Friday, August 31, 2007

“Fellas, We’re Out of Beer. But I Have an Idea…”

I am a bit of a news junkie. I watch CNN every morning while I am getting ready for work. I read a few news web sites at work when I am taking a break from working. I love offbeat news sites, I love reading about people who do very strange things—when you know that they were dead serious in their intentions.

For example:

Naked Man Does Hula, Steals Beer at Store

DE SOTO, Mo. (AP) -- The naked truth: Three eastern Missouri men were willing to go to extreme lengths to get some beer.

That's the accusation after an incident in the early hours of August 18th at Fish's Quick Stop in De Soto. Store clerk Vicky Gaines says a masked man walked in and began doing the hula dance.

Police say the plan was for the naked dancer to create a distraction while another man took a case of beer from the store. It didn't work.

Gaines called police. As the naked man and his accomplice joined a third man in a car, a customer got their license plate number. All three were caught a few days later.

The men, ages 19 to 23, face charges of shoplifting and indecent exposure.

Does it get any better than this? I love it when naked people commit crimes. How did they even arrive at this diabolical plot? Can you imagine the meeting of the minds in preparation for this crime? These guys would not have done this if they didn’t think it would work, right? I can just picture it:

“OK, this is how it’s going down. Jimbo, you go in there naked and start doing the hula. I’ll grab the beer. Bob, you drive the getaway car. It’s foolproof, if you think about it. Maybe I should get some chips too; the clerk will be so distracted.”

“Let’s not get greedy, Steve. Just grab the beer. Maybe we’ll go for chips next time.”

Did they have a discussion as to who would be the naked hula dancer, and who would be the beer grabber?

“Jimbo, you get naked and dance, you’re thinner than I am.”

“But wouldn’t a fat guy like Steve be more distracting? While Steve is dancing they’ll watch and think ‘Wow, this guy’s got guts to come in here looking like that and dance naked.’”

“You make an excellent point. OK, Steve’ll dance, you grab the beer. I’ll drive. Ready?”

"Let's do it!"


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Already Pining for the Long Weekend

I just got back from vacation 2 weeks ago, and I am ready to go on another trip. We were trying to set up a dive trip in Florida for the long weekend, but waited a bit too long and didn’t get a good price on the fare. So we decided we’d do something locally, involving both sailing and diving.

It’s Thursday, and I am itching for the 3-day weekend. It is also the last week that I can use flex time at work. In the summer they let the employees work 9 hour days Monday – Thursday, and then you can leave early on Friday. I am hoping that my workload won’t be too heavy that I can still leave early on Friday.

On Friday afternoon we’re going to pack up our dive gear and food for the weekend. Todd will be inviting some dive friends to go with us, and we’ll sail on Saturday morning for Bristol, RI. We’ll do Bristol for Saturday, and then on Sunday morning we’ll set sail for Hope Island, in the middle of Narragansett Bay. This island is the one that Maggie and Krys explored on the last day of our vacation. There is a sunken tug boat on the south shore of the island that we will hopefully dive on Sunday as well.

I’ll let you know on Monday or Tuesday how the trip went.

Happy Labor Day, Internet.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Just Another Manic Monday

This morning I was driving in to work, and witnessed an accident. I pulled over and waited for the police to come so I could be a witness and give a statement, as it happened right in front of me.

A man was riding his bike against traffic down a hill and was about to cross the driveway to the Walmart. A woman was pulling out of the Walmart, and was going slow as she was entering traffic. She hit the man on the bike, and he went flying off his bike. He seemed to hover in the air before he landed on the pavement, like he was soaring through the air in slow motion. The accident looked staged, like it was a stunt in a movie. The man flew off his bike and landed on his right side on the road. He sat up, and began to rub his right leg where he landed. He stood up and walked to the side of the road. Other witnesses pulled off and called the cops on their cell phones.

The woman from the car was talking to the man on the bike to make sure he was OK. The scene was very calm. The man on the bike was sitting on the curb talking on his cell phone, presumably calling work to say he’ll be late, calling his family to tell him he’d been in an accident. There was no “Hey! Why don’t you watch where you’re going? I am going to sue your ass off!” The only thing that indicated there had been an accident was the mangled bike, still under the front tires of the woman’s car.

I was talking to the other witnesses. One of the witnesses was a man who said that he is a cyclist. He was saying that it was his biggest fear, to be hit by a car. Then he went on to say that he didn’t feel so bad for the man on the bike, because he was riding against traffic. I said to him, “That doesn’t matter to me, I still feel bad for him because he was in a scary accident.”

The ambulance came, the fire truck came, and the police car came. The ambulance crew got the man onto the stretcher after determining he hadn’t broken anything. The police took my statement, and asked me a few questions.

I found it interesting that the cop had asked me “So, the woman in the car was facing the left to watch for the cars, and didn’t see the guy on the bike?”

“You know, I have no idea which way she was looking. I wasn’t looking at her so I cannot say which way she was looking,” I replied. I honestly have no idea which way she was looking. I have closed my eyes and tried to remember where she was looking. I’d hate to think that my statement could get her into trouble because I obviously could not corroborate her story of where she was looking. I can only tell the cops what I remember seeing, right?

“It was an accident. She obviously didn’t see the guy on the bike and she hit him,” I said to the cop. The cop agreed that it is obvious that there was no malicious intent. It was an accident. I left the scene, and went about my commute. But I can’t stop thinking about the accident. Imagine being that man’s family and getting that call “I was on my bike on the way to work and I was hit by a car.” The man was lucky. He didn’t hit his head, he wasn’t wearing a helmet, and he was able to walk off the road to the curb. Imagine being that woman, knowing that she’d hit a man on his bike. I can imagine the accident playing over and over on repeat in her mind all day long, all week long.

Then I got into work and got an email from a man in New Zealand. In his signature on his email it says that his office is on Puke Road. So no matter how bad your Monday is, no matter if you get hit by a car while on your bike, at least you don’t live on Puke Road. No matter what happens, it could be worse.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Thirteen Favorite Photos from our sailing vacation.

1. Griffen and Nemo peeking into the cabin from the cockpit. I have a zillion pictures like this, but it never gets old.

2. Todd on deck at sunset on Shelter Island, NY. We just spent the day exploring the island and were so very happy.

3. Beej and Griffen in the cockpit waiting out the rain on Shelter Island.

4. Sailboats at dock in Old Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT.

5. Beej in the electric car on Shelter Island. It only went 25 mph, and was a blast anyway.

6. The bridges for I-95 crossing the Thames River between New London and Groton CT.

7. Our hitchhiker who caught a ride with us on the way to Noank, CT. Todd named him Franklin. Franklin rested his wings with us for about an hour.

