Road Tripping, Greenville, SC

We waited for a new car and we waited for the fall weather and the weather came first so off we drove in our sixteen year old car on our 40th anniversary. We weren’t driving that far but we were going uphill. At one point during the week I smelled something burning and that something was our transmission. No problem. We just parked it and let it cool off and then it was all coasting downhill after that. Of course the brakes were a little warm but they’re new.

Beautiful spot for a sunrise cup of go juice

I miss the days of manual transmissions in this hilly terrain. What a blast it would have been going down these mountain curves in a sports car with a standard. I had fun anyway accelerating through the turns while Debra squeezed the dirt off the interior door handle.

The car performed just fine and we got in some good hiking in some beautiful country. We rented a cozy little boathouse on a lake and enjoyed a good time with a great view.

Beautiful spot for a sunset glass of happy juice.

It was nice to get away from our apartment for a change. We were feeling closed in and I was getting squirrelly I guess. We do get out from time to time but we’re still wary of getting in tight with the crowds, especially down in the south where…ah never mind. People will just go off the deep end if I go any further with that. For some reason protecting others around them is offensive.

Prior to our escape we were exposed to someone with covid so we did the right thing and quarantined for ten days. We came out of quarantine just fine but eager to get away.

So yea, 40 years together! Two of us working at Rochester Gas and Electric in the engineering department sitting across from one another, decided to go on a date. Over 40 years later we’re still together and still in love. In some ways it’s a miracle and in other ways it’s meant to be.

Wild hair girl
Wild hair boy
Our last photo aboard Kelly Nicole

Nothing weird happened on our little trip. Kind of disappointing. Whenever we went to shore from the boat there was always something or someone weird to talk about or deal with. Maybe my weirdo magnate is getting weaker or maybe there are fewer  weirdos on land.

200 yr old bridge. I took a piece. I’m a child sometimes.
The old bridge over a creek is on a trail from Greenville to Ashville.
So many creeks and trails. I look forward to exploring more of this area.

There was a kind of strange moment when we were in bed and Deb asked me to look at her back because something was on it. She handed me a flashlight she keeps on her nightstand. I didn’t see anything but she insisted something landed and then crawled on her. I looked around with the light and there…on her pillow was a giant cockroach…with wings! I lifted the pillow and the thing started crawling around while I rotated the pillow to keep it in sight while walking to the kitchen where Deb was going to grab it with a paper towel. The fking thing was on a treadmill getting a workout. It was running as I was rotating the pillow as Deb was trying to get it. The whole thing looked stupid and then the creepy crawler lifted off and landed against a cabinet where I had had enough of this shit and pancaked it. Geez, how do you sleep after that?!

We didn’t. Not much anyway. Between the lack of sleep and the hiking I wore myself out and eventually caught a cold. The first thing you think is…COVID!!  I really think this is just a cold. No fever, just stuffy nose and coughing. It’s one of those colds where you just cough for a week which is fun because when you are out somewhere and coughing into your mask people give you the dirty look. I just laugh. “I bet you don’t have a problem with masks right now, eh assholes?!”  Amazing how much more room they give you with just a little tickle in your throat.

As I type this we got notice our new car finally showed up. Hooray! Well now we can travel worry free only I will miss the V6. They don’t offer a V6 anymore in anything we can afford. Sucks because it’s a nice smooth running engine and not like a muted lawnmower. So now we are just another one of millions with a crossover vehicle. I enjoyed the low riding sedan and I liked what it did when I stepped on it. Now I can’t be a cocky little shit on the road anymore and I have to drive like I look, old and slow. It’s better this way. Nobody wants to be splattered on a highway…or shot for being a little butthole. Not that I was an unsafe driver or anything it’s just that with the extra zoom I didn’t have to put up with anyone being a dick.

Out with the old, in with the new. I will miss the little gray sedan but it was getting to be a roll of the dice with every drive.

So now that we have our new wheels we’re already planning road trips but first we head up to Rochester, our old home town on the lake. Lake  Ontario. I already saw snow in a forecast. We’re hoping for a nice weather window because we DO NOT want any road salt on the new car!

Because this blog post has taken several days to publish I can report that I am healthy again and back to my morning walks. We’re working on our winter escape plan and picking some place warm to drive to. We have regular babysitting duties so we’re limited in our time but a week here, a week there and before long we’re in survivable temperatures again.

I’ll be back to talking about boats again next post. There are still some people I can piss off with my opinions on gear that we used and maybe some Island reviews.   That’s all for now. I have to annoy people with my guitar for a while.  

Cheers – PJB

Back to blogging. Advice post. (Oooh!)

It’s raining again and I’m trying to type without a middle finger. I still have one, it’s just out of commission. So not being able to play guitar very well because of the potato peeler incident, I thought I’d try to write something. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot on my mind besides finger pain of which Deb and my daughters think I’m exaggerating the seriousness of the peeled tip.

I have one hobby left and it’s guitar and now I’m bored so I’m going to ramble on about…stuff.

I was debating even talking about boats seeing I have no boat but friends of mine keep buying boats and some of them actually ask me for advice which is kind of funny. I suppose I have some experience after all this time and I’m willing to offer any sarcastic advice I can in order to have a laugh of course but I am serious about telling it straight and helping them out.

For those who don’t know me, I was a sailor and a licensed Captain (100 ton Master). I raced dinghy and larger yachts and never won anything but a few flags, plaque and a beer mug for last place. I was also a certified sailing instructor  😀   I can’t imagine me teaching kids how to sail. I’d be laughing too hard. You know how kids say shit that you’re not supposed to laugh at? Yea I laugh. Plus, if a kid jibes and dumps it I would most certainly laugh before and during rescue and there is nothing funnier than a cocky kid finishing early and forgetting the daggerboard as they speed for the beach. Aside from that stuff we did pilot a 44 ft chunk of fiberglass down to Trinidad and back over 6 yrs.

