As I write this, I am hunched over my laptop, which is held at an awkward angle because of the steering wheel in front of me. Carpal tunnel syndrome is imminent. Out of the window to my left, if it wasn't so foggy and dark, I'd be able to see our island. This island trip has not gone according to plan.
I had the not-so-genius-in-retrospect idea of driving through the night to Nova Scotia. I argued that we could each drive three hours or so, sleep six, and we'd arrive in the morning ready to tackle the day. That's not how things turned out, though.
From Boston, I drove us to the Canadian border. Exhausted, I turned the reins over to Ben. Ben continued my proud tradition of maintaining around 100mph (great roads, no cops), which came to an abrupt end a couple hours into his shift when he hit the biggest pothole I've ever seen. At 100mph. The tire popped and was completely shredded by the time we came to a stop in the shoulder.
Our rental vehicle, a faux-luxury Buick Verona, which we had been upgraded to, does have a spare, but it's a tiny one that can only go 50mph. That sounds like a bad thing, and is indeed bad in many cases, but there turned out to be a silver lining. Brian took over the driving, set the cruise control to 50mph, and eventually fell asleep at the wheel. I woke up as our car was cruise-control guided into the median ditch.
We were off to a dicey start before we even got to the island, and things remained that way.
Our first order of business was to pick up supplies from Home Depot, around 2000 pounds of concrete and 240 feet of 4x4 posts. We rented a uhaul truck with an attached trailer, put the supplies in the truck bed, and then picked up a boat hull and put it on the trailer. Triumphant, we returned to our neighbor's house that's on the shore near the island.
We backed down the driveway backwards with the trailer, something none of us had any experience with whatsoever. We managed to make it most of the way down the hill, but then eventually got too close to the edge to continue. We tried to go back up the hill, but we were stuck.
Supposing that we had too much weight in the truck, we manually hauled the concrete and posts down the hill. It still wouldn't move. We then pulled the very heavy boat out, and managed to puncture its side on the way. Afraid to slide it down the dirt, we hauled the 4x4 posts back up the hill and made train tracks to slide the boat down. This process took well over an hour.
Even without the supplies and boat, the truck couldn't make it up the hill. Our boat's motor, along with all of our gear and food, was in the rental car's trunk, which was forty-five minutes away, near where we picked up the uhaul. We called a tow truck company, then another, and then every single one we could find. None were open.
So we slept in the truck, a Ford 150. That's three guys, side by side, in the front bench seat of a truck. We laughed at our pitiable position, but it was actually the best sleep I've gotten so far on this trip. The steep incline made it reasonable.
The next morning we met the man who actually owns the land that we'd squatted on with our rented truck. He saw Brian outside, calling tow trucks, grunted a hello, and then proceeded to unstick us in about five minutes with a rope and his truck. Falling over ourselves thanking him, we finally got back into the truck to return it.
After an unnaturally long return trip, extended by our slow maximum speed, we made it back to the neighbor's house with our boat engine and supplies. We loaded supplies in, got into the boat, connected the gas line... and realized we had the wrong gas line. So we went off and got a new one.
Finally, after over twenty-four hours of finagling, we fired up the boat and headed to our island. This is where the brief, but good part begins.
We gave Ben a tour of the island. He's one of the owners, but hadn't been before. We marked a rough trail to the eastern edge of the island and found some really cool landmarks like a giant boulder with a tree coming out of it and a raised boulder with a view of the entire harbor. Ben almost single-handedly cleared a firepit area.
After doing our language tapes, eating dinner, and sitting by the fire, we went to sleep. The temperature was below freezing, and so was I. I had initially felt smug for ordering a comfortable cot to sleep on, but the joke was on me when cold air flowed beneath it and froze me from below. It felt as though I was sleeping on a comfortable block of ice.
That night I had to pee so badly that I actually dreamed of finding a bathroom. I was shivering even under my down sleeping bag, which was cinched so tightly that only my nose and mouth were exposed, and was unwilling to get out, even to pee. An uncomfortable night to say the least.
I woke up at noon to hear the good news: that we still had a boat. The rope had frayed, and Brian had tried to unhook it to move it closer, but ended up getting swept away from the island. He was lucky to have brought it back to the island, albeit on the far end.
We piled into the boat to head back. As I fiddled with the engine, someone untied us from the shore. We begin to drift deeper into the bay, which wouldn't have been a problem if the motor would start. It wouldn't. I decided I would just paddle us back with the one bent paddle we had, but it quickly became clear that that would be impossible. We finally managed to land on a tiny rocky island, unable to start the engine.
Half an hour later, all of us freezing cold, we still couldn't get the engine started. Optimistically, Brian kept fiddling with it and pulling the rope start. The situation was looking terrible, with our best option being to wait until someone happened to come through this remote harbor, and then flagging them down. Swimming back to the island was also floated as an option. Miraculously, on the hundredth attempt, the engine started and we headed back for shore. About halfway through the motor began to sputter and reduce power, but we made it back.
The rest of the day was spent buying construction supplies, food, and items that might possibly make us warmer when we slept. We also bought an anchor and paddles for the boat, and try to bring the motor to a shop to get it looked at. They didn't have time, so we figured we'd suffer with it.
We returned back and loaded all of our new purchases onto the boat. We only needed to start the motor twice more, once to go to the island, and once to get back in the morning. Then we'd bring it into the shop, get it in top shape, and never worry about it again. As it turns out, that was not meant to be. After half an hour of trying to get it to start, we gave up. We found another motor forty-five minutes away, the same model but over twenty years newer, we called and said we'd be over to check it out.
The seller turned out to be a pawnbroker with a colorful vocabulary. The motor looked to be in good shape, but can't be tested out of water. As a substitute, he tested the compression and demonstrated that it had spark. Both passed with flying colors, so we bought it and drove back at 55mph, still not having fixed the tire.
Now dark and so foggy we couldn't make out the island, we carried the new motor down and replaced the old one. It looked so much nicer and so full of promise. That promise was unfulfilled, though, as it also wouldn't start. It had spark, compression, and fuel in the cylinders, but it never fired up at all.
And that's how, tails tucked between our legs, we retreated back to our rental Buick, where we're going to sleep momentarily. Ben is in the back pounding juiceboxes and economy cans of pork and beans. Brian is still in full waterproof gear, fiddling with his phone, and I'm getting my daily blog post out of the way because the last thing I need is to owe Sebastian $10,000. On the plus side, all of these super long trips across town have given Brian and I the opportunity to knock our language tapes out each day.
So far the trip has been more folly than anything else. It's almost comical how everything that can possibly go wrong does. But we've also managed to clear some land, buy all the tools we'll need for the forseeable future, and acquire an awesome boat, even if its motor does nothing of note. Tomorrow's a new day, one which we'll awake to early by the sun's rays through a windshield, and will hopefully lead to fully functional boat. Who knows... maybe we'll even make it to the island and not sleep in a rented vehicle.
Picture is Brian in front of our new firepit.
I know there are probably a million typos--- battery is about to die!