Thursday, March 27, 2008

So Very Tired

[Kyle] Well, quite unlike the haulout, the boatyard was ready to go at first light on the appointed day to put me back in the water. I had assumed that I would have two or three hours before they got around to anything based on my previous experience. They all came charging over eager to get me in the water just after I had applied wax to one side of one hull. Fortunately there was enough of a lag while they painted two coats of bottom paint on the parts that had been resting on blocks the rest of the week that I was able to wax the rest of the hull in panic mode. I kept thinking that I would try to just get the next three feet done, then the next three feet. In the end, I got the entire surface of the boat below the rubrail done about a minute before she went in the water. I had no power tools so I had to do it Karate Kid style. Oof!

Once I got back to the dock at our marina, I found A LOT of water in the starboard bilge. It turns out that when I serviced the engine water seacock, I hadn't quite got one of the gaskets aligned properly when I reinstalled it. I was worried about taking on more water getting the boat to a lift so I decided to fix it there. Most of the repair I did with one hand while the other was over the 1 1/2" hole in the bottom of the boat. There was a period of about 10 seconds when I needed both hands for the assembly and had to let the water gush in. A 1 1/2" hole lets in a lot of water really fast and it's difficult to remain calm knowing the boat is sinking. I got the thing back together correctly (nothing like pressure!) and now it's completely dry. I went outside to look at the waterline before I pumped the bilge and the boat was 4" lower.

Since then, I've been busy with a million little chores that there's never enough time for, getting the boat ready to go. Last night I went to bed and slept 9 1/2 hours without so much as rolling over, I think. I finally feel ready to go, though. We just have a few small jobs and provisioning to do and then it's just a matter of getting a good weather window.

I saw my first northbound cruiser today during my run and was happy to think that in a few weeks, instead of watching them all go by, I would finally be joining in.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Snow and Chocolate

[Maryanne] I spent Easter with my best friend of over 20 years - Annie. We were very active, with dinner parties, football matches, gang shows and obviously EASTER). Easter = Chocolate eggs - right? Annie Obliged (thanks Annie). In England Easter commonly also means the last dash of winter snow. This year we had both. It was fun, and I have overdosed on Chocolate - need to do lots of exercise to recompense. And of course it was great to catch up with my good friends Annie and Mike (and the kids). The weekend went well, but was definitely complicated by the fact that my hearing was totally gone for most of the stay.

Mason's Tender

During Kyle's recent stay in Moncton in Canada, he had the time to visit the local ale house with entertainment! Since then he has been raving about a local band Mason's Tender. Here is more info if you want to know what gets Kyle up and singing.
Band write up
See Video live in Moncton

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Great White North

[Kyle] I've been working up in Canada for the last few days, first in Quebec City then Moncton, New Brunswick. Even though it's officially Spring, Winter is definitely still in full swing up here. In Quebec City, it's been too cold for snow to melt for ages and the accumulation is more than 10 feet in most places. The snow has all transformed into hard ice that completly obscures the ground floor of everything. The roofs on one story houses out of town just look like continuations of the pile in the front yard. Everywhere you go, there are trenches cut through the snow for roads and walkways by snow blowers. I saw one pile of now at the end of a small parking lot that was as high as the 4 story apartment building behind it. There was one point at which I was considering scurrying across the crust to save myself some considerable trench distance. Then I realized that if I fell through, I would be in over my head like an avalanche victim and that once I got to the other side, the jump would be too high to make anyway. Moncton is slightly better with only about half the accumulation but it is still so very cold up here. Every time I come up here, I get such respect for just how tough Canadians really are. To persist in building a society where the winters are this bad and this long really requires a special kind of fortitude. It makes the unpleasant boatyard chores go a little easier with some perspective. At least I won't have to put on six layers just to go outside and I don't have to dig my car out of anything when it rains, even if it's one of those awful cold rains.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Boatyard Blues 2

[Kyle] The boat yard finally got me out of the water an hour before closing time on the last day I have off. I'll have to do this week's list next week and next week's list next week also. I'm starting to feel like the people who have to go to work to get some rest.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boatyard Blues

I arrived at the boatyard this morning expecting to have the boat hauled out of the water for a fresh coat of antifouling paint. I had with me a whole list of jobs that I wanted to get done that the boat has to be out of the water for me to do. I was all ready to go. I had forgotten since our last haulout last July how boatyards work.

