Archive for the ‘Working on the water’ Category

At Anchor


We’ve been sitting on the anchor now for about 3 weeks. It has been great. When ever we need something from the store we take the dingy to shore. The ride is about 10 minutes depending on who’s driving. It’s it little Mike it’s a 3 minute trip and if it’s Michael (Dad) it’s about 10 minutes. Fast trips to shore with Mike have been fun and painful. He pulled the dingy up to the boat last week and touched the trottle just as I had started to reach for the rubrail of the sailboat. The dingy lunged forward and I slipped off the seat and onto the floor at Mikes feet in a flash, landing on my backside. Mike got to laughing so hard that the words “I’m so sorry Mom” were almost unrecognizable. It was funny.

For the past two weeks Michael has been working on the watermaker to try to get the system to produce water under 600 ppm (parts per million) It was producing water for awhile under 400 ppm. Then the system picked up some oil or debris and it hasn’t worked right since. He thought since we were anchored in an area where there is a consistant tide and current that debri such as oil would’nt be an issue, but it was. So Mike has been hauling water jugs to the boat for washing up and drinking.

 The nearby marina sells showers at 15 pesos each, which has been nice. There is a sign in the showers that asks people to keep their hot water showers down to 5 minutes. It states that some people in La Paz only get water 3 times a week and it’s at night. After reading that I stopped feeling sorry for myself and very thankful for that 5 minute shower. Due to the watermaker issue, we haven’t been out sailing. Hopefully today Michael will remedy the problem and we can be “up and running” again.

 Our refrigerator and freezer quit working last week. I had to throw out several pounds of ground beef and chicken. We are now using blocks of ice that we buy from shore to keep our drinks and foods cold. Luckily I can start the generator to vacuum out the water once the ice melts. The freezer needs a drain plug so that we can drain it into the bilge.

 Other than the on going rewiring of the electrical system, everything else is working fine. It wasn’t until the other day when I was working on our budget did I realize that for the month of May we have been almost totally self sufficient. If we didn’t need water and ice from shore, we would be totally self sufficient. That is a nice thought!


A Look Around


So here are a few shots of  Halcyon.  As you can see, she needs a bit of bright work done and some tlc. But it won’t take long to get her in shape.  I know I said I didn’t want  a boat that I had to do much work to, but I’m learning that in order to have exactly what you want, sometimes you have to work for it.  In the end it will be exactly what we were looking for.

So Far So Good


Apparently summer is in full swing in La Paz Mexico.  The heat is really getting to Michael.  He mentions in his emails that the heat has just about did him in the past two days.  Drinking water doesn’t seem to keep him from being dehydrated.  He has sent a few pictures back which gives us a hint of the atmosphere there  in La Paz.

Short Stories of the Season


Michael Wiring Mastlight

     The idea was to go to Marco Island and do charters since The Flying Dutchman had established a winter business there.  The Gulf War was started that winter and the tourist industry had taken a hit.  No one was doing any business which gave us alot of time to play.  It was a double edge sword.  Rarely time and money ever jive.  So we lived on the edge financially.  Living on the anchor had its’ advantages. There was no dockage to pay.  When we needed water we would pull in to a marina for the night, fill our water  and fuel tanks and we’d be set for another week.  Groceries got to be an issue during one of our dry spells and I learned of another side of my travel companion, Michael.

  In order to get provisions we had to take our small boat to shore and tie it up along the docks and walk to the store.  We also had large D Cell batteries that needed maintenance and we were taking them to the nearby  boat shop.  A few items were purchased at the store such as peanut butter  ( because it sticks to your ribs) and crackers.  As we were headed back out into the river,  Michael gunned the outboard on this little Boston Whaler.  The batteries (which weigh as much as a dead cow) slid off the nose of the boat and down into the area where the groceries were, crushing the box of crackers.  I remember shooting Michael a look of discust.  He had a side that liked speed and I was amazed after listening to him talk about how much sailing slowed him down.  Until we had our next charter, we had to eat peanutbutter and crackers, this time is was with a knife, dipped into the jar and then back into the crushed bag of crackers.  We made a joke about how we were eating peanutbutter and crackers, corn dog style. Even tho times were difficult, we made the best of it. 

