Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Keep the faith. We're getting there.

It's been a week of fabulous triumphs, and topping the list is the slaying of the dragon that was the leak over Tom's bunk. Rejoice, all together. Praise the Captain's Creepy Crack Cure. We've had two major bouts of rain and wind (and thunder and lightning), and far from the distress that some folks thought we might be going through, we were getting up every hour or so to check the "leak" and giving high fives when it remained dry. A major boost for the team here, let me tell you.

The next night we celebrated with friends Aage and Gloria. Gloria, in stellar Cape Breton fashion, brought an enormous roast turkey with all the trimmings to complete the celebration. And there's nothing to drive workers to do their best like the promise of turkey sandwiches. Tom had pancakes for breakfast the next morning at 8, and was constructing his first turkey sandwich at 10:15.

Similar support (food) has been arriving from many generous sources (I can cook, you know, but keep it coming...). Cousin Sue arrived with soup and wine, and Dan and Helen (Tom's dad and stepmother) came for a tour of the upgrades and came bearing homemade salsa and jam and wine and a five star apple pie. I was able to return all the containers and the pie plate to Helen the next day. Okay, I can't make pie like that, and it's probably a good thing, because after all that work, it might bug me to watch it getting hoovered, like somebody hadn't just eaten a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa and a turkey sandwich already. Geez. But I've hidden some of the homemade jam (don't even ask, Tom), and I'm looking forward to Helen's jam on the great English muffins we get in the Virgin Islands.

Sister Laurie came aboard to visit the scene of several former cribbage triumphs for the Brown Sisters (remember Lunenburg in 2003, Mike Murray? huh, huh? Still stinging? I've got the good old cribbage board aboard, and Big Dad has supplied all new pegs for the voyage. So anytime you're feeling strong, Mike, come and find us. Bring your own cards if you're feeling jumpy.) While she was here, Laur was able to peruse our medical library to diagnose the pain in her foot. We determined that it's an obscure aerobics injury, yes, involving the foot, that involves seeing a real doctor for an x-ray. You can learn so much from books.

We've started the major provisioning, but since the grocery shopping is apparently pretty good everywhere we're going, we're just stocking the stuff that's heavy and hard to carry when you don't have a car and everything has to be schlepped into and out of the dinghy. Feel like I've spent more than enough time investigating the wholesale grocery places -- boy, you can buy some nasty stuff in huge quantities. Kraft Dinner, marshmallows, ju-jubes by the case? Walk on by. Buying in bulk is an interesting shift of perspective for a family that's used to shopping almost every day. Thinking ahead. Novel concept. I imagine that once we hit the Bahamas, the answer to "what's for supper" will be "whatever you go out and catch, bucko."

Did my first session with the vacuum bagger. Tedious, but oddly satisfying to package all the ingredients for a batch of granola into one smooshed, concrete-hard little bag. If we ever get an intruder, we can whack them on the head with a vacuum-bagged club of mixed dried fruit and I'm pretty sure we could drop them like a bad habit.

More triumphs and minor farces to report: The trim is on, mostly, in the galley, and dishes will not come crashing to the floor while we're sailing. There was some snickering from the crew when it was discovered that neatly stacked glasses could no longer be removed from the shelf once the trim was installed. Readjustments have been made.

I had the brilliant idea to pull up the tile floor in the head on Sunday. It had been squishing for days and days and showed no sign of drying up, so in spite of much headshaking from the captain (back and forth, not up and down), I went at it with a small crowbar, a hammer and a screwdriver. Tom was recruited to help with mortar removal. We'd hoped for teak underneath, but unearthed only sodden plywood. We did, however, find and fix the leak in the head. Make that one of the leaks. We still need to fix the one that soaked half a dozen rolls of toilet paper and two boxes of kleenex. Nasty surprise, that one, and it probably was adding to the squish factor as the water worked its way down the back wall of the head behind the cupboards. You can only find and fix these things if you're here all the time, in all sorts of weather, so it's a good thing that we've had a month to deal with these little issues (and buy more toilet paper).

