"The place looks pretty good. We still discover better ways to pack and store things without getting wet. Better to find out while we're near land than out to sea."
"Cap's tools got wet so we have to de-rust them. His footlocker got soaked, so his dive gear needs a new container. Our emergency kit's coming along."
"A quick overview reveals we've spent around $9,000 so far - wow!!"
"Just when I think I'm getting better about this whole thing, I slide back. I'm not handling it very well at all. We've been getting ready to go and took (we thought) our last trips to marine stores. Chester hasn't been by in over a week, but stopped by yesterday while we were out and left Cap's computer. Apparently he couldn't do anything with it, either. Czar's been hopping off the boat regularly, like he knows something's up."
"Got Reed's Guide to the Caribbean but I can't get as excited as Cap about this. I thought we would be able to just hop from island to island but it's not that simple. Besides the normal shit of watching out for reefs and 'lights', each island has its own rules regarding cruising in their waters; guns; pets and fees. It won't just be a simple joyride, but Cap keeps telling me it will be easy and not to worry. I can't be like that. I don't understand how things seemed to go so well before we left Oregon, and now...maybe God is playing a cruel joke on me.
"Lo & behold, we were off from the marina at noon. I was nervous as hell but Cap was full of optimism, confidence and just happy as shit. All I could do was look for those stupid markers. Cap tried the autopilot (it worked), the VHF up above didn't, and the depth finder below wouldn't shut off, but oh well, nothing's perfect."
As we neared the first drawbridge, I took over the wheel while Cap went below to call the Bridge Tender to open 'er up.
"The Bascule Bridge. B-A-S-C-U-L-E." I had to repeat it a few times and finally spelled it out for him.
"Bascule Bridge, Bascule Bridge, this is the motor vessel Ruff Life approaching from (wherever)."
We motored for 4-1/2 hours and anchored in Sarasota (13 miles as the crow flies). It probably wouldn't have taken so long if Cap didn't insist I steer just a little, in case I have to at some point. I fishtailed along and hated the entire time, but at least I learned I could do it. Other than the bridge all had gone well, and our first night on the hook was blissfully uneventful.
"A__hole! So much for being friendly."
Cap quickly put his wheel back on, and after we stopped rocking I tried to straighten up enough to carve a path through the cabin. After that fiasco we installed makeshift barriers: Dad's 36" drafting ruler fit across the bookshelf beautifully; dowels in the grooves prevented the galley cabinets from sliding; hook and eye latches kept the freezer and refrigerator doors shut; and the bed and bathroom doors were tied together by their knobs to keep them closed. I began a list of things to secure prior to raising the anchor.
"We moored in bug heaven - there were millions of no-see-ums on the deck the next morning," which I rinsed off using my new spiral hose, a luxury I was pleased was already of use.
"We had just read the night before how to 'unground', but when it actually happened, all that knowledge flew out the porthole. The only thing I could remember was rock the boat, which we tried; check where the water's low; and get in the dinghy. Big help. Cap got in the dinghy and tried pulling the boat off using the outboard motor, but that wasn't working either."
"I can understand why everyone says boating will either make or break a relationship," something I heard early on in the First Mate's Club.
"Cap went flying into the second lock (feeling more confident) and although he learned his lesson and slowly entered the third lock, the lockmaster had to repeat several times, You can stop now, Captain. Captain, stop, now! But in the fourth lock he was perfect.
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