I need to take a weather course!

I used to “teach” ninth graders about weather. Kind of funny looking back on it, because I’ve come to realize over the past eleven weeks how little I truly understand weather. So any former students who may be following me, you go ahead and chuckle now. 

I’m obsessed with the weather. I have never spent so much time checking land and marine forecasts as I have these past eleven weeks. I repeatedly check the My Radar app and our real-time on board radar for hours as storms play around and approach us, simultaneously watching the skies and trying to read patterns. I hope that as I continue to watch over time, the skies will make more sense and I won’t need to stare at the radar for hours. I religiously check the (sometimes inaccurate) marine forecasts so I know what kind of ride we’re in for on days when we move to our next location. I don’t mind a bumpy ride, but I prefer our bow seats are not repeatedly dunked into the sea. My hope is always to make it to anchor before any predicted afternoon thunderstorms. Although, really, being at anchor during those hasn’t been great. Our four anchor dragging experiences haven’t helped my state of mind regarding storms. The last one hit us in Smith Creek with 45+ knot winds and a wall of water we couldn’t see through. We dragged about 200’ in the short time it took us to take evasive action to avoid the pylons that were suddenly about 150 feet behind us. We have decided that we will be purchasing a new style anchor soon so we can sleep on stormy nights.

I never worry about thunderstorms when I’m home, but on a boat in the middle of the water I feel very tiny and exposed, even if land and civilization are only a couple of hundred yards away, like in Smith Creek. Mother Nature’s power is awesome, and I respect it…and fear it a little out here. I have been amazed and entertained watching rain clouds approach only to mostly pass us to starboard, lightly showering us with rain from the edge, while the port side remains sunny. At a fireworks display in St. Michaels, we watched Mother Nature compete with her own light show. (I was very thankful that stayed in the distance!) and I’ve been equally terrified by how quickly she can get cranky.

Fortunately, there are weather classes for cruisers. I plan on taking a few to combat my ignorance and increase my peace of mind. Why wait? First one is a webinar next week.

Oh the places we’ve been!

I’m keeping it simple this week. I’ve wanted to create a map of our stops for a while and finally found the solid WiFi connection needed to do so. It’s also nice that I’m in an air conditioned coffee shop sipping an iced latte. The Chesapeake is experiencing a heat wave this week and it has been hot, hot, hot, and humid! So the A/C is very welcomed.

The image with this post is a static image of our stops, but the one below should be interactive. If it’s not, I’ll have to fix it later today. I’m hungry and need lunch.

Happy trails!

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot!

It’s hot! Not as hot as western Europe with their temps over 100F, but it has been in the upper 80s/low-mid 90s for the past week, and humid many of those days but thankfully not all of them. We’ve relished the lightest whisper of a breeze on the water on the more still days, although sometimes we had to be in the hammocks to catch it; how unfortunate 😉 .

This is a good test run for the Caribbean, because it’s giving us the opportunity to determine where the sun does and does not reach, both inside and out, so we can decide how to reduce its heating impact. Having a new 600 square foot roof over us has certainly helped, but not when the sun reaches a certain lower angle in the mornings and afternoons. Indigo Lady came with roll down sun shades on the rear arch of the cockpit, made of Sunbrella fabric. I ordered some of the same fabric in February and made smaller sunshades for the sides before we left. We didn’t need them for the longest time, but the temperatures in Annapolis finally prompted us to install them. Dave & I added the needed snaps and grommets and mounted them on the velcro we’d installed before we left in April. The picture with this post shows one rolled up and one deployed. I made them narrow so we could still get up to the bow when necessary, but that left a spot for the sun to intrude on our cockpit space and heat it up (it happens fast). Our current plan is to make an additional panel for each side that is simply weighted to hang straight, but can easily be pushed aside to get to the bow. We’ll probably have to modify that idea for when it’s windy. For now we use clothespins to secure beach towels in those spaces, over the hand rail that surrounds our entire roof. It really does reduce the temperature of the cockpit.

Our next challenge is the windows in the salon and galley. When the sun hits those, it gets hot inside, and the heat stays even after it has cooled down inside, despite running our (tiny) fans. Of course the walls are all slanted, so curtains are out. We think we’re going to start with those reflective yet still see-through stick on sheets people use on their home and car windows. It’s cheap and easy to install, and we can find it at a hardware store, once we are within reach of one again. If we don’t like that, I may make shades out of Sunbrella that attach by velcro and can roll up out of the way when not needed. At the moment, I have a paper bag cut open, flattened, and taped to whichever part of either forward facing window is getting the direct sun at the time. Whatever works!