8. Krystian and Maggie in the scooters at Fort Adams in Newport, RI.

9. Krystian helping Maggie take in the head sail.

10. Todd teaching Maggie how to raise the main sail.

11. Beej at the spot on the Thames River where we beached the canoe when we went to Mohegan Sun Casino.

12. Todd and Griffen swimming in New London.

13. Nemo dozing in the cockpit.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007 Days 13, 14 and 15

Wednesday 15 August 2007

We got up to a hot day once again. Griffen and I went for a jog while Maggie, Krys and Todd hung out on the boat and had breakfast. Once I was showered from my jog, Krys and I headed back into town with the dogs so we could get some fresh cookies from the bakery for our ride into Jamestown.

We left the dock at 11.30 AM. We headed out into the Sound and turned the boat east. We would have to head 17 miles in this direction before we turn to go into Narragansett Bay. The seas were rough. The predicted 2-4 foot seas actually looked more like 6-8. Maggie and Krys handled it like champs, however. You can tell that Maggie is my niece, as she dozed in the cockpit as the waves tossed out boat back and forth—just like me, it appears that Maggie can sleep anywhere.

We suffered no sea sickness. Maggie and Krys ate cold leftover pizza while the waves tossed us back and forth. Todd had taken TripTone before leaving the dock, and that kept his sea sickness at bay. I’ve never suffered from it.

I am beyond impressed with how Maggie and Krys handled this rough ride. Not only were they in good spirits the whole time, they crewed the boat with such incredible skill, as if they were doing it their whole lives. They are great kids who listen and respond with intelligence. For the remainder of that ride I would look at them in awe. When I held them as babies, I never imagined they would grow into two such adventurous spirits as they are.

Maggie plotted the waypoints on the GPS, and we followed them to exactly where we needed go. Again, ridiculously impressed at how quickly they pick up tasks around the boat and do them with ease.

We reached the first waypoint and headed in toward Narragansett Bay. The 6-8 foot waves were behind us, and Krys observed that they were actually pushing us into the Bay. We made bets on when we would tie up to our mooring in Jamestown, which Todd ended up winning.

We made it back to the mooring, tied up, and headed in to walk the dogs and get an ice cream. We went back to the boat to have a dinner of mac and cheese, hot dogs, (and if my brother and my sister in law are reading this lots and lots of veggies and fruit.)

Thursday 16 August 2007

We woke up and moved the boat a short distance across the harbor into Newport. We dinghied in after breakfast to rent some motor scooter coupes in town. The scooter coupes are two-seater cars that are actually 3-wheeled mopeds. We cruised all over Newport and the surrounding area in them. First we went to Fort Adams to walk around the fort. We decided we were hungry and headed to Brick Market Place for subs for me and the kids, and sushi for Todd.

From there we headed up to Sachuest Nature Preserve at the end of the island to walk along the rocks. Todd and I taught Maggie and Krys a game that we made up a few years ago called The Rock Game. In this game you bounce a rock off of a rock and land in the tidal pool in such a way that will win the thrower a point. We played The Rock Game for a little while, then wandered barefoot in the tidal pool to check out the snails.

We got looked at the clouds, and saw that they were threatening rain. We decided to go to the arcade in Newport to wait out the rain. Maggie and Krys played a bunch of games and won 1300 some odd tickets. They ended up walking out of the arcade with a bag filled with candy. We headed over to Brenton Point via Bellevue Avenue for the last hour of the scooter rental. We gawked at the Newport mansions, and drove by Nicolas Cage’s new house. We walked out on the rocks at Brenton Point, then headed back to return the scooters.

We walked over to The Music Box to get a few new DVDs then to The Smokehouse to get the BBQ ribs that we’d been promising Krys. We headed back to the boat and marveled at the fog rolling in. It was so thick that soon all lights on shore were entirely obscured, as well as some of the boats around us. We watched a couple of DVDs and went to bed late. (Or if Kaz and Melissa are reading this, we went to bed very very early.)

Friday 17 August 2007

I woke up in the morning feeling a little sad that this is the last full day on the water. After this weekend Todd and I will return to work after not being in the office for two full weeks of waking when we want coming and going when we want and not having an employer to tell us to be to work on time and to leave at the end of the day at a certain time. We had two full weeks without meetings, two full weeks without deadlines, two full weeks of “Which fun thing are we going to do today?”

We pulled the mooring lines off in Newport, and headed north to Hope Island. The plan was to anchor off the island, swim, explore the island, eat lunch, and enjoy what Narragansett Bay has to offer.

We were under full sail for much of the way to the island, and only turned the diesel back on when we were getting close to the island to anchor. We ate some lunch, then Krys and Maggie went ashore to explore the island. Todd and I had never been to this island, but we decided that it would be important for Krys and Maggie to do some exploration on their own. The island is uninhabited by humans, and has approximately 2492305 seagulls flying around. We sent them ashore with a walkie talkie with which they could call us to get picked up.

Maggie had slipped on the island and scraped her knee. The were making their way around the perimeter of the island when the rocks got to be a bit steeper than they wanted to climb. Maggie had made the wise decision to abort the hike. She later said that she would have liked to continue to make their way around the island. We reminded her that she made a very good decision to end the hike, and that this practice is something Todd and I do all the time when we are on one of our adventures. If either of us is uncomfortable on a dive, or a hike, or a sail, we end the trip. Todd treated her scrape on her knee from the first aid kit, and then the three of them pulled up the anchor so we could head back to our home mooring in East Greenwich. Just before we pulled up the anchor, Maggie gave me a shell that she found on the island. It’s a huge conch shell she found on the shore. I collect shells when I dive and beach comb, and set them on my desk at work. This way if I am having a less than ideal day at work, I can look at my shells and take a mini vacation at my desk. Maggie's shell will give me a lot of mileage when I return to work on Monday, and I'd rather still be on the boat with her and her brother.

As we were entering Greenwich Bay I called our friend Will on the cell. Will lives right on Warwick Neck, facing Greenwich Bay. Almost every time we’ve sailed by Will’s house since we’ve known him, we always call to see if we can catch Will looking out his window. Finally today I managed to connect with Will and we saw him wave to us from the shore near his house. I was thisclose to mooning Will, but alas didn’t do it this time. Maybe if Maggie and Krys weren’t aboard…

We were getting closer to our mooring, when we saw a boat named “Freedom” anchored in the middle of the channel. We know the owners of Freedom, and we wondered if they were in distress. We tried to hail Freedom on the radio, and got no response. We figured that they would have flagged us down if they needed us. We motored on. I looked back to see if Freedom was OK and Todd asked me what I was looking at.

