This Sh*t is Bananas: B.A.N.A.N.A.S

 

Today, on a special edition of She is a Ship Wreck, I write to you from Norfolk International Airport, en route to LaGuardia.

Yep.

If you remember, when I left you guys, we were happily sailing off into the sunrise toward Coinjock, NC, only a 4-hour cruise away from Chesapeake, VA.

So—before we get into it—just a fun fact. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to have bananas on a boat. It’s bad luck. Now, I have my fair share of superstitions, but this is not one that I previously shared with A, who may or may not be the actual subject of the Stevie Wonder song.

It’s actually one of the first things that A said to my mom upon boarding for this trip of ours. Bananas hung in my mom’s cute little galley on their cute little banana tree, and A said, bluntly, “You can’t have those on the boat.”

Now, if A is on one hand of the superstition spectrum, my mother is the absolute opposite. She thinks it’s complete nonsense, and refused to remove the bananas, and actually, just to tempt fate, bought more after they started to brown. [The first, brown bunch was placed in the freezer so I could make a delicious Pinterest-inspired frozen concoction with them sometime in the future.]

Having my fair share of accidents happen on stage after someone accidentally [or purposefully—you know who you are and I still don’t forgive you] said the name of the infamous Scottish King in the theater, I find myself somewhere in the center of the spectrum. I would be happy not having bananas on board, but I do enjoy them with some PB.

Alas, I let A have her superstitions, and I let my mom scoff at them.

But you know what, guys? Before I left for the airport today, without my mom knowing, I dug those frozen bananas out of the freezer and dumped them overboard. Just as a little offering in exchange for safe passage.

OR ACTUALLY ANY KIND OF PASSAGE AT ALL WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Maybe you all remember your boating lesson from two entries ago, where I told you about the options for spending a night in port. Any volunteers?

[VIMH©: Docking, mooring, anchoring.]

Good job, VIMH©! Haven’t heard from you in a while.

The Voice in my Head got it right. Those are the three options.

Except that—guys—there’s totally another option. You can also choose to get stuck on a series of massive Cypress stumps in the middle of the ICW channel, just an hour outside of your previous port. [Not recommended]

The portion of the ICW that starts in Norfolk and moves into North Carolina is called The Virginia Cut. It is well known to be a particularly tricky stretch of the Intra-Coastal because it is extremely narrow, and the channel [the channel is the path along which it is safe to travel], is incredibly specific, leaving little room for error. If you aren’t sticking right to the center of the channel, you are liable to run aground, and, here, when you run aground you aren’t cushioning up on a sandy beach waiting for the tide.

The Virginia Cut is further complicated by the Cypress trees that surround the canal. Over time, the canal has widened (believe it or not) due to rising water levels and boat wake and the riverbanks have eroded, leaving dead tree stumps behind to mark the place they once loomed large. Cypress is a notoriously strong and resilient wood, and, therefore, these stumps have survived, sometimes much farther into the canal than you would expect, outside of the channel, but only just.

It is as virtually impossible for the Army Corps of Engineers to mark all of these hazards, as it is to remove all of them, so boaters are warned to watch.

Although this part of the ICW is not affected by moon tide, wind tides do affect the area, and can cause varying water levels, sometimes by as much as a foot of depth.Wind tides are much more difficult to predict and once again, therefore, cruisers are warned to keep out a sharp eye for stumps that, due to a rising tide, may be virtually invisible only a few inches below the murky black water [crawling with snakes, and, according to some scientists, as the species is apparently moving north, possibly an alligator or two—watch out NYC, they’re coming for us]. Comforting.

Finally, as if things can’t get complicated enough, the channel is highly commercial, and is host to many tugboat & barge couples that, any given point, could either be careening towards you or creepily sneaking up your aft, expecting you to yield them the very, very narrow channel.

Photo Jun 29, 10 09 41 AM

This barge is taking up virtually the entire channel. Oh and, this is a very, very small one.

So. Sunny morning. Post-Father’s Day. About to head to my favorite place in the world [Coinjock]. Happiness abounds.

We come up to our next bridge, North Landing, and we are 15 minutes away from an opening. So, we idle in front of the bridge in the channel waiting for the grumpy old bridge master to open up [pretty sure he may have been the troll from Three Billy Goats Gruff: “Trip trap trip trap who is it that wants to go under my bridge? I’ll gobble you up!”].

When it does open, we see that a MASSIVE barge is coming at us from the other side of the bridge. No biggie—luckily, we happen to be in a spot in the canal that has a little tiny bit of extra depth, so we watch the depth finder carefully, and idle waiting for the barge to pass.

When it is just about past us, 7 ft of water on the depth finder [remember we only draw 5], all of a sudden there is a bump, another bump and then finally a complete stop.

Uh oh.

Commence Lady Pirate panic.

The engines go off, my mom calls Seatow [AAA for boats] and we wait for a tow off. Now, at the time, we assumed it was a stump, but couldn’t quite rectify in our minds the feel under the boat. It felt as if there was a large mass that stretched from maybe 5 feet back from the bow to about mid-ship, slightly less than halfway from the starboard side. Felt larger than a stump, but what else could it be? [AN ALLIGATOR MONSTER CARCASS? A WHALE? THE LAIR OF AN EVIL SNAKE MONSTER THAT WOULD GOBBLE US UP FIRST CHANCE HE GOT?]

Photo Jun 20, 2 11 17 PM

The little engine that unfortunately could not.

The good news: We did everything right, and so there had to be minimal damage. First, when we hit, we were idling, so there was no way we hit hard enough to bust a hole in the hull. Second, the engines went off immediately, and we didn’t try to get ourselves off with power, so the chance of damage to the propellors was slim to none.

The tow arrived [from Coinjock!] and this guy and his 225 horsepower outboard tried as hard as they could to tow us off that goddamned stump. After about an hour and a half of pulling from various angles and various cleats, stress fractures had occurred on the port side in the aft, causing both interior and exterior damage. Since we weren’t taking on any water, all parties decided it was time to quit to avoid causing any more damage, and move on to plan B.

Plan B consisted of getting together a salvage team, including a diver. They take large airbags, situate them under the boat in places specified by the diver after his recon mission, and blow them up in order to float the boat off the obstruction. Problem was, daylight was quickly waning, and it wouldn’t be until the next morning that the salvage team could ASSSSSEEEEMMMBLLLEEEE just like the News Team in Anchorman, obviously.

So, we were hung up on this stump. Troll bridge in view, but literally nothing else. Trees.

OUR LIVES WERE SO HARD. God, we could only run the generator for a little while to cook dinner and finish the laundry and we had NO AIR CONDITIONING. #firstworldproblems

In reality, it was actually a beautiful little cove we were stuck in, and, aside from worrying about pirates and bears and alligators [oh my], it was a beautiful night. [Click below to see 360º of Black Powder Landing at sunset on Stump Day.]

It was a Full Strawberry Moon, and it was quiet—OH wait but then there was the AIR SHOW.

Not like an actual, cool air show with like tricks and stuff and cotton candy and lots of gratuitous American flags. Just like, we happened to be in the vicinity of a Navy airfield and they decided that that day was perfect for practicing landing.

Since we’d been drinking since about noon, my mom immediately assumed that they were circling us because we were a suspicious ship near to the base and our name was Black Powder and that’s VERY SUSPICIOUS and that one girl totally almost waved at the border guard when they were going through Norfolk and OMG they have signaling cannons so they must be noise terrorists!

