Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 2014.

I've been discreetly keeping tabs on my friends as they make their annual migration southward towards warmer climes. Fortunately, the house has kept us too busy to get too melancholy over our new land based lifestyle.  I might be exaggerating a bit as I do really enjoy being here but you get the idea.

The laundry room used to be in a nook off the garage. So I put up a wall and now it lives in its own room that's part of the house. While we were at it we opted to significantly increase the size of the master closet.

The obligatory raised garden was built in time to take advantage of this years planting season.
Not quite Babylon but close enough for us

The galley is old but in very good shape so it'll be a few years before we update everything but it had this ridiculous little leg holding up a section of the countertop.
Christy has a shit ton of cookbooks so I ripped out the leg and fabricated a bookshelf for all those guides to culinary delight.
The haven for the cookbooks

Of course, as everybody knows, land livin' costs money so I had to get a job. The majority of the boats I've seen around here are fishing boats powered by huge outboards. Unfortunately, I don't know shit about bigger outboards. I had to find myself a sailboat/ trawler oriented place.

Then I got to thinking “What else would be important to me?” So I took a little trip down my very own nautical repair memory lane. About a year and a half before Christy and I jumped aboard the Veranda and left, I got a job at Silver Cloud Harbor Marina on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey.
Yes Dave, I still have one of the shirts.

I wanted to pick up as much nautical boat repair knowledge as I could before departing on our own adventure. I worked in the yard crew hauling and splashing about 350 boats twice per year. In the rare slow times I often was utilized as a spare set of hands by the staff mechanics so I was able to pick up quite a bit. The biggest thing about the job was that in spite of the hard work, I loved going there. The place was a family business and the work force was treated like they mattered. They knew that if the employees succeeded the business would flourish and the family would reap the rewards.

After a few years aimlessly floating about we started working during the summer months. Due to the combination of numerous boats and people with loads of money, Annapolis was the logical choice.

I took a job with Viking Marine Services. I worked for Bjorn and Dullard and the big draw was since the company was a mobile repair business that the gig came with a company truck. Having the truck on the weekends made laundry and grocery shopping sooo much easier. Bjorn was one of the most knowledgeable repairmen I’ve ever met.
Always loved that longboat....
Working alongside Bjorn was an education. Working with Dullard was something quite different. He seemed to be completely inept at everything he did. (One of my favorite Dullard in the spotlight moments) His contribution to the company seemed to be that he knew everyone in Annapolis. He was a bullshitters bullshitter. At first he was the foot in the door for Bjorn but he became more of a millstone around Bjorns neck than anything. After 2 seasons of working for them, we came back to Annapolis from a winter down south to find that they had parted ways and the company had folded. Working with Bjorn was great, while Dullard caused a lot of friction. Not quite the family business like Silver Cloud had been.

So that season I started at Annapolis Harbor Boat Yard. That was a pretty big place with about 16 employees. The crew and management were close, with one unfortunate exception. The owner. We had several frank discussions where he bitched about feeling uncomfortable coming to work at his own business because he felt like an outsider. Yet he ran the place like it was a mega corporation rather than a family business.
No, its not me
A company that size has to have a good repoire between the owner and his employees and at best it was awkward. Why anyone would go out of their way to create distance between them and their underlings is beyond me. If any place had the opportunity to be run like a family business this was it since rumor had it that his Mommy had bought him the place. Treating people like children does not make it a family business.

After a few seasons at Annapolis Horror Boatyard working for Pete and Michelle at Lunbar Marine was a dream come true. Lunbar was also a mobile marine repair business. Pete was an airframe and powerplant technician in the aviation industry in his previous life and he brings that “quality first” mindset to the job with him every day.
If you need work done in Naptown call them....
He's another one of those people that employees would do anything for because they know he'd do anything he could to help them. His employees really are treated like family.

So after my reflections I realized I wanted to find a family business. So after some word of mouth I got a referral to a place only a few miles down the road from us. It's at the end of a long stretch of road and when I came around the last bend I was excited to see a field of mastheads sticking up towards the sky.

The place has been run by the same family for more than 60 years. Twenty employees, 2 big travel lifts running all day and a lot almost the size of Jabins up in Annapolis. I've been at the job for 8 days now and things are feeling pretty good. I think I might get adopted....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Eagle has Landed

November 10, 2014.

The circle is officially closed. The Veranda has been gone for 5 months and we closed on our “new to us” house this past week. Once the closing was complete we loaded up the car, left Annapolis and headed up to my Mom's house in Jersey to pick up the rest of our stuff that's been sitting there for 9 years.

I wanted to rent a large truck and pick up all our shit and drive it to Florida ourselves. But finding our way through the realities of shore-side life have left me a little confused. We could actually have a mover pick up all our shit, drive it to Florida and drop it off, cheaper than we could rent a truck and do it ourselves. Alrighty then, man of leisure it is. Although it does bother me.

So we met the movers and watched as 3 dudes we didn't know from Adam took everything we owned and drove away. We drove back down to Naptown on Saturday morning and picked up the last of our belongings and set off southward at 70 knots. The car was so full that Bob the Boat Plant had to be left behind. He's been with us through thick and thin for our entire life afloat so we lopped off a few sprigs to replant later. It's not the same but it'll have to do. Tucker's bed was on top of everything in the back seat so when I looked in the rearview mirror we were eye to eye. He looked relieved that it was Bob that we opted to leave behind.

He settled in for a series of long naps as we barreled south. We decided to stop for the night at at a Days Inn in Manning, South Carolina. It was a little seedy but bargained priced so we made due and did our best to settle in. Early on in our stay it became apparent that several of the other nearby units were rented out to permanent residents. Not the Trumps either. I'm pretty sure I could have scored either crack or a hooker with no trouble at all had I been so inclined. I'm almost positive I’ve seen this place on multiple episodes of COPS.

I'm not digging the scene at all and I start having this weird premonition about someone breaking into the car at 0300. Crap. I need some rest but its Saturday night and the locals are fidgety. I convince Christy to turn in and we're asleep by 8 PM. At around 0100 I’m awakened by a noise outside and I get up to check the car.

There are 2 guys just getting home from the bar. I know because they were still carrying their bottles. The first guy stopped directly in front of our car and said something over his shoulder to his buddy. The second guy stopped and looked for a while and then moved on towards their room. WTF could be so interesting about our car? Crap. Now I'm up at every hint of a noise whether real or imagined.

