Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Name is Jetsam... And I'm A Boat Cat

Yes, it has come to this.  I was born a poor black cat.  I have little memory of my first six months of life, but they have left me with unresolved issues that only years of self reflection and unconditional love from a couple of lowly humans, have recently begun to unravel.  
I had little hope of finding a home, and that was fine with me... until one day.  I was snatched up from my cage and put on display.  It was a degrading audition.  Why should I have to prove anything to a human about my self worth?  I did my best Psycho act but it was no use... they took me anyway. 

I held myself apart from them for many months, but was finally forced to relent.  They were in possession of the one thing I lacked... Thumbs!  Yes, this is what lifts them to the status they enjoy in this life.  If only Cats had thumbs... we would rule the world.

I eventually became resigned to this life where I further debased myself by accepting not only shelter, but food and drink from these people.  It made me feel better that they had no idea that I was eating off the counters and drinking from the toilets when they weren't looking.  Oh, sure, they caught me red-handed a couple of times, but I played dumb and they believed that it was the first time... every time!  They really aren't very smart.

The years rolled on and we moved from a small apartment to a small home, and finally to a sprawling two story place that was just made for me.  I loved spending hours staring out of my upstairs bedroom window at the birds in the branches just outside.  I would speed around the upstairs rooms and then zip down the stairs to the kitchen for a bit of a snack.  Then back upstairs I would go for a nap.  The humans left me alone for the most part.

Most days the man would come home smelling funny and the woman... well she just came home yaking about something that had irritated her that day.  Now and then I would give them a thrill and purr a bit... usually when they made it to bed on time.  But I didn't want them to get cocky so I would usually wait until they were asleep then climb up into my bed with them and wait for breakfast time.  

Then one day, I was stuffed into the box that leads to the lady with the bottom stick.  I was none too happy about it as you can imagine.  But this time, there was no lady.  The rest is a bit of a blur... I was taken, still in the box, across some water on a board.  The smells were completely foreign to me... where were they taking me?  I was beginning to get freaked out!  There were big white things with sticks jutting out  from the top all lined up and my man took me onto one of them.  Then we went down into a dark place that smelled just like the man's clothes do when he comes home every day.

The people brought a whole bunch of stuff from home and stacked it all around.  They seemed very pleased with themselves and expected me to feel the same.  Tough chance of that!  I wanted to go HOME!  I wanted my window seat.  I wanted my cat box.  Wait... the cat box is here!  What does this mean?  Surely we aren't staying HERE!  It's so small!  There are no picture windows for me to sit in.  And you call that ladder thingy some kind of excuse for stairs?
This can't be happening to me.  After all I've been through.  You know... maybe I've been to hasty in my judgement of you guys.  I'll be nicer.  I'll sit on your lap.  I can change!  I've gotta get outta here!  I dashed up the ladder and out of the screened porch.... WHAT!  That's WATER!  OMG I feel woozie.

That was more than two months ago... It seems like a lifetime.  Things were messed up for a while.  I didn't know where to sit or why there were so many unexplainable noises, like giant squirrels on the roof.  Sometimes the whole house feels funny and I'm pulled towards one side or the other when I try to walk.  I tried being in a funk and got away with it for a while.  But I got over it when I realized that I still get breakfast every morning.  I still have my cat box and my people seem to have taken up sleeping on that bed in the back room.  Even though it's kind of small, I guess I can sleep there too.

If I were to be totally honest with you, I'm beginning to think it's not so bad.  The woman still disappears for long stretches, but the man is home most of the time.  It's kind of nice to have him around, especially since he protects me from Jezabelle, who thinks she's Queen of the Evil Empire.  She can't touch me when the man is around.
Self Appointed Queen of the Evil Empire

It's also nice that I get to go outside.  This was a dream of mine... like some distant memory from a time before this life.  The humans NEVER let me go outside at the other places.  I thought it was a trick at first.  They just left the door open.  They didn't lunge at me when I tried to make a break for it.  They even seemed to encourage me to go out.  I'm not completely sure that I'm not being set up for some big joke, but it is really cool to go outside and sit in the sun.  I even get to go out at night and walk around.  I love checking things out in the dark, hiding in stealth mode.  It makes my blood sing!
THIS is the life I was born to live!  I have the best of both worlds.  I have my freedom and my nice cushy life too.  I think my cat box is even cleaned out more regularly than before... so I can be dainty.  I fee the chains of oppression falling from my shoulders.  Yes, my name is Jetsam, and I'm PROUD to be a Boat Cat. 
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The Monkey's Fist

Monday, January 28, 2013

A New Name For An Old Concept...

