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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Change in Course

Over the past few weeks, we've been experimenting with Facebook and we've decided that we would continue to chronicle our journey on that system rather than this blog.

The decision has been a toughie as there are many people following our journey here. However, we believe the Facebook platform will provide us all a better mechanism to stay connected.

We've created a Sailboat Family Facebook Fan Page, and we would love for you to join us there.

Our evolution towards the Sailboat Family Life continues; as we go we learn of ways to morph and change to enhance the experience. Our Internet presence is no exception to change, with the first foray as a humble web page, next a monthly chronicle was added, this was followed by entry into the blogosphere, and now to Facebook land we go. Who knows what will be after that!

While remaining laser focused on a goal, one should not be blind to opportunities that enhance the experience. The destination may not change, but currents do. Ride the currents when they suit you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thinning continues

The boat has nearly every item in it we will need for the trip ..... all the toys, tools, food, and clothes thereby making everything else we own, that isn't on the boat, superfluous. As a consequence, we've begun a massive purge of items in our tiny apartment.

Over the past 8 days, we've dispensed with 21 bags of stuff. Where did that 21 bags come from? We've been vigilant about not adding things to our life, and yet there are the 21 bags. Looking through them, toys and clothes make up the bulk. But there were other items too, like a walking stick, that somehow magnetically drew itself to us.

There are a number of after thoughts that came about after this purging exercise. Firstly, we had too much stuff. 75% of it was never used .... it just sat there (walking sticks don't walk themselves). Secondly, even with the trip being our family focus, items slip in under the wire. One exception here, one exception there, and a few years later you have 21 bags of stuff. Thirdly, stuff is deceptive and is able to fill space hiding itself.

As we work towards our goal of moving onto the boat, we will need to hold these purging events more frequently. Better yet, we will not allow more stuff in but I suspect stuff will still appear!

21 bags is a lot, but we have more. Time for another run to Goodwill.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


While in England last week, I was able to make it to Stonehenge.

The structure is a collection of massive stones sitting out in the middle of no where with no rock quarry near by. It is believed to have been assembled around 2500 B.C. There are about as many theories regarding its purpose and origin as their are people.

The people vibe, in the area, is much like Sedona Arizona. There is wonder and amazement in the eyes of people as they circle the structure. There is a feeling of magic in the air.

But these are just rocks. The power of these "just rocks" lies in them sitting in an unexpected location. The power of these "just rocks" lies in them arranged in an unexplainable way. The power of these "just rocks" lies in the people whom look at them and wonder.

The lesson for me is that even if someone is just a "rock", if they are in the right arrangement, in the right place, and viewed by the right people, they can be magical.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Water Park Skill Development

As a way to celebrate the hard work of employees and the contributions of families, yesterday my office had a day at the Lake Lanier Islands Water Park. We played and played and played. The Lake Lanier Water Park has water fun houses, slides, tube rides, wave pools, beach action, water playground, and even one of those toilet bowl rides where the end is a free fall into a deep pool.

We took advantage of the water park and used it as a way assess how our daughters would do in a chaotic water environment. We didn't do drills per se, but we issued various commands, watched when they would try to float and when they would try to swim, studied their decision choices, measured their boldness, and so forth. They both did good given their ages. We did see, however, that more work must be done. I guess that means more water park time! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

HMS Victory

HMS Victory in Portsmouth, England

For the past 9 days, I've been in England on a business trip with Winchester (South England) as a base. Fortunately, there were no meetings over the weekend and that allowed for a bit of touring. A group of colleagues rented a car and off we went. One of the most interesting stops was in Portsmouth, right on the English Channel. There is a fantastic Navel museum there with the pride and joy artifact being the HMS Victory.

The HMS Victory is an amazing sailing vessel with many navel victories under her belt. As I walked from deck to deck (there were about 7 of them), I was struck by how low the ceilings were; the deeper I descended, the more hunched over I had to be. About 800 sailors were aboard at any one time, and the thoughts of them moving about in the confined spaces makes one almost feel squished. With oceans wave action, cannons firing, commands being shouted, no doubt those seamen had one hell of a job. According to the tour guide, the cannons (over 100 of them) could be heard for over 50 miles when fired so I'm sure those on board had no hearing by the time they completed their duty. It is also worth sharing that it was aboard HMS Victory that Vice Admiral Nelson was shot and killed. Their are plaques aboard the boat marking the exact spot of each (he was shot while on top deck but he died on the lowest deck).

Seeing the massive scale of all the ships components and the rudimentary system sure does give a different perspective into todays modern boats. The HMS Victory is quite different than our little Ariel!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Boat Hair - KJ's First Hair Cut

When should a child get their first hair cut? I believe the answer depends on the child. In the case of crew member KJ, she was 4 years 8 months old. It was KJ's decision to cut her hair and Bill agreed.

Bill and I believe that we should teach our girls about how to make decisions, as soon as they can comprehend the concept. KJ and her Dad have been getting close to making a decision on when she should get her first hair cut, for the past year. But we knew that her hair would be cut before we started our adventure. Very long hair gets really tangled in the wind and on a sailboat there is usually wind (we hope ;)).

The decision to cut her hair came after our long 4th of July weekend, at the boat. KJ's hair was really tangled and a bear to brush. So many tears :(. A couple of days later, KJ told me she wanted her hair cut and Bill gave me the go-a-head.

One pony tail and a couple of snipes from the scissors and KJ's hair is 9" shorter, but still well below her shoulders. With the baby hair gone, her hair looks and feel healthier and is a lot easier to brush. KJ love her shorter hair.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


In the cruising world, one major nemesis is trash. Most of the books and blogs that I have read on cruising suggest taking food out of its original container and store it in some kind of reusable storage. This not only cuts down on the amount of plastic and paper trash, but also helps keep various insects off the boat.

Based on recommendations from cruiser forums, blogs, and books the best solution for us is Tupperware. Continuous usage of an item requires it to be reliable and durable. Testimonials from the above mentioned references, all highly recommend Tupperware over any other brand of storage.

With the solution in hand, we started pricing new Tupperware and developed a case of sticker shock. New, just a couple of pieces can run upwards of $50. Based on our storage plan, we were going to need a lot, but we weren't willing to drop $500 or more on new Tupperware. We decided to try ebay.

While searching on ebay, I could not believe how many results came up for Tupperware, over 30,000. That's a lot of Tupperware! After looking at a lot of listings, we bid on a few and won a listing that had over 70 pieces of vintage(used) Tupperware for a total of $50.82 (included shipping).

The Tupperware was in great shape and I was amazed at how much each container could hold. We have filled and labeled all of the various pieces of Tupperware. They now reside on Ariel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ground Tackle Acquisition - Chain, Rode, Claw

With all of the modifications and upgrades that we have made to our Gemini 3200, we thought it was time to upgrade some of our most important equipment, ground tackle.

When we purchased our boat back in June 2009, it came with 2 fair sets of anchor, chain, and rode. Our future plans call for us spending most of our time at anchor; therefore, additional chain and rode are a necessity.

