Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Allied Rally and the stars.

10 Allied Sailboats got together earlier this year in Florida. They put together this little video that shows the boats, the owners, and a few arial shots taken during thier sail. Wish I could have made it. I do love the lines of these old boats.

Progress continues. The windlass is back on the boat and rebedded. I scrubbed the dingy down last night and will be adding a coat of MDR Amazon's inflatable anti fouling bottom paint this evening. Money continues to hemmorage, but I've just added a small video camera to the boat stores called the Flip. I also purchased a sextant as a back means of navigation to the two GPS units I've got on board. I like the idea of being able to navigate by the stars the way the ancient mariners did. Now all I have to do is learn how to use it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rust, powder coat, and Sterling Hayden

Powder coating isn’t as durable as I was hoping it would be. The previous owner found an ancient manual windlass off a 60 foot boat and mounted it on the front of Romance. I like having a manual windlass and this one is super heavy. The only bad thing is that the windlass has been allowed to rust, a lot. I needed to pull it off the boat to get it cleaned up. I was going to just hit it with spray paint, but decided to spring for sand blasting and powder coating. Turns out cast iron isn’t a good candidate for powder coating. It degasses and the finish is pretty fragile. Not good for something that takes much abuse like a windlass. Oh well, so I’ll have to hit it with paint every now and then. It is still a significant improvement over where I started.

The other thing I had to do was get two teeth welded up on the main cog. I found a good machine shop that welded lots of new metal back on where the old tooth used to be. Once enough material had been built up he ground the metal into the same shape as the rest of the teeth. This way the windlass won’t skip when I am actuating the lever. By the way, the windlass is the big winch that pulls up the anchor and chain.

I was cruising a few blogs and rediscovered one of my favorite quotes.

"I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.

The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

-Sterling Hayden (1916-1986)

It’s still hard for me to part with so much hard earned money. This quote reminds me why I’ve made the choice I have. At the end of my days the size of my bank account is of little consequence. I want to enjoy the time I’ve got. Five months to go….tick, tick, tick.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Rock

I am back in town for the long weekend after several days working in the San Francisco Bay area. I finally made good on a promise to take two of my good friends out sailing. I've always heard that the San Fran Bay was a difficult place to sail with high winds and very strong currents. We rented a Hunter 31 and ventured out in winds that were sustained 25 - 30 knots and gusting higher. Once we rolled up the jib and proceeded under full main sail alone we were perfectly powered for the conditions.

The wind was out of the NW which made it really hard to beat up the bay from Alameda, CA where we started. We did make it under the Bay Bridge and got about a mile off Alcatraz before we turned around and headed back for the relatively sheltered waters of the lower bay. It was a beautiful day and I can't wait to do it again. I want to sail around Alcatraz and Angel Island.
On another note the boat work continues. I am shooting for finishing up the windlass rebuild and getting it mounted, splicing the radar cable back together and cleaning up the harness, and installing my new Garmin 545 GPS chart plotter. I've got three full uninterrupted days to work on the boat. Let's see what I can make of them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Getting things in order.

The boat work goes on, but I’ve started a new focus as well. I still haven’t fully sorted out my personal business such as getting mail, arranging my finances for long term cruising, or figuring out how I’ll stay in communication.

I did take one giant step towards being ready this week. I paid off my boat! I had been hanging onto the loan both because it was a low interest rate and I needed the tax deduction. I also use ING to save the cruising kitty and was doing pretty well on the interest I was accruing until the past few interest rate reductions by the Fed. If you are saving money in a savings account that is only paying 1% check out the high yield checking account that is closer to 4%.

I took a hard look at my spending and cut out a few others luxuries like the gym I never go to. In about 3 hours work I saved myself over $450 in monthly payments I didn’t have to be making. It’s time to start spending like I am already cruising. My savings is going to have to last.

My next step is to find a real estate agent in Dallas who can sell a little condo I rehabbed up there right after grad school. I got a great buy on it, but the home owners association is making it impossible to keep it as an investment property. They are assessing so many fees they’ll effectively drain my kitty if I don’t get rid of it. Plus, I really don’t want to have to worry about managing business affairs here at home while I am out sailing. I think the extra work now to get clear of a few things will pay off in the long run.

