Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sweet Dreams

  Sunsets are plentiful as well as beautiful from our vantage point here at the dock, but sunrises are nice too when we get some clouds to reflect the light from the rising sun coming up on our bow.
  In spite of our satisfaction with our boat neighbors on both side of us, we moved slips anyway, just a couple of weeks ago. When a majority of boats in our area of the marina (the 45 foot slips on the West dock) moved in anticipation of Hurricane Erika, some did not move back and a slip we had been eyeing became available. The slip was only two spaces away to our south, just on the other side of our then current boat neighbors, and when we mentioned to them that we were thinking about moving, they both were delighted.
  We asked Judy, the dock master, about moving our boat to this other slip, and after some deliberation about how some future guests could be accommodated in a slip other than the one we wanted to move to, she concluded that since we were now "permanent residents", we had priority. It didn't hurt that our current boat neighbor, Caroline, works in the marina office.
  One of our reasons for liking this new slip was the fact that the boat that our neighbors have is over 50 feet, and their stern blocks our view somewhat of the channel coming into the harbor, as well as the rest of the West docks. It's not a big thing, but we felt just a little "boxed in" between two aft cabin vessels. Sometimes it's just the little things.
  Also, a factor in the equation was that the pier we would be tied to was recently rebuilt, so we wouldn't have to move again in the future to rebuild the pier we were on, a certainty. Once we started counting reasons for moving, the reasons started adding up. Another one was that we wouldn't have the prevailing easterly winds blocked by the laundry room, nor the view to the East. How did we ever stay for over ten months in that ratty old slip?
  I spent over three hours on a Saturday morning relocating our dock lines, water lines, shore power, T.V. cable, cleats, hose rack and hose, welcome mat, and solar lights from our old slip to our new one. Since we berth "bow in", our shore power, water, and cable, is run from the pedestal along the top edge of the wooden pier to the end of it, where I can quickly disconnect everything when we take the boat out, leaving it all neatly secured to the dock and not strung out all over the boat.
  Our new neighbors, which are actually our old neighbors, only we now share a pier between us had a rag rug screwed to the pier at the point of boat entry, in order to wipe everyones feet before boarding. We had a welcome mat too, so I installed it where the concrete on the pier ended and the wood began. Max, the male half of our boat neighbors, said that he would only charge us one dollar a month for the use of their rug. I said, "OK, and I'll only charge you a buck fifty a month for the use of the mat I just installed over there."
Never mess with a retired union member.
  No, actually we get along fine with our neighbors. We've both installed more solar lights on the pier, and Max bought two strands of solar rope lights to run along the concrete section of our pier. At night it looks like a Miss America runway between our boats, putting all other piers at the marina to shame. If anyone falls into the water at night around here they deserve it.
  One dynamic that has changed is that now we share a double slip with whoever happens to arrive as a transient, as there is no one "permanent" in the slip south of us yet. It could happen that another fifty foot aft cabin vessel might move in, and we'd be just about where we were before, view wise, but those things we can't control anyway. As it is, the first boat to come in and occupy the spot next to us came in a few days after we were in our new spot.
  The 34 foot Mainship trawler was owned by an older couple, and coming from me, that's gotta tell you something. It's a good thing I kept a line in place running from the outer piling between our double slip to the concrete bulkhead, because our new neighbor was just a wee bit inexperienced in the docking department. Even though we had no wind at all when he came in, it took him three tries to nose his bow head first into an 18 foot wide slip. Everyone has to learn at some point, but he didn't even help himself by putting out any fenders. I walked over to give him a hand, which was greatly appreciated by him and his wife, helped him tie up and get his shore power going.
  As they were our immediate neighbors, we shared some conversation when any of us were outside, but we didn't impose and neither did they, but we learned that they had cruised from an overnight stay at Cape Sable, from their home port of Marco Island.
  I admired our new neighbors as they made the most of their stay here in Marathon. They took the boat out everyday, and I helped them each time they came in bouncing from piling to pier. One day the front deck was covered in blood, it appeared to be fish blood, I didn't ask.
  On the last day coming in, the evening before they were due to return to Marco Island, I went over to oversee their arrival. Once we got lines secured, I asked "John" how long they owned a boat. "About a year", was the reply. "If ya got any advice, I sure could use it", he added.
  Given the opportunity, I suggested, as nice as I could, that perhaps when he came in to the dock, he could have his fenders out. They currently were tied to the rails, but laying uselessly between the rails and his cabin. "Oh, I thought I had forgotten something", John said.
