Monday, September 30, 2013

Cruising Class of 2013

Lat 27°51:042N Lon 097°04:474W
to Lat 28°01:49N  Lon 97°02:87 W
15 miles travelled

Pulling away from the transient dock...
Woo Hoo!  We're away!  We are officially CRUISERS!  We only made it 15 miles up the road to Rockport, TX, but hey…  we have tossed off the dock lines.

That splash is our message in a bottle, tossed into the tide...
We said good bye to Charlie, our dock master after spending our morning pumping out the head and topping off the water tanks.  We were in no hurry as our destination was not far.  The morning was cool with a light North wind at about 8 knots.  We would motor into that North wind to arrive at our destination… the city of Rockport, TX.

 I'm sure that all new cruisers have these moments of clarity, when they realize that they don't have to go back… Ours was realized as I stood on deck catching on video, a dolphin jumping completely out of the water.  This behavior is rare here and catching it on video is even more rare.  We are considering it a "thumbs up" from Neptune letting us know he's got our back!  

Chills and Smiles
The cool breeze gave us chills… or it could have been the realization that we had made it!  We were not just wannabes anymore.  We are CRUISERS!  Somehow, it makes this familiar ground seem different.  Everything I see as we pass along this oft' sailed course, I'm seeing through new eyes.  My Cruiser eyes…  

My mind was busy thinking… I don't need directions to get where we're going today, but what about our next leg.  What charts will we use?  Will the iPad work, where IS that paper chart.  I need to see our destination so that I can be spacially  aware.  I have a LOT to learn about navigation!  No worries… one day at a time.  People have asked us pointed questions about one part of our planned route or another.  I'm unable to adequately answer those questions.  We will learn about the place from all available resources, and we'll make our decisions accordingly.  NOW I begin to get friendly with our chart plotter…SO much to learn…

Happy Boy on a Boat
All too soon, we turned out of the ICW and headed for the entrance to the Rockport Harbor Marina.  We picked a transient slip and checked in with the office.  Our home for a week!  We put up our sun shades, showered and had our first beverage as Cruisers.  We have had a day of firsts… and a day of lasts… We may never see these waters again.  But we are too excited by the prospects of future delights to be melancholy for long about it.  Even the cats got over their irritation and began preening as the sun set on their first vagabond day…

Jetsam peaking out... what's going on here?
Jezabelle got to ride in the pet taxi to keep any bodily fluids she cared to share contained.  Good news, no problems!  Maybe she feels safe enough inside the box to keep her calm.  Jetsam came into the cockpit a couple of times along the way, but eventually settled on the settee.

Both of them roamed around the deck once we were docked.  They seemed confused by the different view.  Jezabelle jumped onto the dock and went for a stroll.. until she encountered a heron on the piling.  One squawk had Jezzer reversing her tracks and looking longingly at her safe boat haven.  

By the end of the day, we were feeling more settled and less frenzied, but still congratulating ourselves for breaking away from the ho-hum average crowd.  We are newly fledged Cruisers.  We are the Cruiser Class of 2013! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leave Eve - And Bon Voyage

Family dinner at Seafood & Spaghetti Works
The first images that flitted through my mind as I awoke this morning, were of the people we've seen and the fun we had at our Bon Voyage party(s).  This weekend, we put aside boat projects and spent time with our family and friends these last days before the jig is up for us... we have to go.

It began on Saturday evening with the MOST delicious dinner at Jay's S&SW.  The place is a bit pricey but it is really my personal favorite in Port Aransas.  The sauces keep this restaurant at the top of my list and the Lasagna is Bruce's fav.  We spent an enjoyable couple of hours with our little family over food, drink and laughs.  I'm sure the waiter thought we would NEVER leave!

We had hugs and good-bye's all around in the parking lot, where my Mother told Bruce... "If you get tired of her, don't put an anchor on her, just call me and I'll come get her".  Thanks MOM!

Sunday morning, we got to work removing the dock lines for good.  We were nearly done when Bruce realized that the engine wouldn't rev when the throttle was pushed forward or backwards.  So, as is usual on boats, we tore apart the pedestal and found the culprit... There was a cotter pin missing that held the cable to the throttle.  We found one in our outboard parts bag and in an hour or so, had it working again.  We were GLAD that this happened at the dock instead of out on the water!

