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

A wee bit of exercise and trespassing

Now that the bugs have died off a bit I’ve been getting out in the mornings for a walk or a bike ride. The afternoons have been brutally hot and so any activity has to be done in the morning unless you want to pass out. Now is not a good time to find yourself in a hospital.

I took off for the nearest trail today and got my workout in early. No shark tooth hunting for me but there were a few people already out there poking around and I was up early enough to see the sunrise on the trail. Serious fossil hunters I guess.

Sundays are the best days to hit this trail because the Georgia DOT isn’t out and about. Just duck under the gate and take off!

Some of the birds are pink. Eat shrimp get pink?

Just getting off the boat and getting around is cool. A change of scenery without pulling up anchor. At least here I still get a “Good morning” from folks. When we get back to NY it will be more like a grunt or a staring at the shoes or a “Fk off!” 😀

Have a great Sunday everyone! I’m going to lay around in the heat and play some guitar. Maybe watch a show. Read a book. Definitely take a nap.

Cheers!

P

Sailing Away Makes You Stupid

You ever feel dumb? Maybe that’s not a nice label anymore. Stupid? No, that’s not appropriate either. Slow minded? There we go. You ever feel slow minded?

I’m not talking about a single incident like balancing a pile of vegetables in your arms and then going to pick up another one and having several you were holding fall out back into a bin, re-picking those and then having more fall out but this time into a stack of shopping baskets you should have used in the first place. I’m talking about the overall feeling of brain power inadequacy that’s evident across a period of time.

Mom, is Grandpa stupid?

We don’t say stupid.

Is he dumb?
No! And please stop saying those words. Grandpa is old and he doesn’t have much to think about anymore so leave him alone
Slow? Is he slow?
Go to your room.

I used to do some things automatically. Changing the watermaker filters for instance. Bing, bang, boom. Done. Now it’s bing, bang, boom, why is it running funny? Putting the right filters in the proper housing would help. Damn it.

Starting the generator is easy right? Not if you forget to open the vent on the tank.

Going to shore and leaving the whole boat opened up and your fly open is not very smart.

Cleaning the bilge and leaving a rag laying over the float switch.

Driving away from shore in the dinghy and dragging the 15 ft security cable the whole way. I could go on but it gets embarrassing. After a while you start to think, I might be losing brain power! I might be getting SLOW!


I used to be relatively smart (stop laughing Deb). I did smart things. I retired and had no desire to do the old smart things so I did new smart things like working to get a boat ready to sail away. Then, I sailed away and now I’m not so smart anymore. Does sailing away make you stupid? (Stupid sounds better so I’m using it. My blog anyway). I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true. When sailors all get together for a pot luck does it look like we all got off a bus from the institute? Maybe not everyone out here has the same issue with loss of brain power. Maybe. I’ve seen signs.

But just in case sailing does make you stupid I have some new personal goals in mind to reduce and maybe reverse this problem.

Make Grandpa Smart Again. MGSA. It’s a new program designed to make me (Grandpa) smart or less stupid. Here are the steps that need to be taken.

#1. Brain exercise.

How active is my brain? Based on the “use it or lose it” theory I would say my brain is a couch potato. What do I do that stimulates that gray matter? Sailing? Ha! We don’t even plot courses anymore. I take a paper chart out and make some pencil marks on it once in a while because it looks nautical but we just plug in our destination and some app written by a French guy (who emailed me to tell me to turn off the screen timeout and it will work better…stupid!) will plot a course for you based on weather conditions. The only thing I really calculate is what time to leave our location to get to a place at a proper arrival time. Other than that it’s pretty easy.

Sure, I have to know how to trim sails to get moving at all points of sail but I’ve been doing that for over 25 years. Not a challenge. There is maintenance on the boat which can be challenging. I give myself some points there. I have come up with some solutions to weird problems on this tub and properly repaired a lot of broken shit. I guess that sparks some neurons but is it enough to keep Gramps from being shunned at family gatherings? I don’t know.

My brain needs something else. Learning guitar has been fun and educational. I read a lot whether it’s news online or a novel. I read about science and keep up to date on the latest science discoveries and news especially NASA. I did take up space in school (cheap joke). I need something more. I thought about getting back into programming. I enjoyed that. I’m not talking about work related stuff but fun stuff like writing apps or doing some boat related instrumentation things like tank monitoring. Always nice to know how much crap is in your holding tank.

