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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Preparing To Unstep The Mast - Wiring

To get the mast ready to be brought down (unstepping), all the wires that run up the mast have to be disconnected. Being responsible for the electrical system, this task fell squarely in my court. YES!

Removing the wiring cover, I found a jumble of wires. I was surprised since I had inspected some of the other masts around the boat yard, and they only had 2 or 3 wires sticking out of them.

I traced out the wires, and was pleasantly surprised to find quick disconnects on all of them except one. In fact, this one special extra wire had masking tape on it. :( When I unwound the masking tape, I found bare wire.

The mystery masking tape wire ran to the wind sensor junction box. Upon taking that apart, I found a very simple way to uncouple the wires.

I undid the junction points, and snaked the wind vane sensor wire out. The wind vane sensor wire is now free and clear.

Methodically, each wire received a label making re-wiring trivial. All wires were then taped up so that their ends wouldn't be exposed to the elements.

Val! The wires have been disconnected and are ready! How goes the rigging!? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Repairing Sun Sacrifice with Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1

I've started my first boat sewing project, replacing the torn sun sacrifice on one of our jibs. As you can see from the photo, it has been ripped to shreds. Fortunately, the jib is unharmed.

I started this project by removing the torn sun sacrifice and noting what I need to replace it. I will be placing another order with Sailrite soon for webbing, grommets, red thread, and Logo Red Sunbrella fabric. I'm going to order enough to sew a sun sacrifice on our other jib and maybe make a new main sail cover, too. This project should boost my sewing skill and confidence.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Seder Experience

2 weeks ago, a close family friend has invited us over for Seder! Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish Passover observance, and tonight is the big night. Like our Indian party experience, the reason for doing this is to expose our family to new things, learn different cultures, and enjoy life to its fullest.

Our friend's Seder dinner spans 3 generations, and we are expected to participate fully. We will be reading aloud, asking questions, and drinking wine.

Since we are not Jewish, and this dinner is wrought with Jewish tradition, to say we are excited is a massive understatement. We are humbled to have been invited.

Thank you to our friend, whom reads this blog, and tonight we will be ready to talk about the 4 questions!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fun Ocean Facts

While KJ and I were searching out interesting ocean facts, we ran into a number of fun items about the ocean. Here are some that we found particularly neat:
  • The Gulf Stream, off the East coast of the USA, flows at a rate about 300 times faster than the average flow found in the Amazon river. Fun since this we will be starting off in the Gulf Stream.
  • There are enough gold particles floating in the ocean that if you sifted all the ocean water you would end up with 20 million tons of gold. Hmmmm....... KJ, this is called panning ...
  • The heart of a blue whale is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
  • The greatest range of tides is in the Bay of Fundy (between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). Depending on the time of the year the high tide and low tide, in a given day, can range 53 feet!!! That's about a 3 story building.
  • The longest bony fish in the world is called an Oarfish (Regalecus Glesne). It is often the source of sea-serpent sightings. It has a horse looking head!
  • The deepest verified SCUBA dive was done by Nuno Gomes in the Red Sea. Using SCUBA gear, he descended to 1044 feet! (makes my 148 feet in Truk Lagoon seem silly!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Boat Haul Out - Hauling Out our Gemini 3200

SAFE! Ariel is safe!

Thanks Mike for the best wishes. You are indeed right about being scary the first time you see your boat hoisted out of the water.

Here is the tale of yesterday afternoons adventure:

Boat tied up at the boat yards dock, I sat nervously waiting for the boat yard hands to come down and tell us what to do.

I looked at the lift slip ... all metal on both sides. Crap. What if our fiberglass pushes against it? Instant tear.

Before any more thoughts could glide through my mind, I heard a deep body shaking rumble. It was the lift system being driven down.

It emerged from behind some trees. An awesome looking machine. A movable giant 3 dimensional box, powered by a manly diesel engine, with the power to lift more than 75,000 lbs. Being a boy at heart, I wiped the drool from my chin.

With amazing deftness, Stumpy (a legend at Lake Lanier for his boat yard knowledge) navigated the hoist down the guides and deposited the slings in the water.

