The Woods at Johnson Mill

Our Temporary Home

Our Temporary Home

Last week, Robin and I rented an apartment.  By all accounts it was the first apartment that either of us had rented in perhaps 30 years as both Robin and I have been home owners for many years.    The application was fairly detailed but was pretty much seamless.   Soon we were approved renters for a 1002 square foot 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment.   Today, Robin and I signed the lease and contractual information and I took possession of the keys.

Driving up Abbey Lane to our new place I was a bit worried.  Would the place smell of dog?   Was it going to be “clean enough”?   All my fears were ameloriated when I opened the door.  The place was fairly clean, although still not to my standards, it was a good place to start.   With a cadre of cleaning supplies in hand I began to “mark my territory” and get things up to my level of cleanliness.    After a couple of hours and a few hand tools, I had the place looking pretty good.   Tomorrow, Robin and I will move some things to the new place and do a bit more cleaning.   Perhaps, the most discouraging part was replacing the light bulbs.  Since we have a view to the North East, there isn’t much light coming in the windows.  Made a bit worse, by the fact that the previous occupants had failed to replace burned out bulbs; it was pretty dark.

Fortunately, this apartment is centrally located,  it’s just off of I-540 and less than one mile from Willow Creek Woman’s hospital.   Should we decide to pare down to one car,  Robin could walk to work if necessary.   Not a big deal.

Winter came early this year,  and while we are used to freezing cold temperatures in Northwest Arkansas,  this week has only been conducive to sitting in front the fire place on Jimmie Avenue and warming my cold toes while thinking about points south.    Our Vice Commodore, Mike Carron was kind enough to cancel the final race with temperatures fore cast in the 30’s.   While I really wanted to race I was thankful for not freezing while trying to keep my head warm enough to think about the next move on the race course.    That said,  I plan to create a post about my successful drive to fantastic 2013 season aboard Dreamer, the Merit 25 which I have been driving since mid-2012 when our brother Bruce Smith moved south to warmer climes.

The plan changes with each day; but the focus remains the same: move out of our house for the last 17 years and get on with this living on the boat business.   It’s clear that this is going to happen  in the next few weeks.    We need a bit of transition time at the apartment, coupled with a bit of job/transition hunting time for Robin and by mid-January we should be as they say “good-to-go”.

Kat, Cliff and Orion joined us this past weekend for a bit of fellowship.   It was Kat’s birthday weekend and she chose to spend it with Robin and I for the last time at our house on Jimmie.   Ostensibly, she drove up to collect some things that Robin and I had not planned on keeping and that she might use in Tennessee.   She was really keen on Mom’s old curved glass curio cabinet- a reproduction that Mom and Dad purchased many, many, years ago.   Kat got a ton of other things that would have been cast-offs, had it not been for her willingness to drive to Fayetteville and rent a truck to take the stuff back to Woodbury.    Knowing my sister,  these things will be kept in museum quality for the next one-hundred years.   She will use them gently and they will become heirlooms for future generations.

I’m pleased that Kat chose to spend her birthday with Robin and I.   So pleased, that I “put on the dog” (Gladys Jean’s words) and cooked a fantastic meal consisting of: black and blue shrimp,  roasted new potatoes, bone-in pork roast, brussels sprouts (sorry Orion) and a salad.   The meal turned out to be fantastic, and spending time with Kat was even better. For other food ideas and recipes tune in to my other blog:  Cooking For Robin 

It looks like we’ll move out this week and sort more stuff at the apartment, after that it is boating time as we plan to be in Mobile for my birthday.   The boat will be launched and we’ll be live-a-boards soon.   A plan that started so very long ago is actually all coming together as planned.   See you on Mobile Bay, for now


Last Day on Mobile Bay

DSC_3341Despite a tremendous amount of work accomplished by Robin, Jimmie, and myself over the past 10 days.  Sea Change still remains on the hard.    Just before 8 am Billy, a semi-retired mechanic who works for Turner began to work on the cutlass bearing.  The cutlass bering is located inside the propeller strut.  It takes a special tool to remove it.  We have about 1100 engine hours on Sea Change, so hopefully this repair will last for a few more years.

