25 May 2013

New Rule

Sayonara, solitaire! I've found the most awesome (that's "pawsome" to you, Bailey) new way to dribble away my life. It's called "Blendoku" It's sudoku but with color. I love color. I mean, I REALLY love color. How much do I love color? I love color so much that when we go to Home Depot style big box stores, if Jane and I get separated, she always knows where to look for me: in front of the paint chip displays. I confess, I've even brought home paint chips with no intention of painting anything. That was before I discovered color decks. Whole flip-out pages of colors! I love color so much that...well, here, this should make it pretty obvious. (I love Photoshop, too.)(Check out "waves" while you're there.)(Speaking of iPads, it won't show up, it's Flash.)

So, Blendoku. I've been staring at colors (even better because they're pixels, not just color, but colored light!) and I'm pretty sure it's had a profoundly therapeutic effect. I'm more tranquillo  than I've been since October 18th, 2011 (a.k.a. the day we moved onto JOY). And with my newfound equanimity has come clarity, and with clarity, a profound insight. Here it is, ready?

I am more than the sum of my (boat) parts.
(I set it off as a blockquote to underscore how profound it is.) For more than 18 months, "a guy with a broken-down boat that he has no idea how to fix" has been my only identity. It has defined me. And it has been an identity that has brought me no pride or joy. But never once--until Blendoku came into my life--did it occur to me to step back from my situation and  remember that living on JOY is what I do, not who I am.

So, there. New Rule: "Don't let it define you." And here's what that means to you. No more awful (Bailey: "pawful") posts about how hapless we are in the face of our incessant equipment failures. Everybody who lives on a boat has 'em. That I'm still as clueless about how to repair anything as I was at the beginning is no one's fault but mine and, in truth, I'm alright with that. Trying to understand manuals is just as unfun as living with broken somethings, so why compound the problem, I say. We cope. It's what we do. And coping, I must say, has just gotten a whole lot easier now that color has come back into my life.


23 May 2013

So Far Was So Close

Damn, we were so close.  The South Pacific is Right There.

Two different cruisers asked us, "Do you have a cat?" Seriously.
Through the Canal, no hay problema.  Two working engines, a clean bottom, and shiny matching propellers had us whizzing around, giddy with speed and maneuverability.  Our generator was humming; the watermaker reliable.  We brought four hundred pounds of kitty litter on board and filled our propane tanks.  Against all odds, we had a new oven shipped to us and installed.  (And it works.  Seriously.  Even the electronic ignition works!  It is less "thermostatically controlled" than advertised, but this is another story.)  For a brief - very brief - moment, we had two working heads.  We sorted out our rigging problem - which had been a "left over" from the Haiti-Colombia passage.  Old Joy still had her problems, but we had managed to get ahead of most of them.  She was in better shape than we had ever known her.

Ean reminisced in a blog post about our very first time underway (just the two of us) - ten miles from Edgewater to Galesville, MD - and we marveled at the parallels between our upcoming 4000 nm passage and that very first afternoon cruise.  I tested the sat phone and the inReach, and we learned how to post to the blog via email.  We bought charts.  Seriously.  We bought paper charts.

Hiva Oa in the Marquesas (French Polynesia)
I wrote a blog post that I cleverly titled, "The Big Blue Water and the Little Yellow Pushpin."  I had updated "The Adventures of s/v more JOY everywhere!" map, putting a virtual "pushpin" on the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas to show where we were headed.  It was a post about falling off the edge of our known world - about going farther in one big leap than we had traveled in the previous 18 months.  My post, sadly, got "disappeared" in the mystical Blogsy-iPad-Blogger triangle.  Hmmm, an omen perhaps?

Ye gods, we even had a weather window.  (That reminds me.  I really need to email Bob the Weather Guesser.)

But.  There was a teensy-weensy problem lurking in the shadows that I was steadfastly refusing to acknowledge as a potential showstopper.  We had this minor, intermittent "issue" with our... auto pilot.  Yes I know.  You can roll your eyes and snort if you want to.  Your auto pilot, Jane?  The totally indispensable piece of equipment that will steer your boat across 4000 nm of vast ocean? Which will allow svJoy's short-handed crew to engage in extraneous activities like sleeping, eating, sail-handling, and other stuff that will keep the space shuttle floating along until its return to earth?

No biggy!  A loose wire!  A silly bad connection!  Easy fix!  EZ-PZ.  In anticipation of a magical solution, I was convinced that we should zip out and buy a gross of fresh eggs.  (Ean was not convinced.)  I was down deep in Denial Doo-Doo.