Learning Spanish would be fun and useful. I took German in High School. I never needed it or had a chance to use it. I will go to Germany one day and order a beer at the Oktoberfest, maybe ask where the bathroom is. That’s all I really need. Three years of German in High school just to order a beer and take a leak.

Spanish can be used at home and it would have really come in handy at a barber shop in Miami many years ago. I was walking around little Havana looking for a barber. I found one but I could not tell them what I wanted done to my hair so I pointed to a photo (there were about 30 pictures all in a row) on the wall but I didn’t know how to say thirteen in Spanish. They gave me a number twelve or a ten. I looked OK with a fade but the gang symbol shaved in was a big mistake. Makes more sense to learn Spanish.

#2 Fitness

Where do I begin with this? I was always an active person. Not a jogger, runner or weight room fanatic. I was just always moving. My job required me to be on the factory floor quite a bit. Too much actually. I was hardly ever at my desk except when I knew I was retiring. Then, you could see the skid marks going into my office from when I put the brakes on. Being a manufacturing engineer meant you had to always put out fires, or fix stuff. It never let up so I was on the move constantly.

Over the years I managed to involve myself in some sports recreation like hockey and sailing but never anything steady except the usual post holiday gym workouts that were done by April.

I know I need to get out and about more but I also except the fact that I don’t like exercise. I really don’t unless it’s fun. To just walk the same path every day, week and year would kill my drive. Boring. Hockey was fun because I could hit people 😀  Sailing was cool of course. Morning walks are good if I have a coffee and some tunes. If the coffee starts working early you can get some good cardio on the run back.

I have plenty of excuses but the main one for walking is downhill blows my knee up. I have no ACL in my right leg. Uphill no problem but going down is brutal. The knee lasts about 2 miles and then I limp bad enough that cars pull over and ask if I need a lift.

Biking. I like bikes. Biking is easy on my knee. I had a blast riding the bike trails in Jacksonville. The parks there are amazing for bikers. I had an old trail bike (sort of) at the time. Rusty and not safe for the trails but I hit them anyway. Good fun. Some of the pro riders would look at me with distaste. They were in their stretchy clingy outfits and I had cargo shorts and sweat stained t-shirt. They had shock absorbers, gloves, tinted goggles and biking shoes (WTF). I had a rust encrusted old bike with questionable tires and a super padded comfy gel filled seat for my flat ass and a pair of old Keens. They blew through fast and furious. I just missed a tree and slid down an embankment into a stream I prayed had no gators in it.

They fist bumped afterward and placed their bikes carefully on a roof rack while drinking electrolytes. I came off the trail muddy and scraped and tossed the bike into the back of the old Chevy van and popped a beer out of the cooler. So much fun. I went back many times to those trails and did plenty of beach riding in the mornings.

More bike riding is in my future. Less time sitting on the boat is in my future. Flat land is in my future. Walking (2 miles max), biking and way more exercise is definitely in my future.


Why didn’t we get out more on the islands? I don’t know. We are both kind of social misfits so maybe that has something to do with it. We kind of stopped exploring as much as we did when we first started. When we get to a new island we get the urge to check it out but once we’ve been there a couple times we say screw it. Sometimes the cruiser gang gets a tour going which is a lot of fun. There should be more of those. You get to see the island and meet people, or stand around by yourselves smiling at everyone like a dufus.

Exercise helps the mind. Keeps you sharp and alert and you definitely feel better afterward. Gramps could be trim and smart… or in the hospital. We’ll see.

#3 Eat Healthier.

But, you’re vegetarians so you’re stuffed with vegetables every day so how much healthier can you get?  Ha! Just because we do not eat meat does not mean we eat healthy.  Down in the windwards fresh veggies can be hard to find. I take that back. The fresh veggies you are used to eating back in the states are hard to find. Local fruits and veggies are easy to come by but they’re not what I’m used to. The spinach is bitter and some of the greens have to be cooked a certain way else they will hurt. Plenty of root vegetables can be found but I’m not a fan. When you do find some food you like you have to eat it soon because it will rot very quickly. I would be healthier if I wasn’t so picky about the local stuff.

