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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where can You Save Money?!

Businesses are in business to make money. You're shocked by this, I know ;). But sometimes we forget, I know I do.

One night while reviewing my mobile phone statement, I thought why am I paying almost $90 a month or $1,080 a year for my mobile phone service? Well one reason was my data plan with Internet, which I dropped for a messaging plan that better fit my needs and saved $360 a year. I also looked at ways to save on my calling plan. While reviewing the options offered by my provider (AT&T), on their website, I noticed that the cost they were quoting, for my current calling plan, was less than what I currently pay by $5 a month or $60 per year. So I called AT&T and asked for the lower price, which they gave me. Now if I hadn't called, AT&T wouldn't have adjusted the price I was paying. You can't blame them, they are in business to make money. But that doesn't mean that I have to give them my money, blindly.

Review your service purchases, do you need them? Can you get the same service from the same provider for less? Remember the money that you save by reviewing the services that you purchase, stays in your pocket. Think of it as a raise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cost of Identity

There are a bunch of ready made identities available to you. Many people pull on identities and don't even know they are wearing them. They each have different costs associated with them.

For example, maybe you are a soccer mom. This identity has certain costs associated with it. You need to, for example, drive a mini-van or SUV; your kids have to be on a soccer team; some teams are traveling teams; and there are certain clothes that your kids will wear. Maybe you carry the identity of the sophisticated car aficionado. This will require you to drive particular cars; dress in particular ways; and subscribe to certain magazines. Another identity some carry is as a well heeled parent of a child in a private school. Now you have a certain level of clothing you will need; a nice car; and you will be attending events requiring you to out lay enough dough to prove you are well heeled. Cyclists, both of the motor and human powered variety, likewise carry an identity. Each must have a cycle and each must have particular clothes. For the bicyclist, a rack to carry your bike too is needed.

I've conducted a self analysis to figure out which identities I chose to carry. I'm an Ironman triathlete, that is one identity and has certain costs. I'm a boater, specifically a sail boater, and even more specifically, a catamaran boater. I'm also a money saver. This last identity cross cuts the others enabling us to do our big trip.

What are you? Who are you? Who do you claim to be? If you don't claim to be anyone, how much does that unique identity cost you? Some ready made identities are healthier from a finance perspective, others from a physical perspective, and still others cover both.

Next time you're driving along and you see bumper stickers on a car, notice how many are identity stickers. If there is a bumper sticker for an identity, you know it is ready made. They all boldly say, "I'm a [insert identity here]." It is a fun exercise that will highlight to you how many ready made identities there are. :) You can also begin to wonder why people feel they must share their identity on their car! Gee, why do I have my Ironman sticker on my car?

Monday, September 28, 2009

What is it Worth to You?

"To be or not to be" able to look up address and phone numbers on my mobile phone is the question. Is it worth $45 per month or $540 a year to have the ability to do my two or three look ups a month? Well, I decided no. I have better uses for that money.

I have chosen to drop my $45 a month data plan with my mobile service provider and go to a messaging plan that cost $15 a month. That's $30 per month or $360 per year savings and I'm only giving up my ability to access the Internet via my mobile phone, which I only used a couple of time a month anyway. I could tighten the belt more and drop the messaging plan too, but messaging is my primary way of staying in touch with my family. While we are always looking for way to save money, we are also practical.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stinky Sailor

Living on a boat is a physical challenge, one that provides a fantastic, continuous, workout. Consequently, sweat and body odor become a real issue. What do you do? Take a shower right? Sure, when there is plenty of water but on our boat we won't have hundreds of gallons of water so taking a shower each day is simply not an option. Hygiene, however, is critical and there are many ways one can take a "field" shower and avoid being nasty smelling.

Some sailors bathe in the ocean. They take their soap, shampoo, and conditioner and plunge in. This, however, can be rough on the skin if done too frequently (salt water is abrasive). Once a week is almost too frequent.

Some sailors do a towel bath. They jump in the ocean, get wet, jump out and take a towel soaked in fresh water and clean off. This one you almost get anyway each time you go for a swim in the sea. Just be sure to focus more on the washing part than drying.

Some sailors do a region wipe down. They take a soapy towel and simply wash the parts of their body that require a good scrub. I employed this technique a lot when I was in the Army.

Some sailors take a rain bath. Each day that it rains, they go out on the deck of the boat with shampoo and soap and shower in the rain. This is a favorite of mine and I look for excuses to do this. There is something exhilarating about showering in the rain.

Some sailors take baby baths. This technique isn't eco friendly, but it works well. Buy packs of baby wipes, and wash up using them. This one makes me feel refreshed.

