CRUSHER and the Meatballs

Hello Everyone!

So many things have happened...

We had our first guest! My Dad came for a visit about a week ago. He's an avid boat lover and we figured that it would be a good idea to invite him to the boat before he actually showed up on his own, just to check things out. He spent days crawling all over the boat, learning things, asking questions, and making suggestions. We liked having him visit, he was entertaining as well as very informative. He's coming back to help us sail to Gibraltar where we pick up our next batch of crew for the Atlantic crossing.

At one point during Dad's visit I left the boat to go on a quick errand. When I came back I found Pierre and Thorsten standing on deck hoisting my Dad up the mast. I think everyone was smiling but I'm not sure. By the time I got back to the boat from the parking area, they had put Dad down and all were strangely quiet. I don't think I'll ever know the full story behind this and I'm not sure I want to.

Speaking of people on top of the mast, there has been an electrician up there for a couple of days now trying to snake a cable down through it. He has either given up or is tired of going up there. Tomorrow morning the boat's mast is coming down to make the cable's passage more simple. When people found this out and found out they couldn't bill us extra for it (it was in the contract) there was much arm waving and many cuss words said under people's breath. I know what a lot of them mean now and they were BAD cuss words.

On a weekend trip to Collieure I decided that I needed to head into town to get a few things. Dad and Thorsten decided to stay on board so my only option was to take the dinghy out myself and make my own way... Here are some pointers for dinghy usage:

  1. Be careful lowering the dinghy into the water. It's heavy. Dropping it is bad and usually causes bruises.
  2. Open the gas tank before trying a hundred times to pull start the engine.
  3. Turn the throttle DOWN before putting it into gear and/or strap yourself into the dinghy to prevent flying off when it starts at warp speed.
  4. Try hard not to get rope stuck in the propeller, especially in really cold water on a cold day. Reaching into cold water to remove rope only works as long as there is feeling in your arms. Note: flapping arms vigorously while sitting in a dinghy to restore feeling so work can continue often attracts a crowd.
  5. When docking a dinghy or shoving off, a large crowd of people will watch, offer unneeded assistance, and criticize.
  6. Last but not least, if you are 7 months pregnant during all of the above, at least 3 people will tell you that you should be doing none of it.

How my life is different living on the boat from living on the house:

  1. The inside and OUTSIDE of our living structure needs to be scrubbed regularly. I have never scrubbed the outside of my land dwellings before, have you? (If your answer is yes, I don't want to hear it AND please visit ASAP.)
  2. Laundry takes forever. We have a washing machine/dryer combo on board but the average 6 pound load takes about 3-4 hours to complete. I wait for a sunny day and wash things and then hang them on the deck to dry. Note: use many clothespins or lose stuff forever. So far I've been lucky and lost nothing. Note: when laundry is hung all over the boat, my Dad often mutters about French Frigate boats and how people have no respect for the boat.
  3. There is no dishwasher. Those of you who have them, please give them a kiss for me. Our galley is smallish so leaving even 1 or 2 dishes in the sink is not a good idea, plus people come by all the time. After every meal, wash, dry, put away. I'm getting good at it.
  4. THE HEAD- nuff said. (If you're a boat person you'll understand, if not, further explanation will disgust you.) Note that the use of holding tanks seems to be optional here. It's not a good idea to look at the floating objects in the water too closely.
  5. Garbage is an issue. We are trying to produce as little as possible. Thorsten has been nicknamed CRUSHER because he's very good at making large objects smaller.

I have been shopping and cooking and shopping and cooking and shopping and cooking. We currently have dinner on the boat for about 25 days for 5 people. I have a lot more food to buy. Growing up and only child in NO WAY prepared me for this. Some trips to the store, I go back in 3 times and fill the cart each time. Being pregnant helps. People lift things for me and if my cart careens out of control and hits someone, people seem to mind less. A lack of the language is probably good in these cases.

I have made 109 meatballs, 2 gallons of chicken stew, and 5 lasagnas in 3 days. This may not sound like a lot but with *one* large pot, and a small kitchen, and NO appliances and when you include shopping (in French) for everything, trust me, it adds up. I have considered writing a love letter to my Cuisinart during this time. Besides the prepared food, there are 25 lbs of chicken breasts, 16 pork chops, 10 lbs of beef, 8 lbs of lamb, 12 lbs of potatoes, 20 lbs of various pastas, 36 liters of water, 20 liters of juice, 48 rolls of toilet paper, 24 rolls of paper towels, 300 dinner napkins, 2 cases of beer, 3 cases of wine, 120 little packets of soup, 10 heads of garlic, many bottles of spices, and many many other things. I personally find it a fascinating process to get the boat ready for the voyage.

I have given up trying to project manage the boatyard process of fixing the boat. They don't listen to me anyway. Thorsten is doing it and is really succeeding. For those of you who have worked with him, his main tactic will be familiar. He simply sits and watches people work. Sometimes he rests his hands on his stomach. Sometimes he paces around. He always checks people's work. Thanks to his rather amazing prowess, our boat will be ready on time for our departure. As I understand it, this happens once in a very Blue Moon (pun intended). We have a little game happening. When the workers start to slow down, he gives me the signal and I throw a pregnant woman hissy fit. Then the French workers shake their heads sagely and feel pity for Thorsten and work harder. Whatever works, right? Sometimes I find it therapeutic to do my bit.

For those of you who are interested, here's a baby update. I am obviously pregnant now. the only way I can conceal my condition is to hide behind something. I look pretty similar except there is a round bulge on my front. We don't have a full length mirror so when I catch sight of myself it's sort of fun to take a look. The baby is really active, especially when I want to be sleeping. He likes to wait till I'm just asleep and then SAMBA. Sometimes he moves so much that my shirt bulges out. This seems to be fascinating for people I'm talking to. Who can blame them, I'm fascinated too.

We leave on Sunday, March 24. Thorsten, Dad, Thorsten's friend Stig, and I will sail to Gibraltar to arrive on March 30ish. I'm not sure what kind of access I'll have after we set sail, so don't expect another episode of this newsletter (I refer to it as the Adventure Chronicles) for awhile. I may surprise you but I doubt it. Keep writing. We love hearing from you.

Heather and Thorsten (aka CRUSHER, aka Captain Tholo)