Milestones

I hesitated to post this today, but… exactly two years ago today I had a heart attack.  The following Monday (19 May 2015), I would be in cardiac surgery for open heart, aortic valve replacement “procedure”.  (Edited – I thought today was the day I had the surgery.  My wife reminded me it was Wednesday the 13th the attack occurred.  Oh well, so much for memory, right?)
I also hesitate to use the word “procedure”, but that was their term for it. It was a mind numbing, very humbling experience to have your chest cracked/sawed open in surgery and for people to be touching your inner workings, in particular your heart.  I honestly didn’t believe I was coming out of surgery alive at that point.  I’d said good bye to everyone I could, just in case.
JoAnne and I had previously set a date to leave Colorado and move aboard Adventure on 1 June 2015. On 11 May 2015 I had turned in my resignation.  On 13 May I was driving home and experienced a heart attack. Not a classic heart attack, but a sickening feeling, nausea, cold sweats and heart “palpitations”, along with trouble breathing. I pulled the truck over, knowing something was wrong (but what, I was not sure) and called JoAnne thinking I might never see her again. I knew it was my heart, but there was nothing “classic” about what happened, and nothing I could do sitting in the truck on Highway 94 outside of Colorado Springs, 40 minutes from home and ten minutes back to work (and worse, going through security to get back in.  Then, there was the issue with calling an ambulance and eventually getting my truck home…. but I digress).
The aortic valve was calcified, and deformed from birth (I knew that part and had for a couple of years, and also knew I had a “heart murmur” all my life). I also knew that some “day” I’d have to have that “procedure” but didn’t expect it for 5-10 years.
I think the stress of selling the house, quitting my job to “retire” and getting rid of all our “stuff” probably brought on the attack.  I was, after all moved out of the house and we’d already gotten a good price, signed on the dotted line, and had gotten rid of 90% of our “stuff”, bought the boat, and we were moving aboard soon.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  The kids too, because we’d moved in with my daughter and son-in-law and their three children, into their tiny (at the time) house.
I was terrified of the surgery and honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but you can never say something like that is routine.  Many people die on that operating table for various reasons from the anesthesia to not being able to restart the heart.
But, here I am today.  Alive, and well, and very likely in better shape today than I was before the heart attack (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been in ‘bad shape’, never been overweight, I’ve always exercised and even exercised the day I had my heart attack).
I went on to recover in pretty much record time.  Six weeks after I left the hospital I went back in for a check up and they released me to go back to work (with a few restrictions on lifting of course) and I stopped to visit the nurses who had cared for me so well at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs.  One nurse hugged me and cried… she told me that it was extremely rare to see a patient return looking so well in so short a time, and most of them never saw the same patients again ever, or if they did, it was due to them returning to the hospital in even worse condition.
JoAnne and I went on to move on to the boat in July 2015.  Slightly over a full month from our originally scheduled time.  Since then, we’ve had a lot of adventures on Adventure.
Today, I racked our first batch of beer made on the boat.  It won’t be the last, and we’re starting a second batch in a couple of days. (We have an ulterior motive though, we’re entering a home brew contest through Check Six  (https://www.facebook.com/CheckSixBrewingCompany/) located in Southport, NC.  I highly recommend a stop there if you like beer.
We won’t stop living our lives because of medical issues.  We’ve been slowed slightly, but getting back up to speed has been fun.
JoAnne went through her own bad experiences with cancer prior to my heart attack.  It wasn’t a cake walk either, but she’s doing fine.
I suppose, in the end of it all, life is how you lived, and are remembered.  It’s not always about how you die.
I believe that people who want to do something with their dreams need to stop right now, evaluate just how much you want that dream to become a reality.  Think it over carefully.  Judge how difficult it would be to start that dream, or the realization of that dream and then write down a plan to make it happen.
It is very, very important you write it down.  Then read it every few days.  I’m serious.  If you have a written plan to follow, you will soon discover you can break it down into smaller, achievable chunks.  If you want to set sail into the sunset, go around the world, or visit the Bahamas, or fly to Europe on a vacation, then by golly, do it.  Don’t wait for “retirement” to happen.  Because, retirement my friends NEVER HAPPENS.  It will never come for some people, they won’t make it there.  Others will be infirm medically by the time they “arrive” at retirement.
Tomorrow is NOT the day to start. Tomorrow never comes.
Right now, this minute is the time.  Write your plan for your dreams.  One year, five years, ten years – and plot your course for how you will arrive at your dream.
Make the dreams happen.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.

Sailing and Cruising: Preppers (Facebook Group)

Over the years I’ve gone to training courses I was offered including winter, desert and jungle survival.  Some of them sucked worse than others.  Also, over the years I became what is known today as “a Prepper”.

A Prepper is someone many people look down upon because they collect food, water, learn survival techniques, and “prepare” for a somewhat sketchy future in the “Not-Too-Distant-Future”.  Whether they call it a Zombie Apocalypse, “The End of the World as We Know it” (teotwawki) or “The Stuff has Hit the Fan” (shtf) is not really relevant.

