Underway at last!

Yes!!! After months and months of working in these tight quarters with freezing hands, sore backs, bruises, bumps, knots and filth, we did it.  We just left! But you know, it’s kind of weird, I (James) used to tell people at West Marine that if I got caught in a big blow, so be it, but I’d never go out in one! Well that’s a lie… I should have prefaced that statement with, “that depends on my motivation!” When we left Spicers Marina at 12:00pm on Thursday, let me tell you, we were motivated and we had to be. The winds were honking at a steady 25 knots with gusts up to 30 with seas from 4 to 6 feet on the bow inside Fishers Island Sound.  It was intense but we just had to put those months of work  to the test. So, the big seas and the howling winds almost felt good… Almost! It was also really cold but motivation can be  powerful protection from the elements at least temporarily. Once we got the main up, the reefs in, and the Monitor set, it eased up a bit but we were beating hard, heading for Three Mile Harbor inside the South Fork of Long Island. We met this sailor at Spicer’s, Doc, and we asked him, just like we ask all local sailors we meet, “What’s your favorite local anchorage?” and he told us it was “Beyond a doubt, Three Mile!” …So Three Mile it was. But once we got out in the Long Island Sound and were getting our little butts spanked by Mother Nature, we started looking for other options. We could head up the Thames (rhymes with James) and shag a free mooring in New London and wait out the wind or we could go[…]

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We did it!

This is where we started. So, just to let you know, this is going to be mostly pictures of the work we’ve been doing.  As soon as the weather warmed up enough that we could hope the epoxy would dry, we turned our combined attention to the aft deck, or fantail, if you prefer. We’ve been fiending to get the Monitor wind vane (pictured above, with me) on this boat since we first saw it at the Marine Consignment of Wickford, months ago.  It works like this: a vane is pointed thin side to the wind.  The boat changes course and the wind angle changes, so the wind pushes the vane over to the side.  This turns a servo-rudder in the water and the water pressure pushes the rudder to one side.  That pulls a line through a bunch of blocks and attached to the tiller, steering the boat so that the wind vane is again straight up and down, thin side into the wind.  Strangely, wonderfully, it takes less than a moment for this to happen.  This is what steered us for 20 days between San Francisco and Hawaii. First, we needed to prep the fantail, including the taftrail. A big part of painting is prep. Which includes filling the holes for all the random hardware we removed, filling and fairing, and sanding.  That’s where we are above.  Below, we’ve coated that new surface with neat epoxy. And more sanding. We wanted to install the Monitor and the Rutland 913 wind generator we already had, but they both needed bases.  We got these on before painting so that the 610 – thickened epoxy that, unlike regular epoxy, doesn’t overheat when used thickly – would bond chemically as well as mechanically to the fresh epoxy on the deck.  It was[…]

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Getting her ready to cast off

So, just like that, the galley is done! Ok, that’s a lie… After months of working on this project one and two days at a time we did more work in the last two weeks than was possible in the five months prior. …But first, we took her out for a spin! We were pretty good about running the engine periodically throughout the winter and the last time we filled the tank with fuel was in Provincetown, Mass, on the trip down to Connecticut this past fall. So it was time to fuel her up, shake off the bottom and get out of the dock for a little reminder of why we do this shit. It had snowed the night before and it was brutally cold but that never stopped us before. The trip started out calm, crisp, and beautiful but as we rounded up to head into the Mystic River a big squall bore down on us.  By the time we made it to the Brewers Marina fuel dock, yep, it was snowing again. After joking with the staff about loving the weather around here and this being the perfect day for a sail, we headed back to Noank and tore into the job once again. By the end of that day we had the new green trim installed around the new cabinetry and the balustrade painted. Then we rented a car and ran off to New Haven, Conn, to celebrate my 49th circumnavigation around the sun. It was awesome, we went to the Yale campus to get a look at the Natural History Museum and did a bunch of shopping for the new galley. We tried to get a sneak-peak at Shakespeare’s Hamlet staring Paul Giamatti but of course it had been sold out for months so we[…]

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Solar power and the 30 mile hose

