So...you MIGHT ask "where have YOU been?...It's been OVER 2 months!" Yes dear readers, we took off for parts unknown until we were there back where we started. We loaded up the trusty Prius with enough clothing, BBQ tools, cat carrier, blankets, beer and assorted odds and ends until, as we left, the car could not be seen under the piles. We had made up our mind to spend some time wandering this great country of ours in search of friendly faces, buoyant sights, regional foods, good beds and cheaper gas...not necessarily in that order. We found all of that and more. I took something over 5,200 photos and we drove a total of 10,851 miles! America the Beautiful was true as it has ever been, What a wonderfully diverse and magnificent country we have here. Never saw a SINGLE black helicopter either...not one! Visited some National Parks, some National Monuments and Interstate highways too. Our days had a rhythm to them, up about 7am daily, wash up, pack up, pack the cat secreted along (more about that later), load up the car and skedaddle (yes it's a word) off to the next town along the way. Here are a few pictures to give you a hint of our various travels lo these last 2 months.
One thing was certain, my driving skill set is less than the voyage demanded. I missed signs, I ran stop signs, wandered right and left as I grew weary in the day. Afternoons were the worst, caffeine was a god-send for both Kelly and I. We limited our mileage per day to something under 300 miles and soon we were trading driving time of an hour in order to keep alert. Staying hydrated was helpful too. We bought cases of water and stuffed it into whatever cranny was available at the time.
Coffee every morning, and eventually a cola was shared each afternoon as we rolled along toward that days distant goal. The miles in the afternoon were the hardest, often the sun was just too blinding, to bright, too strong. We often got off of whatever highway we were on to wander a nearby byway into a village for a while to regain our perspective and eyesight. The trees were wonderfully full and deeply green. America is at least 1/2 forest. Kelly was a better driver every time, she never missed a sign and was smooth as glass over the highway with minimum wander even in the blowing hot dust winds of the western desert. Her driving skills are still there, mine, alas are weakening. Part of it is my eyes, while I still recognize the miracle of my double cataract surgery I am still left with extensive floaters and some blurry vision that even the new glasses can't seem to reconcile.
So Where Oh Where Is Zulu?
Gone...long gone like turkey through the corn. She had been in repair status since she sank and was refloated some 8 years ago. Yes...sank. At my dock behind the Swamphouse. No she did NOT leak fluids...no oil, no fuel as there was none in her. What caused her to sink was a plethora of olde (circa 1930's) iron fasteners (screws) that over the years rusted away largely hidden from view underneigth many layers of paint. I had been assured by the previous owner (s) that she had been completely refastened with stainless steel screws and was "sound" of hull. We bought her in 1989, in the spring right after we bought the Swamphouse. She was seaworthy as they come (or so we were told) and had a great story to tell of her adventures through the years. We motored her all over the Delta and SF Bay and joined the Classic Yacht Association so had rights of reciprocity everywhere, meaning we could stay at the local yacht clubs throughout the Bay Area and the World and gain docking at any time. In 2001 we bought a small cottage in France and that became our main interest and Zulu was tied up at our dock behind the house covered but unused for up to 6 months a year. The aforemeterntioned iron screws rusted away, day by day without indicating anything until she sunk the day after we returned from France in the fall of 2005. MORE TO COME!
So my dear neighbors pitched in and soon we were visited by not one but two fully outfitted DIVERS who "dove" ZULU to close whatever was open, various hatches and windows as well as portholes plus insure that the toilet fitting was in the OFF position. Then we proceeded to pump her and pump and pump with 2 each 20,000 GPH motorized pumps with full sized 6" diameter fire hoses back into the marsh. What a scene! It took over 2 hours for her to finally move an inch in the rising position as she was firmly stuck into the fine mud of our docking tie-up. When she did she came up in a hurry! Water shedding down both sides of her cabin, looking for all the world like those old pictures of World War 2 submarines emergency surfacing! Amazing! Within a week of drying out we got a crew of neighbors together and towed her 25 miles to the dry-dock in Rio Vista. Within a few days an agreement was reached to "do" ZULU and get her sea worthy again. This was a rather open ended agreement with no set times or dates but with the proviso that I was willing to put $15,000 in as the maximum dollar amount for any or all needed repairs. At first I came weekly to see the progress, the new hull boards, the removal of rotted ribs, the removal of buckets of 65 year old #10 and #12 IRON Screws, some rusted till only the head existed as metallic iron, the rest...rust and ferrous sulfide. I had been told when I bought her that she had been "refastened" with fine STAINLESS STEEL fasteners and there were a few found here and there but most were rusted until failure IRON sad to say. The yard was doing it's best and was making progress all along but other troubles began to show, more rotted timbers as well as ribs and the tiller post fitting could not be convinced to depart the hull at all. The wood around the fitting was in serious need of repair too. Months went by, much work was done as he could get to it and I continued to write 1000 dollar checks. She was quickly becoming an albatross for him and for us as well. Lots of work done and little to show in the way of progress AND she was out of the water which is the bane of all wooden boats.