Sleepless In Seattle

The to-do list is never ending as departure day looms ahead. From The Roger Henry Files for April 1, 2010

March 31, 2010

empty wallet 368

Where once there was money, now there is none. The inside of Alvah’s wallet is bare after an equipment-buying binge for the Roger Henry. Diana Simon

In Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland the white rabbit scurries around muttering, “Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I shall be too late!” Last week on F- Dock in the Port of Poulsbo Marina, a similarly frantic creature could be found running around in fruitless circles proving that the hurrier you go, the behinder you get.

Our winter moorage fee just expired, and our post-office box expires this week. I’d send change-of-address notices to all concerned, but we’ll have no mailing address until next year. I don’t even want to think about the complications that might cause.

I did manage to renew our SailMail subscription, but I put off doing my tax returns because the pieces of our transmission were cluttering up my desk space. The red stains of automatic transmission fluid on my tax forms may be mistaken for blood and lead the IRS to think that the lad doth protest too much.


An interview with Jeff Tate, the lead singer of the rock band Queensryche, onboard his John Alden designed Malabar XV also helped me get behind on the boat prep. Cruising World’s editors thought there might be an interesting story where the culture of new-age metal meets that of old-world wood. The possibility of another writing assignment only served to remind me that I have not finished many others.

I was otherwise engaged.

We hauled our old inflatable dinghy and outboard engine up to a marine consignment shop. This was to force me to cough up the money for newer and safer equipment. I said newer, not new, for I have to stretch this cruising kitty from here to New Zealand.


Craig’s List offered endless opportunities to further waste time. I had to juggle a long list of possibilities regarding dinghy size, age, condition, style, cost, and proximity. Just where is Grapeview, Washington anyway? It took a flow chart to keep the minutiae straight.

Then I fell into the outboard engine debate: 4-stroke or 2-, large or light? On the internet forums I perused, opinions were laid down as passionately as lines in the Middle East sands. I collapsed into analysis/paralysis.

Eureka, one fellow advertised the perfect dinghy, and not much further away than Tacoma. I contacted him to find that it included an outboard old enough to collect Social Security and that he would not break up the package. Should I buy the dinghya and resell the outboard? I looked at the calendar. There are precious few boxes left between now and D-Day.


The purchase of a hundred dollar hand-held VHF radio required six phone calls, eight e-mails, and a rental car to finally consummate the deal in a marina parking lot in Seattle. I then found that due to a recent rebate offered on the new model, I’d saved all of forty dollars.

Nevertheless, Diana and I used the rental car to buy a new (but last years model) 4-stroke/ 4 h.p. outboard in Port Townsend, find a used Achilles inflatable in excellent condition in Anacortes, select new dive fins for Diana in Seattle (however strained the budget, I could let her suffer the indignity of used footwear), and provision the boat with six months of food in Bainbridge Island.

I nearly wore out the swipe-stripe on our debit card. When we got back to the boat, I checked our bank account online. I was at first pleased to see how large the balance was until I noticed that it was printed in red. Our leaders tell us that the path to prosperity lies in deficit spending. Apparently I have widened my personal path into a superhighway.


Diana has patiently waited for me to change the blown light bulb over her favorite reading space in the main salon. I suppose I subconsciously procrastinated because although smaller than my thumbnail, the little bugger of a bulb is priced as if it was marketed to the aerospace industry.  I fit the new bulb yesterday afternoon. It blew out last night.

I took a shot of George Dickel and a pile of sailing magazines to my berth. I was drawn to the colorful charter ads- you know, the ones that show the lithe bikini clad model diving overboard into gin-clear waters. When she’s showered and elegantly dressed for dinner, she’ll no doubt join the handsome couples on the aft deck for chilled cocktails and amusing recounts of the day’s exotic adventures.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “that’s for me – the life of leisure, the endless summer, the gentle lapping against the hull, palm trees swaying in the balmy breeze. And I am heading there-soon-just as soon as I install that gearbox, find that leak in the exhaust system, service the winches, paint the bilge…..”

I finally fell asleep at the top of the mast, servicing the running and anchor lights.


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