Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On the WATER at last

We finally left Bock Marine's yard near Beaufort NC around noon on the 22nd of June. Got a nice send-off from the previous owner and 2 of his employees. They run the motel we stayed at while cleaning and loading Etude. Motored up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Oriental, where we sweltered for a couple of days and amused the "captain's club" (regulars at a coffee shop right next to the harbor) by wrapping a dock line around the prop. (For you non-sailers, this is a classic, maybe THE classic, stupid boating trick!) They were great, actually. Ran over, moved the boat to the town dock, then helped us fix it. After which, we did the final sorting o' the STUFF and repacking o' the truck and parked it in a secure location.

Left Oriental Saturday afternoon and actually PUT UP A SAIL! Had strong winds so we flew just the jib. Anchored in Broad Creek and that was fantastic. Quiet, cooler, and lots of stars. Saw a rainbow while sailing, and two shooting stars while kicking back after dinner. Good omens, methinks.

The next day, we sailed again and with both sails! Again, plenty of wind and waves. Etude handles nicely and seemed to appreciate being sailed again. Neill spent a lot of time messing about his dinghy, which is a small, de-masted daysailer. The self-bailers always seem to be open when they should be closed, and vice-versa. But it tows well and he loves to row it.

A tropical depression moved thru dumping tons of rain, and we had to sit still for a few days anyway because we've sold the condo and it closes tomorrow. Came to Belhaven so the title company could send us papers. Got here and found that our cell phones don't work because US Cellular has a monopoly here. Just a small area, but we found it. Note to Alltel--GET IN HERE!!!! Other than that, Belhaven rocks. Small, friendly, good library and the marina (River Forest Marina) lets boaters use golf carts to get around town.

A nasty windstorm blew through yesterday evening. We were in the marina, talking to some other cruisers. Suddenly, the wind blew up to like 50 mph. Neill & Cliff ran out and joined the other men in yellow slickers who were working the docklines, trying to keep the boats safe. The docks were full, and boats were bucking like rodeo broncs. There were a few rubbings, and one large motorboat pulled a piling right out like a loose tooth. A couple who were waiting it out in the channel watched it on radar and said it had an eye. Does that make it a hurricane? It lasted only about an hour so probably not. But I was impressed. No damage to Etude--just some unsecured miscellanea tossed to the floor.

It's beginning to feel like home!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What a Muckety-Muck MESS!!!

Neill warned me about the state of Etude. "A little rough," he said. "Needs a good cleaning." He didn't exaggerate. Not just dirty, but mildewy and full of the previous owner's STUFF. Dozens of spare parts, books, books, safety gear unopened geriatric jars of herbs & 18 cans of tomato soup. And the bedsheets! At least a dozen plus pillowcases. None of it very clean. For 5 days we swamped out, scrubbed and sorted. In the summer heat, in a boat that's NOT in the water--think sauna on stilts. Then we return to a little motel room that's piled full of our STUFF, which we can't load on the boat 'til we get the other STUFF off. It got to me last night. So today I left Neill on the boat and came to Beaufort. Did laundry, replenished the cooler, and dumped some stuff at a thrift store. Went back to make lunch--our first meal from the galley. Only sandwiches, but it felt like a milestone. Civilized!

Back to town to post this at the library. I swear, librarians make the world go 'round. God bless every one of them. A library is home away from home.

Beaufort's a friendly little tourist town. Like Durango with water in place of mountains. And MUCH older. Houses built in the 1780's in the old town. NC feels verdant. The corn's about 4' tall and they're trucking out potatoes already. Lotsa small farms and big gardens tucked away behind the trees. And boats everywhere.

Etude needs work on her propane system and holding tank. (Think septic tank, landlubbers.) The marina it's at can't get to it, so we may have to put her in the water and head north. Get the work done later. And keep a sharp eye out for outhouses. Hmmmm. We found some giant corks on board!

Friday, June 09, 2006


After six plus days and 2530.8 miles on the road, WE ARE HERE! Here being Beaufort NC, where Etude waits. We’re camped out in a very basic, but pleasant little motel.

