Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meeting Our Boat

After a long day flying from Corpus Christi to Rhode Island, Bruce picked me up from the T.F. Green Airport in Warwick...  I was tired, I was hungry and it was COLD!  Well maybe not by local standards, but by MY standards...  But, I had seen our boat lying snugly in her slip when the airplane flew over the marina.  That was VERY exciting! 

My first impression of our new boat was a positive one.  I looked over the outside and found it covered in a fine layer of dirt, but when I looked closely, it was better than I could have hoped for.  The deck was in great condition and all of the stainless was much heavier than that of our old boat and very shiny! 

I was a little taken aback by the "boat smell" when I went below.  The cozy cockpit with full enclosure was nice, but there was a very strong scent inside that I knew would have to be dealt with... and soon!

Bruce had the boat in order.  Things looked good, and he had clean sheets on the aft queen bed that soon called my name.  We had dinner right up the road from the marina and called it a night.

Things looked very much better in the morning.  The boat was lit up by the growing dawn light streaming through the numerous ports.  Ahhhh.  Happiness!

We spent Sunday with Bruce's Sister, Anita and her husband Vince.  They took the day to show us around some of the Boston area attractions. 

I was excited to get to see Boston.  It was different from my preconceived mental version, but it was great.  Tall buildings old mixed with new.

 More old than new, which I always enjoy.  It fascinates me to think of these buildings standing through the years, ever unchanged...

We arrived fifteen minutes too late to board the USS Constitution.  I was so disappointed but Vinnie cheered me up with a delicious Italian Dinner that was to-die-for.  We lingered over dinner and caught up on family news.

We said our goodbyes and returned to Greenwich Bay Marina where our boat  temporarily lives.  The boat was toasty warm and we crawled into our bed exhausted after a long day.  The next morning, we took a walk around so that Bruce could show me all the sights.  The fogs in the morning were very strange, they seemed to be in patches that never spread out to cover our area. 

There were a couple of swans living in the marina.  I never seemed to have a camera handy when we saw them in the water but I did wake them from their nap one morning.

We had to walk over to where the sailboats were stored on the hard to reach our designated trash dumpster.  It was cool walking around amongst these big beauties.

I never knew there were so many different types of keel.

We sampled the local fare for breakfast... no taquitos here.  We had a fabulous Calzone!  I could make this!  We did some shopping, picked up some cleaning supplies and went to work.  We had a mountain of laundry to do with all of the sheets and towels that came with the boat.  There are sets of sheets and down comforters with duvets cut to fit the beds on the boat.  All of these had to be defunked.  Even though they were stored inside sealed zip bags, the musty smell did its work on them. 

It was difficult to know where to start.  I explored the galley and found it to be quite comfortable.  The refrigeration is in need of repair, so we contacted a couple of different contractors who both advised that we replace the old Adler Barbour unit with the much more efficient Sea Frost unit.  With everything we've heard and with our own experience with Adler Barbour, we decided to get this done prior to bringing the boat home.

The next three days were a whirl of organizing, cleaning, discovery and pure joy.  Bruce kept uncovering things that reinforced our opinion that we had the right boat for us.  The previous owners had spares of everything.  This alone will save us so much money in the long run and will get us far down the road to cruising. 
We had another workman come out to take a look at a water leak.  It was thought to be a problem with the recommissioning after the boat being winterized.  It turned out to be something else and not only one problem, but a combination of three.  All was well in the end and we learned a lot about the boat in the process.  I took some pics but they are in the camera that stayed in RI. 

My last full day in Rhode Island, I tackled the aft head.  I spent several hours closed up in there with bleach water eradicating the mildew that covered every surface. 
 One open port kept me from being overcome by fumes.  When I was done, the place shone and sparkled with clean.  It's going to be a great "bathroom". 
I must have been impaired somewhat by fumes, because when I was putting things away and moving things from the vanity to the bathroom cabinet, I slammed my left hand middle finger in the vanity top and that put an end to any more cleaning.   
After that it was all downhill.  I had to leave the next day, it was my last evening with Bruce until I see him down South, and I was wounded without being able to nearly finish what I had planned to do on the boat.  Coffee that morning was a somber event.  When I left Bruce there I really wanted to cry. 
But... I was secure in the knowledge that we are going to LOVE THIS BOAT!  My fear was that it wouldn't be "the one".  We took a big risk in not seeing it for ourselves before buying it.  But, we put our trust in Chuck to make sure there wasn't anything really wrong with the boat... the rest was just personal comfort.  This boat has everything we wanted.  I don't think there are many boats out there for a price we could afford, that would be as perfect for us as this one.  I can hardly wait until I see her sitting in the Port A Marina.  This summer will be such fun! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dos Libras' Debut

Well... it's finally final!  We closed today, money has been wired, documents have been signed by the sellers and are in transit to us for filing with the USCG, but that's it!  We own it! 

