Friday, March 28, 2014

Countdown to Push Off

Sunday, March 9th – another beautiful day; the scattered high clouds are gone, the fiberglass guy is due any time now to begin the bow repair.  We did outside work on the boat until time to go to Alex and Jane’s for a most enjoyable visit, the perfect end to a full, productive week.

Monday and Tuesday – more shopping, more work on the boat, and two more beautiful days, warm enough for Marian to wear shorts while washing the upper helm vinyl windows, spread out on the dock.  We even had paddle-boarders gliding around the marina on Tuesday. It looked like fun, but the water is still a bit cold for us.  Mike was so intent on caulking around the hatch from the salon to the aft deck that he missed all the cute girls in bikinis.  Marian’s next task, while we enjoy a beautiful evening in the salon, is updating the task list. 

Wednesday, 3/12 – Tuesday, 3/25 – Mike the fiberglass guy arrived and began work on the bow, a multi-step process that is still underway.  After Captain Mike had removed the rotted wood and dried the area, Fiberglass Mike installed a layer of Divynicell, a dense foam instead of wood.  Mike did a lot of the sanding after watching Fiberglass Mike demonstrate the technique.

Day by day, the work continued as Captain Mike worked on other tasks and Marian cooked, kept the boat reasonably picked up, and ran errands.  One much appreciated improvement was Mike's repair of the locker (closet for you landlubbers) light on Marian's side of the master cabin.  We've added rugs to the salon, a toilet paper holder in the master head, and a small shop vac that sucks up Midas hair, sand, and the like
with ease. It even sucks up the dreaded sand gnats, fondly known as "no-see-ums," that plague the  Georgia coast on warm days.

We became regular visitors to ACE Hardware in Richmond Hill, West Marine, and Home Depot, always with Midas along to make new friends.  One final stop at Harbor Freight Tools was a new experience for Midas.  It was a warm, muggy day, too hot to leave him in the car.  As he jumped out of the car and we headed for the store, an employee just outside the door told us he couldn't go in; only dogs small enough to ride in the cart were welcome. No problem:  Midas rode in the cart and made more friends as customers stopped to admire him.  Did he enjoy the ride?  Probably not, but he was a good sport about it. 

Finally, we had completed all the must do's and most of the want to do's, and we decided that 3/25/14 would be THE DAY.  Monday and Tuesday had been windy and cold, and Wednesday dawned with equally chilly temperatures and a very brisk wind.  Layers of clothes, gloves, and fake fur-lined caps helped keep us warm, and we were off the dock at 9:05.  

Farewell, Fish Tales and Fort McAllister Marina.  We'll see you again in twelve months or so. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

We’re going to do it.  We’re really going to do it!  Week one at the dock...

We’ve reached the final countdown for our Great Loop departure, with what seems like thousands of things still to do…

Friday, 2/28/14 – Marian’s last day of full-time work as an Account Manager at Weathers Insurance, was highlighted by a combined retirement/first quarter birthdays pizza party.  True to form, she ended up working about an hour past closing time, going over pending items with the personal lines manager.  Then to Gustavo’s Pizza in Dahlonega, where friends and family joined us to celebrate Marian’s birthday and retirement and to wish us Bon Voyage with several bottles of wine that we’ll enjoy as we cruise the ICW.  Mike’s brother Phil and sister-in-law Kathy brought a lovely bottle of Merlot, decked out for the occasion.  We were thrilled that son Dave, daughter-in-law Emily, and granddaughters Madison and Camille were able to join us for the send off and sorry that son Doug and daughter-in-law Tracy couldn’t make it.  We’ll enjoy the wine they gave us for Christmas soon. We tried to collect a year’s supply of hugs, but there are never enough of those. 

Marian & granddaughter Madison at Gustavo’s.

 We’ll miss watching our girls, now 10 and 14, grow into even more beautiful young ladies.

   Son Dave and granddaughter Camille.