So now that I’m done tooting my own horn let me offer some advice to the new boat people. Take it as serious as you would like or discount it all as the incoherent ramblings of a retired old sailor and cruiser, Island Hopper, etc.  I read a lot of blogs before we untied the lines and took a lot of advice from a lot of people. Most of it sucked. So my advice might, will suck as well.

Number 1. Don’t buy a boat! Kidding. Boats are cruel. Cool! I meant cool. Buy the best boat you can find at the price you can afford or buy the best boat you can’t afford and have no reason owning such a prize and sail it with the intention of selling it before you fuck it up. If you are going for the gold just be aware of current markets for selling and if you get a clue that the economy is going in the toilet just like your guests tampon, you should sell that big boat fast before the market grinds to a halt. Nothing kills a life of leisure (or marriage) on the water faster than a huge boat payment, slip fee, and maintenance on a floating condo stuck at the dock.

The opposite route is to buy a piece of shit that has no business being back on the water with the intent of refurbishing it to its former glory…or at least getting it to float again so you can live on it alone at anchor sending unanswered texts to your former girl.

Try to shoot for something in the middle. Maybe it needs a little work but it’s a sound vessel with a good track record. Solid decks would be great. NOthing worse than soft decks. It’s not the end of the world and it’s totally repairable but geez what a pain in the ass plus on windy days you will look down at your bulging genoa track and imagine the thing ripping out of the deck and hitting you in the face, creating a big hole where the big waves out there 50 miles from any island come pouring into the cabin and while you are floating in your life raft heading to Mexico you wonder what your face looks like and if it will scare children if you are rescued.

Good solid bulkheads. Not a floor pan that rides up the sides a bit. I know I’m a bit old school here but our Hunter 34 had a floor pan/grid whatever (not a naval architect) and in rough weather the hull would flex. I mean flex!  The boat was fine but just the thought of the hull moving like that gave us the heeby jeebs.  We had the Morgan in rough weather and it was a whole new world. Total confidence of a solid boat. We had warm fuzzies instead of heeby jeebies. Well except for that Toronto trip.

I got another cup of tea. Things are gonna get weird if I continue.

Don’t buy a boat for it’s electronics because it’s probably all old shit anyway and it’s been exposed to the sea air and maybe some water too and likely to be close to junk. Sometimes you get lucky and the owner kept things fairly modern but chances are it’s some old geezer set in his ways and didn’t want to learn new software so the chartplotter is likely outdated. Instruments are expensive and we do what we can to keep them running like replacing faded displays, cords, etc but sometimes we do a fucking hack job to keep things working and the hack job becomes permanent. I myself have revisited a display that died and wondered why it’s fucked up again but then saw the 5200 I gooped into the cracked housing had separated because I never really cleaned the housing of salt. Woops. More 5200!

Did I ever tell you that KN was basically stripped of electronics? Yea she came with nothing. Just basic shit. Just the way we wanted it. 🤔

Engines. Buy a boat with a Yanmar. I think they are the best. Everyone on the planet can work on them and there are parts everywhere. Well, everywhere we went. We only ever replaced belts. I had a spare starter, water pump, injectors, hoses, etc. Only replaced the belts. OK the alternator caught fire but that was a Balmar. Their regulator caught fire as well. Assholes. I replaced it all with Hitachi. Been fine. Doesn’t burn any belts either. I replaced one engine hose.

Yes the transmission killed a whole season of cruising but that was a…damn I forgot the name of the transmission already. Anyhow, a clutch cone gone bad but totally inept mechanics in Grenada kept us at anchor for almost a year. My blood pressure just kicked up a notch thinking about all that. I kept the cone as a trophy or paperweight. I had thoughts of sending a photo of it to our mechanics every year as a reminder that they SUCK BALLS.

So get an engine that everyone is familiar with and not some old British piece of shit that’s well known to all cruisers, their children and acquaintances that it is indeed a piece of shit and that mechanics around the world will laugh at you if you ask for spare parts. They don’t actually laugh but display sympathy with a smirk they fail to hide. Also they will love to take it apart and then wait for spares to never ship.

Don’t go all out trying to find a “blue water boat”. All that means is it’s a heavy boat that sails like shit and has no room. Granted, you will feel totally secure in that boat when the waves kick up to scary sizes but WTF are you doing out there anyway in that shit? You know if I was going to cross the Atlantic I would be looking at a “Blue Water Boat” or one that was a thick, heavy, slow, full keel, cutter rig, canoe stern (nah fuck that), small cockpit, skinny berth boat cause they’re safe. But, I wasn’t going to do that. Deb might have thought about it but she soon changed her tune after a few consecutive nights at sea. It’s rough out there! I have nothing but love for all the boats we all sail so don’t get a tight sphincter over all that I’m saying. I just think that some of us want something we don’t actually need…kind of like a Hummer. Remember those? Why would you buy that? It’s huge. Has no interior space relative to it’s bulk and looks ugly, like a lego car a 4 yr old would build. “It can go anywhere”. Cool, where do you go? Yea that’s what I thought. Guess you’re not climbing a snow covered mountain to shoot some wild Rams eh? Be realistic in your choice of boat.

With that said, we have friends with true blue water boats and they are gorgeous, solid and sail well. They cost way more than ours but they sail without a worry when it gets bad out there. We sailed in a lot of shit weather as well and our boat, though old was solid…mostly. I would never take our old boat across the ocean without some modifications whereas our friends would just stock up and go.

