Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jan 22, 2014: polishing steel, dealing with leaks, waiting for rain

Apparently, the last two months was an aberration: we do not get rain that often! In fact, we have gotten no significant rain since I returned ten days ago. This makes it very hard to see if things are still leaking.
What sorts of things, you ask? Well, the shrouds run to attachment points on deck and these points are secured by rods to the interior of the boat. Some leaked and rusted....and the prior owner piled silicone caulk on the deck to try to stop the leaks. 

I've just finished a couple days with wrenches, screwdrivers, sandpaper, scrapers, and really good caulk....and things look a lot better. I say "look" because we have not had enough rain to see if things are sealed, but at least the stainless steel looks nice and the piles of caulking are just memories.

I DO find myself depressed, however, perhaps because the work stretches ahead and I have yet to see the list become shorter. I suppose I could solve this by making prioritized lists and getting at least one thing done each day...

Or perhaps there are other reasons for my mood....I don't know. *sigh*.

On the other hand, I did hike across the hills and snorkel at Waterlemon Cay a couple days back and saw live staghorn coral and loads of wonderful fish, including some pastel multicolored parrot fish and a large school of baitfish that swam around and under me. Got to get more of that! Perhaps I'll try catching and eating some baitfish today...or just swim with them..

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dec 24, 2014: sitting on the bow of my boat, contemplating CA

I sit on the bow of the Dorado, breeze buffeting me, considering my 2-week trip back to CA. I feel a certain sadness at leaving, but look forward to seeing friends and family back there. I'll miss my neighbors, miss the wonderful sunrises, miss the warm waters and hermit crabs, miss the termites building tunnels across the roads to forage on the other side, miss the friendly locals, and miss the sudden showers. I worry whether I've secured the boat well enough that the lines will not chafe on something and cut themselves or damage the boat (I removed the bow cleat since it was very poorly attached to the deck.....but have tied two mooring lines to various things and feel fairly confident....).
The trip will require me to get up before 5am (no worries), then take a bus or hitch a ride across St John, take the 7am ferry to St Thomas, catch a taxi to the airport, go through customs, fly to Miami, fly to LA, fly to SF, and catch the airporter. I'll cross 4 time zones and end up getting into bed at 9:30(well, 1:30am my time) at best.....
I thought of bring back some shells for gifts, but that is apparently illegal. They confiscate something like 800lbs of them each week at the airport...and even collecting shells is illegal in the parks. So, I took some photos...
...a final sunrise
...a dorado pillow I found aboard
...a mussel shell of the incredibly thin local mussels
...a conch and another gastropod on Peter's table

...tiny (but full-grown) oysters

...and the beach shells and coral at Brown Bay.

I look forward to CA....and already look forward to coming back here to my tiny house on the bay.

Here is one I sent out on Dec 8, 2013:

About two weeks ago this Monday, I returned to Cape Cod. Cold! There was even ice on the Mill Pond and slush had been blown into piles along the shore. Brown grass, leafless trees, gray skies, lots of wind....brrr!

So, I did what I needed to do (and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with my aunt, my cousin, and her husband), then hopped onto Jet Blue on Monday night (well, Tuesday morning once one includes the lengthy delay) after hanging out with my good friend Seth for the evening. By 9:00am I breathed the air of St Thomas, but the friendly wind tousling my hair had gone missing. For a few days the skies mostly stayed gray, the winds low and intermittent, and the air sat heavy and humid. NOT what I looked for! And, although I had expected my water tank to be full, the loose cap had excluded all but a few gallons.
Since then, we've had much more rain and ridiculous winds going from near still to 30mph in five minutes. The rain has filled both my tanks so I can shower and wash to my heart's content. And my package of caulking and hardware for repairing the boat arrived! And I have enjoyed hanging out with my neighbor Peter (in his floating bar/home (Angel's Rest)) and watching 4' tarpon swirling and displaying at night in his lighted moon pool. And Pickles sponsored a big bash yesterday where a bunch of folks set up a flea market and I enjoyed some darned good beer and a nice chat with the various brewers....and with the sailor who brought them and their cargo over from St Croix when the official transportation folks refused. Great fun!
Oh....and I finished cleaning the boat hull, scraping it with a stainless steel taping knife to remove the half-inch of algae, corals, crabs, shrimp, etc. An entire ecology has been destroyed! *grin*

I've also been a bit down, seeming to dive into books at any excuse rather than repairing the boat. And when I DO repair something, I find more problems (like decay or leaking in another area). I go for fixing things perfectly and completely, ripping the boat apart in the process and spending months or years, or is there a happy medium that will let things dry out, slow and stop further decay, and give me a nice, dry, comfortable, clean, and happy place to live....and a boat to sail where I will (as long as I limit myself to easy/moderate conditions)?

I kind of like the second option... so I have ripped apart the kitchen counter and sink (it was always leaking) and re-installed it in a nice bed of horrible caulking which should hold things in place far more securely. And I've re-bedded the drain in the anchor locker, the hatch that leaked into the middle of the main room, and have put tape over various random holes.
 Progress is being made....and I hope we finish with this gray and windy stuff soon: it is getting really old.

But I still enjoy the sunrises...especially a sunrise storm......

Sunday, April 13, 2014

11/23/2013 (posting old stuff to blog) Sunrise view from my door

I woke my first morning and took this shot. Every morning I've been here has been awesomely beautiful in its own way, although the natives look at me oddly when I exclaim.

 Well, I finally did it: put down some funds on a boat..... the boat is in Coral Bay on St John in the US Virgin Islands..... and I came down to see it and to have an adventure I will long remember. I touched down in Boston on Sunday after a red-eye from San Francisco and waited several hours with good friends until my 9:20 flight to NYC, Puerto Rico, and St Thomas (another red-eye!), then made my way via taxi and ferry to Cruz Bay, then by bus to Coral Bay.
Look up Coral Bay. It is the funkiest, most laid-back place I've seen in a long time. Many folks here work ten hours a week and live very frugal lives so they can spend their time socializing and playing and creating. The whole place ACCEPTS that sort of lifestyle, so one is not pressured to keep up with the Joneses. I like it! I am sitting at Pickles Cafe, drinking a coffee and using the internet while someone watches Dr Who on the TV.

The boat is a 1988 Catalina 34 that definitely needs work....but it is nearly all work that I can do and would enjoy doing. It is a tiny house and even the biggest problems are far smaller than a homeowner faces. The list, though, gets longer and longer and I sometimes get nervous....but then just tackle cleaning another room or solving another thing on the list and all is well.

The owner has moved back to Michigan to be near the grandkids, but arranged to have Alan, the local mechanic assist me. He gave me a ride out to the boat the first day and I sat and contemplated. I swam over to visit a neighbor, Peter, in his floating house/bar.

Anyway, lots of cool stuff: 2' fish, rays breaking surface by the boat, giant termite nests in trees, hermit crabs on land, herds of burros and goats, and flocks of chickens. I look forward to coming back here with my prescription mask so I can snorkel and painting the bottom of my boat so I can sail!

So, you say, what are my plans? To which I respond "Plans? I don't need no stinking plans!
 Then I get more serious and say I plan to spend some time down here this winter fixing the boat up and sailing, then bring it to Cape Cod before hurricane season.

Adventure! (I am quite terrified....and unspeakably excited)