Monday, December 26, 2016

An Almost-Cruising Christmas

I was off flying while Windbird was splashed but got done with my 3-day trip in Atlanta on the morning of the 24th and, after missing one flight that went out full, landed in Charleston at 3pm. This gave me 24 hours at home for Christmas - which was intentional on my part. Nearly all airlines build pilot schedules based on one's seniority in their position. With three years of seniority at my airline, I would be somewhat senior in some smaller aircraft at less popular bases, but on the Boeing 757/767 in Atlanta I'm about a quarter from the bottom of the First Officer list. That virtually guarantees that I'll work Christmas, New Years, and every other major holiday that more senior pilots will bid off. So my December bidding strategy was to snipe one trip that got done early on Dec 24th and another that reported late on the 25th.

After Dawn picked me up from the airport we went straight to the boatyard so I could take a look at Windbird in the water. Dawn had cleaned her decks and cabintop, moved the dinghy to the davits, and also re-erected the bimini and dodger in my absence; she almost looks normal now although her stem iron still has to be installed and the headstay reattached (two halyards are taking its place for the moment). We spent some time talking to Jon and Sarah, a younger couple that is about to launch their older C&C 30 and head south to Florida & the Bahamas. It's an interesting boat - Jon replaced the original Atomic 4 gasoline engine with an electric motor out of a forklift. The boat has somewhat limited battery capacity (and it can only be replenished by solar or shore power), meaning they'll primarily use the engine for docking or entering inlets. I love sailing, but I'm not certain I'd have the patience to cruise almost engineless!

While we were aboard Windbird, Dan and Isabelle on Epiic came back at sundown from a daysail in Charleston harbor. On their last daysail, with a sailing instructor aboard, they got distracted while chatting with the instructor and accidentally hit a massive navigation buoy almost square-on and caused some fiberglass damage to their bow! Their anchor took the brunt of it or the damage would have undoubtedly been worse; nevertheless they had to get hauled back out for repairs. They were splashed again the same day as Windbird and were happy to take Epiic back out for a much less eventful daysail! After docking their boat, they came over to Windbird for happy hour with me, Dawn and Piper. Being in the water and having the canvas up, our cockpit already feels much homier.

When we got back to the apartment around 8pm, Dawn made hors d'oeuvres and we opened our presents to each other, which is her family's Christmas tradition (my family waits 'till Christmas morning, but who wants to wait!). Dawn got me a pretty sweet Guy Harvey cruiser hat, a rashguard for snorkeling, and two books on stargazing. I got her Phillips wireless over-the-ear headphones and a big cushy yoga mat. Piper got treats and a new stuffed toy!

We were quite lazy on Christmas morning; I was originally planning to go to the boatyard to do some work but we never made it. It was absolutely gorgeous outside: 74 and sunny. After Dawn dropped me off at the airport she took Piper for a 3-mile walk on the beach and she said it was like the 4th of July near our place, but still quiet down on the south end of Isle of Palms (which is where she took the below photo).

I had one leg yesterday to Guatemala City, Guatemala, which is where I am at the moment. I'll be in Denver tonight, get done late tomorrow, and will stay overnight in Atlanta where I have a doctor appointment on the morning of the 28th. I hope to get back to Charleston later that day to help Dawn move our stuff back to the boat...we only have the apartment through the 31st, and I have a four-day trip the 29th-1st (including 26 hrs in St. Martin over NYE!). After the 1st I've already dropped all my work trips for January... meaning we can finally get busy rerigging the boat and getting ready to head south ASAP!

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