Monthly Archives: December 2011

Believe it or Not, we got another boat!

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
Since were sadly not able to spend Christmas with family or friends, we had a very non-Christmas-y Christmas. So we decided to take a few days to celebrate the holidays by playing “tourists” in St. Augustine. Since we arrived here over a month ago we haven’t done any of the typically touristy things here– no museums, tours, nothing. So we decided to treat ourselves to a few days of pure unadulterated tourism. First, we went on the Holiday Lights Trolley. It is one of the train/trolley tours that runs endlessly around the streets of the historic district carting tourists around. The Holiday Lights one only runs at night and they give you these dorky 3D glasses to wear while you are oohing and ahhing at the holiday lights. We have been watching them for weeks now and people look they are having a good time, hooting and hollering and singing Christmas carols.
So we bought tickets and went. The 3D glasses made all the lights look like a santa shaped hologram,which was really cool for about 5 minutes. The trolley driver we had didnt lead any Christmas carols or ring the bell at all the whole ride, and we felt that we had gotten on an unusually dud train, so when we got off, Capt K complained to the management and we ended up getting our money back and getting a discount on a different trolley tour. And, we got discounted tickets to the famed Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum!

We went to the museum today and were thoroughly entertained for hours. Where else can you go to see things like an Egyptian mummified cat, a wreath made out of human hair, a shrunken head from a “primitive” tribe, and a picture of a guy who could ascend stairs on his head? (by bouncing) And not only that, they had some crazy optical illusions, a fascinating and educational display on pirates, and some stunning artifacts from around the world such as ornately carved Tibetan headpieces made from human bones. With some totally random stuff thrown in like the guy who could hold 25 quarters in his ear, and strands of JFK’s hair. What a hoot! The most unbelievable one for me was an exhibit featuring the Lords Prayer carved on the head of a pin, supposedly made by a guy in prison who did not have a magnifying glass.
Believe it or Not!!

But none of that is as good as the present I got from Cap’t K. He is legendary for getting me fabulous surprise presents, many of which have been experiences such as a surprise ride in a glider plane, or a 600 mile road trip just to see an amazing dance troupe perform, or a hang glider lesson. He has also given me presents that required stunning feats of secrecy and weeks or even months of planning to pull off, and he always succeeds in totally surprising me. And he did it again, and this present may be the best one yet.

He told me the present was hidden somewhere at the marina, and brought me there to discover it. I had no idea what it could be. We got to the dinghy dock and he walked over to an amazingly adorable sailing dinghy, innocently floating there waiting for me. I was elated and shocked! My very own dream sailing dinghy! A boat that sails AND rows! (I love rowing) We have been talking about getting one of these for months but somehow I never guessed I would get on for Christmas. It is an 8 foot fiberglass dinghy that can be rowed or sailed, and it has a sprit rig. It even has a pirate flag flying from the mast.
I am naming her Delilah.Lala and Delilah

We took her out right then and there for a test sail, and, after a close encounter with the 60 foot Schooner Freedom, we succeeded in getting pushed by the current into the dock of the Santa Maria restaurant, where we had to get out and pull the dinghy around back to the marina. This place is not the greatest place to learn to sail a small dinghy, as the current is so strong it can easily be overpowering, but we are looking forward to playing with Delilah nonetheless. We will just have to time our outings with the tide!
I took her out again today for my first solo sail around the anchorage and did ok, except for the part where I freaked out and panicked and almost capsized the boat. I have a lot to learn about the responsiveness of such a small vessel!!
Cap’t K also learned a lesson about how tippy this little dinghy is last night when he had the bright idea to take her for a little sail around Way Happy after having a drink or two. He capsized the boat immediately, and got a shocking dunk in the chilly water!

The highlight of Christmas for our boring cats was getting to play with ribbons attached to packages that were mailed to us. In this case, SloMo is not really enjoying the ribbon that much, but we thought it was cute!

– Capt’n K & Lala

Missing you!

We are approaching the holidays quickly, and we really miss our family and friends. As much as we are in love with St. Augustine, and every day I walk around happily saying how much I love this place, nothing substitutes for being with loved ones during special holidays. So we send out our warmest and fondest greetings to everyone out there, including those of you who are friends we haven’t met in person yet.