Next, the floor needs to dry out - and if it doesn't, and it's not looking like it will anytime soon so we'll need new plywood too -- so Randy shelled out about $100 for teak to resurface it. In the meantime, we fired up the furnace on Sunday night to assist with the drying out process. All was well until just before we hit the bunk, when there was the distinctive "pop-whssshhhh" sound that means a hose has let go, and is spraying its pressurized contents all over, yup, the floor of the head. Still soggy this morning.

But up until then, we'd had a lovely evening. Randy got the stereo hooked up, ran the speaker wire under the cabin sole and in behind some tricky bits (so glad I wasn't around for that), and we have our iPod back in action. The new settee on the starboard side is put together -- it also gets taken apart whenever someone needs a tool that's stowed underneath, and the back cushion has gone back to the upholsterers to be cut down 2" so that we can open the drawers above. But generally, there's lots of comfy seating for the weary carpenter/plumber/electrician once he calls it quits for the day.

One more major triumph to report for this week: Randy found both pairs of his glasses and his sunglasses (cleverly packed into a container of clothes that he hadn't felt the need to wear since we moved).

Last major things to accomplish include installing the rest of the electronics, possibly the auto pilot, selling the car, and a few other bits of banking and paperwork. We're at the stage where we're watching the weather for potential travel windows. It's not looking good at all for sailing for the next couple of days, so we'll continue to haul gear to and from the boat until we reach some sort of cosmic equilibrium. The captain noted last night that "ships and men rot in port." Don't know if that refers to the state of the floor in the head, or his fond wish to be headed south before the temp hits single digits, or both.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Saturday afternoon, and Ophelia's on the way.

The leak over Tom's bunk let loose again about midday, and now, at around 5, is pissing a slow but steady stream down a plastic sheet into a pot on the cabin sole (the floor). It's raining hard, I've just finished reading the front section of the Globe, we're having a glass of wine and quibbling about what should be used in the steak marinade. Try and feel sorry for us.

Randy's been absorbing all the bits of information about Ophelia that have been available, and we figure we're in for a noisy night, but apart from a bit of lurching around at the dock, don't expect much excitement. There's been lots of action here at the marina in the last few days -- people carting loose bits off their boats, and a lot of boats being hauled. The travel lift has been moved to the back of the yard, and most of the boats still on the slips are sporting extra lines, and some snazzy knots (beehives, some of them) on the cleats. We had one sail on -- the new roller-furling genoa, and as a precaution, it's come off. Gave us three a bit of a thrill to see the big sail billowing in a gentle breeze when Tom and Randy unfurled it on Thursday -- wow! a sail! in a breeze!

We picked up the rest of the new sails from the Dory Shop in Lunenburg on Friday. Thanks Jill! They look just terrific, and we can't wait to get them bent on. It's been two years since we've had sails on the boat, and, um, they're a necessary piece in the complex machinations that will lead to getting us out of here.

It's been raining quite hard for the last hour or so, but the wind hasnt' kicked up much yet. I was talking to a fella from a power boat who was aboard during Juan and was carried away with all the boats and the slips. He's staying aboard too, but I trust it will be a much quieter experience. Yoicks.

Ron, our financial advisor, made a house (boat?) call today to help us sort out some last minute details. Talk about service. Much appreciated.

Tom's in town staying at Anna and Laura's overnight, and we'll meet up tomorrow. My sister Laurie is in town doing some work at the film festival (Laura is volunteering and has one of those fashionable "security" t-shirts), so we'll meet up tomorrow and live large for a bit. Friends Alice and Michael gave us a gift certificate for an overnight at a downtown hotel, and we're taking advantage of it tomorrow. Maybe they have wi-fi? Maybe I'll update from there! Hurricane updates to come. Actually, just tropical storm updates. Not that exciting.

Monday. Happy "Talk Like a Pirate" Day. Argggghh.