     The boat didn’t care that money was scarce and it still required its usual maintenance.  This was another opportunity for Michael to display his knowledge in electronics.  I had taken on a job at a near by boat repair facility and had received a call on the VHF from Michael, that we had a charter scheduled in an hour.  He had been working on the electronics all morning and was unable to use the starter to start the boat.  When he called,  he advised me of the time of the charter and the manner of which  I was to meet him and the charter on the docks.  He said he would be approaching undersail and that he was to throw me a line and I was to take a wrap on the piling, to slow him down enough to pick us up.  My heart sunk at his plan, but thought  “If he thinks I can do this, then I’ll  attempt to give it a try”.  Sure enough, I arrive at O’Sheays docks at 11AM.  Standing on the docks were 6 people ready to go for a sail. 

As I look across the river I see Michaels head pop up out of the interior of the sailboat as if to start the motor, shake his head, then back down below, then back up top.  He moved quickly to the bow, hauls up the anchor and chain. Moves quickly to the back of the boat, reaches the starboard sheet and pulls out the Jenoa Sail.  Reaches over to the Main Sheet and pulls out the Main Sail as well.  Jumps down into the cockpit, grabs the wheel and begins to tack up and down the river until he makes his way over to where we were standing on the dock.  The wind was on his side for his plan to work.  Only I wasn’t counting on the wind to be blowing so hard.  My adrenaline was pumping.  The people in the charter were commenting on how pretty the boat was, sailing up and down the river and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that was their boat.  Michael threw me the line.  I had one chance to chatch it.  If  I missed, he was going to have to tack around again and wouldn’t be very happy about it.  Luckily I caught the line, wrapped it around the piling as he made a wrap on the deck cleat.  The boat moved forward, on the length of line, and then began to slide, side to, to the dock.  We were ready to board.  Michael greeted the charter with his big smile and “Hi How Is Every One Doing?”  He helped all of us on board, we untied the lines and went sailing.  Everyone had a fun time and they never knew that we were having mechanical problems.  At the end of the “two hour tour”, once again,  he tacked in the river until he could approach the dock , side to.  I tossed a loop around the piling, pulled the boat in and tied her off. We collected our fee and went to lunch.   Just another perfect day:)

Sailing South for the Winter Part II


Part II

The following day, we  each took our turns at the wheel. But there was lots of free time on our hands.  I like to be doing something most of the time, so I would clean anything I could.  We  also took turns at cooking the meals.  Everyone else had either a gadget to mess with or a book to read.  I could never slow down enough in the past to read so I didn’t even bring a book.  Then the issue came up of Felicia.  She was only able to pull one of her shifts and was down sick the rest of the time.  When she felt a bit better she would come up on deck, with blanket and pillow, and lay down on one side of the cockpit which would force four of us to sit on one side.  At this point Michael decided that we would continue on all night all the way to Jacksonville, FL..  Michael and I took the 2 am to 6 am shift.  I took the first two hours and Michael took the next.  Everyone else had retreated to their cabins for the night, so I grabbed my pillow and blanket and layed down beside him.  There were lots of stars out that night.  It was so very dark.  The wind was on the port quarter and we were sailing at a good clip.  All you could hear was the sound of  splashing on the side of the boat as we made way thru the water. I was almost a sleep when out of the blue Michael yells “Oh my God, What is that?” I jumped up (out of my skin) looked in the direction he was looking, behind the boat, and there were two tubular shaped figures coming up very fast.  He thought they were torpedoes.  He explained later that we were passing Kings Island where the U.S. has a big submarine base.  We were also 20 miles off the coast which is where the subs like to come to the surface and he was watching for them.  With all this going through his mind in the middle of the black ocean, torpedoes seemed logical.   But as they got closer, we realized they were dolphin approaching the boat at a high rate of speed and the phosphorous  was lighting them up as they went along.  So they glowed.  It was wild looking. The excitement was enough to keep him awake until the end of the shift.  I knotted off until the sun was in my eyes and noticed the humidity had risen substantially.