All preppers have some inner belief that something can go critically wrong in a moment of time which in turn will bring the end of Civilization.

The truth is, such a thing may never happen.  Or it might and we may never know it happened.

For example, an errant asteroid might strike the Earth, without us first discovering it (or being informed of it’s presence).  It could cause local damage or world wide damage.  Surely it will cause world wide panic when or if it is discovered.

A smaller, local scale disaster might befall us.  For instance in the United States we have “Yellowstone”, a wonderful Nation Park, which is known in the past to have been a very, very dangerous place more than once.  At least four geological events have occurred there causing major destruction.  Fortunately, the last one was about 640,000 years ago, long before humans are known to have roamed the Earth.

Yellowstone is past due for another event.  It could literally destroy the United States as an entity.  Ash and debris covering half the planet could bring about a massive temperature drop, causing a small “ice age”.  It could gum up the works across the country or around the world.  We just don’t know the extent of the damage that might be caused.

The human race might self-destruct and start a nuclear war, from which few of us would be insulated.

As a boat owner, extended cruiser and live-aboard, I have considered these things and tried to “prepare” for the worst.  Before we lived on the ship, we lived in Colorado, in the midst of five US military installations within “nuclear blast range”.  We figured if we were hit by the Russians, we’d have an extremely low chance of survival because we worked at separate installations  with 40 statute miles between us.  So my wife and I had set up our home as a survival place.

Even though we were pretty sure the house wouldn’t survive a multi-megaton blast on NORAD (in visual range of the house, where we lived on a hill, with nothing between us and NORAD) we hoped at least the basement would survive.  We kept a pantry when the children were growing up, food for months and months.  We installed a Hot Tub for fun and water supply.  We set up shelving in the basement that could double as sleeping cots and had plans to put in “fall out insulation” (which would have been in the form of dirt in sand bags to help prevent radiation from penetrating to the basement level).  We never finished that job of course and eventually sold the home.

Today, someone asked the question:

Any doomsday sea preppers out there? With the civilization seemingly inching closer to collapse, nuclear apocalypse and what have you, has anyone offered any thought as to how this will effect us sea people? Cruisers are inherently self sufficient, but we do in the end rely on mother earth and functioning societies to provide us with shelter, food, medicine, tools, parts, communication etc. This is a non political post btw, and feel free to delete if it doesn’t meet the groups standards. 🌅

Now, me being me… I decided to respond and posted a couple of items.  But then I checked and found no such group, at least not a public group I could see.  There might be one, there might not, but there certainly is NOW.

I created the group called “Sailing and Cruising: Preppers” because there is a perceived need for such a group.

I added a few friends, and notified most of them of the addition, but interestingly enough, only a couple others have joined at this point, even after I posted the link.  I expected with all the experts there, they would flock in. 🙂

In any case, IF you’re reading this now, and might be interested, and of course are on Facebook, the group is there now and you’re welcome to join.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SailingAndCruisingPreppers/

See ya there!

 

 

S/V Adventure Video Tour

I think I posted this before, but because it’s one of Kurt’s most watched videos, I’m going to post it again… with comments.


This video was shot by Kurt A. Seastead of s/v Lo-Kee.  He is currently doing a refit of his boat.

Adventure was purchased in January of 2015 by Rick and JoAnne Donaldson (that’s us) for a long term cruise and travel.  The boat had a few things wrong with it, but over all, she floated.  The equipment was old (and mostly still is), but it all worked.

Some of the comments on the Youtube video included comments about how “sloppy” I am. 🙂  Another comment was about how dangerous in mast furling is (or perhaps could be?) and that the person writing the comment would NEVER use it.

I’ll make a few of my own comments.

I’m currently working part time in a marina.  I’m handling boats coming through from the Caribbean and Bahamas headed north.  I count the number of in-mast furling rigs I see daily.  I see no less than 5-6 out of 7-10 sail boats.  I find it interesting that there are so many who’ve traveled oceans with these rigs so far.  I have traveled IN the ocean but not crossed it yet.  But so far, the only issues I’ve had with the rigging was having to replace all the halyards and make sure the proper maintenance was performed on the rig.

The boat came with the rigging installed.  I’m not going to undo everything just to make a couple of people happy so they can assume they are right.  The truth is, if the rig gets jammed, the sail can be lowered and treated like any other main sail.

I wonder how many people who make claims about how “bad” something is, have actually used those pieces of equipment.  I venture to say “Almost ZERO”.

As to my “sloppiness”… We had not cruised before we bought the boat, except on bare boat charters and a smaller boat in lakes using our trailer to get there.  Out of necessity we packed lightly, moved the boat and sailed, but generally for 2-3 days at a time.  We couldn’t get enough stuff on the boat to support us.  That included food and water (rather important items).

We also LIVE on this boat, full time.  We don’t have a house, don’t want to waste money on “storage units” we will never visit.  Have no place close by to store things with friends and honestly, don’t want to do so.  There is certainly only so much room on a boat.  We have spare parts for a lot of things.  We have tools to do repairs (and tools take up a lot of space, but without them, we’d be lost).  Tools also can keep me working when necessary to earn some money, because, I know how to do a LOT of jobs.

