Friday, December 24, 2010

Intermission: Aldebaran's Holiday Card

One of the victims of the Fierros' rampage.
It's an interesting time in the lives of the Aldebaran crew. The Fierros, lacking their better halves, have set New York on fire with all-night binges, destruction of property, harassment of department store Santas (mistaking them for Greg--see Part One), cruelty towards pigs, and all around hooliganistic behavior. Maybe some pizzas have been made...maybe some records have been mixed and audio kits sold...I really have no idea. All I know is, watch out for Don and Lisa! 

#1. on the list: laser tag!
And Carl? Well, I have no clue what Carl is doing in Michigan, either, but  rumor has it he's been making a list and checking it twice, and this list (of things to do before he aborts his nice cushy energy management position in Seattle) keeps getting longer, much like Pee Wee Herman's proverbial sweater that he keeps knitting, and knitting, and KNITTING...To make matters worse for Carl, Raleigh hasn't been paying his child support(s), and is therefore on the run from Johnny Law this holiday season. Carl thinks he's snuck over the border to Mexico, but has high hopes that Raleigh will once again find a band of missionaries to infiltrate as a "rescue dog," and will meet us right on time in San Diego.

Andy's 200 yard espresso stare.
All alone in a cold, cold world.

At least I can always count on Andy to be fastened down to a reasonable schedule of sensible behaviors. Wake up at dawn, stretch, eat a bagel with hummus and avocado, teach snowboarding all day, come home, stretch, watch some sport, in bed by ten. Then again, he must be freaking out about the shitty espresso in Colorado, and missing New York, and Lisa, and the holidays with family...and he is definitely missing harassing and getting harassed by me and Don! He very well may be setting things on fire too.

I've just been getting set on fire by hot yoga in little old Fair Oaks, CA, and Henkeling around with the Henkels in a different pair of boat shoes every day. Mom used to work for Nike in the eighties, and has about a thousand pairs of shoes stored away in a bomb shelter, just in case World War III happens in our lifetime and there's a massive food shortage. It's good to know that we will be both well shod, and well fed, by her passion for fashion! Anyhow, I guess Nike owns or owned Spalding, who made some very nice topsiders which I now possess. Since I've been driving around in a car without a radio, I made up a song/rap about it. I hope to perfect it on the boat so I can make it a solid gold hit in New Zealand. Amy Poehler can come perform it with me, and people can see how much we don't actually look alike.
...I  make the more comical faces.
While we both enjoy a buttery chard...
I got more boat shoes than you!
I got more boat shoes than you!
I got more boat shoes, tell you what I'll do
Gonna walk all over the boats in the blue!

Walkin on the harbor, Ventura or Ann Arbor
Ain't no finer feet you gonna see
I got Sperry Topsiders, Spalding No-Sliders,
No one's got more boat shoes than me.

[Chorus repeats]

In Brooklyn they all got pairs, but they never go nowheres
Their boat shoes never ever seen the sea
But their fashion don't matter, don't mind their pitter patter
Cuz no one's got more boat shoes than me.

[Chorus repeats]

Aldebaran flees marauding gingerbread men.
Hmmm. Maybe I'm freaking out a little myself. Merry Christmas, Merry Festivus, Happy Haunikau, Jolly Qwansa, and a very Jingly Nothingness to the atheists! I promise Part Duex of Aldebbie's Smooth Move will be up by 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Aldebbie's Smooth Move, Part One

or, Part One of The Heartwarming / Heartbreaking Holiday Tale of Moving Aldebbie Out of Sausalito, Told Semi-Backwards.
by Leslie, photos and captions mostly by Don

The power stance
       The fog horns have finally stopped, so we uncleat the dock lines and toss them up on deck with a jaunty flourish. I've got my watchmen's cap and deck shoes on. Don's got his beard. Both of us are wearing nearly every warm article of clothing we've brought. We either look like sailors, or we look like people who think they look like sailors. We're way too Brooklyn-pale to actually pull off the complete nautical look, plus everything we're wearing was made by snowboarding companies, but we feel like sailors, at least. At last!

