All posts by Barry

Barry, Grandma, Meps

Long-Lived Loraine

Grandma at 100
Grandma at 100

Barry’s grandmother, Loraine Gaspeny, passed away this week in Saginaw, Michigan. She has been a huge influence in our lives, and she was well-known to our friends, readers, and Margaret’s family. We’ve written a joint blog post to share a few memories and stories.
Barry: My grandmother, Loraine, lived 101 years on this planet. With so much life, I don’t know where to start remembering her. She lived over half her life before I was even born.

She lived independently, all the way through her last day in her apartment. If you asked me how I would want to spend my last day, doing my laundry would not be the first thing out of my mouth. I doubt she would have said so either. That she did her own laundry speaks of her strength and independence. I can only hope to have as much.

My sister and I called our grandfather by an interesting merger of Italian and American titles that he chose for us, “Grandnono.” But I always called my grandmother “Grandma.”

Meps: When I met Barry, 26 years ago, I didn’t have grandparents. Three had died before I could remember them, and one lived just long enough to give me an impression of grumpiness. Barry’s grandparents were more fun and spontaneous than any I’d ever known. I first met them when they drove all the way from Florida to Ohio to surprise Barry’s Mom on her 50th birthday.

Barry: I remember their beach house in Au Gres, Michigan, on Lake Huron. I just thought of it as my grandparent’s house at the time. I didn’t think of it as their retirement dream home. The whole family went fishing in their boat, and we’d all catch lake perch. At the end of the day, Grandma fried a huge mess of it for dinner. I didn’t have to clean the fish; I just caught the fish and ate the fish.

I rode on their snowmobile, but not in the snow. Mostly on the sand in the summer, loving the excitement of going fast on a noisy machine, complete with the smell of two-cycle exhaust.

Meps: When I met her as an adult, Grandma told me and Barry stories about the snowmobile club, how they would ride from party to party on the frozen lake, drinking and having a great time. After Christmas, they would put their trees on the frozen surface of the lake as navigational markers. She loved to reminisce about the good times with family and friends.

Barry: I didn’t understand at the time, but the beach house became too much work as they aged. So they sold it, got an apartment, and started spending winters in Florida. My first Christmas with a swimming pool was with them. One time, my sister and I got our faces painted at an amusement park, and came back to surprise my grandparents looking like clowns.

The six of us spent many evenings around their kitchen table, playing Uno or rummy. Some of those times, there were just four of us — my parents left to enjoy some much-treasured kid-free time. I appreciated playing with special toys they had, ones I didn’t have at home; eating treats that Grandma cooked; and generally being doted on.

Meps: Grandma showed her love with food, and I collected some of her recipes for The Foodie Gazette. Just last year, I asked for a Grasshopper Pie for my birthday. For Christmas this year, we’re going to have Loraine’s Dip and a Snowball.

When Barry and I first got together, I was amazed by the incredible boxes of cookies she mailed to his parents. When Barry and I received one at our first apartment, I was in cookie-heaven! Every single item — Cherry Bites, Icebox Cookies, Dream Bars, homemade fudge — was perfect, and individually wrapped in plastic wrap.

Barry: She never had a computer or used the internet. But Margaret has been writing about Grandma for almost as long as we’ve had a blog, so her memory will live on for a long time.

Meps: I’d never been doted on by a Grandma, so I celebrated her special place in my life. She took time to send a get-well card when she heard through the grapevine that I was sick, and she never missed a birthday or Christmas. I received three or four cards this year; I’m sure each one took much effort to write.

I know it was time for Grandma to go, but I’ll miss her terribly. One of the most interesting activities we shared in her later years (besides drinking champagne!) was reading tea leaves. I’ll be looking for messages of love from her in every cup.

This 2011 blog about Grandma really captures her spirit:
The Life of the Party
Here’s another gem, a limerick from her 100th birthday:
Vintage 1913: Here’s to Loraine! We are still toasting to her!
She can stop reading the obituaries now:
Obituary for Grandma

Barry, Grandma, Meps
Grandma’s first “selfie” with a digital camera, October 2004

Thanks to North Carolina

Some people get excited about five star hotels or other fancy lodgings. I’m not usually one of them. I was about half-way between Columbus, Ohio and St. Marys, Georgia, on the last leg of a 2000 mile Thanksgiving road trip. I just needed a quick stop for the night.