We are fortunate to still be in the mid Chesapeake Bay before stinging nettle season (jellyfish), so we can swim to cool off. As we head further south and as the summer wears on, we will lose that option when the jellyfish move in <sigh>. We’ll just have to spend more time in the hammocks with icy drinks. Poor us 😉 .

The pleasures of town and river

We are in Annapolis, MD. What a zoo of boats and people! A friend of ours (I’m looking at you, Ian) told us Annapolis is like Newport, RI on steroids. Yup. I was far too exhausted when we arrived yesterday to enjoy the people watching, but perhaps after a good night’s sleep I’ll appreciate it more today. Pictures can’t really capture the craziness, but the top part of the picture in this post is taken from the Harbor Master’s office looking toward the town dock at Kunte Kinte- Alex Haley Park, with restaurants on the far side where one can dock to eat. The lower picture is our anchorage last night, at the far end of Spa Creek and away from the fray. This end reminds me more of Back Channel at our mooring back home in the peak of summer; it’s more my speed. However, it is a very historic town and I look forward to touring some of it over the next couple of days.

I want, and need, to be in a town every once in a while, though I prefer smaller towns (Annapolis is a bit much).  Okay, I need to be in a town at least every 1-2 weeks. An isolationist I am not. I need interaction with people, even if it’s a 1-minute conversation with the barista at a coffee shop.  It’s in the small towns we’ve visited that I’ve had some lovely conversations with local people. There’s a lot of pride of place in small towns, and folks want you to learn about their lives past and present, the contributions their communities have made. That’s a prime reason I enjoy traveling; it reminds me how much all humans have in common. I’ve been able to have these expderiences in Scituate and Cuttyhunk, MA; Block Island, RI; Mystic, New London and East New Haven, CT; Shelter Island and Port Jefferson, NY; Atlantic Highlands and Cape May, NJ; Havre de Grace, Rock Hall, and Chestertown, MD.

Between all those stops have been the quiet, remote anchorages where sometimes we were able to dinghy ashore to stretch our legs, while other times we could only sit on board and observe nature all around us and relax (unless we had to do boat chores or fix something). I very much enjoy those days, too. I used to hike a lot in college and just after, but I didn’t make time for it as I got older. So now I get to reconnect with nature, but from the water (and once we’re in the Caribbean it will be under the water too!).

I sat in the hammock last night here at anchor in Annapolis, reading unitl there wasn’t enough light, listening to the splash of boats going by and the sound of conversations in the nearby park and on nearby boats. I watched the sun set and the stars come out. I listened to the noise slowly abate as it got later. Not too bad for a big city.

At some point I will post a map that pins all the places we’ve been on this trip, but I’m going to have to wait until I have time to sit in a coffee shop with WiFi for a couple of hours. Maybe next week 😉  

What’s that noise?

There are many noises on a boat, and it’s important to be able to identify them. I’m still learning. Some come from the boat itself while others result from interactions between the boat and Mother Nature. I’m not sure I can do the sounds justice in words, but I’ll give it a try.