However, in reality, they were practicing landing. They must have been good at it because they didn’t crash. So, the sun started to set, my mom fell asleep at her 6pm bedtime, and A and I settled it for a vicious game of Cribbage. The cove was pleasant and silent and—AHHHHHH WTF THEY’RE COMING BACK. Over-head, fast and loud, zoomed no less than 25 [or maybe 3 or something] war-plane thingys with wings and loud engines [technical term]. Did I mention how loud they were and how they completely disrupted our Cribbage game for at least 15 minutes. Don’t they realize how RUTHLESS A is when it comes to Cribbage? I mean, I need to have my wits about me.

 

Jeez. Well, at least that’s over. We continue to play cribbage and I obviously beat A because I’m better than her at everything [except most things]. I obsessively fail at taking great pictures of the gorgeous moon [Above. My family is full of photographers. Unfortunately I am not one of them.] and then we start to head to bed in the quiet, beautiful, cove which we’ve now aptly named Black Powder Landing and—

Photo Jun 20, 10 04 08 PM

Black Powder Landing. Notice the lack of anything in the vicinity besides that damn airstrip.

WHAT THE EFF ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM AND WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO TORTURE US DON’T THEY KNOW THE KIND OF DAY WE’VE HAD I’M ALREADY SO ANXIOUS ABOUT SOMEONE WITH NO TEETH BREAKING INTO THE BOAT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE.

Apparently, the drills are performed during daylight, sunset, and nighttime, because idk I guess flying a tactical aircraft is difficult or something whatever you try sleeping on a stump and tell me which you think is more difficult jeez.

Anyway, I did eventually sleep and, determined to not live like animals, made a delicious Eggs Florentine for breakfast because who knows we might be stuck on this stump forever and the generator can’t last until the end of time so we might as well eat like the bourgeoisie before we have to resort to spearing water moccasins and eating them raw.

Right on time, the salvage crew ASSSSSEEEEEMMMMMBBBLLLLEEEDDDD and arrived at 10am to save our asses. The diver went into the black water [I’m not kidding–the water’s tannins turn it BLACK, mainly derived from those damned Cypress trees], and, devoid of sight, felt his way around the bottom of the boat, resolving that it was not one stump, no, but a series—nay, a family of stumps [Papa, Mama, Baby?], existing solely to ruin everything good in this world.

The wind had brought the water up a whopping 10 inches overnight, and, whereas, our bow was protruding 18 inches from the water the day before, it was now less than half that. The diver explained the situation, and concluded that if the team tried to tow the boat from this particular angle [based on feel WTF what a rock-star], it should come loose. And come loose it did, as if it was so easy we could have lassoed some water moccasins to do the job.

It was already decided that, even if the engines started, we’d have them tow us back to Chesapeake (our previous port) because the boatyard there was probably the best we would encounter for another 200+ miles. Better safe than sorry, right?

So, we enjoy a pleasant, work-free cruise back to Atlantic Yacht Basin, where they haul the boat [out of the water] and we look at it and all laugh together about how silly we were to come back here because it was just a stump and how much damage could that do oh except the huge chunk taken out of our hull. WHATTTTTTTT

Luckily, the damage didn’t breach the actual structure of the hull, so it would be a relatively quick fix. They would put us up on the hard [on the ground, in the boatyard, bummer], fix the hull and the stress fractures and we’d be on our way in two days. [Side-note: The guys here at AYB are ROCKSTARS. I really can’t say enough about how fast they work, and how kind and courteous and cool and professional and skilled they all are. The next time you guys find yourselves on a stump, get towed here.]

Photo Jun 21, 1 36 23 PM

Sad mom with sad chunk of sad fiberglass.

These guys worked so fast, it seemed like we were going to be back in the water within two days. Except, it rained. And rain was forecasted for the next couple of days. So they couldn’t finish painting before the weekend. The hull patched, they put us back in a covered shed, in the water, so we’d at least have AC. [The boat AC utilizes seawater because duh.]

I mean we’re talking 95+ and humid, folks. I had already legit evolved into Humidity Monster, which is worse than Hangry Monster, to which my restaurant co-workers will attest, as they have had to spend time with me slinging mac & cheese and burgers to over-privileged a-holes outside on an NYC sidewalk in a million degree heat wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and jeans.

Photo Jun 25, 5 32 18 PM

The pups enjoyed our dock party.

The shed was dry. AND ALSO INFESTED WITH SPIDERS. LIKE THERE WAS A SPIDER COLONY OUTSIDE MY WINDOW. Also the shed was shielded from any light or happiness. We ended up setting up a redneck dock party with folding chairs at the end of our dock, which protruded from the shed and had approximately 6 feet of sunlight between the hours of 3 and 6pm.

As they were nearly finished with the work, we were slowing dying of Vitamin D deprivation, and we needed diesel, we cried and begged and they eventually pulled us out of the shed and onto the dock, where we could get fuel and water and sunlight and they would finish their work.

The next day, we surmised, we would be on our merry way. We mapped out the next couple of days, and decided to try to make it to Charleston, SC for the 4th of July, with 8 days of travel, since we obviously wouldn’t be making our originally intended stop in Fort Lauderdale for the 4th. [HAHAHA. Yeah OK.]

Best to do an engine check first. Just in case.

Key. Turn.

Starboard engine: wooooooooooooOOOOEEEEEEE LET’S BLOW THIS POPSICLE STAND! Coinjock here we cooooooooooome!!!!!!!!!!
Port engine: woo. woo. meh. sputter. fart.

Key. Turn.

Port Engine: fart fart fart fart. nope. i like Virginia.

That’s right, folks, the day before the rest of our lives, the port engine wouldn’t start.

Luckily, we were at Atlantic Yacht Basin, and these guys are Detroit Diesel [our engines] superstars. They were bound to get us up and going again. They diagnosed it as a bad starter, removed it, and on Friday, sent it out for service. Unfortunately, we’d have to wait until Monday for it to be re-installed.

We spent the weekend having a few adventures [which I will tell you about in a series of other posts following], and when Monday finally came, we were ready to GO.

While re-installing the starter, our mechanic did another couple of checks in the engine room, and let me tell you. One thing you do not want to hear a mechanic say from the engine room is, “Oh. Well, that’s not good.”

Water. In the engine. No bueno.

After a long and complicated diagnostic process, and days of taking apart the engine, the true source of our problem was discovered.

On Stump Day, while the first tow boat attempted to make our lives suck a little less, in fact, our lives were made to suck just a little bit more. [Through no fault of theirs, those guys were awesome.]

Most likely when he was pulling us from the stern, water managed to get in the exhaust of the port engine. With each pull, the boat heeled quite a lot. [So much in fact that, unprepared as we were, we hadn’t thought to secure the cabin and therefore, our Keurig was thrown to the floor and shattered, and furniture and other items were displaced throughout the cabin. Oops.] Because the engines weren’t running at the time, they weren’t sending out any exhaust, which left the pipes prime for H2O intrusion.

I don’t know if you know this, but engines aren’t made to combust water. When they try to, bad things happen. Like really, really bad things. Take that piston, for example. The sleeve has been cracked and OMG look at that bend.

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So, what do they have to do in this case? Oh NBD just a complete engine rebuild.

Yup. Two-three weeks.

So, here I am. At the airport. Headed back to NYC for a week-long way-lay, and to spend the 4th with my husband, instead of with the black waters of the Virginia Cut.

