Friday, July 15, 2011

What a Day Off Feels Like

[Kyle]Actually, to be fair, I have had a few days off since last leaving Maryanne on her own in the middle of last month, just none at home. This may seem strange since we’re always moving in a home that doesn’t have a home of its own, but any time I get to be on Footprint with Maryanne, I feel like I’m home.

I didn’t plan it that way, but without going into too much detail, every time two monthly schedules overlap at the airline, they “fix” the problem by following what I have come to call the Rule of Least Convenience. In my case, they took a nice, big, comfy block of days off and chopped it into several smaller, unusable bits so there was no way I’d be able to make it to Rome and back in the allotted time. It did, at least, give me the excuse to engage in a whirlwind of one-day visits to places closer by. Thanks to everyone who put me up. The food was delicious.

Back to my return to Rome. I finally arrived home nearly a month after leaving following at least two long work days with almost no sleep. The direct flight from Newark was overbooked, so I two-legged it through Washington Dulles for the overnight flight home, making it even longer. When I got back to the boat, I pretty much headed right to bed for a midday nap. I could have easily slept through the next night, but I wanted to spend time with Maryanne, so I had her promise to get me up a couple of hours later. She allowed me a couple of extra fifteen-minute snooze alarms after the appointed time and I crawled out of bed.

I spent the rest of the day in a groggy haze. Maryanne made an early dinner and we caught up over that and preparing Footprint for the next morning’s early departure. As evening fell, we decided to beat the heat by walking into town and getting some gelato. Yummy.

By the time we got back, it was later than I thought (I guess I was still on U.S. time in my head). We had to get up before sunrise in order to get the early bridge openings, so there wouldn’t be time for a proper night’s sleep. The rest of the night was spent tossing and turning, worrying that I’d overslept the alarm and we would miss the bridge opening. When it finally did go off, it turned out I was up anyway, worrying about it.

Leaving Fiumicino; it's bridges finally open!

We did manage to get untied in time and exited the river with two other boats, the three of us scattering our respective directions at the entrance. The sea was a flat, windless mirror of mercury reflecting the morning sky as we headed southeastwards down the coast. {Maryanne: We were in the middle of the 3 boats, the experienced local work boat at the rear repeatedly called Andioma (let’s go) to the forward less experienced boat as the bridges opened and the progress was too slow for him}.

By mid morning a slight breeze came up out of the east and we were able to ghost along close-hauled flying main, genoa and screacher all at the same time. The breeze slowly veered around to the southeast by afternoon and it became necessary for us to furl everything and motor the rest of the way if we wanted to be at our destination, Anzio, before it got too late.

We arrived just after four and set the anchor in sticky mud amongst the moored boats in the large, swelly harbor in two meters of water. We made a point of being well out of the way in shallow water, but were a little unsure we’d be tolerated. Shortly after, a Brazilian boat anchored farther into the harbor. Then a British boat and a French one soon followed. I guess we were fine. Then began a flurry of activity as we put everything away and got the dingy ready to go ashore.

Kyle suffering with the heat and the chores

By then, the overwhelming feature of the day had become the heat. It was hot. Everything we touched was hot. The water coming out of the tanks was hot. The shady spots were also out of the wind, so the choice became bake in the breeze or swelter in the shade. Maryanne distributed ice pops, but they would be lukewarm tubes of liquid by halfway through. The best bet seemed to be in the cabin in the shade with a fan pointed at us, but the temperature inside was 100F. Those fans weren’t big enough.

We didn’t have the luxury of sitting around, we had to go ashore and get me a train ticket for the trip to work the next morning. We went back into the sun, climbed into the dinghy and rowed ashore for the uphill climb to the station, all bad things in the windless heat of the town.

Between not getting much sleep and the cloying heat we were both completely knackered. It didn’t take much to realize we were in no mood to cook and probably wouldn’t be able so stay awake through the process anyway. We decided on a take out dinner while strolling through the pretty but fairly nondescript little town.

We bought a couple of squares of pizza for a euro each. We thought we’d found a good value until we sat down and started eating. The pizza was really heavy on the salt. I was pretty hungry and I figured I probably needed the salt anyway after such a sweaty day, so I pushed through, but that pizza was really something that had to be choked down like nasty medicine.

Needing to clear our palates, we headed to a nearby gelateria for gelato. Maryanne got a delicious chocolate/coconut mix. I stuck with what’s becoming my standard – lemon. I am quickly becoming convinced that there is nothing more refreshing on a hot day than lemon gelato. Mine was, in fact, so good, that no sooner had I tossed my empty cup into a bin than we walked right across the street to another gelateria and ordered another. Oooh, that is good!

