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Madcap Sailing
Immediacy of Our Environment
Beth / hovering around high 20'sF
04/01/2010/9:24 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL

It occurred to me the other night that we cruisers have a somewhat unique connection with our environment. Perhaps it is closer to what our ancestors had in the days before well-insulated houses and central heating.

When I'm at home and hear a noise on the roof, I don't get out of bed, throw on a jacket and go up there to fix it. Here, that's exactly what I do. We have all these halyards (lines/ropes) running down the mast, and when the wind catches them just right, they rattle mightily. My preferred fix is to shove a sponge between the halyard and the mast. I've tried tightening up the lines and tying them off to the shrouds but nothing seems to work quite as well as a simple sponge for keeping them off the mast entirely. I've got three of them up there now. (I say "I" for this job because Jim has a remarkable tolerance for those rattly noises - and I have none!)

Because Madcap is uninsulated - with no central heating or air conditioning, we notice when it is hot or cold or humid or dry. Condensation forms on the metal frames of the ports and hatches. We've taken to keeping a little cloth tucked in the book rack above our berth so when that condensation drips onto our faces, a quick wipe eliminates the problem for a while. My first morning job is to go round all the hatches and sop up the drips.

I was awakened the other night when that beautiful, full, blue moon moved across the sky until it shone right down on my face through the hatch over my head. Maybe some folks have skylights over their beds and know that sensation, but for me, its a boat thing. Sometimes when it happens, I have to put on my glasses, kneel on the bed and open the screen and push open the hatch, just to gaze at the moon and the stars. Jim has been known to sit above on the foredeck for hours watching and contemplating. Right now, it's enough to watch through the closed hatch!

We can tell by the feel of the boat which way the wind is blowing or the current flowing. Are we bumping against the fenders between the hull and the dock? Or are we straining away from it? Do we feel a pull on the anchor line? Or the subtle shudder from a mooring line? Or banging against a mooring ball when current is stronger than wind? Or is everything absolutely still?

It's easy to tell if its raining - the patter (or beating) of raindrops over our heads is clear, and with the hatches all closed because of the cold, it isn't raindrops falling directly on my head that lets me know what's happening! We have yet to see snowflakes up there!! I always liked to be at the cottage when it rained and it is the same on the boat.

I know not to put the chocolate bars against the outside wall of the cupboard because when the sun shines on the hull, the chocolate melts! Crackers and cereal get tightly wrapped in ziplock bags because the sea air makes them soggy. We seriously watch how much water we use to wash dishes, clothes and ourselves because we have a finite amount on board and when its gone we need to find a tap and, in some places, pay for what comes out of it.

We tote garbage to a dumpster ashore, or carry it along in the dinghy until we find a dumpster. Reduce, reuse and recycle (and sometimes refuse to buy) are real here!

It goes without saying that we pay attention to weather and water conditions and to the workings of the boat itself. If we put our little floating homes into danger, we can break them or lose them. Who wants to do that?

On the "What did we do today?" scene - I went with Karin (Pasages)and Cori (Further) to Walmart and Staples and Five Point Pantry to check out propane canisters and wifi range extenders. They were stocking up on fleece for their planned trip from here to Lake Worth. When I had no success, we rented a car and Jim, Ken (Oz) and I drove to West Marine on Big Island Drive in Jacksonville. That is one gorgeous store! We bought a 10 lb aluminum canister so now when the propane runs out in the middle of dinner preparations (as it surely will) we have a backup supply. FYI - we filled it at Five Point Pantry at the corner of 8th and Sadler for $8.00 and that included purging it. What a deal!

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oh we of fickle minds
Beth / 41F in the cabin this morning! brrrrr
03/01/2010/5:35 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL

You probably won't be surprised to hear that we changed our minds again. We decided during the night to stay here for another day or two. We can plug in an electric heater (you folks back home remember that although it is marginally warmer here than there, we are in an uninsulated boat!!) and Jim does not have to face the prospect of hauling up a dragging anchor in the middle of a frosty night.

We're going with the better safe than sorry approach.

I'll write more later!

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04/01/2010/7:05 am | Margaret Uhrich
Happy 2010! Good to read your descriptive comments. Glad to hear you made some progress, albeit slow, you are on the move...Ottawa is experiencing fairly steady snow falls the last few days. The skies are grey this morning and the weather people promise more snow flurries for the rest of the day. Think I'll read a book! Have a safe enjoyable journey.
04/01/2010/8:06 am | Sue Campbell
The forecast for your area certainly is for cold. We are always checking it because of our friends near Daytona. It's BRRRR weather for Florida. Keep warm. Here our highs are to be in the 30s with lows in the teens - glad we are in a HOUSE not a boat!
climate change
Beth / shivering (but not shovelling!)
02/01/2010/4:29 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL

I see that on Dec 16, I was running around here in shorts and T-shirt. This is just a quick note to say that today we are all bundled up in layer upon layer of clothing. It was 44F in the cockpit this morning and has only marginally warmed up on the dock. The wind is blowing 15-20 knots. The marina staff are scurrying around to ready the water lines for the cold snap expected over the next few days. The forecast calls for lows of 23 to 27F over the next few days.

I talked with my dad this morning and heard that it was just above 0C in Amherst, NS with blowing snow. At the time it was 48F here - windy but sunny. I'll look up the comparisons but you can figure that since 0C is about 32F, it's pretty much the same temp here.

Ken (Oz) joined us for dinner last night and we dined in Lowcountry style. Shrimp and scallops sauteed with onions, peppers, lemon and a dash of hot sauce, served over cheesy grits. The green veg was snow peas (with carrots, peppers and dip earlier) and we finished off with pecan pie and constant comfort tea. Aaaaah.... it was a comfort!

A small cruise ship was tied up on the wharf opposite us overnight - the American Glory - fun to see it come in so carefully. Multiply it by 5 and it would match the ships we used to watch in Halifax harbour!

We've pumped out the dinghy and are about to get it up on the davits. Fuel is topped up and we'll get water tanks filled shortly too. We'll be off in the morning for St Augustine! Gotta beat that freeze!

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03/01/2010/8:38 am | Linda Lusby
Ah but you're missing all the fun and physical workout involved in shovelling a foot of snow (WET, HEAVY snow) from the driveway!

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