I walked up to the other boat yard guy, Blake, and said:
"I have no f-n clue how to do any of this. What do I need to do?"

With a smile, "just put your boat in the sling."

That was my cue.

Mustering the confidence deep inside, I went back aboard Ariel while Blake and Val untied me from the dock.

I motored the boat away.

Making the turn, gulping air.

I came in at an angle facing up wind (huge gusts today of around 30 knots) and with precision that surprised even me.

I gingerly put Ariel right in the middle of the sling with Blake's helping hand.

The slip walls were about 2 feet away on either side. I would have swore, looking in, that there was only an inch of clearance.

My part was done! Wahoo!!! Now the rest was with the experts.

Ariel began her rise from the water ....

Hearts were still racing with excitement. Watching your boat head out of the water the first time (as Mike noted) is scary.

Up she went! We got our first glimpse of the underside of the boat while out of the water. She looked beautiful.

Stumpy carried her over to the power washing station.

Blake washed off all the lake funk.

We did observe some small blisters, but nothing unexpected or horrid looking.

After the washing was done, we spent a few more moments really looking her over (Stumpy and Blake were cool about letting us look her over, not pushing us to hurry up ... given that they've done this thousands of times, they knew we wanted to check her out at that moment).

Once I felt I had seen all I needed to, I nodded to Stumpy and he climbed back on to the cool boat lifting machine and drove Ariel over to her temporary spot on the hard.

Stumpy set Ariel down under perfect control.

As she sat down on her hulls on the blocks (metal braces), there were no odd squeak sounds of something coming apart.

Blake helped push up the center boards from underneath, while doubling nicely as a block!

Ariel is resting as comfortably as a boat can on the hard.

The first phase of the Atlantic transport is now complete! YES!

Tomorrow we will go back out and start taking down the sails and boom.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pulling The Boat Out

Today is the big haul out day; we have an appointment with the only marina on Lake Lanier that can pull our boat out, Aqualand Marina.

Last week, Val did a recon, visiting the boatyard at the marina, trying to get particulars on process and procedure for the big event. Well, as we are learning in the boating world, there are very few processes and procedures. "Don't worry", said Blake a boat yard guy, "we will walk you in." So, no hailing channel, no information on if I wait for the boat sling to be in the water first, no nothing. Just go with the flow.

Today will be an exciting day for sure. We plan to take plenty of photos.

Please send us good vibes!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Choosing the Right Colors for Our Boat

Our boat is our home. We want her to feel like a home. We want Ariel to feel warm, tropical, fun, and inviting. So after reviewing all of the choices of marine and outdoor fabrics, we have decided to go with red, deep pink, orange, and white as our main color palette.

We are going to redo our sail covers in Logo Red. It is a true red. The settee cushions will be recovered in pure white naugahyde universal. I know what you are thinking, white with kids. I was thinking the same thing, but the white will liven up our teak heavy main cabin and this naugahyde is treated against bacteria and fungal micro-organisms, scuff and scrape resistant, UV and weather resistant, and is finished with Advanced BeautyGard. The addition of pillows with a colorful print will make it more inviting.

I can't wait to get started! We will post pictures!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First Order from Sailrite

I got my first order from Sailrite!

The order includes the "LoaditLED" package, 4 fabric samples (2 sunbrella and 2 naugahyde), needles for home sewing projects (10 #10), needles for really heavy/thick fabric (10 Serv 7 #21), needles for sail material (10 SD1 #22), 4 bobbins, 4oz cone V-92 white thread, and 50yds 3/8" basting tape. Sailrite also included March/April 2010 issue of Good Old Boat as a bonus!

The "LoaditLED" package included: needle assortment pack with deluxe seam ripper and maintenance brush (40 needles total - 10 #14, 10 #16, 10 #18, and 10 #20), 1" binder attachment (for sewing on binder tape and webbing), bendable LED sewing light, kickstand, and the Monster Balance wheel (for sewing without electricity).

