River Cruise Leg One

2016 Nautical Dreamer River CruiseArkansas River to Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast


  • 106 Miles
  • 4 Locks


  • 15OCT16 Leave Sallisaw, OK
    • anchor @ Ozark Lake in Crawford County, AR
  • 16OCT16 Leave Ozark Lake
    • dock @ Russellville Marina, Russellville, AR
  • 17OCT16 Leave Russellville Marina
    • dock @ Rockwater Marina, Little Rock, AR
      • 3-4 Days in Little Rock, AR


What a Waste

Living in the desert, there were inevitable questions about boat life that came up any time we talked about our plan. I had several students who couldn’t grasp the concept we could dock the boat and fly to relatives for holidays. “How will you ever see your kids and grandkids?” they’d ask. I got asked a lot about fresh water supply when we were traveling or anchored. (There is a freshwater tank for potable water.) Then inevitably, I would get asked about where the water goes. (Water from the sinks or shower is called “gray water” and goes directly into the lake, river or ocean you are on. Its allowed because that water is not considered harmful but I’m glad we use eco-friendly shampoos and soaps nonetheless.) Finally, the question of toilet waste gets thrown out there. (Waste goes through a macerator at the toilet to chop up waste and easily dissolvable marine toilet paper, then goes through pipes to a separate holding tank. When full, you go to the marina dock and pump out, similar to an RV.) Sometimes there is a fee involved and sometimes, as with our current marina, its included in the cost of the slip.

We learned early on about the process behind the waste system because our master head wasn’t removing waste well. The inspection showed water flowing so we assumed it was working fine when we bought the boat. We had an unexpected expense on day one when we learned the pipe leading from that head to the holding tank was so gunked up from years of use that it couldn’t make its way to the tank except in tiny increments. It had to be replaced. (That was a job we paid someone else to do. Well worth the cost at ANY price.)

A little aside here, according to an article on nautical terms by Russ Moran, a writer and former Navy vet, “Head is an old Navy term for the place where sailors would go to relieve themselves before the advent of modern plumbing. The forward most part of a vessel was called the ship’s head. It often protruded out beyond the bow (aka the front of a vessel). There was a grate through which the waste went into the ocean.” Nowadays, the term is used for the bathroom.

Our wastewater tank does not have a gauge to determine when its full. We’ve learned to take it for pump out once a week. However, a few weeks ago, we woke up to the tell-tale smell that we had waited too long. Time had gotten away from us; it had been ten days. So we headed over to the pump out. The pump didn’t work. Think about that for a minute. We had sewer smell in our home, a full wastewater tank, and the pump out DIDN’T WORK. Rick fiddled with it. He talked it through with the mechanic (who was not working that day), and eventually we gave up and headed back to our boat slip wondering how long it would take to fix. My worst fear had been realized; it was just like camping now. We had to go up the hill to the communal bathrooms.

The next day, the mechanic gave us more bad news. He couldn’t fix it and the owners weren’t too interested in paying for a new pump. They dragged their feet asking him to do research, research, and more research. He found a small pump at the tractor supply store for only $100. The owner refused to allow him to purchase it because he didn’t think it was beefy enough to work. The mechanic argued if it didn’t work it could be taken back for refund. The owner still refused. The search continued. The “proper” type pump was found but the owners wouldn’t spend the money. Two days went by. Five days.  We got the owner’s cell number and left messages. None were returned. We drove to the Coast Guard station to see if they could pump us out. They couldn’t and confirmed the nearest marina was too far to go there and back in a day. At six days we got the idea to call septic tank guys. No help. Then it was a week. We had family coming to visit. They were seeing our place for the first time and it STANK. I jumped on the internet to read about the gas emitting from our tanks. I felt it was becoming a health issue. We were told to go into the river and dump overboard (not allowed but we were desperate and actually thought about it). Our boat did not have that capability and in retrospect, I’m glad it didn’t. We solicited other suggestions and bought a large shop vac. But the length of pipe from the tank to the pump out valve was too far for the suction of the shop vac. We used fans to blow the smell out the hatch in the forward head. I cooked lemons and limes in the slow cooker as air freshener. Family arrived and everybody understood. Even though the smell was sort of manageable with our fixes, it was embarrassing.  We offered and paid for a hotel room for the boys. By the time everyone left, it had turned into TEN days. I’m gonna leave that there for a minute.

