She’s On the Move

If you’ve known me for more than 10 minutes, it’s no secret I thoroughly dislike Texas. The time we’ve spent in Denison, however, has softened me a bit. Sure, their history textbooks are complete fabrications, they are thoroughly obsessed with guns and gun rights, and did I ever mention the horrific experience of stopping at a rest area to pee? (I believe I have, so enough of that.) But for the most part, we’ve enjoyed the friendliness of its people and the security of our slip at the marina. But the day finally came when the trucking company was loading up Nautical Dreamer to drop it into the Arkansas River. It’s fairly nerve-wracking to watch your home get yanked out of the water (akin to pulling your house from its foundation), and plunked onto a truck. Once it was on the truck and several straps were secured, the trucker had to move the truck up the hill so another truck could get in place to receive its boat. So it was secure on the truck but not SECURE on the truck. I gave it a WIDE berth in case it came tumbling down.

I wasn’t prepared for how time-consuming it was going to be. We waited hours in the extreme heat and humidity. I don’t think I’ve sweated that much in my entire life. My eyes stung from the drips drizzling in. All my clothes (and I mean underwear and all) were soaking wet. And all I did was watch. I can’t imagine what the guys were feeling. How they wear pants rather than shorts is beyond me and many of them with their beards, mustaches and looong hair.

Communication wasn’t the best at the marina so we were caught slightly off guard when they called looking for us. We dropped everything and headed over to the haul out area. But we hadn’t finished securing everything. So when the trucker and his spotters headed out to lunch, Rick climbed up and finished securing everything. Then we said goodbye to Nautical Dreamer and thought, fingers crossed, we’d see it on the other end.

We decided we didn’t want to follow the truck figuring it would be interesting for the first 20 minutes or so and then be a giant drag. Or we’d be worried it would topple any minute and we’d spend the entire trip with stomach issues from worry. So we headed out on the four-hour (give or take) drive to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, to wait.

We ended up waiting five days (yes, you read that right). Many factors led to this. The guys had bad weather that caused a delay in taking off the fly bridge. (Nautical Dreamer was too high for the electric wires. In fact, we were told if we’d been an inch taller, it would have had to travel with an electric bucket truck and crew to lift the wires, which would have tripled the cost. So we had to take off the top.) The state tells the trucking company the route it is allowed to take based on the height of the boat. The route was a winding hilly road, sans guardrails, that the truck and its two escorts (one in front, one in back) had to move quite slowly on over the course of a couple days. Once they arrived at Applegate Cove Marina in Sallisaw, Arkansas, it took several days to reinstall the fly bridge (again weather played a factor—the temperature was way too high to work in the afternoons).

I have never spent so much time in a hotel as I had waiting to be permanently left alone on our boat. If we’d known, we could have used that time to vacation and enjoyed hoteling it. But this was every day getting up and wondering if today was the day, then finding out it wasn’t.

As an aside, we stayed in a Residence Inn with a great rate from Hotwire.com. The rooms are basically a studio apartment and if you’d like you can leave a grocery list and they will pick up and deliver to your room at no additional charge beyond the groceries. How cool is that?

Any hoo, finally, the day came. The crane was in use and after waiting around, the trucking staff decided to “float” it off the truck. If you’ve ever been in a smaller speed boat you’ve done this. Back the car down the ramp until the boat floats, then pull away. A little more complex given the size of the boat, but it was basically the same thing. With many trees in our way (again due to our height), one of the guys sat on the fly bridge with a saw and hacked off limbs as the boat was slowly driven into the water.

Then Rick got in to take it across to our slip. I had to drive over to the slip and get ready to grab lines. I was practically peeing my pants worrying about my job. The last thing we needed was to pull a Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack”. If I didn’t catch the lines, then what? Relief came as not only did the trucking guys come over, but the marina emptied into our slip to help. Now Rick just had to slide it in. But as he got closer he realized there was no way we would fit—too high.

Discussions ensued as Nautical Dreamer treaded water. There was a spot on the end, not covered but with water and electric hookup that we could use. We all tramped down to that end of the marina and the guys proceeded to “catch” the boat while I watched and worried (which seems to currently be about all I’m good for). Given where our hookups were the boat needed to be backed into the space. The width of the slip was generous but Rick had to be cautious he didn’t hit a post at the back end with the swim platform. Made it in without much muscle from the crew, set everything and hooked up…well, the water anyway. The electric receptacle was for 30 amp and we had 50. One of the guys found the mechanic who jerry-rigged it and then ordered some part.

We appreciate Applegate Cove Marina for its friendliness and cost ($250/mo. including water, sewage pump out, and wifi–even if the wifi sucks). Several boats are doing the same trip we are, starting in October. We think we will delay and see if we can tag along. They’ve done the trek before so it would be good to have “experts” to draw on and nice to have others around. Plus, maybe we can get all our projects done. Hey—a girl can dream, can’t she?

I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with My Sewing Machine (And Other Surprises)

With August 8th looming, we’ve been crazy busy. On the 8th, Nautical Dreamer will be prepped for its move from a land-locked lake to the Arkansas River. Once there, we will head toward the Mississippi and down to the Gulf. But first, we have a lot to accomplish while we have the ability to access stores and solid land.

I may have written about clogging the master head. All I did was pee. Honest. I used very little TP, but someone (not me–and there’s only two of us on board) selected the wrong TP. After asking around how to clear it (you can’t plunge), we heard enough people say they hire a guy. We started a list of things for the marina guys to do and that was at the top of it. As we learned in our first home, a ranch built in the 50’s, nothing is as easy as you think it will be when dealing with something that is older. The prognosis was a need to replace the pipes.

We are also waiting for the guys to clean out the air conditioning system and take a look at the washer/dryer combo.

Even though most of our things are in storage, we purchased new furniture for the aft deck and some chairs for the main salon. The floors aren’t finished so we haven’t moved the furniture onto the boat. Until that happens, we have a choice in the evening of sitting in a folding camping chair or the bed. It’s getting old. Rick’s been working on the floors, but as with everything on this boat, it’s one step forward and two steps back. Once the carpet was out he decided he needed to scrub down the sub-floor with a bleach solution and then use paint with a mold inhibitor (given our plans for tropical locales). Today was the start of laying the floor on the aft deck.

Laying new flooring in the aft deck. We will use this flooring in every room but the heads.
Laying new flooring in the aft deck. We will use this flooring in every room but the heads.

He started in the aft deck since it has the least number of hatches, so it will go in quickly. Each hatch needs to be framed out with the flooring inside the frame so that we still have access to the hatches. With the engine room under the floors, the hatches, though not a necessity (the carpet was over all of them), makes access so much easier that it will be worth the effort to frame out. (I say this with full knowledge that I don’t have to do the work—he, he.) He also tore the built in, hideous, dining settee out in preparation of installation/building storage and a breakfast bar.

Pulling up the built in seats/drawers.
Pulling up the built in seats/drawers.
Removing the back of the built-in seats.
Removing the back of the built-in seats.

I tore apart the day bed in the office and made a new baseboard covering, headboard covering and cushion. It looks fairly good, but what a pain in the butt! There was one point where my machine just decided to rebel. It was pulling material into the area where the bobbin is located and then jamming the machine. Over and over again. I tried re-threading the bobbin, re-threading the top thread, switching out a new bobbin, and shutting the machine off. Finally, close to tears, I tried different thread (not as heavy) and it started working. I texted my sister, Cheryl, master of the sewing machine. She is amazing! She has created men’s suits. Who does that? Anyway, now I know about careful selection of the needle to go along with the material and thread weight. Now we need pillows to finish off the look.

Old covering. It smelled BAD!
Old covering. It smelled BAD!
Recovered with a new print and new foam. The base hasn't yet been screwed in and we need pillows. Above it is a murphy bed type second bed for this room.
Recovered with a new print and new foam. The base hasn’t yet been screwed in and we need pillows. Above it is a murphy bed type second bed for this room.

As I said, all the furniture we bought, along with a new bathroom vanity, are all on the dock area behind our boat. We need to move it all on board before Monday, but several pieces are too big to fit through the door by the gangplank or the door leading to the swim platform. So we will have to take out a window and then lift the stuff up and through the back window. Then the window will have to be resealed into place. How all that will work, I don’t know. Rick says, “No problem.”

We also need to practice using the anchor and exiting/entering the slip. We did successfully dock to pump out the wastewater on Sunday, maneuvering around a small fishing boat to get to the dock. (I say “we” when it really is all Rick. My job is to throw the line to the dock dude.) Coming back was a little iffy getting into the covered shelter. After cracking two of the 2 x 4’s fixed to the pier metalwork (it’s OK, that’s what they are there for), our neighbor saw us and offered to go out with us to give us some pointers. We pulled in and out of the slip three or four times to get the hang of it while he walked us through. So very helpful!

So this all needs to be done in T minus five days. Then we will worry about the kitchen, breakfast bar, head remodels, changing the lettering to reflect the new name, and exterior waxing at some point. *Sigh.* On the bright side, I don’t think we will get bored in retirement.