I believe that I now have the basic notions and accessories to accomplish any sewing project. Going forward, I should only have to purchase material and thread.

I'm going to start my first project this week! I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


There is a very interesting niche in boating called Microcruising. In my own words, Microcruising is going to the absolute minimalist edge of boat size, and/or money, and/or features.

There is a whole community of people that make long voyages on boats that run in the 15 foot or less range. These microcruisers have a ton of practical knowledge that can be applied on bigger boats. As with many areas of life, simply taking another perspective (such as imagining you were living on a 15 foot or smaller boat and crossing oceans) and applying it to your situation highlights new possibilities.

One site I particularly enjoy is www.Microcruising.com. It is the site of Dave and Mindy Bolduc, whom have made the 65 miles of open ocean crossing between the Bahamas and Florida 7 times on a boat less than half the size of ours! Their boat, Little Cruiser, is 15 feet in length and has a beam of 4.5 feet. Checking out the pictures on their website, you get a feel for their world. Plus the pictures of the beaches feels oh so good.

Some of the quotes from their website that resonate with me include:
  • We consider the anchors our most important safety equipment and our only insurance. Therefore we carry three, which might seem like a lot for such a small boat. They consist of a 4-pound Fortress, a 9-pound Danforth, and a monster 25-pound take-apart Luke storm anchor.
  • One of the most important [considerations] is to be as self sufficient as possible and keep things simple. We carry almost everything we need to make repairs ourselves. Our boat is relatively simple, and we have no refrigeration or ice chest.
  • We've found most produce keeps quite a long time in baskets. The rest of our food is in cans or dry form. Whenever we want a treat, like fresh meat or ice cream, we buy it locally and eat it right away.
  • Be cautious and use common sense. The ocean can be a very beautiful place, but it also can be quite treacherous when conditions are wrong. Always be conscious of the weather.
  • If it looks as if bad weather is on the way, stay in port until it's over. There's a big difference between venturing out in ten-foot breaking seas and sailing along comfortably in 4 foot swells a day or so later. It's better to postpone one's trip than become a statistic.
If you visit their site, also be sure to check out the section called "Famous Small Boats." It is full remarkable small vessels that have made incredible journeys.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Transport Braces and Cradle for our Gemini

Next Friday we move the boat to the haul out point. It will then sit on the hard for 2 weeks while we get it ready for transport (stepping the mast, etc.).

When the day comes to put the boat on the semi-trailer for transport, the very same lift that pulled us out of the water will be used to put Areil on the trailer. We will not, however, be putting our boat directly on the trailer. Instead, we will we have our Gemini resting on a giant cradle. When a new Gemini is shipped from the manufacturer, over land, PCI sends the boat in a cradle. The fiberglass hulls of the catamaran need a softer surface to rest on than the metal of the trailer, the foot print of the hulls aren't optimal for all the bumping and jarring that comes with traveling down the road, and the boat wasn't designed for the horizontal dynamic loads that will be encountered on the trailer and needs to be supported accordingly.

We will have to custom make our cradle. We've contacted PCI and they've send us a lot of good information, like the size of the cradle, where we should put the braces of the cradle relative to various points on the boat, what material it should be made out of, and more.

Val is now in the planning stages for this giant 15 foot wide, raw timber based, brace system. This should be fun!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Practice Sewing on Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1

I started practicing sewing with Beulah, my Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1.

Beulah came with 3 test samples that the factory used to test her functions with before sending her out. I used the sample to practice my sewing on sunbrella and naugahyde fabrics. I also repaired a pair of sweat pants, pants, and one of KJ's fleece one-piece pajama suits. My sister, Jen, also asked me to alter a snuggie that she bought for her dachshund, Lamont. The back of the snuggie was gaping open and the velcro kept coming undone. I simple stitched the center of the back together and sewed the velcro straps down.

I think it looks pretty good. Lamont like it, too!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Val Found Us $100!

Last week we received one those offer post cards from Chase bank. Apparently, Chase bank wants to give us $100! How very nice of them! We should make them virtual crew members and send them 20 copies of our eBook.

