Make your own entertainment

Each generation creates and enjoys its own entertainment. It’s all too easy and judgemental to say things like, “when I was a kid, we did x, y and z, not like today’s youth!”
On our trip out to Cape Lookout this weekend I was reminded of a Sunday back in Northumberland when I was a kid. We had taken the small passenger ferry out to the island and enjoyed walking the beach in solitude on what we’ve called our ‘Out of season tour of America’. The local wildlife was prolific and alive, mostly….dolphins, pelicans, wild horses, plus a slightly stinky dead shark. It was this that evoked the memory.
A badger had been hit by a car along the road from where The Pearson’s lived so a small party of us kids set off on an expedition along the road to see the dead badger. Now that’s homemade entertainment. The creature was quite hefty, stiff but wholly intact as we poked it with a stick and examined it’s impressive digging claws. Expedition complete and with lunch calling we headed back to base camp.
Bellies full, the question was how to spend the afternoon. ‘Let’s go and see the dead badger again someone suggested’. “Brilliant idea, yes let’s” There you go, that’s how we filled our time before Netflix, Instagram and a world of non talented allegedly celebrity, celebrity’s. I think I’ve just contradicted my opening paragraph here. Oops.
Boatwise, we have many half finished jobs, more than have been fully ticked as boatyard life continues. The mast compression post is getting a makeover, the main reason we are here. Other ongoing jobs include…new cutlass bearing, new fresh water pump, new window seals, new zips on the cockpit tent / dodger, new holding tank, various bits of epoxying, new solar panels, cleaning the water and fuel tanks, new sea water deck wash, servicing and overhauling the alternator and starter motor and on and on.
A departure towards the Bahamas at the end of this month seems less and less likely. Ah well, it’ll still be hot and sunny when we get there I’m sure. .



Boat yard life

Sometimes time just disappears. We’ve been here in the boatyard since 21st December  and I find myself thinking, what have I actually done or achieved over the last three weeks or so? We’ve been here over three weeks? Really. Yes Helen.

Control over our timeline is not in our grasp. We are reacting and relying on others.  We are not able to dictate the speed at which the work gets done and also the weather can hold up play. But we do have progress to report. Mast is off and a we have a hole in the fibreglass and bucket loads of rotting wood have been removed.

Next stage involves removing the post that sits underneath the mast in the lounge. In boat speak that’s the saloon, but it’s a lounge to me. There may be rotting gremlins in there too.

It’s hard to remember actually being on the water or indeed journeying. The boat sits in her corner of the yard overlooking the intra coastal waterway, The yard is about 8 miles from the nearest town. There are upsides and downsides to this. The yard comes with a good reputation, is secure and has great facilities for people living on their boats.

Downsides, there isn’t anywhere to walk. That leaves me feeling a bit cooped up. America really does run by car. I still haven’t got my head round how people shop here. Drive to a shop, park outside, shop. The next place to visit may only be 150m away but the protocol is to get back in your car and drive to it. I’ve been frowned at walking across carparks and access roads. Pavements are a rare species.

We did escape the boat yard one day last week and went to New Bern, a town with a pretty centre and the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. I had one little moment which made me smile. We were in a shop and the phone of the person serving rang. The tune was recognisable to me. Ah the West Wing I said. Yes, she said. That’s how I learn about and understand American Politics. Oh, you don’t want to do that was the stern response, as I forget that we’re in Republican territory. I smiled and left.


Naked without a mast

The mast came off this morning. Grace seems naked without it. The compression issues will be investigated this week. By necessity, a hole will be cut in the top of the boat where the mast sits. Only then will we start to fully diagnose and understand what’s going on. It’s a bit daunting the prospect of having a hole cut into your home. New year…new experiences….

What else… It’s pouring with rain. Due to turn to snow later. Then freeze. Apparently a weather bomb cyclone is going to hit the US over the next few days.  I feel like I’m turning into a weather spod.  “A dull or socially inept person especially someone who is excessively studious”. Must stop. Not cool. Note to self.



Walk that plank


Last New Year’s Eve we were in the Cape Verde’s off Africa. I’d been out and had a ‘magnificent’ hair cut in preparation for the all night party in Mindelo. There are photos of me in a skirt and vest top on the marina deck at midnight. It was a balmy mid 20’s.

This year, in Beaufort North Carolina, Grace is on the hard, we have two heaters running and we await temperatures of -10 Celsius at night this week. I have had a hair cut but no great stories to report. Just the usual ubiquitous hairdresser ‘chitty chatty’ nonsense.

There was a pirate walking the plank episode advertised in downtown Beaufort as part of the local New Year’s Eve celebrations. We turned up with about 10 minutes to spare and stood with the baying crowd while at least a dozen people dressed in pirate regalia goaded the crowd. This is going to be mad I thought as snow flakes whisked through the darkness. Imagine our disappointment as a pirate mannequin shuffled along the plank then dropped into the drink. The crowd roared. On reflection it could have been a sketch from Spike Milligan’s Q show in the 1970’s. My head just wasn’t in surreal mode, I was just being a bit too straight-minded.

Life at 15 feet is okay. Our kerosene heater is back from the UK and roars. Backed up by our fan heater, the living space in the boat gets acceptably warm. As I mentioned earlier, with minus double digits this week at night and without the insulation of being in the water, Grace can get chilly. The boat isn’t winterised so we need to make sure nothing important freezes. Like us.

The mast comes off the boat this week. Compression issues apparently. Our list of jobs gets shorter then longer. I have proudly finished my Bimini / Canvas / Velcro / solar panels / sewing project. Only took days of my life sprinkled with a modicum of naughty words. Dave gets to play with cables to wire them in now. Then we need sunshine to see if they work.