The upgrades to our ground tackle include: 100 feet of 5/16 BBB chain with 150 feet of 1/2 nylon rode, 60 feet of 5/16 BBB chain with 150 feet of 1/2 nylon rode, stainless steel anchor shackles, and 33 pound claw anchor.

You know, insurance companies are always reminding people to re-evaluate their insurance as it relates to changes in their lives. We believe that ground tackle is the most valuable insurance you can have on a boat. With the additions to our ground tackle equipment, we believe that we are more than adequately insured ;).

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Wraps for Lines and Shore Cord

Have you ever thought, I need something to keep "X" from coming uncoiled? On our Gemini 3200, the "X" is numerous.

I've been thinking for some time on how to keep things from coming uncoiled that would not cost a lot, if any, money.

The idea of the wrap came from a marine chandlery that we call "Tiffany's," because of their prices. I was browsing through their catalog when I came across wraps priced from $1.99 to $6.49, depending on material. The wrap looked so simple, I decided to make them.

Using webbing, velcro, and Beulah, I made two wraps in less than 5 minutes for less than $.25 each. The wraps are a piece of 12" long webbing with 2" of velcro. Just sew the loop part of the velcro on one side of the webbing, at the end, and the hook part of the velcro on the other side, at the opposite end. That's it. (Note: Make sure to sear the ends of the webbing or cut it using a hot knife, because it likes to ravel.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cleaning Boat Grill

Above picture is after the cleaning. I wish I had taken a before picture.

Before you think about throwing a grill away, try cleaning it with Easy Off Oven Cleaner (in the yellow canister). You will be amazed at what it can do, I know it amazed me.

Preparing for our adventure, we knew that we wanted the ability to grill. Not only because we like to grill, but it gives us a backup to our stove and not cooking in the galley will help keep the boat cooler, when it is hot.

We acquired a Magma grill when we purchased our Gemini 3200 , a year ago June, but we never used it. The reason we never used it was it looked terrible on the inside and it would not stay lit. We were considering throwing it away, but we thought that we should try to clean it.

I cleaned it using Easy Off Oven Clean, in the yellow canister. Basically, I sprayed (coated) the inside of the grill with Easy Off, closed the lid, and allowed it so sit in the sun for 4 hours. When I came back and rinsed the grill, I was amazed. The grill almost looked brand new and now appears to be working. I guess it just needed a really good cleaning.

I'm so glad that we tried to clean the grill before throwing it way. The $3.54 cost of a canister of Easy Off saved us from purchasing a new marine grill with prices starting around $150.

Tip: I would not use the Easy Off near anything that is painted. It took the green paint off the propane canister.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Igloo 165 QT Cooler

It is hard to keep things cold on a boat. That is no longer the case on our Gemini 3200. Other day, we purchased an Igloo 165QT MaxCold Travel Cooler for Ariel.

Igloo advertises that this cooler keeps ice for 7 days in 90 degree temperatures, holds up to 280 -12oz. cans hold, has a quick-access hatch, and is made with Ultratherm insulation for maximum cold retention. The durable outside has UV inhibitors incorporated into the plastic, I desire that this translates into longevity.

This cooler is approximately 42" long, 18" wide, and 22" high and will take up valuable space in the cockpit.

Like almost everything that goes on our Gemini 3200, it has to have more than one purpose. The cooler will not only store things that we want to keep cold, it will also double as a helm set. Our existing helm seat is a Garelick pilot chair (looks like bar stool). The reasons we are making the change are that we felt the chair would be a hazard in rough seas and one of the seat welds broke on our last cruise.

We are looking forward to putting the cooler on Ariel. With this addition, the cockpit will be safer, we can keep cold things longer, and more than one person can sit at the helm at the same time. (Cup holders are a bonus ;))

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cockpit Cushion Covers

N0w that the settee cushions on our Gemini 3200 have been refreshed, I wanted to do something to brighten up our boat cockpit without spending more than $50. The solution was to make covers for our existing cockpit cushions.

The existing cockpit cushions are closed cell foam covered in a designer phifertex fabric. The cushions are fantastic, because neither the phifertex nor the close cell foam absorb water. So they not only serve as seat cushions, but also could be used as flotation aids. The cushions would be perfect, except they look drab and the phifertex fabric is not comfortable.

After exploring different options, I happen upon a project posted to Sailrite's facebook page were someone used beach towels to recover their cockpit cushions. The great thing about using beach towels is that the towels could be used for multiple purposes and they wouldn't take up valuable storage space.

I started my search for the right beach towels. I was fortunate to find towels that matched the interior color palette at Target for $9.99. I purchased 4 towels.

To make the cover, I wrapped an existing cushion in a towel and pinned it in place. Then I pinned velcro to the towel and sewed it into place using my LSZ-1 Ultrafeed sewing machine.

The cover installation takes only a minute. Just place a cushion on a towel and wrap it in the towel like a present. The velcro functions as the tape.

I love the new look and can't wait to try them out the next time we are in Savannah.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Settee Cushions Redo - Materials and Cost

Recently, I completely remade the settee cushions for our Gemini 3200. I did not go into details about how to make the cushions, because Sailrite's dvd gives all of the detail and they are the experts. I do want to share with y'all the list of materials and cost. Maybe this information can help someone looking at redoing their settee or other large upholstery project.

Our Gemini 3200 has six large cushions (3 back and 3 seat cushions) that make-up the settee. The back cushions are basically rectangles and two of the cushions are mounted on plywood with a teak back plate, so no need to cover the back of the cushions with material. The three seat cushions were irregular in shape and a little more challenging.

All-in-all, this project took 65 hours for me, to complete. (This was my first big sewing project and the first time I had ever installed zippers. The Sailrite dvd was the only reference I used and it was the only one that I needed.) I think that now that I have some experience, this project would take less time for me to complete.

All of the materials for this project were purchased from Sailrite, except the foam which was purchased from my local Joann's. Note: I was able to use coupons/sale discounts to purchase all of the materials.

The list and quantity of material below was sufficient to make 2 back cushions - 65"x14"x2", 1 back cushion - 74"x14"x3", 2 seat cushions - 62"x20"x4", and 1 seat cushion 69"x24"x4".

Materials from Sailrite:
12 yards of Naugahyde Universal Pure White 54" - $155.40
180 yards Deluxe Vinyl Emossed Welting/Piping Pure White - $ 99.00
1 1oz Spool plus 25yards of V92 White Thread -~$ 5.00
2 #10 White 72" Zippers - Single Locking Plastic - $ 19.90*
2 #10 White 60" Zippers - Single Locking Plastic - $ 17.40*
1 Sailrite "Make Your Own Cushions" DVD - $ 19.95
Shipping from Sailrite - $ 15.24
Minus 10% Discount ($ 31.66)
Total from Sailrite: $300.23

* Note: Single locking zipper is hard to sew around, at the ends. I recommend using non-locking zipper for this type of project. That way the slider and lock don't get into the way. (Wish I had known.)