We were going to draw the naming out a bit but as we are both so excited we can't stand it anymore, we decided to just spill it! 

The new name and logo are revealed!

Before any of you say anything unkind... let me explain.  The name must be simple to say, yada yada yada.... bla bla bla...

So, that said...  Bruce and I were both born on October 17th, which makes us both Libras.  We wanted a name that suited us and we searched high and low and culled all kinds of stupid names, mystical names, historical names, then we though about "US".  This is what we came up with.  We like it and that's that!  If you don't like it, you'll get used to it.  If you can't get used to it, we'll soon be sailing off to where only our opinion matters anyway, so... Dos Libras it is!

What is she?  She's a 1995 Morgan 45 by Catalina.  There isn't a lot of information out there about his boat, believe me, we've searched the Internet. 

How did we come to choose this boat?  For months while we waited for Elan to sell, I (Tammy) searched the Internet sites.  We found several models we liked and checked them out in Kemah.  Good thing we did too.  We didn't like them so much after we saw them.  Originally we were looking at the 38 to 42 range.  We decided this would be too small for living aboard.  Boats on the earlier list:  Endeavour 38 and 42, Irwin 41, Whitby 42, and my personal favorite but one Bruce couldn't stand... Liberty 45.  None of these boats had all the things "we" wanted.

What did we want?  Center Cockpit; Aft master cabin with center line queen bed; Lots of storage; Front and top opening fridge; NO in-mast furling main; Cable Steering instead of hydrolic; Separate shower enclosure; Sugar scoop transom; Standing headroom throughout; Plenty of opening ports; Easy engine access; Full cockpit enclosure; Generator/AC; Dinghy and davits; Cutter Rig; Late model year; Outfitted for cruising, the more gear the better!

Are there downsides? Could be a bit underpowered with 50 hp engine;  maybe less water tankage than is optimal at 150 gallons, although it has a water maker.  Needs a bit of TLC, OK, a LOT of TLC, but it was a steal! 

When will you see her?  Bruce goes to get her on March 12th.  He will be making her ready for the journey home and leaving Rhode Island when the weather permits.  He has some volunteers for crew for some legs of the trip but if you are interested in flying up and sailing part or all of the way from Rhode Island to Texas, let us know!  We can't pay your way but will provide room and board.  We hope to have her in the slip (probably in Corpus Christi) by mid April.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sailing Fix

Since our boat sold, Bruce and I have found ourselves with more free time than that to which we are normally accustomed.  Part of our Master Plan included cutting out many of the encumbrances on our time, I'm not Bowsprit Editor, Bruce is no longer on the Board of Governors for our Townhome community... etc.  This left us time to do the fun things!  But now... no boat... not enough fun things to fill the void.  Now keep in mind, all of that is about to change. 

But for the past several weekends, we have found ourselves rattling around with nothing to do and noplace to go.  We are just not used to that and it feels wrong! 

But this weekend, Chris and Sarah, the young couple who bought our boat, took us out sailing.  It was a glorious perfect sailing day and it felt so good to be out on the water.  Chris and Sarah are good company too. 

I've often marveled at people who can just take some lessons and then buy a boat and sail away.  Well, they aren't sailing away just yet (although they ask us questions like "could this boat take us to the BVI's?)... but obviously they're thinking about it.  Knowing them, we get to watch this process first hand.  Chris took the lessons and has been reading and studying up about sailing.  Now he's bitten off quite an impressive vessel for his first boat.  Lucky for him, we are still around to take him from theory to practice.

And that is just what we did today.  Sarah has absolutely no sailing experience and has now become a full time liveaboard.  She, along with their cat Lucy, complete this trio and it's going to be a steep learning curve for them all.  Chris took Sarah (and Lucy) out sailing in the Gulf last week and it was probably a mistake on his part.  The winds weren't bad but they had been and there were confused seas making the experience an unpleasant one for Sarah.  I think Chris learned his lesson however, and will try not to repeat it. 

