Home alone - my long sad tale of woe

I know I’ve told this to some of you either in person or in e-mail, and I’ve alluded to it several times in threads. For the benefit of the two or three of you who aren’t dedicating your lives to following my life, here’s what’s going on:

My husband had been very unhappy in his job for most of the last three years. Changes in management and corporate philosophy didn’t sit well with him, and he knew he had nowhere to go within the company. He’d been seeking another job for the last 18 months with mixed results. He got offers, but in places like California, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Venezuela – places where I couldn’t work. (I’m a Dept of the Navy employee, 8 years from retirement – too late to start over) Our dream has been to return to southern Maryland so when we retire, we have the Chesapeake Bay right there.

Last November, he was contacted by a company here in Jax who were looking for a new GM for their plant in Baltimore. Steve had several interviews with them. Then wanted him. They were in the process of restructuring that particular business division, but once the parent company blessed things, he would be hired. Then the steel tariffs went into effect. The plant in Baltimore lost a huge market share. Its future was in doubt. Steve’s job no longer existed.

So we were resigned to him sticking it out here, continuing to look, knowing that in 2 years when our Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup] graduates from high school, we would sell the house and I’d transfer to NAS Patuxent River. We already own some property there where we intend to build. We have a goal, and we’d do what we must to achieve it.

Mid-May or so, he got a call from another company – which also happens to have a plant in Jax and Balto. In the course of 2 weeks, he had 4 interviews, two on the phone, two in person. Then he had a plant tour and interview in Baltimore (coincidentally, the same time as GingerDope) Before we left, he had accepted an offer. Downside – we’ll be apart until we get the kid out of school. So I’m staying in Jax with her and the doggies, and he’s going to live on our boat near the Inner Harbor.

Hubby, FIL, and kid left on June 28 to take Wandering Star north. I wanted to go, but if I did, I’d have used up most of my vacation for the year and I’d not see him again until maybe Thanksgiving. So they’re en route and I’m home alone with the idiot doggies. So far, they’ve made part of the passage offshore and part up the ditch (that’s the Intracoastal Waterway for you non-sailors) He’d have done most of it offshore, but neither FIL nor daughter have the experience to stand watches thru the night.

They should make it to Beaufort, SC tonight – at least that’s his plan. He’s supposed to start work on July 15, sooner if he gets there sooner. When he and his folks brought the boat down here 3 years ago, it took them 17 days, but they spent 2 of them sitting in Deltaville, VA because of weather. And they had several short days because MIL wasn’t feeling well.

I’ll be driving up there with a friend to deliver Steve’s car when he arrives, and I’ll bring FIL and the kid home with me. If I can find someone to help me load the motorcycle on the trailer, I’ll drag that sucker up too. If not, he’ll get it when he comes down to visit me sometime.

So, the next 23 months will put a lot of miles on the kid’s Beetle – it gets LOTS better mileage than my Aerostar. I’ll be taking vacation days in conjunction with 3-day weekends where possible, and once Steve has some vacation time available, he’ll come down here. We’re planning to see each other at least monthly. I’m hoping they’ll need him to do stuff at the Jax plant too, so he’ll be able to come here on the company dime.

I’ll post their progress up the coast – it’ll save me from writing multiple e-mails about it. And I’ll accept all sympathy and commiseration. Chocolate too. Help around the house – yard work – car repairs – all that manly stuff! I lived alone for almost 10 years and I really enjoyed it. Steve and I have been married over 18 years – I’ve enjoyed that more. It’s going to be a rough time ahead. We’re focusing on the goal. We’re trying to be adult about this. We’re going to get thru it just fine, but in the meantime, there’s gonna be a lotta whining in FairyChatLand!

Yeah, like that’s news… :smiley:

Wow, that’s sad FCM, the being apart stuff. :frowning:

But the sail - what an adventure! I woulda went with, I woulda stood watch! Do post an account, I enjoyed Bildo’s when he went.

Landlocked in Wis. (it’s not so bad here!)


Just got a phone call - they’re in Beaufort for the night - they’ve made better than 200 miles in 3 days - not bad for a boat that does maybe 7 knots in still water.

