Monday, November 16, 2015

Yard Period......Yikes

Planning is something I do well, something I do often and usually to the point where I can slightly annoy or at least amuse Ashley.  Mainly I feel if I plan enough, I shouldn’t worry, though it never turns out that way.  The weeks leading up to the haul out for our yard period I planned and read and doubted like crazy in hopes that we would be as well prepared as we could be. Problems at work caused me to be a week late getting home, a week that was supposed to give me time to get things ready. With a few shifts in our haul out date and fortunately a flexible schedule with the yard we were able to get the boat out of the water, Finally…
The day before I had gone back to work I ran the engine for a while and explained to Ashely that I thought we were getting some growth on the prop and that she would need to run the engine in gear at least once a week.  I had the boat running and at full throttle would only turn 1800 RPM, a full 500 less than it should.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was a great way to get the carbon out of the engine, but not good for getting the boat to the travel lift.  As this was all going down, Ashley was washing dishes and yelled to me in the cockpit that something smelled hot……. Then she quickly upgraded that to “something smells really hot!” Upon removing the small access plate to the engine compartment, I was overwhelmed with the alluring odor of antifreeze steam…. Greaaaaaaat.  I shut down the engine and pulled the steps away to get full access. Sure enough, a hose clamp had given up the ghost. How does that happen? Hoses? Sure! Hose Clamps?? Havn’t had that happen before.  Apparently a few years back when I replaced all of the hoses on the engine, there were three I missed. I “Missed” them because it requires taking apart half the dang engine to get to them. So I told Ashely to not worry about the engine and off to work I went.
Due to us having the greatest dog this side of the Mississippi and an old but frisky cat, we decided to stay in a condo while the boat was hauled out. A good friend owned one on the beach and gave us a good rate.  Also the fact that it was still in the 90s in florida was a good reason too.  Plus in the chaos and stress of the yard, it was nice to actually  come home to a real house! So much room!! Not sure why people need that much room.
The motor over to the yard was slow, 4 knots at full speed, the prop must be quite the garden of sea life.  I was anxious to get the boat out of the water and look at the bottom. When we had shipped the boat months earlier, there were a few blisters on the bottom and I wanted to further investigate. It was shocking to say the least when a few turned into several hundred. What the heck?!  Was it the change from fresh to salt??  HC’s aren’t known to get blisters. The PO had a new bottom job done on the boat before I bought it and the yard that did it was sketchy, I’m thinking the barrier coat was not quite done right.  Well crap…..   We looked into the possibility of getting it peeled, but we don’t have the time or the money.  We ultimately just took care of all the big ones and squinted hard enough to not see the others.  Maybe down the line we will take care of them.  At least most were dime sized or smaller.  Oh, and yes, we had quite the barnacle city on our propeller.
A major reason for hauling out was the awful crunching sound that was coming from our cutlass bearing.  When we bought the boat we discovered that the cutlass was shot, like really shot.  I was out of town  during the survey and I found out later the surveyor was a friend of the seller.  Yay.   As mentioned before in this blog the cutlass was shot because the engine mounts were broken in half. Also missed in the survey.  Every time I put our boat in gear, it was just a horrible sound of grinding and banging. It was so bad that I rarely ever took out our boat because I hated to make it any worse.  So new cutlass bearing in hand, we started to work.
If you have a HC, you know this already but unfortunately you have to drop the whole rudder to pull the shaft.  Trust me, you do. Poor design.  The rudder is six feet high and has a three foot rudder post for a total of 9 feet.  I have done a lot of reading and talked to other HC owners to prepare as best I could but it was a learning experience.  We  had the boat blocked a little higher than normal and planned to dig a whole under the rudder. We had been told to expect the rudder to weigh approximately 150 pounds so after rigging a block and tackle system, Ash and I dropped her down…. Whoa.  Well apparently you can’t dig the whole directly back from the rudder because of the design of the rudder. It actually needed to be off to one side. So our 2.5 foot deep hole was wrong. Now we learned this as Ashely was holding it up with all of her weight (I was knocking the gudgeons off) so I quickly altered the hole best I could.  Finally the post came out of the stern and she was free!! But now to move it. I had set up saw horses to set it on. 150 pounds? Sure! No problem…. Ha! We guess it was more about 225 pounds and most of that weight at the bottom.  Good lord I almost wrecked myself when we moved it!!  But success!! Rudder off!! Now just pull the prop, unbolt the coupling and we are in the money! Wohoo!
Riight, so that celebration was quickly over.  We rented a prop puller from the prop shop down the street and thought if we do it right it will be easy.  Ash held the tool as I turned the screw and all was going well until my eye caught sight of something…. Awry.  SH!T!!!!  The prop puller had bent our thread bolt down 90 degrees!!! AH!!! Seriously!!!?!?!  Well this is no good…… Ok, well lets get that coupling off. I had been spraying the coupling with PB blaster for several months now.  I was concerned it was a permanent fixture, mainly because it was all one solid piece of rust.  Well after a run to the hardware store for a new tool, I got to work removing the six hex bolts holding it on. Four out of six. Not bad usually for averages. Four bolts came out and two sheared off.  So close yet so far away.  So out came the angle grinder with cutting wheel and soon we had two halves of shaft coupling.  At this point I grabed the shaft and prop as a whole and went to the prop shop.
I feel it’s never a good sign when people who professionally work on propellers all come and say they have never seen anything like that before.  Phrases like that usually add dollar signs. I left them the whole shebang, explained my pity story of not having a place to live in a week and went home for the day.   A few days later I swung by the shop to see the progress. Kurt at Canaveral Propellers chuckled and said well…… and faded off.  Oh geeez, what now.  Apparently we have an SAE shaft 1.25in but with a metric taper for a metric propeller and apparently someone machined the end to fit a smaller coupling on and our keyway was a bizarre size.  Again he said.. “I’ve never seen that before” Cha-ching! The Shaft straightening failed because the thread got too stretched out.  In the world of good news though, he said that the propeller could be bored out to fit a new shaft, but it would be another week until they would have it all ready to go.

