It wasn’t long after I got up this morning that we had visitors to the boat, which seemed to be today’s trend. Two southern gents from one of the marinas on Grand Isle had decided to come on over and take a look at our little operation. Apparently, they were the party responsible for finding us a location with a 12 foot draft on a moments notice. Strangely, I’ve had a number of people claim something similar to me all week. If I had a dollar for every person, I’d probably have about $4, which could get me an Icee.
But, really. To all parties involved, thanks for pulling through last minute for us dang yankees. If only we had just used the sailboat as a sailboat and sail to Corpus Christi, y’all wouldn’t have had to scramble to so much.
Real nice guys, though. While they were on board, the crew was outside practicing shooting arrows at a Frisbee to imitate the small area that we really have to biopsy from on a whale. It was entertaining to watch and really gave them an impression of exactly what we do, minus the Frisbee and the dingy being used to retrieve the arrows. Sandy came out at one point and said, “This man knows your friend, Jean Landry.” Jean’s the lady I worked with at the Nature Conservancy on Grand Isle about 18 months ago. He and I got to talking – he had a lot of questions, of course – and I had mentioned that I had literally just emailed Jean that morning telling her to stop by the boat and asking her if there was a place nearby she knew of where I could maybe get some warmer clothes. There’s an awful cold snap passing through right now and these shorts and tank tops aren’t cuttin’ it. But, imagine that, he just called her right up for me and left her a voicemail.
They took a crew photo of us because they want to put us in their highly circulated Grand Isle newspaper. Before they left, Jean happened to return the phone call! How perfect. We spoke and she said she’d come on by around 3 or so, see the boat, and then bring me to a thrift shop she knew of on the island. It’s nice to have friends, you know.
John, Sandy, Johnny, and Matt were headed to New Orleans around lunchtime to look at Tulane and their lab, I believe, so it was a race to get samples packed up and be shipped back to Maine. Most of the crew was upstairs in the pilot house doing that for awhile. I labeled bottles with fish samples that we had taken the other day. The way we label is interesting. It corresponds to a data log, of course, but it will read something like this: “WF00018. Fillet. CD” That means, this is a vertebrate sample, number 00018. It is a fillet. You will test this for chemical dispersants. If it said, WI00018,…something…PP, that would mean it was an invertebrate and needed to be tested for petroleum products. I think I understand that fully. I could be missing something, but either way, we packed up water samples, fish samples, and little baggies of sediment in boxes. Some had ice packs, others had dry ice to keep them frozen. The clan then left the rest of us to fend for ourselves.
Jean showed up early, sometime around 2:20. She decided to avoid trying to make the jump over to the boat (the gap from our “dock” is pretty large), but asked if I still wanted to go for a ride to the thrift store. Heeelll yes, I did. On the way over we talked about what the voyage was up to and what the goals of the study were, etc. Jean’s a very smart lady who’s pretty passionate about the natural world. She had actually just come from working in the school all day. I think she mentioned something about having the kids out raking to utilize the grass as mulch for the trees they had just planted. She also said that some kids didn’t even know how to rake, which I scoffed at because raking is a pretty basic thing. “It’s cause they’re all addicted to those gaming systems, they don’t know how to get outside.” True that, Jean.
She also made a really good point that I wanted to remember to mention. When talking about the oil spill, she said that their way of life desperately changed. Shrimpers can’t shrimp, fishermen can’t fish, people can’t go walking on the beaches or clamming. She posed the question, “If nature gave us a full month to prepare before even a drop of oil reached our sands, why wasn’t someone working to figure out how to use the booms correctly before the oil came close and not after? We got oil only because someone couldn’t figure out how to shift the booms with the tides for awhile.” I couldn’t answer it, myself.
So, let’s talk about this thrift shop. When Jean told me it was called the “Short and Stout” shop, I was more than a little cautious. I may be relatively short, and while sometimes I feel like a chubster, I don’t think I would describe myself as “stout.” Far from it. I figured, well even if what I get is huge, I just need something for warmth. Even just one thing. This place is (technically) in this lady’s basement. Granted, we all think of basements as down some stairs to a room that is really the foundation of your house. In Grand Isle, that’s not how houses are. FEMA regulations state you need to have your houses jacked up 14 feet in the air and you’re not supposed to have your “basement” closed in. So essentially, the shop is underneath her house? Does that make it even more weird?
I walk in to her yard which has more random things strewn about that I’ve ever seen and meet Cheryl, the owner, who was painting a birdhouse in LSU colors. She brings me back to where all of the clothes are, pointing to sweaters and jackets, pants and shoes. Cheryl then looks at me and says matter of factly, “Everything is .25 or .50 cents.” Whaaaaat? Wait, you’re joking right? Good God Almighty, I think I hit the jackpot. Commence diving into clothes now.
