Dream – Night of 2014-03-31

  • The scene opens with a “Movie / Film” look (i.e. a normal movie).  This is an odd detail but becomes important later.
  • Training Camp – grassy.  Walking down a paved path with superiors.  A General and some other officer walk with our narrator/camera.
  • Recruits are training in the grass on either side.  One section nearby are sparring/wrestling.  A drill Sargent runs over to one match, “Let her out of that choke hold.” he says.  “She wasn’t struggling.” the recruit replies.  “That’s because she’s dead.” the Sargent yells back.
  • We continue walking down the path.  A female recruit runs out onto the path (for some odd reason it is Jennifer Lopez playing the part).  She is joined by another training partner.
  • Narrator: “If he could catch her, maybe things would turn out different.”
  • Begin “Running Scene”
  • Through urban paths, through woods, she runs and the camera follows.  So close to catching up at points but never quite getting there.  She makes a sharp turn and begins “running” down a wide stone well.  The well is lined with what can barely be called stone steps.  Just fragments of stone sticking out of the slick walls of the well.   The only way to not slip and fall to your death is to run at a 45 degree angle and “lean into it” – these people are clearly highly-trained ninja-like warriors.  Think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
  • At the bottom of the well it is nearly black-dark.  The two women who are now way ahead of the narrator walk up to a “curtain of blue threads”.  They stand in front of it, reach into the hanging threads, and are slowly “absorbed” into it.  Their bodies dissolve into it.
  • Scene fades to total black
  • The movie now has a cartoon animation look.  The Japanese “anime” kind with overly-large white eyes.
  • Blue highlights appear in the dark.  “What is that” we think.
  • The highlights form into faces floating in the black.  Illuminated by another faint blue light.  They drift by.
  • They have some sort of breathing apparatus on, and they appear to be asleep.
  • One is the general from the first scene.
  • Aha!  They are in suspended animation!
  • Fade to black.
  • Voice of the narrator speaks into the black:  “I woke up once to check our position, and then again to do the same.  Both times we were where we should have been.  The third time things were different…”
  • Weightless narrator “slides by” in front of the camera.  He is awake.  Color returns to the scene.  It’s a spaceship!
  • He opens “giant window” at the front of the ship to reveal a massive fleet of spaceships all jumping to hyperspace and “blinking out” in front.  They are clearly not on the same course as us.  They are jumping away nearly 90 degrees from our course.  The ships are giant, even as far away as they are we can tell that they are many thousands of feet long.  Their windows are but points of light at this distance.
  • Ahead of our ship is some super-dense cluster of stars, and possibly/probably a black hole.  We are steadily drifting towards it.
  • “What should we do?” someone asks.
  • “We have to honor our Viking roots.” says another.
  • “I agree.” – A warrior with a giant battleaxe says.
  • They all cut themselves open with their blades and open the doors to the space outside.  Their dying bodies are sucked out into the emptiness of space.
  • Fade to black.
  • Narrator:  “It’s a funny feeling.  Bleeding to death in space.”
  • Something akin to an ink blot appears in the black.  Black and red.  You realize it’s an abstract human form.  The black is the body, in a somewhat fetal position floating through a sea of red.  Every once in a while some new red burps out of the black and joins the red around it.
  • Fade to black

Dream – Night of 2014-04-08

  • Me and a group of people are in some sort of camp with a plane.  I think we’ve been here some time.  Perhaps trying to get the plane to work.
  • We take off.  I am sitting next to a girl who might be my girlfriend or something.  In any case I fall asleep leaning my head in the space between her elbow and ribs.
  • By the way, this is a plane piloted by none other than Denzel Washington (clearly a reference to FlightI).   
  • I wake up and the plane is in a vertical dive. After a while we level out and  crash-land into some sort of lagoon.  We skip across the water, as we slow the nose of the plane torpedoes under the water and for a few seconds you can see out the front cockpit windows to the shallow bottom.  There is green seaweed and stuff floating around.  It has that dark brown color of lake water stained by the tannins from leaves.
  • The plane pops back up and the plane has rotated 90 degrees left, so only the right-hand emergency door is above water.
  • Pilot pops open the door (in the world apparently that can happen).
  • We all unbuckle our seat belts as water begins rushing into the plane.
  • Soon the plane is underwater and we have to hold our breath and swim for the door.  All but a few make it out.
  • One of the ones that didn’t make it was the girl who was sitting next to me, and I keep going back to search for her.  Other people are saying “give it up dude”.
  • Then I notice I can hear Meshuggah playing.  It is very faint.
  • I start moving around trying to see where it gets louder, and finally trace it to some sand dunes maybe 100 yards from the “main camp” that is starting.
  • The girl and two others are hiding up in the reeds.  “We’re going back for the guns” they say.
  • Apparently it’s just a short walk, because soon we are walking back with the guns.  But unfortunately someone, or something, sees us.  It follows us.
  • Fast forward some unknown amount of time and we’ve actually built an entire new civilization, the crowning achievement of which is a giant tower with steps leading up to it.  The steps up to the tower are lined with coffee beans, and at the top are some narrow slits in the stone.
  • “Don’t let the coffee beans get too close!  You’ll let him out” some lady says.
  • I continue smoothing the coffee beans out so that they are flush with the steps.  I work my way to the bottom of the steps, smoothing as I go.
  • As I turn left I can see that we’ve actually built streets with shops and everything.  In my dream I think to myself “I find it highly unlikely that a plane-full of random people built this.”

Yorkshire Pudding

Parts

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 2-3 Tbsp Butter

Steps

  • Beat 2 eggs with 1.2 cup milk
  • Add sifted flour and salt
  • Mix in water
  • Beat till bubbles form
  • Melt butter in 10×10 dish in oven
  • Pour in batter
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Reduce heat to 350, cook another 10-15 minutes.