Daughter-in-law Emily, how did we miss getting a picture of you?  We know we took some, but it's nowhere to be found. 
Saturday, between packing and cleaning out the fridge, we took Midas for his last “Kids Reading to Dogs” visit at the Lumpkin County Library, and Mike took lots of pictures to put on the poster so the kids will remember him. Carol and Stefan have our boat card, and they can put a link to the blog on the poster for kids and library staff who want to follow this adventure.  We enjoyed our last Holly Theater production, Moon Over Buffalo, and were able to say “See you in about a year from now” to many of our Holly friends.  We’ll miss volunteering there, and the upcoming season promises to be a great one.  North Georgia folks: plan to see Smoke on the Mountain, Spamalot, Macbeth, White Christmas, and The Nerd.

Sunday morning, with the car loaded to the point that Midas had to ride on Mike’s sleeping wedge and the house secure, we headed south, with a stop at Cracker Barrel for an audio book to pass the time on the drive to Richmond Hill. We were in luck; the newest adventure of Stephanie Plum, her sidekick Lula (who used to be a “ho”), Ranger, Joe Morelli, Grandma Mazur and Grandma Bella, Takedown Twenty, was available.  As usual, we laughed out loud at their antics.  We reached Fort McAllister Marina on a beautiful sunny day, and Mike set to work on removing the damp wood from the forward starboard deck almost immediately, while Marian stowed our stuff.  Kudos to Mike for doing a great job of organizing the various tools needed to get Midas Touch ready for our journey and to keep it in tip-top shape along the way. The old soft-side tool suitcase is history, and tools are now divided among several plastic bins with lids.  There’s even logic and reason in the sorting; now we just have to remember which tools are in which bin.

We’re still working on finding just the right spot for some items, and we’re trying to make it a habit to put every item we use back in its place as soon as we’re finished using it.  The old maxim “a place for everything, and everything in its place” is doubly or even triply true on a boat, especially when there aren’t that many places to put things.  As I write this, the red metal tool box is on the floor so that Mike can reach it from the engine room, two plastic bins are on the settee, two more are on the cabinet next to the steps leading to the aft deck, and the glue kit is on the counter above the galley. 

We woke up Monday morning to warm, mostly sunny skies, so Mike was back to work on the deck for most of the day, while Marian made a Publix trip for provisioning the boat.  Mike and Midas were waiting to help haul the bags to the boat.  As Marian got out of the car, she noticed Midas sniffing intently through the dead leaves and weeds near the dumpsters. He stood up with a dark olive green object held proudly in his mouth and trotted off toward the other side of the fence, intending to hide his treasure?  Mike intercepted him and realized Midas was carrying an olive green knit watch cap; a closer look revealed the cap had a Marine Corps emblem stitched on the cuff. Of course! The cap belongs to our friend and boat mentor Kelly, and Midas had found it near the spot where Kelly frequently parks his truck.

Tuesday and Wednesday were primarily shopping days for parts and equipment we need for the trip: River Supply, which didn’t have any of the items we needed; Home Depot, which had some; Best Buy for an iPad charger cable, mounting hardware for the TV, and a Verizon Hotspot for more reliable internet service; Lowe’s and Home Depot for boat parts; West Marine for even more, and finally Walmart to replenish socks and underwear, add a few pairs of Capri pants, miscellaneous kitchen items, cream cheese, SOS pads.  We are shopped out.

As predicted, Thursday was cold, rainy and windy enough at times that the boat was rockin’ and rollin’ even at the dock.  Mike had a new raw water strainer almost installed, after working on it most of the day, only to discover that we had bought an incorrect fitting.  Marian did laundry and has been working on this blog entry between handing tools or parts to Mike, and Midas patiently snoozed on his bed.  The weather outside was frightful, even for a dog who is impervious to water, and definitely too nasty for people.  When the newly installed strainer leaked at the connection points, Mike, with Kelly’s help, realized that the fittings that seemed perfect at the store are not the right ones.  Back to Lowe’s – no fittings that fit. On to Home Depot – no fittings that fit. While there, we picked up clear tubing to fit over the lines we’ll use to snag bollards as we travel through locks, batteries, a heat gun, and more adhesive strips to mount items on the interior walls.