At this point I began the removal of the Cutlass bearing. From what I have read, this is straight forward.  Undo the set screws and with some work, comes right out.  Well two days later, lots of swear words and lots of advice, I finally got it out.  A friend who has spent his whole life in boat building and repair helped and even he was amazed. Apparently the cutlass was actually fiber glassed into the boat. The one Set screw was really more for show. We eventually got down to using a sawzaw, a big freaking hammer and a lot of bent screw drivers to get the cutlass out.  We cut it to collapse it but being the sides were glassed in, it did not really want to let go.  I was concerned about the shaft tube and getting the new bearing centered. My friend Mike suggested I put the shaft in and use it to align the new bearing which I most likely will need to glass in as well to replace the epoxy that came out with the old cutlass. It appears the old bearing was floated on the epoxy in the shaft tube, and I would need to do the same.  Fantastic.
In the meantime, Ashley and I went gangbusters on projects. With the extra time we would be out, we worked on projects that had been on the to-do list for a while.  The bottom was ground and repaired.  I worked on the ongoing project of putting in our new electronics. The transducer was eventually installed with only minor hold up.  When the hole was drilled, one side of the hole was an inch thick and the other an inch and a half. No idea why the hull was laid up that way, but we had a wedge made and got it to work.  We finished running all new wires in the mast with the installation of a new anemometer, radar, TV antenna, VHF antenna and new Ethernet wire for the Wifi antenna.  We decided to go ahead and step the mast so that we could finish connecting all the wires and get it out of the way.  With the Mast on, I could connect the radar as well as connecting the transducer wires.  I hope to never again have to install an entire electronics package. Holy moly what a pain in the arse.   We even had time to put in to counter tops in the Galley.  The old ones were white and badly stained.  Once we got everything cleared out and the sink and faucets removed, it really wasn’t that bad. We bought some posterboard and Ashley made patterns up in the boat while I cut the formica down on the ground. There was some tweaking that was needed but overall, it went really well.  Spots there weren’t cut just right were hidden with black paint and I used black caulk to seal up all the edges. We were quite surprised at how well it came out and the difference it makes in the overall appearance of the interior.  We also finally got back our new Kranze iron. The old one and damaged the Bow Sprit when somebody apparently ran into a dock so I went off to work modifying the bow sprit. After some time, the new Kranze Iron fit like a charm.
As the days went by waiting for our shaft to be returned, we decided to go ahead and attempt to put the rudder back on. There were several reasons for this crazy idea. One, I wanted to make sure we knew how to do it when it came to crunch time and two, I wanted to be able to start installing the auto pilot and a new steering cable.  The first part proved to be a great idea. A friend came to help us lift the behemoth of a rudder. I had the blocks rigged to help, but we quickly learned that they lifted the rudder at an angle and not straight up. The weight of the rudder is centered at the rudder post and not where the lifting point was.  It took a lot of grunt work, but we got it in and we learned a lot about how to do it next time.  I painted the lazarette and rudder quandrant which really cleaned up below. New steering cable was installed as well as the autopilot computer and compass. The new rudder bearing fit like a glove and the new packing glands fit nicely as well.  I took what we learned and rigged another set of blocks. A 3:1 purchase that lifted center weight and a 2:1 purchase on the lifting point.  We used this to lower the rudder back down while we wait on the return of our shaft.
Finally! We get our shaft back! Everything is well machined and looks great. Now we begin the mad rush to finish.  We were In a holding pattern until we got the shaft.  We ended up having to move to another condo in the area and I had to arrange to head back to work a week late.  With the shaft back, we had two days to get it all together and back in the water before we were homeless again and I was heading to the West coast.  With the shaft in, we were able to put in the new cutlass. After that, we had to re-align the engine to the new set up. We had some friends come help put the rudder back on. With the new block set up and the extra people, we had the rudder up and bolted on in just a matter of minutes, it was a beautiful thing and I had to brag a little about my ingenious block set up.  Quadrant on, bearings bolted on, steering cable run and packing glands in place, she was ready to go back in the water two days after getting the shaft. 