Cardamom Bread

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cups Flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Milk
  • 2 pkg. Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup melted (salted) butter
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • Chopped almonds
  • Egg White (for wash)

Steps:

  • Dissolve yeast in 1/2 Cup of milk
  • Mix remaining milk, sugar, egg, salt, butter, cardamom and half the flour.
  • Beat with whisk until smooth
  • Add milk/yeast mixture and remaining flour.  Mix.
  • Cover and let rise until doubled.
  • Turn out onto lightly floured board, knead until smooth.
  • Cut into thirds.  Cut each third into thirds and roll each into ropes.
  • Place ropes onto lightly buttered cookie sheets and braid into loaf.
  • Let rise until doubled.
  • Brush each braid with slightly-beaten egg white wash.
  • Sprinkle sugar (more creates a sweeter sugar crust), and chopped almonds.
  • Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  More is better but watch for burning.
  • Remove, let cool, cut and enjoy with butter.
  • Best the next morning toasted with butter…

Raw Apple Cake

This is, without a doubt, the best-tasting cake you’ll make for how easy it is.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups chopped apple
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1 Cup chopped walnuts

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine all ingredients in one (large) bowl.
  • Mix by hand just until flour is mixed in
  • Pour / place mixture into (angel food cake pan?)  Whatever the kind is that makes a round cake with a hole in the middle
  • Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Optional Frosting:

  • Mix together confectioner’s sugar and water to make a liquid paste that will run/drizzle off a spoon.
  • Add Almond Extract to mixture.  Not sure on quantity,  pretty powerful stuff so go slow and taste…add more if it needs it.
  • Drizzle over cake going from center to outside so you get lines of frosting radiating out from the “center” of the cake.

Matt’s Chicken

This can be cooked in 30 minutes and be ready to eat.  In Matt’s words, his father used to make this for the Fire Station where he worked because it can be made and served “hot and a lot”.  I don’t actually eat the broccoli, I really just like the flavor it adds, so depending on how much you want it cooked you might add it  at a different time in the process.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 Onion, sliced.
  • 1 Pepper, sliced.
  • Broccoli, trimmed
  • 1 Jar store-bought chicken gravy
  • 1/4 cup White Wine (guessing on quantity here)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Red Pepper flakes (add as much or as little as you want)
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Egg Noodles

 

Steps:

  • Get water and pan for egg noodles ready.
  • In large skillet, cook onions and pepper over medium heat in olive oil until onions start to turn clear.  Add chicken, cook until mostly cooked-through.  Try not to let onions brown.
  • Add broccoli
  • Add red pepper flakes to taste.
  • Add gravy and white wine, let cook more to burn off alcohol.  Turn heat down to simmer, cover and let cook until desired doneness.
  • Cook egg noodles.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Betty Ann Southbound 2011

BETTY ANN

It is late in the summer and Pete calls.

Heard from Archie yet? I need to get back on the water!

Timing is everything,  Archie had called earlier to confirm his crew so I told Pete the BETTY ANN would be leaving Point Judith October 9th. He immediately signed on so I called Archie to let him know, unfortunately, I also had to tell him Andrew would not be making this trip. His new job in Austin, TX started earlier in the summer and he has no vacation accrued. So me, Pete and Archie will make up a shorthanded crew, Hmmmm,  not good for the watch standing schedule. Continue reading

Betty Ann – Southbound 2011 (part 2)

 

Surprise, surprise!  I normally do only one leg of the delivery trips but this year Archie called to ask if I could do the final leg from Miami to Tamp Bay since someone else had to cancel.  Not one to decline an opportunity to sail, particularly this leg which would include a stop in sunny Key West in the middle of November, I readily agreed! The crew would be Archie, Larry, and me.

The flight to Miami was uneventful, and we stepped out into 80 degree plus warm humid air, Ahhh I love doing that, and hopped a cab to the downtown marina where BETTY ANN was awaiting. I checked out the boat, including the cold beer storage, while Archie and Larry went provisioning. I should go on that trip to the market some time to see Larry in action. I imagine it to be like a mother shopping with an active child.

“Look Archie, these steaks are prime grade!”

“But do we really need 5 pounds for the three of us?”

“Hey Archie, bacon is on sale – four pounds for the price of three!”

“But we are only at sea for four days, wouldn’t one pound do it?”

Anyway, they came back heavily laden with top grade supplies which were stowed away and off we went for dinner in South Beach. With memories of $14 drinks in mind we went one block back from Ocean Drive, and found the Puerto Saqua cuban restaurant on Collins St. that looked interesting (and inexpensive). This was not to be Larry’s favorite place to eat. He ordered a non-alcoholic Becks but got the regular kind, he is still waiting for his lobster long after Archie and I are served, his meal is judged mediocre while ours is delicious. Maybe he said something that unknowingly pissed off the waitress?  It is obviously a very popular place with lines out the door and everyone else seemes to be having a good dinner.

Whatever, we walk back to the boat and turn in.  Good to be back on board!

Day One

We depart 0630 at first light and motor out the inlet into an easterly breeze, unfurl the sails and turn towards the south.  We are motor sailing at 8 knots when BETTY ANN decides to spring her surprise on us to see if we are worthy to continue. ( She seems to do this each trip lately (snapped halyard, parted jib outhaul, loose propeller shaft coupling, snapped main reefing line etc)  The engine temperature alarm sounds!  No real problem here, we can maintain our course while sailing and sort this out.  Archie goes below to check the raw water strainer and finds it has a bit of weed in it, but more worrisome is the fact the bottom of the screen has corroded off so it is basically useless, and we wonder what might have passed into the raw water pump or beyond. We decide to cannibalize the screen from the A/C unit since it is basically the same size, just needs to have an indent in the bottom drilled out to fit. This done we refire the engine but find the problem remains. Time for McGiver!   I configure the the valves to use the emergency bilge suction that works off the engine raw water pump. Nice, the alarm goes off so we know the pump is good and the system clear. Next I run the hose we use to shift fresh water between tanks and use it to back flush the intake. When everything is reconnected the problem is gone.

