While buying some fish at the market the other day, I noticed the deli attendant get very excited about cutting a fillet of fish at exactly one pound. After placing it on the scale he looked at me in hopes of getting a compliment. I hesitated for a moment as he stared at me in silence before reiterating “You can not get closer to a pound”. I barked a verbal cookie for him and moved on with my now existential shopping. Took me a moment to pick up on his body language due to the fact that I was in my own little world pretending not to be in a grocery store. I should have given him more praise. Winter is long and after a few quiet months it is interesting how one wants to get out and find some trouble to get into. Spring will be here soon enough and I will hopefully will be painting the bottom of Big G in preparation for her launch.
Most of December was spent traveling to Arkansas and Alaska to see the in-laws. This was fun for about 3 days out of 30 days. We planned this trip for our honeymoon, but in all actuality, it is not a honeymoon if in-laws are present. So really it was just a trip and I think there is a good chance we will take another shot at a honeymoon, hopefully involving a boat and no one else. While sitting in airports and staring at large jets it really gave me a greater respect for sailing. A quieter, more relaxing mode of transportation, during fare weather at least.
During our travels we stopped in to see my uncle who enjoys restoring old wooden boats. He has two of them, one about 75 foot and the other 65. He has been restoring them for years and they are monstrous boats requiring a great deal of attention, skill, and knowledge at all times. Way over my head. He was rebuilding an old diesel engine about the size of my car on one of them. It was pretty amazing to see what he had done with the boats and made me appreciate the simplicity of Big G.
I am glad I did not sail south this year, the weather has not been all that great. It was warmer in Alaska then in Maine during our trip and it made me happy to know Big G was out of the water and tucked away for the winter. I do not have to worry when there is a big gust of wind or sub zero temperatures. I will check on her later in the week and maybe do some cleaning or replace a water pump.
In my head, projects seem to go a little smoother than in real life. This is probably the norm for most people or I just live in a silly fantasy world. I figured an hour or so to set up the wood frame and throw a heavy tarp over my boat to keep the rain and snow out. Three hours later, I managed to complete the project with minimal success. By the time we finished I did not want to make minor adjustments and settled for good enough. Several yard employees gave me their advise as they passed by and I promptly ignored it. I had a vision of exactly what I wanted to do but we ended up doing exactly what Stefanie wanted to do, which is good. As long as the boat stays dry it does not really matter how we cover the boat.
The cover itself was a challenge. It weighed about a 75 pounds and carrying it up the wooden ladder onto the deck did not give me warm and fuzzy feelings. In my head I would shake the tarp out like a blanket but in real life it is more like carefully unfold it and hope it is square so I don’t have to rotate it. I am still not entirely sure if it is a square or a rectangle because it covered the boat and I did not mess with it after unfolding it. The stern was a little exposed and there was a little overhang on the bow but it was so heavy I could not move it towards the stern while standing on a wooden ladder that was older then me, so I called it good. I noticed several small holes in my tarp and made a note to put some sail tape or some other equally stupid adhesive material over it in hopes of feeling more satisfied about my mediocre craftsmanship.
Josh stopped in to assist after dropping some trash off at the dump. We were planning on going to look at some overpriced real estate but got caught up with my project and decided to go back to his place for tacos instead. It was a good day.
Knitting can be considered as long periods of silence with short bursts of choice language. That is my spiel on knitting. I have an addiction. Seeing as how the boat is on dry land now, I have to find other excuses to use sailor language. But, I recently had to take a break from knitting to take care of boat things.
I almost broke up with my former boat yard, but I haven’t yet because I am procrastinating. I had every intention of telling him that its over but I could not find him or reach him by phone so I just made a poor attempt to gather my things and left. My boat cover was close to the bottom of the large pile of covers and I put the pile back as best I could. It was difficult due to the confined space taken up by a very nice rigid inflatable craft. I figured the covers would be on boats this time of year but I was very wrong. This boat yard continues to perplex me.