On a Beautiful November day in Florida under clear blue skies and 85 degrees, we launched Wild Swan back in the water. We took a few hour tour of Port Canaveral and even stuck her nose out into the ocean.  We docked back in our slip just at sunset and had a small party with our friends on the dock. Overall, the yard time went well and a huge load was off our shoulders. We repaired a LOT of things on the boat, many of which we didn’t know were wrong to begin with. I feel better about her seaworthiness and I’m excited for us to start taking trips.  Hopefully we will start our jaunts to the Bahamas with the coming of the new year and I couldn’t be more excited.

Hauling out. Let it all Begin

New Kranze Iron

Completed work in Lazarette

Blister Repair

The dang Cutlass bearing after I finally got it out
Starting new counter top Project

Finished with Counter Tops

All ready to launch!!
Waiting on the Travel lift
Back in the water and ready for action

Monday, July 20, 2015

Gone the way of the DoDo Blog

I imagine that if you as reading this then most likely you are either friend or family. The hope is that eventually we will get more people through here that are fellow sailors or those who dream to be. If you are one of the later, HI! Thanks for swinging by! If you are friends or family, of course we appreciate your following of us even if it is merely to know what we are doing since we, (mainly me, Adam) have probably not called in a bit. I know, I'm slacking.  Hey, we are busy people! You know with keeping the boat afloat and all, it's a daunting task and Gin and Tonics on the beach is where I figure out how to fix all the stuff that just broke.

Anywho, onward and forward or something like that. I always mess up those catchy phrases. Ashley thinks mine are way better since they are usually ridiculous. But I digress....... if you are like me ( God help you) you spend a large amount of your time reading sailing / cruising blogs such as this one; probably ones much better than this one!  ( Do you see that? I used a semicolon! Probably used it wrong though,  but I never seem to use those! Bonus G&T for me)  We all have our list of blogs. Some we follow like religion ( or in lieu of) and many we check in occasionally and follow up on their adventures.  When I find a new blog that I enjoy I always go to the very beginning and read all the way to present day. This can prove to be a pretty daunting task if their blog is several years old. I find as I read these blogs that a strange thing happens. I start feeling like I know these people, that we are old friends that have not seen each other in ages. I think if I ever met any of these people in our travels I'd run up and hug them like an old friend only to get a really weird look and maybe some hostility.  Seeing as I have yet to meet any of them I do not know this for sure so I'll have to report back when it finally happens. I'm sure once I explain to them that I'm a total blog creeper and think I know everything about them , they would understand. ...... I hope.  I apologize ahead of time to any of you I do this to. I'm really a nice guy, ask my dog! She thinks I'm pretty cool, oh and Ashley too. She's probably nicer than me. People probably don't freak out as much when a pretty girl hugs them so she would totally get away with it but she isn't as big of a hugger as me.  Random side story..... I went to a military academy and my senior year, I was given the officer position of "Hugs Officer". I don't actually remember the real name, but I was the guy you were supposed to come to if you had problems and I could refer you or assist you in getting the help you need, but mainly people came to get hugs. I was certainly not one to complain and I'm happy to give hugs! I mean are there people who don't? Weirdos. Ok..... back on track... crap, where was I? Reading blogs, right. I hope one day we will meet some of these people and I hope we do become good friends and can occasionally  share drinks and laughs when we run into each other (Figuratively, I can’t afford that boat repair).