It is a really hot day with pretty good swells and Larry doesn’t fare well trying to work in the galley so breakfast and lunch are light.

We have used up a lot of time poking along while making repairs so the kinder, gentler Captain Archie decides we will be forced  to pull into Key Largo instead of making an night time entry into Marathon. Damn!  As we head in the Largo Canal there is a tight 90 degree bend known locally as Crash Corner.  A blind corner which requires a Sécurité transmission. Archie makes it and another boater answers with  Which crash corner? How many are there? answers Archie.

By 1500 we are docked and Arch and Larry have jumped in the pool. Funny thing about that pool. When I got there for some reason I read the large blue Pool and Spa Rules signs posted nearby; the rules were the same for each. My attention is drawn to Rule # 8 and I wonder what happened, and when, to make that rule necessary.  Swim call is over at 1700, we shower and head for dinner at Sharpies Pub, not more than 100 steps from the boat. The food is good, the beer is cold and there is live entertainment. The  first set is pretty good but the singer has a  female vocalist from N.Y.C. that joins him for the second set and she belts out jazz tunes in a really loud, high voice. Good thing a day at sea makes you very tired because she keeps singing long after we have turned in.

 Day 2

We are off early for Key West and enjoy 12 hours of a beam reach motor sail at 8-9 knots. Larry is back in the galley and serves a huge lunch.  As we approach the marina we are directed to a slip on the western side of the pier where we are met by Diane, the dock mistress. As Archie backs into the slip Diane steps to the very end to receive my bow line and the board gives way beneath her. This is not going to work she shouts, and we are directed to dock alongside the easternmost pier, opposite a spectacular 87 foot custom build Jim Smith Sportfisher named PATSEA. More about that later.

PATSEA our dock neighbor

Once secured, and after we spliced the mainbrace (I leave it to you to check the meaning of that salty phrase) we were off the The Schooner Bar.  Too late for Michael McCloud but Greg Walther, a good cover artist was taking requests so of course I asked for some John Prine and he sang Paradise, and Angel from Montgomery - wow – two of my favorites. He also had a really funny original song about a weather channel reporter sent to Key West to cover Irene. There was no wind or storm when he got there so the crew rigged a huge fan on the beach to get the effect.

Back at our slip we met the crew of PATSEA and got some particulars about the boat, but not a tour since the owners were due to arrive shortly for a birthday party. Anyway, power is twin 2400 HP MTU diesels which give a top speed of  45 knots, while burning close to 125 gallons of fuel per hour!

Day 3

After delicious breakfast waffles at Two Friends patio restaurant we head to the marine hardware store for replacement strainers and a repair parts kit for the broken safety line gate snap hook. (To get the part number, which was written upside down on the strainer I got so far into the compartment under the cabin floor that Larry had to pull me out by grabbing onto my shorts) Once the maintenance is completed it is back to the Schooner Bar for lunch, and a full afternoon of drinks and Michael McCloud music.  He puts on a good show with some new patter between songs, and a new, at least to me song about his dog Cinderella. Lyrics something like

I’m  going to grow old and die

I may not know just how, when or why.

Since my memory faded due to Captain and Coke consumption here is the YouTube link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi2FvnnDry8

Michael McCloud, and The Professor

A woman sat down at a table in front of the stage and dropped some bread crumbs for the pigeons. McCloud stops in the middle of his song and explains how hard they work to keep the pigeons away because when one person feeds them they fly over someone else and shit on their head. “So what I am saying mam is don’t feed the fucking pigeons!”

About this time a crowd of people from a cruise ship pour into the bar and one of them is about fifty, overweight wearing cutoffs and a sleeveless t shirt, and adorned with unattractive tattoos over most of her body. Archie leans over and says, “She is someones Grandmother!”  How does he come up with these great one liners?

Manatee at the water bubbla

Back at the dock we notice a manatee had come to drink water from the hose PATSEAS crew were using to wash down the boat after returning from brief fishing excursion. Man, they are really strange creatures -live in the ocean but need fresh water to drink.

The forecast is for high winds to the north so we decide to hold off for a day!

Day 4

We get to enjoy another day in Key West and put it to good use. The bilge pump has been coming on but can not locate where the water is coming from, all the compartments except the one in the salon were dry, and we assumed that water was a result of opening the strainer the day before. However, after I bailed it out completely the cause is clear. I must have just cracked open the valve for the emergency bilge pump when trying to extricate myself  the day before and water was trickling in.

Larry and I wash down BETTY ANN and decide to get a coat of wax on the port side. The captain of the impeccable, mirror finished PATSEA, who wipes off every drop of dew with  a chamois cloth remarks on what a good job we are doing. I am sure he is thinking he would be fired on the spot if he ever did a job like it.

We head out for a great dinner at Pepe’s and turn in early  - back to sea tomorrow at first light.

I would be delinquent in my reporting if I didn’t mention that, as usual, whenever we have been within cell phone coverage Larry has been involved in several business negotiations. One of the highlights this trip is that a proposal he submitted to the Town Of Charlestown had not been acted on within the required time so was approved by default. (On visits to Town hall he had seen the box sitting under a desk).  So we expect to hear complaints about what I call “Larry’s Loophole” when we return.

Day 5

0630 and we are underway for Brayeton, the end of the line. We enjoy Northeast wind of 12-15 knots on the beam all day with the same forecast for all night. Bets are made between Larry and Archie regarding arrival time – 0800 and 0900 respectively.  I know the wager between a seasoned business man and  country lawyer who have worked together for years will be debated and justified no mater when we arrive. Was it when we hit the waypoint off Tampa Bay or when we docked at the marina? etc.  But BETTY ANN has her own ideas and we sail and motor sail (to charge the batteries) at 7-9 knots the entire way. At our rate of advance we arrive at our waypoint before sunrise and head into Tampa bay under power at 3 knots. We stop for fuel and arrive at twin Dolphins Marina at 0900.

