Pennies to Pounds

The first thing I ever saved up for was a drop handle bar racing bike. It cost £112. I was in my young teens and £112 was a fair whack. Summer’s working washing dishes and autumn’s picking potatoes let me accrue my pile of dosh. It took a while.

My previous bike was a 1930’s women’s racing bike which I was given. It was heavy, sturdy and went like stink when you got it upto speed. Brakes seemed optional but the leather in my school shoes did the business too, much to my mam’s chagrin.

Having to save up for something that cost more than three figures gave the bike more value than the pure financial cost. Dirt and rubber gloves were involved.

Saving up, just generally to have some cash behind you, is a different thing. It’s an insurance policy, a ‘what if’ fund, but the question is, when do you spend that money? Surely the whole point in saving up and putting a bit of cash by, is to spend it one day and not just grace the bank’s particularly greedy piggy bank. 

Where’s this leading? We splashed some cash on a new prop shaft and a new life raft. Buying a life raft is an bizarre thing. Spend good money on something you never want to use. There’s probably a adjective to describe this but I don’t know what it is.

We went to the Annapolis boat show to suss out different brands and prices. Some looked like kiddies paddling pools that wouldn’t  stand up to a boisterous 5 year old, We opted for something that was the ‘top end of the mid range’ priced rafts. It felt like the best compromise after we’d pondered for a few days.

Good news is we are back floating. All good. Well that’s not strictly true. The generator is not working. It won’t start so we are liaising with the UK, Germany and the USA about getting a new starter motor as it’s still under warranty. It’s a three way email dance.

We’re not big dance fans.

Boat yard life

It’s all been a bit deja vu in the boatyard here in Deltaville. Plans, lists, delays, repetitions and so forth, but our time on the hard is very nearly up. We splash Friday after a mid week trip to the Annapolis boat show to look at, then dream about owning a water maker. Followed swiftly by a consoling beer with some Peeps we last saw in the Bahamas. That bit will be fun.

There has been quite a European contingent here, a few Brits, plus a fair smattering of Dutch and German folk too. And there is surprising uniformity in everyone’s day….early starts, trips to the hardware store (if you’re American) or shop (if you’re british) in either the yard sofa which comes with wheels and an engine or one of the red push bikes which are free to use here. Then routinely it’s days end for showers around 6 or 7 before dinner and bed. This is pretty much everyone’s Groundhog Day schedule here.

There isn’t really anywhere to go. I’ve cycled around a bit in the evening. It’s very flat here which is helpful as the bikes have no gears, or traditional cable brakes for that matter. Pedal backwards to stop. They do have very large saddles which offer unbounded comfort levels in the cheek department.

Chat centres around rotting rudders, caulking and prop shafts. I look forward to moving on again, as the dynamic will change and we can get on with the main business of the day, sailing to new places.

 

 

No ID

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Dave loves potatoes. They are perhaps his favourite food. Roast, mash, lyonnaise, chips, jacket. Doesn’t really matter. In his opinion a meal is not a meal unless it includes potatoes. My take. They are okay but I like a bit of rice or pasta or couscous for variety.

In the boatyard, potatoes are an easy option on the bbq for dinner. Bit of tinfoil, spud on, 35 to 45 minutes later, jacket good to go. I decided that I was spudded out tonight so opted for a cheese and onion omelette. However prior to my eggy dinner I set off on a short bike ride to the shop. I fancied a bit of air as I’d been driving a sewing machine all day. A blast of air and a bit of exercise would be well received.

I needed a purpose for my ride so decided to head to the shop for some cold beers. It’s Friday night. I hadn’t had a drink all week so a cold lager seemed appealing in the last dregs of dwindling sunshine.  I approached the checkout with a 4 pack of pissy Budweiser lagers and a bag of crisps. High quality carbohydrates for a Friday night.

”Can I see your photo ID?”. “I haven’t got any” I said. “I’m 53” I said laughing (well actually guffawing uncontrollably)  and ruffling my hair to show my greying temples”.  I then realised this was in fact a lie as I forgot I am now 54. “I can’t sell you anything without any photo ID. You could try the 7/11”.

I left shaking my head in a ball of laughter with my solitary bag of crisps. Refused alcohol at 54. I thought those days were long gone.

And she was right. The 7/11 didn’t care. They sold me lager with gay abandon.

Relaxing Sunday

Our day stared at 4.33am. My UK phone rang. Shit. It’s an emergency at home. I leapt (well shuffled quickly) out of bed but inevitably the phone had rung off by the time I got to it. It was a buddy of ours from the uk. Ah, I thought. It’s a trouser pocket phone call. Unknown, unintended, uninitiated. I sent a message saying I think you called me by accident. No, I tried to call, came back the message, but I’m sorted now. Good I retorted in good humour. It’s 4.33am in the morning here so I’m going back to sleep. Oops, 😀 was his response. He’s a sweetheart.