In summary, the deal is:
If we deposit $100 into a debit card account, and keep the account open for 6 months, Chase will give us $100. The "free" $100 will show up 10 business days after we've made our $100 deposit.

As usual, we combed through the details. Unlike previous offers from other institutions, this one seems like one we can live with and not have it affect our spending behaviors.

To avoid monthly service fees on the account (which would eat away at that generous $100), we have to either have direct deposit OR make 5 debit card purchases in a month. In any given month, we use our debit card more than 5 times (like rending $1 movies from RedBox, buying gas, buying groceries, etc.). So the latter criteria, 5 buys, is doable.

For the $100 we have to pony up, well that can simply be moved over from our usual checking account. No biggie there.

If we close the account before the 6 month mark, then Chase will extract the $100 we put in. I'm okay with that.

We've decided to go for it. Val will get the account started online, and we will put in $100. We will put on our calendar that in 7 months we need to withdraw any money left in the account and close it.

If we do this, deposit $100, then in 6 months we will have effectively earned another $100.

Obviously Chase isn't really going to give us the $100 of their money if they can help it. They are gambling that our 5 purchases in a given month will result in enough merchant fees to cover the $100 we are getting. They are also gambling that we will stay as long term customers which will result in fee charges to us over time and/or more merchant fees that result from our purchases.

Lastly, banks need to have a certain amount of cash within customers accounts to keep within various regulations around how much money they, Chase, can lend out. This gimmick will allow them to show more money in customer accounts to regulators. Very slick.

Go Chase! Go $100 into our sailing fund!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Boat Anchor Strategy - Go Many Go Heavy

One of the most fascinating areas of this new life that I'm really enjoying the study of is anchoring. I've concluded that it is part art, science (physics, sociology, and psychology), and even a bit of philosophy. This is why there are so many different anchoring approaches because when you blend art, science, and philosophy, you find as many ways to anchoring as you do people!

I've dubbed our boat anchoring strategy the Go Many Go Heavy approach-
have as many different anchors as you practically can and go as heavy as you practically can.
For us, this manifests as having 3 different types of larger anchors (70 lbs Luke, 35 lbs Fluke, and 45 lbs Plow), plus 2 smaller anchors (10 lbs Plow and 10 lbs Fluke) for kedging.

Anchoring, to us, is everything from the physical end point anchor all the way back up to its connection point on the boat. Thus, we also consider the rode as part of the anchoring system.

We will have 2 lengths of 100 foot 5/16 inch PC/BBB chain, 2 lengths of 50 foot 5/16 inch PC/BBB chain, 2 lengths of 25 foot 1/4 inch chain, and 5 lengths of 100 foot 3 strand 9/16 nylon.

Given our load capacity, this means that we are choosing to exchange some creature comfort type stuff for more ground gear.

Our big Plow will be primary, and the big Fluke the secondary. The Luke will be pulled out when in a questionable situation (bottom type, current, or weather ambiguous situations).

Why so much? Because we intend to live a vast majority of time on the hook. The anchoring system is our insurance that the boat will stay put. Studying the load dynamics the system must accommodate, I don't feel comfortable doing anything less. It is the psychological element, comfort, that is also in play here.

When I worked as a divemaster on a boat in the Keys, I would manually set a single anchor (that is, I'd dive down with the anchor and set it by hand in the ocean floor ... it was a great ride!). In the boat living situation, I do want to dive the anchor but that won't always be an option so the varying types of anchors will help ensure we get at least one to set.

We plan on setting 2 anchors when we are staying overnight in a location, and only 1 anchor when just stopping for the day. By having a 3rd anchor on board, the big Luke, if something crazy starts to happen, like another boat starts dragging our lines, we can set the Luke to help keep us from dragging.

We have 60% of the items listed (the big and small Fluke, the big and small plow, and much of the rope). We have about another $1,000 we will need to spend to complete our anchoring system.

