Goodnight Caroline…

Caroline Lichtenwager lived across the hall from us once. She was a beautiful 94 year old woman with a Bourbon rasp and shining blue eyes. She worked out every single day by walking up and down our hallway pushing her walker and hauling her oxygen tank like it was weight of her entire life. I’d say say hi and she’d say, “I’ve got to work out every day Dave, I hate it but I’ve got to do it.” Caroline Lichtenwager loved her orchid, it looked like this… …She told me her orchid was the richest thing she’d ever known. I didn’t have the slightest idea what she meant by that but I told her, In that case I have to take a picture of it! She let me. Although she never learned my name even though I wore a stupid name-tag every time I saw her Caroline Lichtenwager was my neighbor and my friend. I only knew her for four months but she made my life better. On December 31st 2012 Caroline Lichtenwager died in her sleep.  

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Big week

So this time we had to rent a van! When last we reported the starboard-side demo was done, the bulkhead was overbuilt, the bike was stolen and the boat was leaning hard to port… Ok we didn’t report the listing to port part but you have to know that when you remove all the cabinetry from one side of a boat but not the other without balancing it out with some kind of opposing ballast you get a list, a serious list and it looks very sad. So sad in fact that I’m not even going to show you a picture of it… Anyway, we’ll get that taken care of soon enough but for now we had to fill a van with some very cool boat stuff. All week long we couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful this boat would sail with a Monitor Windvane self-steering system, hell, Dena even dreamed about it! If you remember we found a practically new Monitor in the consignment chandlery in Rhode Island a few weeks ago. Well, we had to go back and pick that thing up. That ingenues machine retails for almost $5g’s and the one we found in RI was only $1,800. bucks so at that price we couldn’t pass this one up.  We also had to pick up our new 12volt refrigerator at the Mystic consignment chandlery, a couple of sheets of 4×8 PVC “plywood” and some other odds-n-ends for putting the boat back together. We went back to the consignment shop in Rhode Island and some how talked the owner of the shop into selling us the Monitor for only $1600. bucks! We were stoked. The next day we went to the consignment shop in Mystic and managed to talk them down to $240. bucks on the refrigerator (originally[…]

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What?! Not in Noank?

About a month ago during a staff meeting, I (James) brought up the fact that it would be fun to do a slide show for our residents about our adventures at sea over the past 13 years. Well, all the other managers agreed so I booked it for the middle of the day on a Thursday, one of our regular work days. Well, our community’s eternally befuddled enrichment coordinator scheduled a stupid X-mas event right on top of our show and then rescheduled our slide show on one of our days off. We were supposed to get three days off in a row this week because of that ridiculous holiday, that I’ve already mentioned too many times in this post, but alas it was not to be so. Anyway, we rode to the boat on Tuesday, worked all day, and then rode back to the community so we could do our slide show. The show went off to a full house, although rife with technical issues concerning a dead remote control. We did it and then we rode back to the boat. After a five mile ride through the woods we’re flat-out hungry! So we park the bikes in front of the boat at the marina and walk to the Seahorse, all of 100 paces away from the boat. We kick back, order a pile of Happy-Hour priced appetizers and shortly thereafter, start stuffing. Oh, it’s so good! Clam chowder, baked mussels, seafood dip, fresh baked bread… Oh yeah! We stumble back to the boat and pull out the literature.  (James=Cryptonomicon, Dena=The English Patient) When James takes a stroll up the dock an hour later, he yells, “Dena, your bike is gone.”  I jump up and stuff my feet into my boots.  There’s no sign of fresh scrapes on the[…]

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A new hole

We got up early this morning, well, early for a day off, and rode the bikes to the boat. We’d both been fantasizing about the ride and the job we’d do once we got there all week long so we were out of the house within an hour of jumping out of bed. The ride was fast and cool under a cloudy winter sky but it never takes us more than a half hour to get to the marina from the community. It’s about a five mile ride through the incredible Bluff Point State Park that spits us out practically on top of the marina in Noank. The job for this week was the demolition of our piece-of-shit, power hog of a  top loading refrigerator. Age unknown, model unknown, manufacturer who cares? The thing has got to go! This past summer we discovered that we only had two major power draws on our entire system and those were the auto helm which wasn’t really that much and the fridge. The rest of the boat runs off the most cutting edge in 21st century power efficiency. LED lighting through-out the boat, 18 lights in all that draw a total of 1.8 amps when everything is turned on and our chart plotting, navigational, radar system which draws a total of 2.1 amps while it’s running. We have two fans that draw 1.5 amps each when on the low setting and when everything is on it draws a little more then half of what the fridge draws when it kicks on, which, by-the-way, was all the freaking time on those hot summer days. So the fridge had to go! We thought at first it would be a quick demo like the starboard cabinetry but we discovered almost immediately that this sucker was built[…]

