Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boat Songs

Well tonight's blog post is being written offline, as my net is, as usual, sketchy during this storm. Yes, I plug in to whatever WiFi my antenna can pull up, as there is no dedicated service at the marina, and there is usually a bit of residual (read free) internet floating around. I don't pay for service, so I guess I am a pirate, but I figure I am saving about $70 a month, and although my internet connection is intermittant, it usually is not as bad as it is right now. Tonight it is bad because I am bouncing around in the remains of what was hurricane and then tropical storm Ida, which is now a N'or Easter stalled somewhere between Georgia and North Carolina. Seems that what was supposed to be an evening of steady rain is now going to be 3 days of steadier rain. Go figure, I have things I need to do, and not only am I fighting the clock (daylight savings having gone away) I am fighting the calendar and now the weather too. And how can it be a N'or Easter if it came from the southwest? I know, I know, the winds come in from the northeast, but the storm came in from the southwest. Maybe a southwester just doesn't roll of the tongue as well, heck if I know.

This post was going to be about boating music, but I need the net to reference some of the lyrics I wanted to plagiarize. I mean use. I mean use as example of good songs to sail to. No matter, we will slog on regardless, and hopefully the lyrics will be correct, and if I just happen to butcher them, I apologize ahead of time.

Have you ever noticed that so many songs that reference sailing and life at sea are soaked in lyrics extolling alcohol? From pirate ditties to the entire Jimmy Buffet library, the songs we sing, listen to and love all seem to portray us as a bunch of drunkards and scallywags. "Yo ho ho ho and a bottle of rum" otherwise known as "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest" has to be the most widely known song associated with seafaring. A true classic, evokes visions of pirate ships, scallywags and vagabonds. Jimmy Buffet captured the spirit of island hopping in his songs-sun, sand, island beaches, coconut oiled, bikini clad island girls...ok, my mind wanders, but you get the point. Now there is a huge cross over of country music singers singing about the islands. What the Caribbean has to do with country music I( have no idea, i bet there isn't one country music station in all of Jamaica, ( I am going to find out first hand) but the country stars seem to flock to those island paradises and write a ton of songs about island life and living - must be a mental getaway for that cotton farmer in Mississippi while he is working those fields.
So here are a few of my favorites, some new, some old, some of them are kind of obscure, but all are good listening. I am going to include them as links, as I am able, so that you can go to whatever site they are on and listen to what I listen to as I sail aboard the good ship Arden.

Capn Jack's Sailing Song List
Pirates of the Carri bean Sound Track. This is just one song of many I have on my computer, but the majority the songs from the first movie are so powerful, so moving, and so....seaworthy. Whenever I need a lift while sailing or need to feel like I am going faster than I actually am, I will play this on the stereo. Besides, I was Captain Jack a long time before he was.

When the Sun Goes Down - Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker define my image of island life - this is why I am going where I am going.

I can't include all the Jimmy Buffett songs I love, but here are a few...

Margaritaville - the classic Jimmy Buffett song. We all have heard it, we all know it, and in some way, we all love it.

A Pirate Looks at 40 - Jimmy Buffett
Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes - Jimmy Buffett
Son of a Son of a Sailor - Jimmy Buffett
Volcano - Jimmy Buffett
Bama Breeze - Jimmy Buffett - from what I have been able to find on the net, the Bama Breeze is actually the Flora-Bama Lounge, in Perdido Key in Florida, six feet from the Alabama state line.
Boat Drinks - Jimmy Buffett
Its Five O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett - Just one more reason to break out the blender and make a pitcher of cold smooth ones.
Toes - The Zac Brown Band - what a great modern island song. Another country crossover.
Annapolis Shuffle - Them Eastport Oysterboys - These guys are great! They are a duet out of Annapolis (of course) and perform original song written about life on The Bay. I would definitely recommend looking them up, and getting a CD of your own.
Backcreek Crab - Them Eastport Oysterboys - I think there is a Back Creek in every county here in MD. I know there are crabs in every creek here in Southern Maryland. This is a tale of my summer here...
A Good Hat, A Good Dog, A Good Boat - Them Eastport Oyster Boys - need I say more?

These are just a few of my favorites, good songs to listen to under sail, or on a rainy, windy night riding out a N'or Easter at the dock or on the hook.

A Pirate Looks at Forty

Mother, mother ocean,

I have heard you call,

Wanted to sail upon your waters

since I was three feet tall.

You've seen it all, you've seen it all.

Watch the men who rode you,

Switch from sails to steam.

And in your belly

you hold the treasure

that few have ever seen,

most of them dreams, Most of them dreams.

Yes, I am a pirate

two hundred years too late.

The cannons don't thunder

there's nothin' to plunder

I'm an over forty victim of fate

Arriving too late, arriving too late.

But I've done a bit of smugglin'

I've run my share of grass.

I made enough money to buy Miami,

But I pissed it away so fast,

Never meant to last, never meant to last.

I have been drunk now

for over two weeks,

I passed out and I rallied

and I sprung a few leaks,

But I've got to stop wishin',

Got to go fishin', I'm down to rock bottom again.

Just a few friends, just a few friends.


Now I go for younger women,

lived with several awhile

And though I ran away,

hey they come back one day.