While talking about showering, most folks don't think about it but there is a "best practice" when showering. Always do your wipe downs starting from your head, and end at your feet. That is, wash your head first, then neck, then chest, then upper back, then arms (and arm pits), then stomach, then lower back, then frontal stuff, then rear stuff, then thighs, then calves, and finally feet. This keeps moving the germs/filth away from your head where ingestion of such things can be detrimental.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Emails of Support

We continue to receive emails of support from around the world. Thank you for the encouragement.

At dinner time we often talk about the emails that come in. This usually leaves us even more excited than we were the moment before. Sometimes an email will be packed so full of excitement and energy that you can feel it. Here is one we received at the end of last month (with certain parts omitted to protect privacy) that captures this:
[email start]
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Sailing Trip
From: [Deleted]
Date: Thu, August 27, 2009 1:46 pm

Bill and Val,

You guys are awesome!!!

I was looking on the internet for a boat capable of sailing from California down the Pacific coastline to Panama and coming through the Panama Canal and hitting many spots in the Caribbean. My plan was to do this when I retire as I was going to try to find a boat somewhere in the 35’ range in California and then sell it at the end of the journey. I spoke to [DELETED] about it and she is up for it as well. Not too many women would be this open minded. Bill, you and I are the lucky ones J

[DELETED] We are both love the water and the tropics! We will need to learn how to sail….

We have been to many places in the world fishing and diving as well and enjoy all that life has to offer.

We hope to stay up on your journey and wish you the best of luck and beautiful sky to sail by. If you need anything back on land here in the states while you are gone…just give me an email or call [DELETED]

Take care,


[email stop]

The author and I are indeed fortunate. Both of us who have spouses that are enough like us to take a trip like this.

The author has a zest for life and is definitely a kindred spirit. I wish this person safe travels and I desire the chance to meet him, and his wife, out on the big blue.

Thanks, again, everyone for the support.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where does water come from?

A question that we get frequently is around fresh water. Specifically, if we are "out there" where will we get it? Rain. Rain will be our primary source of water, at least in locations where there is enough rainfall to sustain us.

Our boat has two 40 gallon fresh water tanks, plus we will have an untold number of jugs for water on the boat. When it rains, we will catch it in a large tarpaulin funnel fitted with an elephant's nose and route the water into our holding vessels.

The inquirer sometimes suggests using a salt to fresh water converter. The problem with these devices is that they require enormous amounts of energy ... more energy than we plan on creating on our boat.

What happens when we are in regions of the world where water is scarce? We will get it however the locals do. If that is from a faucet, so be it. Do we run the risk of getting some sort of water borne bug? Yes, but their are tablets that can help us avoid tainted water. Further, did you know that you can kill off those same bugs with bleach? There is a specific ratio of bleach to fresh water that can be followed to kill the bugs but not you. From some of the folks whom use this technique, we've learned that you can't even taste the bleach.

We often fall back on that somehow man has survived all these years, we too will make it just fine. While water is critical, obtaining water isn't our greatest concern. There is plenty of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Carrying Culture is Expensive

Finances are a key focus of realizing this trip. We spend a great deal of time thinking through, and learning from others about, them. One theme that we've picked up on is the cost of bringing culture with you is an expensive proposition.

Let's imagine that each member of our crew loves Cheese Whiz. It is loved so much that we cannot imagine doing the trip without it. What happens, while we are out sailing, when we run out? We buy more, right? Sure, but doing so will be far more expensive than when in the USA. As a product of the USA, Cheese Whiz anywhere outside of the USA will be more expensive than in the USA. It costs money to transport it. So, there we are, on our boat completely void of Cheese Whiz in Tonga. What do we do? If it is available locally, it will be more expensive than if we bought it back in the USA. We could attempt to have someone ship us a box of Cheese Whiz. That would be extremely expensive too, and maybe illegal. The solution? Make full immersion in local cultures part of the experience. If drinking Cow Whiz is what they do, you can bet it is cheap and probably okay for you so you might as well start drinking.

Somehow many people around the world survive just fine on yearly salaries of a few thousand dollars. If that is the case, then the price of food and necessary goods must fit within their budgets (government subsidies are not available in every country). Consequently, consuming the goods with the locals is the best way to keep costs within our budget. Carrying our culture with us would make this entire exercise much more expensive and would require us to delay the trip. Time to start drinking Cow Whiz!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are you a slave?

Slavery is still alive and well. There is an illusion that it doesn't exist in the US, but it does. It shows up, innocuously, in various forms. Slavery is bondage ... the state of being under the control of another.

