Sunday, November 18, 2012

Like a phoenix rising

Listening to "Swallowed In The Sea" by Coldplay

I sit here, in our slip in the marina, bathed in a new calm and with a smile lingering in the corner of my lips.  After four long months on the hard, plus the year before that filled with countless tasks, Paragon has become a sailboat once again.  


A most beautiful, and long awaited, sight

Going back into the water made me breathless.  There were honestly times while we were living on the hard that I felt there was no way we were EVER going to finish the list that allowed us to get back into the water, and that my sanity was going to be one of the casualties of this whole process.  It was the combination of the million little inconveniences that made it unbearable.  Perhaps if you have to deal with just one (no toilets, living in a work zone covered in fiberglass and toxic grot, twenty foot ladder, insane summer heat, etc) then it would be possible to tackle this task cheerfully, but with it all piled together I felt such despair of ever finishing.  

Now, however, I can once again see that illusive light at the end of the tunnel.  Drake and I spent a couple of days in a slip at the Sailcraft Boatyard while Mark the rigger installed our new staysail and we worked on stowing and cleaning the disaster that Paragon had become.  It's amazing how much you accumulate if you remain the slightest bit sedentary, and accumulate we did.  It took us almost three full days, and many trips to the local consignment store, to whip the boat back into sailing shape, or rather close to sailing shape.   We were not ready for an offshore passage, but a four day sail around the Neuse River was just what the doctor ordered.

The morning of the day we left was spent gathering laundry, stowing the bikes, and a quick trip to the local Town & Country grocery store for some provisioning.  Oh yes, and a jaunt up the mast. 

Even though we still did not have the mainsail on, we needed to attach the topping lift which meant Drake was going to get a chance to test out those new mast steps as I belayed from below.  Besides one step that is rather awkwardly placed (a shroud crosses in an inopportune place) everything held and, I heard, the view was spectacular from such a height.  In hindsight I should have given him a camera to take to the top, eh?

 It was early afternoon by the time we were finally ready to go, but a quick check of the tide table brought us back to a rather somber reality.  We were on a rising tide just past low tide, and with all of the shoaling left over from Hurricane Irene it meant that getting out of the creek with our almost six foot draft could be tricky if not done at the optimal time.

We both sat down with disappointment and decided to get up early the next morning and take off with the high tide and calm early morning conditions.  An hour went by, then two, when Drake suddenly jumped up and said we were leaving.  Even if we ran aground we were on a rising tide and that could only work in our favour.  

He turned on the engine (started on the first try!), friends helped with lines, and we were off.  For the first time in almost two years Paragon was going out to sail and anchor.   We actually did end up running aground (sorry my beautiful bottom paint), but Drake was motoring at such a slow pace that he quickly ungrounded us and we continued our journey.  


not so serious and glad to be out of the channel

We ended up spending four beautiful days and three nights in a lovely anchorage called South River.  We raised anchor the second day to go sailing, but returned to the same lovely spot that evening to enjoy the solitude.  

first time out at anchor in over two years

our first sunset could not have been more beautiful

We knew that a storm was rolling in, and we could have cut our trip short by a day, but instead decided to stay in our anchorage and weather the rain for the third and fourth day.  The time before the nor'easter hit was truly the calm before the storm, but winds quickly picked up to 20-25 knots with gusts up to thirty and remained through the night and next day.  

this storm blew across in no time at all

I can't begin to explain how absolutely cozy this time was with the storm raging outside, but the two of us snuggled inside a warm cabin while munching on popcorn and watching movies.  The anchor held, the rig held, and it made all of this work so, so worth it.  It also gave me a renewed sense of purpose.  This is what it is all about.  The sweat, the frayed nerves, the worrying, and the work all fade as you get out on the water headed to the next anchorage.  I cannot wait for the next voyage.  I cannot wait...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick…or the best treat ever!

Listening to "The Commander Thinks Aloud" by The Long Winters

I was sitting at the airport the other day waiting for my flight to be called when I heard a final boarding call for Springfield.  Suddenly, I had the most incredible urge to grab a group of friends, dress up like the Simpsons, and show up at that gate.  I imagine they must get that a lot…

Yes, that is a cemetery behind the ghost.

Last night was Halloween and I suppose I have the Simpsons on the brain because I downloaded their Halloween special and watched "Treehouse of Horror" which is about as scary as I can tolerate.  Oh, that and Sleepy Hollow.  I mean, what is this time of year without a Tim Burton film, right?  Anyway, I am a total wimp when it comes to scary things in general.  Guess who was sooooo scared by 'House on Haunted Hill' (not even the original, but the remake) that she spent the entire time peeking through her fingers and desperately trying not to hear what was going on in various scenes.  I'll give you a hint.  It was NOT my friend's ten year old daughter who didn't realize there would be two shows that evening.  The "lame" movie (her words, not mine.  I favoured terrifying) and her mother's wimpy friend.  I blame this on an extremely active imagination coupled with a prolific story teller for a mother.  While other children were getting Sesame Street and Fat Albert, I was regaled with wild tales of Ali Baba, The Brother's Grimm, and the various haunted houses my mother was forced to live in as a child.  Punctuate this with frequent family picnics at the cemetery (a long story) and perhaps you can empathize.  

I spent the rest of the evening hanging out with friends in town while they gave out infinitely more treats than tricks and admired the various costumes.  Riding my bike home with a pocketful of candy for Drake I gave the little cemetery a piercing glance as I passed, everything appeared to be in order, and arrived at Paragon to find the best treat ever.  Drake informed me that after four long months we are *drum roll please* GOING BACK IN THE WATER!  

Yes, my friends, we are finally getting Paragon back into the water.  Now comes the interesting part.  We will be put in the travel lift tomorrow later in the afternoon, but instead of being lowered right into the water we are going to stay in the lift over the weekend.  Why, you might ask? 

These areas concealed by the wood will be painted this weekend.

Paragon has many jack stands supporting the hull on both sides, but on the bottom she is resting on wooden logs in two different places.  We were able to paint the hull and switch out jack stands to paint the areas that were covered by the old stands, but we haven't been able to scrape and paint those areas concealed by the wood.  This way, while hanging in the travel lift over the weekend, we will be able to scrape those areas and put three coats of bottom paint on those last sections of the keel.

So, when people ask what I plan to do this weekend, I can honestly say:

"Oh, ya know.  Just hangin'..."