So I'm bug eyed and awake and by 0200 I have Christy up as well. I go out to pack our crap into the car and there on the ground is a pair of 6 inch heeled hooker shoes. They must have been the object of the boozers conversation. I can't believe that I slept thru the hooker losing her shoes but whatever, I'm awake now. I'm sure that room was last rented by the hour so I know the clerk was impressed with my stamina when we checked out after having the room for 6 hours. Its 0230 and hey look, the Verandas are once again up and underway southward. It was the same morning that our friends on First Edition were planning to pull their hook in North Carolina at 0300 so once again we're not the last one out of an anchorage. The whole 70 knot thing is getting to be awesome and we pulled into our new neighborhood at 1000 hours on Sunday morning.

I spent Monday morning painting a pantry that was evidently the wrong color. And on Monday afternoon I ripped out 7 hibiscus bushes so I could install a raised garden for the Admiral. I'm a little bit jealous as we read about our friends heading for tropical locations but keeping busy at the new hacienda is helping.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 08, 2014.

One of the biggest downsides to selling the boat was something we never considered. We'd be leaving Annapolis for good.

It was boatshow time and some of our friends called to say that they were in town. Shane and Maryvonne on s/v Gem 1 were in town and wanted to get together. We planned to meet them at Pussers during the sail boat shows break down party. During the party the sailboats all leave the show and the docks are reconfigured and the powerboats arrive for their stint of boat showiness.

It's a pretty popular scene and one that we had never attended before while staying here in Annapolis. So we parked the car in Eastport and walked over the Spa Creek bridge into town. And then we started running into people that we've met during our years of summering here in Annapolis.

We had to encounter 30 or so people that went out of their way to say hello. Some folks I see on a weekly basis while others I haven't seen in more than a year. And yet they were all so happy to run into us this night. Some were customers who I couldn't believe remembered our names yet on that night they treated us like long lost friends.

I hadn't really considered the roots we had put down while here. There were a lot more ramifications to selling the boat than either one of us had ever considered. We were only here because of the boat. The Veranda enabled us to create so many friendships and to become part of this wonderful community. We'll so miss the locals who have accepted us into their lives and have become such good friends.   After a few cocktails and saying our goodnights we walked back across the bridge towards home.

We were arm in arm when Christy said it best. “I'm really going to miss Annapolis”. Thats just something we had never considered. Crossing the bridge in the dark of night the lights in the harbor were never so beautiful. Although the tear in our eyes might have lent something to the beauty.

We really are going to miss this place....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 22/2014.

I'm thinking of writing a television script. The working title is “It Couldn't be my Fault”. It would follow the travels of some broken boat crap repair guys as they go from boat to boat. It would center on that customer meeting where they invariably say “ I dunno how that could have happened or I had a guy on the boat who....”.

Broken crap is always a mystery, its the boat letting THEM down, never the other way around. It never fails due to neglect or misuse. Maybe the previous owner did beat the shit out of it, it could be because the part was destined to fail due to poor design. Sometimes things are jammed in where proper maintenance is impossible. But every once in a while you run into a boat where you just wonder “what the hell was he thinking?”.

Case in point. The owner of a high end sailing yacht decided that since his boat would be on the hard for four summer months in the balmy Chesapeake that he would fight off the mold in his own special way. There’s gotta be at least a hundred commercially available products for combating mold. They run the gambit from dehumidifiers to packets of magic absorbent crystals. This guy knew better and since he had solar panels he decided to leave one of his Camfrano fans running full tilt for the four months.

Nobody can pinpoint when the fan actually failed but when it did fail, it was spectacular. A complete meltdown. Fortunately there was no fire but there is mold. Go figure.
You won't see this picture in their advertising.....

The China Syndrome, fan style.

Then there was this guy. Oh wait, its the same guy. The whole theory of winch maintenance must be lost on him. After the winch was chiseled out of its base this is what remains. Several tablespoons of salt, sand and nautical grime.
Service the winches....EVER?

The owner supplied replacements for both cockpit winches. A pair of bright, shiny new Lewmars. Tiny Lewmars. The old winches were 58's and I’ve been given a pair of dinky 46's. I exaggerate when I call them dinky but they are substantially smaller. Why would anyone opt to intentionally go with a smaller than stock winch? The loads on cockpit winches are huge. The old jib sheets will probably be too big for the new stripers and have to be replaced with smaller ones as well. And who doesn't love trying to hand haul tiny jibs sheets under high loads. Sure, hes saving some money on the winches by going smaller but then hes got to buy new jib sheets. Why would anyone do that? And then it became clear.....hes selling the boat.

He will be that guy everyone is always badmouthing, The Previous Owner. Its kinda like meeting the Devil. A shadowy figure that everyone always speaks of but nobody could pick out of a lineup. Hes under the bed, hes in the back corner of the dark closet, hes that bump in the night. The mention of his name makes your skin crawl and your hair stand on end. Unless you're bald, then the thought of him just gives you gas. Hes always central to most boaters nautical horror stories. His stench fills the bilges, his touch is still felt in the creative wiring choices in every electrical nook and cranny. Improper hoses, wires to nowhere, JB Weld repairs, the hidden switches and fuses, all of those WTF was he thinking moments. Maybe every boats naming ceremony should include an exorcism. Add some Holy Water to that rum and it might make the difference. Every naming ceremony should include the phrase “Cast out the Devil from this new to us boat”.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 18, 2014.

The news is full of dire warnings about the menace that is Ebola. Don't fly, beware of traveling on cruise ships and definitely don't go to Dallas. But no matter how I scan the pages I haven't seen any warnings about Eholda.

I guess its because this terrible malady only affects a specialized few. Thats right, Broken Boat Crap repairmen. Eholda is the overwhelming feeling of “stenchiness” that results from dealing with holding tank replacements. It can be physical, mental, as well as malodorous.

I've been mentoring a young protege for the last few weeks as our time here in Annapolis draws to a close. Today we were tasked with replacing the holding tank in a small Island Packet. The tank has been leaking so it had to go and as long as we were at it the owner opted to replace everything. The tank, the head itself and every hose, oh joy. When I say every hose I mean EVERY hose, even the vent line and the hose from the deck pumpout fitting. Everything. It turned out that 1 of the hoses was 14 feet long and its replacement required the removal of the ships batteries and the stereo and the VHF. Nothing is ever easy.