The term "Leaving a clean electronic wake" is a new way of verbalizing something that I've always believed.  I became aware of the phrase while reading one of my favorite Sail Blogs, thegiddyupplan.  It stuck in my mind and has been fermenting there for days.

Coincidentally, the idea surfaced again in the pages of the Premier edition of the new Cruising Outpost Magazine.  An article called "Cruisers Connect:  Different Eyes in Suakin, Sudan", written by Lisa Lopez, describes the effects of negative social media on an entire city.

The article really resonated with me, tying so neatly back to the newly learned catch phrase... I felt that I should share the concept with others.  While it is by no means limited to the Cruising Community, this is where I choose to aim my focus.  I've really not found much negativity about cruising on the Internet.  I'm sure there are people out there who have tried it and found that it was not for them... There are sailboats in all corners of the world for sale that must be someones dashed cruising dreams.  But those people must be writing about something else because I have heard none of it, and believe me... I've searched!  Cruising, in general, seems to be safe for now... But what about the places visited by Cruisers?

Bruce and I have traveled to several other countries, but not yet as Cruisers so our frame of reference is limited to our own experiences.  We have done some chartering and a lot of coastal cruising, and we have stayed in a fair number of marinas.  Of course we have opinions about those experiences.  I have personally noted a vast difference in opinion about marinas, anchorages and restaurants and marvel at how others find places we've loved to be so far below their own standards.

This is the take-away I got from Lisa's story about Suakin.  It's all about how you look at things and in how you portray those views to others.  With the Internet, we all have the power to do great damage or great good with a few keystrokes.  We should be mindful of this when we toss off those remarks that could cost a person, a business or an entire town a lot more than we intended in the long run.

There is a website called Active Captain that is gaining momentum in the Cruising Community.  They offer Cruisers the opportunity to share "real time" information about cruising grounds all over the country.  They make this free to users by offering the information to the Marinas and other merchants frequented by the boating community.  It's really a very new way of marketing, driven by the consumer and it is to me..., a brilliant idea.  That is, unless the voices of the few disgruntled users outweigh the voices of people who either have a different set of standards by which to judge (like myself), or are just not posting the positive experiences.  Sure, the squeaky wheel gets the grease… but sometimes the squeaky wheel causes loss of vital revenue to a business that was just having a bad day… There are just not enough kudos being handed out these days.

Someone once told me that in reading my blog, it seems like I never have a bad day... that I'm always happy.  That is FAR from the truth...  But, I try not to dwell on the negative aspects in my writing and in my life (not always easy...), because it drags people down.  I want to share the good or constructive things and never to put anything out there that could be hurtful to anyone.  I can't say that I've always been successful, but I am very conscious of the far-reaching effects of my written words.  My original reason for this was not so noble.  My reasons for blogging are 1) keeping friends and family involved in our lives and 2) documenting all of the fun things we have done so that when I'm old and suffering from memory loss, I can cruise back through these pages and remember the good times.  I don't want a a bunch of waaa waaaa cluttering up my cherished memories?

Now don't get me wrong… I am sure that there are more than a few people out there who could say that I've done or said something hurtful to them.  Maybe I'm just getting old or maybe it's the many changes going on in our lives that have made me so reflective at the moment.  But if you read this and can apply any of it to your own life, maybe it could change an outcome somewhere down the road for a small business owner, or maybe a small island…  Words have power.  I will endeavor always to leave a clean electronic wake.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why This? Why NOW?...

The Dream...

Wild hair?  Mid-Life Crisis? Fit of pique?  Why did we walk away from our lovely townhome and confine ourselves to this 45 ft. floating mobile home?  Why have we offloaded all of the treasures we've worked so hard to procure in the name of "feathering our nest"?  WHAT WERE WE THINKING!?!? 

