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

Sunday, July 28, 2013

bruised but not broken

Now the bruises have really come out. Black and deep purple. Large ones and small ones. Smaller ones dot along the inside of my right arm, and a light but painful one on my left forearm. A huge black one about 5" by 1" beside my knee distracts from many others along my leg. On the left side of my midsection it looks like someone punched me in the ribs. And centered at the small of my back a small but very dark bruise. We'll see how long these mementos of Thursday Night Races linger, having been tossed back and forth, bouncing off winches for two-and-a-half hours. Not my idea of fun.

Initially, I wanted to shake it off and hope for a better experience next Thursday. But my precious few days off need to be focused on making progress aboard and enjoying myself. I think I'll focus on saving up to replace a few pieces of the running rigging so I can get my own vessel under sail. I've been urged to do so before the much gustier winds of September and October arrive.

So, the port tube on the dinghy is once again deflated. I rushed the job because I generally prefer to work on these projects on my own. But now I will take the time to pull up the prior patches, remove the current adhesive, and use Hypalon contact cement a friend is donating to the cause. I'll have to hope for a day that the weather and my work schedule are both clear. The GFlex epoxy on the bottom of the dink may have sealed up some holes, so I still need to check that and plan for patching the others on the bottom as well. The remaining GFlex should work well on the threshold of the companionway; I just have to find a day I can leave the boat open for the 7 to 10 hour cure time.

The hard sailing dinghy had been in the water since January, so I seized an opportunity to get a dockmate to help me pull her out of the water. He volunteered to scrape the barnacles, so I wasn't exactly going to say no.

She was immaculate when given to me, so I feel bad that she looks so rough now. But I couldn't have undertaken some of my projects without her. I just wish the dingy dock at the marina did not have the owner's dink somewhat permanently on it, otherwise it would be far easier to drop her back in the water now and again to practice sailing with her.

I don't know what is in the new propane tank that was supposed to be purged, but so far I have not had any problems with cooking and baking. Yesterday I made cheesy garlic biscuits, yum.

I had three biscuits left, sealed in a ziploc bag on the galley counter. Breakfast for this morning. When I got up I found an empty ziploc bag, cleanly sliced open, on the cabin sole. Apparently, as I slept some sneaky cats stole my biscuits! I'm not sure if the dog was in on it, I would usually wake up from her jumping off and on the bed, but only Hunter is sneaky enough to have stolen the bag off the countertop. Well, at least I got two-thirds of the batch.

Friday, July 26, 2013


On Monday I finally managed to drag out the inflatable dinghy that was gifted to me by the marina owner. I was forewarned it leaks and needs patching. A dockmate helped pull it out on the grass and pump it up. He poo-pooed how rough it looks and opined I'd be better off buying one off craigslist. I don't want anything that looks worth stealing and prefer not to just treat everything as disposable. Besides, the other dinks in the marina don't really look so much more pristine.

I had the dog jump in and out of the dinghy, though we were just on the marina lawn. I figured getting her acclimated to it and comfortable jumping over the tubes and laying down inside would only help when I need her to board when it's afloat. She seems to like the dink. I can see us having some fun adventures and excursions in our little inflatable.

A little less than two hours after pumping her up, the port tube was noticeably soft. After 48 hours, it was substantially deflated.

On Thursday I hosed it off, gave it a quick wash and scrub with the deck brush and set all the floor boards aside in the sun. I pumped the port tube up again and went over it inch by inch with soapy water to find the leaks. The only places I found bubbling were at the edges of two prior patches.

Although using two-part glue for Hypalon would be the best course of action, it is a little complicated and time consuming for my taste. Having heard of positive results from using GFlex epoxy (or even 5200), I will use it for my first patch attempt. Unlike the two-part glue, it has other uses for me around the boat and is also a less hefty initial outlay. My plan is to use scary-toxic MEK to loosen the edges of the patches and clean the area. Then I will sand both sides with 80-grit sandpaper and apply GFlex adhesive epoxy. Another upside to GFlex is a fast cure time: 7 to 10 hours. If the GFlex doesn't work I can always go back and patch it with the two-part glue.

I also found two small holes worn through the bottom of the dinghy and two areas close to wearing through. I bought a small piece of Hypalon and will cut patches to apply on those four spots. If all the patches hold, the other project will be either rehabbing the floorboards or making new ones. I have some marine plywood at my disposal for the latter approach, but would need to come up with a saw and saw horses. New boards would definitely be an improvement.

