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?

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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 25, 2013 (yes, still!) – The Crossing Finale – Total Domestication

Once we got the “recycle” system in place, we could finally take a breath and kick back and enjoy the passage, intermittently at least.  The drip was pretty steady and Dasani bottles just aren’t that big,so they were filling pretty fast.  And I’ll tell you one thing duct tape adhesive does not like.  That’s heat.  The hotter it got down there near the engine, the gummier and gooier and less ‘adhesive’ our adhesive.  And, the more I kept sticking pieces in the same place, the less they stuck.  So, the catch-bin needed constant monitoring when the engine was running.  About every thirty minutes or so we had to cut the engine to let her cool, so I could pull out the Dasani bottle and check the level.

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Yep, she’s full!

Then pour the ‘caught’ fluid back in the transmission and pull the dipstick to make sure she was nice and coated.

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Yep, all pink!

Then tape a new, empty catch bottle back up and start the whole process again.  And, I guess because the engine just happened to be in the kitchen (well, under the sink) that job fell on me.  That’s right, Phillip had me right where he wanted me, cooking, cleaning and fluid-catching in the kitchen.

“Make sure you change the oil down there too, honey, before you start dinner.”

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“Yes, dear!”

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Yep.  Phillip had me all domesticated right and proper, handling all of my domestic obligations in the kitchen, including engine duty, like a real ladies maid.  Emily Post would be super proud!

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Screw Emily Post.  We all know what Annie really does in the kitchen …

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That’s right, make sure the wet bar is fully stocked and throw a rum drink together, stat!  In all of my checking and changing and taping and sticking, I still found time to throw us together some hearty sea drinks.

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We have actually named this particular drink the Oh Shiiiiit! (yes, with five “i”s) in honor of Phillip’s knee-jerk, expletive reaction when he had his first sip.

For those 14 and over (at least that’s when I started) – mix as follows:

1.5 ounces Malibu Coconut rum

1 ounce dark Meyer’s rum

1 ounce pineapple juice

0.5 ounce orange juice

And a splash of Coco Lopez (optional – it makes it a little heavier but gives it that real island flavor)

Drink responsibly.

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Trust me, we did.  Only one (each).  Captain’s orders while on passage.  And, always with food (everyone needs a good soaker layer).  What do you think goes best with rum drinks??

Chips and salsa.  Of course!

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Complete with fancy salsa clip bowl, too, perfectly suited for a sloshing, sailing, salsa feast!

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And yet I still manage to miss my mouth.

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It’s a real talent.  But, you know, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk to go with it.  Turns out if you give a sailor some chips and salsa, he, too, is going to want a sammich to go with it.

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Yum!  Now save those Dasani bottles!”

The wind even started to pick up after lunch and we were finally able to kill the engine.  My God what a glorious feeling.  She sputters and rattles to a stop and then it’s just quiet.  So … quiet.  All you can hear is the wind whistling through the sails and the splash of the water on the hull as the boat moves through the Gulf.  We had a great sail that afternoon.  The wind was blowing around 12-15 mph, more south, southeast now, which helped ease us around Cape San Blas

Carrabelle to PC Revised

mostly on a broad reach.  (No, that’s not when a hooker goes for your wallet.  It’s an official sailing term, but I’ll save that little nugget for another day).

But, as the wind always does, she started to really blow (I told you she was a bitch!).  She picked up to about 18 to 20 as we sailed into the night.  The sea state was 3 to 4 foot waves, and the boat was cooking.  We were doing about 6.5 knots all night, with spurts of 7 and 7.5, particularly while I was holding the wheel.  I couldn’t imagine you could get tired holding the wheel of a sailboat, but it took some real muscle to hold our course.

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Thank goodness I’d been hitting the gym!  Ain’t that right, Sonnie??