You guys, I don’t think I’m ever going to eat a banana again. Not in my cereal, not with peanut-butter, no banana bread or Chunky Monkey. Screw you Chiquita, and the fruit-adorned headdress that rode in on you.

Happy 4th.

xo

Mile Marker Zero

With my father in tow, our engine leak fixed, and the weather promising a beautiful Father’s Day weekend, we made our way out of Solomons Island and headed to Deltaville, VA, an adorable little marine town approximately 2 miles long, situated about halfway between Solomons and Norfolk.

The town, in the past, has laid claim to the title of “Boatbuilding Capital of the Chesapeake,” and, indeed, for over a century [until at least the late 1970s], as many as 20 boatbuilders supplied watermen with wooden work-boats of all types and sizes. Although little boatbuilding goes on today, boating continues to be centric to the local economy.

On our way through the Chesapeake, we had been having a conversation about when one is officially in ‘The South,’ and discovered that it was actually quite a bit further north than we originally thought [who knew that the Mason-Dixon line was actually north of DC? Not us].

We would decide for ourselves when we were officially in ‘The South.’ Doubt was erased when we pulled into Deltaville.

The boat next to us was having a little family afternoon gathering, and we struck up a conversation with the owners, telling them what we were doing.

Out-of-Touch-Southern-Man: So the three of you ladies are taking this boat to Texas, and where is the man?
Lady Pirates: …. Nope, just us.
OOTSM: Just three ladies on this big boat?
LPs: And three dogs! [subtext: har har you are joking right]
OOTSM: Hey, Dave– get out here! These three ladies are taking the boat to Texas by themselves!
Dave the Out-of-Touch-Southern-Man: What?! By yourselves? No man??!
LPs: …. Nope….
OOTSM: But who docks the boat then? — Hey, Barbara, get out here a second– these three ladies are taking the boat to Texas by themselves!
LPs: …We dock the boat… And drive it… [I think this is the point I lost my eyes in the back of my head]
Barbara-the-poor-out-of-touch-southern-woman: No man on board?! Oh my goodness I could never do this without [OOSTM]! I just go along for the ride!
DTOOTSM: But wait, who did you say drives the boat?
BTPOOTSW: They said they do it!
OOSTM: I can’t believe it! Ladies!
Dad: [emerging from the cabin after a shower] Hi!
OOSTM: See, you DO have a man on the boat!!!!!!
DTOOTSM: I knew it!
LPs: He’s just here for the weekend, along for the ride… [eyeroll by all except my because my eyes were already lost back there]
OOSTM: Well, I don’t know about that…
LPs: We must be lying! [Collective sigh. Silent agreement that we are in fact, in The South] 

The marina supplies transients with bikes for transportation [because what could be cuter than that], and although I don’t remember the last time I biked, as it turns out, riding a bike is just like riding a bike, and, after mastering the pedal brakes [because these are adorable bikes with high handles and pedal breaks not stupid hand brakes], I was transported to age 10.

16mszy

Captain fell down go boom.

After a sensible happy hour on the boat, we buzz-biked [not drunk-biked, we were def under .08 maybe] to a cute family owned restaurant allllll the way on the other side of town [aka a 7 minute ride]. Our fearless captain fell off her bike after she forgot about the pedal brakes and went into a ditch and obviously I immediately took pictures because she literally never does anything wrong or clumsy and I felt like she needed to be publicly shamed.

I don’t know what we expected out of a restaurant in a 2-mile long town, but it was hot and tiny and had no AC and we were hangry and [BEGIN RANT] unfortunately we encountered another experience where the summer-job service staff had just got out of school and were not yet equipped to handle the business volume and our poor 16 year old waitress ignored us for 15 minutes and the stupid manager did nothing and I had to prevent my dinner-mates from murdering her and so instead I broke out the restaurant talk and asked to speak to the manager who had conveniently left before I could speak to him cause clearly he had such a hard day standing around and not helping his sinking staff like an idiot and we told her it wasn’t her fault [cause she was 16 and had no idea what she was doing] and clearly she thought we were going to chew her face off and when we didn’t she was relieved and super sweet and I hope the manager reads this one day and calls me cause I’ve got a handful of choice words for him but obviously the next day I was over it and we were leaving Deltaville and so I wasn’t going to waste energy calling to complain cause whatever [END RANT].

Photo Jun 18, 8 02 52 PM

We ate this and it was called the Seafood Party Barge, so, obviously.

[Oh yeah also we ate alligator bites. I don’t recommend it but any alligators that we will encounter in the future should be warned that now that I know it’s an option they should be scared because we have a harpoon on board and even though I don’t know how to use it, I will try and there is a 20% chance I might succeed.]

Although we went to dinner at 6 [we usually eat at the blue-haired times because we get up with the sun don’t judge us], because of the aforementioned reasons, we left at almost 9pm and so we barely had enough light to bike home through Deltaville’s unlit, tree-lined, single road, but somehow we made it without being eaten by a lion or a bear or a giant mosquito so clearly luck was on our side.

The morning of Father’s Day, we woke up early to head through Norfolk, finally entering the Intracoastal Waterway, to our first ICW stopover, in Chesapeake, VA.

Side note. Let me just say. When my dad decided to come down for Father’s Day, [before the magical, mythical, mysterious, [e]mancipating mechanic showed up to fix our oil leak], he joked with me that he was coming up to visit us “just so he could fix things,” and I reminded him that that would literally be his best Father’s Day ever and he agreed because his favorite thing to do besides hanging out with his favorite child [me] is to fix things.

Well, upon arrival, with the boat fixed, he clearly needed something to do, so he was sure to break no less than 3 things while he was onboard. First, possibly an honest mistake, he broke a chair in the saloon as we celebrated happy hour in Solomons. Ok. So… he spent the next day fixing it. No harm, no foul.

On our way into Deltaville, we discovered that the boat was listing a bit to starboard, because some swells we encountered in the Chesapeake had caused the fuel from the port tank to move over into the starboard tank. As we tried to transfer the fuel, he had the idea to listen to his daughter [who isn’t an engineer or a mechanic and really just had a question about the way that the tanks work and a possible suggestion but who doesn’t accept any responsibility because she is in no way qualified] and, sparing you the technical details, flipped a lever in the engine room which almost caused one of the engines to sputter and die.

Finally, upon arrival in Chesapeake, he decided to “help” and connect the power and somehow blew a fuse which, in the 95 degree heat and humidity, disabled our AC.

Two days. Two days on board. So let me be clear to all you OOTSM out there, the Lady Pirates had everything under control, and the all-powerful, all-knowing, fully-necessary MAN broke everything. [To be fair, he did fix his mistakes. Love you, Dad.]

We drove through Norfolk, VA, home of the world’s largest naval base, and my dad was in heaven as we passed through all of the ships stationed along the coast. The Navy is NOT EFFING AROUND in Norfolk, guys. Lookout patrol boats monitor the area along the yard armed with machine guns, and followed us along our trip for quite some time, making the Lady Pirates sweat a little. I wanted to wave at them but my mom said no and I don’t know why I was just trying to be courteous.

In Chesapeake, we encountered our first lock of the trip, at MM11, at the Great Bridge. [History lesson: The Great Bridge was the site of a major battle on December 9, 1775, which resulted in the removal of the British from Virginia. Though the battles of Lexington and Concord took place months earlier, and are historically more memorable, the Battle of Great Bridge can be seen as the first strategically important colonial victory over the British, forcing the redcoats withdraw to Norfolk.]