Last night when I came home I found the starboard tube soft. It had been perfectly hard only six hours earlier and had held up for three days with no signs of a leak. What could have happened to it while I was gone? I was upset but tried to just shake it off and look at it as one more project to tackle. This morning when I took the dog out I expected to find the starboard tube further deflated but instead it looked just fine. And of course it then occurred to me that it was simply the much cooler night we had last night that made the tube seem deflated. With the warmer temperature this morning the air inside had again expanded to fill the tube.

My week was somewhat derailed when in the midst of cooking lunch on Tuesday the burners went out and wouldn't re-light. I guess all my recent baking ran through the propane faster than during the first quarter of the year. I couldn't just run out to refill the tank because it's old and lacks an overflow preventer. The hardware store had told me they would not fill it again. If I was going to have to spend money on a tank, then I wanted to get a good fiberglass one. The fiberglass tanks are lightweight, will not corrode (the mild steel ones rust quickly), and--in theory--one can see the level of propane in the tank through the fiberglass.

Fawcett's did not have any and the hardware store no longer carries them. So I settled for going to West Marine and special ordered one for $130. (Yes, you can get one less expensively online, but the extra cost was well worth being able to make coffee aboard this morning!) When I picked it up yesterday I was disappointed that it was green. I had definitely been expecting it to be gray. Bright green on my aft rail is not the look I'm going for. But I really should cover the tank for UV protection anyway, so I am going to find a way to be okay with it.

I don't know about being able to see the propane level; it definitely isn't very clear. The hiccup I'm most worried about is that the hardware store just went straight to filling the tank and it would only take 3.5 liters of propane. I had paid for 4.2 and the tank holds 4.7. I insisted the tank is brand new and empty and should take 4.7. The woman filling the tank asked if I'd purged it. I didn't even know what she was talking about, so obviously I had not. Of course there was a sticker right there on top of the tank telling the filler to purge the tank first. I hadn't been looking for it and she clearly didn't notice it when she hooked it up to fill. I've used the stove successfully this morning without incident, but worry about what exactly is in the tank with the propane and whether it is a hazard, bad for my stove, et cetera. But in the meantime, I'll be heating up some chicken and italian sausage for lunch and cooking up the chicken that has been marinating in olive oil, garlic, and Old Bay. Let's hope it hasn't also been marinating in Salmonella.

Yesterday evening I headed back to Thursday Night Races at J World. Your skipper definitely makes or breaks the experience. The entire evening was unpleasant and when they called for a third race I was disappointed that we weren't heading back to the dock. I was assigned to the jib. I quickly learned that between just not having much upper body strength and constantly nursing a torn rotator cuff, I can't pull in the jib against the wind and the winch is virtually impossible for me to crank. If I don't have the strength necessary for the jib on a J/80, I certainly won't be able to fight it on my much larger boat. A couple of the crew had to help me on every tack (of which it seemed like there were an infinite number) because I simply couldn't fight the sail in by myself. By the end one of the other crew members and I had gotten down a bit of a "system" that made it less unpleasant, but to the bitter end I was constantly left cleating the sheet and trying to grab the winch handle as the skipper buried the rail and barked, and I was scrambling to hoist myself up to the high side of the boat.

Perhaps as a marathoner I should have more appreciation for racing. Except that I don't even like running races. They are just a way to challenge myself, keep myself honest and on track with training, and it is more convenient for very long distances to have someone put out food and water for me. Racing sailboats just does not compute for me. I simply can't wrap my head around getting upset and hyped up about what is really a meaningless competition and I fail to see any fun in sailing nowhere around some marks. To each his own; I know a lot of folks are very serious about racing and seem to enjoy it. My interest in racing is entirely deflated.

One happy note to this long and tiring week: a cheerful pair of Keen sandals.

I was looking at various models at Fawcett's and asking about other colors, being picky about those sort of things, being a bit of a girly-girl and all. The salesgirl asked what size shoe I usually wear. It turns out that the largest youth size in the Keens fits me. At almost half the cost and with more "fun" colors, I was sold. These sandals are so "me," and make me think of cotton candy and bumble gum and jelly beans. They are amazingly comfortable, to boot!