Exploring Anzio - Complete with Punch and Judy show in the main square (invented in Italy!)

Feeling marginally better, we rowed back to the boat, which completely killed it. I still had to shower and shave for work so I lathered up in the cockpit and jumped in to rinse. The water was just below body temperature. It was marvelous! All of the surplus heat I had been carrying around all day just vanished. I think the evening swim is definitely going to become a welcome routine as it gets even hotter. When I was in there, I noticed Footprint’s bottom had picked up a lot of growth in Fiumicino. I was able to use brushing it off as a pretext for staying in a little longer. I think that’s the only time I haven’t hated that job.

Between my cooling swim, open hatches and that pesky fireball finally dipping below the horizon, I was finally able to sleep in comfort, even though I had to get up in five hours to get the train back to work.

Two hours later, Maryanne woke me and said someone was outside the boat. I listened for a while, decided it was just the general noise of the town – probably kids on the pier, and rolled over to get back to sleep. As I was nodding off, I kept hearing someone say “Sera! Sera!” (Evening!). I climbed out of bed to find a RIB with a flashing blue light hovering nearby. I emerged with a groggy “Sera!” in return, and was told, in broken English and Italian that we could not anchor here and we had to move right now to Nettuno, the next town over.

What! Were they kidding me? It was dark, I had to get up in three hours and my train ticket was from Anzio. We had called Nettuno the day before and been told they had no room. I tried my best to argue with them but my Italian wasn’t good enough for a debate and they weren’t budging. They left to go hassle the other boats and I went back to report to Maryanne, who was still in bed. We were both still in disbelief. How could they possibly expect us to go to another harbor at eleven o’clock at night?

Maryanne told me to get back to sleep (oh, sure, Honey!). She would handle it. She managed to get them back by signaling them with a flashlight, then she had the same argument with in Italian that them I did, only she was more awake and thinking clearly. They were saying that we were in a dangerous position and would be a hazard to the fishing fleet. She argued that going to a new harbor at night was more dangerous, particularly as both ports were well known for having uncharted sand banks in the entrances. They went back and forth like this for a while before they directed her to call the port captain on the VHF. He spoke good English. They had the same argument. He just kept coming back to the argument of us being a hazard to the fishing fleet.

It was pretty apparent that this was the standard bullshit answer he gives every boat that questions him, like telling you you’re not allowed to have your toothpaste because it poses a danger to the flying public. No it doesn’t. You’re not allowed to have your toothpaste so that it seems like they are more powerful than you because they have the authority to confiscate it. Maryanne and I had seen the fishing fleet come in the afternoon before and none of them came anywhere near our part of the harbor, which is at least a kilometer from their part of the harbor. Many of those boats are huge and I’m sure would run aground just trying to get to the pleasure boat side. I suspect the real reason we were all asked to leave is because the marinas don’t like boats anchoring for free in a public waterway when they could be paying outrageous slip fees at a marina instead. The harbormaster is used as a club by the marinas to force boats to do this. That’s why we were told to tie up at Nettuno. They didn’t care the least bit about our safety. They wanted us to make the trip at night across the shoals to the marina or we “would-a get a ticket-a”.

Screw them. We pulled up anchor and went around to the other side of the breakwater. On the outside, we set anchor in a spot where we’d still be protected from the week’s forecast winds. One other boat anchored further off, but the others were bullied into the marina.

Afterwards, I was surprised that I wasn’t too agitated to fall back to sleep for a couple more hours before getting back up to go to work. The process of rowing and then climbing to the station in the polyester pilot suit put me back in the hopeless heat surplus zone again. I must have looked a little strange draping myself over every available surface on the slightly air conditioned train to the airport. On the flight, I must’ve slept seven of the nine hours. I never do that. I guess I was pretty exhausted. Now my neck is killing me. Oh, to sleep in an actual bed…

I called Maryanne once I got to work and she reported that a military boat from the harbor had come out and made several passes accompanied by disapproving looks that day, but had not said anything to her. We are out of his jurisdiction. Ha! {Maryanne: we hope!}

1 comment:

kate said...

it's nice to know that greed takes precedence over safety and common sense the world over and not just here(at least you get gelato, which OBVIOUSLY makes up for having to wake up and move your boat at 11p). seriously, sorry that happened. at least kyle had a refreshing swim beforehand.