This is, of course, all theory as we are not yet living out on the ocean; this is our starting point strategy. Only real world experience will tell me if I've got it right! Reality, in the end, always trumps theory!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life Engineer

Engineering is the discipline, art and profession of acquiring and applying technical, scientific, and mathematical knowledge to design and implement materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes that safely realize a desired objective or invention. - Wikipedia
Every day, we work hard at engineering our life. We actively participate in shaping it to safely realize our desired objectives. We don't sit back and let life happen to us. We engineer it. We actively craft all of our actions, behaviors, and situations such that they benefit us and bring us closer to our desired state.

Our current desired state is living upon a boat full time, exploring the world. The active engineering to do this includes studying and leveraging economics, psychology, philosophy, physics, and more. We could sit back and watch an hour of TV each night. Or, we can invest that hour in engineering our life. We chose the latter.

Each person can engineer their own life. If a person doesn't actively engineer their own life, then it will be engineered by others, shaped and bent to their will to serve them and their needs. This is most readily seen by observing marketing efforts. Companies invest a lot of time and money trying to engineer your life such that you buy their products.

Whom is your engineer? Are you driving your own train? Or are you on the tracks laid by others? It is completely your choice. It is completely your life.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Has Arrived!!

I finally received my very own Ultrafeed LSZ-1 sewing machine!! I'm sooooo excited!! We purchased the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 off of ebay. With shipping the total cost was $829. This was $100 saving versus purchasing the machine directly from Sailrite (at full price with shipping).

I unpacked the machine immediately. It is heavy and a real beauty. I watched the enclosed dvds and now feel like I can sew anything, literally. I can't wait to start my first project!

I still have a few attachments that I need to purchase directly from Sailrite. Fortunately, Sailrite recently published a coupon for 10% off, good through April 12th. This gives me some time to make measurement and do some research. If you are interested, the coupon code is SAIL2010.

I'm sooooo EXCITED!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teethy Kids and the Traveling Orthodontist

KJ had her very first dentist appointment about 2 weeks ago. The dentist said her teeth were fantastic, but that she should see an orthodontist because she may have a bite issue.

This week, KJ visited an orthodontist and he confirmed what our dentist said "KJ may be developing a cross bite", but that he couldn't be sure until she was 7 years old.

Fortunately 7 is still young enough to correct the problem without major brace action. Unfortunately, KJ is still 2.5 years from being 7, and at that time we will most certainly be on our journey. Val explained this to the orthodontist, and he mentioned something interesting. He said that "Brazil and Argentina are excellent places to take care of this. They have excellent dentists and are very cheap."

Val shared with me that the orthodontist's wall was covered with mementos of the his journeys around the world. He was a kindred spirit and encouraged us to go!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Carpet Blanket Mast

We are approaching our big boat shipping day .... from Atlanta to Savannah. Our Gemini will be put on the back of a truck and transported to its new home marina. With all the bridges between here and there, the mast will obviously have to be stepped.

Once we step the mast, it will be put on the back of the truck horizontally to go along with the boat. How do we protect the aluminium mast from getting all dinged up? Carpet!

While doing our research on how to ship our boat, it was recommended to us to wrap our mast in carpet for protection. With this, Val began her search for some free carpet.

Val talked to our apartment manager about this, and the apartment manager told Val that she could have all the carpet she wanted from the next apartment refresh cycle. Well, there was an apartment refresh cycle this past weekend! So Val was able to secure some free carpet! We loaded enough carpet for our mast in our car, and took it out to the boat.

Now we have our carpet mast blanket!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Taxes... Filing a federal income tax return is the dreaded task that most Americans have to do by April 15th of each year. In years past, when we owned businesses, we had an accountant do our taxes. But since we sold everything, our tax situation and life have become a lot simpler. Now I do our taxes.

Last year, I used Turbo Tax's online service. It was free for the federal return and cost about $20 for the state with electronic filing. Naturally, this year I went back to the Turbo Tax site to file my taxes again, but I was meet with a little surprise. Turbo Tax wanted to charge us approximately $70 to file our federal and state income tax returns. After researching our situation, I found that a lot of people were in the same boat and were pretty upset about it.