The winds were light and we had little trouble disconnecting the boat from her home of nine months to move the short distance to the long transient dock in our marina.  It will be an easier departure point and the long dock is a better place for a party than our old slip. The Marina people were so nice in letting us hang out over here for our last day.  In fact, they've been nothing but nice and accommodating to us for as long as we've been here and we'll miss them.

We were still cleaning the deck when the first guests arrived.  Very soon, the salon was filled with friends.  Brittney had chips, dips and cookies set out and one of our friends, Andy... was the man of the hour with his gift of Pain Killers!

Bruce was busy making one batch after another of the delicious familiar (to sailors) drink.  Thank you ANDY! (glad you brought that second bottle of rum)

Bruce and I felt a bit amazed at the fact that ALL of these people put aside their Sunday afternoon plans, to spend the time with us and wish us well.

Very soon, there was literally standing room only in the salon... the AC struggled to keep up, but nobody seemed to notice as we told our plans over and over with each new guest's arrival.

We spilled out into the cockpit, thankful for a bit of cloud cover.

And then... we spilled out onto the DOCK!

Things leveled out as the afternoon passed... people began to leave as new ones arrived.  We had time to talk to folks a little more.  

We had specifically requested no gifts, as we have NO room to spare on board... But several of our friends brought offerings of spirits and things.  We received a pair of Dyneema shackles, A set of Gecko Grips, (created by our friends Mark and Julie) a dedicated copy of Sailing with Rhyme and Reason, written by our friend and guest, Bob & K, and several bottles of wine, which will come in handy when the ice runs out!  

When the last guests departed, we were left with huge hearts full of the well wishes of long, and short time friends.  The party could not have gone better and we feel deeply honored by all of it.  We did take a fair amount of ribbing when people found out that our first destination was to be Rockport, TX.  Only a short hop away...  But hey, it's not like we're getting on a plane to be in Las Vegas in three hours... Cruising is a slow process. 

Now comes the time when I find it most difficult to push back the thoughts of leaving our most important guest... our Daughter, Brittney.  She has been spending every free minute squirreling away "Mamma Time" for weeks.  She has sailed with us, she helped with this party, she has paid for numerous dinners (I love having kids with jobs)...  If I let myself get dramatic for a moment (I did), it's difficult to sail away and leave her home.  But, if I don't get dramatic, and just remember that we'll be sailing just like it's one weekend after another, it won't be long until she flies to visit us in some future destination.  We will be together in spirit through the miracle of the Internet and it will seem like we never left.

This is only possible because BOTH of our children are the most awesomely responsible adults a parent could wish for, and we are SURE that they can take care of themselves, much to our immeasurable pride.
Our departing song...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Drilling Holes In Boats...

We have put this project off for as long as we possibly can.  There was just no good place to put our life raft.  We didn't want to give up all of the lovely real estate on the veranda by plopping this giant metal cradle with a big white box in it...  But, we had no choice.  We bought the thing, we need to mount it somewhere.  I guess to complain that we have TOO many opening hatches on our deck to find a spot would be an insult to those who don't, so we finally ran out of time and excuses... we had to pick a spot to drill holes in our boat.

We had to find a way to mount the cradle that would give it adequate support and structure so if a wave hit, it would have a chance of staying put.  Bruce and I discussed the proper mounting method for weeks.  I googled it and found that it could be mounted without going all the way through the cabin top, but in the end, Bruce won the discussion and we proceeded with his plan.  (don't let him tell you he never gets his way...)

I marked the center line of the aft deck and we placed the cradle where it would least encroach upon our living space.  We marked where the four feet would be placed and Bruce began drilling holes.  The cradle had to be absolutely still while Bruce drilled, so I put my weight into keeping it in place.

He drilled through the feet so that the holes would be as nearly perfectly placed as possible. We weren't entirely sure that the feet were identical.  Then he removed the cradle and drilled each hole again, with a larger sized bit to make oversized holes.

The plan was to drill through the fiberglass deck and the balsa core, then stop before drilling through the cabin top.  We got to the very last hole and the drill popped through the inside layer!  OOPS!  No worries, we taped a nickel over the hole.

We didn't want the inside holes drilled yet because we planned to fill the holes with epoxy and didn't want it coming in.  It needed to create an epoxy plug through which we would drill the smaller holes for the bolts to go through.  This would keep any moisture that would possibly seep into the bolt holes from reaching the balsa core.

