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On Living Aboard

With Mustard, our little twenty-foot runabout finally in the water and the Blonde, my wife, back at her office, things were relatively quiet around the boat yard. There’s a lot of talk on TV news and in the papers as to the number of hurricanes expected to hit the east coast this season. It’s always an interesting subject. For obvious reasons, I do keep close tabs on what’s going on in the world of the hurricane. We usually opt to remain in the yard and ride out any storm that has the audacity to wander this way. We have a system that has worked well for several of these things. If we do decide to move, that’s all pre-planned as well. Depending on the storm’s course on the way up the coast determines which side of the gas dock we secure to.
With that in mind, I laid out all the gear we would need in the event of the visit of one of these things. I do this every year. First, we have new dock lines all spliced up.

If the wind is going to be from the east or northeast a bridle that wraps around Patty O’s hull is rigged which attaches to a line that’s run out to a large plow anchor that’s set in the middle of the cove. This is marked with a buoy, as it would be very difficult to remove after one of these storms pulled on Patty O’. It is very comfortable to have all this pre-arranged. Any other direction and we tie up on the inside of the dock with lines running to pilings ashore.
In the event we find it necessary to move out of the cove, we have a number of locations we’ve visited. And depending where the storm is predicted to hit will determine the best place to go.
I’ve become quite a couch potato lately. After the busy spring, it’s nice to have nothing pending. Also, there’s the price of fuel. Patty O’s tanks are full and here’s hoping we can keep them that way. There is a tentative plan to head north to the Maine coast, that we’ve had on the back burner for a couple of years, but it’s been pushed back a bit further due to the current cost of fuel disaster.
In the past month, I’ve twice given my friend Ritchie a hand, in moving kitchen cabinets. He custom builds cabinets and furniture for a living, using exotic wood that he stores in his heated barn. He lets me keep Mustard in the barn darning the winter. For that, I help Ritchie move his product around. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. The condo we were heading for this time was up twelve flights normally reached by elevator. There is also a freight elevator that is usually big enough, but not this time. Of course, he could take the cabinets apart to make them fit the elevator, but he opted to muscle them up the stairs instead. It took a while. The other one was a breeze; one flight up an outside staircase.
While I was helping Ritchie, the Blonde went on a rare field trip to Los Angeles to solve a problem that had been a pain for the people at that branch. She is an architect with an undergraduate degree in structural engineering. Her job is to troubleshoot problems in any of the many branches of her firm which are spread all over the country. She flew business class and that is just great as far as I am concerned. There was a time when I too, would fly all around the country for work and believe me, it gets old pretty fast. We are told that COVID is pretty much over but the cases seem to still be bouncing up and down. Less chance of catching it flying business class. Because it’s a troubleshooting mission, there’s no telling when she will return. Thankfully, she is very good at what she does, so she’s never gone very long.
It didn’t take long for me to get restless sitting around Patty O’ doing nothing. Packing a lunch and jug of water, I headed out into the river with Mustard. It was a treat to zip under the bridge without having to call for an opening, which is necessary with Patty O’. It was made better because a freight train was slowly passing over at the same time. Once in the channel, I turned the wheel to port and headed up river. There is a neat anchorage about two miles up the river that is a good spot to anchor and eat lunch, which is just what I did.
It was very relaxing kicking back and watching the river traffic go by. There were several tugboat barge combos that went by, heading for one of several oil depots on the river. I also watched two atomic submarines heading out accompanied by civilian tugs. Then my cell phone rang.
“Hey Bubba!” said the Blonde. “I cleared up the problem and I’m catching the early morning flight outta here. I should have never been called in the first place. Heads are gonna roll!” She was obviously not happy. I could imagine the conversation with her boss. “I’ll see ya tomorrow afternoon. Not sure of the time, but I’ll call ya.” We chatted a bit and hung up. I took a drink of my water and gave some thought to what I’d make for supper tomorrow night. A half-hour later I put everything away and headed back down the river for the yard.
Down the river and interestingly, there was a freight train passing over the bridge to the cove as I was going under, the same as when I left. Headed over to Mustard’s slip, and there was a boat tied up in it. Pulling up close, I hailed the boat, a Bertram 31 that looked like it was not taken care of very well. I hailed the boat and told the person who looked over the bridge that they were in my slip. “We won’t be here long, just go to another slip for a bit. You’re small, you won’t get in the way.”
