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It is July 13, 1999.
Aboard 'Silver Heels' in Center Harbor, Maine. Yes, STILL in Center Harbor. But, there is progress. The refrigeration works, the batteries are staying charged, there's pressure water, the engine runs well, kedging anchor and new rodes are ordered, tool boxes are stowed, clothing stowed, and food coming aboard. I raised the jib, staysail and foresail, and they all looked good. And she has dry bilges.
Previously, I mentioned that our source of food supplies was Brooklin General Store, about a mile walk from the boat yard. After two weeks here we've learned what is on the store's shelves and what fish or meat transits the meat counter. I can tell you now that it's hamburger, hot dogs, steak, chicken and sometimes Haddock. Fruits include bananas and apples. There's some good salad stuff with lettuce, carrots, onions and tomatoes. I now realize that my bodily nutrition is being controlled by the person that stocks this small country store!
Two nights ago I awoke at 2 am. There was some moderate wind and a chop coming down the reach. We're borrowing the yard's dinghy while they paint ours. Now theirs was jerking and pulling against an old and somewhat rotted painter tied to 'Silver Heels.' This dinghy-on-loan belonged to Joel White, famous boat designer and son of E. B. White (writer of children's stories such as 'Charlotte's Web'). I assumed it had some significance around the harbor. And, I thought it was going to take off with this heavy wind and go across Center Harbor to the rocks. In the dark of night I held my head and a flashlight out the hatch. Things were pitching around alot, I wasn't fully dressed, it was cold, and I wasn't going out there to fix things. It didn't take off.
We painted our dinghy inside and out while she was in a shed at the yard. We launched her from that boatyard shed about 200 feet from the dock. On the row between the paint shed and the dinghy dock she took on water so rapidly that she almost sank. There was only 4 inches of freeboard by the time she reached the dock. If it wasn't made of wood, it would have sunk. This is not unusual (for me?). The boat was stored out of the water in the dry Maine winter air for the last nine months. The planks had shrunk, the seams were open and water could seep (pour) in. "Leave it sunk in the water for one to four days, the planks swell, bail out the water and she'll float nicely." RIGHT. Ellen and I bailed her out (probably too soon) after only half a day in the water. Sure enough, she (the dinghy) sank again! At the present time I've used the yard's scow boat to get out to the big boat. The dinghy is still absorbing sea water, sunk at the float, her rails barely breaking the water's surface.
My past experience tells me that a good cruising sailor needs all sorts of gear and ..... a bilge pump. My main pump would have trouble emptying a coffee cup. I saw this crummy pot metal handle when we moved aboard, and I threw it away. Ellen said don't; it may be something important. Well, it was my bilge pump handle! I need one of those things that they have on the Balclutha's deck. You know, where two iron men, standing up, grab the handle and really put their backs into making the pump work.
Oh, yes. As I mentioned, the refrigeration system works now. Jeff at the yard got the pump primed properly. He sucked a mouthful of antifreeze through the compressor cooling pump! That did it. I know it works because the thing proceded to freeze all the lunch meat and lettuce. Interestingly, the newly installed propane system had a supply hose that was too long. A loop of that propane supply line shifted over - remember Silver Heels likes to roll - to the nearby and now-working refrigeration compressor belts. The belts abraided a hole in the propane line. Near disaster! After doing everything to get the system to work, the 'captain' now shut the @#!$%%&^(*@ system down, removed the hose, rowed ashore and enlisted a repair party to effect immediate corrective measures. A near miss, propane in the lazarette is dangerous.
Worry number 18. We do have thunderstorms. I'm unsure about this boat's lightening protection system. I did find a heavy copper wire going from the keel bolts up the mast raceway to something up there. There's lots of wires on this boat that seem to go nowhere, however. When I was five years old, I lived in Kansas. There was heavy 'sheet lightening' in the summer. My mother, during lightening storms, would take my sister and me downstairs. We'd huddle on the sofa while she put a blanket over us. My mother knew that blankets deflect lightening bolts. My father stood upstairs in the glassed-in sunroom and watched with fascination. Guess who's fears I hold to this day. We had a couple of strikes here a couple of days ago. Let's see, the formula is .2 times the time in seconds from the flash to the boom. Whoa, that was a close one.........
To enter this webpage stuff, I write it aboard the boat, then I pull the dink along side and step aboard it. It's about a quarter mile from our mooring to the dinghy float at the yard. Then, I walk ashore. If Richard (boat yard hand) Wright's truck is running (today it wasn't), I drive to Reach Road and go about a mile to "Hyper Media". "Hyper Media" is a small business run out of a small farmhouse with an office that provides internet access to locals. The office door is on the side of the house near the vegetable garden. Dick or Jim lets me use a phone line and voila, I'm on the internet. As I walk down Reach Road, computer in hand, several people passing in pickups wave to me. I'm known as the guy who bought 'Silver Heels'. They don't know why, but some circumstance has given me custody of 'a local treasure'.
We are adjusting bit by bit, and every passing day offers hope that what we've done will turn out to be a happy adventure.
I'll keep this webpage alive as long as I can row and walk.
Best of luck to you all.
C. Charles "Terry" Vick
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