As for the title of this blog. I have learned that most all blogs on sailing / cruising follow the same path and ours is no different. Blogs are hard! There is the pressure to be witty and funny. To keep people glued to their screens sharing in your adventure. Unfortunately, I'm not a gifted writer. I'm a logistics major who drives oil tankers for a living. Do what you're good at they say, and writing wasn't one. I hope people find this entertaining and maybe this blog will improve over time. We all seem to start our blogs around the time the adventure begins.  We buy the boat, pack up the house, move aboard and get slapped with reality but struggle through. Eventually, somewhere down the line we finally cast off the lines and start the real adventure that we have worked so hard for. It's at this point that  blogs start to waver, and why shouldn't they? As soon as it gets good, when we who are still tied to the dock want to live vicariously through you and your silence.  Crap. I mean I  totallyy get it, you’re sailing and exploring islands, why would you want to write in a stupid blog on a computer when the world is just beyond your porthole? Plus there is the whole "lack of internet" thing. Most people seem to do pretty well and update when they can. We all check their blog regularly staring at the same old post over and over wondering what great adventures they are up to while we take a break between projects and saving for the cruising kitty.  Then one day, BAM! There is a post! We feel like a kid on Christmas. You straighten up and get closer to your screen so as to not miss a single detail. It's like a long lost friend has returned home. By this point, people have stopped apologizing for the lapse in their updates. They know we all understand and we forgive them immediately. We read of their latest breakdown, how they fixed it, the islands they explored and the people they have met. We look at the few pictures they have posted that you just know they spent forever picking out from the hundreds or even thousands they have taken and the sting of jealousy but also the warmth of happiness runs through you. You yearn to be where they are but are so happy for them. At least someone broke away from the comfort of shore power and marina toilets and set out on their adventure. This is what keeps us going. When your own head clogs,  the power system craps out and the list of broken things keeps growing, it's these stories and pictures that drive us on and not give up hope. We laugh at their good times and hurt when they hurt. Sometimes they get personal and use the blog as a means of release. Couples argue and have nowhere else to vent and you hope for things to be ok. As I said, they become friends even if you've never met. People, though strangers, you care for and want nothing but happiness. 

Then there is that dreaded post. The post that sends you stomach plummeting. THE BOAT IS FOR SALE.  WHAT?! No! This can't be! We all want this life style to go on forever. For many people it does but for most, reality comes back to you. You feel devastated, lost. We all know that when the crusing ends, so does the blog. A dream has been fulfilled and then ended. What will happen to these people, where will they go? Most importantly, Why sell the boat???  Usually it’s people who want to move back on land and get back to “Normal” for whatever reason that is. Rush Hour traffic, Cubicles, noise and crappy views out your window? Doesn’t sound like much to return to.   This has been a dream of mine for at least 15 years. It took a while to get here, but here I am. I found the love of my life to join me. It’s not her dream, but she makes the most of it. I’m extremely lucky, trust me,  I know.  I know she doesn’t love all aspects of it, but we are still new. We are still dockside, getting the boat ready and paying off debts. In a few years though we will cast off the lines, sail where the wind takes us and it’s there I hope she finds the pure passion and love of sailing and cruising  that I have. I hope that before we know it years have gone by and we both cannot think of a better way of life. I know this may not happen, heck it could even be me that has a change of heart, but it’s always nice to dream.

 I find I follow two types of blogs the most and when the two meet as one, I get excited. I follow:  1) blogs of people who have the same boat as us and 2) blogs of couples cruising who are our age (early 30s). There are other random blogs I follow that are informative and usually entertaining, but those two are the ones I search for.  Blogs about the same boat as us is obvious. I can share and learn from those who have had the same issues, made the same repairs and coped with the same boat as us.  I am very fortunate that there is a Hans Christian Owners Forum that is a wealth of knowledge that is priceless.  Blogs of people our age, well it’s rare.  It seems that the dream to cruise isn’t achieved until retirement. People have careers, families, responsibilities and of course there is the cost.  At our age it is a sacrifice. We have decided to probably not have kids, to get rid of the house and leave our careers.  These are all risks. We are putting everything we have, Heart, soul and money into this plan.  If it goes wrong, it could prove difficult. Reading blogs of those our age shows us we are not alone. Others are sacrificing too and if they can do it, we can.   Most of you reading this blog probably understand this.   Then there are the blogs of people our age with our same boat. Whoa. This has only happened 2.5 times. Why the .5 you ask? Well one couple is our age but has a different model Hans Christian. A 41 I might add and I am envious.  Frank and Yu have an amazing blog and they keep me inspired.   Jon and Shannon have been beyond helpful. They are about a year or so ahead of us so have done all the projects I have yet to do and Jon is a wealth of information.   The saddest was SV BellaStar.  I loved that blog. It made me dreamy eyed. But it was one where the boat was sold and the Blog came to a close. They had a heck of a run though and I hope to still meet them one day.  It’s a cycle and blogs and their people come and go.  I hope one day, this blog helps people and that we are able to keep it going. As for now, we are striving to fill the sails and head South as soon as we can. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Accepting the Costs