With time on our hands Larry and I finish the wax job on the starboard side.

All shiny again

We go to the marina restaurant for dinner and the appetizers, cocktails and conversation are so good we forget to order our entrees.  Oh well, a taxi is coming for us way before the sun comes up so time to hit the sack.

 

 

Betty Ann – 2011 Northbound

May 30th, 2011

This sailing trip started a little different than some of the others, this would include no planes, and a scheduled layover in Baltimore for a day to visit with a new crew member’s family.  The new member is my friend Kelly, and he arrived at my parent’s house in Rhode Island around 9:00 AM.  The plan is to drive his car to Baltimore where his sister Kerry and her boyfriend James live.  We’ll hang out that night and then get on the boat in Annapolis.  Then Kerry will drive Kelly’s car back north to visit with their family.

The drive down is hot, and Baltimore is even hotter.  We arrive at Kerry and James’ apartment complex to 100 degree temperatures and 99.999% humidity.  Jokes are made about my upcoming move to Texas…”You’d better get used to it.”

After a quick settling in we’re off to Fells Point, MD for some drinks.  Our first stop is Max’s where we have a round of Loose Cannon – Heavy Seas.  This would be a very easy place to stay for a bunch more rounds, but we have limited time and want to make the most of this night out.

Our next stop is Woody’s Rum Bar for Painkillers (James has a rum punch and then switches to Painkillers when he sees our positive reaction to the mix).  It’s hot out on the patio, but the view of the water and the iced beverages keep us cool.  We seem to have developed a bit of a hunger so we make a diagonal path over to Shuckers for Flying Dog Pale Ale, oysters, and a “small” fry, which was “as advertised”.  Seriously, it was a coffee cup dish of french fries.  No bother, our real meal is slowly cooking back at the apartment.

We head back to James and Kerry’s for a rib fest which included the ribs (obviously), Bud Lights, Corn, Potato Salad, and coleslaw with vinegar.  James knows how to send sailors off right!

We watch Idiocracy and then fall asleep eager for the next day and the beginning of a new sailing adventure.

May 31st, 2011

Position: 38 57.931 N 76 25.417 W 

We are inundated with bugs!  I decide it would be great fun to keep track of how many bugs we have each killed and have it on a sort of leaderboard.  I start keeping track but soon realize that this would be a full-time job with the pace that these guys are nailing bugs.  Final tally at end (after a couple hours) stands at:

Jim:  10

Archie: 2

Andrew: 1

Kelly: 0

There were more hits, but I justs stopped writing them down because it was taking me away from other “pressing” matters every five minutes.

We make our way up towards the Chesapeake Delaware canal and finally make it into it.  Our first scheduled stop will be at the familiar Summit North.  We hail on the radio but receive no reply on channels 16 or 9, but cell phones work.  So goes the modern in-shore boating experience.

The dockhand struggles with the two lines while getting us situated on the long finger pier, but soon he has us secure.  This was a very different experience than we would have later on with the handlers at Liberty Landing New Jersey.

Our spot on dock is literally as far as possible from the store, showers and restaurant.  We have to walk halfway around the rectangular marina to get anywhere.  Whatever, the lure of fresh hot showers is very strong.

We turn AC on and crack open some Yuenglings (we need to start drinking beer that easier to spell). I attempt some pictures of an egret but am unable to get a good shot.

In the meantime, Archie returns from his walk all the way over to the marina office (no small feat in this heat and humidity).  He comes with bad news: no restaurant or bar!  They are closed for the holiday!  What?  That’s BS!

We have a shipboard meal and Kelly and Archie do dishes. After that it’s time for books and showers.  Kelly opts for the marina showers, while I elect for the ship shower (after triple-checking for the valve in the forward compartment).  Yeah, that’s a very important little valve.  In a couple of the previous journeys, one of the crew who shall remain unnamed forgot to open this valve.  This valve stands between the shower catch basin and the holding tank (or overboard drain depending on configuration).  In any case, the important part is that if you do not open this valve then the contents of your shower and up all over the coats and other articles of clothing in the locker.  Archie is not amused when this happens.

The shower and beautiful air conditioning work and sleep arrives fast, as it usually does on these journeys.

June 1, 2011 : 09:12 AM

We all slept in this morning since we had to wait for tides anyway.  We take this opportunity to feed ourselves up and Archie cooks up a slamming breakfast of English Muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee.  Pretty much the perfect breakfast anytime, but even better while sailing.

Kelly and I do dishes and then go topsides to fill ship’s water.  The process goes fast because the hose has a lot of pressure (no joke).  After completing this task we head off to the store to buy snacks and make use of the “facilities”.

While waiting for the bathroom to open up I see a cat sunning itself on the rail.  I walk over to pet it and immediately wish that I had not.  Maybe 15 years ago this was a nice fluffy cat…currently this feline is in a state of decay and the fur feels dirty, greasy and clumped under my hand.  He looks at me with an expression that says “Yeah, I know…I’m gross.”

After taking care of business I head inside the store looking to score some munchies which are always seem to be in short supply on a sailing trip.  This is the worst-stocked store I’ve ever seen.  There are maybe two shelves of chips and stuff, except they’re all no-name chips and pretzels.  There are also a couple flavors of pork cracklins, but not much else.  I find something to buy and then head back outside.

On my way out there is a hot chick walking in.  She must be on her way to open the restaurant or something, for sure she’s not going to be operating the pumpout boat.

Back on the boat we check the forecast which is for HOT, HOT, HOT!  Oh, by the way….today’s going to be HOT!  The radio actually says that elderly and animals should not be outside.  Animals?  Really?

Anyway, they didn’t say anything about sailors staying inside so we cast off, exit Summit, and turn left back onto the CND.

The Bruins play today!  I have it on good authority that they’re going to go all the way this year.  That’s why back in the middle of the season I put down $15,000 on the Bruins winning the cup at 5000 : 1 odds…so far so good, we’ll see! [Edit...wow, I really wish I had done that].

