Off the Hook

Oct 14, 2014 by James in James' Blog

Holy Crap!!!

It’s been two months since you’ve heard from us!

Weeeeeeell where do I begin?

Dena went on her tour of the West Coast of the US/Canada and I stayed on the boat at anchor up inside the Mystic River behind the Schrafts Center in Charlestown, Ma… That’s about as brief as it gets on those subjects.

Go to Dena’s site to read about her adventures as a rock-star erotica novelist but the whole time she was gone I was stuck punching the clock at my wage-slave gig so I was uninspired to say the least.

The day before she arrived back in Boston I got the boot from the local water police and after almost three months of free living bouncing from anchorage to anchorage in and around the Boston area we had to give in and go back to the marina life. Dena got home and that night after our obligatory celebratory meal we weighed anchor, went around the Charlestown peninsula and settled in to our new digs at the over-priced Constitution Marina. It was a beautiful night and the water was glass becalmed, just incredible!

BowI n

The next day we cleaned off the anchor, chain and rode which was no small feet being as though it had been buried in the Mystic dregs for weeks and had taken on a slimy funk that is impossible to describe with our feeble language, it was just nasty! We also cleaned and stowed the dink, T/T Tinker, a bittersweet ordeal being as though she has been our trusty commuter vessel since we left NYC and never once has let us down. Putting that little boat to bed for the winter is always kind of sad.

Then we started on the toe-rails…

Dena spent all day on her second day back cleaning the 53 year old toe-rails with a particularly harsh combination of chemistry and elbow grease and on my first day off after her tour we both got busy with gooping the West Systems 610 epoxy on the rails by hand and rubbing the stuff into every crack and popped out bung.

Epoxy Coat

We slopped 5 tubes of that incredible chemical on those old beat up toe-rails and the wood just seemed to absorb every bit of the stuff. The next day Dena wet sanded and then put another 3 tubes on to make sure that when we did the final sanding before paint it would appear as smooth as the rest of the boat.


What you’re seeing above is only part of the reason we are doing this project. A large number of wooden plugs, or bungs, have come out exposing the fasteners under the bungs to the elements and causing the wood to split. The 610 epoxy is thickened so we can fill not only the bung holes (he he) but the cracks as well… It’s amazing stuff that 610 because after you wash it and sand it you can just paint it and it looks perfect. Pretty cool, eh?

…Bung holes (he he he)!


It’s not all work you know. Being in a new place, even a cheesy one like the Constitution Marina, is inspiring so I had to shoot some pictures.


The new digs are not as economical as being up the Mystic for free but the scenery is pretty cool.


Well, there you have it…

We’re off the hook for another winter aboard. Baring any tragedy it looks like we’re most likely going to be in the downtown Boston area for the winter at a marina, we’re not sure which one yet, we have a few options but we’re making the best out of it, like we do, and no matter what we’re always living the dream!

Back to Work

Aug 27, 2014 by Dena in Boat Projects, Dena's Blog Posts, James' Blog

Remember way back when?  We built a new galley and we gutted the locker on the starboard side, forward of the galley.

Our original plan was to put the stove in that locker.  It didn’t fit.  We decided to put our new refrigerator there.

The remaining space, we’d use for trash, tools, and laundry.  We’ve been keeping trash and laundry there in entirely makeshift arrangements.  We tied the trash cans down to the loose boards across the fridge braces and looped the laundry bag’s straps around the braces to keep it in place.  It worked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Two weeks ago, we had a major flood at the Whole Foods Market where I (James) work.  Everything that was in the sub-basement was very quickly evacuated and put into a dumpster.  That’s where I discovered this beautiful triple-decker pallet made out of the most exquisite ash.  It’s a wood I’ve used in the past and loved working with because it’s soft and malleable, but not as porous as pine.

Hamper Pallet

Why haven’t we done this project before?  We needed materials but we didn’t want to slowly collect a bunch of shit and store it on the boat until we had enough for the project.  We don’t have room for that.  When I saw this pallet, I instantly knew that there were enough pieces of really nice looking wood to frame and build everything we needed to do in that space, plus frame the new battery compartment.

I took a drill to work and, on my lunch break, I disassembled the pallet and very neatly stacked the wood in a safe place in the basement.

Last week, we borrowed a co-worker’s van, loaded up the wood, brought it back to the dock, piled it into the dinghy, and rowed it out to the boat.  We returned the van with, “It doesn’t matter how much you hate somebody, don’t ever let them borrow this van.” Wow, what a death-trap.  We survived.

Over the last week, I (Dena) have done measurements and drawings, conceptualizing exactly what we wanted to do in that space.  The concept is this: a hamper that slides out on tracks next to a double-bin trash compartment, also on tracks, both under the brace for the refrigerator.  Above, we will put three shelves for tools, two set back so that we can use the bottom one as a work surface.

The concepts have been around a while.  The measurements and precise plan had to wait on materials.  When James scored us these ash planks, I had the last piece of the puzzle.  I mocked up a couple ideas, measured and drew some more, and yesterday, we made the first cuts.