Sometimes I get a craving for a certain food. Fresh broccoli is hard to come across depending on the island. For a few weeks there was zero broccoli. When I found some it was like heaven on the tongue. I was afraid I was going to over cook it and ruin my only chance. This gets old after a while. Do I have to hunt for vegetables every week?


So overall we’ve been on the not so healthy side of nourishment. We’re not starving but we’re not getting enough fresh food. We’re not eating bad food but it’s not great food. The good thing about living in the islands is their lack of interest in consuming sugar. Sugary foods are hard to find. Snacks are hard to find as well. A large grocery store in the US typically has a full aisle stocked with snacks and then has little stands scattered throughout the store plus there are snacks in smaller packages at the checkout. Down here you don’t see that. We might see a small section of an aisle with snacks and all the bags are smallish. No candy aisle either and sodas are not very popular. Let’s face it sugar is evil and we are happy to not have it so readily available. 

The islands were a blessing in that respect. Our sugar consumption is very small and it shows in zero cavities since we left and definite weight loss. My plan is to eat more fresh food and whole grains. Veggie stands have been easy to find here on the islands but limited in variety so I have to get over my lack of interest in root vegetables and other strange looking things in those bins until we get somewhere with food I recognize.

#4 Cut back on the Happy Juice

I’m not a heavy drinker (GTFO! No really). I do not drink liquor except on special occasions like climbing a hill to the top and celebrating with under the counter rum flavored with Mary Jane and what not, only to be carried to the bottom by a friend(Thank you John). I only weigh 150 pounds and whatever I drink goes straight to my brain. Good thing I have a big ole head.

I come from a long line of beer drinkers and I can hold my own in that department. OK, I used to hold my own. Now not so much. It doesn’t take too many to get me silly nowdays. I like beer. I will always like beer. I enjoy a cold beer just about every day (OK Kavanaugh). Lately though it’s been interrupting my sleep and if I drink too much it may trigger a migraine. The migraine research is still ongoing but I have my suspicions.

I like to drink socially and Debra is a big part of that social life and Miss Debra has cut way back so I am trending in that direction also. I have to say that since the reduction in happy juice I have been dropping the gut and feeling better. Also I am sleeping better. So maybe I just savor the few beers I typically have and get really happy once in a while.

Most islands are geared towards tourism, and bars and partying is a common thing. When we first started this migration south we were definitely in party mode. Why not? Nothing wrong with that. After five seasons the party started to wind down a bit and we just didn’t want to wake up with the blahs two to three times a week so we backed off. It’s still very hard not to get caught up in the continuing party lifestyle but other friends our age have started cutting back as well. There is a party here every day and if you can handle it you will have a great time. I’m not preaching. I’m actually jealous. I wish I could do it.


How does cutting back on beer make you smarter Grandpa? Well you have that whole brain cell theory where alchohol wipes them out. There’s that, but when you wake up all fuzzy and your day is spent lounging in the cockpit trying to recover from the night before that means your brain is not working on something more entertaining or productive. You’re a sloth. Having two or three days of this slothiness (pretty sure it’s a word.) is not a good way to be. Over time you get stupid.

But you’re over 60 so why do you care? Eat, drink and be merry because fuck you’re old.

Because I want to be over 80 that’s why! I also don’t want to be a drunk dumbass…except on Thursdays. There’s something about Thirsty Thursdays that make me want to get out and free my mind. Mostly though, I don’t have a whole lot of time left for wasting a day or two with a hangover. They hurt.

#5 Social Media, Internet – The time waster

OK, the people that are on Facebook all the time are going to frown on this one and tell me it’s what you make of it man! You don’t have to be addicted to it! Right.

Facebook is fun at times and it’s nice to stay connected but geez it’s turned ugly and it’s a damn time waster. The only good thing I see with FB is keeping in touch with friends and family and maybe events happening in your area. The rest of it blows. Don’t ever get your news from FB. Geez, it’s like they took Fox “news” and radiated it until it turned zombie and started eating peoples brains.


I noticed a lack of young people on FB recently so I asked some younger friends and family what’s up. Too many olds, they said. We ruined it with all the politics and bullshit. Way to go angry old men of the world.

I keep up with world events. You should. It’s smart. Find the right news sights and subscribe. Just don’t spend all day popping in and out and hanging on every tweet or update. It’s addicting and really a big waste of time unless you’re a journalist. I just started backing off on this but I want to grab the phone every hour to check in. The real test will be hen we have unlimited wifi. Oye.