“I am looking at Freedom. Both literally and figuratively.”

Saturday morning we will pack up and get off the boat, after being aboard for 2 weeks. I am sad tonight, knowing that our vacation will end when we wake up in the morning. We will drive to Connecticut for a party at my brother’s house, and to return his children to him.

Maggie and Krys picked up some sailing know-how on this trip. They collected a few inside jokes that they will share with Todd and me. It is my hope that they will always remember this trip. I hope that they will call each other up when they are in college and mention one of the inside jokes from this trip and laugh. I hope that someday they will tell their respective spouses about the week they spent on their aunt and uncle’s boat. I hope that someday they will each trust each other with their own children on a trip like this, just like my brother has trusted me with his children. I am flattered that my brother has trusted Todd and I to care for his children on this trip of constant exploration.

Thank you Sabine for keeping us afloat and keeping us safe.

Thank you Kaz and Melissa for entrusting your children to us for a week.

Thank you Maggie and Krys for being the best crew ever. We had a blast with you, and hope you did as well. We love you!

Thank you Todd for being the best adventuring partner I could ever ask for.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007, Days 11 and 12

Monday 13 August 2007
We woke up to rain coming in through the hatch. We got up and battened down the hatches and went back to sleep. When we woke up again, it was sunny and starting to get hot again.

There were a few things we needed to do in town on Monday. Todd was still trying to get the radar installed and working, and spent a part of the morning on the phone with Raymarine technical support. Then we needed to get some solder from the hardware store and he also needed to find a shop with a drill press so that he could drill some holes in the bracket that the radar head will sit on.

The trolley took us to the hardware store, and then I went off to pick up a few groceries while Todd hit up the local boat yards in search of a drill press. I found the groceries, and Todd found his drill press, then we met up for ice cream and to buy a birthday present for our nephew, Krystian.

We headed back to the boat to swim off the heat of the day. We took the dingy across the river from the mooring to an island with a beach on it. This island is secluded, and is a great spot for the dogs to run free and swim from shore. We swam, the dogs ran, and even Nemo swam a bit—which is not his favorite thing to do. But when it is hot enough he’ll wade in until the water us up to his neck, and then he might paddle a bit here and there.

We headed back to the boat to prepare for Maggie and Krystian’s arrival aboard. Maggie is 12, almost 13, and Krys is 11. We cleaned, we got dressed, Todd tinkered with the radar a bit more and left it just as frustrated as when he began.

My sister in law, Melissa, called us to let us know they were on shore. They arrived on the launch, and Maggie and Krystian got settled in, then we went ashore for dinner at the Black Seal. After dinner Melissa and her youngest daughter, Hali, headed back to their home, while Todd, Maggie, Krys and I all sat on deck to plan out our week’s adventure. We laughed about the glow of the Pepsi machine on the gas dock causing a shocking amount of light pollution as it cast it's light over the Connecticut River, and I knew it would be a start to a wonderful leg of the trip.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

We woke up to another perfect weather day. The plan for the day was to head back over to Noank, CT. We had to wait for the tide to return to our favor, so we spent the morning swimming off that island again after Griffen and I returned from our morning jog. The water was warm, we splashed each other and the dogs swam happily right along with us.

We headed back to the boat and got ourselves organized for the sail over to Noank. We waited for the railroad drawbridge to open up for us—it is always such a treat for me to see drawbridges open from the water. The winds were against us to Noank, so we motored for much of the way with the main sail up to stabilize the boat. We tied up to the dock, and got ready to head into Mystic for some pizza and ice cream.

We dinghied into Mystic, just like we had done almost a week before. Maggie and Krys each learned how to drive the dinghy, and they drove for most of the trip. We went under the rotating train bridge, and then under the Mystic River drawbridge to head over to the historic Mystic Seaport. The Seaport has some old tall whaling ships on display that we were able to get close to right in the dinghy.

We tied up to the dinghy dock and walked over to the drawbridge. The bridge was about to open, so we decided we would stay and watch it open. A loud train horn blows when the bridge is about to open, this time the horn surprised Maggie so much that she shrieked and jumped off the ledge she was sitting on. We all laughed at her reaction, and she ended up laughing too. The horn blew a second time, just to elicit the same reaction out of Maggie.

We went to Mystic Pizza and told Maggie and Krys all about a Julia Roberts movie being filmed there. They hadn’t seen or heard of the movie, however. It is before their time, and maybe they will stumble upon it when they are older and check it out because they ate at the restaurant. We headed back for ice cream, and watched the bridge open again as well as we ate our ice cream. Maggie was prepared with her hands over her ears this time around.

We headed back to the rotating railroad bridge, and waited for it to open. We are short enough to fit under the bridge in the dinghy, but we wanted to wait for it to open. Just before the bridge opens you can hear a loud ZAP of the electric lines for the train being disconnected. We turned off the dinghy motor and waited for the telltale ZZZAAAAP and then watched the bridge open.

We got back into the boat and went over the plan for the next day. The forecast was predicting 2-4 foot seas for Wednesday, and 4-6 foot seas for Thursday. We decided that Wednesday would be the day to go back into Narragansett Bay, and then we would play inside the bay and out of the weather for the remainder of the week.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007 Days 8, 9 and 10

Friday 10 August 2007

We woke up to rain. We woke up to very strong winds, like 30-40 miles per hour. It stayed this way the entire day. Todd went in to shore to check in with the marina, I stayed aboard and didn’t leave the boat until the evening.

Normally when it rains like that there are 3-4 leaks in our stateroom that we have to place containers under to collect the rain. Somehow the containers stayed bone dry. It rained non-stop for the entire day, and these containers stayed dry.

We stayed indoors, made some soup and grilled cheese for lunch and watched 3 movies, while it rained outside. There were white caps on the water in the harbor, yet our boat stayed nice and dry. Out boat is also a very heavy boat, so it doesn’t bounce around too much in a storm like this. It was quite nice to just hang out all day, and not have to do anything.

We had decided that we were in need of some clean bed sheets. We were waiting all day for the rain to let up so that we could go in to shore and do the laundry at the marina laundromat. The rain never did let up. Around 5 or 6 PM we decided we needed to go in to do that laundry. I had already packed up the dirty laundry in the morning, and the dirty clothes sat there stewing in the bag all day. Neither of us wanted to sleep on the sheets that had gotten even grosser as the day wore on.

