Dustin had to travel to Chicago for a work conference last week so over the past 7 days, Bella and I have been manning the boat by ourselves down here in the Keys! This was my first time handling everything on my own while out on a mooring ball and it is definitely a lot of work, but we did just fine!
Before he left, we used his rental car and stocked up on groceries and water for me for the week so I wouldn't have to bike to the store and carry it on my back to the boat. I stocked up on all kinds of super healthy chick food - mainly everything that I like but Dustin hates that I never get to eat (haha) - tomatoes, mushrooms, kale, boiled eggs, chicken salad with grapes, etc. I decided to take advantage of being able to eat whatever I want for 7 whole days! :) The day he left, I cooked up a gourmet breakfast of sautéed onions, mushrooms, and spinach with tomato basil feta cheese topped with an over medium egg and sundried tomatoes. It was divine! I also made a big batch of vegan homemade mushroom soup, butternut squash ravioli with alfredo pesto sauce, avocado toast and a bunch of other delicious meals.
The day that he left was a Saturday and it was kind of windy and chilly out, so I just hung out on the boat, watched movies, read, and enjoyed just relaxing and doing a whole lot of nothing! There's a saying in Italian, "dolce far niente" which means, "The sweetness of doing nothing", and that's exactly the feeling I had that day.
Speaking of Italy, I used most of my free time during the week planning our family's trip to Italy in September to celebrate my parents' 40th wedding anniversary! I found and booked some incredible vacation rental properties for our trip and now I'm even more excited to go back to Italy!
While having some time to relax was nice, I also had a lot of work to do to keep up the boat while Dustin was away. On a typical day, we usually go to shore 4 times to let Bella go potty. Each way takes about 5-10 minutes to dinghy to shore. I'm very comfortable driving the dinghy, but parking it when the docks are busy is still a little tricky because the boat tends to just bounce off the other dinghies and it is a little tricky squeezing your way in between the other boats then running to the front to quickly tie it off. Add 30 knots of wind and waves and a tiny dog in my arms to the mix and you can see how this could get a little complicated real quick! Stepping off the boat and onto the dock is the tricky part. The dinghy naturally wants to move away from the dock when you step out so keeping the line for the dinghy in one hand and Bella in the other hand while trying to keep my balance and not drop her was fun! I almost lost the line to the dinghy at one point, but thankfully snagged it back just before it hit the water! Phew!!
We don't have our solar panels hooked up yet so we still have to use the portable generator to charge the batteries. This consists of getting the gas tank out, filling up the generator, turning the generator on and then turning the chargers on. To get hot water for showering or dishes, we have to turn the generator on and then let the water heat up for 30 -60 minutes. To get water, we have to take 7 gallon jugs to shore in the dinghy, fill them up, then cart them back to the boat and dump into our tanks. We usually take the jugs with us each time we take Bella up to shore just to keep the tanks full. At the end of the day, we then have to hoist the dinghy out of the water using the davit system (made up of ropes and pulleys) so that algae and barnacles do not grow on the bottom of it. When the gas tank is full, the dinghy is darn heavy and at first, I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. I did manage to hoist it up by myself every night that Dustin was gone and I was super proud of myself! It felt good to know that I can do all of the day to day chores for the boat by myself, but I'm glad I don't have to on a regular basis. Usually, we try and help each other with the boat chores and it makes it a lot easier.
One night while Bella and I were getting into the dinghy, I had set Bella's leash on the back steps of the boat. A huge gust of wind blew it off from the steps, right into the water! It sank like a brick and is now sleeping with the fishes! Unfortunately, that was our only leash, which left me in a bit of a pickle. Not wanting to bike ride 2 miles in the dark to the store, I ended up placing an Instacart order for Publix and ordered a new leash with my groceries! I messaged the shopper and told her the single most important item on the list was the leash and told her what had happened. She was so sweet and when she showed up, she gifted me an extra leash of her own that she had planned to donate to the humane society that week. I thought that was so nice of her!
After dropping the leash in the water, it occurred to me how easily one of us could drop the dinghy plug into the water in the same manner and then we would be stranded. So I got online and researched what type of dinghy plug our AB dinghy needed and ordered 2 spares; one to keep in the dinghy and one to keep in the boat.
It was no big deal to me, but Dustin was extremely proud that I researched and ordered boat parts on my own! I sent him a GIF from the movie, "Captain Phillips" with Tom Hanks where the pirate tells him - "I'm the Captain now." LOL
The first couple of nights that Dustin was gone were extremely windy to the point where I didn't really want to have to take Bella to shore more than I needed to, so I took her up at dinner time just after dark (instead of at bed time like normal) and then she unfortunately had to wait until morning to go again. This was kind of a blessing in disguise though because throughout the week, Bella FINALLY started using her potty pad that we've been trying to train her to use for the past year and a half!
At first, she peed on our rugs but I didn't even care. I was just so happy that she finally went it in the boat and gave her lots of cookies so she knew it was a good thing. I washed the rug and then put a potty pad over top of it. I gradually got her to where she will just use the pad without the rug now. Once it clicked, she hasn't looked back! She has been using it religiously each morning and night now for a week and has saved me so many trips to shore! We had to get rid of all of our rugs, but so be it! Now when we have to do overnight crossings, it won't be an issue since she won't have to hold it! I am so proud of her and couldn't wait until Dustin got back to show him what she had learned!
I definitely respected all of the work Dustin does on a daily basis before he left, but having had to do it all myself for a week, I appreciate him even more now. It is nice having him home for a multitude of reasons!