Almost every boatyard I have been to operates pretty much the same way. They know you need the work done. They know they're the only yard for maybe 20 miles (which is a long way on a 7 knot boat, slower with a foul bottom). They know that if they don't get to you when they said they would, you'll wait. The last time we brought the boat here, we waited three days for a two hour job.

I tracked down the Yard manager, who is very good at wandering directly away from people while looking busy and avoiding any hint of recognition. He muttered something (while zipping around feverishly but doing nothing in particular) about probably tomorrow, definitely the next day. Why, I naively thought, did you allow me to make an appointment for this very day weeks ago if you weren't going to do it today? I could have done many other productive things with my life if I knew for sure that it wasn't going to happen today. Instead, I'm sitting on the boat at the fuel dock (no permanent place to go) in limbo. I need to be around in case there is a miraculous flurry of activity and they need the boat moved now. Of course, it never happens, but I would hate to go run three hours worth of errands and come back to find the boat resting on parts of the hull unsupported by bulkheads or that it wasn't levelled properly and is in torsion or any number of things that could have been easily prevented by having the knowledgeable owner on hand. Honestly, the only people who have enough experience to haul a Gemini without supervision is the factory. They're just too unusual for yards to treat them like a generic sailboat. So I'm stuck here until either something happens or they all go home for the night. Then I'll start the same routine tomorrow. They never seem to get that I'm a livaboard. They say things like "Just leave the keys in it and we'll call you when it's done. Which month did you want it by?"

"No point," I say "I'll be there."
"Oh, okay comes the response "We'll call you when something happens."
"Well, I would know when something happens. I'll be on the boat."
"Yeah, we'll call you."
Nevermind. It seems that the only strategy that really works is for me to get down to my last half day and then get visibly nervous about not getting done on time. Then things happen. I have to be looking at the boat in the lift thinking that I have to have the engine running and be backing out of the lift in 20 minutes or I'm no going to make it to work. Then stuff happens. The problem is that I apparently can't simulate the look without being in actual distress. I think even if I did, though, no yard is going to buy it on the day of the appointment. So I'll try again tomorrow.


[Kyle] For those of you that aren't British, a "do" is what they call a party. While she's dong that, I'm preparing to have the boat hauled and have new antifouling paint put on. Maryanne is fortunate(?) enough to be allergic to the stuff so that gets to be my job.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Family Do!

[Maryanne] My newest nephew, Oliver, was Christened this weekend, and for the most part was totally oblivious to all the festivities. It was great to see ALL my family again. Here is "Auntie Maryanne" and her 3 nephews: Oliver, Max and Alfie.

Maryanne And Oliver Max Alfie

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wild and Windy in Cornwall

Kyle took this video at the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall on 12 March 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cottage in Devon

{Maryanne} Traditionally Kyle and I have celebrated our anniversary with a weekend B&B getaway. This year, our anniversary fell while I was in Britain, and we were also given an amazing gift of a timeshare "anywhere in the world". We decided to find a cottage in Devon (the county I was born in, and close by to my brother Russell) - and have Kyle spend as long as he could with me - although obviously his work would dictate the actual days we could share. The cottage was in a resort in a tiny village of Devon: Woodford Bridge. The countryside is very hilly (commonly 17% slopes) - and with windy and narrow roads (I think Kyle has been a little nervous with my driving!). The weather was mostly terrible (worst storms of the winter, lots of flooding, and the beaches officially closed for one day because of the crazy weather.

The cottage itself is amazing with every facility you might imagine necessary. The staff are unbelievably helpful - I needed a Dr for a painful ear infection during our stay, and they booked the appointment for me - I had seen a Dr within 2 hours of even asking where the nearest Dr was. We have availed ourselves of traditional cream tea in the thatched bar, and have peacocks strutting around in the garden, and roosting in the tree outside our patio each evening. Pretty impressive.