So Tonto and I gloved up and I pointed out which hoses had to be disconnected. While I crouched in the head to remove the throne Tonto got started taking off hoses under the settee. I immediately knew when the first hose popped off. First there was an “Oh God” and then the small sailboat was filled with the stench of Deaths own cologne. After that first assault on your senses you just kinda get used to it and the job wasn't really too bad, or so I thought.

We were on our way to lunch when I mused how funny it was that the first hose stunk so much and after only a moment we really couldn't smell it anymore. Robin quickly responded with “YOU couldn't smell THAT anymore?” Lol. The sensitivities of youth.

After lunch it was time to pull out the tank itself. Like most IP's the holding tank is located under the settee. There are no limber holes so if you dump any liquid while removing the tank you have to bail it out rather than flushing with fresh water and letting the bilge pump do the dirty work. This tank fit its space like a glove. I had to chisel away the bonding goo and remove the 3 hose barbs to pull the tank from its home of more than 20 years.
I'm thinkin' that this leakin' thing has been going on for a while.

Even though the tank had been pumped out there was still an inch of fecal fun slopping around inside the tank. And because the universe has this twisted sense of cosmic humor the only way to pull the tank out was by tilting it up and out with the openings down. Crap. Literally.

Being the good soul that I am I had mercy on Tonto and while he took the tank up onto the dock I bailed and cleaned the settees base. I'm sure soaking up 2 gallons of shit with a handful of paper towels might have made him reexamine his current career path.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 11, 2014.

The Liebster Award is a way to promote other cruising blogs that you've enjoyed reading. We had The Liebster bestowed upon us and at first it was a little awkward for me. Since we've sold the boat and are in the process of gravitating back to land I didn't really feel as if I had the right to be involved but then I figured, what could it hurt. So here goes....
  1.  When did you first catch the sailing/cruising bug? I can lay the blame squarely at the feet of the movie Captain Ron. A charter trip to the BVI's cinched it for us. We were surrounded by dozens of drunken charterers acting like frat boys at their first kegger and I watched a few cruisers arrive and anchor off to the side to avoid the masses. The cruisers just seemed more in sync with the moment to me.  We spent the flight home seriously plotting our escape.
  2. Describe your worst repair or maintenance job on the boat besides the head. Everyone already knows that’s a shitty job. During our 8 years aboard the Veranda I'm pretty sure I've repaired just about everything on the boat at least once. Replacing the electrode in the LectraSan was definitely the most distasteful. I had to replace the dampner plate between the engine and the transmission only 3 months into our first year. It involved moving the engine with basic hand tools, a lever and a length of rope. At first it was overwhelming but I had to just settle in and get it done. That episode helped me to develop the attitude that “yup, its broken, just settle in and fix it”
  3. If you could turn back time just 3 years what would your cruising life be like today? If I could turn back time just 5 minutes I would have asked a different question because now I have that stupid Cher song in my head. Changing anything might have cost us the opportunity to have met someone that we enjoy. Cruising has been good enough to us that I wouldn't want to risk that. We're happy with where we are so we wouldn't change anything.
  4. Music soothes the soul. Do you listen to music onboard? What type of music and on what media? If it’s 70’s disco please decline the award and I’ll remove you from my feed. Just kidding. Feel free to add a mirror ball to the salon and dance all night long. I don’t judge. Much. Christy and I have very eclectic musical tastes. One of my favorite things about cruising was the live music we would run into just anywhere. The amount of truly talented musicians out there was eye opening. We had an Ipod wired to the ships stereo. I left with a taste for Blues and Classic Rock and along the way I added Bluegrass to my list of likes and Country no longer makes me vomit. Although I've decided that I've heard enough Jimmy Buffet to last a lifetime.
  5. Was there ever a time on the water when you thought "Oh shit!" and all the fun was over for that day? I think every cruiser has had that moment. Probably more than once. We left Beaufort, NC headed for Charleston. We were racing a front and the front won. The wind and waves were so big that when we diverted to Winyah Bay it took us almost 8 hours to sail the last 15 miles. So we spent a few days moving down the ICW and settled in Beaufort, SC to wait for the next weather window. A few days later we sailed out of Port Royal Sound headed for Saint Augustine. We left with 4 other boats and sailed straight into a nightlong gale. 45 knots with 15 footers made for a long night. It was the only time Christy ever complained and all she said was “I'm NOT having a good time”. It was brutal. We arrived in St. A at dawn and still have no idea where the other boats ended up.
  6. Wine, beer, booze or tea? Doesn't matter to me. I get high on life.  Christy's a wino while I’m a rummy. She went from bottles to boxed while I went from beer to rum in an effort to save space on the boat.
  7. Has there ever been a destination you couldn't wait to arrive at only to be disappointed when you got there? For me it would be Rum Cay in the Bahamas. How can a place called Rum not be fun? For me the town was kinda sad and was bordered by miles of dead reef.
  8. What part of cruising do you dislike the most besides no flushing toilets or bloggers asking stupid questions? Leaving family and friends behind is the biggest issue. The rest is only minor inconveniences like doing laundry, powerboaters on the ICW, folks who need to talk politics at happy hour, the rare bad bridge tender or the boater who arrives, drops the hook, jumps in the dink and now his boat becomes your problem when the wind picks up.
  9. Describe the best time you ever had on a boat unless it was illegal, then just email me. Check your inbox. But seriously, there’s just so much joy, so many good times that its impossible to pick a favorite. We've probably shared cockpit cocktails a thousand times and spent most of that time laughing. The people we've met, the friends we've made. The evening garbage burns, the beach side “bring a dish to shares”, turning the corner into an anchorage and running into someone you haven't seen in ages. Its all so good. Helping someone cobble together a repair in the middle of nowhere when they feared the worst is one of the most satisfying things you can do. The excitement of your first gulf stream crossing. Sailing across the banks at night and having the sun rise allowing you to see the beauty thats been slipping under your keel all night. The sharks, the lobster the Hogfish oh my. Having a cay to yourselves for days at a time. The joy in recognizing a friends sail crest the horizon. And the matching joy as you watch them pull the hook once again leaving you to yourselves.
        10.  I was asked to answer 9 questions but one of my delightful idiosyncrasies is that I don't do                 odd numbers.  So I wrote a tenth question to round out the list.  So you spent 8 years living aboard the boat; did you learn anything? Thank you for asking. Actually we did. I discovered that my wife is a terrific partner in every instance. We've dealt with horrible weather, breakdowns, horrible weather, equipment failures, a refit, horrible weather, multi-night passages and Christy has never wanted off the boat. You can't expect to succeed if you are dragging your partner through an experience like this. She was as eager to start the trip as I was and she remained fully invested until we decided to call it a wrap. I'm truly humbled by her capabilities and no, shes not reading over my shoulder.
I also learned that a lot of people are really stupid. Common sense isn't so common. We've seen people do more stupid and downright dangerous things on the water than we ever could have imagined. Its almost as bad as stupid people driving except it happens slower so you have more time to watch. We've met the friendliest people while traveling by boat. We've also made new and cemented old friendships while underway. We can't imagine the people that wouldn't be in our lives and the memories we wouldn't have if we hadn't cut the docklines. The biggest fear when contemplating an adventure like ours was “Are we doing the right thing?, Can we do this?” So in conclusion, the biggest thing we learned was that yeah, for us, it was the right thing to do and yeah, we could do it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 7, 2014.

