Boats and Mermaids!

When I was a little boy, my days after school were spent out on my grandparents farm.  It was a magical place, complete with an old dirty barn and acres of pasture.  As most boys would, I spent a great deal of my time in the old barn rifling through all of the farm implements, scrap wood and wire, tools… My grandfather was a tool guy.  He had a tool for most things and another tool for everything else.

Grandma and Grandpa Reed!

Much of this stuff had been collected for many years and really showed its age.  Imagine hand drills and old rusty saws, mixed in with brand new gig saws, electric saws, and an old table saw…(The only tool I wasn’t allowed to touch…Think severed appendages…)  Now the reason I was always messing around in the barn was in order to build things with all of the wonderful scrap wood I could find there.  And what did I build, you might ask?  Boats. I always built boats. 

The farm had three pastures of cattle grazing land and meandering through all three was an irrigation ditch.  I spent hours of my youth on that ditch… Wading, basking, and floating boats.  I built various types of boats: Long and fast, round and maneuverable, and ornately styled ones (that usually sank like rocks.) 

My parents helped a lot.  They sent me on a  fantastic sailing adventure in the San Juan Islands not once, but twice!  ( I absolutely loved it.


We vacationed on Orcas Island where I got my first taste of the helm!

Notice the steely eye’d concentration and proper use of a PFD!

 This boat building continued for most of my youth… stopping sometime before I discovered cars and girls… but I never really got them out of my head.

Fast forward to 2014.  I’m a relatively successful airline pilot enjoying living in Manhattan.  I spend my days flying airplanes and enjoying all of the delights The City has to offer. 

Day job…

I’m in my 18th year of marriage now and suddenly out of the blue my beautiful bride says something to the effect of: We should buy and boat and live on it.

BANG!  Full stop.

Suddenly all of the love of boats comes flooding back.  I was dumbstruck.  I think I mumbled something lame like: That sounds like fun.  I’m not sure If I fully believed her.  Moving out of our awesome NYC pad had literally not been in the cards 30 seconds prior to this statement.  But she was serious. 

That brings me to why I think I’m married to the best girl in the world:

Debby is fond of telling me that I’ve always had the sea in my blood.  She, of course, is right. (lesson one for all newly wedded men.)  I just never realized how much it was in her blood. We’ve been married long enough to be at that finish the other’s thought point.  I feel like we are one person some days.  She knows everything about me, good and bad, and she still likes me!  I for my part can’t believe how lucky I am to have her! I have found that illusive mythical sea creature… That mermaid of lore… I have found a wife that genuinely and passionately enjoys sailing and living aboard a boat!

When d and I moved aboard, (selling most of 20 years worth of possessions) and took on this totally new lifestyle, she didn’t even blink.  Give up our amazing NYC apartment…  No problem she said,  “It was my idea!”  When we had huge issues with the initial purchase and pre-launch refit, she hammered through it like a trooper.  All of the cleaning, scraping, chipping.  The lack of hot water. No toilet while I fixed ours… Everything was accomplished without a complaint, and with complete solidarity with me.  Not only is she mentally on board, but I literally couldn’t have accomplished most of my repair work without her.  From the beginning we have attacked this move with the belief that she should be able to do anything I can do.  She is fully committed to this process.  She is learning to drive and land the boat.  She is learning all of the sails, lines and rigging.  She will be a fully qualified Captain…err, Commodore!  Her touch is everywhere aboard Devilfish.  Her focus on this life is complete.   

Debby has been asking me to write a blog post for some time… sorry for taking so long darling.  May this be the first of many… assuming you all want to hear my thoughts in the future.

Happy Valentines Day love!  May our adventures never end!

moving day again

We were able to take possession of our boat the day after it was delivered.  We dropped off the rental car to the delivery captain and then drove back to Commune 2.0 where we gathered our things, collected HerSpouse, and packed the commune kittehs into the car.  It was pretty tight.  When we left Commune 1.0 we had a full car and, now, we have a whole other person (along with his own things) with us.  

Continue reading “moving day again”

goodbye commune

To recap where we are so far:

  • We bought a boat in order to live on it.
  • We are fixing said boat.
  • We gave up our apartment.
  • We moved into The Commune.
  • We are still fixing the boat.
  • The Commune timeline is running short since AllesGirl and HerSpouse are moving to Berlin.
  • We are moving into a friend of a friend’s apartment very soon.

It’s a little kooky…

It is amazing how many things there are to do before one moves out.  Three days before the Great Disbanding my Better Half and I ran errands, picked up needed items, and helped pack things for storage while AllesGirl crammed items into the 5 suitcases they were taking with them to Berlin. (HerSpouse was on a trip in Cancun Mexico – he is an airline pilot too – and the photos he sent while he was relaxing on the beach were NOT HELPING ANYTHING.)  We had many discussions about what was needed to bring versus what was wanted to bring.  I’ll say that it’s much easier to make decisions when it’s not your stuff.