I have to tell you…there are all kinds of freaking boats out there. All types and if you saw what people sail back and forth across the Atlantic your jaw would drop. We were in St Martin and all these horns were sounding off and we came up wondering what the hell was going on and eventually from the radio traffic we figured out that a bunch of boats, quite a few, were leaving to cross the Atlantic! Holy crap that guy is going? I thought it was derelict! There were all kinds of boats and only a few I thought were “blue water”. Wow. Just shows you that it’s not the boat, it’s the balls, cohones, stones. You get the picture.

Lot’s of cats. Catamarans. Very popular. I say go for it if you can afford one. Roomy. If you and your partner like space then do it. Some days it would have been nice to have our own hulls. If we did this again, like if suddenly I was 50 again, I would buy a charter Cat down in the Islands. Fly down, buy cat, sail cat, sell cat, fly back. A lot of the new one’s are poor sailors and they look stupid but they are roomy and most of the time the motor is running anyway. One thing I never knew about cats, if one motor dies they have one hell of a time getting to a mooring or a dock. I went to help some dude who lost one engine and it took him fucking hours to get near me to tie him off. I think I missed lunch. Never even got a beer out of that. Cheap bastard. I hope he got my mechanic. Maybe it wasn’t a cat problem. Maybe the cheap bastard didn’t know what he was doing.

I was just thinking, if we had our own hulls I would make mine into a Tiki Bar! If you were a worthy friend I’d hand you a ticket for entry into the Tiki Hull portion of our boat. Like a cool man cave.

Let’s talk about toilets and then I will break for lunch. Maybe I should label this post part 1 and then continue on with more crap advice for losers who bought boats. You’re not losers. You are adventurers!

There are places to spend big bucks on a boat. Places where the money spent equates to future happiness. The Head is one of those places. Specifically, the toilet. If you have two heads on a boat then one of them should be the gold standard of waste removal.

A malfunctioning toilet is one of the worst problems to have on a cruising boat besides sinking. Actually depending on the age and condition of the boat sinking may not be the worst scenario. When the toilet doesn’t flush, your whole world will pause and you will stare into the void for a few seconds contemplating your choice of remote anchorages and owning a boat in general before you start the inventory of what you will need and the list of tasks required to make the shitter work again.

You will start with items needed to clean yourself. Gloves, paper towels and garbage bags. Lot’s of fucking paper towels! Extra gloves and put some fabric gloves you are willing to part with over the latex. The latex will rip on the fist hose clamp you encounter. Neosporin, hand sanitizer in pump bottle, pail of water, face mask, goggles, old clothes and hat. In fact don’t wear any clothes. Make sure the water tank is full for a good half hour shower and make sure the shower is ready to go. Also clear a path for a run and jump overboard. Another vomit bucket is a really good idea too.

All your tools should be in the head or close by. Every tool! OK not a belt sander but every possible tool you may need. We don’t need captain shitty hands roaming around the boat looking for the missing socket (10mm). Clorox! Clorox in a spray bottle! Any kind of spray cleaner. Sponges and rags and more plastic bags. Prayers. Pray to whoever just pray.

Some of our waste plumbing had to go up. Yes, upward. When pulling the joker valve ( a joker valve is a duckbill kind of looking rubber valve that only allows fluids to flow one way, until it doesn’t) we would encounter a column of “water” that was left in the upward run hose. This “water” would squirt out around the joker valve when I slowly pried it out. Just imagine. You want to scream but you can’t open your mouth so your scream is delayed until after the spray stops unless you got nailed, then you just moan a bit and sob while you feel around for the paper towels.

We bought a Raritan toilet which was pricey but somewhat simple to repair and had a macerator built in but everything was easy to get at. We could even install it so the joker valve access was facing you and not against the wall. The toilet only failed us once and the parts were ordered locally and arrived quickly. The macerator froze up. Not uncommon but like I said only once. We had the other head to use but it was a cheap ass Jabsco. Jabsco is junk but there are parts everywhere. I basically had three spare toilets in parts. I used the last of the spares our lat week as cruisers.

So, to summarize toilets, only buy a boat with two heads and make sure one of the toilets is first class. Also make sure one of the toilets remains manual in operation else you may find yourself doing aqua dumps off the stern with all the Germans. Not all the Germans and I’m sure some were just getting some morning exercise…

The last tea is wearing off and I ate lunch so now I’m getting sleepy plus it’s dark and stormy outside. A short nap sounds awesome but first I will add some pics to this post to make it pleasant to look at. These days if there is more than 3 consecutive paragraphs people lose interest. I wonder if I have any pics of German people doing water aerobics…

Cheers!

P

Wow, long nap. Might be time for a brewski. This started as a morning post. Stay tuned for part 2 maybe. Could happen.

Oh, I didn’t proof read. Sorry. Also sorry for the foul language. Ha, not really.

KANZAKI!! That was the transmission manufacturer. Also something I yelled whenever the engine gave me trouble.

World Water Day

Today is world water day. Take a moment and think about how precious our supply of fresh water is to us all and how we can change our habits to help preserve and maintain this life giving liquid we tend to take for granted.

When we started cruising we soon appreciated every drop of water we had because we weren’t sure where our next source would be. Before long we installed a watermaker to convert sea water to fresh. We always kept full tanks of water and never, ever wasted a drop even though we could make 30 gallons an hour.

We changed our water habits and still to this day, even in our apartment, we are careful with our usage.

So, give some thought to how you can cut down on wasting water because we’re actually running out in places across the globe. It only takes a google search to see there are many places where water shortages are common and people are in danger. Just this morning I read that Louisiana has an issue with their ground water levels.

We sailed, kayaked, swam, played on Lake Ontario for many years. We lived just down the road from the shore in Webster NY. We still head for the lake when we go back. It’s beautiful and it’s fresh. It’s a source of water for many towns, cities and communities in New York and Ontario Canada.

There’s nothing quite like freshwater sailing and we respected that body of water for a lot of reasons but mainly because it was our drinking water!

Here are just a few random photos of our time on the Great Lakes. There are so many pics but I only had time for a just a couple.

Cheers!

P

Deb paddling out into the lake for the sunset.
One of the many bays and creeks along the lake.
Appropriate name. We kept it.
Well that’s not a light air boat. See ya at the dock! 😉
Racing on the bay
The Hobie that crossed our bow…all the time. 😀
Dockside sundown
Deb was ready to cruise south
Family
Family racing. My Mom came along!
Family
Sodus Bay sunset after we got back from cruising the Thousand Islands.
The beach at Sodus Point, our Home port.
Too cold for Gramps
Grandkids love the water.

Adjustments

The grass is covered in frost. Damn cold out there. At least it’s sunny. Gray and cold sucks and reminds me of Western New York winters. I would leave the office of florescent lighting only to ride home in the same lighting…or in the dark.

Imagine driving to work in the dark and being in an office with no windows, a factory floor with no windows and then going home in the dark. Do this all winter long and try to stay sane.

I wanted to go for a walk today but all I have are sandals and some old Vans. Now that I am not waking up on a boat I should probably get some proper footwear. Might need some more pants. A sweater? Ugh, this land living is changing everything. It’s even changing my body clock.

My system (pOS) has several programs, algorithms or Apps it runs. Some are dormant, like the Work app. That would need a serious update before it could run. Others have been on and off. There’s the Dirt Dweller app where I adjust to life on land, the Anchored Out app which is like a survival routine. There’s also the Marina app which helps me adapt to life tied to a dock.

With the Marina app running I forget about battery status, position of the boat, anchors, bad weather, wind, etc. and just worry about closing the hatches when it rains and picking the right time for a public bathroom run.

This is probably TMI but this blog is known for too much info so I’ll mention that while we were living at the marina my system was trained to purge at certain hours of the morning. I have known from experience that there are best times for public bathroom use and the usual “coffee’s working!” time slot is not a good one if you don’t like crowds.

It’s not a shy bladder that’s the problem it’s the other issues like….

Running to the facility only to find no vacancy, then running to the next facility only to also find a full house. Ugh. Worst nightmare especially on Wednesday mornings following Taco Tuesdays.

Yes we have bathrooms on the boat. Two of them in fact. Problem is we do not like to drive the boat to the pump out station (backing out of a tight space with $$$ boats around us). We could pay for someone to bring a portable unit over to the boat but that gets messy sometimes. Once a marina dude was pumping us out and foam came out the vent of his tank. The wind caught the foam and it stuck in his hair. He didn’t know it until I mentioned that he had a large topping of pee foam on his head. He was calm and collected and asked me to please hose his head down. “Why is it all foamy?” he asked. I didn’t know and I really didn’t want to know as I glanced at the case of beer heading for the fridge. I hosed off the poor bastards head and then the partially clothed dockmaster accepted some dish detergent to wash his hair. Why couldn’t he rinse his hair by himself? We must have looked.. interesting.

So we use the marina facilities instead of the boat and with Covid the marina bathroom situation got even more dicey. I remember telling people we’re living at the marina. “Oh well you’re pretty safe from covid I’m sure.”  We have public bathrooms. “Get the fuck outta there! My God!”

My system’s Marina App eventually adjusted my body clock. About 10 am I’d hop off the boat and go for a stroll knowing my destination would be a quiet place for reflection and relief. There were a few times where I was surprised by the number of people showering at that hour but for the most part it worked out.

There are some folks that wake up at 4am, slam four coffees and then head for the head. I tried that. It’s way too early and there were too many raccoons or one time there was a Heron on the dock I didn’t see and I damn near fell into the water when that thing took off and squawked at me. What an annoying Jurassic Park sound that it.

I actually raced a guy to the bathroom in JAX in the wee hours of the morning. I was proud to have out run him. Yes, it started as a faster walk as we saw each other from a distance. Then it became a sport walk, then a jog until a full blown sprint with me slamming the door and locking it just 5 seconds ahead. I was out of breath and laughing and totally distracted from the task and my system was totally disrupted but I sat there anyway because if I exited after just half a minute I would surely have taken a beating.

Deb had her adventures too. She waited for a bathroom to open up one morning and a woman stepped out with her two wet dogs. When Deb stepped inside the whole place was covered in hair. The woman showered, and so did the dogs.

There was plenty of other bathroom craziness. Too many to mention in detail, like the guy with bright blue Dolphin pants in the stall next to me, telling jokes or the night time visit only to find a family living in the bathroom. They were having dinner. Naked people, dogs in stalls, people showering in the sink, body hair shaving outside the stall, stall door falling off, shower head popping off and hitting you in the head, a coin slot for hot water, someone in the next stall asking for money, no toilet paper, no flush, overflow, giant spiders, a million mosquitoes, a diesel truck exhausting into the open top of the wall, underwear, bra and panties, empty bottle of wine, etc.  I do not miss all that but it’s fun to talk about it.

With my system adjusted to 10 AM I avoid all those crazy situations but it really clashes with any invitations for Brunch.