Most tourist places are closed until Easter, but we have had plenty to keep us busy. Given the weather we have not explored the area as much as we would have liked - but we did do a circular tour of Cornwall, and took in Lands End (most westerly point in Britain), the Lizard (infamous rock formation, jutting out from the south west coast), St Michael's Mount, and lots of other stunning coastal areas and towns. Given the weather, and it's exposed nature was very blustery: we have some impressive movie shots which I will post soon. We also managed to take
in a local ancient monument - the Merry Maidens - a stone circle the story reports that some young ladies were caught dancing on a Sunday and turned to stone on the spot.

Devon and Cornwall - the West Country

{Maryanne} Wind and rain - welcome home! After collecting Kyle, we took a slight detour to visit with a University Friend of Maryanne's before arriving in Cornwall to see her Brother (Russell) and family (Clare and Alfie). Our energetic nephew put us to shame, with so much travel and a touch of jet lag, Kyle and I were keen for afternoon naps on a regular basis - we could hardly keep up with the activities of a young family!

Russell took us on a Grand tour of the south coastal region of Devon and Cornwall: dramatic beaches and plenty of history. Beautiful dramatic coastline - cliffs, sandy beaches, pebble/boulder beaches - great surfing (for those more energetic). Thanks Russ for the grand tour of the south coast.

Transport Woes!

Well, Kyle started the story, with flights canceled from Newark to
London, I took a detour to ensure I could still arrive on the planned
date. Arriving in the UK didn't make things much smoother - a 3 train
journey turned into 5 trains, and a bus, and an arrival time 5 hours
later than expected. The good news is I MADE it. After a few days at
the family home, reminding myself how to drive a manual (stick shift)
and drive on the left side of the road, I traveled to visit my sister
Sarah, and meet up with Kyle. Two minutes after I climbed into Sarah's
car for a trip to the pub for dinner, her car died.. Dinner plans were
delayed and we spent a few hours organizing tow trucks etc... Hmm.. I
wonder if anyone else will be pleased to see me now? Later in the week,
I was a little nervous of boarding a ferry to Plymouth - Luckily there
were no issues, so hopefully any jinx is over.

Kyle's visit to the UK

[Kyle] After a week at work that got increasingly more difficult as it wore on, I went to the UK to join Maryanne for a few days. My flight was much less stressful than hers. I even managed to get a whole row to myself until halfway through, when some woman decided she would rather sit by me than her husband and then immediately spread out like she owned the place, all without making the slightest acknowledgement of my presence. As I was in the window seat, I suddenly decided I needed to use the lavatory a lot, but she never got the hint.

Maryanne picked me up at Gatwick and we drove to her Brother Russel's house in Cornwall to stay for a couple of days with his family, Clare and Alfie. Russel is also a runner who is training for a half marathon so I was happy to take him up on his offer to go for a short run in the morning. I did a pretty good job keeping up with him for the first mile as he warmed up. Then he sped up. We did do the whole run together and I have to say that Cornwall's beautiful steep, rolling, green hills were a nice distraction but I was having to do a pretty fast race pace to keep up with him. He kept talking about how nice and relaxing the pace was and how nice it was to go for a run in which you're not trying to beat yourself up. Whatever, fast guy! ...less talk, more running... too out of breath to talk. We got back to the house and he looked as if he'd had a nice refreshing massage. He checked his log and said it was the slowest he'd ever run the route. That's why he felt so refreshed! Hey, man! I have jet lag... Yeah, jet lag!

We spent the rest of the day exploring Plymouth. Maryanne played games with our nephew Alfie while I tried to pretend I wasn't too stiff to move.

The next day after a much slower run (hey, that is refreshing!), we went to the beach at NewQuay. It was starting to get very cold and windy. The forecast was for the worst storm of the season in the next couple of days. We still had a good time playing soccer on the beach and running around in the sand and climbing the rocks as it blew.

Maryanne had a friend at work who lent us a timeshare in the countryside near Milton Damerel for the week (Thanks Carl!). We all drove up together and spent the afternoon in the timeshare, which was really nice and the staff couldn't have been more friendly.

