For those of you who don’t know. “The heat” is the cops, the po-po, the 5-Oh. In our case, the Pensacola Police Department.
And, they were on us. It all happened during our trip to the Big City. That’s right. Chatahoochee, FL. Jeepers, what a town! I’m kidding. The real big city. NYC.
I had never been and, yes, I imitated the Pace Picante commercial repeatedly in the weeks before the trip and actually exclaimed “Jeepers!” several times while I was there—at least three times after we saw The Book of Mormon.
That show was super nifty. Check it out. An incredibly entertaining and insanely accurate ‘poke’ at religion. I highly recommend it. I also recommend, if you find yourself in that bubbling metropolis of humanity, that you buy a greasy foodcart product – a hotdog, some empanadas or any kind of poultry on a stick (it doesn’t matter which, as I believe they all originate from the same non-mammal meat product), sit on a bench and just watch the people. An equally entertaining and insanely accurate ‘poke’ at people. Here are some highlights:
Bar hag roaming through Times Square:
Wanda was right, this sharp shooter belt buckle really does make me look skinny.
Jersey Shore trainer at Bryant Park.
“Ummm-huh. Just like that Becky. Hold that position for me.”
Band of brothers at the bar:
Dude, I’m serious. It goes from this hand to the other.
The real Toy Story:
“You’re right Spidey, Buzz does smell like plastic.”
Oh, we seemed to come across this excitable blonde – at the Bull:
I mean, really? It’s just a bronze bull. And that “grab life by the horns thing” had totally been overdone.
We also found her at the top of 30 Rock (beautiful view!)
The city, not the blonde (although Phillip took a real liking to her):
Oh, but we did come across a real-life excitable blond at the airport:
Please tell me you recognize her immediately (as Phillip did not). No? Let me give you a hint:
The one and only – Hayden Panetiere. Her and Beyonce’s long-lost cousin rocked that flick! I totally accosted her at the airport. Super celeb sighting in my book. But, enough about that great big city — back to the boat.
So, we had been planning this trip to NYC for a couple of months and, as it just so happens, that damn Tropical Storm Karen was set to roll in just as we were set to leave. Seriously. This was the predicted path:
The one weekend we had planned to travel, not by boat, and the jilted wench set her sights directly on our slip it seemed. The storm really put a damper on our pre-travel excitement. The night before we left, we spent the entire evening tying and re-routing extra lines (we even latched her to city property!), fastening extra chafe guards, taking down the dodger (to reduce wind surface) and strapping and re-strapping the sail covers, so they wouldn’t blow off.
We used pieces of firehose some sailing buddies have given us as chafe guards for the dock lines:
With the boat as secure as we could get her, we refreshed the storm tracker every five minutes during the flight and kept checking with folks back in Pensacola to see how the storm was progressing on the home-front. Bottom-Job Brandon and our broker-friend Kevin had offered to go by the dock on occasion to check on the old Rest. Initially, we were getting good reports. Winds of 25-30 mph only and no storm surge yet. But the storm was predicted to hit on Saturday night, October 5th, and it was only Wednesday.
That Friday afternoon, Phillip and I were making our way to the FlatIron building—a wine, a beer and two incredibly succulent Shake Shack burgers under our belt:
When Phillip checked his phone and noticed two messages from the office and one from a neighbor back home. Odd. He decided he better see what was going on, so we parked it on a bench near the infamous building while he returned the calls.
His neighbor told him a Pensacola police officer had stopped by looking for him, but he would not “disclose his business.” Odd-er. At the office, Phillip’s receptionist reported that a cop (presumably the same—a distant cousin to the Captain Mulrooney who accosted me at the Home Depot in Daphne I’m sure) had come by the firm, asking to speak with “Mr. Warren” but again declining to reveal why he had such a pressing need to speak with the Captain. Thankfully Phillip’s receptionist is inquisitive and scrappy and wouldn’t let the cop leave without coughing up a calling card. Phillip joked that it was a good thing he’d left town, because apparently the “heat was hot” in Pensacola! They were on his six!
Back in NYC, Phillip punched in the detective’s number and spoke with a raspy, chain-smoking bloke, Sergeant So-and-So, who told him the detective was out of pocket at the moment, but that he and the Detective had gone to his house and office that day trying to talk to him about his boat.
About his boat.
