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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!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tropical View Year-Around for $11

On a boat it is hard to have artwork made out of paper, canvas, and cloth, because of the dampness. Thanks to my sister-in-law, Jen, I discovered beautiful artwork that can hold up t0 the marine environment. Vinyl Decal artwork!

We wanted the interior of Ariel to be tropical and fresh. I think that the artwork helps. What do you think? It almost looks like windows looking out on Tahiti.

We picked up the vinyl decal at Hobby Lobby for $11, including tax. The artwork is total safe for walls, wood, glass, fiberglass, and almost any surface. There are thousand of designs. We are going to purchase the Disney Princesses and Fairies for the girls' cabin.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great Omens - Sunset - Sunrise

On Friday, once Ariel was splashed into the Atlantic, I decided to get some food and bring it back to the boat. I was glad that I did, because I got to see something wonderful. While sitting in the cockpit, eating my McDonald's hamburger, I heard a "poof" of air and then I heard it again. It was getting closer. I looked off the stern of the boat and there was a small dolphin. It came right up to Ariel and swam along the side, as if it was doing an inspection and saying welcome to the neighborhood.

The sunset on Friday was beautiful. That night I got a great light show as thunderstorms moved through the area. I didn't go to sleep until after midnight and was up before the sunrise.

The first evening and morning on Ariel were truly magical. Foreshadowing things to come! Life is good!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ariel Makes a SPLASH!!

Friday, I drove out to Savannah to spend some quality time with Ariel, alone. I arrived at Sail Harbor Marina around 2:30pm and took a moment to check out the progress since our last visit. To my surprise, Paul (one of the boatyard guys) told me that our Gemini 3200 will be put into the water at 4pm. This gave me just enough time to check on a couple of things, prepare the dock lines, and fenders. Promptly at 4pm, the travel lift came over picked up Ariel and put her into the water. This took a total of 10 minutes and occurred during a thunderstorm.

The boatyard guys put her into the water with confidence and ease. They tied her up on the dock and that's where we spent the night. Just me and Ariel. It was great!!

We are officially now in the Atlantic! One step closer to our adventure.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trojan 6V 145s Installed In Boat!

On May 30th, one of those "must do" tasks was completed but I couldn't claim success quite yet. I had installed the new Trojan batteries but I needed the system to run for a week to be sure it worked right.

In one of the photos you can see the 5.5 year old swollen SeaVolt 115 batteries on the left, and the beautiful new T-145s stacked neatly on the right.

The batteries were very heavy; I'm so glad I went with the 6Vs as recommended by the Living Aboard members.

With one final double check of the connections, I deemed that the batteries were in. Switching from battery bank 1 to bank 2 to both to off, while operating the electronic equipment gave a quick and dirty proof of correct wiring. I also put a Volt meter on the wires and it showed the proper numbers.

Now that it is a week later, I can proclaim the transplant was a success! The batteries show a full charge (receiving charge from both the solar panel system and from the dock side plug in), all instruments work, and the event feels positive! :)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hepatitis A& B and Yellow Fever Vaccinations

I recently went in for the I'm almost 40 years old physical. While talking to my doctor, I shared our adventure plans. The doctor) asked about my vaccinations and if they were up-to-date. After a little discussion it was determined that I needed a tetanus booster and that the doctor would order blood work to determine if I had any immunity to Hepatitis A &B.

The tetanus booster ended up being Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis). My blood work showed that I had no immunity to Hepatitis A nor Hepatitis B. So, this past Thursday, I started my Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccination series. I received two shots, one in each arm. I was a real trooper, the girls watched. To our good fortune, the Hepatitis A & B vaccinations were provided by our health insurance company for free. We love Kaiser!

I've also been searching for a provider for the Yellow Fever vaccination. The local travel clinics want $250 per person, for the vaccination. I thought, "WOW! That's a lot of money for a vaccination". After a little more research, I discovered that our local health department also offers the Yellow Fever vaccination. The health department's price to vaccinate our entire family is $540, which includes a $100 consultation fee. I guess the extra $460 that the travel clinic would have charged us was for the convenience. We will not be paying for the convenience.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Extending The Sailing Trip's Timeline

"Just looking at your route map on your website. I could have sworn it used to be a four or five year plan, did your family recently change it to the 9-10 year plan? Looks like a really long-term commitment!"

On June 2, 2010 at 11:02, Stacey posted this question and the answer warrants a full response.

When we first posted our route page, we expected to take 4 or 5 years to mosey around the planet. As we've grown our knowledge, we've mentally adjusted the route to accommodate some new desires and to have an even more leisurely pace. What I didn't do is keep the route page updated to reflect our current thinking and planning. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and captured the latest route in graphical form and uploaded it.