And you are all invited to come visit us here! St. Augustine is a very worthwhile city to visit, and has a lot to offer, including very cheap hotel rooms. (although we do have space on our boat now for a few extra bodies!) So if anyone needs a break from winter, consider St. Augustine!

the Black Raven Pirate ship

Solstice sunset

Lala stumbles into a new job

As I mentioned a few posts back, I got a job at a wine shop here in St. Augustine. The pay was unbelievably lousy, the managers were incredibly uptight, and the vibe there was just not fun. Sure it was a job, but it wasn’t a satisfying one, and the pay was so low it was barely even worth it. Apparently I am super lucky to have even found a job as quickly as I did, as I have been hearing shocked remarks from almost everyone I talk to around here about how amazing it is I even found a job, let alone a decent paying one. So I was trying to count my blessings and fit in as best I could there. But I didn’t really fit in.

The last full time job I had before becoming a sailor was a retail manager, and my other recent work history has been doing totally weird things such as dressing up in costumes and walking around on stilts or being self-employed. So trying to fit in as a peon entry level employee with a bunch of 20 year olds was super weird for me. It is challenging enough in today’s economy to be job hunting. And here we are with weird gaps in our resumes, and salt seeping out of us as we go out looking.

Then one day I stopped at a cute little Cuban restaurant to get a coffee while I was waiting for Cap’t K to get back from running some errands. I was wearing my alien-looking Vibram Five Finger shoes that I go running on the beach in. I would never wear these shoes to go out job hunting….as much as I love them, they definitely look weird. And I wasn’t really job hunting that day, I was just getting a coffee. While I was sitting there the owner of the restaurant came up to me and commented on my shoes. “Oh, they look so comfortable!”, she said. Then we started chatting and I casually mentioned that my husband I and were new in town and that we were looking for work. She said that she was looking for help, and urged me to fill out an application. So I did, and the next thing I knew she offered me a job and I started working there the very next day!

This restaurant is a small, family owned, intimate place with great food and a warm friendly atmosphere. Everyone there is very relaxed and easy going and it feels SO MUCH better there than at the uptight wine shop. I’m WAY HAPPIER with this new job, and the pay is WAY better too!! Good thing I was wearing those weird shoes, or maybe I never would have talked to the owner of the restaurant.

Aviles Street

My new job is on the oldest street in St. Augustine, which is in turn the oldest town in the United States. This street was the site of the first buildings in town, and dates back to the early 1500’s. Apparently one of the first graveyards in St. Augustine was located right under the restaurant, and the bodies are still buried there! I’ve been hearing stories of how haunted the whole street is, but have yet to witness anything paranormal for myself.

Cap’t K is still in work related limbo, with some promising leads that haven’t quite materialized into anything yet. Even though most people here are very friendly, we are still finding it difficult to meet people and feel like we are part of a community here. The marina here is convenient but the vibe is very transient, as most of the long term liveaboards in St. Augustine are at other marinas farther away from the downtown. We have looked into staying those marinas, but for now they are too expensive for us and they are not as convenient for me to get to work. My new job is only 2 short blocks from the City Marina where we are staying, so it is very easy for me to walk to work in just a few minutes.

We are enjoying a nice spell of warm, calm weather. We are back in the anchorage right in front of the fort again and it is much nicer there when the winds are calm!
Since we both grew up in the north, it still seems weird for us that it is Christmas time and we are wearing t-shirts and flip flops! But we are not complaining at all!!

Singing with the Bilge Rats

Where else in America but St. Augustine can you walk into a tavern dating back to the early 1700’s and listen to a bunch of people dressed in authentic colonial clothing singing rowdy rounds of sea shanties? A woman I work with at the wine shop is in a singing group called the Bilge Rats, and they sing sea shanties, or old sailors tunes. Cap’t K and I have been wanting to learn some sea shanties to round out our sailor knowledge, so we were happy to go see them last night at the Tavern of the Rooster.

