Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Best Grass on the Dock

Two or three hundred feet up the dock from us, there's a dinghy. It's a sad, half-deflated rigid bottom inflatable tucked between the bow of its center cockpit sailboat and the dock. Until last fall, it hung on the dinghy davits off the back of the abandoned sailboat. A pair of seagulls had been using the dinghy as their nesting platform (and causing all kinds of havoc when anyone tried to pass by in the waterway behind the boat). The port finally called the owner and asked him to move the dinghy.

He did. He put it right there against the dock. Without cleaning out the accumulation of nesting material and guano.

As you can see, that dinghy grew a bumper crop of grass. How Hatshepsut found this so far from our boat is a mystery to me. And perhaps it's better that way. I have enough gray hair. Maybe she simply smelled the ripening odor of aging seagull poop and followed her nose. Whatever it was, we were outside on the docks one day and she led me down to this dinghy. She gingerly climbed inside and began eating the grass. This has gone on one each day it hasn't been raining. Mind you, I buy this cat grass from the local health food store. Wheat grass. Lush. Green. Fresh. She appreciates it. We go through a ritual when I come home with groceries. She sticks her nose in each of the bags looking while I sing "Hatshepsut, look! I brought you a treat!" I put down her container of live grass and she proceeds to mince up blades of grass and scatter them all over the white cockpit.

The grass in the dinghy is different. Sure, she pulls it out, too, but that grass she actually eats. Consumes it as if it nourishes her in some fashion that the wheat grass simply can't.
I know it's blurry, but your eyes do not deceive you. Those are bones. What this means is that my youngest feline prefers to eat only grass nourished by the corpses of dead baby seagulls.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Easter Drag

Saturday morning dawned bright, mostly clear, and without a breath of wind. We prepped the boat and cast off for a trip across Puget Sound to go visit my family for the weekend. I'd tell you it was for Easter, but really, it was for food. Mom was putting a ham in the oven and making baked beans. If my husband could have teleported to her house, he would have. The boat was the next best (though it must be noted - not the next fastest way) across the water.

We hadn't taken the boat out since Christmas. The cats had kinda forgotten that their house moves, but they were 100% clear that they DO NOT LIKE that their house moves. Despite a seasick cat making a mess in the master cabin, it was a perfect trip across. We made excellent time. A line of clouds lingered on the horizon, but the sun shone and it was warm. We consulted the tide tables because hubby really wanted to anchor out rather than pay for space at the city dock. I mentioned that the weather was supposed to turn. He squinted at the sky, shrugged and went back to calculating tides.

It's the time of year for big tidal run. On Saturday, when we got to Poulsbo, the tide was going out a long way - 11 feet in just a few hours. We were going from a high of 10 feet to a low of -1.5. He picked a spot and signaled. I dropped the anchor and 70 feet of chain to the mud bottom.

Maritime trials over. We shut down the engine and kicked back. The still air stirred, then began blowing in earnest. The clouds shuttered the blue sky and rain slanted in sideways.


The boat trembled. I got up and glanced around.

"I think we just straightened out all 70 feet of our chain in one go," I said, running to check the depth sounder. "And we are super close to shore. Super, super close. 8 feet of water underneath us."

We didn't drag - which is when your anchor comes up out of whatever was holding it on the bottom. In the case of Liberty Bay, that 'whatever' is stinky, black mud. Our anchor held just fine. The problem was the rode.

Rode is what connects your anchor and your boat. It can be a line (rope) or chain. Most people use a combination. We have 70 feet of chain on the anchor end, and another two hundred feet of line. The theory behind using chain is that it's heavy enough to rest flat on the bottom, which keeps your anchor at the proper angle to the bottom to help it dig in so you don't drag. When we anchor in Liberty Bay, we drop the anchor and then let out all of our chain. We count out extra feet of line based on weather conditions and what kind of scope (the ratio of your boat length to length of rode you pay out) we think we'll need to stay safely anchored in one place.

Thing is, if you're a boater, you already know we missed a step in the anchoring process. We didn't set our anchor. That's when you drop the anchor overboard and then gently back up until the anchor catches and stops the boat. THEN you put out the rest of your rode. Not that it would have made any difference for us. We'd forgotten the cardinal rule of boating: The wind always wins.

Because the tide was going out, we imagined that we'd swing with the current. Instead, the wind blew us against the current, into shallower water. And when the wind REALLY kicked, all 70 feet of our chain went from piled up in the mud, to straightened out in the goo and we went from anchoring in 20 feet of water to 8 feet.

Hubby started the engine. I got on my rain gear and went on deck to haul up the anchor. We could have repositioned and set the anchor in deeper water, but it would have meant rowing the dinghy into the city dock in the wind and rain. Instead, we motored to an empty guest slip and tied up for the weekend. It made the cats happy when the sun came out on Sunday morning and they could get out of the boat to roll on the concrete dock.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Musical Spring

For your listening pleasure. Frog song in Western Washington. This was recorded at my parents' house which is in the midst of wetlands. I went out to the front porch to record. There's nothing to see in the video - the lights that appear briefly are a neighboring house.
I love the frogs and listening to them sing is one of the things I miss living on the boat. No frogs on salt water, alas. So every spring, I go spend a night at my folks' place. Just to get my hit.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Apologies May Be the Death of Me

I had to apologize to my mom today. I called her up to deliver my apology, so naturally, she answered on speaker phone. Fortunately, it was because she was on her hands-free set in the car. (Begin PSA: Cellphone use without a hands-free device of some kind will get you stopped and ticketed in Washington state! End PSA.)

Mom and my sister had some concerns about my health. I'd made light of them, but asked my doctor about their specific issue just the same. Why leave any base not covered, right? The doctor assured me there was nothing at all to worry about. Yay. But still. I'd realized that I maybe hadn't handled my family's concerns gracefully. Thus the phone call. I made my apology.

Mom said, "Eh, I didn't feel blown off. If I had I would have told you. We're family. We shouldn't have to worry about how you or I interprets what the other says."

I can see the point. But I think it's precisely because we are family - and I value both of my parents and the relationship I have with each of them - that it's vital to make apologies when I've been callous about their feelings. The death of any given relationship rarely comes from one major injury. It comes from a thousand tiny cuts that aren't bandaged with a simple 'I'm sorry'.

It's so easy to take family for grated and assume that apologies aren't necessary. It seems really twisted to me that it's often easier to apologize to a stranger than to a loved one. Or is that just me?

Maybe it's harder to apologize to someone I care about because I already feel small for having hurt whoever it was. If the person is REALLY mad or upset, I'll feel even worse. There are huge (possibly selfish) emotional stakes in procuring forgiveness. And what if you don't? What then? I totally get not approaching someone I care about to apologize. It feels so like I'm yanking the scab off of a wound that may make me bleed out. Yet if I don't, the fact that I've potentially been a jerk to someone I love spins round and round in my head, feeding the 'you're worthless' voices that occasionally pop up.

This is where being socially awkward is like the internet. On the internet, you don't feed the trolls. When you're socially awkward, you don't feed The Voices. They have enough fuel already, thanks.