Survived Ophelia, no problem. A bit of a blow, lots of rain, four leaks: aformentioned major torrent over Tom's bunk, and three others that we think we've got fixed as of today. The big leak has been consuming a lot of Captain's Creeping Crack Cure this afternoon. Rain tomorrow, so cross your fingers. As far as the storm went, the biggest danger we managed to avoid was cracking our heads together when we heeled slightly and a piece of plywood fell over in the cabin. We both sat up in bed and turned to look at the same time and narrowly missed a double concussion.

Enjoyed our shore leave at the hotel last night, and had a great meal with my sister at the Press Gang. Fell asleep listening to the dulcet tones of the band at the Lower Deck (Swee-ee-eet, sweet city wo-man, na na na na, na na na na), and stogged up at the buffet in the morning.

Today, we're sailing at the dock -- the new main is set and waiting for Jill from the Dory Shop to arrive and make some minor alterations. The main is a bit long in the head, and the mizzen is a bit long in the foot (if I've got the terminology wrong, go ahead and laugh at me. I can take it. I'm going sailing, and you're staying here to shovel snow. Okay, it's the luff, not the head. The captain told me.)

We'll make a list of the final jobs to be done tonight (get the furnace running, finish the woodwork and build bookshelves, install more lights,get the sails sorted, renew the turnbuckles on the mizzen, install electronics, move most of the tools back to Duncan Street, get provisions, mount radar reflector, complete anchor locker modifications, install deck wash-down pump, sell the car, and a bunch of other minor details), and then, barring any more faulty electrical bits and cursed things that won't do what they're supposed to do, our next Monday update should be the last from Dartmouth. Best not to be more specific than that!

(Photo at the top of this post is by Bill Campbell. Never forget to give a photo credit! I was kvetching about Frank mag using an NSBS photo without permission, and Bill reminded me that I forgot to give him a photo credit, so here ya go, and thanks Bill!)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Usually, this is the view from the poop deck. But Saturday night, there was a dirty great squall moving over Bedford Basin. Better than TV. We took turns standing in the companionway watching the show. There's been lots of wind and the boat is always moving around ever so slightly at the slip. Good way to acclimatize slowly, eh wot?

Sunday night. We awoke to hear voices and revelry between 3 and 4 am, and turns out it was the Dartmouth Yacht Club racers returning many hours early from the race to Lunenburg and back. The wind we had Saturday really moved them along, and one racer told Randy this morning that when a big rain squall hit with really gusty winds, it was "assholes and elbows flying everywhere" as they rushed to take in sail. Awards will be given out tonight, so we'll find out who broke which records.

Randy's been building shelves all over the place, and we now have shelves in both hanging lockers forward, and Tom has two big shelves at the end of his bunk. I can just see him carefully folding and stacking his clothes and colour-coordinating the stacks so he has a pleasing view when he's in his bunk. Right. If he gets cold, he can just haul everything off the shelves and it will keep his feet warm. He describes his new personal space as cozy and snug.

I've been the painting person, and it's been an interesting exercise for someone who's slightly claustrophobic to paint shelves, bent double, face first in a space that doesn't allow for back and forth movements of the brush. But the anal-rententive part of me will always know that there's spaces that we can't really see that are nice and clean with new paint.

Randy is doing all the jobs that call for using sharp tools and tools that have to be plugged in, all things involving crawling around on knees, every project (all of them) that requires rummaging in containers of fasteners cursing about what's not there, everything to do with wires or water that is where it shouldn't be, and anything that involves the bilge (including all of the above). He has vast experience walking the length of the boat over and over muttering things like "I've got two of those the same size, and I can't find even one. Ha, try to hide from me will ya? What the hell is all this wire? Eew, this is sticky. Shit, that's not long enough... " etc., etc. He's remarkably productive for all that, and the best way to work as a team, now that most of the painting is done, is for me to handle stuff ashore (though finding the right screws at Canadian Tire is sometimes beyond my skills) and returning to the boat with supplies in time to exclaim with delight over the day's progress. I pour him a liberal splash of Pusser's to celebrate, then open our remarkable refrigerator and concoct a meal for Nancy Dawson's own Holmes on Homes. Too bad he won't wear overalls.

