Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shake or Bake?

Three Mile Harbor prior to the heat wave
We're still at Three Mile Harbor, caught between a dither and a hot place. Last evening we found ourselves poring over the weather forecast, looking at the charts, and trying to decide whether to stick around Long Island Sound to bake in sultry, but only hazy air, or push north of the Cape Cod Canal and risk shivering in fog. We've become such babies, wailing anytime the heat index wanders away from the mid-seventies and the sky is anything but brilliant blue.

That's not like it used to be, that's for sure.  If our girls or their kids were here to listen, I know I couldn't resist launching another of my ongoing attempts to make them appreciate how easy they have it. It always starts with, "Why, when I was a boy.." here Anita would roll her eyes, already knowing what's ahead, "...we didn't even have an air conditioner and we lived in Texas." (Or Oklahoma or whatever dusty army base floats into my mind.) "Back then it got hot. Not like now, when a high in the 90's causes panic. This heat wave is nothing. I can remember lying in the dark with sweat trickling down your ribs, arms spread out on the sheet like you were trying to make a snow angel. Now that was hot."

Totally absorbed in one of my stories
despite the headphones
I love how impressed they all are at this point. Well, they would be if every listener's head wasn't down, thumbs dancing over a tiny keyboard, the clicks barely audible over the tinny beat escaping from ear buds. They're so good at multi-tasking. I really must remember that. Otherwise I might feel ignored. Even Anita's knitting needles click away, hinting that she's listening to the beat of a different drummer. "We love your stories, Doc," she says absently, all the while counting stitches and then leaning over to pencil a check mark next to a pattern instruction that is as cryptic as assembly language or early Cobol. "It's just that we're," here a pause while she straightens the loops, carefully recounts them, and looks intently at the pattern, "a little busy right now."

Headed for East Hampton Town Dock
Yesterday, in a panic about Wednesday's forecast of a broiling 89, we rowed into the local marina where I inquired about renting a slip, with electricity. I mentioned that we were motivated by the heat wave headed our way. In retrospect, letting them know that we were desperate was a big mistake.

This place was not exactly a resort marina, but I had thought it might do. Several years ago in Solomons, Maryland, our alternator started fussing and we checked into Spring Cove Marina, which is really quite toney. The entrance sign proclaimed it to be a resort marina and listed all sorts of things that most marinas feature.

After that experience, Anita declared herself to be a resort marina kind of woman because she appreciated clean showers, a pool, friendly service people and a dock that wasn't coated with a thick layer of bird droppings. That last item made her list because we had just spent three days getting a propeller fixed, while tied a dock where we waded through ankle deep guano to get to the filthiest showers that I've ever seen. And, oh yeah, no pool.

The not resort marina on the Potomac that lacked a pool
In the face of our current heat emergency, the manager said that renting slips was their bread and butter and whipped out a reservation form. When I asked the price he pointed to the form and explained that it depended on which marina we chose. The prices ranged from eighty-five to one-sixty-five, printed in those tiny fonts that contracts use when stating price. At Sweet Pea's thirty-five feet, even the highest price wouldn't be too bad and surely they would have a pool for Anita. I squinted at the high end of the list, doing the math, and then noticed per month printed off to the side. These were long-term contract prices and there was no decimal point. They were talking dollars per foot per month. Wow. Hello, East Hampton.

I explained that we only wanted to stay one night or maybe two, not the rest of the year. We both laughed at the confusion. I sobered right up when he said it was $5.40 per foot plus $30 for electricity. They had plenty of room, and now I knew why. How many nights did I want to sign up for? I told him I'd have to decide after an updated weather forecast. Desperate, yes. But not that desperate.

Port Edgewood Marina in Cranston, RI,
where we air conditioned
and laundered for a week in 2011
It doesn't always go that way. Last year in July we fled to Providence on a similar forecast. In that marina, we were quoted two dollars a foot, which we thought not too bad, given that we were only a couple of miles from the big city. On arriving I inquired about whether there was a price break for a longer stay, until then we had only asked about one night. The friendly woman behind the desk mentioned that a week was $75. I stumbled through a series of queries: per foot? No? per day? She kept repeating “seventy five dollars”.

In stark contrast to East Hampton, here was the deal. One night was $2 per foot. One week was $75, no matter how big the boat, electricity included. They had empty slips and as the web site said, “Inquire about our special summer pricing. " Well, yes, definitely do that for sure. We signed up for a week.

They didn't have a pool but they did have a washer and dryer. The first time Anita chucked in a load of stuff, she discovered that the laundry room’s light was motion activated and had a really short fuse. There she was, folding while waving her leg around to find that one special spot near the center of the room that caused the lights to come back on. To make up for the lack of a pool, I should have bought her a kid’s toy to hop about so she wouldn't be in the dark.

As for Maine, we decided to wait and see just how hot we're talking here. I mean, how bad could it be? I tell you, when I was a boy, we wouldn't have let a little heat like this bother us.

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