“Sir, the point is, is that that is MY slip.” With that, he disappeared back into the cabin.
Mustard’s slip is located on the starboard side of Patty O’ when she’s backed into her slip, with a dock between them. Right now, Patty O’ is docked bow in first to give us privacy in the cockpit. Pulling in next to Patty O’s starboard side I tied up and hung fenders between the boats.
I was not about to confront the guy in the other boat as all this does is start trouble and it was painfully obvious that nothing I could say would have any effect.
Walking up to the office I took a deep breath. Ray, the yard foreman was there and when I told him what was going on, he pulled up the dock layout on the office computer. Turned out that the Bertram’s slip was the one Mustard was presently occupying.
“Ok,” said Ray. “Tell him his is on the other side of you.”
“Ray,” I said. “When I told him he was in Mustard’s slip, he told me to, “Just move to an empty one.”
“Is that so? All right, we’ll take care of it then.” He answered.
“OK” I answered, “But I’m in the one you gave him right now.”
He sighed visibly. “OK. I’ll give you a few minutes to move over to the gas dock. When you see him move, wait a few minutes and head back to your slip.
“Better than that. I’ve got a few things to pick up in the store. I’ll tie up on the backside of the gas dock and head back on foot. That way I can avoid dealing with him.” He nodded and said, “That’s a good idea. That way we can avoid any conflicts.”
Back I went and moved Mustard to the gas dock and went into the store. Spending a good half hour, I picked up what I needed and some stuff I didn’t. Watching Ray walking up the dock I went back to the office to see how he made out.
“He’s moving,” Ray said as I walked back through the door. He wasn’t happy, but I told him it was either that or leave. He’s cutting his stay short. Laughing he said, “He also asked why we allowed ratty old wooden boats in the yard.”
“Was he talking about Patty O’?” I asked. “Yup.” He said.
“He wanted to know if I knew she was sinking.”
“What?” I asked. “Why would he say that? Patty O’ looks and is in far better shape than that dirty piece of plastic he’s on.”
The Bertram did look pretty rough, but they are built very strong and like every fiberglass boat let go will only ‘look’ like they are gonna sink.
Ray chuckled and said: “It’s obvious he doesn’t know boats very well. He said that your bilge pump was running constantly. Oh, by the way, he doesn’t know who owns the boat. I told him about the AC cooling water, but I don’t think he believed me.”
This isn’t the first time this has come up. I have fabricated a thru-hull trunk that feeds several overboard discharges into one. It’s a large hole in the hull above the waterline. Patty O’ has a very efficient heating-cooling system, and the AC portion is water-cooled. The cooling water is pumped overboard through this discharge. Many people mistake this for bilge pump water and this is not the first time I’ve been called to task over it. A lot of people think that because a boat is made of wood it is always in the process of sinking. It doesn’t take much to keep a wooden boat in good shape, but you do have to do it! If you do nothing, that’s when problems start. And, once let go it takes work to get it back.
I had some shopping to do that would keep me away from the yard. As I drove out the gate, I thought, “Wait a minute. I’m making an effort to avoid going to my own boat due to some clown?” I came close to turning around. But I didn’t. No need to get involved.
After several hours in town visiting the local lumber yard, several hardware stores and finally a grocery store visit for tomorrow’s meal with the Blonde, I headed for the yard.
Parking my truck, I had gathered everything I could carry in one trip; it was going to take more than one and started down the dock and met Ray coming the other way.
“He just left.” He said. “And I do want to thank you for making an effort to avoid an incident. It was pretty close a few minutes ago when he was leaving. He insisted on being refunded for a day. He had a tough time understanding that if he left early, it was on him.”
“Hey,” I said. There are good days and bad ones,”
The Blonde pulled in about three the next day. I had a couple of custom-cut rib eyes ready to hit the grill once she got settled and had a bit to relax. Turned out that there were no business class seats available until later that day which would have put her back here after midnight.
She got a good laugh over the Bertram adventure. “You did the right thing, Bubba.” She said, giving me a peck on the cheek. “You sure did.”
We clinked glasses and I was happy we were together.