Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Double Life

I love flying, but I have to admit I rarely think about it while on the boat, if only because there's been so much boat-sailing-cruising stuff to think about. While in Ft. Lauderdale we've been moored a few miles northeast of FLL - which I've flown to and from quite a bit - and every so often a jet would pass overhead, and it'd seem completely surreal that I fly those for work. And then on Sunday I started a three-day work trip - my first in over a month - with layovers in Tampa and Orlando, and after a few legs it was Windbird that seemed a world away. It's like I'm living a double life. In one I don't shave, wear shorts and flipflops and ragged t-shirts advertising scruffy sailor bars, go days without bathing, get grease under my fingernails tinkering around with boat projects, guess and bullshit my way through unfamiliar tasks, make extensive lists in a hopeless quest to keep myself organized and on track, watch the sun go down over the water every night with a beer or cocktail in hand, and enjoy the company of my wife and dog and friends in our packed little 42 x 12 foot world. In my other life I shave and shower daily, wear a crisply ironed uniform with wings and name plate properly centered over the left breast pocket, spend my perfectly choreographed day complying with the ironclad dictates of the airline's schedule, perform highly technical tasks with easy precision honed by long experience, am often flying well before the sun rises or after it sets, cap off many days with a convivial beer or cocktail while socializing with a rotating cast of fellow itinerant crewmembers, and then go "home" to a palatially large, empty, charmless hotel room. Both experiences are far outside everyday 9-to-5 humdrum existence; both involve skill and judgement, close intimacy with the elements, and moments of exhilaration and gobsmacking beauty shared with only a select few. I love both of these lives and would hate to give either up...but sometimes it's hard to believe they're both my life these days.

Enough waxing philisophical; here's what we've been up to the last couple days. On Friday our friend Ivy Rivera (fellow airline pilot & occasional sailing companion) visited from Homestead. We left our mooring around 1:30pm, headed out of Port Everglades Inlet, and put up the sails to beat eastward in light northeasterlies. Our "mission," other than just going for an enjoyable daysail to celebrate Dawn's birthday, was to get three miles offshore so we could empty our holding tank. Well, three miles offshore was also where the current increased to 3.5 knots, the water temp went up two degrees, the wind piped up above 15 knots, and the waves got big and confused. No doubt about it, we found the Gulf Stream! After "pumping the pooper" we headed back inshore, Dawn taking the wheel as we gybed through the cargo ship mooring field just north of the inlet. We made it through the 17th Street Bridge on the 4:30pm opening and were back to our mooring in time for sundowners. After dark we dinghied in to Coconuts Restaurant for Dawn's birthday dinner. While waiting to be seated, we had a round with Jack, Linda and Nya, the crew of the Leopard 40 cat moored next to Windbird.

The next morning I got up early and made Dawn breakfast in bed, and then we met Aileen of Ft. Lauderdale Stand Up Paddleboard for a SUP lesson/rental. Actually the lesson took only a few minutes - it's quite easy & I had done it before, though Dawn hadn't - and then she turned us loose. It was really beautiful and calm at the start, and we had fun exploring the areas canals. We worked our way back via the Middle River and ICW which involved some pretty decent wakes as the Saturday boating got underway, and they knocked Dawn off her board twice, but she still really enjoyed it. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to buy a SUP of our own to carry aboard Windbird on our explorations of the Bahamas & Caribbean. It should arrive tomorrow.

After the paddleboarding we returned to Windbird for lunch and to prepare to move her to the dock at Hall of Fame Marina. First we stopped off at the swanky (and expensive!) Bahia Mar marina to top off diesel and dinghy gasoline in preparation for the Bahamas crossing. This involved docking between Savannah, a 285-ft superyacht, and a "mere" 110-foot motor yacht. Both the docking and undocking went very well (in the later case, we reversed against a stern spring line to swing the bow out into the current, which worked pretty slick). And from there we went straight to slip 219 at Hall of Fame. This involved a sharp 90 degree turn into the slip but it was wide and there was little wind or current, so it went without a hitch. These are fixed docks and there's about three feet of tide so it required a bit of rearranging of fenders and lines to make sure Windbird would stay secure. It was a warm afternoon so I tested out our air conditioning for just a little bit - works great! - and did other tasks to put Windbird "to bed" for the coming week. Then I took a shower, put on my "monkey suit" (i.e. pilot uniform), and caught an Uber to the airport to fly up to Atlanta.

Sunday I flew up to Minneapolis (brrr) and down to Tampa, where I watched the craziest Super Bowl comeback ever seen in one of my favorite sports bars anywhere (Hattrick's). Yesterday I flew up to Detroit (brrr) and down to Orlando, where I spent the afternoon running around getting an international postal money order and then FedExing it to the Bahamas (more about that below). And today I had three legs: up to Atlanta and then one tumultuous, delayed, weather-battling New Orleans turn. We held for about 30 minutes waiting for severe storms to pass New Orleans; turns out they spawned several tornadoes. We arrived in Atlanta over an hour late, and I barely got to my airline's badging office (drenched from torrential rain!) in time to get a parking pass for my truck in the company parking lot. I'm at an airport hotel tonight; I have medical appointments at Emory the next two days.

Meanwhile lots has been going on at the boat. On Monday Patagonia Yacht Division came out and fixed our nav lights. Turns out the wiring was just fine, the short was within the nav light fixture. Hmm. I misdiagnosed that, and could have repaired it myself. Crap. And a Yanmar diesel mechanic took a look at our engine and pronounced it sound, but according to Dawn it was a rather perfunctory inspection - probably not much beyond what I've looked at already. While they were working Dawn did quite a bit of cleaning on the boat's topsides, canvas, issenglass, cabintop, and decks. In the afternoon Judy Handley had a long FLL layover; her sister-in-law & husband Sue & Brad picked her up and visited Dawn on Windbird. I facetimed Dawn while they were on the boat and got to see Judy in her old perch behind Windbird's helm. Later they went to dinner at Coconuts which was cut a bit short when Brad had a bit of a medical episode he attributed to vertigo. Sounds like he's ok. Today Dawn rented a car and spent the entire day running errands - she made a whopping 11 stops! - which included our final provisioning. It might take her a whole 'nuther day to put everything away!

We're basically 100% ready to go to the Bahamas at this point with two exceptions: the SSB radio (currently at the shop) and Piper's pet import permit. The first we can do without if necessary - there are VHF and internet sources of weather available in the Bahamas - but the second we really should have in order. We applied way back in December and never heard anything back. We've called several times and the Bahamas Dept of Agriculture never received it. Our guess is it was either lost in the mail, opened to steal the $15 cash inside, or the Dept of Agriculture just dropped the ball. So now at the last minute we finally realized we need to take quick action and did it the more expensive but recommended way: got an international money order and FedExed it overnight. At least I have a FedEx discount which made the shipping $13 rather than $98. It got there this afternoon and we hope the permit will be faxed tomorrow. Then we can take Piper to the vet and get a clear bill of health.

If everything goes well at Emory, I should be back to my Windbird life on Thursday. If so we'll try to move to Miami on Friday, and then my brother Steve flies in on Saturday. At that point we're playing the weather game, waiting for a good window to cross to Bimini or possibly Great Harbour Cay or even Nassau.

1 comment:

  1. Hoping all goes well with your appointments and you get underway with a great weather window to the Bahamas! Take care and stay safe!!!