Christmas brought tidings of tourist throngs and our schooner “Hindu” had to start proving whether she’d be naughty or nice. The verdict is still out as I have yet to throw lumps of coal, or anything else, at the ship. That may be however, because I’ve no strength for such things by day’s end. Fatigue, I’ll concede, may prove niceness since when the boat’s out the money’s in–at least for a brief while before it’s spent on bubbly and bills.
Josh took the photo above a few weeks ago during a sunset sail. At that time, we had all recently recovered from a flu the likes of which none of us had experienced in a long while. The strain induced the full spectrum of miseries. Just the thought of it now reminds me to appreciate our current robust health. We need every resource we can to keep our high-maintenance girl happy.
Wake up, 6 a.m. Turn on hot water heater switch. Take shower. Don uniform: Blue fishing shirt with “Hindu” insignia, Tall Ships America pin on lapel, khaki shorts. Check email on iPad for online bookings. Open Airstream door. Peek outside to see the owner of the competition sitting outside his office as usual, 30 feet away. Smile and wave.
Josh goes to boat, I march to bakery. Purchase plain croissants for morning customers, plus one raspberry for Capt. Chey and a ham n’ cheese for Capt. Josh. Walk two blocks to schooner.
Cheyenne’s making coffee in our new, industrial percolator and mixing mimosas. Josh continues endless repairs to boat, with intermittent help from me n’ Chey. Buy ice from bait shop.
…You get the idea. Strings of tasks consume our days from early morn to late night, when we perhaps sneak a beer before bed. Still a dark cloud of Things Undone looms in the sky…not to mention the constant orbit of planet Bills To Pay.
I like the photo Cheyenne took of me today, as she laid back in the net below the bowsprit, looking up. I was being silly, pretending I was Kate Winslet in the movie Titantic, when she exclaims “I’m flying!” But now, at the end of the day, when I look at it, I’m pretending that I wasn’t pretending in that moment. Perhaps that open smile really was me sounding my barbaric yawp. Perhaps my arms really were flung wide to embrace the world with its wonder or woe with a free heart. That’s as it should have been, anyway. That’s how it should be.
On behalf of my family, I hereby announce we are able to take paying customers aboard the schooner “Hindu.” Yeehaw! Of course, the remnants of Hurricane Sandy are keeping us at the dock at least until tomorrow night. But, it’s the thought that counts!
Check out our Web site for online booking!
Capt. Cheyenne Dutcher has arrived. Or returned, rather. Or maybe she woke up one night in Michigan and a twister spiraled in her window carrying tiny deer, palm trees and hippies on bicycles and the next thing she knew she woke up in Key West to find our schooner had squashed the Wicked Witch of Michigan Winters. In any case, Josh and I are no longer the sole crew of “Hindu.” Cheyenne is our relief captain and we are happy to welcome her and her little dog, too. Just kidding. No dogs allowed, especially small ones.
Moving on. Cheyenne and Josh took “Hindu” for her first spin around the harbor since her arrival. They did not raise sail. That day should come this week once Josh puts the finishing touches on the rigging. When “Hindu” sails, it will be for the first time in three years.
Josh and our friend Mike applied the lettering to the transom late last week. Capt. Finbar, admiral of the Conch Republic Navy, saw and said he looked forward to re-commissioning the vessel into the service of the “farce to be reckoned with.” We do, too.
We battled our new engine’s computer system, cursing whomever decided to cut engine power if a sensor detected soot on an emissions filter. There was no soot, as a digital readout indicated on a device Josh bought months ago to retrieve information from that computer. In fact, there was no filter. That filter was part of the exhaust system on the pickup truck in which the engine originally resided. The Airstream (we argue) should not be required to meet modern emissions requirements just as other vehicles of its vintage. As such, we did not install the filter.
Josh test drove the new engine in the Keys over hundreds of miles before he deemed it ready to for a road trip. That sleepy sensor woke up in northern Florida, however, reached out to find a cold, empty pillow where a filter once was and freaked out.
There were several pros to all the cons. First of all, the Space Coast RV Resort welcomed us at the exact place we puttered off the road. Secondly, Josh’s computer-reading device allowed us to clear the error message and drive with full engine power for 5 to ten minutes at a time, before that lonely sensor cried out again. Josh and I had a decision to make as the sun set on the Friday before a long, holiday weekend: Turn back; wait until repair shops reopened on Tuesday; or limp to Maine on US-1. We chose limp, which unveiled a third pro, a scenic drive (and fewer people who flipped us the bird).
The following night in the middle of rural Georgia, we discovered another computer glitch. The fuel gauge was not calibrated to the Airstream’s 80-gallon tank. At that time, Josh and I had worked out a system in which we would clear the error messages, drive like hell until we suddenly could not go above 30 mph, pull over to a complete stop, which the computer required to clear error codes, and so on.
So, perhaps some of you might sympathize when I tell you that I did not realize when performing a routine pull-over that we were not merely slowing down but out of diesel. The generator was on, rumbling away, so I did not immediately conclude the engine was off. I cleared the error messages and attempted to pull back on the road when Josh arose from a cat-nap and said, “Put it in park, we’re rolling backwards down the hill.”
And there I will leave it off. It took me days to write that much since Josh and I continue the struggle to launch our new business and find a way to survive at the same time. I hope by month’s end I will be posting photos of our first PAYING customers!