The Summer Sliding Away

The summers here feel like a giant waterslide.  We jump on in early June and splash at the bottom in August. It is fun no doubt, but one big blur as the summer flies by.

The boys have a busy summer the weeks they are here, with only one week maybe free just before they return to school. The first week on the waterslide, the boys had soccer camp and my mom came and visited.

Will patiently waiting to board his flight to St. Louis.

Will patiently waiting to board his flight to St. Louis.

This week sends Will on a solo adventure to St. Louis to spend a week with my dad. I drove him to Boston this morning and watched him board a Southwest Airlines flight. It brings mixed emotions – I love that he is having an adventure; but it is also sad to see him starting to grow wings and fly farther from the nest. I think he was more nervous than he wanted to admit. Of course, I probably was as well. Now he is there, he has a fun week planned. He will get to see his cousins that he hasn’t seen in two years, maybe visit Six Flags and the City Museum, spend a night camping on a river, and maybe a bike ride if time can be found.

Ben is at Project Oceanology this week. He gets to spend the week out on Long Island Sound exploring the world living in the coastal waters. He also gets a whole week without his big brother bothering him at home. I think it is exciting for him to get a chance to a camp by himself, and not be overshadowed by his brother. Today he went to Pine Island and seined for fish along the shore, catching fluke and flounder.

We have one day off this weekend, Sunday. I think a day resting will be needed (though who knows, maybe a short trip to the North Lake beach will be fun).

When the boys return in August my brother, his kids, and my dad will visit for 8 days. Finally, in late August, we will have a week without any camps or visitors planned. The boys have asked for a day to just take it easy and play video games. I’m inclined to give it to them. We may also take the sailboat out for an overnight camp to Long Island – I’ll have to see how the weather is that week.

And after that we splash down into the next school year.

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Saturday morning sail (or motor)

Sailing around Black Point from Niantic Bay towards Long Ledge

Sailing around Black Point from Niantic Bay towards Long Ledge

It wasn’t sunny or windy. But it wasn’t rainy or cold. So it was a perfect day to take the boat down the Niantic River and out into the Long Island Sound, raise the sails, decide there wasn’t any wind, lower the sails, catch a right and motor over towards Rocky Neck State Park. Which is what we did.

We anchored for a little while not too far from Griswold Island next to Long Ledge. Susanna decided to test out the cold waters of Long Island Sound for a very short swim. I didn’t bring my bathing suit, but I still jumped in. And it was cold.

The wind picked up after lunch and I again raised the sails.  However it was a light wind and with the current in LIS heading west we were not making any progress towards home. I started the outboard and we motored home.  Overall we covered 15 miles in about 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Our day out on the water

Our day out on the water

 

 

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Blueberries and blueberries

Blueberries fresh from the garden.

Blueberries fresh from the garden.

It is blueberry season. We have six blueberry bushes (2 each of 3 different varieties), but have typically only gotten a significant number of berries from two of the plans. It is looking like we will get berries from all six this summer, though only two of the bushes have ripe berries this early.

Fresh blueberries for breakfast today.

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Workshop Day!

The 4th of July (or “Colonial Insubordination Day” as my friends in the Royal Navy like to call it) calls for hot weather, barbecue, beer and fireworks. However, this year, thanks to Hurricane Arthur, we get cold and rain, though as I write this, it sounds like someone is trying fireworks in the distance. Not sure what there is to see in the rain tonight.  And don’t worry; even cold, rainy nights can support beer.

Study storage shelves (plywood with red oak face-frame)

Study storage shelves (plywood with red oak face-frame)

Today I got an escape from my chores to spend the day in the workshop. I’m building outdoor toy boxes for Susanna’s preschool. Three boxes from 10 sheets of plywood, so I have lots of left over plywood scraps and decided to build a small (16″ wide x 12″ deep) storage shelf for the office. It is also a good chance to test out the finish that I plan for the toy boxes. The shelf was a quick, taking less than a day in the middle of another (larger) project and was a good reminder to prep surfaces as much as possible prior to assembly.  I finished the shelves with a coat of shellac followed by a coat of spar varnish. I’ll probably be lazy and only apply one coat of varnish to the shelves (unless they look like crap tomorrow after the varnish dries).