Boat noises

  • A light hum– the sound our electric motors make when we’re underway.
  • An abrupt and deep “thrum thrum”– the sound of the diesel generators starting up, fading to a steady hum once they fully engage. Then there’s the abrupt “thrum splutter” when they shut off.
  • Rapid machine gun fire in the distance– the sound of the fresh water pressure pump. The saltwater pressure pump makes a similar sound, just a bit louder.
  • A sucking/slurping noise- the sump pumps in the heads pumping water overboard from the sinks and showers. One night I heard ours go off when nobody was using the head. Hmmm. Dave investigated but found nothing and the sump well was dry. In the morning he investigated again and realized rain had trickled in from our open head porthole, run down the wall and into the shower drain thus triggering the sump pump. Mystery solved. Close your portholes when it rains, silly!
  • A soft whirring– the bilge pumps. Fortunately we haven’t heard those come on other than when Dave tests them to ensure they’re still functioning.
  • A whirring/buzzing sound followed by a whirring/buzzing/garbage disposal sound– the first is the head as salt water is pumped into the toilet, the second is the macerator grinding the contents and pumping them into the holding tank. (Gross, I know, but necessary.)
  • A deep whirring sound that becomes higher pitched after about 2-3 minutes- another macerator pump emptying our holding tanks overboard (only when we’re more than 3 miles offshore) until the tank is empty. You know they’re empty when the higher pitched sound starts.
  • A low hum that continues after the engines are shut off- the cooling fans in the engine room make. It’s like our Priuses when we shut them off and still hear the cooling fans.
  • A loud, constant whirring inside– the water maker, requiring us to close the door to the cabin in which it is located, otherwise conversation is difficult. Fortunately it makes about 30 gallons an hour, so we don’t have to run it for long to fill our tanks, and we try to do it on nice days when we can be outside rather than inside.
  • A faint beeping sound (usually heard at night when the winds have kicked up)- Ah yes, the anchor alarm. That is not a fun sound to hear, and we’ve unfortunately heard it several times this voyage. It sounds like our coffee pot telling us it’s done brewing, only the anchor alarm doesn’t stop until we tell it to. It seems I am the only one aboard who can hear this alarm. Fortunately it wakes me when I’m asleep. (Dave can’t hear it over his snoring.) You’d think such an important sound would have been programmed to be louder.  

Boat + Nature noises

  • Water hitting our hull makes a variety of noises, some of them downright scary, but harmless. They range from splashing, to a light slapping against the hulls, to thunderous booms that scare the hell out of me, especially when they wake me out of a dead sleep. If you’ve ever been to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park, you now have a reference for this alarming sound.
  • The wind makes our American flag and our Seven Seas Cruising Association burgee flap. Depending on the speed of the winds, this can be a light “flap, flap, flap…tink, tink, tink”, or it can sound like someone is beating a rug with a broom handle.
  • The wind also runs over our cabin and under our roof, which makes it howl at varying frequencies, again depending on the speed of the wind. The fabric rain gutter we mounted under the roof over the gap between its halves also flaps making a “whoompf, whoompf” sound.

My favorite noises to date occurred around 4:00 and 4:30 am today. The earlier sound was a light, irregular drumming low on our hull. I got up and went outside to investigate and saw something slowing moving away from the hull. I went back in for my glasses (duh!) and saw two ducks swimming away. They may have been eating algae off our hull 🙂 . Only I’m not quite sure about that, because minutes later I heard my Dad get up and check the fishing lines he and Dave had left out overnight. There was a catfish on each one! So perhaps we were hearing them fight a bit and the rods were knocking in their holders. We’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is the source of the sound I heard at 4:30 am right over our heads- “patter, patter, patter, patter… pause…patter, patter, patter” (repeat a few times) . “Those are feet!” I exclaimed, and got up (again) to check. I found a pair of mallards pattering around on our bow. How cute! I left them alone, snapped a couple of pictures and went back to bed.

After that, all I heard were the typical sounds of morning as the sun rose over the calm waters of the Sassafras River- the quiet swish of water on the hull, early bass fishermen in their small boats, osprey hunting for breakfast, and other bird song in the distance.

The New Jersey Coast- Full of Firsts

It now actually feels like spring, bordering on summer, just as it should this time of year. The days are warm, the nights are staying in the low 60s, and we can leave the hatches open all day and night unless it rains. The water temps are also in the low 60s, keeping the cabins at a more consistent temperature so the walls aren’t damp with condensation every morning (less mildew). The screens are in place on all hatches, portholes, and the slider because with the warm days come the bugs. There’s usually a breeze on the water, so even when it’s been low 80s on land, it’s still comfortable on the boat.

