On a Happier Note

Last entry I talked about Renata.  I did that because it occurred very recently and more recently than this week.

This week, we took a week off for birthday and anniversary celebration.

I turned 60 this past week, and JoAnne and I have been married now for 40 years.  As I said before, I am not sure how she has put up with me this long, but I’m very happy she has, and proud to be her husband.  I did a quick Facebook post honoring her, posting images and a statement.  I would try to recapture it here, but it will simply repost on FB and I’m sure a lot of people are tired of seeing it now. haha.

We did a little road trip, traveling to Georgia to see Stone Mountain, something JoAnne has wanted to do for some time now.  We spent a couple of days in a very nice hotel there.  We also visited a local restaurant here on Oak Island, called Swain’s to try their sea food.  It was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not the worst.

We found a nice brewery near Atlanta and tested several beers.  All of the beers were very good.  I tried five tasters and wound up with my “standard go-to beer”, an Irish Red Ale, which was so smooth, it made Killians (not my most favorite, but one that most will know) taste like cheap crap.  (Which, I suppose, technically it is after so many craft brews under the bridge.)

The only thing of note on the trip (other than a good time) we had was a massive amount of rain yesterday.  Torrential downpours throughout the day made traveling difficult and cost us about an hour or so of time in going so slowly at times.  At one point, we couldn’t even see ten feet in front of us and were doing 25 mph behind a large truck so I could see his lights and keep an eye on the road lines.  Going off the road would have been very dangerous and probably we’d still be stuck, as there was water flooding the sides of the roads and median.

Eventually, we made it back here, and surprisingly, we had very little leaking going on in the hard rains.  I had placed a large tarp up to reflect the sun off the decks a few days back, when it was choking us with heat and humidity, which actually helped reduce the heat, and apparently the leaks.  So I now know most of them are coming from the top of the main cabin somewhere.  I’ll continue looking for them.

Turning 60 sounds awful to some.  Especially you younger folks, right?  I’m sure many can’t even imagine being this old.  I certainly couldn’t when I was 30 and in the military.  I figured I’d never make it out alive anyway.  But, I did.  And I have made it past several dangerous things in my life, including a nearly “heart stopping” heart attack.  We’ve both had our share of dumb and awful things happen to us over the years.  An accident once in Colorado nearly got us both killed.  A guy ran a red light.  My “quick thinking” and previous “training” I’d had years before kicked in and I managed to put more car between me and him, than had been between him and JoAnne split seconds before.

The car was destroyed, as was his own vehicle.  JoAnne was injured but not anywhere nearly as severe as it would have been had I not acted.  We’ve had two “butt kickings” out “there”, neither of which was really all that bad, but it did give us a deeper respect for the ocean, and the weather.  Mother Nature will surprise you when you are not watching closely.  A boat is as good as it’s master.  Sometimes though, a boat is better than the Master’s skills and the skipper can do almost anything stupid and survive.  Except if they don’t care for the boat correctly (as in the last blog entry).  Eventually, doing nothing at all, can kill you.

Cancer tried to get her.  My heart tried to kill me.  Together, we’re stronger than ever before, but also, we’re more wary, we’ve slowed down, and realize that while we want to go-go-go, we can’t-can’t-can’t hurry.  Taking our time and eking out as much from life as we can takes not only courage, but perseverance, and thinking, reasoning and time.  You can’t always just rush in and get it done.  Sometimes, you seriously need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you’re going to do it.

Setting sail is easy to do.  But, when you live aboard, it’s more difficult, because you become comfortable leaving things laying about, sometimes you don’t take all the precautions you would in a seaway, like wearing your flotation device or keeping your radio on all day/night.  You don’t have your wind equipment turned on constantly and tend to guess the wind speeds from experience.  You don’t always remember to close certain hatches at a dock… until it rains hard and you were away from the boat, and your bed gets wet.

You sometimes get bugs in the boat, even though you try hard not to introduce themselves, or you take precautions against them.  But, you learn, you cope, and you deal with everything.  From an emergency, to simple day-to-day things.  And sometimes, you watch as someone else’s dream sinks beneath the waves, helpless to help them.  And yet, you go on.

As to the boat, and the ants…. they seem to have fled or died finally.  We have tried two different kinds of ant traps, both of them seem to be attracting those left and both having different sorts of poison in them, they have pretty much left.  I have seen no sign of any of them since our return yesterday evening.

