Sun 6 Jun, HHN day 54: Cleaning, tidying, packing, and dramatic departure.
My flight departs Washington (Dulles) at 11:15pm, so I have all day to get everything shipshape and clean, but still run to the wire in the end. And at the last moment Cloudy Bay tries to stop me leaving, and Ray tries to finish me off!
I told l myself “no more jobs today”, but I start the day putting the gas locker back together, following its beautifying paint job yesterday. I don’t want to be faffing around with it when we get back and we need to cook.
Then, with the kind loan of Ken and Alison’s car, it’s off to the laundromat with bags full of dusty work cloths, my bedding, and a multitude of ropes: sheets, halyards, outhaul, pole controls… all the running rigging. Most laundromats won’t entertain washing ropes, but the local one here in Deale doesn’t seem to mind. Plus, they have supersized machines that will cope with the weight.
I love how the machines clean the ropes, but I’m not too keen on the major task of unknotting them after they come out, especially without Oana’s help (she’s very good at unknotting the knotted, which is a pretty handy skill on boats!).
Each washed bundle comes out in one huge bird’s nest, which gives my upper body a serious workout – especially when the halyards are 160ft (50m) long and the foresail sheets are 20mm (3/4”) thickness. I can sense the attendant looking at me as I fight with each load, and I’m quite sure he is giggling to himself.
Back at the boat it is now roasting temperature as I start to move all the important things from the cockpit and deck inside the boat for security. Then it’s time to lock myself in, get the air-conditioner on, and start serious packing and tidying.
This takes me the rest of the afternoon, and before I know it I only have 2 hours left. And still not eaten, cleaned the galley, showered or attended to even half the long list of must-do departure items. So it all gets into one big rush.
When Ray arrives 10 minutes early, and there’s still a lot to do, including a shower. But I’m finally ready to depart the boat only 20 minutes after my deadline. Then, as they say, it all goes a bit pear-shaped.
My last task on my long pre-departure check list is to set-off 3 Bug-Fogger canisters to stop any 6-legged creatures partying and reproducing over the summer (parents… don’t try this on your children). These little gas canisters need to be treated with respect.
I set the first one off in the aft cabin, then run to the fore-cabin and set that one off. Then, at the last moment I decide to set-off the saloon one once I’m safely in the cockpit, then place it on the top companionway step. One of those stupid ideas I didn’t think through because I was rushing. I pressed the button while pointing the canister inside the boat, and the gas immediately starts its fast escape.
While leaning inside to place the canister on the top step, its jet points directly in my face, of course! I close the sliding hatch as fast as I can, but then the fog comes at me through the washboard vents. Across the cockpit we have a sunbrella cover which needs to go on. The quicker I can put it on, the quicker I can get away from this poisonous fog. It just takes me seconds, then I run aft and onto the swim platform.
Then it hits me. I cannot breath. And when I finally can, I cough so hard that I feel like I’ll cough up my entire insides. It feels absolutely desperate, choking, coughing, and not able to breathe all at the same time. How I didn’t fall off the swim platform I will never know.
I do manage to get my breath enough for Ray to assist me down the ladder and into the car. But the second I sit down, a violent pain then rips through my lower back and I let out a scream. By now Ray is getting quite concerned! I manage to wheeze a whisper that I have a back pain. I think that either getting my luggage down or the coughing was the last-straw for my back, which has been strained and very delicate these last couple of weeks, ever since I carried the Aquadrive back up into the boat.
I have ibuprofen in my luggage, but rather than unpack to find it Ray offers me his Tylenol pain killers. I gladly take one. “I take 1 or 2?” I ask Ray. Two, he says. Then finally we head off to the airport, as smoothly as he can while his passenger tries to recover.
It’s a shame the departure ended like that because I really wanted to take a last video of the tidy boat and work place as a closing scene for when I edit this maintenance session. But not to be ☹ I’m really not good in a rush-situation. Only myself to blame.
10 minutes into the journey and already my back pain is numbed. “Boy, those pills are good”, I tell Ray “what weight are they, 200mg?” He replies 500mg. “Oh” I say, “that’s odd, I’ve never heard of 250mg pills”. “No”, comes the reply, “they are 500mg EACH pill”! OMG, I would normally be reluctant to even take 400mg and now I’ve just swallowed 1000mg!
As we continue driving I start to feel all fuzzy. I can hear Ray talking but that’s about it.
To cut the story short, the back pain completely disappeared, along with a lot of my other senses. I can remember queuing for a long time for the check in (I was totally last in the queue) and vaguely remember arguing with the check-in guy when he asked me for a negative Covid test result, which I didn’t have and had researched that I did not need. Then it’s all a bit blankety blank till I wake up in my seat just after takeoff! Ha! The conspiracies that Cloudy Bay and my friends will come up with to stop me leaving!
And all in a flash my maintenance time on Cloudy Bay is again over, and I’m on my way home to be reunited with Oana, my first love (Cloudy Bay being my second… though Oana often questions that!).
My last blog will be tomorrow, where I will try to summarise this trip, and outline our future plans which hopefully might involve getting back out on the water 😊