After downloading a flashlight app for my phone, I began the search for the wood strapping frame for the recently found boat cover. The boat yard is very large and overwhelming when trying to search with a cell phone flashlight. I managed to find a pocket watch in one pile of boards and I pondered how it managed to get there. It was still ticking so I placed it where one could find the watch. I considered keeping it but I have a very nice pocket watch and I imagine the owner may be delighted to find it again.
I found a lot of wood for boat covers, but not Big G’s. I remember packing it away on a rusted old trailer over a year ago. I had an obnoxiously large black paint marker and I labeled every board with its location in the framing process. It was complicated to take down and I was thinking about the future when I had to put it back up. My brother was a little excited about his hand roll of shrink wrap and we bundled all the boards up very nicely and labeled them with our paint marker. I think what happened was I made it very easy for someone else in the boat yard to make a frame for their boat cover. I am sure Big G is not the only 30 foot sailboat in the yard.
After about an hour of pawing through piles of boards in the dimly lit yard, we gave up. I was getting tired of turning my phone light off when cars passed and feeling like a criminal even though I am a contributing member of society, finding a pocket watch and all.
The last sailing day of the year was rather bittersweet. It was a beautiful day and I got lucky with tides and currents and sunshine. I had a falling tide pushing me out of Winter Harbor (won’t miss that cove) and a rising tide into Somes Sound. Worked out perfectly. Found a few home brews and a Bud Light in the bilge and started drinking while I cleaned out my boat. Several canned goods went into the drink. Stefanie was not thrilled I threw her vienna sausages overboard. They are so gross I can’t even look at them and they smell like cat food. I fired my shotgun at one can just to make sure it still worked since it is so rusted.
I was concerned about mussel growth on the raw water coolant intake for the engine. They managed to clog up a scupper and when I went to pump the bilge the nasty water went up onto my deck instead of overboard. Had to get out the coat hanger I use to open my car when I lock my keys in it. Works good at clearing the mussels out. I could feel the crunching as I snaked the thing through the scupper. I am also worried about mussels going into the engine and damaging the coolant pump. They really are a huge pain.
Somes Sound was beautiful as I was drifting up the fjard on the incoming tide. I turned my engine off and drifted for a little while and enjoyed the scenery for the last sail of the season. It would have been much nicer if Stefanie was sailing with me drinking some Bud Light. It was the kind of sailing she likes, no sails, just motor. When I pulled into the mooring field I laughed out loud when I observed the first mooring is in 200 feet of water. Forget about anchoring anywhere around the moorings. Might be a little tricky to retrieve anything that goes overboard as well.
The new boat yard is pretty nice and the folks are friendly. They told me I should probably take my shotgun off the boat for the winter. I agreed with them. It was a little depressing to see Big G on jack stands. I did not get to sail much this summer and it is very expensive to just keep on mooring all season. I am not looking forward to the maintenance I have to do before winter sets in. Weatherizing the engine and cleaning every inch of the boat. At some point I will also need to break up with my old boat yard. The old yard called to check on me and ask if there was anything I needed. I told him I would be there pretty soon. I neglected to tell them it was only to pick up some things I had left there. I owe him 17 dollars in interest and he owes me 20 feet of anchor chain so I would say we are about even. Last season it took him two weeks to put my boat into the water, which is annoying. The new place has two travel lifts and they can have it done in an hour. I think Big G will like her new winter home.
It is a bummer when I have to take the money I make from lobster fishing and put it towards medical bills from lobster fishing. Each day, I work quite hard and sometimes even barf hard then go to the doctor for whatever reason. What a life. I don’t know how fishermen do it for their entire lives. I have gone fishing 4 times this fall and I managed to get tendentious in my left index finger. It’s pretty swollen and my left hand is just about out of commission. The doctor stated the best thing for it is to not lobster fish, and I stated I still have to pay bills. Hopefully with some ice and NSAIDs for breakfast, lunch and dinner I can finish the month. I should be cutting back on the knitting as well but I can only do so much.