It’s already hot in the sun and it’s only 10:00.  When there’s a breeze it becomes fairly comfortable, but without it one quickly becomes sticky-hot; the worst kind.  We are all (I assume, I know I am) looking forward to the Atlantic portion of the sail, hoping that the forecasted winds and cool Atlantic water will chill us down.

The trip down Delaware River is uneventful, our plan worked and the tide changed about one-third of the way down and sucked us down the river.

I went down for a nap shortly after we entered the wide part of the Delaware.  While I was sleeping the topside crew began navigating through the “short route” around Cape May.

When I arrive back on deck, the Betty Ann has been settled on her course up the New Jersey coast.  That’s the best part about shipboard naps, it turns into time travel.

Dad makes burgers for dinner, which are awesome, but Archie is not too enthusiastic about the baked-on beef bits that are left on the griddle they were cooked on.  He was down in the galley for quite a while with the sound of scrubbing coming up from below.

After dinner the sun is beginning to set and the weather radio is going on about the possibility of thunderstorms and tornados.  We are very doubtful that we will see either because as far as we can tell there is nothing around us, and a quick check of the radar on my iPhone shows the closest activity is down in the DC area.  In any case, we decide to err on the side of caution and bring the sails in. [Unbeknownst to us, up in Massachusetts a tornado had already touched down at around 4:30PM killing four people.]

And then this…

When accidents happen on a boat, they usually happen quickly, and this was no exception.  The Betty Ann has roller furling on both the main sail and jib.  The way these work is that each sail has two lines, one to “pull the sail out” and one to “roll it back in”.  The line to bring the sail in is called the reefing line, and it’s also what keeps the sail safely stowed away.

What happened to us next borders on the unthinkable.  The reefing line for the main sail snapped and the main sail proceeded to come running back out to full set.  This is not good.

We sit dumbfounded as to what exactly we should do now.  The sun is going down, there is the possibility of thunderstorms and/or tornados.  Flying full sail is NOT the recommended sail plan for those conditions.

We decide that we have two options:

  1. Bring down the main sail, or
  2. Attempt a re-threading of the reefing line up the ‘reefing screw’, the contraption that spins to pull in the sail.

Winds are now 20 knots, and this, along with the wave action, would have made bringing in a large sail very difficult and dangerous.  Have you ever had an umbrella pulled out of your hands in a gust of wind?  Imagine that you have an umbrella the size of an a-frame on a house and think about trying to wrangle that to the deck of a rolling and pitching boat.

One concern with option number two is that the reefing line will be very hard to thread because it fits very snugly into the threads of the ‘reefing screw’.  This is where Kelly comes up with a fantastic idea to use a smaller diameter line.  It sounds obvious now as I write it (and maybe to you as you as you read this), but I can assure you that if he had not had that thought the rest of this story may have had a very different ending.  The crew decides that a re-threading attempt is in order.

Dad and Kelly don life jackets and harnesses, and after clipping into the jack lines (safety lines that run the length of the boat), go out on deck and up to the mast to attempt a re-threading.

After a few minutes inspection of the reefing corkscrew Kelly comes back to the cabin isinglass and shouts through for pliers and a screwdriver.  Pliers to pull the line, a screwdriver to push it.

Back in the cockpit Archie and I watch as they fiddle with the line and the furling corkscrew.

Another call comes back for allen wrenches.  Archie bounds down  the companionway ladder and returns moments later with the requested item.

Image not this cruise, but this is the "corkscrew"

They start working the new, smaller-diameter reefing line into the corkscrew from the bottom up.

I yell out, “Hey Dad!  Isn’t the end of the line in your left hand coming back to the cockpit?”

He nods, “Yeah?”

Time passes and they make a couple more wraps of line around the ‘corkscrew’.

I call out again, “Hey!”

“Yeah?” comes the reply through the wind outside.

“Do you think it might be easier to start at the top and work your way down?”  He looks back to the corkscrew and agrees.  Ad he continued it would have required passing the entire line through the corkscrew instead of threading it down to the bottom and leaving the rest on deck.

They get it wound up, set the locking bolt onto it with the allen wrench, and then send the remaining slack (from the top of the corkscrew) back to Archie and I in the cockpit.

We bring Betty Ann back into the wind (completely this time), and begin reefing again…

It works!  HUZZAH!  An extra round of grog for these men when we get to port!

With the sail in we can now turn back onto our intended course (we had been sailing forty-five degrees to the wind which in this case was sending us straight out to sea).  I put the boat in gear and begin out turn.  She seems very sluggish.  Oh well, we’re only going a couple knots and the rudder is hard over, maybe she’s just taking her time.  I add a little more throttle.

“Are you in gear?” Dad asks?

“Yeah, why?” I reply.

“It doesn’t seem like we’re moving.”

“Hmmmm, I think you might be right.”

The crew is stunned.We just fixed a major problem with our main sail and now we have another with our drivetrain?  This is impossible!  No really, the odds must be infinitesimally small and hugely improbable (kind of like my bet with the Bruins).

The crew begins troubleshooting in the cabin again.  We loft various ideas of what the trouble might be.  Did we lose the prop?  Is the shift linkage messed up?  Did something break in the transmission?  We shift back and forth between forward and reverse, and throttle up and down…nothing happens except for the engine revving up and down.

Dad and Archie go below to have a look.  Kelly and I stay topside and probably are both thinking the same thing; this is not good.  We have no sail out, and we have no propulsion.  This means we cannot steer and are currently just drifting with the wind (which is still blowing a steady 20 knots), and bouncing and rolling with the waves.

I think sailors, like athletes , are inherently superstitious.  Having two major problems in a row like this cannot bode well for our ship’s karma.  What did we do to make you angry Neptune?  Kelly and I sit in the cockpit waiting for word.

Kelly relays a command back to me from down below, “Shift into forward.”

A few moments pass.

“Back to neutral.”