Ten days.

Close your eyes (well, read this first, then close your eyes). Can you smell it? Could you sleep with that? And can you imagine taking that long walk down a virtually unlit pier to the bathroom in the middle of the night in your PJs? I’m a 53-year-old with a tiny bladder. Yeah.

So at ten days we felt we had two options. We could use the shop vac direct at the tank site and carry the full vac through our home, off the boat, up the hill, to dump it in the toilet. (The tank was 50 gallons and the shop vac was 6 gallons. You do the math—It makes me too tired.) Option two was to go to town and buy the damned pump ourselves. If it didn’t work, we could take it back. If it did work, we’d be home free. The mechanic agreed to try it against his boss’s wishes. We told him it would be waiting for him in the morning.

As I headed up the hill for my morning constitutional the next day, the mechanic was at the pump out area. He saw me and shouted, “It’s working!”

“You already have it hooked up?”

“Yeah. I’m pumping out the cabin now.” (Not even going to complain that we bought it and didn’t get to use it first.) “It works better than the old pump ever did.”

All of a sudden, the sky was bluer. The air was crisper. The sun was brighter. I was smiling. I practically danced back to Nautical Dreamer to wake Rick so we could head to the pump out. Best $100 we’ve ever spent. It just needs to last for another three weeks and we’ll be at our go date, leaving behind an overly lackadaisical owner of an abused marina.

Why Won’t the Fish Let Me Sleep?

  • Since we are working hard at getting everything set to “sail,” we go to bed every night exhausted. I’ve always been a light sleeper, however, and have worn ear plugs every night for the past 24 years since I sleep next to the loudest snorer on the planet. (Although now that the dog is gone, I no longer have to listen to dueling snores.) But it’s  weird the things I can hear even with the plugs in.

I’ve written previously about the tapping we hear at night. Fish feed off the disgusting stuff that clings to the boat hull. I guess I’m glad we are helping the fish out, but you can’t imagine the volume of the tapping without experiencing it yourself. It’s like they are sending Morse Code directly to my brain by tapping on the side of my head all night. I was practically in tears the other day because I hadn’t slept at all the previous night.

So bucking for the Most Wonderful Husband Award (he gets it every year, by the way), Rick set out to solve the problem and did a little research. Apparently it is a consistent problem in fresh water (so I can’t wait to get to the ocean). There are many ideas thrown out to solve it, but some seem a little far fetched: place salt licks in the water, create a food source (like a feeder) that is placed away from the hull, etc. Heck, one guy devised an elaborate fencing that he placed in the water each night and pulled up each day when he was underway. (Basically, the marine version of Trump’s “wall” to keep out undesireables.)

All of the suggestions seemed, well, a bit much. Rick suggested we try playing music at night as a sort of white noise to cover up the tapping. Much is still in boxes, but we did have our iPod and it was loaded with hundreds (literally) of CDs. Unfortunately, not the ones we wanted. Listening to Aerosmith or even the B-52’s as a sleep aid seemed to be counterproductive. We hadn’t got all of our music downloaded yet, so no instrumentals and no new age meditation music was available. So the first night, he starts with just a random mix of everything. I still put my ear plugs in and heard the music slightly. I couldn’t stand the mix–I was singing along in my head. I’d never get to sleep. So I found the one Enya CD we had and looped it. It was pretty effective at lulling me to sleep. But I kept waking. The light from the docking station was so bright it was as if we had an alien spacecraft bearing down on us. I put a book in front of it and went back to sleep. But I woke many times during the night. So was it Enya that now kept me up?

