Wow – it is amazing that it is mid-September already! It is starting to get chilly which concerns Matt because a) I don’t like to be cold; b) we don’t have a heater on the boat; c) there is still lots to do before we can go anywhere warm; and d) everything takes 6 times longer than it seems it should.
Matt recently made a comment about how people are not joking when they refer to ‘modern conveniences.’ Here was our day today … The boys and I drove to a park where they rode their bicycles on a trail while I ran. There is a pond where we stop to feed the turtles and fish. We came back and had breakfast. The ice box was pretty cool because I re-loaded it with ice yesterday (Modern Convenience #1: electric fridge; we have an ice box that needs to be loaded with about 30 pounds of ice every few days which I buy at the store and then put in a handcart and wheel down the dock to the boat – hoping I don’t fall off the dock while heaving the bags into the cockpit). Most people use the marina bathroom rather than the one on their boat. We use ours only in the middle of the night or if the boys need to use it early in the morning. The tank was full so I walked to the marina and scheduled someone to come pump it out (Modern Convenience #2: flushable toilets connected to a sewer system). One of our current tasks is to assess the anchors and their chains and see what must get replaced. The anchor and anchor chain is located in the front of our berth at the bow of the boat. Much of the chain was rusted together and had to be broken apart with a hammer to loosen it (Malachi helped with this).
It took most of the morning and part of the afternoon to haul out 300 feet of rusted anchor chain and pull it onto the dock (Joshua helped with this).
Matt hurt his back early in the process so it took a bit longer than anticipated. We had a quick lunch and then some quiet time (Joshua usually naps during this time and Malachi devours books. I am not kidding when I say ‘devour.’ I gave him a 465 page-book, The Search for Wondla, thinking it would keep him busy for weeks. He read it in less than 48 hours – he does not so much read, as inhale, books. Thanks Ms. M for instilling a love of reading!). During the morning there were various trips to the bathroom at the marina (Modern Convenience #3: bathrooms in close proximity). After quiet time, Joshua vacuumed all of the rust that had accumulated up on the deck as we hauled up the chain through the windlass. I scooped out about 3 pounds of rust from the anchor compartment and then vacuumed what was left. Malachi helped to clean up the vanity sink in his berth and then vacuumed some of the floor in the cabin while Joshua wiped down his berth. We then hung the rags on the boat lines to dry (Modern Convenience #4: a washer and dryer in one’s domicile). Because the stove on the boat is not yet functional (Modern Convenience #5), I prepped some vegetables to cook on one of the marina grills. While Matt was grilling, I washed the dishes (Modern Convenience #6: dishwashers!). During this process, I ran out of water because the water tank ran out (Modern Convenience #7: an unending supply of water) so we had to get the hose off the deck and re-fill the tank for 20 minutes. I finished washing the dishes in cold water (Modern Convenience #8: hot water! I have to boil it on the stove if my hands are too cold. We only have hot water when we run the engine, which we generally only do on days that we sail). After lighting a citronella candle to limit mosquitos on the boat, we had dinner. Matt then took the boys to the marina to use the bathroom and we brushed and flossed their teeth, read them a story and put them to bed. I closed the hatches to ward off the night chill (Modern Convenience #9: a heating system) since Joshua’s lips were a little purplish at breakfast. Since internet access is slow and sporadic (Modern Convenience #10: constant and fast internet access) and the boat is small, Matt and I generally go to bed between 9 and 10 pm. The interesting thing about all of this is that, because things take so much longer, I find I am just ‘in’ whatever I’m doing. There is no rushing to the next thing because the pace of life is necessarily slower. In that way, it’s kind of nice – it feels like I’m more aware of life as it happens.
We got the sails back up yesterday and went out for our first sail as a family today. Matt and I were both a little nervous (it’s a Saturday and there are always regattas) so we took it easy. We motored out and just hoisted the main and had a nice easy sail back in. There is something they call ‘dock glue’ which is essentially that the longer you are at the dock, the harder it is to get out there. We wanted to get it done as soon as the sails were back up so that felt like some small accomplishment. Joshua lost his second tooth today. After it fell out, he spent time brushing it for the tooth fairy and then was admiring it on deck in the sunlight. He then dropped it and it bounced and fell into the water. The poor kid – he has yet to have a visit from the tooth fairy because he literally has lost both of the teeth that have fallen out. Despite my pleas to immediately put it in an envelope and under his pillow, he insists on carrying them around all day. I told him that we might be able to write the tooth fairy a note and explain the extenuating circumstances. We went out to dinner with L&C to celebrate the day’s accomplishments.
The saga of the smelly head (i.e., toilet) continues. Matt and George worked on it all day (09.09) – changing pipes and taking out anything that might be the culprit. Matt said he is going to start crying if this doesn’t fix the problem … stay tuned!