A local boat brokerage is run by a crew I like to call the Dudes. There’s the Head Dude, a couple of lower echelon dudes and then then guys at the bottom of the barrel, the dude scrapeins'. Needless to say, dude, is a big part of their lingo. There’s “this dude, that dude, duu de, oh dude” and on and on. We do a lot of work for the Dudes as they receive boats with issues and we repair them to make them both sale and sailable.

The Head Dude is a great guy and a big part of his boat selling schtick is selling the cruising lifestyle as well as selling the boat itself. He sells the romance of sailing.

The Head Dude has this longtime buddy, Pinhead, thats a bit of a fuck up. Pinhead envisions himself as being a competent mariner, a delivery captain, a boat repair god as well as a damn capable glass and paint guy. A more accurate description of Pinhead would be an alcoholic crackhead with reliability issues. Yes, hes a drug addled fuck up with limited skills.

Pinheads got no real income stream and the Dude being a good guy tries to send a little work his way every now and again. But as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I first met Pinhead a few years ago when he was refinishing several nicks and scrapes in the paint on a damaged hullside. He had finished the repairs and primed the areas. I asked when he was going to shoot the paint and he informed me that it was already done. There’s like 28 shades of white and paint matching by eye can be extremely difficult. Its a skill. There was no skill on this hullside. The boat looked like a Dalmatian. I thought it was only primed and he was telling me that it was done. Eeessh.

Fast forward a few years and due to issues Pinhead isn't allowed near brokerage boats anymore. But The Dude decided that he'd entrust his own boat to Pinhead for its maintenance needs. The Dude owns a catamaran that needed a little work done on both engines raw water pumps. The starboard side just needed the impeller changed while the port side needed the pump removed and the seal replaced.

After Pinhead completed these 2 repairs the Dude and some friends went out to enjoy the bay. The starboard engine shut down followed shortly by the port side engine which also just stopped. After sailing back to the dock The Dude gave us a call.

The starboard engine room was completely black. The soot from the engines exhaust covered every square inch of the beneath the quarterberth engine room.
This is after one of the dude scrapins started cleaning the engine room.
By the time I got to the root of the problem I looked like a filthy chimney sweep from Mary Poppins.

It seems that when Pinhead changed the impeller he didn't bother to go looking for the missing vanes from the previous impeller. I found them all jammed into the heat exchanger. There were so many pieces that it had to be the remnants of more than one impeller.
You can't leave those old impeller bits hanging around.
This beaver dam of impeller bits led to a brutal overheating. Opposite sides of the heat exchanger blew out where the heat exchanger bolts to the mixing elbow allowing hot exhaust gasses to spew into the engine room until the engine finally died. The heat exchanger is fairly rotted with corrosion and this excessive heat probably just accelerated its demise. While the starboard engines failure is sad enough the port sides failure will go down in boat lore as a Pinhead Classic.

The bolts that hold the raw water pump are difficult to access. Pinhead told The Dude that while trying to remove them he rounded one of them off. So he had to cut the last nut off to remove the pump. It really was his only choice but its his tool of choice that makes it fun. I might have used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel or maybe a Fein Saw with a metal blade. Pinhead decided to go with the old standard, the Sawzall. You know, that big reciprocating saw that you might use while building a deck. Combine a tight space, an awkward position with limited access and a wildly stroking, 6 inch blade....what could possibly go wrong.

After completing his “repair” Pinhead fessed up and told the Dude that while cutting off the nut he had nicked the corner of the engine and put a “pinhole” in it. But not to worry, it was a tiny hole so after scrupulously cleaning the area he had mixed up a little JB Weld and patched it up.

Evidently it wasn't quite clean enough so while the dude was out with his friends the patch leaked and the engine pumped all of its oil out into the bilge. While I dealt with the starboard engine my boss went after the port side. He saw that the JB Weld repair was leaking so he poked at it with the tip of his knife and the whole “repair” popped off revealing the pinhole. I heard “Oh my God, you gotta come see this”.
Thats quite the "pinhole"

A Sawzall, really?
It turns out I could stick the tip of my pinky into the “pinhole”.

The engine needs to be welded. Before committing to that we did a temporary repair, refilled the oil and fired the engine up. We did get her running again but she has the worst knock I've ever heard. So now at a minimum The Dude needs a multi-thousand dollar heat exchanger/ exhaust manifold on the starboard side and at this point we haven't even looked inside to see whats knocking so badly in the port engine. There is going to be some major disassembly to create access for a welder to repair the block, unless of course the engine needs to be pulled to address the knocking.

So there’s some expensive sadness in The Dudes immediate future. I really feel bad for him. He might have been killing 2 birds with one stone. Trying to save some coin by having Pinhead maintain his boat while sending a little cash his friends way. Either way, sometimes a dude just can't catch a break.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


September 3, 2014.

            So I'm sitting in traffic waiting at a red light waiting to turn to port.  There’s 2 lanes dedicated for port turns and 1 lane for going either straight or to starboard.  I'm the fourth vehicle in the left lane amongst a shit ton of cars.

            The light changes to green and the first 2 cars in my lane move along.  The guy in front of me is just sitting there.  After a few seconds I give one of those polite little bips on the horn.  You know, kinda like “pardon me my fellow traveler, the traffic in front of you has departed and I'm not sure why this wasn't obvious to you but perhaps now you might endeavor to get along as well so we all don't have to sit through this fucking light again”.