I got the last room in a cheap motel, just into North Carolina, in Mt. Airy. They claimed it was clean. They said it wasn’t fancy. Apologetically they mentioned that if I’d called earlier I wouldn’t have got a room on the side for long-term rentals. They told me how to connect to the internet, with two networks, one that probably wouldn’t reach, and the other which sometimes needs to be reset.

I read somewhere that more vacations are “ruined” by dirty motel rooms than anything else. Fortunately I’m tolerant. The lights were dim. A lamp shade didn’t stay on. To my nose, there was only a hint of stale smoke. The space heater wasn’t quite up to the job, with temperatures below freezing this night. The blanket was thin. I tried to connect to the internet. Half-way there, but no luck. The staff was about and tried to reboot it. It didn’t help, and I didn’t ask again. I even tried to break into their access point (EASY!) and see if I could somehow fix something. (NOPE!) While I worked on this, with a warm laptop in my lap, the room heated up a little bit. I then dressed in enough clothes to sleep peacefully in the cool room overnight.

In the morning, I took a shower. The hot water was fantastic. The shower…well…In boatyards and marinas, I normally shower in my crocs, just in case. They dry easily, and my shoes are clean when I’m done! This was my first motel shower this way. No problem, I’m used to it. A long hot shower on a cold day is one of my absolute favorite things in the world!

I hit the road looking for breakfast. The motel hadn’t even had coffee I wanted to drink. My standards are higher for food than lodging. At least a little. I avoid fast food, especially for breakfast. I figured that a Denny’s would do, if that was the best I could find at a freeway exit. An hour down the road, I saw a sign for Toast Cafe at the Davidson, North Carolina exit. The name was promising. I got a little lost, pulled over, and tried to find a decent breakfast diner with Yelp. I re-found Toast, a mile away, and drove there.

I walk in to see the Saturday morning brunch crowd filling all the tables. I was glad to be eating alone—I got a seat at the bar instead of waiting. I saw a sign for the 2013 “Best Breakfast in Charlotte” posted on a mirror.

I ordered an avocado bacon and tomato omelet, and ordered grits for my side dish, after a reassuring answer my vague question “Oh yeah, I’m in the South again. I bet you do grits right.” When the waitress asked me later about the grits, I said that they were wonderful, and mentioned my unfounded fears of the grits put in little packets by Quaker. I think I saw her shudder as she said something sympathetic about instant grits. After two cups of coffee I was plenty caffeinated already, so the staff sent me on the road with a travel cup of decaf.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m going to express my gratitude: To North Carolina for a night’s rest, a wonderful hot shower, and a fantastic breakfast. And to myself for low expectations!

18 degrees of freedom, Four nailed down

I’m not sure I’m counting right when I say 18 degrees of freedom. Really counting it and figuring out which ones are independent of each other would probably give me a headache. Either that or make a good problem for a college mechanical engineering class, which I’m not qualified to teach.

I’ve got an arch to build. I’ve built two legs and a curved top. I want to attach it to Flutterby so that it is properly aligned with the back of my hard dodger to support three big solar panels. I had built all three pieces by the time I left this boatyard last summer. I had started trying to figure out how to fit them together then, but left before I finished.

When I returned, I was dreading this complicated set of decisions, so I decided to make easier progress on the hard dodger, as all the complicated decisions like this were already made. having done some good work there, I’m back at it again.

The saying goes “measure twice, cut once.” If you know how long a piece you want, you only have one measurement. Double-check it and then cut it! That isn’t my problem.

I put the three parts temporarily over the cockpit, about where they will go. Then I started measuring. Two measurements doesn’t even get me started. I’ve got two plumb bobs to check if each leg is at the same angle fore-and-aft. and also inboard/outboard. I’ve got two more to check the height and position of the arch. I’ve got marks where the outside edges of the solar panels will go on both the arch and the back of the dodger. I’ve got rails balanced between the two of them so I can check both that the arch and the back of the dodger are parallel, and that the solar panel edges are at a right angle to both arches. I can check the angle of the dodger, the arch, and the connecting rails with a level. To tweak things right, I’ve got six strings tied to the legs and tugging them in various opposing directions.

