Daily Archives: January 11, 2013

The view from the back porch


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Slow and steady

Once again I’m incredibly antsy to get going, especially since I’m hyper-aware of the limitations of the Pacific cruising season. You have to be out of the cyclone area from November to April, which means the later we get to the Pacific the faster we have to cruise through it to get to a cyclone-safe place by November. One thing we don’t want is to race through Paradise.

But we’re dealing with boat people. They do not move quickly. We did finally get three people to look at our support beam repair job. Two of them gave us a number; the third, whom we liked and who seemed to understand the stresses on the boat, couldn’t come up with a cost estimate, just his hourly rate. We chose a different guy who has a can-do, no-nonsense attitude and comes highly recommended. He just can’t start until next Thursday, which locks us into Stuart for another week.

We’re also still waiting for Manta Man Joe Hanko to come back to us with estimates for the electrical and rig work, and for a new battery charger and AIS. And our mainsail is still at Mack Sails.

Meanwhile, we continue with what we can accomplish here. Jack whipped the lines that attach the mainsail to the boom. They were excessively long and we trimmed them last time we bent the sail back on, but didn’t have time to properly seal the ends.


We took an errand bike ride to Home Depot, Joann, West Marine, Target and Marshall’s to pick up this and that and got reprimanded by a petty mall security guard for riding our bikes on the mall plaza. There was nary a pedestrian in sight at the mall, and with no marked bike lanes and limited visibility for motorists — and no posted signs prohibiting it — we thought it safer for us to ride the mall sidewalk. But no, this guy was convinced that two Q-tips on hybrid bikes were a menace to society. We were so annoyed we took our business elsewhere, which put the kibosh on this Philly girl getting an Aunt Annie’s soft pretzel. That’ll teach him, Jack said.

Stuart has bike lanes on most roadways, a plus, but they are between the traffic lanes and the turning lanes, a big scary minus. Like most of coastal Florida there are usually no parallel streets to ride to avoid the fast traffic on the main roads. We try to ride sidewalks here as much as we can, and if a real cop ever stops us, he’ll get an earful on bike safety from me. That’ll teach him, Jack will say, while I post bail.

We took advantage of being in one place for a while to place an order for a few hard-to-find food items from our favorite Pittsburgh food emporium, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. When we lived in Pittsburgh we did much of our food shopping there, and we miss the quality, variety and prices.


I never want to be a cruiser who has to have specific foods from home and I’m eager to explore the markets wherever we travel and cook the local fare, but I’ve learned over the past nine months that having a couple of basic tried and true ingredients on hand helps a lot. In all the stores we’ve shopped in up and down the east coast we couldn’t find French lentils, black fig vinegar, Hawaiian black salt or sundried tomatoes that weren’t either soaked in oil or shriveled up and flavorless. We also ordered our favorite five peppercorn mix, some olives and a couple of hard-to-find cheeses. Cheese, in fact, has been the biggest change to our diet. We just don’t have access to a variety of good cheeses except for the grossly overpriced offerings at Whole Foods or similar upscale groceries. The cheesemonger at Penn Mac is known as Dear Heart, and she is amazing. She remembers what each of her customers likes, listens thoughtfully to what you’re looking for, and always suggests the perfect cheese for the dish or occasion. One year for Christmas dinner I made three different filled pastas to be served with three different sauces and I consulted Dear Heart for the cheeses to serve with them. Her recommendations were all spot on. We miss you, Dear Heart! And we miss the reasonable prices, too.

The shipment from Penn Mac gave me an opportunity to justify the vacuum packer I keep stashed on Jack’s t-shirt shelf.


In the same delivery we got a small but heavy package from Maxwell. It was the new chain wheel for our balky anchor windlass, and Jack set about figuring out how to install it.


While I was vacuum-bagging the sundried tomatoes he called me out on deck for a consultation.



We puzzled it out and Jack got the new gypsy on, taking advantage of the disassembly to do a complete cleaning and servicing job. When he was finished we gave it a go. Anchor down, anchor up. No drama. Hallelujah! Life is good!




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