Bon Voyage!

Last minute boat projects. That’s what we’ve been doing the last few weeks.

Our to-do list. If we don't write it down, it doesn't get done.
Our to-do list. If we don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done.

We love our new cushions in the main salon. No, we didn’t make them ourselves. That’s a bigger job than even Steve is willing to tackle. We had hatch covers made, too.

Pretty and comfy!!
Pretty and comfy!!

Steve rebeds the leaky hatch in the head.

We buy and hang a 24” flat screen TV.

We just can’t give up our TV shows although I have to admit I am disappointed in this season’s Orange is the New Black.
We just can’t give up our TV shows although I have to admit I am disappointed in this season’s Orange is the New Black.

Our lifeline cushions need replacing. The old ones are made with slit foam pipe insulation and the foam is dry rotted. Steve wants a comfortable cushion. He doesn’t like the feel of the slit foam pipe insulation on his back but he doesn’t want to pay for “real” lifeline cushions so he decides to use a pool noodle – you know, one of those cylindrical foam tubes that you see people floating around on. It was a challenge stuffing them inside the old covers but I don’t want to make new ones until we see how well the noodles hold up.

The things this man will do to save a few bucks...
The things this man will do to save a few bucks…

We replace 30 or so teak plugs that had to come out during the head and galley renovations.

We finish up some trim work in the head and on the hatch in the main salon.

We replace canvas straps on our bimini frame with stainless steel poles.

The 12-volt fan in the head is not working. It’s a loose wire so while aggravating to get to, it’s a relatively easy fix.

We attach boards to stanchions so we can mount our generators, gas cans and propane tanks on deck.

We make covers for our generators.

Steve does NOT like annoying things that fly so we buy a screen room to drape over our cockpit. The screen room is 12’ x 14’. The cockpit is more like 8’ x 10’ so Steve wants to sew three seams in the top of the screen room so it “fits” over the top of the bimini better. Have you ever tried to feed 168 square feet of canvas and mesh through a sewing machine in 100+ degree heat? Let’s just say the first mate was close to mutiny on that particular day.

Because Steve does NOT liking annoying things that fly, we also make screens for the hatches and the companionway.

Uh oh. We didn't buy that expensive snap fastener system that helps you install snap components accurately, quickly and easily.
Uh oh. We didn’t buy that expensive snap fastener system that helps you install snap components accurately, quickly and easily.
So we used a sharpie marker to outline the snap stud...
So we use a sharpie marker to outline the snap stud…
...and then position the screen on that stud...
…and then position the screen on that stud… that the outline was transferred to the screen.
…so that the outline is transferred to the screen.  How’s that for improvising?

We clean out and organize the cockpit lockers. I am in my element. Cleaning and organizing is very therapeutic.

A place for everything
A place for everything
and everything in its place...
and everything in its place…

At T-4 to cruising with most of the projects completed, we decide that working in this crazy heat is too exhausting. We are done. We are staying cool, reading our Waterway Guide, surfing Active Captain, filling water, propane, gas, and diesel tanks, and provisioning.

Well-stocked pantry
Well-stocked pantry
Thanks for mu little sis and BIL, we are not wanting for our beverage of choice!!
Thanks to my little sis and BIL, we are not wanting for our beverage of choice!!
Plenty of food in the fridge!!
Plenty of food in the fridge!!

The adventure has begun.  We pull out of our slip at 8 AM are on our way to Norfolk. We are allowing 4 days to get there so we may be anchoring out 3 nights. Steve assures me that it will not be as hot on the water but our generators are full of gas in case we need to fire up the A/C.

We have reservations for two nights in Norfolk, but we may stay a week or so, depending on the weather. We have family there and are looking forward to visiting with them.

Next, it’s on to Solomons, MD. That’s where Young Son’s boat is docked. We’ll stay there a month or so as we plan to help Young Son with some of his boat projects.

