the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Late night dining options in downtown Annapolis are very limited. This is a town that rolls up pretty early... although folks may stay at the bar until 2AM drinking, kitchens tend to close by 10PM (when a lot of folks are heading out to dinner in places like my former home, Miami). I am often left with either a limited menu at Davis' Pub or sushi at Sakura (I'm not a big fan of ├╝ber-hipster-infested Tsunami). On Friday and Saturday nights drunks and night owls can score pizza by the slice at Mangia, though the prices are double that of Rocco's, which is far superior. I guess we're just paying a late-night drunk tax on that pizza.

Enter Amsterdam Falafelshop, the first addition to the disaster that is Market Place (a sorry little building at the end of Ego Alley that is perennially empty or being renovated). Perhaps the Falafelshop will be a shining star for Market Place. Apparently the original shop in Adams-Morgan in DC is beloved. I am thrilled that they are open until 3AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Not long before midnight last night I made my first visit to the shop. The menu is simple: large or small falafel sandwiches, salad bowl by the pound, large or small fritten (fries), brownies, and lemonade.

Though the menu is minimalist, the toppings for your falafel are abundant.

I put garlicky parsley sauce, cucumber and red onion salad, tahini, and hummus atop the three falafel balls in my small sandwich. I also ordered a small fritten. The fries were yummy and next time I'll take advantage of the many dips for the fries (I think I'll want the Dutch Mayo).

The Falafelshop gets a thumbs up and I'm sure to be back regularly. You can find their Facebook page here. I expect my vegetarian friends will especially enjoy the entirely meat-free environment.

In other news, I walked over to Boatyard for breakfast this morning, sat at the bar, and gave the bartender detailed instructions on the preparation of my Stoli O mimosa and how important it is that they schmear my bagel. Yes, I'm pretty certain she thinks I'm a crazy bitch. But how relieved I was that my breakfast came out right. Yay!

Friday, June 28, 2013

goodbye, christal star

My latest boat project was the removal of the old boat name, "Christal Star." I regularly joked that it sounded like a stripper name, especially since the hailing port was in Texas and the lettering was el cheapo vinyl stickers from a hardware store. Just not as elegant as I think my vessel deserves. And, of course, naming the boat gives me a feeling that she really is mine. Yes, the new name arguably also might sound like a stripper, but it's classic and universal. And, no, I'm not going to tell you what it is yet because I'm superstitious.

The lettering was fairly old, and chipped and cracked in places. Although many people use a heat gun to loosen the adhesive and then hand-scrape the lettering off, I wasn't thrilled about being in a tippy dinghy in the water holding a heat gun plugged into an extension cord. I also wanted to avoid nicking the gelcoat with a scraper. Below is a photograph of the small amount that I hand-scraped.

My friends on S/V Octopussy recommended an adhesive eraser wheel drill attachment from 3M. I had looked in vain for one at hardware and marine supply stores, until they explained you get it at any auto supply shop. I had been expecting a sander or similar, but it is a rubber wheel used by body shops to remove striping and the like. I guess the rubber grabs onto the vinyl and pulls it off. At first it didn't seem to do anything. I emailed Bond and Octopussy somewhat frantic asking if I'd bought the right thing or what I was doing wrong. Bond calmly talked me off the ledge and assured me it would work, though it would take some elbow grease and to expect sore arms. I also watched a couple of YouTube videos of guys using the wheel so I had a better sense of how it worked.

I think the hardest part of the project was all the preparation. Getting the dinghy behind the boat, (but without pulling the boat so far forward that the dog ramp wouldn't reach), loading gear into a dry bag to take on the dinghy, climbing in and out of the dink when it sits pretty far below the boat's deck. I spent an hour and a half on Tuesday before the drill's battery wore down. On Wednesday I used the first drill (recharged) but also had a second one ready with two battery packs, so when the first drill died, I swapped out for the second one so I could finish the job. It takes some trial and error to find the right angle and speed for the wheel to most effectively grab the old stickers and chew them off, but once you find that sweet spot the work moves pretty quickly. What slowed me down most was that because the drill doesn't have cruise control my trigger finger and thumb would get sore from gripping the drill. It's also best as a two-handed operation for stability and pressure, but that means my back and legs were working hard to provide stability aboard the very tippy hard dinghy I used as a work float.