Well, I could say that it is the fulfillment of Bruce's lifelong dream, but I must really lay blame at the door of one Bob Bitchin.  I didn't really consider it a possibility until I began reading "that magazine" that he put out… Oh, sure, I paid lip service to Bruce's musings… maybe he only married me because I was the first girl who actually sounded like she would put up with it… But, when I subscribed to "that Magazine" and found out that there really were people living "out there" and that maybe we could do it too…  I got excited!

During the early years of our marriage, there was no reason to seriously consider upheaval… We were happily making our home (on land), we had a great 36 ft sailboat that perfectly suited our (then) needs, I thoroughly enjoyed my job and Bruce was having a good time windsurfing and sailing while I worked.  Things were great!  

So what changed?  Why now?  Well, lets face it… nobody is getting any younger.  I began hearing song lyrics in my head about waiting too long, seeing (everywhere) that famous quote by Mark Twain -  "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do, than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."  My subconscious was busily moving towards it even if my consciousness wasn't...

We coasted along as wannabes for several years saying we were "gonna" do it but not really making active progress.  Don't get me wrong, we were quietly paying off our town home so that "if" we ever did go we would be in a good financial position.  Bruce's income is sufficient (judging from all I've read about cruising) to keep us well enough.  But I will admit that in my secret thoughts, I never thought we would do it.   

But… times were changing.  The Healthcare Industry is in a state of flux and many of the people I once enjoyed working with have moved on.  I began to realize that life shouldn't be all about work when it started to affect my health.  I was stressed out and after about the sixth physician told me: "quit your job"… I began to listen.  One day, one of my Drs told me something that suddenly released me from the bond of "ownership" I felt towards the practice.

The defining moment occurred one weekend while we sat on the deck of our beloved 36 ft CS.  We decided that if we were ever going to really do it, the time was now…  Yes or No… In or out.  Get on with it or just settle in where we are for the long haul…  We DECIDED!

The next 12 months were very busy with marketing our boat, finding a new (to us) boat, making the sale and the purchase, getting the boat home to Texas and sorting through the stuff that came with it.  Then the process of reducing the possessions we own from nearly 2000 sq. ft. space to this 45 ft. space.  It's not as easy as you might think to find new homes for old treasures.  

We moved aboard almost one year to the day of our decision.  I'm currently interviewing candidates for my replacement at work so I think they've realized that I REALLY REALLY mean it now…   although I don't think they understand it at all.  They still think I'll be back!

The reactions of our friends seem to be divided into two camps… those who grimace and shut down when they learn of our plans, and those who light up and get all warm and giggly.  Even the questions they ask are biased.  The first group ask things like "do you REALLY think you'll still be doing this in a year?".  The other group asks things like "Where will you go? and how long will it take you to get there?".  It's seen either as an end or as a beginning to life.  I feel sad for those who see it as an end, because I can't help but think that must be a projection of their lives onto mine…   

I see this as a beginning to a life doing what makes us happy.  I look forward to meeting myself on this journey.  I welcome the opportunity for opening myself up and to finding out what is really inside of me.  I want to shed the stresses that force me into a role that I've grown to hate.  I don't want to be the bad guy anymore. I don't want to have to force all of the good parts of our lives into tiny windows of opportunity (read weekends and vacations).  I want to seize this marvelous opportunity we have been handed and explore each day like a gift alongside my husband.  I want to make sure that we have no regrets when we're done living.  

Sure we have fears.  One of mine is that I just won't like it!  Bruce fears mechanical breakdowns.  Well, if we can't fix it, we can throw money at it.  Fortunately we have passive income and if we live right, we will be OK.  Worst case scenario, we sell the Townhouse or get jobs to pay for whatever we need.  In all seriousness, my biggest fear is that one of us will fall ill or be in some way incapacitated… on a big scale.  This is the fear that urges me insistently towards this   cocamamie scheme…  If we don't do it now, it will never happen.   
Click on the monkey's fist to read others bloggers on this topic.
The Monkey's Fist

Saturday, January 19, 2013

No Whoopers For Me

We've spent so much time on the boat in the past two months huddling inside on cold cloudy days and windy nights… we almost didn't know what to do with a sunny forecast!  We quickly figured it out!  

