Rainy Days and Mondays Get Me Down -July 4th

July 1st fried us, and today we are drenched.  Weather is a huge factor when cruising, but you have to learn to roll with it or you will hate this lifestyle. 

Friday we left Deltaville after 4 days docked having boat repairs. Our anchor light had to be replaced and while we were at the travel lift, we had Ragtime pulled to check her bottom.  We had not seen this view since 2009 when we first saw her on the hard in New York. Even I am amazed at the immensity of a sailboat out of water. For my non sailing friends, I thought you would find the bottom interesting. 

While in Deltaville, we did laundry, bought groceries, ate lunch ashore, and spent money at West Marine all thanks to the courtesy vehicle from Deltaville Yachting Center-great marina and nice folks. 

Friday afternoon we anchored in Carter Creek beside The Tides Inn. The Tides is where Jacob did his externship through Le Cordon Bleu several years ago. The inn was built in 1947 and caters to upscale families. We dinghied ashore for a late lunch at the poolside restaurant. Dinner prices were more than we wanted to spend plus the heat and humidity was horrible on Friday. I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t even contemplate the idea of dressing up for dinner!

We had a huge thunderstorm that we had to ride out that afternoon which cooled things off considerably. 

Saturday we left for Urbanna, a little town of about 500 further up the River from Irvington where the Tides is located. For the first time on this trip weather and wind cooperated. We were able to sail with both sails. There was enough wind, we eventually needed to reef. We lucked into a fabulous Independence Day celebration that evening complete with boat parade and fireworks!  I’ll have to post these photos later when I can download from my camera. 

Yesterday it rained all day. Finally we gave up, donned our foul weather gear and went to town to check out Urbanna. What a nice surprise. Glad we did but unfortunately it was so late in the day most of the cute shops were closed. We did manage to find a great little BBQ restaurant that also served great desserts. We all had coconut rum pie except for James who had his chocolate ice cream. 

Today it is still raining, and we are motoring north to the Great Wicomico River for an overnight anchorage. It’s barely 70 degrees and cooler than that in the wind. Can hardly it’s July 4th!!!  I am making deviled eggs, hotdog chili, baked beans and hotdogs for supper. I had hoped to find a watermelon to make our meal complete but brownies will have to suffice. 


Happy 4th of July🇺🇸

Bruises, Bugs, and Bathing June 21, 2016

    We’ve been gone less than three weeks, and my body looks like I’ve been on Survivor!
The first week I managed to trip on the marina sidewalk in Oriental, NC coming away with a badly skinned knee, palm, ankle along with accompanying bruises.  Next came those horrible green headed biting flies and mosquitoes.  The mosquito bites itched, but the fly bites hurt!  Adding to the bruises and scabs were red welts on the ankles and other random body parts.  To add insult to injury I missed a step in the cockpit and fell just missing my skinned knee but succeeded in banging up my other one along with pulling my left arm.  Oh,and I must not forget hitting the top of my head on the boom.  Thank goodness for Advil and Tylenol.  I am truly grateful that I’ve not broken anything.  There’s always something to be thankful for.
    Bathing deserves its own paragraph, maybe a chapter, but I will give the condensed version.  We have running hot water and not all sailboats have that.  We have two heads (bathrooms), but keep in mind they are tiny!  Have you ever watched “Tiny Houses”, been on a RV, or used a porta-potty?  You get the picture. I do like the economy of being able to sit on the toilet, brush my teeth, and wash my face all at the same time :-).  The sink faucet doubles as a shower head meaning you pull it out, get the right water temperature and hold over your head while trying to soap up in this minuscule closet meanwhile wetting down the whole bathroom including the toilet, counter, and floor.  There is a drain to the bilge and the whole bathroom is somewhat
clean, but I either let it dry or have to wipe it all down.  My solution to daily bathing is filling the sink with water and having as my mother would call it- a “whore bath” .  About once a week or more, we dock at a marina and get our “Saturday” bath!!!  Ahhhh…
    Quite a few years ago, we took a dear friend who is no longer with us on a sailing trip.  One of the mornings as I was pulling my hair up into a ponytail and cramming it under my cap, he remarked, “Sailing isn’t for beautiful people.”  I didn’t know whether to be offended or to consider it a compliment as to my love and dedication to the sport. 🙂 I always think of my friend Dave on days like today.  We walked over a mile from the American History Museum on the Mall to our boat at the marina in pouring down rain with only a museum plastic poncho.  Sailing is not for the “beautiful people” or high maintenance, but it is always interesting.
IMG_1435

