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Seriously..You Can't Make This Shit Up

Warning: Somewhat bad language in this post. It's warranted. Believe me.

We left the dock early and made our way to the anchorage, found a lovely spot, dropped anchor and spent the rest of the day pottering about on the boat and in the dinghy. We had dinner at the San Diego Yacht Club with Jerry and his daughter Tiffany, and new kiwi friends Colin and Marion and then took the dinghy over to the Willie Nelson concert for a few minutes before Alyssa arrived. Once on board everyone settled in to be gently rocked to sleep. Which was a great theory, but it didn't happen that way. Even though we lock our dinghy and paddle board to the boat with chain, we're super paranoid that someone will come along and steal them. It happens more often than you might realize, and it's expensive kit to replace if it goes. So Darrin and I spent the night checking to see everything was still where it should be and also checking boats around us, because the anchorage got really full and there were boats nearby that were way too close for comfort. Every little noise woke us. Ugh.

Now, let me set the scene for the next morning. We had pancakes on deck for breakfast which was lovely. Darrin took Alyssa and Michael for a dinghy ride and I had a shower. They came back and we were sitting downstairs talking about plans for the day when Darrin said "Wow...that mast is really close" and bounded on deck quickly followed by me. We were about to hit another boat. All hell broke loose. I went downstairs to turn on the start battery. Darrin started the boat and gunned it forward. Lots of yelling and screaming. What happened? Our anchor dragged. When we had anchored the wind was really calm and we didn't let out a lot of scope when we set the anchor, however the next morning the wind had picked up and was coming from a different direction. We couldn't let out more scope because the anchorage was full and we would have hit other boats (ironically) as we swung in the breeze. I could go on here about scope and water depth and anchors dragging because not enough scope was let out, but it's all technical and blah blah but suffice it to say, we do try to put out enough scope but it's tricky in tight anchorages and very rarely do others put out enough scope so it perpetuates the problem. Anyway, we were out of danger but it was a split second thing - if I had still been in the shower and they were still out on the dinghy, we would have hit that boat for sure. Crisis averted, we tried to find a place in the anchorage a little further from others, but it was impossible - way too many boats. So we gave up and decided to head back to the guest dock and we'd stay for the night. The next crisis was looming though. It was blowing about 15 knots and the slip we reserved was stern in and way inside the dock. Problem is, as Darrin was backing in (warning, a bit of techo lingo here) he would lose steerage and in that time the wind would grab the bow and send the boat off in a completely different direction. He couldn't take a longer run at it because there were so many boats coming and going and there was never a clear path to get going fast enough to maintain steerage. After trying this 4 or 5 times, we realized it would be easier to come in bow first into an empty slip and we would be able to jump off and walk the boat back into our slip. Mind you, there was a lot of yelling, hand gestures, arms being thrown in the air, emphatic pointing going on while people milled about watching and giving unsolicited advice while a damned dog simply would.not.shut.up. Anyway, the boat was finally tied up and safe, our blood pressure came down a bit, we apologized to each other for the things we said while docking and hoped the rest of the day wouldn't be so exciting.

Note to self: a sailboat is NOT the place for a two year old. I know there are many people out there who cruise with their babies. I admire them greatly and they will all be sainted when they die. Poor little Michael. He was on the "Don't" boat for the weekend. Everything is a hazard. Nothing is child proof. Nothing can be touched. Can't go anywhere. There's steep stairs and high beds and water all around. There's lots of really fun buttons to push, but someone always says "don't play with that please Michael". The galley sink taps are fun to turn off and on but we're using water from our tank and can't waste any, so that's a "Don't turn on the tap please Michael". The ice maker lid is fun to flip up and down - "Don't play with the lid please Michael". Shoes left in the cockpit didn't stay in the cockpit for long - "Don't throw the shoes overboard please Michael". "Don't put your finger in the VHF handset plug please Michael". "Don't swing on the cockpit doors please Michael". "Don't turn on the shower sump pump please Michael". Bless his heart, he was so good despite all the "don'ts" and it was was time to get him off the boat. Alyssa was kind enough to drive us around to pick up various items, again the poor child was strapped down in the car but FINALLY was set free to run around at the park for a while. We thought the Spaghetti Factory would be fun for dinner, so we piled back in the car and headed that way. Epic fail. There was a baseball game going on so there was no parking within 20 blocks of the restaurant, Michael was about to lose it completely (as was I...hangry doesn't even describe it) so we had to find something else out of the city. The only place we could find remotely suitable for a rabid middle aged redhead, a 2 year old having a meltdown, a driver being given all sorts of conflicting directions and a very patient Dad/Grandpa/Husband trying to keep everyone from losing all semblance of sanity, was Denny's. And so Darrin ushered his feral family into the restaurant, an elderly couple said "oh it's about get noisy in here" as we were seated, Michael threw his crayons all over the floor, we tried to order an adult beverage and were told Denny's doesn't have any, and I almost wept. Stifling my sniffles, Darrin patting my hand and mumbling "there, there dear", we perused the menu and commented on how long it had been since we'd had a "Moons over my hammy" sandwich or a "Lumberjack Slam". As it turned out, the country fried steak, Philly cheese steak sandwich and mac and cheese hit the comfort food spot perfectly, while Alyssa was the only healthy one among us and ordered an avocado chicken salad. With the family somewhat sated and in a much better frame of mind after food, we went back to the boat to spend the night checking the #$%^ing dinghy wasn't being stolen. Ugh.

