Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Voyage

I've been thinking a lot about the voyage these days.  I read a lot about cruisers who rush here and rush there and bypass things worth seeing so they can get somewhere else on schedule, something that seems to me to be a trip to a destination, not a voyage.

My ruminations on the voyage have taken a detour these days, though, as I've been sitting with my dad in the cardiac ICU in Pittsburgh, PA where I was born.  Time is suspended when you sit there.  You're not allowed to have your cell phone, which happens to also be my watch,  it's generally dark in the room, and there's a lot of white noise that blurs the edges a little, leaving you only vaguely aware that there's life outside the room.

My dad's voyage is nearing its end.  His life has been full, vital, meaningful, worthy.  He has taught me the value of hard work, the love of nature, the patience of fishing, and the respect of all peoples regardless of color or nationality. He gave me the opportunity to live in a foreign country for a good part of my formative years, helping me to value my freedom in a way not possible without that experience, to see how much we take for granted in this land where we sometimes treat the cost of freedom with casual indifference.  His background in engineering is responsible for my intense curiosity. He gave me the gift of all the tools I needed to explore, and none of the reprimand if I happened only to succeed in dismantling something but fell short of its repair. I see him shudder as he labors to take a breath and I wish that just this once the doctors could repair him.

As a cruiser who hasn't left the land yet, there's a tendency to be waiting for the voyage to begin.  Everything is geared toward "When we make the break from land...", but sitting here and looking back on my dad's life,  I'm reminded that every minute of every day we voyage, whether we wring the  most out of it or waste it, or just plain miss it.  So stop, take a deep breath, take a look around you and smile at someone.  Look at the sunset, feel the rain on your face, smell the coffee wafting out of the Starbucks, listen to the laughter of the neighbor kids, smell the ocean.  You may only have this minute.  Today.  Or you might be really really blessed and have 85 years to soak it all in.

Monday, November 22, 2010

East, east I say...

"Sir, I need to see your driver's licence and registration. I will be writing you a citation but it will only take a few minutes and we will get you on your way..."

Family required that we leave little Nomad to herself this past weekend to make a "concrete cruise" out East, navigating via US Route 70. The Z car is a little shorter than Nomad, but since the physics of displacement hulls don't apply to sports cars, she is also considerably swifter. Swift enough to attract the attention of an airborne observation plane, which then called a dirt side compatriot and informed him that we were operating in apparent complete disregard for the politically correct maximum velocity assigned to this ribbon of man-made rock. He was, of course, completely correct. I was operating in complete disregard for the politically correct maximum velocity assigned to this ribbon of rock.

For some reason both Ohio and Indiana had called out their entire arsenal on this, the Monday before Thanksgiving; aircraft, unmarked cars, sleeper SUVs, and an uncountable number of Dudley Do-rights in their pimped out revenue enhancement machines. All the years Deb and I have been making this trip and we can't recall ever before seeing such a coordinated assault. It was enough to make me pretty glad that, by this time next week, we should be somewhere off Grand Bahama Island, learning what is like to sail and live on a 47' monohull.

Of course, to get there, we have to run the gloved gauntlet of the TSA, Ft. Lauderdale being too far to drive in the time we have. Unlike most of my fellow citizens I'm not that upset about being groped, so long as the groper is female, kinda cute and has warm hands. Good citizen that I am, I want to do my part to make sure the "terrorists" don't win.

I'm thinking it is going to be hard to leave the Bahama's to return to the asylum...

Monday, November 15, 2010

De bolt...

Saturday, dropping into the 40s, a cold rain that is supposed to let up, but good winds, and I'm finally back on Nomad for the weekend after a bunch of days the road. In other words...must go sail...must go sail! So we hanked on the little jib, rigged the main to the first reef, pulled the covers, stowed what little is still below, started the engine and...and; "What is that noise?"

"Noise? You mean that faint rattling, buzzing kind of this-is-a-new-one noise coming from the engine area? I can't say."

Turns out the noise was coming from a loose (as in the threads shaved completely clean) 6mm X 1.00 little cap screw that just happens to hold the inboard end of the alternator bracket in place. Oops...must fix boat...must fix boat. Two choices, oversize the hole, tap new threads into the pot metal casting and install a bigger bolt. Not a bad idea, that. A better idea would be to find a 6mm X 1.00 heli-coil kit and fix it with a stainless steal thread insert. But finding such a kit in Carlyle? We tried but (as expected) struck out. Kit to be ordered for next weekend.

The engine did run well enough for us to move little Nomad to her winter berth, a spot much (Much!) closer to the bath and club houses. A serious consideration since the water is already off at the docks and the pump-out is closed for the season. Midnight strolls to the land-side head lack any redeeming value at O-dark-hundred in below freezing temps.

We may still squeeze in one last sail next weekend. All we need do is bolt.

I hate winter

For the past 2 years we've spent almost the entire winter sick.  It started with the boat show in October and we passed one flu and cold after another around for the whole season.  This year I thought I might prevail - trip to the boat show and no flu, but I neglected to remember that I now have a granddaughter in day care...she got it first, then her mom, then Tim.  Still, I managed to escape it somehow.  Everyone else was getting it within 24 hours of exposure (this is a raging, nasty bug), but Tim had suffered all the weekend before and I still didn't have it.  Alas, Sunday morning rolls around and I'm down for the count.  Fortunately this is a pretty quick bug - the really nasty symptoms, which I won't gross you out with, pass (pun intended) within 24 hours, but then you're left incredibly weak after losing about 8# in 24 hours, and no appetite to replenish with for a week.  Hell of a diet...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oil on, dirt off

Mr. Miyagi would have been proud.  Not "wax on, wax off", but the lemon oil motion is the same, as my very sore arm muscles will testify.  We have a LOT of teak inside our boat and it badly needed the moisture of a fresh coat.  The nice thing about this particular job is that it's very rewarding to look at it all when you're done!

Since Tim is off introducing our granddaughter to the Pittsburgh clan, I spent the weekend finishing the winter preparations.  All the teak is now oiled, all the freezable things have been offloaded and brought home, the ports and screens have been cleaned of their summer grime, the sole scrubbed, the head cleaned, a couple more coats of finish on the coaming teak outside, a new fire extinguisher is mounted in the V-berth, and I spent a few hours helping various other marina residents take down sails, trailer up their boats, and carry things to their cars.

It was an odd weekend.  A weird mixture of pleasurable work and wistful glances at the wildly flapping flag that signaled good sailing missed.  Of good social time at the lobster pot dinner we had Saturday night, and bittersweet goodbyes to friends that we won't see until next Spring. Of warm sunshine in the afternoon and freaking cold 21° with heavy frost in the morning.  I laid in the V-berth Saturday morning cuddled up in our quilt with the heater running full blast looking at that 21° on the Weather Channel and perusing a fellow blogger's report of their trip south to warmer climes, and all I could think of was why in the world were we here instead of following S/V Veranda South?  I commented as much to them on their blog, and he answered back pretty quickly - "When you do head South, I recommend being at least a week ahead of Veranda...54° last night inside the boat.  ugggghh." 

The stack of Rubbermaid tubs full of the freezable stuff is still sitting right in the middle of my living room floor.  I've thought at least several times since I got home today that I should put it all away, but I'm not ready for the finality of that so they're going to sit there another day.  For now, I'm content to sit and look at boats on and dream a little while longer.