Saturday, 27 April 2013

Buckets...Pensions and Plungers

Well here we are, with less than 50 days to go before I officially retire, before I become a genuine, state registered pensioner but, unlike virtually every other couple entering this twilight zone, our income will rise dramatically...but to the business in hand.

This will probably be our last update from the USA as we get ready to make one last journey from these shores. True, at this stage, we're still planning on heading up the Bay to see Russ and Alison  as they ready themselves for a jaunt up to northern Labrador and beyond for the summer but from Annapolis we're hoping to transit the C&D canal, slip quietly down the Delaware Bay and head on up to the French territory of St Pierre, a small island off the Newfoundland coast, about 1200 miles away. We're still undecided about whether to leave from there or somewhere else or even where we might go to...well, we know we're heading for Iceland but we watch the ice charts for Cap Farvel and note the speed at which the pack-ice has moved from the west coast of Greenland. Not so the east coast however, which remains blocked by 7/10 ice so ensuring that our hoped for trip through the Sund, at this stage, remains in doubt. In some ways we're clutching at straws as history indicates the Sund clearing around July or August which would be far too late for this years "plans" We'll see what mid-May brings.

A rare sight - our dinghy with the bow section separated.

As long term readers will know we have a hard dinghy - we still have it as the various "purchasers" who swore on their mothers grave it was exactly what they'd be looking for and they'd give the full asking price..seem unable to translate the words in their email into actually parting with the cash thus ensuring that both us and Portland Pudgy got the run around as we tried to work out the logistics of selling and taking delivery before we depart. In the end we gave up and, sadly, the Pudgy goes on the back burner for now. But the reason I mention it is more for the fact that something caught my eye somewhere about one of the issues folks feel you're faced with if you use a hard dinghy, namely when they're tied off the stern of the boat they do have a habit of creeping up and T-boning your hull. It has happened to us but years ago we were given a great tip. So here it is. Tie a bucket (preferably one of those wonderful rubber buckets made from old tyres as they sink) off the stern of the dinghy and chuck it over the stern. As long as you're in tidal waters the bucket will be pulled away from the dinghy and the dinghy pulled away from the stern of the boat. Folks you visit will be eternally grateful that your dinghy is not attempting to batter a hole in the stern of their glossy Awlgrip'd hull. The hardest part we have found is to remember the bucket needs bringing aboard before you begin the 1/2 mile row to the dock....

Stashed away in our "diesel" locker we keep a plunger, the common or garden type used for unblocking toilets/drains and what have you.

We use it to periodically clear the cockpit drains from the detritus of everyday living, particularly if we have spent months tied to a dock etc and it ensures any water that comes aboard is easily able to drain. Much more effective than ramming a hose pipe in and hoping to flush everything out. It also works well as a simple washing machine by helping to agitate the water and muck in a bucket.

As the year moves on we're beginning to see the ducks and geese, who populate this creek, proudly showing off their new chicks.


So here we sit on a sunny Saturday with the list growing ever smaller as last minute jobs are knocked off. With luck Cary will soon be free and we'll drive out to the airport to collect 25 litres of aviation fuel to use in our cooker. Bee has conducted her final forays into the wilds of Portsmouth, hunting down the bargains - last week she ended up with 500 grams (1lb) of rice for 2 cents and is greeted like an old friend at numerous supermarkets around the town. To the extent that one staff member came over to warn her that all the reduced items had been moved and could now be found on aisle....

The changes we've made seem to work well. At least tied up they do. We'll let you know.

Portsmouth, Va

Monday, 1 April 2013

..a boat full of crocks..

Not a lot to write about this time around; numerous changes made to Hannah as we prepare for another season. The "Mooyak" has gone to another home after we took the decision to consider a Portland Pudgy as our dinghy of choice. The kayak had its uses but I really disliked the way it reduced the deck width and, more importantly, made reefing slightly more onerous. Now we have our spacious decks back and access to the port side of the boom is restored. Bee was sad to see it go but was instrumental in getting it up for sale. We'll see what happens with our two part dinghy and whether we will make the jump to a PP. Not cheap and only possible because of a long forgotten pension agreement I signed 20 odd years ago and now coming, rapidly into maturity. Ah the benefits of aging! The attraction of the PP is, for us, its versatility and that it can be a bona- fida lifeboat with a chance that you can sort out your own disaster rather embarking in a rubber raft and hoping for rescue. I might do a "rant" about my feelings on this whole "safety" issue one day, life-jackets at all times and the rest of it but it'll wait.

Toots, circa 2003...
Toots: lies stretched out alongside me as I type these lines, beginning to recover from her setbacks of the last 3 or 4 weeks. Beginning with an inability to put weight on her front leg which cleared after 10 days or so to be replaced by a seizure of her hips. Two vet visits disclosed mild arthritis in her hip sockets and we left, considerably poorer and with instructions not to let her jump about too much! She lives on a boat!!

Nevertheless,we rigged up a gangplank which, we have to say she gratefully used as the jetty here is fixed, so Hannah rises and falls with the tide leaving us all either stepping up or down from/to the boat. Now, with her mobility returned she has resorted to her nerve-racking leaps..

Bee would have made an brilliant researcher and can locate stuff on the 'net whereas I lose enthusiasm when confronted with "About 2,350,6790 results in 0.36 seconds" as Google returns my search query. In one of these quests she found numerous positive reports from cat owners about a joint supplement. In a local store (Krogers) she found said supplement being sold off......$20 reduced to $2.09. She bought the lot. Similarly with the 3 tablets we got from the vet at $21 could be found on-line for $1.99 each. The deal is even better in the UK where 30 tablets cost the equivalent of $30. She (Toots) is on the mend now although generally stiff when she first gets up. We don't think the last couple of years have helped her (or us for that matter) as we seem to have been in cold, damp conditions most of the time. I doubt this summer will be much different either.

A riot of colour, a roaring fire and Toots at full stretch.....

 The summer: We still intend to head up to Iceland though we're in two minds about the way we'll do this...Option 1 is to go directly from here to Reykjavik avoiding the fog around Grand Banks and the 'bergs coming down from Labrador.

Helen, emerging from Labrador waters with head wound!
Option 2 is to drop in on Phil and Helen in Maine before heading off for the south coast of Newfoundland and then,possibly, onto the Prins Christian Sund in southern Greenland. Swings and roundabouts to both ideas of course: Option 1 means we probably won't be leaving properly until mid-May, which seems a LONG way off and whilst #2 means we can leave fairly soon with southern Newfie a big attraction, it does mean covering the same ground for a while and bringing ourselves into the fog/berg scenario we'd hoped to avoid. The Prins Christian Sund is a 90 mile cut through which, in a normal year is "ice-free" around July/August and would be far too late for what we want. Looking at the two ice charts here you can see that there has been a considerable reduction in the ice in the last 3 weeks so perhaps we may be lucky. These are pdf files and I have no idea how to embed them in the blog so the links may be a temporary thing.

  March 17                       March 29                        Ice egg explanation

Lastly,if you have, as we do, an attraction for those cold and isolated places have a look at this site. The story of his building the boat is remarkable enough but the photo journals are just wonderful. It helps that he takes great photos of brilliant subjects.