Living on a boat gives us the opportunity to play games every single day. And over the past couple of days we have had the opportunity to play three old games over and over again, though we still haven’t necessarily gotten the hang of them yet.

Minesweeper

Minesweeper is a game that Microsoft used to put FREE on its computers that millions of people spent millions of hours playing and not working at all. The basic premise was to logically figure out where the mines were on a grid based on numbers revealed when you selected a grid element. Hit a mine, game over.

Our version is played with two (or more) players on two (or more) different boats. One boat is in the lead, watches the depths until one of two things happens. First is that the depth drops to very close to the draft of your boat. Or the boat runs aground. Either way a radio call goes out to the following boat announcing either the depth (“it is getting really skinny here, seeing only four feet) or the fact that the boat is aground (“our boat is aground. May want to go around us.”). Two days ago, when we left Charleston, we were crossing the harbor and heading into the ICW channel when we were hailed by a monohull close to us. He wanted to play minesweeper and follow us into the channel. He had not been on this part of the ICW and wanted someone to lead. He didn’t ask if we had been on the ICW before. His boat was a monohull ketch that draws five and a half feet. We were up for it, we headed into the channel.

Jan was driving and watched the depth begin to drop from 10 to 8 to 6 and finally to four feet. She called back to the monohull to tell him that the water was getting low and he said he would move to the other side of the channel. And then called to say he was aground. Game over. He dropped his anchor and got to spend a good hour in place until the tide rose another foot or two and pushed him off.

And today we got to play another game with a different monohull. Again a five plus foot draft to our three foot draft. We both stayed at anchorage in a random creek off the ICW and we left just behind them this morning. We both got underway about 0730, about an hour before low tide–water was still going out. We had some wind off our port side and both of us put up our genoa to get some extra push. We went about 20 minutes and then saw the monohull in front of us pull their genoa in very, very fast. And shortly after came the word “Serenity, we have run aground. And we have no idea which way to tell you to go.” Jan flipped coin and went left and while we saw just over three feet, we made it through. All day we heard people coming up on the losing side of the minesweeper game.

In this version of our game, it is good to play it in a catamaran with a three foot draft!

Simon Says.

In Charleston we picked up Simon, one of the crew/family members of S/V Serenity, monohull, who we met in Georgetown. Simon and AJ spent all of their time together while in Georgetown and Simon’s family is up in North Carolina and we had the opportunity to get Simon to spend a couple of days on the boat with us. Ben/Mary Jane and the rest of the clan joined us for a day on the boat, left Simon and we departed Charleston with him on board.

The first morning after we left we were finishing up breakfast and I asked AJ and Simon when they wanted to start school. AJ piped up “in an hour,” and Simon said “how about now?” And BOOM! We have a new/old game. Simon says. As in “Simon says that schools starts now.” And we haven’t run out of things to use it on. “Simon says time for dishes.” “Simon says time for bed.” “Simon says be nice to your parents or they will throw your xbox overboard.” AJ has picked up on the game as well, like “Simon says cotton candy!” We all really, really like having Simon aboard!

Memory.

I have never been good at remembering things in my short term memory. When I see those people on TV who can listen to a list of numbers or names and rattle them back without missing one, it amazes and baffles me. Read me a list of ten numbers and you’ll be lucky to get two back. And they won’t be in the right order. Mind just doesn’t work that way and as I get older it gets worse.

Which is why it borders on comical when we come into a new place, like a marina and call for directions. I used to call and get the information and then Jan would come back and ask penetrating questions like “which slip are we in” or “which side are we going to tie off on” or “which side of the boat is the marina” or “what state are we in?” I may have gotten that information, or I may not have, but the chances of me being able to answer any of the questions after I stopped talking to the marina are slim to none. So we learned that there have to be at least two people listening to the radio, one of whom should be taking notes, or there is a better than 50/50 chance that we are ending up at the wrong place.

But even then it can be a challenge; so we make a game out of it. Listen to the directions and see if, between the three of us, we can reconstruct what we are supposed to do without having to call back and look like a dumbass.

Today was just another great example. We are pulling into Georgetown, SC to the Riverwalk Marina. It is a fantastic place (both the marina and the town). When we about a mile out, I called over the radio, they answered immediately and then started giving me the list of directions. It went something like this:

“OK Captain, you are going to see the “S” green marker, put that on your port side, and come down our channel. Put the anchored boats on your port side. You will see a white, three story condo.  Those are right by our marina. Look below the condos for a small yellow building. At the base of the yellow building is an orange fender. That marks our fuel dock and you are just past the fuel dock on our face dock. You will see two of us, one wearing a purple shirt, one with a white shirt. Starboard tie. Got it?”1

What I heard was:
“OK Captain…”S” port…buzz…buzz…white condo…buzzz…buzz…orange fender…buzz…shirts on starboard. Got it?”

What I said was “Got it!!” And turned to Jan and said “Do we got it?” She shrugged and said “White condo, orange fender.” And headed off to put out our fenders on the starboard side.

We headed past the marker, alongside the anchored boats, saw a TON of docks, only one of which had an orange ball under white condos. With two dudes waving their hands in the air (waving like they just don’t care). Figured either that was it, or our boat was afire, either way we would pull in. They caught our lines, we were set.

I have heard that exercise makes us stronger, and exercising our mind with keep working longer. Not seeing a lot of that on this particular trip…IMG_2702

1And each time this happens I flash back to growing up in the country in Wisconsin. Directions were not given via street names, because back then, street names on country roads didn’t exist. They were given by landmarks, either temporary or permanent, on the way to the final destination and also in cardinal directions. And in my younger days, the odds of me identifying a direction successfully were about the same as me identifying a Black Bordered Lemon Moth in the wild. So directions to my friend Scott’s house was something like “Head west on Hwy 64 to Apple river. Take right. Look for first big white barn and take a left. Drive five ish miles until T intersection and then go west. Look for cow field on right hand side. Take gravel road on right immediately following that field of cows. Look for log home on the right hand side. There is a big white mailbox at the driveway (unless it has been hit off the post by someone playing mailbox baseball).”2 I was useless and would drive for hours in larger and larger concentric circles looking for the destination.

2As you probably can discern, mailbox baseball was a game played by adolescents (almost exclusively male) in which the batter hung out the passenger window with a bat in hand, driver put the car on a course to get the batter close to the mailbox and the batter swings away. Bases scored based on the judgement (subjective) of the passengers in the car. Our mail box got taken out innumerable times. And then people got smart and started bedding those suckers into concrete. And that game came to a screeching halt the first time a batter hit a concrete mailbox and had to head to the hospital for some cast work on his arms. Not the brightest game in the world, but in the heyday before the advent of internet when you had to find ways to entertain yourself, it was either mailbox baseball, cruising the strip or cow tipping.