The next day we tried some CDs I’d bought the last time I had trouble falling to sleep but never got around to using. They are designed to put you to sleep and keep you asleep. I searched for several hours at the storage locker to come up with these, then downloaded them. Crazily, it worked for a while and then there was a piano piece that was SO LOUD it woke me up. The CD was called “Time for Sleep” for gosh sakes.

So it’s 2:30 a.m. I am sitting in the aft deck listening to the music emanating through the floor, the wind jostling us around like a rag doll (the storm is pretty bad), and yes, that incessant tap, tap, tapping on the hull. I ask you, “Why won’t the fish let me sleep?” I’m a nice person. I’m an animal activist. *Sigh.*


Nautical Dreamer Christening Ceremony

So apparently you end up with bad juju if you rename a sailing vessel without a ceremony. We don’t consider ourselves superstitious, but why find out too late we should have had a party for our boat before heading out? So as not to incur the wrath of the deities that rule the elements, we are holding a rechristening ceremony to change the Pamela Kay (named after the former owner) to the Nautical Dreamer.

While we realize anyone reading this (friends and family) probably won’t hop on a plane for this, here is the invitation.


Now, if you are intrigued enough to watch, we will be attempting to go live on Facebook for the ceremony on Saturday, September 24th at 6 p.m. (CST). If you watch live, you can interact (via comments) with us as we film. Or you can watch after the fact and comment, just like any other video. Or you can skip it and go to dinner and a movie somewhere. 🙂

How to Lose $3,000 Overnight

We’ve not spent much time just tooling ‘round in the boat. We go once a week to pump out and otherwise stay in our slip diligently working on the inside to get it what I deem “livable.” In other words, I’d like a floor in every room (not subfloor). I’d like enough storage to empty all the boxes (gosh! All those boxes!). Living in a marina like this one allows for us to get that stuff done without bothering anyone. EVERYONE is, to some degree, working on their boats.

Also, when we do go to pump out we are lucky enough to be around all these seasoned pros that help me grab and tie up the boat back in the slip. Still and all, I get nervous and worried every time the beast’s engines turn over. Sure I know I just need to practice and I haven’t ruined anything yet. Plus, my part of this whole thing is pretty minimal. But my personality doesn’t allow for any intelligent thought processes when my emotions take over. Not to be gross, but without fail, when those engines turn over my bowels constrict processing my food at an alarming rate. Then I gotta go! Seems like an elaborate anti-constipation remedy to me but what are you gonna do?

Such was the case when Rick came to me excited that a group was heading out Friday night to drop anchor and spend the night. He saw the look of terror in my eyes and said, “We have to do it some time. Might as well be tonight. It’ll be fun!” We had only anchored out once, years ago with a much smaller boat and it didn’t go as planned. We were to sail up the Intracoastal Waterway to sightsee. We planned to be gone a few weeks. Our first night we stopped in a fairly busy place. There were no coves, so we found a spot out of the way and dropped anchor, which meant tossing the anchor out and driving in the opposite direction until it caught. We had finished eating and went below to get ready for bed. Rick realized we were moving. The anchor hadn’t held. (Years later after reading an entire book on anchoring, Rick realized we had the wrong anchor for our location.) So he tells me to “pull the anchor up” while he starts the engine. So I’m yanking on the rope but the anchor is too heavy. Meanwhile, I look up and see a HUGE party boat bearing down on us. We had drifted into the channel. Rick is having trouble getting the engine to start. Panic ensues and I envision us being plowed down by drunken idiots (of course, really, who is the idiot here?). Right here is where you need to cue the heaven and angel music in your head, because the Coast Guard showed up, radioed the party boat to stop, and tied us to their boat for towing to the state park marina.

So you can see why I had some trepidation. I agreed to go though, since we would have others around if something went wrong, we had to learn, and we had a winch for the anchor (which was my job) making it simple to drop and retrieve. Rick double checked with one of the guys about our anchor and he agreed it was the perfect one for the bottom of the lake.

We started out around 7 p.m.