Last week, I did something big. I decided to drill four holes. The day before yesterday, I actually drilled two holes in the base of each leg. Doing it took a bit of creative work with a drill press, and it was while an amazing front was blowing through, complete with a tornado warning on my phone and the lights flickering a couple times.

Yesterday I did the next step. Put everything back up together, and drilled two holes into the boat, and put in screws. Boom. Now the bottom of each leg is located in two dimensions. Four degrees of freedom nailed down. 14 to go (plus or minus a few!)

Deciding how to decide can be the toughest part.

The actual decision is easier, but can be tedious. You have been warned. If your eyes glaze over a couple sentences into the next paragraph, just give up and skip to the last paragraph!

Today I went back and re-measured a couple things. Discovered that two measurements didn’t agree with each other. The two rails that should be parallel weren’t perpendicular to the same thing. Scratched my head a bit. Re-measured and found out that the marks where I was locating the outside rails were not the same distance apart on the arch that they were on the dodger. Oops. Fixed that. Noticed that my beam is twisted a bit, with one corner up about a half inch compared to the other. Found that I could clamp it flat without too much effort, and figured I’d do that when I glued it all together. Noticed that while the wheel is vertical, and that the stainless pipe on the front of the binnacle is NOT vertical. Now i know which one to look at when I’m checking the legs.

And I decided that I don’t care if the legs are exactly vertical or not. My masts aren’t at the same angle either, and the boat doesn’t float upside down from that. I still need to set that angle, and I’ve decided I’ll do it based on where it puts the front of the solar panels with respect to the front of the dodger instead. It matters more to me, and it is easier to measure. Double-win!

Another decision. In the morning I’ll re-check a bunch of measurements, and drill two more holes and put in two more screws. I’ll have the fore-and-aft angle of both legs set. Two more degrees of freedom nailed down. I’m chipping away at it. Pretty soon I’ll be epoxying the whole thing together!

Seeking the joy of Facebook

Confession time: I have a dysfunctional love-hate relationship with Facebook.

Today I’m living alone in a boatyard outside of a small town in Georgia. I don’t plan to be here much longer, which is good because I don’t have any close friends here. I am more isolated than I want to be.

Enter, Facebook. Most of my friends are on Facebook. Some of you lurk. Mostly that is what I have done. Some of you share your greatest joys, like your marriage, or moving in to start a new, joyful relationship. Some of you share your sorrows, like the loss of a pet, or your frustrations like that amazingly bad date. Some of you share lighter parts of your life, like a picture of your cat, or your amazing Halloween costume.

And even when I’m not getting that, you share all sorts of interesting things too. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I might have missed the cute catchy song and video “All about that bass (no treble)” I’m certain that if it wasn’t for Facebook, I would have missed the even cuter Star Wars parody of it “All about that base (no rebels)

Facebook gives me a chance to reach out and have a genuine connection with you, my friends and family. Even when I’m thousands of miles away, which I am today. I LOVE this!

More often I don’t. Remember “All about that base?” I look at what someone is up too…and wistfully think how I’d like to be closer. Then I distract myself by following one of you to George Takai’s page… Or that thoughtful article about current events… Or I see a shared link that looks like misinformation and take go trip over to Snopes or Google to fact check, and try to put my finger over that leak in the dike as if it will make a difference… Or get irked by the click-bait teaser links that is famous for…even when I really like what they are saying.

The next thing I know, two hours have gone by. I’m still on Facebook. And I haven’t had a genuine experience with anyone. I just checked out for two hours, and cannot get those hours back. Facebook as a business model based on making me spend those hours. Facebook has spent millions on research and coding to keep me engaged. They don’t care whether I feel good or bad after I’ve spent those hours, as long as I come back.

This is my Facebook news feed dilemma. I know I’m not alone. Every week or two one of my friends announce some sort of Facebook hiatus, temporary, indefinite, or permanent. I said something about this topic to a friend on the phone. There was no need to explain it. She totally knew. Months ago, another friend chose not to put FB on her phone, only using it on her computer. (I haven’t asked if she is still resisting!)