The Aransas Wildlife Refuge offers a glimpse into the world of the Whooping Crane.  We've never had the pleasure of spotting one of these huge birds and thought that maybe, today… would be our lucky day.  We took the Beater (little red Miata) out for a spin with the sunshine on our heads!

The Caracara
We joined a small group of "Snow Birds" on a complementary nature tour.  Larry, our tour guide, was very knowledgeable about the (few) birds we saw.  

Learning about the Carpenter Ant
He told of the different communities in the wild and pointed out some of the plants and trees that I had seen all my life without knowing their names.  

Pointing out the Wild Bay Leaves
The people were all very nice and I enjoyed hearing their comments from a "foreigner's" viewpoint.  They were gaga over the Mockingbirds!  (State Bird of Texas).  

The facility was very simple with a newly rebuilt tower with zigzagging ramp going up, up, up.  From the top, we could see for miles and spent quite a while spotting wild pigs and many birds with the binoculars.  

The last time Bruce and I were here, the wind was so cold and brisk it nearly took our faces off.  This day was quite nice.  

Bee on a Wild Thistle
Unfortunately, we saw no Whoopers…  One of these days, we're going to get lucky but not today.  But, the drive was sublime and we enjoyed getting out and doing something different.  There is always something different to see when Mother Nature extends her warm welcome, if you just take the time to look.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pink Jobs/Blue Jobs - Division of Labor

One of the most valuable and informative sources I’ve found about All-Things-Cruising, has been the monthly Raft-Up posts written by a group of Bloggers who are out there “living the dream”.  They discuss many subjects and have varied, and yet common experiences that those of us who are still in the early stages can put to good use.  It is my pleasure to be included in this group of beginning in February... but I wanted to write a post on the January subject... Pink Jobs/Blue Jobs.

I posed the question to Bruce:  “Do we have Pink Jobs and Blue Jobs on Dos Libras?”  He looked puzzled... I rephrased the question: “Are there jobs on the boat the either of us NEVER does?”  He thought for a few seconds and said... “Maybe we’d better talk about something else...”.

I imagine that the division of duties  will change with my retirement from the real world. Actually, I expect the “change”  will be that there will be almost no division at all! Currently, I get up and go to work while Bruce stays home working on boat projects and such.  Since we moved aboard, the daily things from home have also been moved to our new location... things like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and finance.  Bruce does most of the grocery shopping and much of the light cleaning while I’m at work.  He even cooks dinner sometimes, depending upon the menu.  He also does most of the boat maintenance jobs like changing the oil in the engine/generator, washing the deck and shining the chrome.  Right now... he has the time for these things and I do not.

On weekends, we dig into the big projects and this is where it gets fuzzy.  (Communicating with one’s spouse can be so illuminating sometimes... ) I love nothing more than to delve into a project, no matter if it’s rebuilding the head (toilet), finding and fixing a water leak, or repairing a pinhole in the dinghy... I’m there!  I love the way it makes my mind open up and ask questions... why did this happen, how can we fix it, what is the most efficient method... I just love it.  And there is nothing like that awesome feeling of accomplishment that you get when a job is finished, no matter how big or small.  Same goes with the deep cleaning.  

When Bruce and I began discussing the subject for this blog post, he expressed that many times when we do these weekend projects, I work harder than he does on it, leaving him feeling like the helper... even if I (should) know nothing about the job being done.  Now some might argue that this would be a GOOD thing...  but maybe not.  I’ll definitely have to work on that one...

I guess I enjoy the jobs that are more of a sprint, than a marathon.  Put it all in for a few hours or days, get a lot done in a short period of time and you never (or almost never) have to do it again... done, finis, instant gratification! The jobs I don’t enjoy are the repetitive, never-actually-finished kind of jobs.  But then, who does?  I guess what it all boils down to, is that we are both willing to do, and capable of doing just about all of the jobs on the boat.

So... the duties are doled out based upon things like:  physical ability, aptitude, preference and (for now...) time.  