A lock, for those of who who don’t know marine navigation, is a device used to raise and lower ships between stretches of water that are dammed at different levels on river or canal waterways. It consists of a chamber enclosed by gates on either side, which the boat enters, tying up to its wall. The gates are sealed behind, the water level is raised or lowered in the chamber, and the gates open ahead, allowing passage into the canal at the differing water level.

We’ll be encountering a lot of locks on our trip, especially as we go through the Okeechobee in Florida and New Orleans. Like bridges, lock openings are occasionally on demand, but generally occur at specific times, so timing the trip to make a certain opening can be frustrating, as missing your time can mean idling around for up to an hour  waiting to pass through.

In Great Bridge, specifically, the lock takes the boater 2-3 feet, from seawater to freshwater, into the part of the ICW known as the Virginia Cut. The lock times out with the opening of The Great Bridge, which is directly after the lock.

Photo Jun 19, 8 33 06 PM

Proof that my Dad and I should never be left alone without actual adult supervision.

We ate on board in Chesapeake, enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and my dad and I drank some Lagavulin and shared his last cigar, because when I’m alone with my dad I have to do everything I can to make my brother jealous. He told me he had the best Father’s Day ever because my brother wasn’t there and he could spend the whole day with just me.

The next morning, my dad waved goodbye to us from the dock as we headed back into the ICW, destined for the [now infamous] Coinjock, NC.

Of course, in true fashion, things did not go at all according to plan…

More to come.

xo

 

 

What’s the difference between…

…Port Authority and a crab with breast implants?
One is a crusty bus station and the other is a BUSTY CRUST-ACEAN.

Get it? Just a little dad joke for you in honor of Father’s Day.

Anyway, we last left our heroes in Atlantic City, and, though their change of luck didn’t help at all in the casino, it did seem like things were actually looking up…

image

Out on the town in Atlantic City

 

PART ONE: Training Wheels;
or, Does Anyone Have a Functioning Easy Button?

Saturday we woke up to a beautiful, calm morning and left for Cape May, NJ, dolphins surfing our wake the whole way there.

[insert laughing-so-hard-he’s-crying-cat emoji]

You didn’t think it was that easy, did you?

After several long days, all of the BS of the first week, and a lack of true way-lay days, we were tired, hung-over and more than a little burnt out.

Let me take this moment to educate those of you non-boat people who don’t know about the docking process. First, when you arrive at your destination, there are a few options. You can grab a mooring in the harbor, which is basically a huge floating anchor that you rent, you can drop your own anchor in designated spots, or you can pull up and dock. For obvious reasons, docking is much more convenient, as you can hook up to shore power [so your West Wing Netflix binge doesn’t have to end], and with three dogs, you can bring them ashore without having to launch the dinghy [ours is obviously named Loose Cannon].

At first glance, it probably seems pretty easy, right? I mean, it should just be like parking a car, and the hardest thing about parking a car is parallel parking, and I happen to be really great at that so I don’t know what you are all complaining about.

In reality, the only way docking a boat would be the same as parking a car would be if, while you were trying to park, the concrete constantly morphed and moved and the curb threatened to gauge into and destroy your Range Rover, oh and then you had to jump OUT of the car while it was still moving [sometimes like a good 4-5 feet down] and lasso a fire hydrant to pull your 2-ton vehicle in with your bare hands, trying to avoid having it pull you off of the curb and on to the street in between the car and the curb which basically at that point is as dangerous as falling into a volcano that is due to erupt.

Add tide and wind into the equation [which could either be pushing you towards the curb or away from the curb], upgrade your Rover to the super heavy-duty model [making it a mere 34 tons], and then place a whole bunch of other 34+ ton vehicles all around the empty parking space, all of which will contain people who gawk at you while you try to park, starting a sweat storm rivaling that of a whore in church.

[It’s pretty much the best entertainment of the day to watch a new transient come in to port and try to fit into a space they’ve never been into before, or pick up a mooring when it’s super windy, so long as they aren’t anywhere near your boat. Especially when it’s a shiny, brand new powerboat and it’s clear the captain did not think through his decision to buy a boat and he thought it was going to be a lot more fun and easy than this and his dogs are barking and his children are crying and it’s raining and you know his wife is going to divorce him as soon as she gets off that GODFORSAKEN PIECE OF—It’s awesome. Boat people are terrible.]

Basically, it takes practice. Lots of it.

My dad is generally the master of the docking, and he’s got it down pat [after the one time on our way up the ICW when the dockhand tied a line on too soon and the tide was ridiculous and he tried to back up without knowing that he was tied on and so the stern of our boat swung into a beautiful 100-foot yacht and its million-pound anchor ripped clear through like 4 of our stanchions, just narrowly missing fiberglass].

On this trip, A is handling most of the dockage, but my mom can do it even though she doesn’t think she can, so she practices when it’s an easy slip to get into/out of. Also, generally, we’ve been asking for face docks, which is basically an end space, so we don’t need to slip in between other boats. The technique of actually helming the boat in to dock is seriously difficult and stressful and, as A keeps saying, the whole time all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to break my parents HOUSE.

So we have our Captain: A. We have our Admiral/First Mate: my mom. So besides just being along for the ride, my titles on board are as follows, not necessarily in order of importance: Chief Stew [aka galley wench, there is some division on board regarding whether or not we like that word but whatever I’m the cook]; Chief Historian; Chief Technology Supervisor; Chief Musician and DJ; Chief Drunk; Chief Yoga Instructor; and Chief Dockhand.

As dockhand, I get the lines and fenders [cushy bumpers to protect the boat] ready for dockage, and take them all in and put them away as we leave port. I’m usually the first person off the boat when we come in, and the last one to jump back on as we leave. A lot of the marinas we’ve been to have had dockhands that will catch our lines, and whichever of my fellow lady pirates isn’t at the helm will help if and when possible.

Compared to actually helming the take-off and landing, my job sounds pretty easy, and usually it is.

However, there are some intricacies when it comes to getting off successfully, one of which is deciding, based on wind and tide and room and other factors, which lines to remove and in which order. Generally, you want the wind and tide to help you off [and on] if at all possible, so making a careful decision in this regard can help swing the boat in a particular direction, and take some of the heat off of the skipper.

Depending on the conditions, we usually tie up with four lines: one from the bow, one from the stern, and two spring lines, which run from the center of the boat, crisscrossing. Springs are used to hold the boat close in place, preventing an unceremonious slam against the dock while you’re nestled in your bunk at 2am. That’s a lousy wake-up call.

[PHEW. That was a long lesson. There will be a multiple-choice test following this entry.]

Back to Saturday morning. Atlantic City. Tired. Hung-over. Brains not really functioning at full capacity.

The water was flat calm, there was virtually no wind, and we were on the end of a dock that was empty besides us. Piece. Of. Cake.

My mom takes the helm, because, duh it’s going to be so easy.

Then, we notice that there seems to be some sort of kayak race coming through the harbor, the course of which was directly perpendicular to ours. So, engines running and lines nearly prepped to go, we decide to wait it out. 5, 10, 15 minutes go by, and it seems like they’re done. So, the engines go back on, the lines get re-prepped and—wait a second—it looks like they’re sending out another wave. Another 5, 10, 15 minutes go by, I’m now standing on the dock and my mom is at the helm, and we decide to make a break for it.

I release the bow and stern lines. We have decided to use the spring to swing the bow out to port. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to release that last spring line from on board, so you rig the lines up so that both ends are secured to the boat and there’s just one loop on the cleat on shore, and, when ready, you just swing it off and be on your merry way.

