October 22, 2013 – A Dirty Job

Actually, I don’t think “dirty” covers it.  I need another word.  Stick with me and you’ll see what I mean.  Delve into our head for a moment, will you?


Yes, that one.  The throne.  The John.  The almighty porcelain God on our boat.  Also the one that had decided to stop keeping the shizz in the holding tank where it belongs, but, rather, let it flow back up in the bowl.  Some God!

photo (27)

Sad but true.  And, unfortunately for us, it meant we were going to have to crack her open and replace her ailing parts.  I decided to call in a specialist.

Rowe 4

I got a job for you Mike!

With Rowe on board, we donned our special dirty-job apparel,


and set to work.  Now, let me teach you a little something about the shizz system on our boat.  Here’s a birds-eye view of the layout on our boat:

Boat layout

Here’s where the shizz goes:

Boat layout 2

Real fancy.  And, let’s just appreciate, for a moment, the rockin’ 70’s Hinterhoeller ad where I got this fancy layout:

Hinterhoeller Ad

That is one fine-looking skipper ladies.  I’ll bet if you rub his pot belly, it brings good luck.

Hinterhoeller Ad

“Hey Velma.  It’s tough standing here at the helm.  Why don’t you give my calf a good rub while I hold the wheel.”

That was fun, but back to the shizz.  This is the suction tube:


So, let’s think about it.  If the suction tube wasn’t holding the shizz back in the holding tank, then where do you think it was holding it?  Anyone?  Anyone?  In the tube!  We had a big black tube full of shizz that we had to take off to replace it.  Someone had to clean out the tube before we could remove it.

Rowe said “NOOO!!!”

Rowe 2

So guess who the job fell to?  That’s right.  The first mate.  I said “How?”

And, Phillip handed me the shop vac.

I hope you’re putting two and two together by now.  Yes, that’s it.  We did what you’re thinking.  We took the shop vac,


stuck it in the toilet,


and sucked the shizz out.  And, I wish this was some kind of interactive blog, or a scratch-and-sniff, at least, because I don’t think words can express the glorious smell that emanated from our boat that day.  And, as if this job could get any funner, after the sucking was done, then where do you think shizz was?  Yep!  In the shop vac!  Someone then had to clean that out.

Rowe said:




Damn you Rowe!!

So … I cleaned out the shop vac.  (And, do, please, try to imagine the gentle care with which I carried that sloshing thing through the galley, up the companionway stairs, out of the cockpit and up to the dock.  I kept imagining the little plastic clamps that held the tank on were going to break and shizz would dump everywhere.  Please, do try to vividly imagine!)

With the shop vac purged and the tube cleaned out, we set to work on wrestling that thing off the head, which actually turned out to be a monstrous chore.  What did Phillip akin it to?  Oh yeah.  Like wrestling an anaconda in an airplane bathroom.  Something like that.  And, I’ll have you know despite the suction wonders of the shop vac, we weren’t able to get all of the shizz out, so some of it was still oozing out while we were twisting and grappling with that stupid hose.


And, I’ll have you further know that yanking and pulling on a ripped, wire-threaded hose is NOT a good way to keep your flimsy, paper-thin vinyl gloves intact.  It was inevitable:


“Take that Rowe.  You big Nancy!”


I told you it was a dirty job.  But, while it seemed the dirty part was over, the hardest certainly was not.  It took Phillip and I about two hours to maneuver, tug, pull and curse that damn hose out through the vberth.  Phillip was stationed in the bathroom trying to push and shove it through the hole in the cabinet under the sink:


While I was wedged under the mattress in the vberth trying to pull it out on my end:


“Push harder!!”

It was quite the chore.  But, we finally got her out!


And, there’s a reason we have a rag shoved in the end.  You don’t want any spillage!

After that, it really was a piece of cake.  We replaced all of the rubber parts,


gave her nice wipe-down, and


cleaned up the last of the shizz,



Then put her back together, and voila!


And, the new suction tube:

Head 2

was super sucky in the best kind of way.  Everything went right from the toilet to the tank.  Sccchllooop!  And stayed there!

And, to prove it, I filmed the dumbest video ever to memorialize our monumental feat.


View HERE.

Superstar is right!  We had just accomplished the dirtiest job ever, and documented the whole thing for your viewing pleasure.  What does Rowe know about entertainment?  Despite his lackluster performance, I let Rowe stay, though.  Well, because, let’s face it. 

Rowe 3

The man looks good clean.  Am I right, ladies?

April 12, 2013 – Purchase and Pork; Planning and Provisions

No surprise here. We bought the boat. The closing, in and of itself, was quite uneventful. Just some signing of documents, exchange of papers and emails back and forth. But, our broker was excited (not in that I just made a sweet commission kind of way), but in a genuine, yet even more selfish, I just got another friend with a boat kind of way.) Through the boat-shopping process, we definitely made a friend out of Kevin, and it came out that he and Phillip shared an equal appreciation for all things pig.  Chops, ham, bacon, oh my!  He gave Phillip and I a great “Congrats on Closing!” gift:

BBQ Bible

BBQ Bible note

In case you were wondering, we did try the chop recipe. The book calls them “Sweet and Garlicky Pork Chops” (page 191). We more appropriately named them Kick-ass Asian chops and gobbled them right up!