The bottom job is complete except for the painting around the pads.   I’ve been cleaning up and preparing to leave in the morning.   While I would rather stay until the boat is in the water and the mast is up.   I’m being pulled to return to Northwest Arkansas.  I’ve been away from Robin for almost a week and I miss her.

We have about 3 weeks to clear out our 3200 square foot home.   While much of it has been cleaned up,  there is still a ton of stuff to move and pack.  We’ve been living there for nearly 17 years and have collected the the usual amount of junk.   We have decided to keep just a few things,  two comfy chairs and ottomans, our IKEA bed, Robin’s antique desk, and our dining room table.   The rest of it will be sold or given away.

Today Robin is working on finding an apartment for the next two months or so in Northwest Arkansas.   We hope to find an executive apartment that is furnished.  So, the plan will be to downsize in two steps.  First, move into the apartment and then transition to the boat.  Plans are to depart the Mobile area around the first of February.

Headed North!

Turner Marine Mobile, AL

Turner Marine Mobile, AL

Tomorrow is my last full day in Mobile for a while.   I must return to Fayetteville and help Robin clear out the rest of house, find an apartment for a couple of months, and sell a ton of stuff.   It’s going to be a fast 3 weeks to get to our closing date of December 11, 2013.

I’m not a patient person and the yard here at Turner is very busy.  I had hoped to have Sea Change in the water by now,  but with each passing day it looks like the boat will stay here on the hard for the rest of the month.   At least, I might get the hull buffed while we are gone.

The keel repair was completed today and Richard did a fantastic job.   I suited up and sanded again.   Jimmie painted the areas that were repaired with an epoxy barrier coat.   We had hoped to paint the keel with the bottom paint but the unseasonably cool temps slowed the epoxy cure by hours.   So at 4 this afternoon, when the barrier still wasn’t dry,  it was time to formulate a new plan.

We worked for a time on Soul Serenade. Jimmie purchased an entire suite of electronics so we worked for several hours to get the depth sounder out of his hull.  Grinding,  hammering, and a bit of swearing, and voila, we had the brass sending unit in hand.  On to  other projects for Soul.  Jimmie and I had tried to fix the packing gland and nut on Beaver Lake, but with just concern, Jimmie was afraid to put too much torque on the prop shaft,  just in case we caused a leak.  Now with the boat on the hard,  its really not much of a problem.

Cruisers make quick friends.  We met Les and Bob from Lake Stockton in Missouri here in Mobile. They are just a bit ahead of us and were launched today.   The mast is still on the hard, but they are in the water.   While I am in Mobile, I sometimes feel like I am in another country.   There is Hugh and his lovely wife aboard Scotia; they are from Scotland and are on their second trip around the world.   There is Mark and his wife, Linda aboard DevOcean,  they are from Canada and came down the river.   They have spent the past few weeks tricking out the Beneteau for points south. It truly is a small world after all.

Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen

Robin left Mobile yesterday to visit her Dad in Wilmot.  She didn’t want to leave, but felt the constraints of family pulling here along.  She left around two and drove hard to get to her Dad’s house.   She spent the night and drove home, splitting the long drive almost in half.

Jimmie and I stayed with the boats to get more projects completed.   Living on the “hard” isn’t easy.  The boat was supposed to be in the water last week,  and now it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this week.  In September I dove on the boat to get clean some of the lake slime off the hull before transport.  I noticed a small crack in the fiberglass on the where the lead keel joins the with the hull.  After we hauled it out of the water in Arkansas,  we sounded on the fiberglass and there was a dead spot.  Richard from fiber plastics has been working on it for a few days.   It seems pretty slow, but eventually he should be finished.

Late this afternoon, the wind began to scream out of the north,  the temperatures started to drop rapidly.   Sea Change has central heat and air conditioning, much like a household system, except that instead of circulating air, the system uses sea water.   Since we are on the hard,  there isn’t any water to circulate,  so we are using a small space heater to stay warm.   That didn’t work too well last night as the temperature in Mobile dropped to the low 30’s.

