It's Hard Living on the Hard: November 17 2009
Back from our land travels and we found ourselves hibernating through days of rain. The rain was intense...clearly pushing out our original splash date of October 29 to November 11. Sheets of water spilled over Barefeet with such volume that it was like being in a car wash...seeing out of the windows was impossible. Wind accompanied the rain and blew at up to 30 knots...sending our ladder flailing on its single rope attachment. We were told that this was unseasonable weather (ha, ha...we've heard that one before) but we managed to keep all of our social engagements...even a dinner on a nearby live-aboard boat...clad head to toe in our foul weather gear. But the forecast showed light at the end of the tunnel and we were mobilized for painting the hulls with coppercoat anti-fouling paint on October 26 (www.coppercoat.com). The filling and faring made for freckle looking spots pre-painting but created an ultra smooth surface for application. Four coats of paint needed to be applied in succession after the dew of the morning burned off but before sundown...tick tock. Martin and Chris were on the paint rollers, Tracy mixed the brew and Erin was gopher/mixer relief. The brew consisted of thickener, hardener and copper dust...all must be continuously mixed in order to keep the copper evenly spread with every roller pass. Coppercoat was mixed one batch at a time and rollers were changed out when coverage quality became poor. Wow - it looked great! Okay, not Chris's first choice of how to spend his birthday but he was thrilled with the outcome. The four of us (and Skipper) sat around the gas lamp drinking cocktails and helping Chris eat cupcakes that Erin somehow snuck off and made mid-painting. Basking around the lantern glow well into the night was a fun celebration and felt a bit like a campfire.
Questionable weather put off painting the second hull for a few days. In the meantime temperatures started to dip...and the heater on Barefeet does not work when we are out of the water...bbbrrrrrr. The morning chill was broken by running a hair dryer on the sink in the kitchen. Don't chuckle, it worked. Yikes, but getting up the energy to climb down the ladder and walk through the chilly mornings to the showers is tough...and done a bit less frequently than usual. Meal planning has also been rejiggered and has taken on a whole new level of simplicity...since all dishes needed to be carried down the ladder and washed in the sink of the marina shower rooms. A breakfast passed along by Ems from her charter days worked well...croissant breakfast pie.
Croissant Breakfast Pie: Roll out/place Pillsbury croissant dough in the bottom of a pie tin or a cookie sheet; layer ham and cheese (or whatever); roll out/place Pillsbury croissant dough on top; pinch edges together with wet fingers; cook according to directions on roll; slice and serve.
Between hull paintings we squeezed in non-painting projects; collapsed the bowsprit, stowed the head sail (and laboriously untwisted its line), cleaned rust from bolts/rebedded them and generally straightened storage for the winter months (Oct 28). As forecast the weather improved and the painting of hull no.2 was a go (Oct 30). Unfortunately, daylight hours were decreasing with the season which added the only pressure to the painting schedule. At approximately 10am the process began...with a bit more efficiency the second time around because we were all more certain of what needed to be done. The added bit of certainty made for a relaxed environment and our "work sight" became a popular spot for people and dogs to stop by and visit for a few minutes throughout the day. Visitors included expats staying for the winter, recently hauled cruisers anxious to get work lined up before they headed home and various members of the marina dog gang. It seems the marina has its own pack of dogs that roam the place. They are generally friendly and know that being cute and gentle is their best chance for food and water...and a biscuit from Erin. Painting maintained a full throttle pace...tiring arms and racing against the clock. Unfortunately, one hour per hull could not keep ahead of the setting winter sun and hull no.2 was completed with headlamps and flashlights. We were bushed and called it an early night...drat...but we were awoken by a few raindrops during the night. There was not much rain but just enough to create a few streaks which required touch-ups...aaaggghh.
