Sunday, May 05, 2013

More Boston: Work, Play and Reflection

[Maryanne]Back in July and August of 2008 we’d visited Boston aboard Footprint for an extended stay (moored in Hingham, just to the south) . Unfortunately much of that time had us distracted with transmission issues and eventual replacement, but we had at least managed all the traditional major tourist hot spots of Boston, and Cambridge. This current visit, despite our much more central location, found us more laid back as tourists, and happy just to wander and see what we might discover. This was very much easier to do given the unexpected sunny weather we are experiencing, and the spring blooms decorating the views.

Once Kyle had headed off to work, I had laundry and a few basic chores to occupy me. We also had a new outboard motor to play with (a first for us, Kyle must be getting soft). We have a Torqeedo Travel 1003 which is an electric motor (quiet, no fuel to carry and spill, no oil changes, just a battery to keep charged). Kyle and I, it seemed, quickly had different philosophies concerning the motor. To Kyle it was for use in extreme cases (when we were a LONG way from land, weather was bad, etc), otherwise he expected we could still row or sail the dinghy everywhere we needed to go. I was taking a FAR more laid back approach – keen to delegate rowing and sailing to fun activities when conditions were just right. With a motor I could explore further afield, get places faster and with less effort… Hmmm how would we resolve this discrepancy?

One of Kyle’s concerns was that re-charging the battery would be an issue, and we should therefore conserve it by rarely using it; I set to test this theory and so far have managed to confirm this is NOT the case (yay for me!).

Another concern we both had was security for the motor and its parts (battery and tiller) if we were to leave the dingy at the marina dock, or on a remote beach somewhere while we explore inland. We’d searched the internet for ready-made items for this cause, but with no luck, and the manufacture themselves do not have any suggestions. To counter Kyle suggested we could just carry the readily removable items around with us (er, normally I’m going ashore to gather supplies, I really don’t want to start with a full and heavy backpack darling). I countered with a crude solution of fiber-glassing a D-Ring on to the tiller and planned to secure it to the dingy with a security cable (the battery already had a suitable handle to put a cable through). It would work, but was cumbersome.

So imagine my amazement when I pulled up at our Boston marina dingy dock one day, only to notice another dinghy with a Torqeedo (still a rare motor), and better still, one with an excellent, and far superior security bracket. I set to work to research again, and found not only the source, but also determined the owner of the dingy was also the fabricator of the bracket, AND that he had a boat in the same marina. Wonderful. Through this exercise I now have a great security system for the Torqeedo, and have met and befriended the wonderful Ron and Denni who also indulged us in a tour of their boat Sea Dragon – a beautiful 16m Alubat Cigale, a French aluminium monohull.

Our Torqeedo is now very secure mounted on our Portland Pudgy

This meeting of the Sea Dragon and her crew was to prove all the more fortuitous when we realized on returning to Begonia one evening that our steering wheel was full over to one side (having jumped its jury-rigged lock we had in place), and jammed, and that some of the hardware below decks was bent, and some even cracked. This is seriously bad. Kyle was not happy. This could seriously impact our plans. I was very relieved to know that Ron had all the skills and equipment to assist us in repairs (which he kindly did, very promptly, and I’m sure by pushing other work around in his schedule). Whew, disaster averted, and without interfering with our sightseeing at all! We now also have a superior steering wheel locking system.

We spent the first few days here trying to track down an annoying noise, at first I thought it was something loose in the rigging, but whenever I heard it and dashed outside to locate it, it would go away so I considered it might be coming from below, and I started to consider a propeller or rudder issue. Eventually we worked out it is the noise of the occasional passing subway train - from the tunnel that passes directly beneath us, the clattering track noise passing through the water and our hull. I get a much easier sleep now we've worked that mystery out!

Enjoying the weather, food, and excursions

It’s not all been work, strange noises and repairs though, while Kyle has been away I’ve walked some of the harbour trails (especially those areas where downloadable audio tours are available), and revisited the parks and generally got to know my neighbourhood. I make regular trips to visit the seal tank at the aquarium to watch them at play, and so on. I’ve indulged in crab cakes at water front shacks, and walked beaches further out of the town; making full use of my seven day travel pass. It’s been fun.

One area I was determined to visit, although with very mixed emotions, was the site of the recent Boston Marathon bombings. The two bomb sites aside from any remaining boarded windows are eerily normal high street scenes, clear of all memorial material, and discretely attended by police security, the areas fully open for people to walk by as before. The outpouring of sympathy and support messages has been constrained to the nearby Copely Square. This area is filled with a mix of home made signs, stuffed toys, messaged running items (caps and shoes), memorial candles, and such. A subdued and attentive crowd seems to be constantly present, some adding their names to boards, or finding a place for their own message or gift of good wishes. Boston Strong is the phrase that has captured the public response to this terrible attack, and it can be found everywhere, from T-Shirts to store window displays – a way for people to rise above the tragedy and see a way forward. In reading the many messages at the memorial site, I’m also reminded that the world is still primarily filled with good people. I still can’t fully comprehend my own emotions to the event or to the site, but I’m glad I was able to spend some time there, reflecting on these thoughts, and feeling hopeful that Boston is indeed strong.

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