#6 More Family Time

We really miss our family. It’s to the point now where we think more about them and what they’re doing then we do about where we are and what we’re doing. Does that make sense? The Grandkids are growing up so fast that Debra and I feel we are missing out on some really fun times. We would like to be a bigger part of their life and many of you probably remember your grandparents fondly. We don’t want to be mysterious.
We knew as the years passed we would miss them more and more. Some days it is depressing knowing you are not with them on some adventure. All you see is the pictures of their smiles but you don’t hear their laughter. It can get to you and make you sad. We’re not out here to be sad.


So, what does all this mean Mr. Personal Improvement?

uh….

Changes! Yes, many changes. I have come to the conclusion that sailing away makes me a bit of a dullard. Now, I really should define that a little more. Sailing/Cruising CAN make you a wee bit lazy in the brain. There are other factors involved (some listed above) but for me, sailing/cruising is making me kind of a dim bulb and the time to act is now, so that I may retain some of what I’ve got left upstairs. The brain is like a muscle right?

Don’t you like cruising anymore?

We love it! If we didn’t have Grandkids we’d probably stay out here and probably go back to the States for shorter visits. Sorry kids but you’re not as cute as the Grands. The cuties back home are the magnets pulling us back.

Cruising has been a gift that has changed us forever. We’re different people now. We’ve lost our rough edges. They have been smoothed over by travel and visiting other people and places and experiences. Living on the water is adventurous and calming. Plenty of highs and lows to deal with which makes life interesting. But, like any lifestyle it can get repetitive and boring after a while. It can also get more challenging as you age.

Does this mean sailing/cruising is over for us guys? I don’t know. I think so. We’re going to park KN near family and do some work on her while living aboard. In the Fall/Winter we will decide what to do. At this point in our lives we don’t look too far ahead. All I know right now is I need some other stimulation besides floating on a boat in paradise. I’m restless..
and getting stupid. Apparently.

Cheers!
PJJB
MGSA


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
                                                                                       – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky










This was written in the past. No too far back. Not sure why it was never posted. Oh well.

Random happiness photos

I felt guilty about all the whining and unrelated to sailing words on the last post so have some photos!

As you may have noticed I do not always put a link to these posts on Facebook. Just me. Nothing suspicious about it. I’m not a real big fan of FB so once in a while I ignore them.

Have a great week peoples.

Cheers!

PB

The Future?

Previous to arrival in the States I wrote..

What a world eh? Pandemic city. Who could of predicted this? A lot of people did actually, but that’s water under the bridge now so, what will happen in the near future? More people dying is probably a given though without testing we really will not know how many die from this virus now will we? It looks like maybe eighty percent of the people will get the virus and be fine. The older you are the more likely it will affect you. This of course sucks for me because I’m in my sixties. Lower sixties but still old enough to get the death blow.

This is more annoying than scary right now. It’s scary but mostly I’m annoyed with it. I see a future of young people out in public looking at me and wondering if I should be among them. I imagine myself out and about around town and getting the looks of scorn.

“Hey Pops shouldn’t you be in your bubble or locked in a room somewhere instead of taking up precious table space?

What you got a death wish or something? Get your groceries online!”

“I’m sorry sir but I can’t serve you here. You could be dead next week and I don’t need the lawsuit from your wife or kids thinking I’m responsible.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe nobody will care that I’m out and about. Maybe people will just ignore me like I’m dead already. Maybe they will treat me better because they know I’m toast?

“Isnt’ that sweet? He’s getting ice cream. Eat as much as you want pops! Enjoy it while you can!”

“Hey look, the walking dead are doing Thai Chi in the park. Why do they even bother with exercise? I’d be eating a cheese steak sandwich with a cold one under a tree watching the ladies yoga class if it were me.”

I’m already seeing some reactions down here in the islands. While out getting propane some 20 somethings were walking down the sidewalk with a pizza and some growlers of beer. No mask. No cares. They did not move out of the way for me and my cart and propane bottle. I had to step aside into the grass and my cart tipped. I had the mask and I had to avoid. They laughed, sending droplets flying.