Two days before The Great Disbanding we packed up our meager (not meager; how are we going to fit all this crap on our boat?) possessions + Kommune Kittehs and moved into Commune 2.0.  The following day we stopped by Commune 1.0 after work and helped pack up AllesGirl and HerSpouse with last minute stuff.  The idea was to load the neatly packed suitcases into the truck, the 4 of us would drive to one final Commune dinner where we would toast our brilliance with witty remarks, and then we would drop them off at their hotel where they would stay one final night before departing the following day, refreshed, relaxed and jubilant in their adventure.  The reality was more like this:


Continue reading “goodbye commune”

Mean Lean Clean Machine

I may have mentioned this before: our boat was filthy when we bought it.  We carved out a long weekend and went down to clean it up.

This trip was also a great test of our soon-to-be reality since we would be living on the boat for the weekend.  We figured if we could do it while it was dirty we’d be able to do it when it was clean.

Armed with optimism and cash from selling our furniture we flew to Raleigh, rented a car and drove past the cosmetic surgery signs and the Pork Center.  We arrived around lunch time and got straight to work.  And, by straight to work, I mean stopping by the store to purchase dust masks, cleaning supplies and rubber gloves.  Oh, and sleeping bags and pillows.  Then we started cleaning.  My job was to clean the Vee berth, which was where we were going to sleep.  The job of my Better Half was to start removing the crap that had been shoved in every conceivable place.  There are two berths (land term = beds) on our boat.  One up front (boat term = forward, also called the Vee berth) and one in the back (or, aft.  It’s also called the trunk berth).  The Vee berth gets it’s name because it’s shaped like a Vee.  The aft bed is larger but that area had been so packed full of stuff that we couldn’t get to it.  No telling what we would find in there and that was the reason for our respective jobs.

I've posted this before but that's the opening of the 8' long trunk berth, full of stuff.
That’s the opening of the 8′ long trunk berth, full of stuff.

I began cleaning for real around 1:30.  There are a lot of things I take for granted that I had to figure out.  Like water.  Where do I get water?  Find container, climb down the ladder (we are still on the hard, 10ish feet in the air), walk over to water spigot, fill container, walk back, climb ladder, try not to drop container, ration every drop of water like I’m trekking through the Sahara.  Did I mention that it was raining?

Cleaning is fun!
Cleaning is fun!

Better Half was throwing things off the sides of the boat like there was a fire.  Anything that we couldn’t immediately identify as useful or salvageable went over.  Moldy cushions, moldy life jackets, jars of rusted nails and screws, dried up rubber bands, rusty pieces of metal, scraps of wood, old equipment with corroded wires and unreadable decals, a full-size window air conditioner, and on and on and on.  I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  By 7:00 I was satisfied that we could sleep in the Vee berth and probably wouldn’t catch Black Lung disease or anything else.  The aft berth was still stuffed full; untouched… We made ourselves as presentable as possible and went to dinner.  Did I mention it was raining?   And cold?

Stuff!  That plug had a screw instead of a grounding prong.  Safety first.
That yellow plug had a screw in the plastic bit instead of a grounding prong. Safety first!

After dinner we came back to a warm, dry boat plus it had stopped raining!  Our boat is made of steel and very well insulated.  We had been using a small space heater to take the chill off while we were working and, although we had turned it off while we went to dinner, it stayed warm and cozy.  So fun!

It was nice to see progress even though we had a long way to go.  We walked over to the marina building for showers,  zipped our sleeping bags together and climbed into bed.  Above our heads there is a large hatch; through the glass I could see our mast towering above us and the stars beyond.  It was an enchanting way to fall asleep.

We were woken a few hours later when drips started forming on the hatch and falling onto our faces.  Condensation is a real thing.  We propped open the hatch with a random stick that hadn’t been thrown out yet and went back to sleep.

Our bed in the process of being cleaned
Our sleeping area in the process of being cleaned

The next day we woke early, had breakfast and kept cleaning and throwing.  I cleaned the salon (which is the boaty word for living area) working my way back from the Vee berth and started on the galley (kitchen).  The galley was beyond gross.  Better Half kept throwing things away from the storage area we are calling Narnia (because it seems to be an entire world unto itself) and the trunk berth.  He would chuck things over the side and then, when it was a large enough pile, would drive it over to the dumpster in the back of our rental car.  I contributed to the trash by throwing out crumbling melamine dishes, bent silverware, a pot that was nearly burnt through, a teapot that wouldn’t open, etc.  That was Saturday.

Just so much stuff!
Just so much stuff!

Sunday was more of the same.  I started on the stove and realized that it would need to be replaced ASAP.  It was so grease crusted and rusted that I had trouble knowing where one stopped and the next started.  The grate was burned through over one of the burners and many of the screws holding the thing together were missing.  Looking inside the oven I found that there was a 2″ gap at the bottom open to the air.  I decided not to turn it on.

We had been cleaning/hauling/digging for 2.5 days and we felt it by the end of the day.

We went back to the Backstreet Pub.  I love me a good fire!
We went back to the Backstreet Pub. I love me a good fire!

Monday we had just a few hours before we had to leave for our flight.  I decided to tackle the galley sink.

Just so dirty.

It took me two hours to achieve this.

I cleaned the left side.  It only took two hours and I'm not done.
I cleaned the left side. I’m not finished.

More to clean, more to come.

This is how it looked when we left.
This is how it looked when we left.