One modern form of slavery that exists does so via indentured servitude. If you owe any entity money, you are an indentured servant. Period. You are beholden to them. Owe on your house? You are a slave to the mortgage holder. Do you owe on your car? Slave. Do you owe on credit cards? Slave. You are under their control. You better make your payments, or they punish you.

Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Well, you are another type of slave. You are a slave to your boss. You must pacify them so that you don't piss them off and get fired. You are not free to be you, you are only free enough to be what they want.

The road to freedom is simply the removal of external control. Does freedom equal happiness? Not for everybody. Most people want some form of control. We don't, so our lives are focused hard on removing control where we can. We accept that being part of society implies complete freedom isn't possible, but there are a whole categories of freedoms many people freely give up that they don't have to.

Are you a slave?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumnal Equinox/Vernal Equinox!!

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, then today is Autumnal Equinox. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth, then today is Vernal Equinox. It is one of two days of the year, when there is a moment in time, where the Earth's axis is tilted neither towards nor away from the Sun. It is also the day when there is 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. By the way, there is always 12 hours of daylight and night at the equator.

The Equinox will occur today at 21:18 UTC (roughly equivalent to GMT) or 16:18 EST.

One urban legends that is linked to Equinox is that you can balance an egg on its end during the equinox, but you can do that any day of the year(given enough patience).

Most American consider the Autumnal Equinox as the start of Autumn, but to most Asian cultures (including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) it represents the middle of the autumn season and is celebrated with harvest festivals.

So whether you consider today the beginning or middle of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere or the beginning or middle of Spring in the Southern, Happy Equinox!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

If you have not heard of this product, please allow me the pleasure of introducing it to you. It has to be the absolute best cleanser that I have ever used. Not only does it clean dirt and grim off everything from bath tubs to outdoor toys to boat fiberglass, it comes completely integrated with the applicator. All you have to do is remove the eraser from the package and add water. It's called an eraser, because that is exactly what it looks like, an eraser. How do you know when it's time to use a new eraser? Easy, when the current one disintegrates.

It's the GREATEST!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pushing Through

A few weeks ago I participated in a 5K fun run/walk. There were about 15,000 people at the event in celebration of health and wellness. At the command of "Go!", there was a mass migration forward and the runners took off. Some fast, some slow, but all forward.

At the first mile, I was feeling good and running an 8:50 mile. A bit faster than I wanted, but I felt good.

Around mile 2, the slight hills started to feel steep and the first pangs of pain began. A parade of "why am I doing this?" thoughts began. The blunt syringe needle stabbing my thighs senesation started. At that moment, I recalled that every other runner on the course, from the elite to the novice, was also feeling the same pain.

What separates those who finish with pride from those that feel disappointed? Those that push through the pain are the winners. Everyone was feeling it. The discriminator was those with the mental toughness to see it through. That was success. I wanted to be one who pushed through, not one that succumbed. Once that thought crossed my mind, the pain disolved for a few minutes. In a race lasting 26 minutes, a few minutes is huge.

As we go through life, we often forget that everyone experieces pain, in whatever form. The reality is, we all do. The reality is, we don't all handle it the same way. The winners recognize the differentiator between themselves and the loosers is how they handle the pain. Push through or succumb. I chose to push through.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Batteries: I've Been Meaning to...

Our last camp out was almost cancelled. We went to start the motor, but no power was going to the starter. The batteries appeared to be dead. This was bad, really bad. We use Deep Cycle Flooded Marine Batteries on the boat and they cost upwards of $200 each. We have four and when you replace one you have to replace ALL FOUR.

I was surprised that the batteries were dead, because we have 2-75watt Siemen Solar Panels on our arch (not shaded) and it had been really sunny. I instantly when into diagnose/ problem solving mode. I had been meaning to perform the maintenance on the batteries, but other things seemed to always take priority, well not today.

First thing I did was to make sure that the battery selector was on. If it had been off, then the starter would have had no power. The battery selector was on and pointed to Both (meaning both battery banks). Next, I checked the Photovoltaic Charge Controller and Battery Monitor. It indicated that charge was coming from the solar panels and that they batteries were over charged. Overcharged? I thought, how can this be. Then I started to remember the research I did on batteries, while preparing to do the battery maintenance. I remembered reading that sometimes when the water level in the batteries are low that the battery monitor will indicate that they are being overcharged. I turned the batteries off and opened the water fill points to the batteries. Well the water level in all four batteries were low. So low, that it took 1/2 a gallon of distilled water (in each) to bring the water back up to the proper level. Good thing that I had bought two gallons of distilled water in preparation to do the battery maintenance.

If I had done the maintenance earlier, we probably would not have had the issue. Good thing that I had been doing my research and had all of the items need to do the maintenance, so that our outing was not disrupted.

