Ruddy Ducks are migratory divers. I’ve not seen them before so it was a bit of a treat. (I’ve not seen a Canvasback before today, either. Still not seen a live one.) They like to feed around the Picaroon and we will hear a loud ‘PLOOP!’ as they dive under when we come on deck in the morning. It took ages to get a half-decent shot of them, but here it is.
OUR loyal readers (all four of you) have probably noticed that we haven’t been blogging much this week. It’s been a busy week, nonetheless, although without major events of substance to report – thus, no big blog posts. I’ll try to catch you up.
Overall, we’ve been making progress on readying the boat to go. This week saw the completion of the installation of the chain plates (woo-hoo!), a process that necessitated emptying much of the forecastle (i.e., storage closet) onto the bed and two settees. This put a serious cramp in our capacity to actually live on the boat: at one point, just to be able to sit down for a while, I snuggled up on top of all our bedding, pillows, my clothes and other various stuff stacked on the settee, perched like the princess of the pea story. Add two cats on top: instant snugglage.
I also started re-assembling the evil chimney that caught our boat on fire (boo!) and discovered a mud-wasps’ nest inside, which may or may not have had anything to do with the creosote fire, but most definitely had something to do with the stove’s lack of draw. As we’ve found with with almost any job, I got only halfway through before it was too dark — and too cold — to finish.
Because the boat was a chaotic mess in the midst of the chainplate work, not to mention about 40 degrees with all the in-and-out of the riggers, we scampered off to our friend Val’s on Tuesday night. In an ice storm. Now, docks in winter are scary enough — fall in and there’s a chance you could, well, DIE from hypothermia — but coated in fresh ice, they are downright treacherous. You know the signs, Bridge Freezes Before Road? Well, Dock Freezes Before Bridge. Despite the overnight bags and trays of homemade bread and a lasagne we were carrying, we safely made it up onto the dock and nearly to shore. Then, we encountered the slight ramp. Three steps up, sliiiiiiiide back. Repeat. Laugh. Repeat. Laugh. Give up, drop onto the knees, and waddle like a duck (carrying lasagne, no less) up the 8 feet of slight incline to the top. We were laughing our arses off by the time we finally made it up. Luckily, the roads were mostly clear, and we enjoyed a lovely evening with good food, great friends, and the marvelously-hokey new Sherlock Holmes movie.
Philip’s been working on putting bits back on the mast and reinstalling the running lights, which required routing, of all things. Of course, this meant he got to use his new router, one of his toys taking up precious space. I’m just glad it was actually needed. I, on the other hand, have spent way too much time hauling stuff into and out of the forecastle, cleaning up after the muddy workmens’ boots, bleaching the mold and mildew that covered half the stuff in the forecastle (EW.) and generally keeping the boat somewhat livable in the midst of chaos. I also took on another decidedly domestic task: modifying Philip’s fabulous wool convertible mittens so that the thumbs could also be turned back. Three hours of hand-sewing through multiple layers of leather, wool and Thinsulate later, he finally has the use of his opposable thumbs while working in the cold. Puku is jealous, just thinking of all the trouble he could cause with opposable thumbs.
Last night, we splurged and headed over to the nearby Quiet Waters park for the annual SpinSheet (the local Chesapeake freebie sailing rag) ice skating evening. Now, I grew up ice skating every summer with my Dad in California (I know, the irony is astounding), so there is a special joy for me in whipping around a rink, seeing how fast I can go without wiping out. In fact, the only time I bit it was just after I had swapped out my figure skates for hockey skates and attempted to turn to skate backwards — not only did I go down, but I took Philip with me as well, both of us traveling at speed along the ice on our butts. I sure hope the SpinSheet photographer didn’t get that on film.
The only other news of note to report is that we found a dead duck in the dingy this morning. He was a pretty Canvasback, his beauty somewhat marred however by the gaping hole in his chest. We’re not sure if he crawled into the dinghy to die and then was pecked at by a crow or seagull, or whether the injury was sustained prior to entering the dinghy. Either way, it left a bloody mess in the dink. And left us singing “He’s a dead duck, he’s a very dead duck. He has a hole in his chest and he’s in our dinghy, Dead Duck!” to the tune of Cat Face all morning. The only person who will possibly know what we are referring to is Jen Schense. The rest of you can buzz off. Or, if you enjoy really odd internet humor, go to Weebls-Stuff and watch the original, which you may regret. You probably won’t find it very funny, but you’ll be singing Cat Face for ages.