Friday, June 21, 2013

The Joy of Spending Someone Else's Money

We’ve been docked in Portsmouth, RI in the Melville Marina with no guests for the past 2 weeks. It’s given us time to regroup, strip all the cabins, start anew and reload the boat with fresh goods. We took the first week simply to clean and regroup. Now into week two, the provisioning has begun and we’ve shopped ‘til we dropped the past three days. While the chef and I have been cleaning, doing laundry, ironing and re-making all the cabins with fresh linens, the captain and mate have undertaken some serious repairs to the boat to get her ready to sail all summer throughout the inlets, harbors, bays and islands off the coast of Maine. Luckily we quit everyday around 4 or 5pm, so although we’ve worked hard everyday, we are able to maintain a semi normal work schedule. The captain and chef are pretty good about stopping work for good once the end of the day hits, although living where we work, we can always tinker here and there with various ongoing projects, but that really hasn’t happened yet.

The sun sets on summer's day 1. Tomorrow we finally get to sail away from this dock!

7 am is the time when our cabin doors are to be opened in order to have breakfast together and be ready to roll by 8. At that point the boys are off doing what they’re doing and Julie and I have the interior of the boat to clean, organize, load up, etc. This week has been all about provisioning as the owner and guests will be arriving Saturday to sail up to Maine. We didn’t know much about when they were coming or who was coming with them until today. We knew vaguely that this Saturday, June 22 was when they’d be here and that we’d head north towards Maine. No other details have been revealed to us beyond that, and our itinerary could change vastly based on the group. Since the owner’s wife and some other couples will be joining us, we will likely hop along the New England coast instead of rush and make it to Maine in one night. This pleases all of us because we’ll likely stop through Boston en route and hopefully have time to go ashore and hang out.

In preparation for our upcoming trip Julie and I have literally spent thousands of dollars filling the boat up with groceries, cleaning supplies, booze and other supplies. We’ve run all around the greater Portsmouth – Newport, Rhode Island area checking off our list. We started with galley and cabin supplies like cooking utensils and bedding stuff. Then we went for the “dry goods” at the grocery store. We filled up three shopping carts when all was bagged and done with cleaning supplies, and boxed and canned food like spices, baking mixes, beans, snack food and sodas.

Then came the liquor. About $450 later we filled our shelves and cabinets with 16 bottles of red wine, 6 bottles of white and a ton of booze. I’ve never seen liquor store employees so happy to see us. They even gave me a 10% discount on the couple bottles of wine I bought for myself. Next came the funnest part – produce. Jules waits until the last minute to buy produce, for good reason. So we attacked the grocery store one last time this week for fresh food, meat and seafood. We picked up some frozen seafood and items at the grocery store, but then hit the seafood market and butcher shop for the rest. While we’re loading up the boat with goodies, the guys have been fixing, painting, varnishing and tightening up loose ends.

This was a "light" day, just produce and cold stuff. The dry goods took up 3 whole carts.

Among the many projects going on above and below deck, the biggest undertaking since our last outing has been the mizzen halyard. Apparently the former captain royally screwed this one up. The line somehow wrapped itself around a pipe before it wrapped around the drum that it’s supposed to reel onto, causing all sorts of problems when Steve tried to adjust the mizzen boom and sail. So my job was to help start the winch to feed the line properly onto the drum after they’d spent days upon days with the rigger from Rig Pro getting the thing properly fed and aligned through the boat.

Boat diagram from Jongert. Though Islandia has 2 masts, the mizzen mast is in the stern or aft part of the boat. 

On this size boat everything operates on a grand scale. Hydraulic systems lift everything, which makes things easier for the crew, but also much more complicated when things go wrong. The mizzen halyard ran from underneath the master cabin, which is technically 2 floors below deck, up through the side of the boat and up the mast. So throughout this process, the rigger, Steve and Andy all had to communicate via radio to coordinate their efforts. The rigger spent a lot of time down below untangling the old line and feeding the new one into the system, while Andy initiated the hydraulics while I started the winch to get the thing up the mast. Steve coordinated the whole production calling when to pull, when to stop and what to do next. My job came pretty much at the end of the project when they needed an extra hand over-riding the electronic winch that hooks into the hydraulics. So I turned on the lever that caused the mizzen halyard to start winding onto the drum, while Steve carefully adjusted it as it fed smoothly in a nice ribbon lying neatly next to each reel so that it could neatly come unspooled when necessary. Since the old halyard was wrapped around a pipe before wrapping around its drum, it kept getting stuck and wasn’t able to come out or function properly. Luckily that project was completed today, a huge check off the list. Yet the list is ever evolving; as Julie joked, its job security.

Although it’s been nice having the boat to ourselves, our job is truly when people come on board. So now we wait for the owner and guests to arrive. We generally know we’re going to Maine and will stay there for most of the summer, yet the plan has not been fully defined. So we all wait with baited breath for when the owner, Harvey, shows up and fills us in on the big secret that is our itinerary. 

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