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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Marina Fever!

 "We've moved well beyond “Oh Boy Snow Day!” and are now at the “Let's make NyQuil Popsicles for the kids” stage of Cabin Fever... "Anon.

   As an Alaskan born and raised to homesteaders who often lived what one would call a "rustic" lifestyle  compared to most folks in their homes with all the mod-cons, I've seen my share of very loooong, cold, dark winters. In the South Central area of the 49th state, one recognizes three seasons: winter (8 months), spring break up (1 very ugly month of melting snow and slogging mud), and summer (12 weekends between frosts during which one may see some sunshine before winter closes back in). There really is no autumn in Alaska. The leaves do turn, but it happens all at once. It takes about two weeks for all the leaves to turn mostly yellow and then fall in one fell swoop. On the mountains in the distance the very first dusting of snow is called Termination Dust--for obvious reasons. 
   I've survived my share of cabin fever episodes when one is dressed for the season in a dark depression which is accompanied by deep mourning--for light, space, sunshine, blue skies, green growing things (a blade of grass!), vine ripened tomatoes, fresh snap peas, raspberries on the bush, hot weather, money, love, time, health, companionship, the sound of another human voice--or any of a dozen other emotions and situations of which one might feel a desperate lack converging under cover of an Alaskan stygian night that seems endless.
   I have two main requirements for happiness: space and quiet in nature--lots of it. While I can enjoy the company of others, I could just as easily live a life of full-on solitude without seeing or hearing another human being for many months without any difficulty because I can abide in the company of nature and my own self. 
   What I cannot abide is living nut to butt with other people. Living in such close quarters in this marina is definitely driving me slowly around the bend. Dear Sir is not far behind me.
   The folks on one side of us visit their boat frequently over the weekend. Although they don't take it out of the marina, they stay the night, and party. The first weekend they came, we endured a six minute rendition of them singing "if the boat is a rockin' don't bother knockin'." The next afternoon as we sat at our dinette, our windows and curtains closed on the side facing their boat, Les sneezed and our neighbor replied, "Bless you!"
Jack Nicholson in The Shining: a bad case of cabin Fever!
   We have exchanged pleasantries but it is clear that it does not occur to them that as our narrow boat is our home and we live on it full time, we appreciate our privacy, which means it is not good form to hang out of your hatch doors smoking a fag and then reach out and knock on our window to have a chat with us--especially as we are obviously ignoring your presence--right there in our face. It is also not on to have your friends visit the weekend and engage in a drunken celebration which keeps us up all night, or let your large Labrador out the cratch cover to wander--and pee--and stick its nose where it doesn't belong--on its own.
   The crux of the issue is this: marina boaters often don't twig to the fact that live aboard boaters are in their homes--not a weekend pleasure boat. We respectfully do not stare into their windows and we try to keep our voices and our noise down. We don't burn wood when they are on board as we don't want our smoke to annoy them. No doubt our weekend neighbors find us a bit aloof; when we see them outside our boat we are happy to stop and chat. When we are inside our boat it is our home and we want privacy. 
    In the meantime my daily walks have yielded some interesting situations and information. Just after Christmas as I was strolling through the main gate of the marina, I spied a council notice taped to one of the gate posts. Dated the first week of December, it announced the marina's application to change sixteen berths from leisure to residential which means space rent is going to go up and council taxes will be due for those who live aboard here. It isn't cheap to stay here and the longer one stays the more expensive it is--one doesn't actually get a break for signing an annual contract--oh no--after three months the cost of a mooring at this marina rises steeply. 
These bottles magically reappear every weekend!
   On the plus side, the facilities are cleaned daily and kept immaculate. The Bosch washing machine and dryer actually work (if one can figure out the European pictures which mean absolutely nothing if one cannot understand the three pages of written directions to begin with). There is a good lending library in the laundry room, and the grounds are tidy, with containers of salt to scoop up and sprinkle on the icy ground and jetties. 
   The bloke who is a jack-of-all-trades here is welcoming and helpful. One of his jobs is to go around the marina every Monday morning and gather up all the wine and booze bottles left out by weekend boaters who for some reason cannot seem to place their alcohol empties in the bin. Nothing like being paid to enable others to indulge and then behave irresponsibly. After seeing the massive weekend pile of empty bottles one can only hope these folks don't take their boats out of the marina!
Heavy frost on the bow locker and jetty.
   We've weathered the cold snap in good shape. We had plenty of coal and wood to burn, Tesco brought our groceries, and we've kept the petrol and water tanks full. We hadn't started the engine for 10 days so Les cranked it up and it turned over right away.
Breaking the ice behind us with the engine running in gear for a moment. NB Val is on the left.
Thawing the water hose in front of the fire.
   I also had my superb, vulcanized rubber hot water bottle--made in England! With Portuguese gray flannel sheets on the bed and a lovely queen size down comforter (duvet), the hot water bottle took the chill from our bed and made it a cozy, warm nest. The down duvet keeps the hot water bottle warm all night--and us as well! 
 We were moored here when Les came home from hospital!   
      Another walk a few days later brought me the shocking view of the pound between Dudswell locks 46 and 47 almost completely drained of water! On closer inspection, all the gate paddles were down, and the lock gates were closed as well, although water poured through the  worn top gates of lock 47, it was clearly not making it out the lower lock gates and into the pound. I suspect there is a leak in the lock below the bottom cill. 
   We are tired of staring at the same view day after day, week after week. We long to see birds in a new hedgerow, ducks, swans, geese and other wildlife on the cut, and most of all the reflection of sunlight on the water, making ripples on the ceiling of our boat. We sit in the shade of the boats either side of us all day. We long to pull our pins and move along. We are thankful for a place to rest while Les makes great strides regaining good health, and even more thankful it is January and in 29 days we will be back out on the cut. Happy New Year to each of You and may 2105 take you wherever in life you most wish to be!