Physical ability:  There are plenty of jobs that I would do, but it just makes more sense for my stronger and MUCH more physically fit husband to do them.  Things like dropping and raising the anchor or handling the lines when docking.  When anchoring, Bruce is the one on the nose raising and dropping while I man the helm.  I’m also the one who helms when departing and docking the boat.  He handles the lines, which often places a demand on physical strength to counter the effects of wind or current, or to fend off pilings if needed.  I finesse the boat into position and he uses his strength to secure us in.  

Aptitude:  Sailing the boat - Bruce’s knowledge about sail trim and all-things-boaty FAR exceeds mine.  There is no question about who calls the shots in this department... although I am learning.  There are times when we go out sailing and Bruce lets me call the shots, just so that I can learn, and I’ve not killed us so far.  He thinks I could sail the boat alone.. I’m hoping I never have to truly find out.

Preference:  I enjoy the sprints, Bruce enjoys the marathons.  There are too many jobs to list by preference, but I can say that in sailing... Bruce prefers to sail upwind, while I prefer to be at the helm on a downwind course.  This suits both of us just fine.  

I look forward to the days when I have the time to expand my knowledge of the boat and all of the jobs that must be done daily, weekly, monthly... I know that we will develop a new routine once I retire and we set sail.  I can’t wait to learn about using the SSB, setting up our communications systems, learning to use paper charts more extensively, learning to gather and interpret information from weather resources... Just all of it! Many of these things Bruce already knows...  some of them, we’ll learn together.  The one thing that is a non-negotiable Blue job on Dos Libras... Making the coffee and serving it to me in bed! This one thing will ALWAYS be a BLUE JOB!

Check out the other Raft-Up Articles on the subject:

Dana on Northfork
Stacey on Bella Vita
Steph   on Nornas News
Behan   on Totem
Diane on Ceilydh
Jessica  on My Felicity
Lynn on Celebration
Verena on Camille
Toast on Don Quixote
Ean  on Joy
Livia  on Estrellita 5.10b

Monday, January 14, 2013

Two Monthiversary Celebration Dinner

One of our favorite dinners living on land became our celebratory dinner aboard.  Yes, it's been two months since we left our townhouse and we're still lovin' it.

Feta-Basil Salmon with Sweet Potato Planks

The challenge in making this dinner aboard is the size of our oven.  I had to use a small square cake pan for the salmon and overlap the potato pan long one side of the oven.  It worked out well with one rotation to compensate for our oven's hot corner.


Wash the salmon and pat dry.  We use skinless salmon.
Coat the piece with lemon juice and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
Spread basil pesto over the entire top of the salmon
Sprinkle feta cheese on top


Peel and cut one large(ish) sweet potato into planks
In a large bowl, place about two tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle allspice to cover the oil, add a dash of cayenne pepper and turn the planks in the mixture to coat.
Spread the planks onto a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

Bake both pans together at about 350 degrees until the potatoes are soft.  Our oven took about 45 minutes.  The size of the fish piece and your oven's temperature will affect the cooking time.  Salmon is done when it feels firm but you don't want to overcook it and dry it out.

I served this with a nice pea salad made from canned sweet peas, diced red onion, sliced olives, chunk blue cheese and the salad dressing that was in the fridge.  Make first and chill while the fish and potatoes are in the oven.

Ahhhh!  Delish!

Other toppings for the salmon are endless but we've done the following before:

  • Toss spinach with cherry tomato halves and feta cheese in Sundried Tomato salad dressing.  Pile the mixture on top of the salmon piece so that you can't even see it.  The spinach wilts down to near nothing so use a bunch.
  • Coat the salmon with Mango Chutney or Jalapeño jelly or any like topping.  The more chunky the better.  It makes a nice glaze.

You can also use any other type of firm fleshed fish such as Mahi Mahi.  We always prefer to bake it skinless to avoid that "fishy" taste.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Never Ending Fight Against "DAMP"

I've read about Cruisers having issues with condensation underneath their mattresses and wondered what that was all about...

Click the illustration to purchase **
This is something I've never experienced before.  I've been using Tea Tree oil to fight mildew on the boat and had begun to have sinister thoughts that we could be sleeping upon a mildewey mess.  Some stones are better left unturned it seems... at least if you don't want to spend any money!

