Well, not too much. But, I am tied up, safe and sound in my new marina. I still have to get the mast back up, clean up a few minor details, and I can settle in, finally. To say that this past month has been one of stress, tension, and a wide gamut of emotions would be an understatement. Would you like to hear the story? Of course you would.
I’ve been talking about and threatening to leave that “other place” for months now. But the timing never seemed to work out right. Finally, after the recent bathhouse fee that was enacted, I decided it was time, no matter what. I was unsure if I would end up in another marina or if I would end up on the hook. There was one point where I thought I would be just plain homeless. Things looked that bleak for a while. Then a couple of weeks ago I had a run in with one of the security guards at the, “other place”. He was off duty and stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. I told him to go perform a sexual act that most people would find impossible but he insisted on pushing the issue. Later I found him in the office crying to the weasel manager and in front of said weasel I read the guard the riot act, making it abundantly clear I didn’t appreciate him nosing in on something that didn’t concern him. The weasel tried to butt in but I ignored him and continued to berate the guard. Said guard is hated in the “other place”. He is a bible nazi and a known thief who will take anything not nailed down. Whatever commandment that says thou shalt not steal is apparently not in his version of that book of fairy tales. When I was done with his sorry ass I knew I was done with that, “other place”. It was time to move.
So, I came over here to the marina where I now reside and talked to the manager who was not a weasel, but rather pleasant. In fact, everyone in the marina seemed friendly and pleasant. I wondered what was up as this did not seem right. A marina who welcomes live a boards? Unpossible. But there it was. I got the info for the slip and was told one was available at the first of April. Possibly sooner as the current resident was moving north ahead of some bad weather. So I took it. And then the real fun began.
I had nothing but doubts about the move. Getting the mast down, will the motor run enough to get me there? What barrier will show up that won’t allow me to move in? I decided that no matter what, I was moving…somewhere. So I got ready.
The Spirit needed very little to get ready. The boat itself has all that was needed. I got the motor out and set it in the mount, purchased, (ugh) some fuel, and got the beast running. It’s basically a lawnmower with a prop, and not made for salt water, but it was all I had. It started up, coughed, spit, farted, and smoked. But it ran. Ok, on to the next.
The reason I wanted to take the mast down was because instead of running all the way around the island of Key West to the new marina, a distance of about 15 miles, I was going to run straight up Cow Key Channel, a distance of 3 miles. Difficulty, a bridge with just 9 feet of clearance. So the mast needed to come down. Not a big job, provided you have help and said help knows what they are doing. My “help” did not.
Dropping the mast, which is just a figure or speech and not to be taken literally, is a pretty simple procedure. The base of the mast is hinged with two pins. All you do is loosen the forward pin, unhook the forward stay and attach a line to it, and with one person holding the line, the other lowers the mast using their immense strength. The mast is not so much heavy as unwieldy. To help matters I borrowed a mast crutch from a neighbor. A mast crutch is a simple support with a fork at the top. You set it on the stern, and you can then bring the mast down to sit on the fork, and give you enough wiggle room to undo the other pin, and then slide the mast forward and secure the whole assembly for travel. Simple right? Well, it started out ok, the mast was a little slow to break loose so while I was holding the forward line, my “help” unbeknown to me, undid the two port side stays rather than just loosen them. Now when you undo the side stays, something very scary happens, as the mast lowers the weight will cause it to swing, which it did, and my “help” did nothing but watch as the mast swung to the starboard side and came crashing down, missing my neighbor’s very expensive new boat by mere inches. Said neighbor was not around at the time otherwise things would have gotten unspeakably ugly. To say I was upset would be an understatement. All I could see was that mast hitting the other boat and me being on the hook for the repairs, and listening to the neighbor whine for the rest of my life. Most of the marina heard some new and exciting swear words for about 15 minutes. It took an hour for me to stop shaking. The nightmare of that near miss was something I did not need. But, as it turns out, no witnesses, no foul, and we got the mast set on the crutch as planned. However, thanks to my “help”, the base plate got bent but with a rubber mallet I believe I can repair it. But damn. I did not need that.