Here is a photo with "Star" removed and below is one after all the lettering came off. You can see the shadowing that results from UV rays fading the non-lettered portion of the transom. After using the wheel, I applied Goo Gone to the lettered areas to remove any remaining residue and then washed the transom, giving it a good scrub.

After I finished removing the name, a friend came that evening and used polishing compound to buff out most of the shadowing.

With the old name removed, and plans for the new name to be applied this weekend, I threw together the de-naming ceremony on the fly. A handful of friends came out and the expected thunderstorms held off for the duration of the evening.

Buttercup thinks of M and Q from S/V Octopussy as her dog-harem, so she was pleased they came along for the festivities. My cat Maximus, however, was not as interested in meeting M as M was in meeting him. Max found himself blocked onto a finger pier with a big dog between him and the dock. Max hopped onto the nearest boat and then made a harried leap for our boat. I think Max may have been looking over his shoulder as he leapt, and for once his footing was not sure. Into the drink he went. Almost 9 months aboard before our first Cat Overboard Incident. I didn't see it happen but heard the collective "oooh" of the crowd. I jumped aboard and grabbed the fish net set aside for this very occasion. I saw swirling in the water but couldn't spot him. Folks ashore called out to Max and apparently he swam toward their voices, found a 4" x 4" beam along the bulkhead, and climbed out. I spotted him on the beam beside a piling, with no where to go. He stood dripping and bedraggled, crying out for his mom. I quickly scurried over the railing and into the dink beside him. It's a good thing I've got good balance and had been practicing that same climb in and out for the past couple of days. When I grabbed Max he wrapped his claws around the edge of the dinghy and didn't want to let go. I had to pry his little claws off and clutch him to my chest. I carefully stood up and released him on the finger pier. He ran down the pier and hopped aboard, still in shock over the impromptu swim.

So the festivities were off to a dramatic start! We all hung around with beer, wine, and nibbles, and when I saw the sun was soon going to set, I asked a couple of the guys to head out off the bow in their dinghies to photograph the ceremony from the water. A group of guys was hanging out in the cockpit of the adjacent sailboat and when they saw me walk to the bow with a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot they exclaimed "You're not using that good stuff are you?" Yes, indeed, I told them, laughing. Half the bottle over the bow and into the water. I'm not cheaping out on Poseidon and tempting fate! I popped the cork and encouraged everyone to come aboard to hear the incantation. I asked Poseidon to remove the name Christal Star from his ledger of ships, threw an ingot bearing her name into the sea, (a quarter with the name written in dry erase marker), and poured half the bottle of champagne on the bow and into the water from East to West. We all took a swig straight from the bottle and then headed ashore for more celebration with cava, beer, and wine.

The de-naming ceremony went well and early this morning the new name went on, nine months to the day after I bought her she is re-born with a new name. The lettering came out beautifully and it will be a wonderful birthday present for me to formally re-name her on Sunday.

Friday, June 21, 2013

go on with your bad selves

Wednesday was tough. I'm not sure why that day decided to be hard on me. Even a year-and-a-half after his death, I have days that it's hard to believe I can't pick up the phone and call my dad. Grief is sneaky that way. Just when you think you're alright, it sneaks up and punches you in the gut. Maybe it's that my birthday is around the corner. Several years back my dad orchestrated having everyone in my family give me a bunny of some kind for my birthday. I had belly-ached to him that everyone sent my mother frog-themed gifts and sent my sister-in-law pig-themed gifts, but despite everyone knowing my fondness of rabbits, no one ever gifted me any. So that birthday was a deluge of bunnies. Those are the things fathers do for their daughters.

Wednesday evening a friend and I went out to see Josh Krajcik. This song hit me harder than usual. (I wish he'd have stuck to originals like this throughout the show; he's so talented he should leave the covers behind).

And although I want to think I am over the floppy-haired sailor guy, I dread running into him. Some friends say I'm not really over him yet. But I think I am, or at least have to believe I am. It is hard feeling that the connection I had thought we had was nothing; feeling we were melting into each other but realizing I was nothing. But do I want back someone who only cut me down and never lifted me up? Absolutely not. I deserve far better.