The battery maintenance finally got done ;).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maintenance as Entertainment

Maintenance as entertainment? Sure! During our last camp out, on the boat, we washed the boat for fun. Armed with a 5 gallon bucket, boat brush, and Simple Green cleaner we began our "cleantainment".

I tied a rope onto the handle of a 5 gallon bucket to lift water up onto the deck. Then I would pour the water over the deck and onto KJ and Dy as they scrubbed the deck with the boat brush. There was so much laughter that an onlooker would have never know that we where doing boat maintenance.

Any task can be fun and entertainment is everywhere!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guts to Go!

There is that moment of truth we all face. That moment of "Go!" It is that moment when you stare down out of an airplane at 13,500 feet ready to jump. It is that moment when you walk into your bosses office to ask for the raise. It is that moment you tell the person whom stepped in front of you in line to wait their turn. It is that moment you ask someone to marry you. It is that moment that you step on stage and speak to 1,500 people. It is that moment you put your toe on the line at a race. It is that moment you put all your worldly possessions, along with your most precious things (your family), on a sailboat and sail around the world. It is that moment, whatever it is, that you face the flight or fight response.

Having faced my share of fight or flight, and all of the aforementioned with the exception of sailing around the world ... that's coming, I began to wonder what sets people apart. This was spurred on by a conversation with my friend Steve, and kindred spirit, as he faces challenges.

What separates those that do take the risks and those that don't? When I look deep inside, at that moment of truth, that final moment, that last turning back is possible moment, what I find is stillness of mind ... a clarity of purpose ... almost no thoughts ... no thoughts of the consequences (positive or negative) ... only of the task at hand. In this moment, time slows almost to a stop. You feel like you have an infinite amount of time. I suspect it is here that for those that chose flight, doubt and negative consequences creep in. When I've trained, prepared, and considered an action fully, doubt never enters my mind at this crucial moment. The consideration part is crucial.

In my mind, before I face the moment, I've thought through the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. Without fail, in my mind I am able to figure out how I would recover from a negative consequence if one were to occur. Sure, they might be self delusional (like, if my parachute doesn't open, I will aim my body towards a lake to glide into the water), but very few moments we face in modern society have mortality consequences and all of the moments we face are recoverable. I have complete confidence that I can recover.

We all have different thresholds for what will constitute the fight or flight moment, but we all face them. Next time you're in that moment, study what happens to you. Are you able to take that step into the abyss, free of negative thoughts at that moment of truth? If you are not free of negative thoughts, then you won't take the step. Clear your mind and go. Take the step. Short of a stepping off an airplane at 13,500 feet, your negative consequence isn't likely to be mortal anyway.

So, you can sit on the sidelines and watch others do amazing things in life, or you can step out and be an amazing thing in life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Major Fix – Rudder Cage – Phase 5 Redux - Install Rudder Cage

Let's try this again. Yeah! We finally have completed our first major fix!! After the last time, I made doubly sure that nothing was missing.

I purchased a U-bolt from our local West Marine store and carried it and the rudder cage over to Capital City Machine Shop to have it welded. They had to cut the U-bolt down before welding it to the rudder cage (another $60). My mistake, I should have noticed that it was missing the first time around.

Again, we took everything to the boat. It took Bill a total of 30 minute to bolt the rudder cage onto the boat and then we took her out for a spin.

It's nice having her operational again!

To read all of the post on the First Major Fix click on the following links: Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4, and Phase 5

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Major Fix – Rudder Cage – Phase 5 - Install Rudder Cage

Yeah! We're finally ready to install the fixed rudder cage.

To recap: we removed the rudder cage, had the stainless steel welded, located and acquired the hex bolt that Bill lost to the lake and the marine grade bungee, and cleaned and cured the stainless steel. (See First Major Fix Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4).

We took everything to the boat. We replaced the old, worn bungee with the new 3/8 inch marine grade bungee. Bill was ready to get into the water, when we noticed it. A piece of stainless was missing from the rudder cage. How could we have missed it? A U-shaped piece of stainless on top of the rudder cage was missing. It is the point where we secure the steering lines from the outboard engine to the rudder cage. Now we could have tied the steering line to the rudder cage itself, but that would just look tacky.

So, off to the welder I go. It's a good thing that we noticed it before Bill got into the water and before we bolted it back onto the boat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Major Fix – Rudder Cage – Phase 4 – Scavenger Hunt

If you've been following along, you know we've gone through 3 phases in repairing the rudder cage (phase 1, phase 2, phase 3). When we discovered the broken weld on the rudder cage, I thought that I might have a tough time finding someone who could weld stainless steel, but a scavenger hunt never crossed my mind.

