Sunday, September 15, 2013

Champagne and the Dog House

Sometimes encouragement comes from unexpected sources. Kintala hasn't made it to the water quite yet, but the work goes on. And so there I was under the boat cleaning water intake grids of excess bottom paint when a nice looking BMW motorcycle rolls up and drops the kickstand. The rider steps off and asks if I am Mr. Akey. Since I don't think anyone is looking to serve me with any kind of papers in MD, I allowed as I was.

"You don't know me," he says, "but my friend Craig Kleinlein from St. Louis asked me to drop this off for you." He then produced a bottle of champagne and a card from his rear trunk, explained that he and Craig used to work together, wishes us well, shakes our hands, congratulated us on our retirement, and heads off. Craig is our financial guru from Edward Jones and, without his help, we wouldn't be sitting on the edge of blue water, boat almost ready to splash. When people you hire turn into friends all is well with the world.

Later that day we borrowed nephew Matt's mini van (leaving him the Z in return - a fair trade) and drove across the Bay Bridge in search of a dinghy. A few hours later we returned, The Dog House (the dinghy's new name) and little outboard safely aboard. Sometime in the next few days we will launch it for a little practice. Neither Deb nor I have ever actually helmed a dinghy before; it is another of the items on our near vertical "learning curve".

This morning we took our coffee down to the porch to enjoy the view and get a start on the day. There are
still items to be addressed before the boat gets wet and we are hoping to get it wet tomorrow. Another long work day was, well, in the works. New friends Mike, Barbara, and Ollie were greeting the day as well. The conversation danced around sailing and racing on the Bay so Deb mentioned we might look to crew with someone for the Wednesday night club race, just to get a chance to know the place a little better before heading out. As it turned out Mike and Barbara were planning on spending the day out on their C & C and asked if we would be interested in going along. Let me see, on the one hand work on the boat more, on the other go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. So I did a quick run to the boat parts store to be set for tomorrow and then we went sailing. No harm will be done if Kintala stays dry until Tuesday.

I don't know what sailing on the Chesapeake is like on most days, but on this day it was perfect. The WNW wind started out at 10 and built to 16 with gusts to 20. The sky was blue, the waves big enough to feel like "big water" without detracting from the ride, and the temperature was wind breaker cool without being cold. After motoring down the river and getting some good advice on how to stay in "good water" the head sail made its appearance. When the engine rumble died away Deb flashed me the biggest smile I have seen in a while. An hour or so later the Bridge hove into view off to the south as the eastern shore edged ever closer. A nest of crab pots seemed a good reason to tack back toward the west. There were comments on how ugly some of the big commercial boats can be, talk of sailing the Bay and things to watch for, and the general good natured banter that seems natural to new friends and sailboats on the move.

I, probably more than Deb, feel the sting of family far away. I occasionally glace skyward as the jets pass
overhead on final approach to BWI and know exactly what the crew is doing to prepare for arrival. I still think of riding the GSXR every time some outlaw winds his sport bike through the gears out in the night somewhere, teasing the cops and cage drivers with his antics. But today, out on the bay, I couldn't think of anything I would have rather been doing. There are things to learn, good people to meet, interesting places to know, and a new way of living to make our own. Encouragement comes from unexpected places, and we are just getting started.


Latitude 43 said...

Everything is better with the sails up. Glad you got out to enjoy a day off from work.

Ben & Terri said...

TJ, Deb,
It was fun meeting you back in Carlyle. We've made it back to CO and I'm looking forward to catching up with your 'Plan'. Sounds like all is going well. Best Wishes,