A local woman was passing another local while jogging and they passed close. As she came close to me she ran off onto the grass about 20 feet away to avoid the masked old foreigner. Lady I’ve been floating offshore for over a month. I should be avoiding YOU! I see the world has changed already and some things will never be the same again. I like to think people will just fall into the same old routine but now I have my doubts.

The handshake is gone forever. Good. I hated shaking hands. Being smallish, everyone I shook hands with (except another small person) would try to squeeze the juice out of my hand. Why are you trying to cripple my fretting hand asshole? (Guitar reference). So I’m happy with that tradition dying. People coughing into their hands, blowing snot into a tissue with it and worst of all wiping their butts with it and then shaking your hand. Me being left handed keeps my right hand relatively germ free but most of you pack a ton of nasty onto those hands and then spread it around in a Howdy Do You Do handshake. Gross.

Lines and Queue’s. Gone. Who would want to wait packed into a line or a wandering queue for entry anywhere? They were bad enough without the pandemic but now it’s suicide. How will this be handled? By phone maybe? I don’t know but I am not getting in a line without a ten foot space around me.

After arrival in the States:


Pandemic? What pandemic?

I see the occasional mask around town. Mostly people are carrying on as usual. Old and young, doesnt’ matter. They saw something on the news about a Covid or corona or something. They’re not sure but, “Hell if I’m gonna wear a mask. That’s for pussies and fking sheep.”

Old people? Who cares. Nobody cares. They’ll cough right in your face. When you’re checking out in the grocery store the cashier will pull down her mask to talk to you about your snack purchase. They don’t care. The guy on the other side of the gas pump will cough, spit and laugh out loud on the phone. Don’t care. The person who delivers your pizza will talk in your face telling you how mad he was because he couldn’t find you even though you were the only person wearing a mask, standing in the rain under an umbrella in a parking lot in front of the delivery address. Uncaring Moron.

The future for the USA? Nothing will change related to the virus. There will be fewer older Americans and fewer Americans with pre-existing conditions but basically there will be fewer Americans. I hope I’m wrong.

I had thoughts of just continuing on and crossing the Atlantic and running aground in France, making our way to Germany as refugees but we have family here so I guess we’ll stay. As a way of protest I did make a German dish on Independence Day instead of hot dogs and hamburgers. Sausage, sauerkraut, Spaetzle, breaded cutlets, broccoli. The shame!

I felt better after that. Mostly symbolic but it was a protest nonetheless. Germany and some other countries handled the response to the virus, America fucked it up. Some of my family were refugees from Germany prior to WWII so I have a relationship with Bavaria. In fact, visiting the area was in our plans until the pandemic struck. Now we will see how this all shakes out.

In a way it’s kind of funny. We fled an island with a small number of virus cases, sailed to the US and got touched by lightning and then the county our marina is in is now considered a virus hot spot. Son of a..

Being labeled a hot spot you would expect to see a quiet town but they recently had a first Friday celebration and a brewery opening. No mask required. Am I missing something here? Did some invasive brain eating bug creep into our water system and tweak everyone a little?

A temporary change of subject…

When we landed in the States we were out of beer. I went to a marina and got fuel and happy juice. Choices were Bud, Bud light, Busch lite, Corona. Wow! What a selection! Damn. I asked for a 12 pack of Bud. “Your lucky day sir. You get 18 for the price of 12”. Gee, thanks.

Yesterday I read about an employee of Anheiser Bush that has been pissing in the Bud tanks for the last 12 years. 😦


On a positive note we have seen family a few times and we are mobile. Joy! The marina is still nice and neighbors are friendly. We’re the oddball mask wearing quiet people without air conditioning that never puts meat on the grill, only flaming vegetables but I think we’ll get along.


Wrapping up this post I’ll just say that you should not take what I’ve said here as unpatriotic. I like it here but there needs to be improvement. We need to care more for each other and that means wearing a mask to protect each other. It’s not politics, it’s science and you’re not unmanly if you wear a mask you knob. “Yea well the president doesn’t wear one.” He wears makeup. If he put the mask on it would fuck up his face cake alright? That’s the only reason he doesn’t wear one.

When we start politicizing science then we’re in trouble. People die. When I get smirks and comments for wearing a mask in public I would like to shout back with some very well rehearsed comments like, “You think this is funny? You give me the virus because you want freedom for your face? Cause your fragile male ego prevents you from being seen in a mask? You give me the virus and I could bring it home to my 5 yr old grandson with kidney disease and he would most likely get very sick. You find that funny asshole?”

