October 10, 2013 – To See a She-Man About a Boat

Now, I don’t really consider a dinghy a “boat.”  I mean, I guess it’s a watercraft.  It floats and carries people.  You can paddle or motor around in it.


Okay, I get it.  But, if our sailboat and the dinghy were tied up together in a slip, and someone said, “Hey, nice boat!,” I wouldn’t say, “Thanks, she’s a 2001 six-seater Caribe with matching oars.”  I would, assume, like the rest of the world I would hope, that he’s talking about the sailboat.  The real boat.  (And, I will tell you, I was going to include a fun little Webster’s or similar dictionary quote here to prove my imminent brilliance, but every definition I found started with “A small boat that … ” — Bullocks!).

Apparently, the boys in blue are equally correct in their definition of a “boat.”  After a nail-biting ten minutes in NYC, Detective Whazzisname from the Pensacola Police Department finally called us back and told us they had been trying to track Phillip down back in Pensacola on behalf of the Fort Walton Police.  Turns out it was the Fort Walton guys that wanted to talk to Phillip “about his boat.”  A very important piece of information Sergeant So-and-So could have told us that wouldn’t have left us imagining Plaintiff’s Rest smashed into a pile of paint and epoxy at our dock back in Pensacola.  But, apparently, he wasn’t at liberty to disclose such vital information.  Phillip started to suspect then that it could be about the dinghy, although I was a little skeptical.  I mean we cut her off in the middle of the Gulf …

I believe you all remember the “harrowing debacle.”  When we had to literally hack the dinghy off the stern during The Crossing to save the boat:

“Afterward, we all fell into a heap in the cockpit, drenched and shaken, but feeling more alive in that moment than we had the entire trip.  I doubt Mitch could even comprehend nausea at that moment.  Our bodies were feasting on adrenaline.  We sat there, our chests heaving in unison it seemed, gathering our thoughts and wondering if what just happened had really happened.  Phillip shined a light out into the sea as it to confirm our collective inquiry and there it was.  The dinghy.  About 50 yards away from the boat, lines floating around her like spindly fingers reaching back for the boat.  She was truly out there, detached from the boat and floating away.  We had really done it.  Cut her off.  The damn dinghy.”

Now, what do you think happened to that dinghy?  I imagined it floated along, finally free as a blue-jay, frolicking with the dolphins and dorados.  Much like the wide-eyed cat in the psychedelic cat food commercial batting at little fish-shaped pieces of meat leaping about, as happy as happy can be.


Like when the family pet passes and you tell the little ones “No, honey, Brisco didn’t die, he’s living on a great big farm, chasing squirrels all day.”  I envision it that way because that’s not the image I was left with when we sawed the dinghy off and watched her float away from the boat over big, murky waves, existing only in the single beam of our flashlight — until we clicked it off and turned our backs on her.  And then what?

Then our dinghy floated herself all the way to Fort Walton Beach that’s what.  Her journey had to look something like this:

FL coast

I’m starting to think our dinghy looked less like the doe-eyed, frolicking kitten in the cat food commercial and more like this:

cat in water

Cut me off of the boat will they?  I’ll get those heifers!

Our dinghy wasn’t having it!  She wasn’t going to let us leave her out there to drift aimlessly in the ocean.  The cat came back!  And, as fate would have it.  Having floated freely across the entire Gulf, the minute she touched dry land, she ended up here:



Apparently she didn’t think to grab her papers before we cut her loose.  Them’s the breaks!

Someone had apparently found her in the woods and brought her in to the station.  Thankfully, we had registered the dinghy in Phillip’s name before setting off on The Crossing so they were able to track her back to us.  But, they sure weren’t in a hurry.  We learned the dinghy had been sitting there, staring sadly through a chain link fence, waiting for us to come get her, since July.  July!?  Yes, three months, sitting in a parking lot, out in the sun.  But at least she’d made it back.

Phillip met with a stocky Fort Walton lady-officer of about this size and stature:


I heart you Melissa McCarthy.

She unlocked the gate and let us have a look at her.  She had some nautical miles on her, but it was definitely our dinghy.


The outboard was nowhere to be found, but I’m sure that thing was toast well before she reached the shore.  I remember when it crashed into the water from the davits, oil and gas flowing out of it like lava.  I doubt it was salvageable.  As we hoisted her into the trailer and strapped her in, I started to wonder what stories our dinghy could tell us about her adventure.


Perhaps she floated past Robert Redford in an ailing life raft, or an Indian boy and his tiger, adrift at sea.  Or maybe she hallucinated the entire time and did bat at leaping, neon goldfish.  We’ll never know.  But, I couldn’t believe she had come back to us.  All that way.  The damn dinghy.

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


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 …


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:


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


“Careful now boys!  She’s expensive!”


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.


There she comes!


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.


“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.



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:



“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.



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.


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


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:


Paired with an exquisite GSM blend.


And then threw the steaks on the grill.




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.


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.