Having made the big move to Florida means that we have now entered the next stage of getting ready for cruising.  With the house rented out for the next few years we can now really focus on finishing the last of the big projects on the boat. As any boat owner well knows, especially one preparing for cruising, the costs can be quite great.  We love our boat, but when we bought it, it needed a lot of help.  I have made it a point to only buy the best I can for the boat which means I am quickly parted with my money (Does that make me a fool??). With the unexpected, but necessary purchase of the new air conditioner for the boat, the expenses are adding up.  I jokingly told Ashley that after adding up how much I thought we had left to spend on the boat that I was having a mild panic attack. It may not have been an all out attack, but it was sure eye opening! Goodness.....  The last of the big expenses is a new dinghy with outboard and an all new electronics package.

The Dinghy.  Any man that has ever owned a dinghy and any woman that has a man who has a dinghy (did you follow that?) knows just how freakin fun dinghies are! Maybe its the speed, maybe its the closeness to the water, maybe its the ability to explore small, tucked away areas or maybe all three, but there is just something about going out for a dinghy ride.  I have spent many days with just our dog and a cooler out exploring away in our dinghy. Not only are they fun, but absolutely essential to a cruiser.  We currently have an old (But stout) Seaworthy 8 foot dinghy with slat floors and a 3.5 outboard. For the past few years, this set up has served us well. Now that we are on the coast, with real weather, real seas and where reliability is essential, it just won't cut it. Having looked at the cost of new Dinghies, I have greatly considered buying used.  After much thought and reading many blogs, I feel used is too risky given the importance of reliability.  I knew we wanted Hypalon,  RIB hull, big enough for Ash, Me and the dog with groceries but small enough to be stored on deck, Light weight, stable in rough seas, dry and a big enough engine to get around quickly and against current. (I know, it's a lot)  After much research, I have settled on a Highfield CL290.  It's Aluminum hull, light weight, 9.5 feet long with large tubes and it only weighs 100 pounds. For an engine, a 9.8 Tohatsu or 9.9 Nissan (Same engine).  From what I have read and been told, these dinghies blow AB and Caribe out of the water and they are cheaper. They come out of Australia and are somewhat new to the US market. Now knowing this is what we need..... Accepting the 6K dollar price tag....Gulp.......  I have discovered a distributor in Cape Canaveral and I plan to pay them a visit in a week when I return home. Anyone need a Used Dingy??

Electronics..... A topic debated by all sailors. The hardcore say they are not needed, the nerdy like to have it all and somewhere there is a middle ground.  I feel that as a Professional Mariner I "Know too much".  For instance, I know how dangerous ships can be, that Asian Container ships will not alter course for any reason, that sailboats don't show up on ship's radars, Mates on ships are overwhelmed with paperwork and look at a computer more than out a window and that ships are fast and quiet and you won't see them or hear them until its too late.  I've also picked the brains of very experienced cruisers, learned the absolute importance of a high quality auto pilot and the dangers of losing it. I've seen the outcome of buying cheap or outdated chart plotters as well as the dangers of relying solely on one. Given all of this, I know we must have a Powerful and reliable autopilot, a modern and update-able chartplotter that can use multiple chart platforms,  Radar as well as Radar reflectors, depth sounder and at minimum a Class B AIS receiver but preferably transponder. Now that I have accepted this, I somehow need to find a way to afford it! I hear kidneys sell quite well these days.... At this moment, our boat has a mid '90s chartplotter, early 80's (and non functioning) autopilot and a broken depth sounder. .....I have a long ways to go...... I have done a great amount of research and all systems seem to have the good and the Bad. There is always those few that have had nothing but trouble as well as those that swear by the same system.  There is always the Factor of human error in either operation or installation and there are just some stupid people.... Ok, maybe lots of stupid people but I give anyone on a sailboat the benefit of a doubt.  Because Sailors are the best there are right?? At this moment I am looking at the Raymarine system with the Type 2 ram and their midline chart plotter. It's an expensive system, but overall gets good marks. I guess there is only one way to really find out.

The good news is that these "Should" be the last of the major purchases.  Down the road there will be a water maker, maybe a wind generator or more solar panels and the typical repairs that pop up. We have to upgrade our battery bank but all of these are minimal when compared to the last two.  I still have to remove our teak decks, but this is really more labor than costs and we plan to do it ourselves.   We plan to Haul out in October to do a lot of bottom work. We are planning our wedding in the Bahamas for July of 2016 so our goal is to have all of these projects (YES ALL) done by around January of 2016. It's a daunting task, but our boat will be ready for cruising at last and we will be able to cast our lines anywhere we please.  In the meantime, I plan to take a lot of dinghy rides with the dog....