Now that the Dirt Dweller App is running I don’t worry about much. Systems are on a regular schedule and there’s no survival routines running unless I’m driving on I95. Morning walks need to be moved to a better time, when the Sun is warm… when I get some sneakers. This will probably lead to Winter and Summer subroutines.

Life requires adjustments. There’s apps for that.

Cheers!

P

    

I hated this bird

I took the pic of the bird because I didn’t think Deb believed me when I said I was being surprised every morning by a dinosaur hiding between boats.

Beer me

When we decided to cruise on a sailboat there were thoughts of ice cold beers in a tropical anchorage. Ahh. I’m sure Deb’s thoughts about cruising were slightly different than mine but just imagining being in a tropical anchorage that smelled like flowers and dirt and barbeque with the wind blowing through the palms and the hot sun beating down on the deck and the sweat pouring off of you like a waterfall it just makes me want an ice cold beer.

After a long day of traveling and finding the proper place to anchor (that’s a whole topic in itself) we would set the hook and while Deb attended to cockpit cleanup I would go down below to grab a few cold one’s affectionately known as Anchor Drop Beers, or just Anchor gulps Drops.

Relaxed with a cold brew and watching our position we discussed location and holding and “Hey look at that dude with his hands on his hips looking at us” or “What’s that marker we’re floating over?” It was always a way to chill and relax to take in our surroundings and maybe plan dinner or a trip to shore.

Sometimes the anchor drops were a little late in getting to the cockpit. We have a fridge large enough to store my whole body. It’s that big and deep. You are now thinking, wow, that’s huge or wow, he really is that small!

The beers go to the bottom of the fridge where it’s coldest. Everything else gets piled on top. Retrieval is a challenge.

There were times it just wasn’t worth it because an entire fridge had to be unloaded for a beer. I lie. It was always worth it. It was a total pain in the ass though. Deb could not do it because her boobs got in the way so I did the deep dive. I don’t have any boobs…yet.

The next day Deb would look in the fridge and be all pissed off because after getting at those beers my organizational skills were dulled a bit and the fridge was just a pile of food.

The worst was arriving at anchor and going for the deep dive and finding nothing but the old stir fry sauce from last month. You didn’t put any beers in the fridge? I thought you did.

This lead to adding beers to the pre-departure check list. Seacocks closed? Check. Engine oil? Check. Lifejackets in the cockpit? Check. Beer in fridge? Check.

One day Deb brought aboard something magical. Beer Tongs! Well, they were salad tongs but they had rubber tips! Lightbulbs clicked on in our heads and beer retrieval and stocking became a whole lot easier. This worked great except for a few times when my grip slipped and the beer went tumbling back down. Deb’s beer went tumbling down 😀 Nothing beats watching Deb open up a foamy beer. She absolutely hates to waste it so it makes for some good comedy. Chug it! Hurry!

There were many ingenious suggestions and actual crafted solutions for beer retrieval by other sailors like spring loaded can holders and beer baskets. Nothing was better than the damn rubbery tongs. Move a basket of food and low and behold a fridge bottom filled with beer. Reach down with the tongs and grab one. Cheap and simple. We bought a few more tongs.

I guess my anchor drop beers are over unless I anchor out on someone else’s boat. But if I do I will bring my tongs or just laugh at their ass up in the air and the muffled swear words coming from below.

Anchor drops were little celebrations for us. We safely made it to our destination and we anchored without a problem. We always cheer to that!

We have different little celebrations now that require some cheer and a toast to good times. The more things change, the more they remain the same…just a little easier.

Beer me

Cheers!

P

Things are different

This morning I woke up on our inflatable mattress and walked on fluffy carpeting to the bathroom where a toilet flushed without a pump motor screaming or a handle was required to pump. I walked out into the kitchen and grabbed a coffee cup I didn’t recognize and made some tea.

Tea at sunrise on the porch sounds good right after this cereal is finished except that it’s 73 degrees and these boxer shorts are not warm so time to get dressed. There is a walk in closet with all our clothes instead of a drawer under the bed. The freaky thing I’m doing now is hanging up all my ‘good’ t-shirts so they’re not wrinkled. What the hell is wrong with me?

My tea is ready but the sun is not. I’ll sit out there anyway and wait to see how many neighbors are off to work this morning. A large truck rolls through the neighborhood with rolls of sod. This place is still under construction. More people show up in hard hats and bright shirts (wrinkled). It’s getting too noisy out here. Hoping they finish up this section soon.

It’s not like my view at the marina is any better. One side is basically a white wall. It’s a condo cat meant for 40 people to charter. The other side we look over the bow of a nice sailboat and then another wall. This one is beige and belongs to a tall trawler. The only clear view is off the stern which points to the other dock where there is an Amel 52 monohull that reminds me of French peoples. So, I’d say at the moment there’s not much of a relaxing view for morning tea.

Yesterday we waited all day for a delivery, Fedex emails me and says they attempted delivery but nobody was home. OK well that’s bullshit so I spent a good amount of time on the phone with them after finally figuring out how to get a human on the line. I also found out my doctor fled the state without notifying anyone. Nice. No wonder my prescriptions would not refill. Asshole. So a new doctor and more pills was the end result.

These are land people problems. I’m not used to this shit.

We are still living like poor college kids but there are some improvements. There is another dishwasher besides Deb. This one doesn’t eye roll me or glare at the pile of stuff I used to make dinner. It just opens up and accepts everything.

There’s also a robot that sweeps the place up. It even messages me when it’s stuck on a throw rug. It’s name is Pumbaa. Such a bizarre thing to have. I see there’s a robot lawnmower now. WTF. Let’s spin some blades about 6 inches off the ground and drive around the grass. I hated cutting the grass but I would have hated mincing a cat or dog or my neighbor kids foot even more. My guess is the blades are just whipping cords similar to a weed whacker. Still seems like a bad idea.

