Sunday, September 23, 2012

Like This Day...

Do you ever have one of those days that leave you thinking "I wish all of our days could be like this day"?  Today was one of those days.  Nothing special happened, but it was just a perfect day. 

It started where we left off, nestled in a slip at Redfish Willie's with more than a dozen other sailboats from BYC.  Bruce and I had coffee on a cool wet veranda in perfect quiet.  No wind, no nothing.  Just us and the rising sun over or shoulder.  Suddenly, the quiet was broken by the blow of a dolphin lazily taking a breath between bites.  

Soon, others popped their heads out from their respective sailboats and by full sunup, the dock was busy with coffee wielding BYCers getting ready to shove off for home.  The fine folks at Redfish Willies were cooking up a quiche but most of our bunch needed to get on the water to miss the outgoing tide on their way back to Corpus Christi. 

Bruce and I were one of the lucky few with only a short distance to go.  For this reason we were one of the last to leave, making time for a delicious fritatta made with whatever I had on hand. 

The wind began to stir just enough to keep it from becoming too warm so we said our good-byes and detached from the dock.  We motored out of the harbor and set our sails to see what the day would bring.   

We found ourselves marveling at the beauty of the coastal area in which we live.  The blue-green of the calm waters of the Crab Man Channel... punctuated by the myriad of coastal birds and the many young dolphin out for a stroll with their mommas set the mood for a lazy sail.  The air was clear and the cloud reflections on the water made it seem as if we could sail right up into the sky.   

People were friendly on the water today.  We found surprising numbers of boaters out enjoying our corner of the world for this time of the year. 

My thoughts began to wander as we slowly drifted along.   I remembered something that struck me as being odd yesterday evening.  Twice I was told, by people I don't know but have seen around the Club recently, that they wanted to say "hi" because I always seem to be smiling and laughing when I'm around.  Not once but twice this happened!  How strange!  It set me thinking...  and I realized what a profound compliment that is!   

And not only is it a compliment, it's astonishing!  The dark time of past couple of years has passed.  I've broken free from the sour disposition brought on by devoting myself to the wrong things.  I've made a conscious effort to limit the negative and focus on the positive, and its working!   
And that is when I looked around, I found my husband at my side being carried along on our wonderful new sailboat.  This vessel will take us anywhere we wish to go.  We had perfect winds to propel us and cool us... and at least for these few hours, we had no worries.

We sailed down towards Rockport, chatting and enjoying our solitude.  All too soon, we tacked and rode the tide topping out at 8 knots towards our home slip in Port A. We had some help with a perfect landing that marked the end of our perfect day.  It's over for now, but I know that there will soon be others... like this day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Redfish Willie's Cruise 2012

This weekend was about both the Journey... AND the destination!  The weather was PERFECT!  Well, some people would say we could have used more wind, but for me... this is what I want, light breezes and let's say, not hot temps.  Maybe these mornings aboard Dos Libras are beginning to sound like a broken record... but I'll take it!  Coffee on the deck watching the sun come up and the world go by.

Brenda's pic in the Lydia Ann Channel
Rumor had it that this Cruise would be well attended.  Our Cruise Dude made all of the arrangements and then skipped out of town!  His loss!  BYC boats were making way from all points with some arriving at Redfish Willie's on Friday and others stopping over in Port A.  Rima and Starfish were among those visiting us in Port A and while Bob took K out to dinner for a special celebration, Starfish and Merlin joined us aboard Dos Libras for a burger dinner

Brenda's pic in the Crab Man Channel

Rima and Starfish graciously volunteered to take some photos for of Dos Libras under way for use in making new boat cards. I had no idea it would take this long to get some good pics of our new boat.  I finally had to beg for help and contrive the shoot. 

K's pic with our Port A Home

I will be eternally grateful as K and Brenda got some GREAT shots.  Now which one to choose for the boat cards...?  But that's another story.

K got a fun pic with the Parasailer

Bruce and I had a bit of trouble with shaking out a reef in the main, but once we got going, we found the tide solidly against us as we sailed up the Lydia Ann Channel slowly so that the other boats could get into position for some shots.  The parasail boat gave us a bit of trouble but it turned out a fun pic.  They really look MUCH closer to the top of the mast from our vantage point. 

We did a tack and sailed back out into the intersection then followed Starfish to the Crab Man Channel which would lead us on a stately procession to Aransas Pass and our destination for the night. 

We enjoyed lunch and some wildlife along the way.  This really is such an easy trip.  I think we will do it again just for the day.  The waters are flat and the depths are good the whole way.  We haven't seen much barge traffic, which makes it really nice.  It's very low stress...