A few moments pass.

“Shit into forward again.”  I am beginning to wonder what they’re looking at.  I have no other information except for what the state of the transmission should be in.   Thankfully Kelly relays another message back to me, this one a short description of the problem.  Kelly says, “They say they can see the shaft moving when you look in one door, but not when you look in another.”

Ok, apparently we have a magic shaft that only rotates when observed from certain locations, maybe it’s a quantum propeller shaft or something.  Whatever, I await further instruction.

Kelly relays another command, “DO NOT shift into gear!”

I wait another couple long minutes until a new command arrives, “Try it now.”

I shift into forward gear and turn to look behind me.  We have prop-wash!  Fuckin’ A!  Our crew has fixed and conquered another problem that would very likely have daunted a lesser crew.

I add more power and turn back to the north.  I wait until Archie is done with the dishes (he’s still grumbling about the messy griddle) to add full power and come completely back on course.  It felt good to be moving again and if I could do anything to ease Archie’s dish duty (especially after having been upside down fixing the propeller shaft), I was going to make that happen.

Tonight would be an overnight sail to New York City.  Our plan is to arrive in the early morning.  Dad draws up the watch schedule for the night.  It’s a pretty standard schedule.  I was at the wheel when the schedule was made, so it started off with me at the wheel from 8:00PM to 10:00PM, and then on standby from 10:00PM to 12:00AM when dad would be at the wheel.  Archie would relieve my dad at midnight and I would go to bed.  Kelly would be on helm 02:00AM to 04:00AM when I would arrive to relieve him, and he would go on standby until 06:00AM.  Explaining these watch schedules always sounds complicated, but in reality you only need to know one thing when you’re a crew member…who do I wake up.

During my time on deck there was a series of radio calls from United States Navy Warships informing us that they would be doing live fire and rudder tests.  Their position was well east of us, but after a couple rounds of these warnings a new voice came on the radio, this one in a very thick middle-eastern accent, “Please to be telling again what are the coordinates of the live fire?”

My dad and I had a good laugh at this and entertained ourselves by repeating this radio call between ourselves for the next hour or so.  You find any way you can to keep yourself alert during night watches.

Soon we noticed bright flashes off our starboard (right) side – the same general direction of the Navy ships’ reported positions.  We listen for a boom but hear none.  Soon there are flashes every few seconds.  We are hoping that these are the result of the live fire exercises, but were pretty sure that it was only heat lighting.  The storm continued through the rest of my watch, and I would find out later, the rest of the night.

As scheduled, at midnight I go below and leave Betty Ann in the capable hands of Archie and dad.  Minutes after going to sleep however a loud alarm pierces through the darkness of the saloon (the area of our boat that would normally be considered the “living room” or “dining room”, it serves both functions, currently it is also acting as “bedroom” to two sleepy sailors, Kelly and myself).

Kelly and I pop up out of our bunks, and look out into the blackness of the cabin.  I had never heard this alarm before, and certainly Kelly on his first cruise with the Betty ann never had either.  I had no idea what it was, but alarms are never good.  After the events of the evening I think we were both prepared for anything.  What now?  Bilge alarm?  Engine oil alarm?

The engine slows down and Kelly and I look at each other.  We looked like two meerkats on alert with our heads rotating around.  However, the alarm stops and we soon hear the engine RPMs increase  back to normal cruising power.  Satisfied that there is no emergency Kelly and I both crawl back into our bunks and drift back to sleep.

What seemed like a short thirty minutes later we are again awoken by the same alarm; I hope this isn’t going to be a recurring problem.  Actually, I always find that on overnight watches it seems to be when I’m off duty that stuff like this happens.  It’s either some loud noise, or the sails need to be changed, or the jib sheets decide to come free.  I suppose it’s just that human nature thing of “why do the bad things always seem to happen to me?” when in reality it just feels that way.

In any case, Kelly and I are already accustomed to this drill.  Instead of popping into meerkat pose we both just roll our heads and look up at the companionway.  This alarm ends like the first did and nothing happens.  We both return to sleep.

The two alarms are indicated on my watch schedule picture by two squiggly lines in the “12″ box.

June 2, 2011 : 04:00 AM

I am back up on deck at 4AM to relieve Kelly at the wheel.  To my surprise the sky is already beginning to lighten.  I realize that this is because other cruises I have been on were always earlier in the year when sunrise comes later.  It is June instead of the May that this leg usually occurs on.

Kelly and I discuss the alarms from last night, but apart from that not much happened in these early morning hours.  A welcome respite from the drama of the last 12 hours.

Kelly snoozes like a complacent cat in the blue comfy chair while the sun rises.  When Kelly goes below and my dad comes on deck I decide that a snooze in the blue comfy chair is just what the doctor ordered.  The rising sun feels great on my chilled body and I soak up every last drop.  I continually re-position myself for maximum sun exposure as the sun rises and the boat makes minor course corrections.  After my “on standby” watch ends at 08:00AM I decide that I will continue my sleep down in the saloon.

June 2, 2011 : 09:00 AM

Awake at 09:00AM and come on deck to see the Verrazano bridge in the distance.  We are navigating through the entrance to New York harbor and Sandy Hook.  It is a veritable  cornucopia or red and green buoys, as well as permanent lights that mark the multiple channels to these two locations.  Kelly arrives on deck soon after I am up so I didn’t need to go wake him up after all.

Archie makes pancakes which are good and much-appreciated.  As we eat we watch some tugboats getting floated onto a giant floating drydock.  The winds are high which must be making their job all that much more difficult.

Soon after we see the Trump helicopter fly overhead and then up ahead something even more amazing.  There appears to be a tallship coming down the river towards us.  A little closer and we see her unfurl even more sails and soon she us cruising by on our starboard side.  A little research later on would reveal that this is the Maltese Falcon, a 289 foot privately-owned yacht.  Not really a tallship, but a modern sailing yacht equipped with an equally modern “tallship rig”.   Quite a sight to behold.