First item I picked up was a rain jacket lined with fleece and a hood. It amazingly enough fit pretty well. I continued on through the rest of the clothes several times over, but finding a size small or extra small was near impossible. It was all XL sizes. In my position though, I figured that didn’t matter too much since I was just looking for warmth on the boat and seeing as it’d only cost me .50 cents, I could donate it to Goodwill at the end of the trip. With that attitude, I managed to gather quite the collection of clothes, much to Cheryl’s delight. I was trying on pants over my shorts, hobbling around on one foot and then handing her more clothes to put in a bag. I tried to take a count of everything I got and this is roughly what I had: 8 pairs of pants (2 jeans, 2 corduroys, other pants, sweatpants), 1 skirt, 2 jackets, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of awesome boat shoes (so perfect), 6 shirts, and 3 sweaters. Grand total? A whopping $12. I gave her a huge hug before I left. She was a pretty tiny lady who made me feel gargantuan next to her. I’m used to the being the one that feels tiny. Cheryl also threw in a Halloween gag-gift that I was absolutely hysterical over. I ended up sneaking .50 cents to her for it, since that’s what it would have cost me and that’s really not a big deal. Want to see what it was?
The world’s most ridiculous jacket. To think, someone actually envisioned and made this thing. It’s so atrocious that it’s hilarious. I just had to get it because I knew that Bailey would humor me and wear it, at least for awhile. It has hand-sewn sequence all over it with the name “Dr Bones” on the back in some strange reflective fabric. There are glow in the dark skeletons sewn on, feathers, and bright orange and magenta fringe hanging off the arms and parts of the sides. It is just so over the top. When Bailey took it out of the bag, Jean was still standing there and her, myself, Bailey, and Ian burst out laughing. Ahhh…excellent. It was either going to be a flop or amazing and it was amazing.
Seeing Jean again was really, really fantastic and before she dropped me off, she announced “This was really fun!” I was happy to hear she had a good time seeing me, as well. It really was completely awesome of her to drive to Fourchon and bring me over to the thrift store. She said she believes in “pay it forward” and she’ll be collecting her favors from me soon enough. She mentioned having me to the school on Grand Isle to do a presentation on the research and voyage because she wants kids to understand that science is a fantastic field with plenty of opportunities — especially for women. Of course, I’d do that, Jean. It’d be a pleasure. Plus, I strangely love public speaking so let’s get to it. If we happen to dock anywhere remotely close to here again, I’ll be letting her know a couple days in advance (if I even am able to know that far ahead) and she’s going to set it up.
Sidenote: the school there has less than 200 kids from K-12, which I thought was really crazy.
Also learned that Paco, the guy from the Pirate Cove Daiquri who was responsible for the Diesel debauchery, is related to her. He’s her son’s father-in-law. Now, say that slowly to yourself so you can figure out the family tree. It’s also not Paco as in taco, but “pay-co”. Everybody’s gotta be different, now. Jean simply said, “There’s not a lot of inbreeding that goes on, but we’re all related somehow. You might have to go back a couple generations, but it’s there.” Yeesh. TMI. Although I am from Maine, so I shouldn’t be shocked by these comments. (Ohh, zinger.)
When I got back, I ended up washing all of the windows on the boat since I offered Ian help with whatever he wanted to try and get done. Washing windows seemed to be the simplest task for me, but geez, getting layers of sea salt off the windows really takes some elbow grease. Not that I’m complaining, I just didn’t expect there to be that much caked on the windows. They look much better now, if I do say so myself.
Since the Wise clan plus Matt were gone, Ian decided to fry up the billion pounds of shrimp that we had on board, along with some homemade French fries. We all ended up huddled in the galley eating as things came off the stove. More than once you could look at people’s faces and tell they were trying not to spit out something that was too hot because they had grabbed it fast. So there was an epic amount of shrimp and fries, along with Caesar salad and sweetened tea. We all crammed in around the galley table, talking and laughing until we were all too full to think about eating anything else. After that, Ian announced “Let’s watch Hook.” YES, one of my childhood movies.
Turns out, Hook is a hell of a lot funnier when you watch it as an adult. Legitimately, every other line is a joke. And in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Robin Williams. It was just too good to watch again and totally appropriate given that we’re all on a sailboat. I now want to pretend that I’m a pirate and/or Pete Pan from here on out. Really excellent way to end the last day in Port FoSho.