I know that I have been silent on the blog since arriving in Connecticut nearly four weeks ago. In many ways, these four weeks have seemed like a lifetime. I have learned so much in that short time, done countless things that I had only contemplated before, and also had a couple experiences that I never imagined, both good and bad. In short, I have been too busy and exhausted – mainly pleasantly, though there have been a few times I nearly broke down in frustration, as Margaret can attest – to put my thoughts and our adventures down on the page.
As I type this, I can recollect the first days working on Bear, when the boat was nearly a total mystery, it was still on the hard, and Margaret had not even arrived yet. I had planned to write posts about some of my triumphs – namely, replacing the vented loop in the head. servicing one of our primary winches that was not turning smoothly, and mapping and getting all our through-hulls operational – and failures, which I know were legion in those first days, but have kind of faded from memory. In the ensuing days and weeks, the events and adventures, both good and bad, were coming at me too quickly to even really consider putting them down in words. Finally, the last three days or so, things have slowed down – though just a bit – enough for me to reflect.
To catch you up to date, I put together two short lists. First, some of the bad (though, not necessarily all bad in retrospect as we learned from the experiences, gained confidence in overcoming them, and, ultimately, got past them) in order starting with the worst:
- One of the days in Port Jefferson after our water pump broke, we replaced it, and, then, nearly instantaneously, the head stopped functioning and we realized the deck fill cap (to empty our holding tank, determine whether a full holding tank was the problem with the head, and, ultimately, to be able to use the head on the boat) was stuck closed and needed to be replaced.
- The seemingly never-ending saga of replacing the head – for over six hours, I was cramped in the most uncomfortable positions, doing incredibly painful maneuvers with my hand and fingers to adjust bolts, ending up with a leak each of the first five times I installed the new head, and, all the while, smelling (and often hearing) what seemed like an endless fart of the most awful variety.
- The third or fourth day I was at the boat when I was unable to complete a single task I intended to accomplish, either because I did not have the right tool and/or part or I just could not figure out how to do it.
- Shortly after the boat splashed and the fact that a stream of water was coming in through the stuffing box finally settled in, not being able to get the shore power to work to charge the batteries that were powering the electric bilge pump that was emptying that water out of the boat, and then having that bilge pump stop working altogether.
- When we were trying to use the self-pump out station and a shit volcano erupted out of the holding tank, stank like mad, soiled about five feet of the port side of the boat, and coated my right arm up to about the elbow, including my hand. Of course, this was also simultaneously hysterical.
Now, some of the good, in no particular order:
- Seeing the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges emerge from the fog as we rounded Sands Point and knowing we were getting to City Island, the gateway to the East River, New York Harbor, Manhattan, and all points south.
- Leaving Branford Landing without a hitch and waving goodbye to Chris and Nick, the father and son team that made our stay there so much easier and more memorable.
- Receiving a phone call from Chris, making sure everything was going well, the Monday after we left Branford Landing.
- Meeting David and Genie, the former owners of Bear, for the first time and realizing both how much the boat means to them and how much it will come to mean to us in time.
- Getting the sails up and shutting off the motor, every single time it happens.
- Sitting in the cockpit last night, watching the sun go down, drinking rum, eating cheese, and relaxing with Margaret.
- Getting into Glen Cove without a problem after fog descended on us while sailing in the middle of the Sound.
- Spending the morning on the settees with Margaret, reading at anchor while the rain poured down in Port Jefferson and, then again, in Oyster Bay.
- The night we spent at anchor in Price’s Bend, a beautiful little spot that we practically had to ourselves in perfectly calm conditions.
- Coming ashore in Port Jefferson every morning while people were busy living their land lives, though not too busy not to say how jealous they were that we were out on the water.
- Finally fixing any number of problems.
- Learning how countless systems (or, at least, components of systems) work.
- Being out on the Sound in the middle of the week when there is hardly anyone else out on the water.
- Getting to spend so much time with Margaret.
In writing these lists, I realized that the frustrating moments are still more vivid than the awesome times that we have had aboard. However, I have also realized that the good things are starting to vastly outnumber the bad.
(And I will add some pictures the next time I have good internet access, as I am currently posting this from the boat.)