Heading out for our first overnight anchoring.
Heading out for our first overnight anchoring.

Rick pulled out of the marina to follow Ed and I headed down below to take care of business (refer to paragraph two). It was not to be however, because I had to get onto the swim platform and make sure the rope we were using to pull our dingy did not get caught in the props while winding our way out of the cove. The trip was absolutely gorgeous! We did note that the depth finder was inoperable on the fly bridge. Rick had been crawling around under there and probably bumped some wires. We hadn’t thought to set it for an alarm to go off at a certain depth, so my job became to stand at the bottom of the fly bridge stairs and shout out the depth from the inside station. We also had Ed watching out for us and he radioed back a few times. We followed directly in his path and made it without incident. Now to drop anchor. I made my way forward, whispering to myself, “left/lower, right/raise, left/lower, right raise.” On Rick’s okay I stepped on the left side and began lowering the anchor. More and more and more. We double checked the resistance and felt good about it.

We used the dingy to ferry Brian’s dingy (which had a sail but no engine) to shore to join a beach party already in progress. We didn’t go ashore for several reasons. First, there were tremendous amounts of bugs flying in my eyes and mouth as we moved low through the water. Then, right before we reached land I saw a 2-3 foot SOMETHING slip into the water. Eeek! Lastly, I am by nature anti-social, so the last thing I wanted to do was make small talk with folks I don’t know and will never see again. Rick said he was worried about leaving the boat empty with the generator on (which he probably was, at least a little bit) and we headed back. Sissy that I am, I went inside to escape the bugs while Rick tied up the dingy, double checking his knots.

We spent the night sitting on the bow of the boat (no bugs!) watching the stars. When we finally went to bed all we heard was the gentle lapping of the water against the boat. I slept fairly well but Rick got up a few times and probably only got a few hours. (I’m not the only worry-wart in the family.)

Eventually, morning came. As we sat in the aft deck drinking out coffee and tea, Rick decided to check on the dingy. GONE. I didn’t believe him. GONE! It had come loose from the rope and floated away or someone took it (as a prank??). Great. We hadn’t added it to the insurance yet—it was that new. Rick grabbed the binoculars and started scanning. I rolled my eyes and said, “You aren’t going to find it—it’s long gone.” I thought to myself that it was already in the Mississippi River. (I am prone to hyperbole.) But he found it!

It was nose into the shore. It was early morning so I didn’t think we should wake Ed and/or Brian for help. It was safe and stuck on the shore. But Rick saw some fishermen and was obsessed with tracking their movements. They were going to take it—he was sure of it. We tried calling Ed—no cell signal. We tried to radio him—he didn’t have it on. We tried radioing Brian—his wasn’t on either. But his girlfriend, Kerry, was up and sitting out. Rick called to her to turn on the radio. She roused Brian and he put his sail in his dingy and started heading to Ed’s boat so we’d have a dingy with a motor. Meanwhile, the fisherman was nabbing the dingy. We were sure we’d lose it to this fisherman, but by the time Ed was coherent, it was obvious the fisherman was headed our way, our dingy in tow. He wasn’t stealing it—he was returning it. We were the only dumbasses in the area without a dingy, so he assumed it was ours. Phfew! Tragedy diverted.

This kind fisherman brought us our runaway dingy.
This kind fisherman brought us our runaway dingy.

What did we learn on this excursion? Well, first of all, the dingy was snugged up to the boat so close that as it bumped during the night (and we thought it was the sound of waves), it must have undone the knot. So leave a longer leader. That knot was the only one that Rick didn’t check (nor did he tie in the first place). So we also learned to double check all the knots or better yet get a clip. Finally, and most importantly, we learned that boat people are good people.

Oh, and everything is going to be alright. We returned on our own to the marina, successfully tying up to pump out and got into our slip safely. Feelin’ good about that!

*Disclaimer: We didn’t actually pay $3,000 for the dingy–we bought it used. But to replace it would have been around that amount.



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.

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.