Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Layla gets all of the presents. Her wheel and companion way doors are varnished and the prop has been cleaned.  She got a lot more stuff this year.

We need to catch up with all of you.  To answer the recurring questions, “Where are you?” and “What are you doing?”  We are still here in North Carolina.  Boat projects and house projects have filled our days.  We don’t have time for a real job.  There is so much to do.  Some days a “real” job might be easier.  At least it would pay better, and maybe offer better working conditions. 

From putting on a new roof, repairing drywall and ceiling leaks from the old roof, replacing a broken window, jacking up and repairing the front porch posts and flooring, replacing siding, painting porches, to various other projects, we have worked hard to get this 156 year old house in shape before our departure.  Have we told we have the oldest house in town (still standing)?

Corky and his crew unload our new roof.

Removal of rotten porch floor boards and posts to be repaired.

We updated Layla’s maintenance and repair log to review our work since she became ours.  The list is over seven typed pages with over 200 items either replaced with new, or repaired, painted, and cleaned (sometimes multiple times).  The common lament among boat people is that fixing stuff is not so bad.  It is the fixing of things two or more times that is infuriating.
We know the truism that there is always something else to fix.  You are never done.  Believe me we understand that.  Far too often we will tackle a simple task and have it explode into five or six more.  There are far too few simple tasks.  We have found this endeavor can be more of a marathon than a sprint and, despite our best efforts, waiting on parts, ordering wrong parts, sending things back, rainy days, and cold days all conspire to thwart schedules and plans.  We reluctantly learned the need for patience and have accepted that all things related to a boat have their own schedule beyond our control.  Control is elusive.  

One example of the tests to our patience, on a quick check on the top of the mast last week we saw part of our navigation light had ripped off, apparently during the hurricane last summer or another storm since we have been back.  We ordered and received a replacement part and hiked back up the mast to find that the part didn’t fit because we have a different brand.  There is no replacement part for our brand of light. We would have to order a new navigation light, which was in limited supply, would take 3 weeks for delivery, and was the most expensive of all brands.  We decided to order a different navigation light which should arrive Christmas eve.  Then we have our least favorite job, hanging 60 feet off the ground juggling tools, nuts and bolts, and making electrical connections to install it.  We have replaced this navigation light once before.  We let it go and stress is reduced – we have at least that control.  At the end of the day, we tally the achievements, the tasks completed, and those that are getting close to being done.  We celebrate all of our accomplishments.

Even the tools to fix things need fixing. Here we modified the sewing machine after it broke going through several layers of canvas.  Canvas is one of our success stories.  We made canvas covers for the propane chest, the line chests, the butterfly hatch, the helm seat, the cockpit table, the wheel, the autopilot control unit, and the grill.  

We are close to the “splash” – putting Layla in the water.  The boat yard can schedule Layla after the holidays.  One of the last tasks to be completed before going back in the water is done.  Her bottom has been sanded, primed, and painted with three coats of antifouling paint.  

Bud sanded Layla’s bottom after patching some blisters on the hull.

Layla in her ‘silver slippers’ with her brand new coat of primer.  The folks in the yard loved her look.  No one wanted to see her painted over with black bottom paint. 

Bottom paint demands a lot of stirring if it has sat around for a while.

This last coat of bottom paint around the prop area means we are ready to go.

We have removed a lot of stuff from the boat as we needed space for working on projects.  Most of the stuff is in the “staging area” (the second bedroom in the house), but spills into nearly every room of the house and the outside shed.  All of this is sorted (mostly), cleaned, and ready to be placed back on Layla.  We have arranged a temporary slip on the Beaufort waterfront.  We will check out the new autopilot, the water generator, engine, and refrigerator/freezer in the water.  The slip at the dock will give us a convenient means to reload and provision the boat.

There you have it.  We know many of you are as eager as we are to see us on the water and heading south.  We understand the adage that sailing/voyaging can be more about intentions than schedules.  We intend to be in the water within the next couple of weeks.  And after a shake-down for testing all the new equipment, we intend to combine passages both offshore and the Intracoastal Waterway for points south.  Depending upon the weather, we intend to jump off from Florida to the Bahamas.  We will keep you posted.