But at a certain point, you just can't distract yourself enough to completely shut reality out.  Especially since reality is tick-ticking away.  There's a cyclone season in the Pacific, and we don't want to be "in the box" when it arrives in November.  Well, yes, November is still several months off.  But the box is huge.  The Pacific is a fearsome big ocean, and we are on a molasses-in-February slow vessel (February in the northern hemisphere, I should clarify).  The later we leave Panama, the shorter our time will be to visit the islands and "cover" an enormous portion of the planet's circumference.

The p70 control head, which is going to work just fine
with all the other bits and pieces, we're sure.
Tick tick tick. What we have here is a control head failure.  We must replace the control head, which means the control head must be shipped from the US.  Tick tick tick.  That'll take a week or two.  Then we just gotta get it installed, right?  Tick, tick, tick.  Just gotta... plug and play, right?  You know how this modern technology is... right?  It's prob'ly easy as pluggin' in a flash drive, right?  Right?  Tick, tick, tick. Just... finesse a brand-new control head into communicating effectively with a sorta-new chartplotter and a wicked-old auto-pilot compass, course computer, linear drive unit, rudder angle sensor, and wind indicator.  Huh.

Just in case I was at all tempted to extend my visit to the State of Denial, Joy hit us up with a stalling generator and a frozen macerator pump.  And when we went for a little sail to Isla Taboga, ten miles off the coast, we discovered that our roller-furling headsail is neither rolling nor furling, and there is a seam that needs re-sewing.

So, there is a moment at which Denial is no longer possible, but Reality has nothing to offer.  Tick, tick, tick.  At this same moment (mas o menos), Ean points out the obvious: THIS IS NOT FUN.

Back the hell up!  What do you mean, this isn't fun?  We are On The Adventure of a Lifetime!  We Live on a Boat! and We are Sailing Around the World!

How much "fun" we are or should be having is an open question, but for now, I'm just going to admit it straight out: we have NO good reason to push ourselves this hard to launch ourselves into the Pacific this late in the season.  All the pushing has made me crabby, and Ean doesn't like me when I'm crabby.

So we are creating a new plan.  I am sure we've made the right decision, even though I am still mourning the old plan just a bit.  We will wait 'til 2014, to explore all those sunny South Pacific isles that we've been dreaming about.

We have several months to cruise, then, before we jump the puddle....  Wait!  I think I'm getting excited about The New Plan.  What should we do; where should we go?  The world is our oyster!  More accurately, the Pacific coast (of parts of Central and South America) is our oyster.

But Ean reins me in.  BE HERE NOW, he reminds me.  Which, I recall with eye-rolling, is exactly the pearl of wisdom that was imparted to me more than two decades ago by an aging lesbian hippie on an Outward Bound trip through the Joshua Tree desert of California.  

Some lessons just keep coming around.  "Be here now."  Let's see how it goes.

21 May 2013

Anti-Inspirational Poster #004

We did it!  Relentless, unmitigated positivity for 24 hours.  Phew.  (Read about the 24-hour + challenge here.)  Truth be told, we had a lot of fun with it.  Laughed more in the past day than we had over the past week.  It was like a mini-vacation to Optimist Island - and absolutely we are bringing some of that vacation vibe back home to our every-day life on JOY.

But - I've already owned up to this - we actually like our little niche in the blogging/cruising community.  We are the "is it too late to get your deposit back?" counterpoint to the Happy People.

Honestly if I see that Mark Twain quotation one more time - you know the one - 
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain
- I'm going to vomit.

So we found our own Mark Twain quotation.  Without further ado, we present to you the fourth in our series of Anti-Inspirational Posters:

20 May 2013

Stupid stupid stupid everything

Ean and I have been sniping at each other lately.  I know, right?!  Us? The happy couple?  The smiling, laughing pair who put the JOY in More Joy Everywhere!?

Things have been going wrong.  Family tragedies, broken boat, ticking clock, draining bank account.  Disaster.  Delay.  Depression.  Disappointment.  Debby Downer?  Yep, that's me.

So this morning, after a couple of - shall we call them "verbal exchanges"? - I say, "Let's make a deal.  We won't say anything negative about the boat or each other for 24 hours."  Ean says: "DEAL!"

