Sunday, August 14, 2005

PHEW...Crazy day on the river!

Today's schedule:

Leave home 8:30 am
Grab bagel w/lox spread en route.
Report to schooner Adirondack, 9:30 A.M.
9:30 - 10:30 - Prep boat. Scrub 64 feet of deck. Dry same. Stock coolers, lug ice, clean cabin, etc. Apply sunblock to already sweaty self. Ugh. Slam some waters.

Did I mention it was already 98 degrees or so? And quite humid?

10:30 - 12:30 Brunch sail. Lovely. Nice breeze, 8 passengers (who feed us birthday cake - we're not really supposed to but when they set up a plate for you & bring it up forward, well it would be rude to refuse!

Thankfully the sea breeze mitigates the fact that it's already 98 degrees or so - I mentioned that, didn't I? Upwind leg is downright nice...downwind leg (where you feel the breeze less, that's the northbound leg today) - gets long. Captain Teddy knew that, saved the motoring for downwind.

12:30 - 1:00 Clean boat, restock (not tough, 8 passengers don't make much of a dent in the beverages), prep for next sail. Morning captain leaves, afternoon captain arrives.

1:00 - 3:00 - Afternoon sail. Lovely passengers, lovely breeze, life's jes' groovy until I go down to check the condition of the head (that's what the bathroom's called on a boat) and discover it's clogged. Arrrrgh. The head is a finicky, finicky beast.

Did I mention it's feeling 100 degrees outside now?

3:00 - Start to work on unclogging head. This is never a pretty, pleasant, or remotely sanitary project. I will get to practice my recently refreshed removal-of-soiled-latex-gloves skill from first aid class. Did I mention...oh yeah, I think I did. Suffice it to say that doing this in a pizza oven temperature doesn't make it any nicer.

3:30 - Captain decides to delay 3:30 sail until 4, give passengers cut rate, and use the time to keep working on unclogging the head. The primary owner (who built the schooner) arrives & takes charge.

4:00 No dice & looming thunderstorms lead to cancellation of sail. We continue to deal with the head. Fun fun fun. Around 5:15, I return from a run over to Pier 63 with a wire hanger & a snake that the owner of the barge was nice enough to lend us when I explained our predicament to find that Rick (the owner) has succeeded. Yay!

Of course now we have completely ripped the salon apart to get to the plumbing & everything's got to be put back together again by 6 (the next sail).

No problem. I even take borrowed snake back to P.63.

I was actually supposed to check out at 5:30 - but I offer to stay & with a full boat and a hot day, Ben accepts my offer.

6:00 - We launch. It's looking very grim & dark to the north & as we leave the shelter of the piers, I see a lightning strike. It's north, though - doesn't look like we're going to have a problem.

However, it is windy enough out there that we raise only the staysail - and make very good headway under that alone.

6:30 - All hell breaks loose. The storm that we'd seen to the north, that was one small cell on the radar when we left, suddenly blooms into this HUUUUUge thunderstorm. I break out the slickers - classic yellow rubber raincoats, just like the Gorton's fisherman's wear - while the guys tend to dropping the single sail (phew) that we'd been using as the captain heads for home. We continue to serve champagne; a bunch of Broadway people who've come out start singing "Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head up high, and whistle a happy tune..." - with the whitecaps dancing, and the lightning flashing, we're interested in getting our passengers home safely, but at the same time, it's actually a spectacular time on the river, and with our big Volvo engines thrumming away, driving us safely towards the dock, the crew is all grinning with the excitement of it all - and the passengers seem to pick up on that & enjoy it too, and that's just great to see.

The final sail of the day gets cancelled when the captain takes a look at the radar and finds that the cell that multiplied and sent us running for home has apparently invited a lot of friends over for a big thunderstorm party.

That end-of-the-day beer never tasted so good - we must have been quite a picture, the captain & crew all looking like we'd all fallen in the river, and surrounded by the slickers that we'd hung from the porthole latches in the vain hope that they'd dry - still smiling, though. Good heavens, what a day. There are days when it seems bizzarre that sailing that schooner is actually work I'm paid to do...this wasn't one of those!

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