I resisted using Facebook on my phone too. By the time I got the app, Facebook had done something interesting: Split the mobile app into two different ones: Facebook (for browsing) and Messenger (for chatting).

That inspired a plan for me!

  • Embrace Facebook Messenger. I’ll try to have it open when I’ve got my phone on to receive texts or calls. I welcome all of my Facebook friends to say “Hi” anytime.
  • Limit my use of the Facebook app. It is just a new view into my news feed complete with the same old problems.
  • Share more small parts of my life on Facebook. If it is worth writing for more than five minutes, it is worth writing on my blog instead. (like this) Then share it on Facebook.

If you are struggling with your own relationship with Facebook, or are one of my few remaining friends and family that only read this on my blog, and and aren’t on Facebook, don’t let me drag you into Facebook’s tenacious embrace. Please email, call, or text me directly!


Goodbye, my faithful friend

Goodbye, my faithful friend. You have been with me for over twenty years. Up until last week, you have done everything I asked you gracefully and without any complaint. In the last week, I started asking more of you than you could give, yet you gave it willingly. Today you were grievously injured, but you still did what I needed of you, with nearly the last of of you. Thank you.

Everybody, go ahead and laugh for a moment at me. I am talking about an electric drill. Have your laugh, and allow me to continue. You may stop reading If you cannot imagine loving a tool; this story isn’t for you. It is for my tool-using friends, who can understand.

My Black & Decker Corded Drill
My Black & Decker Corded Drill

This Black & Decker corded drill came into my life back when I was in my third apartment. I think we bought it to drill some holes and stabilize some shelves in the closet. Up until then, if I needed to do a project, I had gone to home and used my dad’s shop and his tools. It must have been 1991 or 1992. Back then, it was just a drill. Cordless drills were so rare that you didn’t have to say “corded.”

You served me more during my years of home ownership. I cannot count the tasks I did with you then. Then you served me well as a boat owner. Soon after starting work on Flutterby, I started taking you for granted. I bought a fancy cordless drill, with a keyless chuck, and I used you a lot less often. I still use some. I needed the wire wheel too long for your replacement’s battery. I was trying to keep your replacement pristine, so I used you for stirring paint.

Your chuck key and chuck teeth started to wear. I finally bought you a new chuck key, but it never quite fit your worn teeth.. Still you did what was needed. Your cord started to fray a bit. I used a lot of tape and stuff, and kept electricity going safely into you. A few years back, Margaret questioned whether we needed you anymore with your cordless replacement. She was right that there isn’t room for a lot of tools here on Flutterby. But I knew you were still faithful, and I still used you for long jobs, and dirty jobs. So we stayed together.

Three days ago, I asked you to do a hard job. Your cordless replacement ran through his battery too fast for this one. I was cutting out windows for the hard dodger. Four windows to go. Twenty corners of those windows. Each one cut out with a hole saw. Through 3/4” of plywood, with fiberglass on each side. I even filed some sharpness back onto the teeth of the hole saw so it wasn’t quite as dull before starting the job. That didn’t last. As you were cutting these holes, I felt you hesitating. I felt your motor getting tired if I pushed too hard. And with such dull teeth, I had to push hard. You made it through that. It was a glorious day of work on my hard dodger. Then after cutting all those holes, I asked put the sanding drum in your chuck and asked you to clean up rough cuts and touch up the corners. I even used you for sanding flat areas. The new belt sander’s motor had already died. You gave me all this willingly at great cost. It was a glorious day of accomplishment for me.

Today I asked you to shape some fiberglass with a coarse sanding drum. I had just filled in the corner between the original ‘whiskers’ on deck and my new hard dodger. I pulled your trigger, locked it in place, and started grinding away. When your body was uncomfortably hot to hold through cotton gloves, I knew something was wrong. I noticed the burned look around your motor vents. I noticed you were not running smoothly. I was mostly done with the job on one side. I sat down for a break. I started shopping for a replacement for you, doubting you would even finish this job.

I wasn’t able to go shopping just yet, so I went back to work. Did other parts with other grinding tools. And when you had cooled down, went back and ground out the other side, hearing your protests that you didn’t have much left in you. Again I had to let you rest, to cool down, so I worked with other tools for a while. At the end of this job, I asked you for a little more fine tuning with the sanding drum. You didn’t let me down.

