Chronicles of Cruising
I thought in review of the many threads and countless questions, I would try and write out (as time permits) some of our more "interesting" experiences over the years. Maybe in all of this some of the people reading will gain an appreciation for the realities of living aboard. For those that are already cruising, maybe they will relate or thank the cruising Gods they have not been there. For those that have returned and living a simpler life, maybe they will reminisce.
That being said, let me begin...
Our previous boat which we lived aboard was a Catalina 380. It was a very good boat and a nice, heavy coastal cruiser. Like all boats, (LIKE ALL BOATS), it did have its little parculiarities. One of them was the location of the air conditioning intake. We were on Fort Myers Beach, and anyone who knows that area will realize that it is surrounded by shallow water and mangroves. As such, sea grass and pea pods and all other items would find their way (weekly) into the intake, cut off the water supply, and BAM! no air conditioner.
Now being a good husband and avid fix it yourselfer, I had become quite ingenious on ways to quickly clean the clogged throughhull. We put in a T with shut off valves (which I won't explain in too much detail here) that would allow me to stick a garden hose or the fresh water supply for the shower into the device and force the garbage out. This had about a 30% success rate. If that did not work, I had to remove the hose clamps, break the suction, and jam a coat hanger or other device down into the trough hull to break things free (not fun). Here in lies the problem: The 380 has a really nice, deep lazarette. Very deep. You can either crawl down in there feet first (which requires quite a contortion of joints, much like a monkey), or lean over the lazarette head first and hang upside-down (the preferred method if it will just quick-fix).
On one fine afternoon, halfway into my bologna sandwhich, we heard the inevitable 'pshew-clunk'. High head pressure. The through-hull was clogged up again.
Kris looked up at me. I, on the other hand, intentionally focussed my thoughts on the other half of my sandwhich. I took another bite.
"Er-Hm," she nudged me. "Honey, I think the through hull is clogged up again."
I knew the thing was clogged up. I wasn't deaf or stupid. THere was no air blowing and the unit was flashing 'PS'. It was not as if I did not do it two or three times a week, for pity's sake. I took another longing look at my sandwhich and said, "Huh? Oh it is? You sure?"
Where do wives get those looks from? Are they taught it in school? I could have sworn she was never able to do that before we were married. Half a sandwhich. That was all that I had left. Half a sandwhich!!
"Chase is asleep and it is about 95 degrees outside," she said. "He is going to wake up. Come on, I'll help you."
Well, my wife is highly claustrophobic. There is only one person that is going down in that hold, and that is me. And let me tell you men, if she were NOT claustrophobic, there would still only be one person going down in that hold... me. 'I'll help you' means standing over you and peering down in the hole while you do the sailboat yoga. And to tell you the truth, it is kinda like driving a car... just let me do it myself. "Uh, no Baby. You just stay down here and turn it on when I yell at you. That's ok," I said. "I'll get it."
The heat was rising and humidity building as I stared down the hold, water hose in one hand, screw driver in another. "I'm gettin' sick and *&%! tired of this...," I gasped crawling face first down the hold, "... half a freakin' sandwhich...," I supported myself on one hand and carefully placed the screw driver on the stringer beside me...., "there is absolutely nothing wrong with a window unit on a boat..."
I opened the T and flushed the hose through the unit. Water ran clear. I was in luck. The 30% rule worked and I was about to crawl backwards out of the hold and finish my sandwhich. It was at this time that a boat went by (I can only assume a Sports Fisher on half plane by the wake). The screw driver I had carefully set on the stringer in the lazarette fell off and slid down towards the bilge.
I love my tools (as all guys do), and lord knows I had given enough of them to Poseidon... I wasn't going to lose this one. I contorted myself further into the hold and over the stringer grasping for the screwdriver. I touched it, it slid a little further down. I just touched it again, still a little further down. All this time I was going further and further into the bilge. Slowly, my arms started tingling and going to sleep. My chest was constricted. Little drops of blood were running down my face from the fiberglass pieces that had imbedded themselves into my skin. I had almost reached the screwdriver when a most untimely event happend. My tobasco and eggs from that morning decided they would pursue an exit.
My eyes popped open and for a very, very long moment and I persuaded my sphincter muscle to engage beyond normal human abilities. Success, but time was short. I went to push myself backwards out of the hold, but had no blood left in my arms. They were tingling and quite useless. I was in serious trouble now.
"Honey," I gasped into the bilge. "Honey, I-"
"OK, hold on..." she replied. Suddenly the air conditioner compressor kicked on. "Ok, it's working, thanks hunny!"
"No, Honey-", I said as loud as I could... but could not yell. Such an exclamation could be disastrous to my wardrobe. "Honey? Honey!?" Nothing. The once quiet boat now hummed with the vibration and churn of the compressor.
A certain sense of foreboding overcame me as I cannot explain. I was desperate. I tried using my arms again but they no longer tingled and were both now a lifeless cold. I asked God for help. However, it appears that my poorly timed vulgarity before I crawled into the lazarette postponed any salvation. Did I hear Him laughing?
Thus, I did what any and all men have tried at least once in their lives... though they will never admit it. I closed my eyes, concentrated very hard, and tried to use the force. Luke Skywalker himself had never been in such a desperate position. I am here to say, though, that it did not work. In all fairness to the Jedis, I am convinced that Master Yoda and Obi-1 himself could not have gotten me out of that hold.
The temperature was building. My stomach was bubbling. Time was running out. In a final attempt, I was able to achieve a feat beyond physics: I crawled backwards out of the lazarette using only my toes, butt cheeks squeezed tightly together. As the fresh wind hit my face, I dashed across the cockpit and caught my pinky toe on the conckpit table. This in turn caused me to miss the first step of the ladder and slide down into the salon on my back. I landed with a thud and in the final seconds desperation, crawled across to the head door. It was closed. The handle was locked.
"Hooonnneyy?" I mumbled, jiggling the door handle. My eyes were misty, my toe was bleeding, and toothpick-long fiberglass stuck out of my body like the Scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz.
"Oh, Hi Baby," she exclaimed. "What have you been doing! Give me about 10 minutes and I'll be out of the shower."
"HONEY!!!" I exclaimed.
Sitting buried somewhere in a Florida landfill is a pair of swim trunks tightly sealed with two knots in a plastic bag. Deep in the bilge of a 380 lies a screwdriver never to be found. And Star Wars no longer has a place amongst our prized movie collection.