Foam from Joann's: (Note all of the foam was purchased with 40% to 50% off discounts)
2-2"thick x65" long x 24.5" wide $ 67.22
1-3"thick x 74" long x 24.5" wide $ 52.78
2-4"thick x 62" long x 24.5" wide $114.57
1-4"thick x 69" long x 24.5" wide $ 58.44
Total from Joann's: $293.01

Other Materials/Instruments Used:
12 1/2"Brass Grommets
1 #18 Sewing Machine Needle for Ultrafeed Machine
Beulah (our Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Machine)
Good Office Stapler
Box of Staples
Heavy Duty Stapler and Staples for Cushions with Plywood backs
Staple Puller
1/2" Die Set to install Grommets
Flat Head Screwdriver
Yard Stick
10' Measuring Tape
Seam Ripper

Time: ~65 hours

Total Cost of 6 extra large cushions $593.24. This cost does not include the cost of time or my Ultrafeed LSZ-1. However, with the completion of this project, Beulah (my Ultrafeed LSZ-1) has more than paid for herself, my sewing skills have improved, and Ariel feels and smells fresher.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maintenance for LSZ-1 Ultrafeed Sewing Machine

Recently, I finished the first big project on my Sailrite LSZ-1 Ultrafeed sewing machine, named Beulah. The project was sewing six new cushions for our settee, on our Gemini 3200. (The smallest cushion was 62"x22"x4".) Beulah was really working hard and loving every minute of it.

Shortly after threading the machine with a new spool of thread, I began to hear a new noise coming from the machine. After I heard it for the fifth time, I stopped sewing. It sounded like metal hitting something. I pulled out my sewing machine manual to see if I could determine where the sound was coming from.

The manual stated that the machine needs to be "oiled frequently," but what constitutes frequently. My gut was telling me that I needed to oil Beulah (my machine). That's exactly what I did and she sounded beautiful again.

The thing I learned was that my machine"Beulah" needs to be cleaned and oiled every time 1 oz or 250 yards of thread is used. This is how frequent my LSZ-1 Ultrafeed needs to be cleaned and oiled.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Signs of Drowning isn't like in the Movies

In studying this life style, a critical area of study is water safety. Within water safety, when you boil it down, there are a few key bad situations: drowning and hypothermia. It is the former that is the subject of this post as my researching into it revealed some interesting tidbits, the key among them is that drowning does not in any way look like what is seen in the movies.

In 2011, in the USA, it is predicted that 375 children will die drowning while being 25 yards or less away from an adult and that 37 of these kids will drown and the adult will see it actually happen but unaware of the signs of drowning!

This scary stuff, along with the signs of drowning and a ton more real deal sea safety information, is available from a rescue helicopter swimmer's personal website MarioVittone.com. Mario's candid raw style is fantastic.

From the Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning article on Mario's site, the key reason that drowning doesn't look like drowning is that the primary philological capability that trumps all others is respiration and when drowning, the entire body shuts down except for this one critical operation. Therefore, things like yelling, trashing, etc. just simply isn't possible. So what does it look like? Mario shares Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D, description from a Coast Guard magazine. It includes the following 5 key signs (as quoted for Mario's site which quotes the magazine article):

  • Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  • Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  • Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  • Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  • From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
Powerful stuff. Please forward and share.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Settee Cushions Redo - Part 2

Six large cushions later, the settee is fresh and new! I finished the last two seat cushions just before we left for the July 4th weekend in Savannah and assembled them, as soon as we arrived.

The assembly consisted of me shoving the foam into the cushion covers I made. (I did not assemble the cushions in Atlanta, because we had to travel with them and to make the best us of space, I had to fold the foam.) You can see from the photo that I needed to work the foam, so that the it fills in all of the turns. The bottom cushions looked smoother after working the foam, with only one or two rolls in the fabric. If these don't smooth out within the next month or so, I will add a little batting. This will make the cushions fuller, thus removing the rolls.

I finished off the settee with two outdoor pillows from Cost Plus World Market.

We wanted the boat for feel fresh and tropical. I think that we have accomplished those feelings in the main saloon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sailrite's Customer Service

Sailrite's customer service is awesome! I have only had positive experiences every time I have interacted with someone from this company.

Within the last month, I began having an issue with the posi-pin on my LSZ-1 Ultrafeed sewing machine. The pin would disengage while I was sewing and spring out of the fly-wheel. Since the pin engages the needle, you can not sew without it. (This was a pain, because I was working on the settee cushion project and was in the "sewing grove".)

I sent a message to Sailrite, asking for assistance. Before Sailrite could write back (within 5 minutes), I found a work-a-round. I simply removed the spring from the posi-pin and re-inserted the pin into the fly-wheel. Problem solved. This work-a-round allowed me to finish my cushions and to re-connect with Sailrite at a later time.

This past week, I finally got around to re-connecting with Sailrite. My original message asking for assistance received a response within 1 1/2hours of sending it. I think this is very good, since I sent the message at 8:30 pm. The response stated that the detent ball, in the pin, had probably popped out and I needed a new posi-pin. The message also stated that "If your machine is newer, it is covered by warranty. Call 800-348-2769 to check on a warranty replacement." Well, my machine was new, but I had not gotten around to registering the warranty with Sailrite and I could not find my warranty card. I thought that could be an issue, since the warranty card was suppose to be sent in within 30 days of purchase.

No issue at all. I called the warranty department, emailed the information requested on the warranty card, and called back to place my order for a new posi-pin. All I had do was pay the first class mail postage for shipping of the pin. What a great company!

Over the years, my family has interacted with the warranty departments of several "big" companies, but we have never received better service than the service we received from Sailrite.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Semi-Autonomous Fly Eradication System for Boats

Armed with advanced fly eradication devices, these 2 warriors set about to rid of our boat of the pesky bugs in fine fashion! With this picture, you get a sneak peek into our cabin since Val has redone the insides. You will notice the new settee cushions, fresh curtains, and Savannah area maps rolled up on the navigation station. Val will be blogging with shots of the interior soon.

Oh, notice the screen is a bit curled up on the corner? Maybe that is how the flies got in. Some of those suckers, flies, were HUGE! They make horse flies seem like mites!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Marking Anchor Chain With Electrical Tape On Dock

[KJ and I marking anchor chain lengths with electrical tape]

Our 5/16th BBB 100 foot chain came in! It is a brute! Perfect! After inspecting all the links, KJ and I sat down to measure off 20 foot lengths and to mark it.

There are many systems for marking chain, and there are plenty of "devices" you can buy to mark both the chain and rode. KJ and I marked the chain and rode with electrical tape. This approach will require maintenance (e.g. retaping periodically), but didn't cost us any additional out of the pocket money as we already had 5 colors of electrical tape from other work I had done.

Our procedure was rather simple. We marked our dock with 2 pieces of tape 20 feet apart. We then ran the chain back and forth between the marks. At each turn of the chain, we put some tape on. Not just a turn or two, but multiple wraps. For the rode, we unwound the rope strands enough to insert flags of tape.

Coloring on chain markings is another one of those areas where there are lots of opinions and approaches. Some folks have tried to standardize the approaches, and while they make sense, I went with a technique that is simple enough for our family.