As is always the case, we ran into a snag.  In a perfect world, the balsa core would have filled the entire space inside the cabin top.  But in OUR world... there was a balsa core and then an airspace running just above the inside ceiling.  Our plan was to use a drill to ream out a hollow in the balsa core so that we could widen the epoxy plug inside.  What would we do now?  It seemed that all of the epoxy would just drain out over the inside ceiling with no core wood to stop it...

We made an emergency phone call to a friend who is both a sailboat owner and an engineer... He advised that it would be fine if we used a thickened epoxy such as West Systems Six-10 to fill the holes and make an expanded glob inside the airspace.  Luckily we were able to find some, but not enough.  We postponed our project until the next day.

While Bruce cleaned up for the evening, I got to work making the rubber pads for the cradle feet.  We needed something to even out the space between the squared off feet and the slight curve of the deck.  We had a partial rubber sheet that worked nicely.  I cut the round foot pads, eight of them (two for each foot) so that there would be plenty of thickness to work with. They came out very nicely if I do say so...

The following day, underneath the shade of our aft deck awning... we finished applying the epoxy.  It took four tubes of Six-10, but we took that as a good sign that the epoxy was actually going down into the airspace and spreading somewhat.

Once Bruce was done with that, we went below to make sure that our nickel plug was holding.  We could feel the heat from the epoxy on the ceiling and we knew we had found success!  All we had to do was wait the 24 hours for curing and we would be ready for the next step.  Re-drilling the holes through the epoxy...

Fast forward:  The epoxy has cured and we move on to the final steps.  I used a punch to make a small divot in the center of each epoxy plug so that when Bruce started to drill, the bit wouldn't "walk".  We wanted the bolt holes to be as close to the center as they could be so that he would drill only epoxy.

Next, we fit the cradle back on.  It only goes one way as the four feet are not identical.  Good news!  The feet fit precisely over the holes with the divots in the exact centers.

Bruce drilled one hole for each foot and dropped the bolt through to keep the cradle steady while he drilled out the remaining holes.  I sat on the cradle once again to keep it steady.

I was happy to see that the only stuff coming up from the drill holes seemed to be epoxy.  This means that we hadn't hit wood.  Relief!  Our balsa core should be safe from water ingression.

We went down below to survey the damage...  Our bed lies directly below all of this and we had placed my nap blanket over the bed to catch the epoxy fallout.  I vacuumed it all up without a hitch. (the hitch came later, when Bruce put the Life Calk in the holes... it came down and landed on the blanket, which had to be trashed)

Next we needed to fit the rubber foot pads and drill the holes.  We then assembled all of the parts to make sure it all fit together.  We decided to use only one rubber pad for each foot.  Two would have set up too high and were not really necessary.

I prepared and placed Butyl tape pieces for each foot pad.  While I did that, Bruce and Jezabelle filled the bolt holes with Life Calk.  We hope that between the two, there will be far less chance of any water getting into the holes.  Why is it always at the point that we are using sticky stuff... that Jezabelle chooses to appear on the scene?

Once the foot pads were prepared, we lowered the cradle onto the prepared surface of the deck.  The bolts went right into the holes and with a little encouragement, we had them all snugged down and seated.  Bruce went below to apply the washers and nuts.  I held the bolt tight from the top while he wrenched them from below.  I watched as the butyl tape was squeezed out the sides.  Perfect!

Bruce removed the excess butyl with a knife and we repeated the squeezing process a second time, further tightening the bolts.

Suddenly, we were finished!  All we needed to do was to put the life raft back in the cradle.  It turned out really well and wasn't as difficult as we had feared.  We feel really good about the water seal.  The bolts are solid and the thing doesn't move.

Now back to inside... My fear that it would be really awful looking was not realized.  I'm not saying that it looks nice... I would rather not see it at ALL.  But once Bruce put the bolt caps on, it was not so bad.  The part of the bolts that show are a bit uneven due to the differing thickness of the cabin top, but hey... We intend to have stainless steel backing plates made, but have run out of time for that now.

So... It isn't perfect but we aren't professionals.  We are happy with the result so that's what matters.  All I need to do now is make a cover for the liferaft and it will make a very nice coffee table for our veranda.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Still A Princess... Only Different

Image origin

When we announced our plan to Cruise (years ago), nobody I know really thought we would do it.  Why not?  Why wouldn't we leave our spacious home filled with amenities carefully collected with the singular purpose of making our lives more comfortable?  Because, all who know me would say in unison… "You're a Princess!!!".  And maybe that was true.

