Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Clip clip trim trim

Listening to "Kiss With A Fist" by Florence + The Machine

For quite a few years I traveled between places as dictated by the season.  Summer lodge, winter ski town, summer resort, winter ski town.  The constant travel, plus the general miniscule size of employee housing, meant that everything I owned could be packed quite easily into my tiny Honda Civic hatchback.  A couple of bankers boxes, several duffles, a roof rack and I was ready to move on.  

Then, I found that the ski town suited me quite nicely and I started to put down some roots.  This is how the slow spread started.  Much like a cubicle worker sitting for eight hours on an office chair, my bottom line started expanding.  I collected books, acquired several house plants, lost a few due to my complete lack of a green thumb, and generally gathered more clothing and gear than I had ever had before.  Backpacking, hiking, rafting, downhill skiing, cross country skiing...the list went on and on and before I knew what happened I had become a bonafide house dweller with stuff.

The next time I moved was not so easy, and as Drake and I draw closer to our push off date I am reminded of that.  Paragon has been in the safety and comfort of a marina for so long that she's fallen victim to the excess of stuff that plagues many a house.  Drake and I both became somewhat lax when it came down to a cardinal rule of boats:  A place for everything and everything in its place.  

No where is this rule more important than in a small space, but I think especially on a boat.  A coffee cup haphazardly left on the edge of the book shelf is not simply a coffee cup but potentially a lethal weapon once the boat goes out to sea and begins to roll and bounce.  In addition to the safety issue, it's simply not feasible or comfortable to have more than you need while living in such a compact space.  Therefore, the trimming has begun.  

The galley seemed like a manageable place to start, especially since it is used every day, several times a day.  We have a space that runs behind the stove and counter that holds just about every condiment and sauce we might ever need to cook.  It had also become, unbeknownst to me, the place where condiments went to die.  I swear I have cleaned this out in the last year, yet I still found fermented plum preserves, a crusty tahini jar with a lid so rusted it crumbled in my hand, and an extremely suspect jar of capers from 2008.  

I pulled everything out, threw away anything that looked capable of intelligent thought, soaked and washed the Dri-Dek that lines the bottom, washed every jar, and replaced the containers in the most ergonomic way possible.  Things that are used most often are right in front, things that are rarely used are on the edges, and things that were never used are resting comfortably in the recycling bin.  

How did this all fit?

Dri-Dek up and first scrub finished

Bottles clean and put away

I even have extra space!

I know this is a small step, but hacking away at one unruly section of the boat and seeing it come together in such a lovely way feels great.  I only hope the spare parts locker goes as well!

A welcoming sight

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Battle Cry of Paragon

Listening to "Le Violette" by Luciano Pavarotti

Lying in the aft cabin this morning, eyes still shut and clinging to sleep, I heard the Battle Cry of Paragon waft into my consciousness.  Though it has many different endings, the beginning is always the same.

"Mo!  Do you know where my _________ is???"  

As in do you know where my headlamp, drill, shoes, boat pole, drill battery, jacket, glasses, belt, coffee, headlamp again, pen, little piece of starboard that I just had in my hand, backpack and, most recently, leatherman is.  

I have always known where things are located, even when they are not in their designated spots.  Should you happen to absently place your notebook on top of the washing machine or drop a shear pin in the top drawer, there is a good chance that I will somehow absorb this information and be able to regurgitate it's exact position even days later.  I do not know how I do this, but since Drake is the master of misplaced things we make a good pair.  

That being said, I found the missing leatherman this morning (port side settee in the plastic box under the cushion) and we commenced to enjoy our last day living at anchor in Ocracoke.  I spent a great deal of time on the phone ordering parts for future projects and arranging several returns while Drake sewed closure straps on the storage bags that live on the stern rail.  I even bundled up and sat on the bowsprit to watch the ferry, the jellyfish, and the various birds circling the lake.  It made me happy to sit outside in the frigid weather and just be a part of this magical place.

Watching the world float by

Freezing cold, but happy to be at anchor

Now the dinghy has been raised and secured, lines have been checked, and the cabin is almost completely stowed in preparation for our departure.  We have reached a point in our projects where we need an infusion of parts that are waiting for us in Oriental, plus we are currently burning our last pieces of wood in the stove.  It is supposed to be bitterly cold the rest of the week, with temperatures plunging into the low 20's, so off we go back to the marina.  

In celebration of our last evening, Drake has even surprised me with...STOVE TOP PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES!!!  Oh yes!  We are missing some key ingredients (pah! who needs baking powder!), but improvisation is what cooking at anchor is all about.  They are deeeelish and, with a cozy fire in the stove and hot chocolate at hand,  a perfect way to end our stay in Ocracoke.  

Stove top cookies!!

Did he notice that I grabbed some cookie dough…?

Finished product!

Tomorrow we head out into Pamlico Sound with the bow pointed towards Oriental.  

Last sunset in Ocracoke

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No sea, only sky

Listening to "Farther On Down The Road" by Taj Mahal

It's interesting getting a taste of what it will be like to live at anchor.  We left the marina in Oriental ten days ago and have been having a lovely time sailing and testing out various systems, however, we do not have our extra solar panels, the shore power cords, or the wind generators operational.  This means that we have been relying on the panels on the hard top, which are often shaded by the boom, and infrequent injections of power from the engine.  Most of the time we simply try to conserve power and direct usage where it is most needed.  Computer charging does not fall very high on this list.  