After that we had a slow boatyard day. But we do have a working fridge now so no more luke warm drinks and we pumped the paddle boards up for a choppy excursion across the bay here in Fishing Bay, Deltaville, Virginia.

Dave is being sociable this evening with the other boatyard dwellers here. I’ve bailed out. There’s some lovely folk. However often the chat turns to boats and boating life which after a short while, bores the pants off me. I know I’m part of this crowd but it’s not my whole life. I am interested in other things. I’m more comfortable in smaller groups where you can actually get to know people and the conversation moves around a lot more. Sounds a bit ironic I know. We’ve been boat based for over 3 years now. But just cos I live in a boat, doesn’t mean I want to chat about it all the time.

We imagine being out the water for about another two weeks. Then it’s up to Annapolis as there’s a big boat-show there. And we hope to meet up with some folk that we haven’t seen for a while. In the meantime, we will be watching the http://www.nch.noaa.gov website for any big time hurricane activity.

And as a footnote. Please don’t call me at 4.33am. It’s too stressful.

Last weekend in Blighty

 

Time is almost up. Pack tomorrow, fly Monday, start varnishing on Tuesday.

It’s been great here in Blighty. Seen a shed load of people. Whizzed around the country a bit. Done a modicum of work. Been out playing some too. So all in all a full on successful time.

It’s reassuring to know Britain is still full of kindly folk and mad characters. They provide a welcome distraction from the political fug that currently permeates and consumes daily life.

I met a old boy at the local cricket game who informed me he’d sung Frank Sinatra’s My Way in pretty much every boozer in the East Midlands. His rendition, (there was no way he wasn’t sharing his self professed talent) was truely awful and was delivered in true pub singer style. I asked him why My Way, to be told it was the only tune he could remember the words to. Small mercies.

Don’t know when we’ll be back next. We’re on our way to New Zealand.

Days out

 

We’ve lived in Derbyshire for a number of years. It’s a gorgeous county with varied and stunning countryside, epic historic properties and pretty, welcoming villages.

Our trip to the uk this time round has been longer than previous ones. So I was keen to get out and about in Derbyshire and enjoy what it has to offer. You know how it is. You live somewhere for ages and rarely visit the great places on your doorstep.

Friends came to stay do we went to Chatsworth for the day. Dave cracked the maze, Ollie got wet at the Emperor Fountain, Sam kept up remarkably well on his crutches, post his knee surgery, as we hiked upto the lake that feeds the fountain and Biddy completed the dog agility course. And her dog Ilka did some of it too!

My sis, family and cousin came over too. Charades continued late into the night after Aunty Helen had taken the kids swimming while the parents went for a quiet afternoon coffee / beer. Good Aunty.

We flew over to Jersey for a couple of nights. Our friend Ken said, “You’re the only people I know who can have a holiday from a holiday and then go on holiday”. The weather wasn’t great but we still got some beach walks in and Dave got his fix of boat conversations chatting to Ben till late at night.

Time ticks. Less than a month till we fly back now. Hope Grace is behaving herself.

 

 

Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant is an unremarkable terrace. It sits proudly above Cromford in Derbyshire and boasts 8 houses. No cars reach here. Access is on foot via a switchback path that heads upwards towards the sky.

The properties are pretty darned small. Front doors open into front rooms with a galley style kitchen nestling behind. Upstairs, a bedroom, a bathroom and most have second bedroom up in the top of the house. Most have a garden but the garden is not necessarily next to the property. Weird I know.

The bare facts reveal so little. The views are stunning, the day light hours long and warm as the sun confronts the cottages for most of the day. The community is tight and secure. No one goes to Mount Pleasant without a reason. It’s a bit like Norwich.

This terrace was our happy happy home for many years. Until boat life. As we’re back in the UK we called by to say hi to our new tenants. And to check out painting the windows. By complete chance we bumped into the owners of one of the properties. It was lovely to see them and catch up on their news.

That night I started thinking about the amazing people who have lived, or live in that terrace. And what they’ve done with their lives. Here’s a very small snapshot. Made an award winning feature film, walked the Pacific Crest Trail (2700 miles) with their two kids aged 10 and 13, run a small holding, been a semi professional actor with a passion for musicals, set up a massively successful well know business then sold it to be able to retire super super early, studied at Cambridge and now works in Russia, makes beautiful bespoke guitars from tin boxes and sells them occasionally to the rich and famous, a professional storyteller who spent a lot of time in Palestine working with disaffected children and that’s just for starters. You get my gist. Mount Pleasant has been home to some remarkable people.

And just or maybe more important, it’s about who people are, not what what they’ve done. So many good eggs have passed through that terrace. My friend Becca who is sadly no longer here being a prime example of that. Kind, generous, selfless, stuff that matters.

Mount Pleasant, a place that inspires.

Boat life seems so distant. But life is still full and happy. We’ve been out cycling a bit and Dave’s been out climbing while I went to work. Yes, I know! He has been holding the fort at our temporary home which is just lovely and much appreciated. Thank you Grist’s.