The dawning of a new day saw the dinghy still safely chained to our boat and a plan to take Michael to the waterfront park in downtown San Diego where he could run and play in the water as much as he liked. A glorious day, we found some shade and took turns following Michael around the pool. He absolutely loved running and splashing and not once did anyone say "don't"! Lots of other kids to play with, someone having a party for their child gave Michael a balloon, he finally got up the courage to stand in the water jets and generally had fun being a little boy with nothing to break for a few hours. It was lovely to watch him run around and just be a happy kid. Soon enough though, it was time to head back to the Don't Boat for a nap before they had to head home. Nap time never happened though, and after his taste of freedom in the morning, the confines of the Don't Boat was just too much for him and it was decided they head out a bit earlier than anticipated. Despite the limitations of being on the boat, Michael did so well considering he was in a completely unfamiliar environment. He's a gorgeous little boy, if somewhat of a dynamo, and we love spending time with him but in future we'll work out a way to see them on land, the boat is just too exhausting for him and for us!

And so we went to bed, slept like logs, exhausted from a somewhat stressful weekend and neither of us could give a rip about the dinghy being stolen to be honest. Our plan was to leave the guest dock in the morning as we had booked another anchorage for the next 3 nights and we wanted to head out early before the wind kicked up and the anchorage filled up. We had to fill up with water and have the holding tank pumped out before we left, which meant the boat had to be moved to another dock for the pump out. But we faffed about and by the time we were ready to head to the pump out dock the wind had already increased and we were going to be dealing with the same issues as the previous day, wind grabbing the bow and turning us around and also being pushed onto the dock when we were trying to get out of our slip. So we spent some time talking through what we would do, made a plan, cast off the lines and somewhat surprisingly we made it to the pump out dock with no problems. We jokingly said to each other that the rest of the day would be stress free as we had docked with no problem despite the wind. Yep. We actually said that. Out loud.

Warning: The remainder of this post contains language some may find offensive. If you're at all squeamish you may not want to read further. Nothing is sugar coated. Quite the contrary in fact. Also, I asked Darrin if I could take some pics for the blog. He said an emphatic "no". In fact he said a naughty word along with the emphatic "no". The boat is tied up and we're ready for the pump out. Let me explain a little about this. It's a huge pump one puts into their holding tank and like a vacuum cleaner, it sucks all the accumulated...stuff....out of the boat and into a huge dockside tank that is emptied later. Said stuff has been broken down into a feculent puree of excrement, urine and paper by a macerator, a big blender if you will.

So there we were. Darrin had gloves on, pump inserted into the tank. There's a valve one turns to start the pump, but on this one it was a little tight. So he started to use two hands, the valve opened, the pump flew out of the tank and a veritable geyser of soupy piss, shit and toilet paper flew out of the tank, all over the boat, and all over Darrin. Covered. Head to toe in gross stinky raw sewage, stuck in his hair and beard, up his nose, in his mouth, in his shoes, in his eyes, in his ears, all over his clothes. Everywhere. I screamed. He dropped the pump and screamed. I turned off the pump and grabbed the hose as he was hacking and spitting shit out of his mouth. How he didn't vomit I don't know. It was seriously the worst thing. I was spraying him with water, he was coughing and spluttering and all he could say was "Linda! This has broken my spirit! It's the worst day of my life! I have shit all over my soul! I'm going to get E.Coli and die! I'll never get over this. EVER." It would have been funny except it really wasn't. Never in my life have I seen anything so disgusting. I was really impressed with how Darrin held it together - I could tell he was on the edge of complete panic but he was awesome, considering the state he was in. He peeled off everything except his undies on the dock, I'm trying to squirt off everything, it's all over the dock too and we're standing in it, the boat is a disaster with noxious brown sludge dripping down the hull, on the deck, all over the lifesling. Just the most horrific putrid mess ever. I hosed off the boat when I'd finished hosing my husband, and amazing man that he is, he grabbed the pump and continued emptying the holding tank but with his mouth tightly shut this time.

After Darrin had a long hot shower we spent another stressful half hour trying to get off the dock as the wind was blowing us on. Finally we made it off and headed for the next anchorage. By this time we were fairly shook with all the drama of the day and fortunately made it with little ado. Plenty of scope was let out, the dinghy was locked up and we sat on the (now disinfected) deck with a couple of well-deserved gin and tonics. Interestingly, a boat in the anchorage dragged, missed us thankfully but did do some damage to a couple of other boats.

We've learned a lot of things this past week. Things like: never turn off your anchor alarm to save power. Never take your hand off the head of the pump when emptying the holding tank. Always put out enough scope. Leave when you say you're going to leave, don't faff about updating Facebook. Leave the boat ready to drive straight out if you need to. So many things.

Ahh...the "stress free" cruising life :)

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