I’ll post pictures of the boxes when I get them done. I have one box (sides, top and bottom) glued up. Tomorrow I’ll sand the interior and put in the shelf. I need to mill more red oak for the face frame and door edging.  And when I’m done with the boxes, I’ll need to get back to finishing the dinghy build. At least the barn swallows are enjoying the half-finished dinghy in the garage as a place to hang out.

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More Pictures from Today

Benjamin sitting on the front porch

Benjamin sitting on the front porch

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Hanging out at the park

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“Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Susanna and I took the “new” inflatable dinghy down to the river and spent a few minutes enjoying the evening on the sailboat.  We took Targa with us. He hates the water. So does Tucker. But Targa doesn’t get carsick, so he gets to the be the first to visit the boat.

Susanna and Targa enjoying the view from the mooring

Susanna and Targa enjoying the view from the mooring

Of course we had to row the dinghy from the launch to the mooring…

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Quick Dingy Restoration

Dinghy underside after washing and sanding. Next step was to clean with a solvent.

Dinghy underside after washing and sanding. Next step was to clean with a solvent.

Yesterday, the boys and I picked up a used 10′ Achilles inflatable dinghy. It is an older model, and wasn’t in the best shape. But it was only $80 so it was difficult to pass up. The boat building project is going slowly, so I decided it would be worth picking up a functioning dinghy until I finish with the one I’m building. Or maybe I just like collecting things – I’m taking a break from collecting lumber, so maybe I’m starting with boats. Okay, not really, but I’m guessing that someone in this house wonders about that…

The dinghy had been kept in the water without any anti-fouling paint, and had barnacles on the bottom. Two of the air tubes also have slow leaks in them. It should be a quick project to paint the bottom and fix the slow leaks. Since the boys and I picked up bottom paint at the boat store yesterday and didn’t get the stuff to fix the leaks, today I’m painting the bottom.  The air leaks will have to wait until later this week.

First step was to clean the boat and remove the barnacles. Last night I scrubbed the entire boat, and carefully used a putty knife to remove the barnacles. This morning I let the remains of the barnacles soak in vinegar and then rinsed and let the boat dry. After the boat was dry I sanded the bottom as smooth as I could without damaging the fabric. I again rinsed the boat off and then cleaned the bottom with a solvent (I used MEK because that is what I had – and it dries very quickly).

Dingy bottom after the first coat of paint.

Dingy bottom after the first coat of paint.

Susanna and I moved the boat into the shade to make it more pleasant to paint, and to make sure that the bottom paint didn’t dry too quickly. I finished the first coat, and will let it sit for 4 hours and then apply a second coat this afternoon. I may apply a third coat, because I think there will be enough for a third coat in the can, and I may as well use it up (though maybe I can store it in the basement and get try to get another coat out of the quart next season).

Now back to the workshop.

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Dogs, dogs, dogs

Babysitting Leslie this weekend. Ben is happy to have a dog that will sleep in his bed. Targa sleeps in Will’s room; Tucker is too annoying; Leslie is just right. Except for waking up at 5:45.

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Enjoying the Sun on the Niantic River

The sailboat was a good addition for last summer, even if we only had it in the water for two months. I won’t mention how many (10+) years it sat in the yard or garage over the summer, unused, prior to last summer. But it is done now. Or rather, done enough to keep in the water.

Will, Ben and Susanna enjoying the sun as we anchor on the Niantic River.

Will, Ben and Susanna enjoying the sun as we anchor on the Niantic River.

We are keeping the boat in the water the whole summer. We have a mooring on the Niantic River, a venue change from the muddy Thames River last summer (and the inconvenience of staying on the navy base).

Today we went out to enjoy the sun. We tied the boys’ kayaks behind the boat and motored a bit and anchored. When we were bored with that spot, we lifted anchor and moved downriver a little more. The boys explored the coast while Susanna and I enjoyed the perfect weather.

We aren’t able to put the sails up again until Susanna and I un-step the mast and I reattach the spreader that fell on the trip over from the Thames River. Hopefully I can talk her into helping with the mast next weekend. But maybe we will just enjoy the river again next weekend.

We also picked up a 10′ Achilles inflatable boat off of Craigslist. It was a steal at $80, and will make life with the mooring much easier. I’m still working on a wooden dinghy, but the going is slow on that project, and I’d rather take my time with the boat and make it look nice. Tomorrow is project day (including cleaning up the dinghy and applying bottom paint).

Susanna enjoying the sun at our first anchorage.

Susanna enjoying the sun at our first anchorage.

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