Built in wind vane 
Actual sailor shown for reference

As far as we got. No radar = no foggy forays
       Pay no mind to the unimportant fact that the only sailing executed in the unfathomably long-feeling week we'd spent stuck in the Bay, waiting for the engine work to wrap up and a storm to pass by, was on the way back to Sausalito, our sails between our legs, so to speak, after our first failed attempt out to sea the previous evening. The chowda' thick stew of fog beyond the long legs of the Golden Gate; the approaching nightfall; our radar appearing to kick out of service as the convoluted auto pilot seemingly kicked on--then off--then on??? None of this bode well for a three-night, overnight sail/motor to San Diego. Don put it best that evening at dinner (goddamn fancy Sausalito and its Mexican restaurant's $3 basket of chips!!!):
Wait, you wanted the 25 year old auto pilot with worn
off labels to work? Is it not supposed to go hard to port
every 15-30 minutes? Lemme get the manual
       "I feel like that guy in Clerks. 'I'm not even supposed to be here today!"

       But, there we were. Which meant that, however sailory we may have looked or felt, we were going to have to motor most of the way down the California coast in order to get our hired Captain, the venerable Mark Kocina, home to Los Osos by Monday night,"on penalty of death," warned his wife, likely no stranger to the way these boat deliveries tend to lag. Which, in effect, makes us less sailor and more yachter now. But, c'mon. We're not like these Sausalito yachters! Not like the charter yacht blasting holiday music for all the marina to hear. Not like the multiple diamond sporting, well-kempt and presumably kept woman docked next to us on a giant motor yacht, who clutches her face in horror as we inquire into the marina's bathroom key we'd forgotten to ask for after we'd pulled into our slip for the night. Who, as we explain this, and our lack of holding tanks for our  heads (toilets, in landlubbers' terms), makes repeated, breathless exclamations of, "Oh gosh!!"
       "I don't know what to tell you! We have three heads on board, so I didn't even bother to get a key for myself."
       I try to imagine the lavish rooms which must contain her three marine heads; each one the size of our entire cabin, decked out in matching monogrammed hand towels; little shell-shaped soaps in golden shell-shaped bowls; a midget in livery who pumps away her "caviar dreams" and complements her new manicure as he drys her hands.
       "I'd let you in but the owner's away..." and doesn't like riffraff on his yacht!
       "Are you members of the yacht club?!" she asks desperately. Well, it's  nice of her not to presume that our dishevelled little crew doesn't  belong there.
       "You should try going to the yacht club!"
       Oh, we all end up "going" somewhere. Don and I use our [the] head anyway, giving the old f-you to the Sausalito marina, while also becoming one with it in the most un-Zen way possible. Captain Mark takes the higher karmic road, quieting his stream on the woman's yacht. That about sums up how we all feel about Sausalito by this point. By no means do we endorse peeing on other people's boats, or crapping in their marinas. But honestly, you can only, excuse the pun, piss away so much time and money in one place before you start to resent that place a little. Okay, a lot!
I'm so hungry right now
       Now, you all may be wondering how such nice people got to such a dark place of disdain and deplorably unyachtsmanlike behavior. Why, aside from the pleasant man at the car rental place and everything about the Indian restaurant (open for breakfast! Cheap! Filling! Delicious! Arguably the best samosas in the country! Thermoses full of hot chai premixed with soy milk--decaf and regular!!!), we felt such rage against both Christmas music, and a picturesque little seaside town?
       Let's start with the core culprit and target of our growing angst. Greg. The thorn in our side. Greg. The fly in our soup. Greeeeeeeg. The shop vac in our bank accounts. Say it long enough, drawing out the e's with a vomitous tone, and it'll start to sound like the dirty word it fast became amongst our crew. Has Greg called Don back yet? No. Has Greg measured the life raft and cradle? No. What's Greg done so far? No idea? Oh, nothing?! Yay, he's finally called! Are you f-ing serious?! He can't work on our engine like he said he would? He knows someone who can? He hasn't called the mechanics yet? He called them a week before our planned departure? Is he Satan ?!!!
       So that's Greg. We came to Sausalito guns-a-blazing for his no-gooding hide. We were going to "talk" to him in person. Don was going to use his Tai Chi skills to overpower him, while I used my yoga skills to force feed him maggots and boogers after we heard his astronomical total for doing nothing and putting us behind schedule. We were going to make him cry and buy us all backrubs and ponies. What actually happened was not nearly as satisfying.
