Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the spirit of Thanksgiving...

I feel like I've been complaining a lot recently. It's cold. There's no range yet. I need X, Y and Z. I don't know how to dooooo thissssss...


I've been a whiner.

I'm not sure if it's the cold or if I'm just scared for winter aboard. Winter on the boat can be a little bit miserable sometimes, as I have detailed in earlier posts.

So instead of complaining and being bratty, I'm going to list the 10 things I'm most thankful for on the boat:

1. My West Marine space heater. This thing works like a champ, I tell you.

2. My tea kettle. I drink more hot drinks in a day than most eight-person families drink in a week.

3. Internet access.

4. A marina with nice bathrooms and kind staff.

5. Really nice warm clothing and blankets. (I'm betting that most girls graduating master's programs don't get long underwear and hiking socks as graduation presents, but I did -- thanks Mom and Dad!)

6. A great set of advisers on all things nautical who will take my phone calls and answer the most ridiculous questions (Wait, you connect that to WHAT?!?)

7. A dock box! The marina installed my dock box and now the boat is much more clutter-free.

8. A refrigerator that keeps my food cold and doesn't fill my bilge with water like my ice box did.

9. Thick rubber gloves. If you battled as much mold and icky bilge nastiness as I did, you'd be thankful for them, too.


10. I own half of a freaking BOAT. Who wouldn't be thankful for that?

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, readers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ahhh, the smell of 2 a.m. in the rain...

Last night was just one of those nights.

It rained all day yesterday. ALL. DAY. I applied for jobs. I thought wishful thoughts about running. I drank 16 cups of tea.

Finally, I deemed it was time to stop "working" for the day, after having complained, over gchat, MSN Messenger and Facebook chat to at least 47 of my friends that I was going stir crazy. STIR CRAZY!

(I will apologize now for my excessive use of caps in this post. But it's my blog. And I'm in an ALL CAPS mood.)

So I watch an episode of "Deadliest Catch" on Netflix streaming. I finish my last library book and reserve some new ones online that I saw at the bookstore. I watch a second episode of "Deadliest Catch" -- or I start to. The Internet stops working and the rain begins to fall harder.

OK, no sweat. I'll watch a DVD. I have seen every DVD on the boat at least 6 times, and I've seen all of the movies in the last year.

So no DVD.

Well, there must be a book on this boat to read. I haven't pulled any new books down on my iPod for a while because I'd gotten a bunch of new books at the library. This was a MISTAKE. A biiiiiiig mistake.

There is nothing to read. So I read a couple chapters of the Bible. I read the last chapter of a mystery I've already read 300 times. I open my copy of "Navigation Rules," the scintillating publication put out by the Department of Homeland Security.

Finally I find a magazine to read in bed. An old copy of Outside one of my friends gave me when she was done with it.

I lay in my berth as the boat rocks back and forth, back and forth, backandforthbackandforth, and tries to dump me on the floor. I get up for water. I watch the water in my cup slosh back and forth. I feel slightly sick.

Around 2 a.m., I hear a huge thump. Anything hitting the side of the boat makes a huge bang inside. Even people knocking on the door is kind of scary-sounding.

I know that this knocking, which clearly is on the starboard side, is the boat hitting the dock.

I argue with myself for a while. Most boat owners would be blissfully unaware of their boat smacking the dock in the middle of the night, I think. Maybe it won't happen again, I think. Yes, it probably won't happen again. I'll fix it in the morning.

It happened again.

Grumpy as can be I pull on an old pair of Costco Fuggs (fake Ugg boots -- they're warm, OK?) and my Henri Lloyd pink rain jacket over my flannel pajamas. I venture out into the pouring rain to discover that the floating dock has risen in the high water. I can barely stand on the dock, the wind is blowing so hard, but I manage to move my fenders and double my lines.

I come back inside and manage to fall back asleep. After about an hour.

Of course I wake up at 9 a.m. when my alarm goes off and feel like someone has just hit me over the head with a frying pan. So I read the magazine I'd started the night before and answer my e-mail from the bed using my phone. Thank you, technology.

Around 9:30 a.m. my mother calls me. This means one of two things at this time of the day on a school day: Someone is sick/dying/in the hospital or something even worse has happened.

Thankfully, it was neither today.

"I'm on my way home from school," she says.


Immediately I get out of bed to check a different clock than my alarm clock. Yep. It's really 9:30 a.m.

"Why?" I ask.

"No power. There was a tornado in Parkville last night."


I open my laptop and start pulling news articles from The Baltimore Sun's website. Damned if there wasn't a severe storm last night in the county! The storm damage pictures on the site feature downed trees the size of cargo ships.

What a nice night to be on the water, right?