So one person’s sloppy, is another person’s “organized chaos”.

Also note that we had been on the boat LESS than three months when that video was shot.  We’d owned the boat less than a year and moved aboard in August 2015.  We were still learning how and where to store things.  It was somewhat haphazard at the beginning.

Truth is, we have gotten rid of a lot of things, BUT, we still have clutter and things we can’t yet part with, and until we can find smaller, like items to replace things we use we won’t be doing that just yet.  We have significantly reduced the weight of several items though and we now have a car at our “new marina home port” so we use it to store extra tools I won’t need when cruising.

There are things on this boat a lot of people wouldn’t want.  I’ll give you a little idea.  Composting toilet (a lot of people HATE them, but have never used one.  A lot of people swear by them. I’m still in the middle on this).  OLD electronics.  I have very old radio, doesn’t do AIS.  Broken radar, I’m not paying 2 grand for a new one.  Old, but functional chart plotter (old…. is 1990s, updated firmware for 2009 and no more support).  But it has brand new charts (days old now).   We have no microwave.  We have no freezer.  We DO have a working refrigeration unit (I repaired the ancient one and it works fine).  We have a gas generator (Honda 2000eu version) which people hate because it uses gasoline.  (A lot of people have a gas motor for their dink…../shrug).  We have a propane engine for the dinghy (hard to get propane I hear…. so far, so good, no problem with that).  We have a NEW stove and oven (ok a year or so old now) but my wife loves it.

And so on.  I’m absolutely CERTAIN that if you’ve ever been on and sailed a sailboat something in that list will make you cringe.  And some of you will think “Cool, I use one of those!”

Here’s my point, and the point of re-posting the video once more.

Everyone has their way of doing things.  We each have an idea of what we like, don’t like, and how we would do it, and how we would NOT do it.  You, me, him, her, doesn’t matter.  There are people who wouldn’t GO in a sailboat, because they are power boaters.  We have some who pick at us calling us “Blow Boaters”.  I take it as a compliment, and point out the price of fuel, and the wind is free….

We’re on this journey because my wife wanted to travel.  We think it is a neat way to see things.  We love meeting people.

We’re not on this journey to please ANYONE other than ourselves.  Perhaps that’s selfish, but after 60 years on this planet, doing everything for everyone else, I’m a little peeved at armchair sailors and snobs who nit pick everything anyone else does “because it’s not how *I* would do it”.

A few years ago, I stopped visiting Cruisers Forums, and Sail Net (and I HELPED form sail net!) because of the armchair sailors who would denigrate others for what they considered “dumb questions”.  There is a large group of people out there that are at work every day, getting up, going to work, going home, and logging into the computer – and on weekends they go out to their marina where they store their boat, they climb aboard and drink “sundowners” and wake up with hangovers.  On Monday they go back to work.  During the week they call some company to go polish their boat or wash it, and pay through the nose for the privilege of sitting on the dock on weekends drinking their Bud Lites – but during the week, they bitch and complain about all of us who actually live on the boat, go places, and make due with significantly less space than they have, no or low income, squeeze Lincoln until he screams and buy our cheap beer at the grocery store, and our liquor from the local markets.

They do this because they feel as if they are better than the rest of the cruisers out there.

I’ve yet to meet a long distance cruiser who has a perfectly clean, perfectly cared for boat, that isn’t somewhat cluttered, full of extra “stuff” they “need” (hoses, extra lines, pieces of “small stuff” – that’s bits of twine and line for those of you who might not know that), tools, the odd “silver tea service” or plastic wine goblets.

You know why?  Because they are out there doing their thing, being happy and not complaining about how the other half lives.

Kurt and I are discussing a remake at some point.  A follow up video to this one.  It will address some of the questions you all have, assuming we find the time and can connect somewhere to do it.  But, it will also be real, personal and it shows the truth.

The fact is, I write this blog on the same basis.  I tell it like it is.  Not how you want it to be.  There’s no such thing as a perfect boat, day, trip, travel, or location.  There’s rarely a perfect day of sailing (it happens, but it’s not often).  Extended cruisers sometimes pick up jobs.  They sometimes have to stop and work for a living.  Sometimes they travel and are out of contact for weeks at a time.  Sometimes they even catch fish.  Sometimes they get hurt.  Sometimes, unfortunately, they can die.

I write about everything.  Good. Bad. Ugly. Fun.  Doesn’t matter.  I enjoy writing about our Adventure(s) and what we go through.  I was beat up by a once-friend on Facebook because she disagreed about how I presented my store about a marina.  We had a ROUGH time there.  We had a lot of things go wrong.  Most of them happened when we were not even at the boat.  And yet somehow having these bad things happen and writing about them upset this lady to the point she de-friended me.  I was, in her eyes “putting down her marina”. /Shrug

As I said, I’m not here to please anyone else.

Kurt wanted to do the interview above.  It was impromptu, we had not really cleaned up the boat after having been traveling for a few weeks. The wife was off doing laundry.  I was going Kurt the tour.