We had a lovely couple of nights at anchor in Atlantic Highlands, NJ after we transited through NYC. It was a great anchorage only about a 5 minute dinghy ride to a public dock in a huge marina that bordered a very walkable town that even had a full-sized grocery store less than a mile from the marina. We were exhausted after the excitement of the NYC transit, but we still went ashore late afternoon to scope out things. My folks decided to go to the 5:15 Mass, so we killed a little time with margaritas, chips & salsa in a local bar, then Dave & I returned to Lady so he could take a nap (the rest of us had napped between NY Harbor and the marina). We went ashore to pick up my folks and ordered take out from a Thai place to eat aboard. The next day we bought groceries and showered and then relaxed aboard for the afternoon in preparation for the next leg of our journey, an overnight run from Atlantic Highlands down the Atlantic side of NJ all the way to Cape May at the other end. We started the trek around 9am Monday, but before leaving we fueled and watered at the marina. It was my first docking attempt, with Dave coaching me. The dock hand said I did well, most people slam into the dock. I had a good coach 🙂 . This overnight run held another first for me, my first solo watch. It was blissfully uneventful and the conditions were perfect. I came on shift to relieve my Dad at 2:00am just as we were approaching Atlantic City, so I got to enjoy the lights. There were large vessels a few miles off but on parallel courses to us, so I was able to leisurely play around with our AIS and radar, learning how to identify ships and their speeds and courses. Dave relieved me at 5:00am just as the sun was rising behind us.

We arrived at Cape May Harbor and anchored just east of the Coast Guard station around 10am. It was a warm, almost hot, sunny day. We dinghied over to a yacht club nearby to ask if we could tie up at their dock for a bit. There was nobody around to talk to, so I guess that meant we weren’t in anyone’s way 😉 . We knew there was a nature center of some sort nearby, so that was our target, just to stretch our legs. It was a little gem of a place, and free. It’s definitely meant for children, but we’re all just big kids, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for about an hour. They had tanks in their “aquatic lab” with local sea life. There was a local fauna “garden” to walk through. There was an osprey nest complete with an osprey who had just caught a fish! Their main building had a shop downstairs and an exploration room upstairs. It was small, and full, but well organized with activities for kids of all ages, all sorts of stuff to look at and touch. We made a few purchases and left a cash donation in support of their largely volunteer efforts to run the place.

On Wednesday morning we dinghied ashore to Utsch’s Marina, which kindly let us tie up there for the day.  We took an Uber over to Cape May Point State Park. This was another free adventure with another cool little nature center, a small museum, a beach, and nature trails. We availed ourselves of each of these, including a short 1/2 mile loop trail by a pond (too hot for a longer walk!). We opted not to pay $10 to climb up the 199 steps to the top of the light house; the free stuff was good enough for us. It was a lovely morning. We took an Uber back to the docks for lunch, then dinghied back to Lady before the predicted afternoon rain. We spent a couple of hours planning the next segment of our trip and had just poured ourselves some rum when the anchor drag alarm went off.

The winds had picked up to around 30 kts, gusting to 40 kts while we were planning, but the rain hadn’t started yet. Even though we had spent a very secure night on anchor in this exact spot the previous night, it turned out the holding ground was not good for the anchor/wind combination this second night. So we paired and donned our headsets (much easier bow to helm communication) and Dave, Dad & I went up to reset. The current and wind were both strong and opposing each other, so Dave steered while Dad & I worked the anchor (a plow). We tried to reset the plow anchor (the main one on the windlass), but it didn’t set. Then we tried the fortress and it didn’t set. Then the really dark clouds were over us, the winds were sustained at 30-40 kts, there was thunder in the distance, and the rain started. So Dave had us put the fortress back over to pay out its own line which was still cleated to the bow, while we simultaneously dropped the plow again. Dad and I got back in seconds before the torrential rain started. We grabbed Dave’s foul weather gear for him to wriggle into so he could man the helm in case we dragged again. Fortunately both anchors set this time, and the storm passed in about 20 minutes. The winds died back down shortly after. Dave came in and dried off, we finished our rum (and had an extra finger), and resumed our evening. The next morning when we hauled both anchors they came up pretty clean- only tiny spots of mud, no grass. The guides and charts indicated good holding in mud in this anchorage, so we best we can figure is that the bottom has changed since the charts were published, or we were on the edge of the mud in less consolidated bottom that probably included sand and a little light mud. So having the plow and fortress out the second night was useful.  

While it was a stressful experience (and another first), I’m glad to have had it while my folks are still aboard (okay, and right next to a Coast Guard training station). If this had happened the first time with just me and Dave aboard, I’m not sure I would have been able to manage the fortress by myself without hurting my back, and I don’t have any experience maneuvering the boat in those types of conditions so Dave could have handled the anchors. Now Dave & I can plan how to deal with this situation in the future when it may be only the two of us on board.