 

Dangerous cheese

I have a minor cheese injury. I was scrapping cheese from the inside of the grater when a small solid piece got lodged under my finger nail and dug into the skin underneath. It’s a bit stingy but probably not serious enough to get me out of washing up or getting the boat ready for her two month abandonment. Perhaps I need to big it up a bit more. Watch out for dangerous cheddar.

We got hauled the day before yesterday. Not straightforward and an all round slightly anxious procedure. 20 ton Grace was maybe two feet out of the water when the boatlift driver started staring at one of the pulleys high up which was making a strange noise. So back we go into the water as spanner-ing and new parts are required. Glad he heard that before we were fully out of the water and relying on the lifts integrity to keep the boat from splatting onto the ground.

A few hours later, the machine is back in place and we’re ready for take two. It’s tricky to line up the two slings that will support Grace as she is hauled out. Because we have an arch at the back of the boat where a couple of solar panels reside plus the wind generator, the boat can’t sit too far back in this lift or this array of power generating appliances will get mashed.

I wander off as there’s nothing I can really contribute here. I chat to a couple on a boat who tell me a story about watching a very expensive Nordhaven Boat get dropped by a boatyard in Trinidad and smashed to smithereens. Cheers guys. Time and a place for such stories and now is not it. Then the guy starts lecturing me about boat-lifts and marking where the slings go for the future. What I want to say and what I do say are quite different. My body language and looks obviously not landing anywhere near his sensitivity radar.

I start to walk back to the boat and there’s a unpleasant screeching slipping sound as Grace settles into the slings. Will Mr Insensitive get another tale to tell? Thankfully all is good and the boat gets hauled. She’s a bit lopsided in the slings but she’s not going anywhere.

It’d gone 4pm by now so we spend the night in the slings and the following day we get moved to the yard where Grace will stay on her lonesome for a couple of months. So it’s two days of sorting the boat in preparation for leaving her. Sails are off, running rigging is off, holes in the hull blocked off so no nasty creatures can crawl in and make a home. It’s super sexy this boating lark.

The contrast to life on the water where there’s some breeze, to being parked on land where there’s none, is palpable. By 11am yesterday it was in the low 90’s. Not massively conducive to being productive and getting chores ticked off. Ah well, the outdoor swimming pool and bbq will call around 5pm. That’s the carrot for day’s end.

We fly tomorrow. Fingers crossed our taxi to Dulles Washington turns up.

Nice hat!

A very brief post script. We pulled up onto the dock in Great Bridge this evening after day three of motoring up the ICW. I’d been writing a proposal for work for several hours while Dave has been Cap’n, steering the boat.

We were both ready to stretch out legs so did a loop round the woods before a later dinner on the boat. On our way out, a jogger coming the other way stopped. “Nice hat” he said. Completely unprompted.

Linguini Hat

The Cat in the Hat

I’m not a hat person. I believe they are primarily things to be worn of necessity in the hills and mountains to deter chilliness. So unsurprisingly, my personal hat collection is limited. One baseball cap from a client event about 7 years which serves to keep the sun off and is really a bit on the skanky side of pleasantness now. A woolly beany for warmth and a back up warm waterproof hat with deputy dawg ears should I loose the aforementioned woolly garment.

My reasons for not being a hat person are two fold. Number one, when I wear one I look like an idiot. Number two, I feel ‘hemmed in’ wearing one. I will generally resist the necessity to wear one until basic reasoning takes over. What I really mean here is, I’m too hot or I’m cold.

My friend Biddy is a hat person. She looks great in a hat. And I think she’d appreciate the new addition to my collection. Where’s this all leading……well I have a new hat!

We’ve been in warm places of late. The sensible gene kicked in and I decided hat protection was the way to go. Budget allocated $12. Requirements…big, straw, stiff not floppy, lightweight plus a string to stop it blowing away. I can report all requirements were met other than I blew the budget. I frivolously spent $12.95. We were exchanging texts with some friends and I sent a picture of my new hat as part of the conversation, well he said, you can always use it to strain pasta!

So with my new linguini hat in position, we are heading up the Intra coastal waterway from Morehead City, North Carolina towards Norfolk Virginia. We spent 4 days at sea getting from the Bahamas to Morehead. It turned into a trip of contrasts. Some great fast sailing, periods of no wind where we turned the engine on and some relatively unpleasant beating into the wind with confused seas and occasional waves in cockpit. That bit wasn’t much fun as I wished to be miraculously teleported to somewhere….anywhere.

We are on a bit of a deadline to get up to the Chesapeake to get the boat hauled out for summer. We will back in the UK from mid July to mid September, a trip that’s been planned for several months, although we haven’t actually booked flights yet as we wanted to be 100% sure of being close to the airport. Too much previous history here!

A last snippet. Three years ago today we moved onto the boat. She sits slightly lower in the water as she now has to transport an extra hat.