For those who know something about boats, Wandering Star is a 37’ Fisher motorsailer ketch, built in England in 1975. She has an 80HP Saber Diesel engine, but no generator, so if they anchor out, they’re on battery power alone. However, when in a marina, she has air conditioning, refrigeration, hot water, cable TV, berths for 5, and she’ll be our home when I join Steve - until we get our house built.

Boscibo, I got to meet Billdo and see the boat - that was a great adventure he had. I expect Steve’s to be quite dull by comparison.

Wow. Two years apart? Makes the time together even better, especially if he is going to be happier with this job.

By the way, how’s your mashed finger?

Dang FCM I hate you and Steve being apart for that long. Guess I better get those cabana boys on a regular schedule to keep you entertained. :smiley:

However, sounds like y’all have a good plan and that when it comes to pass, things will be great! That’s what we want most of all. And, me too, on keeping us posted on how the trip is doing.

Let me know if you need more “PowerPuff Girl” bandages for the finger :wink:

screech-owl, the finger would be lots better if I could keep from hitting it on things. I was cleaning the garage yesterday and drew blood again. I think I’m going to have a nasty scar between the nail and the first joint…

The new job is a definite improvement. He’ll be establishing a maintenance program, running the safety and environmental stuff, and doing all the engineering - all things he does very well.

swampbear, do you know that many cabana boys? I’m apt to wear a few out… er, I mean, yes, I could use another bandage or two! :smiley: Thanks!

Can’t believe I forgot to share this tidbit: I went to the marina on Friday to finish loading provisions and to see them off. The Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup] wanted to step from the boat to the dock. It was low tide, so it was a good step up. It was early and the dew was still heavy on the rail. She was wearing an old, worn pair of sandals. She wouldn’t wait for me to give her a hand. She slipped and fell.

It wasn’t a panic situation - she’s on the swim team and the water was only about 6’ deep. She didn’t hit her head, tho she did whack one leg - apparently it’s bruised up nicely. She handed her sunglasses up to her dad then swam to the ladder at the end of the dock. Grandpa was ready with a towel when she climbed out. I forgot to ask if her wristwatch survived - it wasn’t waterproof.

A little later as I watched them heading east towards the drawbridge across the Ortega River, I remembered that we used to live in that very marina. Right after the kid was born, we rented out our house and moved aboard our boat of the time - a 1937 32’ wooden sailboat. That was a 14-month adventure. Now, four boats later, we’re getting ready to live aboard again, sans baby. Have I even mentioned that Steve was my sailing instructor? That’s how we met, and that’s why we always have a boat.

So anyway, we shall see how far they get today. Maybe Myrtle Beach? Dang, sure wish I coulda gone…

Well, FCM, I’m glad to hear that Steve got a new job, but sorry to hear that it’ll split you guys apart for a while.

Too bad that you can’t go on the sailing trip, but I’m sure that PerfectChild[sup]tm[/sup], her father and grandfather will have a great time. How are they going, the ditch or offshore? Are they doing any overnights?

FYI, Peggy brought the boat up again this spring, but took the trip in three hops (Marco Island to Port Canaveral to Cape Hattaras to New York), not stopping to do more than fuel the boat and eat any time. I wasn’t able to go. I did see her and Gene a couple of weeks ago, but we decided not to sail in the race we were planning to because of thunderstorms. I hope I’ll catch another with her later this summer.

PC[sup]tm[/sup]'s plunge reminded me of several plummets I’ve taken and witnessed. Nothing like ending up wet all of a sudden to wake you up.

Well, good luck with it all. I’ll be looking for updates.

Just got a call a little bit ago - they’re in Charleston for the night, heading out for an IMAX show and dinner on shore. Apparently, the Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup] doesn’t like cooking in the galley - not enough space and stuff. Sheesh, what kind of galley wench did I raise?!?

Billdo, they went from Jax to Brunswick offshore, but the rest has been in the ditch. FIL and the kid aren’t experienced enough to do watchstanding. If I’d been there, we’d have been able to do it… Bummer.

I did my own version of going over the side about 4 years ago. We were coming back to our slip aboard our last boat. The slip was at the inside corner of B-dock and we developed a specific technique to back it in. I had to stand on the bow and step off to the dock, drop a spring line over a piling, and fend the bow as we pivoted into position. It was an elegant approach and we could do it quite easily, just the two of us, in any kind of weather.

