LAT: N 36° 51.5'
LON: W 76° 20.5'
SLOW TIMES hot and humid
on the hard
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It's an On the Hard Knock Life

Slowly For Sale

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Slowly Takes to the Air

On the Hill

The Life and Times of Slowly Hauled Out

Following the separation of our shaft and transmission, our visit in Portsmouth totaled 11 days. Our time was a delicate blend of good and bad. The bad was mostly bad for the wallet, yet good for Slowly. The good was finding an affordable yard with a wonderful cast of characters working and living there. First thing Monday morning, Tim began making phone calls. Realizing that our time waiting for repairs in Portsmouth would be best spent working on the boat, we searched for the increasingly rare yard that allows boaters to do their own work. There were actually two confirmed and a possible third that allow this in that area. Our best bet for getting hauled soon was Virginia Yacht & Boat in West Norfolk (an area of Portsmouth). We spoke with Bill on the Phone who said that he would be able to fit us in the next few days, and to come on by. After a short cruise we were amazed when we met Sam at the pier. He said "they're gonna haul you now." Sweet! It was time to get to business. In a few hours, it was pretty clear that we would need a new shaft and coupling, and that we would be well served to realign the starboard engine, lest our brand new shaft slowly wear itself down.

Fast forward one hot week. While waiting for our new shaft to arrive, we resolved to tackle various projects around the boat. We snuffed out some small areas of rotting wood, sanded all over, and began to repaint. Her bottom looked awesome and we were glad our work in the winter of 2004 had helped. People would come in to the marina and notice how great she looked, not believing she is wooden. Though some things were looking up, it was hard waking up to the sounds of the highway overhead and the diesel semis coming in for repairs across the street. Nothing was close by. No grocery stores, delis or bars within walking or biking distance. We rented a car (with a good disabled vehicle discount) and learned how to get around in a car quickly. It was a rough time to be working outside since it was the hottest week there, as well as everywhere else in America!

We had also found after hauling that Slowly's current worm shoe was at the end of it's life, and needed replacing (see Fun Fact). On Tuesday, our 8th day, hope was in the air alongside nasty thick humidity and mind numbing 100-plus temperatures. A wonderful local shipwright, Bill Keeling, arrived to replace the worm shoe, and the new shaft arrived. Slowly was also beginning to look quite sharp with a repainted hull and primed cabin.

By late morning, Slowly had worker bees all over her. Bill was finishing up the worm shoe, grinding a nice smooth shape to it. Our new friend Mike at the boatyard was installing the shaft, Hannah was sanding and painting, and Tim was running around trying to assist everyone without making things worse. The following day, on Tim's birthday, there was much to celebrate as Slowly was let back down off the hill and into the water. It was a birthday splash.

Over the week we kept ourselves to a pretty rigorous schedule, but we did allow a few sorties into the Norfolk area. These included returning to the Commodore Theatre, swimming at Chick's Beach in Virginia Beach with lunch at the Green Parrot, an excellent dinner at the No Frills Grill in Norfolk and a birthday dinner off Granby St in Norfolk at Omar's Carriage House. While our thoughts were often on plans for Slowly, we were able to enjoy discovering a new area.

During this unexpected stay in the Norfolk/Portsmouth area we realized that this is also what cruising is about. Besides anchoring in quiet havens and hanging out at the local boater dives, it is also about being ready for things to go wrong. We would not have ever thought to take a trip down to West Norfolk but ending up there is part of the story of cruising. We met many characters while we were there and though it might not have been our #1 choice for a place to be stuck in, it was rewarding in it's own way. It allowed us to work on the boat, fix what needed to be maintained, meet new people and to acknowledge that the freedom cruising gives you is the freedom to end up anywhere, for any length of time, with any circumstances (and any new holes in the wallet) and to live in the moment.

Fun Facts

Wooden boats, or tree ships, get a bad rap. They are notorious because of boats like the one in this picture. When we are hauled out we realize that many wooden boats are headed for the chain saw and not ever going to splash again. Sometimes it is heartbreaking when once beautiful boats are better off sold in pieces than as a whole. It is also a little scary to see what can happen to a wooden boat when it's not maintained and when it's out of the water for too long. The planks of the hull begin to separate; however, if the boat is soon put back in the water the planks expand and seal up again. Usually people don't even realize that Slowly has a wooden hull. She is in such good shape that it is hard not to beam with pride whenever she is lifted from her natural habitat and up onto blocks.

Animal of the Day

The "worm shoe" is a piece of wood that sits under the very bottom of any wooden boat, under the keel. It's job is too feed "worms": under-water creatures that love to eat wood. The worm shoe is separated from the boat by a strip of tar paper and multiple layers of anti-fouling paint. This way, the worms who feed from the bottom up, hit the tar paper layer and stop. They choose to eat the sacrificial offering over the boat itself. Once enough worms have slaked their thirst for cellulose, a new offering must be made, or they will become angry and eat your boat your dinner.

Wine Review

It is a little difficult to get back to our propeller ratings in terms of what really is a 3 prop wine versus a 3.5 prop wine. But here you go. These are all wines from Trader Joe's bought by Hannah's generous father (unless otherwise mentioned). We sampled a few wines while we were hauled out. Though the reds might have been a little warm from the weather for tasting...

Abrazo Del Toro, Reserva, 2000, 60% Garnacha, 40% Tempranillo, from Carinena. This is a flavorful, smacky red wine that is dark and rich and also dry. May be better with dessert than dinner. It is a three and a half propeller wine, out of five.

Dr. Beckermann, Piesporter Michelsberg Spatlese, a blend of Mosel, Saar and Ruwer (we think), 2005. This is a sweet syrupy white that has flavors of apples. This also might be a better wine with dessert. Quite scrumptious.

Barefoot Merlot, California, 2003. A spicy and smooth wine, a little tart, with a taste of confections (chocolate?). Barefoots seem to be a good price for good wine, which equals good value.

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