Fast forward through those several years, and you find me no longer the Princes of times gone by.  I have relaxed most of my standards to a level that, even I would have said is NOT possible.  To that, I can say without a doubt… those "standards" (read psychosis) were all really just a way to gain control over an uncontrollable life.  Once I realized that we could escape, I no longer needed all of those things to be happy.  Now, my world is much more focused on the things that we need to live.  

Granted, we still have a high ratio of wants to needs, but they are far different from before.  So many Cruisers are out there living with far less than we have.  But given my past Princes status… I would say that the things that make our life easier now are the stuff of a different world…

Things that make our life easier:

Before:  Cars.  We had three vehicles; A BMW wagon for all of our "family" needs, a van for our windsurfing and stuff moving needs, and a Miata for our zipping around needs.
Now:  We have a dinghy.  It's a RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat).  It serves as our car, making it possible for us to get from our boat at anchor to the shore, without which, this lifestyle would be impossible.

Before:  The Garage.  I lived for years without an attached garage.  Once I had one, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I never knew what the weather was doing until I had to get out of the car at my destination.  I loved my garage.
Now:  Davits.  Dos Libras is the first boat we've had with davits.  They are wonderful.  We can easily lift the dinghy out of the water to keep it safe and critter free.  We never have to worry about dragging the dink behind us when under way, or about it's safety at anchor.  It's quick in and quick out.  Love them.  

Before:  My comfy bed.  I used to love luxuriating in my bed in the mornings while I had my coffee.  The soft morning light came lightly through the windows clearing the sleep from my head.
Now:  My comfy bed.  I love my centerline queen bed.  Our previous boats had only the V-berth for sleeping.  I hated climbing in and out and it never failed that someone got a toenail in the nose…  There are a lot of people who say that centerline queen beds are not practical on a sailboat.  I say that there are trade-offs in everything.  I want my bed.  

Before:  Refrigerator/Freezer.  I had a wonderful fridge at home.  It had the freezer section on the bottom.  I could pack it with more food than I could ever eat… 
Now:  Top/Front opening refrigerator and separate top loading freezer.  Our previous boats had only the top opening refrigerator with a small freezer section that never really froze anything.  I can't imagine living aboard without a freezer.  I would not LIKE living aboard without a front door on my fridge.  Both are luxuries but I don't care.  They make me happy.  

Before:  We loved our two story town home.  It was roomy and well laid out.  We had several nice lounging areas to choose from for sitting.
Now:  Our full cockpit enclosure.  This is the first boat we've owned that had a full enclosure and had we known how wonderful it would be, we would have paid whatever it cost to have it on our previous boats.  The enclosure makes it possible for us to enjoy a rain shower in dry comfort.  It makes it possible for ME to enjoy sailing in the winter (that is anything under 80°F.).  It also makes sailing in windy conditions SO much more pleasant than it is without the enclosure.  Finally, it increases our living space.  The cockpit practically counts as another room.. .with a view.  

Before:  Cable/Internet/Cell  We had unlimited wi-fi in just about every location we wished to be.  We had the cell phone, the cable and the iPad to entertain our minds and to keep us connected.  We were always plugged in…
Now:  Even though our intent in sailing away was partially to disconnect from the world, we still have our connectivity needs.  One of the first purchases for our new boat was a Rogue Wave Wi-fi Booster.  Connected to an on-board router, it keeps our computers, cell phone and iPad wirelessly connected whenever we're anywhere NEAR an open wi-fi source.  We still have the iPhone and iPad for 3G connectivity when we are further out.  So what about when we're REALLY far out?  We have a SSB radio and AIS aboard so we're never really disconnected.

