A BLUE DAY IN THE MARINA 3 – Marilyn Armstrong

July Blues – 3

So. In the middle of June, we hopped down to the Curleys and hung out at the marina. It was a bit too rough to go out and to be fair, I’m just as happy in the marina as anywhere else. Being along the water is a treat, no matter what we are doing.

I took a bunch of pictures there and didn’t even get around to processing them. So here’s one … blue sky, blue canvas boat cover, blue water.

Blue skies on a bright day in June

R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong

It was our time for a bit of R & R in the lush Connecticut woods, far from the madding crowd. It’s another world where we can recharge our life force and mental batteries.

Home

Our hosts are the kindly friends for whom we are grateful. We’ve known Tom for more than 50 years dating back to our days in college when we and our world was young. We’ve known Ellin – it seems forever – or since she married Tommy and immediately improved the quality of life for all of us.

Our mini-vacation included time at the marina where everyone seems utterly relaxed — except when they are rehabbing their boats for another summer on the water. The much-maligned weather put on a good face for us.

Ellin

Tom

Sunshine and summer-like temperatures were abundant. It was warm but not uncomfortable. The breeze from the water made it almost perfect as we relaxed for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing.

Marilyn and the camera

Garry at pier’s end

Tom apologized for not taking the boat out because the water was a bit too choppy for his taste. No worries, we repeatedly told him as we soaked up the afternoon sun, chatting about stuff that brought giggles and contentment. Really. NO worries!

I enjoyed looking at the names of the boats in the marina and wondering about the folks who owned them. I’ve never wanted to own a boat but have fantasies, thanks to Bogie in “Key Largo” and other movies which romanticize the boating life.

Ellin socializing on the pier

I’ve always thought I’d name my boat “The Busted Flush” after fictional detective Travis McGee who chased bad guys in his trusty little houseboat which also provided room for romantic interludes with his miscellaneous yet somehow dubious love interests. Hey, just a passing fancy.

Tom has schooled me in the difficulties of keeping “Serenity” in running condition. I’m good being a guest.

There’s so much to see just relaxing with Tommy and Ellin in the Marina. The setting is soothing. You can drift off mentally without a worry. No obsessing about what’s happening in our politically-challenged world. That stuff is blocked out for a few precious hours. I could actually feel my heartbeat slowing. Just what the doctor ordered.

Tom and Ellin on the boat

Back at “La Casa Bonita” of Tom and Ellin, it’s more of the easy life — at least for us, the guests. The conversation ramps up during the evening “News Hour.” Imagine sitting between two guys who’ve logged 80 years in network and top market TV News.  The old, war stories fill the air spiced with profanities that befit we who ducked idiot management suits from the “Tricky Dick Era” to today’s “Follies of Donzo.”

We can name drop with the best of them. Hell,  Tom and I have probably sent myriad suits seeking psychiatric care because we refused to tolerate their idiocy.

Tom is the master of his impressive entertainment room. He’s introduced Marilyn and me to shows and movies we never knew existed.

Tom, the telly, and Remy

One thing that impressed me — I looked and looked around the walls and notices no awards reflecting Tommy’s long and accomplished career at the highest level of TV News. I know he’s been in the cross-hairs of some of the biggest news stories over half a century. No collection of hardware — unlike me.  Tom doesn’t need any stinkin’ bodges.

Lexi

Marilyn and I were very reluctant to leave Tommy and Ellin and the comfy good feeling they bestowed on us, but our dogs were calling us homeward.

We have an invite to return with Tommy taking us for a trip aboard “Serenity” when the seas are smoother. I’m already dreaming about it.

A FEW PICTURES FROM HOUSE AND SHORE – Garry Armstrong

I took most of the pictures. Marilyn was off-duty this time. There are a lot more, but this is a little taste of our weekend with Tom and Ellen.

We didn’t go out because the sea was a bit high, but we had a fine time just hanging out in the marina.

Cleaning the boat

Still cleaning the boat

On the dock – Ellin’s in blue

Along the dock — Can you spot Tom?

A little cloud over the Curley’s house

THE START OF BOATING SEASON – BY ELLIN CURLEY

From New Years on, Tom counts down the days until he can start working on the boat to get it ready to go back in the water. It spends its winters shrink wrapped and up on pilings in the parking lot of the marina, squashed together with all the other beached boats.

The first thing we have to do each spring is getting off the shrink-wrap. This involves lots of cutting and rolling of the large sheets of plastic protecting the boat from the winter elements. This usually takes one day, which is not too bad. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Then comes the cleaning, which is a big production. The bottom has to be painted and the hull has to be waxed and buffed. On a 40-foot boat, that’s a lot of waxing and buffing!