May you all have a wonderful Christmas and bright New Year!  Don’t forget to get those passports if you want to visit!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Atlantic Time

Our first sign that we were in a foreign country......

After settling in for the evening at a campsite we would attempt to review the day and take notes to aid in maintaining a journal of the travel. We would often use a digital recorder to assist in this task. On this day, we captured one of our intellectual conversations about the challenges of travel - entering a new time zone, the Atlantic Time Zone, which includes the Maritime Provinces. Here, early on our travel into New Brunswick, Tracy is trying to reconcile the time on her Casio watch with the local time. As recovering academics, we often had such conversations as we tried to explain the various natural and unnatural phenomena we observed, such as the surprises of the diverse geology, or the mystery of poutine as a popular menu item. We had a lot of fun solving the riddles of the universe.  There should be a slide show video with audio below.  We hope it works for all of you.  If not, please send us an email or comment.

If you don't see a video above, try accessing the video through the following link:

To clarify the confusion on time zones, Atlantic Time, which includes New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, are 1 hour ahead of Eastern Daylight time (New York time). However, if you are in Labrador or Newfoundland (the other Maritime Provinces we did not visit), you are in Newfoundland Daylight time, which is, oddly enough, 1 ½ hours ahead of Eastern Daylight time, or ½ hour ahead of Atlantic Daylight time. But there appear to be some exceptions to this depending upon where you are in Labrador, in which case you may be back on Atlantic Daylight time. We hope that ends the confusion.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Driving Miss Tracy

Just driving Miss Tracy

Excursions like this along North Cape, Prince Edward Island were central to our travel plan.

We began our road trip to the Canadian Maritime Provinces on July 18 with no more of a specific plan other than to simply travel north, to stop when we wanted, and to continue as long as it interested us.  This was an open plan, and as much as possible, we were going to stick with it.  We realized there were many similarities with traveling in the old pickup and cruising on Layla.  Among the similarities, we adopted the roles that had served us well on the sailboat.  Tracy was the navigator, directing the voyage, and I was at the helm, driving Miss Tracy.  We embraced a typical daily routine of discussing where to go during our morning meeting - sitting in camp with a cup of coffee.  Tracy reviewed and presented options for routes that might include “must see” attractions, interesting side roads, places to avoid, and where we might stop for the evening.  In our previous work-a-day lives, morning meetings were never this much fun.

Site of our morning conference in Parker's Cove along the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia.With no schedule and views like this, we always had the option to stay another day.

As we eased into wandering the highways and the country roads without a schedule, the stresses that often accompany travel began to disappear. Each day offered something new, something unexpected and we were eager to see what was next. We discovered the adventure that is often missing in modern rapid-paced travel obsessed with strict itineraries and rushed stops at the obligatory roadside attractions.  

Some roads were real highways...

..Some roads were mosaics of patches...

...And some roads were simply breath-taking.

We are reviewing where we went and what we saw, and we expect to discuss selected adventures in coming posts.  The odometer on the old pickup hasn’t worked for several years so we can’t give a precise accounting of how many miles we actually traveled.  As a quick review, we began in Morehead City, North Carolina traveled through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. In Canada we visited New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.  Our return loop back to North Carolina included travel through the Shenandoah Valley, adding Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  From a quick tally using Google maps, we calculate our round trip probably covered over 5,000 miles.  But, of course, the mileage only tells part of the story.  

Our journey of 39 days to and from the Maritime Provinces.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On The Road – Canadian Maritimes

Our campsite (The Look Off) at the Englishtown Ridge Campground in Nova Scotia.

For those of you who had thought we had simply disappeared in the doldroms of life ashore, bogged down with the routine of running to hardware stores and making and checking lists of "to dos" or being now occupied with the latest drama of some new celebrity, rest assured we are alive and well and still in full control of our senses.