As I sat up and looked around the sun was extremely bright, and the strong scent of salt was in the air.  Over to our port side was a huge ocean liner headed in the opposite direction. The difference in size between our boat, the Flying Dutchman, and the ocean liner was immense.  It took my breath away.  I thought “If he hit us, he’d never know it”.  We were approaching Jacksonville, Florida Inlet .  The ocean liner was one of many huge vessels moving up and down the inlet that morning.  As we approached Florida, our quiet stretches of sailing would be few and far between.  The term “snow birds” started to make sence to me.  Florida had a “hum” to it.  There were people, and every kind of boat you could imagine on the water.  This seemed to be the dividing line from cold weather to warm, each had a price.  Navigating on the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) was similar to I95 or I75 on a Sunday afternoon.  Up till now, Michael would be doing maintenance on the lines or the engine or studying the charts down below.  Now, he stayed close by and kept the charts up top.  With all of the commotion of life going on, he had to stay on his toes at all times.

A couple of days passed, now it is Thanksgiving Day.  Thinking that it was a family holiday, there may not be as many boats on the water.  Our location is still the ICW and we were approaching Juno Beach, Fl.  The waterways characteristics started to change from here south.  It had the appearance of a suburban neighborhood.  Houses were lined along the waterway with canals that fed into it like fingers or streets that fed into a main road.  The smell of turkey dinners permeated the air.  We hadn’t planned for a turkey dinner that day and hot dogs were on the menu.  Needless to say I was salivating for homemade bread, baked turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pecan pie.  I failed to mention earlier, spending time on the water had a way of keeping me hungry.  I spent lots of time thinking of “what would be good right now”.  Especially when I had no way of getting it.  This frame of mind drove Michael crazy.  He barked at me once “keep your thoughts to yourself”.  As the day wore on, the number of boats on the water increased.  The wake from the “fast boats” churned the water up and had the “fishbowl” effect.  It was very uncomfortable with the constant up and down motion of the boat.  If anyone was drinking anything, they had to keep it in their hand, otherwise it would be knocked over.

To date each of us were still taking our turn on the wheel, all except Falicia.  She had stayed in the parallel position most of the way .  She seemed mostly tired all the time.  It put Michael in an awkward position, due to the fact that “her spot” was intended to be a “paying position”.  And she had not payed her way nor was she able to work.  After discussing the sensitive topic with her husband Bruce, Michael realized they had no intention of paying and expected meals as well. As the boat approached Fort Lauderdale, it was determined that the boat needed some maintenance work.  We docked at a Marriot where Michael gave Bruce and Falicia the proverbial “boot”.   It was then that Michael announced the alternator wasn’t working and needed replaced. He was a good mechanic and needed someone to pick up the part while he worked on the boat.   I volunteered and headed down the docks, thru the Marriott and out to the street where there were several taxi cabs sitting waiting for business.   The first one that approached me was a tall young dirty blond guy.  He opened my door for me, ran around and got back in the car, turned and asked me where I was headed.  I told him the Napa and he started driving.  It was then that I noticed the naked Barbi Doll leg hanging from a chain on his rear view mirror.  All I could think of was “Oh God, If I get to where I’m going and back to the boat, it will be a wonder.”  He tried to drum up conversation, but I was a little “weirded”  out to talk.  Fort Lauderdale turned out to be an interesting/wide open town.  We passed several strip clubs along the way and the people were very interesting.  Thankfully, I got the part I needed and was back on the boat safely.  Michael fixed the problems and we were off and sailing again.

Sailing South for the Winter Part I


Flying Dutchman

It was the middle of November and we were already off to a late start for heading south.  The temperatures at night had dipped into the low 40’s.   A sure sign that colder weather was on its’ way.  People were applying for the position of crew, to sail to the west coast of Florida from the outer banks of  North Carolina.  This would be a situation where the crew member paid for their passage way in exchange for experience on the  45′ single masted, sloop rig sailboat.  A colorful selection of people were willing to go, but only a very few seemed reliable.  The Flying Dutchman was a comfortable boat with three staterooms , two heads, a large saloon and workable galley. This would be a trip of comfort mainly.  All that was required was someone to man the wheel on a regular schedule and we broke it down into shifts.  Three people were committed for the trip.  There was Bruce and Felicia, a mid-aged couple from New England, and a young solid, muscular lady named Linda from North Carolina, along with the Captain Michael and myself.  I was mainly a deck hand due to the limited amount of time I had spent on the water.