One by one we dropped sails and motored into Conn Brown Harbor where we found lots of BYC Boats awaiting our arrival.  The Folks at Redfish Willie's were there with the BYCers ready to secure our lines.  They really are the nicest people.

We tidied up the boat, hooked up the shore power and commenced to relaxing in the waning afternoon breezes.  I love seeing all of our boats with flags flying high. 

We took over the whole dock with more than a dozen boats from BYC arriving before nightfall.  Bruce and I joined our friends hanging out and watching all the going's on...

We congregated for happy hour couresy of NO ETA, our host boat for this event.  I think Phyllis was expecting somebody more important than the likes of us judging by the gorgeous spread she provided. 

We whiled away the afternoon just hanging out enjoying being "US"... 


Until dinner time rolled around.  We made the short hop to the restaurant where they welcomed us with open arms.  We kind of took over there too!   
Most of our group were here for the first time.  I wandered around while we ordered drinks and was glad to hear not a discouraging word about the place.  It really is just such a refreshingly laid back, can-do kind of place.  I really hope our Club can help make them a success.
I'm not really even sure why I am so adamant about wishing them well... maybe it's something in the Peach Mango treat they keep serving to me...  YUM!
Feeding a crowd like ours, in addition to the other patrons enjoying this evening... was quite daunting.  Understandably, the care taken to produce each meal individually, overloaded the the system and we were still finishing up well after dark when the mosquitos came out.  The last stragglers hastily packed it in and we fled back to the docks where there didn't seem to be any mosquito problem.  We ended our evening with birthday cake in K's honor then Bruce and I headed for our stateroom and a peaceful night's sleep listening to the bongo-like lapping of the tiny waves against our stern.  Another successful BYC Cruise put to bed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


One of the good things about buying a used boat is that many systems have been upgraded or replaced... and all have been thoroughly tested.  One of the BAD things about buying a used boat is that many systems have been upgraded or replaced... and all have been thoroughly "tested".   

Luckily for us, the two previous owners of Dos Libras were meticulous record keepers.  They were also relatively handy or well-to-do, which means that they have provided us with some awesome spares and upgrades.  The problem is that figuring out what exactly we have NOW is not as simple as whipping out the original owner's manual and looking it up.  So many things are either very much changed or relocated.  One example of this we have found is that the sub flooring in the entire boat has been reinforced and redesigned to provide more stability and lots of storage cubbies in previously unreachable places. 

This has also provided us with access panels to view what's lurking under there...  One such subject of interest for some time now, has been the water tanks.  Bruce has been trying to reconcile what we were told, with what he has read in the manuals and what is actually THERE.  This weekend we took a couple of hours and pulled up the flooring and put to rest the question of how much water we carry and where we carry it.   

This might not be of much importance if we weren't planning to cruise the boat. But we are, and it's very much important to know what we have and also, to make sure that the tanks are clean.  Prior to our purchasing Dos Libras (formerly Ariel) in March of this year, the boat had been left sitting on the hard for most of the past year.  We have flushed plenty of fresh water through the tanks, making sure to rotate them all to empty so that no water sits too long. 

We have had some little black flecks that look like carbon clogging the faucet diffuser screens that has us stumped.  We can't find any kind of carbon filter after removing the one under the sink just after we got the boat.  This has caused me to harbor dark thoughts about what might be "in there"... where we can't see it!  Dark thoughts have driven me to the Internet where I have scoured cruiser blogs and forums world wide and have come up with quite a lot of useful information which has combined to make an action plan for us.  

Today, we put that plan into action.  Making sure that we have clean tanks and a reliable water system before we move aboard Dos Libras is one of our priorities. We've been making due with carrying bottled water aboard for cooking and drinking, but that won't be economical nor practical when we move aboard.   

First step... install a strainer between the line leading from the tanks to the freshwater pump intake.  Bruce found one on the boat, thanks to our predecessor and made quick work of popping it right in.  This way, anything chunky that may come out of our system will be trapped in the strainer for easy removal prior to mucking up our pump.   Make sure that your hot water heater is off at this point and that it remains off until you are done flushing the system.

The next part is shocking... that is, shocking our system.  Yeah I guess kind of like you would do a swimming pool.  Now this is the part that I researched for weeks.  Our previous boat had two plastic tanks which were easy to access with a large hole in the top for cleaning them out.  Dos Libras has four aluminum water tanks and four separate deck fills.  They are 19, 24, 31 and 50 gallon for a total of 124 gallons.  It is nice to finally clear up all the speculation and pin it down. 