We packed up the laundry and the dogs into the dinghy, figuring they’d need to be walked as well. In the dinghy we bounced over the waves as we rode in, gripping the hand holds on the sides of the boat. We got a shore and I was trying to get out while Todd tied the boat up. We didn’t have Griffen on a leash, which to him means “Hey! Time to go swimming! Let’s go!” Splash! In went Griffen. He happily paddled around near the dock while I scrambled out of the dinghy after him. I managed to drag him out.

I dragged the sack of dirty laundry up the dock, in the rain, to the laundry room, while Todd tied the dinghy. He came in just as I was finishing loading up the washer. We broke out the Uno cards and began to play. We decided we were hungry and Todd called the one pizza place on the island. Unfortunately they did not deliver, so Todd called a taxi. The taxi dispatcher told him that the pizza place was about a mile a way, and that it would cost $10 each way to get there. We weren’t keen on paying $20 just to get to and from the pizza place, and decided to wait on dinner.

We continued to play Uno while we waited for our sheets to wash. Another couple came in to wash their clothes too, and we struck up a conversation with them. They live on the island, and he has a house cleaning business. Apparently he’s rather successful at cleaning houses, because he was driving a BMW SUV. (But then that leads me to wonder why he is using the laundromat at the marina if he is successful enough to drive such an expensive car.) Anyway, their names were Jose and Flavia, and they are very nice people. Jose offered to pick up a pizza for us if we ordered it, and sure enough he returned with our pizza. We offered to share it with them, but they’d already eaten.

We asked him a few questions about life on the island. He said that he used to clean Billy Joel’s house, and that most of the houses on the island are summer homes. The houses I had seen so far were the insanely huge houses facing the harbor. If those are merely summer homes, I seriously wonder what these homeowners live in for the other 3 seasons of the year. I also wonder what they do for a living to be able to afford such beautiful homes, and do they ever have time to fully enjoy these homes on the Island.

We finished the laundry, and double bagged it in trash bags to keep it dry for the dinghy ride out. By the time we finished the wash, night fell. It was completely dark on Shelter Island. There are few lights on buildings, and I don’t recall seeing street lights at that point. We made our way, in the rain, to the dinghy dock, and back to our boat. We got the dogs and the wash in, and then we had the challenge of how to find the boat in the dark mooring field. We, of course, forgot our flash light and laughed about how to find our boat in the darkness.

We found it; we came aboard and put the sheets on our very dry bed. It would seem that enclosing the cockpit has somewhat solved the problem of the leaky bedroom roof.

Saturday 11 August 2007
We woke up to a perfect sunny day. The turmoil that yesterday’s storm created was gone and replaced by clear skies, and flat water in the harbor. We decided to explore the island with an electric car that we rented from the marina office. It’s basically a more modern looking golf cart that travels at a maximum of 25 miles per hour.

We picked up the car, and drove off of the lot with it, only to see the battery gauge fall to 68% after we’d only driven it for a few minutes. We decided to go to one of the restaurants that would let us plug in while we ate there—there was a list of these restaurants in the car. We went to Pat and Steve’s and plugged the car in—we could recharge the car’s batteries while we charged our own.

We ate our breakfast, and then went back to the car to see that the gauge was even lower than when we went in. The woman at the marina office told us to return or plug in when it got to 50%. We were at 60%. We figured that something might be wrong with the car, so we went back. They plugged it in, checked it over and said it was fine.

We decided to explore the island by bicycle, then. We got on the bikes and didn’t even get to a mile when Todd said his knee was hurting him. Todd had a knee replacement when he was a teenager, and sometimes physical activity like a long walk or riding a bike is quite painful for him. We returned the bikes, and sat on the porch to wait for the car to charge up. After an hour it was charged, and ready to go.

We jumped back in the car, once again ready to finally check out Shelter Island. Overall, it’s a pretty place, and the people are very friendly. You can definitely see a difference between the people who are visiting and the people who live there. You can definitely see an affluent influence. We even noticed that when we were reading the local paper over breakfast—there is a feeling of wanting to preserve the island from things like traffic lights, chain stores, Starbucks and the like.

We headed over to Shelter Island Heights, which is the shopping area of the island. The Heights consists of maybe a half dozen stores. There were boutiques containing ridiculously “couture” items that I’d never wear even if I could justify spending the $200 for a sundress. We stopped in at Bliss department store, where I bought my favorite vacation souvenir, a green hoodie sweatshirt with “Shelter Island” embroidered in pink across the front. We popped in and out of the stores a little longer, and we stumbled upon a bakery called “Mark it with G.” Todd and I like to check out the local bakeries, and we popped in to sample the single best chocolate croissant we’ve ever tasted. We ordered a few and planned on picking them up later.

Our next stop was the Mashomet Nature Preserve. The Preserve occupies a third of the island, and is stunningly beautiful. We opted for the 1.5 mile loop, as it was approaching the end of the day, and walked along the path to check out what the preserve had to offer. We saw birds, tall bushy trees, a turtle, a gazebo that overlooked the water. Absolutely beautiful, and well worth the walk.

We went back to Mark It With G to get our croissants, and downed them on the way back to the boat. Well, it does take a long time to get anywhere on the island when you’re only doing miles per hour. We returned the car to the marina with 34% left in the battery. We puttered around on shore for a bit then headed back on to the boat to have some dinner. Todd had picked up some teriyaki sauce at the gourmet food store in town, so he put that on some burgers and grilled them up for dinner. Then we had some croissants as well.

The rest of the night we set on a few boat chores that needed our attention. The light in the bathroom ended up shorting out because water was leaking into it. He replaced the light, did some repairs on the generator, and on the bilge pump. Then he got into installing the radar.

We bought this radar system 3 years ago. We installed the dome on the mizzen mast, but never installed the parts that you actually use when you’re sailing. You know, the screen part of it that tells you where all the obstacles are. Lack of radar prevents us from going anywhere in the fog, so we decided to take the time to finally install the thing.

He managed to get it installed, but it wasn’t working. It was dark by then, and harder to see what was going on in the cockpit, so we decided to pack it in for the night and give it another whirl the next day.

The net upshot, we loved Shelter Island, and will definitely be back again. We’ve been wanting to go to the Island for several years now, and we’re thankful to finally have had the opportunity to see it.

Sunday 12 August 2007
We woke up early to make it out of Shelter Island on a favorable tide. The tidal currents in Long Island Sound are very strong because it is a relatively narrow stretch of water between the Connecticut coast and the northern coast of Long Island. The current is called “The Race” because it is so strong. When you time it right, the current will add considerably to your speed. When you are against it, then you will make very little progress against it.