A time was arranged for everyone to meet on the Flying Dutchman at 6pm , the night before departure.  Each of us filtered on board, one by one, introducing ourselves to each other.  We were all feeling a bit apprehensive about the long journey ahead.  Bruce brought on board several expensive nautical “toys”/electronics and was overjoyed and eager to share them with the Captain.  Linda’s nervousness had surfaced by her quick, constant chatter and Michael was geared up and had already started telling stories of “I remember when and what to expect ahead”.  I began looking around for Bruce’s wife, Felicia, who was no where in site.  When I discovered a pause in conversation I jumped in to ask “Where is Felicia?”.  It was then that Bruce broke the news that she had been ill and would meet us later on the trip.  Michael wasn’t too happy to have just learned that he was one crew member short and was contemplating finding her replacement but decided against it.

The following morning I was awaken by the sound of the engine running and people moving around on deck. As I made way up top,  I was just in time to see Michael on the wheel and Bruce tossing the lines from the pilings on deck.  Our journey had begun. The first day we made it as far as Beuford, North Carolina.  It was a salty looking water town with many boats that looked like they had been at anchor for a long time.  We dropped the hook as well, had dinner and off to bed.  The next morning was much like the first.  The men were up early and ready to roll.  The day before we had traveled down the Pamlico Sound. Today we would go out thru the channel to the Atlantic Ocean and go on the outside all the way to Charleston, SC.  The weather had been great so far and this day was no exception.  The temperature was in the 60’s and the sun felt good.  It was one of those feelings again where you could sit on the front of the deck, smell the salt air and watch the world go by.  Sailing was better than any dope you could buy and the feeling of freedom made me want to lay down and take a nap, I’ve said that before.   I must admit, that life on land conditioned my mind to go fast.  Everything was go, go, go.  This trip had of way of forcing me to slow down.  It was tough to do at first, but I adapted quickly.  When we arrived at our destination for that evening, it was  at a marina where the people were very hospitable.   When the sun went down it was cold and your winter coat was in order.  There was a deck hand to greet us that took  our lines, tied up the boat and then proceeded to tell us what was in the area.  Bruce had arranged for Falicia to meet us there.  When she arrived we all decided to go to a nice seafood restaurant and have dinner.  The restaurant had a delivery service where they would come to you and pick you up and then bring you back.  The moment we got into the car and began ridding, I had a feeling of dizziness and felt like we were speeding excessively down the road.  I leaned over to Michael and said “Geez, how fast are we going?”.  Michael laughed and said “Not even 40 mph”.  Motoring and sailing all day we never exceeded 8 mph, talk about slowing your mind down,  and that was two days of sailing that got me to that point.  Our dinner was enjoyable and getting off of the boat for a short while was a nice diversion.

Weekend Cruise


breezin upThe time of year was Autumn, ironically, and this was going to be my first “long trip” cruise.  We were headed to a place that would take six hours by water. Didn’t need to bring much in the way of clothing; extra shirt, jeans, warm jacket and rain gear.  So it didn’t take me long to get ready.  As for Michael, the captain of the “Flying Dutchman”, 45′ Sailboat,  he had more to attend to than I was aware of, such as checking over the engine, batteries, filling the water tanks and I can’t leave out socializing with all the other neighborhood boaters. Upon my arrival I was handed a handful of cash and was asked to run to the store for food. He said pick up anything, I like about everything.  (His famous last words.)  When I returned with the groceries it became evident that he didn’t like most of everything I bought. He was a good sport about it and said hop on board and grab a line.   Then we were off.

It was a gorgeous day. You know how vivid blue the sky gets in the autumn and how the trees will turn bright yellow, orange, red and hot pink, right before they fall off the trees?  Well it was that kind of day.  We headed out into the Roanoke Island Sound.  It was wider than any river or lake I had ever seen and there was no one else in sight. Such a rare experience for a landlubber.  Not many places you can go where there isn’t someone else around.  I loved it!  As we headed around the port island and turned the nose to the north, the sails were pulled out and the southwest wind filled both sails.  Then it was time to turn off the engine.  The only sound now was the wind and boat moving thru the water and the occasional seagull or osprey. The boat was large enough that you could talk awhile, wander to another part of the boat and soak in all that the wind, water, and sky had to offer.  It was difficult to not take a nap.  Funny how nature alone can make you forget all the loud noise in your head. The time went by quickly.