And finally, as I write this Hunter has brought in an icky not-quite-dead thing. I told the marina owner yesterday that he must have mice under the shed because the cat had been watching a particular spot intently. He's been playing with it and licking it and then jumped up on the settee with it. Yuck! But he is a helluva mouser.

Friday, July 19, 2013

thursday night races

Although the racing culture really isn't my thing, going out for J World's Thursday Night Races is a free way to get practice on a simpler, smaller boat than my own. Racers are also very focused on completing maneuvers quickly and trimming sails efficiently, so it doesn't hurt to have exposure to that even if my cruising will be a far more relaxed approach. I had been told the slots can fill quickly and to be sure to call between 8:00AM and 8:30AM to secure a spot.

There were five of us aboard for last night's races. The helmsman from J World has been racing since he was 10 and is clearly very steeped in that world. The crew had varying levels of experience. I told the helmsman I am a total newbie so he could assign me an appropriate position. I'm glad I did, and glad I wasn't merely regulated to rail meat. However, I think I too often underestimate my skill level and overestimate that of others, when the marginal difference in skill level is likely not as large as I tend to assume. The helmsman discussed tactics and sail trim throughout the race, so it was like a mini-lesson if one paid attention. The helmsman also gave a clear explanation in advance of what we would be doing and who needed to be where at each major maneuver. That was definitely helpful since we had five people aboard who had never met and with varying levels of experience. 

I was assigned to the mast. When we rounded the first mark my job was to be ready to hoist the spinnaker as quickly as possible. I was glad I had brought along some old racing gloves gifted to me by Phil from s/v High Life! When we rounded the next mark, it was my job to help the spinnaker trimmer pull in the spinnaker quickly as we switched back to the jib. Obviously it was a relatively simple job, but I'm glad I have very good sea legs because I spent most of my time far from the safer confines of the cockpit. I stood on the cabin top, leaned back into the shrouds for leverage, and hoisted as fast as I could; any failure in my balance and I'd quickly be overboard as we were making a sharp turn around the mark. I then generally stayed forward of the cockpit, either beside the mast or on the side deck, with little to hold onto and hopping back and forth with each tack or gybe to help distribute weight efficiently. At times I could easily have been rolled right under the lifelines and into the drink. I wore a life vest most of the time, but it was so bulky I would probably have felt safer without it to have the increased agility. A fancy Spinlock Deckvest with a safety harness to hook into jack lines is on my wishlist, but at about $360 I just have to spend the money elsewhere for now. I'm getting a simple PFD for the time being so I will have one handy for dinghy hops and such.

I was disappointed that I had forgotten to use my new Navionics app to track my course during my lesson on Tuesday, so I made sure to turn it on and then stow my bag below before we shoved off. Below is our track from the two races last night, imported into Google Earth.

I'm pleased with the Navionics so far and will enjoy using the chart plotter as I dinghy around. Next little project to tackle: inflating and patching my inflatable dinghy. I should be getting an outboard next week so I want to get the dink ready to go... which also means I've got all the registration paperwork to take care of with the Department of Natural Resources. At least they are helpful and efficient; definitely better than a trip to motor vehicles.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

taking inventory

The past several days have been busy! Saturday was a bit of a milestone, having pulled out all the sails for the first time. My friend Phil from Sublime Sustenance came over to help me take inventory of my sails, evaluate my running rigging, and help me understand what all the running rigging does. The heat was brutal, but Phil cheerfully spent almost three hours helping me pull sail bags from the depths of the lazarette, lay the sails on the lawn, fold them back up, hoist and lower the jib at least three times because there's something hinky going on with the roller furler, and hoist the main.

Among the discoveries: The main has two sets of reefing points. The metal jib halyard is beginning to split in places and needs replacement. The sheet for the furler is badly worn and needs replacement. Although I do have jib sheets hung on the rail, they look rather tired and will likely also be replaced. (Ouch, all this line is gonna cost me!) Some sail bags were marked as having a 100% jib and a Genoa, but both turned out to be back-up mainsails. The one in better condition I marked as back-up number one. The other may also stick around as a back-up, but when I get around to learning my way around my sewing machine it may become sail bags or a harbor shade. I also have a storm trysail, which looks to be in new condition, and an anchor riding sail for life on the hook. There were no sail ties to be found, and several of the bungee cords being used as sail ties gave up the ghost once unhooked. (So I have a good excuse to buy pretty brightly-colored sail ties at boat show in October.) And the big blocks on the toe rail appear to be placed for a spinnaker, so I will likely need to buy additional ones to install for the jib sheets.

