Friday, May 31, 2013

Memorial Day Part 3


Our friends were able to get out of their marina and we had our first raft up of the season (and for this boat). It was still a little hairy getting into Fairlee Creek. Even boats inside the channel found bottom:
This sailboat got beached inside the channel which was abnormally shallow.

This boat was nice enough to try to tow the boat out of its predicament.

Of course, there was a crowd on shore watching the whole thing. We were part of the group watching from Jellyfish Joel's.
These helpers tried tying a line to the top of the mast to rock the sailboat out.

He did finally come lose. He then chose to turn around and leave Fairlee Creek.
Luckily we all had a safe trip and a fantastic time. Our helm became quite the gathering spot, especially for the pot luck dinner Sunday night - I was too interested in eating to get a picture - sorry. Just trust me, there were shrimp and beef kebobs, quinoa and black bean salad, and a green salad - and tons of food! Pot lucks are a great idea when you are rafting up with a group. Everyone only needs to find space for a small amount of ingredients. It brings everyone together. And everyone leaves stuffed.

We witnessed an amazing moon Sunday evening:
It was time to raise the anchors on Monday. We were the last boat to move and we knew our stern anchor was in tight from Saturday's wind. Doug attached a bunch of lines to the stern anchor line so we could pull the bow line before using the weight of the boat to pull the stern line. The bow line came up with no issue - the stern line was a whole other issue. We had a similar situation in the aftermath of the derecho last year. While I don't have pictures this time, you can get an idea of how we got the stern anchor up here. It took about 20 minutes and we think we may have been hooked on a tree stump but at last we were free. Many thanks to James, Sandra, Jerry, and Dawn who were also the last boats to leave and stuck around to make sure we were successful in our anchor retrieval.

After that it was an uneventful ride home and return to dock.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day Part 2 - the near collision


You thought all of Saturday was included in the last post? Oh no, there's more...

The wind subsided a bit as late afternoon approached. We were ready to simply enjoy the evening when we almost collided with a sailboat. Correction - he almost collided with us. I'm sorry to say that there are no pictures of this debacle, mainly because I was in full boat protection mode. Doug had gone down below for a bit and I was just minding my own business while relaxing with a book at the helm. I looked up at the end of a chapter to see a sailboat on course to hit us dead on or at least side swipe us on the starboard side. I like to have faith in other boaters so I simply watched for a few seconds thinking he must know what he is doing...until he looked up and was clearly surprised to see a large boat in front of him.

Quick aside -- if you notice you might hit another boat, what would your first instinct be? If you said, turn on a course away from the other boat -- ding ding ding -- you are correct!

This captain would not have won our game show folks. He turned directly in front of us then proceeded to run up to his bow and drop his anchor -- while still in front of us and very close to our bow. Again, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the wind was coming from the front and I knew that was the wrong place to drop anchor.

Me: "Um, you do realize you are right over our anchor, right?"

Sailboat Man: "No I'm not, your anchor is over there." (points off in random distance somewhere) "Besides there isn't enough water in here to move a boat anyway."

Yes, Fairlee Creek was shallow that day. Yes, a sailboat has a keel and requires more water. But, this was a 30-foot sailboat dropping anchor 20 feet in front of my boat with the current going in my direction. At that point, I sprang into action having lost all faith in this particular boater.

"Doug, we have trouble," I yelled into the cabin as I ran to the stern looking for a boat pole to fend the sailboat off.

I got back to the bow just in time to see our all-chain anchor line save the day. He did swing towards us but the anchor line acted like a strong fence.

"Now I'm over your anchor," said Sailboat Man as he ran back up onto his bow, pulled up his boat, and motored past us. "Forgive me, I've been sailing alone since 6am."

Ok, I get it, you're tired (or high?), but that doesn't give you the right to be stupid. Just like driving a car, pull over and park when you get too tired. There are many, many, many good anchorage spots along the Chesapeake Bay. If he had been out since 6am, he had passed many good places for a nap.

The rest of Saturday was spent visiting our friends at the dock and making new friends. It turned into the fun, relaxing evening it should have been all along.

I promise you'll see Sunday in the next post...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our First Raft-Up on Luv'n Life IV

Somebody call National Lampoon; I have a new movie for them and it's called Memorial Day. Only Clark Griswold could have seen/heard so many crazy things in one weekend. (Thanks to Elisa's Ring for the movie reference that has stuck in my head since we met up on Saturday.)

I'm going to switch things up a bit this week and write at least three posts about this weekend because there is so much to say.

Let's start with Saturday...

We had hoped to set out on Friday evening but the weather did not cooperate. Wind gusts of 35 mph and 3-4 foot waves would have made for a very choppy ride. Saturday's forecast wasn't much better but we knew we could leave super early and take our time getting to Fairlee Creek. The moon was still up and the sun was just rising when we left the dock:
One of the wonderful things about a motoryacht is that the ride is smooth enough to eat breakfast while we are underway.
Yes, that is Cocoa Krispies but the organic, skim milk makes it healthy. Anyone who has been on a cabin cruiser like our previous boats knows that we would be wearing more cereal than we ate if we tried eating while in motion.

