Sunday, May 10, 2020

Living in Limbo

Princesa Mia in Oriental NC, as seen from our dock

I wrote this last week but never pushed the "publish" button:

The boat's ours... sort of.
We're free to roam... sort of.
We're NC locals... sort of.

The bank is taking its sweet time releasing the funds for Minerva, and the seller will not release any paperwork until the funds are released by his bank for his use. So we know where Minerva's hide-a-key is and we've sort of got possession of the boat but not completely.

In the meantime she waits in a slip close to the Seller's house at the Oriental Harbor Marina, which is quite exposed to the South winds which have been epic lately. Last night's wind was a steady 45 knots with expected gusts to 65. Gale force. That was enough to snap the mast of a smaller boat at a nearby marina. It's a wild enough rodeo that we cannot jump from the dock onto our boat deck because she is bucking like a wild bronco, and Chloe stands stiff-legged and barks at the bouncing docks with real aggression. We've spider-webbed Minerva every which way so she stays put, I expect the first thing to let go will likely be the dock.

Because of Minerva's ours/not really ours status, we have been ordering the electronics goodies to be installed but keeping them in the RV with us until we have the keys in hand. It's getting kinda crowded in our little 272 square foot home.

Lance delivers the new electronics to the boat.

The NC governor has extended the stay at home order a little bit longer for most folks, and at the same time lifted the limitations for some businesses. There is definitely a feeling of Spring freedom in the air as a few more folks emerge and return to their routines. Some of the marinas along our planned Northerly sail are open for visitors again, and a summer harbor-hopping route is starting to make itself clear. Rough plans include: swimming with the ponies of Chincoteague, sailing a lap around Lady Liberty, and spying on puffins in Maine.

Minerva at rest between storms

I really must pause here and give a huge shout-out to Facebook. When we were putting in our bid on the Tartan in Florida last December I made a Facebook friend (Mark) with a sister ship and his advice on common problem areas became immensely valuable during that process. Alas, the Tartan repairs were more than we were willing to tackle so our shared dream of sailing the sisters side-by-side was not to be. But we stayed friends anyways, and as an Oriental native he chimed in again with locals' guidance when it was clear we'd settle in for a spell. 

Through the Women Who Sail Facebook group I met Janet and later her husband Joe, who have a home and a boat in the Oriental area. They have a wood and metal workshop nearby which they have graciously offered to share should we need workspace. Having instant friends with local knowledge has been immensely helpful through the boat-buying process, and it's been a lot less isolating with like-minded allies at our side. While we were visiting Janet and Joe on their boat one day Mark came by, come to find out he keeps his Tartan 40 in the same marina, it's only about 15 slips away from Janet and Joe's Southerly 42. They have been neighbors for some time but hadn't really spoken until the point where I looked up from Tango as he was walking by with an armful of teak for the latest boat project and said "hey aren't you Mark with the Tartan?".

Janet on the deck of her boat Tango, a Southerly 42

Finally, a Facebook group I recently discovered Bob423, which is all about crowd-sourcing the latest ICW knowledge. Garmin ActiveCaptain tracks are shared and updated regularly, and this has greatly eased my concerns about the shallow waters, shoaling and bridge quirks of the East Coast ICW. Tips I learned from this website helped us finally pull the trigger on the right chartplotter system and radar system, a daunting task which was causing choice paralysis.

So we're here with our boat, but not really.
We're free to roam, eventually.
We're locals, technically.

The electrical rat's nest. It looked much better after the dead wires from decades of nonexistent equipment were removed.

All this has been an exercise in frustration for me. It may come as a surprise... but I'm a bit of a control freak. Gasp! Every day I wake up and look for some small way I can move us back towards our free-roaming lifestyle but overall, I must admit I am not in control of most of this now.

Shawna sorting the charts, the radar and chartplotter wait in the background

Realizing that, and surrendering to it, has been difficult.

Yeah this is as far as I got last week.

Two days after I wrote this, a full two weeks after I fell into a profoundly deep funk over it all, we finally got the banking and the final paperwork squared away and officially got the keys.  Lance delivered the new radar and chartplotter to the boat and started tracing every electrical wire with the goal of bringing it all up to his standards. I've been going through every nook and cranny, taking note of the location of every tool, spare, and gadget, and deep cleaning it all.

The key. At last.

There are SO MANY nooks and crannies on this boat. She has been around the world at least once, and the previous owner and the owner before him did all of their travel with minimal electronics. So that means mountains of paper charts, many with handwritten notes. The owners who cruised from 1988-1992 included maintenance concerns on their chart notes as well, an interesting idea in lieu of a separate logbook. I sorted them all, keeping the ones to be used between now and December handy and archiving the Caribbean, Africa, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands charts under the bed for now. The Caribbean is definitely on our radar for 2021, the rest... who knows?

The bridge between us and our friends on Tango

With this boat we can go anywhere that is touched by the sea. Literally anywhere.
She's that kind of boat.

The archived charts of the Caribbean, Africa, and the South Pacific will wait under the bed, fueling far-away dreams

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