What I'm definitely not over is wanting a real connection. To be with someone with whom time stands still. To sit down for dinner in the evening and suddenly look at my watch and it's dawn, the whole night slipping by in conversation and lovemaking. Finding that connection won't be easy and may not come along soon. I don't think it's even something you can look for. Those connections are just something you stumble into. Friendship may grow over time, but passionate, romantic love is a spark that is either there or it's not. In a perfect world, friendship will grow, too, and help sustain a relationship when passions are challenged. Am I too uptight because I want sex and intimacy to be aligned? I certainly do not think so. Why would I want to be so vulnerable with someone I don't know or care about (and who doesn't care about me)? I think those who settle for meaningless sex are selling themselves (and the ones they are with) short.

Jenna Marbles' episode on sluts hits the nail on the head. Animals in general may have an imperative to fuck all the time, but humans have the luxury of logic and reasoning that lets us choose monogamy. Sluts can go on with their bad selves, but they shouldn't call me uptight because I value myself and my body more than they value themselves.

Although I am holding out for something meaningful, I still try to be a good wing man and help out my friends who are looking to hook up. While a friend of mine was trying to find sluts to slut around with, I took the hit and distracted a guy who had been interrupting my friend and the girl he was chatting up. It seemed like one of the longest beers of my life and then I excused myself and slipped outside. While having to listen to this schmuck, he endlessly talked about himself, how he's having a 25-year retrospective of his art, how shocking it was that I didn't know who he was, how he goes by "Hitch" but his last name is Hitchcock, "and, yes, I'm related to Alfred." (Not that I had asked or cared.) Wow. Just a tip for the men: don't be that guy. And to top it off, he actually said this: "You live on your sailboat? That is so sexy."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Not too long ago I met up with my friend Mike for brunch at Boatyard. (Be forewarned: their website has very annoying music that plays automatically; add that to the pet peeve list.) I had not had that particular bartender before but he executed my favorite Stoli O Mimosa perfectly (think four parts Stoli O, two parts champagne, and one part pulp-free orange juice). Mike had a Bloody Mary. Life was good.

I usually struggle with whether to have breakfast or lunch when out for brunch because breakfast usually leaves me hungry an hour later. But I think that morning it was early enough that lunch was not an option and I sort of felt like having an omelet; I went with a delicious combination of smoked turkey, avocado, and feta. The omelets come with breakfast potatoes and toast, but one can upgrade to a bagel. I checked with the bartender that they had everything bagels. And then came the all-important conversation...about schmear. This whole thing kind of cracks Mike up, though I think he has become a true believer.

The bottom line is this: I'm paying the restaurant to schmear the bagel for me. Period. I can go to the grocery store and buy a bagel and cream cheese; I'm paying for the service of the restaurant toasting and schmearing it. Why some restaurants and coffee shops fail to understand this, I simply cannot comprehend. The bagel needs to be schmeared in the kitchen, while it is hot, with ample cream cheese. (It's the same with buttering toast. Cold, dry toast with a couple of frozen butter pats; yeah, thanks for nothing.) The places that force me to schmear my own bagel are also chintzy...they never, ever give you enough cream cheese for even half the bagel. Bagel schmearing fails include virtually any cafe chain (like StarFucks, Au Bon Pain, etc), Main Ingredient (a surprising disappointment since otherwise good food), cafes at airports, and other places I have blocked from memory due to the mental trauma of the whole thing. Places that schmear like they mean it: Naval Bagels, Bagels and..., and virtually any place in New York or Boston.

So, back at Boatyard... I had this come-to-Jesus talk about the importance of pre-schmearing the bagel and the bartender assured me they do. My bagel came out schmeared with ample cream cheese, I think I managed to avoid walking around all day with poppy seeds in my grill, and life was good.