Tom's best strategy is to spend the weekend in town and avoid contact. He warned me lately about being careful driving -- he too is thinking about all the things that might delay the trip, so I trust that he's being a sensible lad. He also reminds me that life goes on if one doesn't shower, but that very regular applications of food (meat) are necessary to sustain any level of function in his species. We're going to town this afternoon to use the workshop on Duncan Street -- Randy has a very complicated list of measurements for a zillion bits of trimwork that need to be cut on the tablesaw -- and we're having dinner with neighbours and Tom will meet us there I hope. We have yet to solve the mystery of the *&%^!!#*!! leak over Tom's bunk. Seven years the Capt. has been pondering that one, so when it finally gets plugged, there will be celebration of major proportions.

It's chilly today (Sunday)-- a reminder of why we need to work fast -- we've been glad to have the duvet at night. Randy hopes to have the furnace working tomorrow. It's all wired and ready to go, but apparently we need a bigger breaker, so we wait until Monday when the stores are open. You'd think that they'd make an exception with the Sunday shopping thing for Canadian Tire. It's not so bad for me (coffee is delivered to the bunk in the morning) but harder on the person who gets up to make the coffee.

Monday morning, and another gourmet breakfast appears from the galley: fresh papaya and lime -- the Canadian version of fresh, can't wait to get the real thing -- scrambled eggs with feta and toast. Tom's gone back to bed, Randy's gone to Canadian Tire, and I'll do the dishes (boat frau) and all's right with the world. Shortly, we'll all turn into human whirlwinds again, and by the end of the day, a few more things will be accomplished.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Well into the first week on the boat, and we're getting more comfortable and more organized. The head is fully functional (always the first order of business), the bunks are made with new sheets and rudimentary wardrobes are stowed in a relatively tidy way.

Tom's had a few days off - he biked to town for the weekend to visit with friends, and they threw him a going-away party, which might have involved dressing him up like a pirate....We'll see if there's any pictures fit to post.

Weather has been great, and that's a great help when it comes to being able to spread the workspace out on deck. The settee on the starboard side is completely taken up with hand tools, power tools, fittings, snerds, grummage and stuff that needs to be installed or connected. The dinette area is pretty much set up for living, and as soon as the refrigeration gets running, the countertop gets installed, and the pantry and dish storage comes together, we'll eat like normal humans for a while. We're cobbling together some fairly bizarre meals in the meantime, but we've eaten some great meals courtesy of friends ashore.

We ate with friends on Saturday night, and I fell fast asleep as soon as we got back and I hit the bunk. An hour or so later, Randy woke because the pump was running longer than it ought to, and got up to find himself sloshing through hot water on the floor in the head, barking about the bilge filling with water. I came to to find myself standing beside him, saying, "We have a basement, not a bilge, we live in a house." He gave me a very strange look, then ignored me and proceeded to reconnect a hose that had come off. I went back to bed once it was apparent that Randy had the problem under control, and I remembered that, yes, we do have a bilge and not a basement.

Other than that little bit of excitement, we're painting and pondering and sawing and gluing and every day the boat looks more like the vessel that will take us south. It's going to be wonderfully cozy - can't wait to get the books on the bookshelves and the pots and pans stowed and some real food aboard.

We've been sleeping well aboard, and from what I hear, it's a lot quieter in the marina than it is on Duncan Street. Party on dudes.

Tom rode his bike back this afternoon after a few days shore leave, and after dinner, he played his guitar on the foredeck and it was lovely.

I'm getting into the vibe on board. I don't miss work. I'm getting very attached to a ratty pair of cut-offs.

Tonight after supper, we did a quick review of what's left to be done. There's more than a few things left on the list, but when we get to the end of the major stuff on the list, Randy said, then I think we should justleave. My guts did a little flip flop, and we raised a toast to just leaving. Maybe two or three more weeks, and we're heading out.

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