Trim first.  The fridge is set back a bit and we didn’t want to lose that space.

Hamper Trim

Not only did I (James) have to cut it to size, I also had to notch out the vertical supports for the refrigerator.

Sometimes it’s easier and more of a sure thing to build things in place.  So we started the dirty clothes hamper on the forward side by attaching the first slide.

Hamper Slide with Dena

Then we judged the width of the whole thing by putting the actual planks together.

Hamper Face Pieces

Because we were working with a jigsaw, we didn’t want to make any long cuts with the grain (ripping the plank).  So we just went with the width of the wood as our guide and used five planks.

Once we had them cut to length, we fastened them together using a tie piece and reinforced that with another half-way down.

Hamper Support

The wood is so beautiful that we didn’t want to use any glue on the face.  That’s why we decided to go with the tie pieces on the back, where we won’t see them.

With the width precisely known, we installed the second slide support and had a mock-up of the final hamper.

Hamper Track

We now had a lovely face, four sides screwed together making the rectangle shape at the top, and the sliding mechanism.

It worked, but it wasn’t very strong.  We’d known it would need to be reinforced, so we pulled it out of its new home and cut, drilled, and screwed two diagonal support beams.

Hamper Framed with James

Back into place with it, and we added the linen bag that came with the slide tracks.  Voila!  A clothes hamper that holds clothes and slides in and out.

Hamper Finished

Whew.  And it only took two years.

The trash bin is next.

We choose this

Aug 20, 2014 by James in James' Blog, Life Under Sail

What a week!

I show up at 4:30 in the middle of the fucking night after a six and a half mile bike ride to find I still have a trashcan full of water on my desk, I’ve asked my “team lead” four times to fix the leak in the ceiling above my computer… It still isn’t done. There’s a box on my desk it’s addressed to Dena Hankins, C/O James Lane, C/O Whole Foods Market. It’s Dena’s advanced copies for her novel Blue Water Dreams.

I do my job, I let my country steel my tax money, I smile, I work like all the rest and then I step out of my wage slave gig, it’s Friday afternoon, my Monday and I notice I have two voice-mails on my phone.

I dial up the VM and of course I get the second one first…

“Everything’s okay, I got the boat anchored in the little cove in front of the rehab center, we’re fine. If you want to go to the gym to work out,  go ahead, really, we’re fine!”


When I get to our new anchorage Dena is sitting in the cockpit, she rows out to the water-taxi dock and I pull the box out of my pack and hand it to her…


She did it! She published her first novel, they printed it, put ten of them in a box and sent it to her and when she opened that box this is what she looked like!!!

Everything else instantly became insignificant, well, for the moment anyway.

We went out for a very nice dinner and showed the copy she gave me to our waitress and we got a free desert out of it, it was sublime.

What had happened was, the Coast Guard had to bring a giant propane tanker up the Mystic River, just a few hundred yards from where we were anchored, evidently, to make some kind of emergency repairs and they had to clear the area of any potential hazards… That would be us I guess.

Anyway, we ended up staying in that anchorage through the weekend and on Monday evening just as we were settling in for the night a Harbor Master boat came up along side of us with a po-po woop-woop. The guy that did all the talking was over fed, under exercised, lightly educated and seriously late for his tea party, in other words: the dude had missed his calling as one of Ferguson’s finest and ended up getting stuck hassling us that evening, an unfunny clown, armed to the teeth.

Him and Dena had a few moments of absolute misunderstanding before he gave us the bottom line, which was… “Because of 9/11 you are only allowed to anchor in designated anchorages and this is not a designated anchorage.”

Because of 9/11?! You fucking piece of shit, that was 13 years ago!!!

We did not get shot that night and the reason being, I (James) did not open my mouth. I stood there in the companion way with a smile on my face the entire time, making him very nervous by not showing my hands.

“You need to pull up anchor and leave, right now! Do you need assistance?”

“No! (We said in unison, okay I did say something), we’re rather good at this, thank you, goodnight.”

After the “Dock-Boys-with-Glocks” motored away we made reservations at one of the pricey Boston waterfront marinas, pulled up anchor and sailed away. After grabbing a mooring ball we caught a water-taxi back to where our bikes were and rode back to the Boston waterfront, rowed the dink back out to the boat and very quickly went to sleep.

About an hour after going to sleep I woke up violently sick to my stomach so I ended up working the next day on about an hours worth of real sleep. My only explanation: Yes, fascism makes me ill.

We left the waterfront the next day Tuesday, my Friday, and motored back to “our” anchorage up the Mystic River where we’ve been now, unmolested, for two beautiful nights.

Yes, we choose this, this is the way we live! We are free citizens of the planet Earth and we are not going to give up that easily.


Off the Hook

Oct 14, 2014 by James in James' Blog

We choose this

Aug 20, 2014 by James in James' Blog, Life Under Sail

“…Life is but a dream.”

Jul 11, 2014 by James in James' Blog

Wessagussett Y.C.

Jun 22, 2014 by James in James' Blog