I know you aren’t healthy or strong anymore. If I ask you one more job, I know you will give me all you have. I won’t be surprised if you have enough.

My window on the world

Faired Hard Dodger
Flutterby’s hard dodger, after filling and fairing, with very rough oversized holes where the windows will be soon.

I’ve been building Flutterby’s hard dodger. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it, which is important….but  the pictures don’t look impressive. Filling and fairing  is at least visible, but still not impressive looking: Apply maybe a pound of stuff where you think there are low spots, cracks, or pinholes. Wait for it to cure. Start sanding, and make about a pound of dust. The result is smoother, with an err…interesting? blotchy? mix of colors. The real results will show up after painting..

When the job is done, much of the world around Flutterby will be seen through these windows, from the cockpit looking forward, or just sticking my head out the companionway like a prairie dog. Cutting the hole is a big step. They are hard to relocate if miss-placed. Putting a rounded inside corner where it is supposed to be is complicated too. Today I made a jig to align the center point for a hole saw exactly where it should be next to two edges, knowing that none of the corners are 90 degrees, and none are the same either….and allowing just enough extra to clean it up with a sanding drum that is 1/8″ bigger than the hole left by the hole saw. I’ve already made little tools to trace a line the right distance up off the deck, following all the curves. Today, after all the thinking and planning, I was ready and cut a window out and sanded the hole smooth!

One down. Four more to go. The “figuring it out” part was bigger than the cutting part, and that is already done for all five windows. My window on the world is opening up and getting a lot more refined!

The front port window cut out from the outside
The front port window cut out from the outside
The front port window cut out, from the outside
The front port window cut out, from the outside

Old Friend Waterway

Nav aid in the Waccamah River

It is always delightful to get back together with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. This time, I didn’t realize quite how good a friend it was before I got back together.

We have traveled the ICW four times before on Flutterby, and once before on Cayenne. Each trip has been a different section or sections, and this time it is one we’ve traveled before. I first wrote this while traveling South this spring, and forgot about the draft until now while we’re heading back North again. The waterway is still the same old friend, and my stories and memories still apply, so as we’re crossing back into Georgia today, I’m finishing this story off.

An old friend is often just as you remember him–Every time we have been on the waterway we have seen dolphins surfacing and breathing. Sometimes we hear them before we see them. Sometimes they are just traveling through, perhaps in the same direction we are going, or perhaps in another direction. One time one followed us for over an hour, surfacing right next to the cockpit about every minute, on the port side for a while, then on the starboard side for a while.

Other times the dolphins are feeding, and they don’t move in a straight line, they are more vigorous and stay in the same area. Often pelicans are fishing in the same place as the dolphins. I love watching them dive. They will hang or circle for a bit around 20 feet up in the air, then dive straight down into the water with a huge splash. When I was anchored nearby, the splash was loud enough that I looked up to make sure nobody had just fallen off a boat. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when they dive in this way, their head goes under the water, but their body won’t go under, and they spin around 180 degrees by their neck, and come up facing the other direction. Where are the pelican chiropractors?

But sometimes you learn a little bit new about an old friend. I’ve watched pelicans doing their big dives many times, but recently I’ve seen them doing little dives where they fly near the water and land dipping their head in without the huge splash and 180 degree turn. However they dive in, they still spend quite a while with their beak in the water and their neck full of water and (hopefully) fish, and slowly filtering the water out so they can spin the fish around so the scales are in the direction that is easy to swallow.

My friend the waterway also goes through seasons. Twice we have been moving North during summer. Once we were moving North during winter. Once we were moving South in the winter. Going South this March it was still winter when we left North Carolina at the start of the trip. We went  South, and closer to the sun, and the sun was moving North and closer to us. I wrote to somebody that we crossed into spring somewhere in South Carolina. As we made the Gerogia/Florida border, we were getting into summer already. I think I managed to get through the tree pollen season in less than a week this year.

One seasonal thing about the waterway is the cruisers. Three times we were moving with the general marine snowbird migration, and got to interact with the rest of the flock. When we purchased Flutterby, we were going North and everybody else was going the other way, and often told us we were going the wrong way. This spring, the waterway was empty when we started. As we got into Georgia we started seeing more cruisers…and once again, they are mostly going the other direction.