The doctor recommended a several hundred dollar wrist brace and some Prednisone. I declined both of them and I am sure I am going to regret it when I get old. I did buy a value brand wrist brace, which will get me through one day of fishing before it turns into a twisted up pile of cheap metal and velcro that smells like bait for the rest of its existence. As far as the anti inflammatory steroids go, I will pass. The side effects are worse then the relief. The munchies would not be to bad, but the mood swings and depression would be less then desirable. Thats just what I need, a depressant to get me through a miserable day of vomiting and smelling like rotten fish. We will see if I can finish the season. As much as I would like to avoid working, I need to fork over 2k to get Big G in storage for the winter. The wind has been terrible this month and the sooner I get her out of the water the better.
When I have a good window of weather I will sail Big G across Frenchmen’s bay for the last time this season. I am looking forward to one last sail before winter storage. I am sure something will not go as planned and I will have to come up with some innovative solutions. I might even invite Mr. Hibbard along for the ride. We could use the company and some box wine.
The SW winds were not very kind last Monday. Gusts up to 70 MPH. It was so rough in Winter Harbor I did not even dare row out to my boat. The bow was diving into the waves at times. The sail cover lost some turn-buckles and was flapping in the wind a little. All in all though, my boat fared the storm pretty well. After all, it is made to handle waves breaking over the bow, maybe not so much the stern though. The primary concern was the boat breaking loose from the mooring and getting pummeled onto the rocks.
Stefanie told me there were two boats on the rocks in Winter Harbor and one was a sailboat and the other was a lobster boat. My heart stopped for a brief moment before she told me it was The Pirate’s boat. Poor Castaway. He was on anchor in the cove next to mine by the yacht club and his anchor dragged. I thought the guy was long gone but apparently not. It was a 200 pound anchor and he stated the anchor chain got wrapped around the anchor keeping it from getting a good hold. If that was my boat I would just walk away or put a free sign on it. The waves were not all that big in Sand Cove and it did not get beat up too bad. I went over to investigate and The Pirate was taking as much stuff off his boat as he could to make it light in hopes of floating it on the next high tide. I am not sure how that worked out for him, I did not stick around to find out. It looked like it was in pretty good shape for being on top of a rock.
I have been a little busy getting marriaged (yes that is a word) lately and have neglected my boat quite a bit. I always get nervous leaving it unattended in the fall with the high winds. The sails get a bit wind whipped but other then that the lines held their ground. I am a marriaged man now and may have to sell the Big G for a downpayment on a house. Life is expensive and it is quite a handful juggling a boat, a full time job and that is without kiddos. We still have at least one more voyage before the boat gets stashed in the woods somewhere for the winter. Hopefully it will be a good one. There are still some good sailing days in November.
The marina took the floating dock in and they were kind enough to tie my dinghy to the pier. They did however tie it to a piling at low tide and I could not untie it because the tide had come in so I cut the line. The other two dingys were tied in the appropriate locations. Whatever though, I know where the frayed, sun bleached rope is if I need it.
After being away from my boat for a couple weeks I made a trip to Winter Harbor to Check on Big G. My intentions were to pump my bilge because I have not checked it in over a month and I do not have the automatic electric pump set up correctly. I know, it could sink at any moment. When I am not worrying about work or marriage I do wonder if my boat is still afloat. When I took a look into the bilge I scratched my head a little. There was not enough water in the bilge to even prime the pump. Usually after a month it is about half full. I think most of the water in the bilge is due to condensation and it has been quite dry lately. The mooring line looked good and the boat was surprisingly clean like it had been rained on and sun bleached, everything was perfectly white.
I gave up on sleeping before dawn, it was just way too rough. It’s a shame my last night on the boat for a while was so miserable. A perfect southwest wind was blowing at 20 knots into the harbor last Sunday. It made for a sleepless night. I was concerned I would capsize my dinghy when rowing to the dock at 5am. The seas were about 3-4 feet in the cove. Got an hour of sleep on the dusty floor in the office before getting ready for work with itchy eyes.