The project list keeps growing and we are hopeful that we could get launched by the end of the week.   Tomorrow,  I’ll put the mast back together and get it ready to be stepped.   The work on the keel should be finished as well,  we will add a small barrier coat and then the requisite two coats of Sea Hawk ablative bottom paint.   Bottom paint is largely comprised of copper which provides anti-fouling properties which should prevent marine organisms from adhering to the hull.   Bottom jobs on boats are expensive,  originally I was going to pay Turner Marine to do the job.   I opted for the do-it-yourself plan and saved Robin and I thousands of dollars.   A few days ago, I began the very nasty job of sanding the hull.  I was covered with the previous layers of bottom paint.   Next to working on the head, bottom jobs have to be the worst boat chore on the planet.

Since the bottom paint is mostly copper,  it’s very expensive.   Sea Hawk Cu-coat is about $270.00 a gallon,  we purchased the third gallon and it’s look like it should do the trick.

We were ready to be splashed and then the it started raining.  It rained pretty hard most of the afternoon.   While I was disappointed that we didn’t get the boat in the water,  I was happy to clean up the cabin, wash dishes, and ready my stuff for the 11 hour car trip back to Arkansas.

It won’t take too much time to get everything ready to go upon our return in December.   We should be in the water in a few days,  central heat working and living the dream.

In the pines on Dauphin Island

We drove like mad men over the past two days.   Jimmie on a direct route from Fayetteville to Turner Marine in his pick up truck laden with ladders, tools, and more than a weeks worth of clothing.  Robin and I left in the 4Runner after she got off work at 7 PM on Tuesday.  We grabbed some dinner, and while eating remembered that in our haste to leave we forgot our checkbook.   After the false start, we finally got back on the road at 8:30 PM.   As the story goes, it was a dark a stormy night, and it did rain until we drove just south of Conway, AR.   We stayed in Little Rock for the night.

Bright and way too early, around 7 PM we grabbed a Starbucks Coffee and headed south.   Our destination was Wilmot and a brief visit to Robin’s dad to drop off an old sander that he wanted.   We drove hard across the Arkansas’ Delta and arrived about 9:30 in the morning on warm fall day in south Arkansas.

After visiting for a couple of hours we hit the road again,  driving for much of the rest of day, to arrive at Turner Marine around 5:30 last night about 5 minutes after Jimmie.   Excited to be at Turner, Jimmie popped a beer and began to socialize.   As it turns out,  Wednesday nights at Turner are reserved for pot luck dinners.   The gathering of boaters was uncannily just like Beaver Lake Sailing Club, save for one thing,  our lake friends would be huddled around the fire pit, bundled up in hats and gloves and we were in short sleeves.

Robin, Jimmie, and I rented a house in the pines on Dauphin Island while we await our boats to arrive, which should happen later in the morning.   Off season,  we have a two bedroom home that is nestled in the pines, just a short walk from our favorite variety store, Ship and Shore.  We are close enough to enjoy a cup from Gulf Coast Coffee Roasters as well.  Priorities.

Today,  they boats will be unpacked and moved to stands in the yard.    Jimmie and I will begin the process of pressure washing,  sourcing bottom paint, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding.   Our goal on this trip is to finish Sea Change and get her in the water, so that we’ll have a floating apartment and be able to work on Soul Serenade.  Admittedly, Soul need a bit more work on the bottom,  she’s also going to get a new suite of electronics installed.

Mobile Bound

DSC_3174Its Tuesday evening November 5th and I’m exhausted.   The boat is loaded and secured and probably parked in a truck-stop along Interstate 40.   Apparently, wide-loads can’t travel after dark and since we just entered into daylight savings time the trip was cut short by sunset just after 5 pm.

