Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting Started

Getting to the boat. All this stuff has to get back on the boat from the trailer. We have already carried it down to the dock. At least here we have a dock, and not a bulkhead or mooring both of which require more gymnastics with the supplies. We change the sail from racing to cruising. Jamaica missteps and we pull him out and send him to change his wet duds. There is no support boat for this leg, so we'll race with the cruising (small sail) because the racing one is so big, there is no place to stow it to take it with us. Seabags, ditch bags, foul weather gear (we will be glad of this later), PFDs, Food, fuel, water, all has to be secured in its place. Our floating shelter is small, but artfully arranged. It keeps us warm, comfortable and dry (mostly). There is water underfoot all the time. This is a wooden boat, so there is usually a bit of water in the bilge. There is about five tenths of an inch of cedar wood between us and the sea. That is a pretty thin shell beneath us and the things that might like to eat us. Sometimes I like to pull up a cabin sole board and look at the planks and imagine what might be on the other side.

There are bilge pumps which suck the water out from under and pipe it to the centerboard case where it rejoins the sea. One of them has a sticky float so I watch for the sparkle of the rising bilge water and move the float by hand before it tops the cabin sole. The guys stow the boat's gear. Each gravitates to the tasks they like or the next one on the list, which ever comes first. We all are continually adapting to each others desires about how and where things go. Now I am stowing fresh fruit & veg in the starboard aft drawer rather than hanging it in a net. This time I use plastic bins to keep it from shifting to much in a seaway and getting bruised. The next forward drawer has plates and tableware, the next locker has extra foulies and batteries. Drawers on the port side have the toolbox, first aid kit, and bosun items. John reclaims the dinghy, Jamaica tops off the water, and Pete stows the anchors and lines. The double companion ways make these chores get along in a timely fashion. Before dark, (just because it is easier to see) I begin dinner, making green beans, fresh ravioli, and a nice green salad and bread.


The cabin is just that a cabin, not in the woods but on the water. We have everything we need, plus some extras for the boat. She needs tools for fixing, water, grease and varnish, diesel fuel for her engine, and lines and tackle to either keep her going or make her secure. Her engine provides us with locomotion, charges her batteries (two systems; one to run the cabin, lights, head, glow plug, navigation, electronics and pumps, the other battery system is just to start the engine.) Her sail, one very big one, gets us where we are going at about five to ten miles an hour. It is a good pace to see the world. We sail around islands, discovering fresh views, checking out details with binoculars, counting off the miles as we tick off buoy numbers.
I have always liked maps. I've loved getting the aerial photos of places I like from the town, so Google Earth is a real joy. Even so, the view from the water (flatland) is so different and hard to discern. For instance, Point Judith looks very pointy and sharp on a chart, yet sailing around her, she seems soft and rounded, rocky and going on for a long space. Partially this is scale, but I think it is mostly view point. Even though the weiw is limited to a few degrees above the horizon, the character and personality of each place is a separate and intact memory, not easily lost. It is a joy to approach a remembered headland or special place from a new vantage, recognize and feel the connection from before. Even better to be able to share that place with friends.

Back to the cabin. It is warm wood and cream paint. It has a new deadlight in the hatch and four operable port holes for light. Most of the illumination comes in from the two companionways which we keep open most of the time. They create a whole wall of the cabin when shut, so open they let in a big slice of sky, sail, and cockpit. It makes the cockpit part of the the room too, like a split level or a loft. Mostly I can stand up everywhere. The cabin is divided longitudinally down the center by the massive centerboard case. Our table leaves hange from it, ready when we are at anchor or on a mooring to serve as an almost, but never really, level space. Last year there was no table and the top of the case was smooth wood. This year it has two fiddles running down its length, requiring more care to climb over. Space is at a premium when we are all in the cabin, but not uncomfortably so. That is why I climb over it sometimes, to preserve a shipmates personal space. The fiddles are good though, they keep stuff from sliding off, and do collect bits that might otherwise end up in the nav station (God forbid) or in the bilges, worse.

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