The last couple of days have been perfectly calm and I saw several other sailboats out and about while lobster fishing. One came close enough to hit with a rock crab. I do occasionally lobster fish for a little extra cash on my weekends. I have never liked lobster fishing, especially on nice days when I should be sailing. Working on them fuels my hatred for them even more. Usually their loud engines wake me up at 5am or I wake myself up at 4am to go work on one. After lobster fishing, Stefanie puts me into a quarantine zone until all my stinky bait clothes are in a trash bag. Dead herring I can tolerate, but cow hide in lime juice just about makes me vomit every time I open a bucket of that stuff.
The sad part is it pays three times better than my normal day job (depending on the catch) and I do not have to think at all. It is completely brainless work, no skills required, just bait the traps and band the lobster. As a matter of fact, sometimes boat captains like people with no skills at all, so long as you do what you are told. Both jobs require me to get yelled at for overlooking various details, most of which I don’t care about. “Benton, point the pogie tails towards the back of the trap!” Does it make a difference? Who knows, nor do I really care but I do as I am told. If I spend my life in one career or another, I might be a little more skilled. But for now I am just an average bloke looking to make ends meet.
For some reason the bathroom sink is the only drain that attracts mussels. Perhaps it’s the tea tree oil toothpaste, what clam would not like an organic minty fresh shell? They clog the drain pretty well and it’s rather annoying. I have tried hot water and some organic cleaning agents but they seem pretty unflappable. The only way to get rid of them it to poke a coat hanger into the drain from the outside and scrape them out. It’s good for a couple weeks before they clog it up again. Yachtsmen problems.
There are probably some clusters on my prop and raw water coolant intake as well, I may need to scrape those off sooner then later. I seem to be falling behind on maintenance, which is never good in the boating world.
There was a line of boats today heading to the town dock to get hauled out for the winter. There seemed to be several boats just idling beside my boat this morning as they waited for their turn to get hauled out. They seemed to watch me in fascination as I was was cleaning my sink drain with a coat hanger. There is no shortage of annoying things in the boating world. Mussels are pretty low on the annoying list. Rollers and loud lobster boats are the top of the list, followed by squeaky things rubbing up against the hull when trying to sleep. Mildew, lack of fresh water, the list goes on. Some days the cons seem to outweigh the pros, however I think location has a lot to do with it. The season is winding down and I am determined to get one last boating adventure in before the end of the season. It will be a bit chilly though.
I got a notice for increasing rates next summer at the marina and I have to pay for my mooring before the season starts. Lame. They are increasing the price from $800 to $1,150 for a mooring and dinghy tie up for the summer. Forget that. The only thing I use at the marina is the water spigot (which requires reaching down over the edge of the pier several feet to turn on, which is really quite difficult and dangerous), the dumpster, and a parking space. It is hardly worth it now. It is on a street with one drug dealer (that I know of) who often times fishes on the dock. I don’t care for the owners or the marina manager as well. I do enjoy Mr. Hibbard’s antics though, he does bring in a little entertainment and a lot of box wine.
Moorings are going to be a tough sell due to the exposure to the SW, which is the most common wind direction during the summer making it a very exposed mooring. Seriously, they should only charge in the winter when it is calm. Lobster fishermen at 4 am hauling next to my boat is never something that makes me happy. Several times at night I can see the bubbles and current from the town septic draining into the cove. I often ask myself why on earth I am staying at this ugly place. It is calm during hurricanes and the winter though, I will give it that.
It does kinda make you want to root for the underdog though. Everyone who uses this marina is scruffy. Ferry captains, the manager, the fishermen on land and on the water. It is like you have to be scruffy and rough around the edges to live and or work at this place. It is kinda nice in the sense that no one cares about anything. Not a dang thing. You want to dump some oil into the harbor and get a call from the EPA, go for it. No one cares. You pay your bill whenever you feel like it and most things rely on the honor system, which surprisingly most people seem to follow. This is why a rate increase bothers me, it’s kind of a buzz kill for a shitty place with colorful people. If scruffy people owned the marina it would be a better place.