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What we do

On Dena’s birthday, as mentioned in one of our last posts, we went to the Herreshoff marine museum in Bristol, RI, to discover what all hub-bub was really about. Now, I grew up helping my dad re-build an incredible early 20th century Nat Herreshoff 63. A 63 foot (on deck) schooner rigged sailboat that my dad rebuilt from the keel up over a 7 year period of time. If I wanted to spend any time with the man over those 7 years that is what I had to do. I had to get into scraping and sanding and painting all that crap that a 12 to 19 year old young man could otherwise give a shit about. At the time the only thing I learned how to do was resent the fact that I wasn’t getting laid or drunk with my friends while my dad reveled in the genius of the designer. Anyway, my dad finished his boat and went sailing for 8 years after he launched her in 1983 and, with the exception of one long summer aboard re-learning how to resent the whole lifestyle, I all but forgot how to sail and live the life of an itinerant vagabond until I met Dena and bought our first boat in 1999. 13 years after we set sail aboard our Sovereign Nation Dena and I found ourselves at the Herreshoff Museum, of course reveling in the genius of Nathanial Herreshoff. While in the museum we discovered a beautiful 31 foot wooden sailboat called S/V Torch designed and built by “The Wizard of Bristol” himself. This boat was so memorable because it was a foot shorter than our boat but she seemed to be vast in comparison on the inside. She was so brilliantly laid out that we just sat there[…]

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Another Birthday

So Dena had another birthday yesterday and we went all out. We rented a car and took off north in the snow to check out our local environs and soak up some history and art. First we went back to Bristol, RI to see the Herreshoff museum we missed this past summer while sailing through the Narraganset Bay. If you remember we tried to sail there in the dingy but got caught in a stiff tidal current and a contradictory wind and ended up throwing in the towel after way too much struggle. Here’s the link to the story… Dena and I have never been much into crowds and The Herreshoff Museum in the height of summer is a crowded mess anyway so missing it (with every intention of someday coming back) wasn’t that big of a deal at the time. Once again we discovered that the only way to see a museum like that is on a miserable day in the dead of winter. There were only a few people there besides the volunteers that maintain the museum in the winter so we pretty much had the run of the place. We got to go aboard all the boats that they have on display and we also got to spend as much time as we wanted looking through the exhibits, it was incredible! We came out of it with so many great ideas on the boat improvements that we’ve been planning that it really did re-stoke the fires for our up-coming starboard demo and rebuild. Nat Herreshoff really was the “Wizard Of Bristol” and the museum in Bristol, RI shows you why. He came up with so many small sailing vessel innovations from cleats to anchors, sail tracks and interior cabinetry that it left us swimming in ideas for[…]

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A new day

I woke up last Monday and discovered that we were almost done with our Rocket Hub campaign and we were less than 1% through our goal. Not only did it bum me out but it made me think long and hard about where we had failed or if in fact we actually had failed. The idea is as follows: This past July as we were making our way up the East coast of the United States under sail we noticed a tiny page posted by NOAA that had some truly alarming information on it. Simply put it said that our Earth was sinking. Of course we’ve all heard the gloom-n-doom sci-sayers of the past tell us that our planet was undergoing a radical climate change and for the first time in Earths history that change was being caused by one of its own species, us. From what I understand the Earth is constantly undergoing change in its (her? nah, not here…) environment and through the eons that change has been slow and deliberate according to the needs of the planets bio-regions. In other words the Earth knows what it needs and changes itself through the redistribution of natural resources according to its own bio-regional imperative. It’s a closed system that is continuously recycling itself. That all makes sense to me so I chose to believe it. Well, about 15,000 years ago along comes a hyper-lobed ape with opposable thumbs that is truly full of itself. This creature ignorantly decides within the last two centuries to make massive, lop-sided, redistribution choices in the bio-regions of its host planet without truly understanding the ramifications of such changes. And what do you know ,the planet changes back, only this time it has to change at an accelerated rate that is even more dramatic[…]

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