Boat withdrawal is painful. It has been two weeks since I spent time on Kittiwake and I must confess it was not comfortable at all. The heat and some medical concerns kept me at home worrying about how she was holding up during the severe thunder storms that were moving through the area. Thankfully Kittiwake is moored in a marina where fellow dock mates look out for each other. About a month ago, whilst spending the weekend at the dock, we had some high wind gust through and I heard the snap and pop of a sail flapping in the wind. I hurried on deck to see what was up and saw a sailboat a couple of slips away whose head sail had come unwrapped from its roller furling. I ran over to see if I could put thing right only to discover two other sailors already there. Together we re-furled the sail, secured the lines and tied everything off so as to prevent a recurrence of the problem. None of us knew whose boat it was, we were just dock mates who would not hesitate to lend a hand. At any rate, I was feeling a bit of anxiety as I trundled the loaded dock cart down toward the boat and a significant feeling of relief as Kittiwake came into view with nothing untoward apparent. Hoisting my overnight bag, computer case, dehumidifier, and some other odds and ends over the rail and into the cockpit, I climbed aboard, unlocked the hatch and went below. Once below I quickly did a walkthrough of the boat to open hatches and ports to get the air moving, checked for leaks beneath the hatches by feeling the bedding, and pulled up the floor boards to eye ball the bilges for water. All seemed in good shape. Reaching into the bilge I gently activated the two bilge pump’s float switches by lifting them up until they turned the pumps on. They were working fine so I put the floor back in place.
Satisfied that everything was in order I went to the electrical panel and turned on the AC outlets, cabin lights, and VFH radio switches. Climbing up the companion way ladder I started moving the stuff I’d brought to the boat down below. After stowing my gear, I set the dehumidifier on the cabin table to figure out how to get it operating. Ken Gunderson, the previous owner, had thankfully taped instructions to the front of the unit so it was a simple process to plug it in and press a few buttons and adjust humidity and timing setting. Ken had rigged a discharge hose to bypass the removable reservoir tank in the unit so I pulled up the small floor panel near the mast and led the hose into the bilge. I really don’t think I’ll get more that a few gallons a week output from the unit so I’m confident that the bilge pumps can handle it. At any rate I’ll see if it helps keep the moisture down and hinder any undue mildew growth. I then plugged in the portable radio and found an oldies station to listen to as I got busy with some of the tasks I had on my to-do list.
First thing was to unlock the port lazaretto, secure it open with a bungee cord, and haul stuff out so I could lower myself down inside to pull the covers off of the battery boxes. Marina is the one who normally handles this chore as she is flexible and I’m not. Never the less, she couldn’t be there and it has been a month since the water in the batteries has been checked so down into the cramped space I went confident that if I got stuck at least I could call for help with my cell phone. With the covers off of the battery boxes and the fill plugs removed I was pleased to discover that the water levels were pretty good. I took a plastic funnel and added a touch of distilled water to each just to top them all off, then reinstalled the caps and secured the battery box lids. In wiggling around to get things done I had jammed my right foot into a space between the battery and some gear and gotten myself stuck in an awkward position. However, using a few words my Sunday School teacher would not have condoned along with pulling on the hatch edge above my head with my right hand and jerking on my foot with my left I was able to extract myself without having to telephone for help. Another embarrassing old dude situation averted, thank goodness.
Soaked in perspiration I went below and got a ice cold bottle of water out of the fridge, switched on the fan and then took a cold damp cloth to my body and face. Aaahh, now that felt good standing in front of the fan and slugging down the ice water and feeling goose bumps on my arms. As I was standing there I noticed a red light by the stove. I thought I had turned the stove off when I left last time, so I reached over and flicked the switch. It just kicked back on and I tried again with the same result. We had this problem before and had to get an electrician to fix it before moving the boat up from Florida. I check the connections under the sink but didn’t find anything loose. It might be a failed solenoid but I could hear it cycling as I pushed the switch. I’ll have to get up with an electrician and see about this right away.
Looking out the port I could see my neighbor, Jesse, moving about in his boat. He is a diver and I needed to find the nearest dive shop to pick up a set of neoprene boots so I could use my swim fins and mask to clean the bottom of the boat. My swim fins are designed to be used with boots and my old ones, some twenty-five years old, were shot and needed replacement. I hurried over to his boat and asked him about the dive shop, he said that he was headed there right now to get ear plugs as he had lost his and said he’d show me the way. I asked if he knew of a good electrician and Jesse indicated he did and would get the number from his dad, who is also a diver. They have a small father and son boat bottom cleaning business and keep very busy from what I can see. At any rate, I gave Jesse my telephone and email information along with the combination to my boat lock. It is always helpful to have a neighbor who can get aboard if things go awry whilst you’re not around to take care of things yourself. I went back and got a shirt and Jesse and I drove to the dive shop in New Bern where I bought the boots and looked at ear plugs as well. I might do them as the river water might be more contaminated then one might like according to some of the folks I’ve talked with.
Heading back to the boat it started pouring rain; I mean an inch in an hour rain. I moaned as I’d left all the hatches open on the boat. As I got to the dock it was coming down so hard that I couldn’t see the first yachts at all, so ducking my head I hurried as fast as I could to the boat. Climbing aboard I quickly secured all hatches and ports but the damage was already done. Both bunks were soaked, there was water on the table, the floor was awash and the cloths I was wearing were soaked as well. I got some towels and started mopping up the table and floor. After I got the worst up I stripped off my shorts, shirt and shoes, wrung them out as best I could and dressed in some dry shorts. I pulled all the linen off the bunks, got a garbage bag and stuffed the wet towels, sheets and cloths into it. The mattresses were wet as well but I couldn’t do anything about them until the sun came out again. After awhile the rain eased up and then stopped so I took my bag of soaked stuff up to the wash room to take care of it. After getting everything into the washer I sat down in the captain’s lounge to watch what was on TV. Every since my 42 inch flat screen crapped out on me at home I’ve been without the boob tube so it was a treat to veg out while my wash cycled. The crew in the lounge was watching an old, I mean black and white old, Tarzan movie. It was kinda fun to see how corny things were back then, when I used to sit glued to our ten inch round screened TV thinking how great Tarzan, Jane, Boy and Cheeta were.
After the wash was done I goofed off in the lounge for a bit longer looking over the collection of books and picking out one I liked. It was getting close to supper time so I tossed the laundry in the car, drove to town and had pork brisket, salad, and chips to ease the hunger. Back to the boat I read for a time and then adjusted the fan to blow on me as I stretched out on the settee to sleep as the bunks were too wet. I slept all night, which is very rare as I usually get up to go to the head at least twice a night. Getting dressed I pulled the bunk cushions up on deck and laid them out in the morning sun. That chore done I drove up to the old folk’s diner for breakfast. Ice tea, French toast and ham went down quickly as I read my book.
Back on the boat the cushions were already dry so I put very thing back where it belonged. I decided that I’d head back to the house as it was getting too hot for me so I stowed all the gear, tilted the bunk cushions to the air could circulate better beneath them, locked the lazaretto and main hatch, grabbed my bags and walked to the car. Jesse was not aboard his boat so I couldn’t get that electrician’s number, more the pity, but I hope he emails me it sometime this week. All in all I enjoyed myself doing “boat stuff.”