Before:  My book collection.  Our town home has bookshelves on both floors.  Through the years, I collected quite a number of old books.  I read each one but, because of their uniqueness and age, I couldn't part with them, so they filled the shelves to overflowing.
Now:  Our Kindles.  Bruce and I each have our own Kindle.  Our reading interests are vastly different.  I have been loading up on reading material for years in preparation for Cruising.  I have SO many hours of reading ahead… 

Before:  Tons of closets.  Our townhouse was built in the late 60s.  Most homes built in recent times have very little storage space.  Our place has closets everywhere1  We moved in with closet space to spare, then gradually filled them all! 
Now:  Storage space.  Lack of space to store "stuff" on our previous boats caused me to consider ample storage space very highly on our want-list when boat shopping.  Dos Libras has ample storage space.  Just enough to allow for lots of "extra" things, but not so much that we go crazy adding totally non-essential stuff.  It's a delicate balance.
Ask most people to list the things that make their lives easier, and you will probably get a totally different response.  The very fact that I no longer have to go to work, and can decide what I WANT to do each day is a huge thing in the "life easier" category…  Sure I was "free" to make my own decisions before… but there were things that kept us from being really free.  Now, while there are still things that keep us from being completely "free"… it is vastly different. 

 You might read my list and say, "She's STILL a Princess".  And by many Cruiser's standards, you could be right.  I AM still a Princess… only different!

Friday, September 20, 2013

DIY Insect Repellant

I've been making my own laundry soap, cleaners, and antibacterial hand sanitizers ever since we moved aboard Dos Libras. Some of the recipes use common ingredients found in the home, while others are ways of "stretching" cleaners to reduce cost.  I love having control of, or simply being more aware of what chemicals are around us, and I've found another way that I can save some money and remove a harsh chemical, DEET, from our immediate environment.

I began poking around on the Internet after reading a short article on The Boat Galley's website. I've picked up tons of invaluable tips from Carolyn, of which this is just the latest.  She cleared up an ongoing mystery for us...  What is making the Tervis tumblers and the instrument screens on the boat turn cloudy?  It's the DEET!!!  With the expensive instruments we have aboard, who wants to risk using DEET, which can ruin the screens? Not me!

I began collecting information from multiple websites and have compiled a list of common denominators to make my own concoction to repel mosquitos and other insects.  We will soon be traveling along the ICW through remote areas where WE are the only game in town for untold numbers of biting bugs.  The last thing I want is to become lunch for some pesky mosquito.  I'm sharing my recipe now, in case I don't survive the blood letting should the blend fail me...

8 oz. Spray bottle (I got mine from Sally's Beauty Supply)
4 oz. Witch Hazel (Walmart offers a more economical price than the specialty stores)
4 oz. Water
1/2 tsp. Glycerin
15 drops each of the following essential oils:  Tea Tree, Citronella, Pure Madagascar Vanilla, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, geranium, and Lavender.
Note:  I've added Geranium to the mix for no-see-ums!

The oils stay suspended for quite a while, but you should always shake well to make sure they are distributed evenly before applying.  Use normal care in application as you would any insect spray.  Spray a small amount on your skin and test for 24 hours to make sure you are not adversely sensitive to any of the ingredients.  Then spray on and spread by hand.  Be sure not to get it in your eyes.

Disclaimer:  I am not an expert and can't give you advice, nor am I advocating that this is safe for you.  It is what I have chosen and will update this post as to the efficacy of the brew as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cinderella Syndrome

Origin of pic
If you follow our Blog, you may have noticed that there hasn't been much going on lately.  Well, that is not the case at all!  A LOT has been going on, it just hasn't been all that glamorous!  Yes, there have been recent posts about some of the projects we've been doing such as fixing the bimini and renovating our dinghy.  There have other posts about taking time off and having some fun around Port Aransas.  Right now, those fun times seem like just a distant memory as we buckle down and make a mad dash towards being ready to go when October 1st rolls around.

Yes, a mere 15 days separates us from real CRUISING!  We are feeling the crunch and working feverishly to have as many of our projects finished as we can.  Yes, we know that we can still fulfill the Cruiser mantra of "repairing your boat in foreign places"... but it would be so much easier to do it here, where we have a slip and a car.  One way or another, we will be out of the slip come October 1.

Our "plan" is currently to go anchor out somewhere nearby for a few days to kind of regroup, then maybe head over to Rockport, TX. and take a slip for a week.  We will do some last minute things there, or maybe just ride around on our bikes to get a feel for Cruiser life.

Somewhere near the 10th of October, we plan to meet up with some new friends from the Houston area in Espiritu Santos Bay.  From there, it will be "for real".  We will be Cruising up the Gulf Coast and making our way towards Florida, where we hope to spend the Holidays before jumping over to the Bahamas.  Ahhhh, just typing it here takes my mind to a better place...

(insert sound of scratching record)

So just to prove that we haven't been slacking... here are some of the things we've been doing.