I’d done this just a few days before with no problems. Only thing was, the last time, A had prepped the lines for me. This time, I was supposed to do it. Oops.

As we are above to move away from the dock, A looks at me, incredulously, and tells me to get on the boat… DUH. I forgot I was doing the spring from the boat this time. Holding the end of the line in my hand, I run back to the stern and attempt to get into the boat from the swim platform. Except it’s locked.

Now, with the very, very end of the line in my hand, by body stretched out to capacity, I start shouting for someone to come and unlock the swim platform! They don’t hear me. UNLOCK THE SWIM PLATFORM. A finally hears me and lets me in. I climb the side rail and crawl over to the starboard side.

The bow swings out, but the spring is still wrapped around [but not secured to] the cleat on shore. I manage to swing it around a couple of times so that there is just one wrap on it, hanging off the side rail of the boat like a true pirate, end of the line in hand.

End of the line in hand.

The end of the line is not supposed to be in my hand, it’s supposed to be attached to the boat. This is the communication that followed:

A: Lyss, attach the spring! Attach the spring!
Me: Attach it to what? Wait—what? Where is it supposed to be?
A: Attach it to the boat! Cleat it off!
Me: [scrambling to get to a cleat.]
My Brain: ::whhrrrrrrrrrn:: [powering down, lights flicker, goes dark. back-up generator powers up, running on fumes]
Me: [looking up to A] I don’t understand.
A: Lyss! To the—
Mom: I can’t move! I can’t move! I don’t know what to do!
A: The spring is still attached, just hang on a second! Back it up! No—not forward!
Mom: I think they’re coming out again! More kayakers!
A: What? We have to keep going!
Me: WHERE DO I PUT THE SPRING?!
Mom: I think I want to stop—let’s pull back—A, come take the helm I’m going to go throw up–
A: No! — LYSS ATTACH THE SPRING to the boat!
Mom: Nevermind, they aren’t coming out —I CAN’T MOVE! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!
A: THE SPRING IS STILL ATTACHED TO THE DOCK!
My Arms: [being yanked from their sockets as I try to pull 34 tons with my bare hands]
My Brain: ::vrrooooommmm:: [powers back up]
Me: [secures the end of the line to the cleat directly in front of MY FACE]
[bow of the boat swings back out to port, my mom puts it into gear]
Me: [swings the spring off super easily JUST LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE TO START WITH]
Lady Pirates: [deafening silence]

After I finish clearing the deck of the lines and fenders, I go up to the fly bridge where A and my mom are navigating out of the harbor. We laugh for approximately 15 minutes straight [a liiiiiittle bit of pee comes out], and thank GOD it was 7am on an empty dock because YOU KNOW if anyone was watching they would have had quite the show.

PART TWO: Over-Lubrication;
or I’m An Idiot

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Sunrise over Cape May

After an 11-hour trek from Atlantic City, we arrive in beautiful Cape May, where dolphins really did greet us on our way into the harbor.

From Cape May, you enter into Delaware Bay, cross the Chesapeake-Delaware (C&D) canal, and enter into Chesapeake Bay. Delaware Bay can be quite a bitch when the weather is rough, and, with high wind and seas in the forecast, and, since we all very clearly needed a break, we settled down for a much needed two way-lay days until the weather chilled the eff out.

Sunday was a brisk 98 degrees, so we spent the day relaxing [read: drinking vodka] by the marina’s beautiful pool. Monday was windy and cooler, and we took the opportunity to explore the adorable little town of Cape May, and bring the dogs with us for a stroll along the waterfront. It actually was starting to feel like a vacation.

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The Nut House. Cape May waterfront.

Tuesday, we made the run up the Delaware and into the canal, stopping in Chesapeake City for the night. We stayed at a marina with dockside dining and a huge bar, but since we don’t partake in those types of activities we just stayed in and went to bed early.

JK OBV. We ate at the restaurant, which was unfortunately not ready for the season and super under-staffed. In solidarity, I gave the poor bartender many looks of “it’s ok! you’re really busy!” and knowing smiles, plus a solid tip [AKA MORE THAN 20% 20% IS THE MINIMUM, PEOPLE.].

The bar being super full, vodka being super drank, and with the boat pulled up right next to the bar, I decided after dinner that I was going to make my first attempt at fulfilling my goal of meeting the locals. My crewmates, shaking their heads, reluctantly left me at the bar.

GUYS ARE SO PREDICTABLE.

Within three minutes, a man pulls up a stool next to me, “Is this seat taken?”

My first instinct is of course to roll my eyes and say something snarky, but I remind myself of my intentions, and invite him to sit down with me.

He is late 50s, a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman’s younger brother, with a kind smile and a definite “local” vibe. BINGO BANGO.

After chatting for a bit, I made it abundantly clear in probably a vodka-inspired, super obnoxious and egotistical manner that I was not going to sleep with him but that I would still love talk with him for a bit, but AGAIN, if you’re here to pick someone up, like, it’s not me sorry.

[VIMH©: You are seriously an asshole. Not everyone at a bar wants to sleep with you.]

I tell him about my trip, about my blog [and I actually ask permission to write about him] and we talk about his life. He lives in a house right behind the marina, which is his late mother’s house. She passed away last November after a battle with dementia, and he, the youngest of 5 siblings, had moved in with her to care for her until she passed. Apparently, his oldest sister was given control of all of his mother’s assets, except for the house, and she was abusing her power to the point of some serious family drama.

He tells me that the waterfront land we are sitting on used to be sports fields for the neighborhood, and about how when the city sold the land YEARS AGO, they did so with promise of building new fields, which of course has yet to happen.

We talked for almost 2 hours before we parted and so I should have a really, really super juicy story except that the details are a little fuzzy.

Oops. I let you down, guys. I OVER-social-lubricated. Too much vodka. I remember being so totally interested in everything he was saying though. So, there’s that.

He also left me a nice note in the cockpit of the boat that I woke up to which was pretty creepy but also nice. My mom was concerned.

You guys. I’ll do better next time.

Anyway, thanks for the chat, Dale.

PART THREE: When in Rome;
or Crab-Walkers

The next day started with a gorgeous run along the canal with Copernicus and A and Galen [only not really because A is an actual, real runner and I’m pretty sure she runs like 50mph cause all I saw was her dust]. The sun rose, the dog lived his best life, and OH ALSO ALMOST GOT EATEN BY AN EFFING EAGLE.

I DIDN’T KNOW EAGLES LIVED PLACES, GUYS.

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Copernicus watching the sunrise on our run along the C&D canal.

This dude was definitely stalking my dog, and he totally could have picked him up—he swooped maybe 6 feet in front of us so I could very clearly see that he had a wingspan as wide as mine and I was thinking I was going to have to fight an eagle, guys. And I really don’t know how to fight an eagle—besides to IDK like insult his mother?—and so I just started shouting at it and it flew away. AKA I did fight an eagle and I won.

We were heading to a cute little place called St. Michael’s, and, although we topped off at like 5 knots thanks to the tide, we enjoyed an otherwise pleasant ride into Chesapeake Bay.

Then, we remembered who we were and discovered an oil leak from our starboard engine.

Commence panic.

We monitored the leak on the way in, and tried frantically to find a mechanic when we got to the dock. OF COURSE it was 530 when we got into this tiny little town and so OF COURSE their only mechanic was probably already drunk by then.