During the removal of the rudder cage, Bill dropped one of the 1/2 inch by 5 inches long stainless steel hex bolt into the lake. Most boat owners can tell you that no magnet rivals a lake for attracting metal ;).

So, I need to replace a bolt. Big deal. Just go the your local Home Depot or Lowe's, right? Wrong! The Home Depots and Lowe's in my area didn't carry stainless steel hex bolt and the local Ace Hardware carried the bolts, but not that long. So the hunt was on. I gain decided to let my fingers do the walking in the Real Yellow Page (metaphorically speaking). After several phone call, I came across a company called Star Stainless Screw company, in Norcross, GA. With the help of Ann, I was able to acquire 3 stainless steel hex bolts, 1/2 inch by 5 inches long, coarse thread. Thank You Ann!!!

I also needed to find 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch marine grade bungee to replace the bungee that looped through the rudder cage. Here again, I tried the local name brand hardware and marine stores. No luck. I was finally able to find the bungee at a place called General Hardware off Peachtree Road NE in Atlanta. This hardware store specializes in hard to find items and was like stepping back in time. The store was small, compared to Home Depot, and stuff was everywhere. When I walked in I thought, how does anyone find anything here. Answer, the staff. The staff seem to know every item in stock and it's location. My Dad would love this place.

Now that we have all of the components, it's time to install!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Habla Espanyolo! Parlez Vous Frencha! Hola Bonjour South America!!

We expect to set sail outside of North America's hurricane season. That means sometime between November and April. Given how I'm compensated at work and the amount of vacation time I'm granted, we expect to head out like in December, although we've not picked which December yet (this December is very very very very unlikely).

Our intent is to have our boat shipped to a marina in Mertle Beach, South Carolina in December. At the same time, Val will be taking a 5 day off shore sailing school and I will take KJ and Dy to Disney world. Once all that is done, we will drive out to South Carolina with Aunt Jenny and Aunt Iris (we won't own a car).

We will head for the Caribbean poking our way along the Eastern coast of the US. Once we jump off from the Keys (we expect around February), we will make our way to the Caribbean staying until April, then down towards South America below the hurricane zone.

We expect to spend the first year or so migrating south towards the Falkland Islands (Val wants to see Emperor penguins). As we move south, we plan on working on our Spanish. The intent is to use the Rosetta Stone product. Both Val and I have taken formal Spanish classes, but that was 20 plus years ago. That said, we expect with the right self learning materials and being completely immersed in the culture in South America (on the eastern side), all of us will be speaking well enough to add the language to our repertoire.

Once we've had our fill of the Eastern side of South America, including a visit to the Amazon River in our 18 inch draft boat, we will probably head north again, outside of hurricane season, to America to visit with family and take stock in the trip so far. Then back south to get to the other side of South America, were French is the language of choice. Back to the Rosetta Stone product.

Once we've had our fill on the Western side of South America, we will head off on the first big ocean crossing with our first major stopping place being the Galapagos Islands. Then we will be off south to Easter Island (I must see the Big Heads!), and all the magic islands there after (Cook, etc.)

Language skills for our girls will be critical ... and speaking Spanish will really help them. It is all part of the journey.

(yes, I know that the words in the title aren't all real words)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stop Thief!

When we returned to the boat from our 4 day outing, something was missing from my car. Someone took the tow ball assembly off. Multiple scenarios ran through our minds.... someone needed a tow ball to pull their trailer back, someone liked my shiny ball, and the last thought that crossed our minds was that some kids took it off my SUV and put it on another truck to try and incite some sort of incident. This is the first negative experience we've had in our marina. Could I have done something to prevent the theft? Absolutely. I could have taken the ball assembly off and kept it in my car ... I could have put some sort of locking nut on it ... maybe I could have hot wired it to my battery so that if someone were to touch it they would get a jolt. But I didn't, and my tow ball is gone. Am I angry? No. But I do have to decide how I'm going to respond. I could let it go, I could go on a tow ball hunt in the marina, or I would strongly desire something bad happen to the person/people whom removed the tow ball. Can I live without the ball? Yes, so I'm going to simply let this incident go. Whomever stole it, if they are regulars at the marina, will see me drive in and think they got something over me ("Ha! I stole his silver ball!"). That's cool. Have a ball amigo! Like attracts like, so be careful thief. Oh, it is a whole different world if you touch something important to me ... so I suggest you move on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Full On Orange

Have you ever experienced an orange? Not just eaten one, but really experienced it?

