Tuesday, October 13, 2020

They're pretty proud of that

Chloe was wearing her pirate costume. Minerva was flying her NC Sail pirate flag. Lance's new stuffed shoulder parrot and our pirate costumes waited in a salon locker for the evening's festivities. Two fresh bundles of firewood sat wrapped in plastic on the deck. The rum pantry and groceries were stocked. We crossed our fingers and put Minerva in reverse. She smoothly backed away from her slip, and we were off to the fuel dock. So far so good.

We pulled into the fuel dock and topped off the diesel. Minerva leaned a little to her starboard side with the newly full tank. So far so good.

We slipped the lines and backed out of the fuel dock. Lance took her out of reverse and put her in forward and we were off to a fun destination. Finally.

Then forward motion slowed. Lance revved the throttle - we should have been doing 6 knots forward but were just drifting along with the wind and inertia from the initial thrust. Fortunately the wind was at our backs so we drifted slowly past the anchored boats and sailed her back into her slip. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the shaft was not turning with any real intent, even with the engine revs up Lance could stop the propeller shaft from spinning by gently touching it with his shoe, or (as later discovered) his hand and a gentle grip.

Our friends had gone ahead of us for the pirate festivities, and were either making way there or were already settled in Beaufort for a night of pirate partying. Without extra hands to catch us it's good we have had so much practice at landing her in the slip without power. Of the last five times out, we were towed in twice and sailed her in ourselves the other three.

Well, at least we have a plentiful supply of rum. Day drinking anyone? This boat is going to turn me into an alcoholic. Seriously.

Movie night: Fight Club always makes me feel better when I'm angry. And popcorn. And rum.

The mechanic confirmed our suspicion. The transmission really is toast. We thought we had saved it; it can't be saved. When Lance's eyes widened at the quoted price for the replacement transmission the mechanic said "yeah, they're pretty proud of that", which has become our new mantra for all boat repair parts. The new transmission (thankfully one does actually exist) is on its way, we have an installation date on the calendar for end of October, and there's not much we can do but wait for it. Seems like a good opportunity to pull forward little projects from the Tier 3 list while we wait.

Evicting a big pile of untrustworthy line left us with plenty of space for the emergency Danforth, which we rigged with flaked and ready-to-go anchor and rode. This topside port locker had already been outfitted with rubber mats to protect the boat from the anchor.

The good news is that the weather is finally cooler. Which means the air conditioner parts are finally on their way as well after being on backorder since June. We will have integrated air conditioning installed in November, and next summer will be a lot more comfortable.

Lining the topside anchor lockers with snap-together rubber tiles ensures less banging around for the spare anchor, and better drying area underneath. We setup this anchor as an emergency third anchor with chain and rode, and hope never to use it. Cleaning out this locker means we have plenty of space for bicycles.
Lining the starboard topside anchor locker with snap-together rubber tiles ensures less banging around for the old original and now spare anchor, and space to dry underneath. We setup this anchor as an emergency third anchor with chain and rode, and hope never to use it. We also evicted a giant pile of untrustworthy line and old cleaning stuff, replaced it with a new brush, EZ Mooring system and two new 30' long snubber lines. The experience we gained from battling Tropical Storm Isais helped guide us greatly on what should be handy in this locker and I was able to cannibalize some old never-before-used rope into spliceable line with the help of a big bucket of fabric softener, a strong marlinspike, and several days of determination and sore fingers. There is also room for the folding bicycles in this locker once they've been retrieved from California.

While we are disappointed we couldn't do the grand NorthEast tour we had planned this hurricane season, we are appreciating the cooler weather and the bonus time spent with friends. The Tier 3 To Do list is mostly comprised of comfort items which we didn't think we'd be getting to this year, and ticking each of them off means we are more at home on our boat.

The leftover snap-together tiles fit nicely in the aft head over the teak grate, they're easier on the feet while showering

Oriental and nearby New Bern are significantly socially active towns ordinarily. It took everyone a beat to figure out how to translate the usual frequent community events into socially distant and safe events, but we're getting there. Oriental's annual Pirate Jam ultimately was staged on Teaches Point which is surrounded on 3 sides by water. The music still went on, the difference was the fans listened from boats, kayaks, and dinghies. The fans let the musicians know their appreciation with boat bells and fog horns.  Turning in $100 of receipts from local stores and restaurants earned us a Pirate Jam flag, a creative way of supporting the event sponsors since charging ticket prices wasn't feasible on the open water.

Winch, Disassembled, Still Life
There are 13 of them, Lance is servicing them one at a time. Each one is cranky in its own unique way and they are all long overdue for some TLC.

New Bern's MumFest continued with the restaurants spilled out onto the streets into roped off tables spaced 6' apart, staff wore masks to deliver the food and surely put some extra miles on their tennis shoes. Oriental's Front Porch Music Festival continued largely as usual, the fans brought their own chairs and set them up in family clusters, leaving space apart from other clusters, and enthusiastically sang along with the musicians. It feels good to get off our dock and (sort of) mingle with the locals, we simply keep our masks on, keep our distance, deploy frequent hand sanitizer and avoid any situations that are crowded. Hopefully we'll all get a safe vaccination soon, if not these are simple procedures to follow and we are feeling more and more like we can adhere to the new normal and move around the nation safely this way in the meantime.

Mural at the seafood shack in New Bern

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Breaking News... Weekend Visitor Has Hat Lodged in Throat

"I ain't never seen nothin' like it" said the weekend boater, standing on the deck of the fishing boat he had chartered, his hat on backwards. "She started shrieking at him, and the next thing I knew she'd tackled him to the ground and I had to join with 3 of my buddies to pull her off before she shoved his hat down all the way down his throat. What's the world comin' to when a guy can't offer up advice to a local woman without her freaking out? Sailor bitch be cray-cray!"

The Dragon Moat behind The Bean coffee shop

Another witness, who looks significantly like Sam Elliot, crushed his cigarette in the ashtray outside The Bean coffee shop and tsked. "Damn weekend boat renters ought to know better than to come off with a comment like that. He's lucky every boat owner here didn't toss his lifeless body in the dragon moat." The Sam Elliot look-alike went on to say that when he came to Oriental North Carolina and saw his dream boat in someone's backyard, it was a siren call that wouldn't be denied. That was 16 years go. "She'll be ready to sail soon, I think, maybe next year" and took another sip of his coffee.

Sam Elliott

Reportedly the woman sailor and her husband have been working on the sailboat they purchased 6 months ago non-stop; it has caused them great strife and little joy. She was commiserating with other boat owners at the local coffee shop when the outsider barged into the conversation, uninvited, and delivered his line.

The phrase that caused the otherwise calm sailor woman to come completely unhinged? That is a source of disagreement among witnesses. It could have been any of the standard issue comments "you know what boat means: Break Out Another Thousand", "that's boats for ya", "need some help with that little Missy", or "that's boat ownership, fixin' 'er up in exotic locations". While the local boat owners couldn't agree on the actual phrase that set her off, they did agree on one thing.

"It was the overly familiar tone with which he made his unoriginal and unwelcome announcement, followed by the knowing wink that did it."

When last seen the sailor woman was stomping off towards the marina muttering to herself and clutching her dragon coffee cup.