What a lovely way to end a long boring day at work!!! Cap’t K met me at the wine shop at closing time, and we walked down St. George St., a charming pedestrian street, for a few blocks to the Tavern of the Rooster, where you could hear the acapella songs from outside. We squeezed ourselves into the tiny tavern and got the last two seats at the bar. Hot spiced wine is their specialty, and so we ordered two glasses and started to sing along with the refrain of the sea shanties.

Hot mulled wine by candlelight

The Tavern of the Rooster is a simple, small stone building in the Old Spanish Quarter. It has no electric lights and everything looks authentically colonial, down to the handmade wooden games at the bar. The Bilge Rats provided song sheets for everyone to be able to sing along. Delightful!!

The Bilge Rats, by candlelight

Some of you may even have heard one of the more famous ones….it goes a little like this:
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
What do you do with a drunken sailor, early in the mornin?

Put him in the long boat and make him bail it.
(repeat many times)
Put him in the bilge and make him drink it
Hang him by his toes from the rigging

Stick him in the cabin with the Captains daughter

And a bunch more verses that I still need to memorize, but you get the idea!

UberDinghy to the Rescue

My hero

Cap’t K had a full weekend checking in on Wee Happy in Marathon. There was mold to fight, and motors to start, and a bunch of stuff to get off the boat. He had her bottom cleaned, put the sails back on, and took her out for a sail. Wee Happy was happy to back in action! But now she sits again and waits for the next time we can return to do some more work on her to get her ready for her next phase of life, whatever that may be.

Cap’t K brought back a whole carload of stuff to integrate into our possessions on Way Happy. Stuff that we needed, like clothes and our bicycle and our pressure cooker. As luck would have it, he arrived in the middle of the night in a huge rainstorm. I could not even go pick him up because I was stuck out in the far reaches of the mooring field with no dinghy motor in a storm. He had to wait for hours in the car in the pouring rain. I finally found some friends who came to get him in their dinghy in the early morning in the downpour. Cap’t K brought out the dinghy motor from the UberDinghy that was down in the Keys with Wee Happy. UberDinghy Motor to the Rescue! We were back in action with a fully working 15 horsepower Evinrude engine that can take the meanest chop and the strongest current. But, we were back in action in a monsoon, and when we went in to get all the stuff out of the rental car to bring it out to the boat, it was raining so hard the street was flooding! Literally, the street was under water! We had to wade through several feet of water just to get to the car, and we could barely see it was raining so hard. Not a good time to unload half of our wordly possessions. The problem was that we needed to have the car back that morning to avoid getting charged an extra day on the rental car fee. But there was no way we could unload the car in that storm. So we had to take another financial hit and keep the car for an extra day, and waited it out until the rain stopped to unload things. What a project! Cap’t K. worked all day getting stuff out to the boat and organized, and we are still sorting through things to decide what to keep, and what to get rid of. There is only so much storage space even on our bigger boat, and there is definitely not enough room for everything. Living on a boat sure is an exercise in simplicity. Everything on the boat needs to be useful and used, or it needs to get off the boat!

How many pans do we really need? Half of these have to go....

It was the first time in awhile that Cap’t K. and I have been away from each other for more than a few hours, and it was fun to miss each other. We have been having fun being together again after our separation! 🙂 Even after all the trials of living on a boat together, which is not always as romantic as it might sound, we are still lovebirds, and so lucky to have each other!!

The goofy lovebirds

Meanwhile, I am continuing to work full time at the wine shop and have been enjoying the crash course in wine that I have been getting there. (but not really enjoying the rest of the job that much) Cap’t K is still in limbo about the job he applied for. For now, we are still loving most everything about St. Augustine except for the crazy current and challenging conditions in this anchorage/mooring field. This weekend featured some of the roughest conditions we have seen here, with raging winds for days on end. A boat came in the inlet from the ocean (just a mile away from where we are), and due to the waves that had built up in the strong conditions, hit a shoal, and sank!! Luckily, everyone but the boat survived. Now that we have the UberDinghy again, we feel empowered to deal with this current!!

Dinghy motors suck

So here’s what is new in the Way Happy world….

