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On Living Aboard

We’ve had some pretty nasty weather so far this season. A couple days of severe thunderstorms spawned several tornados, resulting in a lot of damage as well as countless power outages. We came through unscathed but my friend Ritchie had a large tree branch come down, doing considerable damage to his barn as well as to his box truck, which was parked right next to it. We spent two days cleaning up the mess. It took most of another day to get his truck road worthy enough to haul away the cut up pieces of wood. Further inland, the damage was much more intense. And we still have hurricane season to look forward to. Last year we had planned on a two week trip for what we call, ‘around the horn’, which is a trip to Block Island, east to Martha’s Vineyard, onward to Nantucket and then, north weaving through the Nantucket shoals. For various reasons, that didn’t work out, but this year it did. We enjoyed mostly good weather and gained at least five pounds eating at Martha’s Vineyard’s fabulous restaurants. From there, it was north around cape cod on the outside. After a stop at Provincetown, we entered the Cape Cod Canal from the north. We timed our entrance so that we were stemming the beginning of the flood. Tidal currents run quite fast in the canal, and from previous experience, I did not want to be anywhere near the peak of the run. Once clear of the canal, we continued on to Cuttyhunk, where we anchored up at the far north of the harbor. Neither of us had gotten much sleep for the past 48 hours and it was nice to be able to crash, away from everything. After catching up on our sleep, and spending a whole day lounging aboard, we headed off to Newport. We did not go ashore at Cuttyhunk; been there, done that, got the T shirt. While Cuttyhunk is nice, there’s not much there to see. Calling ahead, we paid for a mooring off Fort Adams in Newport. Jumping aboard the launch that arrived to collect the fee, we were soon wandering around that busy city. A lap of the Volvo ‘round the world sailing yacht race had ended here recently, and the town was hopping. Two days of that was far and away enough for us and we both gave a sigh of relief as we headed west for the Block to complete the circle. One night and another tasty meal and we headed home. Our last night was spent at anchor in the lee of Ram Island, just to the east of the Mystic River. It was a good trip and Patty O’ performed flawlessly. There was however, an issue with Mustard, the little Century runabout that we tow, using her like a car when we cruise. She has been highly modified since we got her. On the surface she looks just like what she is, a vintage runabout. But that’s where it ends. She has been repowered, uses a hydraulic gearbox, as well as hydraulic steering, and is fitted with stainless steel fuel tanks which are smaller than the original. They are smaller for the simple reason that with her current power plant, she uses far less fuel than did the original Graymarine engine. The problem was that the transmission/throttle control, which I had changed over to single lever combining both shifting and throttle in one lever, was not operating smoothly and on one occasion would not go into gear without me reaching down and moving the lever on the transmission itself. Something to look at once we’re back to normal. My first call once we were secure in our slip was to Ritchie to find out how he was doing with his truck. The tree had landed on the cab, crushing the left side, and we had used a hydraulic jack to push the roof out. The door was tied closed and that was enough to make it drivable, hauling storm debris to the landfill. Fortunately, the tree missed the box completely. “Insurance totaled it out.” He said. “I bought it more for the box than for anything else. I’ve ordered a new bare chasses, and I think that we can move the box onto it ourselves.” “When’s it going to be delivered?” I asked. “Sometime next week, so they say.” “Ok. Let me know.” Another thing that’s coming up is the renewal of my Coast Guard Masters license. This delight comes up every five years, and although I rarely use it, I do keep it current. The process has changed some since my last renewal, but in this day and age of the internet it’s relatively simple to see what’s needed. The first thing you need to renew, is to show proof that you indeed are using it. They require that you show 365, eight hour days of operation over the past five years. You are also required to obtain a physical examination to Coast Guard standards within the past year, as well as a drug test within six months. Gathering all the paperwork took several days and as many phone calls to the reginal office in Boston. With everything in order, the final obstacle was that I do not have the required time on the water. This requirement can be waived by attending a one day refresher course, which is what I did. My license also has an unlimited radar endorsement, and to renew that is a bit more intense. You get to peek at a simulator and answer various questions about plotting, distance to other vessels, called targets, and fixing your location by radar. You are timed doing this and I had to take the test twice, failing the first time. But then, I don’t do this every day. Although I haven’t used my license in quite a while, I’m a bit reluctant to let it lapse. I had to do a lot to get it in the first place and I have to admit, it looks pretty impressive hanging next to Patty O’s lower helm station. Once that was taken care of, two days were spent helping Ritchie with his truck. Removing the box on the old truck went with no problem. Backing the truck into the barn, we used the hoist I rigged to lift Mustard off her trailer when we rebuilt her bottom. The plan was to back the new chassis underneath the box and then lowering and fastening it down. It was good to kick back after all the activity over the past month. We had a good trip, Ritchie got his truck back and the Blonde, my wife, when she went back to work, didn’t have any crisis to deal with. Taking apart Mustard’s sifting linkage, I couldn’t find anything wrong. Re-installing it, and working the lever back and forth there was no indication of anything wrong. A mystery to be sure. Re-installing it and talking several test runs, the problem did not reoccur, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on it. The Blonde called just before leaving work for home to ask if I needed anything. Before that, Ritchie called to invite us out to dinner. It was his birthday and he wanted to celebrate being officially a senior. “Great!” she said. “No dishes to wash.” “That works for me.” I said.

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