Currently, Red Ranger should stay anchored at 38°58.586′N 076°28.415′W, Severn River, Annapolis, MD. So far, we have no reason to move. We're perfecting the art of hanging out.
A big question this week: "How do you hang out in one place for so long? We get bored easily." This is actually something we've thought about. We have six rules for hanging out.
The weather is improving. That makes the hanging out easier.
On Memorial Day, there were almost a dozen boats in the South Anchorage.
It's a huge party of boats here.
We spoke some of the other boats. Ever After had moved aboard the boat just a few days ago. This was their first big trip: to Annapolis. They had trouble finding good holding in the South Anchorage. Even through we've been here three weeks, we have no useful advice. We haven't pulled up the anchor to see what the bottom us like.
Another boat came in just after sunset last night. Considering the vast size of the anchorage, they felt a little close to us. However, when we compared this spot with Lake Sylvia or Manatee Pocket, there was plenty of room between us. We warned them that we had 100' of chain out, so they should consider throwing out a lot of rode also.
What makes is shy about offering advice is that we think we dragged sometime last week. We didn't drag far, but we're not precisely in the spot I noted in my log book. It's still not as bad as the time Red Ranger dragged in Manatee Pocket and had to saved by total strangers.
The crew of Joie de Vivre organized a get-together with Red Ranger and the (former) crew of Menehune. Anther little Whitby Rendezvous. We've been having little Whitby meetups all over.
John and Mary (formerly of Menehune, now retired from sailing) were big movers and shakers in the Whitby Brewer association. They're passing the torch to the next generation.
We talked sailing and Whitby's. We talked about growing and maintaining a tightly-knit organization so that we can help each other. It was a delight.
Yet More Parties
It's hard to keep all the parties straight. Really.
We visited with the crew of Moonraker. Their blog: Moonraker. They're doing major refit tasks: water tank, diesel tank, that sort of thing. We came out to Red Ranger to have burgers, potato salad and some corn on the cob and watch the Wednesday Night races.
Bonus! Besides being fun folks to visit with, they took or old engine oil to be recycled along with the diesel drained from their old fuel tanks. Thanks!
Then the crew of Ever After dropped by. They're anchored a hundred yards away. They've just recently moved aboard, and are still sorting out boat systems, life afloat, and all the endless details of their new life afloat. Somehow, they wound up with an extra pizza. Now we have the extra pizza. Thanks!
Hanging Out Is A Skill
Hanging out—doing nearly nothing—isn't actually easy. It seems like it should be easy, and some people seem to do it effortlessly.
We're talking, it turns out, about an intentional lifestyle. Google Voluntary Simplicity, Minimalism and Intentional Living to read about this. For example, look at "Intentionalist, not Mimimalist" for some thoughts on this.
The chart for this activity we're calling "hanging out" has two large regions marked out in blue and brown.
One side of the chart is occupied by Something "Better" To Do. This is when our Hanging Out really about avoiding the shoals and hazards of Work. We think that Work Avoidance is one part of intentional living. We're supposed to be taking Hollywood showers and doing laundry today. Instead we're hanging out in a coffee shop reading blogs on Minimalism and scratching through legacy GW Basic programming. We're intentionally hanging out. It's sort of like another chore on the list of chores. It's supposed to be lower priority than showers and laundry. But right now, it isn't.
The other side of the chart is a void where there's Nothing "Better" To Do. This is the classic teenager's "I'm so bored" lament: not enough money to properly follow a passion; not enough exposure to the world to have a proper passion; too much energy to play quietly. This, too, is an essential ingredient in hanging out. There are times when it's rainy and dreary and we haven't left the boat for four days and we find that we might be getting bored looking at the same teak paneling.
In addition to the presence or absence of something better to do, hanging out has an involuntary or voluntary dimension, also.
Vacation Hanging Out
When we're in "Summer Vacation" mode, we've "vacated" our winter home and taken up residence somewhere else. This American term "vacation" started with the über-rich vacating their city homes and taking up residence at great camps in the Adirondacks. Many of us pursue our vacations with the same kind of focus we put into our work: up early, walk on the beach, mimosas at the Green Turtle, take the nieces and nephews to mini-golf, back to the beach, drinks, dinner, drinks, cribbage with the sisters on the patio. Lather, Rinse, Repeat for exactly one week.
Many people take their vacation time knowing they have something better to do. We did this for years before leaving our jobs. Our vacation means we're avoiding our work life, and this work avoidance aspect of a vacation adds savor. This, plus the limited time frame, puts focus into the activities.
On Red Ranger, we don't need to pursue hanging out like we've only got one vacation week. We can stretch out a little. In the Bahamas, we did visit with a vacation-like focus. There, we had a six-week schedule. That put some hustle into our explorations. We're trying to avoid that kind of narrow focus.