Cooking on a Boat   June 14, 2016

Be forewarned avid sailors, this blog is not about the rigors, adventures, or technical aspects of cruising. In my humble opinion, I think it’s a worthy topic because it is a necessity of cruising unless you’re a bare bones kind of sailor. This is also for my non-sailing friends who ask, “What do you eat on the water?” and “How do you cook?”
I mostly cook what I do at home except for baking cakes (although my fellow sailor friend is baking cake mixes and I did bring a mix). We are actually eating healthier because amazingly we are eating out less than at home, and I purposely have bought less junk food and more fresh fruits and vegetables.
First of all we do not have a microwave, and I do not miss it at all. I cook on a three burner with oven propane stove. We only have two electrical appliances-small coffee maker and a vacuum food sealer that I use when we have shore power. I toast in a non stick fry pan with a little butter. At sea I brew coffee in a French press. My can opener is a Pampered Chef manual that I also use at home. It’s truly amazing how few gadgets one needs to cook a delicious meal.
Weather plays a role in my meal planning. On cold days I bake bread, cook casseroles, and roast meats. On hot days I avoid the oven if at all possible. I have discovered two “how on earth have I survived without” items-a pressure cooker and a heat diffuser. The pressure cooker allows me to cook food faster which equals less propane and more importantly less heat! The diffuser is placed over the burner and diffuses the heat enabling simmering which is hard to do on the propane burners.
I had read on sail blogs and groups about cooking with a pressure cooker and how I should have a diffuser. My pressure cooker dates back to the days of S & H green stamps! I only use it at home to cook black eyed peas and hotdog chili. Thanks to Google and a pressure cooking cookbook, I can now bake potatoes, cook rice, and have plans to cook a roast. The baked potatoes were fluffy with tender skins and only took 20 minutes to cook. I may continue to cook them this way at home.
I kept meaning to search the Internet for a diffuser before we left but forgot with the myriad of other details needing to be done. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon one in a hardware store in Oriental, NC while James was shopping for bolts for one of his boat projects. It was only five bucks!

Pressure Cooker and Diffuser

Finally Leaving-June 2, 2016

Leaving from Charleston Harbor Marina fuel dock early Thursday morning, June 2nd

Leaving from Charleston Harbor Marina fuel dock early Thursday morning, June 2nd

Our long awaited retirement sail trip got off to a rocky start. James had planned to retire the end of 2015, and then to our fortunate surprise Eastman offered an early retirement incentive package that included a years salary! The only downside was he couldn’t retire until March 1, 2016 which was a very slight change of plans as we had hoped to maybe leave early April. Since we had boat projects to complete, we decided to race one last time in Charleston Race Week with May 1 being our leave date which also corresponded with the end of our marina lease. After several trips to Charleston prepping Ragtime for our extended trip came to a brutal halt when mast troubles were discovered the first day of the races. We feared a new mast was in order which sent us home quite distressed. fortunately it was our standing rigging which ended up being a much easier fix. Still we had lost ground time, because we had put the other projects on hold. It was not meant for us to leave the first of May. We extended our lease for a month and mentally prepared ourselves for another month wait.