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another...

As per usual, just before Adam is supposed to go back to work the A/C decides to barely work. We noticed as soon as we got plugged in at the new dock that it was only keeping the boat about 10 degrees cooler than the outside air. In Florida this means it was about 80 degrees in the boat. After much debate about having the unit serviced before Adam went back to work, we decided to put it off and hope I could make it a month before we can just replace the whole darn thing. We knew it would need replacing eventually, we were just hoping for a few more months! Now I have keeping the boat cool down to an art. I set up a ‘tent’ on top of the coach roof to add some extra shade, keep all the curtains closed, keep the door to the head closed (it vents directly to the outside via the anchor locker), let it get as cold as possible overnight and started putting the canvas back over the hatch to help insulate it. This seems to be working pretty well, keeps it about 75 degrees during the hottest part of the day. It’s not an issue for the human, but the two pets (especially the dog) don’t do great in the heat for a long time. This also means that any sort of cooking with propane during the day is out! Handy dandy tiny slow cooker to the rescue! It lets off so little heat that I can actually cook, which now my other option is to wait till 8 pm to cook anything. Ready, set, Go made up recipes for the slow cooker!
There is always something to spend more money on. We were hoping once we got to Florida we would have a few months to recuperate from the move (cash wise), but apparently the boat has other plans. In addition to A/C’s (the one at the house was ALSO vandalized, but that’s another story!), my two best friends are both getting married a week apart from each other in June. I have already purchased airline tickets for myself to attend the first one in Vermont. After finding out about the cash we are about to have to drop on an A/C and that airfare just sky rocketed I’m going to have to skip the second wedding. In addition we have no pet sitters in the new city so we could not go together. I’m just hoping that I won’t offend anybody by missing out on her wedding.  The kicker is that the wedding I’m missing is my childhood best friend, who is having the wedding at her parents’ house, which is just down the street from my parents. So my parents were also hoping to see me then. Either way we pretty much figured Adam would not be able to come with me, so there was the added downer of being away from Adam for two weekends in a row, if I was able to go.
I am not a planner, I leave that to Adam. Thinking beyond the next week and possibly even the next month gives me a headache. BUT we have finally started to plan our wedding! I want a VERY small wedding with minimal pomp and circumstance. This means I have to go dress shopping (arggg!). I will definitely need help in this endeavor, so in lieu of going home for my best friend’s wedding I am trying to find another weekend to head north so I can recruit my step mom to go dress shopping with me. I do not like to spend money, especially on arbitrary things (like clothes) so I am very hesitant about this whole process. Let the planning begin! (grumble grumble grumble).
I still have no job, which I really don’t mind, except for the lack of funds. I had one interview so far, but the job sounded so dismal that Adam and I decided it was not worth it. So, I have been spending my days running with the dog, reorganizing the interior of the boat, and visiting the local beach. I have to say it has been pretty darn amazing! Cocoa Beach is beautiful. It is far less crowded than I expected. It is also the largest nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in this hemisphere (and possibly the world)! I like to go down and walk along the beach for miles. I often see a lot of people surfing, which looks pretty darn fun, thinking I’d like to try that eventually. There is something very restorative about a mostly empty beach. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The smell of salt in in the air

As Ashley has mentioned, we did it, we finally freakin' did it!! The ol' girl is back in the Salt Water and life is good. It seemed not all that long ago when we said to ourselves, in two-three years, maybe, just maybe we will be able to move the boat to the coast, and now here it is.  I just hope the next few years go by just as fast to when we can finally cast off the lines and head South for good. Go explore all the islands, anchorages and sights that we read about so often in other blogs.  I suppose, that this is all just part of the Journey and as any sailor knows, it isn't about the destination, but the adventure getting to the destination.  The next few years will be exciting and we will be able to explore the coast of Florida and eventually the Bahamas.   I have slowly grown to really appreciate the fact that we have been able to do this so far at such a relatively young age.  At our new home, we are by far the youngest of the 120 some liveaboards and not just by a few years, but at least 20. Most all are retired and finally living out their dreams so for us to do so in our early thirties is truly a gift I appreciate.  It hasn't been easy, but we set our minds to it and never looked back

Getting prepared for our move took vast amounts of planning and the help of a lot of good friends.  I traded a car hauler trailer I had for an enclosed trailer.  The plan was to use the trailer to haul all of our goodies we stripped off the boat for shipping and then it could be used as a portable storage unit in Florida. It is packed full of tools and boat parts as well as our bicycles. So far it was worked out great and when needed, we will just sell it.