To get our minds off of things, and, much to my mom’s dismay, accepting that we would likely not hear from anyone until the morning, we went to a restaurant in the harbor because we were DETERMINED to get some good crabs, Maryland style.

The first restaurant I worked at in NYC was called Ditch Plains, named after a surfing beach in Montauk, one of the favorite spots of the celebrity chef and our owner, Marc Murphy [super nice dude]. We used to do these crab boils in the summer. All you could eat Maryland Blue Crabs, hush puppies and corn and probably some other stuff.

PEOPLE LOVED IT.

WE HATED IT.

[Omg it was just so gross. We laid out newspaper on the tables and people just like legit threw their crab guts everywhere and then we had to clean it up.]

HOWEVER. This time, I was on the other side of the table, I was in Rome, and goddammit I was going to act like a Roman. And plus, our chef at Ditch had showed us how to properly eat these things so I was totally going to nail it.

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No false advertising, here.

We sat outside on the deck, ordered a dozen medium-sized crabs, some hush puppies OBV and—oh what’s this? Oh it says the local favorite is the pickles and cheese! Well, I like pickles and I like cheese and it says it’s a local favorite so let’s do that too!

A plate of straight-up dill pickles and Velveeta cubes are dropped on our table.

Commence laughter.

Our adorable waitress sets our table with wooden mallets and paper placemats that have DIRECTIONS on them for eating the crabs.

I started to get a little nervous. Directions? That’s some serious shit.

The crabs come to the table and look seriously amazing and so I take my first one and follow the directions. My mom was a little hesitant. She’d never seen this before plus they didn’t bring us bibs like we expected and, you know, she needed to watch me first since I was the expert.

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Directions necessary.

I take off the apron as instructed, crack off the top shell and then—intestines. Like straight-up, curly-cued, Walking Dead-style mother effing intestines are the first things to fall onto my placemat. My mother’s eyes widened with horror as I quickly flipped it back over and attempted to hide it in the middle of the table. I ate the claws and then decided to start again.

Now—let me just say. A is a shellfish eating champion. She always has been. As a kid, we would all vacation together on our boats and we’d get lobsters and man she really knows how to eat that entire thing whereas I’m like a simple claws-and-tail kinda girl, as is my mom. Neither of us ever really ventures into the nether-regions, really just wanting to ignore the fact that there are other things in there besides glorious, delicious lobster meat.

So. A is going to town, doing everything right and really making the most out of those crabs. My mom is trying. Like she’s really trying really hard to be a Roman soldier, guys, and be a good sport and be like the Romans but she is really not succeeding. I am doing my best as well, but now I’m just “developing my own technique” for eating these crabs, because I’m really petrified to see any more intestines.

My “technique” consists of eating the claws, and then jamming my knife into the top shell, trying to find the meat like a complete barbarian, really probably only getting to approximately 60% of it. [BTW, what I DID actually eat was totally delicious.]

Then, there were the flies. I mean, we’re outside, duh, there are going to be flies. But I am talking FLIES. Like LORD OF THE FLIES. As our rapidly growing pile of shells overflows the bucket provided, the flies come and do whatever the hell it’s rumored that they do, landing over and over and seemingly calling more friends to terrorize us the more we swatted at them.

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Crabs pre-flies.

A doesn’t care about flies. She’s totally chill with the flies. She’s just into that delicious crab. We are not chill with the flies. My mom is ESPECIALLY NOT CHILL WITH THE FLIES. She will not be Netflix and chilling with any mother-effing flies not no way not no how.

She excuses herself from the table no less than 4x, then secretly pays the tab and stands next to the table at a safe distance while we laugh at her and A finishes the last two crabs.

Solid effort, lady pirates.

 

PART FOUR: Meanwhile, in the Engine Room;
or, IT’S THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC

Actual percentage of crabs eaten notwithstanding, our little excursion provided a good distraction from the problem at hand: the oil leak.

We secured our slip at St. Michael’s for Wednesday and Thursday nights, but they weren’t able to give us a slip for Friday night and so we’d have to leave Friday. Two problems: oil leak. And weather. The weather on Friday was supposed to be atrocious, huge thunderstorms and a small craft warning.

If we couldn’t get the apparently ONE mechanic in town to fix it on Thursday, we were pretty much screwed. The nearest port with any hope of getting a mechanic was 6 hours away.

We took the gamble and set out Thursday for Solomons Island, under crappy, rainy skies. We did engine checks every 15 minutes to make sure that the leak at least wasn’t getting any worse and the drip was still at the same speed.

Finally arriving at Solomons Island, although there are many, many boat yards and mechanics, we are unable to find anyone to fix the leak. One guy told my mom it would be “a couple of weeks” before he could get to it. A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

Commence more panic.

Commence me calling my dad and suggesting he come visit for Father’s Day.

It calms the situation at least a bit to know my dad is coming and, worse comes to worst, he can probably fix it himself. As a last ditch effort, following up on a local lead, my mom had made a call to a guy who is a mechanic “on the side.” We buttoned up the boat and prepared for the storm about to hit, praying for a miracle.

The storm passes overnight, bringing along quite the thunder and lightning show. When we wake up on Friday, it is rainy and gloomy much like our hearts when we think about the prospect of staying on Solomons Island for any longer than two nights.

Then, we get our miracle. Our “on the side” mechanic gets back to us and is at the boat within an hour, has it fixed in another hour and is gone as quickly as he came, leaving my mother giddy with glee. No more than another hour after he left, the sun came out, the afternoon was beautiful, and my dad arrived for the weekend.

Commence drinking and debauchery and poor ukulele playing. Today, we cross over into Virginia. Goodbye, Merry-Land.

Happy Father’s Day, all.

xo

 

Hang on, lady, we going for a ride

 

Now sit right back and I’ll tell the tale, the tale of a fateful trip that started out for Texas-but-basically-could-never-get-out-of-the-Northeast-and-so-my-dad-took-his-old-job-back and we abandoned ship. Yes, we abandoned ship. [I trust you know the melody and you can just fill in the phrase with extra words a la Daveed Diggs in Guns and Ships.]

Dramatic? Maybe. But then again I’ve never been known for my subtlety.

Ok, so we didn’t abandon ship. And my dad didn’t get his old job back and move back to RI. But, if you got a kick out of our first doomed three-hour tour of the biggest little state in the union [terminating in a “failure to launch” party in Newport], the roller-coaster that has followed will just tickle you pink and purple. As our captain, A’s father put it, so far this trip has been like walking on glass: slow and painful.

This one’s a little long guys. Take it in parts if it’s too much to handle, I think we can all agree that this week has been A LOT.
Continue reading

ROLL [OVER] CALL

I think I’ve mentioned in passing that the three of us lady pirates are accompanied by some equally as salty, trusty, canine counterparts. For those of you who are interested, I wanted to take this opportunity to stray from the usual narrative of the trip and introduce them to you. [Cat people need not read on. dogsrulecatsdroolkthxbye]


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Galen
[The Lover]

5-year old Beagle/ Golden Retriever mix

Likes: LOVE. Running. Making funny faces. LOVE. Being pet and touched LOVED and licking your legs. Did I mention she’s a lover?

Dislikes: When A leaves the room. A leaving the room. Anytime A is not directly next to her.

Fun facts: Galen is our resident southern belle. Originally from Georgia, Galen was adopted by A from a trainer and so she has great manners. She was adopted only a few short months before we delivered Black Powder up from FL, and her first boat trip was when she accompanied us on the final leg of that trip from Atlantic City. She got seasick within 15 minutes and I can’t blame her. She hasn’t been seasick since.