A couple of weeks ago, we took our queen mattress outside onto our sunny deck and stripped off the cover.  What we found beneath it wasn't as horrifying as the story told in my imagination, but there was obviously an issue to be rectified.  I found that there was a big wet spot underneath where I sleep.  (no comments here from the peanut gallery!)  

I sprung into action and consulted some wise sailing women with whom I've recently become acquainted and found that the more common solution was a product called HyperVent.  It took me a week or so to talk Bruce into it but we did some measuring and placed our order for 16 feet of four ft wide HyperVent from Defender.  I did some pricing around and found them to be the best.

This weekend, we turned our cabins upside down and installed it.  It took me a while to figure out how to wrangle the stuff into the aft cabin and situate it so that I could measure and cut the pieces into the appropriate length.
But once I got going it was pretty simple.  I ended up dulling Bruce's favorite fillet knife as it provided me with the maneuverability to make some curved cuts to fit the piece to the bed's platform.  I was even able to do it without injuring myself!
Next we did the v-berth.  This meant that everything that was stored in there had to be removed... Happily we expected no visitors!  I couldn't take the v-berth mattress outside in the sun for it's Tea Tree treatment so we had to make due with propping it up in the salon and running the dehumidifier to dry the Tea Tree solution out.
I went to work piecing the HyperVent together.  It was amazing how well it covered the space we had and how little we had leftover.  I got it just right with my pre-order measurements!  Once the mattress was dry, we put a vinyl cover on it before replacing the zipper cover.  It all smells nice and newly clean and I'm excited to have a cozy place to keep our next guests!
**I have no affiliation with HyperVent or Defender Industries.  I am receiving no compensation for this endorsement.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We CAN'T Be Out Of Water Again!

Yoga mats make great engine covers for projects!

Is that the water pump again?  No way we're out of water already!  Since we began living on the boat full time, we seem to be using just under our full carrying capacity each week.  We have four fresh water tanks totaling about 125 gallons.  While we are living in the marina, I don't even TRY to conserve, although I should be "practicing" for when we leave.  While not conserving, I'm certainly not wasteful.  There are no long luxurious showers or bathtubs full of water.  Just the sound of the water pump going is annoying enough to remind me to turn off the water when I'm brushing my teeth.

But… it seemed that we used all of our water up pretty fast last time we filled the tanks… and that was on Sunday night.  It's only Thursday and we're low again.  I KNEW I had been hearing the pump go way too often, and the bilge pump is running now…  There is only one explanations for this and I think Bruce and I have both been ignoring it.  We've got a leak. This is the very reason we wanted to spend some time on the boat before leaving.  It's better to find these things now and get them fixed than to wait for a less convenient time and place.

I'll be calling the Chiropractor on Monday
When we bought the boat, there was an issue with a leaking T- fitting which, unfortunately we now know wasn't fixed the first time.  I guess we were lucky that we could find it at all and we shouldn't complain that it was tucked away up under the bathtub.  This means someone has to crawl into the engine room upside down whilst pretzeling around the engine and various other mechanical paraphernalia, risking life and vertebral subluxation in the process.  This time we were going to fix this baby right!

We spent the morning tracking down the hoses to determine what goes where.  Bruce formulated a plan in which we would add a stretch of hose so that instead of being under the tub floor, the crossroads could be attached to the engine room wall, making future fixes so much easier.  We had a moment of panic when he had cut a hose and it wouldn't pull through as we thought it should.  Half an hour later we had it all worked out and were making a list of goodies we would need at the hardware store.

Tub Drain... not how we would have done it...
"What the h*%#l is THAT!"  I hear from the bowels of the boat.  This makes me nervous…  I look down to where Bruce is shining his light and see a hose going nowhere right underneath our bathtub drain. 

How it's supposed to look???
 Upon closer inspection, it seems that this was a spectacular botch job which is probably the kind of "fix" we would expect to do while under way from say, the East Coast of the US to Europe! (Route taken by the previous boat owner)  I guess the fitting came loose so with no proper tools and parts, the previous owner poked some kind of putty around it and never looked back!  