On Lake Murray, our sail club is the only place that has a Gin pole for raising / lowering masts.  This Gin pole consists of a telephone pole approximately 50 feet high with blocks on top to winch up or down a mast.  This works great as long as you have an army of very willing people to help lower the mast then carry it to a good resting spot. It's a very precarious operation and usually several cold beverages are needed to calm the boat owner's nerves and to bribe the people helping.  As many like to brag, hundreds of masts have been raised and lowered (Typically while drinking) and no limbs or boats have been lost yet.   The great People of Windward Point Yacht Club were very helpful in lowering our huge mast and I cannot thank them enough.  The kindness of fellow sailors never ceases to amaze me.

I took the time while the mast was down to do some work to it. I ran new wires for the lights, installed new spreader lights. Replaced the blocks and ran new halyards and did a few other small projects.  Our cockpit enclosure was finally finished the day before we left and we packed up the whole show into the trailer.  We spent the last week in town saying goodbye to many dear friends many of whom I've known for most of my life. All were glad to see us off on this adventure, but they will certainly be missed.

On Monday morning, Ashley and I cast off the lines for the last time at WPYC. It was a beautiful crisp morning as we motored our way an hour up the lake to the marina where the truck was meeting us.  A few of our friends and my father drove up to see the operation. It took about 3 hours to finally load the boat onto the trailer, but it went smooth and Paul from Tritan Yachts was fantastic as usual.  From there we had lunch with my father and we left to head south for 7 hours to our hotel in Cocoa Beach.  A flat tire at the very start slowed the show, but we quickly got it changed and got on the road.  It was  a hurried time and busy, but we were finally off, it was really happening.

The trailer loaded up and ready to go.

Mom and Dad coming to see us off.

Alex and Drew, friends from WPYC seeing the boat get loaded.

All ready to go.
The mast coming down. Scary.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sailors Exchange- 'cause we all need more stuff

It seems no matter how organized we think we are there is always another random pile of stuff that is in the wrong place (or more commonly, has no place). We keep finding items that have no real home on the boat, like dog shampoo. I need to be able to find it, but it doesn’t need to sit out all the time. As I write this Adam is making a valiant effort to organize some of the mysterious items found in the quarter berth.  I guess that is part of having two people and two pets on a 33’ boat.
We have been taking our laundry to Let’s Talk Dirty in Cocoa Beach and then making laundry day also beach day. If you haven’t used a laundry service before, don’t! You can’t ever go back! They wash and fold and organize all of your laundry so nice and neat. Wow. Laundry day now is awesome.
I am still searching for a job, although the prospect of having to leave my family to go to work is not exciting. I have a few options as of now, but nothing too promising at this point. Adam is hoping I find a job less stressful than my last one, partly so I don’t drive him nuts too!
We drove up to St. Augustine last week to visit the much anticipated Sailors Exchange. We were looking for a few specific items with the understanding that we would probably find a whole bunch of things we needed. After a few wrong turns we found the legendary Sailors Exchange. They have a whole lot of stuff! If you are looking for something specific it would be good to call and see if they have it in advance.  Also, make sure you have correct measurements for everything and anything you might want to buy. It was about a two hour drive for us and we weren’t sure what we would find. We ended up buying a new light fixture, 8’ stainless pipe, anchor swivels, and they gave us a sample of dyneema line to try as new life lines.  I can’t even begin to list everything they have. I can tell you they did not have any self tailing winches or parts to one (no surprise there!). We also stopped and got lunch and walked around a bit while we were up there. It was a beautiful spot, looks pretty tourist-y but we plan to take the boat up there for a weekend at some point.