Every different color on a given section represents 20 feet. For example, at 40 feet, you will find 2 different colors of tape. The colors don't matter in our system, just that there are different colors. At 60 feet, you will find 3 different colors, at 100 feet, 5 colors. We did the same approach with the rope. When all the chain is paid out, plus 2 colors of rode, we know we are at 140 feet of total ground tackle out (100 feet of chain plus 2 colors of tape on the rope).

Keep in mind, we don't have a windlass, so there are no binding issues.

In addition to the maintenance issue noted, if our chain ever has to be cut, then we would have to peel off some of the tape on the chain as well as keep the new length in mind as we spool it out if we get into the rope section.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PFD - Stearn Sospenders Auto Inflate With Harness

[Val sporting the Sterns Sospenders AutoInflate PFD with Harness]

Based on our research, the Sterns Sospenders became our Personal Flotation Device (PFD) of choice. The easy pick would have been Mustang, but after reading lots of reviews, we decided that the Sospenders would fit the bill perfectly. These are in addition to our standard, old school orange, manual PFDs.

Prices on the Internet for these particular PFDs are $179.97, but we sourced them in Savannah at a store called River Supply for $161. Plus, because of the recommendation and affiliation of our marina with River Supply, River Supply knocked off another 10 bucks per PFD! Thank you Mr. Long at Sail Harbor Marina AND Pat at River Supply.

Val and I wore these PFDs every time we were underway (our family rule), and we both forgot we were wearing them! We didn't test out the auto inflation feature (triggered when submerged and powered by a CO2 cartridge), but Val did try out the manual inflation and they both worked just fine.

Oh, River Supply's web site is atrocious. If you want something, call them (1-800-673-9391, ask for Pat and tell him that the Sailboat Family sent you!).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trolling in the Atlantic With Homemade Fishing Lures Made From Cans

With our first trip out to the Atlantic, KJ and I decided we would go fishing …. specifically trolling. We made our own homemade lures to catch something big!

In the top photo, you can see KJ about 45 minutes into trolling. The faint white line behind her head is the trolling line. She would pull the line in every 2 minutes just to check to see if we got a fish. Alas, the Atlantic didn't have any fish with enough class and taste as evidenced by us not catching a single fish with our amazing fishing lures.

We were so ready to fillet them! KJ was really ready to go through the process of cutting them up … or at least, that is what she said. It would have been interesting to see how she would have really responded once a fish was pulled aboard. Maybe next time!

Below are pictures of the 2 homemade lures we made. MMMmmmmm they looks good! Interestingly, the Coors Light cans have that image that turns blue when cold so I wonder if it turned blue while in the water! Yeah, that is what we meant to do!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More Island Time Time

When Ariel was first moved to Savannah, Island Time was experienced ... that slow pace everyone on the island has that you have to adjust to otherwise frustration can be easily had. This past 4th of July weekend, we not only acknowledged Island Time, but we began to understand from where it stems.

When we set out for the 4 days of boating, we had a grandiose list of things to be done. We would sail from this point to that point by this time, we would eat this particular food at that particular time, we would be regimented and go forth with our boating at our pace for the short 4 days. We learned, in short order, that isn't the way Island Time works and when we did try to work on our schedule, versus that of the surroundings, we got over tired and made mistakes.

The ocean, the sun, the tides, the winds, the waves, and natures tempo dictates what we would do and when. By the 4th of July, 2 days in, we were in tune with the rhythms. As we began to flow with the surroundings, moving to accomplish only what was needed to be done and when, more was done and we didn't get as tired. Watermelon was consumed at the right ocean time. Engines were started at the right tide times. Sails were raised at the right wind times. Work was done at the right Island Time. It brought home again the whole concept of Island Time, except with a knowledge of its source.

In the end, we learned that Island Time isn't a choice by those who live the life of the ocean. Rather, it is forced upon them just as it was us.

Back in Atlanta, I'm still on Island Time. Everything seems to be moving around at a frenzied, unnecessary pace. However, this is Atlanta Time and every place has its Time. Just go to New York City! :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sail Versus Power Boats: The Great Boat Debate

Over the past 3 years, as we've initiated ourselves into the world of boating, we've learned of a few battles that are as contentious as religion and politics. Some we've explored on our blog, such as anchoring and build -vs- buy. Others, such as power versus sail, we haven't yet. Well, today I'm going to poke into another one.... sailboats versus powerboats. :)

Sailboats are superior. Oh, now thems fightin words! But that is my opinion, based on our needs and desires, sailboats are simply superior. Within the previous sentence is the key, “based on our needs and desires.”

For us, being solo agents and completely self reliant, having redundancy is critical. A sailboat has 2 sources of propulsion. In addition to sails, a sailboat typically has a redundant propulsion source by way of an outboard engine. Powerboats are limited to, well, their combustion engine.

Unlike others who rail against having an engine, I think it is great to have one (heck, we have 2 on our boat now, one for Ariel and one for the dinghy). I, however, think having propulsion limited only to petroleum is too risky for our adventure. 1 engine, 2 engines, 3 … doesn't matter …. we are after different options and wind plus petroleum is the way to go.

Beyond this point, you have all the other “arguments.” Speed, noise, range, electrical power creation, hull shapes for suitability of conditions, and more. These are all valid issues from someones perspective, and based on the someones weighting of each, the scales could be tipped in favor of power over sail or vice versa.

At this point in our journey, powerboats simply are too limited for our tastes. In our weighting system, the value in propulsion source options is such that with all the other factors combined, a sailboat is definitely the way to go for us.

Time to put the sails up and slowly make our way back to the marina, with only the sound of fish jumping, wind though the sails, and the waves lapping up along the boat. Ultimate peace. Well, that and KJ and Dy screaming “Look! Look!” as the dolphins swim along side.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day - Boat Style!

This is our second 4th of July on the boat. Talk about independence! Last year Ariel was new to the family and we were sitting on Lake Lanier taking in all the fireworks. This year, as we progress on our journey, we are on the Atlantic Ocean preparing to enjoy more fireworks. Tybee Island is said to have one heck of a show, so we will be sailing to another location this afternoon for prime viewing.

Independence. That is ultimately what we are after. This adventure, this throwing off of the shackles of "normal life", is proof that we are truly independent. The USA threw caution to the wind in 1776 and told the mother land it wasn't needed any more ... that the USA could survive on its own. This was gutsy. The world was (is) a turbulent place with nations all vying for more land and power.

Fortunately for our family, the USA succeed in its quest for independence and we've enjoyed all the fruits that come with it. It was that initial risk, that moment of braving it solo, that we are thinking about today. Independence Day for the USA, the 4th of July, serves as an awesome example of courage.

The edge of decision, the moment of facing that final choice to go. We are on the edge. We are about to embark on a style of living that is so counter to the currents we live in. It is different, it is far more independent.

Will we have the guts in the end to push off from that marina dock and say, "See you later!"? We believe so. Compared to launching an entire nation on a new path, ours seems easy.

