October 24, 2016

Conversation With A Boat

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

A. A. Milne - Winnie The Pooh

Leaving my boat in dry storage last week was a tough decision.  After 6 months of this cruising lifestyle you grow accustom to the daily adventures, new blessings, scenic wonders, and simply communing with all the environmental elements and characters along the way. It's hard to know just when to quit and take a little break for a while. Just because I was ready to do so does not mean my boat was ready for this drastic change.  I tried to console her.  It went something like this."

“Listen, hear me out please.  I know I left you high and dry in a podunk little town called Deltaville, Virginia.  This will all work out I promise.  But you gotta hear me out, girl.  Please.”  

“Yes, it’s true, I confess.  I listed you for sale on the internet last month.  It was sneaky I know, but it was during the time I was working the Annapolis boat show, and it seemed like a good thing at the time.  What came over me, I’m not sure.  I guess I was tempted by all those shiny, sexy sloops on display there.  I couldn’t help it. It was just a little fling, I’m telling you.  It meant nothing.  You see, I had these wild visions of a larger and shinier version of Glory Days with more space, more gadgets, more bells and whistles!  I couldn’t help it.  I caved. But you gotta hear me out, girl.” 

“Now I sit here in the Richmond International Airport hoping to catch a standby flight back to Atlanta while you are like a fish out of water, literally, 82 miles away.   You must be scared all alone out in that gravel parking lot tonight.   But like I said, hear me out, please.   And when you do, I think you will see my side of the situation a little better and why I do the things I do. I’m not a perfect person. I make lots of mistakes, and I have many areas I need to improve upon.” 

In some ways flying "standby" is similar to waiting for the wind to blow into your sails.  It takes patience.  You know the wind will eventually come, and you know you will eventually get there one way or the other, but you have to wait it out sometimes.   That's the case today as I sit for my 6th hour on standby in the Richmond airport waiting for the wind to fill my sails.  

Thankfully, we sailors don't get in a hurry very often and we just wait for the perfect situation to get us there in the perfect time.  I make that statement with tongue in cheek because just this morning I was working like mad man, NOT like the laid back sailor dude on island time that I claim to be. 

“You saw me. It was crazy!  I was rushing around feverishly trying to get you fully prepared, cleaned up, closed up, and properly winterized, only to leave you all alone on the shores of Chesapeake Bay for the bitter winter while I flee. Rest easy girl.  This is not boat prison.”

“This final day began at 4:30 a.m.  Knowing I had an 8:30 a.m. appointment to haul you out, I questioned whether I could actually get it all done in time. The “to-do” list for the past two days seemed impossible:  Remove the new jib sail.  Fold it. Stow it. Clean the dinghy. Deflate the dinghy. Stow the dinghy. Recycle the oil changed from the engine. Winterize the outboard. Put away the dodger. Winterize the diesel engine. Change the transmission fluid. Storm wrap the main sail. Make 4 trips to do laundry. Drain out the generator fuel. Storm wrap the bimini top. Clean the head. Snap on the hatch covers. Get rid of food and fluids. Secure the halyards. Storm wrap the helm cover.” 

“The list goes on and on…Fill out the service report, pay the marina, pack guitar things up, store anchors below, clean out the anchor locker, drain the water tanks, hose down the decks, stow all the dock lines, service all four batteries, clean the cabin sole, remove all potential freezing fluids from boat, secure a lock line to the boom, close all through hull valves, barricade all through hull openings from critters, close all sea cocks, wipe down all floors, detail the counters, leave the beer with Clint, contact Vince about a ride to the airport and on and on.” 

“And this list does not even include packing my bags for a flight home.  What to take, what to leave behind?  Did I bring all my electronics, cameras, cables and chargers?  What did I leave behind? Since when did things get so complicated?  Will my engine and fresh water systems survive the cold brutal winter in Virginia? Did I miss anything?  I worry more than you will ever know, girl.” 

Needless to say, this usual slow moving sailor dude was moving more like a hyped-up wild man trying to get it all done in time before the deadline to the airport. If I was smart I would have allowed another full day to slowly do it all right and methodically.  But I’m not always that smart.

To top it off, it was an unusually hot day for late October and I was roasting from the weather and the pressure of wondering if I had forgotten anything or not. I was up till 11:00 the previous night changing the transmission fluid, replacing the Racor fuel filters, and flushing my cooling system with fresh new green antifreeze procured at the local Napa store.  Thank God the marina had a loaner car.

“Please Glory Days don’t give me grief about leaving you there just yet.  I’m working on 4 hours sleep just to get to where I am in a strange new airport with Georgia on my mind.  The previous 4 flights were full and I’m praying for a seat on the last flight out tonight. Patience grasshopper."