So, sometimes, sloppiness is a perceived thing (mostly to OCD people who have a penchant for correcting where someone sits their coffee cup) and equipment issues are almost ALWAYS, ALWAYS based on 3rd hand, biased reporting by people who have zero personal experience with them.  I’m sure that a lack of spit and polish on the bronze pisses people off to no end. 🙂

When it all comes out in the end…. If we have a good time doing what we’re doing, why would anyone be upset?  Except for the people in Florida that don’t want over night anchoring because, well, they are armchair sailors and boaters and honestly don’t know anything about how the other half lives.  They just don’t want to see us in the waterways.

If we all had to please everyone around us, all the time the task would be to ensure everyone is happy.  And you’re not.

That is not the way to live your life, friends.

Go out and be happy.  If you’re going to sail a boat, do it.  Don’t complain about how others do it, how they live, that their equipment isn’t like yours…. be happy we’re different.

 

 

 

Blog Entry for April 2017

First, my apologies to everyone who has been so diligent in reading the blog entries and not seeing one since January or so.

Second, not making excuses, but I’ve been pretty busy and I’m going to remedy the situation right now.

I’ve been pretty busy working a part time job in the marina, as well as on the boat.

On the boat, I have been working on varnish and fiberglass, some major (attempts) at cleaning and a few minor things like doing repairs as I need to.  I’ve gotten to MOST of the teak and have three coats of varnish on them.  I’ll be adding another when I have a few days to work on it, when it’s not scalding hot, or raining and blowing hard.

I did some glass repair work on the side of the cockpit the other day.  I’m not sure about this damage I discovered – hidden under a “fake boot stripe” (I’ll get back to that in a moment).  Along the top deck, where the house part rises from the deck, there’s a wall built around the cockpit.  The coaming with a kind of removable door/wall in the cockpit has a straight crack along the length.  It appears to me that something hit the boat and did some damage in the past, though I’m at a loss where the hit could have occurred unless the boat was dropped or smacked against something like a lift.

When we bought the boat in New York, a surveyor didn’t notice or mention any problems and I don’t recall them.  Before we left Colorado in July of 2015 to collect the boat, we had a bottom paint job done by the marina.

Worst of the worst of the places we’ve been at, this marina.  I called them and asked specifically about the paint, the type, how it was applied, and asked about them touching up the waterline and boot stripe.  I paid for paint, their time and an extra $300 bucks for the rest of the work to be accomplished (this included zincs etc).

When we arrived, only two zincs were installed.  The paint was haphazardly sprayed on, and intake grids were blocked by paint runs throughout the holes.  I couldn’t find an indication where the “boot stripe” was painted/cleaned up.

It wasn’t until I made the painter come look at the boat and clean up the mess they made that they showed me the “boot stripe”.  A maroon strip of “tape” had been placed on the boat on the cabin top, along both sides.

So, when I was doing my work the other day and removed this stupid “tape” (and tape it was, a colored, stick-backed maroon-colored tape) I discovered this crack running the length of the starboard side of the cockpit and just forward of the cockpit in the coaming.

The crack was very “clean” like a break, but it wasn’t perfectly straight like a razor, but kind of jaggedy.

I ended up not being able to determine the cause, why it was there or even if they had attempted a repair (as it appeared to have some silicone material in it).  I used my dremmel tool to remove the gunk, take it to the inner wood core, clean it up and have reglassed that part of the boat.  I still need to sand and eventually paint this part of the boat.

As to varnish, I spent a few days cleaning, sanding, wiping, sanding, wiping, cleaning and then varnishing the cap rail, taffrail  most of the wood around the boat.  I have NOT finished (and have barely started) on the platform.  I have completed three coats and will probably do two more, though I’m not sure yet.  In any case it looks wonderful.

The topsides, near the waterline had a horrible, brown stain.  I guess the stain has a name.  It’s called the “ICW Mustache”, some people call it other names, which are not repeatable here.  I had a few names for it, I won’t repeat either.

Anyway, we found that by using a small amount of toilet bowl cleaner with some water in a spray bottle worked wonderfully to remove the stains.  I spritzed it on, went over with a soft bristled brush and it was gone in seconds.

I’m in the slow, laborious process of waxing the hull now, a little at a time to prevent this from happening in the future.  I’m not going to haul the boat this year and likely not next eitgher, so I’m working from the dink on and off.  A little here, a little there.  When I get tired of one job, I go do another.  And so on.

Being inside the marina as opposed to sitting on the transient dock is much better, and thankfully, cheaper too.

At this point we will likely remain here through October and depart sometime in November for the Bahamas (destinations to be determined) and stay from 3-5 months, depending on our ability to remain there.