Even though we didn't cast off the lines, it was good to evaluate the sails, know what I have, and what I need to get. That's the first step to taking her out under sail, hopefully sooner than later.

Monday I tried to row over to Port Annapolis to visit a friend and hang out by the pool. I had to begin by bailing out the dinghy, which was half full of water from a few days of torrential downpours. When I shoved off and tried to get underway I discovered the oars are too long. Previously, I had only rowed the dink with friends, so each of us could take an oar and one would sit forward, the other aft. Rowing solo, when I extended the oars to grab each by the handle and not have them crossed, the oars did not want to lift back out of the water after each row. I had to abandon rowing and just use one oar to paddle as if in a canoe. What a chore! The wooden oar was heavy to repeatedly lift from one side of the bow to the other, and the current simply wanted to push me back from whence I came. I made it, but was very glad to just get a dink hop home with my friends towing my dink behind us.

Tuesday was my first real sailing lesson. Well, I took some lessons many moons ago at Community Boating in Boston, but quickly met an instructor who would just take me out on the bigger keel boats and heel us over dramatically. Let's just say it was all flirting and no learning. So, yesterday I headed to the other end of Eastport and had a 3-hour "TrySail" lesson at J World. It was a LivingSocial deal I couldn't pass up, and for the basics getting started it's usually better not to let your dad, boyfriend, or close friends teach you to drive. The class can be up to four people but I lucked out and got a one-on-one lesson. Because I already know most of the equipment terminology we were able to jump quickly to points of sail and understanding wind direction, and got away from the dock pretty quickly.

I was a little surprised to be at the helm from the outset. The instructor did all the sail trim, but only took the helm a couple of times when we got in tight quarters and needed to act very quickly. I was very nervous about how far heeled over we were but the instructor promised me that even if we put the sail flat on the water at 90 degrees, the keel would pop us back up. We came out of Back Creek, sailed around the Severn River, went into Annapolis Harbor, and then reversed course to return to Back Creek. Most of the time was spent heeled over, at times even burying the rail. At one point the instructor noted how much more comfortable I'd gotten with how much we were heeled; I didn't tell him I was keeping my eyes on the tell tales and on my course so I wouldn't look down and notice the gunwale grazing the waves!

I have no sense of direction and often can't even get right and left correct. So the points of sail and judging wind direction was something I was prepared to be mostly awful at. There wasn't much wind at the dock, but once out in the river it kicked up quite a bit. The instructor's tips for finding the wind and knowing when you are directly into the wind, both by judging the wind on your face and by the reaction of the sails, were very helpful. By the end of the lesson I could tell him accurately whether we were close hauled or on a run and had started making adjustments on my own when the tell tales started lagging.

One regret of the day is that when I headed out in the morning I was running late and forgot my phone. It's not that I needed to make any calls, but it would have been cool to turn on my Navionics app and track my course tacking and gybing through Annapolis Harbor and all. So, next time I have to remember to do that!

Although I am glad to get a good lesson under my belt and look forward to going out and becoming a competent sailor, it is still a mode of transportation to me, not an end in itself. I know how to drive, but I don't "enjoy" driving. Driving is simply something necessary in life to conveniently get to places one wants or needs to go. I want to go to far away and interesting places without breaking the bank on diesel, therefore, I need to be able to sail and be able to singlehand my boat. And whether under power or under sail, I will gradually build my seamanship knowledge and skills (which, sadly, are already better than some more experienced boaters I encounter). I would jump right in and do the 5-day basic keelboat course if I had an extra thousand dollars laying around, but I don't. Although racing culture is not my thing, it is a free way to get more experience, so perhaps I'll start signing up to crew for J World's Thursday night races.

