Saturday, January 31, 2009

How we found the Cape Dory


Finally, things have begun to slow down. Since sailing school began, each day has been a challenge. My experience could be described in terms of a high learning curve. It's been tough but believe me, I can ‘talk the talk’ now. You would never know I had been a ‘landlubber’ all my life (sailors actually use that expression).


Since Patrick and I completed sailing school with our respective certifications, we have had a succession of misadventures so ridiculous that they end up hilarious. Allow me to elaborate:


Misadventure #1:

       The broker for the CSY (boat pictured in the first post) messed up the date of the survey, so we ended up with an extra day to kill i.e. no money, nowhere to go, etc. (we ended up sneaking back into the marina where our sailing school was located and secretly sleeping on one of their boats and disappearing early in the morning before anyone could catch us). So we ended up checking out some other boats for sale in the area just because we had nothing better to do…and found this little number:


The Cape Dory 30


Cute as a button, and in incredible condition for being over 30 years old. She was designed for crossing oceans so she is a stout sturdy little thing. If she was a puppy, I guess she would be a pug, if that helps at all. Overwhelmed by the desire to shrink her up, cut her in half and make a friendship bracelet out of her, we desired we had better terminate our contract on the CSY (which was a fixer upper and a half) and pursue the Cape Dory.


In the meantime we had nowhere to go, so we found the cheapest motel in America:

             The Mosley Motel “Where Class Meets Economy”

It was advertised to have WIFI, but as it turned out, you had to bring your computer and sit in the lobby in order to get a signal. So we are checking our email in the middle of the lobby when the quintessential white trash woman walks in pointing violently at the black women at the counter screaming “All you (n-word)s are goin down!” Patrick and I are understandably in shock, as the front desk woman proceeds to do NOTHING, the white trash woman begins swinging a parking cone at the black woman’s head. Eventually they move to the parking lot where an all out brawl ensues. The front desk woman looks at us and says, “I’d like to tell you this never happens, but it’s actually pretty normal.” A man walks by with a 30 pack of Natural Ice.


Patrick and I decided on the buddy system.


Misadventure #2:

        We decide to buy a car because Florida isn’t pedestrian friendly. We find a beater on craig’s list for 250$ about 30 miles away from our hotel. We make it there, purchase the car and go to the DMV to register it (because it had no plates).

Man at DMV: I need proof of auto insurance

Us: what insurance?

Man at insurance agency: I need a Florida license in order to insure you

Man at DMV: I need proof of Florida residency for a license

Us: Can we drive the car with no plates?

Man at DMV: If you want to go to jail.

...2 and a half hour bus ride back to the Mosley...

Total wasted time: 6 hours

 Later that night, upon seeing us cold, tired and hungry, tenants at the Mosley taught us how to get food stamps.


Misadventure #3:

     The sea trial and survey of the Cape Dory revealed a severe overgrowth of barnacles and other marine life on the hull, so much so that she can’t go back into the water without being scraped of parasites and repainted with super toxic “anti-fouling” paint that is essentially the destroyer of all life. I wish you could have seen the look on the shipyard workers faces when Pat told them that he was going to do the whole “bottom job” himself saying “it can’t be that hard, I got a book on it.”

     So our first night on the Cape Dory was on stilts in a shipyard (a glorified construction site) with no electricity, no toilet (unless you count the one bathroom that never had any toilet paper and was shared by 40 filthy, toothless men) and worst of all no shower. Patrick worked diligently, no, maniacally…for four days so that the boat could be put back into the water as soon as possible. This included sanding the entire hull, patching up blisters with epoxy, and repainting. All of this involved working with so much toxic chemicals, that Patrick had to wear this suit and a respirator (not pictured):



On Friday afternoon the boat was finished. As of now, Patrick's long-enduring dream of living on his very own boat is a reality.  

Friday, January 30, 2009

Motel Lobby Brawl, Incompetent French, Toothless etc.

Pt. 1 Sailing school

We walked at least 8 blocks with 250 pounds of luggage properly separated into 8 different bags. Stumbling into a transportation issue, we took 3 different busses to get from our "Waves Apartment" (by apartment they mean 'we tried') to Blue Water Sailing School in Ft. Lauderdale. I happily injured my hip flexor which was accompanied by dehydration and extreme weight loss programs - I lost a few lb's. Anyways, we get to BWSS and meet our fellow students who are composed of one esoteric Indian surgeon, and one French high brow.