Sunday morning, KJ and I were sitting on the deck watching the fish jump in the lake. Val walked up top and brought us 2 oranges. "Perfect", I thought, "time to help KJ enjoy the moment." Val returned inside leaving KJ and I to enjoy the oranges.

The back drop for enjoying an orange is the 5 senses. Each one of them can be leveraged while eating anything, but the orange is a champ at delivering on all of them.

First up, the texture. I told KJ to close her eyes and hold the orange. She told me it was bumpy, but smooth. I asked her to smell it, and so she took a long kid type inhale. I asked her the color, she laughed, with her eyes closed and said, "ORANGE!" :)

We then slowly pushed our fingernails into the skin and we broken the outer layer free. Juice started to squirt causing more laughs as some of it hit her on her cheek. Her hands felt around the white pulp and she again smelled the fruit.

She then pushed her fingers into the oranges center so that she could break away the orange chunks ... these oranges were from Chile and were seedless, although KJ says they are from WalMart (I've got to fix that!).

As we peeled the sections apart, I told KJ to listen to the sounds. She heard the slight tearing sound. Then another sniff. We broke a few of the orange slices in half exposing the raw meaty part of the orange, with the fibrous insides fully exposed. KJ then took another whiff. "WOW! That smells GOOD!" KJ exclaimed.

"Are you ready to eat them?", I asked. "YES!" She took a slow bite from one of the orange sections. Her eyes wide open, like she was just given a present, she slowly chewed it. Once done she burst out with "it is the best Orange ever daddy!"

We talked about the various tastes, the sweet, the sour, and even the biting of the acid on her tongue.

The single Orange experience lasted a wonderful 20 minutes. She experienced real life at that moment; I experienced serious daddy pride as I helped her see the world. It wasn't about consuming an orange, it was about experiencing the orange.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's Important?

There were a few moments of ultimate clarity while on the boat over the Labor Day weekend. One particular moment crystallized the hamster race again. While gawking at the rising moon (it was a beautiful full yellow moon ... Val kept waiting for a witch to race by), in a quiet moment, the silliness of the hamster race came over me again. What is really important anyway? Title attainment? What is a title, other than a set of words put upon a person by another person? What silliness is that? Hence forth, I bestow upon myself the title "Bill King Ruler Pompus Rompus Magnus Bigus Overlord of the 83 Universes and CEO" Wow, I feel so much better. Time to start our journey.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What will you do?

During the holiday, we had 3 guests on board ... KJ and Dy's aunts, Iris, Jenny, and Linda. They were are first ever guests on the boat. They came out for 4 hours and we had hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, beer, soda, and some butternut squash/onions/cranberry concoction that was really good, or so I was told.

Having people come aboard is a strange experience. We were glad our first guests were family members that we adore. The boat is our home and opening our home to others isn't something we typically do. As we sat out on the foredeck, the conversation inevitably turned to our big trip. Aunt Linda, from Chicago, doesn't get as much time with us so she, along with aunt Iris, asked a series of questions about the trip that remind us how foreign such a trip is to most people.

The questions ranged from how will we get along when the girls get older (and the space seems to get smaller) to what our daily activities would be like to do the girls get bored (we don't have TV or video games on the boat) to how will we prevent sun damage to our bodies. For us, we think about the trip all the time and the answers to these questions seem very obvious.... so it is fun to share out loud with someone whom cares about us and our trip the answers.

Our favorite question is always the question about Time... what will we do each day. Or, how will we fill our time. This particular question really highlights how different our world is from others. In the daily hamster race, everyone seems to have their days packed with things like a paying job, shows they like to watch, people they like to spend time with, and so forth. For us on the boat, our day will be crammed with time working on the boat, reading, thinking, talking, playing board and card games, exploring, cooking, sleeping, exercising, learning, drawing, playing music, swimming, watching, listening to odd sounds, smelling different aromas, tasting new foods, and so much more. While some wonder what how they would fill the time, we are concerned there won't be enough hours in the day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Snakes, Bats, Careening Cars, Ants, Bats, Fireworks, and Bushes

Ahhh, the Labor Day 80 or so hour sail is over. It is amazing just how remote and distant ones mind can be when aboard a boat for 4 days, even just 15 miles from the big city.

We set out Friday morning with only one minor issue (engine wouldn't start), and once that was resolved, I pushed the engine up to 5000 RPM and we motored across the lake at 6.5 knots. The lake was relatively calm and not many boats sharing the space. 1.5 hours later, we hit our favorite anchorage and we set up shop for the weekend.