One of the bigger adjustments, for example, is that we want to spend more time in Central America when we first head out. Another notable change is that we are by passing Australia and using New Zealand as a home base for the region. We shared in our New Zealand blog post that we can stay 6 months exploring, and we plan to do just that. Lastly, in 2012, we want to be back in the USA to take our children to Walt Disney World. We want to give them one big Disney experience, when they are both of an age to remember it as well as have it be magical (fairies, princesses, and castles!).

The caveat to the entire trip is, we will just go with the flow. We are committed to the trip, not the timeline. We will go as, when, and where the winds, weather, and our desires propel us. No faster, no slower. The map really is a guide post to help us prepare.

Thanks for asking Stacey. Great questions/observation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vinyl Lettering Installed

On our most recent visit to Savannah, we installed new vinyl lettering on our Gemini 3200. During the planning process, Bill indicated that he preferred "BIG," bold, simple letters. When we ordered the vinyl, we ordered the letters with a height of 18", in plain black, Arial text. Well the letters are BIG! Do you think that others will be able to read our boat's name?;)

The letters were so big that it took both of us to install the lettering. Bill positioned the lettering while I smoothed and removed bubbles. We work great as a team. Thanks to virtual crew member Joe for the tip on using windex to keep the lettering movable until we had it positioned the way we wanted it.

Here are some more pictures of the installation.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New LED Tri/Anchor Light Installed

Our Gemini 3200 needed a new TriAnchor light, because our existing light was broken. We elected to upgraded to an Orca Green LED TriAnchor light with photodiode. The Ocra Green was chosen, because its durable and waterproof construction, LED bulb for its low amp draw of 0.5 amp at 12v, and the photodiode to turn off the anchor light in case we forget. The light was purchased from Sailor's Solutions for $390 (with shipping) and included our choice of mounting bracket. We had the light shipped directly to Sail Harbor Marina.

The boatyard at Sail Harbor Marina has already installed the new light on top of the mast and it looks great!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Composting Marine Toilet Conversion-Completed

Once the 3" Nicro Day/Night Plus Solar Vent was installed by Sail Harbor Marina and Boatyard, all that was left to do was to connect the hose to the vent and add the peat moss. Sounds simple right? It was simple after I noodled how to get the 1 1/2" hose to fit the 3" opening on the solar vent. I went out to Nature's Head's web site to see if they had an adapter or instructions that would help. They showed an adapter that came with my unit, but in it's original state would not work with our vent since the vent protruded below the ceiling. Using the "Contact Us" function on Nature's Head's web site, I sent an email asking for assistance. Within 24 hours I received an email from Larry at Nature's Head asking for my phone number so that we could talk. I sent Larry my phone number on Friday afternoon and didn't expect to he from him until after the Memorial Day holiday. To my astonishment, I receive a call from Larry on Saturday. We discussed the situation and come up with a solution together.

The solution was to trim the adapter that came with the unit down to fit the vent's opening. The Nicro Day/Night Plus Solar Vent has tabs on the inside, of the vent, for an insect screen. I trimmed the adapter down to size and notched out two notches for the tabs. After some tedious machining (trimming) using my Dremel, the adapter fit. I removed the adapter, connected the hose, place the adapter back on the vent, and checked if I could feel air being pulled out via the hose. SUCCESS!!

The last step was adding the peat moss. I added peat moss until the agitator could just barely touch it. Then I added water until the peat moss was a little moist.

Approximately, 6 months after starting this project it is complete!! YEAH!!!! (The only reason that we didn't complete this project earlier was we had more pressing projects, like getting the boat transported,etc.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nicro Day/Night Plus Solar Vents Installed

Sail Harbor Marina and Boatyard installed the 3 Nicro Day/Night Plus Solar Vents (2-4" vents and 1- 3" vent) that we had previously purchased.

We had the two 4" vents installed in the hatches at the galley and the head. The galley vent is an intake vent, while the vent located in the head is exhaust. Each of the 4" vents moves 1000 cubic feet of air per hour, which should be more than sufficient in keeping the air moving on our Gemini 3200. When we reviewed the installation of the vents, we noticed that the vent in the head was not working. After a little trouble-shooting, it was determined that the battery that came with the unit was bad. A replace battery is now on our "Need To Purchase" list.

The 3" vent was installed as an exhaust vent for our Nature's Head Composting Toilet, where the old pump out fitting was located (This is the 6th of 7 steps).

**SAILRITE COUPON** I received an email this weekend from Sailrite with there latest deal. "Purchase an Ultrafeed Sewing Machine (#102500, 102600, 102700, 102800) from Sailrite between 5/28/2010 and 6/7/2010 and receive a free $100 Sailrite gift certificate for use on future orders."