They invented the way we Americans perceive our seasons here in the Atlantic North East. By they I mean, most likely, Ben Franklin, didn’t he invent “all things American”? …Anyway when it went from February 27th to March 1st it was like flipping a switch from winter to spring and as we all know, springtime, especially March, means wind and rain. The weather reports were telling us that there would be an intense bout with wind and rain this week but only for Tuesday with the rest of the week shaping up to be perfect for our working projects. So on Monday we loaded up the bikes with everything we’d need for a good long ride and took off early.  We knew that it was going to be a big day, so we planned to eat breakfast along the way. Ahem. This story really starts on Friday.  In the rental car, we did as much running around as we could in our efforts to get the doomed refrigerator and the propane stove working.  Our last jaunt of the day was to Airgas in Waterford.  I had called them and the person on the phone said that, yes, they stocked all kinds of hoses already made up and, yes, 25 foot lengths were standard. When we got there (meaning when a mall sprung up in the middle of nowhere), we discovered that the person on the phone was a bad listener.  Though I had said I needed a 25 foot low pressure propane hose with female 3/8 inch flare fittings on each end, she must have heard 25 foot blah blah hose blah blah blah.  Cause all their hoses were for welding and air tools, not for propane. At the counter, the guy told us that they might be able to[…]

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The Unemployed

We got back to the community- shit, a million years ago- to discover that we were going to have a big (all) managers pow-wow in one of the unfinished 2nd floor apartments. We went up to the apartment, made ourselves comfortable and moments later were joined by the other two sets of managers. The lead managers showed up first, then the shit-heads and we got right down to it. The two leads told us when their last day of work would be and started talking about how there have been tensions and how “we” would “all” have to work together and respect each other and… I (James) jumped right in and asked the only question that I thought really mattered. “When are you two leaving?” I was speaking to the two shit-heads that have been lying about us and trying to make our lives miserable over the last five months.  They were supposed to go to their new community at the end of February or beginning of March. The response was a simple, “At least two more months.” The math made it’s way through my head… They weren’t leaving and our regional manager had already made them an offer to be the lead managers of the community and there was no fucking way I was going to work for those lying, cheating do-nothings so my response was simple. “There is no way I’m going to work with these two fucking clowns for even one more second.” Dena said, “Yeah, this won’t work.  We quit.  This is our last day.  Our last hour.  Our last 15 minutes.” Okay.  That’s done. Back to the boat.  Literally.  We jumped on our bikes and rode to the boat to finish the last day-off project – inserts to make the sinks usable as countertop space.[…]

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It’s not as fun when we’re not together

I woke up and Dena was standing above me dressed in her rain-riding gear. “There’s coffee, it’s yummy!” “Are you out of here?” “Yep, see you on the boat.” “Yes.” The kiss, the door, silence. I (James) drag myself out and pump the first two cups in before the crust of another sleepless night in this fucked up place has left my limited vision. The last of Cryptonomicon is coveted. When I’m alone in this place I feel attacked with no armor, so I’m out. With the bike and trailer packed I step out into the winter streets, into the rain. Before I’m even out of the community property I feel alone, it’s not as much fun. It’s not as much fun because when I’m by myself I tend to immerse myself in my week, in my past and before I know it I’m pushing myself to the limits of my abilities. In no time flat I’m drenched in my own viscousness, heart pumping, burning. I opt for the back country trail and almost immediately regret it but push on, I do. The snow is almost gone but what is left is thick and hard on a bed of cold wet earth that sucks my wheels deep in its grasp.   The trail that we have come to know so well is unrecognizable in its present state. The trees have fallen over what was once a manicured urban refuge and the sludge is so thick in places that it can stop a biker cold. When I stop it’s a surgical procedure to remove the bike from the sucking mess. After a while I regain  the machine of the ride. The legs, the lungs, the heart, the perspiration, the twin jets of steam ejecting from my nostrils, all in sync, all a[…]

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The Install begins

This week, we made it to the boat. The streets were clear, but the paved trail was still raw snow.  Turning back, we made stab at the back country trail.  We could only ride across small patches, which left us with about 3 miles worth of pushing the bikes and slogging through snow that was up to 2 feet deep. Sweaty work.  Very hard to do. When we got off the trail in Mumford Cove, we cheered each other and relished the smooth roll over pavement.  And then it was straight to work. The project for the day – priming everything. From: To: The smell was so foul that we couldn’t stay in the boat.  Cold air doesn’t move very fast and fumes don’t dissipate.  In summertime, we can do a project like this and go for food (exactly what we did).  When we come back, we can do another project or just relax aboard.  Not in the winter. So we went to a movie.  Quartet.  Good movie, enjoyable.  I don’t think the big screen was a critical component of our enjoyment, but the big sound system rocked the Bach and Verdi.  But you have to know – we didn’t have to go to this movie.  We live this life.  The only element that was missing from what we live on a daily basis – ours isn’t a home for retired artists, and their estate was definitely not a dump like the place we live. By the way, going to a movie means another 6 mile bike ride each way.  This time, in the dark and freezing cold.  We moaned and groaned a bit, but the light exercise (we took it easy) felt good after the morning’s labor. Next day, we turned our attention to installing the hatches in the[…]

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