            I can see his eyes rise up to the rear view mirror and then drop back down towards his lap.  Either he and his penis are deep in a very important conversation or hes texting.  He either didn't notice that the light has changed and the cars in front of him are long gone or hes just an asshole.  Either way, the lights green dude, lets get moving.  So I lay into the horn in one of those prolonged blasts as are the people behind me.

            Its about this time that I realize that one of the cars in the lane next to me has stopped abreast of me.  I look over and its a uniformed cop in a marked car.  Right at this moment the genius in the car in front of me sticks his hand up through the sunroof and flips me off while still clutching his cellphone as he pulls away.  I turn my head and pull my sunglasses down on my nose and stare over them at the cop.  He kinda smirked at me and pulled ahead of me as we made our turns.

            He then proceeded to pull Mr. Cellphone over.  While being fortunate to witness Karma dishing out a dose of cosmic justice I still had to gloat a bit.  As I slowly rolled by Mr. Cellphone I gave him another bip on the horn and when he looked up I held my hand to my head and gave him the international sign for “call me”.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014.

Yeah, I know, its been a while. Things are going really well here as we make our transition back to dirt life. Christy has been busy with house hunting and the girls weddings while fixing other peoples broken boat shit has kept me out of trouble. Mostly.

Recently I had to add 50 amp service to a customers catamaran. The owners will be living aboard here in Annapolis this winter and decided to add some serious auxiliary heat so additional amps had to be made available to them. I installed 3 outlets for radiant heaters and added an auxiliary heater to their new marine reverse cycle system.

This boat has always been a pack rats wet dream so I was really glad to get the bulk of the work done before the owners scheduled move aboard date. Unfortunately, the new electrical panel wouldn't be arriving until after they and the balance of their crap were on the boat.

A few days after they moved aboard I showed up with the new panel in hand to finish the installation. I took as many tools as I could carry down to the boat and knocked on the hull. The only answer was a barking dog inside the boat. I made another trip to the truck for tools and after piling them on the dock, once again rapped on the hull with no reply. I phoned my boss who assured me that he had talked to the husband, who was at work and that the wife knew I was coming. While I was on the phone I made my final trip to the truck to grab my vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum in hand I started to step aboard when I heard a voice behind me say “What do you think you're doing?”. It was the wife. She was a boat length behind me walking down the dock. I turn and start to explain who I am as she backs away while rifling through her shoulder bag. I have an appointment, I'm wearing a clearly marked company shirt, hell, I've met the bitch before and she's digging through her bag looking for a weapon.

Fortunately for our hero its only a can of pepper spray. I explain that I'm here to install the panel that we've been waiting for while the trigger happy bitch is deciding whether or not to blind me. After a beat or two something clicks in her tiny brain and she realizes that I’m supposed to be here. She tells me how lucky I am that she didn't spray me. I reply with “you're lucky you didn't or you'd be installing your own damn panel”. She points out that “people just can't be too careful”. I'm still holding the vacuum which I raise to eye level and point out that yes, after I stole her valuables I was going to tidy up. With the introductions done, I loaded my tools aboard.

The boat is piled high with garbage bags of stuff and there is barely enough room to stand inside the boat.
The starboard hull is packed waist deep.  The V berth on that side is packed to the ceiling and the head is chest deep.
I laid out my tools on the cockpit table and got to work. Shes satisfied that I'm not the devil and evidently we're now best friends. As I start to work she gets down on the only open spot on the floor and starts to play with her small dog. She's got this extended baby talk thing going on. Nummie, nummie, nummie, biddle, baby biddle nummie..... For like five minutes. Now I realize why she needs the pepper spray because shes driving me crazy. Then, out of nowhere she announces “we've been together since 1986”. Math pops through my head pretty quick and I know there’s no way that the dog is almost 30 years old but I can't help myself and I say “Wow, he doesn't look that old”.

She fixes her dull witted eyes upon me and says “No, my husband and I have been together since 1986”. Okay, good to know. Maybe she prefers to communicate in random blurts so I reply with “Wouldn't it have been horrible to have witnessed the Hindenburg disaster?”. I know that shes wondering whats wrong with me while I’m wondering how long the umbilical cord was around her neck during the birthing process.
At least the conditioner will be a snap to install.  The access is great once I move some stuff.
She was making lunch here in the galley when I left.  How, I don't know.

After a short while she announces that her chore for the day is to wash the boat, including the cockpit. So now I have to bring all my tools inside the already claustrophobic boat. Its so tight that in order to open my drill box, I have to close up the Fein saw, etc. So the boat is closed up, its over 90 degrees, I can't turn on a fan because I’m cutting fiberglass and I don't want to blow glass dust everywhere. Its easily over a hundred inside the boat and I’m starting to sweat. Profusely.

So the dog and I are both trapped inside the sweltering boat and I realized that if PETA showed up they would rescue the dog. Isn't there any group that champions the rights of Broken Boat Shit Fixers? Wheres my PETA? And then the dog started to lick me.

I'm standing at the panel and this foot tall dog has started to lick my shin and is working his way around my leg until he gets to the calf where he switches legs and starts on the other one. The sweat is rolling down my back, traversing the crack of my ass, running down my legs and Fido is lapping it up like its prime rib. Bill au jus. Its salty, its cynical but it needs a little something....I dunno, maybe some pepper spray.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19, 2014.

We've all seen those little white stickers people apply to their vehicles rear windows. It shows the Mommy, the Daddy, then the kids and even the pets all in a little row. I always find myself thinking “Wow, they have 4 cats” or some such nonsense. While driving to Pasco to pick up batteries the other day I was stopped behind this car for a while at a red light.

This was a new one for me. It looks like Daddys in jail. If the facial expressions on the Mom and daughter stickys are any indication, they're not too upset about it. Heck, thats probably why Mom put the stickers on the car. Just to let everyone know shes available least for the next 3 to 5 years.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014.

A very sincere birthday wish to the United States of America.  I know your nation of birth is pretty much the luck of the draw but I'm really glad I was lucky enough to have popped out here.

Hi, my name is Bill and I'm a World Cup junkie. The US Mens National Team was able to advance from the “Group of Death” before succumbing to a superior Belgian side in the round of 16. Only 32 teams from the entire world make it into the World Cup. So to get into the tournament and to be able to compete at a high level against the best teams in the world is a major accomplishment. It's wonderful to witness the support that each team garners from their loyal and sometimes lunacidal fans. Just because the U.S. is out of contention is no reason to stop watching the remaining games. Besides its a great excuse to go drinking and yell shit.