Most of the reading I had done about caring for your fresh water tanks in the cruising blogs prior to buying our boat, consisted of various different recipes for adding bleach to the tank.  Upon learning that we have aluminum tanks and all of the dire warnings against bleach being used with aluminum... I was beginning to worry... what would we DO?  I dug in and read a ton about it and have come to some conclusions of my own. 

Now I'm no chemist and have no experience at all with aluminum tanks, but from what I gather, yes, chlorine does gradually corrode an aluminum tank over time.  Even the amount of chlorine found in your public water supply is slowly causing problems.  (more reason to get out there FAST)  But chlorine, used in appropriate amounts and left in for short periods of time, will fix most problems while causing minimal or no (additional) damage to your aluminum tank.  In the end, every boat owner must make his/her own decisions about the method they choose, but this is what we settled upon. 

*** Updated  Practical Sailor advocates the use of 1/8 cup of plain unscented bleach/per 10 gallons of water.  Knowing the capacity of your tank is important so that you can get it right.  There must be some water in the tank when you introduce the bleach, but still be room to fill to provide agitation to distribute the bleach.  If you have aluminum tanks consider mixing the water and bleach in a bucket then pouring it into the tank.  Practical Sailor says that this will reduce the chance of spot corrosion in an aluminum tank.  

Next, run water from each tank through each outlet in the boat.  Don't forget the cockpit or transom shower.  Run the water through until you smell the bleach.  Turn it off and leave the water pump on to keep the system pressurized.  Leave the bleach in the tanks and hoses for four hours to sanitize the tanks and hoses. 

Drain each tank one by one.  Make sure that you remove all of the faucet diffuser screens first so that gunk won't get clogged in them.  Completely drain each tank then fill with fresh water and flush again.  When you refill them again, you can use a solution of 1 qt. vinegar for every five gallons of water, soak over night then flush and fill again.  We didn't need the vinegar flush when we did ours because we don't plan to drink it until we install a designated drinking water filter.  That will be another project for another day...  Happily I report that there wasn't any gunk in the system.  We plan to order The Purest One filter system to install under the galley sink.  It's another step closer to living aboard.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Boat Gear for Cats

Why don't they make boat gear for CATS!?  One of my concerns about moving aboard has been of course, the safety of our two little darlings, Jezabelle and Jetsam.  I haven't found too much information out there about cats living aboard so until I do, I'm just going to have to wing it.

My first concern is that we will need some way of securing them where they can't get tossed overboard while underway.  I figure we also need something to grab onto should they go overboard.  After several attempts to find harnesses the right size, (what are all of those tiny cat harnesses used for?)... we finally found a small dog harness that is large enough, yet light weight enough so that it doesn't drag the kitties down.

The minute the tiny bells began to tinkle, Jetsam vanished until the next morning but Jezabelle, trusting soul that she is... stuck around and let me put on her new red harness.  This is how she felt about it...

Baby Steps to Adjustment

OK, those of you who are already out there cruising or living aboard your cruising yachts, go ahead and laugh.  Get it out of your system as I'm sure there is more to come as things get more real for me. 

It started out well enough... we had friends invited over for happy hour and snagged a couple of others who were walking down the dock.  We spent a pleasant Friday evening on the veranda sharing stories.  The heat wave has finally given it up (knock on wood) and it was a great evening.   

We had dinner and an early evening, in bed by 8:30.  When I came down into the salon it was brrrr chilly!  Hey Bruce, why don't we turn off the AC!  Well he was right on it, opened up a few windows and let in the nice breeze to lull me to sleep. 

Sleep that came after I could adjust to the noise coming from the next slip where our neighbors had just come in from an all-day offshore fishing expedition.  OK anyway, so I'm asleep... 

Then, sometime in the night, the wind stops blowing.  I toss and I turn in half wakingness and my mind starts thinking that maybe there are bugs coming in through the open port at our heads... maybe the cats will get out in the night when we bring them aboard and disappear into the drink while we sleep... what if they get out and run around town, doesn't Port A have a leash law?! 

And that's just while we are at the dock, what about when we are out in the middle of nowhere...  well I just can't think about that now.  I'm sure I'll adjust, just like the cats.  I'm used to living in a cage.  Walls all around me.  I'm sure that once I get out and experience the freedom of living without walls, I'll love it!  But I'm still HOT! 

So I nudge Bruce, thinking he can just reach over and flip on the AC.  (what about closing the ports you might ask, but remember, I'm sleep befuddled)  Bruce declines!!!!  Bruce NEVER declines!!!  He wasn't being lazy, he was being assertive.  (I kind of like it)  He turned on the fan on his side of the bed.  I settled back and waited for the cool breeze... it never came. 

The fan had been mounted low enough that when he turned on his side, he blocked all but the merest waft of air from reaching my side of the bed.  This will never do.  So I continued to lobby for the AC... to no avail.  He got up and went in search of another fan, plugged it in and turned it towards me.  Well now this was nice enough.  It cooled down and I was able to snuggle back to await sleep that was long in coming... more worries.  This time it was work stuff (which can't be counted against me as there won't BE any work stuff when we go). 

I must have drifted off because next thing I remember was being awakened by Bruce's fidgeting around.  The light was on in the salon... why was the light on in the salon and Bruce is here?  I stretched and inquired.  Sorry I asked!  He had checked the radar and found a large blob that appeared to be developing and moving very slowly our way.  He talked me into putting the enclosure up in the cockpit.  It'll only take 10 minutes... and 30 minutes later, here I am while he puts on the finishing touches. 
And oh yes!  The AC is ON!  Well c'mon!  We aren't "out there" YET!  I'm working on it! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Commodore's Cup Regatta 2012

The forecast winds... or lack thereof were the topic of discussion all morning.  The past two years or so, many of our races have been bashes with winds higher than any of us like to sail... today, not so much.  The heatwave continues and everyone was thinking "this is going to be a scorcher". 

Bruce is the Race Dude for the named races, while another Club member handles the Series races.  This one would be scored for both, since we've had some cancelled races this year due to weather.  This was to be a low key affair with no chase boat, just Bruce and myself... and he wanted to race!  This leaves me as the lonely race committee...

We arrived early and found the captains and crew preparing their boats all along the dock.

There was a fast moving line of ominous looking clouds that suddenly appeared.  Every time I looked up at it, the beast was closer... A quick look at the radar showed no activity however so we were simply glad for some cloud cover when we could get it. 

There were five vessels represented at the Skipper's meeting.  The course offerings were: No Wind; Low Wind; and High Wind...  The Ever-Optimistic Skippers chose the Low Wind course, hoping for SOME WIND. 

I followed Bruce over to Waypoint where he would crew with Neil and Teresa.  Waypoint is similar in size to our previous boat and Bruce was eager to get in a bit of racing.  He's missed it since we bought Dos Libras.  I waved them off and went to man my post.

Upon arrival at the Committee Box, I found another Race Committee gearing up for the start of the PIYC Around the Bay Race.  We knew that they would be there but with the light winds, there could be a conflict if there were any postponements.  All I needed was to throw up the white flag at 11:00 and my racers would be on their way.  It worked out well as the other race start was done just before our start time.  I even had a bit of help from the guys. 

I got some nice pics of the start:

Windswept and Waypoint

Brigadoon and Waypoint

Windswept and Pazuzu

And Warrior

The Race Committee person's duties come at the beginning and end of the race.  With the light winds, it was possible that the boats could be out there to the limit of four hours and perhaps beyond, before I would be needed again.  So... I left and went for a bit of shopping!  It's not often I have time away from Bruce and he HATES shopping.  What a treat!

My instructions were to be at the finish line at 2pm, which would be the earliest possible finish time.  I grabbed a burger and slid back into position at about five after...  Guess what... they weren't even close!  It was just me and the gulls. 

I got a call from Bruce saying that they were just over halfway done and had two marks to go before heading in.  They were all closely grouped so it was entertaining at lease while they ghosted along at less than 2 knots...

It was pretty hot out there so I spent some time at the Club.  Time flew with friends hanging out there in the AC and it didn't seem long before I got another phone call from Bruce... "we're headed in"!  Warrior came in first! Congratulations Hal (as usual...)

Next around the corner and sliding into second place was Neil on Waypoint.  Bruce was aboard so this was the boat I was secretly rooting for.  Lookin' good out there guys!

Third place went to Jim on Brigadoon.  Nicely done!

Next along the way was Larry on Pazuzu.  He could have had the advantage with just a wee bit more wind... but it was not to be. 

Last but not least to finish was Larry on Windswept.  It just wasn't your day, but even a bad day on the water is better than a good day anywhere else! 

It was a hot one out there and the winds came up just about finish time.  Everyone was in Endurance Mode for this one, not the least of which was yours truly.  Race committee duty is hot work!

Everyone scattered back to slips to get cleaned up and rest a bit before the Commodore's Dinner got under way back at the Club.  Of course I would catch these guys holed up somewhere talkin' story about the race.  That's what sailors DO!  It was a good end to a fun day on the water.  You just never know what you're going to get with sailing.  But it's always a fun time with the BYC bunch!  Thanks to all of our racers and to Walt and Judy, (Commodore and Mrs. Commodore) for a delish dinner!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Rest of the Labor Day Weekend 2012

Did I mention that Leila, our Grand Dog was with us for the weekend?  Brittney was in Florida and so we just took Leila along for the ride.  I won't say that she enjoyed the sailing part, but she was enjoying the change of scenery at the dock. 

Bruce and I relaxed on the veranda and watched the sun come up as we contemplated life and made a plan for the day.

We said our goodbyes to the fine folks at Redfish Willies under a setting moon, and retraced our track to rejoin the ICS and headed East. 

This section of the ICW is where the scene begins to look like "somewhere else" to me.  The banks have different flora... there is just a different feel to it. 

We had very nice conditions, flat water and winds just aft of the beam and we were sailing along at 6ish knots just lovin' life.  OK, well maybe Leila wasn't lovin' life... but it's an acquired taste, sailing is...

We broke free of the ICW and did a bit of sailing about in Aransas Bay, then settled ourselves in a transient slip at the Rockport Municipal Marina. 

Entertainment for the afternoon was found on the little stretch of beach where we claimed a spot amongst the tourists.  Kathy and I tested the warm waters while the guys suited up for some windsurfing.

We soaked in bathwater temps and did our best to avoid critters skittering across the soft sands under our bums...

Bruce was first up on the windsurfer.  He brought his gear along this trip zipped inside a new (to him) board bag lashed to the rail.  He is testing his systems for continuing his windsurfing hobby whilst cruising. 

Robert was next up after Bruce made a couple of passes...  Robert, when asked how long it's been since he last went windsurfing... said it's been a couple of years.  Upon closer calculation... his last time windsurfing was when we were on Maui... in 2006!  I think he did a marvelous job for someone so "rusty"... and when he was done, he was hot to get out there again...

While Bruce was out there, Robert advised us that the little pauses we saw were caused by the abundant cabbage heads.  On our way back to the shore, Robert snatched one up... causing a bit of female squeamishness...

Kathy and I quickly got over it once we realized there was no danger of being zapped... See?  Easy!  It felt very strange in my hand... sort of a dry feeling really and I could feel it softly pulsing as it tried to propel its self along unsuccessfully until I let it go.

We left the beach with the sun getting low.  Kathy and I beat the guys back to the boat and began preparing dinner.

We had purchased some fresh shrimp earlier in the day and the plan was for shrimp tacos with Spanish rice a la Tammy.  Kathy and I shared my little galley nicely.

Bruce grilled the shrimp on the veranda with the setting sun in the background.  We enjoyed the cool breezes which were a relief from the scorching heat we had during the day. 

Dinner was delicious and we sat for a while on the deck before tumbling into our cool dry beds, lulled by the sound of the slapping waves against the hull.

Morning found us lazily gearing up for what promised to be a windy ride back to Port A.

Bruce and I took Leila for a walk before our guests got up.  I found this perfect bench to match my mood... maybe I'll print this picture out and tape it to my computer at work for when I need an attitude adjustment...

And of course, what's the fun of having a Grand Dog if I can't torture her a bit now and then.  Leila is SUCH a TOURIST!

After coffee on the veranda with our guests, we set sail leaving Rockport behind.  I've been nervous about sailing about in Aransas Bay, I guess just not having much experience there, I worry about depths.  I got a bit of experience under my belt and feel much better and more relaxed about it now.  We had fine depths everywhere we went and avoided the steady stream of barges travelling to and fro in the ICW.  It was very nice not having to be in their way.  I played with the various navigation apps on the iPad while we went.  Even with winds over 20 knots our boat is such a nice steady ride, it's a pleasure to be out there.

I got my turn at the helm close to the end of our trip.  The guys dropped sails as we turned into the wind and the remainder of our way was dead to weather.  We had to maneuver amongst the barges and Bruce had some trouble getting a response.  I took the radio and I guess the tugboat Captains prefer talking to a girl...  They were very nice to me when I hailed them.  More experiences for me to boost my cruising confidence... 

The wind gods were kind to us as they dropped the winds to a very manageable 13 knots in the marina as I docked the boat in our slip on one pass.  I don't even think I hit the dock at all!  YAY! 

We totally enjoyed having fellow boat people, Robert and Kathy along for the long weekend.  We've all been so busy with our lives lately it was nice to catch up.  Another successful cruising experience has me longing to cut the dock lines and continue the journey.  Every time, it gets more and more difficult to go back to life on land.  But for now, it was just another Labor Day Weekend of fun in the sun with friends.