We decided to reef the Jenny in (that is, roll her back up a bit so there’s not so much sail exposed to catch the wind) about half-way through the night.  In all, it was a bit of a rough sail, but nothing like the initial Crossing from Punta Gorda so we weathered it fine.  Phillip even fell asleep a couple of times, this time withOUT one eye open, but still right next to me in the cockpit.  I was thrilled to see him sleeping, finally, but pissed that he’d left the radio on the freaking Delilah show.  Don’t act like you don’t know who I’m talking about.  All you closet 94.1 fans.  That all-time lover of love.

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De-liiiiiiii-luuuuuhhh!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9v2-q_byiY

All.  Freaking.  Night.  Long.  Okay, for just like an hour and half, but it was the longest hour and a half of my life.  But, with Delilah in our corner and all her sappy love song dedications to keep us entertained, we made it through the night.  Having fought the wind all night, we were pretty beat the next morning.  While trucking on to Port St. Joe was an option, we decided to set our sights for Panama City and stay a night at the marina to get a good, not-so-Eagle-eye, night’s rest.  The wind turned right on our nose as we were coming into the pass so we had to do some motoring into Panama City, which meant more engine work for Annie.  But we pulled into the pass around 9:00 a.m. and got ready to dock her.

Now, I really was nervous this time.  This was only our fourth time docking our boat.  The first time was in Clearwater.  The wind was blowing around 25 mph off our stern then and I missed the stern pole but luckily we had two corn-fed hosses holding us off the dock.  The second time was in the Carrabelle River.  The water was glass and we had Mitch.  The third time I’m not sure you would really even call it a “docking,” per se.  That was when the engine cut out in the River and we had to throw out an anchor and throw the Catamaran guy a line and he walked us around to a dock.  That doesn’t really count.  This time was going to be a true ‘docking,’ and it was just Phillip and I.  No Mitch, no hosses, no corn (if that would help).  Let me just tell you, docking is super stressful.  Phillip has told me before, if you really want some entertainment, watch a couple try to anchor or dock.  There’s usually tons of shouting involved, finger-pointing, perhaps some dock or boat wreckage, all sorts of excitement.  That’s because it’s stressful!  One wrong move, one missed cleat and your boat, your beautiful, glossy, water-tight boat goes crashing into the dock or worse, the million dollar yacht next to it.  Not something you want to screw up.  I think this little gem pretty much sums it up:

Docking Flowsheet

Very informative.  But, there we were, our first time docking together.  Phillip had given me the best instruction he could.  “Watch the wind to see which way it’s pushing the boat and catch a cleat on the leeward side.”  Yes, that’s the best instruction Phillip could give.  He can sometimes be a little ‘stern’ when he’s barking orders from the stern.  But, he’s stressed.  I get it.  He’s driving the boat in.  He needs a first mate that just knows what to do, not one that requires hand-holding.  Thankfully he has that now, but I’m here to tell you he did not have that then.  I couldn’t tell for the life of me which way the wind was pushing the boat, if there even was wind, and I had no clue which side was leeward.  Leeward?  Really?  I had barely wrapped my heard around port and starboard at that point.

I was freaked.  Phillip had the wheel and I had about three lines tied to different cleats all over the damn boat, ready to tie her any which way.  Phillip started to pull her into the slip and I, ready as ever, Little Mate that Could, jumped off the boat prepared to tie anything.  Tie … anything.  TIE.  Damnit!  I had jumped off the boat without a line in hand.  Brilliant!  I stood on the dock knowing I had just royally screwed up.  Phillip shouted “Okay, now tie that bow line on the … ” but as the words came out of his mouth he looked up and saw my empty, useless hands, holding not a dock line, a beautiful, woven, boat-saving dock line, but rather, merely held up, empty, in the most apologetic of shrugs.  I guess Phillip needed to check the flowsheet to see what to do when:  Mate stands helpless as boat drifts off.

All I could see were the whites of Phillip’s eyes as I stood there helpless, useless, while the boat continued her steady, forward creep toward the dock.