Anonymous said...

Once again Jaq you give us a very clear picture of life aboard a boat in a party marina ... been there done that. More fun to be out and about. Glad to here progress is being made on the health front Les.
Scary to see a dry canal.
Very good in Pullman Karen

MikeW said...

Hi Les & Jaq
Sorry I haven't picked up the cake yet. I did pop round but you were out-presumably escaping noisy neighbours!
Since returning from Kent where we New Yeared I've had Manflu and figured Les in particular wouldn't appreciate me sneezing all over the shop. Next week I hope. Good blog.

Carol said...

Hi, we’re leaving Harefield Marina tomorrow (Sunday) and heading north. We’ll probably moor up the first night opposite Tesco and will be at Cowroast soon after - so we’ll see you then! Looking forward to that! xx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,
So marinas, it seems are the same the world over.It is a bit scary contemplating that much drinking going on in a marina that lets out directly onto the Pacific Ocean!! One the benefits of living here is that one's boat will not be swept out to sea!! Glad to here the weather is warming up a but in Pullman. Stay warm!!
Love JaqXXX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

I was about to send a text today asking if you were all right. Sorry to hear about the man flue: too sick to live and too well to die, right??!! Golden ginger cake only gets better with age--and additional applications of Grand Marnier. Give us a shout before you come over so we don't miss you.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Oh Carol,
What lovely news!!It seems like years (and in fact it has been) since we've had a chance to spend some time catching up with you and George--definitely something to look forward to!!

Jennie said...