After breakfast, Doug and his co-captain settled in for the trip:

Latte vegged-out in that seat for the whole ride. Unfortunately, Tigger got a little seasick and threw up twice on the ride over. At 13-years-old, this boat life may require a bit more of a learning curve for him. Don't worry too much about him though, it wasn't long before he was content on my lap:
We purposefully planned our trip so that we would arrive at Fairlee Creek as close to a slack tide as possible. For my non-boating readers, there is a short window when the water isn't going in or out, therefore there is very little current. Our Carver is big and heavy but the current at Fairlee's entrance can be downright unreasonable. Doug maneuvered her through the cut like a pro and we both let out a sigh of relief.

We quickly learned just how much havoc the weather was going to cause for our fellow boaters. In 2011, we had the misfortune of having a friend's boat get beached in Fairlee Creek. Unfortunately for the boat in this picture, it was already high tide. The wind was so strong that it was pushing the water away from the beach. He wasn't floating again until sometime Sunday.
We also had our radio on as we waited for the arrival of two other boats in our group. A Coast Guard announcement came across with a report of a 32-foot Carver on fire with two people in the water on the North East River. They were asking people to keep an eye out for the boat, contact the Coast Guard with any information, and to assist if possible. There was nothing we could do but listen and hope. But then the radio waves blew up with boats talking back and forth to each other. A group had heard the announcement and feared the boat in distress belonged to their friends. They had tried contacting the boat without success and none of them had a visual on the boat. We listened as they all tried to reassure each other. I could tell they all desperately wanted to help but they couldn't figure out a way without putting themselves in danger. A very tense few minutes went by before one of them got a text saying that the boat in question did belong to their friends but that both people had been rescued.

Both of the boats we were expecting were unable to get to Fairlee on Saturday. Correction - both of the boats we were expecting we unable to get out of their home marina on Saturday. It's very difficult to leave your slip with little to no water under the boat. One unexpected friend showed up but they took a slip in Great Oaks Marina rather than trusting their anchor in the gusty winds.

As of 5pm, there were 32 boats anchored in Fairlee Creek:
Let me repeat the above statement -- there were 32 boats anchored in Fairlee Creek on the Saturday of Memorial Day. This weekend is the unofficial start of boating season on the Chesapeake Bay. There should have been hundreds of boats in the basin with no way for me to get an accurate count. Our anchors were secure and the winds started to die down as the evening started and we prepared to settle in for a quiet night under the stars...

Friday, May 24, 2013

She's a Real Namechanger - Part 2

Luv'n Life IV is official!

As promised, here are pictures of our boat getting her new name. In the past, we've used a company to put the name on our boat. This was our first attempt at doing it ourselves. The whole process was a bit stressful - would it be crooked? would the letters go on okay? The name can be the first thing someone notices on a boat - I have a whole slide show on this blog devoted to cool names that I've seen. We had to do this right.

First, work with a blank canvas:
Second, check how it's going to look according to the measurements. The letters are essentially a bunch of stickers so it's best to check as much as possible before removing the backing:
Third, spray everything with Rapid Tac. This makes it possible to move the name around a bit before it sets. Remember using rubber cement when you were younger? It acts a lot like that. After looking at it from all angles:
Use the scraper to remove all bubbles from under the letters:
While waiting for the name to set, apply the port of call letters:
Wait 20-30 minutes and carefully remove the backing:

Monday, May 20, 2013

She's a Real Namechanger

Boaters are very superstitious. There are certain words you should never say on a boat - "sink" is a good example. It's bad luck to have bananas on a boat - I may be superstitious but I can't follow this one, I like bananas too much. Perhaps the most well known belief is that it is bad luck to change the name of a boat.

So, what is a boater to do when they purchase a used boat and don't like the name or have a name that they wish to continue from boat to boat? Simple, complete the name changing ritual. Here are the quick easy steps to follow -- Wait! Sorry, it's not that simple. There are a million different "correct" rituals to follow. Instead, do your research, talk to friends, and choose the pieces that make the most sense to you.

The name changing ceremony according to Julie:

1. Take the boat out of the slip and anchor somewhere away from your marina.
2. Use a hair dryer to heat the old lettering and a scraper to carefully remove the old name.
3. Watch numerous police boats go by laughing at you as you slave away at this process. Why so many police boats? The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race was happening the same day and they were patrolling the area around the water portion of the race. (I didn't actually see anyone laughing at us but it sure felt that way.)
4. Take a moment to celebrate the completion of an arduous task.
5. Write the old name of the boat on a piece of paper and fold the paper into an origami boat.
6. Grab a bottle of wine and pour three glasses. I used a bottle that I had won at a wine night at Sorso's Café. Sorso's is at our new marina- and it's a fabulous place - check it out. Some people use champagne, I chose to use a bottle with a connection to our home marina.
7. Put the origami boat in the water and set it on fire.
8. Make a toast to Neptune, God of the Sea, asking him to take the old name back and please bless the boat with the new name.
9. Give an offering of an entire glass of wine to Neptune.
10. Each of you then gets to enjoy the wine in the other two glasses.
11. Make sure there are no pictures of the old name (which is why there are very few pictures in this post) and never speak the name again.
12. Return to port as a new boat.

