Thursday, October 23, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #9

video
Tessa Update Part 9 , October 22,.…Finally! As we pulled up anchor at dawn this morning departing Annapolis, part of me was anxious to wave goodbye, part of me was already missing our wonderful new friends, and part of me was wondering what the h#*! were we thinkin doing shots of tequila like a bunch of 21 year olds at Armadillos last night! That pretty much sums up the ambivalent feelings of the last 19 days. We arrived at Back Creek in Annapolis on Friday afternoon, October 3, as the biggest NEWBIES ever. Tessa is so used to being the queen of PIB, and we suspected she was feeling as intimidated as Gary and I were when we searched for an area to drop anchor. Gary commented “This is going to take some getting used to” as I clicked my boat shoes together chanting “There’s no place like home”. We were completely overwhelmed with the chaos of Back Creek. When I heard we were anchoring in a creek, I envisioned a serene tree lined area with comfy little secluded coves. Isn’t that what a creek is??? NOT!! There were so many masts it appeared as though we were in a nightmare of pick-up-sticks. Oh did we wish for our familiar, safe, H ball at Put-In-Bay. OK, pick a spot and hope for the best. Saturday morning we met with Marci, the contact for show employment. As we are filling out the employment forms, I’m silently mouthing to Gary “OCTOBER 21st??? We can’t do that!?” And he is mouthing back “We’re already committed!” We certainly didn’t want to back-peddle, since our friends D & Don gave us a good recommendation, but we also knew we were committed to Jim and Missy from Myassis Dragon, who were planning to vacation with us from October 16 through November 2. In the blink of an eye, we are now both Sail and Power Boat Show indentured employees. We spent the rest of Saturday leisurely exploring Annapolis and drinking Painkillers at Pusser’s, although it was quite an eye-opening experience when we paid a tab that equaled our combined first day’s pay, which we hadn‘t yet earned. Now everything is in perspective. ***COMMERCIAL BREAK*** BOATERS!!! SAVE BIG $$$ ON MARINE SUPPLIES AND ELECTRONICS!!! http://www.frugalcaptain.com/ Call Captain Gary for a quote. 734-645-5361 Now back to our program... Gary was on duty before me on Sunday. He was very excited as he dinghyed away that morning, but we were both surprised at how much we did NOT want to be apart after being together 24/7 since September 1st. I used the time wisely by polishing stainless, sanding, and varnishing. HUGE MISTAKE. I had no clue my fingers would be raw, just in time to start erecting over 200 show tents the following day. What is wrong with this picture? I am the TALENT, not the LABOR CREW! Or at least I was, in my other life! And so it goes, a routine of 10 to 12 hour days, from dawn to dusk, doing the jobs that others did… before I used to show up in time to perch on a chair and chat with customers. Gary was on Floor Crew, I was on Tent Crew and, along with our co-workers, we built the Annapolis Boat Shows from bottom to top. After the first day, I literally begged Gary to get us out of this!!! I cried all the way back to Tessa in the dinghy. Gary insisted that we would enjoy the camaraderie and new friendships. I insisted that we had enough friends and we didn’t need any more f#*!#n* friends. Please don’t make me get up in the middle of the night 17 times, crawl into the damp dinghy, and use tools that I never ever wanted to know about. But, thanks to Gary’s optimism, we persevered. The most amazing part of it all was that everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. WHY WOULD THESE PEOPLE VOLUNTARILY DO THIS YEAR AFTER YEAR?? Now, in hindsight, it all becomes clear. The camaraderie and new friendships are priceless. We learned so much from so many experienced cruisers and we met some of the most amazing people. The first morning I made a b-line to Starbucks and there began my friendship with Alice. You can’t meet Alice and not immediately begin laughing, even at 6:00 a.m. The best way to describe her is “a piece of work”. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. Her smile and laugh are so contagious that you start to wonder how one person could be so happy, especially while painfully erecting or folding tents. Her optimism and energy made the grueling work tolerable. Almost even fun at times! She drives a golf cart like a bumper car, and we laughed till we cried when she backed into something right in front of Ed, the OWNER of the shows. Our tent team consisted of our leader, Nancy, her main man Harry, Archie from St. Lucia, Irene the amazing single hander of seven years, Mark & Joan, Alice, and last but certainly not least, 23 year old Hayden. It’s hard to describe Hayden. You almost need to EXPERIENCE Hayden! He has the most infectious laugh and absolutely incredible smile. Gary said he looks like a Viking, but no Viking ever giggled like Hayden. Even though I was convinced that I didn’t need any more friends, this group changed