No furniture has arrived yet and my butt has not had anything soft to sit on except the car seat. OK, some stuff arrived. A TV stand (no TV) and some bar stools. We can at least eat at the counter. When I’m at the counter I wish Deb was on the other side in an apron asking me if I want some pie with that cheeseburger.

When I was a working person I had a visit from an engineer from Poland. I took him to lunch. He wanted to experience a real American diner like he saw on TV or movies. I didn’t want him to experience real American diarrhea so we went to Dinosaur BBQ instead. A waitress in an apron with an order pad came to the table, snapped her gum and asked what we wanted. His face was one big grin. He got a cheeseburger and a coke.

Life is weird right now. KN does not feel like home anymore and this place has not given me that feeling yet. Maybe once we settle in with all our stuff and personalize it a bit we can start to call this home. Maybe we will never feel like we’re home. I don’t know. Right now everything still feels temporary. It hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re not leaving for sunshine and 85 degrees and bobbing around at anchor watching a French boat circling for a spot to drop anchor.

However we do just drive down the road to see family. Sweet. Just need more of them here. Maybe we should buy a farm with seperate homesteads for each family. I could just wander around the property in overalls and a 4×4 telling my son-in-law’s how to fix shit, handing the kids candy and just wandering in and out of their homes at random times. “Honey who is in the bathroom?” My Dad. “WTF! Did you tell him to stay on his own throne, in his own house!” I don’t think they would tolerate that but it’s fun to imagine. 😀

Well, I guess I will just sit here and wait for the Fedex person to not show up again. Life is good.

Cheers!

P

Boat? What boat?

Oh that boat. Yep, we still have one. I kind of forgot.

Yes I am being a smart ass but it really is easy to forget about the old floating home when we’re up here in NY and enjoying ourselves without worrying about a scheduled flight back to the islands and wondering if the next counter clockwise rotation out in the ocean is going to tip the boat over. It feels good.

Hell of a hike.

Some folks are sad about us getting out of the cruising life but don’t be. We had a great run and it was a fantastic way to start retirement. We are still restless and hoping to travel some more when this virus riddled planet heals.

Do we miss cruising? Yes and no. OK, most of it. There are some experiences I do not wish to have again. We have said before, that if it weren’t for the grandkids we would still be out there but I’m not so sure.

We missed the kids so much that cruising started to feel like a job away from home. We knew going in that this would happen and we’re fine with it. In life you want to do things that make you happy. Right now, being off the water and with family makes us happy. I’m not sure how happy our kids are having their Dad around so much but too bad for them, they must endure. 😀

There were other reasons for our return as well. Age is a big one. Things get harder and tougher and uncomfortable as you grow old on a sailboat. Fixing a broken waste system is disgusting and tiresome at age 55. At 62 you say to yourself, “Why the fuck am I covered in waste, gagging and soaking disgusting parts in water and chlorine when on average I have about 12 yrs left on this planet? I could be home reading a story to my grandkids or hiking through the woods with them and the only shit I might have on me is from a bird above.” ( It’s been a running joke in our family of me getting crapped on every time we went on vacation. Damn birds.)

Hemlock Lake. Rochester’s source of drinking water.
A beautiful part of the country.

There are however plenty of times when I think about a sweet anchorage we’ve been in. The tradewinds bring the smell of flowers from the island and as the evening settles and the moon comes up we just relax in the cockpit, staring up at the star filled sky. I loved that and will miss that.

Going from one island to another and it’s all downwind so you only unfurl your Genny and make 4 knots on a sunny day with flat seas and your feet up with a beer in your hand, beautiful.

There were also harbors where the anchor would barely take hold and the wind would pick up and the boats would drag and there was screaming and yelling and boats colliding and the stress levels were through the roof. Not a fun time I wish to repeat.

Good times on a sail to Trinidad where I sat in the cockpit on my watch, the autopilot keeping us on course while I gazed at the stars that would peek out in between clouds. Relaxed and staring up at the sky I sat upright and pointed to a star formation above the horizon that the clouds slipped away from…the Southern Cross! Holy shit! Yes, when you see the southern cross for the first time…

The Derecho. Fuck. I never ever want to experience that ever again. When your boat is literally swinging back and forth like a kite without a streamer for hours and the only thing keeping you from washing up onshore is a 65 lb hunk of steel at the end of a skinny chain you find someone to pray to and you PRAY. Pray and curse. They kind of go together actually. The amazing part of that whole scenario was the pot of chili I had on the stove top never spilled. Not one drop. 😀

There was one moment out there when it should have been one of the scariest times but for some reason we got through it with a shrug and continued on. Sailing past St Lucia heading for Bequia we were finally making way at a good speed with all the sails out when I spied a squall in the distance. Meh, squall. So what. We sailed on happy as can be. Keeping an eye on the tiny squall I noticed it seemed a lot closer and a lot bigger. Uh oh, a quick moving one…. “Furl the headsail and ease the main!!” Just as I got the headsail rolled up we got slammed by a huge squall. With the full main on a reach we took off like a bat out of hell in at least 50 knots of wind whipped rain, rail in the water and zero visibility. Not a word was spoken the whole time as we hung on and the seas built to over 5, 6, 7 ft, bigger still and then… sunshine, blue skies and a slightly more bouncy ride to Bequia. We should have been screaming and hugging each other but we sailed on like it was an every day thing.   I wonder what ever happened to the boat about 2 miles behind us? No sign of them afterward.