By the next day, the storm hit full force. The wind was howling and the rain was pelting the walls and windows loudly all night. The news people were saying gusts to 80 mph were expected. It seemed like a crazy day to go for a run but I doubted I would be doing much else that day so I decided to get some excercise and see a bit of the countryside. When I left, it was only pouring icy rain which is usually only misereable until I get fully soaked and then as long as I wear enough layers, I'm fine after that. Then it started to hail. Little stinging, 80mph hail. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all but I'm already nearly 3% of the way through, no point stopping now. The hail eased a bit and the sun even came out for a few seconds. I decided the storm was starting to pass and I just made the mistake of leaving a little too early. The countryside of Devon (the next county over from Cornwall) was just beautiful. I found a very nice, very narrow, very empty rural road to run on. I only had to scamper up a hedge a couple of times for cars (no room for a person and a tiny european car on these roads, they were that narrow) and the drivers were very friendly, if a bit surprised to see me way out there in the rain. Then the storm hit. The wind just howled. I kept thinking cars were coming up behind me and slamming on their brakes to stop but it was just the wind. I had an easier time running up really steep hills with the wind at my back than straight down them with the wind blasting in my face. The rain was thick, the big drops all having been shredded into an impenetrable spray. I had trouble breathing and water kept going up my nose. Every now and then I'd get to the unprotected top of a hill and a gust would throw me off the road into a hedge. When I finally got back, Maryanne gave me that look. You know, that "what were you thinking" look. Well, I was thinking I didn't want to get out of shape. Training in a tempest seemed the best way. After I peeled all of my soaking clothes off, we spent the rest of the day doing laundry and watching movies...much more sensible.

The next day with the rain stopped but the wind still up, we drove to Land's End and The Lizard at the southwest corner of England. Land's End was interesting geographically but was covered in tacky tourist shops and such, which were mostly closed for the season. The biggest attraction was the howling wind coming off the ocean. Huge waves were crashing onto the cliffs. It made me glad not to be at sea in it. Not this time of year, no, thank you. The Lizard was much prettier and more like a park. Miles of green turf ended in steep cliffs with the waves crashing below. Little paths ran to this beach or that beach. We edged our way to one cliff about 500 feet above the beach and when we stuck out heads over, it was like sticking them out of a car window into the upward blast.

Then the next day, it was all over. Time to go back. Back to New Jersey with it's traffic and it crowds and its litter. Everything is still brown there. At least it'll be easy for me to get up early for work for a while.

UK Visit

[Kyle] Maryanne did finally get to the UK but not without a little more drama. She got on the train to go to Peterborough in London and was told the lines were down and that the train might not even leave that day. After more inquiry, it was determined that she could take a couple of slow trains with a bus in between to get over the inoperative part of the line...then she got off at the wrong stop, carried her bags over the bridge to the other side of the platform and realized her mistake and had to go back again. By the time she called me from her parent's house in Bourne, she sounded completely knackered and ready for a good sleep.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Maryanne tries to go to the UK

[Kyle] Well with Maryanne finally off work, she had planned to spend a month in the UK getting reaquainted with all of the friends and family her job hasn't allowed her to see over the years. All of the flights to Newark (the first leg of her journey) were overbooked except the 6:15am flight that I was going to work on because it was the only sure thing. Her flight to Gatwick (which had lots of available seats) was at 6:55pm and my show time for my flight to Atlanta was 6:30pm so we figured we would just get to Newark and hang out together all day until our respective flights.

Maryanne being who she is, she insisted on checking in for her flight 10 hours early since we were already there. Lucky she did! the gate agent said that flight was cancelled! After some digging, she found out it was because the airplane had sustained ground damage in Gatwick and wouldn't be returning that day. This, of course, meant that all of those people on the cancelled flight would be rolled over onto the next (and last) flight. Seats were disappearing fast.

Not wanting Maryanne to get stuck in stinkin' Newark overnight (or possibly even days as the backlog clears) I found a flight from Houston that was only half full. The next flight to Houston from Newark was overbooked and was leaving in 20 minutes from the other side of the airport. We decided to make a run for it and got there just in time. A few people hadn't shown up so Maryanne got a seat. If she hadn't tried to check in so early, she never would have made it.

