A Stitch in Time -
November 7, 2002
David mends his beloved passage pants
When David takes his wool pants out of the back of the hanging locker, we know it's time we were heading south. The pants are not particularly stylish. They're a drab olive colour, sort of military looking. This is not surprising - David bought them in an army surplus store in Toronto years before he met Eileen. Eileen has never been very impressed by them. "They're ugly!" she claimed, the first time she saw them.
"Yeah, but they're really warm," David responded. "Plus, they're probably of some historical value. I think they might date back to the World War."
"Which one?" Eileen countered.
Last week, we were on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) heading south from Norfolk, VA, when David donned his wool pants. It was cold and windy. He discovered that the seam in the crotch of the pants had somehow come apart since he had worn them the previous year. The added ventilation did not make him very happy.
When we got to Beaufort, NC, it was still blowing a gale offshore, so we decided we'd continue down the ICW until Cape Fear. If the weather improved in the two days it would take us to get there, we'd go outside and scurry as fast as we could towards Florida. As David was weighing anchor in Beaufort, he ripped the left knee out of his pants. "Trash them!" Eileen said.
"But they're my passage pants!" David protested. He got out a needle and thread.
By the time we reached the Cape Fear River, the wind had abated and the pants were mended, more or less. Eileen inspected the puckered knee and lumpy crotch. "That's obscene," she declared. "As soon as we make our landfall, those pants are history."
We headed out the Cape Fear River into the open ocean. It was a great passage - small seas and the wind on the quarter most of the way. We stayed inside the Gulf Stream and picked up half a knot of favourable countercurrent. On our first day out, we caught a three foot long wahoo. David cut it up and stuffed it in our freezer. That left no more room in the freezer so we put the fishing line away. Eileen muttered, "Thank God that's over with."
We saw lots of dolphins. As soon as one pod tired of weaving about in our bow wave, another would swim up and take its place. Thirty miles off the coast of Georgia, a tired robin hitched a ride. He perched on the stern rail, looking very cold and miserable. After he got to know us a bit, he flew up under the shelter of the dodger. We called him Robin, of course. Robin cheered up and began chirping. Near the end of the day, a large fishing boat passed close by and Robin jumped ship. The other boat was headed north. "That bird is confused," David said.
We made it to Cape Canaveral after three days. We had travelled about 400 miles in open water. The distance on the circuitous ICW would have been almost 600 miles and would have taken us closer to two weeks to accomplish, motoring from dawn to dusk. In the Canaveral barge canal lock, Eileen said she saw a manatee. David thought it was more likely a half-submerged old tire, but he humoured her anyway. That night we anchored just off the Indian River in Eau Gallie. A warm breeze was blowing. We could see palm trees on shore.
In the fading light, Eileen put the cover on the mainsail and David unclipped the jack lines on the deck and rolled them up. He went below, took off his wool pants and put on a pair of shorts. When Eileen wasn't looking, he carefully draped his pants over a hanger and snuck them into the back of the hanging locker. He whispered, "See you next year," and quietly closed the locker door.