Dropping anchor in the most spectacular blue water your eyes have ever seen with no other boats around for days and yours are the only footprints on the beach. Cool.

Lake Ontario. Not the Bahamas but no sharks

That time Debra flew back home to help out the kids and left me in Grenada on a disabled boat at anchor was fun for about a week and then the hangovers stopped and the reality of it all crept in. To this day I still don’t know how solo sailors exist out there without being certifiably nutso. I guess all of us cruisers might seem “nutso” to most people 😀

So there was good and bad. Mostly good I would say but being on a boat you know that the good will only last just so long before the bad comes up and slaps you out of your dream life. Kind of negative thinking but it’s reality. So many times we were just loving our existence when something else would break down or need repair. Most times it was easy and inexpensive to do but it had to be done to continue on. If the watermaker went down then you had to haul or schlep water from shore in jerry jugs or in our case a 20 gallon bladder. Doable but a total pain in the ass. I guess we were lucky that nothing major crapped out…..OK, there was the transmission that killed a whole season of travel.

That damn clutch cone that the “ace” mechanics in Grenada couldn’t diagnose for a whole season but made gobs of money off me was kind of the last straw for me. How many times did I ask if it wasn’t the damn transmission? I forgot, mostly for my own sanity I pushed that memory away. The guys in Trini would have found it the day I brought it to them. Oye, I have to stop thinking about that but it was the first time while out there that I thought of packing it in.

 

The best thing about cruising is you feel alive. Your life is filled with adventure and the unknown and that makes you feel fantastic. You meet so many new and interesting people every day. Some of those people are complete whack jobs but that’s the fun part. How many times did we get back to the boat and laugh about the people we encountered? Too many. I’m hoping when we travel again we can get some of that fantastic feeling back without floating on the ocean.

We have fond memories of friends and events and total bliss and some extreme (for us) adventures. All in all it was a blast and I would do it again. I strongly recommend cruising as a start to an early retirement. In fact I would leave earlier.

As we got older the bad times were harder to shrug off. When we started out we were like, “Shit happens, let’s grab a beer and get working on this problem and move on”. Now it’s like, “Fuck this. I’m too old to get into that yoga position to repair that pump. It seems defeatist to say we’re too old for this shit but blowing out your back on a sailboat in a remote anchorage is a very bad scenario for everyone aboard.

The good times were also on repeat. I am still amazed at how routine some of the lives are down there in Grenada but you know, if you want to settle down into a relaxing affordable life then that’s the way to do it. It’s warm and friendly and the Grenadines are a joy to sail. If you want to sail down to the Caribbean and then hang out for a while, that’s the place to do it. Like any place where people gather and hang out for a long time there will be drama. Some of it’s laughable and some of it is scary. Humans can be very uh, human even in paradise. In fact, some of them seemed to forget that they are in paradise and are still living their dream.

So here we are. Life is still good. Life is better actually. We’re smiling and enjoying family and taking a break from big adventure. Cheers to you all for following along. You made it even more fun.

There are still some boat projects ahead of us and we might even move her at some point but right now we’re not sure. We’re still liveaboards for now but that appears to be a short lived scenario. Stick around a bit as I’m sure there are more mishaps and shenanigans before we say goodbye to KN. I’m also going to keep blogging unless I’m on a ventilator.

Cheers!

PJ

I meant to post this before we got back to the moldy boat with a dead refrigerator but I got distracted. It’s cold in here and the the wifi has been dead so I had time to finish the post. Now the wifi is up and the fridge is running and the mold is gone! Hooray!

Damn Spirits

Why do spirits, souls, ghosts, Spectors, a presence, apparition, wraith, visitant have to mess with some people before they go wherever they’re supposed to go?

We are in Quarantine for two weeks (almost done) and my definition of Q includes isolated walks in the park, so as we’re going to the car we step out of the building into a scene from a TV drama with police and unfortunately a county medical examiners van. Ick. Dead people.

Apparently this dead person was in our building. The unfortunate relatives were being interviewed outside and a cleaning crew showed up the next day. Also unfortunate is the realization that the deceased was across the hall.

Not sure I ever saw this person. We have no peep hole in our door so I can’t spy on people out there. In fact, I have only seen one guy and he was one who had trouble going up the stairs. I’m not sure if he was the deceased. I was kind of hoping it was the person with the yapping dogs but that’s mean. Should never wish anyone dead but…those damn dogs could use a tranquilizer dart…every day…maybe the dosage might be off a wee bit…I suppose wishing dogs dead is mean too.

So all this time I thought it was our garbage that stunk! Kidding. I didn’t smell anything. Not sure how long the person was dead. Our first thought was the person died of covid but this is NY so they’d have the whole building sealed off. Imagine that! It never occurred to me that someone in our building could have it and the rest of us would have to do two weeks of Q. Four weeks of Quarantine. I think I’d go nuts.

I had this thought that every two weeks someone else in the building got it and we would have to do another Q session, over and over again as more people caught it and we’d never be released until the county med examiner showed up to take our virus riddled bodies away. Pleasant thoughts have a really tough time penetrating this brain.

I actually laughed to myself on this thought and choked on my tea, going into a coughing fit. We have all the windows open and my neighbors must be thinking I’ve got the corona. Deb didn’t even check on my coughing and sputtering. She said as long as she heard me she figured I was ok. I told her I could have been dying and choking on my last piece of rye toast before I spirited away forever. She eye rolled and went into the shower.

Good luck with the cops and medical examiner Deb! My last act would be jamming the rye toast into my mouth…then with the butter I would write REDRUM on the oven door. Enjoy that police interview!