Today was a 180 degree turn from that experience for Sarah.  She was able to take short periods of time on the helm while Bruce went through some of the boatwork with Chris.  I stayed beside her and talked her through it all, explaining what to do, what to expect, and why we did what we did.  She is a quick learner and already feels better about the whole thing.  I think she's going to be a natural. 

We had a bit of an "event" while heading back to the slip.  We went out into the Bay, which was quite benign.  Chris was at the helm as we approached the entrance to the Ship Channel, we pointed him in the right direction, told him what he was looking for and let him go.  When he got too close to the shallows, Bruce sprung into action.  We needed to be downwind several boatlengths to enter at marker 43 and we were missing it. 

Bruce pointed Chris in the right direction while he and I took care of the sails.  Chris did an accidental jibe, which I saw coming but said nothing.  I thought it wasn't going to be too bad, so I took the mainsheet in as it began and no sweat.  We trimmed the jib and settled down for the short downwind run.  Then we trimmed sails as Chris eased us around Marker 43 and we were set. 

One look at Chris and Sarah and we started to laugh.  They both looked as if we'd had a near death experience.  It really wasn't that bad...  just a flurry of activity.  As we talked through it and explained what had happened, I think they both had a realization of just how much they had to learn.  But from my perspective, it was a good thing to have an "event" and get through it.  Lessons learned:  Watch where you're going, have the boat ready for action, and accidental gibes aren't a death sentence. 

The rest of the sail was pleasant and uneventful.  We had dolphins at our side most of the way.  We talked Chris through his nervousness about how and when to drop the sails and prepare to go into Piper Channel.  We got it done while he was at the helm.  Next time, I'll talk Sarah through it while Chris does the work.  He still took the channel at a faster rate than we would have.  We still have that residual distrust of the channel depths from the old days. 

We ended up having dinner with Chris and Sarah at the Cancun, our favorite Mexican food place.  The day was a much needed sailing fix for us both.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Boat Computer

This morning when I woke up, Bruce was already hard at work in the office on the computer making a list of the things he needs to do to make Ariel ready for the voyage home.  Yes, we close on Wednesday, but that's just a formality.  The wire transfer is set up and the paperwork is in the mail for signatures.  It's (all but) a done deal. 

I wake up and he comes in and slaps me with "We need a boat computer".  OK, so I clutch my coffee cup and start looking for the articles I've read in recent months about buying a computer for your boat.

I've read that laptops have an issue with an internal shock sensor which will basically lock your computer if excessive movement is encountered, to protect the hard drive.  I would think that just being on a boat would constitute "excessive movement", being offshore could send it into orbit!  Coincidentally, the day I read the article, the IT guy at my office was called to fix one of my Dr.'s laptops which had "frozen up".  It turned out to be the shock sensor.  It was set at the factory recommended level and over the year of use, had become "more sensitive"... long story short, the guy reduced the sensitivity level and she's back in business. 

I spoke to the Apple guy at Best Buy and he touted the lack of a hard drive on the Mac Book as a "boat friendly" alternative to a PC.  I'm no techie so don't quote me on any of this, these are just rambling things I've picked up.  I want a MacBook Pro, or maybe the Air, for my boat computer when we go, but several articles seem to agree that it is a good idea to have a "boat computer" and a second computer for processing pictures, blogging, and watching videos, both DVD and streaming, etc.  That's what we've decided to do and I'll buy the Mac closer to our departure date.  Maybe the prices will come down by then. 

Anyway, so I find this article on the Creative Cruising website.  Bruce reads it and compares it to the information he's been able to find and mine.  The IBM Thinkpad T23 Laptop Notebook keeps coming up.  We also like the idea of buying a refurbished one on EBAY for very little money and voila!  We ordered a "boat computer".  It will be waiting for Bruce on the boat when he arrives next week. 

For anyone out there like myself, who is in the information gathering phase of a cruising plan, I'll keep ya posted on how this works out for us, but please do the homework and make your own choices/decisions about spending your money.  I am NO EXPERT!   I'm also still "researching" for the main (my) computer so any advice on the subject from cruisers already "out there" would be noted and appreciated.