It also has to be over 55 degrees and dry for Tom to be able to do this kind of work and this year the weather has not been cooperating.

We had a few warmer days and he got a lot done, but then it either rained or was too cold for over a week. Tom’s brother came down to help him work on the boat, but they only got one good day out of four. This time of year the weather is always erratic, but it seems to be getting more schizophrenic each year.

Big pile of cut plastic rolled up next to the boat

The fiberglass and the metal railings on the inside of the boat also have to be cleaned and Tom likes to get this done while the boat is out of the water. That’s because once the boat is in the water, Tom gets lazy and just wants to relax and enjoy it.

My job is the interior cabins on the boat. While it’s still out of the water, I do the annual thorough cleaning. Everything is covered in black soot and dirt and is disgusting. I throw away a garbage bag full of black paper towels. But I persevere and clean every inch of the boat, including the two toilets, the bathroom floors (by hand) and the shower. This is my least favorite day of the year.

The deck inside the shrink wrapping

Once I’ve cleaned the inside, I take home all the sheets and towels, wash them, bring them back to the boat and make the bed and put the clean towels out.

My pile of laundry for the boat.

Then I have to stock the kitchen. I have to wait until the boat is in the water because the only way onto the boat in the parking lot is by ladder and I don’t want to carry heavy grocery bags up a shaky ladder. Stocking the kitchen is like stocking a house – I have to buy every necessary item in my kitchen, starting from scratch.

I need basics like coffee and tea, salt, pepper and sugar, herbs and spices, condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings, and items to cook with like butter, oil, vinegar, chicken stock, onions, tomato sauce, etc. Then there’s snack food and company food because people are always stopping by for a drink on the dock. So I need cheese and crackers, chips and dips as well as cookies and other sweets.

The other trick in shopping for a boat, is I have to try and find the smallest versions of everything so I can fit it all in my small kitchen.

When the kitchen is stocked, my last job is to clean the deck and the flybridge. That has to be done last because Tom keeps all of his cleaning items strewn all over these areas. It looks like a bomb went off at West Marine. Once he finishes his cleaning and puts everything away, I get to do the final job.

That’s when the boating season officially begins for us.

Anchors Away!

FLOWERS AT THE MARINA – BY ELLIN CURLEY

When people think of marinas, they think of boats, docks and, of course, water. But our marina makes an effort to create beauty on the land part of the marina as well as the water part.

So I took some pictures of the beautiful plantings and flower beds at our marina. They make walking the dogs a peaceful and happy experience.

Cee’s Flower of the Day

VACATION AT HOME – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We were supposed to go to Italy with friends this July. We had to cancel the trip because I’ve been suffering from a chronic condition called Poly Myalgia Rheumatica. I didn’t feel up to traveling so far away and didn’t feel I could handle sightseeing every day.

So we headed for the marina, our home away from home. We decided to live on the boat for five days as our ‘vacation’ for the month. I forgot how quickly we fall into a boat routine. We’re less than half an hour away from home, but we feel like we’re in another world. There’s something about living in miniature, on the water, that relaxes us instantly.

I think that part of the reason everything feels so different on the boat is that all the logistics are different than at home. To use the oven, we have to move everything off the countertop, open the cover for the stove and then we can turn the oven on. To find anything in the refrigerator, we usually have to take everything out, shelf by shelf, until we find what we’re looking for. The frig is packed that tight!

To take a shower, we have to remove all the towels and the garbage can from the shower area and move them into the bedroom. At home, the dogs have a doggie door. On the boat, we have to walk the dogs regularly. Good exercise. But it takes some getting used to. We are totally spoiled vis-a-vis our dogs! So life feels truly ‘nautical’ on the boat. Our house also rocks periodically, which is very cool.

This week, we had guests from New York on the boat with us. We also visited with friends on the dock, so it’s been a more social week than we would have had at home. People love visiting the boat. Even if we can’t take a ride, people just love being on the water.

One of our friends stayed overnight with us on the boat. That doesn’t happen often, so it was a special treat. Like camping out with friends! She stayed overnight the night of the local 4th of July Fireworks. We got to enjoy 180 degrees of fireworks! Most of the fireworks were done by local individuals. But the town of Stratford does a 20-minute display done by professionals. It is truly awesome!

Tom loves fireworks and looks forward to this display all year. It’s worth the wait. We have a clear view from our boat and it looks like the display is being done specially for us.

So this ‘vacation’ week turned out to be more fun and more restorative than we had expected. Even the dogs were chilling out (That may have also been because of the extreme heat).

The longer we stayed at the marina, the more distant our ‘land’ life became. We extended our stay by a day. And we may be coming back for a few more days soon. Now it really feels like summer vacation!