You will be glad to know that we’ve had two lovely days and nights at anchor since, in a couple of rivers off the Delaware Bay. In fact, I’m writing this as I enjoy a beautiful, warm morning with a lovely breeze. And now I shall post this and read in the hammock for a bit before lunch.

Riding the rapids through NYC!

Transiting the East River from Long Island Sound to NY Harbor was like an excellent water park ride!

I am so glad we decided to take the Long Island Sound route rather than go the Atlantic side. I thoroughly enjoyed our time bouncing between the coasts of CT and Long Island, but I especially enjoyed our trip yesterday down the East River through NYC into New York Harbor. It was exhilarating! I described it to my sister as a 3-hour waterpark ride.

We had anchored on the west side of City Island the night before, and started our journey from there around 9:00 am so as to reach the start of the East River just after slack so we could ride the current through the river and harbor. We cruise at 5 kts and needed to make 32 nm that day, so going with the current was important to our getting to Sandy Hook, NJ the same day and before any of the predicted afternoon thunderstorms (which never actually materialized). The first part from Throgs Neck to Hell’s Gate was calm with only a few fast boats passing us and throwing up wakes. At Hell’s Gate we started picking up speed from the current; the top speed Dave noted was 10.4 kts! From Hell’s Gate to the harbor was the waterpark ride part of the transit. We had speeds of around 9 kts for a good part of it, squirrely currents, big wakes from numerous fast ferries and other speed boats, and 6-8 foot waves in some places! Dave commented that it was sort of like white water rafting. As the river narrowed inside the city we were close to the heartbeat of the town, watching it tick by, so close we could even see window washers up on the high rises waving to us. What a ride! Like any good water park ride, I even got drenched once. That’s what I get for sitting on the walkway between the tramps, but it was an awesome vantage point! Mom sat on the starboard bow seat the entire time and only got her ankles tickled by a couple of splashes- the safe seat. After my soaking I opted to sit back up on the bulkhead for the rest of the ride, except when I drove the boat for about 15 minutes under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. I can now say I’ve driven in New York City. 😉 Dad took a turn near the end of the river and navigated us through most of the harbor. Dave was all smiles having driven the majority of the way- happy as a clam in mud. 🙂

The harbor was still busy with tons of ferries, tour boats, and private boats, but we’d slowed to around 7 kts with no squirrely currents and much more room to maneuver. I took a bunch of pictures of the Statue of Liberty (a couple even came out well). Once the excitement was over, I was like a kid coming off an excellent roller coaster ride and said to Dave,  “That was cool! Let’s do it again!”

We had lunch as we transited New York Harbor, and looked at options for the night near Sandy Hook, opting to anchor in Atlantic Highlands Harbor (nice little town). We made it from City Island to anchor in about 5 hours.

The picture I included in this post was one Dave took during the last 45 minutes of the cruise across to NJ. We were spent from the thrill and adrenaline rush! Dave got his nap later in the afternoon.

(For more pictures, visit my facebook page or instagram feed linked at right.)

Mis-adventures

Every adventure has some misadventures. Fortunately, ours have been minimal. The swans have nothing to do with those; it was just a nice picture, and they did visit us in the location discussed below. Here’s a synopsis of a couple of misadventures.

Crossing Block Island Sound last Sunday from the south side of Fishers Island to Montauk was an adventure, and fortunately merely uncomfortable rather than a misadventure. The marine forecast predicted 2-3 (maybe it was 4) foot seas and 10-15 kt winds from the west. What we got were 4-7 foot waves and 20+ kt winds from the south, the direction we were heading. To say it was choppy would be an understatement. Let’s just say our bow seats got repeated salt water dips. About halfway across, we started seeing large logs floating on the choppy waves, so Dave & Dad had to play dodge the logs. Our anticipated 4 hour crossing took a little over 5 hours, but we arrived safe and sound. Then we called the Coast Guard…