After that, we’ll putter around in the Chesapeake a bit before heading south for the winter.

So, to paraphrase Mark Twain, we have thrown off the bow lines, sailed away from the safe harbor and hope to catch the trade winds in our sails.

Steve’s longtime dream is coming true. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out to be a nightmare!

Bon voyage and please keep reading Zen on a Boat!!

A Week Off

For the last 3 months, it’s been all about FNR and with only 15 days before we set sail, I am nervous about taking a week off to counsel a week of church camp. Having been a high school youth sponsor at my church for many years, the kids don’t intimidate me. It’s just that there are so many last minute boat projects to complete. Should I be taking a week off?

Wait a minute. I am retired. I do not work. I do not need to “take” a week off.  I can just go.  I leave Steve with a massive honey-do list and head to Camp Caroline in Arapahoe, NC.

I know most of the counselors…my son, a couple of my former youth group girls, various adults I’ve met at regional youth events over the years. I don’t know many of the kids…yet.

Counselors bonding over lunch in Oriental before camp starts.
Counselors bonding over lunch in Oriental before camp starts.

There are six girls in my cabin. I have the older girls – 5 juniors and 1 senior. They arrive, and we introduce ourselves. Anxious to say hello to the friends they haven’t seen in a while, they hurriedly unpack and head out the door. We gather as a large group to listen to our first keynote. Then, we break out into small groups to discuss what we heard. There are 11 kids and 2 counselors in our small group. We introduce ourselves. We’re an hour in and I have 17 names to learn. Seeing as how I can’t call my own kids by the right name half the time, I’m a little overwhelmed. Oh well, thank goodness for name tags.

Our day starts at 7:30 in the morning and ends at 11:30 at night. We eat surprisingly tasty camp food. We sing lots of camp songs. We participate in interest groups. We swim, sail, swing, play games and just hang out. We even get Horizontal Time (AKA nap time)!! We have a Talent Show and end the week with an all-camp dance despite an all-camp power outage.

When the power goes out at camp you get the Prius bumping because you have to have a Thursday night dance! #conference2015
When the power goes out at camp you get the Prius bumping because you have to have a Thursday night dance! #conference2015

I enjoy watching a budding camp romance. I hear a lot of laughter and witness very little drama. These kids absolutely love being at camp.

We have two keynotes a day, and the theme for the week is about being a good neighbor in a multi-faith society. The morning keynote revolves around various “neighborly” scriptures. At night, we learn about some of the world’s other religions. Hearing about the tragic shootings in Charleston, we commit to accepting and embracing our differences. We end the week knowing what it means to be a good neighbor. These kids are remarkably insightful and not surprisingly, they teach me way more than I teach them.

Camp photo
Camp photo

At our closing worship, someone asks me to share my “highs” for the week. Suffering from sleep deprivation, I can’t think of any so I ask for time to reflect. Several afternoon naps and full nights of sleep later, my “highs” look like this:

  • Care? Bears!!
  • Things that glow
  • Small group meditation. We really got into it!!
  • Three honorable mentions and one outright win for the daily cabin clean up competition. All I did was make my bed so kudos to Patricia and Nora!!
  • Things on screen. You can NOT watch The Blind Side too many times.
  • Miss Pauline’s cinnamon rolls
  • Things with talent
  • Jokes that are so corny they make pirate jokes hilarious
  • Not cheating during the Camper / Counselor kickball game
  • Not forgetting my Prayer Partner’s name during the PP circle
  • Uncontrollable giggling at inappropriate times. Emmi. Mallory. Diane.
  • Things we celebrate
  • Spending the week with my son and proudly watching him connect and interact with Every. Single. Kid.

Exhausting yet rejuvenating, camp is a well spent week off.