Our dinghy motor is being unreliable. Wait, you say, that’s not new! That’s been happening for weeks now, isn’t that old? Yes, it’s getting VERY old. VERY OLD!!! For reasons completely unknown to anyone, our dinghy motor will start on the first try one day, and run perfectly, and then the next time you go to start it, there will be no life whatsoever in the motor and it WILL NOT START.

We have a new friend named Ryan, and as it turns out, he is going to work for a month in Oklahoma, and he is leaving his boat and dinghy here in St. Augustine while he is away. He graciously offered to let us use his dinghy while he is away. His dinghy motor never has problems and always starts. Always, that is, until today. I got in the dinghy for the first time tonight after work, all excited to have a reliable working dinghy motor, only to find that it won’t start. At least not for me. Not even after 100 tries. Ryan would probably get the thing to start on the first try, but he’s halfway to Oklahoma now.

So I rowed back to boat. We are back on a mooring ball right now and it’s really far from the dinghy dock. Like a 40 minute row against the current far!! I had to stop and tie up to a boat that looked empty to rest halfway, it was so far. I love rowing, but not against the current, late at night after working all day….

Cap’t K is not here. He went to Marathon (in the Florida Keys) to check in on Wee Happy, our other boat. It was a long overdue visit. We have been meaning to get down there for awhile now, and our weird life keeps getting in the way of actually arriving there. We have been in limbo waiting to find out if he got the Big Job he interviewed for, and although it is a long story, basically we are still waiting to find out, so we figured this weekend would be a good time for him to just go down there and check on the boat. He rented a car and whizzed down to the Keys, while I am staying here in St. Augustine alone working and rowing. It’s kind of a drag for me, as he is getting to see all our friends down there and I know they are all partying away without me while I slave away at this stupid low paying job. Life is a drag sometimes, even when you live on a boat called Way Happy.

But it isn’t all roses for him there either. Cap’t K returned to find Wee Happy overtaken by a serious mold infestation that he spent all day cleaning. Not fun. But Wee Happy did survive the entire hurricane season without us and is doing just fine other than the mold. So it could be worse!!

Beautiful bird, ugly motor

The Great Camera Rescue

Our new camera, another cheap, yet waterproof one, fell in the water the other day. The next day I, Lala, got up the guts to don the wetsuit and jump into the murky, pea green, cold water to dive for it. It was just right there, 7 feet dwon from the edge of the dinghy dock, I had to at least try! In my classic wimpy fashion I freaked out and whimpered and spluttered and whined about how cold and freaky the water was. You would have thought by watching me that I was going a hundred feet down to look for sea monsters, not 7 feet down to look for the stupid camera! Still, its just gross down there, and huge barnacles lurked on the edge of the underwater portion of the dock, and the current was so strong even there at the protected dock that it threatened to pull me under the dock while underwater. Cap’t K actually tied me to the dinghy dock so I wouldnt get sucked under, and he held onto a wooden oar put vertically on the water for me to hang onto while down there looking. The first three attempts yielded nothing, as I could barely see anything, and I am not known for being able to hold my breath long. But on the fourth try, there it was! The brand new camera, there on the bottom! I grabbed it and emerged victorious.
We inspected it carefully…everything still looked brand new. We looked inside the waterproof compartment that holds the memory card and the batteries and it looked dry. We turned it on and it started right up and worked just fine! A miracle! Here is the first picture we took with it! So we are back in business at least for now with a functioning camera.