The mental hardening of the "YESification" process continues.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Living or Surviving

Waking up on the boat this morning, I wondered about the fish below. Are they living life? Or are they surviving life? Are they enjoying the ocean and all it offers? Or are they merely avoiding being eaten? Thinking about the whole cycle of life going on below, I couldn't help but draw parallels to us humans and our life above.

It seems to me many people are surviving life. They are just trying to avoid being eaten. A fish, I get. They are operating purely on instincts and they have legitimate, life threatening predators hunting them. But how many legitimate predators do we humans have hunting us? For people, almost every predator is imaginary. Heck, most of those don't even cause physical, mortal, harm. Instead, nearly every predator for a human attacks a sensibility of some sort.

Life is a wonderful gift and it is hard to imagine spending it surviving life, especially when we are in the fortunate position to not have a life threatening predator around every piece of coral. The only restraint we have is our mind. As FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.” It is fear that puts us into survival mode, and for a vast majority of us, that fear is based on some false foundation.

Today, I chose to live life. I chose to enjoy every amazing offering that is before me. I chose to not put myself into a protective place for fear of an imaginary monster. I chose to take advantage of this incredible experience of being alive. I chose to live life.

Time to take swim and enjoy the ocean.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Provisioning the Boat for 4 Days

This weekend is the 4th of July and we are going to take Ariel (our Gemini 3200) out for her first cruise in the Atlantic. We are planning to spend 4 days out on the boat. We are very excited!

One of the biggest challenges is how do we provision the boat for 4 days. Since we will be leaving our marina this afternoon and will not be returning until sometime on Monday, we need to (at minimum) provision for 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners plus snacks.

Breakfasts will consist of pancakes, oatmeal, and fresh fruit. The big decision is whether to make lunch or dinner the "big meal". This will dependent on the heat. Our main lunch and dinner menus are steaks with mash potatoes, hot dogs with buns, steak burritos, chili with rice, chickpea salad, and gazpacho.

In addition to the menu for this weekend, we have our galley staples consisting of canned tuna, lentils, extra chili, canned corn, canned tomatoes, extra rice and potatoes, extra oatmeal and pancake mix, onions, spam, mixed nuts, dry fruit, powder milk, chicken stock, variety of beans, garlic, salsa, basic staples (flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and spices), and a 4lb bag of M&Ms and Twizzlers. Theses staples serve as our food safety net. In the quantities we have on our boat, we believe that we could live off these staples for 3 weeks, if we had to.

Soups On! Time to clean the grill. I can almost smell the steaks now ;).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Passports Renewed - Check

Passport renewal was on our "Needs to be Complete Before We Leave" task list. Well yesterday that item was checked off the list. My passport finally came in. The US State Department had stated that regular passport renewal processing took between 4-6 weeks. I was lucky, mine only took 3 weeks.

The next time we will have to go through this process is in 2012. The girls passports will have to be renewed at that time. In the US, passports for children under 16 are only valid for 5 years; adult passports are valid for 10 years.

YEAH!!! We are another step closer to "YESification"!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dinghy Engine Mount For Our Gemini 3200 Sailboat

One of the ornery pieces of equipment to find a proper place for is the dinghy engine. Where does one store a 5 hp outboard engine?

Many of the boats in our marina have them mounted on the rails around their boat, and in fact many of them have a mounting board on their rails just for this purpose. Ariel had this same mounting board (a 7 inch by 9 inch plaque), but it wouldn't support our dinghy engine. As we test mounted the 5hp engine, our mounting board just spun around.

Inspecting the other boats, we could see that nearly all of them had their mounting boards such that a pipe ran through the center of them preventing the spinning. Ariel's dinghy mounting board wasn't configured this way. While looking at what I would need to do to have a pipe in the center, I saw a problem: our rudders would potentially bump into the dinghy hanging off of the mounting board. (Recall that on a Gemini 3200, the rudders are off the back of the boat and can be adjusted based on a desired draft and the shallower the draft, the higher out of the water the top of the rudders are.)

The other issue we noticed during the test mounting was that the propeller of the dinghy engine was perfectly situated to gouge the side of our boat if, say, the boat were bounced around. That would be bad news.
The solution to both issues (the spinning mounting board and gouging propeller) would be found on 2 different boats we saw in the marina. These boats used a long board to serve as a backing board. The longer board effectively created a wall that runs the length of the dinghy engine and protects the boat from the engine banging on the side.

We went to HomeDepot and bought a PVC Viranda board; a lightweight, low maintenance, moisture resistance, pre-colored board. After cutting it to the desired length (40 inches), I bolted it onto the dinghy engine mount on the rail and viola! we now have a secure place for our dinghy engine to mount.

Marinas are awesome .... lots of examples on how to solve challenges.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Settee Cushions Redo - Part 1

Over the past couple of months, I have been making new settee cushions for our Gemini 3200. Given my limited sewing experience, I have been taking my time making the new cushions. I want to do a really good job, because this is our home.

Before starting this project, I did a lot of research on making cushions and the different materials to use. Sailrite's website has been an invaluable resource to me. This website not only has all of the material, sewing aids, and notions, but also terrific "how to" videos. When I purchased everything to make the cushions from Sailrite, I also purchased their "Make Your Own Cushion" dvd. This dvd is definitely worth its $19.95 price. I have completed 4 of the 6 settee cushions and have referenced the video each time.

All of the materials used to make the cushions were purchased from Sailrite, except the foam. Foam is very expensive and even more expensive to ship. After a lot of thought, we decided to purchase the foam at our local JoAnn's store. It did not hurt that I came across a couple of 5o% and 40% off coupons. For the material we chose Naugahyde Universal, which is a durable outdoor marine grade material. The reasoning behind picking it was that if it can hold up to the outdoor marine enviornment, then it should do fantastic inside.

The plan is to finish the cushions this week. After I finish the last cushion and place it in the boat, I will post before and after pictures of the settee renovation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Disney was AWESOME!

What a wonderful week. The girls and I joined Bill in Orlando, FL , after his conference. We stayed at the recently renovated, Holiday Inn - Downtown Disney Resort Area. The hotel has a great pool with a zero entry area.

We spent Wednesday at the pool and Downtown Disney, which was an easy walk from the Holiday Inn. We had a late lunch at T-REX. The food was good, but the scenery and animaltronics were fantastic. After lunch the girls played in the dino dig area.

Thursday was our day dedicated to Magic Kingdom. We caught the resort bus to the park and started our day with... ICE CREAM in front of the castle. We spent the next 8 hours riding rides, watching the parade and shows, meeting princesses, and just soaking up the Disney experience. Dy's favorite ride was the Tea Cups, while KJ loved Space Mountain. We were disappointed to find Ariel's Grotto gone, but excited about the new area being developed for Ariel and Belle.

Friday we decided to go to Epcot. We only spent 4 hours at the park. Not long enough to do it justice. In hindsight, we should have given ourselves a day or more between park visits. This is a lesson learned for our 2012 Disney visit. After the park, it was back to the hotel pool to cool off.

