The morning of their anniversary dawned exactly as it should: with all my crew aboard. They had set an alarm for 7:30 a.m., as today would be a busy day. They enjoy coffee together, and Andrew is twittering with excitement.
“Can I give you your anniversary present, yet?”
I can't wait to see what it might be.
Andrew ceremoniously pulls forth Leslie’s gift and cups it in his hands to hide it. She peeks into his palms and he holds up … BOAT BLING!
“Oooh! Is that what I think it is??!” Leslie says.
“What do you think it is?” Andrew asks.
“Slices of her new and old keel bolts?”
In Andrew’s hands, several polished coins of stainless steel and bronze glisten under the morning light coming through my open hatch. Two are attached to earring hooks. Two are attached to a silver chain. Two are still free and loose.
“Yes! Well, the stainless steel ones are from the old bolts, and the bronze ones are the circles that were cut from the backing plates to allow the keel bolts to slide through.” Andrew explains.
“And, you made them into jewelry!” Leslie marvels. Yes, if the man can replace a full suite of keel bolts, I'm pretty sure he can make some earring dangles. *insert eye roll here* Leslie plucks the earrings from his hands and adorns her ears. “What do you think, Sonrisa?” The stainless steel wobbles with each shake of her head.
“I like it! They look very nice on you.” I say. Who doesn’t look good in Boat Bling?
Andrew made himself a set as well, but they aren't quite ready. They need a larger hole drilled in order to string them on a leather cord. But, see what I mean when I say there is nothing to be jealous of? This really is a fun holiday.
Leslie gives Andrew a big hug and says, “thank you, I love them.” Then, they break. Andrew still has a list of things that absolutely must be done today: install the prop and cutlass bearing, grease the prop, Jan has to apply my new name and port of call stickers, the exterminator needs to come and give me a spritz to make sure I didn’t pick up any yucky bugs or termites while on shore. Leslie has to finish cleaning the apartment, then provision both the apartment and my food storage so that everyone has enough for happy bellies. It’s a long day of hard work, but we couldn’t post pone the splash, otherwise it would be a whole extra week on land.
At the end of the work day, Jan arrives with the travel lift and slips me into the stirrups so I am all ready to go. Andrew and Leslie worked into the wee hours to get everything safely stowed away. By 2:00 a.m., they fell face first into bed, with an alarm set to wake again at first light to attend to Grin. He is still laying in a puddle of mud next door.
By 9:00 a.m. sharp, all my yard friends surround the travel lift and it grunts to life. “AND WE ARE OFF!” I cheer as the travel lift creeps through the widest aisle of boats and toward the water. “Catch you later, Ladies!” I give a send off to the boats I’m leaving in the yard. They understand how it is. We swing past the mango trees, which unfortunately do not have any fruit on offer to pluck right now. And slowly, we back down the dock. My yard team gets together and we all take a selfie, then Ryan guides Jan “Down, down, down, No! Up! UP! Down, down, down” until I am afloat.
The tropical salt water touches my hull and I give a yelp. “I’M FLOATING!" At least I think I’m floating. Andrew scurries around checking the bilge to make sure I really am floating and not sinking.
No water coming in. He grabs his wrenches and tools to install the last bits of my rigging to keep my mast up. We must back away from the travel lift by 9:30 a.m., otherwise the current will get heavy and it will become more difficult and dangerous. Andrew is working away to get my rigging connected when I hear....
“PLOP. Damn it!”
“What was that?” I ask.
“I dropped the fore-stay turnbuckle in the water.”
The fore-stay turnbuckle is a non-negotiable piece that connects the front wire that holds my mast up. We all look around, puzzling what to do next. The ocean floor is probably a thick layer of mud, silt, and garbage. We’d never find it if we tried to dive for it. Andrew rummages around to try to find a spare, until Ryan comes marching across the yard ready to save the day with a spare he found in the yard supplies.
Andrew confirms it is a good one, and installs it quickly as he can. Then, we are ready. Our yard friends break into a round of applause for Andrew, cheering all his hard work.
“I'm going to miss having you around,” Ryan tells Andrew. Adrian agrees.
“Aw, it’s not goodbye. It's just catch you later!" Leslie tells them.
“That's a cruiser for you,” Adrian chides. Leslie kicks my engine into reverse and we slide back along the dock until we are free. FREE! Just as we should be!
Leslie is in charge of the helm while Andrew goes about tightening the rigging. We aren't ready to hoist sails quite yet, the rigging needs to be fine tuned and we need to retrieve two halyards that got stuck in the mast during the reinstall. Our plan is to motor out to the nearest anchorage and settle in for a few days of nitpicky projects left to be completed.
We discover our list of problems as we motor along.
*Waterrmaker not working*
*Find the packing-gland wrenches to tighten the bolt and stop multiple liters per hour of sea water from flooding in while we motor*
*Climb the mast and rescue two halyards that escaped during install*
*Remove the mud wasp hive from of our propane hose*
*Tune the rigging*
I’m sure this list will be added to as time goes on. The Captain's work is never really done.
We lay anchor just in time to hunker down for a rain squall and some solid wind. Leslie invites some fellow cruisers in need of a provisioning run for dinner, and she promised home made sourdough crackers. So, we immediately turn to party prep. She makes fettuccine with homemade Alfredo sauce (an offering to satisfy His Noodliness, The Flying Spaghetti Monster), Gin and Tonics, and of course, that evening ends with a Sailor Jerry rum ceremony to ensure Neptune is well appeased.
After all this excitement, Andrew and Leslie crawl into their bunk to have the stars blanket their hatch and the tropical breeze flutter against their closed eyelashes. We rock to sleep in the light slosh of a calm anchorage, at peace. For me, everything is just as it should be.