As the sun was going down we were approaching the 65′ bridge that spanned the outer banks to the mainland.  Being that Michael had a wicked since of humor, while studying the chart,  he told me that the mast on the boat was too tall to go under the bridge and we were approaching the bridge at a good clip.  My stress-less day just came to an end and I began to get a mind picture of the mast hitting the bridge, the boat sinking and us swimming to shore.  As the mast approached the bridge it looked as tho the radio antenna, at least, was going to hit the bridge.  But we passed smoothly without a collision. I can still see  Michael now with that big “shit eating” grin.

On approach to the town of Edenton, the sun set and the sky was filled with streaks of colors of red,  yellows, orange and grays.  Once it got dark, it seemed to take us forever to get to where we were going.  Eventually the moon came up, the lights on shore came on, making it difficult to see the markers.  Navigation at night became a whole different  set of rules. Thankfully, Michael had done this before and navigated his way to the town docks. We had arrived.

After spending two nights at Michael’s sisters beautiful Victorian Home, and one day touring the quaint sound-side town, we were back on the boat early headed back to Roanoke Island.   While underway I went below and fixed myself a bowl of cerial, went back up on deck, sat down and ate.  I remember thinking ” I could do this everyday”.  The freedom that I felt went down to my core.  I could feel it in my veins. Sounds silly, but the feeling was Real. We took our time sailing back that day. On a scale of 1 to 10, the day was another 10.  The wind was on our side.

Michael took the opportunity to tell me a few things about sailing such as navigation, man overboard drills and weather.  At one point he was so into what he was doing that he turned the wheel hard to the right and until the boat was turning in a large circle, after all we were the only ones out there so it seemed.  It wasn’t too long until we heard, over the vhf radio, someone hailing the sailboat asking if we were alright.  We knew then that we weren’t alone. In a way it was good to know incase we ran into trouble.

Later that day we arrived back at our home port, Roanoke Island.  As we approached the dock, I grabbed a line and took a turn on a piling, then the next piling,  while Michael at the wheel turned off the engine and the electronics.  We stepped off of the boat and walked down the dock. It was then that I felt like I had left a part of myself behind on the boat. Once again, we had a perfect day.

The Choice to Cruise


shannon on wheel Sometimes you can tell when there is change in the air.  Life had been more than demanding in the previous years and I had taken about all I was able to take.  It was July, hot and my birthday.  I was working painting houses in a small  sea side town. I had stopped at the local sandwich shop to fuel up.  ” My heart isn’t in to working today”, I told my friend.  It was then that the screen door scratched open and in walked this fella who had a golden tan, white blond hair, mustache and a beard.  It was obvious he was “a local”  by the cheery greeting he gave to everyone as he walked in.  I overheard Richard, the sandwich shop owner, ask him if he had any charters today and he bellowed out “Just two this morning”, then he turned to walk out, looked over at my friend and I and asked us if we’d like to go sailing.  My heart just sank due to my unproductive frame of mind and the fact I had never been sailing before. Ok,  I thought he looked good in those sailors shorts.  We just laughed and said “No, got to go to work”.  Then he replied “When you want to go sailing, just let me know.  I’m usually docked over at the end of the pier”.

My friend and I usually started our mornings with a cold beer,  just to get in the right frame of mind.  We’d have another with lunch and then a few more after work. We lived on an island close to the beach and tried to live like we were on vacation.  It was almost impossible tho.   I was working three, sometimes four jobs just to keep “afloat”.  One of my other jobs was cleaning rental houses. I was taken in by the looks of the boats in the area and loved going out on the water.  I thought if I could get a job working on a boat that it wouldn’t seem so much like work.  So I put the word out that I cleaned boats. Shortly after, I was introduced to the blonde haired, tanned fella, who was looking for someone to clean his boat after a charter.  He hired me to clean the 45′ Sloop Rig, Lancer, on Sundays. The first Sunday I cleaned, the following Sundays, we ended up going sailing.  He felt bad that we ended up playing when I needed to be working and offered to pay me anyway. Of course I refused because somehow in my mind, paying me to play, might be construed into something else and morally I wanted to maintain a respectable relationship.  Needless to say, three months later he was heading south, to the warmer climate, to do more charters and once again he asked me to come sailing, except this time it was for the next six months.  Once again my heart sank because I had fallen in love with sailing and I had responsibilities that I “had” to maintain.  After much thought, at the last minute I decided to go along.  He gave me one sea-bag and told me that everything I brought had to fit in that bag.   Somehow I couldn’t fit everything into one bag and talked him into letting me use his also.  So this is the beginning of our cruising adventures.

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