FINALLY left Durango about 1 pm May 31st and drove to Las Vegas. New Mexico. Next morning drove down to I-40 and through Santa Rosa. I was sorry we didn’t stop. Did my open-water scuba certification there a mere 20 years ago and liked the place. We exited at Cuervo, 17 miles east, for a pit stop. The stop was a REAL pit, so we U-turned in the gravel and headed back to I-40. Heard some nasty scraping noises, stopped, and found that the boat trailer had essentially collapsed. What to do, what to do? I should explain that we were hauling a 13’ sailboat packed with four, five hundred pounds of stuff.

Neill foraged a nearby junkyard and found a long, strong iron pipe. Levering the trailer tongue with that, we got it off the truck. Decided to rent a U-Haul in Santa Rosa. Took the first exit there, stopped at the first gas station, and asked where one could rent a U-Haul. Right across the street, they said! A place called Silver Moon Automotive, which is also a repair garage and (fortuitously) a junkyard. Explained our dilemma to nice young proprietor, who said that U-Haul will not rent a trailer if it’s to be pulled by a Ford Explorer. (True, I checked their website.) But he could sell us a 6’ x 8’ home-made flat trailer that needed some repair. He had the parts; just needed a couple hours to fix it. And he did. To summarize, he fetched the boat with his tow truck, fixed his trailer, stacked it with old tires and put our boat on. We never had to unload it. 26 hours after the initial meltdown, we were back on I-40. Santa Rosa is cool. If you ever get there, eat at the Lake City Inn. And appreciate those New Mexican junkyards.

New trailer was solid, towed beautifully. We slept in Childress TX that night, and left early for a very long drive across Texas. Caught I-20 near Tyler. Drove hard to Vicksburg MS, where we met Donna’s sister, Lana. Spent the night with her family. Drove the Natchez Trace to Nashville on Sunday. Viewed the sacred site of Neill-san’s childhood home AND the replica Parthenon.

Oak Ridge TN has a great little science museum. Mostly related to the Manhattan Project and WWII. That was our E.A. (Enrichment Activity) for Monday. Tuesday’s EA was a short visit to a co-housing place near Durham. Cultural experiences included eating bolled peanuts and seeing a Baptist church that offers a large parking lot with free hookups for RVs. We passed. Next post, the big cleanup!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Thought we’d leave Durango on the 23rd, but that was not to be. Too much to do. The neighbors are probably taking bets on when—or whether—we actually leave. We worked two or three really long, hard days and realized that if we kept that up we were going to get sick and start hating each other. Not worth it. So we slowed down a bit. Our deadlines are self-imposed, so why suffer.

This isn’t like moving, where we’d throw out some stuff and cram the rest into boxes and move. This time, we’re considering every little thing; will it go with us, go into storage, or go away. Can we sell it? Can’t take very much with us. Space is limited. We’re driving to NC in the Explorer with a 15’ sailboat in tow. The thrift store has hit a jackpot!

We did mail two big boxes to our destination. Is that cheating?

Caved in and bought a paper shredder. Too many papers had bank account or social security numbers. We’ll leave it in Durango with someone who’s in the same fix. Seven years of tax returns and Ace records are also at her house. Guess we’ll be back for annual shred-fests.

Sold the TV days ago, and lost the DSL when the phone was cut off so, in a way, we’re rehearsing life on the boat. No loafing in front of the tube or spending hours on the ‘net. The kitchen is down to just a few essentials, so we don’t spend a lot of time cooking. We use up whatever food’s on hand when we do cook. That’s another boat practice.

And so, the condo becomes emptier by the day. Here’s what we’ve learned about stuff.

1. ‘Tis easier to acquire than to divest.
2. We hold on to things for the damnest reasons
3. It’s good to get all of something in one place. Things like vitamins and gloves end up all over. You buy more because you’ve run out in one place. But there’s probably more in the fridge, the car, or a closet.
4. Cats do not appreciate chaos and disappearing furniture!
5. Life is good.