Asian chops

The BBQ Bible is fab – get you one: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listing/2688835178385?r=1&cm_mmca2=pla&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-Book_15To24-_-Q000000633-_-2688835178385

So, with the closing behind us, we were now faced with the daunting task of planning the trip to sail the boat back from Punta Gorda to Pensacola. I, in my infant, virgin, sailing days (I reflect back on those now with affection and a little chuckle, thinking, “Awwww, Annie … tssk, tssk”) I thought it was going to be a glorious vacation. Beautiful, sunny days, the wind blowing through my hair, while I lay basking in the sun on the main deck, not a care in the world. What a grand excursion this would be, I thought. What should I wear? Which bathing suit should I bring? The sporty one? The string bikini? Decisions, decisions! It was like Legally Blonde sets sail!


(In case you were wondering, to my surprise, it appears that has already happened: http://broadwaytour.net/legally-blonde-sets-sail-with-norwegian-cruise-lines. Yes, they made Legally Blonde into a musical. It was that good.)

Now, you all, who know me well, know I’m far more rough-and-tumble than frills-and-lace, but I simply had no idea how volatile sailing could really be. I didn’t know it was completely, and I mean utterly, inescapably, dependent on the weather. Hence the name of this fine editorial: Have Wind Will Travel. Translation: no wind means no sailing. Extreme wind means extremely rough sailing. Bad weather means bad sailing. On and on. And, I can assure you, sailing, while at times can be just what I envisioned, a pristine sunny day, the wind dancing through your hair while you lay, stretched out like a Brazilian supermodel on the deck (I don’t know about you , but I always look like a supermodel in my daydreams – always), the remaining 68.4% of the time, it’s work. Hard, manual labor. Up and down the companionway stairs, holding the helm against rolling waves, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking, adjusting the sails, coiling the lines, closing the hatches, opening the hatches, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking, folding, packing, docking, up and down the stairs. And, did I mention the cleaning? Scrubbing? And cooking? And, the HEAD, don’t even get me started …

You want me to clean the what?


Yes. With tiny tissues and Clorox wipes. Get to it. (And no, I did not pack the bunny ears for this trip. But thanks for asking.)

I know now what hard work it can be, but I did not know that then. Yet I can assure you every ounce of exerted energy is worth it. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, like being out there on the water. It is incomparable. But, while a hard worker and great cleaner/scrubber/ cooker, I was admittedly new to this whole sailing business, and Phillip knew he needed a good, trusty sailor (a.k.a., a “real salt”) or two to help us make the crossing. While many were interested – apparently, for some, crossing the Gulf in a sailboat is a real bucket list item – few could really take the time off to make the trip. It was going to be a 5-day passage, at least, longer if the weather did not behave (and, clever foreshadowing be damned, know that the weather, in no way, shape or form – behaved. She blew like a scorned mistress. That bitch!).


But, we finally lined up a second mate. (You may be thinking the more talented, knowledgeable bloke is the Second Mate?? You’re darn right. I had already started this blog by then and deemed myself First Mate so … too bad). With our Second Mate, Mitch, whom I will give a raucous, Chaucer-worthy rendition of later, on board, we started planning for the trip. This was going to be quite the excursion. Getting settled into a boat for the first time while simultaneously planning a 5-day passage across the Gulf is kind of like … like packing for a … Or moving into a … No, it was just as it sounds, like moving into a boat, sailing it 150 miles off-shore then crossing the Gulf of Mexico in it. There is nothing I can compare it to. (And believe me, as a writer, I tried, first with a camper trailer trip cross-country, then in an RV on a safari … ). Nothing worked. Nothing could compare to prepping a boat for this passing. There’s sails, rigging, lines, an engine. The galley, stove, saloon and head (I mentioned the head). A life raft, flashlights, flares, emergency provisions. A radio, electronics, batteries, etc. And we had to make sure all of that worked, could be fixed, or could be done without, in the middle of the Gulf. For us, it was a new boat and a new crew, and we were going to give both a massive shake-down right out of the gate. We spent weeks trying to think of everything we were going to need. From paper towels and soap to flashlights and flares, and food. My God! We were going to have to stock a whole kitchen from scratch. It was daunting.

But, thankfully, it resulted in a finely-tuned, every-trusty Provisions List. We created this especially for the Gulf Crossing but we’ve vowed to run through it every time we leave the dock as it’s a great reminder of all the crap you’re going to need to make a passage on the boat (big or small):


As you can see, it was quite detailed, and thorough. And, I can assure you, we still forgot stuff. Plenty of stuff! But, we were definitely of the impression this was a work of art when we had finished it. We planned to drive down to Punta Gorda on a Wednesday (April 17th), set sail early Thursday morning and bring the boat into Pensacola late Monday night. That was the plan, anyway. It always starts with a plan …