In other news... a little update on the air conditioning situation during this brutal heat wave. Although my air conditioning blows cold, the V-berth is always 5 or 10 degrees warmer than the salon. I've tried various and multiple fans both in the V-berth and to pull cool air from the salon and blow it into the V-berth. Nonetheless, I toss and turn with it too warm to sleep comfortably, when only 6 feet away the salon is 70 degrees. Yesterday I picked up a small Vornado fan, which is supposed to create whole-room circulation due to the particular design of the blades et cetera. Vornados are about double the cost of other fans the equivalent size, but I decided it was worth a try. Well, within a few hours the V-berth was cooled off to the point I actually needed to sleep under a blanket! It seems to be pulling the cool air in from the salon but also re-circulating the warmer air from the V-berth out. Every little victory counts!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

to insure prompt service

A couple of days ago I had the Harbormaster's mobile pump out boat come by. I had only used the pump out boat once before and at that time two other boats in my small marina also wanted pump outs. I just paid my $5 for the pump out, but it sounded like the other boats tipped the guy. I didn't know what is expected or appropriate, so when I got pumped out the other day I tipped the guy a buck. That's 20% of the $5, but I felt it might have been chintzy and wanted to know the etiquette for tipping in that situation. Oh, did I forget to mention the guy is cute and chatted me up a bit? Regardless, I know well what it's like to depend on tips, so I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.

I dropped an email to a friend whose judgment I trust so I could get his advice and view on tipping for pump outs. He definitely tips and tips well; generally $5 on a pump out. He has sailed, but is primarily a power boater. Feeling comfortable now that tipping is called for, and that a $3 to $5 tip for pump out, depending on the service, is a reasonable range, I could have (should have) just moved on. But being curious by nature, I decided to see what the forums had to say about it. And true to form, the forums pretty much make my blood boil.

The reputation that power boaters tip much, much better than sail boaters appears to be very well grounded in reality. When searching on Sailnet for "tipping pump out" and "tipping marinas" not one relevant search result even appeared. Cruisers Forum had a variety of threads on tipping launch drivers and marina staff or dock hands, and on tipping in US marinas.

Apparently tipping is customary, appropriate, and expected along the US east coast. (I seem to remember my ex tipping dock hands twenties when we were running his brother's 54-foot yacht in Miami and the Keys.) It sounded as though tipping is less common on the west coast, but that dock hands being around to help is also infrequent. The Canadians, Brits, Kiwis, and Aussies mostly showed themselves to be not only cheap, but incredibly resentful of tipping just about anyone, ever. Even when they know very well that it is expected in the US. Not tipping or tipping very little may be the custom in their countries, but it is very bad karma to bring that attitude to the US. I read ridiculous posts along the lines of "employers should simply pay a good wage" and "I don't tip because I only frequent businesses who pay their employees well." Yeah, right. I seriously doubt anyone is out there asking just how much the dock hands are paid before they book a slip at a marina. And who exactly gets to be the arbiter of whether someone's wage is good, livable, or fair?

Make no mistake, in jobs where tipping is traditional--restaurant staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers--tipping isn't "optional." It is part of the price you are expected to pay for the service. If you can't afford to tip 20% then don't eat or drink out.

Many people don't seem to realize that most waiters in the US make effectively nothing. In the Annapolis area servers and bartenders make $3.63 an hour. (Apparently federal law allows it to be as low as $2.13 in some places.) One's "paycheck" is zero because that whopping $3.63 an hour is all withheld for taxes. Whether you tip or not the server has to pay taxes as if you did because the restaurant declares tips for the staff based on the server's sales. The server may also pay 2.5% in credit card processing fees, and usually tips out 10% to the bar and another 15% to the busser.

I saw one post saying it's not fair to have to tip a server since all they do is carry some food, that someone else cooked, to your table. Wow. There's a lot more to it than the time a server spends with you at your table. They arrive hours before the restaurant opens to clean, prepare the dining room and service areas, cut fruit, cut bread, educate themselves on that night's soup and specials, et cetera. Most servers really are there to provide you a high-quality professional service that not just anyone can provide. They almost certainly know and care more about cuisine and wine than 99% of their customers. The ability to stay organized under pressure, timing meals, dealing with rude, difficult, or mean customers, knowing about the food preparation or being willing to check with the chef to accommodate customers' peculiar allergies, diets, or preferences, those are not skills that everyone has and they are not easy to teach. It can be back-breaking work carrying large trays of food and kegs of beer. And it can be soul-sucking work when after recommending the perfect wines and catering to the table's every whim, you find a measly 15% tip.