Now our little half hour job that turned into a whole day job, was now a full fledged two day job!  Well, we get to the hardware store and back with all of our parts and go to work getting the water leak fixed.  Bruce got to the third fitting of the T and it went on WAY too easily!  Inspecting it further, he found it to be cracked… which explains why it leaked in the first place.  Back to the hardware store for another part, do the last few steps over again and it's time to test the newly spliced hoses…  Water pressure on!  OMG water is pouring out of the free hose under the galley sink!  Oops!  We forgot we had disconnected it to pull the hose through at the other end.  Feeling stupid now, we finish the job adding a length of hose and voila!  QED!

Lessons learned:  Do it right the first time if at all possible; There must be a reason if theres a problem; and Listen to the boat when she's trying to tell you something…  Oh, and that tub drain fix… still pending..

Does Your Boat Move When The Wind Blows?

We're about to get hit from the North

The news of our recent move from Townhouse to Sailboat has gradually made the rounds at my office.  This has sparked the usual questions of "why" and "for how long"…  and the usual big eyes at my answers.  

A couple of weeks ago, on the heels of a particularly strong (for us) Norther', the questions about the weather began.  Does your boat have heat?… What do you do when it rains?… Does your boat move when the wind blows?… Are you scared, can you sleep???

The Townhouse we own was built solid in 1968.  Mother Nature had to produce a pretty impressive display before we became aware of it.  Many mornings, I would make it all the way to the office parking lot before I realized I needed a jacket.  Only the most torrential downpour would rouse us from sleep.  

Living aboard a sailboat these past two months, we are much more in tune with the weather… I would say we are active participants in it.  We watch it.  We note the discrepancies between forecast and reality.  We experience the exact moment when the wind changes direction.  We shiver from the cold and swelter in the heat.  OK, that's a stretch… we have heating and AC so we've never SWELTERED, but I've shivered a little bit when I crawl into my cold damp sheets at night…  We aren't camping in some flimsy tint!  We have quite a nice little floating home with lots of amenities.

Since we've moved aboard, we have had five pretty good wallops from the North.  These were forecast within hours and Bruce had the boat prepared with extra lines at strategic points.  The first Norther' had us both on deck making minor adjustments in a crazy wind in the middle of the night.  (It was kind of exhilarating) But since then, when the wind hits, the boat bounces and tilts in the slip.  We wake up, Bruce takes a quick look around outside and we settle back down to cozy sleep.  

Lightning lit up the night sky
We have actually enjoyed watching a couple of storms pass over from the comfort of our cockpit enclosure.  Our previous boats had only bimini tops and bow dodgers.  (top and forward canvas covers like a roof and windshield) Our full enclosure is QUITE a luxury for us and we're lovin' it!  It's like having an enclosed patio/sunroom in the winter.  We relax inside our "bubble" and ignore the wind/rain/cold conditions outside.  

Ok, so now for the reality check…  My reason for moving aboard prior to leaving for our cruising adventure was to give us time to use all of the equipment and make sure everything works.  I figured it would be better to have to fix things while we are in familiar surroundings than to wait until we were out there.  So… Evidently our aft AC was limping along and with increased use, it has decided to retire.  We are using a cheap space heater while researching it's replacement.  (cha-ching).  OKOK I can hear you seasoned cruisers out there screaming "you don't NEED AC to go cruising".  Yes but we want it be be an option, so we'll be replacing it.  

Then there's the water-in-our-bed episode from last week's torrential downpour.  Really it rains so seldom here, this is the first time we've had a chance to test the boat for leaks.  Evidently the drain in the propane locker on deck wasn't able to keep up with the demand, causing the water to rise inside the locker to the level of the mount screws for the propane bottles.  They were not water tight and water seeped in and ran down the hull into our aft cabin.  This was a pre-existing issue that Bruce thought he had addressed.  I've ordered some butyl tape to use in sealing the screw holes to fix it right up.  A reader noted that if water can get in… so can a propane leak.  Dangerous stuff!  

Am I scared?  Only a fool would be totally unafraid…. Sure when the boat heels wildly there are those creeping thoughts of "what if that forward dock line snaps?"… "What would this blow be like if we were out at anchor?"  We will SURELY be anchored or under way during some weather in our travels.  When these thoughts come… I tell myself that this boat has seen some pretty tough times and is built to handle it.  Each new experience we have together gives me more confidence and trust in the vessel that we have chosen to take us exploring.   