For the most part, we try explore our hangouts at a more leisurely pace. We'll return to this pacing in our six rules, below.
Breakdown Hanging Out
Everyone—even non-sailors—knows about the breakdown hangout. Homeowners or renters who wait for service technicians (plumbers, cable, phone, etc.) get stuck in this involuntary hangout mode. Some folks really chafe at this.
Sometimes, the waiting for a service tech is expensive: it may cost a day's pay or a day's paid vacation (or worse.) Plus, of course, the cost of the service call. Not to mention parts. The cost aspects can make hanging out irritating and painful.
Cost considerations aside, though, waiting through a breakdown is difficult for some of us. The idea that we can't move is madding. We're much happier hanging out with all systems go than we are hanging out with broken systems. When we were waiting on engine parts (Week 28) I was worried about the safety issue of being unable to move Red Ranger if we had more anchoring problems.
Often, an involuntary hangout becomes a boring "nothing better to do" hangout. We don't feel like we have any real choice; we're trapped in waiting mode. Trapped is an important feeling to avoid.
Advanced Base Camps
On Red Ranger, we like to explore the world in concentric circles, establishing a series of advanced base camps (ABC's) in a location.
In Staniel Cay, for example, we spent a few afternoons at the yacht club bar. This became our ABC in Staniel Cay. We walked around a little the first day we got there. The next day we walked further, ending up at the bar. Eventually, we walked almost the entire cay from end-to-end; at least from the Yellow Store to the defunct Thunderball Club. We didn't make the bar a daily destination, but we did make it the center of perambulations.
In Port Salerno, FL, (Manatee Pocket, near Stuart) we used Sammies Sub Shop as our ABC. We had breakfast there most mornings. We met some locals and some cruisers. We got local information.
Even in Norfolk, VA (while Northbound,) we used the downtown Starbucks as our ABC. For three years, we hung around at the Ghent Starbucks. But while anchored at Hospital Point, we used the downtown Starbucks. We weren't there long enough to become a community fixture, but we breakfasted there, and sometimes had fika there.
In Annapolis, we're torn between City Dock Coffee and Starbucks coffee. We've been meeting friends at Starbucks; so it's become our ABC for breakfast. For fika, however, it's City Dock. For bars, we've settled on the Ram's Head Tavern.
But I Don't Drink Beer
People have some reasons for avoiding the ABC strategy: Breakfast is Expensive; Bars are Expensive; they Don't Drink Beer (or Coffee).
Our response to these reasons is "piffle" or "stuff and nonsense".
Yes, breakfast in Starbucks is expensive. But, we've found that the money is well-spent because we meet people. For example, members of our Starbucks Breakfast Club just brought us a dozen farm-fresh eggs! They have a car and sometimes stop by the farm stands outside Annapolis.
For some folks, the "bar scene" is intimidating. Also, if you struggle with alcoholism, then the bar scene is A Very Bad Idea. But even for folks who don't drink, a bar can still be a place to hang out and meet people. We find that we vastly prefer sitting at the bar over sitting at a table. Vastly.
At a table, you're not expected to chat randomly with your neighbors. At a bar, however, it's much more comfortable to talk with the folks sitting there. Indeed, it's almost expected to chat with your neighbors.
We've talked with some lightweight drinkers about the bar scene. Shocking idea: sailors who aren't heavy drinkers. But there's no rule that says sailors must drink and hang around in waterfront dives. Some of us do locate the waterfront dives, however.
Some folks we know are wine cooler and mudslide drinkers. They rarely visit bars and find them uncomfortable. They only like very sweet drinks. All those beer taps—particularly when they don't like beer—are intimidating. Also, all those behind-the-bar bottles of stuff. What are they? Worse, still, at busy bars, the bartender is running, and they have trouble catching the bartender's eye and placing an order. Also, some bars can be small and dark. And if they've just run the dishwasher, there can be an icky smell. All intimidating.
In spite of the intimidation factor, there are people there who may be friendly or talkative or helpful. There are also people who may be boring or annoying, also. We're willing to take that risk.
Some Rules For Hanging Out
This seems to be what we do. I emphasize the "seems": we're intentional, but not anal-retentive. This isn't a cookbook recipe or a defined process; it's more like a pattern we appear to be following.
Rule 1. Establish an ABC. A breakfast place is easiest: a diner or coffee shop where you can spend an hour or two. It has to be a comfortable walking distance from the dinghy dock. A great way to get much-needed exercise and food is to have a good long walk for breakfast. Diners have counters. Restaurants without bars or counters aren't ideal.
A saloon is second. We like the explore the local brews. So we're on the prowl for the brewpubs. We try to avoid "premium" national brands. Around Annapolis, we've found Fordham Brewing Company. In Norfolk, we were fans of O'Connor Brewing Company. We don't eat dinner our very often; once a week seems reasonable. Ram's Head Tavern seems to cover the bases.