I bailed out of the race to Veracruz. It would have required me to take two weeks off of work in June that I really can’t spare. That’s when I need to be closing business to pay for the rest of the repairs I still need to make. Instead, I am taking two weeks off in July when I can work uninterrupted on the boat. I can’t wait to be able to give it that kind of focus.

The TASS sailing club is running town to Freeport, TX over Memorial Day. I always come back from a trip rejuvenated about working on the boat. I think it’s time to give the old girl a kick and go sailing for a weekend. I got the old windlass torn down which is a story I’ll save for another post. This weekend is focusing on finally knocking out the radar and hopefully getting the windlass rebedded on deck. Cheers Everyone. Here’s to living life debt free!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Want to hear the story behind naming the boat Jargo?

Originally Written November -1963
By Grace Rice

Edited here by Lee Winters

Editors Notes: The man referred to in this story as “Lum” is Christopher Columbus Winters, my Great Grandfather. He was the last man in our family to be invited to the Indian dances, he carried a bullet in his neck for 30 years as a souvenir from a poker game, and carved a life for his family on the plains of southwest Oklahoma.

On the evening late the 4th day of April, 1921 my mother, husband, and three small children decided to go to the cellar as there was an ominous cloud in the northwest. We lived in low land and the cement cellar was about 100 yards from our home. My husband didn't think it necessary to go to the cellar, but I told him that it is always the unexpected that happens. Sure enough the unexpected happened early next morning.

We stayed for awhile at the cellar that evening and nothing happened. Howard, our two small children, and I came back to the house to sleep while my mother and four year old son Dennis stayed at the cellar, black cloud still in the sky. I lay down in my clothes thinking we might have to make a run for the cellar yet again. I slept through the night dreaming that the earth was parched dry. Howard, always an early riser, got up at 5:00 a.m. yelling that water was running all around our house. I woke just as the water was coming over the floor.

There was a great cloud burst many miles up river and the water rose at one foot per minute. I told Howard to stay calm, but to go immediately to the cellar and raise the door. Howard made it to the cellar but couldn't make it back on account of swift water. I went to a kitchen cupboard and placed two gold rings on my fingers I always took whenever I left the place.

I moved by the children’s beds where my two babies were sleeping. One bed had already begun to float. I felt the need of prayer and I prayed earnestly and silently to be rescued. As I said, “Thy will be done” I heard a voice outside. It was a neighbor riding another neighbor’s horse as he couldn't get to one of his own. This horses name was Jargo and he was 16 ½ hands high. He was a high strung nervous type and he stood on his hind feet twice as I was being helped on him.

This man, Lum, was raised on this river and he was an excellent swimmer. He left his own family safe and dared the raging waters to come in for us. I took hold of a small part of Jargos’ mane and carried the two year old in front of me. Lum carried the baby Earl who was 3 months old that day. The older part of house was creaking and breaking away scaring Jargo as we were trying to mount. Never the less, we started out downstream. Lum told me “Grace we will make it out all right, but it will be down the river a mile."

We had gone about three hundred yards when Lum told me to look back. Our home, where we were just standing, was gone. It had just hung for a few minutes on a pump in the yard.

Lum swam and carried the 3 month old baby until Jargo pulled all four of us near a slough 1/4 mile down. The slough had collected flood debris of all kinds and Jargo was going full blast when he hit the drift and came up and over, backward. Lum had only a rope around Jargo's neck, but knowing he would have to maneuver and manage Jargo he had given me both children just before we hit.

When we did, I came off but held onto a tiny bit of mane. Jargo was scared and he ripped, circled, squealed, and nickered. He circled three times and I washed down stream over him again and again, but held on. It is true that a drowning person will cling to a straw.

I dropped my baby the 1st time I came off, but grabbed the two year old Buddy with my left hand. I couldn't speak for a time, but when I could I screamed that I'd lost my baby. Lum said, “I've got your baby”. Jargo eventually broke through the drift and Lum said, “Grace, Jargo is going to make it”. I said do you think the baby will be alive? He told me no, but it was a consolation to know we even had it.

When we finally made the waters edge Jargo stopped, riderless. Lum and I both fell to the ground breathless from the ordeal. That’s when I saw Lum uncover my baby’s face. His gown had washed over his head smothering him, but also keeping out a lot of mud and water from my baby’s lungs. Miraculously, I saw my baby gasp and start breathing again.

