September 14, 2022
As I’ve blogged, I’ve thought a lot about how to tell our story. I’ve noticed how people gather ‘round, smiling and nodding over a tidbit of gossip or a tale of woe. I’ve noticed that the telling of well-laid and -executed plans that go off without a hitch somehow lacks that dramatic punch, and further, can be plain boring. According to blogger Jane Hope on the art of story-telling, there has to be a “pain point” that disrupts the setting. There follows a “quest,” during which a “crisis” is encountered. All this can finally result in a “new normal.” Aboard Red Pearl, Steve and I have had lots of suitable material for a good story in this blog, whether I’ve told it well on not. Just once, however, I would like to write a boring tale, one lacking a pain point and a crisis. Wouldn’t it be great to arrive at a new normal without all the angst and time spent in boat yards!?” Evidently, the opportunity to write that boring tale is yet to be.
In April we were making preparations for the 6-month completion of our Loop. The piles of gear had begun to move from the lower level of our house to the back door (setting). And then I turned my ankle on the uneven pavement between the driveway and the garage floor. I heard a “pop,” and the seering pain suggested that I had really done…something (pain point). X-rays (quest) indicated that my peroneus longus tendon, which runs lengthwise on the outer side of the foot, had snapped. It had been complaining during the winter, enough that I had had it injected and hoped that whatever was ailing it would heal on its own. This “healing on its own” bit not being the case, our plans quickly shifted; instead of completing the Loop, I spent the summer recovering from surgery (crisis?!). Since the peroneus longus is largely responsible for foot stability, I was advised to give recovery 4 months before cruising again, and Steve good-naturedly took to furthering his nursing and hearth-keeping skills (new normal 😉).
Despite our disappointment at another delay in completing the Loop, the “booby prize” is allowing for more cruising time on the Chesapeake than most Loopers have time to enjoy. Due to season limitations, most Loopers pretty much cruise straight through, having played around Florida in the winter and then gunning (at 8mph) to make Canada on July 1. And so—once I was weight-bearing again and had regained my independence, Steve and two of his adventuresome friends, John Dick and Bob Zook, spent a lovely week on Red Pearl in June. Steve flew out a few days before the others arrived, in order to make sure everything was ready. Things were not ready, and Steve was fit to be tied. The boat was not in the town where he was meeting his friends, not even in the water, and many of the repairs which were frequent topics of phone conversations with John Shanahan were yet incomplete. Steve begged and cajoled and complained to get the boat ready enough, and then during the course of the week on the water, he decided to leave Red Pearl at Zimmerman Marine, located at Herrington Harbor North (owned and run by the same Zimmerman family in Deltaville, VA, where our davit motors were replaced last summer. Since the dinghy davit conundrum continued to be illusive, it made sense for Zimmerman to resolve that problem). And so—after the guys’ week, Red Pearl spent the summer “on the hard” (in a parking lot up in cradles), still awaiting work. Two weeks before we were set to head back to Maryland for fall cruising, the phone started ringing again with marine workmen’s questions regarding this and that…and one recurring question: “Now, what’s your drop dead departure date?” Even with the additional week we allotted the team, multiple guys were still aboard the day before we set off. This just seems to be the rhythm of boatyards, but come next spring, we will be resorting to telling a little white lie, padding that “drop dead date” by a couple of weeks.
After hanging around the marina for 5 days, we were keen to get off, an additional day’s delay for stinky weather just being the way things go on the water. Steve executed his exit plan from the narrow fairway well, but I noticed a strange grinding noise from where I stood abaft as we turned the corner. And then some odd steering issues ensued…We came up too close to a line of slipped boats. Steve reversed and adjusted. Finally, as he mopped at steering fluid streaming from the helm, he stopped at the pump out station and called our dear friends at Zimmerman. Mike and Joe sure enough figured out that the steering fluid level was low (a no-brainer even for me!) causing excessive free play in the steering. Unrelated was the discovery that the auto helm wasn’t working due to old cable connections. Fortunately it was revived by jiggling the cable, while Joe held his tongue just right. Ehh, it’s a boat!….
On Monday, Sept. 12 we crossed the Bay over to the Wye East River, seeking some natural beauty in a quiet anchorage. It was here that a second antigen test confirmed that my cold is indeed COVID19, and Steve’s symptoms are about 3 days behind mine. Thus, we will spend the next week avoiding people and will mask up after our 5-day isolation. An evening thunderstorm offered the biggest lightening show we have ever witnessed, and watching the hour-long display from the flybridge was thrilling—and a little scary.
Tuesday morning we took the dinghy to an Audubon sanctuary with hiking trails, and, while we saw few birds, we enjoyed walking the beautiful forest. Returning to the boat, we cruised up the Wye West River, the east and west sides encircling Wye Island and interrupted only by a simple wooden bridge with a slim 10-foot clearance. Beautiful manor-like homes whispering promises of a perfect bucolic life dot the shoreline, their expanses of mature trees shading manicured lawns. Wilderness abounds here, too, with natural habitat for Bald Eagles, cranes, and snapping turtles. We anchored in Leeds Creek, another beautiful spot in the East Bay, choosing its protection as high gusts were forecast, but our mosquito encounter at dusk suggested that there was no wind, after all!
Steve and I are going to lay low now and recover, while enjoying the scenery and boat-cooking, coughing sweet nothings to each other.