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Logs & Stories - December 2001
December 25th - Oxnard Harbor
(Email from Bill & Karryn via Internet Cafe)
Another Christmas come and gone already. This one will actually stretch out a bit longer since we won't have presents from my parents until we know we're going to be somewhere long enough to get mail. We still have a few presents to buy and mail as well, since I didn't have enough time with transportation to buy presents for anyone but those actually onboard Seafire Christmas morning.
The kids woke up sometime around 5 a.m. and asked if we could get up yet. Their request for rising from bed increased in frequency, and urgency as well, until I set my watch alarm for 7 a.m. and told them to stop asking and just listen for the alarm. This cut down on their interruptions of my attempts at sleep by about half. Finally, Bill, who was now beginning to find their actions amusing, started loudly lobbying for getting up right now, even if there were four more minutes until seven o'clock. At that point, I knew the gig was up; with Bill egging the kids on, there was no hope of any peace. So we all got up and dressed rapidly, the kids because of the presents awaiting them, me because I wanted to get the 'before' picture on tape.
This Christmas was probably the smallest in terms of the amount of presents under the tree, both in quantity and dollar value. However, I found it to be one of the most satisfying in recent years. The same lack of quantity made for a relatively short time opening presents, although no one seemed upset by it. In fact, by having less presents, we all seemed to take more pleasure in what we did receive.
With no plans for a large, gut-busting dinner, we leisurely checked out our presents and ate breakfast. After a second cup of coffee, the adults got down to the business of the day. (The kids continued to play with presents, which they're still doing.) For Bill and me, that meant back to work on the mast. We had taken part of Christmas Eve off to go to the beach in the warm weather, probably the last time we'll play until the mast is back on the boat.
After lunch, Yvonne took the kids to a couple of playgrounds on the beach. Bill had put the final coat of Sterling linear polyurethane paint (which is exceedingly toxic until it's dry) on the mast step, so we all had to leave the boat or wear respirators. Bill and I then loaded up the dinghy and took off for the boatyard. I spent my Christmas afternoon hooking up the radar dome, installing the new VHF antenna and just generally helping Bill put things on the mast. The cool part was that until 4:30 I was wearing shorts and sandals. Admittedly, it got much colder right after the sun set around 5, but it was sure nice. I think it's the first time I've ever worn shorts outside on Christmas day.
It's not late, but everyone is feeling a bit sleepy because of the earlier-than-normal start to the day. Naomi is just about asleep with her head on my lap. I think I'll go get ready for bed soon, especially considering how much is on tomorrow's to-do list, which includes going back to Kinko's Copies for e-mail so I can send this to the Webmaster.
December 22nd - Oxnard Harbor
(Email from Bill & Karryn via Internet Cafe)
Yvonne arrived here yesterday in her camper van, having driven down from the apparently very rainy Northwest. She showed up in time to join us while we were attending the boatyard's potluck Christmas party. There I had the best enchiladas I have ever eaten, and managed to find the cook and ask for a recipe. However, once I found out the method used to make them, I decided my enchiladas will do just fine; I have no desire to cook the tortillas in hot oil before dipping them in enchilada sauce. Hot oil on a boat seems like a patently bad idea, unless one is planning to repel boarders. I tried the 'dipping in sauce' method twice and not only made a mess but felt like Lady MacBeth, dripping blood everywhere. The galley was a mess when I was done. So now I mix the filling into some enchilada sauce and then put everything together. Until Jeanette on "Shazam" can show me a better way, I'll just have to be unorthodox. It wouldn't be the first time.
Christmas is nearly upon us. Every morning when the kids wake up, we hear them whisper excitedly to each other about how many days there are left until Christmas. Jackson had this incredibly annoying (well, at least to me) habit of counting the days in such a way that he came up with one less than I did; we finally compromised and instead of saying 'three days' he now says 'three and three quarter days.' Most of my shopping is done, so his miscounting doesn't seem to bother me as much.
And, yes, we have a Christmas tree. It's small, only about two feet high. I bought it at the Vons grocery store for $9, which seems pretty steep for a very fake, very short Christmas tree - unless you count the fact that it's completely decorated. It came with lights and ornaments and glittery ribbon on it. I'm notorious for not completing the Christmas tree until sometime after Christmas morning, partly because I'm so fussy about the tree and how it's decorated. (Don't even think about throwing on that tinsel in my presence - it must go on strand by single strand, all spaced evenly on each branch. So what if only the top third of the tree ever gets finished?!) We drove back to the boat with the tree in Naomi's lap (it was one of the two days we rented a car), brought it inside and plugged it in. Voila! I turned to Bill and said, "Damn, should have done that years ago!"
The mast is just about put back together. Since the yard is closed next Monday and Tuesday, Bill has slowed down a bit the past few days, which means he works regular days instead of really long ones. The mast should go back on the boat next week, barring any unforeseen delays. We have no idea where we are going once that is done, other than south towards warmer weather. We had planned to cruise on down to San Diego, spend some time at the Municipal dock (also referred to as the Police dock) and then alternate being on the hook with short stretches of time at a dock while we finished up the U.S.-based tasks. However, this week we discovered that the Municipal Dock is closed for renovation and moorage is really scarce and expensive, even with the Ha-Ha long gone to Cabo. So we are rethinking our plans and trying to figure out what tasks we have to do and where we can do them. With Yvonne here and Brian coming to visit for a week, we're going to take some time off as well and relax before the big frenzy of last stateside tasks.
Having access to motorized transportation in the form of Yvonne's van is fantastic. I washed almost all our dirty laundry plus some of Yvonne's today -- nine loads of clothes that I didn't have to carry from the boat to the laundromat in a rather large duffel bag (Bill has commandeered the only decent backpack for tool transport). It's not far, but the duffel bag seems to get very heavy by the time we arrive. Plus walking in California, the regular, everyday sort of walking as opposed to walking only for exercise, seems to attract attention, particularly when done in the vicinity of strip malls. Life without a vehicle seems distinctly un-Californian and perhaps even illegal; with the sale of our Mazda this past weekend, we can't even pretend to belong to the Great American Way of Life anymore. We'll have to leave the country soon, I can tell -- the men in the white lab coats will be after us.
December 11th - Still In Channel Islands (Oxnard Harbor)
(Email from Bill & Karryn via Internet Cafe)
The mast came off the boat Friday, November 30th, and by the following Monday Bill had removed all the hardware from the mast. Despite the fact that the mast has been up for 22+ years, all the fasteners came out without too much trouble. However, the weather has not been cooperating for the past five days -- three days of Santa Ana winds and then two days of howling north to northwest winds have interfered with painting. Today the wind, while still present, is at least down enough to complete the Sterling primer coat. It will need to be even less windy before Bill will paint the final coat. Given how variable the wind has been over the course of each day and the need to paint right after the final sanding, I'm not sure exactly when that final paint will go on. However, the Harbor Patrol told us that we can stay at the county dock as long as we need to while we're working on the boat.
The Christmas boat parade was held Saturday night. The participants are local boats (nothing professional), and some of the light displays were just amazing. I kept wondering how the battery systems on the various sailboats were keeping up with the incredible load of the lights. I guess they must all have high output alternators!
If the weather cooperates, we hope to have the mast ready to step next Monday. After that, it's time to head south once again. We may have to hang out for a few days waiting for quieter winds, but this is a pretty nice place to be. The one thing that's missing is Internet access; I may have to snail-mail this update to the Webmaster.