       Don: "So, we need to talk about settling up."
       Greg: "Oh, you don't owe me anything. Just the money for the life sling I bought. I didn't really get to do all the things I said I'd do. Just made some phone calls, mainly."
       And, to make matters worse, the guy looks like Santa Claus!    
Sal's safety central
How you doin?
       Greg may have even misquoted us on the price to recertify our old liferaft, but by the time we suspect this, after a fun-filled trip to Sal's Inflatables to buy a brand new, super shiny and not-at-all-cheap liferaft and cradle, our rage has turned inward. It will soon calm to a simple sting of regret for trusting people remote from us, combined with the slow burn of waiting around for all of Aldebbie's immediate engine needs to be crammed into a week, when the work was supposed to be taken care of three weeks prior. Aw, Greg. I'm sure you're an alright guy to have beer with, but please never tell anyone else you are a "mechanic" or a "captain."
       Who else made our burn list? Ug. West Marine. We had to patronize three of them. I imagine that once upon a time in port cities, there were small mom and pop supply shops all around marinas, perhaps even offering reasonable prices to compete with the competition. Then, much like Walmart, West Marine came galumphing into town and forced all the little guys out of business. Now, West Marine is simply everywhere you want to boat from. Like God. Or Santa. Or Starbucks. All you can do to avoid feeling too much of their iron grip on your wallet, is to research what you need early, try to find it cheaper online or elsewhere, and learn what you can do without, or do with what you've already got. Captain Mark told us a good story about about a guy who went to sea with a tree trunk (or was that a tree limb?) for a mast.  We won't be resorting to that, hopefully, but between that guy, and the Pestilence kids, we have a lot of leeway (amazing how many sailing puns you can make without even trying) with which to improvise and strategize cutting corners.
Way up there
       Speaking of the mast, I should probably stop being such a pessimist and get around to telling you the nice things about not tearing out of Sausalito straight away. The first being time to check out the rig. Damn, I don't remember unfurling the genoa being  this hard! That harsh, squawking noise coming from the top of the mast doesn't sound so awesome either. Yep, our easy peazy roller furling foresail was not feeling or sounding so easygoing, so with Captain Mark's help, up Don went in the bosun's chair. We didn't figure much more out about the problem, other than that the former owner of Aldebbie (so nicknamed because boats are supposed to be classy dames, and Aldebaran sounds rather like a masculine gladiator to us) had replaced part of a shackle with a ring of wire, but even that didn't seem like the core of the issue. We did however, get some great pics of Don in action, and Don got himself a nice view and a killer ab workout.
Coming down is actually
a lot more awkward then going up
       Another positive: eating lots of that good Indian food in Sausalito (once with my college friend John, once with my dad, once with Mark), and lots of cheap Mexican food in San Francisco's Mission District. No freaking $3 basket of tortilla chips here! Here, the chips are free, and you can get refills! The salsa bar is epic, and includes roasted jalapenos, spicy carrots, and radishes, providing Don with plenty
Damn you autofocus! but this place
is definitely worth a second photo
of fodder with which to make fun of my "condiment problem." As in, I have a problem not  using all the condiments available to me, especially at a Mexican joint. Lisa has attributed this problem to me growing up with "hobo stew," a delicious, recession-friendly meal that requires pouring every canned legume and veggie imaginable into a giant pot. I made it once for Don. He wasn't too sure how he felt about it. Fancy Fierros outta go live in Sausalito!
"Whipping" up close
       Last, but certainly not least, was being able to hang out with my mom and aunts in SF while they were all in town for their annual Christmas shopping spree! Mmm, mmm! Two fancy dinners with cocktails? Now I really sound like a brat for all my beeatching above! Spending nights at my sister's nice Russian Hill apartment, whipping lines and watching Mad Men, wasn't too shabby either.
whippin fa days
       Yeah, that all sounds great, but what about the part where you actually moved the boat? Oh what? You're getting impatient just waiting around for this thing to go somewhere? Welcome to Part One of our story. Part Two of this beast of a tale will commence very soon. Stay tuned, and have yourselves a merry little holiday in the meantime!