Today, however, has been lovely.  Sunny, crisp but mild, and a blazing sun that has allowed our little solar panels to shine...or rather soak up the shine.  My computer is humming happily and I'm eager to see what the world has been up to in our absence.

I had the most wonderful time while anchored in West Bay.  In general I greatly prefer to live at anchor as opposed to docked in a marina.  There is this connection with your surroundings that is somewhat lost once the boat is hobbled to a dock...she can't move freely and the natural rhythm is somewhat stifled.  It helped that we woke up to the most magical sight.  Calm waters that reflected the sky perfectly, and with a fog that obscured the land and made both Drake and I feel as though Paragon was floating on a cloud.  I cannot explain the wonder of our surroundings that morning as I looked in all directions and saw,  not water, but sky.  Sky everywhere!

It was as though we were anchored in the sky

The fog obscured the land and created this magical illusion

The days in West Bay also gave us a bit of time to decompress and change our tempo.  We were able to step back and spend some time together before heading on to Ocracoke.  

Sunrise on the morning we left West Bay for Ocracoke

May I just take this moment to say how very much I adore Ocracoke.  I have wanted to come here ever since I can remember, though for some reason or another we never made the trip.  Now that we are here it is everything I thought it could be and more.  I think the fact that it is the off season has even made it better.  Many businesses are closed, but those that are open are both glad to see you and have the time to step back and have a chat.  The whole village has a relaxed and sleepy atmosphere that is, I'm sure, quite different from the mad house it turns into during the summer tourist season.

Our arrival by sailboat has raised several eyebrows since January is not usually a popular month to hop in a boat and head out to the outer banks for a visit.  In fact, we were stopped the other day by a delightful gentleman, Rob,  who zipped through town in the vehicle of choice, a golf cart, and told us he wrote The Shipping News for the Ocracoke Current.  As he put it, he wrote about interesting people passing through, and just the fact that we were here in January must make us interesting.  You can read the article here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/53865

Now Drake and I have spent the days working on Paragon and exploring the island.  We walked up to the Ocracoke Lighthouse, visited the British Cemetery, purchased some cards at Books To Be Red, walked along the Springer's Point Preserve nature trail, and enjoyed a lovely meal at the Topless Oyster Restaurant.  I look forward to checking out more of this lovely island…

Anchored in Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island

The Ocracoke Lighthouse

Walking on the nature trail.  It's nice to be surrounded by such greenery

Dinner and drinks at The Topless Oyster Restaurant

Oysters Rockefeller and some Guinness while waiting for dinner

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Freakin' frockin' fruckin'

Listening to "Chocolate Jesus" by Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

"Let's go to Ocracoke!" is a phrase that has escaped my lips on more than one occasion, yet we never seemed to go.  The weather doesn't cooperate, the tides are off, we don't get it together...you get the gist.  However, after being apart for a month, Drake and I wanted to spend a couple of days away.  Also, there was the ever present need to go on shakedown sails and *voilá* a trip is born.  

Before we started, however, there were a couple of things that needed attention, in particular the stern light.  It had stopped working ages ago and had consistently been swept aside under the guise of "we have much more important things to deal with" excuses.  However, we are now staring dead on at everything we have put on the back burner.  With two months (and counting!?!) before we leave, everything must be attended to immediately.  Since Drake was grinding fiberglass for the new battery supports, I was elected to tackle the job.

I believe I may have mentioned my extreme suspicion  when dealing with things that might kill me, such as electricity.  Clinging precariously to the stern while grounded on various metal railings and supports, I ruffle my feathers at the merest hint of electrocution.  After Drake assured me that my untimely death would most likely happen in another way entirely, and once my pointed silence complete with squinty eyes had been delivered, I got down to business.  

Taking the outer casing off I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bolt used to tighten down one of the wires attached to the light had completely come out and was rattling around in the bottom of the cover.  Crossing my fingers that this simple fix could be the answer to the nonworking light I grabbed my screwdriver and started to screw the bolt into the rather awkwardly placed hole.  

This is the point where I should have thought things through...instead I fumbled with this teeny teeny screw while perched on the railing halfway over the water.  Just as I began to think I should grab Drake for a second set of hands, I watched the bolt slip from my fingers and instantly disappear into the water.

"Oh Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge!!!"

But like my favourite Christmas movie, I did not say fudge.  My expletive of choice rang out across the water, startling a flock of seagulls and, I'm sure, endearing me even more to our lovely Canadian neighbors who most likely think I am embracing the swearing part of sailor more than the actual sailing.

I suppose it may be true that fortune favours fools, or maybe we simply have an amazing hardware store, but either way I was able to quickly replace the metric bolt that had taken a header into the water with the help of Paul.  I also purchased three extra bolts, just in case, AND taped a plastic bowl under the stern light as I replaced the fittings.  

Now we sit in an anchorage in West Bay where we just woke up to the most beautiful and calm morning that I have had the pleasure to see.  It's just shy of 70˚ and I think we might stay here for a couple of days before heading over to Ocracoke.  I can't wait…

Just anchored in West Bay

We sat in the cockpit and watched the beautiful sunset

The calm and misty morning