Our plan at this point seems to be – because we do not set hard dates now for anything – to try to get a good weather window sometime in October, to depart for the Bahamas.  The plan is to head south, outside the Gulf Stream, and sail directly to Marsh Harbor.  We will probably use that as our hub to explore as much as we can see in three-six months time there, and return to our “home” here by not later than April, to try to catch decent winds and weather.

All of that depends on the boat, the crew, the skipper here, and our ability to accomplish it.  I am extremely confident of our ability to accomplish it.  I’ve seen “Lesser Humans” come through here who’ve accomplished more.  No, I’m not insulting them, I’m stating the obvious.  Younger people with much less experience than we have now, having accomplished wondrous things that we have not. We can, and we will do them though.

At 60 life has become shortened.  Time on this planet is meted out in moments and memories and we intend to make the best of them.  We don’t want to wind up stuck in a dock for the rest of our lives, living like the crew of Renata, watching as our home sinks beneath the waves due to lack of hope, caring or whatever finally took it’s toll on Renata.

While time is slowing ticking away, we are still learning, as are all people, every day.  Each event is a learning event.  Each day is a time to reflect on your skills (or lack thereof) and move forward.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new learning events.

A sailor never becomes a complete expert in everything they do, but they surely have skills that most can only dream about.  Sailors KNOW what they know, and know there is much they do not know.  Sailors are not afraid to test the waters, sail the tides or do without things they would like to have, but do not.  Sailors learn as they go, and they pass on to others as they can.  This sailor never stops reading, never stops learning, and will never give up.

 

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Back at Southport and Adventure

We arrived back to the boat a couple of days before the 1st, sooner than we’d planned but still in plenty of time for the beer contest.

Beer:  We brewed our first beer on the boat, which I apparently neglected to mention in previous blog entries.  Mostly I didn’t want to give away what we were making, what type, or how much, so the judging could be fairer.  I’m not sure that happened anyway.

The beer was an America Amber category, and we moved it to a specialty beer category (Fruit, 29B I think).  We had a red beer (still in Amber category) with cherries and honey.  The hops were a specialty hop – and for some reason the judges didn’t like the hops with the fruit beer.  I suspect had we simply made it a Red Ale, it would have likely come in First or Second.

The judging was taking place between the 1st and 7th with the get together and announcements on the 8th.

Surprisingly, we didn’t even place.  I won’t complain though.  We had a lot of people taste and test our beer and we had good reviews all the way around, including one person who said “I’d buy that beer”.  Too bad we didn’t win, he might have had the chance to buy it at Check Six.  Don’t think we will enter another contest there though.  I don’t think I liked the way things were judged.  Granted, I’m not certified as a judge, but I know good beer, and I know how to judge it.  Sometimes winning isn’t necessarily a good thing.  We’d have to give our recipe out.  Think I’ll refrain from doing that for awhile.  🙂

Ants: I’ve been fighting ants on the boat:

Image result for Science Fiction ants

Not the godawfulbigones like in the movies, but somewhat more docile, and a tad smaller:

Monomorium minimum
Monomorium minimum casent0173040 profile 1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Monomorium
Species: M. minimum
The little black ant is a species of ant native to North America. It is a shiny black color, the workers about 1 to 2 mm long and the queens 4 to 5 mm long.  They are present in almost every region of the USA, and most of Europe.
From what I’ve discovered, they can live in the Earth in little built up colonies of up to about 2000 individuals, or they can get into cracks and crevices in your home, in the walls, under and in the house – or in my case, the boat.  They are living apparently between the teak wood making up a vast amount of the inside of the ship and the fiberglass walls.
They can have multiple queens in a single colony and they generally don’t get very large colonies.
Hosing them down with chemicals is rather out of the question.  Bug bombs won’t penetrate into their living areas.  And spraying chemicals that could conceivable kill me around the interior of the boat is, for me a No-Go.  Also, the aerosols used can be flammable and on a boat, explosive.  We use sparkers on the stove to ignite the burners.  So being sure all the fumes are out… not a good idea.
I know from previous research into this stuff, that boric acid will kill most insects.  Mostly, all they have to do is walk through it and they ingest it.  It desiccates them from the inside out.  It is an abrasive and works on their exoskeletons.  It has an effect on their nervous systems as well as it disrupts their intestinal digestive systems.  The best part about boric acid (and borax) is that they eat it, return it to their nests and feed their young and the queen(s).  Who, in turn, die.
I am, I believe dealing with not one, but two colonies of ants in the boat.  One colony lives forward in the boat, the other in the galley area somewhere behind the wood.
We tried boric acid powder, which has had no effect on them.  I tried the Tero type traps which are a liquid, and they spill and make a mess.  The first time I put one of those out, the ants went after it instantly.  And then stopped after a day.  I think they figured out not to eat it.  Or they weren’t returning to the nest to get “helpers” to come get the food source.
Others I’ve spoken to on Facebook swear by that stuff.
Yesterday, I picked up some Raid ant baits.  They are four small traps with a different sort of chemical inside called Avermectin B1.  It too, is a nerve agent and will disrupt their bodies after they ingest it.  It is a small enough quantity that they will take the food source back to the nest, and like the other stuff feed it to the young and queen, who then die.
Last night within thirty minutes of putting out the traps, three in the Galley and one in the forward cabin, all four traps were covered.  Ants were coming out of tiny crevices under the wood to get to them.  And they were going off in force only to return later with more ants.  Eventually the traps each had somewhere around 100 ants on them.
This morning, there is not a single ant floating around in the Galley.  The forward cabin however, in the floor tells a different story.  There are still dozens of ants scurrying to and fro to get to the food source.
I have to assume that one colony in the front is MUCH larger than the one in the back.  And the one in the Galley has been wiped out, or at least pushed back to the brink of Apocalypse.   I can only hope.  I also hope there are no “Prepper Ants” who are going to come hunt me down in the middle of the night.
“I am AntGirl, you Killed my Momma, prepare to die!”
Or something like that.
We think that any ants that survive will eventually die due to starvation or, they will come out and get the traps and die from the poison.  I hope they are gone within a few days.  We will keep you posted.
Cleaning and Preparation for Sail:  I went back to my regular part time job at the marina, and have been scheduled a few hours, and a few days off each week to work on the boat to prep for a sailing trip in a few days.  We’re thinking of either just sailing out for a few hours and knocking the dust off the rigging, or even heading for Georgetown for a day or so and then coming back.  Weather permitting.
Unfortunately, the heat and humidity have been stifling.  I need to reinstall the jib (I took down before departure from the boat, to prevent any wind incidents, ripped sails etc) and put all my running rigging back.
I also need to drop the main, replace a line going to the furler.  I’m sure it will be fine, but it’s getting old and somewhat worn and I don’t like the idea of it snapping at a critical moment in time, like, say a storm or something similar.  You always have things go wrong when they shouldn’t, and keeping equipment right helps prevent cascade failures.
But, man, that’s a lot of work in this heat.  But it’s got to be done too.
JoAnne has a lot of things to stow.  I have to remove a few things from the forward cabin and will probably just stow it in the car.  We’re considering a small storage locker to move a few things too (larger things which we probably do NOT have to have on the boat right now) and a few things we can just remove altogether.  We have two coolers, both of them can come off the boat, though JoAnne and I are at odds on that. I want them off, she thinks they should be here.  We’ll come to some conclusion sooner or later before we leave for the Bahamas.
I’ve removed most of my tools from the boat and left a small bag with a few.  But, honestly I don’t need my power tools when traveling.  Just at the dock.  I DO want some of the heavier wrenches just in case I need them to repair something I’ll need them for (like an engine!) – and they are, unfortunately, heavy as well.
Then we have dirt for the composting toilet.  Not a lot, but it’s bulky.  Can’t seem to locate coconut coir around here.  Not sure why.  Supposedly it’s more compressed and can store better.  I have yet to see it or locate any.  I hate ordering things over the Internet without being able to see them.
Wind Generator: Think I have decided on a wind genny.  More on that next time, if I buy it.
So, in conclusion here… ants.  They are hateful little things, getting into everything.  But, they can be controlled and eliminated if you are persistent I think.  Beer making on the boat is a difficult task, but we can do it.  It’s just that there’s not that much room and it takes both a steady hand, and steady water ( like that of a marina) to make it work.
Catch you all on the next entry.