The main blog photo has been updated with a picture of the boat with her new name. I'll post the details of that process within a couple days -- this time there are lots of pictures.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Forget Horsepower...Our Boat is Catpowered

So, Tigger found his way into the engine compartment early this morning. Maybe he has a need for speed and was looking for ways to make the boat move faster? The good news -- he was on the boat and not in the water again. The bad news -- the engine compartment is not kitty friendly. Here are pictures of the oh-so-exciting engine room:
Looking towards the bow.
Looking towards the stern.
People-sized animals access the room through an access door in the floor in the salon:

Cat-sized animals apparently access the room through a small panel on the stairs to our master stateroom:

Sometime during the night, this panel grabbed Tigger's attention and he managed to get it open. As I write this post, Doug is installing a new latch on the panel so Tigger (hopefully) can't open it again. When we were in our rowhouse Tigger loved to climb under the house through the crawl space accessed through the furnace closet. We never allowed him in that closet, he just sneaked in whenever the opportunity arose. His engine room exploration is really no surprise but we certainly don't want him in there. I've heard stories of raccoons or other critters gnawing through electrical wires in attics; we don't want to be the story of the cat who scratched holes in fuel lines.

Who knew that my furry little boy could enter the terrible twos at 13-years-old?

For those of you who are really excited by our boat life, the next adventure will be fixing the leaky clothes washer/dryer. Also watch for a post about dock gardens and new boat names.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Do Cats and Boats Mix?

It's taken me a week to write this post. 1) Because I'm still freaked out about what happened. 2) Because I'm still trying to convince myself that I'm not a bad cat parent.

One week ago, Tigger fell in the water at the dock. We don't know exactly what happened because we didn't see it, but we think he sneaked through an area that wasn't zipped all the way and ended up on the swim platform. From there, he probably just stepped right off into the water. Seems crazy, I know, but really why would he have any concept of the fact that he would be surrounded by water? He's lived on land his entire life. I did research the day after it happened and this is not uncommon.

(People have asked us if we ever brought the cats on the boat with us before buying this boat. While that seems like a fun idea - just think about the preparation needed for that. It's not like bringing a dog on a boat. Not only do you need food for the cat but also a litter box which is a whole other story.)

Let me back up and say that we thought we had done everything possible to prevent the cats from falling in. There was one area of the boat that was a problem and gave the cats access to trouble:
This is our "front door."
We proceeded to create a pretty good barrier to the opening (it is held down with strong Velcro):
Like I said, I think we left one of the zippers up just enough for him to climb through. We do regular, short interval cat checks whenever they are outside of the cabin. We went looking for Tigger and couldn't find him anywhere. Doug stepped onto the dock, called his name, and heard Tigger cry. My heart stopped once I realized that my poor baby was in the water.

We found him under the dock. Doug saw his face briefly but I only saw his paw reach around the floating dock supports. We couldn't get to him until we unscrewed three dock boards. His head was dry but the rest of him was soaked. Any of you who know Baltimore Harbor water will understand when I say that I immediately brought him into a shower. Doug then showered him again using shampoo.

This also happened to a previous boat neighbor of ours. They found their cat two days later on a board underneath the floating dock. I'm still cursing myself for the fact that it happened but I'm grateful that we found him so quickly. I could never have slept knowing that my baby was out there somewhere.

He's been fine all week and (hopefully) he has learned his lesson. I'm thinking about putting both cats in life jackets and dumping their paws in the water on a nice day so that they both learn quickly. I know this was inevitable but I really didn't think it would happen within a week of moving in. Tigger has lost one of his nine lives thanks to his curiosity.

In other cat news, we took them out for their first cruise this weekend. This time they both wore their life jackets. The sound of the blower freaked them out a bit. (For non-boating readers, the blower moves air through the engine compartment so fumes from the fuel are quickly dissipated.) The sound of the engines freaked them out even more. I sat with them in the cabin while Doug started everything and tried my best to calm them. They stuck close by me and I kept petting them to reassure them.

I had to leave them in the cabin to help get the boat out of the slip. Once safely away from the dock, they were allowed to explore. Their curiosity was a blessing this time as they both joined us at the helm for the ride.

We only took a short ride to the Key Bridge and anchored for about an hour. All in all, a good trip. I'm confident they will be okay for our Memorial Day trip. One small problem, Latte, the little stinker, managed to wiggle out of her life jacket twice. Cat life jackets are a little difficult because they are sized correctly when they seem to be too tight. But, if you've ever seen a wet cat you know how much body mass they "lose" when wet and it all makes sense.

They have since both recovered from the trip and are fully enjoying their life in the sun:
We do keep them in the cabin (with lots of awesome, closed windows) when we aren't around so there is no worry about either of them falling in when we aren't there.

Any tips on keeping them from traveling to other boats when we are rafted up (other than keeping them fully enclosed)?