We settled up with the marina, and untied the mooring and said goodbye to Shelter Island. We made our way out of the narrow passageway out of Coecles Harbor, and back toward the Connecticut coastline.

Our next stop would be Essex, Connecticut. Essex is one of our favorite spots on the Connecticut coast. It’s 6 miles up the Connecticut River from the Sound, and up here the water is fresh. We can swim in it without worrying about the dogs ingesting too much salt water. The fresh water is also good for our engine and toilet intakes, as it helps keep the systems clean from the salt built up that naturally occurs in ocean water.

Essex is a postcard town filled with historical houses built in the 1700s and 1800s. You can walk down Main Street and imagine that it doesn’t look too much different than it did back when the houses were built.

Last year when we were in Essex we had the pleasure of meeting Jim and Helene McMullen. We were sitting at dinner at The Black Seal with my brother Kaz and his family. Kaz and company drove down from their home in northern Connecticut to see us for the afternoon. That night we were at dinner and my niece, Hali, struck up a conversation with the couple at the table next to us. We ended up talking to these people all night. Todd invited them aboard to use the Internet, because Jim had mentioned that he was having trouble finding Internet access. We ended up talking to them late into the night and could have talked to them all night. We ended up hanging out with Jim and Helene for the next few days as well.

Coincidentally, Jim and Helene were in Jamestown, RI and managed to track us down last month. So we hung with them in July while there were visiting our state and we got to show them around our state too.

This year we haven’t had the chance to meet up with any other cruisers yet. But, Kaz and company will be joining us on Monday night because my niece Maggie and nephew Krystian will be making the trip with us for the week. So, maybe Hali will do her magic and introduce us to some new people again.

Sunday afternoon in Essex, Griffen and I went for a jog in the stifling heat. Then we all decided to go swimming. There is an island in the river directly across from our mooring field where we liked to swim last year. Seeing as how it was Sunday afternoon, the beach on the island was packed with boats. We motored the dinghy up a little ways and immediately drifted back into the anchored boats. The flow of the river combined with the outbound tide created a very strong current in the river. We gave up on swimming after about 20 minutes only because it was so hard to stay with the dinghy. It was just enough to refresh Griffen and myself.

We went back to the boat and chilled out for a bit then headed into town for dinner at The Black Seal. As we were leaving the restaurant I saw a flyer for a trolley that runs through Essex. We walked down to the Connecticut River Museum to catch the trolley, and we got a chance to see more of the town that we hadn’t been able to explore before because we didn’t have a car.

The trolley took us past the Connecticut River steam train, and we thought that would be a fun thing to do on Monday. I grew up in Connecticut, and completely forgot about the steam train. I had never gone on it as a child either. The trolley is a new thing they’re doing this year, and it’s great because the drivers are willing to take people off route to places like the hardware store and the supermarket.

We headed back for the boat, got into the dinghy, and motored north to explore more of the river. We went through Hamburg Cove and checked out the area in there. Then we headed home, to the boat. I went ashore to wash a load of towels and other clothes that we didn’t get to wash on Friday on Shelter Island, and Todd worked on the radar some more.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007 Days 6&7

Wednesday 8 August 2007

The heat wave continues. Todd and I went into New London to walk around and explore the city a bit. We didn’t spend that much time exploring because of the heat. We walked by a bank and saw the sign said the temperature was 94 degrees. This sign was also in the shade, so maybe the air was even hotter.

We found a Cuban joint and had a bit of lunch and the best mojito I’ve ever tasted. I looked around at the restaurant, at the way it was so festively decorated. The walls were painted bright colors, the ceiling bright green. There were artificial potted palm trees everywhere, and loud Cuban music piped in through the speakers.

“You know, when you think of communist Russia, you think of downtrodden people waiting in bread lines in the snow. Yet Cuba is under communist rule, and our impression of Cuba is… well… this,” and I gesture around the restaurant. “I mean, does that mean that Castro parties harder than Breshnev, or what?” Then we sat there and had this great conversation about Cuba as I finished my mojito. This is one of the things I really love about Todd—he’s brilliant and interesting. We can have really great conversations, and we can have very silly ones as well. It’s always fun, and I always end up learning something new.

We walked through New London trying to find a marine supply store that was rumored to be in the area. We talked about how New London is, as Todd calls it, a study in contrast. The area along the Thames is pretty, and then when you look across to the other side you see the Electric Boat plant. The streets of New London look like they are trying very hard to go through revitalization, yet the poverty among the people is very apparent. There are little kids learning to sail at the New London Community Boat House in these little bitty sail boats, yet up the river there are nuclear submarines sitting at a dock where people are trained to train their torpedoes at the enemy du jour.

We found the boat store, after passing by the City Marina, where they advertise $25 moorings—less than half of what we were paying at the marina. Now we know where we will stay next time. And there will be a next time in New London.

We went back to the boat to swim and wait out the heat. Then we headed into town to pick up a few things and grab some dinner. We took the dinghy back to the town dock, and grabbed a cab at the train station. We struck up a conversation with the driver, as we always do. This guy started off by answering “How are you?” With “I am blessed by God, thank you.” Turns out he’s some sort of Reverend, according to his business card that also said something to the effect of “Let Jesus help you.” Surprisingly he wasn’t preachy, and answered our questions about New London.

Then he went on to tell us he was Jewish. I brushed it off at the time, because I didn’t want to get into it. I later asked Todd “OK, now wait a minute. The Reverend said that he’s Jewish, yet his business card talks about Jesus. What’s up with that? I thought Jewish people had Rabbis, and not Reverends.” We both decided that we didn’t want to ask the question because we didn’t want to get into it with him. There’s just something about New London and contrast, I suppose.

Thursday 9 August 2007

Today’s the day to leave New London. Next stop, Shelter Island, NY. We got up early in the morning because our friend Tonya the Canvas Lady would be bringing the rest of our canvas that will enclose our cockpit. Tonya rolled in, and got to work, I cleaned below decks and prepared for the journey to Shelter Island.

Tonya left, we settled up with the marina and we left too. We had winds from the south east at about 14 knots. We decided to put up all 3 sails and see if we can make some time to the Island.

Then we lost the steering.

We have hydraulic steering aboard, so every now and then we have to fill the steering pump with hydraulic steering fluid. Todd had just filled it a few days ago, and it was bone dry again. There’s a leak somewhere in the system. Todd went below to scout it out, and then we determined we needed to take the sails down. Being under sail puts more pressure on the wheel, and uses more hydraulic fluid that will inevitably leak to where ever it was leaking.

We were only a few miles off of Shelter Island anyway. We’ve never been to the Island and we were looking forward to checking it out.