Robin and I left for Mobile around 8:30 on Tuesday night headed south,  Ralph our 66 year old trucker (who moved Sea Change to Beaver in April 2011) and the driver for Jimmie’s boat had only made about 55 miles,  stopping in Rudy at the truck stop for the night.

I later learned by Facebook that the boats passed Tim Welch’s  shop in Conway some time around 11 am.   After we arrived in Mobile, I called Ralph who said they were in Indianola, Mississippi about 160 miles from Turner Marine.   We’ll meet the boats and unload today.

24 Hours

Sea Change

Sea Change

After months and months of preparation for this very day,  it was time to strip Sea Change of all her gadgets, sails and canvas and prepare for the truck ride to Turner Marine in Mobile, Alabama.     I arrived at the Club on Thursday and began to take things apart,  Robin and Sue drove to meet Jimmie and I on Friday morning.  We all got together and headed to Eureka Springs to celebrate the life of our dear friend Susan at Saint James Episcopal Church.   As I have mentioned before, Susan was the sweetest person on planet earth and she touched so many lives with her deep and spiritual sense.   While the service was sad and somber, it became clear afterwards that all of the people that Susan knew were together.   Susan would have loved to see everyone laughing and talking about her, and while her passing saddens me deeply; it was a wonderful and healing experience to be amongst Susan’s dear friends,  even those we only met on Friday.   Because Susan touched everyones lives individually,  it was amazing to see how everyone had a similar story to share about her life.

All of us returned to the boats on Friday afternoon and continued the task of readying ourselves and our boats for transport.  Getting ready to go is nothing short of working yourself to death and hoping that it will all work out in the end.   Jimmie and I and worked diligently to accomplish many tasks, some small, some huge,  calling upon each other when we needed a bit of tech support, advice, or just some extra muscle to get the job done.

When “happy hour” arrived as the late full sun began to set, we were exhausted.   While much of what we were doing was physical,  there was a tremendous amount of mental wear as well.  Sitting down to a collaborative meal has been one of the highlights of our sailing club life.   Jimmie and Sue are both foodies like Robin and I,  and we always try new dishes.  Last night was no different, with a delicious marinated grilled tuna, accompanied by an Autumn butternut squash soup and a salad.   We ate, we laughed and we toasted with delicious wine about our future adventures.

Our last night to stay aboard Sea Change found the four of us at the fire pit,  the Club’s communal gathering place,  where friends enjoy each other’s company, and libations flow. It was the perfect way to end our 11 year residence at the Club.   Many of our very best sailing friends were enjoying the evening with us.

Things began to cascade.  I received a text from Anthony Clark, our real estate agent, with a request for a phone conversation.   Soon with both Robin and I on the phone we realize we have a bonafide offer from some folks who viewed the property earlier in the day.   “An offer?”  we are floored.    Robin and I retire to the boat to contemplate the offer and figure things out.   We counter and soon find that we have an accepted offer and we are “under contract”.

We had certainly planned for this to happen,  but it is serendipitious for everything to come together on our final night aboard Sea Change at the club.   The bevy of questions follows, they want to close when? What are we going to do our stuff?  We are set to move the boat? Then what happens?  Under pressure?  It’s all happening so fast and moving in the direction that we want to go.   Amazing!

We continued work today on Sea Change getting her ready for destinations south.  Packing and re-packing.  Moving things aboard,  taking things home,  deciding what we really need and what is just flotsam.

Sharply, at 2 pm this afternoon,  I backed Sea Change out of her slip for the final time and began the trip south to Prairie Creek Marina.   Our dear friends Johnny and Judi toasted us with a glass of wine for our final journey and even escorted us part way down the lake.    It was sweet, it was sad, but our last ten years of planning are actually beginning to pay off.   I’m amazed!

The nearly three hour trip to Prairie Creek made me realize that Beaver Lake is a gem of of Northwest Arkansas.  It also caused me to wonder why in all of days on Beaver why we had only ventured down the lake this far a few times.    For my sailing friends at the Club,  there are many days worth of adventure,  just head out and stay the night at many of the great places along Beaver’s nearly 500 miles of shore.