Saturday was a full day. We spent the morning at Downtown Disney, the afternoon at the pool, and the evening flying back to Atlanta.

WHAT A GREAT TRIP!! Now that we have refreshed our minds, we are eager to get back to our Ariel. This coming weekend is 4th of July and we are planning on taking our Ariel out for a couple of days. Lots to do to get ready.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Windex 15

Our Gemini 3200 is a sailboat and it is important for us to know the direction of the wind, as it relates to our boat. One piece of existing equipment, on the boat, that give us wind directional and speed information is our Horizon Wind Indicator. However, the information from the Horizon is not always correct and is hard to see from our cockpit.

Based on the recommendation from Dick at Sail Harbor Marina, we had the boatyard install a new Windex 15 on the top of the mast. The cost was around $50.

With the new windex, existing Horizon instrument, our flag, and coupled with some homemade telltales made from vhf tape we should always know the wind direction.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Masthead/Steaming Light

USCG navigation light requirements for any recreational boat under 12 meters (39 feet) include a red port sidelight - visible 1nm, green starboard sidelight - visible 1nm, white stern light - visible 1nm, white 360 degree anchor light - visible 1nm, and white masthead/steaming -visible 2nm. When we stepped the mast back in April, we found that our masthead/steaming light was non-existent, only bare wires. (For anyone not familar with a sailboat, the masthead/steaming light is not on top of the mast, but about 1/3 the way up the mast.) Given that we had to buy a new light, we investigated installing a combination LED masthead/steaming/deck light fixture. The cost for a new LED light fixture was way out of our budget, so we purchased a Forespar Combination Steaming/Deck light.

The Forespar light was chosen, because of the rugged construction, ease of changing the light bulb, and price. We had the boatyard install the light, while the mast was down. Now all we have to do is wire it to our Gemini 3200's DC electrical panel.

Friday, June 25, 2010

No Savannah This Weekend

Unlike every weekend for the past 6, we are not making our way down to Savannah to work on the boat. We are still in Orlando enjoying all things Disney. We trust Ariel, our sailboat, doesn't mind us staying and playing a bit longer. We visited her namesake yesterday, Princess Ariel, and she said to pass along a warm ocean hug.

This hiatus, 2 days, from the boat and journey preparation has already produced some clarity around truly important tasks. We may have been a bit too close to the work ... focusing on task after task after task, rather than the big picture. At times, one must come up, survey the landscape, and then go back down. This pause is a good one. Not only has it produced some clarity, but it has further energized our efforts. It is like walking across the desert. Those who make it the furthest the fastest are those whom stop at the oases along the way.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mousing Around Boats

Work has me in Orlando today, so the family has decided to stop all boat related activities, fly down to see me (thank you Frequent Flier Mileage!), and we are all going to Disney's Magic Kingdom!

Dy gets in free, and that's good .... but Val, KJ, and I still have to pony up the money. Like many other families, we really enjoy the Magic Kingdom. It is a wonderful place, and I totally revert back to being a full on kid. My favorite attraction is the Haunted Mansion. KJ's is the castle (we end up hanging around it a lot since KJ wants to see a glimpse of a princess coming out).

One of our Magic Kingdom rituals is to enter the park as soon as it opens and immediately find an Ice Cream vendor. We then proceed to buy giant chocolate Mickey Mouse ice creams and parade through the park gregariously eating them like royalty. Ice Cream so early in the morning adds to the magic of the place. Plus, the looks from other families (and you can imagine those based on the role of the observer) is priceless.

Our pilgrimage to this place is yearly. Once we set off on our journey, however, that won't be the case. That is, in 2011 we won't be visiting Mr. Mouse. However, we do formally plan on being back in 2012 to drink up all that is Disney in Orlando.

It is Mouse Time!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life Modes With A Boat

This past weekend, the entire family enjoyed 3 days on the boat. With each moment aboard, we feel more of life, the life. The life of enjoying each moment on its own merit, the life of an unhurried pace, the life of caring for ones place of residence not just for sleep but for physical safety, the life of being so close to nature, the life of flowing with the tides, and the life of being. The shift in attitude between being a professional, modern world denizen, with many parts of life abstracted away to one of a water dweller whose focus is on simplicity is quite profound and it has taken me a few days just to reconcile.

The responsibilities are still present in both worlds, but the hurdle of what constitutes importance changes: on the boat, fewer of life's tasks are deemed as “important.” When one tries to artificially inflate the importance of an effort, the effort pushes back and slows everything down. There is a pace to boat life, and it will not be altered. The consequence is that those tasks marked as important get more of the present moment focus and each one is more fully enjoyed.

After the 3 days, we drove back to Atlanta and that evening I boarded a plane for a work trip to Orlando. There was no grace or warming up period. I jumped from one extreme to the other and this made the contrast between the 2 types of life, and how it manifests within me, clear. My mood, my thoughts, my food, and my drink all are complex and wrapped in artificial (read: man made) importance in the non-boat world. Given societies machinery, non-natural stimulus for importance is intrinsic to its functioning and has its place. The bigger question for me is, do I have a place within it? At times yes, and other times no. Today, I am straddling both worlds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Soldering Iron - Its Many Uses

Before the boat, we had a project car called Blue Moon Dune. She is an Allison Daytona Beach Dune Buggy on a 1965 VW pan. We sold her back in May 2009, in preparation for our sailing adventure. One piece of equipment that we purchased for working on Blue Moon Dune was a soldering iron. Now that same soldering iron is being utilized on projects for our Gemini 3200. We won't be using it on anything electrical, because the solder is not marine environment friendly. We have however, used it to cut Sunbrella fabric, sail cloth, twine for the lifelines, searing the ends of the lifeline netting, lines, shock cords, and anywhere you would need a hot knife. It has worked great and the nice thing is that it was a piece of equipment that we already had.

We are always looking for multiple ways to utilize existing tools, equipment, and anything that will be put on the boat.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Igloo Water Cooler For Boat People Hydration

Our plan, for the family daily drinking water, was to have a gallon jug of water out every day that family members can use to fill their individual cups as needed. Alas, the thought of KJ, let alone little Dy, trying to pour from a gallon water jug into cups on a rocking boat just doesn't seem reasonable.

While roaming the aisles of Costco, our water dispenser concern was addressed: the mighty Igloo 5 gallon water cooler appeared!

These containers are tough and very easy for little ones to dispense water from. I recall these brutes from various sporting events I've participated in, and I love how easy it is to just push a button to get the water out.

We checked out the prices on line and found the one at Costco, for $29.99, to be a great price.

Welcome, mighty orange 5 gallon Igloo dispenser, to the Sailboat Family! You are going on an amazing journey!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day On The Water

Ahhh, amazing .... nothing like waking up on fathers day and having 2 beautiful daughters give you kisses and hugs and boatmade Fathers day cards. Yes, this fathers day, I've woken up on the boat. This is my first fathers day afloat, and it feels oh so good.

The past two days we got a lot done on the boat. 2 more cushions in, radar system is getting closer to operational, supplies loaded, stuff organized, radios tested, generator fitted, and more. We will be spending the next hour or so cleaning up the boat and then we will be back on our way to Atlanta.