You know how hindsight works and providence if you believe in it. May ended up being a tumultuous month for the Littles! We had to have our 15 year old redbone coonhound put to sleep on April 4th. On May the 4th we repeated the agonizing decision for our 21 year old cat. I had had many sleepless nights the past year wondering who was going to care for our aged pets when we left. The Littles’ pets kept the Rainbow Bridge busy. Jacob, our younger son, also lost his beloved little dog during this time. We were thankful to have been home to comfort Jake. Someone recently asked when was the last time I cried to which I responded, “The whole month of May!”

One of my dearest friends lost her father in May. I was eternally grateful to have been here for her. Another dear friend was buying a house which meant I was able to participate in the process with her. And I was able to celebrate my 60th birthday on May 6th with my closest friends.

The whole delay has been a growing experience for me as I have practiced living in the moment. It was a constant reminder that plans are just that-plans. Life on a sailboat is a phenomenal learning laboratory for Type A people like us. We need it!

Tuesday, May 31 was about new leave date. Month lease was up, weather looked good as Bonnie had moved inland and we were stocked and essential projects were done. Except the engine mount that was  to be delivered on Tuesday did not arrive until Wednesday. But the delay meant having some Charleston friends over for drinks and goodbyes and being a tad more rested for the overnighter.

I am writing this on my IPad sitting behind the wheel of Ragtime as autopilot steers with fine tuning of the sails by James. We are clipping along at about 6 knots. We should make Southport, NC by mid morning. We have a marina slip reserved for Friday with plans to visit with some friends from our sailing club back home. Did I say plans?

Back in Charleston

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We are back in Charleston Harbor Marina cleaning Ragtime.  After docking at 4:45 am on Monday morning, we managed to sleep for about 4 hours before having to get up to get Matt to the airport.  Needless to say after eating lunch with Rob and Minta, we were worthless.  James took a nap that extended into bedtime.  I took a mini nap and then had several long phone calls with my “besties.”  🙂

Today was the backbone cleaning day.  James washed everything on top, cleaned out the locker, and made multiple phone calls to the marina office regarding our slip.  While we were gone, a different boat was put in our adjoining slip.  We were unsure if we could both fit into the slip, but with help from the marina, we managed to put Ragtime back into E34. We had docked on the A Dock extension on Monday morning because of the tidal current.  I cleaned out the refrigerator, pantry, began packing, plus did laundry.

While packing the multitude of clean clothes that we never even wore, I fully realized I had over packed!  The winter clothes that were sent home with Rob and Minta had all been worn, so I did ok in that department.   I thought we would need more summer clothes because we would sweat more, but it turns out that I was able to wash at least once a week.  Like a dog and a fire hydrant, I never passed up a laundry.  Note to self for future trips:  a week’s worth of clothing is enough.  When I am on the water, I don’t worry about wearing shirts and shorts multiple times.  Just give me plenty of undies!!!  As I was folding HOT clothes from the dryer, I reminded myself that commercial dryers do not seem to have a low setting no matter what the button says.  For future trips, I will rethink bringing tops that say to dry on low.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are leaving today.  After hitting it hard for two days, we have cleaned and put Ragtime to “sleep” for a few months.  We plan to have her hauled out for a bottom job this summer.  There are also numerous small repair projects that we left in the hands of our capable boat management guy, Mallory.  We will not be back until the end of August when we will be back for a wedding.  We both have mixed emotions as we leave Charleston.  It has been a great 11 weeks, but there are portions of our lives that we definitely miss back in Kingsport on dry land.

While we were gone, they made significant progress on the new restaurant at the marina.  Fish House is slated to open the end of the month which is tomorrow.  I don’t think they will make their deadline but maybe next week.  There is also a marina store adjoined to the restaurant.  We will look forward to checking them both out in August.

Fish House Restaurant

Fish House Restaurant

Marina Store

Marina Store

P.S.