all that. Alice, Archie, Irene, Hayden and I quickly learned that we had a common interest. HAPPY HOUR! We sought out the cheapest beers and free food to stretch our cruising kittys. And we laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Where we found the energy to have so much fun is a mystery to me, as most days Gary and I were so exhausted we could barely climb up out of the dinghy onto Tessa. Our routine was simple. Sleep, work, have a cocktail, a bite to eat, and sleep some more. Some nights we would dingy over to see Allison at the Annapolis Landing Marina to shower and do laundry. Conveniently located across Back Creek was Davis’s Pub. There was just enough time between cycles to dinghy over for a beer and a crab cake. Perfect! About five days into the show, Gary got the dreaded call from the Harbor Master. Tessa’s anchor had dragged! We hightailed it to Back Creek, fearing Tessa was bouncing off all the surrounding boats, only to find her safely tied to an end dock by anchor neighbors Mike and Judy McKendy from Sea Sharp (ay?). Thanks to the quick reactions of them and some other caring anchor neighbors, the only damage we sustained was clipping off our grill by the bow pulpit of another boat. Off it went into the nasty water. Judy saw it fall, directed us to the spot, and sure enough we felt it with the boat pole. Gary was determined to dive for it, since Jim and Missy had generously donated it for the trip. We knew Jim was planning on grilling up some great dishes during their vacation with us. On the first dive, he got a hold of it, but came up with just the cover. It was too cumbersome to get a hold of while holding his breath under water. Gary said Jim would make a sport of retrieving it, and decided to wait for his assistance. In the time it took for Tessa to drag, two boats pulled into our vacated space, so we decided to try anchoring in Spa Creek South Anchorage where there is more space and deeper water. The muck that comes up with the anchor makes a nasty mess, so Gary ordered a wash down pump along with our new Fortress anchor. We do not like dragging a lot. Jim and Missy arrived on October 16. We celebrated by heading to the Ram’s Head for appetizers and then McGarvey’s for their famous mussels and clams. Jim and Missy quickly fit in with our band of merry tent crew and we had a great time. One very special night we were invited to Archie’s boat for cocktails. He bought Janey, named after his mother, at the Annapolis Sailboat Show two years ago. She’s a beautiful Tartan 34. We had begun to use the water taxi once Jim and Missy arrived, as the dinghy was a bit too small for four of us. We had the taxi pick Hayden up on the way. The two bottles of wine we brought along ran out way before we were ready to go, so Archie rooted around under his sink and came up with a “crusty” jug of Chablis, which tasted good once we determined there was nothing unusual floating in it! Archie was a perfect host and D.J., spinning all kinds of island tunes and narrating the lyrics for us. Once Missy looked at the time and alerted us it was going on 10:00, we scurried back to Tessa and set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. Our turn to relieve Security the next morning. By this time we have transitioned from the Sailboat Show to the Powerboat Show. During both, Gary and I worked the front lines taking tickets and putting on an endless number of wrist bands. Marci and Jay were very accommodating to couples, keeping us on the same work schedules and lunch breaks, so there were some nice chances to lunch with Jim and Missy. Most evenings we enjoyed wonderful dinners on board Tessa, since Chef Jim volunteered to cook for us. Monday was the dreaded teardown day. Somehow Pete, Archie, Irene and I drew the short straws and got stuck in the “Boneyard”. This is where countless fork lifts deliver pallets filled with the tent hardware, side walls, and tops to be disassembled and folded. The goal is to stay ahead of the pallets to keep everything from forming chaotic piles. Toward the end of the long painful day, Marci commented that she loved making order out of chaos and had done it for EIGHT YEARS. I couldn’t help myself, the question just slipped out. Had she ever considered seeking therapy?? She laughed, kind of. And she thanked me at the end of the day, so I don’t think she was too insulted. Tuesday, our final night in Annapolis, we had a fantastic going away party that started at the Ram’s Head with free oysters on the half shell, Old Bay Shrimp and $2.50 great microbrews. Then off to Armadillos to hear Jim’s favorite band “JarFlys”. Before the first note of the first song, Alice was on the dance floor, and soon the rest of us followed. Shots of tequila turns everyone into a fine dancer. Even though there was a lot of alcohol involved, the hugs and kisses and tears at the end of the night were for real. Alice said she felt like she was losing her family. Don’t you worry Alice, we’ll be together again. And we will NEVER forget you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #8

buffering in Annapolis...

Friday, October 3, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #7

Video supplement to "The Realities of Cruising".

"The Realities of Cruising"

Thursday Afternoon October 2 After reading Update 6, if you started thinking of overused clichés like “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade” or “Every cloud has a silver lining”, there actually are a few downsides to cruising. Here is a cruising reality check: 1. Trying to stop leaks is a losing battle. No matter what you do, WATER WINS! 2. SALTWATER SUCKS! Just swirl the rim of a glass around any surface top-side, add tequila and you got yourself a margarita with salt. It coats everything and ,oh by the way, it totally destroyed my Watco Teak Finish on the teak decks. So much for that $100 investment and four days worth of work. 3. If you leave anything open or out of place, you will most definitely step in it or trip over it. Which leads to the discovery that band aids don’t last on a boat. The paper package sticks to the band-aid, which doesn’t stick to anything after you finally get it open. 4. If you stay down below while underway long enough, you will eventually get that “OH DEAR GOD PLEASE DON’T LET ME GET SEASICK” feeling. Time for a gingersnap break. (Thanks Phil!) 5. If it rains, everything feels damp, even pages in books. Never knew towels could smell THAT bad. 6. Ice will drain the cruising kitty in a hurry. We should have listened to Walt and Vicky and bought the d#*! icemaker. I thought it would take up too much room. In hindsight, I will gladly sleep with it in our bunk if we can find one. Will Gary think he’s getting the cold shoulder?? 7. Going from 4000 Verizon minutes to 900 is a difficult adjustment. How could I burn through 900 minutes in the first two weeks of the month?? If you are talking to Gary, this is why you will hear me screaming in the background “TELL THEM TO READ THE BLOG AND HANG UP!” 8. Things frequently break or are in need of repair. Then comes the thrashing around in tool boxes and slamming of drawers and closets and the anticipated question “Darling did you see that little thingamajig that was sitting right here?” To which I reply “Sitting where since when?” To which he replies “Right here, since right before we left Port Clinton.” To which I reply “I threw that away yesterday.” And so it continues. 9. Pump Outs Rule. Everyone knows that feeling of impending urgency when you have to go to the bathroom? I kid you not, that’s how you subconsciously start to feel when the holding tank is nearing full. And there is no better feeling of relief than after a good pump out. Tessa feels lighter and relaxed. So do we. 10. So far, 50 feet of boat is still big enough for two. Or is Tessa a GulfStar 40? I’m not sure now. Pretty sure she’s 50.. but maybe not……… Back to being positive and upbeat! We entered the C&D Canal (short for Chesapeake and Delaware) Tuesday morning and I began an internet search for affordable dockage. We knew the anchor windlass motor would arrive somewhere at best on Thursday and were cringing at spending three more days at a dock. Called Mike and Debby for advice since Mike’s house is in Wilmington Delaware. He suggested Chesapeake City. The dock master at Chesapeake Inn & Marina said they didn’t have enough water for Tessa but suggested tying up to the free City Municipal Dock if there was room. Gary was sure I made a mistake hearing him. A free dock? Can’t be right. But just in case, Captain decided to blow the doors off the other boats we were cruising behind and kicked it up a couple of knots. Good call Captain Gary!! We glided up to the city cock and gleefully read the sign. DOCKAGE $0. 24 HOUR MAXIMUM. Gary went up to City Hall to check in and pay the $10.00 for electricity. He charmed Doris like he does all the girls, and came back reporting that Doris said of course we could stay longer if we were having a “boat emergency.” Life is good. We now have dockage money burning a hole in our pocket, so off we go the The Tap Room, which was highly recommended by Mike & Debby for crabs n beer. We tried the old bay shrimp and it was great. Saving crabs for Wednesday night. We took a walk around Chesapeake City and found it to be a very charming little town. Back to Tessa for boat chores, then to the Chesapeake Inn for the best spicy mussel appetizer we’ve ever had. That was good enough for dinner along with a few beers. Wednesday morning was bright and sunny and we felt like we were on vacation. No high seas looming ahead, just minimal boat chores, so let’s relax a bit. The Bohemia Café was a great spot for coffee, tea, and restrooms, not in that order. We split the Belgian Waffle and both agreed it did not stand a chance against Ken Turvey’s waffles. No comparison! At the café, we chatted briefly with our French Canadian dock mates from “Raksha“, home port Lake Champlain.. They introduced themselves as Pierre and Francoise. I suspected they may have just been humoring us Americans with common French names we could grasp. (We emailed today and those really ARE their names. ) And what a wonderful couple they are. Since it was warm and calm, Gary suggested I jump in the dinghy and scrub the grungy stained water line. So much for minimal boat chores. But it so needed to be done, and I was very successful with this new magic potion we bought at LBI. Tessa is sparkly again. Wednesday night, we invited Pierre and Francoise to join us to crack crabs at The Tap Room. It was their first experience, but they turned out to be pros at it. We had a great time together. Too bad they didn’t have any left-overs for a crab salad lunch today. This morning we received some good news. Our cruising friends D & Don Wogaman had put in a good word for us at the Annapolis Boat Show. They worked it quite a few times to pad their cruising kitty. When we first spoke, Marci said she had a full staff with a waiting list of helpers. Today she had some cancellations and asked how soon we could be there, so tomorrow we high-tail it to Annapolis. But tonight, we share those wonderful mussels again, this time with Pierre and Francoise. We will celebrate the arrival and successful installation of the new windlass motor, and the fact that Gary only bled from his head once for a short period of time. Hi-Ho Hi-Ho it’s off to work we go…….

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #6

Video supplement to, "Cape May...be another delay" entry.

CAPE MAY...be another delay?

Tuesday September 30 “It was meant to be.” If we hadn’t gotten weathered in at LBI, we would have missed out on two more great evenings with Patti and Phil. We wouldn’t have gotten to know the Beach Haven Yacht Club Marina family so well, who surprised us with a much appreciated dockage discount for our extended stay. We welcomed spending more time with “SailBoat Linda” and her lovely daughters Coral and Pearl. I tried to absorb as much of Linda’s confidence and calming influence as possible. She has made the trip south 25 times and had lots of valuable information and stories to share. Now I have her phone number saved and can instantly phone a friend! She is really a gem, just like the beautiful beach glass jewelry she crafts. Gary got to talk more captain to captain with Towboat U.S. Captain Rick. We chatted a lot more with our buddy DockMaster Ernie as he assisted with fun Tessa chores like pump outs. Gary corrected radio functions, got the radar up and running, and installed a new depth sounder. After knowing Ernie for less than two weeks, I knew I would miss him as he waved goodbye to us from the dock early Saturday morning. If we hadn’t experienced the long harrowing night from New York to Long Beach Island, the 10 to 12 foot swells this past Saturday may have been scary. The “fear bar” has definitely been raised, and we actually enjoyed the nine hour trip to Cape May. Entering Cape May Harbor anchorage, we heard Tessa being hailed on the VHF. It was Solweig II, our Canadian dock partners on the Hudson at Hyde Park with good ole Captain Joe! Who would have guessed that we’d end up in the same anchorage after the delays south. Turns out they experienced their own delays. We had a great time sharing stories over a nice hot meal on Solweig prepared by Wayne and Lyndal. If we hadn’t been delayed, the stop in Cape May wouldn’t have coincided with my Cuzzin Chuckie‘s vacation. Sunday morning we dinghied into the recommended Utsch’s Marina to check out dock locations, since we knew Chuckie and family wouldn’t be able to dinghy out to an anchorage to see Tessa. Utsch’s is a top notch marina with excellent facilities. They even give you a welcome bag of soaps, biscotti, and a really nice bottle of private labeled wine. How good is that? We spent a memorable day with Chuckie, Linda, and Cara on Sunday. After meeting Tessa for the first time, they treated us to a fantastic lunch at their favorite watering hole, followed by a sightseeing trip of Cape May. Cara wasn’t having any fun at all!! I had to hold her hand as we walked to keep both her feet on the ground, she was so excited. That afternoon, I leaned on Cuzzin Chuckie, the Waitkus Family Fishing Expert, to help me choose a used rod and reel at his favorite tackle shop. The guy running the shop took a major shot at us sail boaters, said he can spot us right away because we want one rod, one reel, and one lure to catch every kind of fish in any body of water. SO what’s wrong with being FRUGAL? (Notice the FRUGAL CAPTAIN plug here.) He tried to steer us to a more expensive rig, but there was one certain rod that kept calling to us. I pulled it from the rack with Chuckie’s approval, dubbing it “an old work horse.” He helped me rig it up, so now BIG CHUCK is part of the Tessa crew. Chuckie saw us off early Monday morning as we headed out to the Atlantic toward the Delaware Bay. On our way out of Utsch’s slip, a sailboat neighbor asked if we knew the “short cut” around Cape May by hugging the beach, and invited us to follow them. Gary commented on the shorter route “ This will be fortuitous…. I hope.” Surely they draw as much as we do, since they’re about the same size, right? We stuck to Amazon like glue and slammed through the waves right behind them until they came on the radio and announced “we only draw four and a half feet and will be cutting across from here.” No thanks Amazon, we’ll go it alone from here following the shipping channel up the Delaware Bay. Do not let the word BAY fool you! It is a huge body of water with no sight of land across the majority of it, kicking up big choppy ocean-like waves for the first 10 miles (couple of hours) up the bay. Gary screamed from the cockpit and I ran above just in time to see a huge ,easy ten feet across, Manta Ray break the surface and do a flip for the third time right next to Tessa. What a cool sight (and where‘s the camera?)! Once the Bay began to narrow, the waves subsided a bit and I was able to throw BIG CHUCK out to catch dinner. I reeled in quickly when I saw the dipsy diver pop to the surface, to find my one and only lure chomped off at the steel leader! Darn! Looks like all we’re having for dinner are porterhouse steaks and sautéed mushrooms (with Myassis Dragon reduction sauce). Gary solicited advice from the closest TowBoat U.S. Captain Kevin out of Indian River, DE, who was really helpful but wanted us to go all the way to Delaware City to dock. This would have us arriving in the dark, something we agreed to avoid. So instead we took Sailboat Linda’s advise and headed for the anchorage in front of the Salem Power Plant at the entrance to the Delaware River. Just before dark, after picking our way through the crab pots, Gary signaled for me to drop the anchor. Except I had no power when I pushed the foot controls. Gary scrambled below and rigged up another battery, but still nothing. Last resort, pull the 3/8 inch chain from the locker by hand (his, not mine!) and drop the 65 pound CQR Plow and about 100 feet of chain manually. While I fixed dinner, Gary systematically checked the system and discovered the worst. The Ideal Windlass motor was shot. He got on line and sent an SOS to Ideal, and we went to bed hoping nothing kicked up in the night to which we would have to try to reposition Tessa. That would be a disaster. Captain Gary was up most of the night while I slept soundly knowing he would protect us from harm. So now I am up at dawn, well rested , writing my update and wondering what is in store for us as we find a safe harbor to have a new motor delivered. No worries, it can’t be all that bad. Whatever happens is just meant to be!