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.
Winter Harbor Marina is quite rough around the edges, not my first choice for a home but for some reason I seem to enjoy it in an underdog kinda way. I greet the shady looking fishermen at all hours hours of the night when I walk down the ramp and try not to slip on fish guts when I get to the dock. There are more people around the dock at night than during the day, aside from the folks riding the ferry.
It is difficult to sneak past Mr. Hibbard as I row Little G back to my boat. He has the harbor on lockdown and knows every light, sound and boat in the harbor. Sometimes I get lucky, other times he shines his massive spotlight at me and invites me over to his cabin cruiser for wine and various items of food such as cottage cheese, chimichangas or burnt jalapeño poppers on the grill. Sometimes it is difficult to get back to my boat without getting loaded on box wine and junk food. We both exchange our stories for the week, until it gets late and I start to yawn and Mr. and Mrs. Hibbard start slurring their words. If they were younger then I would call the family for an intervention, however they are old, scruffy, and no one really cares. So I hang out with them and listen to their stories until I start to fall asleep.
The place has personality with its grumpy marina supervisor, the alcoholic Hibbards in their cabin cruiser equipped with a pirate flag, and sketchy fishermen at the dock. It is nice to live in a place where no one is all that judgmental and we all look out for each other.
The shifting winds are also making things much more pleasant in Winter Harbor. With the fall winds out of the north east, the cove becomes very calm. The crisp, bug free air puts me right to sleep at night. Or maybe it is the box wine.
Sometime we get lucky with seaweed patches and find oars, however today I found a dead seal. I called the local marine biology college and asked if they wanted it. They said they would send someone to pick it up. I was committed now and I had retrieve it, which was a challenge. I recruited my friend to help and he threw rocks at it in hopes that the wake of the stone hitting the water would move it closer. Some of the rocks hit it.
It was just out of reach of the longest stick I could find in the forest. A few passerby’s stopped jogging to watch two grown men trying to poke and throw rocks at a dead seal. After a while a got a throw bag and tied a rock to the end and eventually snagged a fin and pulled it ashore where my friend could get it with a spade.
It was pretty ripe, I regretted calling the college. I tossed it in the back of my truck. The student picking it up said it was probably killed from a boat strike due to the fact it was missing its head. I could not deny his logic. He grabbed it and slung it in his truck, spilling blood and possibly intestines into the road. I spent the next twenty minutes hosing and sanitizing my truck, for science.
After giving the Pirate the boot from the mooring, we got a lobster boat to tow him over to Sand Cove, which is the rich end of town. He still does not have a transmission for his unhealthy engine so he will be stuck there. However, he could sail his boat to wherever it is he is going. Sand Cove is a couple of coves down and it’s where the very expensive yacht club is located. You have to be a millionaire to be a member of the exclusive club. There are plenty of moorings in Sand Cove, as well as very expensive boats way out of our league. I am sure they will love having this guy anchored in their cove. I will keep an eye out for him and see how long he lasts over there. He is kinda like a stray dog, people just throw him a bone once in a while. I did not mind him hanging around.
There was some concern when he capsized his dinghy while moving his new anchor to his boat. No one seemed too concerned, he was swimming around gathering all the junk floating around from his dinghy. There may have even been some laughing and pointing as the ferry loaded passengers. I felt a little bad, I too have capsized my dinghy while loading things.