Our mission on Thursday was to collect our 33 boxes of sea-freight from the shipping company in Baltimore and get them onto the boat. Moving house is never a pleasant experience, but moving onto a boat has additional challenges: first, get a cab to the truck rental company. Wait half an hour because the place is deserted (turns out the employee was sick, a replacement eventually turned up), navigate your way across town on the right (wrong) side of the road, find the shipping company, ingratiate yourself with the woman behind the desk so you don’t have to pay them extra money to leave the pallets behind (I know, it doesn’t make sense – they were their pallets in the first place). Load your boxes into the truck. Navigate across town back to the marina. This is where the fun starts – carting 33 boxes down the dock. Not just any dock, we’re on the longest dock on the Eastern Seaboard I swear, it must be close to 1/2km from the truck to our boat. Using the removal truck trolley it still took us 3 hours and 5 trips each way x 2. We certainly impressed the onlookers who suggested Team Toucan should go into the removalist business. Team Toucan politely told them what they could do with that idea. Ah, but we’re not finished yet – the boxes have to be manhandled onto the boat, including the dive compressor and the 15HP outboard motor. In total we moved 1 tonne of gear onto the boat in 3 hours! The final task is to take the truck back across town and cab it back to the boat. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so physically exhausted in my life, but it was a definite sense of achievement to have jumped that particularly big hurdle.
Of course, there was still the small matter of unpacking the boxes and finding places to put all this STUFF!! So the last 3 days have been long ones, unpacking, scratching our heads about where to put things, giving the boat a good washdown and continuing to explore where our freshwater leak was coming from. Eventually by pulling half the internal panels off the boat we found the problem – a corroded accumulator tank (a small pressurized tank that allows you to turn a tap on for a short period of time without the water pump going off). Today is our last day in Baltimore, so fixing the problem will have to wait till we get to Annapolis tomorrow. Our final dilemma was to how to get rid of all the empty packing boxes and the three large suitcases. We suspected we might have to wander the streets of Baltimore at midnight looking for a dumpster bin, but in the end the marina staff were very obliging and took it off our hands for a small fee.
Actually, Baltimore isn’t somewhere you’d want to wander at night – while we’ve been here we’ve heard gunshots, had the police helicopter with searchlights overhead (we didn’t do it, I promise!), and most nights have gone to sleep with the background noise of sirens to lull us to sleep. Coupled with the incessant blasts from the freight trains and the noise of the dockyards, it’s been a noisy place to stay. But we have had the luxury of having shops within walking distance and an onsite laundry and shower block, so it’s not all bad.
The suburb of Canton where we were staying for a few nights is actually quite charming – one of those parts of town that used to be working class but is now quite trendy with lots of bars and restaurants.
And a little bit quirky – many of the houses have wooden roof balconies retro-fitted. It seems the thing to do in downtown Canton is have a party on your roof on the weekend!
The final, and most important task to complete before we left Baltimore was the official renaming ceremony for the boat. Sailors are a superstitious lot, and renaming a boat can bring very bad luck unless you let the Powers That Be (Poseidon in this case) know what you’re up to. So Sunday night we gave due notice to Poseidon (plus a generous libation of champagne) that our boat is now known as Toucan and humbly asked for safe passage and fair winds across his domain. Let’s hope he takes note!
Tomorrow we’re off to our new home in Annapolis, approximately 20NM down the bay. We’re looking forward to getting off the dock and having our first experience of navigating in US waters!