As we get more and more comfortable with our boat and our skills, there is more time to enjoy the surroundings and its details. This trip we observed a number of new things. We watched as a snake swam out towards the middle of our lagoon, we watched some bats chase insects at dusk, we watched a car lose control on the top of the dam and careen off the guard rail after crossing the center line, we watched some fireworks celebrating the weekend, we watched KJ and Dy's aunts as they made their way out to the boat, and finally, we watched a young lady get totally naked on the shore! Yes, she was totally buff! Naked as a Jay bird, save a set of cowboy boots and hat. The hat did come off though. It was some sort of photo shoot as there was special lighting put up and poses being made. Did I take pictures? Did I take pictures? Of course I did! They wouldn't be appropriate for this website however. :)

The days were full of story reading, imagination games (what does that cloud look like), sensory exploration (how to really experience an orange, not just eat it), and more. Unfortunately, Monday morning came and we had to head back. We left by 7, but I kept the speed low (around 3.5 knots), so the journey back took nearly 3 hours.

There were many times that we could easily transport ourselves to the ocean and our big trip. The journey can't come soon enough for us.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

It is Labor Day. Wow. End of summer. We've had a particularly mild summer here in Atlanta and fall already feels like it is here.

Labor Day originated in Canada in the early 1870s to highlight the working class and its needs. In the US, the first Labor Day celebration happened in New York on September 5th, 1882. Over time it became an official US holiday that is celebrated with parades and speeches by politicians. It also became a day of "rest" .... e.g., no work. So today, I celebrate with all my heart this unnecessary holiday by resting, watching boat parades, and enjoying some fireworks. Happy Labor Day, y'all!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Getting the Dinghy

Well, we received our dinghy, which was drop shipped from Pelican International. We had the dinghy delivered to my sister's house since she lived closer to our marina. The boat came via FedEx Freight and was wrapped in plastic and some small bubble wrap.

Now that we had the dinghy, the next question was how to get the 10'3" dinghy to the marina? Since it only weighed 112 lbs, we decided to load it ontop of Bill's SUV and tied it down with rope and straps. Then we drove the 20 miles to the marina at a speed under 45mph. We didn't drive faster, because we didn't want it to pop off and hit the vehicle behind us. I saw a mattress do that on GA400 once and it wasn't pretty.

Once we got to the marina we unloaded and unwrapped the dinghy. Then Bill and I carried it down the dock to our boat. Once we sat it down we noticed a 2 to 3 inch gouge that went through the dinghy on one side. The gouge is located right in the middle of the dinghy. It looks like a forklift blade pushed right through the Ram-X hull.

Needless to say, we are disappointed. Now, I have to contact Gander Mtn and find out what to do next. I'm taking it in stride. Things happen.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Right Dinghy for Us

Sailing a boat is a lot of fun! But sometimes you want to go ashore without having to pull into a marina, up to a dock, or grounding your boat on the beach. A dinghy comes in real handy. So, we have been searching for the right dinghy for us.

There are various types of small boats that can be used as dinghies. Inflatables, inflatables with hard bottoms, kayaks, canoes, fishing, utility, and even a boat that folds up; to name a few. After looking at what other boaters have and reading reviews we decided to go with a ridged utility boat from Pelican International called the Scorpio.

The Scorpio is 10'3" long, 61" wide, rowboat with a maximum weight capacity of 520 lbs. The boat also has prefab motor mount that can handle a 7 hp outboard engine. From all of the reviews, the boat is very stable and durable. It's made with Ram-X, which is known for its high impact-resistance, its ability to regain its initial shape after a violent impact, and its UV-protected exterior finish.

Compared to selecting a retailer, selecting the boat was the easy part. All of our local sporting goods stores offered the boat on their web sites, but not in the stores. Apparently, all of the retailers have it set up so that the manufacturer drop ships the boat, to the consumer. The price of the boat ranged from $699 to $899, plus shipping and taxes (none of the local retailers allowed for the boat to be shipped to the store). These costs pushed the boat to over $1,000, a little more than we wanted to pay. So, I kept looking for a retailer. We finally purchased the boat from Gander Mtn. The total cost was approximately $850. We chose Gander Mtn, because of the price, lower shipping cost, no sales tax (no retail stores in GA), and we had a 10% off coupon code :).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Obtaining Free Food, legally

The power of being nice at places we frequent continues to amaze me. Tuesday I had free $13 lunch at my favorite spot, and this wasn't the first free thing I've obtained from the place. I've had free beer, burritos, and tacos too. I've had 50% taken off my bill twice before. Yet, I've spend very little of my own money there.

How does all this work? It works by being a repeat customer whom makes himself known to the management staff. It works by bringing friends, family, and co-workers to their place. It works by being nice, and fun, to the waitstaff. It works by being the type of customer whom seems to be having a great time so that when other patrons come in, they pick up the vibe and have a good time too.