Now that the Veranda is gone things are settling into a manageable routine. Works been going well and the summer is flying by. I had a personal milestone the other day. I was doing a custom installation of 2 Balmar alternators on a catamaran. There was a bolt broken off in a mounting hole in one of the engine blocks.

The accepted way to remove a broken bolt is a tool called an “Easy Out”. Its a misnomer. There’s nothing easy about it. You're supposed to drill a small hole right down the center of the broken bolt. Then you screw the Easy Out into the hole. Because Easy Outs have a left hand thread the theory is that as you tighten the Easy Out the remnants of the bolt will magically unscrew itself from its hole.

Easy Outs are tempered to be incredibly hard so their sharp edges can “bite” into the broken bolt like a Uruguayan striker bites into an Italian sub. In my experience the Easy Outs tend to shatter. Whenever I have needed one I've always had to buy it because the one I used last time, broke. Bolts usually break when you try to remove them because they're corroded in place. Expecting a thin, glass hard piece of steel to force a bolt ass out of its hole seems to be a bit of a stretch.

To make matters worse, the bolt I had to remove was in a bad spot. Which on a boat is pretty much normal. I had to use a right angle drill with my left hand to try to drill down the centerline of the bolt. I couldn't really see the spot but I thought I hit it pretty much dead on. When I apprehensively inserted the Easy Out imagine my surprise when the bolt gave way and slowly unscrewed. It's the first time I can ever recall an Easy Out being easy. Gooooaaaaaaaal!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A tale of 2 engines....

June 17, 2014.

Predictably enough, a tale of 2 engines begins with an engine that won't start. The owner said that he just brought the boat up from Saint Johns where he's lived aboard it for the past 3 years. He told me that somewhere along the line he dumped a few jerry jugs of fuel into the tank and the engine hasn't restarted since. Both engines are plumbed to the same fuel tank and the starboard side still runs fine. So call me a little skeptical. He changed filters, said he found a ton of water and bled the engine to no avail. Since I believed the owner wouldn't mislead me with his event history I also jumped into bleeding the engine.

This catamaran is powered by a pair of tiny 1 cylinder Yanmars sitting atop saildrives. Miniscule single cylinder engines trying to push a 35 foot catamaran across the water seems like a pretty big design shortcoming to me. But whatever...

While the owner turned the key I bled the small Yanmar and was struck by how little compression the engine seemed to have as it spun quickly at the turn of the key. I engaged the compression release and there seemed to be no difference in the quickly spinning engine. Ut-oh.

I pulled the miniature valve cover off and realized that every time the owner started a sentence it should have begun with “Once upon a time....” because this guy was a story teller. The valve cover was full of goo and after wiping a good bit of it away I could see that both of the valve springs were broken. The broken springs explained why the engine wouldn't start but what really surprised me was the amount of sludge that had built up inside the valve cover.

I went and bought new valve springs and retainers and returned to install them. While I was gone the owner left and won't be back as the boat now sits with a local broker. After removing the valve assembly I got down to cleaning everything before reassembly. Thats when I realized just how an accomplished storyteller I had been privileged to meet. What I had taken to be a build up of sludge was actually grease. I guess that when the first spring had broken someone thought it would be a good idea to pack the valve cover with grease to keep those pesky broken parts from making noise.

Did he think I had a magic wrench and the engine was going to miraculously start? Did the guy really think nobody was going to find the broken bits? I just can't believe that he went out of his way to waste both our time. Douchebag.

The second engine of the day was a Perkins 4-108. The owner said he saw some black smoke, hes had the 30 year old boat for 13 years and since hes leaving on a cruise he'd like to get the injectors rebuilt. I headed there picturing a thirty year old rust covered engine with ancient injectors firmly wedged in their ancestral homes.

Imagine my surprise when I got there and found a perfect scenario. The engines location allowed complete and easy access to the injectors. Its nice when the sweat runs down your body rather than up into your hair. The engine was as clean as if it were new. I put my wrench on the first banjo bolt for the return lines and … cracked loose easily. Actually, everything I put a wrench on came apart so easily I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that the engine had been assembled only yesterday. In no time I was out of there with the injectors in hand.

So the catamaran with the nefarious owner is listed with a broker for resale. Supposedly the price will reflect the fact that its going to need 2 new engines. Even at a discounted price could a boat formerly “maintained” by this guy ever be worth it? A valve cover packed with grease just makes me wonder about everything else he might have touched. Conversely, the Bristol 45 with the aging Perkins appears to be in magnificent shape. If it ever shows up on the market, well, I don't think you could go wrong. Two different people are going to buy these boats and the new owners are surely going to have different versions of the dream.....

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014.

Wow, where has the time gone. Contrary to what people might be thinking we are not dead nor have we fallen off the edge of the earth. To say that we've had a lot going on is an understatement.

First off, we're both healthy and happy but my buddy Tucker has had a bit of a relapse with his Vestibular Disease. He's still alert and has his appetite but hes stumbling around pretty badly. Last time it took about a month before he regained his form. Its been about 2 weeks, we'll have to see how it goes. We're trying to remain positive but hes definitely in his twilight years so its only a matter of time. It just doesn't make it any easier.

A couple of months ago I wrote about us deciding to sell the Veranda. After cruising her for a season after the major refit we decided that now was the time. The Veranda is in great shape and the previous years upgrades had proved to be spot on. The Pearson 422 is fairly rare and a very comfortable cruising boat.
There’s a mini cult following and we had the names of 3 couples that were looking for a 422 so we decided to forgo using a broker. The broker would take 10% so we just asked 10% less than we would have so the buyer would have a built in savings right off the bat. They pay less, we still get what we want for the boat so its win win.

One couple was only a 20 minute drive from Annapolis so we contacted them first. Phil & Kathy have been looking at 422's for 2 years and have even had 2 previous boats surveyed in the search for their cruising home. They're intimately familiar with the 422 and spent about 4 hours that first day going over the boat from stem to stern. They verbally committed to buying the boat on that first visit so the gravity of what we were doing hit us. We've got no place to live. Crap.

During the middle of all this the Blue Angels came to town for the first time in years and as always the airshow was spectacular. There were at least a thousand boats anchored out in the harbor for optimal viewing.
Why take pictures when I know John Kelly will be there and he'll do an outstanding job of it.

Also stolen from John Kelly and no, its not photoshopped.  Hes just awesome.
I left work early and gathered up Christy and a cocktail and headed out to watch. We might have won an award for smallest craft as we anchored out in our dinghy but a couple of folks in kayaks showed up.

