Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Getting Ready to Go--1/4-24/05

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January 23-24
Location:  Hilton Head Island
Dad was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon, January 22.  By that time he was more than ready to regain control of his life, and get back to his Florida routines.  So, after dad was settled back home again, we hit the road back to Hilton Head on Sunday. 
We hoped for good cruising weather, but the sign that greeted us over the faucet of the Marina women's restroom was ominous--"Please don't turn off the water."  A puddle was forming by the tap next to our boat, also kept running in anticipation of low evening temperatures.  As the sun set, the sky was clear, the moon soon rose full and white bright, and the temperature plummeted into the 20s.  Our boat heaters didn't cycle off all night, but they kept us warm enough.
This morning, as we scurried about finishing our final provisioning and boat preparation tasks we skirted icy patches left from the running taps along the docks. The sun was strong, and the ice melted by noon.
Once again we have returned our rental car, and we plan to bundle up to begin our southward voyage tomorrow.

January 16-22, 2005
Location:  South Palm Beach, Florida

We got to South Palm Beach way ahead of schedule, but not by boat, as things turned out. The day after we turned in our Cincinnati rental car, as we were making preparations to cast off on our southward cruise, we got a call from sister Marcia, telling us that dad's defibrillator had malfunctioned, he had been taken by ambulance to JFK Medical Center near his home in South Palm Beach, and he would face surgery in the next couple days.  Fortunately, we were able to keep our slip at Windmill Harbour a while longer, so we could just pack up, abandon ship, rent another car and head south with little delay.
All went very well with dad's surgery.  Although all the specialists involved prepared us for the worst case options, when the surgeon got down to business, he was able to quickly execute the easiest of his defibrillator replacement options, and dad emerged from recovery quickly, looking great and feeling alert and hungry.  We were all relieved.  Now, as dad is approaching a full week in the hospital, we are all anxious for his release, which will happen when the staff physician is satisfied that his meds are balanced.

January 14, 2005
The Taming of the Screw
Today we returned our rental car.  As of 4:45 this afternoon, we are no longer tethered to land by a power vehicle.  Losing the car is a major step forward in letting go of land and committing to life afloat. As Dick put it, "If we don't have a car, I can't get to Boater's World or West Marine, so I can't start any projects that require anything we don't have on the boat, so maybe I can relax now, because I can't do so many things."   We'll see.
We had a sample of just how unrelaxing boat work can get this afternoon, when Dick accidentally knocked a very unique screw off its perch while changing our fuel filters.  It fell out of sight beneath lots of immovable hoses and wires around the engine.  After hours of looking and probing around with a magnet on a stick, Dick called the engine manufacturer to order the screw sent overnight.  Before the call he said to me, that we couldn't go anywhere, all for the lack of a fifty cent part.  After the call, he amended his assessment--we couldn't go anywhere for the lack of a $34 part.  
Not one to give up easily, tonight Dick went back down in the engine room and reenacted the accident with another screw of similar size, watching its trajectory carefully, and probing around the spot where it seemed to have landed with his magnet on a stick.  With a roar of victory, he arose from the bowels of the engine room, holding aloft the lost screw and the experimental screw, found side-by-side.  When the Fed Ex truck comes tomorrow, we will have a very valuable spare screw.
(We know you are wondering why this screw is so expensive. We don't know why, and neither does the customer service representative who apologetically quoted the price.)


In case you wondered what a $34 screw looks like, here's a photo.

January 8, 2005
Dick's Words to Live Aboard By

Dick simply messing about on Starsong.

Son Mark shared this passage with Dick, and it resonated with him instantly:
"There is nothing--absolutey nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats . . . in or out of 'em.  It doesn't matter. Nothing seems to really matter, that's the charm of it.  Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're alway busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do."
from The Wind in the Willows,by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
We are back aboard Starsong after four long months of bottom work.  Although we expected we would have to make tough decisions when we tried to wedge all our stuff into the boat, amazingly enough, everything fit, and we still have a bit of extra room.  Which is good, since we have an ever growing list of things to bring back with us when we return our van to Cincinnati, and drive back down in a rental car next week to begin our vagabond life in earnest.
Dick is joyfully drilling, pounding, probing and doing all sorts of inspections.  Our project list is expanding exponentially, as he becomes reacquainted with all the little quirks of our home afloat.
I, on the other hand, take a surface approach.  Today, for the first time in my life, I found the pursuit of whiter whites thrilling, as I spent two hours scrubbing our three grimy gray fresh water hoses back to their original pristine white state.  An indifferent housekeeper, at best, my concentration on this task and satisfaction at its completion left me shocked and amazed.  Such is the magic of messing about in boats.  

Sunset at Windmill Harbour

Each evening at 5:30, we wander over to the twin piers that mark the approach to Windmill Harbour.  There we watch the sky and water show as the sun sets.  Usually, a dolphin is swimming so close to the pier that we can hear him exhale in a strong short burst of air as he surfaces.  Always, there are birds flying home to roost--pelicans cruising in a line just inches above the water, and herons high overhead.
We have learned to be patient and wait until it is really dark before we declare the sunset over.  Earlier this week we left after the sun was below the horizon and all the sky seemed merely bruised and ready to fade to black.  We turned our backs to the place where the sun departed and walked back to the boat.  When we chanced to look back to the west ten minutes later, the sky was a neon tomato.  Just moments later, darkness fell.