This particular summer day, I was already outside the lifeline, inching forward, oblivious of the way the bow pulpit flared outward. I lost my balance and fell in, butt first. Thanks to said butt, I’m very buoyant and I knew I’d float to the surface, so I just grabbed hold of my sunglasses and waited to be displaced upward. The water was less than 7 feet deep.

Steve freaked out - he had no idea what happened. Stan, our dock neighbor, also freaked and started taking off clothes - he was going to dive in and save me. (I felt bad about that - he’d had a heart attack not too long before…) Meanwhile, I bobbed to the surface and I saw all these arms reaching for me. I managed to calm everyone and get them to take my glasses and flipflops so I could swim to the ladder. I got out and we finished docking the boat. Stan had the presence of mind, once he saw I was OK, to grab his camera. Somewhere there’s a photo of me in my bedraggled glory. If I find it, I’ll scan it.

I guess falling off boats is like pilots making wheels-up landings - there are those who have and those who will. Lucky for me, we’ve got to use a different technique when docking Wandering Star, so I should be able to stay relatively dry.

And that’s all the boating news that fit to share today.

As of last night, the intrepid travelers were just south of the North Carolina border. The Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup] told me the name of the town, but it was late and I forgot. No matter, because as I write this, they’re most likely underway again.

They had a good day yesterday – making about 86 miles. They’d have gotten farther, but they just missed getting thru a drawbridge in Charleston before the morning rush “no-open” period. So they had 2 hours to kill – I forgot to ask if they motored around or just dropped anchor for the duration. They missed getting thru the bridge by about 5 minutes or so because they got lost in Charleston Harbor. I’ve never been there myself, but I know some waterways can have very confusing channel marks, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the area.

Now, if I’d been there, this probably wouldn’t have happened. I’m the navigator. I’m the one who pores over charts, getting a clear picture of the route. I check and double-check and triple-check channel markers and day marks and landmarks and GPS and anything else available so I know where we are. Even when we’re plying familiar waters, I like to have a chart handy – a body can’t remember every shoal and shallow, and when you need at least 5½ feet of water, you don’t want to come up short.

Steve is the captain – literally. He has a 50-Ton Coast Guard Master’s License, with a towing and sailing endorsement. And he’s one of the most amazing boat handlers I’ve seen. He can read the wind and the current and pretty much make the vessel do exactly what he wants. When we enter or leave a marina, even one we’ve never visited before, he knows exactly what he has to do to get us into or out of a slip without endangering other boats. “What’s the big deal?” you ask – well, Wandering Star is 15 tons, with a displacement hull and a single prop driven by the 80HP diesel engine. It’s not a particularly maneuverable boat. Unlike a car, response times are slow – you don’t just start and stop. When you engage reverse, you back up with a kick to starboard (that’s the right to you landlubbers) so you have to plan for that. The rudder is all but ineffective in reverse.

Yet he handles her as if he’s been her captain forever. In reality, we’ve owned her for less than 4 years. But he’s that way with every boat. By my reckoning, we’ve owned/chartered/borrowed about a dozen different sailboats over the last 18 years. The smallest is our daughter’s Laser – a 14’ barely-big-enough-for-two-better-with-just-one trainer/racer. We’ve also sailed a Hobie 16, a no-name 18, a Hunter 23, an Irwin 25, a Newport 30 (that was my favorite), a 32’ wooden cutter, a Jenneau 36 (I hated that one), and a couple others. In a very short time, Steve knows the boat. He knows its pivot point. He knows how it responds to the helm. He knows how to make it do exactly what he wants it to do. He’s tried to teach me, but I just don’t get it. I don’t feel it.

I do great in open water. I enjoy taking the helm when we cruise. I can navigate and sightsee and relax and generally have a good time as we get where we’re going. In a couple of no wind/no current situations, I was able to dock as if I knew what I was doing. But I haven’t learned how to deal with tight situations. So Steve takes the wheel and I get on deck with a dock line and boat hook. We make a great team. I can usually figure out what he’s going to do and what he’ll want me to do. And when he yells, I generally don’t yell back, then he apologizes and life goes on.