Matt was working on the electrical outlet in the galley (i.e., the kitchen) to make it GFCI (GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter – it’s an electrical device that detects hazardous ground faults and quickly disconnects power from the circuit. And no, I had no idea what it stood for or what it did and just had to look it up online). All I really knew what that Matt was doing something to the electrical outlet. During this time, Joshua was doing artwork, Malachi was making a hammock for his stuffed animals, and I was getting things together to go do laundry. All of a sudden, Matt lets out a yell. “Oh my gosh, did you get shocked?” I asked. The boys stared open-mouthed. Once Matt recovered, he said that he had turned off the port-side lights and didn’t understand why the power was still connected. I looked at the instrument panel and said, “This is true but the ‘outlets’ switch is still on – and you are working on an outlet, not a light.” Matt paused to consider this and then looked at me and said, “You know that I’m an electrical engineer from Virginia Tech, don’t you?” “Yep,” I nodded as I reached for the camera. “You’re going to post this on the blog, aren’t you?” he asked. I laughed and said, “Smile for the camera, honey.” Click!
Today was the first day of home/boat schooling. Although I haven’t
really formally planned anything out yet, I had lovely visions of me sitting
down with the boys and helping them with their education. They would gaze at me
adoringly, enthralled by whatever pedagogic activities I had planned. Really –
why do I do this to myself? I once read that expectations are anticipated
disappointment. I wish I could remember that all of the time – life would be
much easier. The reality of homeschooling was very different. I do not think I
expected so many “Why? Why? I don’t want to do that.” and blatant
refusals of “I’m not going to write my letters.” It was kind of like
herding goldfish – I finally realized I just need to let them lead and provide
some occasional guidance (I also realized I need to have an overarching plan
and can’t just wing it). I have always felt that teachers of children should be
among the highest-paid members of society – this just confirms it). I said
something to Matt about it and he said, “Well you’re not trying to re-create a
classroom experience. This trip is their classroom.” Me: “Hmm… Oh, … right.”
Guess I need to re-think things!
J&W and the girls came down to the marina to see the boat on Sunday morning. We still don’t have the sails up but we were able to show them the boat and motor out into the bay. It was so fun to have some of our Cleveland pals see where we now live! That night there was a pretty bad storm with a lot of lighting (great views from the boat). Matt and I climbed out of our hatch during the middle of the night to tighten up the lines and make sure the bowsprit didn’t slam into anything. The boat is really heavy and it was hard to move it against the wind. It gave me a tiny taste of what it might be like in a storm. Matt was tying knots in the dark which made me realize I need to get really good at knots really fast!
[Post script: if you read this, take a few seconds to send W. some positive energy toward his heart – he is recovering from some major surgery that happened after this visit).
We were SO thrilled that some of our Cleveland friends came down to visit (J&W and the girls). We met at J’s brother’s house and went for a great hike near the water with all of the kids.
Beyond being able to reconnect with friends, one of the coolest things was that someone had built some cairns down the stream. They are incredibly difficult to make (as Matt found out when he attempted to ‘improve’ an existing one). At one point, there was a series of them together with the sun filtering through the trees on them. It looked like an exhibit at a museum. I loved the fact that someone took the time to create them – it almost looked like it was a form of active meditation.
This was a great week for progress on the boat! I helped Matt change some hoses which turned out to be kind of fun. This is one I did myself; the hose to the sink in Malachi’s berth. We also finally started getting things on the boat (clothes, art supplies, school things, etc). I continue to be inordinately proud of my tiny contribution.
Other progress included getting the engine fixed and finally getting the mast up. Sails are next!
Matt has been working side-by-side with boat experts on various parts of the boat (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc.). Although the repairs and upgrades are more extensive than anticipated, I think Matt correctly anticipated the total cost of the boat (i.e., sale price + repairs). Although resource-consuming, it’s helping him get up-to-speed much faster on the boat and how it functions. Which is comforting, given that his wife is totally clueless on all of this stuff.
We decided that our daily routine would be to exercise in the morning, get some breakfast, get some work done, have lunch, have quiet time (i.e., everyone has their own space and there is no talking; Joshua usually naps), and then have some fun. This morning we started cleaning out the berths to get ready to actually move things on the boat. The boys did a great job in vacuuming out their berths and wiping them down. In the afternoon, I took the boys to the library and then we had an early dinner. The boat place across the street had a small pool set up where one could demo a kayak or a paddleboard. We tried everything, Joshua fell in and it was an overall hysterical time. And, yes, we bought a kayak! It’s a small one but it was so much fun. I can fit in it with one of the boys and they can probably fit in it together.
We got back down to MD safely. Matt said we needed to wait a few more days before we moved anything from the van onto the boat because they were scheduled to put the chainplates back in (the things inside the boat that hold up the mast) on Thursday so it was good timing.
Legos – the most portable of toys!