Working at the marina has been a mix of very simple to very difficult tasks.  I’ve done everything from repair the ramp for the golf cart we use to collect and move trash to the dumpsters (about a quarter mile away) to changing flats on the cart, bringing in boats, pumping fuel (diesel, gas) to selling ice, oil and collecting money, making change, putting up and taking down flags, handling the radios, coordinating slip assignments and boat moves during the dredging.  Dredging was a royal pain in the rump too.  Everyone hated it.  Even the dredgers appeared to hate it.  The poor manager here was inundated with constant complaints about noise to hating to have to move their boat for the dredgers to get their work done.

The dredge kept breaking.  Things kept floating away.  You name it.  Thankfully, the dredging is finished.  We’re slowly getting boats back into their proper slips, a few here, a few there.

The manager has called me in for extra hours several times to assist with various things.  So, a few extra bucks is ok.  I’ll feel more comfortable when the retirement pay kicks in from the military in a few months though.

Midges.  AKA No-See-Ums.  They are demons from hell.  I hate them, and I will kill them all before I die.  I’m apparently having allergic reactions to them.  I get welts on my skin when they bite me, and they LOVE my blood type I suppose.  If there were ever a true vampire, midges would be the creature.  I am reasonably certain that the vampire mythology was built around these tiny insects.  They run away in bright sun normally, come out when there is dampness in the air, and buzz around incessantly in your face, your ears, up your nose and somehow find places to bite you that is completely covered with clothing.

Deet does NOT help.  So far, I’ve tried a dozen things.  Today I used, Picaridin, a type of “Off” type stuff, which actually worked for about 5 hours today.  The rest of it doesn’t seem to work.  Home remedies, lemoneucalyptus whatever that is, somewhat worked.  I’ve not yet been bitten by a mosquito, however, another of the creatures on this planet I’ve been trying to destroy my whole life because my body has begun to absorb deet to the point I feel I need it….. ok, maybe not true.

We went to Michigan in late January to go see my brother in the hospital.  He is doing significantly better now, even though he doesn’t remember us being there.

We went for a day sail with our friend Jay aboard “Knot Working”, a 37 Beneteau.  Beautiful boat, turns on a dime (ok, maybe a half dollar, and certainly in less than a full boat length I think – whereas we turn on two or MORE boat lengths given the conditions).

At some point soon, we hope to get out of the marina for a day or two, do a sail or two on our boat.

Finally, we’re going to try brewing beer in the next few days.  Will be the first time for us to do that since we moved aboard.  We will see how that goes.

 

Working for a Living

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about life being a Journey, not a Destination.

Hope you read it.  Because it certainly is true.

I started a job here at the marina a few days ago.  Had about 8-9 work days so far, part time.  I clean the docks, check boats, power towers, take out trash, open the “store”, close the store and a few other things, like handy-man things.  I’ve repaired the golf cart ramp a couple of times, moved oyster shells, rocks, bricks, old wood, dirt, cleaned bathrooms and collected cans for some local charity.

It’s actually… FUN!

The best part?  Cleaning bird poop off the docks.

Yep, no kidding.  I get to be outside, walk around, walk past all the boats, check lines, discover problems, fix things… but the bird poop is the BEST!

It rots wood, and looks like… ummm…. crap. LOL  It’s a crappy job, but someone has to do it!

Seriously, it’s nice being outside, and not staying inside the boat all the time.  I get to meet new people all the time as well.

We are going to stay here for a few months, head down to the Bahamas and then come back after a few months.

So, I’ll invite our cruiser friends to South Harbour Village Marina to stop in and say “Howdy” over this season.  We’re looking forward to the transients like us, passing through, headed north.  A few are still headed south at this point, but some are already passing through on the way north.

I’ll see you on the docks!!!!

Fair Winds!

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Extended Cruisers… that’s what we tell people now when they ask us where we live.  We get questions on where our house is (the boat).  Where do we live?  How do you cook? Where do you go to the bathroom?  Where do you shower? What do you do when you get tired of being on the boat?  One person asked us “Do you use sleeping bags every night?” Another asked us about doing laundry.  Everyone asks “Where are you going?”  Even other cruisers ask that question, including me.  We’re all curious about how everyone else deals with life I suppose.

I think all of us in the cruising world have these questions asked at one time or another and very likely as we were entering into the world of cruising, we all might have asked the same questions of others, or of ourselves.  At first, it’s fun explaining it all to people.  Eventually though, it can be tiring.  Not in a bad way, but in a way that shows you’ve answered the question a thousand times and you get the point you try to reword it more efficiently, using less words, or just simply shrugging your shoulders when you haven’t the energy to respond again.

It isn’t that the questions are stupid, inane or silly.  They want to know, and you have to tell them. So you do.

One day perhaps, I’ll write a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Cruisers to pass out to anyone asking them questions.  Or maybe not.  Because everyone is different.

Speaking of “different”.  JoAnne and I started this “journey” almost 10 years ago – actually, I don’t remember the exact date or year any more.  A lot of water has gone under the keel since we started.  For the past two years we’ve cruised “Differently” than others.

Most people pick a destination and go.  They get there as fast as possible, barring difficulties, and they stay long enough to enjoy the scenery, a pub, a beach bar, a beach, fishing, or simply meeting new people.

For two years we’ve “cruised” down the coast, running into trouble – we might call it “Adventure” but most call it trouble.