Feelers went out and Christy started looking for a place to rent. There were hints, rumors and close calls but it was a cruising connection that finally came through. Di, formerly of the Far Niente, let us know that a friend of hers in Annapolis has a huge house and she always had room available for a sailor in need. Perfect.

We drove over and met Carol. We hit it off and now shes got roomates. Christy spent days packing up our belongings. We spent the Memorial Day weekend moving a pile of boxes off the boat. Carol had several rows of shelving available for us to store our stuff on. She hasn't said anything but I wonder what she thought when she saw our 12 rolls of paper towels, 2 dozens rolls of toilet paper and hundreds of cans of beans, corn and anything else you can think of show up on those shelves. She must think we're pack rats.

Once in the house we moved towards selling the boat in earnest. All told, I spent 18 hours going over the boats systems and idiosyncrasies with Kathy & Phil. While hanging in the travel lift for the survey I noted that we had removed 7000 pound worth of stuff from the boat while moving to shore. The survey and sea trial went well so the deal moved ahead. We exchanged signatures for checks and now we're pretty much the only people in Annapolis that don't own a boat.

But life's a funny thing. A couple of days before we sold the boat our new landlord, Carol, took possession of her new boat, a 1988 Tartan 34. So in my free time I've been working my way down her survey list making repairs. We have had the time to take the boat out twice so far. The Tartan reminds us of the boat we had before we owned the Veranda. It takes very little breeze to get her going and she points so well I swear we could go straight upwind. We do miss the Veranda very much but having the Tartan available to get our sailing fix is making the transition to shore a lot easier.

Speaking of the transition to shore. We're planning on spending the rest of the summer here in Naptown before moving south and buying a home on the west coast of Florida. Its been a long time since we've owned a place and for the moment we're enjoying real estate shopping via the internet. Things have changed so much since we left land in 2006.

I'm still using a ratty laptop thats on its last legs. We stopped at a Best Buy the other day just to look at technology.  We stopped in to get a rough idea of whats available and what things cost. Do we get a desktop tower system or an all in one touch screen tabletop model.  Since Windows 8 is out there's going to be a learning curve so should we just bag it all and go Apple? 

Then there’s music. We have more than a thousand CD's in storage but it looks like MP3's are the wave of the future or do we just go cloud based with Pandora or Sirius? Home sound systems have evolved. Do we get a traditional receiver or go with a computer based sound system. There’s so much to learn. Before we left to go cruising we read all we could to prepare for the transition. There were a ton of books on the subject but there doesn't seem to be any guide for coming back to shore. It sounds crazy but we're feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices available to us.  We need a teenager....

After spending an hour with the computer expert we practically ran through the televisions. When we left we had huge box shaped televisions, the biggest of which was 35 inches. And we thought we were livin' the life. We had no TV on the boat and we've never owned a flat screen television. 70 inch TV's dwarf the 46's and the 35 inch monitors, those are computer screens now. Its insane. Oh look, there's even curved “flat” screens now. Christ. Within five minutes of arriving in the TV aisle we didn't know where to begin so we were out of there and on the way to appliances.

Christy's eyes rolled back into her head when she opened a side by side fridge that boasted 27 cubic feet of space. She went right down the row from one to the next just opening them and starring inside. I'm pretty sure she climaxed right there in the aisle at Best Buy when she came upon (no pun intended) a fridge claiming to have 31 cubic feet of space. We just spent 8 years living happily with 9 cubic feet of fridge and now I find out we “need” closer to 30 feet. Then there were washers, dryers and microwaves oh my.

So to recap. Tuckers holding his own, The Veranda is gone, we're living in a house and we're okay with it. We're working here in town and I still have stories to tell so for now the blog will continue.  The Veranda has been renamed so if you run across Kathy & Phil on the Unicorn please be kind to them as they start their new adventure.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 1, 2014.

Okay, so the weather here has sucked....big time. Every night during the month of April was either in the 30's or low 40's. So when the temps are down and the breeze is blowing that means that its a north wind. And north winds in the Chesapeake do what? Thats right, they blow all of the water straight out of the bay.
Its nice when you can walk up to the emergency ladder

There were a few days that Christy was trapped on the boat because getting up onto the dock were feats only accomplished by either Spiderman or me.

Work has been fantastic. I've been busy everyday on a plethora of different boats. This week we stuck an air conditioner, a battery charger and refrigeration in an Island Packet 27 among other jobs. It was a pretty tight fit getting the A/C into the tiny IP but everything worked out nicely. The Island Packets enjoy a reputation as heavily built “cruising” boats. After working at arms length to drill separate 5 inch holes through and inch and a half thick bulkheads I can testify that its true.

Tuckers been to the veterinarian. He had a pretty sever case of Vestibular Disease overcome him the day before we left the Ragged Islands. Its best described as a nasty bout of vertigo. We found an online course of treatment for him while we were still in the Bahamas. We had the suggested medication with us so we were able to start dosing him as soon as we figured out what was going on. The trip to the vets confirmed that hes beaten the Vestibular Disease and other than some “Doggie Alzheimers” he seems to be doing okay for a dude his age.
Even old men need cuddlin' once in a while

After nearly a week of rain the weather seems to have finally relented. For the last few days we've had warm winds blowing out of the south. And wind out of the south means what? Thats right, the waters back in the bay and then some.....
The walk to the boat now involves "walking the plank"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pop Quiz

April 24, 2014.

Is this a sailboat or Powerboat?

During a search of a customers boat I opened a drawer that I thought might be the Nav station.  I'm not sure what the drawer was designed for but this guys got NINE remotes in it.  Nine remote controls, seriously?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The numbers are in....

April 18, 2014.

Since we're back in Annapolis and once again working for a living, what better time than now to write the cruising hunting/ gathering wrap up. For the past several years we've been pretty pleased with our performance. Every year we've been able to beat the previous year's haul so its always somewhat of a personal challenge to top last year.

This year we had an advantage that we've never had before. In years past we've been a solo act. Christy and I have almost always gone out hunting alone. In the past 7 years we've rarely ever had anybody ask us to go fishing. Christy says its because my hunting prowess emasculates other guys. I feel terrible that my “killing a lot of shit” made other guys penises small. My bad.

I've had guys that were having limited success ask for some help and I LOVE helping them. It's not rocket science and after a trip or two together they're self sufficient and go off on their own. It makes me feel great that they're more successful, I know they appreciate the pointers and it really is fun to see them succeed.