The victorious diver

While we were on the dinghy dock planning my descent into the dark watery depths, minding our own business and asking advice from no one, a man came over and started giving us unsolicited advice about how we could have prevented the camera falling in the first place. He suggested we tie a piece of wood to the camera, because wood floats. I said, rather jokingly, “great idea, why didnt I think of that?” He replied in his British accent “Because you are American”. I asked “Are you saying that because I am American I am stupid?”. He answered “From what I can tell, most Americans are mindless sheep who dont have the ability to think for themselves or create solutions that dont involve buying consumer goods, and they are uneducated.”. Before we could get a word in edgewise, he then went on to tell us in great detail what, exactly, was wrong with our economy, military, political system, and culture. Captain K got so turned off he just walked away, but I, ever the polite Midwesterner, continued to attempt in vain to have a two way conversation with him and defend myself from his blatant attacks. Even though I actually agreed with some of his points, the way he just came up to us out of nowhere and made major assumptions about us was incredibly insulting and maddening. I finally suggested as I walked away that if he didnt like our country he was welcome to leave, and of course he said he was on his way to the Bahamas. We have encountered quite a few of these opinionated, know it all sailors (who are not surprisingly almost always sailing solo). They have no idea how to actually HAVE A CONVERSATION, you know, the kind were both people get to share ideas and talk. We have been trapped by them on numerous occasions and have marvelled at their inability to stop talking for even a moment while we say “goodbye, we are walking away now”. What is it with these people?

Anyway, alls well that ends well. Here is another photo taken with our new camera, this one at the awesome St. Augustine Beach.

Royal Terns

The good, the bad, and the drenched

To all our northern dwelling readers, imagine, if you will, a sunny, glorious day, the kind of day that makes your spirits high. Imagine strolling along in sandals and a tank top under graceful live oaks draped with Spanish moss, past booths bursting full of colorful fresh vegetables. Everyone around is smiling and friendly. Later you take home your fresh vegetables and make a stellar fresh salsa with juicy, ripe tomatoes, garlic and cilantro. Just like the middle of summer yumminess in December!!!

Then you walk downtown and find a whole Christmas parade happening under swaying palm trees, complete with marching bands and floats and of course a pirate ship full of santa/pirate hybrids shooting off canons. Many people are walking around in wonderful colonial costumes as if were the most normal thing in the world, and in this colonial city, indeed it is.

This is just part of our day today. We are in heaven. We love this place!

But just so you aren’t too jealous, here is a snippet of what our day was like yesterday. It was my second day of work at my new job (more on that later) and I had to look nice and polished. Captain K had a Big Deal important 2nd interview for a job he is hoping to get. We needed to be professionally presentable! The wind was blowing at about 20 knots from the north and a serious chop had built up in the anchorage. We were anchored a good, long distance from the dinghy dock. Capt K made us both put on our foul weather gear (that means rubber boots, and full on neon yellow rain pants and jacket), and we carefully packed all our clothes and gear for the day into big plastic trash bags. We looked very fashionable! I thought the foul weather gear was a bit overkill at first, but once we were out there, was I glad we were wearing it! We both got completely drenched with waves splashing into the dinghy. Salt water in the eyes, even. Tons of water in the dinghy. And of course our motor died again halfway there and we had to row like mad against the current.
By the time we got to the marina we looked like drowned rats, and felt like it too. Good thing there are showers there for us to regroup. And work schedules and tide schedules do not easily coincide, so of course on the way back we were rowing against the tide AND the wind. We are so angry with this piece of crap dinghy motor we almost threw it in the water. (but instead our brand new waterproof camera fell in the water, and we were idiots by not getting the float strap. So sorry, no photos of the parade.)
As soon as we get paychecks that motor and camera are going to be replaced. It has been very stressful getting to and from our boat with our current dinghy situation, and not having a camera is just a drag. Meanwhile we have moved back onto a mooring ball to at least be closer to shore.

So the only two things we dont like about St. Augustine so far are the strong current in the anchorage and my new job. Yes, I got a job. I took the first one that was offered, even though I had reservations about it. I am working in a “wine boutique”. Its a place conveniently located a block from the marina that sells high end wine and gifts. In theory it is not a bad job, as I am interested in wine, however the pay is HORRIBLE, and the managers are the only unfriendly people I have met so far in town. So for now it is a least some income, but needless to say I have not stopped looking for something better. I have some fabulous performance art plans in the works, and am getting together a costume that I think will create a successful street performance act.

So all in all, we are managing to get ourselves settled here, and we keep on loving this city. It seems that everyone who lives here loves it too. It is nice to be in a place where everyone loves and wants to be there. If we can succeed in making the money, we will be happy to stay here awhile.

St. Augustine also gets the cutest lighthouse award

– Capt’n K & Lala

Location:St. Augustine, FL