The entrance into Shelter Island is very shallow. We have a keel that’s 6 feet deep below the waterline. We have to be very careful about where we go so that we don’t run aground. We watched the depth sounder tick shallower and shallower as we entered into the harbor on the island. We must have called the marina a dozen times on the way in to as “Are you sure we can make it in here?” We found our mooring, and headed ashore. It was just after 5 when we arrived ashore, and the marina office was closed. We did see someone who works there and he told us that the whole island shuts down at 5. Nothing is open after 5 PM, at all.

We went back out to the boat, and cooked some kielbasa on the grill, and sat in our newly enclosed cockpit to watch the sunset. We checked the forecast and saw that we were in for rain. So we stripped the bed in the aft stateroom, and prepared to sleep up in the v-berth where it is dryer. Hopefully some day we’ll get the leaks plugged up so being on the boat in rainy weather won’t be an issue anymore.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sailing Vacation 2007, Day 4

Hello from Shelter Island, NY. Shelter Island is a small island at the eastern end of Long Island, NY. We've never been here before, and it is quite possibly the most peaceful place we've ever been. Tomorrow we will actually explore the island, and I cannot wait to see what is here.

Tuesday deserves its own entry. I LOVED what we did on Tuesday, and I think you'll love reading about it. Enjoy!

Tuesday 8 August 2007

In the morning we were still in Noank. I walked into town to get more bread and cereal, and Todd saw about the stuffing box. He and one of the guys from the Shipyard managed to get the leak to a way more manageable level while I was gone, we were once again confident in our boat, and stopped having discussions about calling the trip and heading home.

We pored over the maps to decide where we were going next. We decided on New London, CT, and saw that it was only a few miles away. We reserved a mooring, and prepared to leave. We filled the water tanks, pumped out the waste holding tank and set off.

Blink. We arrived in New London. We picked up a mooring at Burr’s Marina, at the mouth of the Thames River. The Thames is a busy place, yet it's not as choppy as I expected. Right across the river on the Groton side is Electric Boat, where they make nuclear submarines for the Navy. The big hangar was open, and you could see the nose cone of some big boat they are building or repairing in there. Further up the river is the Nautilus Museum, where the Navy’s first nuclear submarine is on exhibit. Even further up the river is the Navy’s Sub Base, where there are often a few nuclear submarines hanging around.

It used to be that every Tuesday a submarine would return from sea and find its way up the river to the base. Now it is not as frequent, however one did come in on this Tuesday and we didn’t get the chance to see it come in. I imagine it is quite a site to see—a submarine motoring up the river, conning tower out of the water, bring sailors home from some unknown mission.

We hopped in the dinghy and headed north up the river to explore. We passed under the Amtrak bridge, and the bridge for route 95. We saw the Nautilus sitting at its dock at the museum, then ahead was the sub base. We motored along and saw 4 subs sitting at docks, and 1 in a dry dock with tarps strung all around it. There are patrol boats that are pacing back and forth around the perimeter of the base. Todd’s eyes lit up as he was looking at the subs in the base, as Todd has a thing for subs—actually for boats of any kind, but especially subs. I really loved seeing the twinkle in his eyes as we were motoring along the base, checking out the subs.

We flagged one of the patrol boats down to ask them a few questions. The patrol boat is a very intimidating looking boat. It’s inflatable with a wheelhouse on it. It has 2 huge outboard engines, and a very scary looking deck mounted gun on the front. One of the men in the boat came to the side to see what we wanted, and he had guns on his belt as well. I did not grow up around guns, I’ve never fired one, and just the sight of one sometimes makes my pulse race and makes me talk fast. We asked him what else there was to see up the river, and he told us that the Mohegan Sun casino was up the river about 5 miles. We could take the boat up there and dock it at their marina.

This put an idea into our heads. We raced back to Sabine. Todd got more gas at the marina and I packed some clothes for us and changed. We hopped back into the dinghy and headed north to the casino. It was 6-7 pm by the time we had left. We opened the throttle all the way and raced up the river. It is a beautiful river, well, in the spots that don’t have a power plant on them. I counted 4-5 power plants in this stretch of river.

The river is well marked, and we followed the navigation buoys to the bridge for the highway that leads to the casino. We came around the bend and saw the hotel for the casino loom over the trees, looking entirely out of place on the beautiful banks of the Thames River.

We motored closer to the casino and noticed a very obvious lack of marina, or a dock of any kind. We explored a bit more, ducked under a very low bridge, and still were not able to see a dock. We scanned the bank of the river and decided to beach the dinghy in a stand of trees that would hide the dinghy from people walking on the train track, just uphill from the riverbank.

We beached the dinghy and removed the gas tank from the engine, and took out the oars. Todd hid those behind a log, and we took the plastic key from the outboard engine. The plastic key is actually a very important little piece of plastic, as it holds out the stop button on the engine so that it will run. We often take the plastic key off when we are leaving the dinghy to prevent theft. The engine came with two keys. One of them came on a stretchy cord which is on Todd’s rear view mirror in his car where it wouldn’t be forgotten. (Well, we did forget it there before the trip, so maybe this strategy isn’t working out so well.) We have a spare that is hidden on the motor as well. We’ve been using the spare on this trip, seeing as how the one on the cord is in Todd’s car.

We grabbed our backpack and scurried up the bank to the train track. From there we tried to figure out exactly how to get up to the casino. There isn’t exactly a paved path leading to the casino from the riverbank. This little adventure will call for some bushwacking. We saw a sign along the track that we decided to use as a landmark to help us find our way back to the trail that will lead to the boat. We made our way along the track to find a way to get up the hill to the casino.

We found a trail in the woods long the track, and scampered up a hill covered in briars. We found ourselves in the employee parking garage of the casino, and asked one of them how to get to the casino. We came along a shuttle driver who offered us a lift to the casino. He gave us his name and told us to ask the valet to call him and he’d come pick us up when we were ready.

We had dinner, Todd played 3 card poker, and I just hung out. Casinos aren’t really my scene, but the people watching is fun. There was a man sitting next to Todd at the table who kept shelling out $100 bill after $100 bill after $100 bill. He opened his wallet to get another one, and I saw a stack of hundreds in there about a half inch thick. He could barely fold his wallet closed with all those hundreds in there. Yet, he kept slapping them down on the table over and over again. To me, a casino is the same thing as just letting someone stick their fingers into my wallet and letting them take whatever they want, and it often makes me sad to see all the people in a casino hoping to win big.