For the first time ever we had dive buddies. Steve & Kim on Fine Lion were as eager as we were to get in the water. Often departures and arrival times at different cays depended on whether or not we were getting into the water to hunt. For the first time ever we had outboard issues while hunting miles from the big boat. We made it home on our own, but having them there was very comforting in case a tow was necessary.

I was able to kill fish in full view of a shark because Steve was there to keep “the guy in the gray suit” at bay with his spear, while I got my catch into the dink. I found that I genuinely enjoy watching other people kill stuff. After an afternoon in the water it's fun to see what the other guys got in his bucket, I might have a mondo lobster and he'll yank a 6 pound Hogfish out of their bucket. It's fun to sit in the dinks, side by side and recount the hits and near misses while they're so fresh in your mind before speeding back to the big boats to clean your catch.

As for the catch, here are the numbers....

Lobster 195. Last year it was 181, so there was improvement. Since we had the new underwater camera this year I saw several dozen lobster that we only photographed. On several occasions we left them biting so to speak and I could have taken 300 this year if we wanted to. It's good to see that the lobster are still so plentiful.
195 isn't really that many when they come in bunches

Hogfish 34. Steve laughed at me because I swam past so many Hogfish this season. The truth is, cleaning lobster is easier and I'm lazy so I let a good number of them swim by. Still, I only took 14 last year so 34's a pretty big step up. I'm blaming a lot of these on the peer pressure from Steve mocking me. Thank you Steve.
Big dead guy

Nassau Grouper 5. We're just about ready to head north when Nassau Grouper season opens and 5 is an average number for us.

Tiger Grouper 2. And they were both spectacular....

Ocean Trigger 4. Ocean Triggers are no joke when it comes to spear fishing. This is the first year we've ever taken any at all, so I’m pretty pleased with 4, and they are fabulous eating. 

Lion Fish 30. I was trying to kill a Lion Fish for every lobster we took and you can see I fell well short of the mark. Last year I took 57 Lion Fish and this year I killed almost all that I saw so that might mean that this invasive species is on the decline.

Margate 1. He was a biggie. Fishing was slow that day and you don't spend the better part of the day in the water to go home and have peanut butter and jelly for lunch. So Margate it was...

Strawberry Grouper 1. Usually I don't see them big enough to kill. I was lucky to find him, he was unlucky I did.

Slipper Lobster 1. They're creepy, prehistoric looking things but taste oh so good. They just blend in pretty well, seem fairly rare and I was lucky to spot him.

Almaco Jack 1. He was big, I caught him unaware, it was an irresistible combination.

Success didn't stop at the surfline. With Christy having Kim as a beach combing buddy it took a lot of pressure off me. I still went beach combing a lot but Christy went twice as much as she might have since Kim was so willing.

Hamburger Beans 742. I don't know what we'll do with them but when I do figure it out we'll be able to do it a lot.  Christy and Kim had a single day where they both scored over 120 beans from a single seldom scoured beach.

Purse Beans 31. Not a Gucci among them.

Mary's Bean 16.

Monkey Face 54.

and to wrap it all up was 35 honking POUNDS of SEAGLASS....

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 15, 2014.

Well, its happened. We're back in Annapolis. At the free dock in Great Bridge we were about 150 miles from Naptown. On Saturday morning we passed through the 0700 lock and motored towards Norfolk.
The Lightship of Portsmouth
We rode the ebbing tide out into the Chesapeake Bay at over 8 knots and turned north.

Of course now our friend “The Tide” was against us and we motored northward on a dead flat, completely windless day. For just about ever. It was a perfect, warmish day that any boater would love. Unless you were a sailboater, there was literally zero breeze....all day.
FAC seas

There was the promise of wind from a favorable direction due to arrive the next day so we chose an anchorage for the night. At just about the halfway point lies one of the many Mill Creeks that dot the Chesapeake. Our friends Pete and Lynn from First Edition have a house on the water there so we thought we'd pop in and surprise them.
Fish traps border the approach to Mill Creek

Surprise! They're not home. So we dropped the hook just after sunset right behind their house. We still had 78 miles to go so the next morning the hook was up by 0600 and we headed out onto the bay. We had 15 to 20 knots from directly behind the boat as we blasted north. The water was small rollers behind us and we hit the Potomac at slack tide so everything was going pretty well.

With such a long day ahead of us we listened to NOAA for a weather report. Our 15 to 20 was supposed to build to 25 to 30 by late afternoon. Crap. The next few days are supposed to be worse so we opted to keep moving. As we pulled into the harbor at Annapolis the wind cranked up like somebody flipped a switch. Of course there were dozens of boats sailing in every direction when the wind hit. A lot of them looked surprised by the newly honking breeze. And several of them gave us cause for concern as they barreled close by with sails flailing and sheets popping. It took some timing but we did find enough space to run downwind to roll up the genny before turning hard on the wind to drop the mainsail.

We motored into Back Creek and headed towards our slip. Our slip is very protected and I was shocked to find that we had 15 knots of breeze screwing with me as we tried to parallel park into our slip. The outside pilings on our slip are only 11 ½ feet apart and the Veranda is 13 ½ feet wide so we have to think outside the envelope to get into our slip.

Too much speed and the prop walk can be brutal, too slow and the wind was having its way with us. It took several tries before we were able to nail it. I had a legitimate shot on the second try but one of the neighbors had a moment of lucidity and decided now would be the time to chat us up. Our technique involves Christy standing on the bow and slipping a bowline over a piling so we can slowly warp our way into the slip.
Land immediately to port and 15 knots from the starboard side made docking into a challenge
Once we get a line on that piling off the port bow warping in is easy
Honey we're home!

I got the boat into position next to our slip, Christy is about to toss the line and a woman behind me starts screaming “You can't anchor there, we won't be able to get our boat out!” Christy, with the patience of a saint stops what shes doing and explains to the woman that we're just getting into our slip.

When we're in our slip her boat sits on a lift off our port quarter. In the 5 years that we've been here their boat has never ever been in the water. Its a lift queen, it just sits there.
The boat hasn't been wet since the Roosevelt administration
The wind caught us but we beat the rain
Hell, I doubt that the lift even works anymore but whatever. By the time this bullshit conversation was over the wind had me and it was time to pull out and try it again.

I think it was on the fifth attempt that everything lined up and we slipped comfortably into our home for the next few months.