Chris here... It's been a few days since I last posted. OK OK - it's been like a week. I'd say "Sue Me", but I guaranty that most of you would probably take that as an invitation and follow through. I don't know that you'd get much as we've dumped most of our livelihood into a beautiful piece of fiberglass with a bunch of holes in it. Go figure! Following a dream - we'll get there yet!
I'm sitting here in our main cabin, surrounded by STUFF, piled to the ceiling in places. Kristen is asleep in the V-Berth and the kids are snuggled soundly in their aft berth. Sometime in the past few days I picked up a major cold - the kind where it feels like the snot starts somewhere behind your eyelids and quickly rolls down your nasal cavities, spontaneously exploding out your nostrils at the most opportune times. Couple this with sneezing fits of 30 continuous sneezes, continuous coughing, sandy eyes... I think you get the picture. Working on Pelican while trying to get healthy again is pretty much an oxymoron.
It's been a rather eventful week or so. I believe you read a couple of Kristen's posting about our move. Things went fairly well, except for the movers completely understanding that we were paying them hourly, and then taking full advantage of it. Even so, it still came in close to budget, which is good since little else has. We managed to lend enough stuff to neighbors so that we could fit most everything in our storage facility. Yep - I'm sure they are all complaining about having to store our wide screen TV, HD Tivo, Piano, Wii, PS3 and lots of other stuff (yeah - just try to complain). What we couldn't fit is going to Kristen's parents house. It's amazing how much stuff you can still keep after having ridiculously huge garage sales. Where did we put it all??
Speaking of Kristen's parents, I have to say that they have been absolutely incredible over the past few weeks. There is absolutely no way that we could be here today if it weren't for them. I know that it's hard for them to see us do this, and that makes me appreciate them even more for being with us day after day, laboring till the wee hours to help us pack, clean our house, paint, move and more. They are still picking up after us even after we have left. They are incredible, and my appreciation and fondness for them is too deep to even express. Thanks Noni and Poppi!
On Thanksgiving day we headed up to their place for a Thanksgiving dinner with family. Due to various reasons, several completely within our control, we ended up staying nearby for a few extra days. It was nice to be able to do a more gradual goodbye than just eating a turkey dinner, coming back in the morning for breakfast and then immediately heading to my Mom's. We also got to spend mucho time with Kristen's brothers and their spouses, and their kids too. Kaitlin pretty much stayed at their place the entire time, only pausing for the briefest of moments to say goodnight to us before she was back playing with her cousins.
From Kristen's parent's we headed south to Stamford, CT to see my mother, sister (and kids) and my 96 year old grandpa. I swear that he's going to outlast us all. I sometimes wonder if it's the last time I'm going to see him, but then I realize that he's still enjoying life, and that's a great thing. My mother cooked a wonderful meal while we all sat around and talked. It was great to spend time with her and the rest of my immediate family, and it all ended too quickly.
On Monday morning we stopped by Landfall Navigation to pick up a few random items such as Bahamas and Florida charts and a ditch bag (a fully waterproof and buoyant bag where we can store lots of emergency supplies). We then headed south to Annapolis, eager to arrive at our home for the next 20 months.
Our arrival at Pelican was both joyous and a bit of a letdown. Every time I set foot on her it makes the world seem right, and this time was no exception. We arrived just before dark, and seeing her in all her glory stirred up some strong emotions in my heart - in a good way. The letdown was seeing her cockpit, and then her interior, after we climbed aboard. The cockpit was filled with wires, parts, tubes, hoses, tools, dirt, dust and more. Entering her interior seemed more like walking into a tiny closet where a 5 year old had just stashed all of their toys while "cleaning their room". Apparently the work being done was not as complete as we had hoped. Everything from every storage closet had been placed on berths and seats to make room to run ductwork for the air conditioning. The generator and autopilot were not completely installed, so maintaining access to the work areas was a priority while cleanliness was not.
In all fairness, the crew from Engineered Marine Systems was given a very difficult task with an impossible timeline. They have done a remarkable job of ensuring that things are done right while still trying to push forward to meet difficult deadlines. They are working long days, past dark, and we greatly appreciate their efforts. Of course, with our arrival, their list of to-do's got longer.
Let's see... what do we have going on? Completion of the generator installation, installation of sound shielding for it, completion of the air conditioning install, autopilot install, install of a wireless repeater, install of a cellular repeater, moving of our VHF charger to the helm, fix the refrigeration, install a new LED mastlight, install antennas on the mast for the repeaters, install engine hoist, install engine mount, install macerator, install additional 12v outlets, and much much more. In the meantime, we're working on our own projects just trying to get ready as quick as possible to head out. We're very late in the "season" to be heading south, and if we wait much longer it will be blizzarding as we have our sails up. We woke up two days ago with a skim of ice over the surface of the creek. I don't think Pelican was designed to be an ice breaker.
Tuesday night we headed over to my cousin Lynne's house. Driving through the traffic on the way there made me realize how much I can't wait to slow down a bit. She showed us some wonderful middle-Atlantic hospitality, and it was great to see her kids and her house and her life. Living away from my family, I realize how nice it is to have people make the trip to your abode so you can share it with them. We really enjoyed our too short time with her, but I'm sure we'll be getting together again soon.
Wednesday we pulled Pelican out of the water to do some work below the waterline. We had to enlarge one of the existing thru-hulls (holes in the hull) to allow for exhaust water to exit the generator. We also had to add a new thru-hull to allow the air conditioning to suck in water to cool or heat Pelican with. Kristen and I took the opportunity to do a few things ourselves, such as drill out the anchor mounting hole so it stays put on our bow (see our blog entries for our trip from CT to Annapolis), put marks on our anchor chain so we know how much we've put out as we drop anchor, verify how the anchor rode is attached to Pelican, change all the zincs, check all of our thru-hull valves to make sure they opened and closed properly (we had one that was sticking - it's better to play with it out of the water just in case the handle decides to break - you don't want water gushing inside your boat - that tends to be a bad thing), and service the propeller. We were out at 8am, and we made it back in just as they were shutting down at 4pm. They actually wanted to re-launch us the next day, but Kristen showed them her sexy smile and they put us back in the water posthaste!
A great longtime friend of mine (one of our two best men from our wedding and someone I've known forever) - Brian - drove in from DC to hang out with us on Wednesday night. We went to Joss Cafe, an excellent sushi place in Annapolis and one of the best sushi restaurants I've been to in the US. It was wonderful catching up with him and hearing about his... Wait - I can't tell you what he does or I'd have to kill you. He works for one of those agencies in DC that protects us from all the bad people.
What else is going on... Kristen has started homeschooling the kids. Kaitlin jumped right in, but Casey was having a few issues dealing with the changes of how his new teacher does things. I don't blame him - he's a guy like me. We're allergic to change. We should be able to stay the same while the world changes around us. It's our right, isn't it? Is that Kristen I hear waking up so she can punch me in the arm and tell me to shut up? Well, if it isn't, she surely will when she reads this blog entry :). Anyway, it turns out that Casey's science book is by the same company as his science book from last year, so once he saw that not everything was going to change he started going along with things. I can't believe he caved :)
We picked up our new dinghy today. We're upgrading from a 9' inflatable floor dinghy with a 6HP to a 10' rigid floor dinghy with a 20HP engine. Apparently, it's like going from a Yugo to a Hemi. Kristen and Casey motored it over from the dealer on Spa Creek to our slip on Back Creek. It's a few miles, yet she still arrived back at Pelican before I did, and I was driving our rental! Casey had an ear to ear grin - "It got up on a plane at only a quarter throttle!" Kristen just said "That was scary." I can't wait to try it out! We're having a big debate as to whether we're going to keep our old dinghy and bring it with us, or put it up for sale. On the one hand, it would be nice to have a second dinghy so the kids can go out and play and not strand Kristen and I on Pelican (that wouldn't be so terrible). On the other hand, it takes up a lot of storage space. We're still having this debate.
Tonight we made new friends and had an awesome dinner with a bunch of Sailnetters, a message board I frequent and have learned quite a bit from (http://www.sailnet.com/forums). We went over to The Boatyard Grill which seemed like a fitting place for a bunch of sailors. It was great meeting new people, and their generous offers to help us while here in Annapolis were very much appreciated.
I'm having a hard time figuring out when we're leaving the safety net of our slip. We should be leaving tomorrow or Sunday, but there's still lots to do on Pelican, including moving in, before we go. Half our stuff is still in our rental, and the other half is spread out between our cabins, the floors, the cockpit and the dock surrounding our boat. I think we brought too much stuff. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, back to the leaving part. We should be heading south ASAP, but we're waiting to finish up the work on Pelican. On the other hand, there's a low pressure system bringing rain and other instability for all of next week. If we don't get out ahead of the system, we're here for another week. Every week we're still here brings us deeper and deeper into the middle Atlantic Winter, which brings cold temperatures, snow, ice and other nasty stuff that I'd rather not be sailing in. It's not really about safety, other than figuring out how to stay warm. Oh well, we'll figure it out.
Hopefully we'll continue to crank through our list tomorrow. It's all about going slow, so I have to learn to deal with things as they come up as opposed to stressing about them. A step at a time. With that, I bid you adieu until my next entry.
P.S. Once we get Pelican cleaned up and more of a pattern going, I'll get some pictures going.