The "YESification" process continues full bore.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

State Of Perfection

The journey towards our new life has solidified a number of new perspectives for me. One of them is around "perfection", "a state of perfection", and "ideal" versus a "goal state."

There is a subtle distinction between internally identifying something as an "ideal" and identifying something as a "goal." I'm defining an "ideal state" or "state of perfection" as some ultimate, correct, form. A "goal state" is just a form that you would like to turn into.

For many years, I measured myself against some ideal. An ideal that I had concocted in my head. Some of the attributes of ideal were consciously added, others unconsciously. For example, an ideal that latched itself onto my psyche somewhere along the line is that the ideal state, or perfect state, of earning a living is entering the corporate workforce and becoming an executive. This, I believed, is perfection. This, I believed, is the ultimate state as it relates to working. This, I believed, is what every other working path should be measured against. I was wrong. Being in the corporate workforce, and becoming an executive, is an electable goal, but isn't a state of perfection in the vein of work. It may be a goal state, but it isn't the gold standard.

Another way to view this is by looking at a tree. What does the ideal form of a tree look like? Short of thinking "there isn't an ideal" (the point I'm trying to convey), for any ideal image you mentally create for a tree, I would ask "says who?" Is there some ideal state that every tree is measured against? Who concocted the definition of the perfect tree?

Every person is on their own path, and one must be very careful to not put a state of perfection before themselves. One mustn't have more of this, less of that. One may chose to have a goal state that possesses less of this and less of that. The two views are very different. In my world, there is no state of perfection, only goal states.

Time to return to working on the radar.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Back to Savannah for Boat Time

This seems like a re-occurring theme for our Friday posts, but we are back on the road to Savannah! More boat time!

The car is packed with our new generator, clothes, new cushions, toys and more. We are also taking our portable air conditioner to help cool off the boat at the dock. We saw a lot of other boats at the marina using portable ACs, so we thought we would try ours.

You may recall we had an AC in the boat when we bought her last year, but it was heavy, it didn't work very well, and it took up a lot of valuable space so we took it out. Our little portable 9,000 BTU LG unit does great, so we shall see. I'm curious to see if running it trips the dock side circuit breaker or not.

Each trip brings us closer to Yes!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Costs To Do Bottom Paint On A 32 Foot Catamaran Sailboat

This week we received the bill for all the boat work done in Sail Harbor Marina's boatyard. We thought it would be helpful for others if we shared the portion of the costs related to all the bottom work. For reference, this was done on our 32 foot, Gemini 3200 Sailing Catamaran.

Remove existing paint to the gel coat: 14 hours and a total cost of $1,400
Repair blisters and apply 4 barrier coats: 19.25 hours and a total cost of $1,155
Paint bottom (first coat red, second black): 8.5 hours and a total cost of $510

4 gallons of Interprotect 2000 for a cost of $387.40
1.25 gallons of Pettit SR60 (red) for a cost of $300.00
1.25 gallons of Pettit SR60 (black) for a cost of $300.00
2.5 gallons vinyl ester resin for a cost of $187.50
1.0 gallon of Interlux 830 Fast Cure Epoxy Profiling Filler for a cost of $123.00
10 x 40 grit 6 inch sanding disks for a cost of $15.00
8 x 80 grit 6 inch sanding disks for a cost of $12.00
6 x dust masks for a cost of $4.50
18 pairs of gloves for a cost of $13.50
2 x Tyvex suits for a cost of $16.50
1 x roll of fine line tape for a cost of $14.50
2 x roller pans and frame for a cost of $10.00
8 x roller covers for a cost of $42.40
4 x large cups for a cost of $8.00
4 x small cups for a cost of $2.00
6 x 2 inch brushes for a cost of $7.50
4 x 3 inch brushes for a cost of $8.60

Grand Total for Bottom Work: $4,517.40!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Honda EU2000i Companion Generator Ordered

YEAH!! We have finally purchased our Honda EU2000i companion generator for the boat. The generator will serve as our battery charing system when the solar panels can't keep up and when we are not in marinas.

Way back when Bill and I decided on the EU2000, I joined the Honda Generator Yahoo users group, I studied how people were using them for extended running, what modifications they were making to them, as well as the best place to buy one for the best price.

From the Yahoo user group, I became aware of a subtle difference in the EU2000 line. We learned we wanted the one called the "companion generator" which features a 30amp plug. Since the generator has a 30amp plug we can use our existing shore power cord to connect the generator to the boat via the shore power outlet. Therefore, we can run anything on our A/C power panels, even while at anchor. For those interested, the 30amp connector doesn't mean the generator produces 30 amps, it just fits a 30amp plug. The amperage count is 16.7. To get 30 amps, one could put 2 of the Honda EU2000s together (they are designed for such operation).

We purchased our Honda EU2000i companion generator from Mayberry's for $999. They had the best price and received good marks from the various forum postings. This priced included the generator, shipping, and insurance. It also included a service kit for the generator, spark plug and air filters for free! The companion is about $100 more than the EU2000i, but having the ability to connect and power the boat's A/C panel directly is worth it to us.

Our virtual friends at www.ZeroToCruising.com are still looking to source their Honda generator, and maybe Mayberry's will ship way up there to the north!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family Trip to Health Clinic for Yellow Fever and Typhoid Vaccination Costs + Advice

We received a call from a worker at a health clinic that Val had befriended. The clinic had just gotten in a batch of Yellow Fever vaccinations and that we had better get there soon. First thing the next morning, we were all on our way, the entire clan. The clinic opened at 8:15, and we were there at 8:10.

Lesson 1: The quantities of the Yellow Fever vaccinations are very limited. First dips always goes to the military, and then the rest is dolled out to clinics in a region. Make friends with someone at the clinic so they will call you when doses arrive.

As the first people in the vaccinations portion of the clinic, we thought it would be fairly quick event. Alas, it wasn't. We proceeded to wait for 1 hour before being called back! Yes, 1 full hour and we were not only the first, but the only people there!!!!

Lesson 2: Be ready to wait a long time .... even if you are the first and only people there.

When we finally made it back, we met with the travel nurse. We shared with her that we were in to get some Yellow Fever vaccinations. She proceeded to ask us a serious of questions. The first one, "Where are you going?" Ah, that was easy, "We are going around the world." She gave a queer look. "I need a specific place please." I knew this was going to be an experience, but I wasn't ready for how mechanical it was going to be.

I looked at the world map on the wall and started reading off all the countries along the coast of Central and South America. The nurse dutifully typed them all in. With each one, she would pull back out sheets of information. At about country 5, I finally let the futility of the situation carry the next step. I said, "Look, we are just going to Brazil ... let's just do that one please." "Where in Brazil?" Ugh. So I looked at a map and named a city. "You don't need Yellow Fever for that one." Ugh. "Well, that is just our starting point, we plan on venturing deep into the Amazon river, and spend months and months there." "ohh, well then you definitely need Yellow Fever", she stated, "and you should get Typoid" (BONUS! We wanted that too, but were very focused on the limited quantity of the Yellow Fever vaccination).