We departed from the heat and humidity of mid-summer in North Carolina for the cool of traveling and camping throughout the Canadian Maritime Providences - New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia - Just the sound of their names cooled us.  We are traveling not by our boat Layla, but by vehicle, our 20 year old Ford pickup.  Our plan is to trace a route along the Atlantic coast where the Native Americans, the early European settlers, fisherman, and farmers met the challenges of life in this region.  The Maritime Provinces have a history of hardship, despair, disaster, and triumph.  We were eager to learn more about the region - the struggles of the indigenous people with the invading foreigners, and the feuds among the French, English, Irish, Scots and other immigrants themselves.  This was also a pilgrimage for us to the home of Joshua Slocum, the first sailor to circumnavigate solo.  And this was an opportunity to reconnect with nature and find solitude.  While we doubted we would travel this way by boat any time soon, we thought we would escape the dog days of summer and the countless old house and boat tasks for a while.  We had earned a break. 

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia.  One of the many picturesque fishing villages along the southern coast.

The Maritime Provinces are lobster territory.  These lobster traps on Prince Edward Island are waiting for the next season.   

We are currently in Englishtown, Nova Scotia, on our way to the “Highlands” of the Cabot Trail.  We will update more in future posts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rodeo Days: La Fiesta de los Vaqueros

The beginning of the 89th Annual Tucson Rodeo Parade.

One of the benefits for a kid growing up in Tucson is that you get to miss school for the celebration of the cowboys (La Fiesta de los Vaqueros) in February. While we had not planned it, we were thrilled that that our visit coincided with this celebration of one of the oldest rodeos (89th annual Tucson Rodeo) in the country. As a kid, I looked forward to the excitement when the entire city celebrated the cowboy.  At least in those innocent years in elementary school, and less so later on, the boys eagerly wore western shirts, bolo ties and cowboy boots, and the girls wore their square dance dresses to school during that special week. Thursday and Friday were holidays to allow everyone to watch or participate in the rodeo parade, and possibly go to the rodeo through the weekend. At some point in nearly everyone’s school years, you were in the parade, either riding one of the horse-drawn floats or marching in a band or as part of some organization. You took pride in being part of the great event. Many years had passed since I had last seen either the parade or rodeo, but Tracy had never experienced the spectacle of rodeo days. Of course we had to go BOTH the parade and the rodeo.    

Both young cowboys.....

..... and old cowboys look forward to the big parade.

We did not get a huge enthusiastic response from family when we said we actually wanted to go to the parade and the rodeo. They had seen it all before, many times before, and the novelty had long worn off. The exception was my dad as he agreed to join us for the parade, only the parade.

I saw the parade through the eyes of a ten year old boy and it had changed. Many things had changed over the years. The parade no longer lumbered through the center of old downtown Tucson, through the corridors of the few tall buildings I had imagined comparable to the grandeur of the Macy’s Parade in New York. It had been a grand scene. Back then, we would stand or sit on the curb as the colorful floats adorned with the beautiful queens and waving princesses would pass. We were close, very close, and we could almost touch them. The vaqueros, the enchanting senoritas, the cowboys, and the cowgirls, all astride magnificent, powerful beasts, were there. We could see them, we could smell them, and it was real. It was all very exciting and there was nothing else like it. 

There is never a shortage of cowboy hats for sale at the parade.

Today the parade seems tightly controlled, predictable, distant and safe. The thrill had been diminished. It was like a wild river that had been tamed. But even tamed, the Tucson parade, as one of the few exclusively horse-drawn parades in the country, remains an exceptional and exciting event that should not be missed.

Our tickets to the 89th Annual Tucson Rodeo.

 On the weekend, we headed to the rodeo to give Tracy the full cowboy experience. We had pretty good seats in the central arena, and with our SLR camera, we had a close-up telephoto view of the events.  We could see the expressions of fearless cowboys as they clung to a bucking horse or bull. We could see the dust fly when a 300 pound calf was roped and brought down, and could see the bulging muscles of horses rounding the barrels in the timed race.  We felt like we had even better than front row seats, right in the middle of the arena.  Take a look.....

Flying across the arena on a bucking horse.

Tandem calf wranglers.

Rounding the last barrel in the women’s barrel race.

Clowns ready and cowboy deep in concentration on a bucking bull.

Who ever said that bulls can’t fly?

With the help of a clown, escaping being trampled after dismounting from his bull.

Clowns dueling with a bull at the end of the competition.