Does all this imply work? sure, to some degree.... but I have to eat anyway, and I personally enjoy eating free. When I come in, the management staff recognize me on sight, call me by my name, and they come and chat with me for a few minutes. They deal with asshole customers all day, and here I come in and am a pleasure to deal with. The waitstaff, especially the new ones, notice the extra attention I'm getting from the management and they too pour on the niceties. The management often carries my food out and again chats with me. Many times there will be something extra on the plate, or some comment like, "we've got you covered today."

What do I talk with them about? Anything I would talk with a friend about if they worked there. I ask how business is going. I ask how their career is going. I ask if they've had any particularly hard customers. I ask if they are doing anything interesting on their day off. I ask how their family is doing. It is all very easy.

The folks whom work in restaurants bust their asses and deal with jerks while not making much money. It is quite easy to set yourself apart from the crowd by simply being nice and social to them. If you do this repeatedly at the same place, a place you particularly like, you will find all sorts of freebies thrown your way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not All Stainless Steel are Equal

You know the old adage, "You should learn something new every day"? Well, when you own a boat you never have to be concerned about that. I'm always learning something new, whether it is about the boat, sailing, mechanical systems, fiberglass, food, or even stainless steel. Lately, I've been focused on stainless steel, as if you couldn't guess ;).

The latest thing that I have learned is that not all stainless steel is made equal. There are numerous grades of stainless steel and some are more noble (the higher the quality) than others. So with all of these different grades of stainless steel, how do you know if yours is more noble? Well, there is a test. All you have to do is take a strong magnet and hold it to the stainless steel. If the magnet is attracted to the stainless (strong pull toward the stainless, sticks right to it and holds on tight) then your stainless steel is less noble. If the magnet is somewhat attracted to the stainless (weak pull, may stick to the stainless, but is easily pulled off) then your stainless is more noble.

On a boat, we want the highest quality of stainless steel we can get. So it's time to get out the magnets and test every screw, bolt, nut, and every other piece of metal on the boat. It's sort of fun, as long as a majority of them are high quality stainless steel ;).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

4 Days Home

In a few more days, we will be heading off for our 4 day weekend on our boat, our home. It has been about 5 weeks since we've slept overnight on the boat. With my travels, rudder cage problems, and such we've not been able to fully enjoy our home. Ugh.

The anticipation is palpable. Each day KJ asks, "are we going to the boat today daddy?" She can see the provisions starting to stack up around the apartment. I also want to ask if we are going to the boat today. I can't wait either.

The weather looks good. It should be in the mid 80s and there is only a 20% chance of rain on Saturday. The winds are predicted to be light most of the day. Our plans have us anchoring up in our favorite spot and staying put.

In addition to finishing off the provisioning, there are a few things that still need to be addressed. The first is remedying out dingy situation. The second revolves around our boom and mast.

We purchased a dingy about 3 weeks ago ... and, well, it was dingy. When it arrived it had a hole in it. From the shape of the hole, it looks like a fork lift arm ran into it. I'm sure Val will post the gory details of the episode along with pictures, but needless to say, the dingy is on its way back home and we are dingyless again. We enjoy having a dingy on the boat as it makes runs to shore so much more simple, so we may be picking up another dingy this Friday.

The other thing that we have to address is the boom on the main sail needs to be re-seated. It looks like it is sliding out a tiny bit, so on Friday we will push it back into its proper position.

We are 2 work days out from going aboard and sailing away mentally for a few days..... imagining the life of living aboard full time. We are all very excited and we can't wait be back on our rocking home.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cheap Stainless Steel Polish

Maintaining a boat is a never ending story. Every time we go to see Ariel, we do something. Whether it's checking the batteries, washing the outside of the boat, oiling the teak, or polishing the stainless steel; something always needs to be done.

A big choice in doing theses kinds of upkeep maintenance is what to use. We could buy the "specially formulated for boat" products, which translates into expensive or we can use simple home cleaners. For instance, you can clean stainless steel with a simple paste of baking soda and water, scrubbed with a piece of aluminium foil. You can also polish your stainless steel with "Pledge" lemon furniture polish. Just spray the lemon scented furniture polish onto the stainless or a soft cloth and rub. Not only with the stainless steel shine, but will also be protected from corrosion. The citric acid aids in preventing rust on stainless steel. If you don't want to use lemon furniture polish or none is available, you can always use lemons. Lemon juice also aids in preventing rust, but it doesn't help with the shine.

So, whether your stainless steel is on a boat or in a home, don't shell out the extra cash on a stainless steel polish when you probably have something that would work just as well at home.