Lesson 3: Find a specific place that requires you to have the shots you need, and simply go in with that on your agenda. Don't list every place.

Then she asked, "When are you leaving and when are you getting back?" At this point, I just made up dates. She was going by her script, and she was going to be very through (just as one would want a health care professional).

Val paid the fees: $110 per Yellow Fever shot, $60 per Typhoid shot, and $100 for the entire family consultation giving a grand total of $780.

I went first. KJ held my hand to comfort me watching everything close up. Next up was Val, KJ holding hands again. Then KJ. I had to hold her very still, and KJ braved the shots like a trooper. Next up Dy, she too did great. Sure, there were tears, but it was all good.

2 hours 30 minutes later, we were all done. The reality of the trip was made physical as all our arms were sore the entire day!

Oh, once we were done, there was only 1 Yellow Fever vaccination left for someone else and the clinic manager told us that another shipment wasn't due for 30 days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Replacing a Steering Splash Well Plate on a Gemini 3200 Sailboat

The Gemini 3200 has 2 outboard rudders. These rudders have a steering arm that pushes them from side to side. The plates in the splash well area that serve as the conduit for the steering arm from inside the boat to the outside comes from the factory made out of metal. On the starboard side of our sailboat, the splash well plate was horrendously rusty. Given the plates function, keeping outside water outside, this is a dangerous condition. So, this weekend I went for it and replaced it.

Val had done some research on the issue and found another Gemini owner whom made these fancy plates out of fiberglass. Val reached out and the guy was willing to make us 2 plates (I wanted one for each side of the boat) plus send us 2 new aluminum tubes that the steering rods run through. Awesome.

After reading, re-reading, and re-reading again all the instructions from Mr. Fiberglass Plate Maker, I sat with all the parts and mentally walked through how to do this. After thinking, "oh crap, I could really screw something up here" I decided to try one of the oldest tricks in the trade, I asked Val to produce each of the supporting items needed (the various sealants, grease tubes, nuts, bolts, washers). Alas, she produced everything. Oh well, time to do the job.

Getting out the old rusty plate wasn't easy. The sealant holding it on was pretty good. Getting the bolts out did end up requiring a good whack of a hammer. When the bolts were out, I still had to go back with a razor blade and cut away the old rubber sealant to break free the old plate.

Once the old assembly was freed, I opened up the new stuff.

The aluminum tube was packed with grease. Not just any grease, but that unbelievably sticky get all over the place, even ones underwear, black stuff. With black grease all over, I was able to secure the new assembly into place, and put the new backing plate on. I had to re-drill the plate holes (drilling holes in the boat is uncomfortable), and dry fit the system. The unit was nice and snug!

Taking everything apart, I then loaded up all the surfaces with sealant. Every nut, bolt, washer, connecting surface .... everything. I then had 5 minutes before the stuff would start to cure so it was then a race to put it all back in. Within about 7 minutes, it was all back together.

With everything in place, and the curing having started, I decided to go back over all the surfaces exposed with more sealant. I recovered every exposed nut and bolt. One can't have too much sealant!

The entire effort took about 2 hours. Not bad for a rookie! But it got h-o-t. I started at 9:00am and by 11am it was already 93 degrees out.

Now it is time to wash off that old rust stain!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Should We Sail Away Today?

We spent Friday night on the boat. It was glorious! The sounds, the smells, the relaxation, the new life. Ariel is getting closer and closer to being ready.

With our sailboat on the Atlantic ocean, the big question, “Should We Sail Away Today?”, gets more action. Each morning, Val and I look each other in the eye and make a conscious choice that day about sailing off in the sunset.

When we started the journey back in 2007, we thought it wouldn't be until 2016 that we could go. Over the past 3 years, however, we've learned that in actuality we can go at any time. One by one, a myriad of false assumptions have been stripped away (amount of money, type of boat, age of kids, etc.).

Many mornings, when we talk of the big question, I ask myself, “in one year from today, if I found out I was going to die within a week, would I rather have spent the previous year working a bit longer or embarking on this journey to sail around the world?” Easy answer. This mental exercise helps set the stage for the bigger question.

So, Should We Sail Away Today? Not today. There are a few more modifications to the sailboat that we want to make before we go. But once those are done, then the probability of answering “YES!” on any given morning goes up a lot. … and the blog post of that day, the “YES!” day, will be quite spectacular to say the least!

Happy Sunday everyone. We're working on "YESifying" Ariel.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boat Composting Toilet/Head Conversion Page

One of the more popular blog entry series on our site is related to our composting toilet conversion posts. Alas, some of those interested in the topic have emailed us sharing that they find it difficult to pull together the posts in a cogent manner.

We've decided we would remedy this by building out a project page that captures all the steps, images, and stages in one place. The full transformation, from a liquid toilet system to a dry one, would be documented.

So, without further ado, here is the composting toilet/head project page:

For those searching on the topic of converting from a traditional boat head to a composting one, we believe this new page will be a valuable resource for you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Abby Sunderland and Back to Savannah GA to work on the Sailboat

This morning we were grateful to learn that Abby Sunderland has been found and that she is fine. Her sailboat, Wild Eyes, is upright but her mast has been knocked down.

We have been tracking Abby and her quest since its start so when we learned of her being feared as "lost at sea", our hearts and best thoughts went to her. Val and I had it in the back of our minds that Abby would be found, but we couldn't tell if that was hope or intuition. Fortunately, Abby has been found and she is safe. Yay Abby!

We commend those taking bold quests. Bold quests stretch the soul of the individual and of mankind. We know the fervor of "she is too young" is about to whip up (and probably already is), and we know the fervor of "sailing around the world is too dangerous for kids" is about to be stoked. Life, itself, is an adventure. Those whom don't get this are already dead.

Young people have been taking adventures since they could venture past the cave hole. Adventurous young people serve as inspiration for so many others, both young and old. Was Abby in danger? Yes. She was in a danger of her, and her parents, choosing. She was well equipped and well prepared. I don't know too many 16 year olds that can have the same thing said about them and their daily lives.

With Ariel in the water, it is doubly hard to resist seeing her on the weekends; we want to spend every extra moment we can on her getting her prepared. The sooner she is ready, the sooner we would be able to go on the sailing trip. To this end, I've taken today off from work and we are on our way to Savannah to make some progress on the boat. This weekends tasks include putting the boom back on, getting the sails back up, install the new splash well plates, get the engine running (it hasn't been started in over a month), and begin installing the radar system.

Of course, the draw of the beach will be strong. Tybee island is only about 20 minutes from the boat so KJ, Dy, and I may make our way over for a few hours. This will allow Val some quality uninterrupted time on the boat.

Interestingly, with the news reports of the BP oil spill in the gulf, there seems to be a push by vacationers to make their way to the Atlantic for their summer holiday and Savannah/Tybee island seems to be one of the more popular destinations. We may see lots of folks in the area!

Oh yeah, Yeah Abby! Go Abby!