Tipping actually makes a lot of sense for paying servers and bartenders because the server at a breakfast diner and the server at a fine dining restaurant probably shouldn't be making the same wage. Having it keyed to the cost of the meal often reflects the difference in skills and education needed for the role. In fine dining customers expect the server to know wines that may cost as much as the server will make that night. You would probably be shocked by how many customers I've had who didn't know French or haute cuisine terminology for food and needed me to explain it. Even more frequent were customers who use the wrong bread plate or don't know how to place their silverware to indicate they are ready for the next course. Fine dining is a dance that requires both the server and the customer to know the steps to be truly successful.

But enough ranting about tipping. The bottom line is one should tip, and tip well. It makes a difference. It will insure you prompt service the next time around. It's good for your karma. If you're a sail boater and usually thrifty, be the one to stand out and tip well.

Sail boaters have a well-earned reputation for cheapness and they should not be proud of it. That is not to say it isn't admirable to get by on a tight or small budget, to make the most of everything one has, or to fight for a good deal. Frugality can be admirable; frugality is about not being wasteful of anyone's resources. It benefits both the individual and the commons. Cheapness, on the other hand, is a character flaw. Period. And if a potential romantic interest is cheap, run don't walk. Cheap people are often not just tight-fisted with their money, but also with their time, energy, and physical affection. The last thing anyone wants is to go on a date or hang with a friend who invariably complains about the cost of things or has to find the cheapest deal available. Somehow, money and prices always come up. Quite the opposite, I had a friend who would arrange at the outset for the bill to be taken care of. The last thing he wanted at the end of a wonderful meal was to ruin it with discussion of money.

Monday, July 8, 2013

game over

As one reader noted, be careful taking the high road--it can have huge drop-offs. Although it is nice to take the high road, offer forgiveness, give second chances, it is also important to remember the old adage--fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I can be too generous in that regard. I feel sorry for the broken, defective guys. I want to nurture them, understand them, fix them. But they've been cast aside for a reason--mostly because they are broken, defective, and not worth fixing.

Gratefully, the floppy-haired sailor guy makes it easy to just smile and walk away. Certainly, it was silly of me to take the high road, offer forgiveness, leave doors open. A momentary lapse of reason for which I ask forgiveness. I don't really understand why he would even bother to contact me when apparently he just wanted to make himself feel better by admitting he was "a dick" and then tell me that he couldn't deal with both all the things I said to him and the death of his nineteen-year-old cat. [Yes, you read that correctly. You might even want to read it again just to let it sink in. And for the record, nothing I said to him even included the four-letter word beginning with "L".] I mean, doesn't everyone know that when grieving the death of your only lifelong feline friend, having a beautiful mermaid in love with you might just push you over the edge? My god, what was I thinking! When he said he would keep me up all night until I fell in love with him, when he knew I needed to get up early and run 16 miles but said "what's more important, running a marathon or falling in love?" I should have known he didn't actually mean for me to fall in love with him. Silly, silly girl!

Ah, but despite all that, he'd be down to hang out as friends and doesn't have anything to be mad with me about. Well, let me tell you that's a relief. I just about fell off my chair laughing.

We can be lovers or we can be strangers. But we never have been, and never will be, friends. The next move is a very simple one: game over.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


So many challenges, obstacles, frustrations. I try, often without success, to let them roll off my back. I try to enjoy the brief moments of solitude, the dog smiling, the cats purring and content. I try to enjoy the glimpse of a turtle swimming and diving beside the boat or the wondrous beauty of a moon jelly beside the dinghy, slowly and methodically pulsating through the warm waters. I have long had an affinity for jellies, delicate yet dangerous, translucent and yet mysterious. I would like to add jellies to the seascape tattoo on my back, though unlike jellies, and unlike my beloved seahorses, I do not simply move through life with the tides and currents. Perhaps my life would have been easier if I didn't always swim against the current. But I can't help it; it's in my nature.

The AIS had been giving me warning along the way. I knew the floppy-haired sailor guy would arrive any day now. My plan has long been to shrug it off and avoid any contact, but forewarned is forearmed and better to be able to brace myself for spotting him and then doing a 180 to walk the other way. I think he was cruel but we both let contact fall abruptly and shatter into so many pieces on the floor. There is always blame to go around.

