Greetings and Happy New Year! It has been a very strange month since I last blogged, so I’ll try to catch up a little bit here.
As I told you in my last post, we went down to visit our sailboat in Florida for three weeks. We’d planned to have the mast removed so we could redo all the electrical wiring in it (the various lights and such), which was estimated to take one day and about $1000 (a/k/a "one boat unit"). Well, it ended up taking three days and over $2400! OUCH!! As a result, we got off several days late for our planned sail down to south Florida and then the Dry Tortugas (a small archipelago about 70 miles west of Key West, FL).
We ended up sailing nonstop, about 24 or 25 hours, from our home dock in Clearwater Beach to Ft. Myers Beach — it was surprisingly enjoyable to stand 4-hour watches through the night, too. We spent a couple of days there, doing a little bit of other work on the boat and waiting for a weather window for sailing down to the Tortugas. On Friday, 11 December, we released the dock lines at about 13:00 and headed southwest.
Things went really well until about 21:00 or so when the wind abruptly surged from 15-20 knots (the predicted weather) to 35-40 knots, with seas rising from 4-6 feet to 8-10 feet! We continued onward for another 12 hours or so in those conditions, fighting the wheel the whole time, completely drenched with green water coming over the bow and into the cockpit. Harrowing… About a dozen miles short of the Tortugas, we decided that it would be foolish to approach such shallow water in those conditions, so we turned back, finally getting the mainsail down (doing a few hundred dollars damage to it in the process).
By then, we were exhausted and literally hallucinating (and talking to the compass, no less), but we knew that we had about 18 hours of additional discomfort to endure before we were back at Ft. Myers Beach, so we motored through the day and into the night, finally docking at 01:00 on Sunday, 13 December. The next three days were spent there, recovering from our ordeal and considering whether this meant "sell the boat" or something else.
We then sailed home (again, 26-hour non-stop, motoring due to the damaged mainsail) to spend another week or so working on the boat and talking to our sailing friends about our experience. The question is still not fully settled, but we will be keeping the boat for the time being (it’d be awfully hard to sell in this economy anyway). We won’t be planning any major expeditions in the very near future, though, and will (on advice from friends) instead be doing day sails and shorter trips along the Florida coast.
While we were having the mast work done, it rained pretty hard most of the days. Barbara was wearing a waterproof shell with a chest pocket that zipped horizontally. She put her cell phone in there for safety, but water managed to worm its way in and drowned her phone! Argh!! But, much to our surprise, on the day we returned from Florida to Utah, she checked the phone (mostly out of boredom) and it actually started up and worked perfectly!!!! Who would have guessed that something electronic would actually work properly after having a bath?
No dogs were adopted while we were gone (we simply don’t do that…insisting on being actively involved in all adoptions), but we did get a new dog released to us. Her name is Maggie and she’s sweet, pretty quiet, a bit overweight, with a very dry (Sable and White) coat. We suspect (naturally) thyroid deficiency. In the next few days, we’ll get pictures posted. I don’t think she’ll be too hard to place, as she’s very nice and calm. She has started coming around to seek attention, but isn’t yet playing with the other dogs.
Today, another Sheltie was released to us. His name is Max and he’s a bi-black. He seems in good physical health and is about 2½ years old. Thing is, though, that he’s not neutered and was released to us because he bites people. He’s pretty afraid of people in general, moreso (we were told) of men, and makes pretty effective threat displays accompanied by growling. He’s going to be a challenge and I fear that he might end up being unplaceable if we can’t find a way to get through to him.
And just a few minutes ago, Barbara told me that we have another Sheltie coming to us in the next day or so. I can’t recall if she gave me any details other than the fact that the Sheltie is female. More when we know more…
In just a few days, it’s going to be 2010, the last year of the first decade of the 21st century (yes, I’m one of those annoying people who don’t pretend that there was ever a year zero, so years 1 through 10 were the first decade in the Common/Christian Era and 1991 through 2000 were the last decade of the 20th Century). We’ve been reading about more and more charitable organizations having to close their doors because of funding problems. The lucky ones are merging with other groups with similar goals and missions. So far, we’re no worse off than we were last year or the year before, but we’re not counting any chickens before they hatch (and we’re pretty sure that Abby would want to play with any that do hatch!).
One more thing: WordPress (the software that drives this blog) has a new version and we’re going to upgrade in the next couple of weeks (I hope). I’ll try to give you all a heads-up when it’s going to happen so you will know why everything went downhill all of a sudden
Happy New Year!