May 20, 2013

Dear Cubs,

This will probably be my last letter to you.  Mrs. Little talked on the phone with Mrs. Harrison earlier and said graduation was Wednesday.  Wow!  The year has flown by hasn’t it?  We are in Miamarina at downtown Miami.  Today was a work day to get the boat ready to sail back to South Carolina.  Captain James scrubbed the decks, and I helped wash the dinghy.  There was salt and seaweed all over the boats.  When we left Key West, it was quite windy with lots of big waves that splashed all over the boat.  When the sun dried up the water, it left the salt.  Mrs. Salyer, it was like a science experiment.  I helped Mrs. Little wash the screens.  See the salt crystals.  While Mrs. Little did laundry, she left me to vacuum.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming

Cleaning salt off screens...do you see the salt crystal in my paw?

Cleaning salt off screens…do you see the salt crystal in my paw?

Even though I am tired after working hard all day, I am excited.  Tomorrow I get to meet Mrs. Little’s son, Matt.  He is flying into the Miami airport to sail back with us.  Another friend of the Littles is coming also, Mr. Rob Fannon.  His wife teaches art at Sevier Middle School.  You will meet her next year.  She is a sailor also.  We are going to be sailing back day and night on the ocean to get back home quickly.  If the weather holds, we should be home by the weekend.  Everyone will take turns taking a watch (a certain number of hours to sail the boat) while others will sleep.  Matt and Mr. Fannon are good sailors, so I feel safe.  I have found a special place to ride on the boat when it gets rocky.  See me in my little pouch.  When it’s calmer, I ride on the compass with Captain James and help steer the boat.

My pouch

My pouch

Helping Capt. James steer Ragtime

Helping Capt. James steer Ragtime

Sometimes I sit in the drink holder.  It is a very comfy seat.

Sometimes I sit in the drink holder. It is a very comfy seat.

Mrs. Little was going through her pictures and realized she had some pictures she hadn’t sent you.

The closest thing to a video machine that I have played in 10 weeks!

The closest thing to a video machine that I have played in 10 weeks!

Bed made of straw in the old fort...wasn't comfortable.

Bed made of straw in the old fort…wasn’t comfortable.

school in St. Augustine

school in St. Augustine

Oldest School

Oldest School

Mrs. Salyer, I will continue to write you if we have Internet connection on the ocean.  I will call you when I get back to Kingsport, so you can come get me, please.

Love,

Cubby

Cubby in Key West

May 17, 2012 Dear Bear Cubs, I have been too busy to write you lately.  Last week we finally arrived at our end point of our trip-Key West, Florida.  Key West is the last island in a string of island reefs known at the Florida Keys that are 150 miles long.  It took us three days to sail from Miami to Key West.  There’s an easy math problem for you…approximately how many miles did we sail each day? Would you like to hear about my adventures in Key West?  We met some friends of Captain James and Mrs. Little.  Uncle Chris and Ms. Anne flew to Key West to spend several days with us.  They were very nice to me and treated me just like family. The most amazing thing was that we spent four nights in a resort hotel.  Uncle Chris invited us to stay with him at this beautiful place called Parrot Key Resort and Hotel.  We had our own bedroom, and I even had my own BIG bed! Unfortunately the adults had so many activities planned for each day that I didn’t even have time to go swimming.  We were so busy each day that I would fall asleep in Mrs. Little’s purse before we even got back to the hotel.

Hoping to go swimming

Hoping to go swimming

my very own bed

my very own bed

On Sunday we took Uncle Chris sailing on Ragtime in the Florida Bay.  After sailing for a couple of hours, we came to a reef called Sand Reef where we could snorkel.  Have you ever done that?  I have snorkeled in Mrs. Salyer’s swimming pool, but she doesn’t have fish and coral reefs in the bottom of her pool.  It was so exciting to see the tropical colored fish and the interesting shaped corals growing on the sea floor.  At first I was scared because all the fish were bigger than me, but Mrs. Little assured me they wouldn’t bother me.  In fact they mostly ignored us.  I don’t imagine they’ve ever seen a bear.  Maybe they thought I was a baby human???   After snorkeling for a few hours, we sailed back to Key West and watched the sunset in the Gulf of Mexico.  Yes, not the Atlantic Ocean.  Ask Mrs. Salyer to show you Key West on a map.  It was a beautiful sunset.  Apparently watching the sunset in Key West is a touristy thing because they even have a place on shore called Mallory Square where hundreds of people gather each evening to watch the sunset.

snorkeling

snorkeling

Sunset in Key West

Sunset in Key West

On Monday Ms. Anne’s flight arrived.  We drove to the Key West airport in Uncle Chris’ rental car to pick her up.  She was so happy to finally meet me.  I guess she’s been reading about my adventures.