And that was “all he could disclose.” Disclose! I was so sick of hearing that word. As if when a cop has something to say, it no longer becomes “tell” it magically transforms into the utterly important “disclose.” Ooohhh. But, we did learn it was “about the boat.” A sickening thought when we had a tropical storm rolling in we were half-a-continent away. I imagined the boat had come undone, knocked half the dock out and had ended up speared through the million dollar catamaran in the next slip over. A sickening thought let me assure you. Phillip thought they were calling about the lines we had tied to the city rails, thinking they were going to—or worse, they already had—untied them to preserve city property during the storm, which meant the boat would be free to rock and sway violently and crash into the seawall most likely, which was no better than my vision. We wandered around the park in New York listlessly, toes nudged in the ground, staring sternly at Phillip’s phone and thinking the worst while we were waiting for Detective Whazzisname to call us back. I cannot disclose to you how worried we were.
I feel I must tell you a story. It is remotely related to sailing – as the whole purpose of the errand that developed into the story was a trip to the store to pick up boat supplies – you know, duct tape and super glue and other important things. But, more importantly, it is incredibly embarrassing and, therefore, exceptionally entertaining and, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that is the whole point of this blog, no? To entertain you. So, without further adieu, I give you a story about a girl at Home Depot.
This story begins on an average Tuesday. As I’m sure most of you know, I am an attorney and I found myself on this particular Tuesday sitting happily in court in Bay Minnette on a debt collection matter, awaiting my turn to repo a boat from “some deadbeat” who had stopped paying on the note. Eighteen percent on an $18,000 loan for a used fishing boat? I probably would have stopped paying too. But, he had signed the papers, taken the money and bought the boat. He owed the debt, and I was all set to win. This guy, we shall call him Mr. Detter, was also pro se, meaning unrepresented by counsel, so I didn’t even expect him to show. As I’m sitting in the back of the courtroom with the rest of the good ‘ole boy attorneys telling them tall tales from sea and joking that I couldn’t wait to get back to my boat to make myself a hearty rum drink, the judge calls my case, and the man whom I thought to be just some other attorney sitting behind me stands and straightens his three-piece suit. But it’s not an attorney. It’s Mr. Detter. He’s been there all along, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
I fumbled, tried to recover, gave him an out-stretched hand and a “Glad you could make it,” to which Mr. Detter responded with a “So you’ve got a boat too.” Nice dig. I swallowed audibly and proceeded with kid gloves. “Your Honor, if it’s not too much trouble, we’d like to take Mr. Detter here’s boat away from him … ” I got the writ of seizure to repo Mr. Detter’s boat, but it was not my finest hour. A great story, in and of itself, but tuck that away for later.
After the hearing, I headed to Home Depot to pick up a few things for the boat before heading back to Pensacola. And, remember, I just came from court, which means I’m wearing a slick back suit, my hair is twisted up in a Queen Elizabeth French twist and I’m clacking around in five-inch heels.
Yes, five. I always wear five-inch heels to court. I like to look my opponents in the eye. I click through the store ignoring every eager, doe-eyed, orange apron-clad employee that tries to help me. “No thank you. I know exactly what I need.” I move swiftly through the store picking up the five things I need: (1) a hose extender so we can shower on the deck; (2) a PVC plumbing fitting to connect the hose extender; (3) an outdoor rug for the dock; (4) a shop vac for obvious reasons; and (5) a look at the outdoor cushions for more material to convert into fun boat accessories. I make these rounds and grab what I need quickly, waving off all assistance from the buzzing orange bees that continue to swarm me at every turn. I get up to the cash register, all ready to check out, load my junk and get home. It’s around 1:00 o’clock.
I pay and fold up my receipt and hoist the shop vac up on my hip with the rest of my bags hanging off me while I continue to refuse help from the orange drones. “No, thank you, I’ve got everything under control here people.” But, I most certainly did not. As I started to head out the door, heaped up like a pack mule, I start fumbling around my pockets and wallet and realize I don’t have my keys. I do not have my keys. You can imagine the exaggerated sigh of exasperation that hissed out of me as I set all of my crap down and started looking around the register, the floor around the cashier, through my bags, etc. I ask the cashier to check around her area several times for a little bunch of keys. The minimalist that I am, I keep my keys on one little ring that clips to my wallet. It looks like this:
And I was looking for those in a store that looks like this:
Like a needle in a haystack. So, I start re-tracing my steps, and I say “start” because I re-traced that path probably ten, twelve, thirteen times before it was all said and done. I head back to the dishwasher accessory department where I got the hose extender. No keys. The plumbing aisle where I got the PVC fitting. No keys. The rug department. No keys. The aisle with the shop vacs. No keys. And, lastly, the outdoor furniture cushions. No keys. Everywhere I went, there were no keys. I re-traced the path three more times and, remember, in my suit and heels, I look about as “in place” as a beauty pageant contestant at a tractor pull. The orange drones, while initially reluctant to help me as I was so welcoming and grateful for their help initially, begin to feel sorry for me and started to swarm in. I tell them I can’t find my keys and soon the entire floor staff knows I’m the blonde that is looking for her keys. It is announced over the loud speaker several times for all employees and customers to keep a lookout for “a woman’s keys.” I’m not sure why the “woman” qualifier was needed there. Perhaps women’s keys look different than men’s keys? If not, and it was simply to emphasize the fact that a man wouldn’t lose his keys at the Home Depot, then it still wouldn’t be needed, am I right? While the “woman’s keys” reference puzzled me, it was repeated over the loud speaker several times over the course of the afternoon. I felt like they were going to accost every new customer that came through the door with a “limited offer” for 20% off their entire purchase if only they would help find this “woman’s keys.”
And, as I continued my repetitive trek through the store, going to the same five places 89.47 times, each time an orange-clad clerk approaches me, the first thing they ask me is:
“Do you remember where you went?” I was asked that question probably twelve times, and by the tenth, I would start to respond with “No … my goodness, no. I have no idea. I’ve just been wondering around the store aimlessly looking in all of the places I did NOT go!” I’ll admit. I was out of patience, irritated utterly with myself and taking it out entirely on the award-winning Home Depot crew. I was making a real scene, turning over boxes, lifting rugs, looking everywhere. No keys. I go out to my car several times thinking maybe I left them in the ignition. No dice. I head back in the store to continue roaming around like an idiot and guffawed with unnecessary exaggeration when the guy in the little booth who makes key copies asked me if there was anything he could help me with. As if he didn’t know me. The blonde, haughty woman who had lost her keys. I decided to humor him out of spite. “Sure, I seem to have lost my keys. Do you think you could help me with that?” To which he responded, completely un-phased, “Of course, ma’am. I can make you a copy. Do you have the original?” I let my face drop visibly before him and just walked away. He wasn’t worth the breath I would waste mocking him. And, don’t even get me started on the cashier who appeared to have the memory of a goldfish. Every time I came back to her, she would look puzzled at the fact that I wasn’t holding merchandise for her to ring up and say “Can I help you?”
Yes, my keys, the keys, a woman’s KEYS! Have you yet found a set of keys or had someone turn in some keys? Do you recall, in any manner, that I am the WOMAN WHO LOST HER KEYS!?!’”
Two hours had now passed with me traipsing through the store, my slick “up” hairdo now shaking out in clumps and my suit jacket reeking of sweat. I decide to get scrappy. I am going to leave here in my car dammnit. I ask the guy in the hardware department if I can borrow a crowbar just for a minute. “I want to break into my car to make sure my keys didn’t fall onto the floorboard as I was stepping out.” Oh, and it may help you to know that I drive an old 2001 Volvo that you have to actually stick the key in the door to UN-lock it and push the button as you’re getting out to lock it.
Meaning, unlike today’s “smart” cars, my car is easily dumb enough to allow me to lock the keys in. The hardware guy looks at me dead pan, not responding initially, and finally telling me he can’t allow me to “borrow” a tool for that purpose. “Okay, fine, I’ll buy it for that purpose. Which of these fine instruments would best serve me to break into my own car, sir?” Realizing I was going to do it regardless, he finally surrenders and hands me an old beat-up crow-bar from behind his counter.
I head out to my car and start pushing and wedging the crowbar between the door and the frame and eventually make a crack that I can slip perhaps a credit card into. I’m struggling and grunting and sweating, and getting nowhere. I throw off my suit jacket in a huff and push a blond clump of hair from my fair when I hear a voice from behind me. “Ms. Dike?” Oh Jesus, what imminently important person could this be witnessing me in the middle of this debacle? I can feel his eyes burning into my back. Whoever it is seems to be gaining a large amount of pleasure from my current state of affairs. I turn around to find the one and only Mr. Detter. Mr. Detter. Really? Yes, really. He is smiling from ear to ear. While I may have been the victor that morning, he was clearly the superior now. But, to his credit, after a few light and well-deserved jabs – “Look who’s in trouble now?” “Resorted to repo’ing them yourself now, huh?.” – Mr. Detter went dutifully to his truck and pulled out a little gismo that looked like a car antennae with a hook on the end. He said he’d used it several times to crack open his wife’s car when she’d locked the keys in. He slipped it through the crack I had wedged and tried mightily to pull the lock up. Mr. Detter and I are out there sweating and heaving (me, in my dress and heels mind you – Mr. Detter apparently had the wherewithal to change into work clothes before heading to the Home Depot) and pulling on my Volvo door when another voice beckons from behind us. “Excuse me ma’am? Sir? Can I ask you what you’re doing?” I close my eyes. Lord, what fresh new hell is this?
It’s the cops, that’s who it is. Yes. A Daphne P.D. Captain Something-or-Other trying to stop two master-mind criminals, Mr. Detter and I, from stealing some good, up-standing citizen’s Volvo. And, you might be thinking, “Okay, she has to be making every bit of this up. Like the cops would really just show up at that moment.” They did, and let me prove it to you – so you will never again doubt the integrity of my stories and the depths to which I will go to entertain you with my misfortunes. The cops came because the Home Depot in Daphne is located right next to the Daphne Police Department. I kid you not:
The whole force must have been sitting in their office, stale coffee and jelly donuts in hand, watching me come out to my car, throw my suit jacket off in protest, and begin breaking into my car with a Home Depot crowbar and, finally, when I solicited the everyday do-gooder, Mr. Detter, to assist me with my dirty deeds, that was it. They had to come investigate. And I’m sure things didn’t sit well initially with Captain Something-or-Other, when I struggled to explain why I was breaking into the car and who Mr. Detter was and why he was helping me. I believe I introduced him initially as “my colleague” which, I agree, sounds sinister. But, thankfully, I think the shear magnitude of my utter mortification began to sink in and the Captain believed I was, in fact, simply trying to break into my own car to find my own keys. Amused by my situation, he decided to pitch in. He broke out his official car breaker-into device and popped my door right open. He had me sign a waiver acknowledging it was, in fact, my own car we had broken into and that I was, thereby, releasing the Department of any liability in connection with his act. Not knowing my occupation and me looking nothing like a put-together lawyer at the time, Mr. Detter got a hearty laugh out of the cop’s explanation to me that “liability” was just a fancy “lawyer word” for fault. “Sign here.”
But, alas, having broken into the car, found no keys and signed my rights away to the Daphne PD, I headed back into the store to once again re-trace my steps through the various departments. The cashier gave me that “Can I help you?” look again as I walked in, and I just held up a hand to her and walked by. With the best of intentions, Mr. Detter asked me, “Do you remember where you went?” to which I responded, “Yes. Electrical. I spent the entire time in electrical. Will you please go check there?” just to shake free of him. And, just as I was about to give up, call Triple AAA or some of my seriously sinister colleagues to hotwire the thing, a dopey orange-clad employee came up to me and asked if I was the “woman looking for her keys.” I stood there dumbfounded for a minute, my hair sweaty and stringy on my neck, my dress smeared with grease and dirt from the crowbar and door jam and, still, the heels (I mean, I had no other shoes), and nodded fervently. “Here you go. Some customer found them in a box of fittings in the plumbing aisle.”
And, there in his meaty paw, were my keys. My keys! Thank the ever-loving stars in heaven! I squealed and gripped him tight in a bear hug that pulled him right off the floor. While I wanted to look in the plumbing aisle where he had found them and figure out how in the hell I had dropped them there, I honestly did not care. I had my keys! My thoughts went immediately to getting the heck out of there. By then, I was nauseous at the sight of the Home Depot and anyone wearing a color remotely resembling orange. I hoisted all of my crap at the register on my hip and jogged out to my car, hoping Mr. Detter wouldn’t see or hear me. Our exchange had already been awkward enough and I didn’t want to endure an equally uncomfortable farewell. I just wanted him off my back. Then, it hit me. My back. I reached back and, sure enough, my dress was unzipped all the way down to my waist. I am not known for owning impeccably-tailored clothes. Rather, I am the type that will squeeze into a dress two sizes two small and strap up the part that won’t zip with some string or ribbon or Velcro flap I’ve created. Or, in this case, I will throw a suit jacket over it because, surely, I won’t have any reason to take my jacket off, will I? Of course not. The entire time I had been man-handling my car, interacting with the doe-eyed Mr. Detter and talking with the cop, my dress had been unzipped all the way down my back with my criss-cross bra blaring out for all the world to see. Something along these lines:
I am just that classy.
But, the best part of this story was, when I came to Home Depot, I was irritated by my embarrassing display in court that morning, annoyed that I had to stop by Home Depot in my heels and work outfit and dreading the drive back to Pensacola after a long morning in court. Now, I was the happiest woman alive. I had my keys! I could crank my car! And, I could drive it and leave the effin’ Home Depot forever. Literally, I have yet to return to the Daphne Home Depot and I don’t think I ever will – the thought sickens me.
I was all smiles and sunshine as I pulled out of the parking lot, three hours after I had pulled in, leaving Mr. Detter behind to dutifully overturn boxes of electrical cords and fittings in search of a “woman’s keys.” I sang every song that came on the radio all the way home. Even sappy eighties love ballads got a peppy treatment – nothing could dampen my mood. It took a sweaty, mortifying afternoon at the Home Depot with Mr. Detter and the Daphne P.D. to teach me if you think your day is going badly, know that it can always get worse.
That’s a great shot, but that’s not it. This shot – the money shot – is stellar. Not only does it capture Phillip doing something totally awesome (but when does he not do things that are totally awesome?) but he did it right in the front of the boat, the glistening Plaintiff’s Rest. This shot is supreme. Trust me – but we’ll get there. First thing’s first.
First we had to get that beautiful boat out there on the hook as often as we could between boat chores. Let me give you some highlights of our summer anchorages (and I would imagine this song is the right backdrop for this rockin’ photo montage):
Just about every Friday at 5:00 p.m. (okay, who am I kidding – NOON!) we tossed the lines and headed out for the weekend. We often went west to Red Fish Point where we stayed for our first anchorage.
We enjoyed some exquisite sunset sails over:
And you know what happens when we start sailing? For those of you who said “clothes come off!” you would be right! But, we also drink! We are sailors you know! Every time the sun would start to dip, we would whip up one of our famous “Oh Shiiiit” cocktails or pour a fine glass of wine.
Nope, that’s not the money shot either. Not yet. Stick with me …
We would often head east too, over to the Pensacola Beach area to anchor out behind Paradise Inn or Big Sabine:
And we did some serious sailing along the way – I’m talking wing-on-wing! That’s where the Jenny and the main are on opposite sides of the boat – one pulled out to starboard and one to port. Looks like this:
It is a technique used to maximize the sail surface in light wind to allow us to sail downwind when the wind is directly on our stern. Here is our Jenny and main, wing-on-wing:
And … we sailed her like that under the Bob Sykes bridge! *gasp*
But the scariest part was, Phillip let me steer her like that!
A look of total concentration. I was in the zone!
Thankfully, we made it under, boat in tact, bridge in rearview and a big smile on my face.
We had some buddies sail along with us on occasion to get some great shots of us sailing:
Awesome shot, too, I must agree – but that’s still not it. Almost!
We cooked up some mean meals on the boat:
Sirloin steaks with chimmichurri? Yes, please! But, the wind often blew so hard it would blow out the flame on our grill.Have wind will NOT cook!So, guess whose job it was to hold up a cover while the meat cooked.
That’s right – you guessed it – the First Mate’s!
But it was totally worth it. I mean … look at that feast! We really don’t eat well on the boat, I’m telling you. Not well at all!
That thing was a beast to blow up. Definitely good for the “gun show!” We had a great time paddling around, though, once she was inflated:
Then we deflated her and rolled her right back up.
Great for storing on the boat, not so good for the back. It is a wee bit of a chore but again – totally worth it – because we always finish our chores up with a drink (or four)!
Nope, that is STILL not the money shot – although he is a sexy beast! Don’t you just hate it!
We met up with some buddies and shared a case of PBR:
Then they passed out!
And their little dog too! As did we! Day-drinking is hard.
Our “Sail Groupies” (Phillip’s folks) often came out to hang out with us on the hook:
They eat a lot! But we don’t mind. We feed them so they’ll take us out wakeboarding:
And, they helped us get it. Yes, IT. The Money Shot. Phillip’s dad pulled him right around in front of our boat and Phillip threw up a “hang ten” sign so I could snap this sizzling number. I give you – The Money Shot:
Oh yeeeaaahhh! That is money. Looks like the opening trailer for a bad-ass movie to me. I believe this is the appropriate accompaniment: Big Pimpin’
Boat projects were definitely abundant, now that we had the bottom job done on the boat and she was home, tucked safely away in a cozy slip at Palafox Pier:
We found a great slip at the very end, protected by a sea wall on one side with a floating finger dock on the other, and it’s just a short jump out into the Bay:
While tossing the lines and jumping out in the bay is definitely always a better alternative, we had a growing list of things we needed to do to the boat to ready her for some real cruising this winter. We started it the day of the Survey/Sea Trial many moons ago and it always seemed to be growing.
I could go into laborious detail (trust me, the projects were plentiful – I told you, owning a boat is a lot of work!) but let’s get a condensed version, shall we? Over the course of the summer, amidst anchorages, sunset sails and other fun outings, Phillip and I did the following to the boat:
Changed out the batteries:
If you recall, the batteries (which were already about 3-4 years old) ran completely down when the boat was unplugged in Carabelle. As our buddy Kevin had warned us and he ended up being right (hate when that happens!), the complete run-down did have a devastating effect on the batteries. They were never able to fully recover and truly hold a charge after that, so we had to slap four new ones in. Not cheap! But, thankfully, in exchange for exactly 3.5 beers, Bottom-Job Brandon helped us get them in and wired up.
We also cleaned up the wiring in the electronics panel and put in a new bus bar to reduce the number of connections on each terminal:
We fixed the leak at the base of the mast by injecting silicone in/around the bolt heads and re-taping the boot cover:
I got a little crafty again with some inexpensive fabrics from a place that rhymes with Schmal-Mart and made a cover for the power cord and fenders:
Now you see that hideous yellow cord …
Now you don’t … Cord-WOW!
That thing was a beast to wrestle though. I tangled with that 50-foot anaconda for three days:
The fender covers were much easier:
(And, yes, this was all crafted with my trusty hot glue gun and stapler. I love my Swingline!)
“Haa … have you seen my stapler?”
To up the “bling” factor, we polished all of the metal through-out:
And, last but not least, we replaced some gaskets in the coolant system on the engine:
Yes, some days on the boat look like this. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. And, it’s not spacious either. To get this job done, I had to cram down into the engine room on the boat. A nice series of me crawling out of this dirty, grimy hole (through a tiny opening in the aft-berth) will help you truly appreciate the tightness of these quarters:
There she is! Now c’mon out Annie!
Uggh …. Grunt …
I now know why they call it aft-berth! That’s about what it felt like – trust me.
But, thankfully, every time we spent a hot sweaty afternoon doing chores on the boat, we always ended it with a dip in the pool by our slip.
We can even see the top of our mast from the pool:
That way, we can sip pinot gris pool-side comfortably knowing she’s at least still up-right and floating. And, speaking of, I have to mention our Cup-WOW wine glasses that also sit up-right and float in the pool.
I mean, could there be a better invention? Wooowwww!!
And, the best part is, letting the glass float around in the pool helps warm up too-chilly white wines because the water is pretty warm. Not for that reason. I never do that in pools! I’m always afraid they’re going to have that secret blue dye that will show up and I’ll be feverishly swishing a cloud of blue water toward the old guy next to me with the rubber duckie floatie pointing at him with a face of total disgust. I never pee in pools! (At least not without conducting a little squirt dye test first!).
So, with our boat chores done (for the moment at least), our mast upright and our wine perfectly warmed, we enjoyed many-a-lazy afternoon by the pool, which usually progresses in this manner:
“That IS incredible,” says his infomercial sidekick, the infamous Bob. “ I can’t believe it. Where did it go? Tell me more Shamson!”
You see, while the Chair-Wow may look like a regular old, fold-up camping chair, once you start hacking away on it, you’ll find it’s actually an incredible resource for many handy boat accessories, such as:
A life sling cover for your stern rail:
A boot cover for your mast:
A pocket pouch for the solar panel of your cockpit lights:
That’s right, the Chair-Wow is an incredibly versatile resource for boat accessories. And, for only $6.95 (or four easy payments of $1.73!) you too can acquire the Chair-Wow at your local Home Depot or other outdoor furniture store and make all of these handy, colorful, home-made UV-protectant covers and pouches yourself.
Pretty nifty, right? That lady at the fabric store (who tried to sell me outdoor UV material for $45/yard – pssshhh!) just didn’t know how crafty I could get with a camping chair and a hot glue gun.
Yes, that’s what it looks like. Life on the hook. Well, on anchor, that is. The technical definition is “living on a boat and anchored some place not attached to firm land or bottom.” (http://manateefritters.com/2012/07/13/going-to-live-on-the-hook/). Gorgeous, ain’t it? I know now how great it can be, but, I have to tell you – this whole time – I did not. I didn’t know how mind-blowingly blissful the sailing lifestyle could be. It’s like when the doctor asks you what news you want to hear first: the good or the bad? You always say the bad. Get it over with right? Right. I think that’s exactly what I did.
For this entire Gulf Crossing, transmission busting, Dasani-bottle fluid catching, mast-climbing, greasy, sweaty, exhausting ride we’ve been on, I had yet to see the real reward, the true benefit of the sailing lifestyle: LIFE ON THE HOOK. Realize, I had yet to even know what it feels like to drop the anchor (not once) and have the boat stop in the middle of the water. Just STOP. No worrying about depth, or the wind or transmission fluid. No hoisting sails or pulling in lines. No checking the engine, refilling the coolant, watching the oil temp, watching the horizon for wayward ships, buoys or crab traps. Once we dropped the anchor, the boat … just … stopped. And she was safe, and secure, and poised right in the middle of a beautiful cove about 100 feet from the shore. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Without any “work” to be done, I was a little lost. You mean, I can just sit back and have a drink and enjoy the sunset? Phillip said, “You can do whatever your little heart desires.”
Ahhhh … life on the hook. Let me give you a little taste. Here’s where we went:
It was about a 3-hour sail (that, thankfully, ended much better than Gilligan’s tour). Pensacola Bay is huge and catches a lot of fetch. It’s a great sailing bay and seems there’s always enough wind to do something with. We headed over to Red Fish Point, near Fort McRee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_McRee). It is a barrier island covered with sugary, white sand and a federal park to preserve the remnants of the civil war area fort that remains. The park is accessible primarily only by boat and appears to be lost in time, preserved and serene, like it’s a thousand miles from anywhere. We had a beautiful sail over.
We were just thrilled to have the boat back in the water, the lines tossed and the two of us headed out for anchorage.
As I sit here today, I really can’t think of a better feeling. Oh, wait, sun on our skin!
I told you clothes come off when we sail. And, we were sailing! It felt so incredible. It’s like the stress and toil of the shore you’re leaving behind just seems to stay there. It doesn’t come out there on the boat with you. The most important thing is the wind. That’s the only thing you’re concerned about. Sailing is incredibly freeing.
The minute we dropped anchor and I had the option to “do whatever my little heart desired,” I dove right in the water, first thing.
I know. Looks kind of like a dolphin, but I assure you: ‘Tis me!
My little heart was soaking this “life on the hook” gig up. Loving every minute of it. It was quite a haul, but we swam all the way to shore. The sand was a brilliant white that felt cool and smooth under our feet.
And, it made sort of a crunching, squeaking sound when we walked on it.
Fun little fact for you:
Did You Know?
The stunning sugar white beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore are composed of fine quartz eroded from granite in the Appalachian Mountains. The sand is carried seaward by rivers and creeks and deposited by currents along the shore.
I mean … was there life before Google? (I’ll credit my brilliant friend Meagan for that revelation!)
We spent the afternoon swimming to/from shore (clothes on), then dried off and poured some wine to sip on while we watched the sunset.
As usual, she did not fail to impress. It was absolutely gorgeous.
But, after all the swimming, we were ready for dinner. We set up the grill for the first time, which was a bit of an event for us. It hooks on the stern rail and connects to the propane supply on the boat.
Phillip hooked her up like a champ and threw some chicken on the grill. I sauteed some spinach and baked a fresh loaf of bread down below and – voila! – we had ourselves a right and proper feast!
I know, right there in the cockpit, a four star dinner? I was amazed. This anchorage stuff was totally tolerable. We did have one mini fiasco, though (as is always the case with us) when we were cleaning up for dinner. There is certainly no garbage disposal on the boat, so you have to be careful not to let any food particles go down the sink drain. You either have to put a strainer in the drain or scrape the dishes over the side of the boat before washing. We chose the latter. Phillip stacked the plates and everything in the pot we used to cook the spinach and went topside to start scraping. I heard him fidgeting and struggling with something and he finally stuck his head down and said “It’s stuck.” Stuck??What’s stuck? “The plate,” he said. “In the pan. I can’t get it out.” He brought it down to the galley and I had to laugh. It truly was stuck.
One of the dinner plates had slid down nice and snug in the base of the pan and, with a little soapy water underneath it, it was suctioned in there like a leech in the wrong place.
Don’t worry, I “stood by” Phillip and tried to help. I got that pot on the stove and tried to extract the plate with a screw driver and a hammer, using some real technical surgical skills I picked up in Nam.
Phillip even gave it a go, but that thing wasn’t budging.
We had wedged a knife in, but even that wasn’t working.
So, we decide to heat things up. We put that baby on the burner and lit her up, hoping the steam from the water below would free the plate. She started bubbling up, and popping and sputtering. I thought the plate was going to explode. I was skeered.
With one final pop and no free plate, Phillip decided it was time the plate made a sacrifice. He went topside with the screwdriver and hammer and I was sure he was planning to demolish it. I heard some banging and a rousing “Eff you plate!” and he came down with an empty pot and plate shards. I kept a piece to go along with the bolt head that sheared off during the Crossing, costing us the dinghy. I’m going to make a wicked shadow box someday.
With the dinner fiasco finally resolved, we poured some more wine (yes, more) and watched the moon rise and the stars come out. Again, it was perfection.
But, it certainly paled in comparison to the sunrise the next morning. It was my first on anchor and it was magnificent. I think I shed a tear or two, it was so beautiful. Okay, I didn’t, but I certainly took a lot of pictures! This is only 4 of the 59 I snapped that morning so know that I culled it down for you:
like magic, I was “hooked.” This mate was ready to anchor anywhere! We were right here at “home,” just outside of Pensacola Bay, but, I swear, we could have been anywhere, the Keys, the Islands, half-way around the world. This boat was ready to take us there. It was that night, we started planning our grand adventure.
That’s right. Blood. These boat christenings are serious business. It’s like Fight Club.
Rule No. 1: There must be blood. Alright, that’s not rule number one (it’s number 12!). Rule number one is The bottle must break. And, that is true. It has to be. I read it on the internet (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2506&dat=19650701&id=3lVJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EwoNAAAAIBAJ&pg=4384,289846). And, you gotta love that captain for being quick on his feet. The boat slips out into the water on its own before the ceremony, and he shrugs and says “Everyone knows the christening comes after birth.” Perfect. “Now, strike up the band! I want to hear God Save the Queen.”
We didn’t have quite that degree of pomp and circumstance. (I don’t think it made the paper.) But, in the early morning hours of June 7, 2013, we certainly did christen her. The Travelift was scheduled to come at 7:00 a.m. to pick her up for the haul-in, I guess you would call it. So, we got there a little early to close and check all the seacocks and through-holes and ready her for the water. We checked all the fluids. Yes, the transmission fluid, too. I checked that first actually, while the boys were commiserating in the cockpit.
This is the Grand Trio: that’s Kevin the Broker on the left (the buddy who helped us find our gem, the most amazing sailboat ever), Bottom Job Brandon in the middle (the buddy who helped us polish her up and ready her for any voyage) and, on the right, our faithful Captain and Leader, the reason for all of this, the infamous Phillip.
The Travelift came right on time, and the guys and gals at the shipyard started strapping her up.
And we have lift off!
Thankfully, Houston, there were no problems.
Phillip looked about as proud as I’ve ever seen him, watching his boat, his dream, his vision, hovering right in front of him. Finally, a reality. We both walked alongside her, broad smiles and big chests, pointing, nudging and whispering to each other: That’s our boat!
It was a big day for us.
Kevin and Brandon, both avid sailors themselves, and having owned and lived on and around sailboats all their lives, knew what it felt like to put your boat in the water for the first time. They brought us champagne to break (and drink!), slapped us on the back and shared our excitement.
Kevin: “You’re going to spend your best days on her.”
Phillip: “I hope to spend every day on her.”
They brought her over the water and dipped her down just low enough for me to smash the bottle on the bow.
This was the big moment. You know, plagued for all eternity and what not. But, I was ready. I’d been practicing. I wasn’t going to let that bottle bounce back unscathed. Uh-huh, not on this boat. I reared back and smacked her good.
Ahhh! What a glorious moment. The bottle smashed into 932 pieces and champagne went everywhere! I made a big scene and acted like a superhero (I tend to do that in moments like this).
And, then … there was BLOOD.
I didn’t notice it at first, in all my flailing and flaunting, but Brandon did. I’m surprised I didn’t get it on my white shirt (I can’t keep a white shirt clean to save my life). But, she was gushing. That bottle obviously found a way to get back at me. A nice shard of it jammed right into my knuckle upon impact. We didn’t have a band there playing God Save the Queen, but I have a feeling the queen herself would have been proud of my bloody good smash! Perhaps I swung a little harder than necessary. I tend to do that at times, too. But, it was totally worth it. The bottle shattered, and Plaintiff’s Rest was assured a long, lucky life at sea. We wrapped my bloody appendage and hopped on board while the boys eased her out of the dock.
Plaintiff’s Rest was back in the water! To ensure a future of fair winds and following seas, we performed the obligatory splash ceremony ritual (http://www.boatnames.com.au/boat-naming-renaming-ceremony.htm) in which we called on Poseidon and the four Wind Gods (north, east, south and west), reading the script out loud, pouring generous amounts of champagne in each direction, and drinking a generous portion ourselves. Plenty of champagne was consumed during the ceremony, I can assure you. We had a lot to celebrate!
Phillip was beaming.
The wind was blowing, and we were sailing!
And, you know what happens when we go sailing …
Clothes come off! I’m kidding. They do, but only the outer layers. We love the sun. Phillip went top-side to enjoy the view from the bow, and I (of course) followed.
“You looking for a mate?”
It was a big day for us and a beautiful day on the water. We knew, then and there, we would spend our best days on her.