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Herreshoff aka Herry
[The Protector]

6-year old Dachshund

Likes: My mom. Treats. Whining. Barking at people who walk by. Barking at people who drive by. Barking at dogs and birds and sounds and wind. Barking at literally everything. Whining. Getting his way. Sleeping in the sun with his face on the ground with his little ears all over the place and his adorable chubby paws framing his face. Table food. Begging for table food. Getting table food.

Dislikes: His bark collar. Cats. Rats. Children. When my mom leaves the room. My mom leaving the room. Anytime my mom is not directly next to him.

Fun facts: My mom adopted Herry as a puppy from a family who had lost the little girl they bought him for. At the time, they had just purchased RBG Cannons, the signature model of which was the Herreshoff. Aptly named. Spoiled little brat but god is he cute and god does he love my mom.

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Copernicus
[The Wildcard]

6-year old Mini Schnauzer/Poodle mix

Likes: Adventure. Exploration. Knowing everything there is to know about a particular room. Securing said room. Hunting flies. Belly rubs. Inexplicably scaling 3-ft stone walls, opening doors, and opening the car window to stick his head out. Intimidating new people. Intimidating new dogs. Bullying his brother. Biting the heels of new people and the hands of new people who think he’s cute and want to pet him. Teaching people a lesson about how cute he is. Generally just being a dick.

Dislikes: New people. New dogs. Being told ‘no.’ When we leave the room. Us leaving the room. Anytime we are not directly next to him. [Sensing a pattern?]

Fun facts: We adopted Copernicus from Louisiana a year after we adopted our other dog, Einstein. I had always had two dogs and wanted Einstein to have company. Plus you can’t have an Einstein without a Copernicus duh. [Yes they are named after Doc’s dogs in Back to the Future and yes when my husband met Bob Gale he showed him a picture of them and told them their names and that man threw his head back and belly laughed and has never been happier than in that exact moment.]

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Copernicus was born into a household with an animal hoarder who had 40+ other dogs in the house when she was finally found out. He was 6 months old and was one of only 10 dogs that could be saved and adopted. [Sadface]

While our intentions were good, we really bit off a lot more than we could chew with this pup. When he came to us as a puppy, Einstein wanted NONE of it and was immediately over him and super pissed at us for even THINKING he would stand for sharing our attention.

This was really surprising to us. Einstein and Herry were adopted around the same time, and they got along very well. Einstein was also regularly socialized at daycare, and only had problems with dogs larger than him, which we originally thought was because a Rottweiler attacked him while he was in shelter. [Now, we actually believe that it is more likely he started it. He likes to talk a big talk and snarl at other dogs, and then whines and cries when they return the favor.]

Einstein’s aggression definitely compounded the problems that already accompanied Copernicus up north: namely, his possessiveness of toys, his need to hole himself up in small places, and, even as a puppy, his need to assert his dominance in constant school yard scuffles. [He was put into time-out very frequently at daycare.]

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Caught them loving each other once.

We assumed that they would work it out as dogs do, and they would adjust to living together and would be best of friends and snuggle all the time and then when one of them was on their death bed the other one would climb in with him and they would pass away quietly in the night like in The Notebook.

Wrong. They got to a point where they were comfortable ignoring each other, which, we learned, was the best it was going to get. They continued to have the occasional scuffle, and, while we originally blamed it all on Copernicus, we soon learned that Einstein was actually just super sneaky and very dramatic. He quietly snarls at Copernicus and then screams BLOODY MURDER if Copernicus comes anywhere near him. We’ve got his ticket now.

Anyway, as Copernicus got older we noticed he was becoming increasingly aggressive to other people in our house. It started when he was crate training and we discovered that he likes to have a safe, enclosed place to go to when he gets nervous. This was all well and good until someone walked by his crate and he promptly snarled and jumped in their direction, immediately assuming the likeness of a hosed-down Gremlin.

There were several instances where someone made him anxious reaching for him or just walking by him and he bit them. Blood was drawn. It got worse and worse. We would constantly find excuses for why it was happening—someone was near his bone, someone reached too quickly, surprised him, he was possessive of his space, etc, etc.

One day, my husband was lying with him on the bed when he decided he was grumpy and suddenly turned around, biting him on the bridge of his nose, narrowly missing both of his eyes. Up until then, my husband and I had not had any serious instances of him biting us that we hadn’t passed off as puppy nibbling, and he had never drawn blood from us.

We decided to bring in an expert, who recommended clicker-training. He also pointed out that Einstein seemed to be the instigator, which is when we started to realize he wasn’t the little angel he pretended to be. We discovered that while Einstein is the epitome of the old dog who can’t learn new tricks [or at least doesn’t want to], Copernicus responds very well to positive reinforcement and, through that, we were able to regain his trust and start to trust him ourselves. We learned to read his signs of anxiety and to know when to tell him to go to his spot to calm down.

We learned that perhaps the largest part of keeping him happy and others safe is to educate those who come into contact with him. He is really annoyingly adorable and people, understandably, just want to squash his little face. All he wants to do is SQUASH THEM RIGHT BACK AND EAT THEIR FINGERS FOR BREAKFAST. NOMNOMNOM

We learned that this dog will most likely never be completely broken of his tendencies, and the most we can do is keep him obedient to us, and react appropriately to his behaviors.

It’s funny. I remember being a kid and always being told to ask someone before approaching their dog. If you didn’t, and the dog bit you, it was your fault. I once tried to take a toy away from my babysitter’s dog and it bit me. Uh, duh. These are animals. Did my parents sue her? Uh, no. THESE ARE ANIMALS.

Today, if your dog is even a little bit aggressive, well first off, you are an idiot or a terrible pet parent. I mean, all you have to do is watch The Dog Whisperer and you’ll learn everything you need to know. Everyone knows that. Second, if your dog bites them or growls at them, even if you have instructed them not to approach, they are INCENSED. If your dog growls at their dog after you’ve told them they do not interact well with other dogs, and they still allow the dog to approach, they are INCENSED.

It is amazing to me how stupid people are when it comes to this. I was walking Copernicus in the park near our apartment one day about a year ago and had this exchange with an idiot:

Idiot Lady: “OH MY GOD HE’S SO CUTEEEEEE.” [approaches Copernicus]

Me: “Yes he is but he gets nervous around new people so please don’t touch him.”

IL: “Oh that’s ok, I love dogs. Dogs love me!!!” [idiot giggle, still approaching]

Me: [Pulling Copernicus behind me] “No, I’m sorry he’s really not friendly.”

IL: [Ignoring me, approaching him, hand towards his face]

Copernicus: [snaps, growls] “Damnit, I missed!”

IL: [Pulls her hand away, looks at me like she just witnessed me slapping a baby.] “YOU NEED TO CONTROL YOUR DOG!!!!!!!!!!”

OK then who the hell is going to control YOU YOU EFFING IDIOT.

Anyone who knows us well will tell you they have seen Copernicus come leaps and strides from where he once was. He warms up to new people much more quickly, and lots of friends and family who were once afraid of him now are comfortable sitting with him and playing with him and sleeping with him when dog sitting. We have had very few recent instances of him actually biting someone, at least without their acknowledgement that we properly warned them [although his new thing is to nip at new people’s heels like he’s herding sheep].