After a great Reuben at the local Irish pub, we're back at the almost motionless boat, Midas is cuddled up alongside Mike on the settee with chuck-it safely stowed behind him, and after a much- needed shower, Marian is writing this blog entry.

Friday – more rain, more wind, more work inside the boat, and more shopping for Mike, to find the right parts for the raw water strainer. Back to the boat and ready to install, then “Oops!  Oh drat! (or somewhat stronger language; use your imagination). The gasket that seals the strainer had disappeared, probably at one of several stores Mike visited. Order another?  All of the parts houses were closed for the week and require an account with them to order on-line. Mike and Kelly decided that we can fabricate a replacement that will work until we can order the part.  
Update: correct gaskets received, installed, and the strainer is working.  YES!

Saturday – sunny blue skies, no wind, and a slight chill in the air when Marian and Midas made the daily morning journey to the marina’s shower/laundry/restaurant office building, across the road from Fish Tales and the docks.  The first task was to uncover the open area on the bow and set up drying fans to prepare for the last major (we hope) project, fiber-glass replacement.  While the fans and the bright sun combined to dry the wooden layer, we located and completed the first step to repair a troubling leak into the aft cabin, then identified the source of a drip from the aft deck access door into the salon.  Let’s hope the repairs hold.  Good weather and outside work on the boat mean Midas gets to hang out on the dock, greeting anyone who passes by with enthusiastic barks and tail wags. “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!  Here’s another new friend to admire me. Maybe he’s bringing treats!”

Mike installed a second shelf in the forward cabin locker, creating much needed storage space for pots & pans, the Dutch oven, skillets, and more and freeing cupboard space for food and smaller items.  My new favorite appliance is a small shop vac, which quickly sucked up all the plastic wood debris from the shelf project, both in the forward cabin and on the aft deck.  It’s also great at sucking up dog hair and the sand that Midas tracks in from our trips across the road.  We added a wire basket under the galley sink for dish detergent, plastic wrap, and foil.  Unlike a house, the wall behind the sink is angled, and there is no flat space. The basket is a great improvement, making the galley much more efficient.

As we cleaned up and put away tools, our friends Alex and Jane Honnor dropped by; they had stopped for dinner at Fish Tales on their way home and were waiting for a table.  Midas had been lying on the dock, watching us work, when he jumped up, barked enthusiastically, and took off toward the upper dock.  We saw several people standing about 40 feet away and tried to call him back.  Midas ignored us, not the behavior we expect from our AKC Canine Good Citizen, but when we realized one of the people he had seen was his friend Alex, we had to forgive him. Midas has loved Alex ever since the day, more than two years ago, when he got hit by a car trying to cross the road; Alex and Jane both helped look for him and even opened their home and hearts to give Midas a bath when we found him, with minor injuries and muddy feet, after six hours of searching.  Midas sang his “I’m so glad to see you again” song to Alex and Jane.  When he meets one of his favorite people after a long time, Midas shows it all over.  Not just his tail wags; his entire body shows his excitement.  To end a productive day, our boat neighbor Kelly joined us for hamburgers on the grill, red-skin potatoes sliced on fried in the galley, Publix coleslaw, and Newton’s Blueberry Fruit Thins – addictive. 

It was a good first week on the boat, but there’s still a long list of things to do before we push off the dock. Target date for departure is St. Patrick’s Day, and we think we’ll make it.  The local weather forecasters are predicting rain early in the day, but with the side curtains and canopy over the upper helm back in place and good rainsuits, we’ll sail on an incoming tide about 8:00 AM.