Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another mad expedition

I'm getting ready -- well, I should be getting ready, instead of blogging -- to set sail from NYC to Maine. I made it here from Maine last fall, in spite of two hurricanes and my own incompetence -- a story which I may tell one of these days -- so maybe I can make it back. The winds ought to be more favorable, and it's not hurricane season yet.

This year I have to single-hand as far as Wellfleet, Mass., on Cape Cod, where I hope to pick up a crewman.

I expressed that badly. I mean, there's a guy I know -- let's call him Ishmael -- who summers in Wellfleet and has agreed to join me for the latter part of the trip, Wellfleet to the Sheepscot River.

There's always something to do on a boat. Here's my to-do list:

  • Change fuel filter on dinghy outboard
  • Attach mooring pickup hook to boat pole
  • Replace reefing line on mainsail (and whip ends, dammit, you lazy slapdash slacker)
  • Make sure outboard can't fall off dinghy (again)
  • Make sure nothing else can fall off dinghy (again)
  • Tell harbormaster (again) that mooring buoy has sunk, and only the boat is keeping it off the bottom
  • Replace stupid brass screws holding nav light in place with stainless steel ones, which you should have used in the first place, idiot
  • Figure out why the depth gauge is telling me I have 105 feet of water under my keel -- weed or barnacles on the transducer? Must I don mask and snorkel and pickle my puckery flesh in the Hudson River PCB soup? Maybe it'll correct itself.
  • Pack clothes
  • Fill up jerricans with gasoline
  • Steal towels and pillows and sheets from home
  • Get DC inverter from car

I also have a shopping list:

  • Contact lens solution (for wife)
  • Contact lens case (ditto)
  • Coffee
  • Artificial sweetener
  • That weird ultrapasteurized milk that you don't have to refrigerate
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard
  • Lots and lots of cheap red wine
  • Easy to cook camp food
  • Butane cylinders for stove
  • AA batteries and lots of them
  • Trash bags
  • Dish scrubbers (plastic mesh)
  • Effective bilge pump for dinghy (Query to self: Can justify to wife?)

The stainless steel screws mentioned above are a story in themselves: #4, 1" long, self-tapping, flat or oval head, Philips or slot drive. Easy, right? Wrong. This became a year-long quest for the Holy Grail: All the local hardware stores, West Marine, Home Depot, (a wonderful place, by the way) (ditto), again). All out of stock. Had George Soros cornered the market? Are #4 stainless steel self-tapping non-panhead screws critical components of Iran's nuclear program? finally came through, and I now own a supply of #4 screws that ought to last for three or four generations.

Then there's the dinghy. But that's not just a story, it's a novel. Another time.

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