So anyway, they’re moving thru NC today. Right now, he’s guessing they’ll make Baltimore on July 10, which means I’ll be leaving Jax on the 9th. The adventure continues…

Cape Fear, NC - that was their stop last night. Today will be an equally difficult day for them - apparently the waterway has been full of personal watercraft (Jet Skis, Waverunners, SeaDoos) and, as is sadly typical, many of the riders haven’t a clue. While they were waiting for a bridge opening yesterday, several of these boneheads were racing within a couple of yards of Wandering Star.

There’s an ongoing discussion in the boating community, with many, for some reason, against licensing boaters. Some states require a boating safety course for kids under 16, but with the exception of commercial operation, any yahoo with the money can take the tiller/wheel of any boat and take to the water. We see it all the time - boaters with no concept of right-of-way or rules of the road. Boaters who disregard their wake and its effect. Boaters who overload their vessels and overindulge in alcohol. And, prejudices aside, most of these operate powerboats.

We sustained a lot of damage aboard the boat we lived on because a moron in a huge fishing boat decided to pass between us and the shore, sending a huge wake at us, causing us to rock like crazy. They had a good laugh, and we had things flying around below and breaking. Great fun, huh guys?

A few years ago, four people died here in Jax - they’d been downtown drinking, and they were speeding home late at night. Navigation lights and lights on shore can be confusing enough when you’re sober and taking your time, so there’s no way these guys had any clue. They sped under a dock that extended a good ways out (some spots in the river here are fairly shallow a long way from shore) and were decapitated. It was discovered the next morning when a man noticed a boat bobbing beside his seawall - he went down and found the bodies. The police figured out what dock they’d hit. Maybe being licensed wouldn’t have made a difference, but maybe if the operator had been trained, he might not have pulled such a stunt.

So, I think every boater should be licensed. They need to know how to read a chart, what the basic rules of the road are, how to speak on the radio correctly (I cringe when I hear good-ol-boy-truckin’-jargon - we don’t say “What’s your 20?” on the water!!!), and how not to be an ass afloat. It’s long overdue.

Back to the trip <kicking soapbox under a chair> - they’re about 300 miles south of Norfolk. If they can maintain their pace, that will mean 4 days to the Chesapeake Bay. And another 24 hours or so to Baltimore. Looks like I’ll be leaving Tuesday morning to meet them. Anybody wanna come sit with my doggies while I’m gone??

Man, that’s a toughy FCM.

Well, remember, when you DO get up here all the MAD’s will throw a welcome bash just for you.

JC, but the time I get there, I’ll be ready for some serious party time! If our boat was bigger, we could do a Floating Fest, but if we have more than 6 guests aboard, it’s just too cozy for fun.

Anyway, as of last night, they were in Swan Point Marina on the New River. Today promises to be a long day. They’ll have to do the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound. There aren’t a lot of places to stop along these bodies of water. Add to that the insane PWC operators and all the other once-a-summer boaters who only go out for 4th of July… it’s likely to be a stressful day.

I’ve been gathering the stuff I’m supposed to take with me - the computer discs, the motorcycle helmets, the books and pictures and magazines. He wanted a small work table to put in his storage unit, but I don’t think I can fit it on the trailer with the motorcycle, so it’ll be for a later trip.

I’ve also been thinking about finding a hotel about halfway between here and Baltimore so we can have an occasional weekend where neither of us has to drive all day. I think Lumberton is about midway, and I know there are tons of hotels there. I’ll have to check the miles when I drive up next week.

Today starts their second week afloat - I know they all want the trip to be over. Me too. I miss my sweetie. <sigh>

Won’t you be glad when I let this thread die? I will - 'cause it’ll mean that the trek is over.

They’ll be spending the night at anchor tonight. The only convenient marina was booked solid. So they filled up their fuel and water tanks and got some extra ice. They’ll go as far as they can and, no doubt, take off as early as they can in the morning.

Steve said they’re about 150 miles from Norfolk - barring unforeseen problems, they’ll arrive there on Sunday.

I’ve already made arrangements with the kennel for the doggies. Coworker Chuck is coming over tomorrow to help me load the bike. Gotta fuel up Steve’s car and my van. Work on Monday, take off at dawn on Tuesday. Can’t wait…

Got a late update about 9:30 last night. The did manage to find marina space, which was good because it was a hot day and they didn’t relish a night without air conditioning or a long shower.

