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On Living Aboard

Although the boatyard is busy, we have managed to still remain isolated due to the COVID virus. We haven’t been inoculated as of yet. We’re not eligible because of our ages. That means whenever we venture off the boat, we are sure to be wearing a mask.

The Blonde, my wife, continues to work from home, or in our case, from the boat. She is an architect, and many in her firm have been laid off. She has been lucky. That’s mostly because her job is mostly trouble shooting lots of problems that others have gotten themselves into. She is well qualified for that, with an undergraduate degree in structural engineering and lots of experience. Her workstation is in the salon of our 42-foot Huckins sedan cruiser, built in 1954 out of wood. I have hung a quilt behind her chair so that unless you know us, the fact that she’s working from a boat is completely transparent.
This spring has been different so far for us, as you can see. We managed to postpone our spring haul out, which necessitated a great deal of negotiation with our insurance company. Two things were working against us: the first is the age of Patty O’, our boat. Number two is that she’s built of wood. The ‘W’ word rings all sorts of alarm bells in the marine insurance world. There are very few companies who will even talk with you when they hear your boat is constructed of wood. And then there’s the matter of a survey. Few surveyors are left who are qualified to determine the condition or the worth of a wooden boat. But we manage, mostly because of our record of previous surveys showing Patty O’ being in excellent condition.
We’ve taken weekend trips earlier this season. But there are plans to go wandering off to places we have been to before, but avoiding tying up to a dock. There are still many places to visit without going ashore. Our usual modus operandi is to tow Mustard, our little Century runabout and use her like a car. So far though we’ve only relied on the inflatable dingy inasmuch as we haven’t, as I’ve said, gone ashore so far on our trips. With plenty of time on our hands, mostly due to the Blonde’s work situation we decided to take a week or so and just wonder around, with no particular destination in mind. The Blonde would still be able to do things for work. I have a pretty good wifi hot spot on my cell phone, and although the minutes are limited, it would do. She doesn’t really have all that much to do.
It took the better part of a day for us to compose a list of supplies and fetch, and then stow them aboard Patty O’. We have always prided ourselves on being able to be totally independent and here was the test.
Getting underway on a Wednesday at one in the afternoon wasn’t that big a deal as our immediate destination was West Harbor off of Fishers Island, anchoring in the lee of Flat Hammock, a sand spit that provides good protection. We chose this spot for several reasons, not the least of which is, it’s a nice place to veg. out. Although it’s a popular anchorage, most people who frequent there respect others space. For the years we’ve been going there, we have only twice endured unpleasantness due to unruly neighbors. Once settled, the Blonde checked in with her office on the pretense of checking on something she knew about, to test the effectiveness of my cell phone hot spot. Worked just fine, thank you very much. She was connected for just under fifteen minutes, and I carefully logged the time. She also didn’t mention our location.
Although we had planned to stay at Flat Hammock for a week, that stretched into three. Making one trip back to the yard in Mustard in the middle of the second week, I was surprised at the lack of activity there. Granted, it was a Wednesday, and I arrived shortly after noon, but still, I thought there would be more things going on. Donning my mask, I went in search of Ray, the yard foreman. Finding him in the shop, we chatted for a bit and he brought me up to date on the yard gossip. A rather large boat had had a control issue while docking and did considerable damage to both herself, and one other boat dock next to her slip. Both boats had to be hauled and were now sitting on the hard awaiting the pleasure of their insurance companies. We talked some more about the state of things in the world, and I snuck in the reason for my visit. Giving him a complete rundown of our plans, he nodded and said, “I wondered if that was what you were going to do. I will use your slip for overload. Just give me a day or two notice before you come back.” I know he appreciated me telling him. The yard is a very popular destination and there are times when there is ‘no room in the inn’, to paraphrase.
Running to the grocery store, I filled the list the Blonde had put together and added a few things of my own. Then I checked in with my friend Ritchie using the Blonde’s cell phone. We hadn’t chatted in a while, and I’d completely forgotten to let him know of our plans. We’ve been friends for a long time, and in better times, I help him on occasion when he needs an extra hand delivering the high-end kitchen cabinets and furniture he builds, although that hasn’t happened in a long time due to COVID-19. Having someone else know where we were made me feel a bit more at ease. Of course we could have notified the Blonde’s family. But to them, I am way down the length of their nose. Their feeling is that we live on a boat because we read ‘I’, are financially unable to afford anything else. I have given up attempting to prove to them otherwise. So we just go with the flow.
Back on Patty O’, the Blonde was in the middle of making a late lunch. I’d called her and explained what I’d been up to. Over our meal, we discussed where we would head next. I spread a small-scale chart on the cockpit table. Yes Virginia, we still keep paper charts, although mostly for times like these when we want to get the big picture. All our primary navigation systems are state of the art, including forward scanning sonar. I added that a while back after we ran into a partly submerged shipping container. We sustained significant underwater damage from that adventure, and although the cost for the scanner was high, I thought it was well worth the cost.
Looking at the chart, we decided that a sojourn up the Connecticut River would be in order. We made no firm decisions as to just where we would go; we’d know when we got there. Nice not to have to adhere to a set schedule.
Getting underway early next morning, it was several hours before we were
abeam the red Hamburg Cove entrance buoy. Running up the river I was once again impressed with the beauty on both sides.
Anchoring up on the south side of the channel, we were soon backing into the relaxing mode. We picked the South side due to the water depth there, a bit more than the north. This wasn’t the best place for long term anchoring, but it would do for a day or so until we scoped out a better spot further in the cove.
Sitting in my chair in Patty O’s cockpit with my E-reader, I thought to myself “How can it get any better than this”?
Repeating that to the Blonde, I added, “I picked up some scallops when I was back at the yard. How do fried scallops with Beurre Blank sound?”
“Bubba,” she said, “You ‘da MAN!!