Brass Monkey Cold
09 January 2010
It's cold enough here to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Now wait a minute, before you accuse me of resorting to vulgarities in my blog, you should know the derivation of this edgy phrase. Like many terms and phrases we continue to use, this one goes back to the heydays of sailing ships and in particular war ships. They used to stack their cannon balls in a pyramid with 16 at the base, nine on the next layer, four next then one. They used a brass base plate with indentations to support this pyramid. The bottom layer was brass so it would not rust to the iron balls. This dissimilarity in metals also led to the phenomenon that if it got really cold, the iron would contract more than the brass and the ball pyramid would topple; hence freezing the balls off the brass monkey. Well, here we are in brass monkey country.
As I catch up on my blog, this Saturday morning, it is 40 degrees outside, driving rain and windy. And, it's been cold, record cold, since our return. More than one night, the temperature has dipped below freezing and while it's generally been sunny during the day, it hasn't warmed up much. I have not worn shorts other than for my run, since we've returned.
In fact, two days ago, we woke up to 30 degrees while I understand it was several degrees warmer back home in Fredericton. We are somewhat equipped to deal with this as we have two cabin heaters and the full cockpit enclosure but you know it's cold when even Chopin with his built in fur coat hunkers down under the covers.
Nonetheless, it has been fun. There are lots and lots of cruisers here, many Canadians and there are lots of socializing opportunities. We are even more fortunate in that we have our vehicle here and, as well, our friends Peter and Sandi from Fredericton have their winter home just a few minutes away from the marina.
So our days are spent doing chores, kibitzing with cruisers, walking/running, provisioning and waiting for better weather. The mooring field is full and boaters are not moving. We still have a couple of days before this inclement weather improves so we're content to chill out (literally) here in Stuart.
I've been helping Blair on a very capable Morgan 46, Odissea XX with some boat chores. We've had some fun times with other Canadian boaters including Darious and Cathy, Jean and Bev, Eric and Ellen and numerous others.
A couple of days ago, Roger and Jacquie, our long time cruising buddies from Fredericton, arrived on their boat Audacious. We're really glad to see them. We've cruised with them for more than twenty years and spent many great summer cruises with them and their wonderful children Georgina and Graham. We go out to dinner with them and Peter and Sandi and have a very pleasant Fredericton reunion.
Staying on the mooring means that you need to restore your electrical energy needs through your own resources; you can't rely on plugging in. So, while we have solar panels, our new wind generator, one new battery bank, our engine for recharging as well as our small generator, I find that the battery bank we have not replaced appears to be weak, so I buy a couple of new deep cycle batteries for my second batter bank. So, we now have replaced all five deep cycle batteries.
Judy takes Chopin for his daily walk to a park just off the stern of our boat. He has come to depend on this diversion as we do our walks and runs.
We hope to get on the move early next week. We'll start our way to West Palm Beach then figure out where to from there; we have lots of options.
Before I sign off this blog edition, I'll finish with the clarification of a reference as I opened this blog with the brass monkey reference. I've been reading Mark Twain as of late. I downloaded a number of his books to my kindle (for free by the way). You know him as the celebrated and prolific author (1835-1910), of Huckleberry Finn fame. You also know that Mark Twain is his pseudonym; his real name was Samuel Clemens.
How did he happen to pick Mark Twain as his nom de plume? Well, he spent some time on river boats on the Mississippi River as a soundman. His function was to drop a lead line at the bow of the boat and report back to the captain as to the depth of the water. The unit of measure was a fathom which is six feet. The river boats loaded had a draft of ten feet or so; just under two fathoms. They often used the term twain to refer to "two"; recall "never the twain shall meet"?
So the soundman would yell back the progression of the depth as they carefully navigated shallow sections. "Mark Four" (four fathoms), "Mark three and a half" (three and a half fathoms - 21 feet), Mark Twain (two fathoms - 12 feet - we're getting close to running aground).
Well there you have it......