Sometimes your friend will have a small subtle change…many people could miss it but perhaps you notice. The waterway wears thousands of aids to navigation. A few of them are buoys, but most of them are signs on pilings. They don’t change much. Perhaps a third of them are lighted and those are slowly shifting. They used to be a large red or green gumdrop with an incandescent light bulb inside. When the sun is low, if you caught them just right, they would glow as if they were turned on when the lens caught the sun. But to keep this lighted, there is also a medium solar panel mounted at a 45 degree angle facing South, and a battery about the size of a car battery. They keep the coast guard busy servicing them because the bulbs burn out eventually, and the batteries need to be replaced every few years. Lately I’ve seen something new. It is a little bigger than the gumdrop, but shaped like a square Japanese lantern. All four vertical sides have solar panels, and it might have a battery inside, or perhaps instead a big capacitor bank. At the top is a LED light. I’ve converted Flutterby’s navigation lights to LEDs, so I appreciate the same benefits, smaller, lower power usage, and reason to hope it will work for decades without maintenance.

One of the more embarrassing things about my old friend waterway is that I’m getting accustomed to its flaws and learning how to deal with them. In this case, it is all the shallow water. I have to admit that we managed to touch the bottom once each of the first few days this trip. I don’t want to go back through the days and try to count them all now. The first one was in a known shallow anchorage that we decided to go into at low tide anyway. A couple others were as we were getting into or out of anchorages. Some were when we drove out of the channel. I remember one that was in the channel too.

But something is new this year. Not one of them was difficult to get underway from again. My new (but embarrassing) technique is to motor with the centerboard all the way down, so we draw six feet. We’re generally going slowly when we run aground, and stop easily. At this point I make sure we know where we want to go, probing the bottom around the boat with a boat pole if needed. Then, knowing which direction to go, we throttle up and crank the centerboard up until we are free. Since we draw about four feet with the board up, this has worked each time. Then once we are moving well, I let the board back down, for next time. I still don’t know how we managed to go all the way from Vero Beach back to Beaufort, North Carolina in summer of 2011 without a single grounding.

The infamous pink house with the palm trees and lighthouse

And then there are the familiar waters and landmarks we pass by each time. For some reason, we always take a picture of that big pink house in North Carolina that’s on its own island with palm trees and tropical stuff painted on it. This time, I turned to Margaret and said, “I don’t know who lives there, but I wish I did.” We went by Hilton Head Island, where we purchased Flutterby, and Calabogue Sound, where we did our test sail. We even went back through the stretch of waterway where we actually sailed with the original rig, and the anchorage where we raised those sails for pictures.

I wonder what new things my old friend will show me as we go back North again?

Directionally Challenged

In the last month I’ve gone from North Carolina to Florida to Brazil, back to Florida, and now I’m back in North Carolina. It is often near freezing at night here in North Carolina. February is often the coldest month out of the year, but today’s weather is almost warm enough to belong more in Florida than North Carolina–up in the ’60s, and the next two days should hit the ’70s.

So why again am I moving South for warmer weather? I suppose it could stay decently warm up here. But nope, I’m heading South now.

Err, well, not really. Going “South” on the ICW from Beaufort, I follow the coast and go due West. I am trying to head South, but the compass won’t be pointing that direction for another week or two, given the shape of the coastline.

Today I’m noticing how many smaller things in my life have shifted already. Before, Flutterby and I were in the boatyard, with projects and chaos sprawled out in too many directions. The feral cats we’ve been feeding seemed to be getting more attached to us, and even tame–Nancy has head-butted Meps’ hand, and Kenny rubbed against my legs a few times. He will eat cat treats from either of our hands, and they would both jump onto the deck of our boat to ask for their dinner. Or sometimes they just came over to say hello, even after they had eaten their fill.

Last night I said goodbye to them. I didn’t use words–I just fed them dinner and treats like I usually do, and talked to them. I can say the stupidest things to them, and all I think they notice is the tone of voice. Sometimes I just meow back at them. Either way, they don’t understand goodbyes, and I don’t like goodbyes much anyway, so I didn’t waste words on that.

