Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Taking our stuff off of the dock

With the boat safely tied up in Portland, we had to do what we call the "car switch," familiar to many boaters, we're sure. Once you take your boat out of its slip for the year, you have to leave a car there and on Monday, we took some time to retrieve our other car and, while we were there, remove our fenders and boat stairs so that they could be safely stored at home. Bill drove Frances' car to the marina and drove his old station wagon back home with Frances following. This was her first long solo drive since her eye surgery and she did just fine.

Once we got to the marina, we set up our cam and began hauling slime-covered fenders and our boat stairs up to our station wagon. We speeded up the video and cut out the boring parts so viewers wouldn't fall asleep.

Once everything was loaded we took ourselves out to lunch at "5 Guys," which, for a burger place, isn't really that bad. The fries were about 10,000 degrees when served but since most of them are in the bottom of a paper bag, they cool quickly.

We enjoyed talking about our summer and all the friends that we have on A-dock. But, as the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end," Not really an end. We'll be back next summer!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Seas 1 Ft. or Less

It was Saturday, October 25 and we'd been watching the weather all week. Each day there was more rain and wind with a Gale Warning in Long Island Sound on Wednesday and Small Craft Advisories just about every other day except Saturday.

The Saturday forecast held and that would be our day to make the 60 mile run from Norwich, our summer dock, to winter storage in Portland. When we got up early Saturday morning the exact forecast was:


We're not weather pussies when it comes to boating but we'd rather not run through seas that rearrange the furniture in our cabin if we don't absolutely have to.

Our friend and dock mate, John T., volunteered to go along and that was really nice since Frances didn't really feel up to straining her eye just as it was slowly healing.

At 8:15 AM, we untied the lines and steered out into the Thames River. It was cold but the river was like glass, as you can see in the photo above. The 13 mile trip to New London was uneventful. The fall colors were somewhat muted but who cares? We were on our boat and that always makes it a beautiful day.

At New London Ledge Light we turned west into the expected wind but there was almost none. The Sound was flat and we laughed at the accuracy of the "1 ft. or less" prediction. Our course took us 3.8 miles to Bartlett Reef and as we approached, we noticed many whitecaps ahead of us. Whitecaps? To us that means wind at 20 Kts. or better. That  turned out to be fairly accurate as we turned about 30 degrees further west toward Old Saybrook. The wind came up and so did the seas, which were wind driven waves of the 4-5 ft. variety, right on our nose.

But, we we often say, "That's boating," as we slogged through the next 9.3 miles. We had to be very careful going down the ladder from the bridge just to use the head. The wave frequency was just right for the maximum bang-and-slam effect.  Sorry, no video. We were a little too busy to turn the camera on.

Of course, the boat did just fine and we got into the breakwater at Old Saybrook with nothing more out of place than a set of kitchen knives that landed in the sink and a bottle of something in the head that left the vanity and ended upside down in the toilet.

The 33 mile run up the Connecticut River was also without drama. It was great to have an experienced boater like John along and I think we discussed - and solved - most of the world's problems that afternoon.

At Haddam, we encountered several boats waiting for the East  Haddam Swing Bridge to open. We've been under that bridge 100 times and we've never had to have it open, even during the spring freshets but the Bertram in this photo appeared to be a little too tall.

We went for it (as you'll see in the video) and as we got close, John was able to read the depth gauge as 20 ft. That's probably 3-4 ft.more than we need and under we went, without even touching the tips of our antennas.

The Bertram caught up with us about 30 minutes later and awarded us with a giant wake. Nice boat driven by an inconsiderate slob, in our opinion.

We arrived at Portland Riverside and I did a terrible job of docking, but a bunch of guys were waiting and muscled our boat in while cheerfully blaming my poor docking job on the current. Since the river in Portland was swollen, muddy and filled with debris, we'll gladly take that explanation.

Next up, we winterize the engines and call the Summer 2014 boating season to a close.

We going to do some serious work to our starboard engine over the next month and we'll keep a video record of that. Hopefully, that will be interesting enough to keep some of our readers awake.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Frances recuperiates as we count down to departure

For all of those who asked about her, Frances is doing fine. Her left eye is healing nicely and she has started to regain her vision in that eye. She has a few more days in her special chair and then she'll be able move around more and not have to look down at the floor all the time.

With Frances resting comfortably (with a special mirror that allows her to see the TV), Bill went to the boat on Saturday. Most of the A-Dock summer crew was there, intent on doing the same thing we were: unloading all the stuff that had to be off for winter. It's still amazing how much there is, but who cares?  It was a great summer and Frances was able, once again, to spend that time on our boat.

During all this time Pooka our boat cat has been visiting the Pappadopulas Inn and Spa. That's how we think of Pooka's visit with our friends Kim and Mike. Bill's elderly black cat would never tolerate another cat in her house, so Pooka is visiting Kim and Mike and will be home soon, we hope.