Once I completed my lengthy check list, I tossed my 3 bags and guitar into Vinnie's car, took a long deep breath and prepared to sit back and relax for the 90 minute drive to the airport. But I knew I must be loosing my mind because in my rush I realized I had forgot to put on a freaking shirt! Here I am half naked going to catch a plane. You can’t get on a jet plane with no shirt! You can’t even enter the airport! Hold everything!

So here I am back on the rickety ladder up to the deck, unlock the hatch, climb in, and grab the cleanest dirty 
T-shirt I could find in the pile. Finally fully dressed I drop dead in the passenger seat and say go Vinnie go. 

The fact of the matter is, I underestimated all the infinite little details required for closing up a vessel for long term winter storage.  I just hope I didn’t forget anything critical as a result of my half cocked get away.  WRONG! It suddenly hit me.

About 10 miles down the road to Richmond, I realized I had failed to have my toilet’s holding tank pumped out!  Crap! (literally!).  The solid waste holding tank is not something you want freezing into a shit-brick to split the side of your holding tank then ooze out into bilge with it’s fragrant thaw at the first sign of springtime.  

I called the marina and thankfully the folks at Deltaville Yachting Center were cool about it and said they would take care of the pump out, so not to worry. 

Can I finally relax now I asked myself? 
If I missed something it will just have to be. I left in such a rush I failed to say goodbye and properly tell my Glory Days just why and how this decision to leave her behind all came to be. “Like I said dear, hear me out, please.”

Leaving my Pearson 33 on the hard (dry storage) on this 21st day of October was sort of like saying goodbye to your first lover at some international airport, not sure when you'll ever meet again. 

If boats have hearts, and I’m quite sure they do, I'm betting she's sitting there thinking what the heck is going on Skipper?  She is saying, “I take you safely over 4000 miles through sun and shimmer, I never let you down. I provide you feelings and experiences to die for, and now you leave me in this dusty gravel parking lot so you can go home on the land just to make music and work on your precious writing projects?! Well you can just kiss my stern!” 

“What about ME?!  What am I supposed to do now?!  I might just sit here and rust if you are not careful Skipper.  How would you like THAT when you return? Rust never sleeps you know." 

"So you’re walking out on me today when you know good and well that I need a new bottom job and some fresh paint on my booty? It’s been two years since the last bottom job you know.  And don't forget, my elbow exhaust hose is toast, and what about that replacement rigging we talked about?”

“And that new radar system you promised me?  I'll tell you another thing Skipper, this mainsail is getting mighty flimsy and you'd better think seriously about getting us a new one before you take off on another of your ocean gallivants if you want me along.  And don't forget, we’ve been to the Bahamas, we’ve to the Keys, up and down the whole east coast of Florida twice! We’ve even been up the Chesapeake, and now you think you can just sashay up here next spring and take me on a brand new saga to New England? I don't think so! You've got a lot of nerve Buster!”

“You're breaking my heart but I'll take care of you, Skipper,  you know I will.  And I'll cut you some slack while you leave me here to "rest" as you say. Because luckily, I love you Skipper. And I do understand your need to see your loved ones, work on your arts and pay your respect to the mainland.  Mainland?! Heh, what a joke!"

And so I reply to her, “You’ve made a good point, girl. I know fully well that I have yet to post all the cool photos and stories of us cruising the Chesapeake Bay together.  And believe me, it’s been a summer to remember. I assure you the Chesapeake photos are coming to the blog soon, and you won't be disappointed. Back off please.  Everyone will see how good you look, where you took me and the travels we shared!"  Good times are never forgotten."


"We really saw some good times this year I know. Over 1200 miles from May to October will never be taken lightly girl.  Thanks for hearing me out.  Like I said, this is not boat prison.  You have a great waterfront view here of the Broad Creek.  Try to relax… and maybe forgive me?”  

“Okay Skipper, now that you've explained yourself, I really do understand. I was just sad and hurt to see you go. Seriously, don’t worry about me, I'll just wait here in the rain and cold next to these other abandoned lovers like Indian Summer, Serendipity, Nemo, Karpata, Eagle II, Miss Molly, Wind Dancer, Tranquility, and Someday Came."  
“You go on Skipper and have your fun and I'll be right here where you left me when you get back and are ready for some more loving."  

"But you know something? You could of at least kissed me goodbye and maybe scraped a few barnacles off my bottom before you left me here all winter!  I’ll miss you too. We'll do some real sail raisin' when you get back.”