Soon afterwards we make our standard left-hand turn into Liberty Landing marina.  Remember those winds I mentioned?  We were a bit concerned about our upcoming arrival.  After some back-and-forth with the marina on the radio we discovered that were were assigned a spot that was going to be difficult to get into, with not much room for error.  We raced to complete the required lines for a “port side to tie up”.  It always seems that there is just enough time to get all the lines and fenders ready.  Maybe it’s some sort of conspiracy between boat capitans and marina crew, let’s see how fast these guys an do this.  In any case, it was lucky for us the dock crew was superb and despite the wind attempting to rip us away from the pier, their “capitan” shouted orders around and they quickly had us tied up and safe.

As usual, the boat crew is more than ready for a spot of shore leave.  First we need to tidy up though.  So we wash the boat, wash the people, and then get on a water taxi headed for Battery Park NYC!

Our first stop was PJ Chapman’s (I think that’s what it’s called) for beers where I started with a Sam Summer.  We soon realized that the showers we took back at the marina were unnecessary.  The wind from earlier in the day returned to haunt us as it picked up the water from the nearby waterfall and sprayed everyone nearby.

We paid our tab and took the short walk over to the Tower viewing site.  We also took this occasion to re-fill our wallets with cash at a nearby ATM.

Begin “March to Stone Street” for dinner…

After some aid by our smartphone GPSs and a helpful New York native we found Stone Street, or at least what we thought was our destination.  It didn’t look quite as it was described to us, a cobblestone street with outdoor seating from five or six restaurants.  We’re sailors though, and we saw a bar called Murphy’s and went in. While inside we learned that we were on the “wrong side” of Stone Street, ahhh, that explains it.  Since we were in Murphy’s we decided to have a few beers including a Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat (didn’t get high marks).  Do not recall what the other few beers were, but Kelly and I sampled a few from the bar’s menu.

The bartender was sympathetic to our cause of needing to get to the “restaurant side” of Stone Street and gave us directions.  “You need to walk around the Goldman Sachs building.  The rest of Stone Street is on the other side.” he said.

“Well,” I asked, “Can we just go through the building?”

“What?”  he guffawed, “You can’t walk through buildings!”

Now confident of our final destination and well-lubricated with libations, we resume our march to other side of stone street.  It turns out that we could have done exactly as I was thinking, we could have gone through the “lobby level” and ended up where we needed to be, whatever, no bother.

After a walk up and down the “real” Stone Street checking out the different outdoor seating availabilities, we decide on the Dubliner…might as well stay with the Irish theme.  We have more beer, and I had some pork short ribs which were awesome.

Soon afterwards my cousin Chris showed up and joined us for a few more rounds.  Seated behind us were some Wall Street types who were busy pounding their chests about whatever trades it was they had made that day.  They were loud but harmless enough, and part of the “New York Experience” I guess. As happens when the beers are flowing the time and conversation slipped by and suddenly it was time to go.  Chris led us back to a bridge that would get us back to Battery Park and our water taxis.

We stay inside the taxi where it is warm and soon we are delivered back to Liberty Landing.  We ramble back to the Betty ann where we all have good laughs over the “matchstick boat” story conclusion.  While burying ourselves into our blankets, dad and I come up with a grand bar scheme (a scheme that can only be conjured in the presence of alcohol and has little chance of ever being put into practice, especially after sobering).  Our scheme concerned a wedding party that we had observed earlier:

The Grand Bar Scheme

  1. Find a wedding at a marina.
  2. Show up dressed as a pirate.
  3. Announce:  “I be hired to tell ye of the ways of marriage!”
  4. “But first I be needing a glass with ice, for every marriage starts with a strong foundation, like a bed of rock.”
  5. [someone gets you a glass with ice] “Ahhh….thank you”
  6. “SECOND!  I be needing some RUM!  For every marriage needs some fire!  And you know what, throw some lime in there as well, that can represent the sour spots that will be overcome.”
  7. “Now boys, I’m sorry to tell ya, but the ladies be needin’ some flowery shite in there too, so throw in some pineapple juice and call it a day!”
  8. Repeat until you are found out.

June 3rd, 2011

We depart Liberty Landing and head up the East River.  I’ve been through this piece of water a few times now and I’m actually getting fairly familiar with it.  My first time through I was a little nervous, you hear all these stories about Hell’s Gate and tug boats and the like bearing down on you.  It turns out, like a lot of things in life, actually “doing the thing” is not nearly as bad as “thinking about doing the thing”.  The waters are actually pretty deep and the channels wider than they look on a chart.  There are a few points where you need to pay a little extra attention, but over all it’s not that bad.

The previous night Chris had mentioned that he would be able to see us from his apartment.  We call Chris to see if he can see us, but we are already past his location.  Apparently that was a grand bar scheme too.

We pass through Hell’s Gate, past Riker’s Island and past Execution rock into the Long Island Sound and suddenly is starts to feel like home, well, home waters anyway.

We discuss our options for the day; it’s early and we’re making good speed.  If we want to hit up Block Island it’d be nice to have as much time as possible to get there, so we decide to make for Clinton or Westbrook instead of the standard Port Jefferson.  This will make for a much shorter trip to the BI.

It’s now sometime after noon and I decide to go below and end up taking a long nap.  When I awake I head topside to see what progress we’ve made.

“We let you sleep, so we didn’t change sails.” says Archie.  We are just off Clinton!  Sweet!

The Clinton marina is actually three of four marines all operating out of one giant maze of docks and slips.  We make our way through this labyrinth and end up coming to a dead end near a bridge that we cannot pass (it’s only 5 feet off the water).  We hear a shout and see a dockhand motioning for us to tie up near him.   We finish making the boat secure, the deckhand seems to like us and says he told the office that we’re a 42′ boat (shorter equals less expensive as they charge by the foot).  Thanks!

Begin program:  Showers then off to find food and beer.