So I had prepared myself, as best one can, for the eventuality of a wayward sighting of him about town. I had not braced myself for a message from him announcing his return and admitting it was crappy to have let contact fall off the way it did. Alas, I overwhelmed him it seems. Don't you feel sorry for that rare man to be smothered by my love? I shouldn't even feel the need to keep the details of our brief correspondence private, but I generally will. My initial response, slightly alcohol-infused, was somewhat terse but fair. In the light of day and being tender hearted, I apologized for being better at expressing my feelings in writing than out loud, which likely hadn't been fair to him. Though he broke my heart I don't see any gain in harping at him about it and it will only drain me to expend my energy hating him. I offered to talk, to ignore each other, or to start a clean slate, and just leave that up to him. I could certainly have never responded at all, but life is short and as hurt as I was I did love him once, even if that affection was flagrantly squandered. I will be skeptical, guard my heart closely for some time after pre-maturely opening myself up to him. But I am glad I took the high road of forgiveness and open doors. But one should never forget. I expect we will ignore each other, but it will then have been of his choosing, not my spite, that did it. 

Oh, to be a seahorse or a moon jelly. To leave worries and feelings behind. To be carried by the whims, caprice, or grace of the sea without tiring oneself swimming upstream or against the swells. Why must it be in my nature always to seek out the struggle?

p.s. Wander over to Sailing on -- single-handed to see a woman facing grief and self-sufficiency head-on. She is certainly one forging her own way, not content to be carried by the tide.

Monday, July 1, 2013

the food of the gods

Early in the day yesterday some thunderstorms came through, soaking me as I cleaned up the decks with thunder clapping and lightning flashing. The boat rocked in the wind and I told Poseidon and Aeolus that I get it, they are flexing their muscles, showing my boat who's in charge, but I asked that they cut me a little slack and not rain out my re-naming ceremony.

Just in time for another 28th birthday, (funny how those keep happening), some friends gathered and we re-named my boat. Yesterday evening, in a light rain that appeared just in time for the ceremony and then slipped away, I asked for the blessings and protection of Poseidon and the gods of the four winds and re-named my home sailing vessel Ambrosia. Some friends even brought fireworks to my re-naming / birthday party, so it was a nice fĂȘte for me and my boat.

I draped a tarp across the transom to hide the name until the ceremony was complete. At the bow, I asked Poseidon to add Ambrosia to his ledger of ships and grant her protection and safe passage. Half a bottle of Veuve-Clicquot champagne was poured across the bow and into the water from West to East. I then similarly honored each of the four winds, asking that we be spared their wrath and tossing champagne to each. I figured flashing ample cleavage couldn't really hurt my cause with the gods, either.

At the bow preparing to begin the ceremony.
Offering champagne to the South wind.
Welcoming friends to s/v Ambrosia.
Once the ceremony was complete I directed everyone to head ashore so I could unveil the new name. Brendon, owner of Designs and Signs, designed and installed the vinyl lettering. I am very happy with their work and highly recommend them. They also do hand-painted boat names, hand-carved and hand-painted quarterboards, and all kinds of other signs. I can't thank Brendon enough for his help and patience with me during the process. For the Facebookers out there, you may find Designs and Signs on Facebook here.

I'm sure some are wondering the significance of the name. I had been struggling with what to name the boat. Neither orbis non sufficit nor maneki neko (I have several of the Japanese lucky cats) are very radio-friendly if one needs to make a mayday call. Names that are easily pronounced and spelled are preferred for ease of hailing in an emergency situation.

It is also bad luck to name a boat something that challenges the power of the winds or sea. Ambrosia is the food of the gods. (I certainly did not name my beloved vessel after a weird Jello and marshmallow salad.) If the gods take Ambrosia, that is their right. But if mortals take the food of the gods, they face the wrath of the gods.

Somewhere I must have read that boats really want to name themselves, that the boat knows its name. On her maiden voyage from Kent Island to Annapolis the song Sweet Ambrosia by John Brown's Body came on and I immediately knew that the boat knew its name. She told me her name is Ambrosia.

The chorus of Sweet Ambrosia, by JBB:

sweet ambrosia / feed a heart of sorrow / good grace will live in me
sweet ambrosia / here right to the morrow / you know I'll take care
sweet ambrosia / feed a heart of sorrow / good grace will live in me
sweet ambrosia / here right to the morrow / the load I will carry

p.s. Check out the new blog address up there...