From broken engine parts, to broken engine, broken halyards, dead and dying batteries, leaks, busted hoses, pipes and lines, getting hit more than once by other boats (one time being rigging and bow being severely damaged), to getting beat by the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Fear River Inlet we’ve persevered.  We’ve gotten up each time and kept going, albeit, slowly.

Plodding along at a snails pace from New York to Norfolk, Norfolk back to the Potomac River and then Potomac River as far as North Carolina.

We’ve been here in Southport for about eight weeks now.  On 6 February 2017, it will be just over eight weeks.  Throughout the time on the boat, we’ve also been off the boat traveling around the country.  We’ve made trips (several) back to Colorado.  We traveled from Colorado to Missouri, Tennessee, Florida down one coast and back up the other.  We’ve traveled around the DC area, throughout Virginia, back and forth and up and down.  I am guessing because I haven’t figured out the distances yet, but, we’ve put on 25,000-30,000 statute miles traveling by car and boat so far.

We loved the Northern Neck of Virginia – but it was remote.  We made good friends there.

Southport has been different though.  Not just the people.  Not just the place.  A combination of everything.

We have fallen in love with the place.  That doesn’t mean we want to live her forever.  But in the two months we’ve been here, we’ve made a lot of friends, met a lot of cruisers passing through, including some friends we’ve met elsewhere.

For the past few days we’ve been debating moving on.  We are here late enough in the season that if we depart now, we can still get to the Bahamas for the Spring.  Do we stay or do we go?

Yesterday, I went through Active Captain, sent emails, made phone calls and wrote up a budget based on our cruising kitty’s contents.

We can move on and still have enough money, assuming nothing goes wrong from now until we locate a place to go.  But every marina we contacted gave us “No room at the inn” or were willing to ask us for more than normal to hold a slip for us to use.  One of my fall back plans was mooring balls.  I found some, very inexpensive places. No living aboard allowed though.

The cost of staying at a slip here versus Florida is a shock.  Double in almost all cases.  Except certain places on the West Coast of Florida. But, there are a lot of places we won’t “fit”.  Can’t get in.  Canals too shallow, fixed docks to climb out of the boat at low tide (JoAnne simply can’t do that now).

Last night we talked about staying for awhile, enjoying Southport, and perhaps even working a bit to regain some missing cash from the Kitty.

I had three job offers yesterday in the space of an hour, without even asking.

Yesterday afternoon, the dock master told me he “found me a slip if I wanted it”, and told me if I was interested, he was looking for another dock hand.

This morning we made the decision.

We are going to hang out here a while longer.  Enjoy the beer over at Check Six Brewing Company, our friend’s company and probably try to throw a few bucks back into the bank.  The health insurance is (pardon the pun) bleeding us dry at this point and working to offset it even a little will keep us floating (another pun?) for awhile.

This is not truly what I wanted to do, but it seems to make sense.

For everyone wondering about it… no we’re not staying forever.  I told the Dock Master that October we would leave, or November.  But we might come BACK as well the following season.  He thought that was a good plan.

So, not technically “swallowing the hook” yet.  Just going to test the air and see how it smells for awhile.

Anyway, my son, Nick reminded me this morning – Life is not a destination, it’s a journey.  He’s right.

We’re Free People.  We do not have anyone to tell us what to do, when to do it, where to go, or how to accomplish what we do.  We CAN come and go as we please, when we please and where we want.  Complications are something that life throws at you constantly (case in point, running north to get my car from Virginia, going all the way to Detroit to see my brother in the hospital, even if he couldn’t see me).  That along with our own personal medical histories, we have to be sure we’ve got insurance for a bit longer.  Boat and car insurance.  Money to eat…. yeah, life’s complications.

To all our followers (I think there are three of you now) no worries.  I’ll still write here, I’ll still keep you all up to date.  And let me say something about why I actually do this blog.  Please follow along a few more minutes.

Why do I write this blog?

For all the years prior to actually doing this I read everyone’s blog.  I sat sometimes awaiting a new entry on a few of them.  I read EVERY book I could get my hands on, either buying, borrowing or shopping them online on Kindle.  I read grand tales of Blue Waters, great fishing stories, scary weather stories, and I read every thing in Cruisers Forums, Sail net (I helped start Sailnet, did you all know that?  Then got kicked off of it because some people didn’t like my political views, haha).

Through out it all, I found very, very few stories of what REALLY happens to people or the gory details of daily life on a boat, hanging upside down in the bilge with a finger blocking a hole while trying to reach back up to get a mallet to pound in a wooden plug.

What I DID encounter on the forums was a smattering of good, quality information interspersed inside of a lot of hollow knowitallness from many armchair sailors.  Oh, I am sure they weren’t all arm chairing it.  Many did live on boats in marinas and I found most RARELY ventured from the docks.  They polished their boats daily, cleaned the stainless steel, painted the bilges, and plumed the depths of their Sundowners in the evenings.