Todd finished gambling and we decided to head back to the boat. We called our trusty shuttle driver, and he was there in a moment, and he brought us back to the employee garage. We made our way down the hill with the prickers, and then found ourselves on the railroad track. That part was a bit creepy because you never know who might be on the railroad tracks behind a casino at night, even in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut.

We followed the track in the darkness, careful not to make any noise as to draw any attention to ourselves. We found the break in the trees that opened up to the trail leading down to the river bank, where our dinghy waited, tied to a tree. Todd pulled the gas tank and the oar out of its hiding place, and we put everything back into the boat.

Then Todd turned to me, “Where’s the key?”

“I don’t know. I never had it. Is it in your pockets?”

“No, I just checked there. Crap. Is it in the backpack?”

“I don’t know. I’d have to take all our spare clothes out, though this thing is packed pretty tightly, I don’t know that it had room to slip in there anywhere.”

We pondered what to do about the lack of key. Todd, being the MacGuyver that he is, found a way to re-create the effect of the key and got the engine started. (Which basically means that we can steal any dinghy we want.) The engine rumbled to life, and we were on our way back to Sabine on her mooring at the mouth of the Thames.

Once we left the glow of the casino hotel behind, we were in darkness. There are power plants along the river, and those provide a great source of light by which we can see the navigation markers. But it is completely dark between the plants. On the water, in the dark, it is very important to be able to see the navigation markers. In the direction that we were traveling, the red ones needed to be on our left, and the green ones on the right. The marker buoys have a reflective tape on them, so that we can scan the surface of the water with a flashlight and pick up the reflective tape. Then we will know on which side we need to be on so we will not hit any submerged obstacles.

Going back at night was a bit slower than it was during the day, as we had to be sure of the marker buoys. We were motoring along and saw a single white light on the shore. It looked like a boat coming right at us. I shined the flashlight in its direction as if to say “Hey, were here. Please don’t run us down.” The light looked like it was coming closer, and closer and closer. I started to get nervous, “Who is this jerk coming after us in the dark, in the middle of nowhere? Todd, get us the hell out of here!”

The light stopped moving. In fact it was never moving at all. We suspect it was a light at the end of a dock, and paranoia was playing a trick on our eyes. We motored on.

Eventually we got back to the sub base. We slowed the motor, turned on our flashlight, and made sure to be slow, vigilant, and law-abiding looking. That was when the gas ran out.

The gas ran out, right in front of the sub base. What better way to look like terrorists then to have our “gas run out” right in front of the sub in the dry dock that we were specifically told by the guy in the patrol boat earlier that day not to photograph.

Eagle Scout Todd made sure to fill a spare tank with gas when he went to the gas dock before we left on this little adventure. I was untying it from the front of the dinghy when we noticed that the patrol boat was taking an interest in us. We started joking about calling our families from the brig as I fumbled with the rope on the gas tank. I got it free, slid it over to Todd and helped him fill the tank for the engine. The patrol boat appeared to have lost interest in us, but was still hovering at a slight distance and keeping an eye on us. You know, just in case we were in fact mixing fertilizer with the gasoline, or something like that.

We filled the tank, got the motor started up again and managed to get away from the sub base without causing a stir, ending up in a cell in Guantanamo Bay, or worse.

Within 20 or so minutes we were back on the boat to retrieve the dogs for a walk ashore. We laughed about scaling a pricker laden hill to get to a casino, and running out of gas in a high security area. A story we’re likely to tell over drinks to our friends when we get home.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sailing Vacation 2007, Days 1, 2 and 3

Hello from New London, CT. Right now I am sitting inside my boat waiting out a thunderstorm. The NOAA forecast said that it should blow through here in about a half hour. I spotted the storm to the northeast of us: the dark clouds that look streaky from the bottoms. The streaky bits are rain that is falling from that cloud. Then we watched it come closer and closer.

Here's what we've done for days 1, 2 and 3. I'll update you more, but so far this is all I've written down. If I get motivated, I can take the photos off the camera and pop them onto my laptop. At the moment I am not so motivated, so you'll get text only and you'll like it.

Friday, 3 August 2007
I came home from work to see two large boxes sitting by the side door of our house. Todd had ordered two gas powered scooters that we could tool around on in each port. I left the scooters where there, as I had a to-do list for the afternoon. I needed to pack my clothes, do things like find our digital camera, buy helmets for the scooters, and I wanted to tidy the house as well. Nothing takes the blissful feeling of a vacation away like a house that looks like a bomb had gone off in it while we were away.

On past trips we have relied a great deal on taxis so that we could see more of where ever we would pick up a mooring or a slip. We’d also walk as much as we could, or rent a moped if it’s available. You’d be amazed at what 2 people can carry with them on a moped. There was 1 time in Newport where we hauled a sack of dirty laundry up Thames St. on a moped, without it spilling over to leave a trail of dirty socks and t shirts. You’d also be amazed at how dumb one can feel rolling up to a Walmart in a taxi.

The gas powered scooters arrived, each in its own box. Each completely disassembled. Each with instructions that contained vague steps like “Fix the screw” or “Now, install the gas tank” with no indication as to which screw was in need of fixing, and exactly how is the gas tank is meant to be installed. Todd laid the parts out on the downstairs TV room in our house while I fantasized about finding the private phone number for the guys from Orange County Choppers on the Internet.

Luckily, Todd is very mechanically inclined. I read him the instructions, and he managed to figure out exactly what went where, and still got me to stop complaining about how lousy the instructions were and how ridiculous it was for this company to expect just anyone to assemble these ridiculously complicated contraptions.

Around 10 PM we walked the first scooter up to the Cumberland Farms to fill the tires with air. Then we walked it over to the parking lot of a factory behind Cumby’s to try them out. Basically what Todd assembled was a skateboard with a weed-whacker mower on it, that has handle bars (or haddle bars, as it was printed in the instructions) and a seat. We tried it out, and rode up and down the parking lot. The seat wasn’t quite right, and kept tipping backward as I tried to sit on it. But other than that, we had a lot of fun tooling around on it. We decided we’d assemble the next one in the morning.

Saturday 4 August 2007
We woke up in the morning with a few things left on the to-do list. My clothes were packed, the groceries already on the boat with the exception of things like meat and chicken that we wanted to freeze. Todd had assembled 1 gas powered scooter, and the other was still in the box. I still wanted to clean the house.

Todd assembled the other scooter while I cleaned the house. Then I went out to the store to see about some other parts for these scooters. They weren’t running properly, and we couldn’t figure out why. After futzing about with them for another hour or so we decided that they were more trouble than they were worth, and left them home. Todd knew that he’d spend too much time on our vacation tweaking them that he wouldn’t enjoy actually using them.

