For Czar, the dinghy was held steady against the swim platform with one foot and he'd learned to daintily step in, often sliding down the middle, toes spread. We tried different solutions but he managed to avoid them all. The dog and I had a love-hate relationship since Oregon, and Czar paid me back for my attitude towards him by stepping on my bare foot on the way in or out of the dinghy, without fail. Never stepped on Cap's foot. There was nothing I could do but grimace and curse, but God, he was a beautiful dog.
Alcohol was the major contributor to the demise of my second marriage (I primarily smoked pot during my first). We both were compulsive in that respect and unfortunately liquor was dirt cheap in the Class VI store on post. So even though he was a good-natured, likeable fellow I left him in Germany; for I wanted my life to be more than a succession of hangovers.
I returned to my parent's home in New Jersey and curtailed my drinking dramatically. Even now I can slip back if I'm not careful, because I don't know when to stop and I can be a nasty drunk. This isn't the easiest bit to write, but it's important to explain for down the road.
As the storyteller I have edited much of my past but forget you can't see inside my head. I've considered some details irrelevant or planned on including them at some later point, like now.
"Everyone has one special talent at which they excel. It's just a matter of discovering what it is."
(Backtracking) “We moved to Riviera Beach (on Nov 22nd), where we’ve been making final preparations and waiting for a weather window to the Bahamas. The day after arriving we met 2 guys, one of whom was heading our way so we agreed to hook up. Well, they came on the boat and I thought they would never leave. Doug (not his real name) is the one going east, and what a pig. It started off OK – he and Cap were BS’ing about old Army days, but in short order Doug showed his true colors – a pig (Major!!). The other guy, Don, has turned out to be a nice guy.”I was revolted by Doug, a quite-elderly boater, whose companion was a very-young girl from down-island. The more Doug drank the more comfortable he became until his sexist attitude and innuendos drove me from the cabin. He bragged about finding his companion while cruising the Caribbean, where he also met his Bahamian crew member, known as Dr. Pepper.
“Although Doug’s a pain, we did learn from him. He showed Cap stuff about the motor and I copied his engine manual.”We couldn’t believe our luck in finding someone with a similar Ford Lehman motor, since Cap had nothing to use as a guide.
(Photo note: four large, heavy panels in the living room floor led to the engine compartment. They were supported by cross beams, and if you weren't careful re-positioning a panel it would give way and you'd fall through the floor. Cap didn’t have that problem as often as I seemed to, but he got hit in the head plenty when the boat rocked and a panel would fall. I especially hated it when he balanced his Bubba Mug on either a cross beam or another part of the floor, because more often than not the coffee-chocolate concoction would tip over. Cap was handy but clumsy.)
“The first thing Doug said coming aboard was that we needed to pack weight in the bow (to keep us from flying up in the waves) and to pack everything away. We already saw how much we could rock from just a passing power boat so it didn’t take much convincing. Cap tied down the spare propeller in the lazarette and the swim ladder was bungee'd to the back rail. I repacked canned foods. Now, after all that organizing, I can’t find a thing, but once we’re across we’ll repack – again. Soon we’ll see how well we’ve done.
“Since today’s Thanksgiving, we’re having a (very) semi-holiday dinner – chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans – but probably w/Hollandaise, rolls, and chocolate pudding and ice cream. Czar wandered off – he won’t get on and off the boat by himself (dock’s on the wrong side), so Cap let him stay on the dock and boom – gone. Cap went to get him and found some old guy trying to coax Czar into his car in the parking lot. He got lucky – really have to keep an eye on him.”
“Yesterday we left that slum of a marina and went out on the hook – just the other side of Peanut Island.”
I watched the digital reading: 9.2; 7.4, etc. Suddenly we were in 2 feet of water, so I screamed to Cap to STOP before we ran aground.
“At 12:30am it felt like something hit the front of the boat.”
“Cap looked out and saw the front of the boat looked ‘interesting’ – we had run into a sailboat – they had a rubber dinghy (which we hit) and their bar-b-que got caught in our boat. The anchor had broken loose, so we got off, moved and wound up dropping 2 anchors. We stayed up for 2-1/2 hours then back to sleep, hoping all was well. No such luck. 5am – I had heard the creaking of the anchor pulpit (inside the cabinet next to the bed), anchor’s holding OK. But then I felt a bump unlike the water hitting the hull. It seemed we hit a small pontoon (in fact a catamaran), confirmed when their lights went on.
"We got out of that and Cap slowly limped across the channel to another anchorage. When he set the anchor it strained the pulpit and wham!! It broke apart right in front of me. I watched it happen, and proceeded to get the anchor. No damage to me, but the pulpit was demolished. Rotten wood. Then a few hours later when we left, we headed back to the marina (for repairs). Only problem – the dinghy was in the water but connected to both davits – it filled with water along the way then whoosh – it flipped over, sheared a davit off (it’s in the bottom of the channel) and we literally limped into the marina, disgusted, demoralized and dead tired.”
“Don helped all day and he and (wife) Kelly were a great boost. We got a post from him and a perfect mahogany board from Doug (who refused a dime and) who left this morning with Dr. Pepper and Sue.""Boaters help one another. We have to - you never know when you might be in trouble."
The night's events had humbled me and I was ashamed of earlier thoughts. We couldn't leave, of course.
"The pulpit has to be completely rebuilt, which is what’s happening now. The boat’s totally trashed – tools everywhere, sawdust, just junk, but I don’t care. The boat’s being fixed, and I don’t have to worry about the damned anchors for a while. My hands are healing. What a night!! But…we were close to shore; if the pulpit was going, it’s better now than in a storm. We have help and materials became available. All is OK.”
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