So… while we are still Cruisers-In-Waiting, we are just fine in our slip.  Once I retire and we set out, we will address the more "technical" aspects of weather… We will look at the many different options available for obtaining accurate pertinent weather information that are available to Cruisers today.  That will be quite the learning curve so I'm socking away bits of information to save for that day when I have more free time. 

For now… we embrace the consequences of the choice we've made.  I will squeegee the windows on the car before my drive to work.  I will lay a towel down as I climb out of the cockpit in my work pants and crank the line which brings the boat close enough for me to jump to the dock… and I will feel one with the universe as I turn my face to the wind and marvel at the awesome sunrises, sunsets and rainbows I've been missing all the years we've lived ashore. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Please Don't Repossess Our Flamingo!

friend |frend|nouna person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.• a person who acts as a supporter of a cause• a person who is not an enemy or who is on the same side
Sign of the "cool people" on our dock!
Many of our friends share the common bond of sailing.  It's just easier that way as our non-sailing friends just don't get it... and there's certainly no shortage of sailing folks in our circle.  Even so, it seems as if our commitment to the Cruising lifestyle, and what it is going to take for us to achieve our goals in the time we have left, is proving to be somewhat foreign.  
Our friends are not rich, nor are we.  But, we're all comfortable enough to enjoy a certain level of financial freedom.  Bruce and I have been happy to be included in dinners out and even some great group vacations.  We have shared many wonderful times in good and familiar company.  They understand us and we understand them…
Until now...  It seems as if we've taken a detour… we've gone off down a different path.  With my "retirement" date set for less than 6 months out, we have to really watch our spending..  I'm very nervous about quitting my job and reducing our income by more than half.  We have economized in every conceivable way including spending less on food ( little or no dining out), we have cut out frivilous travel (we will be traveling soon for a wedding), and we've not seen a concert or theater production in… I can't remember the last.  We've even let our Yacht Club Membership go…  Before we do or buy anything, we ask ourselves… does this further our cause?  If the answer is no, we pass it by.
Before we moved aboard, there were many weekends when we weren't at the marina.  Now we're always here when our friends come and much of the weekend entertainment when we aren't sailing, revolves around dining and drinking.  Many times its an impromptu run to a local restaurant for dinner which ends up costing us about the equivalent of that new dock line we would like to have, or maybe a couple of LED replacement bulbs.  When I look at it that way… the dinner wasn't really that good.  
It isn't always that way…  Many nights, our gang will all meet on one of our boats for dinner.  That couple will host or maybe we'll do a mini pot luck.  These are great because everyone brings something so nobody feels like a mooch.  Plus the drinks are much less expensive and everyone gets what they want if its BYOB.  If I had to judge, the food is actually BETTER!  Good times for me are those spent lounging around the boat in our jammies with good friends.  Plus, there are no unsympathetic witnesses should things get a little bawdy (you know who you are)!  Bruce and I had a frank discussion about these things.  I wanted to make sure that we are on the same page for when the next group invitation comes along.  Do we want to drop out from our circle of friends?  OF COURSE not.  But we can't continue trotting off to dinners out, splurging on food when we only really wanted the company. It seems as if we've put ourselves into a different "category", we're no longer tourists on holiday when we're at the marina… we LIVE here.  Somehow we have to find a balance between our daily lives  and our goals…while still having some fun!
A friend reminded us of something… He said "you can't just give up everything that you enjoy in life".  This is true.  What we need is to set a very firm budget for "entertainment".  It will be necessarily small, but it will give us a little wiggle room for those spontaneous dinner runs so we won't be struck completely from the invitation list.  With all of the things we are giving up to live our dream, we want very badly to keep our friends.  We just need to figure out a way to fit in with the crowd while staying true to our self imposed savings regimen.  
What we need most from friends and family, was mentioned above in the definition of a Friend… We need support of our Cause.  So, if we decline to join in the festivities, please know that it is not that we don't want to run and play…  It's because we want to sail off into the sunset, where we hope you ALL come to visit!  So... Keep us in the loop and try not to talk TOO badly about us when we aren't there!