And still can manage a smile

It just takes awhile, just takes awhile.

Mother, mother ocean,

after all my years I've found

My occupational hazard being my occupations

just not around.

I feel like I've drowned, but I won't wear a frown,

(No way Jose)
I feel like I've drowned,

Oh I've got a night off to get in trouble in old Boston Town…

21 days to go...or so...

Albert Einstein was right on the money with the Theory of Relativity. You might ask what in the world that has to do with me, Spook and Arden. Believe me, everything. I made this amazing discovery this afternoon: the speed at which the hands on the clock move is directly relative to whether it is a weekend or a workday. Just a few moments ago it was Friday afternoon, I was sick as a dog (sorry Spook, its true) and I couldn't imagine how I was going to get anything done this weekend. Now it is Sunday nite, the sun has set, and another work week begins in a few short hours. Now I am no science whiz, and it is beyond me just what E=MC2 really means, but I really am tired of it screwing up my weekend.

All that bellyaching aside, it was a good weekend. I fought the sniffles and a killer sinus headache (its time for a word from our sponsor, Tylenol Cold and Flu) but I managed to get a good bit done. For starters, my son Mike and his friend Neil came up Saturday. I haven't seen Mike since I sailed down to Norfolk in May the last time he was on leave. If you don't already know it, Mike is a member of the United States Coast Guard, and he is stationed all the way across the country in San Diego, aboard the USCGC Hamilton. Mike and Neil came up to cart the junk that is not making the cruise back down to Va Beach. Now mind you, we did more than clean out a storage unit - I gave them a tour of my little town, had a great cookout, and of course, got them to give me a hand working on Arden. It was a great visit, and it reminded me just how much I miss having him around. To continue with our theme tonight, just how quickly time passes...May was just a little bit ago, just over a year ago he helped me finish up Arden prior to moving her, his bootcamp and high school graduation seem like yesterday, and I still remember taking off of work to put his butt on the school bus for the first time when we lived at Chick's Beach in Va Beach.

Thanks to Mike and Neil's help, Arden now has a stern pulpit. It is, I suppose, a prototype, being bolted together with fittings from West Marine, but it is a sturdy barrier between me and Davy Jones, and once I haul out next year, I will have it welded up and made as one piece. I have a few design ideas that will have the wind vane, the boom kin, and the stern pulpit all merged into one welded stainless steel unit. I was also able to get the auxiliary water tank installed today, at the sacrifice of some of the aft storage area. I'm not sure how I am going to address the lost space, the tank would not go where I had originally wanted to put it, so it ended up taking some of the space where I was storing tools and some of my spare gear. However, it gives me another 39 gallons of water that will not only help Spook and I survive out on the open ocean*, but will also serve to balance Arden out a bit. If I haven't mentioned it before, when Arden has a full load of water aboard, with her original tank only, she is down by the bow by about 2 inches. The water tank is all the way fo'ard against the stem, and at 45 gallons, that puts a ton of weight (360 lbs to be exact) way up where there is little buoyancy. Now she is just riding low all over, but, as long as both tanks drain at the same rate, she will remain better balanced, and I hope that will make her sail on her own a bit better. During my sail to St. Michaels with Liz, Arden was so well balanced - I suppose the wind was right, the sail set was right, and the Gods were with us - that by using my tiller lock she sailed herself for about 6 hours.

Touching briefly on the windvane steering unit: Last spring I downloaded Walt Muir's plans for the 20/20 windvane unit. I really liked the idea of having the wind steer the boat as well as power it, and being a notorious tightwad, I just couldn't see spending $4500.00 on a Monitor, Aries or Navik unit. So I found this website, and made one. And it works. Really works. On the big "Sail Up The Bay" the windvane did about 80% of the steering.

The Windvane Unit is the gizmo right behind the rudder.

I have found that when close hauled, I can sail tighter to the wind by about 4 or 5 points - the windvane is at its best then, and, it reacts much faster to gusts and wind shifts than I ever could. I am beefing the unit up a bit before sailing south, replacing some of the original parts with stronger ones, even though it did fine in a N'or Easter on the way up the bay, I am concerned with its durability on an extended passage. I think it is one of those things I will continue to tinker with as time passes, until I get it where I want it. I think all told, I have under $150 dollars tied up in it now. Here is a brief video of the windvane at work:

And finally for the night, when I was working on the water tank, I replaced the old seawater hoses for the cooling system since I had enough 3/4 inch hose, and, the hoses were right there where I was working. I started the engine to check for leaks, and that was when I discovered that the coolant pump is going bad. Its not leaking - yet - but it is making noise, and the bearing is obviously bad. Better to find that out now, than out on the water, where it would undoubtedly fail just when I need it most. One more project for the list..
As of today I have about 21 days to go. I am counting on leaving the weekend after Thanksgiving, give or take a few days waiting on a good weather window.
*Normally at dockside, giving no thought to water conservation, rationing, or how wasteful I am, Arden's 45 gallons of fresh water lasted about 3 weeks, 4 on a stretch. I am not sure how long that would have lasted at sea when that water would have supplied bathing water as well as water for cooking and such. I will touch back on this at some point during the cruise and update just how long 84 gallons of water lasts us.