Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sand Fest 2013

Living in the sleepy resort town of Port Aransas, Texas has it's perks.  There is almost always something going on here in the Spring and Summer months and with Dos Libras in the Municipal Marina, we are always right in the middle of things.  The whole town can be seen via bicycle in an easy ride, although I will admit, the traffic gets a little rambunctious when there is an event in town.

Bruce and I found ourselves with time on our hands and the annual Port Aransas Sand Fest in full swing this Saturday morning. We took off on our bikes by way of the Jetties where I spent a few minutes watching this heron eat the perch tossed his way by a kindly fisherman.  I sat on the jetty and scooted closer and closer to him as he eyed me warily.

Before long, he relaxed and turned his attention back to his prey.

I watched as he tossed it around to proper position...

for disappearing down his throat...

We continued on our way down the beach towards the Sand Fest venue.  We were glad of being on bicycles as the line of cars was stretching longer by the minute and we glided easily past them all.

There were campers and tents and cars of all kinds lined up and stacked deep.  It was a perfect day for beach camping with light winds and balmy temperatures.

We arrived finally at our destination.  The crowds were thick.  I followed Bruce around single file as we dodged man and beast with our bikes.  We checked out the lay of the land, careful not to get too close to any of the vendor's booths so as not to find something I couldn't live without.

The sculptures were fenced off this year and an entrance fee was required to enter.  We decided to wait until Sunday when Brittney joined us to go in.  Bruce wanted to see the finished sculptures and it looked like the artists were still at work, so we returned to the marina to get some chores done.

We had an overnight rainstorm that had us concerned about the health and wellbeing of the sculptures.  Surely they have had rain before and take some sort of precautions...  Brittney arrived mid morning and we set out on our folding bikes again.

We found that not all of the sculptures were inside of the fenced area.  There were plenty of sights to see that had been created for different judging categories by different local amateurs.

I wanted to hop in bed and try it out!

Very clever... Seal with a kiss.
We cruised through these and found many of them had been irreparably damaged by the storm but more than a few were really very good.

It took us a while to find the entrance to the professional Sculptor's area.  Maybe the entrance fee kept the crowds to a minimum so it wasn't obvious.

This one was my favorite...

We made our way around easily with perfect front row access.  People were very respectful and moved on so that others could get a good look.

Several of the Sculptors were still at work, probably repairing the damage from the overnight rains.

I'm sure that the sculptures all had some message... I'm not sure what this was supposed to represent, but it was very striking.

This one was another of our favorites.  The details in the hands and face were amazing...

Of course, there are more of the obligatory sand castles...

This was one of the smaller Sand Fest events that our area has to offer, but we were impressed all the same.  We enjoyed our bike ride back to the marina and said our goodbyes to our daughter after a fun time, and yes, I did manage to avoid the lure of shopping completely!

Dealing With The Deluge

Spice rack
I guess ALL boats have leaks.  If you say yours doesn't, you're either lying or you just haven't found it yet...

Our boat has a couple of known issues that are awaiting my retirement for fixing.  THIS one has been a mystery to us.  We don't get a lot of rain here in South Texas, mostly light showers now and then.  Every once in a while, we get a "toad floater".  When this happens, we are reminded of our mystery leak.  Random wetness in our spice rack, seemingly unrelated to any sign of dripping.

We run our fingers along every possible point of entry above this rack and feel NOTHING!  It has stumped us... until now!

Our most recent big rain brought more water in than just that on the spice rack.  Bruce found all of our coffee filters wet this morning when he made the coffee.  We took everything out of that cubby (how did all of that go into that tiny cabinet?) and we found puddles on the top and bottom shelves.
Water dripped from the white ledge center

Upon closer inspection, we found water filling the trough along the inside lip of the cabin liner.  It was filled to overflowing by some means of ingress yet to be determined.

We followed the ridge and discovered the culprit!  There is a relatively wide space between the back wall of our galley and the wall in our shower stall aft.  

