||05-31-2008 02:23 PM
So I arrived in Portland after a grueling 1750 mile drive, which I made having left at 8am Thursday, and arriving at the s/v William Bligh at 2am Saturday morning. It was rainy... I was halfway wired from too much caffeine, and dead tired but unable to sleep. An hour and a half earlier I had been pulled over by a Massachusetts State Trooper who had either seen me weaving around on the 495 in Boxboro as he claimed, or was suspicious of an out of state Ford Bronco tooling along at 54 mph at midnight with cars wizzing by it in the all of the lanes to its left.
"License and Registration." The trooper began, in a very cold manner.. it seems they're not as cordial when you're driving four-wheeler as opposed to my usual eighteen wheeled Kenworth. Not only didn't he ask for insurance, I didn't ask why he'd pulled me over. I was just hoping he wouldn't want to look over the single shot New England Firearms 12 gauge, in its case and original wrapper in the cargo area. Some of you who followed my last voyage will note that I don't have the "arsenal" as some described it, as I did during my Pacific voyages... but since I know what's going to happen in Bermuda with it (The boat won't clear because of the cats, so it will sit in Powder hole... and the flare guns and the shot gun may be confiscated and returned upon my departure, according to the guy on the phone I talked to.).. and since New England has tighter gun laws.. I thought I'd carry the least offensive thing that I could still have fun with.. Very few shells too.. a box of bird shot and 5 single-shot slugs for the odd shark that might spot Lava and not leave the boat alone until he has a feline feast.. but I digress to the events of Friday evening....
He disappeared to his patrol car with my credentials, and when he came back he fired off:
"Where are you coming from tonight?"
Where are you going?"
"Are you a little tired? You were weaving around a bit back there."
"Perhaps, it's been a long day."
"Where was the last place you stopped?"
"New York, just prior to the Mass Pike to fuel."
"Where are you going after Portland?"
"My sailboat's in Portland.. I'm sailing her there."
"Is this your current address, in Nebraska?"
"Are you from Maine originally?"
"Where are you from?"
"How long did you live there?"
"Where did you live before Nebraska?"
"So you've lived all over."
"Ok.. I'll be right back." The trooper said as he went back to his car. A few minutes later, he returned. "Are you awake now?" He asked.
"OK, I'm going to give you a warning, you drive carefully to Portland."
There was oddly no paper warning, it was a verbal.. so I carefully restarted the Bronco and merged back onto the 495, grateful that that had all gone smoothly.
When I arrived at the boat it was raining, dreary, and I was not in a good mood. I took the ladder out of the back of the Bronco and set it up behind the Paceship East Wind. Then I removed the bungees and ropes that held on a tarp over the cockpit which had been put there to keep the Winter snow out in case I returned earlier... I hadn't, this was the first I'd seen of my boat in nearly six months, and I was dreading what I thought I would find inside. I suspected that not only was the melted bilge ice still there, but so would be additional inches of rain. I hoped it wasn't too deep. Climbing the ladder I scaled the stern pulpet and entered the cockpit, fiddling with my keys to then unlock the companionway. When I slid the companionway hatch open, I was relieved not not see any water, just that familiar musty smell that anyone who owns a boat has enjoyed before. Down the four steps and down into the salon, I pulled the steps and looked back behind the batteries in the vacant engine compartment.. the bilge water was still there all right, but no higher than it had been when I had left her in January, although then it had been ice. I connected the leads to the batteries and with careful resolve, I turned the master switch, which activated the switchboard. The lights inside the boat flickered on... next I reached out and flicked the bilge pump switch, which I fully expected NOT to work, as it had been fully encased in ice previously.. but in fact I heard the bilge pump awaken and gurgle slightly.. then the swish and splash of water shooting out of the back of the transom and onto the pavement below.
Clearing out some things from the v-berth, I made myself a place to stretch out for the night.. I didn't plan to sleep very long, but just wanted to rest my eyes. Before doing this though, I walked out to the cockpit and pulled the ladder up onto the boat.. before returning inside the Bligh. The rain began again, as it had briefly stopped, but this time it was heavier. I closed the hatches and went up to the v-berth and lay down, closed my eyes, trying to get comfortable--trying to fight the effects of 12 pieces of Jolt gum and two bottles of NOS which I'd chewed and drank during my long journey. It seemed like moments later, but I opened my eyes to find it very blue inside the boat and shining in through the windows.. dawn was approaching. Had I slept? I hadn't felt it... but as I lay in my berth, under an old blanket I realized that I did feel a little better, so I must have slept.
I left the boat and drove over to Becky's for eggs and sausage... the returned to the boat yard where the manager had shown up to work. He greeted me asked me if I wanted to stay on the boat while I was in Portland. My answer was slightly evasive, as I have been to too many places where this wasn't allowed... but I think he knew what I meant or was doing when I replied..."I'm... not sure."... as he quickly said, "You can if you want!"
After explaining my proposed itinerary to leave the cats in the boat over the weekend of the 7th and the 8th and launch on Monday the 9th.. he suggested we try and put the boat in the water on the 2nd or 3rd.. so that the cats would get used to the boat.. and that I'd know it was going to stay floating.. then on Thursday night I could drive down to Newport News, Virginia... returning by train and arriving at 2am Sunday the 8th... and I could leave that day if I wanted to, rather than waiting until Monday. He gave me a parking permit and a key to the rest rooms after I came around to his idea as being the better one..
Anyway... I'm still dead tired.. it's pouring down rain... and I've got a list of projects and organizational items I have to attend to, but I should have time to do it tomorrow and at least finish up Monday.. today, it's "Iron Man" at the Falmouth Cinema.