When I lowered the mast on the other boat to sell it last summer, I had two ‘helpers”, who did the exact same thing, except they let the mast hit the water. I will not be lowering the mast again and if I ever do, I will not ask for any help.
Anyways, my “help” then volunteered himself to ride with me on the journey the next day. I thought about that for about 2 seconds and decided this would be a solo trip.
So Saturday morning was moving day. I had paid the rent on the new place and they said come on in early. I finished up this and that and in the morning I got up and ready to sail, only to see my “help” waiting at the dock ready to go with me. I politely told him to stay behind but he did assist me in getting out of the old slip at the “other place”.
Around 9:30 or so, I got the engine running, cast off the lines, and was on my way. My biggest worry of the whole trip was just getting out of the slip and out to open water. I figgered that was where I would have the most problems, along with an audience of people just as glad to see me leave as I was to leave them. And I wasn’t disappointed. The motor came with a tiller extension, which is a longer arm allowing you to steer and operate the throttle without having to reach way down behind the stern. Good in theory, not so much in practice. I was having a very difficult time just keeping a straight line out the canal and the channel. It seemed I was over steering way too much and I thought it was because of the currents and winds. But the engine was not running smoothly and revving for some reason. I finally got out into open water and headed for Cow Key channel with the wind at my back but I was still having issues. Finally the tiller extension came loose and I quickly reached down. grabbed the throttle, and lo and behold, I could steer straight, and the motor purred like it was suppose to. It was not the most comfortable position and if I wanted to see where I was going I could only hold onto the throttle with three fingers, but it was working. I puttered up Cow Key, got under the bridge and finally made the turn into the new marina without incident.
My docking skills could use some real practice, I will admit that. And moving a sailboat with too small an engine that does not idle too well, in a little bit of wind into the side of a dock, and not hitting any other boats, is not easy. I had to make two passes, including one where the engine conked out and would not start again. Finally it did and I got in.
The past year, and all the bullshit that went down at the, “other place” had been building up for a long time. I’ve been irritable, unfriendly, (well more unfriendly than usual), and short tempered. But I will tell you here and now, the moment I got that first line attached from the Spirit to the cleat on my new slip, I could feel a great relief. Like a huge weight had been lifted off my back. It didn’t take long to get the Spirit secured to the slip and when I was done, I grabbed a cold drink and just sat down in the cockpit and did nothing for about 30 minutes. Later on I went into the bath house, which does not cost $125 a month and took the first decent shower I have had in over a week. I literally just stood under the hot water for about ten minutes letting all the bullshit wash away. It was the most bestest shower I have had in a year.
So, it’s over. I’m out of the, “other place”, and in a new home. First impressions are very favorable and I will be writing more about the new marina in a day or two. I got everything secured and done by noon, ran into town and got some food, and now I am going to relax for a bit. I have a friend coming in tomorrow to assist me getting the mast back up and even one of the neighbors offered to help. A very nice change of pace.
I can now get back to living like a live aboard again. Maybe things will work out where I can start enjoying Key West like I originally planned. All in due time. It’s going to take more than a few days to calm down from this past month. A little bit of everything happened in March and not a lot of it was good. It was very expensive as you will see in the monthly budget. It’s going to take some time to get used to living without all the stress. And I’m going to have to make some adjustments to the old minimal lifestyle. Nothing drastic, but they will need to be done.
Finally, a big thanks for all you commenters who sent your support. I do appreciate that. And a special shout out to some fritter fans who helped in other ways. I won’t name fingers nor point names but you folks know who you are and I owe you way more than you realize. Thank you ever so much.
I’ll be posting all the details on the new marina soon. Overall it looks like it’s gonna be fine. I just hope it turns out to be something that I like and can stay for the long term. We’ll see how it goes.