Bruce opened the access panel in the shower wall where there is access to our main power source to the boat.  

A recently replaced electrical hookup evidently has a faulty gasket which is allowing water to gush in.  Evidently the gasket was already doing a poor job of keeping water out.  When Bruce disturbed it to replace the power receptacle, the gasket just gave it up.  This was not evident until the next big rain!
   THIS fix was quite an easy one.  I got to use my favorite butyl tape to seal all possible entry points and when we were done screwing the face plate back on... a quick test with the water hose proved the wondrous powers of butyl tape once again.  SUCCESS!

Now... how are we going to get all these tools back into that locker with that CAT in the way?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our New "Normal"

I've heard that a fish will not grow larger than the tank in which it lives.  Whether or not this is true, I do not know… but with the few pounds I've recently gained… I hope it is true!

Since moving aboard more than five months ago, we have spent most our time within the confines of our diminutive world.  Yes I go to work in the real world, but that is another life.  My mind had already made peace with that.  But last weekend, we made what may be our last trip to the Texas Hill country to attend the wedding of our dear friend's daughter. 

Bruce and I are frequent travelers but since we've committed to cruising, we have cut out any frivolous travel.  This trip to the Hill County to stay in a hotel was a treat!  We have cut out all such things while channeling all of our income to only boat related expenditures.  This was our last travel commitment.  We almost decided against it, but since we had attended the other daughter's wedding, we knew we couldn't miss this…

We checked in to our modest hotel, the La Quinta on I 10 near Boerne.  We walked through the newly remodeled corridors and found our room to be above average for such a reasonably priced facility.  We had a king sized bed.  I sprawled out on it with giddy excitement. It was completely stationary! I walked into the huge (by recent standards) bathroom and luxuriated in the big sink with it's bubbling fount of fresh clean water.  As I brushed my teeth, it felt strange that the sink was so large.  

Back in the room, Bruce was already surfing the channels on the TV.  It's been months since we've had cable TV.  The unlimited channels left us giddy.  We settled upon the first movie that we came across… Hairspray!  I hadn't seen it yet.  So I stretched out on the huge non-moving bed and watched this movie without the sound of waves lapping against the hull….

How had we come to be such… I don't know the word for it.  This place that was once normal to us, has now become so grandiose.  Such luxury.  Such overkill.  It was very strange for us to be in this place.  

The wedding was great.  The night in a huge nonmoving bed was great.  But when we finally got home, to the boat, I can't describe my joy to be back to our world.  The unbridled pleasure of being back where we want to be was just so "right".  This boat, this life…. is our new "normal".  sigh...

Love With A Chance Of Drowning - A book review

I was offered the chance to read a new book written by one of the members of a Facebook group I frequent. I have been struggling to get through another book for weeks, and with the little reading time I have, wondered if I would be able to find the time to do her justice. I was more than a little skeptical about the book... Some new author... How good could it be really?

Most of what I read these days has something to do with sailing. I'm in total immersion mode... I was hooked after reading the intro.  I was already eating my earlier dismissive thoughts.  I don't think I'm going to "struggle" through this one...

I dove in, reading along with ever increasing enjoyment as Torre took me with her in a way that was very comfortable and engaging. My admiration for her grew as I read about her independent spirit and I laughed out loud at her unexpected little humor bombs. I wanna BE this girl!

Her life joined mine as I was there with her preparing the boat to set sail. I wanted to copy and paste the argument about safety equipment for my own future reference as it mirrored the thoughts in my head and helped to organize them into perspective.  I relaxed into it as my fears were allayed. I'm ready!  Lets GO!  

Torre on her first night watch
"If the Ocean doesn't know I'm there, the Ocean can't kill me"...  A storm at sea strikes terror into my heart as I hover near Torre and hear her thoughts while the boat pounds and lurches.  With those words, my own inner child identifies with the Author and I become even more personally invested in her story as we experience our first storm at sea together.  Now, when it happens to me... it won't be my first time, and it is somehow comforting to me. 