Never mind, enough work for now...Happy Halloween! We took a vacation day by sailing in the End of Season Regatta with Tracy, Martin and expat friends (Oct 31). The expat community in Corfu is largely from Britain and Wales...making us (two Americans) a bit of a novelty...and earning us the nickname "the Americans." Tracy and Martin rented a sailboat for the regatta day and what a day it was! There were nine of us on a Moody 37...plus jackets, cooler and snacks...provisions and cocktails were plentiful. The day started with wind at about 15 knots but it dropped steadily by race time at 1pm...average boat speed hovered around 1.5 knots. The light winds kept boats tightly packed but collisions were not too troublesome as we all crept so slowly that fending off entailed very little drama. The slow speeds were a great way to enjoy the warm sunny day...gorgeous. White sails flew bordered by the mountains of Greece and Albania that looked so close it seemed that we could reach out and touch them. We squeaked around the turnaround point at punk rock (one of the few boats to do so) but motored the final leg in order to make it home before the sun was completely gone...disqualifying us from the winners circle...ah, no matter. We never did make it to the awards ceremony but we all agreed it was a first rate day. All tied up and we squeezed the boat crew plus another half dozen friends into the cozy saloon out of the cold for more laughs and cocktails...60 degrees F is not what it used to be.
Drat...another round of torrential rain "washed off" the not quite hardened coppercoat paint (Nov 1). Winds battered the water into the paint and literally sloughed it off on the outside of the hull...but the inside of the hull was virtually untouched. It couldn't stay like that...the hull needed to be partially abraded/sanded and repainted...during good weather. Yikes, finding three days in a row of "good" weather is a bit like finding a puddle in the desert. We will just wait and hope for sooner rather than later. Hhhhmmm...just after our purchase of a space heater the temperatures became a balmy 77 degrees F (Nov 6). It felt like things were going a bit pear shaped for us...especially as we moved our splash date from November 11 to next available...November 25...eeekk...more than two months on the hard and counting! We sucked it up and just got on with it...purchased plastic sheeting to protect against the rain and more paint for more coats. Finally, dishes be damned...we had a nice dinner aboard of creamy tomato vodka soup and garlic cheese bread that reminded us what a cozy home Barefeet can be.
Creamy Tomato Soup with Vodka: 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter; 1 Tablespoon olive oil; 1 large leek (white and tender green, coarsely chopped); 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour; 1 can (13.75 oz) chicken broth; 1 can (35 oz) Italian peeled tomatoes with liquid; 3/4 teaspoon basil; 1-1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (depending upon acidity of tomatoes); 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; several dashes of cayenne; 1/2 cup heavy cream; 3/4 cup vodka. 1) In a large non-reactive saucepan melt the butter in the oil over moderate heat. Add the leek and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened but not brown (approx 3 minutes). Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes without coloring the roux. 2) Add the chicken broth, tomatoes with liquid, basil, sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 3) Remove the soup from the heat and let cool slightly. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Before serving, stir in the vodka.
No painting meant it was easy to meet up with childhood family friends of Erin...Mr and Mrs Thompson...who swung through Corfu on a cruise ship (Nov 9). We had a wonderful time in a small taverna chatting away the afternoon over lunch. We could have lingered all day but they needed to get back before their ship left port. Another activity while we waited for good weather was helping friends Martin and Tracy build their new house. It felt good to be useful and it's great to see how excited they are about the progress. Beams were raised and champagne popped on a beautiful starlit night (Nov 11)!
The weather changed and we had a five-day forecast of sun. Yippee! We wasted no time and got the starboard hull repainted (Nov 12). It was our usual jobs of rollers, mixing and gopher...all too familiar at this point. Wow...and no more clouds revealed new fallen snow on the mountains of Albania...beautiful. We had several clear, sunny days that properly hardened the coppercoat. Plus, Chris's improvised gutters with 3M painter's tape redirected the dew such that we did not get drips down the side of the hull. Barefeet looked great! Thanks Martin and Tracy for a fabulous job (www.grproclean-greece.com, ph +30 69325 36 126)! With Barefeet done and more sunny days on the forecast we had a chance to continue work at Martin and Tracy's house...beams lifted, walls raised and another concrete pour were completed (Nov 17).
Corfu does seem like a good spot to winter. We keep busy with Quiz Night at Navigator's Bar Tuesday nights, Table Top sales on Sundays and various happenings around this small ex-pat, off-season community. We have even had a couple of folks up the ladder and onto Barefeet for dinner...phew, back to a home rather than a hotel room. Our heater is keeping us warm and Nigel's chicken pot pies keep us comforted (firstname.lastname@example.org). Happily, things are not looking quite so pear shaped as we wait for our lift back into the water November 25.