We serviced our steering:  Ever since the day the chain parted when we first brought the boat home, Bruce has been very vigilant about making sure that the cable and chain are regularly inspected and greased.  This is not a difficult job, just one that takes a little time.

We installed a valve to allow us to switch from fresh water to salt water from the foot pump in our galley.  There was already a foot pump with fresh tank water, but we wanted the option of pumping salt water from outside the boat so that we could conserve fresh water once we are under way.  Of course, we won't be using that until we are in cleaner waters.

Update on that:  We spent half a day trying to figure out why we had air in our water hoses making the pump go nuts.  Turns out that this valve was intended as a diverter of flow going out, not of flow going out, so it leaked.  We removed it...

We spent several weeks preparing for the radio license tests.  Our friends at BYC hosted the study sessions weekly and provided the testing venue.  I got the Technician and General licenses and Bruce stopped at Technician.  We are so glad to have that particular chore in our past...

I've done several sewing projects.  One of the major ones has been to create a sunshade for our aft deck.  It took many days to come up with a plan, sew the fabric, put together the frame, and then do the final tweaking and make tie downs.  It turned out very well.

I also made some modifications to a dinghy cover we purchased from Taylor Made.  We wanted to be able to use the cover while the dinghy was hanging on the davits.  I cut some slits in the top so that the lines can pass through.  Now all of our hard work in resurfacing our old dinghy will last a bit longer.

We've spent a bit of time getting legal.  The hailing port on our boat has been missing for MONTHS!  I finally got around to putting on the new one.  This job was huge in my mind but turned out to be not so difficult as I thought.

We also went through the rest of the regulations and recommendations and did some things.  Our flag can now be flown in the appropriate manner, we have ample fire extinguishers, our engine room is now ventilated... the list goes on and on...

We had some issues with an electrical cord.  We have done some trouble shooting and have replaced both the cord and the fitting.  We also learned a few things about keeping the system healthy.  One word:  dielectric grease  (OK two words)

Another Biggie has been preparing and listing our cars for sale.  We spent days shampooing, vacuuming, wiping, washing and waxing three vehicles:  The BMW, the Miata and the Van.  We have sold the Miata but, as I write this, we still have the BMW and the Van.

It will be inconvenient if we don't sell one or the other of these.  We aren't too driven to sell the BMW, as it is really a great car for us and we can keep it either in Corpus or take it to Florida.

Bruce has been keeping a close eye on the zincs and making sure that everything is "ship shape" down under.  Our slip has electrolysis pretty bad and the zincs disappear within 6 months.  We have spares in hand and will be SO glad to get out of this slip and into some cleaner waters.

Even Jezabelle has had enough!
I have spent long hours on the computer researching financial institutions and working to get our online banking set up.  It won't be all ready by the time we leave, but it's getting close and all that remains can be done over the Internet.

I've become intimate with the mail man as he has made multiple trips to our door.  We've ordered spares and parts of every description.  Please let me not have missed something...

We have spent long hours troubleshooting a problem with a waste tank monitor we installed months ago.  We FINALLY got the issue resolved and the monitor is working nicely.  We have one more monitor yet to install... hopefully that gets done before departure.

We put together a new spinnaker pole starting from just the end pieces.  We sourced and collected all the parts to make a very nice pole for a fraction of the cost it would have been to purchase it pre-made  We did have a bit of trouble, but resolving it just took more time...

We've shocked the water tanks after getting another kind of little shock!  Look at that nasty stuff we found in our strainer!  By the time we sourced a new strainer (because that one leaked when we re-installed it) and got the tanks bleached and rinsed, the project took the better part of two days...

The list goes on and on and on.  These are the things that have filled our days.  We still have a couple of projects we would really like to finish before departure like mounting our life raft, installing the forward tank monitor and installing (creating) the mosquito netting for our hatches...

Origin of pic
We still have windows/hatches that need gaskets replaced, we still have provisioning to do...  and everything takes at least three times what we thought it would to complete... It's no wonder we're feeling like Cinderella.  The summer has come and gone and we've worked and sweated our way through it.  But please don't think that these are complaints... as it is very much the contrary.  We couldn't be more happy with all of the progress we've made.  I have enjoyed each and every sweaty, grimy, smelly day working alongside my husband in our efforts to get our dream off the dock.  We are SO CLOSE we can feel it.  Imagine it... in 15 short days... we will be off to the BALL!