One by one... Torre touches on all of the important arguments that clutter the minds of those contemplating setting sail to a life previously unknown.  All of the regulars are there. Safety on board and in foreign lands, guns on board, fear, self doubt, and extreme intimacy of living on a small sailboat with one person for prolonged periods.   It's all there!

I won't say more about what's inside this book so that you can discover it as I have... One precious page at a time.  I paced myself, doling it out, hoarding it, savoring it, laughing, crying...  Until I reached the end. Wait!  I'm not ready to leave!  Torre, Ivan...don't stop!

I can't remember the last book I've enjoyed as much as Love With A Chance Of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche.  I'm excited and I'm energized!  Everyone considering the Cruising lifestyle and all of their family and friends should read this book. It makes the ominous looming specter of crossing the Pacific Ocean into a real live possibility. My only regret is that Torre hasn't done the Caribbean! I would love to traipse through in her footsteps as maybe someday, because of this book... I may be a Puddle Jumper too! 

The book was released on May 14th and you can get it on Amazon.

Enjoy this book trailer and find Torre's blog here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

About Selfishness And Family Roles

Family ties.  There is a reason they call it that.  Family can literally tie you down.  They can keep you from doing things that make you happy.  They can limit your life and be a lifelong burden.  Of course all of this is disguised by the use of velvet cord to soften the hold and make you feel as if you are wanted and needed and loved… 

I have spent decades of my life trying to live up to the expectations of my parents, the wishes of my (former) husband and the needs of my children.  Throw in planning around the schedule of various other relatives... and very little of my earlier life was EVER about ME. 

Now…. is about ME.   I have spent countless hours rationalizing and trying to come up with a way of disguising the selfishness of our plan.  There are people who depend upon me and have expectations of me.  How can I just ditch it all and sail away?

I have watched my Mother change after the death of my father.  She has a different life from the one familiar to me.  She has made personal choices that seem foreign to me.  But in doing so, she has experienced personal growth that would never have seemed possible in her former life.  

I have watched my children grow into strong and confident young women.  They make decisions and set boundaries that protect their independence so that they can be true to themselves.  I am proud that they have such firm principles and that they can live by them without bending to the opinions of others.  Even if those opinions are MINE!

I have watched my Brother find happiness with his new wife.  He has finally found a woman who can handle him.  (Thank you Laura)  I have taken a bit of grief from her though.  She wants the traditional family group for her daughter, and who could blame her?  Sorry Laura, you'll have to settle for the "Aunt and Uncle on the sailboat who send the pretty pictures".

I am working to let go of the old roles of child and mother and in doing so, I have come to a realization.  None of my family are sitting around worrying about what I'm doing.  They aren't concerned about whether or not I will approve of their choices.  They are all out there living their lives, having fun, making mistakes and learning from them, and making futures for themselves…  Furthermore… that is EXACTLY what I would want for them to be doing.  I want them to be happily making the lives of their choosing.  And…. maybe that's what they want of me too!

I come from a small family of very strong minded individuals.  Of course I will miss them, but when I think about it… how much do I actually SEE them anyway.  We keep in touch by phone and other electronic media.  How will that change?  Very little…  The thing that will change however, will be that when we DO get together, it will be in a place that is exciting and new.  Our times together will be so much more important and memorable.  
The day that we turn our nose to the East and don't return will be a hard day.  We will leave all that is familiar and venture into an unknown future on a limited income.  Our ability to communicate with family will be unreliable at best.  My ability to provide a safety net for my girls is gone.  I'll be doing good to provide my OWN safety net…  Are we doing the right thing?  Should we be staying put, working hard to create a "Family Home" where my kids can bring their own kids?  Are we being selfish in traipsing off into the Wild?  Many would say "yes"!  But I hope that my family will continue to be supportive of our dream and will embrace this very non-traditional lifestyle.  I hope that they will help us weave it into the fabric of our lives together to make a very uncommon and exciting new set of family roles.