Again, walking distance is important, which leads us to rule 2.
There's an important corollary to rule 1: Avoid Isolation. A great marina with nothing nearby is a recipe for boredom. Having to organize long dinghy trips puts the brakes on exploration. A less-than-perfect anchorage at a good distance beats a perfect anchorage at an unreasonable distance.
Rule 2. Concentric Circles. Our brains have a natural capability of creating a sense of place, our essential mental map. Read here about experiments in cognitive maps. Mapping is intrinsic to being an animal and moving. It's perhaps the most fundamental thing we do.
While an iPhone and Yelp can help navigate a strange city, we prefer to explore in concentric circles. We like to go about our exploration in smaller steps radiating out from the dinghy dock. We're like to grow an internalized, conceptual map. These take time to mature; first the landmarks then the street names; then the overall "shape" of the place.
Rule 3. Find Good Times of Day. Restaurants have a huge rush based on everyone else's work schedule. Being largely unemployed, we can skirt the rush. Consistency is important to meeting the same groups of people on a regular basis.
Other places like the dinghy dock, laundry and showers may have a rush. Finding comfortable times of day requires some experimentation.
Rule 4. Cut Back on the Agenda. We didn't "do" Staniel Cay; we didn't even really "explore" it. We sort of eased into it. One afternoon while we were wandering around, the waitress we'd had at the yacht club gave us directions to the Blue Store.
We know we're easing in at the right pace when we're saying hello to familiar shore-side neighbors. We weren't just anonymous lunch patrons. We saw her house and she helped us find the store and bread, too.
We lived in Norfolk for three years, but we didn't actively "explore" it. We sort of drifted into it.
Annapolis, similarly, is more of "settling" than actual "exploring". We're finding things at a leisurely pace. One new thing a day at most. Sometimes nothing new.
Rule 5. Have a Hobby. Wait, what?
Yes. Have a hobby other than sailing. A hobby that fits on the boat. A hobby that works well when the weather is foul. A hobby that gives you the feeling of having something "better" to do than hang out.
It seems to feel right to have multiple things which are competing for our attention: hanging out in the local town, laundry, grocery shopping or Floating Leaf Tiny Quilts. A day can feel more "complete" when we have choices to make. We seem to need alternatives and choices; it seems best when we can juggle competing priorities.
Rule 6. Have Another Hobby. What? Two hobbies?
Yes, have a hobby other than sailing and other than an on-the-boat hobby. We seem to have off the boat hobbies, too. Photography (landscape, nature or architectural: outdoorsy stuff.) SCUBA. Biking. Running.
Note that some hobbies don't "scale" well. Arts and Crafts, Museums and Historical monuments are excellent ways to learn an area. But they're also finite. Once we've seen all the museums, we've seen them all. Until their exhibits change. In some of the world's largest cities, one can't easily visit all the museums. But in most cities where cruisers might anchor, the few local art museums and historical sites are a finite resource. Use them wisely.
In our case, one of our off-the-boat hobbies is Geocaching.
Part of settling in is getting acclimated enough that we can easily pick up the local caches. We don't cache right away because we don't know the lay of the land well enough. We cache after we've expanded our concentric circles to the limit of a comfortable walk.
Those are Red Ranger's rules for hanging out. Perhaps the biggest lesson we've learned is not to rush into a town. We think it's better to drift into a new port, fueled by local coffee and conversations.
Some examples of hanging out. Saturday, we eased on over to the Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College for the Less is More exhibition. We'll see what's in that space in June, if we're still around.
We also talked with Harry of Malua, who's anchored near us. The blog for Malua. Harry flagged us down on mainstreet and we told him about morning coffee time at Starbucks.
And we've been seeing more of Solitude at the morning coffee stop.
Sunday morning we bought bread and veggies from the Farmer's Market in Ego Alley. In the afternoon, there's the once-per-month event in the Annapolis Arts District: First Sunday. So much hanging out to do.
Sunday night was our first summer thunderstorm. It was epic. Lots of rain, thunder and lightning. No hail or damaging winds, though. A good evening to be snug on the boat, listening to it come down.
The Duck Family
We've got a pair of ducks that seem to be living in the water around Red Ranger. We're not (intentionally) feeding them. We've seen them diving near the hull. That means their either eating algae that we're growing, or their eating things that's hanging around in our algae.
I think they've been sleeping in the dinghy. If not them, then some other bird with voluminous poo.
I think we need to bust out the broom and try to give the hull a good scrubbing. Maybe that will make the boat less appealing to the waterfowl.
Engine Hours: 0. Diesel Gallons: 0. Miles Run: 0.
Read Aloud: The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chronicles is done. Time to move to book two of the series, The Wise Man's Fear.