  Our own preference is to employ fenders on each side of Swing Set when we enter a slip also occupied by another vessel. We feel that it's our responsibility to protect not only our boat when docking, but the boats of others in our close proximity. We wish other people felt the same way. If I'm around when someone comes in and looks like they want to use our boat as a means of bouncing off to get into their slip, I strongly suggest that they put out fenders before attempting insertion. Everyone knows about the phrase "better to be safe than sorry", but lots of people don't put the words into actions.
I also suggested that he learn how to use spring lines, especially at a fixed dock. "If you slip at least one on as you come in, it can help you avoid hitting the forward bulkhead if you are coming in bow first, and if you come in stern first, they take the guess work out of knowing how close you are to the dock at your stern.
  I also relayed to him my Cardinal rule, which he apparently was not aware of, and it's the rule that states to "Never leave the helm until the boat is secure". This rule is naturally only a rule if you have a crew, or some help. Single handers gotta do what they gotta do.
I say this time and time again, "You cannot control the boat if you aren't at the helm".
  We should be seeing more boats coming into the marina by the end of the month. As it is, there is a 25 vessel waiting list for slips of our size starting in October. One reason for this is that the marina is getting a face lift, and all of the boats in the area getting the facelift need slips to go to, hence the waiting list.
  The fuel docks are getting moved, and some new slips will be added. The new double slips will be able to accommodate catamarans, which the current marina doesn't have much of, and they'll be Bellingham floating concrete docks, twenty-seven in all. Twenty of those slips will be for transients only, so in the summer when things are slow, there will be floating docks to move to if a hurricane threatens.
  Long time blog readers might remember that one of our improvements to the boat was the addition of a three inch thick foam pad that we had installed over our five inch thick innerspring mattress that came as original equipment on our Sea Ray. The mattress was made by HMC, the "home crafted mattress company". Having learned a few things about foam padding from our dealings with having upholstery done on the boat, got me thinking about our mattress, and the foam pad covering it. We decided to look into getting new bedding for the V-berth in our master stateroom.
  Thinking that if I gave HMC our hull number, we could get a custom mattress made, sort of like we did with our bimini top through Boatswain's Locker, but when I called to the regional outlet for HMC, I was told that we would have to go from scratch, supplying measurements to them because they had no records of the size of mattress made explicitly for our Sea Ray.
We were disappointed, but undeterred, but were taken aback by the quoted price, which was in the neighborhood of three thousand dollars. Considering that we spend over one third of our lives in our bed, we accepted this quote, and began to think about getting measurements to HMC and having a new mattress made.
  Watching T.V. one night, I was watching a commercial for a mattress company, selling queen size mattresses for $99, when I began wondering why we were about to spend $3000 for a mattress. The next morning, I called our "go to" canvas and upholstery guys here in the keys, Oceanside Canvas, and talked with one of the owners, Steve Alberts.
  I asked about just replacing the foam pad over the existing innerspring mattress with a stiffer foam one in order to save money, but Steve had another idea. He said they could build us a custom made latex foam mattress covered with Sunbrella material in any color we wanted, and it would be much cheaper than the quote from HMC. Knowing that HMC also sells latex foam mattresses, we weren't stuck on the idea of an innerspring mattress, so we told Steve to come up to Marathon to measure us up and to leave some samples of Sunbrella material.
  Steve sent his partner Fritz to get a ballpark measurement so they could get us a quote, and by the time he arrived, we also decided to recover our padded bolster (basically our headboard) with the same material we would choose for the mattress covering. The padded bolster, which we had gotten recovered in St. Louis years ago, was showing signs of mildew that we couldn't get out. Just examining the headboard in really good light made us cringe with embarrassment.
  The initial measurement gave Steve and Fritz something to go by when they called their supplier for costs of foam material for the mattress. We wanted the mattress to wind up being eight inches thick, so they decided on a six inch thick mattress material with a two inch thick very firm foam base, hinged so we could lift up the bottom end of the mattress to access one of our air conditioners under the bed, and then covered with Sunbrella on top, and a breathable material on the bottom. Even with recovering our headboard, the quote was half of what we got from HMC, and I wasn't responsible for measuring for the mattress.

  Yesterday we installed our new headboard and mattress. We picked a neutral colored green for it all. This picture is before Rosie made up the bed with a mattress pad, sheets, bedspread, and pillows. Since we went with an eight inch mattress, the added height allowed Oceanside to increase the width of the bed at the head. Instead of the original trapezoidal shape of our old bed, we now have something more of a square. It's geometry. I hardly understand it myself.
  Last night was our first time sleeping with the new mattress, and it's as firm as we wanted it, and we like it.
  People like to say that we are "living the dream". If this is true, we may never want to wake up.