Today, we saw dolphins in the water crossing our wake. I don’t know when I’ll see those cats again, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing more dolphins in the next few days.

We are unplugged from shore power again. So I took two electric space heaters that had been running every night at the dock, and wound up the cords and put them away. I got out a small propane powered space heater and tested it. It is now dark, and cooling off. I’ll probably be using this heater for real in another hour. I’ve put away the AC power supplies for the computers and the phone chargers, digging out the 12V versions. Most people wouldn’t even notice, but I feel better knowing that I can run on my own power.

More important is being at anchor, swinging in the wind again. And next time I leave the boat there will be a dingy or a kayak to launch instead of just pulling the dock line in a bit tighter and stepping ashore. This motion is what a boat is supposed to do, and feels much better.

Yesterday, I spent an hour shuffling stuff in and out of the space under the V-berth, the deepest, largest, and (nearly) hardest to access storage aboard Flutterby. There are still things to stow, but she looks more cleaned up than she has in months. We had a short day (not even 15 miles) and are having a lazy afternoon, but I already sewed some clasps onto the mast quilt our friend Karen gave us this summer.

I have trouble figuring out which direction I’m going these days, but it sure feels good to be in motion again.

Random thoughts from the boatyard

I’ve spent another week in the boatyard working on a few projects, and have a few observations to share.

1. I loved my first 3M full-face respirator to death, and just got a new one to love. This time it came equipped with peril-sensitive sunglasses.  I think anyone entering the boatyard for a long haulout should be so equipped.

2.  Even though I am pretty hardcore as a do-it-myself person, it is still impressive to see professionals at work.  This pic doesn’t show how close the travelift actually got to Flutterby when they took our neighbor away.  I never was worried, although I did watch intently.

3. When the going gets tough…the professionals have more tools in their toolbox. I hired the yard to change my cutlass bearing. The job is going pretty smoothly, but they found that the shaft coupling just didn’t want to come off the prop shaft.  I heard Dale muttering about needing something else to finish this job, a socket or something.  Then he mentioned all-thread.  Since his head was in the engine room along with his torso, I didn’t quite get it, and couldn’t even see exactly what the problem was.  Off he went to get something or other, and then he returned and dove back into the engine room. When they left for lunch half-way through, I got in and had a chance to see what they were doing.  Makes perfect sense, but I would have spent a lot more time figuring it out than Dale did.

4. I need to work more on “good enough.”  Problems like a rudder post that somehow gets water inside it and the tiller arm being a little sloppy where it attaches to the rudder can be thought on and worked on for AGES. My best bet is to let a project like this sit while I do other things, and ask various people what they think is a good idea.

Back in the saddle again

Flutterby left the boatyard almost a year ago, and we started cruising. Sure, we did some projects underway like mounting the oarlocks on the dinghy. Sure, we did even more projects while we stayed at Vero Beach over the winter and spring–We sewed sails and bought and mounted solar panels. But we weren’t hauled out, and more importantly, we weren’t in project mode.

We brought Flutterby back to the boatyard in June, “summerized” her, and drove west.

A week ago, we returned to Flutterby. Yesterday, I dropped Margaret off at the airport; she’s going to Florida to help her Dad through open-heart surgery, and I’ve got a couple weeks to do boat projects.

Finally, for the first time in months, I opened my to-do list, a dozen pages in an Excel spreadsheet. Some things were irrelevant. Some were completed months ago. I crossed those off. I tried to remember all the things I had listed when Margaret asked what we had to do before we could launch again.

Then I went outside with a couple wrenches and took out the bolts holding the tiller arm onto the rudder. I scraped loose the 3M-101 goop that I could get off, then forced the thing away from the rudder. Now it is off, and only a little sticky residue remains. After I clean it up I’ll be making it fit higher so that the steering cables don’t make that AWFUL gritching noise when it hangs up between the quadrant on the tiller arm and the turning blocks.

If this is enough adjustment, I won’t have to adjust the angle of those turning blocks too. Wish me luck on that one.

I’m sure that half of the people reading this are wishing I could have described an exciting job. But moving the boot stripe on the rudder is a later project, so exciting things like sanding, prepping, masking, and painting … repeat … repeat … repeat … will have to wait.

For now, the important thing is that I’m back to working on Flutterby!