He figured they were about 130 miles from Norfolk. Today’s trip will be dictated by where they can spend tonight.

My friend, who will be driving Steve’s car to baltimore, is coming to dinner tomorrow. He and his wife will be going up with me. Whether they take their car and split off upon arrival or stay with us is to be determined. But if they don’t drive their car, I’ve got to find beds for them. I have a sister living near BWI - mebbe she has space. The rest of my sibs and my folks all live north of the city. And the sister who lives near the marina just got out of the hospital, so the last thing she needs is houseguests.

It’s going to be an interesting week - the fun will continue until Friday or Saturday. Whew!

OK, getting closer. They’re about 50 miles from Norfolk. They plan to stop there tomorrow long enough to fuel up, then keep going. Steve expects they’ll hit the Inner Harbor on Monday afternoon.

Chuck came over today and we got the motorcycle secured on the trailer. I filled Steve’s car, and I’ll fill the van tomorrow. The doggies go to the kennel on Monday afternoon. I’ve got a list of things that need to go into the van - hope I remember it all.

And now, to bed with me…

OK… now you got me involved in the trip…

So, Bump!

Thanks, Astroboy! I just got a call from the good Captain. He was waiting for a bridge to open - no on-demand openings there - only on the hour and half-hour. They’ll be passing 5 bridges and a lock today before hitting Norfolk. So much for his goal to be on the Chesapeake by mid-afternoon. I’m hoping he changes his mind and they spend the night somewhere, but knowing him as I do…

I’m gathering together the things that need to go with me. When he called, he asked me to bring his Ph meter. Ummmm, OK. I was afraid to ask why. I could understand wanting the multi-meter, as he still has a little electrical work to do. I understand wanting the sound-proofing foam for the air conditioner. I can even understand wanting one of his old scrunchy pillows. But a Ph meter?

I envy them this passage up the Chesapeake. I love sailing on the bay. It’s a beautiful body of water, and there’s so much to see and do - so many places to go. That’s a large part of the reason we decided we’d retire there. Just going out for a weekend and dropping anchor in a quiet cove. Or going to Annapolis, or St. Michael’s, or Rock Hall, or Havre de Grace… And there’s the entire southern Bay - I’ve never been south of the Potomac. A former boss lived down there - he said the sailing was the best. Not a whole lot of cities go visit, but tons of wonderful anchorages. Can’t hardly wait.

So, 2 more days till I see my fambly again. This saga will wind up, and a new one will begin. No one ever accused me of having an uneventful life.

Steve called me just before 5 this morning. I’d been awake since 4, thinking of calling him - I had a difficult time falling asleep, worrying about them making an all-night crossing. But they were safe and sound at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons Island - our old home-base. We kept a boat at Spring Cove for 3 years - that’s where I took my impromptu swim off the bow.

They got into the Chesapeake around 2 Sunday afternoon. Steve was relieved to have open, deep water after the narrow, shallow channel he’d been following for so long. He established a watch rotation - the Perfect Child[sup]TM[/sup] had the 2-4AM shift - but Steve wound up on the helm most of the night. That didn’t surprise me too much. He called me just before 11 last night, somewhere west of Tangier Island, and he said there wasn’t a light to be seen. It’s been a long time since we sailed at night - couple that with their long day on the water, and I was fretting long-distance.

But, all is well. When Trevor arrives and opens the marina office, they’ll fuel up and get underway again. As long as the winds and seas don’t fight them, they should make Baltimore before dark.

I’ll take the dogs to the kennel as soon as I get home. I’ve got a list of things to remember to pack and things I need to do before going. Assuming no problems, I’ll be on the road tonight, dragging the Royal Star behind me. I have no idea how far I’ll get, but it’ll be that much less I’ll have to go tomorrow. The friends who are bringing Steve’s car will meet us on Thursday. They’ll spend the night with one of my sisters, and I’ll pick them up in the wee hours of Friday for the trek back to Jax.

If I get a chance, I’ll post a safe-and-sound from my mom’s computer. Otherwise, I’ll be back home late Friday. If they got any good photos, I’ll post them on Steve’s page - I know you’re all living vicariously thru this tale!

Thanks for following the story.

Oooh, we can’t wait till Friday! We must know! Have a safe drive, FCM.