Sometime last Saturday, Mom whacked her right ring finger on the sliding door. It swelled only a little, but didn’t hurt much after the initial shock. She did not remove her ring. See where this is going? In the wee hours of Sunday morning, she woke up with a very sore and much more swollen finger. Dad helped her ice it, gave her ibuprofen, and when it stopped hurting so much they went back to sleep. It did not look any better around 9:00 am. She could turn the ring, but barely. She said it didn’t bother her “much”, so we decided to leave Fisher’s Island (NY) and head for Lake Montauk as planned. During the trip she alternately iced it and soaked it in cold seawater, and took more ibuprofen. No change. Once we anchored in Montauk we decided the ring had to come off. Of course it was Sunday, so none of the urgent care places were open and the nearest hospital was a long drive. So we called the Coast Guard, who happened to have a station right at the mouth of the harbor. They arranged to meet us at the marina we were anchored near, and had the fire department call for a paramedic. We were met by 4 nice Coasties, a man from the fire department, and then a very funny young paramedic who immediately put my mom at ease and then removed the ring (which will be repaired upon her return home). Lo and behold, within 15 minutes of the ring coming off, the swelling went down. A huge thank you to the Montauk Coast Guard, fire department and paramedics!

A little after 3:00 am Monday morning, I awoke to the faint sound of an alarm going off. Dave checked and confirmed it was the anchor drag alarm and that we had dragged about 100 feet. Our dinghy, which was still up in her lift under our roof panel, was kissing one of the two pylon channel markers, the only thing near us in the entire lake, of course. So we geared up, hauled anchor, and were fortunately spared trying to re-anchor in the dark and high winds (25 kts with higher gusts) by noticing an empty mooring ball, which we picked up after deciding it would hold us. Back to bed. Next day we tried three times with two different anchors (a plough then a danforth) to stick in the “fair” holding ground reported for Lake Montauk. No dice. We picked up a more robust looking mooring that appeared to belong to the town. It was still their pre-season, and we were the only non-local boat in the anchorage. Nobody bothered us that night and we slept well. In the morning, the swans pictured above visited us for about half an hour. What a lovely family!

I am happy to report that future anchorings in subsequent locations have not resulted in the anchor drag alarm going off. I have gotten in some good anchoring practice.

All the ‘comforts’ of home?

I like small living spaces. I grew up in a 3/4 cape, then lived in a dorm for 4 years, then a series of small apartments, and then bought a one-floor ranch-style house. Moving onto a 44-foot catamaran seemed reasonable; she is quite roomy, for two anyway. But boy, does this boat get small on a cold and rainy day with four aboard stuck inside this tiny salon! Unfortunately for us, that’s been about 70% of our weather these past three and a half weeks. Large portions of this trip have not been what I would deem ‘comfortable’.

So I ask myself, what makes me ‘comfortable’? A hot drink and a place to curl up with a book or movie makes me ‘comfortable’ on a cold or rainy day. I find sunny days with temps above 65oF to be comfortable, but I don’t like it too hot or too humid. Being dry is comfortable. Being able to have a regular exercise routine makes my body hurt less, which makes it easier to be physically comfortable. On an mental/emotional level, time with family and friends alternating with time alone is important for my comfort. Having enough joy to offset the challenges provides me with a sense of balance in life, and therefore a type of comfort. Planning gives me a sense of order and control which give me comfort.

Now how do I attain this sense of comfort onboard now rather than holding out for the elusive ‘comfort’ once we reach warmer climes? I am finding this challenging.

Weather impacts my mood, which impacts my comfort level. I can’t do anything about the weather. All I can do is keep myself as physically comfortable as possible by wearing the right clothes and gear, drinking hot beverages and using the space heater when it’s cold, being outside when I can. I am a bit more acclimated to the current temperatures, which is helpful because I don’t feel as cold as often. I have to accept the fact that I and the boat are going to be damp frequently, at this time of year due to condensation, in warmer climes it will be due to humidity. We just open her up when we can to air her out and regularly clean the forming mildew. I pretty much have to suck it up when it comes to weather.

Balancing together time with alone time is important for my mental/emotional comfort and I have been struggling with this, especially because the weather has prevented us from spreading out on the boat. One method I’ve adopted is to just get out of bed once I realize I’m not going to fall back asleep. Instead, I get up and do something alone, like working on my blog this morning. The 30-45 minutes of alone time helps center me. As it gets warm enough, I’ll carve out time each day to do yoga up in the bow, even if I have to put on an extra layer I wouldn’t need at home. I can say that I’m not bored, and there has been much joy on the trip- joy in the company I’m with, joy in the activities we’ve engaged in in the places we’ve explored. Balance between joy and challenges- ✓.

