned. He played me like a fiddle throughout the month of January. Selling the house was actually my idea – one that would have been difficult for him to propose since I had stated fifteen years prior that “I don’t think I can sell my home and all of my worldly possessions and move on a boat forever.”  During January of 2002, he was so cool about the idea and played the devil’s advocate so well that I was pissed. “This was your damn dream! Get excited why don’t you?” Can you here the fiddle music?

We hired someone to survey the boat, re-decorated the upstairs bathroom at the suggestion of our realtor, and accepted the first offer for our home in early February. We closed on the home on March 22nd, and closed on the boat on April 1st, moving into a furnished home in Bath, Maine – closer to the boat. I commuted fifty minutes to work, EW, with a shorter commute, spent evenings at the boatyard working on our new 1985 Cheoy Lee 47,designed by David Pedrick. Jake the Sailor Dog, a victim of divorce, obsessed over the move, and kept one of us in sight at all times. We had a ginormous yard sale at the home before we closed, moved stuff into storage lockers in Portland and the garage at the rental, and had another yard sale in Bath. Between January 19, 2002,  and May 19, 2002, we got rid of a whole bunch of our worldly possessions and our home, and moved onto our Love Nest On the Sea to be full-time live-aboards.

It’s a decision I have never regretted.

scan0004At left: After the closing. 

Below, La Luna, ready for launching.

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