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.
Some people are freaking out right now, and I have never been happier with the weather. I did check my mooring line at one point and there is still a conglomeration of dish rags, duck tape and a climbing prusik attached to the line. I have experimented with many things to keep it from squeaking while it chafes along my boat keeping me up at night. After staring at this for a moment, I deducted it was sufficient for calmer than normal weather. Ok, maybe not quite normal. There will be a high tide and a storm surge, so there will be slightly less slack on the mooring line and some rollers. Rollers come into the harbor anyway, so this is nothing new. The wind is out of the north east so it’s blowing against the rollers coming into the harbor making them smaller and slower. As much as I would love to say it is rough out there it is really not. As a matter of fact, it is quite calm and much warmer than average. This calls for a party, a hurricane party to be specific due to the safer than average conditions.
One may ask what you do in a hurricane party. Well the answer to that is simple. Board up all the windows, get drunk and eat canned spam and vienna sausages. Thankfully my windows are already water tight so I will leave them be and just get drunk with whatever home made mediocre booze I have in my bilge. Maybe invite Mr. Hibbard and Carolann over with their box wine.
Today I am closer to the village idiot than God’s gift to sailing. After several rolly nights on the boat I made a good effort to come up with ways to keep my boat from orienting parallel to the waves coming into the cove.
Earlier in the season I put an anchor off my stern and that worked for a couple of weeks until the cheap rope snapped making that the third anchor I have lost and don’t care to retrieve. Probably should have used anchor rope so that it would not have snapped. However, if one of the ferries caught the line in their prop it would probably rip the cleat right off my boat and I would lose yet another anchor.
I brought the subject of boat orientation up to the ferry captain and she asked if my rudder was oriented perfectly straight. There was a brief pause. This is the moment where I consider weather I should confess my lack of knowledge or just own my screw up. It is a little off center I confessed. Magically my boat corrected itself and oriented in the right direction for the most part. Don’t ask why it has taken me two summers to figure that out.
Living on a boat has its moments. I got off work at 4:30 on this particular afternoon and was not entirely sure what to do with myself. I had planned on helping Mr. Hibbard with his fuel filter but it was raining and we lost all motivation. It was odd sitting with him and Carolann while they were sober. Usually they just tell the same stories, sometimes with more profanity, until I start to fall asleep.
I talked Stefanie out of coming over because I had a bad feeling it was going to be a rough night. And it was. Low and behold there was a small craft advisory in my cove. The wind blew directly in all night and the waves were very respectable when they got to Big G. Probably in the vicinity of 2-4 feet.
It is not a comforting feeling when the shrouds start to make a humming sound as the wind howls relentlessly. They quiver a little in the wind, vibrating the sides of the boat. Not a very comforting feeling. At first the rocking did not bother me, but then it did. I read my book, ate a Benadryl, and hoped for the best. I dozed off for an hour or so and gave up at about 5:45 am and put some clothes on to go to work. I was sore putting my clothes on from rolling around all night. I was a rather pretty sunrise as I paddled Little G to the dock and greeted the fishermen. Seriously, who fishes at 5:45 am? For some reason my boat likes to only orient itself parallel to the waves. One would think it would go either with the tide or into the wind or both. Nope. The wind did calm down a little by morning, but the waves did not.