The next morning Mike, his mom and aunt, our friend Dave, and I met up for brunch and found ourselves back at Boatyard. Sunday mornings are extra-busy there and no seats were available at the bar. When I arrived I found the group at a table. I ordered my favorite Stoli O Mimosa but what arrived seemed to be nothing but an extra-pulpy glass of orange juice; yuck! It didn't seem like a bottle of vodka or champagne had even been near that drink. I've spent a good amount of time in hospitality so I am loathe to send something back, but that mimosa was an abomination. Rather than risk another failed mimosa I opted for a Fordham Helles (a/k/a Boatyard Lager).  I decided on a repeat performance of the prior day's breakfast, ordering my omelet with smoked turkey, avocado, and feta, and upgrading to an everything bagel with cream cheese. Unfortunately, what I got was this:

Yeah, as you may have noticed, there was no schmear. A couple sad butter pats and jellies accompanied the bagel. Let's just say I was apoplectic about the whole thing. And it took so long to get the waitress' attention and then get the most miniscule amount of cream cheese, which I had to schmear myself, that the bagel was completely cold by the time I could eat it. When Mike saw me snap the photo of my naked bagel he said "Oh, no; this is going to be on the blog, isn't it?" Umm... yep. I'll certainly be back and ordering my favorite mimosa and everything bagel, but I'll be at the bar, never a table, so I can make sure my mimosa has liquor and my bagel is schmeared. Is that really so much to ask?

Since I'm on a food rant, I'll just add this: if you aren't already following Thug Kitchen, do it post-haste.

Want to call out schmearing fails or give some props to the folks who do it right? Drop a comment so readers know who's a hit and who's a miss.

Friday, June 14, 2013

following my own path

I never seem to accomplish as much as I want or intend. But it has been a busy couple of weeks with smatterings of progress here and there. I feel perched on the cusp of a breakthrough with a flurry of progress just around the bend. I'm always going to go at my own pace, my own way. And some days time with friends just seems to trump tackling projects.

One project that has morphed is replacing my port screens. When the weather does not require air conditioning (or heat), I would prefer to open the ports and get ventilation in the boat, especially to help with the ongoing battle against condensation and mold. Unfortunately, every single screen is torn, some to the point the cats use them as doors. I planned to use screen material given to me by a friend and replace the screening myself. In my research on how to tackle the project I found a diagram of an exploded view of my ports. It turns out the frame for the screen for my ports is an important component, in conjunction with the gasket, for keeping water out. My gaskets also appear very old and dried out; I would not be surprised if they are the original installation.

I called Beckson and explained that I might be interested in screens and gaskets, but did not know what model ports I had. The customer service folks there were very helpful and walked me through determining the correct model, putting in the order, and giving me a discount (the price came out to about what I would pay at my local chandlery with my discount there). Six gaskets and six screens came out to $155.40 with shipping. The screens and gaskets should arrive any day now. Putting the gaskets in can be a bit difficult, so I'll have to pack my patience the day I tackle the installation. Down the line when the budget is not so tight, I hope to get a couple Internal Rain Shields. The internal rain shields include a screen and then have plastic louvers to keep the rain out but still allow ventilation when the port is open. They run a little north of $50 apiece. My plan would be to install one in the head and one in the port across from the head, though I am tempted to also install them on the forward ports in the stateroom, since the v-berth would be more comfortable with that ventilation.

My boat fixing-upping mission continued with a trip to Fawcett's.  I bought a small Gill dry bag to use when out on others' boats and for when I use the dinghy. I wish I could find one with slightly shorter, wider dimensions and a shoulder strap so it could just be my purse. Found the somewhat elusive lightbulbs for my running lights so I have back-ups. Bought silicone to seal up the air conditioner and to create a new gasket for the fridge. The fridge is leaking a lot of cold air and condensation is constantly forming a puddle on the counter along one side. I have to pick a time I'll be gone and won't need to get in the fridge for a while so the silicone can set. It should really have 24 hours to cure, so I may move essentials (i.e., beer, yogurt, and string cheese) into a cooler for a day. I will definitely include a post and photographs when I tackle that project. I picked up a little sign for the head (see photo below), but also made and laminated one with detailed instructions on how to use a manual marine head and what not to put in there.

I knocked out a quick fix that should have been done long ago... chafe guards for my lines. The bow lines especially have suffered some serious chafe. The old water hose I have was too narrow, but the extra length of sanitation hose was perfect. I quickly sawed it in two, slipped the lines through it, and positioned it on each fairlead. Now I just hope it doesn't chafe on the edges of the hose. 