I was looking at them under this horse, Jargo, as we rested a few seconds. Lum didn't get up for awhile as he was more exhausted than I. The veins in his temples stood out as big as a pencil is around. An elderly man met us there and I told him to take off his jumper to wrap my baby in and take him to the Carroll’s home as quick as he could. He did, but he later told his wife he thought the baby was dying while he had it.

Lum soon overtook me and took Buddy out of my arms going ahead of me to the Carroll’s home. When I arrived Lum was trying to kindle a fire and had stripped Buddy putting him in bed. Mrs. Carroll was changing Earl into dry clothes, an old dress she was wrapping around him.

Amazingly, the water kept rising and we all had to leave the Carroll house heading to another place up the road. The water was side deep to the horse as we went. Someone led my horse and carried Buddy. Someone else carried Earl on another horse as the water rose higher and higher. The men built rafts and one man tried to get to my husband, mother, and four year old child still on the cellar roof, but the water was still raging and too swift.

We found Howard standing on top of the cellar with water already above his knees. They stood there until about 5:00 p.m. when the water went down a great deal. A few men rode horses into the flood and took a boat with a rope tied around the saddle horn.

My mother and Dennis sat in the boat while Howard rode a horse out. Howard had to borrow some of Lum's overalls as he was out there in nothing but his shirt and underwear. My mother had only her coat and a little over $80.00 in the pocket. We not only lost our home and everything in it, but our chickens, turkeys, and corn in the barn. All went down the river including our 3 month old white shepherd pup that was found next day floating on the base of our dresser. He growled and showed his teeth at the man who tried to approach him, but was plenty glad when Howard rescued him. I cried when Howard brought him to me on the horse he was riding. This dogs name was Rufe, and we always cared a great deal for old Rufe.

There were more than 50 people stranded on each side of the river. A good many silent prayers were offered on that day. People were good in both counties to us. I had 29 quilts sent to me besides mattress, pillows, clothing, feed, chickens, cash and everything else. I could go on and on.

We never did go after some things people had asked us to come get such as feed and a few other things. We were all thankful to be alive, and I said it took everything but us and our debts, but we made a good crop and a better price in 1921.

Howard said one thing was for certain; we won’t ever live in lowland again. I still dream of living on that place, especially when I am troubled or sick. I guess that day left an impression that will always be in my sub-conscious mind. One thing is for sure, I believe that prayers are answered. I am not the best of person, but I always felt like I must be a Christian and I have lived a long time now and can count many, many blessings.

God Bless You,

P.S. Lum lived 40 years to that day an unsung hero - May God rest his soul.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Projects, projects, projects.

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a little while. I’d actually cranked out two new entries, but somehow they were not on my laptop any longer when I went to finally post them. I don’t have many IT problems considering I sell software so this one kind of befuddled me. Oh well.

I am back from a week on the road in Seattle for work. I’ve got a lot of history wrapped up in that town. I kind of felt like I was chasing ghosts around the restaurants, pubs, and hotels near the Pike Market. I met and somehow lost someone very special in that city years ago. Oddly enough, we reconnected over the phone this week and it was good to hear her voice.

I am back on the boat now, and after a day that reminded me why I don’t want to sell my days to the corporate world, am ready to dig in full force on boat repairs. Here is the immediate plan of attack. First, use the borrowed Electrician’s Fish Tape to run a new messenger up the mizzen mast and get the radar signal cable run. This project is starting to drag on longer than the eternal autopilot instillation. I am really hoping I can do it with the Fish Tape so I don’t have to pull the mast. Second, pull the old, rusty windless off the bow of the boat and get it over to the powder coater. She is a great manual windless that is incredibly oversized for my boat and I love it. It’s got lots of rust scale, but it’s a beautiful piece of machinery. Third, I’ve got to paint my dingy. That’s right. I have to paint it. No, not the tops but the bottom. See, if you leave a dingy unused for too long it starts to grow barnacles and sea grass. So, I’ll paint the bottom with anti-fouling paint to keep it nice and clean. Now I just have to scrub off all of the weed that’s already accumulated.

Nose to the grindstone time. I can hear the clock ticking.