Good pictures from Mike and Kim:

Our plan is to leave Norwich next Saturday, October 25, and head to Portland Connecticut for winter storage. Our friend John (who helped us pick the boat up when we first brought it back from Long Island five years ago), has offered to join us. Frances won't be along for this cruise but John's assistance will be much appreciated.

We hope the weather will be good and we'll be watching it as the week unfolds.

We shot some video on Saturday. It won't mean much to most of those who see it on You Tube but it means something to us and we hope to our dockmates who we will miss over the winter.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guess we're not leaving for a while

Frances and Pooka were enjoying their last few weeks on the boat before leaving for winter storage when Frances had trouble with her left eye. She visited one the the immediate care facilities in the area and they sent her to an Ophthalmologist. He determined that she had a detached retina and that immediate surgery was required.

Luckily, she could see well enough to get to my (Bill's) house. Surgery was arranged for Thursday morning at Hartford Hospital and in the meantime, Frances, using her skills as a Business Analyst, took over and made all of the arrangements including a special chair that she would have to use while recuperating. 

Pooka, the boat cat, needed a temporary home (since Bill has a cat with low tolerance for fur-covered visitors) and our dock mates Kim and Mike offered to host Pooka for a fall vacation. Kim and Mike love Pooka as much as we do and Pooka had no trouble making himself at home at their house.

 Pooka with his Godmother, Kim

We arrived at Hartford Hospital on 8 am on Thursday morning and after an hour's worth of processing, we met the surgeon who, incidentally, was great. Frances was understandably scared at the prospect of having her eye cut open but the staff assured her it was "minor surgery." Perhaps so, but it was still not a fun thing for her to go through.

The process for repairing a detached retina is interesting, if not a tad inconvenient. The surgeon inserts a gas-filled "balloon," that forces the retina back into position. Over time, the "balloon" dissolves, leaving the retina back in place. However, during the recovery period, Frances would have to look down - as in looking down at the floor - most of the time and that time could be a week or more.

To accomplish this, Frances is using a chair designed expressly for this purpose. Yes, she can take a break once in a while, but most of the time she has to be here.

She can read, but that's about all. At night, we rig a cushion on her bed so that she sleeps face down for the night. Throughout all of this Frances has remained her old self. On Saturday night, we made chili and corn muffins. That is to say, Bill carefully executed as Frances directed, face down. Hey, it was a damned good dinner!

As we were writing this blog post, Frances appeared to have her picture taken to let everyone know she's OK. 

She's holding what she calls her night-time Binky, the cushion she has to sleep on to keep her face looking down. She's been very good about this and we hope that next Tuesday, when the doctor checks her again, that she will have made some progress.

In the meantime, special eye drops have to be used three times a day. Organized as ever, Frances has them lined up and checked off.

At this point, all we can do is follow the doctor's directions and wait for that eye to heal. But, Pooka is fine, the boat is fine and Frances is is in great spirits. Soon, we hope, we'll take our last cruise of the year.  
The biggest boating rule is, "Keeping a proper lookout." It wouldn't be boating for us if Frances wasn't there to help us stay on course. Hopefully soon, she'll be back on the bridge.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Getting ready to leave

This was a familiar sight on our dock this weekend as people unloaded their boats before they left for winter storage. We only came up with two small boxes but there will be many more before we take our last cruise of the year.

Frances has been living on the boat since May and we've accumulated a lot of stuff that won't take freezing well. It doesn't really seem like work, though. We've done this many times before.

As you can see from the brief video, Saturday was gray and soon after Bill arrived it began to rain. Somehow, that didn't make much difference because we read and chatted in our nice warm cabin while the rain and wind blew. We thought we were the only people on our dock but we learned later that at least one other couple preferred their boat to home even in the rain.

Our trip to Monson
Sunday morning dawned cool and beautifully sunny. Our plan was to drive to Monsan, Massachusetts and pick up a tire at the the home of dock mates John and Joanne, neither of whom would be home.

Why we needed a particular tire will be left unexplained. It's too complicated, but trust us, we needed the tire that John had offered and we were going to go get it. We'd never been to Monson but how hard can a 30 mile trip be?

After a good breakfast at Olde Times in Norwich, off we went, equipped with Google Map directions and a Magellan GPS unit that Frances sometimes uses in her car. Things went really well as we drove north on Route 32 and "Thema," the name we assigned to the female voice on the GPS, warned us of every turn, just as she should.  Near the Massachusetts border, Thema got a little confused and decided that we should drive west, not north where we wanted to go. We followed her directions and finally stopped in the parking lot of a little hospital. We fiddled with Thelma's few controls and decided to backtrack. Thelma liked that and eventually, guided us right to John's driveway.

We collected the tire, left a thank-you note and headed back, now that we knew where we were going.

At this time of year, a drive through this rural part of Connecticut is just wonderful. Thelma, we found, liked to be near the windshield where she could see the satellites. Maybe that's why she got confused.

When we got back, we unloaded a few things and started up the engines and let them warm up.

We only have a week or two left before Frances and Pooka, the boat cat, move back to their winter home.