Instead, I just do the right thing and avoid conflict, wear a mask and distance as much as possible. It is after all a “free” country and you can do what you want…even if it’s selfish and not very patriotic at all.

Peace.

P

It feels odd but I like it

This boat doesn’t even move. The water is so still that the boat just gently rides up and down with the eight foot tide without a tilt or any motion we can detect. It’s weird for us to be this still. Occasionally you hear the water passing by the hull as the tide goes out. That’s it.

Unfortunately the air is as still as the water and it can get a bit stifling. Lately the mosquitoes have been enjoying the stillness as well as the fresh blood sacks walking around. I feel like a test subject for Deep Woods Off. “How much can the little fucker take?”  Once you’ve had Zika you tend to be a bit paranoid about bites so you spray up.

Even though things seem peaceful and quiet KN is not done with us yet. I think she’s pleading with me to wash her down and to clean and wax her hull but I’ve been waiting for the killer mosquitoes to die off. The county cropduster flew overhead and sprayed the area because I wasn’t thoroughly coated with enough chemicals. This seemed to kill off some of them. It took about a week for the little bastards to die and they did only to be replaced by biting sand gnats. 😦

So KN has been acting like a teenager not liking her new neighborhood and fighting back a bit. Yesterday the main water pump decided quit in the middle of Deb’s shower. This usually only happens to me so it was refreshing to see the First Mate get her turn standing in the shower full of soap and no water. I had to slide the garden hose down through the hatch for Deb to use. Grandma was not pleased.

I couldn’t work on the pump because I had to ride a bike to the rental car company to pick up a vehicle. “Here’s a hose. I’ve got to go.”  Deb’s mood was a bit unfriendly the rest of the morning.

I left soapy Deb and searched the bike racks for the best marina bike. Two on the rack next to us were shit. One had a wobbly back wheel. Been there. The other had no brakes which I discovered the other day. It’s not always easy to ride in tight circles trying to slow down to a stop. WTF.

One bike seemed OK but when I got on it the handlebars were too close to my knees. What the hell is wrong with this thing? I couldn’t turn without the handle bar hitting a leg. It was like a clown bike. It was like a kids drawing of a bicycle come to life.

I selected one but it had a giant crate strapped to the back rack. This means my dismount would not be swinging the leg over the back fender. Just like the old days of my Schwinn with a sissy bar. Only took one spill on that to remember that bar was there.

Except for the giant pool of sweat on my chest and back the ride there was uneventful and I even got a free upgrade so I could fit the crap bike into a hatchback instead of it hanging out of a trunk. We were supposed to get a car the day before but they stiffed us and had nothing until 2 pm. I think they were a bit taken back when they said our car was ready and we told them to fuck right off. Why would I take the car at 2pm when we asked for it at 9am? Unfortunately these rental companies are all going bankrupt because of the virus. Rentals will be scarce for a while.

We rented the car so we could drive to our own car and bring it back. We hit the road and when we pulled up to our car in storage I thought it was leaning a bit to starboard. Shit! Flat tire.

Call the auto club? I popped the trunk to check the spare and I found my foot pump for the bike tires. I jacked the car up and pumped that tire up no problem. Sweet!  I forgot I bought that quality tire pump. Good thing eh? So, we started her up and she ran fine. Phew! Now we have a car and our own bikes at the marina. 🙂  

This was an unpleasant surprise.

With the cars we went to see family after running some errands. It was great seeing the kids and grandkids from SC. It was a fun day outside with water activities even with masks on. These kids just give us a smile that lasts for weeks. Even though I’ll be squished under a sink with plumbing and electrical work most of the next day I will still be smiling.

So it’s quite a switch from how we usually live on the boat and it feels a bit odd but I think we’ll adjust easily if we ever get used to having neighbors so close. I’ll have more on that later. The next step, moving onto land will be the real test. It’s been life afloat for some time now and it will be a real change but I bet we’re OK with it.

The best part about being back? When we said goodbye to the kids we knew it wasn’t for nine months. “See ya next week!” felt so good to say.

Cheers!

PJJB

Side note: My grandson says, Grandpa pull your mask down. I pulled it down and smiled. OK, I just wanted to see your face. 💕