They sounds smart, but they were no better than Mormon housemaids. I don't think they ever got out, much less, existed. We had to teach each of them 3 times how to light a lighter for the propane stove. Fill in 482 blanks from here and you will understand their qualifications.

(You can't tell, but this is Alaina actually standing upright, that's how far the boat was 'heeled' or tipped over!)

Our first day sailing turned us into salty seamen. Our Dufour (french sailboat) was met with 30 knots (45 mph) of wind; the boat buried the side rail many times throughout the day due to excessive heeling or tipping over. But Alaina won the contest by not getting seasick and falling in love with sailing. Actually, the only 2 people other than our captain to survive unaffected was Alaina and I. Pretty exciting stuff.

Here is a picture of our first night at anchor just a few miles away from Miami

The next day we had hours of teaching the imbeciles what a sailboat was and how it floated on water. I've never seen such impaired people, glad to see one of the world's best plastic surgeons unable to pull on a rope or understand how a sail goes up a mast. Alaina and I had to fill in for the rest of the day.

The following days were spent again in high winds with record low temperatures. Sailing school was a good choice and gave us a lot of confidence or false confidence. Either way, we enjoyed our time in the frigid winds (well below 30 degrees) and got to meet a few liveaboard sailors and best of all, we inherited an uncle.

(this is Alaina steering the boat on the gulf stream stream--we had swells up to 8 feet)

But more on that later after I finish my pedicure

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Another day another dollar" -Patrick

After 13 hours of flying and airports (thank you, Travelocity for the cheapest most conceivably indirect flights) Patrick and I made it to Ft. Lauderdale. Our Bon Voyage party the night before was, let’s just say, successful. With only 3 hours of sleep, excruciating headaches, and bouts of vomiting, Patrick and I suffered even more under the crushing weight of about 250 lbs of luggage. Of course, double the fun, we get “randomly selected” for extra screening going through security. All of our luggage was searched, half of our food was confiscated (even in my feeble state, I was able make a few good jabs at TSA, like “we were going to feed the homeless with that, but I guess it would be better for everyone’s safety if no one ate it and we threw it away.” Patrick was most upset when a petulant woman rifled through his underwear in front of everyone.)       

 We are staying in a rather uninhabited, unkempt area of south Florida. The only real perk of the area --besides the 50+ feral cats that I swear hunt lonely beach walkers at night-- is the beach itself, which is probably only 30 steps away from our hotel. I have never really been to a beach before, so day one consisted of me disproving various ocean-myths that I have ignorantly developed beliefs in over the course of my landlocked life: the waves, even in ankle deep water, have a fatal sucking force, sand crabs can materialize spontaneously and pinch your toes, etc.

Patrick and I spend our time lounging in the sand and reading our sailing textbooks. I never imagined that I would of my own volition spend an afternoon reading about diesel engines. Fortunately, I am learning other more interesting things. For example, even with recent technological innovation, navigation has remained relatively unchanged. Parallel rulers and a compass are all you really need, and they are what sailors have been using for more than a century. Real sailors, apparently, don’t trust the latest gadgets to do more accurately or reliably what they can do perfectly well themselves with a chart, two hands and a little math. Things like GPS are really there for the indolent, inexperienced, or perpetually anxious. In one book we’ve been reading, Voyaging on a Small Budget the author writes that safety cannot be bought, it is an attitude of mind. We could have the most advanced GPS and satellite phone and still find ourselves in a constant state of anxiety, or worse, in actual danger. In other words, taking meticulous care to be educated and prepared and keeping our boat in high-functioning order is much better than having a satellite phone to call someone to get us out of trouble. Prevention is better than remedy.

I am also adjusting to the simple, non-consuming life. I can’t believe how conditioned I am to buy something because it is on sale, or just cheap in general. You know, like, a breakfast burrito for 1.25$ or 2 flip flops for 5$, I have to force myself not to impulsively buy things because they seem like such a deal or because I’m simply bored and it seems like something to do.  I truly desire the sort of contentedness that comes from the complete elimination of the consuming mentality. I long for a day in which it never once occurs to me what I might buy in order look, feel, seem or be more ______ than I was the day before.

Brief update on Patrick: his pale, Irish skin is perpetually sunburned and he has developed a perfect little outline of freckles around his lips for the combined effect of a pinkish, lip-linered appearance.