Oh dear Jaq - there is no excuse for noisy neighbours be they in a marina or living in a house next door. As you know we moor in Droitwich Spa Marina over winter (well we do usually, but are still with the boat builder at present - long story, but nothing sinister and whilst there we are not paying mooring fees!!) and whilst we do not live aboard, when we do visit it always seems to be quiet. The facilitates are excellent and it is always clean. George and Carol spent last winter there, so they will be able to tell you more about the place, but I reckon it is a good place to be. Roll on the end of the month for you both when you can pull pins and sail away. So glad to hear that Les is improving daily. Jennie

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Jaq,
You're obviously not thinking outside the square. First, thpe problem is only 2 days out of 7 and the solution is obvious. Open all the curtains and blinds. Both of you should not wear any clothes (make sure the fire is high). When the neighbours close their curtains Les must open your side hatch and knock on their boat. He must then ask for gheir assistance by offering one of his full stoma bags whilst he gets a replacement. Make sure you play Barry Manilow music loudly all the time they are on their boat. I'm sure if you think about it you can come up with even more ideas to be the perfect neighbour!

Chas and Ann said...

We know what it is like, we are in a bungalow miles from any waterway so that makes it worse for us.
But we do have plans to return to our boat on the Oxford canal for short visits. We enjoy reading the blog.

life afloat on nb tickety boo said...

The day you untie your ropes and make your bid for freedom, will be all the sweeter for being 'locked in' for a while. I am sure you can't wait!!

How lucky are we that we can move? Happy days ahead for you two!

There is a Scouse magnet here, pulling you towards Liverpool, can't wait to meet you both! Take care till then x

Arthur said...

Stick it out, kids! At least you have everything to hand whilst your abilities are somewhat curtailed, but don't try too much too soon! You don't need to start going backwards now - just think of the pleasures ahead when you are both in full trim.

Mike & Phil Muir said...

OK, as another "marina dweller", cant wait for warmer weather, I have a couple of thoughts.
When Les is Fit you can move, briefly think about those people but to live in a tower block with stinky elevators for access.
Other marinas are better.... we are in Cropredy, the nearest occupied boat is 4 away, and we only know it is occupied by smoke from the chimney. Yes we have had owners return to the boats either side of us (I will measure window space tomorrow) but no wild parties. Yes, the marina manages comments on empty bottles but only because they fill up the recycle bin so quickly! 245 boats here, about 15 "occupied" full time, several boats in use over the holidays but no bad neighbours.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Jaq and Les, Tom's comment is similar to my email to you. (Maybe antipodeans are a bit like that ...) I suggest a 'Compose Suitable Revenge' competition. Judging it will make you laugh and have you imagining the response from the noisy ones next door, and most importantly, it will while away the time between now and the great escape!
PS My additional contribution to the competition - over and above the ones in my email which I demand be considered as a valid entry - hire a kareoke machine, accompany the songs in your screechiest Mrs Mills impression. Said kareoke session should start at 7am.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Jennie. We look forward to having a good catch up wit you and Chris, Sue and Ken sometime soon!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

To the NZ teams aboard NB Waiouru and Waka Huia: Thanks immensely for making us laugh and lifting our spirits. To be fair it has to noted that all boats have very thin walls and most--including our and our neighbor's windows are single glazed. It isn't that they were being incredibly loud and obnoxious--after all we could hear the details of all their cell phone conversations through our closed windows--it is just that we are jammed in here so bloody close and they--being weekend boaters--are rather clueless about how easily noise carries from one boat to another when we are all cheek by jowl. Marilyn, I spent 7 years singing First Soprano in junior and senior high school and I have a four octave range--I could indeed have been an opera singer it just never appealed to me!!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Lovely to hear from you Chas and Anne!! Happy New Year and we hope our paths might cross as well over the summer. Take care,
Jaq and LesX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

LOL Deb!! I am totally chuffed you are our Scouse magnet--cannot wait to finally make it that far North and meet in person.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Arthur,
Yep we are taking it slow and steady. The heart though longs for freedom. WE take daily walks along the towpath and it is hard to believe there is such a difference in the atmosphere and community from the marina to the towpath. Even just moving out of here and mooring up just outside on the towpath will be great!!
Happy New Year to you, your eife and your daughter. May 2105 bring great good health, peace and joy to each of you.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

P.s. Tom and Jan: I've never been a fan of Barry Manilow's music but i am definitely beginning to rethink my taste in music!!

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs