Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Making My Own Laundry Soap

Update: July 15, 2013  After using this soap recipe for over 8 months, I decided that I needed an extra boost for cumulative dirt.  I have changed the amount of Washing powder and Borax from 1/2 c. each to 1 C. each.  I have washed three loads with the new mix and find that it is overall less clumpy and the clothes were brighter and softer.  There may be a bit of yellowing as with bleach in some fabrics but I'm not sure if it was that or the sunscreen.  

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap Recipe
This simple laundry soap recipe will leave your clothes clean and fresh and only comes to about 3 cents per load!

1/3 bar Zote  ( Ivory and Fels Naptha Soap will also work)
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda (found in the laundry section at most stores)
1 cup borax powder (the 20 Mule Team brand is a good choice)
2 gallons water
15 drops of tea tree oil (optional)

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. (the smaller your pieces the quicker it dissolves)  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. 

Once you add the powders it begins to thicken

Add the washing soda (NOT baking soda) and the borax. Stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. 

Pour 4 cups hot water into a 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, tea tree (or any other essential oil of your choice) and stir. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups (22 cups) of water and stir. 

Let the soap sit for 12 to 24 hours until it gels. A white foam layer will form at the top.  You can stir it back in.  

Use a ½ cup detergent per load of laundry.  I use more for more heavily soiled loads.

I saved two gallon sized Tide containers for this and filled them to the top plus a third smaller sized bottle.  Make sure you have bottles ready.  I used a funnel to pour the detergent into the bottles.  The scent of the Zote seemed to clash with the tea tree oil at first but after a while, they mixed and smell nice.  

Update:  11/10/12  I used the recipe posted by Randy Price, one of my Facebook Page readers, for making home made fabric softener:

Two 22.5 (45 oz) bottles of hair conditioner (scent of your choice)
Three Cups white vinegar
Water to fill a one gallon container

I've used my soap and this softener since I made them on 10/30 and my clothes are clean and smell very nice.  I didn't have to make another batch until mid December.  I used to have to add Baking Soda to my towel loads to keep the nasty smell away.  I don't do that anymore and my towels smell very nice!  IT WORKS!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Lotta Bottom

Bruce has always done his own bottom jobs.  He's been sailing since the 70's and has owned many boats, gradually increasing in size to our current boat… 45 feet.  That's a lotta bottom!

Dos Libras came from Rhode Island where she spent a year on the hard after being cruised for the previous three years in Europe.  Bruce did some research on the bottom paint used and found that there is an ablative paint compatible to the existing Micron on the boat.  We ordered four cans of Micron 66 for the job.  

Our day dawned with light winds and cool temps.  Perfect for a haul out.  We had spent the night tied up on the dock at House of Boats hoping that we were the first in line.   Well, we were… but that didn't count for much.  It was 10:30 before any sign of movement.

I had taken an "emergency" vacation half day (which turned into the entire day) off work to help Bruce get the boat hauled.  In the end, he technically could have done it himself but it would have been tough.  He handled the lines while I maneuvered the boat into position.  The boatyard guys took it from there.  They turned the boat around and loaded her into the "chute".  

We had marked the strap positions which I had in pictures on the iPad.  This took the guesswork out of it and sped up the process of placing the straps to lift the boat in the proper position so as not to break the prop shaft.

Amidst lots of noise from the lift, Dos Libras gradually came up out of the water and I got my first glimpse of her keel.  The photos I had seen had been unclear so I didn't really have any idea what kind of keel she had.  It's definitely a wing keel. 

I watched as they backed the lift holding our baby onto the hard ground.  There she swung dripping and frightened…  Bruce and I sprung into action with the power washer.  This is secretly my favorite part.  I love the instant gratification of seeing that scum wiped off with a wave of the wand,  It is kind of like dancing with a fire hose and takes some effort  but I think it's fun.  

Bruce and I traded off.  He would spray for a while, then I would tap him on the shoulder and take over again.  We got it done in about an hour and a half.  We spent some time scraping the few spots that had barnacles growing while the boatyard boys finished lunch… then they moved her over to her spot and blocked her up.

It amazes me that the full weight of the boat... some 25,500 lbs plus!...can rest on blocks under the keel.  The braces are just to keep her from tipping over.  This makes me nervous when I consider climbing up a ladder onto the boat.

Once that was done, we shuttled vehicles, which ended up taking the rest of the day.  We left our Dos Libras with a full moon rising.  Bruce would return in the morning and get started!

Here is the video of the move... it's over 5 minutes long.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Making Lemonade

I've always felt like a lucky person.  Normally, I will luck into the best of everything.  Why am I not playing the lottery consistently you might ask… well I'm lazy.  If you could play Lotto on the Internet, I'd be doing it!  Anyway, I digress…

Even a lucky person has those "off" days where it seems as if everything goes wrong.  We had no trouble getting Chuck to the airport in time for his flight.  We had no trouble going by the house to unload the BMW so that we could take a load of stuff off the boat.  We took the Miata out to House of Boats so that we could get back to Port A after securing the boat for a Monday morning haul-out.  

This is where it began to go sour.  Bruce thought I could finish the installation of the Rogue Wave alone while he finished up with the break job on the van. ( Click here to read the whole story if you haven't already…. ) I ran into some trouble which cost us some time.  I was bummed because I really had wanted to finish this job and see if the thing works.
The breaks on the van needed to be done before we could take the van to House of Boats for use as storage while Bruce does the bottom job.  He had all the parts and tools and figured it would be about a two hour job.  But… he was unable to finish the job because he had nothing for cleaning the wheel bearings before repacking them (after they fell in the dirt).  So that's on hold.  I was a little disheartened but we came up with a Plan B.

It was getting late so we got busy prepping the boat for departure.  We couldn't offload everything because of the van situation but we loaded some things into the BMW for later.  The winds that had been howling for the past two days were finally abating (luck) and we had no trouble leaving the slip and motoring along the Crab Man Channel and ICW to House of Boats.  While we motored along watching the seabirds hunt, my sour mood began to get sweeter.

We landed the boat easily alongside the dock and prepared to leave.  There was nobody around and the place was closed up tight… we couldn't get out!  I guess they close early on Sundays…  My office would be expecting me to show up on Monday morning.  But what could I do?

Make lemonade!  I sent a couple of apologetic texts explaining that I would need another half day of vacation… then I turned to enjoying this unexpected interlude with my husband.  It actually took a load off my mind, knowing that I would be around to help Bruce get the boat safely out of the water and onto the hard.  It's just smarter to have two people aboard to handle the boat.

That's some bow wake!
We showered and opened a bottle of wine and took a little walk about the grounds.

This boat has THREE keels!
  I always love to see all of the different boat bottoms.

There is going to be something I've never seen before in every boatyard.

The wildlife was also a source of pleasure in this remote area.  Birds and dolphin were out in droves enjoying the last rays of sunlight.  The moon rose over the water and the view was surreal!

We lounged in the warmth of our cockpit enclosure until the wine was gone and then had a quick dinner and bed.  I'm sure I'll pay for this at the office but with today's lemons… we surely made some great lemonade!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Last Harvest Moon Regatta

Photo courtesy of the Jacks

Our plan had been to work the BYC food booth for HMR this year.  Our boat is in Port A and I took Thursday and Friday off.  Bruce got a better offer and went off on La Vie Dansante on Tuesday leaving me home as ground crew.  

BYC had promised to work longer hours this year dependent upon the arrival of the pack  Last year, the majority of the boats finished in the night after our booth was closed.  LYC asked us to work whatever hours were needed and we agreed, hoping it would increase our sales.  

Pretty bleak conditions at the finish
Well, you can't plan for Mother Nature… this year, there were light winds early and then a Norther' hit and brought the pack in earlier.  Yay right?  Wrong!  They came in tired and cold which means that they didn't want a cold beer and just wanted to hole up inside their boats and sleep. 

BYC food booth
The booth did well, but we would have liked to have done better.  It's always a gamble!  I will say that the Club has lots of active new members this year so there was no shortage of workers.  This is a very good thing!

The "cold" weather and winds may have dampened our sales, but there was no shortage of praise from our patrons for being out here again this year and for the quality of our food.  We will be back!

Still cold even in daylight...
Brittney and I volunteer for the early morning shift on Saturday.  Most of our friends are night owls and shun the pre-dawn hours.  It was really hard to get out of our nice warm beds and go out into the howling winds to make taquitos!

But we bundled up and it was a fun group.  The time passed pretty quickly and we were ready when the hungry hordes hit us.  

I always love seeing the marina filled up with racers.  They put boats in every available slip then stack them six and seven deep on the long dock.  Those on the outside have to climb over all the boats to get to the pier.  La Vie Dansante was on the outside of the pack and we made the trek about three times before the weekend was over.  

The weather cleared for a short time Saturday evening.  The winds died down thankfully and it was very pleasant for the big party.  

Our usual bunch was there  mingling with other Club racers and old friends.  The organizers did a great job this year and I saw no shortage of either rum or food.  

BYC did very well at the awards with three of the four participating boats taking home trophies.  La Vie Dansante was fourth in class with no award going to that place…  Next year Ron!  

This will be our last HMR.  This time next year… we should be "out there" somewhere!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Staging for Harvest Moon

Bruce was invited to sail this year in the Harvest Moon Regatta aboard La Vie Dansante, another Catalina Morgan similar in size to ours but not exactly the same boat.  The crew list looked promising so Bruce signed on.

Bruce also volunteered to help the owner, Ron take the boat to Galveston during the week before the race since the other crew members had day jobs.  I got to go along for the first stage of the journey, Corpus Christi to Port A.  The plan was to leave Port A on Tuesday.

Sunday morning we picked up Robert and Kathy and headed for the marina.  Robert would also be making the trip to Galveston.  He joined us on Sunday so that he could familiarize himself with the boat for the offshore passage manned by a crew of three.

The wind was blowing 18 kts with the promise of more.  We had plenty of help getting off the dock just after Rima, who would also be making the hop to Port A.  Bruce brought along his stay sail and the decision was made to set it up for use today.  We haven't even used it on our own boat yet so this would be a new thing for us.

We motored out the Gap with just the main up and Rima in our rear view mirror.  They would stay there the entire way and there was evidence of some prior "trash talking" about the end result of this race already.  Ron is SURE that his first HMR will bring him glory.

We found the Bay to be quite bouncy so we zipped up a couple of panels on the enclosure and settled in comfortable and dry for the ride.  Ron's boat is a "cousin" to ours and we were curious about possible similarities and differences.  I noticed that it seems to have a slightly more lively ride in these conditions, evidence of the lighter weight more sleek design of the Nelson Marek version.

Kathy and I caught up on chit-chat while Ron oriented Robert and Bruce about his equipment. One of the mistakes we made on a previous sailboat race with friends, was that it was assumed that we knew how to work the chartplotter and radar.  Once the Captain went below for rest in the night, it became painfully obvious that we did NOT know how to use it and we had to wake him up for a crash course.  We're not making that mistake again.

With the lessons out of the way, the guys decided it was time to see if that stay sail could help our progress.  We were being bashed by waves off the starboard bow.  Perhaps the small sail could provide some stability.  Bruce and Robert went topside and made short work of getting it raised and trimmed.

Maybe I spoke too soon... with these guys, trimming is an ongoing event.  They happily tinkered with that sail all the way across the Bay.  Moving right along... everyone got a turn at the wheel and we made good time.  Once in the Ship Channel, we were given an additional boost by the outgoing tide.  We were doing steady 9+ and it felt like standin' still.

We always enjoy the dolphin action in the channel and today was no different.  We waited and waited for this big boy to surface and suddenly he peeled off and headed for the Big Red Boat!  Fun stuff!

Continuing on, we neared Piper Channel and, to our amazement..., we saw this!  Some poor guy has had a really bad day!  Later on, I learned that this boat belongs to one of our newer BYC Club Members.  It is a wooden boat that he recently had hauled out for some work.  When it was splashed again, it had some leaks, which were fixed... but on this day, one of the planks under the waterline just "popped out" and the boat sank.  BUMMER!

All too soon, we arrived at the Port A Marina.  We found our slip on the transient docks and tied up.  I entertained myself watching a group of Brown Pelicans interact on the pier.  They fasciate me...

Suddenly... there was a commotion in the next slip where Rima was pulling in.  They had stopped at the fuel dock to top off for the race and were just arriving in the slip next to us.  
There was some sort of miscalculation and the next think I knew... one of the guys was in the water!  I think the line he was securing on the cleat popped off causing him to stumble back and bloop!  In he went!  The secured the boat while he waited patiently and then he was hauled back onto dry ground.  Luckily, his cell phone was NOT in his pocket and, other than a few scratches on his shins, he was none the worse for wear.  
Whaddaya gonna do?
That was the end of our day, we had a sandwich, thanks Ron (and Jo) then we loaded up and headed for home.  This was the end of my vacation week and it's back to work tomorrow morning.  Just three short weeks (or so) until the bottom job on Dos Libras is done and we can begin moving aboard.  I'll be lonely without Bruce this week but will be back on the boat by Friday to enjoy the festivities!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rogue Wave

After the atypical birthday celebration we had on our actual DAY... Bruce and I fell into the purchase of a present-to-ourselves... We set out to get the router needed to install the Rogue Wave Wifi booster I had previously purchased... and in shopping at Best Buy, long story short, ended up with a MacBook Air!  

So, we dragged our purchases back to our lair and set about the installation of the Wifi Booster so that we could (hopefully) get wifi in remote anchorages on our new boat computer.  Should there be any followers who might remember another post on the subject of buying a boat computer... well, we ended up returning that one. It didn't work out...  But we now have this lovely new Mac.  I had done some Internet research and had also spoken personally to the IT guys who do our office computer work.  I had some reservations about how a PC would fare on the high seas.  Evidently the hard drive can be damaged by extreme vibration and the Mac, having no moving parts, I hope will do better.  I guess this will remain to be seen.  But for now, we're movin' in.

So, back to the installation...  Bruce took our stateroom apart.  We discussed our strategy and settled upon using the 110V power source on his side of the bed.  The Rogue and the router both have 12v options and we considered running a 12v power source to the back of the boat where the Rogue will come through the deck.  But I deferred to Bruce and his choice was to use the existing 110v source.  We had plenty of cable to use so that was our plan.  We can always change it later if it becomes inconvenient.

We fully anticipated the need for drilling one or more holes in the boat.  We pulled out the drawers and removed the settee cushions in search of the perfect path to run the cable.

In the end, with my smaller hands and Bruce's long fingers... we found a way to coax the cable up through an existing opening and ran it through the AC duct holes all the way to the stern.  YAY!  No new holes!

Now, all we have to do is drill a precisely positioned hole in the deck (gulp), run the cable through the finishing hardware we bought for the purpose... and we're done!  We found a 3/4 inch drill bit at the local lumber yard.  We marked our spot in the same position that a cable for the stern mounted GPS passes through on the opposite side of the boat.  Bruce started drilling while I danced around nervously in the background...

What's taking so long...?  Why does it look like there are shiny metal shavings coming out of the hole?  and WHAT is that SMELL?!!  Bruce pulled the bit out and tried to dig the stuff out of the bore.  It looks like the bit is broken.  NOW What!?  We looked down into the gaping hole and found daylight where pilot bit went through... but... there is a shiny metal plate that wasn't budging.  So we found stainless steel!

We stuck a long bundle tie through the hole and went below to look check our position from below.  No sign of a stainless plate could be seen... it was glassed into the deck to provide support for the hardware that attaches the dinghy davits to the stern and deck.  We are glad to know that our boat is built so solidly, but what do we do now!  Well, we need another drill bit.

We will have to put the project on hold until after the Harvest Moon Regatta.

Insert waiting music here and fast forward to Sunday, October 28th.  Harvest Moon Regatta is over, Bruce is back and we're going to finish this up before we take the boat for a haul-out.  Bruce finds a nice 3/4 in. bit that will drill through stainless steel and we're all set.

Once again I dance around on the deck while Bruce puts the drill bit to work.  I watched as a mountain of metal shavings piled up outside the hole.  Will it ever bore through?  YES !  Finally!  The bit did it's job and I now have a very big hole in the deck.

I cleaned up the metal mess and went to work installing the through-deck piece we bought.  We used Life Seal to keep the water out and it was a bit messy.

I got it all tidied up and it looked nice.  Now for the backing below decks and I'm done.  Well, that's where I ran into a snag.  Long story short, there is a lazarette on deck that ran too close to our hole for us to screw on the backing nut.  So we ended up just leaving it for now and will figure out a way to secure the piece when things settle down.  But!... the Rogue works and we're one step closer to making our sailboat a home.