Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A tale of cranes, cronies and pink bunnies

I’m elbow deep in a muddle of cables, wedged sideways, half under our saloon table, obeying the gruff instructions barked from outside at the base of the mast.
“Pull red!” “Now blue” “Pull the thin grey one. Not THAT thin grey one!” etc. It’s re-wiring 101 onboard today.

The men in hard hats and the massive crane came bright and early this morning and our mast has just been re-erected. Shiloh is almost a sailboat again!

A few weeks ago the reverse procedure happened. 

It’s late October and we’re still awaiting the delayed delivery of an inverter from Europe – of course we couldn’t source one here – that would be too easy! It’s late October – just letting that sink in, just a week over two months since Shiloh was hauled out for lightning repairs.
“We’ll only be here a few days” we told the yard manager, infinitely naïve and hopeful.
“Just put us near the lift. No need to take Shiloh to a back corner as we’ll be here such a short time.”
And so they did. We’ve had a front row vantage point watching all the other boats wheeled by and launched, day in, day out.
Until the morning came, about a week ago, when the familiar noise of the lift came a bit too close and our hazy morning minds perked up immediately. I jumped out of bed only to find the lift coming directly for us!
“It’s too soon! What are they doing?!” Convinced they’d lost the plot and come for the wrong boat. Before I knew it, our trusty mast that lay beside us was gone. Whisked away by three men with a wheelie contraption. The slings of the huge travel-lift looming ever nearer. 

Turns out the boat behind us needed moving and we were in the way. Our ‘short term stay’ had run out, and without warning the yard master decided it was time to send us for detention, to a dank corner, far far from electricity, water supply, washrooms, showers, relative civilization. And that is where we will stay until our inverter arrives, all the re-wiring is complete, and testing of batteries and new equipment is completed. Only then will we be allowed back into the water where we belong. This might be in a few days. It might be in a few weeks. JW told me to pick out a Christmas tree here…
But there is another side to all this trauma and chaos. The side where I lean on my Walmart cart and barrel forward, dodging Walmartians who scowl. I, on the other hand am almost giddy. Halloween is coming up and I’ve been focusing all efforts on getting JW to agree, and then put the components together for his debut as a pink bunny. I’ve been riding the free Cruiser Shuttle to Walmart every week for weeks and I spotted the full length adult front zip one-zies ages ago. Apart from the usual super heros, there were Minions and Cookie Monsters, but none compared to the pink bunny. It called out to me and I knew it had to be. Today I bought it while JW managed the mast back in the yard. I also bought a pink fluffy shower sponge – perfect tail. And little ribbons to tie to his flip flops. I can hardly wait. Once I stop laughing I know I’m gonna love him in this costume. I got a $10 space girl costume and a pink gun, so I am going to town as a ‘bunny-chasing-galactic-space-goddess’. That works right?
We’ve had our share of fun. No, really. We made it a Greek Fest, an underwhelming Oktoberfest, movies, yacht clubs, cruiser events, rooftop concerts at a winery and a free distillery tour - to name a few. And the circle of cronies in our quest to make the best of our time here grows wider each week. We’ve made new land lubber and cruising friends, met up with cruiser friends we knew years ago in Grenada and Trinidad, and friends of friends of friends who all know how to party. We know the deal of the day in this town – pick a day – I’ll tell you where the happy hour is the best.
At the awesome Corazon Theater - drinks and a movie!

At Ann O'Malleys

Never grow up - it's a trap!

The rugby armada

Old friends from Sea Schell - saw them last in Grenada 2013!

The GANG at White Lion

One day soon that lift is gonna come back for us. It’s gonna take us right over to the launch and Shiloh’s bottom is gonna be wet. We will be excited and nervous and thankful on that day.
But in the meantime we are going to walk the half mile to the dirty boatyard toilets with smiles or at least without too much grumbling. We’ve learned as we so often do, it’s the people you surround yourself with, and the perspective you have that make a can change the experiences you have.
The difference between adventure and ordeal is attitude. And a pink bunny suit doesn’t hurt.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life on the hard - boatyard blues

I share my evening showers with a huge gangly cellar spider (commonly known as the daddy-long-legs), and an adorable frog, smaller than my fingernail. I’ve only seen them face to face once, and the frog bolted. 

Mother nature is interesting and complicated. So is a boatyard shower stall where germs are multiplying in the sweaty humidity and heaving toward you from every direction. You tip-toe within the 2x2ft stall in flip flops and try in vain to touch nothing, while finding a place to set down your bag, towel, soap, dirty clothes, new clothes. And you hope to come out of there cleaner.
Amidst this awkward ballet, I mustn’t step on the frog who hops around with a dilemma of his own, trying desperately to escape drowning in shampoo suds. The spider in her nest just waits. Patiently. Each night she is there in the same place on the wall in her complex webbing. I hope she’s been eating the mosquitos, who could use a culling!
This is my life. I’ve forgotten what it is to be out on the water, let alone sailing. A boat yard will suck that vibrancy, that zest for freedom right out of you. Temporarily that is.
We move between ‘the room’ as we affectionately call the captain’s lounge, and up the rickety ladder to the boat, and to the public toilets, and on special days, we walk into town.
The weeks are bleeding into one another in a gravel paved existence as we wait in the syrupy slow world of insurance claim procedures and contractors delays. We. Are. Still. Here.
This is ‘post-lightning strike drama (PLSD)’ and we are suffering through it.

But there is another side of life here. The chicken wing and cocktail specials, free distillery tours, live bands EVERYWHERE, quaint neighborhoods with haunted houses to walk through and devise creepy back stories and scenarios, parties at local land lubber friends’ houses, meet ups with cruiser friends staying in nearby towns, even the free cruiser shuttle to Walmart and other choice destinations!

We make the best of this place. You have to. This is home for now. It’s another wild adventure, just a bit different from swimming with stingrays and watching for squalls out on anchor.
Now we dodge raccoons in the boatyard garbage bins by night and watch TV for hurricane updates. We couch surf with the investment sharks on Shark Tank. It’s how we get through the days of frustrating e-mails with insurance brokers who misunderstand on purpose, and contractors who raise our hopes and then disappear for weeks.
Tomorrow we’ll be off to the local yacht club for their Friday night soiree and Saturday we’ll be watching the World Cup rugby on the TV here, courtesy of JW’s streaming genius. It’s not that bad being on land.
It's just a punch we're rolling with, spiders, frogs and all.