It's moments like these that I wonder why I do this...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The haul-out...

So in my last entry about the horrific nightmare that is winterization, I mentioned that I was having my boat hauled out by the marina.

Well Wednesday morning it happened. I was on "flex" as I live in the marina and wasn't too worried about when they'd get to me. I got up early just in case I ended up with one of the first slots and wandered up to the marina office and discovered that Misty would be hauled out at 10:15 a.m. I could live with that. I went back down to the boat to make coffee, have some cereal and get my camera ready. I'd never seen Misty out of the water before. The last time she'd been out of the water, about two years before, I had been away at school and hadn't really wanted much to do with the boat. (I feel guilty sitting in that same boat typing this now -- sorry, Misty!)

Anyway, 10:15 rolled around and coffee in hand, I stepped out to meet the yard guys, who wanted to know if I wanted to drive the boat over or be towed. I wanted to be towed. I wanted to take pictures. Plus I was super nervous. After asking very thorough questions about the location of my keel (fin) and the location of my stuffing box (just ahead of the wheel) and my knot meter (nooooo clue), the guys were ready to tow my boat over and haul her out.

Basically what happens, for the uninitiated, is that they tow the boat to a patch of water with concrete dock on three sides. A large sling apparatus can be driven onto the parallel sides of the dock and a sling can be pulled underneath the boat. Then the boat is lifted up and the slings are driven onto solid ground. I just did a short haul, so the boat stayed in the slings. If I'd been coming out for winter storage, they would have used blocks to brace the boat from the sides and stand her on her keel. But we'll talk more about that later.

I was actually surprised at the lack of barnacles. Sure, she was a little scummy, but not heavily covered in barnacles. This was a good sign.

The marina guys gave Misty a good and thorough power washing (have I mentioned I love this boatyard?) And changed the zinc for me. I'd offered to do the zinc myself, but you can't do any work on your boat when she's in the slings. Liability issue or something. Remember how I talked about winter storage? Putting the boat on blocks? Well whoever painted Misty last was very very lazy. That square block of lighter paint on the bottom? That's where the last boatyard we used didn't move the blocks to paint underneath them. Come spring I'll do the bottom painting myself. Yeesh.

In this picture, you can see the propeller clearly. The knob above the propeller on the shaft is the zinc. Zinc is what's called a "sacrificial." Basically, the zinc is there so that rust will eat the cheap piece of zinc and not the expensive-to-replace propeller. They unscrewed the old one and replaced the new. Zinc, in a boat heavily used, should be replaced once or twice a year. Three times is a little excessive. Twice is extra safe. Once is fine. Doing it less than once a year is not recommended. Of course we've never done that. Ahem.

Anyway, once she was all scrubbed and zinc'd, they dropped her back in the water and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

It's funny. I see the same guys sling boats in and out of the water without mishap every day. But when it's your boat? I don't think anyone could help but worry...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Winter is coming...

It's not even mid-November and already we've had two overnight frosts. What does this mean, readers? You guessed it. It's time to think about my least favorite part of living aboard. Winterization.

There's a lot of things I dislike about winterization. For one, it means that there is no more sailing until spring. For another, it means winter is here. And who likes winter? Finally, it means that there is an opportunity for really scary things to happen. Things like the engine block cracking because the engine wasn't winterized properly.

I have nightmares about that last one. Seriously.

So I've compiled a list of things that need to be done before winter well and truly sets in:
  1. Have the marina haul Misty, scrape the barnacles of the bottom and replace the zinc.
  2. Winterize the engine.
  3. Figure out what to do with the dinghy.
  4. Change out summer clothes for winter clothes.
  5. Start obsessively buying water. And propane. And beans and rice. In case there's a blizzard. Or in case you're an irrational worrier like me.
  6. Lay in a stock of antifreeze to winterize the head and the water tank in case I have to leave for an extended time.
  7. Buy a second space heater from West Marine.
  8. Stop dilly-dallying and buy and install the range already.
  9. Buy slippers.
So you can see some of these things are slightly more challenging than others. For instance, buying slippers is much more difficult than choosing a range. Or not.

I went in to talk to the marina staff (who are incredibly helpful and nice, by the way) last week. They agreed to do the short haul and work and haul my sad, sorry little dinghy out of the water in place of my haul-out and blocking. This didn't make sense to me at first until I learned that they include a haul-out and blocking at a significantly reduced rate to the lease and that paying for a short haul is still more expensive than what I payed for my original haul-out and blocking. If that doesn't make sense to you, try not to worry about it too much. It took me a while, too. Anyway, the short haul is coming on Wednesday.

And come hell or high water I'm going to measure for a propane locker or CNG tank today and try to order the range this week. Or at least by next week...