We hear that this place Bills has pretty good food and will be having a live band later on.  Sounds good to us!  We initially are seated outside on the deck and it is 100% gnats…nope, no thanks.  We walk back inside and four seats magically open up for us at the bar.  The stars have aligned for us!

We all order some drinks (I think Kelly and I started with beers and Jack and Cokes).  The band starts, they’re ragtime and really good.  Archie loves it and keeps calling friends to have a listen over the phone, holding his phone out to the band like a 13 year old girl at a Hanna Montana concert.  Can’t blame him though, we were all having a great time.

Kelly and I make friends with the ornery bartender Mike.  And guided by the music at our backs, we slip into an easy tempo of Jack and Cokes, Gin and Tonics, beer, Captain and Cokes, and Jack and Gingers…I think we covered all the bases there.

The night began to gain momentum and for a short bit the band was replaced by a high school band.  We didn’t think they would all fit in the fairly small playing area.  There was a tuba, a sousaphone, trombone, trumpet, keys and a drummer.  The trombone player and the drummer were twin sisters which was pretty cool.  The drummer looked very bored at times, maybe her other band is a metal band and she’s used to playing stuff much faster and louder.  We all enjoyed it though as they were also very good.

Scott Woodford appears for the last hour or so.  After the band stops and the bar is closing (something early like 11PM), we make plans to go out to breakfast with Scott.  He says he’ll pick us up the next morning.  Sounds like a plan.

We bounce our way back to the boat and I crash into my bunk with a water nearby, always a necessity to re-hydrate.

June 4, 2011 : 08:30AM

We may have had a large assortment of beverages last night, but we’re up on schedule and ready for breakfast.  We make the call to Scott and he tells us he’s on his way.  He appears in a big Black Cadillac and we depart for the Turtle Cafe.

The Turtle is a cool little joint with a good menu, more than the standard “bacon and eggs” (although you can get that too if you want.  I have an italian wrap, but the frittata is popular and pulls in both Kelly and Dad.  Laura offers to make a store run and all we can think of that we need is mayo and cheese. She doesn’t believe us at first, there must be something else you need she asks.  Nope, I think that’s it.  She is impressed at our apparent magic skill in managing our ship’s stores, but we seriously cannot think of anything else we need.

After breakfast we head back out to the Caddy to find its battery dead.  This is apparently a “known issue” with this particular vehicle so Scott makes a call and soon his son arrives in a truck with jumpers.  We have a leisurely ride back in the caddy, as we drive down the beach Scott gives us the details on how to get out of the harbor using the shorter “east passage”.  He also mentions how boats have run aground taking that route too.  It’s a slightly disconcerting combination of information.

After arriving back at the Betty Ann we all have our pictures taken in the caddy by Laura.  We also give a quick boat tour to Scott and Laura.  They are effusive in their praise of our water-based home, as everyone usually is when they see this beautiful boat.   We drop our lines and go, but not before I see Scott on the other side heading out on another sailboat to go out racing.  His boat would go on to win their race.

After we make it out the passage we turn left towards our next destination and find the wind nearly dead astern.  We set the sails “wing on wing” and also rig up the gybe preventer (a set of lines that prevents the boom from accidentally catching the wind on the wrong side and being blown across to the other side of the boat, a very dangerous occurrence both for the boat and the crew).  However we soon give up as the wind has slowed anyway.  We bring in the sails (we’re getting good at it anyway) and turn back to one-zero-eight degrees magnetic.

Some apples arrive topsides for a snack and we continue our march to Block Island.

June 4, 2011 : 04:00PM – Block Island!

Inside of New Harbor, Block Island we search for our mooring.  Archie has made preparations in advance with a friend to borrow a mooring.  We are told to search for a ball with GEIB printed on it.  All hands are on deck inspecting the mooring balls as they pass by…nothing…we can’t find it.  Finally Archie ends up spotting it from his position back at the helm, and before the three “young’ens” up on deck.

After making fast we use the air horn to hail the launch because the radio is unresponsive.   Our first stop is the Oar for 16oz Rum Punches, hummus + rare Tuna.  It turns out that our waitress is a wife of a family friend of Archie’s, so they talk for a bit before we decide to head out and explore this island a little more.  The rum punches were good, but not $8 good.

We grab a taxi over to Old Harbor and end up watching the Bruins period 1 at The National and enjoy more beverages (Captain & Coke, Gin Martinis, shot of Jameson, Captain & Ginger).  Archie returns from meeting with friends and we head back over to the Oar to watch more Bruins.

Our new waitress is a little rough around the edges in the social skills area, and Archie recommends to our crew at the table that maybe we can pay the waitress to go home.

Shortly before 11:30 we leave the Oar for the last launch.  We arrive to a dark empty dock.  Ehhh….what’s going on here…where’s the launch?  Kelly heads back into the Oar and explains our predicament.  Apparently the bartender called somebody named “Doyle” and then somebody called the harbormaster. While we wait we all head back into the bar to help them clean up by putting chairs on tables and the like.

Finally the launch driver [Buddy?] shows up and promptly exclaims “So let me get this straight.  You thought the last launch was at 11:30.  It’s now quarter past eleven, and you guys already called the cops on me?”

In any case we get our ride back to boat and all crash into our bunks.

June 5th, 2011

I awake to water bottles quenching my thirst and a blanket, very cozy.  Egg sandwiches are made and consumed before the mind has a chance to object.  Then we see the harbormaster coming over to us.  Uh oh, we all think…clearly he’s here to discuss the events from last night.  As it turns out it wasn’t that at all.  He just wanted to make sure that we had permission to use the mooring and that he was “pretty sure you guys were legit because you didn’t run and hide when you saw me coming.”

As is usually the case, I don’t have any journal entries for the last piece of the trip, in this case Block Island to point Judith.  There’s not much to it anyway, it’s only a 12 mile trip.  In any case, we made back without event and delivered the Betty Ann once more to her summer home in Point Judith.