I look around at my ship – and ship she is, big, beautiful and ungainly in a marina, but wonderfully agile and quick upon the sea under sail – and look at the dents, dings, weird, dirty spots I can’t seem to clean off, a few gel coat spots that probably need redoing and see the Dock Queens in this place (most of the boats haven’t left in months or years) and wonder what I am doing wrong.

I’m on the boat working on this or that ALL the time.  JoAnne broke her back on a dock, slipped and fell on another and lost a pair of glasses.  I’ve cracked my head on things and drawn so much blood, my long bones and marrow are having troubles keeping up the replacement blood cells.  No one else writes about these things.

No one tells it “like it is”.

I find that both appalling and fascinating.  Over these last few years of doing all the reading, I rarely came across a story or blog, book or tale of all the terrible things that happen to people.  When I chose at one point to tell about the things that happened in one certain marina, I lost friends over it.  They misread into my words that I was complaining and believed I was denigrating the marina and not telling the story.

I’ve had a difficult time putting some things into words since then because, frankly, I don’t like upsetting people and especially not real, true cruisers.  But, telling this story is my way of leaving something for my kids to read and think about long after we’re all gone and dust (or fish food).

I write because I have a passion for writing.  I don’t do it for money (ok, I have one published book.  Makes me about 3.75 a month….) and I have other books waiting in the wings for publication, but it’s not about money.  Never has been.

I don’t advertise on the blog like so many do.  I don’t think it’s fair.  Advertising permeates everything. Our phones, our Facebook accounts, email, television, radio, in-your-face in the stores, malls, on the sides of the roads and for cruisers to plaster their pages with “ads” to “Buy our book!” irritate me I guess.

I write because I like to, I like to tell the story.  I want people to know, beyond any doubt that anyone can cruise.  Anyone can become a sailor, and a good one.  But you have to work at it, and it is NOT easy.  It’s NOT going to come to you like magic.  And no destination is as pristine as made out by many books and articles.  There are problems ANY where you go.

Human beings are simply put, pigs sometimes.  They throw crap everywhere.  The water is full of plastic and junk and I daily pull things out around the marina.  But, humans can be kind, considerate, helpful and just all-around, wonderful.  They don’t have to throw junk in the water and pollute, but they do.

Because cruising today is NOT what it was twenty years ago, we are not on the “cutting edge” of visiting places.  Boats aren’t any longer seen as “strange, new visitors from a far away place”.  Boats are, unfortunately, considered a “Cash Cow” and the inhabitants are considered “wealthy”.  Except those on derelicts.  Who are considered by everyone to be “scum of the earth”.  This is a wrong assumption, but sometimes it’s true.

The truth about cruising is there are good and light things, and deep, dark secrets.  Some places we’ve seen have people doing drugs, drunks everywhere (I suspect those are the cruisers actually haha) and dirty, sinking boats. Other places have beautiful, spotless Dock Queens who never move.  Wonder why they look so nice?

Then there is us, and Adventure.  And almost EVERY OTHER extended cruiser we’ve met.  All of our boats aren’t the best, well kept.  They are sometimes messy inside.  They are sometime dirty outside.  We have too much crap.  Too much in the lockers, too much in the forward cabin.  Too much on the deck.  Lines everywhere.  Old lines. Not new, pretty braided stuff.  Junky “look what I found in the trash” lines sometimes.

This is the stuff I write about.  I do it because… honestly, I want people to see what it is like.

I don’t always tell the whole story either.  There are no words for some things that would not offend a lot of people (try talking about composting heads in mixed company and you will grasp what I mean!)

I hope that folks enjoy what I write, and I’ve had a few tell me they love it.  I’ve had a small number that hate on me.  That’s ok.  Everyone has an opinion.  Some are just wrong, that’s all 🙂

I will let you all know in a few days how it’s going and whether or not we can “hang” at this for awhile in Southport.  If you get here, let me know.  We’ll meet you on the dock and greet you!

Fair Winds

Rick

 

Two weeks ago my brother, Steve, who happens to be my baby brother and is significantly younger than me, went into the hospital.  He is suffering from kidney failure and congestive heart failure.  I won’t detail any thing else here due to his privacy.  But he has been on a ventilator for most of that two weeks.

I just got word that Steve will be taken off the ventilator today, which is a VERY good sign.  He’s awake, aware, and has even stood up and taken a few steps.  We can only hope he gets better in the next few days and can get his medical issues corrected.

We left last Tuesday morning by rental car to collect our own car sitting at Kurt’s place in the Northern Neck of Virginia.  The car issue was in and of itself an “adventure”.

Enterprise Car Rental loaned us a car for a one way trip.  I’d had the vehicle over the weekend and we did the required “walkaround” and there was some damage to the left front fender where it appeared something had gone up inside the wheel well, bounced around and then probably went out.  I pointed it out, and the guy there (Ben) said they had it on the paperwork and were aware.  There was also a window ding, where a rock had hit the window.  That too, was known.

When I tried to turn the car in on Tuesday, they told me to “keep it for my trip” and they would adjust the paperwork and not charge me the extra few hours.  All good so far.  We departed more or less on time and headed for Tappahannock, VA where we would eventually try to turn in the car.

