Of Crab Cakes and Other Delights

April 23, 2012
We had a whirlwind trip down to Maryland on Saturday to visit Mata Hari to see if we can get some of the stuff on our pre-delivery checklist completed. It felt really good to climb aboard “our” boat for the first time since we bought her. She really feels like she belongs to us now!
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Isn’t she pretty?

We had amazing weather (we’re both sporting sunburns today) and an awesome time hanging out with her for the day. This part of the Chesapeake is very “nature-y.” We think we saw at least one turkey vulture and there were so many different kinds of ducks I lost count. And there were a ton of fish. We saw several leap out of the water around the boat, which would explain all the fishing boats we saw trolling past looking for a bite. Of course, there was a lot of work to be done so I got busy cleaning out a couple of the lockers and swabbing the deck, while Rich and the mechanic went over all of the things that needed to be done on the engine to get it ready for the 30-hour trip home. I must say I’m quite proud of my results with the anchor locker. When we first opened it up there was about a million feet of damp, dank rope and a bit of disintegrating chain on top of a bunch of dirt and grime from the bottom of the Chesapeake. Now it’s clean as a whistle (or close). And so is the locker in the floor of the cockpit, which will one day hold a life raft. I also learned the hard way that we need to find a way to fasten the lids for the lazarettes in the cockpit to hold them open when we need to reach down into them to pull things out. When I reached in to grab the bucket, I realized belatedly that I had to hold the lid open while reaching down inside, and unfortunately these things are deep so it was a long way down to the bucket. I wound up basically falling facedown up to about my waist and then propping myself up inside the deep locker with one hand, while holding the lid open with the other. Needless to say, I couldn’t exactly back myself out of this position without some help so I started frantically yelling for Rich. He graciously rescued me without even laughing at me. Afterward he quickly assessed the situation and found that the bimini frame gets in the way and keeps the lid from being propped open the usual way so we’ll have to find something to tie it open in future.

Of course, my favorite part of the day was lunch! (OK, so that’s usually my favorite part of the day, but this was a really great lunch.) We picked up some crab cakes from a little place in town called Pier 1 and some hard cider from the liquor store and brought everything back for a picnic in Mata Hari’s cockpit. The crab cakes were the best I’ve had so far. A lot of crab sprinkled with Old Bay and not much else. We tried both the fried and the broiled so now I know I’m partial to the broiled, but I wouldn’t look askance at the fried, either. Definitely goes on record as one of my favorite lunches ever. Delish!

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Crab cakes, anyone?

After lunch we got back to work assessing everything that still needs to get done. We’ve still got two big projects to complete before we can make the trip north. The first is that our steaming light isn’t working, which is a bit of a bear since we need to get Rich up the 50 feet or so to where the light is located on the mast. We tried with a ladder that the previous owner generously loaned us, but it just didn’t go high enough. Normally, the procedure would be to send someone up using a bosun’s chair, which we may still end up doing. The problem is that I’m not strong enough to lift Rich up. Rich could definitely lift me up, but then I wouldn’t know what to do once I got up there. So we’re trying to secure a taller ladder for next weekend to see what’s going on up there. The other big project is getting the heads working. When the survey was done they couldn’t get any water to them. Now there’s water in them, but we can’t get them to flush. The previous owner gave us a replacement pump and some other spare parts so it looks like we’ll be spending some time next weekend trying to resolve that situation. Meanwhile, the mechanic is going to give us an estimate to do the few little things that need to be done to make the engine ready for the trip and hopefully he’ll be able to take care of them this week while we’re back home working.

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Captain Rich, at your service.

We took down the halyard for the main sheet, though not without a hard lesson in the art of untangling knots in the line that we picked up from West Marine. The guys working at the place acted like they’d never seen a rope before, much less wound 240 feet of it up in a way that wouldn’t end up in a snarl of knots when we went to unravel it. I spent about half an hour painstakingly unknotting it before we could use it to pull down the halyard. Rich had to fashion a “splice” out of duct tape because the halyard line was so old and funky, but our efforts paid off and we got it down. Hurray! Now we can order some new line to put up next week, and if need be haul me up the mast to check out the steaming light.

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Why, yes, I’d love to go up the mast and check out the steaming light!

While we were there we also took down the curtains, which we’re assuming were original to the boat. A significant improvement, I must say. They were pretty dirty! Rich even Tom Sawyered me into joining in on the fun. Rich also removed the back cushions from the settees, which are pretty narrow so it will be nice to have the extra space to stretch out on when we do the delivery. There was also a bit of water in the floor of the engine room (I have to laugh at the idea of calling this compartment a “room”) so Rich took care of that with a bunch of paper towels (Bounty, of course!).

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Gross!! So glad these are gone.

And that was about it for our trip. Well, we did stop at a rest stop for dinner. We were in a hurry to get the car back and couldn’t deal with the insane line for Burger King so we filled up on beef jerky, chips, and M&Ms instead. Blech! Not exactly a great follow up to our fabulous lunch. When we finally made it home and Rich dropped me off at our apartment with a carload of stuff from the boat I somehow managed to leave my phone in the car. Ugh! How to text someone to tell them you forgot your phone? (In case you’re wondering, you can email a text to a cell phone. I did manage to fire off one off from my laptop, but unfortunately he didn’t see it until he got home.) However, disaster was averted when he flew back to the parking garage on his bike and rescued my phone before the next Zipcar customer took off with it. Phew!

In the end, it was an exhausting but fruitful trip. And we should be heading back down again soon to tackle the rest of the Big Projects. As much fun as it is spending time in Maryland, I’m definitely looking forward to this part being over and getting Mata Hari home!

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2 Comments

  • Reply David August 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks for that bit about the crab cakes. I love crab cakes. It looks like a lot of fun restoring an old boat. Ok, not so old. And the name, kind of reminds me of Aunt Mary. Thanks. Sounds like a great journey. I can’t wait.

  • Reply Monica James August 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks for reading, David! I love crab cakes too (if you can’t tell!). And yes, the name is for Aunt Mary. I hope she would approve!

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