We parted ways so we could divide and conquer the remainder of the to-do list. I went to the bank and then to the gas station to put gas in the dinghy engine, and buy some 2-cycle oil for the dinghy engine. I walked into the gas station and asked:

Beej: Hi. Do you have any 2-cycle oil?
Guy behind counter: (Putting on his “Now now, Little Lady, what are you on about” voice) 2-cycle oil? What’s that?
Beej: You mix it with gasoline for smaller motors, like outboard engines, some lawnmowers…
Guy: (scratching his head) Now, I’ve been a mechanic of 5 years, and I’ve never heard of 2-cycle oil….
Beej: (at this point in no mood to deal with the “Little Lady” bullshit that I sometimes encounter when trying to accomplish something that has anything to do with engines, tools, or whether or not a particular kind of oil actually exists.) Look, just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it does not exist. I’ve bought it at this very gas station before. I’ll find it myself. (Went to look on the rack outside the door.)
Guy: Fine, I’ll ask out back.

I found 2 quarts, and gloated a bit over the actual existence of 2-cycle oil.

Guy: (trying to redeem himself) OK, so, what do you use that kind of oil for again?
Beej: (still gloating over being a Little Lady and being able to explain something to the world’s most knowledgeable mechanic) It’s for… blah blah blah… (Man, I wish I could say something ridiculously intelligent about 2-cycle oil. Like, it’s a crude oil based blah blah with high viscosity properties that blah blah blah).

We met up again, and grabbed some lunch and untied the dock lines. The week before vacation we had the marina haul our boat for a pretty significant repair. Our boat has been steadily taking on water in the years we've owned it. We’ve been noticing it more and more lately. We decided to have the guys haul it for a week and see about fixing it. They put in a temporary repair, and we left the dock knowing that it was a temporary repair. A more permanent repair would end our season. We suspect that it was the shaft tube that was causing the steady leak. The temporary fix seemed to hold, so we were confident in our ability to go on our trip.

We loaded up the dogs and the rest of the stuff pulled in the dock lines, stopped for fuel and a pump out, then we were on our way to our first stop, Jamestown, RI. Of course, the wind was right on our nose, so we had to motor the entire way there. An uneventful ride, we found our mooring and headed into shore for dinner.

Sunday 5 August 2007
We woke up to another very hot day. Yesterday we kept noticing that the temperature on the sign at the bank was hovering around 103 every time we passed it while running the last minute errands. We cast off the mooring lines and headed out of Narragansett Bay.

Again, wind on the nose, we motored all the way to Noank, CT and picked up a slip at the end of the gas dock at Noank Shipyard. A swallow rested on our boat as we made our way west, and we decided to name him Franklin. Franklin stayed with us for a good hour, and then took off again.

We pulled up to the dock, and tied up to our home for the next few days. Staying at a dock is nice in that it’s easy to get ashore, and we can plug into the electricity on the dock and run things that need electrical outlets, like power tools, the laptop and the microwave. Being on a dock is not nice in that we have little privacy, and the dogs sometimes jump off the boat and go wandering. Also, just anyone could wander onto our boat and stab us in our sleep—though this last disadvantage is less off a worry than the lack of privacy and wandering dogs.

Noank is a very picturesque little town. Griffen and I have walked and jogged through the town on past trips and admired the old houses with ornate carvings on their porches, the painstakingly perfect rock walls, picket fences and gardens. Every time we visit Noank I think to myself “Man, I could totally live here.” But then I think I would get run out of town because I cannot be bothered to maintain the landscape around the house I have now. But still, Noank, *sigh*.

Todd looked into the bilge and saw massive amounts of water in it. The temporary fix that the marina had put in did not hold. (Or maybe something else needed to be fixed?) We turned on the electric bilge pump and drained the sump in the bilge, and saw water trickling into the sump from yet another mystery pipe that drains into the bilge. Within a few minutes the sump was nearly full again.

We had a discussion about whether to call off the trip and head back home. If we didn’t stay on top of this leak the boat would sink. The alarming rate at which the water was flowing in was admittedly scary. We discussed the merits of plugging this mystery pipe, and were concerned that the water in it would divert itself somewhere else that we couldn’t get to. We decided to take the “Better the devil you know” tack, and left it alone. There was nothing we could do about it on a Sunday anyway, the marina back home was closed, and the repair shop at Noank Shipyard was also closed.

We took the dinghy up the Mystic River and watched the train drawbridge open for the boats. I have a thing about bridges. I love to sail under them, take pictures of the undersides of the bridges and marvel at how I get the opportunity to go under a bridge in a boat while everyone else has to go over the top of the bridge. Todd was good enough to stop so I could see the bridge open, and so we could hear the "BZZT!" of the electric wires that run the train get disconnected.

We had dinner at the legendary Mystic Pizza. This pizzeria was made famous by Julia Roberts’s first big movie, “Mystic Pizza.” Most of the movie was filmed right in Mystic, and nearly 20 years after the movie came out people still flock to the pizza place. We always eat there when ever we are in Mystic too.

We made our way back out of the Mystic River in the dark, shining the flash lights against the navigation markers to see the reflective red or green strips on the markers. We had the engine gunned as we careened in total darkness back to the mouth of the river.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer Vacation!

Otherwise known as "How many days can Beej go without wearing shoes."


"Jesus, Beej. What the hell did you pack?"

I'll tell you what I packed, somewhere between 6-15 outfits to wear while jogging, and something like 17-83 outfits to wear during the day, night, at lunch time, and for 5 minutes at the top of every hour.

Oh, and if it's my goal to go without shoes as much as possible, why did I pack between 5-20 pairs?

We're going sailing for 2 weeks, and man am I psyched to go. The idea of 2 weeks with nothing but Todd, Sabine and the ocean is impossibly appealing right now. No work. No commuting. No errands. No all that crap that comes with being onshore.

At the moment, the plan is to set out tonight and to pick up a mooring in Jamestown. Then we'll set outearly tomorrow for Stonington, CT. Though I wonder how that'll work out, because on the way home I saw that the wind was blowing directly from the south, the direction we'll be heading in. Of course. I mean, it wouldn't be a Beej and Todd vacation if the wind wasn't directly on the nose.

We will have Internet access along the way, because my genius technology consultant husband rigged up wireless internet with our Sony Vaio and his Treo cell phone. So, sitting up on deck updating my blog will be as easy as it is when I am at home.

Now, back to packing, finding a lost camera, buying bike helmets, getting frozen consumables out to the boat, putting the roof and doors back onto the car and perhaps tidying up the house a bit before Todd comes home and we'll set out.

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