It was a five hour trip.  Now, mind you, we are very careful with our cars (whether ours, or someone else’s cars) and there were no accidents, no bumps, no crashes, no demolition derbies or anything in our trip.  The trip was completely without incident except stopping to put gas in the tank.

I called the rental place in Tappahannock to tell them we’d be arriving around 4pm and would require a ride to our car along with all our stuff. They told me they couldn’t give me a ride after 4:15 PM.  So, I said I’d call if we couldn’t make it until after 4pm.  Henry said he would have someone take us around 4 anyway.  Cool

In fact, we made it at 3PM.  When we arrived, I explained that JoAnne couldn’t drive the car all the way back, so we wanted to drop off then and get a ride to the house where our car was located, and we didn’t know if it had enough gas, would start or we could get the keys.  There was some issues with calling the drivers and they pretty much refused to get back before 5pm and told him they weren’t staying to do the drive.

Of course, Henry didn’t know I could hear these people giving him crap on the phone.  A good manager doesn’t let on there are issues, and Henry was polite and told us we could simply call tomorrow and leave the keys with the car and they’d pick it up.  I told him I would TRY to return it myself that evening, but would call at 0800 if we could not.

Next morning I left the keys in the car under a floor mat and tried calling.  They didn’t open until 0800, and no voice mail.  So, JoAnne and I got on the road and were two hours away when we finally reached Henry.

I gave him the address, told him where the keys were located and that the car was in the drive way at the house and should not be an issue for him.  My car sat there for three months with no problems.  Henry assured me he would call when they recovered the vehicle.  Still, no problems.

At 1830 on Wednesday evening, in the middle of rush hour traffic in downtown Detroit, he calls me to tell me they recovered the car and “there’s a problem”.  Starts telling me about a “rocker panel”.  I wasn’t even sure what a rocker panel was.  Said there was “damage”.  After an explanation of what it was I said there was indeed damage to the car on that side (driver’s side) under the wheel well and on the fender from something that had happened and it was clear that any damage on that side likely had to do with that previous accident – and Enterprise WAS aware of the damage.

He insisted that it “must have happened while you had the car”.  Ummm… no.  I contacted the other office and had them talk.  Next day (Thursday) I get a  call from the manager in Southport asking questions.

After I explained it all to her, she said she would take care of the issue.  Today I plan to drive up to the office and see them face-to-face and see whether this has been resolved or not.  They promised me pictures, which I haven’t see yet.

So, here we are in Southport with a ship and a car.  I need to figure out what to do with the car, and plan our escape from here.

JoAnne and I discussed making Southport our “home port” though, last night.  Not necessarily this particular marina, but this area to be able to sail in and out of Cape Fear and down the ICW.  Why would we do that?

When we arrived last night no one was around. The place was quiet, and we unloaded our car and moved our stuff aboard.  Then we decided to head over to Check Six (a local brewery) that we’ve been visiting.

When we walked in…. wow.  The people here are wonderful.  They all knew about my brother, and they asked about Steve.  There were hugs all around, the owners came over to hug us, patrons and people we barely knew treated us like family.

Southport has been wonderful.  All of the people are nice, helpful and it’s not very stressful here.  It “feels” like home.  Though, for us, Home is where ever we drop anchor or can stay a few days normally.

No matter what we decided to do, we have to decide by 6 Feb 2017 as that’s when our paid time on the docks is up and we either need to move on or pay (and it’s not cheap here in this marina either).

Now we’re faced with finding a place to store the car (or sell it, which we’re both opposed to doing at this point) and move down the road to Florida, or we have to go south to Florida and find a place to get a mooring ball or slip (and pay for that) and leave our car THERE.

No matter WHAT we decide though, we will be coming back to Southport to visit.

Today I check on prices for marinas here, Florida and have a chat with Enterprise.  I’ve rented from them almost exclusively for years and if they attempt to charge me for damages to a car that I didn’t do and were already on the vehicle, I will never rent from them again and I’ll be spreading the story far and wide. (There’s more to this story than I’ve told, about how they give out damaged cars, and what they do if one comes in damaged… more on that later IF necessary).

On a boat note here, batteries seemed ok with sitting here running only the bilge pump and charging on solar.  Then again, we don’t have any leaks that could cause the bilge pump to go come on often (if ever).  So, she sat here at the dock a full eight days without any maintenance, checking or supervision. 🙂

Thanks to the Dockmaster at South Harbour Village Marina, Bill and crew for looking out for us, and a special thanks to Jay Beard, another full time cruiser friend for “keeping an eye on her” for us.  I appreciate all of you.

Finally, IF you’re ever passing through Southport and you happen to like craft beer, I strongly suggest you do NOT miss the Check Six Brewing Company over on Southport Supply Road  (http://www.checksixbeer.com/).  Good friends, good beer, good company!!!!  (And to be sure, I RARELY give such endorsements!)

rick_joanne_adventure

s/v Adventure and Crew at South Harbour Village Marina, Southport, NC