May 28, 2013 – Happy Haul-Out!

So, in the early morning hours of May 28, 2013 (kind of a BIG day for me: http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/08/29/may-23-2013-the-crossing-finale-oysters-and-beer/), I’d like to say I woke up, went down to the boat and spent all morning with her, steaming up of coffee in one hand, oily rub rag in the other, like a true old salt, feeling at one with the boat, the bay and the bitter-sweet ways of a life at sea.   Ahhhh ….. 

Old salt

http://elmuertoquehabla.blogspot.com/2011/06/el-viejo-y-el-mar.html

Minus the beard, of course.

But that’s not what happened.  We had been at sea for five days, which means?  You guessed it.  More time away from work.  I’ve already told you how expensive boats are.  We had to get back to the daily grind.  So, I went to work.  At an office, with unflattering florescent lighting and stale coffee and copiers …

Office

You’re right Javier.  You do make the best copies!

Boy was that a wake-up call.  After the best sail or our lives, work felt like a slap in the face with a cold, dead fish.  Smack!   But, I mustered through while Phillip and his Dad and the infamous Mitch (he really is a good friend) took the boat to the Pensacola Shipyard so she could be hauled out to have her bottom work done.

Roll that fabulous footage:

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“Watch that dock Paul!  We don’t want a scratch on her!”

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“Careful now boys!  She’s expensive!”

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You’ll notice she was still Foxfire at the time.  Having the new name put on was part of the bottom job that needed to be done.

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There she comes!

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I have to say, every time I see her come out of the water like this, her “bottom” all exposed for everyone to see, I feel like she’s showing her undergarments or something.  Like she should cross her legs and blush as if the wind blew her skirt up.

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“Oh my … what a terrible, terrible, yet highly profitable mistake for me to have stepped on this air vent like I did … ”  

But, you see, Marilyn just happened to have some little matching white hot pants on underneath her billowy white dress that fateful night.  Classy lady?  Or well-planned?  My guess is the latter.  Because I’ll tell you, not every woman would happen to be wearing such showy undergarments when the wind blows up her bottoms.  I’ll tell you what some of us got under there.

Spanx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV-Aw4L0B-M

That’s right.  Spanx.  I said it.  Some of us are afraid of what might come “popping out” (Melissa McCarthy is my hero!) if we don’t suck it all in with those magic stretchy wonders.  And, I’ll tell you, Bullock was lucky, because it’s the not-so-embarrassing nude-color ones that sell fast, leaving the rest of us left to scrounge through the plus-size, leprechaun green and neon blue leftovers.

I had to settle for the flaming pink pair:

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“Whoa Nelly!”

But I digress …

The boat was hauled out, her “bottom” exposed for all the world to see, and the boys (and hairy women) at the ship yard set to work, getting her propped up on jacks in the yard so they could get to painting and sanding her.

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Lord it scares me to see her being transported around in that thing.  I keep imagining one of those big fat straps snapping and the boat crashing to the pavement, her keel cracking clean off.  Uhhhh … like a parent watching their kid take off on a bike without training wheels for the first time, except WAY more important.  For the most part, kids heal for free, or at least just at the price of a Band-aid and a “kiss to make it all better.”  Although I don’t think that would work on the boat, I would certainly fall to the pavement and cover her in both all the same.

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But the boys at the shipyard did a great job getting her all secured.  Apparently, they’ve done it a time or two.

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Our broker-turned-friend, Kevin, had recommended we use Brandon Hall with Perdido Sailor to do the bottom work.  http://www.perdidosailor.com/.  Brandon is actually the one we called when our surveyor found the potential leak in the core when she was hauled out for the sea trial, and he was able to give us a rough estimate of the potential repair over the phone that we then used to negotiate the price down.  Certainly a good man to have in your corner.  And, like most boat people, he’s just a great guy, super knowledgeable about all things sailboat and willing to come help with any project, so long as we offer him a beer or three.  That’s pretty much standard “code” anyway.  “Hey man.  Want to come have a beer on the boat?” pretty much means I’ve got a project I could use your help with, and well, let’s just say, we’ve kept the boat fully-stocked with beer provisions since we parked her in Pensacola, and Brandon has helped out with many a-project.

So, with the boat propped up safely in the yard, we started making a fat list of all the things we wanted to do to her while she was out of the water: repair the suspected core leak, check and repair, if necessary, all the through holes and sea cocks, polish all the brightwork, have the name put on the back, etc.  As is always the case with boats – there’s always plenty to do.

But, it was still a special day for you-know-who.  That’s right, the big THREE-ONE (God, I’m old!) and Phillip the Magnificent had planned an exceptional dinner for us that evening: succulent filet topped with lobster tail along with lobster rissoto and (my favorite) sauteed spinach.  We, of course, started with a bread and olive oil course:

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Paired with an exquisite GSM blend.

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And then threw the steaks on the grill.

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I mean, really?  Is there anything this man can’t do?  I am one lucky girl.  Trust me, I know.

He even managed (amid all of our planning, packing and provisioning for the last leg of the Crossing) to surprise me with a gift.

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So, what say you?  A roll-up picnic in-a-bag?  A handy ruck-sack for us to backpack across Europe?  A durable bag to transport dead bodies?  Or smuggle illegal immigrants across the border for a little extra dough, perhaps?

I fancy your thoughts.  Give me your best guess.

May 27, 2013 – Home Again, Home Again

Tired as dogs!  We sat there on the dock for about a half hour, re-living the “best sail of our lives” and re-enacting some of the more ‘harrowing’ and hilarious moments from the initial crossing, in awe, really, that we had finally brought the boat all the way from Charlotte Harbor to Pensacola.  It was almost surreal to see her there, glistening in the sun, at the dock in Pensacola.  The dockmaster came around 8:00 a.m. and put us in a transient slip for the night.  Once she was secure, we started unpacking the boat and looking for a hot shower and a warm meal.  And, of course, what every sailor wants after a big hearty trip?

captain-morgan-pic

You’re darn right!  We were in desperate need of a big hearty drink.  It seems we had adapted quite well to the salt life.  Rum now ran in our blood, calling us the minute we set foot on shore.  Okay, while that’s not entirely true (that gives me the image of a grimy sailor busting into a run-down old wash house, snatching a bottle off the shelf and ripping the cork out with his teeth before he chugs it down), we probably would have done that, had there only been an old run-down driftwood bar at the dock.

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That’s right, pass it this way Sparrow.

Honestly, though.  We just couldn’t stay away from her.  We didn’t quite get that “Ahhh … we’re finally home!” feeling.  It was more like, “Hurry, get cleaned up quick so we can go back and check on the boat!”  We invited some friends over to meet us in the cockpit for drinks and to check out the boat as a ridiculous disguise, but Phillip and I both know we would have spent the evening on the boat friends or not.  We just couldn’t stay away.  So, we headed back down to her, rum drinks in hand.

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Can I get that to go please?

Rum Runner recipe

1 oz Dark or spiced rum
0.5 oz creme de bananes
2 oz orange juice

We like to add a little splash of juice from the maraschino cherry jar to give it that red cherry color, then add a toothpick with cherry and orange slice on top for garnish.  And, the umbrellas are certainly fun.  I got like 500 of them on a buy-one-get-one-free special at Party City months ago so we now find any excuse to stick an umbrella in our drink.  I sometimes stick one in my morning coffee and tell myself I’m sure that’s how they do it in the Islands.  But, I wouldn’t recommend you try it.  Few can really pull that off.

Finally back to tell our story, and now with friends nestled in the cockpit, captivated, begging for tall tales at sea, Phillip and I re-lived our docking in 20 mph winds in Clearwater, our hacking off the dingy in the middle of the Gulf, our 16-hour tack from Panama City to Pensacola, the heroism, the hangovers, the hooker, everything!  And, our tales probably got a little taller on round two (and were probably not recognizable as the truth on round three), but we had a great time telling them.  And, it may have been the nostalgia of home or the rum or a little bit of both, but I honestly think the sun called in a special setting to welcome us back to Pensacola that evening because it was absolutely stunning:

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We all toasted the sunset and enjoyed a wonderful evening on the boat, and Phillip and I knew home was never going to be “home” again if our boat wasn’t there.

May 27, 2013 – THE CROSSED!

So, after Dasani bottles and duct tape, what do you think the next most important item on a boat is?  A plunger?  No.  Unfortunately, if the head stops working, that glorious contraption of wood and rubber is not going to save you.  Try again.  Something incredibly important, like transmission fluid or oil?  The infamous ” Johnson rod,” maybe?

Costanza

A what?!?   A Johnson rod:

Seinfeld: The Fusilli Jerry (#6.20)” (1995)

George Costanza: [about mechanics] Well of course they’re trying to screw you! What do you think? That’s what they do. They can make up anything; nobody knows! “Why, well you need a new johnson rod in here.” Oh, a Johnson rod. Yeah, well better put one of those on!

You’re right.  I’m sure it’s something incredibly important.  But, during those early morning hours of May 27th, as we were coming into the marina in Pensacola, I’ll tell you what it was.  Paper towels.  Strong and brawny ones!
Brawny
Mmmm … ain’t he a beaut?  And, just for fun – it appears they cleaned old Mr. Brawny up over the last decade.  Apparently today’s “modern woman” just wasn’t digging the 70’s ‘stache and blonde shag, so we get the preppy, shaved, PC version.  Sad times.
Old New Brawny
But I digress.  So, we were nearing the marina and our Dasani catch bin was full to the brim with pink fluid jostling around, just waiting to drip over and spill into the bilge.  While transmission fluid in the bilge is not a huge deal, it’s certainly not an ideal one.  If it gets down there, it’s got to be pumped out and cleaned up and otherwise dealt with.  Needless to say, it was best for us to catch the fluid if we could.  So, I wedged myself down near the open engine and held up a wad of the old Brawnies under the transmission shifter arm to catch the drip until we got just a few minutes away, then I wadded up the biggest bundle of paper towels I could (about the size of a basketball) and shoved it down in the bilge to catch whatever dripped while we docked.  A mighty fine ‘sorbant pad if you will.
Depends

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq1pcy2EPE8

And, you laugh, but I now know that the standard-issue oil absorbent pad, which we now keep under the engine at all times, really does look just like a wadded-up Depends undergarment.

So, with my make-shift “Depends” in place, I was ready “get back into life” and get topside to help Phillip.  But, now we’re docking again, and we all know how exceptionally great I am at that.  So, of course, my heart is beating and thumping out of my chest.  My hands are all sweaty and I keep stubbing my toe on things as I’m scrambling to tie lines and hang bumpers.  We were coming in here to the Palafox Pier in Pensacola:

Palafox Pier

From slip

Here’s the birdseye view:

Birdseye

We were planning to just tie up at the fuel dock while we got our things together and wait for the dockmaster to find us a temporary slip for the day.  Our first plan once we got the boat to Pensacola was to have it hauled out for a bottom job.  That’s where they pull it out of the water with giant straps and set it up on jacks in a shipyard to sand and re-paint the hull.  We knew that would mean a couple of weeks out of the water, so we didn’t have a permanent slip lined up yet.  If you recall from the survey, we knew we were going to have to have a bottom job on ours done as soon as we got her home as our surveyor (you remember the ever-charming Kip):

Pics from Phone 908

“Every gal loves a good banging first thing in the morning!”

had found the potential leak in the core where the strut is fastened to the hull as well as several blisters in the paint on the hull that were allowing sea water in (http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/05/12/april-3-2013-the-surveysea-trial/).  Saltwater is just rough on everything, and every sailboat needs to have its bottom work redone once every 3-4 years.  We knew it was time for ours so we had scheduled her for a paint a polish as soon as we got back.  But, if you’re checking the calendar, you’ll see the day we pulled into that fateful dock was, unfortunately, Memorial Day (May 27, 2013), so she was scheduled to be hauled out the next business day – May 28th.  As luck would have it, we had arrived a day ahead of schedule this time but if the initial Crossing taught us anything it was to never try to sail anywhere in a hurry.  Always build in a few days’ cushion for weather, wind, boat problems. transmission leaks, complete engine failures, you know – the usual boat stuff.  So, we just needed a temporary spot at Palafox Pier for the night.  A transient slip they are called.   But, the guys that run the marina don’t tend to open up shop at 5:30 a.m. just in case some rogue midnight traveler needs a transient slip, so we planned to tie up at the fuel dock while we waited for the dockmaster to arrive at 8:00 a.m.

This was our path in to the fuel dock:

Path to fuel dock

Now, while I’m sure you may have tired by now of my many harrowing tales of our numerous docking debacles (docking is scary!), I will try your patience for just one more, because the true hero here was Phillip.  The wind was strong that morning (of course!), blowing about 12-15 mph right out of the east:

Wind

Which meant it was blowing our nose right off the dock:

Boat

As Phillip began pulling the boat up alongside the dock, the wind kept pushing us off and the gap between the bow, and even the midship, and the dock kept widening.  I just couldn’t make the leap (without losing a limb or two or my teeth when I hit the dock on the way down – and, to be honest, I’m kind of fond of all of those appendages – particularly the teeth).  I had a line clenched tight in my hand, this time, but it was just too far to jump.  I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully Phillip did.  He was still close enough to the dock at the stern to leap off, stern line in hand (smart man!) and tie it quick to a cleat.  He then ran forward and shouted at me to throw him the bow line.  I wadded a few loops in my hand, gritted my teeth and tossed it up in the air.  Phillip and I watched breathlessly as it snaked out, slowly unwinding and floating toward him.  It was like Rookie of the Year pitching the famous “floater”:

Rookie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJWYzmJslis

You can imagine the dramatic Hollywood score playing in the background and the bright clang of the cymbals as Phillip caught the tail end of the line.  Trumpets blared!  He pulled the bow of the boat to the dock and told me to go back to the stern and kill the engine.  I did, and the silence of the moment suffocated us.  Everything was suddenly so inordinately quiet.  There was no motor running, no shouting, no water or waves.  Just silence … and safety.  Phillip and I just sat for a minute on the dock, staring at her in disbelief.  There she was, our boat, tied to the dock in Pensacola.  She was safe, secure, home.  We had finally done it.