'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch


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“Cha-cha-cha-Changes…”

We’re going back to Maine.

Not because we particularly want to, mind you. It’s cold back there, and they have this stuff called “snow” and “ice”, and we’d really just rather skip the whole winter thing, thank you very much.

But my eye (you remember my eye? It’s been featured in more posts than any other topic except boat projects, I think!) has other ideas.

A couple weeks ago that eye got to itching a bit, a little uncomfortable. Then it got a little red. Then it got a little more. So a visit to a clinic for some antibiotic was tried, but didn’t help. Then a visit to a real retina specialist, which showed widespread inflammation and increased pressure and just generally weird goings on that the expert couldn’t explain.  Eye drops for the pressure, eye drops for the swelling, and we’ll see you in three days.

Well three days later things were looking and feeling a lot better, and the expert agreed I was much improved. Still ok to put off the final two procedures this old eye needs until May,  as long as we monitor the pressure regularly…

There’s no way to monitor regularly and still cruise in the Bahamas. If we’re to stay within monitoring range, we’ll need to be here, in west-central Florida, where nobody speaks “Cruiser” but us.
Many phone calls and conversations later, two facts became abundantly clear: One; we are sick to death of constantly thinking about this eye, and two; we’re really, really ready to cruise somewhere that doesn’t equate a cruising boat with “there goes the neighborhood” thinking. Florida has an Abandoned and derelict boat problem, as I’ve written about before, but in some areas, they don’t know the difference between that, and a tourist on a boat. 

We’re tired of being treated like social pariahs. (I’ll write sometime about the citation we received while at anchor last week, but suffice for now to say that the charge of “improper lighting” mentioned a rule that the officer made up, and we – the properly lighted boat from “away” – were ticketed while the 4 UN-lighted “local” (but abandoned) boats next to us were not.) 

So we have a flight out to Maine on Christmas Day ($84 each! Yay Allegiant Airlines!), dear generous friends have offered us a dock for Sionna in Marathon, Florida, and a tiny apartment in Rockland for two months, and my surgery consultation is scheduled for January 3rd. 

It’s time to close that chapter and move on.

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Learning to live on land

Since we’ve lived on land our entire lives until recently, one would think that we’d make the transition back to Maine seamlessly. Sadly, no, as I began to describe in the last post.

Certainly part of it is the simple sensory overload of living in a techno-focused consumer society. But an equal measure must be laid at the feet of finance.  It is incredibly expensive to live ashore, and we are, at the moment, at the ebb point of our income season.  Carpenters work outside, and the weather in Maine the last four weeks has been cold and wet in a way that’s unprecedented in living memory.  If we can’t work, we don’t get paid, and in this cold, we can’t work.

But of course the expenses don’t stop. Insurance, medical bills still outstanding, repairs to both cars when we got back, a dental emergency…  They just keep coming.

It’s my desire to guard against this blog becoming a whining lament of all that goes wrong in life, but it occurred to me that many sailing blogs – probably far too many – concentrate on the good times at the expense of an accurate portrayal of “Cruising” as a lifestyle.

Perhaps that’s human nature: We feel a need to justify our choices in life, and the better cruising sounds, the easier it is to answer those for whom the very concept is anathema.  When others think we’re crazy, we get defensive.

But it seems to me that painting a too-rosy picture is a disservice to all those cruisers who successfully forge a life on the water. There ARE challenges. There ARE bad days. There ARE days when you look in the mirror (if your boat has a mirror) and think “Why am I doing this?’

But that’s life, too. Right now we’re in Maine, back “home”, back in the “real world” of running water, automobiles and cheap plastic crap. It’s been miserable and cold for most of the three weeks we’ve been here, propane (for heat) is breaking the budget, and neither of us is working reliably yet.  This morning I looked at the space in my mouth where there was – until yesterday – a molar, and thought: “Why am I doing this?”

Living on the boat was so much easier. Living on the boat, most things make sense. Living on the boat, most of the challenges can be successfully managed by the two of us and some ingenuity.

At least, that’s how it seems when I’m freezing my tush off in New England.  Happy Spring!


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C.L.O.D.ing

Among cruisers there are a number of acronyms and terms used to describe the conditions and situations that are unique to the cruising life.  It’s the same amongst R.V. Folks or pilots or quilt makers – a unique area of interest invites a unique vocabulary. 

Hence my title: C.L.O.D. Stands for “Cruiser Living On Dirt”.  And that would be us.

There are others, of course, but not many that have found their way into our lexicon. “Swallow the anchor” describes the act of giving up cruising entirely, selling the boat, getting a house, accepting a job…  Scary stuff.  

And then there’s “DH”, used by female sailors to refer to their male partners. Sometimes it stands for “Dear Husband”, sometimes “Dumb Husband”, and sometimes…  Well, you get the idea.

But being a CLOD is assumed to be temporary. Some CLOD’s, it’s true, have actually sold their boat, but they are understood to be between boats, not through with them. 

In the case of Sionna’s crew, however, we are literally “between” boats. “Boats” plural!

Sionna is, of course, stored in Florida, and we hope she’s safe and sound and eagerly awaiting our return. In the meantime, however, we’ve got this other boat here in Maine, a boat we thought had left our lives for good.



Honfleur is a Tanzer 7.5 (meter).  She came to me back in 2008 as a “free” boat – and I’ve been spending money on her ever since.  We sold her last spring, but some big life changes happened for the woman who bought her, and by last November she’d come back to us, looking for a home… 

So in between working at carpentry and heat pump installations for me and job searches for Nicki, we’ve been working on cleaning up the “Little Boat”, as we’ve come to call her, and are rather looking forward to having a boat to play with around the harbor on a nice day.  Working and income creation come first, but it’ll be nice to slip out for an afternoon on the water now and gain, while we prepare for the next phase of Commuter Cruising.
CLOD’s we may be, but we’re also TBNH’s: “Two Boats, No House”!