I’ve just looked into things after being told by a friend that he couldn’t comment on a post. I’m having issues with the settings on this page but you CAN comment if you’d like. You just have to click on the individual post and the comment box will be at the bottom of the page. Given the prevalence of spam, I’ll have to approve the post before it appears but I promise I will check in here regularly and approve anything that’s appropriate (i.e.: not spam).
Now to figure out why the blog page is showing entire posts and not just the first few sentences as I have it set (or so I think)…
Today being President’s Day meant a day off from work. And since it’s a weekday, that meant the fuel dock at Annapolis Landing Marina was open (even on a holiday; I called ahead to check). Even in this very mild winter, several months of living aboard and running my forced-air heater meant my diesel tank was down to fumes. It was time to fill up.
And even though the price of diesel is obscene right now, I was glad to be putting some new fuel in my tank. I took on the diesel I’ve been using back before the pandemic so it was getting kinda manky––so much so that I had it cleaned in October. And even though Clean Fuels said the diesel was in good shape I still had to put a new filter on the line that comes out of the tank and feeds the Espar when there was still gunk in the fuel that clogged up the heater. So, new diesel on board was going to make me feel better.
ALM is just across Back Creek from where Further is spending this winter at Butler’s Marina so it was a quick motor. There was also zero wind (in stark contrast to the gale that blew through yesterday) so maneuvering was a piece of cake––something I was worried about given I had driven the damned boat in eons. But with all due modesty, I handled Further pretty well, if I do say so myself.
That’s not to say there weren’t issues.
It took a while to get out of my slip when the transmission wouldn’t work properly. This has happened before but every time a mechanic looks at it they can’t replicate the problem. I would put the engine into gear and…nothing. I got so perplexed that I had secured Further back into her slip thinking I wasn’t going anywhere when, on a final try, the damned thing went into gear. Knock on wood, there weren’t any more problems but it’s something I have to get addressed at some point. Or address myself, though that might be beyond my pay grade.
Upon arrival at the fuel dock I was leaning on the lifeline to catch a stern line thrown by the guy on the dock when the damned lifeline broke. I almost went for a swim but fortunately was able to catch myself. But still, replacing the lifelines is on my to-do list for this spring…well, that timing may have just moved up to “now.”
Finally, after filling up Futher‘s diesel tank, I decided to poke my head out of Back Creek, just for a quick look-see. Thing is, as I mentioned, there wasn’t any wind so going for a sail wasn’t really worthwhile. And as I knew before I started, sitting idle in the gag-inducing water of Back Creek for the better part of a year meant that Further‘s bottom was naaaaaasty. Motoring a bit cleaned some of the gunk off but not much, so our speed never got to where it normally would be given a certain RPM level. Another task for the to-do list.
BUT…I still got to see the Chesapeake from someplace other than land. And I got to feel Further move through the water, albeit under power and slowly. And it felt good. So good that it’s going to happen much more frequently in the coming days and weeks. And then, in spring…well, that’s for another post, so stay tuned.
P.S.: Further and I have extensive plans for 2023 and I’ll let you know about them in the coming days. But I’ve begun putting some events––right now, just concerts I’ll be attending with friends this summer––into the calendar on this site so that’s a good reminder that when things get up and running, that calendar will be a place for you to keep tabs on where we’re gonna be…AND, if you are so inclined, enable you to get in on the action by signing on. More details on that to come but just a quick heads-up for now. So check out the schedule!
Further was finally on the move last week. An epic journey, as a matter of fact: we moved all the way to the other side of Back Creek. Oh but hey, we did move from the head of the creek to down near the mouth.
More to the point, Further and I moved back to Butler’s Marina, the marina on the town side of Back Creek where we lived for most of 2018-2019. It’s a small, cozy marina and is a stark contrast to where we’ve been since August 2021.
That marina, let’s call it Gigantor Marina, is actually a working boatyard, with pretty much every possible marine industry having a shop on the yard. It’s convenient having those services present but it means there’s so much hustle and bustle, and transient sailors coming and going among the hundreds of slips that there’s very little community on the docks.
Butler’s, on the other hand, is a marina of about 25 slips or so. It’s nestled into the residential area known as Eastport, just across the street from a wonderful local pub. When I lived aboard there a few years ago, there were half-a-dozen or so other liveaboards and we were our own little neighborhood. There’s only one other permanent liveboard boat nowadays, but it’s home to Dave and Dottie and their ancient, wonderful black Labrador, Scuppers, and it’s great to hear her arthritic “woof” when you step out of your car at the head of the pier. There are also a couple of other folks living aboard for a little while that make the marina a fun place to hang out, especially since this autumn has been pretty wonderful in terms of weather (with one notorious six-day stretch where the remnants of Hurricane Ian made things absolutely miserable).
Sidebar: there’s also one couple heading south in the next couple of weeks who, this past weekend, aided by their devouring a couple of bottles of wine, revealed themselves to be quite possibly the most repulsive people I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter in person. Their racist and homophobic tirades were so offensive that I finally got up and walked back to Further.
But Butler’s has a wonderful little fire pit on shore with some Adirondack chairs around it. There are two grills and a bunch of deck furniture on a wide area at the end of the dock. There’s also a washer and dryer that are free to use — FREE! — and the bathroom/shower is a tasteful tile-and-stone facility that feels like what you’d find in a nice home.
Gigantor, on the other hand, has one bathhouse with industrial toilets and showers (which, it must be admitted, had awesome water pressure). The thing is: it was (no kidding) an honest quarter-mile walk away from where they stuck us liveaboards up on G Dock. There were two (pay) washers and dryers to serve the entire marina and not a single grill or picnic table or seat anywhere on the yard. Other behemoth boatyards have amenities such as multiple laundry rooms, swimming pools, tennis courts and so on. As mentioned, even tiny Butler’s has more than one grill.
I’ve pooh-poohed Gigantor ever since I got there. It’s true that they maintain what they have in impeccable condition but there’s no…soul. No heart. It’s a business and it’s run like one. It never felt like a home.
That’s why it’s been such a delight to have moved back to Butler’s. Just being there has made me happier by a wide margin. And to live that kind of comfort, that kind of peace and joy, has been a treat.
And get this: it’s also a few hundred bucks cheaper a month. Seriously. So there’s that.
So it might not really be a case of the best of marinas versus the worst of marinas, but the stark contrast between Gigantor and Butler’s points up how important it is to be a situation and a place where you’re happy.
I’ll touch more on happy places — and the potential for new happy places in Further‘s future — in the next post…
Addendum: This past weekend has been the antithesis of last Saturday night’s eye-opening debacle. No sign of the repulsive folks (thank goodness). Rather, it’s been several evenings of unseasonably warm weather, a waxing moon and good times with wonderful neighbors such as Kurt and Monica, locals whose boat is still in the slip next to where Further was back in 2018-19. Just wonderful evenings that make boat life so fabulous.
It is with great pride and profound happiness that I report that Further has once again left the dock. Finally! Thanks to help from from a marina mate—who happens to be dealing with the same delays from the same rigging company that screwed my summer—I was able to get out onto Chesapeake Bay and actually, you know, sail. What a concept!
To recap: In the wake of the extensive work being done on Further since, well, the beginning of 2022, some fuel problems had me really wary about running the engine for even a not-too-long period—say, long enough to get out of Back Creek and into the bay. A couple of weeks ago, the electrician who was tackling the controller that enables the alternator to charge up the batteries ran into a problem: the fuel filter alarm was going off. And no surprises, either: when I looked at the primary fuel filter (the first one after the fuel tank) it was full of water and crap. But the alarm is wired to the secondary filter, the one actually ON the engine. So I cleaned both filters and then ran the engine for about 20 minutes, with varying amounts of throttle, and voila! No alarm. No pressure issues. Nothing. Yes, there’s still gunk in the primary filter but it was stable and not causing any problems.
So, after spending the morning hauling the much-lighter Stephan to the top of Further’s mast, where he pulled off the Bluetooth wind instrument and brought it down to the navigation station so it could be paired with the electronics since the aforementioned rigging company hadn’t done so prior to installing the instrument atop the mast and raising said mast, and then hauling Stephan back up to the top of the mast to reinstall said instrument, we went to Davis’ Pub for lunch (on me, as thanks for going up the mast) and then Stephan and I took Further out.
And as you can see, things worked. We headed out of Back Creek and pointed southeast, a bit upwind of a reach, and enjoyed the light but steady breeze. Upon reaching the channel, we turned Further around and headed back, this time a bit before the wind so it was a slower go but still fun.
And yes, as you can see, I’m missing a tooth. It’s an old (33 years ago) hockey injury that came back this summer. But I am in the process of getting it fixed so I’ll soon be as pretty as before.
No matter. Any time Further is cruising along under sail it’s a pretty sight. And there’s more to come.