Monday, May 4, 2015


We have finally made it down to Florida! This is a bit late, we arrived on April 28th and are now starting to get settled in. We have already seen an alligator and dolphins just off the boat! It feels like we have been on vacation since we got here
The new place is pretty nice, relaxed enough that we can do work on the boat while we are here. It seems that all of our new neighbors are retired.  For the time being I guess I fit into that as well. I left my job so we could move down here, so until I find a new one I am off! Adam can still work his current job from here, just a slightly longer drive to the airport.
It seems like just about everyone we have met is planning to take off in the near future. We will have to get used to that now that we are on the ocean. There are a lot more live aboards at this marina and it seems pretty much everyone is retired!
Morgan, our dog, has a hard time with new people and she is very protective of us. We have made a huge effort to make her more comfortable here with all the new people. She is getting tons of treats and we have even had some of the people give her some treats. She is doing much better here than she was before. Johnny, the cat, is a rock star as usual. He has lived all over the country and is pretty stoic about the whole situation. They both had to
hang out in the car for about two days, one for the loading of the boat and drive and the second day while we were working on the boat and putting it back in the water. They both seem pretty happy here and very calm. We can fit in this slip bow in, which makes it much quieter in the boat and muffles any noise from the dock.
Going back to before we moved, we had a successful trip all around the country. We visited my parents in CT, friends in MA and VT and then to my cousins cattle ranch in WY and SD. We drove from South Carolina to Connecticut with both pets and then left them with my parents and did the rest of our traveling while they hung out in CT. By the time we got back from that it was time for Adam to head back to work.  Adam bought me a sewing machine, so for the month he was gone I learned how to sew and made some curtains for the boat. The previous owner had some plastic place mats cut up to the shape of the port lights for curtains. We purchased some fabric and light blocking material and I sewed them into 8 curtains. We had debated about how to attach them, we ended up using snap fasteners to put them up.  They work great (although are far from perfect!) and if I decide to make more later on we can use the same snap to put up a new panel.
By the time Adam came back from work we had about a week to get ready before the boat was shipped. We wanted to try to pull the mast down the first weekend he was home, so we could have a week to run new wires and lines. I was very relieved when we got the mast down, if you have ever taken a mast down with a gin pole, you can understand the relief when it is down and everyone still has all their limbs and digits. Thankfully we had a bunch of help to lower it down. We spent the next week saying goodbye to everyone and slowly disassembling the boat.
Well this was kind of a cyclical entry, but now you are pretty much up to date. Now to explore Florida!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Renting out Houses and trying not to Panic

Hello Folks! Sorry for the lengthy delay in entries. Alas, this seems to be a problem that plagues all Bloggers.  Seems like anytime you actually have time to sit down and write, all you want to do is veg and enjoy a cold drink.  Well, At work I'm not allowed to drink so it's where I get most of my entries done. It also helps that I spend a majority of my time looking out a window cursing the existence of Sea Gulls whom I despise. Dirty flying rats.... Grumble Grumble.....  This time is great for making Blog entries and also allowing time for me to contemplate all of the upcoming projects that we must do causing me much anxiety.   Too much time to think can be bad for anyone. Too much time to think and Google at your fingertips can be especially bad! Ashley has started putting restrictions on my internet use mainly to protect my sanity!  

Reading Moitessier's Blog has led to a great amount of panic concerning Chain Plates in our beloved HC.  On the HC33 the chain plates are encapsulated so there is no way to actually inspect them without cutting a hole in the boat. A process which makes all boat owners queasy. Lucky for us, there is a sailor at our Marina that owns a portable X-ray business who said he would x-ray our boat for us!! We haven't discussed price, but I think good bottle of scotch will do it for him.  I just have to get a hold of him and set up a time which is proving to be more than difficult with the limited amount of time we have left before moving South.  

Speaking of moving South, it's quickly approaching! April 27th the truck arrives. Holy Moly. I know that sounds Months away, but a whole month and a half of that I will be at work and two weeks of that is our grand tour of the US visiting Ashley's Family. ( CT, VT, MA, CO and SD)  This whole past month at home, We both busted our butts getting our house ready to rent. Why on earth is the nicest your house will ever be is when you are fixing it up for other people??  At the end of four weeks we still weren't done and Ashley has been spending every afternoon after work and her weekends finishing up!  We hope to have it ready to go on the Market to rent next week. FINALLY!!!  Once that's done, it crazy time stripping the deck and getting ready for the truck.   But it's almost here!! We are heading back to the Salt!! I cannot express how happy this makes me!!  It's a major step towards being anchored in the Islands!! 

As for the boat. Our new Bimini and dodger are almost done!! It's been a long project since we had none to begin with and it's all custom made. The guy doing it is amazing but I keep having to remind him that we are moving 7 hours South soon.  When he is done, we will have a fully enclosed cockpit! SWEET!!  Also, the boat knowing I was out of town decided to blow an element in the Hot water heater blowing the dock breaker (Reverse Polarity)  Not a huge deal since Ash can heat the water with the engine, but still something to work on when I return home.  

Cool Picture Ash Took with Morgan

Kitty in the Cockpit!!

Morgan Hanging out Outside

Sorry for all the Dog Pictures!! Morgan with her Light on.

Surprised Ashley with A Christmas tree!! I Love Christmas.
Morgan's New Stylish Raincoat. She Actually Likes it!! She hates the rain.