Along the way I had a friend over for dinner and cooked up some delicious stuffed chicken breasts and risotto. You may drool over photos and grab the recipe here. I really need to get the dinette cleared off so I can have more friends over for dinner; I love to cook but cooking for one is difficult. It is much more satisfying to cook for friends; sharing good food, drink, and company is what life is all about. I made some additions to the galleyware since a couple of glasses have broken along the way. Two clear shatterproof pint glasses should come in handy and I love my new wine/cocktail glasses from govino.

A friend and I tried to take the dingy out for a sail, but alas, there just wasn't enough wind. My friend rowed us out toward the channel, but with nothing catching the sail, we just hung out a bit checking out other boats and then rowed back to the dock. I should have taken a bottle of wine so drifting along a bit would have been more of a relaxing sunset dinghy cruise. Here are a couple shots of Tenderheart rigged up.

Although I haven't made as much progress on boat projects as I would like, life has been busy and I continue to make realizations about my priorities and values. One interesting discovery is that although I love being out on the water, my priority right now is on fixing up the boat rather than learning  to sail. I enjoy the problem-solving and troubleshooting of the myriad boat projects and, Cancer that I am, I like tending my nest. I want to learn to sail, but to me it is a replacement for motoring, a way to save fuel, a way to get from point A to point B; it is not an end in itself. That may be one reason I find racing uninteresting. I want to cruise so I can have drinks on the hook, get to some secluded cove to snorkel, or find some destination to explore. I know many sailors will find my perspective sacrilegious, but it's my journey, not theirs. I live aboard to be on the water, to be rocked to sleep by the sea, to have the freedom to move, trying to escape the trappings and oppression brought by land, government, and society.

But as much as freedom is a priority for me, I realize that I am unwilling to apply it as liberally to relationships, love, and sex. Some say I am too uptight in this regard, but my view is that my body is a temple, it is a VIP room that not just anyone can get into. Though there are times it would be nice to have more physical companionship, I would rather keep my heart and my body aligned and hold out for something real and meaningful. It is hard to find someone confident, rather than arrogant, at ease in their own skin, able to share themselves and truly connect with another, heart, mind, and body. But he will be worth it when I find him. I just have to be less trusting, more circumspect, not entrust my heart so easily to floppy-haired sailors who think the sea is full of mermaids.

Monday, June 10, 2013

some days you're the bug

Saturday before last I hopped in the car and something seemed amiss. Then I noticed the rear view mirror just dangling by a cord. At first I thought perhaps someone had ransacked the car, but apparently the adhesive holding it to the glass simply failed, likely due to the heat. Not quite sure what to do until I have the time and money to deal with a repair, and not having any duct tape with me at the moment, I jury-rigged a nest for the mirror on the visors and their pull-out extensions. This interim solution works surprisingly well.

Then last Monday my car got impaled on a bike rack when the guy two cars ahead of me stopped suddenly and my brakes couldn't quite stop in time in all the rain. 

The damage estimate was a lot higher than I expected (and the bike rack didn't have so much as a scratch). The car is nothing fancy so the appearance doesn't really matter to me, but I have some other repairs that have to be made and I'm concerned about the hood not opening and closing properly now (I haven't risked trying to open it yet). I'm still mulling over my options.

Tropical Storm Andrea was a non-event for the most part but did bring steady and sometimes heavy rain for a couple of days.  The clicker for the car got wet in the rain and had a nervous breakdown, leaving me unable to lock and unlock the car until I opened the clicker and dried out the components.  (Since I bought the car used I do not have a full set of keys and the ignition key I have does not work in the doors or trunk.) I'm starting to feel the car might have it in for me.

The rain from Andrea also almost sank the dinghy. The water was so high I thought the oars would float away soon and the dink would sink. The bailer is tied to the dinghy, so I tried to get in to reach the bailer, but as soon as I added my weight to the dink water began rushing over the stern. I grabbed the swim ladder and scrambled back on deck. I tied a line to a bucket and lifted and dumped bucket after bucket of water until the level had gone down enough that I could get in the dinghy to finish bailing without sinking.