Stress over - sort of.

As I was finishing my breakfast in the employee cafeteria an hour later, I get a message from Maryanne saying she's still there! Apparently, the building lost power so they were not able to pull back the jetway, then they spent so much time waiting, they had to be refueled. Maryanne wanted to know if she would miss her connection. I looked it up and it looks like she will be fine. The only potential snag is that they ran out of overhead space on the Newark - Houston flight and said that they would send her bag to Gatwick but at the time, I only had time to book her as far as Houston so she may lose time sorting that out in Houston.

At the moment, she managed to finally takeoff for Houston about 30 minutes ago and everything still looks good for her. The UK is not getting out of it that easy!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Maryanne's Last day

[Kyle] Maryanne really looked and sounded like hell when she went to work. You can't call in sick on your last day, right? Her department took us out for lunch which felt strangely like any other lunch, really. It didn't really hit me that it was her last day until I went to her office to pick her up. She was pretty much done with her work and so was just hanging out running out the clock until an acceptably early time to leave. We killed time by taking pictures, leaving the final messages and saying goodbye to everybody. As we left, I felt giddy realizing that we were leaving that accursed building and its cubicle shaped cages for the last time.

When I met Maryanne, we had little else but each other and our little boat, which it turned out is really all we needed. After spending some time cruising, we decided two things; we wanted to keep cruising and we didn't want to have to stop, ever. I sat down and came up with a plan to do it but of course it was going to take a lot of money. Maryanne, who had just finished a degree in marine and environmental biology from one of the very finest universities in the world for that and was looking very much forward to a life of adventure, decided that she could make more money if she went back to the office life she had deliberately turned her back on years earlier. At first I was hoping that it would be for only one winter but realized that it would probably be two. Once we added up the numbers, we realized it was probably going to be three. She set off to working and did so day after day without complaint even though I knew she was miserable. Once we decided to buy Footprint instead of outfitting Prydwen, that added two more years to her 'sentence'. She expressed worry that things would keep coming up that would push the date further and further back and that she'd never get to quit and go sailing. I told her the date was in stone and that she could write it down. I said that to her every time we would have a little setback - write it down.

For years we saved and studied and prepared. We counted the days down one by one trying to keep our eyes on the distant light at the end of the tunnel. We spent so long doing so that we had a hard time remembering just what it was like to even be cruisers anymore. By the time the day came, it started off feeling just as special as any other Friday. There a was a sense that it wasn't really happening. Walking away from her office in the afternoon made it real for me. It really was the big day we had been working so long and hard for.

My job allows us more flexibility than hers ever did so we will be able to start cruising before we are both retired. The thing is, my job is the one I've wanted ever since I was a little kid. Even though no job would be miles better, if I have to have a job the one I have is the only one I could tolerate long term. Maryanne didn't do that. She took a job she didn't want, doing work she didn't like that kept her from doing much else just so we could go cruising earlier. I can't begin to express my pride in and admiration for her for making it through successfully. She has my undying gratitude. She has more than earned the right to be the first of us to retire.

Last Day

[Maryanne] It finally came, that last day at work. Unfortunately I had a lousy cold, and was feeling pretty miserable. I went in late, left early and took a long lunch. Kyle joined me to celebrate and was amused by the cube world I was leaving, complete with motivational posters. We were treated to a great Indian buffet for Lunch by the guys in my team at work, and we joined (now ex) colleages for drinks after work. I was very subdued, but Kyle was having a great time, and kept reminding me what a special day this was for the pair of us. Kyle joined me in my office for my last half hour, my computer was emptied of any non-work stuff, my phone and email repsonse message set - "Retired, Gone sailing". I'm sure when I recover from this miserable cold I will be able to gloat a little more on that last day - for now, I'm still suffering.
I no longer have a job, I no longer have an ID badge to wear about my neck, I no longer have to worry about how many vacation days remain - I wonder when it will all sink in.
At drinks after work, we had some good friends join us, remind us of memorable events, and treat us to some special thoughts, gifts and cards. Overwhelmed (and ill) on the day - I have since managed to re-read the cards and thoughts and choked up more than a little. Thanks to all for giving us a mini send off.