So, back to the main story here.

The night after the neighbor croaked we were watching a hockey game. It went to a fifth overtime. Bruins win! Long game. It was a bit late and we were reading for a while. Finally lights out but it was tough finding sleep. Not Deb. She was out in about ten seconds (hate that). I tossed and turned a bit but finally zonked.

I had a really bizarre dream or nightmare actually. I was in a park with my daughter and grandkids. We were playing in a creek. Shallow except for an area with fallen trees. Some kid slipped and started to sink under the trees but my grandson caught him by the arm and pulled him up (true story). So we were all pretty happy about that but decided that was enough for the day and packed up to leave. As we climbed up from the creek bed we came to an open field and stopped dead in our tracks because the field was filled with people, expressionless people, staring and motionless and all facing us. My daughter screamed and before I could say, “What the fuck..” the people or whatever they were all screamed in unison and in that high pitched howl they all vanished.

It was at this point I woke up and my first thought was that the people in my dream were waiting for the boy. The boy was saved. We ruined their plans.

Needless to say I was a bit disturbed by this dream so I just stared at the ceiling for a while and eventually rolled over to start a better sleep session. I must have dozed off again but something woke me up. Still creeped out I peered towards the apartment door, which I can see from bed. The door doesn’t fit the frame properly and I can see the light from the hall. Seems too bright. Why is it so bright?

I scootched up a bit in bed to see more of the apartment. What the hell? The TV was on, sort of. The screen was a dull shade of blue like it was on but no input. That’s why the room was so bright. Then suddenly the TV popped on with the volume up and some infomercial on personal finance was blaring through the apartment! I woke Deb. “The fucking TV just came on!” She got up and looked and was as startled as I was. I walked out there and turned it off…again. I stood there for a few seconds wondering just what the hell was going on.

I went back to bed but could not sleep. I may have popped in and out of sleep but I’m not sure. Next day the staff was cleaning the linens and the carpet cleaner was out in the hall. Uh, were we visited by the ghost of the dead person?

My daughters immediately figured Gramps screwed up the TV somehow and got it on a timer. Nope. I even checked to see if somehow I could have done that and there’s really no way it could be done accidently. Was Gramps drinking? A few beers. nothing more. I also have a witness who was not drinking so there!

The next night all was well though Deb said her electric toothbrush stopped working. I’m not sure a spirit would bother with a toothbrush. The TV problem is classic hollywood stuff. Toothbrush? Meh. All the clocks set to the time of death would have been cool. I even glanced at a mirror in case it showed the ghost behind me. Nothing. My guitar playing Spirit in the Sky by itself might be over the top but really cool. A tipped over chair, lights on and off, microwave beeping all would be on the mark but it’s been quiet. So, just the TV coming on and that was it. Maybe the weird dream was part of it too but there has been nothing since so we may be in the clear.

Before I leave this post with you I will tell you another story about when my Grandfather died. There is an old German tale of relatives dying and soon after there’s a knock on the door but nobody is there. Nice ghost story I thought. Fun. The fun stopped when my grandfather died and someone was knocking on our door and my grandmother was yelling at my uncle not to open it! There was no one at the door and Uncle John was going to pop it open to yell at the prankster. Grandma would not allow it because if the door is opened the spirit enters and never finds the path it’s supposed to follow and they’re with you always.

OK. Hope you’re reading this one in the dark with some hot tea and toast. Careful swallowing.

Cheers!

PB

H season

When we pulled into Grenada or Trinidad at the end of our cruising season it was always a relief because we knew we were avoiding a possible hit from a hurricane. Sure, it’s a lot of work to haul out and get the boat ready for three months sitting in the dirt but it gave us peace of mind knowing we did our best to protect our home.

On the hard in Trinidad

Now that the season has kicked into gear and we have some named storms making tracks it creeps me out knowing we’re floating and tied to a dock. This feels weird.

I liked walking away from the boat and going home knowing she was strapped down to cables attached to buried cement blocks. Now the cement she is strapped to is floating.

This marina is called a hurricane hole. We always laughed at that term. Nothing is really a hurricane hole but this marina is about as safe as we can get for where we are. We are in a good place.

I haven’t seen one spot I would call a hurricane hole if a hurricane actually hit it. I feel for the people trying to ride one out or fleeing when one is coming towards them. Yikes!  We were never willing to take that risk. Being in 70 to 100 knots of Derecho in the Bahamas for three hours was enough for me. I would NEVER ride out a hurricane on a boat. It’s insanity. If we were ever confronted with a storm of that strength we would leave her at anchor and dinghy to shore, tie off the dinghy to a tree and go find some place safe on land to ride it out.

Trinidad. New bottom.

The pandemic has forced some sailors to reside in the zone or store their boats in areas known to get bashed during H season. Fingers crossed this year is a mild one compared to others. As you know, for a lot of us our boat is our home and it would be devastating to lose everything. It’s got to be tough this season with all the governments shutting down their borders for the pandemic. There really is no place to run to.

Our prepping for storage in the water is about the same as on land. Some things we’ve modified. We are leaving the boom up this time. We usually take it down to prevent deck damage should we get hit but I’ve got two lines and a cable lifting it and we’ll have several more securing any movement.

Grenada Haulout.

The boat is still being wiped down with vinegar and tea tree oil and all food removed and systems shut down. Only thing running will be the bilge pump (hopefully not much). I will leave one solar panel working to keep the batts topped up but no electricity from the grid will be coming in. The kayaks and dinghy will be strapped to the deck and all canvas removed and then we’ll kiss her goodbye.

If she sinks we will still be able to see her at low tide 😀

Cheers!

P