The “Incident”


“Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” Rick comes flying up the stairs from the second cabin and then on up through the aft deck, out the door. All I heard after the “sh*ts” was “floor split” and “water.”

Holy crap! In my mind we are sinking and I’m going to drown! But I don’t see any water, so it must be a slow sinking. I creep down the stairs to see how fast the water is coming in. I peer around the door jamb. The carpet was pulled up yesterday so all that remains is the subfloor and sure enough, screws have popped and one board is inches higher than the other. Thankfully no water.

The popped board.
The popped board.

Not too long before the “incident” as I will call it, we had bought the products to stabilize the water in our holding tank. Up until now we had been hooked up to water from the marina but we were preparing for leaving soon and wanted to get the tank ready to go. It’s located under the second cabin. When Rick flew off the boat, he wasn’t saving himself, leaving me behind. (Kidding, he would never do that. He has strict rules to save me first and the boat second.) He was turning off the water feeding into the tank.

On our first day, I had wanted to scrub the kitchen sink and there was no water. We assumed from this that the holding tank had no water in it and we hooked up to the marina water. Rick surmised from the “incident” that the tank did already have water. It is not a rigid tank, but a bladder that expands and contracts as water is added or used. So we were trying to add water to an already pretty full tank. It continued to expand out (thank goodness it didn’t burst) and the area under the wood floor couldn’t hold it anymore. Thus the pressure on the floor and the popped boards.

Rick yanked up the stairs in the hall leading to the room and investigated. If the tank was already full why couldn’t we get any water at the sinks? He had me turn on the water. Nothing. He had me flip the pump switch off and on again, then check the water. Nothing. After kanoodling around for a while, he finally found the culprit. The pump hose was kinked; so it couldn’t do its job to pump the water through to the spigots. But it was full. He unkinked it and I ran the water in all the sinks to get rid of some of the excess.

The floor is no longer split, thank goodness, and we learned another lesson. Every day is something new. Even though I made fun of him for reading all those boat repair manuals when we didn’t have boat yet, I am so glad he did. Helps with the troubleshooting. We’ve been on the boat a week and it’s been one “incident” after another. We haven’t even left the dock yet. That’s for tomorrow. Yep, we get out first and only lesson tomorrow. Fingers crossed I don’t drown. :/

What’s That Smell? And Other Worrying Issues

Before I explain the horrors of a 30-year-old boat, I just wanted to lay out a view for you and say “this is why.”

View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.
View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.

As we were moving things in we noticed the smell saturating the main salon, master cabin and second cabin. What is that smell? Rick thinks it is a little like cleaning products or fuel. I think it is sort of mildewy but not quite. With the air running full blast throughout, the smell dissipated but was still lingering. When the guys came for the furniture, we asked them. “No, it’s not fuel. Not any engine smells.” That was a relief, but what was it?

I set about cleaning by starting on the kitchen sink with the idea of wiping down the refrigerator which the previous owners had left a mess. Turned on the water. It came out full force, then dwindled, then sputtered to a stop. “Rick! No water!”

He assumed the tanks were empty and hooked up the hoses from the shore. I waited. He washed his hands and the same problem came about. Great. No water. Can’t clean. Can’t shower.

We both went to bed with things on our minds and by 11, Rick was still reading and I sat up. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Can’t sleep. I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep.”

“That’s why I’m reading.”

We both alternated between dozing and wide awake. Around 4:30 I felt Rick get up. I heard him above me and then the CRACK of thunder. I joined him on the aft deck. We watched the fireworks in silence and listened to the rumbles until the rain came. It was a downpour. Rain hitting a tin roof is absolutely deafening. It’s a sound like no other and it surrounds you with its power.  We listened until it died down.

“I think I know what the smell is.” He said. “The stairs to the master cabin area are damp. I think something major was spilled and with no one on the boat, the air wasn’t running. Given the humidity, I’m guessing it just never dried.”

“Guess we’re ripping up the carpet today instead of next week.”


“I hope the water tanks are full. Otherwise we’re driving to a truck stop and paying for a shower. I NEED a shower.”


Since then we have determined we also need someone to clean the air ducts because there is a smell with the air on in certain parts of the boat. It was a trial finding all the light switches but we prevailed. But there are other things that are bothersome. Our washer/dryer doesn’t seem to work so that’s another issue and last but not least someone (me) clogged the toilet because the TP we bought (Rick) was the wrong type. Although it said on the package it was good for septic tanks, we apparently can use only marine TP. We asked at West Marine what we do about that plug (can we use a plunger?). He said he calls a guy to do a messy job like that. So we will let the marina dudes work their magic.

And I was worried we’d be bored. Huhn.


You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Around 3:00, the marina guys showed up to take away the things the previous owners left behind. There were three guys: Lloyd, Kevin and Antonio. Lloyd seemed to be in charge; he made introductions all around. When I looked at Kevin the theme from Grizzly Adams ran through my head. He was a dirtier spitting image. Antonio didn’t say much; must be the artist in him. Apparently Antonio’s real job is a boat painter. We heard a story about his excellent painting skills. Some yahoo with more money than sense rammed into a dock and dented his yacht. When he brought it in, the boat was exceptionally dirty so the guys suggested they would wash it first. He replied, “No, just match the color.” So Antonio expertly matched the paint to the dirty hull.

Anyway, the guys showed up on a little putt-putt boat. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” I suggested. Although my movie reference seemed to fly over their heads, they were amiable guys and we welcomed them aboard. We pointed out that we probably needed some tools to take out a ladder leading to the fly bridge, to get the four-person couch out the back door. It was too large to go out any other door and wouldn’t fit through any openable window.

The couch is on its side here in the foreground. The door it needs to fit through is that tiny one on the left in the background. The big window next to the door doesn't open.
The couch is on its side here in the foreground. The door it needs to fit through is that tiny one on the left in the background. The big window next to the door doesn’t open.

Then we showed them the rest of the furniture and the pile of junk on the landing outside the boat. They looked at it all and left to go get a barge.

It took little time to get the crap onto the barge with all those guys and they didn’t have much trouble with the chairs or mattress, but that couch. Man. That couch. They removed the ladder but it still didn’t fit through anything. Rick joked, “If we had a saws all we could cut it up and remove the pieces.”

But it’s not our stuff. A call went out to the general manager of the marina. He tried the owners. No luck. He made an executive decision. Cut it up.


Sawing up the couch.
Sawing up the couch.

Lloyd sawed away while Kevin and Rick kept pressure on the back to crack it as quickly as possible. Once broken up it still needed to go out the swimming platform door. This meant one guy had to ease the couch out the door and angle it down a flight to a guy waiting on the dock below without dropping it in the lake. I chuckled as I watched and made sure I stayed out of the way.  The barge was completely full by the time they headed out.



Taking it out the door.
Taking it out the door.
Sayonara ugly couch!
Sayonara ugly couch!
With a full barge, the guys headed out.
With a full barge, the guys headed out.








With the aft deck cleared, we needed to start pulling up carpet. But that’s for another day. Once the barge left, we just sat out on the forward deck while the sun lowered in the sky. Once the darkness enveloped us, we listened to the crickets song surrounding us. We were finally home.

We Live In a Marine Shanty Town

We were awake early. Too excited at the prospect that, surely today would be the day we’d get our home. We had to wait until 8:30 for the marina office to open so we could get the keys. Heading down to our part of the marina, we were like two year olds on Christmas morning. Chattering and giggling. We each grabbed a few things and walked down to our slip. Number 23-1. Our boat. Ours. Opening the door was a little surreal as I harbored worries we would never really get this far. We stepped in to… furniture and junk. They didn’t remove everything! The general manager had said if things were left he would have some of the guys take it away. One phone call confirmed that but it was so disappointing. While we waited, we brought in our things. Our bed unfurled nicely. We didn’t yet have the balance of our possessions which were still in storage, so we bought an extra set of sheets to use until then. The bed is high. REALLY high. I’m gonna need a step stool, which does not bode well for my nightly bathroom visits.

As we made the trek back and forth between the car and boat, I started looking at our neighbor’s slips. Many had built elaborate dock space that was like a little apartment. (Why you need that when you have a big ass boat, I don’t know.) I came to the realization that we were living in a shanty town. Notice how the electrical lines hang on the building’s girders.

Our little town for the next few weeks.
Our little town for the next few weeks.

It reminds me of the stolen electricity in the slums of Jamaica.

If you look closely you can see bed frames up top. Craziness!
If you look closely you can see bed frames up top. Craziness!







Well it’s only for a few weeks and it does have its charms. It holds our boat.

Master Packer Strikes Again!

We got news that all the paperwork was in. We were just waiting for the previous owners to get all their personal belongings off the boat (including the furniture and the mattress in the master cabin). We checked out of the hotel in the morning so everything we had accumulated over the last three weeks had to fit in the Prius. We added a few things as we were sitting around waiting for this day including two big ticket items—A new queen mattress (one of those foam mattresses that is so good for support) and two bar stools. So we had three big boxes (the mattress comes compressed and rolled up) along with our suitcases, backpacks, computer, printer, snacks, plants, books, and odds and ends. No way were we getting that all in our tiny car. No way. Rick said, “No problem.” Sure and shit (how did that expression come about?), the Master Packer as he is known, got it all in without having to put anything on the roof and I had to eat crow.


Because we were waiting for the former owners to get their stuff out, we had to find a way to waste most of the day. We went to breakfast. We went shopping and added a few more bags to the car. We ate lunch. We sat in the restaurant fretting about a puppy that had no collar or leash but was very patiently sitting outside the doors to the restaurant looking in, waiting for his master. When we left, we watched the old guy (who looked like a Willie Nelson in grunge mode) gather his pup, put him on the back of a bicycle and pedal away. He had a sign that said they were traveling cross country to bring awareness to homeless pets and although we were sure he was collecting money to live rather than donate, that was a good reason to pull up and contribute. We were in a right turn only lane and a surly trucker honked his horn at me as I scurried out of the car and made my way to the man and his pup.

Finally, as it headed into mid-afternoon we decided to go to the Pioneer Village in Denison. A whole village of cabins and the like from early homesteading time laid out as a little village. It cost us a whole three bucks per person to get in so we weren’t expecting much. It was actually fascinating. There was a one room cabin that had housed a couple and their 14 children. Now, how they were able to raise 14 children in one room (let along conceive 14 children in one room) is unfathomable to me. The village also had a wealthy landowner with a huge mansion, a dentist, a country store, a church, a jail and courthouse. It also had a VERY rare find—a women’s bathroom that was dirtier than the men’s. Cockroaches in the toilet and when I opened the door so much dust flew in my face that I ended up with a sinus headache. I confess I used the men’s.

Right before dinner we stopped into the marina office to see the progress. They were still working on gathering their stuff. We had to hotel it one more night.  *Sigh.*

The Waiting Game or What to Do While You’re Homeless

Still sitting in the hotel room waiting for the paperwork to be completed on the purchase of Nautical Dreamer. I think this has taken longer than any of the times we bought a house. Maybe it just seems that way. We both have heavy-duty wanderlust at this point and are longing for the open water and some new experiences.

Yesterday was the 4th of July so we decided to go to the festivities here in Denison, TX. There was a band covering the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band, with a few John Mellencamp, Springsteen and The Who thrown in for good measure. The singer wasn’t the best but was fine for the venue. I was having flashbacks to North Carolina when we got there. Everything was being held at the high school football stadium and attached park. That is not to say it was AT the high school. Just like in my first teaching position, the stadium was multi-purpose for the town and built at the center of it all. Just like in Wallace, NC, it was a beautiful stadium built by the school, the city, and private company contributions.

Munson Stadium is grand. We sat on the home side so we could use the stadium seats (with BACKS—yahoo!). Well, here, just look.

Munson Stadium, Denison, TX.
Munson Stadium, Denison, TX.

And check out this press box.

Munson Stadium press box.
Munson Stadium press box.

Yes, that dweeb is me in the middle of the photo.

I started to think about how lucky these teenagers were to have this type of facility and wondering if they appreciated it. As time went by and people started to fill in the areas around us, we saw a remarkable sight. Families spending time together. Dads and kids tossing the ‘ole ball around. Moms chasing little kids around the field, laughing. As a former teacher, I heard stories that would curl your hair and some that were just sad. Kids eating ramen noodles every night for dinner while they sit in their rooms on the computer because their parents are working. So many things wrong with this. Why do the parents have to work so hard to pay their bills?

At any rate, we thoroughly enjoyed people watching. Right before the fireworks were to start, the mayor went to the microphone and did his thing. Throughout the time we were there, a smattering of people were listening to the music and the mayor, while others continued with what they had been doing. Then, an astonishing thing. The mayor introduced a local pastor for the prayer (yes, we are back in the South), followed by the pledge and the National Anthem. Silence fell across the field, in the stands, and the outskirts of the park for the entire time. ALL the hats came off.  There was an expectation in this town, passed down from generation to generation. Whether you go to church or not, you are respectful. You remove your hat and shut your mouth. Period. Now I would argue it is easier to do this in a small southern town where everyone is either a Southern Baptist or a Catholic and I can see some of my friends cringing at my advocating for this; but it really is simply being respectful.

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of organized religion (although I do believe in God) and I’m not here to argue whether there should be prayer at a public event. I’m simply advocating for public civility. I’m old enough to remember when it was a requirement to remove your hat indoors and during the National Anthem. And for heaven’s sake, wait until the song is complete before clapping and shouting. It really irritates me when the singer hits that high note and the audience thinks that’s their cue to shout, whistle and clap. Apparently, it is too difficult to hold it in for a few more seconds. Well, I think its rude and I’m usually laughed at for that opinion; but I’ve moved into old age. I learned from my grandma that the older you get, the more you can speak your mind. There was not shouting and clapping until the song was finished AND they actually sang along (another of my pet peeves).

Anyway, going hand in hand with this is my feeling that the kids DO know how lucky they are to have such a grand stadium. In the same way that they will eventually realize that the manners they learned as a child will be a benefit to their future.

Enough of that—geeze, for someone who doesn’t believe in organized religion, I sure know how to preach. The best part of the night was using the 3-D glasses, given to us when we entered, to view the fireworks. We placed them over the phone lense to capture these.

IMG_0716 IMG_0730 IMG_0732

A local radio station was blasted during the show with a compilation of songs. I never thought I’d hear Neal Diamond and AC/DC in the same mix. Also, I didn’t get where “Pink Houses” with its condemnation of America (and for that matter “Born in the USA”) would fit in a celebration of America. That aside, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Yes, we are anxious to leave here, but everyone is so nice so we have enjoyed our time here. Stay tuned for the move onto the boat and the upfit (please, soon).