Meeting Ms. Anne at airport...she thought we should look at the brochures to plan our trip

Meeting Ms. Anne at airport…she thought we should look at the brochures to plan our trip

I was hoping the rooster would give me a ride.  They are everywhere!

I was hoping the rooster would give me a ride. They are everywhere!

After letting Ms. Anne deposit her suitcase at the hotel, we drove downtown Key West for a sightseeing day.  We went to three museums: the Truman Little White House, Mel Fischer Treasure museum, and the Ernest Hemingway House.  They were all very interesting. Maybe Mrs. Salyer will let you look up these places on the Internet and read more about them.  I think my favorite was the Hemingway House because of all the cats.  Apparently Mr. Hemingway had this cat that had kittens and then more kittens.  Now there are more than 40 cats living at the house and are all relatives of that first cat.  They were quite friendly.  They are also polydactyl which means they have 6 toes!!!  Some have the extra toes on just two feet and some on all four.  Something else you should research.

one of the Hemingway cats...he just ignored me

one of the Hemingway cats…he just ignored me

cat cemetary

cat cemetary

the cat's house

the cat’s house

I asked Mrs. Little to take my picture with the pirate.

I asked Mrs. Little to take my picture with the pirate.

Me. Fisher's motto

Me. Fisher’s motto

I have on my ticket to go to the Mel Fischer Treasure museum.

I have on my ticket to go to the Mel Fischer Treasure museum.

On Tuesday we went sport fishing.  Uncle Chris hired a man by the name of Captain John to take us out in his big fishing boat.  We motored a long way off shore, about 20 miles.  Captain James and Uncle Chris caught a humongous fish called an amberjack.  It weighed about 65 pounds and took them 45 minutes to reel in.  It was strong and fought so hard that they had to take turns with the reel.  When the fish finally was caught, everyone was exhausted, even the fish.  I sort of felt sorry for him, but he was put in the ice locker.  Next Captain John took us to a place where we caught 13 dolphins.  I was concerned when they said dolphin because I love those creatures but these are not the same kind of dolphin.  They were about 24 inches long and look nothing like the dolphins you see swimming in the ocean.  After we got back, Captain John cleaned the fish and gave us a bag to take with us.  We took it to a Thai restaurant that he recommended.  They cooked it for us.  I have to admit, it was delicious!

cleaning the amberjack

cleaning the amberjack

catch for the day

catch for the day

Uncle Chris, Captain John and Captain James posing with the amberjack

Uncle Chris, Captain John and Captain James posing with the amberjack

Wednesday was our last day with Uncle Chris and Ms. Anne.  We had breakfast at a French restaurant and then went to the Key West Lighthouse and the southernmost spot in the United States to take our picture.  At the lighthouse I had my picture taken in a banyan tree.  Notice how the branches grow to the ground.  Something else to check out. I hated to see Uncle Chris and Ms. Anne leave, but they had to go back to work.

Climbing a Banyon Tree

Climbing a Banyan Tree

Mrs. Little and I are in the southernmost part of the USA

Mrs. Little and I are in the southernmost part of the USA

We are on our way home now.  We spent the night in Marathon Key at a mooring field.  Tonight we will anchor near Rodriguez Key and then should be in Miami by Saturday evening.  I miss you all and am sad I will not be there for graduation to tell you good-bye.  Have a great summer and come see me next year.  Don’t forget about me when you go to middle school. Much love, Cubby