Last Few Days of Retirement
25 June 2011 | Somewhere in Southern California
Vagabonds, nomads. That's us, still out here in the nebulous realm of somewhere, nowhere, everywhere. Moving from bed to bed as we house sit at the Deese's, at dad's, at Carol and John's; and as we visit family here and there and go on little local overnight sailing trips. Our lives remain unsettled and unstable and mostly as happy as ever. The ultimate irony of the last two years is this: at the end of it all, homeless and boat-less, we're cat-sitting our own cat. The other day I sort of freaked out when I learned he'd slipped out the door without his collar on. "Carol and John NEVER let him out without his collar!" I wail. Then I realize, "Hey! He's MY cat!" I don't know, I think I'm losing my identity ...
But we're having fun anyhow. We've been continuing to fly a little bit, Allan is working on his "tail wheel endorsement" so he's trained and safe in those funny-looking airplanes that sit tail-low and often sound more like old tractors or sewing machines than airplanes. I've had some fun, too, logging an hour the other day in the same plane Allan's flying, an Aeronca Champ owned by Frank Donnelly, aka Dr. D. It felt great to be back in my favorite kind of airplane, and I was surprised at how much I remembered. My flying's not pretty, yet, but it's safe. I'll get the finesse back soon enough. We're also putting a little time in Chuck and Mary's C-172, my old friend 8TN.
This week we had some fun in s/v Our Escape, Allan's dad's Catalina 36, with a lovely sail out to the isthmus at Santa Catalina Island for an overnight in the harbor. Perfect day out, and since it was Wednesday we got our pick of moorings, right up close in the shelter of the island and near the dock. A nice dinner ashore, a fun night at the mooring while the sea lions gorged on the massive school of fish (sardines?) that were flooding the harbor, a curious sleep in the v-berth (why is there velco in the sleeping bag?), breakfast ashore and a brisk walk under cloudy skies to the other side of the isthmus, and then it was time to go.
A mile or so east of the island on our way back to San Pedro, motoring along just fat, dumb and happy, we suddenly had a loss of engine power which caught us offguard, putting little exclamation points over our surprised heads. Some investigation into the matter led us to suspect a fuel problem, and sure enough, a clogged fuel filter was the culprit. Ah! Fun challenges at sea! As we bobbed in the flat ocean, drifting on the weak current, going nowhere in the absence of even a breath of air, we put our three heads together. I stayed at the helm and optimistically pointed us toward San Pedro, occasionally tossing relevant and ever-so-helpful suggestions down to Allan and Grant, who dug into things down below, improvising with kitchen devices and mismatched tools to get the job done. But things didn't quite work out as planned, and soon enough it was clear we would not have an engine to rely on for the rest of the day. But no worries - it's a sailboat. Sailboats have those big white things that stick up in the air and make them go. So normally we wouldn't have been concerned, but we did have that annoying lack of air that I already mentioned, which promised a very long trip across the channel.
We bobbed around some more, thoughtfully eating potato chips and cheese puffs, and finally came up with the idea of pushing the Catalina 36 toward home with the little "rubber ducky", as our friend in Australia calls it, propelled by Allan's grandad's ancient 2.2 Mercury outboard motor. Slowly, we made it across the 20 mile expanse, aided about half the time by a breeze that was forecast to become a decent wind but never did, and the rest of the time by that little Mercury. It was impressive - slow, but steady. We took turns in the rubber ducky, pushing the big boat from the center of the stern, with Dad at the helm of the Catalina and the third person keeping an eye out for ships in the shipping lane and the subsequent wake that might cause the little dinghy some trouble. We were lucky it was a flat sea, and things went well. We even caught a puff or two air inside the breakwater and were able to sail west to Cabrillo Marina and onto the fuel dock, where the magnificently capable Vessel Assist guy came to our aid and backed us into our slip. We had the boat washed up and were on our way to dinner by 9:45pm, after what was, for Allan and I, a very satisfying day, evoking that sense of adventure that we loved so much in our cruising. We'll be back at it soon enough; in the meantime, these little adventures fuel the fire and keep us happy.
As far as work is concerned, I have just a few more days of retirement, and am officially on the payroll again next Wednesday, with requalification training to follow. Allan is scheduled for requal at UPS in mid-July for 20 days. Then, in September, if I haven't already mentioned this part, we return to our home in Oxnard and see what we remember of our old lives.
Oh, and the velco? That's what the missing sheet liners attach to. Mystery solved.