We'll go "under the gate" in part two

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Because it's there"

       So as Leslie and I unpack and sift through our recent adventure moving the Aldebaran, things continue to move forward.
       I have begun to feel like a bit of a veteran uprooter (if you'll allow me such an in-eloquence). Every precious photo boxed up, every favorite chair sold, and all the broken routines in the world can't compare to the first time someone leaves a home permanently.
       Andy finished packing and I called him a car. We stood on the curb in the freezing shadow of our building. He made fun of my shoes. I teased him about his new "performance fit" jeans. The car rolled up. We packed him in. With a hug, he was off.
       So Andy will go off to teach snowboarding for 2 weeks. Then it's my turn to leave, and I will meet him the first week of January at Aldebaran to begin building our home for the next year. Until February 1st, Lisa and Leslie will stay in New York wrapping up any loose ends and selling all our crap. Carl is wrangling his own life into submission all on his lonesome in Seattle through Feb 1 as well.
       These days are the hardest in your standard uprooting. There is this messy mayhem that leads to little micro bursts of regret. That person you didn't get to see, your favorite sandwich shop you didn't get to go to, and the whole world you begin to notice around you as your surroundings come into retrospect. This stings, and not the slow burn or torturous pangs that mire pre-college breakup letters. It's a punch in the gut every time you think of something, it's a bar fight. Shit flying everywhere, you're never quite sure what's going on, you just know you should get the hell out of there. But you can't, there are things you need to do before you can leave.
    The one thing I can say from experience is that I have found that all the credit card companies, banks, utility companies, and phone companies will happily track you down after your move. They may act a little mad but as long as you pay, they are all bark. So screw'em and go see that friend, get the sandwich, and have one last hurrah with the presently nostalgic world you are about to leave.

In 45 days the entire crew of the Aldebaran will be together for only the second time in the 2 years since this endeavor began.

¡Larga vida a las malas ideas!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Operation San Diego - let's limbo!

It's limbo time here on the olde Aldebaran. But the only bending over backwards we're doing is for a rude storm front and for various West Marines eager to take our cheese from us. But, Mr. Storm should be minding his own business by Thursday, and we will hopefully be on our way Friday. In the meantime we'll be replacing lines, testing our engine, cleaning the bilge, eating non-perishables, and wishing we'd brought our laptops.

Lookin' into the depths of the engine compartment...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Aye-aye Captain, full speed ahead!

There's something intensely satisfying about buying a one-way plane ticket, 2 days before you plan on being somewhere. Especially if that plane ticket ends up being retardedly cheap. Such is what Don and I have just done, getting our tickets to San Francisco for this Friday; trusting that our man Greg has gotten the engine up to snuff; hoping we won't have to buy too many new doohickies and whatchamacallits at the local West Marine; praying that nothing major impedes our progress down to San Diego; and crossing our phalanges that Captain Mark Kocina will be as cool as he sounds on the phone and on paper, and is right about Sunday, our planned shove-off day, being cold and wet, "but nothing we can't handle. The rest of the week looks good, with a rising pressure front." Let's see if I remember this from my sailing textbook: high pressure = not stormy? Low pressure = stormy?

Okay, sweet.

Saves the environment, searches for cancer cure, looks like a good egg!
By the way, picking a captain who can put up with your vague schedule and murky maintenance updates is hard work! And for someone like me, a chronically indecisive Libra, choosing between over a dozen applicants who all sounded pretty damn good was rough stuff! I liked Mark because he's sailed this route a dozen times before, has an impressive on-the-water resume, has a mutual interest in our type of boat for his family cruiser, was reasonably priced, does not adhere to the yelling method of teaching, reminds me a bit of my dad in this picture, is highly invested in cleaning up the oceans, and...oh yeah, is trying to find a cure for cancer?!!! He's like, the best human ever!

Besides being indecisive, I also harbor that hard-to-scrub-off Catholic guilt thing. Therefore, I'd like to point anyone who needs to (or knows someone who needs to) get their boat somewhere, to the following runners-up in our Mr. Captain Beauty Pageant: #1.) "The Twins." The one I talked to sounded like a lot of fun, very exuberant, and would allegedly sail our boat even if all it had was a mast and two giant mumus for sails; #2.) Thomas Todd (no link) offered to show us around Catalina, get us a slip in San Diego for free, and buy us a pony; #3.) Dave Brotherton offered to negotiate a package deal and not charge us for weather delays; #4.) The beloved Jose Miranda, Lisa's and my sailing instructor, only lost out for living in Fort Lauderdale and having a packed schedule (because he is so awesome and sought after). My apologies to all you sea dogs, but I'm very excited to break a champagne bottle over the bow with Mark this weekend!

Mood report sign-off: I'm listening to Beirut right now, and "Rhineland" in particular is fitting in perfectly as the soundtrack to the imagined movie in my head about this boat trip, if you replace Rhine with Aldebaran. It's not about the words anyway, so much as the sweeping, epic, monotonously uplifting feeling of this song. Yeah, I know monotonous and uplifting don't seem to fit together in a sentence, but from what I've heard, that is essentially what cruising the high seas manages. More about our sail to San Diego soon!

 Life, life is all right on the Rhine
 No, but I know, but I know
 I would have nowhere to go
 No, but there's nowhere to go, to go