Young Son Bought a Boat and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore

Steve’s son, who lives in Winchester, VA, bought a 1980 Morgan 382 last winter. Steve helped him move it from Jordan Creek which is south of Belhaven, North Carolina on the Pungo River to Solomons, Maryland on the Patuxent River. Manned by a competent crew of three – Deckhand JR, First Mate “Fish” and Captain Young Son, Celerity left North Carolina on Saturday and arrived in Maryland on Tuesday.

Deckhand JR, First Mate
Deckhand JR, First Mate “Fish”, and Captain Young Son

As expected, they motored more than they sailed, but Celerity proved herself a seaworthy vessel and with a little TLC, will be an impressive boat.

The first night was the least pleasant. Heading up a channel in the North River off Albemarle Sound looking for a place to anchor, they needed a spotlight to navigate around the crab pots. With the spotlight on, the fuzzy bills starting swarming, flying into mouths, bombarding eyes, zooming up nostrils and any other orifice they could get into. There was no talking and with limited visibility, they hurriedly dropped anchor for the night.

Even fuzzy bills can't diminish the beauty of a sunset
Even swarming fuzzy bills can’t diminish the beauty of a sunset over the river…

Up early the next day, they fired up the generator and wasted no time getting underway.

Life is too short to start your day without a good cup of coffee
Life is too short to start your day without a good cup of coffee
Charting the course.
Charting the course.

On day two, they went through the lock at Great Bridge, VA. A lock is a section of water closed off by gates which control the water level so that boats can be raised or lowered as they pass through it. It’s like an elevator for boats.

Entering the Great Bridge Lock
Entering the Great Bridge Lock

If you’ve never been through a lock, you will be impressed. Deckhand JR sure was.

Wow!  This is so cool!!
Wow! This is so cool!!

The Mexican tall ship tied up to the dock at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, VA provided the most non-alcoholic entertainment on the trip.

This ship is a training vessel for the Mexican Navy, spending much of the year on the high seas while teaching the essential elements of seamanship and navigation.

Tall Ship_1Tall Ship_2

Wondering how long those cadets would stand on the yardarms, Celerity followed her for a bit but then headed north and with a 25 to 30 knot breeze, it was a great day of sailing.

Still standing!
Still standing!

Crossing the mouth of the Potomac impressed Steve. At 11 miles, it’s a lot wider than he thought it would be. Motoring up the Patuxent, they pulled into Calvert’s Marina around lunchtime. Mission accomplished.

Glad that young son bought a boat and that he asked his dad to join him on this adventure, I am reminded again that this is what retirement is all about.

As soon as Celerity’s dock lines were secure, Steve headed home. We couldn’t wait to see one another.

Many couples have trouble adjusting to “normal” retirement because they are not used to spending so much time together. However, when you retire to a sailboat, you spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together. So far, this has not been a problem for us but we do like it when folks tell us how well we get along and work together. Hearing that makes us say WHEW…maybe we can do this!!

Still, I don’t think family and friends really understand how together Steve and I are. Take, for example, the text Steve gets from my older daughter the day before Mother’s Day. We have plans to visit with the kids the following weekend, but she wants her mom to have flowers on Mother’s Day. Steve thinks that is sweet and wants to oblige so he agrees to buy some and surprise me with them Sunday morning.

I’m on deck working on the teak. Steve sticks his head out the companionway.

S: You want to ride up to Grantsboro? (We only have one car now so Steve doesn’t want to hop in and leave me behind without letting me know where he’s going.)

M: What for?

S: Chelsea wants me to buy you flowers for Mother’s Day. I can do that, but she also wants me to surprise you with them and I can’t do that. I can’t hide flowers on the boat. So do you want to ride up to Grantsboro with me to get your flowers and then act surprised to see them tomorrow morning?

M: Aww, that’s so sweet, but we can’t have flowers on the boat. There’s nowhere to put a vase.

S: So what do you want me to do?

M: Tell her that. She’ll understand.

She did and we laughed about it the next time we talked.

See?  We’re not the only ones who are having to adjust to life aboard FNR.