Such are the challenges of rehabilitating a rescue pup. But this process has not been without its rewards. Once he warms up, he is incredibly sweet and gentle, and god is that dog way too smart.

My husband and I decided it was too much for him to leave both the dogs with him for so long. [I mean, he’s already the superhero behind me, the breadwinner, not to mention the cool one.] We also decided it was a bad idea to have dogs out-number people on this trip. And while Copernicus truly is bonded more to my husband than me, we decided that the best decision was for me to take him and to leave Einstein. Einstein is chill, he will sleep all day, love you when you get home and demand your constant attention. He will do what you do, he will walk if you want to, he will Netflix and chill if you want to.

Copernicus suffers from serious separation anxiety and gets too lonely without Einstein. So, I took the problem child. [My mom was THRILLED.] Hopefully, the time apart will be therapeutic for both the dogs, and they will be happy to see each other come August.

So far, he’s adjusting well. He and Herry always just ignore each other, and, despite a few scuffles in the past, I imagine that he and Galen will become good pals by the end of this trip. [Fingers, toes and paws crossed]

xo

 

 

Failure to Launch

This morning, Black Powder set sail with a little shove from some friends & family and a generous send-off. Fellow yacht club members and staff came down to the end of their docks to give us a wave and wish us well as we left the harbor the only way we know how: obnoxiously blowing off cannons at 9 AM. Rise and shine, ya filthy animals.

Sweltering and humid at the docks, the wind quickly picked up and the breeze graciously offered us a temporary reprieve. I think we’ll sweat enough as we continue to head South, thanks very much.

These waters are friendly and familiar. We sail through Narragansett Bay and under the Jamestown Bridge, and then we are following the Rhode Island coastline for what is most likely going to be Black Powder’s last time. [You never know–my parents change their minds a lot.] We blow off the horn as we pass friends’ houses on the shore, and shoot cannons like the bunch of salty lady pirates we are.

We had planned to go off-shore overnight for the first portion of our trip, after a brief stop in Montauk, heading into the Atlantic and running for Cape May. But Rhode Island just can’t quit us, and, like the jealous ex she is, she will be slamming us with two days of wind and high seas, which would make that 36-hour leg just slightly less than fun and slightly more like a ride on a bucking bronco on top of an inflatable pool float blindfolded while my mom and I scream at each other, the dogs pee, poop and throw up everywhere, and no one sleeps for two days. That is prime mutiny territory, folks.

So, we’ll now be heading through Block Island Sound to spend the night in Old Saybrook, CT, and will plan to make the run through Long Island Sound tomorrow and— oops scratch that—

IMG_9358

This is my office.

As I sit here in what will be my office space for the next 9 weeks, a mere two hours into our grand voyage, my mom comes down to tell me that we are changing plans. We likely wouldn’t make it all the way due to fog and weather conditions so now we’re going to batten down on Block Island for a couple days. [WHAT A BUMMER WOW OUR LIVES ARE SO HARD.]

As I write, we are passing Point Judith, RI and will make the 10-mile run to Block–wait— What’s that? Looming large and ominous in front of us, a massive fog bank moves in from the Atlantic and envelops us, reducing visibility to maybe a half mile.

Rhode Island!!! How many times do I have to tell you it’s over? Stop calling my house late at night and breathing into the phone. Stop visiting my mother just because you were “in the neighborhood.” And most importantly, above all else, STOP DRUNK TEXTING ME DICK PICS.

We do donuts in the sound, which is as close to an idle as is possible with a moving sea beneath you, and wait. We’ll see if the fog will clear and allow us to pass or if it’s back to Newport for the night—

UPDATE. Just arrived in Newport. Will be here for probably two nights. “Failure to Launch” party to commence immediately.

OMG YOU GUYS. What if Rhode Island is Wayward Pines?! OR WHAT IF RHODE ISLAND IS THE ISLAND FROM LOST!? Maybe there’s no way out. MAYBE WE’VE BEEN DEAD THE WHOLE TIME.

Speaking of failing. It’s story time.

About 6 weeks ago, in preparation for our trip and before my dad took off for Houston, I pretended to be my father’s second son and learned about the engines, generators, power system and pretty much all of the things that make Black Powder float. The engines need to be checked regularly while under-way, monitored for temperature, fluid levels, and other boring stuff you wouldn’t care about.

In the same weekend, even though it wasn’t my dad’s birthday, I went with him to the firing range. Disclaimer: my dad has guns. I grew up around guns. They have always been responsible gun owners. My dad was a captain in the army, my grandfather was a lieutenant in the Providence Police Department and my aunt just retired from the same. My dad inherited my grandfather’s gun collection when he passed away, and because my Papa was one BAMF, this collection includes an EFFING LUGER HE STOLE OFF A NAZI IN THE WAR.

Since the guns will be on board with us, and since we’ll need to protect ourselves against pirates just like Captain Phillips, I wanted to make sure I knew how to load & fire the guns on board. Let me just start. By saying. You do not want to come at me with a Glock in my hands. Just don’t do it. You are not the captain now, LOOK AT ME—I AM THE CAPTAIN NOW.

In wedges, skinny jeans, and a pink top [because of course I want to draw as much attention as possible], I follow my dad into the range, which is already chock-full of the same type of guy who likes to condescendingly quiz girls on their sports knowledge after interrupting their crime novels at a bar. [I’m looking at you, Doug.]

Immediately, I know. I am going to prove myself to these dudes. Watch out, guys, this is how a bad-ass lady pirate does it. We start to prep the guns for firing, which involves cocking all of the guns and exposing the empty chamber when not in use.

My dad has a 1957 Marlin 30-30, which is just about the pride of his collection [much like his only daughter]. I pick up the cased rifle, taking a quick peek over my shoulder to make sure I don’t need to give an “I dare you to laugh” face to any of the spectators, who are obviously absolutely riveted by what they were seeing.

[VIMH©: They weren’t even watching you, you fucking egomaniac.]

Tossing my long hair over my shoulders, I’m careful not to chip my pink nail polish as I load the weapon. I set the target 20 feet away, and shoot the rifle off perfectly the first time, manually re-cocking the barrel after every shot, barely responding to the recoil and getting eight perfect head shots. I then turn around and look at my father, who is obviously beaming with pride. The warehouse is so quiet you could hear a pin drop as the crowd silently and anxiously awaits my next move. I put out my cigar on the ground and hand the Marlin back to him, saying, “Meh, I’m bored with this one, what else do you have?” The entire range erupts into applause, two large, handsome, shirtless men come pick me up and carry me around the room while mothers [where did they even come from!?] shove their babies into my face, begging me to kiss them. My mother is crying and I can hear my brother from miles away, lamenting his loss of favoritism. It is rumored that the range officer sold my paper target on E-bay for upwards of $10 million.

[VIMH©: …]

Once I came out of my fantasy, I unzipped the rifle’s case, slightly misjudging where the opening was. It promptly slipped out, slamming onto the hard concrete, butt-first, and shattering the plate. Like a BOSS.

The range officer ran over to assist in picking up the pieces of the butt plate [my name for it], which were scattered across three range lanes, and cried with my father over the damage [only cosmetic] of his beautiful, perfectly kept antique. Meanwhile, I stood frozen like an IDIOT with a bright red face and a sudden inability to control my laughter. My dad is a saint, you guys.

Did I mention how great I am with the Glock, though? That’s no fantasy. Anyone who tries to mess with these three lady pirates is going to be sorry. I just won’t be shooting the rifle.

Xo