A half-hour later I am sorting through a bag of items we purchased during our last trip to the hardware store. We had MEANT to purchase a deep socket wrench and a socket set, which we need, we think, to fix our generator.  It was the primary purpose of our visit to Novey's.  We found the guy with the spiffy blue Novey polo shirt and the key to the display case, and he fished out the bits we wanted.  We already knew, from our other shopping excursions 'round these parts, that if it comes out of a locked case, you can't just stick it in your cart - it gets walked up to the cashier, and you pick it up and pay for it on the way out.  Off he goes, up to the front, while we nod and wave and then finish our shopping.  Only, by the time we got up to the caja with our other odds and ends, we forgot about the wrench and socket set. (It could be noted that if we would have remembered the tools, we wouldn't have known any words to help us get them from behind the counter, but probably wild exaggerated gestures would have done the trick eventually.)

As I'm emptying the Novey bag this morning, I say, "I can't BELIEVE we forgot the wrench and socket set.  How could we be so STUPID?" And without missing a beat, Ean replies sarcastically, "REALLY?  You can't believe it?  You can't believe that we would be that stupid?!" It dawns on us.  It is 11:52 a.m. We are Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.

I say, "Start over!"

Ten minutes later, Ean is engaging in his new favorite hobby: the door to the starboard head, which is still off its hinges - hinge-less, actually, to be more accurate.  You can read about how we got help to fix the port head door here.  Ean is tackling the starboard door on his own, but I am his trusty, if half-hearted, assistant. (I suggested we just throw the door away and put up a shower curtain.)  He broke off a drill bit in one of the holes for the hinge screws, so he asks me to bring him The Big Screwdriver, which is one of our favorite tools, because it is so multifunctional.  I say, "If it doesn't work on the screws or the broken drill bit, maybe you could just beat the door into submission."  His lightening-quick response: "Or I could just STAB myself."

Image borrowed from the cheery, ever-optimistic Livia
(SV Estrellita 5.10b -pfffftt, what kinda goofy boat name is that?)
Oh dear.  It is now 12:08 p.m. and we are resetting the clock again.

Sometimes CRUISING SUCKS.  People will tell you it doesn't.  But.  Really.  It.  Does.  And now it is 12:31 p.m., and NO, dear reader, I am NOT going to reset the clock.  I didn't say it out loud - doesn't count.

Tune in tomorrow (or maybe the next day?) to see if we manage to get through 24 hours of relentless POSITIVITY.

PS.  I just realized that I wrote this post on one of our many technological devices from which we cannot access the internet while on board.  And this particular device (an iPad) doesn't have a USB port, so I can't transfer the file anywhere unless I go ashore and find a wifi connection.  So. HOW COOL IS THAT?  An excuse to get lunch at Mi Ranchito, which is super close to the dock, and they're really friendly, they have free wifi, and good food - the most awesome papaya-melón smoothie - mmm hmmm....  Life is good.  (phew.  I turned that right around, didn't I?)  

PPS. And now it's 3:15 p.m., and we had a VERY nice lunch, and the Batido de Papaya y Melón  was AWESOME.  We have now been positive for 3 hours and 7 minutes - and counting!!!

Oh, JOY!

06 May 2013

getting ready for the big blue

This is a test post.  When we get underway, we will post to the blog via email using our sat phone - Insha'Allah.  We will also send quick updates to our facebook page through the inReach.  Ahh, I love technology (except when I hate it).


04 May 2013

There's an App for That

Yes, we're still here in Panama City but our To Do list gets smaller every day, despite the fact that we keep getting things done that aren't even on it (and then have to add them just so we can cross them out). It's hard to believe we're about to make our way across some 4,000 nautical miles of water, more distance in one enormous puddle jump than we have done altogether so far. Hard to believe also, that a little over eighteen months ago, we girded our loins to make our very first passage.

By most cruisers' standards (including our own, now) it wasn't much of a passage, just out of the
South River at Edgewater, Maryland, into, very briefly, the Chesapeake, and then back into the West River to Galesville. Ten miles in total; none sailed, just motored. Had it not been for the late October bite in the air, a harbinger of much colder things to come, who knows how long it might have been before we cast off the docklines that first time.

Or, more truthfully, the first time without "adult supervision." About a week after moving aboard, our broker, Tommy, taking pity on us, took us out for an afternoon sail to run us through the basics. But still... What if we... or... or... The one thought that kept impressing itself upon us was how improbable it seemed to successfully move a boat from one point to an intended other knowing as little about how to do it as we did. But every morning was chillier than the one before.