I like to plan things out, and I like for the plans to work out as, well, planned. While planning is extremely important when living aboard, trying to have a plan is like beating one’s head against a wall. Planning for safety is necessary, and we do this all the time. We plan around marine weather forecasts in order to travel from place to place safely. We plan safely navigable routes. We plan to have enough food, water and fuel aboard for times when we can’t get to them ashore. We planned home-like ‘comforts’ before moving aboard. I made quilts for each cabin. We made sure we would have reading material and movies for entertainment. We provisioned foods we enjoy eating, and brought aboard kitchen aids and gadgets that make cooking enjoyable. We ensured we could easily keep in touch with family and friends back home. For warmer climes, we have what we need to dive and snorkel. Still, the deeply rooted ‘planner’ in me finds it stressful to not have a more detailed plan, like knowing exactly where we will be going and when and exactly what we will be doing and exactly what we will have for supper. (Okay, yes, at home I plan out the week’s supper’s before shopping for groceries. You can stop laughing now). Stress does not lead to my being comfortable. The rational part of my brain acknowledges that trying to generate these types of plans on board is pretty silly, but it hasn’t yet convinced the other parts of my brain of this.

What I really need to work on is becoming comfortable ‘going with the flow’. I’m going to start practicing now. We’re going to dub our way down Long Island sound, stopping where we can when we can, and I’m going to be okay with that…I hope.

For now, everyone is up and in the salon. The sun is sort of out, it’s not too cold, and the bow is dry. I’m going to go do some yoga- alone.

 

What to do with a sunny day?

Sunny days have been rare, and we were looking forward to a sunny day at Cuttyhunk Island after a three-day streak of overcast showery days at Martha’s Vineyard. We got our sunny day, and it started out well enough. We were able to enjoy breakfast out in the cockpit (wearing our fleece, of course), the sun was warm and the wind was just a breeze. We planned to go ashore to explore the town and walk the beaches. Perhaps we tempted fate by having a “plan,” because that’s not quite how the day turned out.

Shortly after breakfast, Dave discovered that the freezer was not at temperature; it was too warm. He and Dad spent the better part of the day trying to trouble shoot it, first themselves, then with some tech support they were eventually able to reach after several redirected phone calls. They finally decided we needed to replace something expensive and for which we did not have a spare on board. A couple more tech support calls later, it was decided we needed to replace the controller (thankfully not the compressor, or worse, the whole system). After a little online research, we decided to delay our Block Island stop and head to Newport the next day to pick up the part that was fortunately in stock one town over. In the meantime, they turned our fridge into a freezer. It tends to freeze stuff in some spots at its normal setting, so Dave just turned it down more. We moved the fridge stuff into the freezer with our bags of ice to serve as a cooler.

And while the boys were taking care of the freezer…

While making the bed in the morning, around the time Dave noticed the freezer issue, I discovered a water stain all along the outer edge of the fitted sheet that had wicked water up from under the mattresses. Further exploration of the cabin revealed that two weeks of condensation had left its mark. So while the boys worked on trouble shooting the freezer, Mom & I stripped my bed, attempted to wash the water stain out of the new quilt I made, then hung that, the mattress pad and the fleece blanket outside to dry in the now considerable (20-25 knot) wind and sunshine. Dave & Dad hauled the 3” memory foam mattress topper onto the cockpit table to air out, and I lugged the mattresses onto the tramp to dry in the sun and bake the mildew on the bottom dead. I also discovered that the two large wicker baskets I bought for the shelf in our cabin were wet and starting to mildew on the sides and bottom where they were in contact with the boat and thus the condensation, and that their fabric liners were also damp. So I emptied those, hung the liners outside and put the baskets in the tramp to also bake in the sun. Turns out one of them is dyed wicker, and it stained purple the shelf it had been on. I’ll live with that. Then I wiped down the walls, and we opened all the portholes and hatches in the boat to dry her out a little.

We did break for lunch around 1pm and went ashore for a couple of hours to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and to talk with a few very friendly locals. They told us there are only about 20 people who stay on Cuttyhunk through the winter! They’re busy now getting ready for the summer season that starts around Memorial day, when the island population swells to about 400 and their harbor sees about 4000 boats over the three months.

When we got back from our excursion, I reassembled our cabin and put on the spare set of sheets (fresh sheets!). Then we relaxed with a good dinner and a funny movie. We were too fried to play games.