05 December 2011

Down and Out

Isabel helps me model the latest in foul weather gear.  They're
warm, soft, and don't leave marks on the deck.
We have arrived in Southport, NC a.k.a. ICW mile 309.  It may be the last ICW mile for us and I really hope it is.  Three hundred miles at 7ish miles an hour of early-winter marshy grassland and swamp is about all I need to see in this lifetime.  We're still cold most mornings.  The day before yesterday, it was 29 degrees when we weighed the anchor and of course we were motoring straight into the wind.  On the upside, it's often difficult to get enough exercise on a boat, so shivering for 6 solid hours definitely helps burn off those extra cocktail calories.

Jane contemplating the
voyage ahead
Yesterday, we were in Wrightsville, just this far (hold index finger and thumb about three-quarters of an inch apart) from the Atlantic.  A short dinghy ride and equally short walk away gave us our first glimpse of it.  Seeing the ocean for this first time in this context, we felt a new, though much anticipated sense of accomplishment.

There are still some things we need to do before we can make a final determination.  First of all, we need to verify that we'll get a weather window in the next few days.  As tedious as "driving" 800+ miles to Florida and then hopping over sounds, sitting days and days at anchor waiting for viable weather seems worse.  We've purchased a weather forecast from weather guru Chris Parker who emailed a little while ago to say that Tuesday (the day we were hoping for) doesn't look good, but Thursday could work.

We also have to make sure we've done due diligence with regard to safety.  We need to attach jacklines to the boat and make sure the tethers are in working condition.  Even for Jane who is a strong swimmer, falling overboard in a rough sea would be treacherous and potentially tragic; for me, who can't swim, well...  Our boat comes with an escape hatch in each head which I don't think have ever been opened...until today.  After a lot of WD-40 and elbow grease, I was able to loosen the latches and swing them open, but they're still so stiff that unless we keep a hammer in each head (which would mean buying a second hammer), we wouldn't be able to bang them open quickly enough even if our lives depended on it--which is the only reason we'd open them in the first place.  So that might be a deal breaker right there.  In which case mile marker 310 and beyond it is.    There's the matter of the single side band radio.  We've applied for our ship station's license and restricted radio operator's permit, but haven't been notified yet that we've been assigned a call sign (not even exactly sure, thanks to the FCC's uber user-friendly website, that I've actually applied for the right license.  "Gosh, Mr. Coast Guard, sir, I really thought that WAS the proper license.  I surely wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize my family and piss off your governmentness, sir.  Please consider rescuing us anyway.")  We need to go over the directions for our EPIRB again and pack the contents of our ditch bag into an actual bag.  Speaking of the Coast Guard, we need our documentation so that when we get to The Bahamas, we can prove that we own JOY.  Jane had gotten pet permits a while back but the US postal service lost them for us, so Jane's mom is getting replacements.  She'll have to meet the boat in Treasure Cay while we're clearing or poor Percy, Tucker, and Isabel (not to mention poor Jane and Ean) will have to drift about forever.

Last time we discussed it, we opted for a four-hour on/four-hour off watch schedule with her taking the 8 to midnight shift and me taking midnight to 4.  Deciding who got which shift was easy: I can't stay awake in the evening and she can't get up in the morning.  Perfect.  I'm very much looking forward to night sails (dread fear of failing to pass other ships in the night aside).  Jane did night motoring as a child on Andante (there's really no choice, you can't just anchor in the ocean), but she's never experienced being at sea at night without the sound of diesel engines.  I'll conger up some poetic phraseology and report back.

Meanwhile, yesterday we met a couple from Madison, WI of all places.  At least their hailing port said Madison and we assumed that unlike us, they were ingenuous in their choice.  Serendipitously, I was wearing my Mustard Museum t-shirt.  We hit it off instantly.  More on Deb, Rev, Henry, and Annabelle tomorrow.

One of the most unnerving things about our lives now is the number of so-called black boxes there on on JOY, by which I mean equipment that I don't have a clue about.  They are completely unsympathetic to my plight and break down at will.  However, rather than giving them the attention they're seeking by breaking down, I'm choosing to pay attention to the things that are not and have not broken.  I hope by doing this the broken things will realize that their ploy isn't working and will make a different choice.  So, periodically, I'll list some of these better-behaved items.  These are some of the major pieces of equipment that have not (as far as we know) malfunctioned.

  • The batteries
  • The sails
  • The alternator
  • The regulator (whatever that is)
  • The solar panels
  • The fresh water pump
  • The salt water pump (wherever it is)
  • The heads (thank God)
  • The shower sumps
  • The stove and oven
  • All three of our vhf units
  • The auto pilot
  • The radar
  • The AIS
  • The water heater
  • The dinghy hauler upper and downer
  • And almost most importantly, the depth sounder
Everything else, shame on you.

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