My first thought was to fill the taxes out by hand and check them against the Turbo Tax numbers. Then I saw a comment, on the Turbo Tax web site, stating that FreeTaxUSA.com does not charge for federal income tax return and only charges $9.95 for the state return. I decided to give it a try. I plugged our numbers into FreeTaxUSA.com program and got the exact same tax totals that I had gotten from Turbo Tax. This boosted my confidence in the FreeTaxUSA.com program, so we electronically filed our taxes using their online service.

So if you are looking for an online service to complete your federal (and maybe state) income tax return, then I highly recommend FreeTaxUSA.com. Next year, we might be in the Caribbean when it is time to file our taxes, I hope that FreeTaxUSA.com is still around so that we can file them electronically for free!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where Do We Live Just Before Setting Sail

As we think through the logistics of our departure plans, one of the interesting coordination items we are queuing up is our lodging when our apartment lease expires.

Our apartment lease ends the first week of November 2010. Between then and when we set sail, where should we live? Our boat will be on the Atlantic, in Savannah GA, a bit far for a commute to work (3.75 hours each way).

So where do we live between the first week of November 2010 and the day we set sail? This transition period could be 1 month, 2 months, or maybe 3 (depending on a number of factors).

Our basic transitory period lodging strategy is as follows:
We will be offering up to our friends and family, with pets, to house and pet sit for them in the months of November and December.

We have 2 sets of such people that have already indicated that such a situation is desired! Those 2 sets cover a 28 day period! This would imply living space in exchange for taking care of their houses and their pets. If we can find a few more such folks/situations, then we would be all set. No outlay of cash, and everyone wins.

If we can't find more such situations, one fall back position is to leverage all the Priority Club points that I've acquired over the years of traveling I do for work. We can use the Priority Club points to stay at an extended stay hotel like a Candlewood Suites or a Staybridge Suites.

Another fall back position is to rent an RV, from a friend, for a month and live in it if need be. There are a few family members and friends whom have already told us that we have this option.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Bucket List

This is the big bucket weekend. KJ and Dy will each be given a 6 gallon bucket. They will be told to put toys in their buckets that they want to keep, and that all the other toys that don't make it into the bucket will be going away.

Since neither of the girls read this blog, it is safe to share that we won't really be getting rid of the other toys yet. We will simply sequester the toys so they appear gone.

Our intent is to continue educating the girls about our new lifestyle. They will need to choose wisely; what is in the bucket is what they will get to play with for a period of time. Do they do a few big things? Or do they do lots of little things? Will they mix this up? Will it be dolls? Legos? Will they collaborate and share bucket space? Who knows, it will be fun to see how it all works out.

The hamster wheel of life is often aimed at how many buckets of stuff you can acquire. One of the lessons we are learning, as we prepare for our journey, is that it isn't the number of the buckets you get, but rather the quality of the stuff you put in the bucket. Our life bucket is no longer a big house, but rather it is a tiny boat. The quality of the stuff we put in it is really the focus. The most important items in our tiny boat bucket is us. That is our focus.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mahi Mahi aka Dolphin aka Dorado Trawling Line and Lure Strategy

We continue our journey to learn more about fishing and defining our strategy for how we will catch free food. As shared before, we plan on trawling constantly .... dragging a line behind us to seduce fish. Lately I've been studying up on a fish that Val loves.

Val is really interested in catching Mahi Mahi, which is also known as Dolphin and Dorado. This fish looks stupendously ugly to me, but according to Val (and many others), it tastes wonderful. My proclivities around consuming Seafood are quite well known, and this fishes looks don't help.

We plan to use a homemade, DIY, type of line and lure system. Starting from the boat, the line system will be as follows:
  1. We will attach a 2 foot bungee cord to the rear arch of our boat, and this will serve as a shock cord line.
  2. Attached to the shock cord will be 50 yards of a medium weight monofilament line.
  3. Attached to the monofilament line will be a 4 foot long wire leader.
  4. Attached to the wire leader will be a 6/0 sized hook.
  5. Surrounding this hook will be a shredded plastic bag, made to look like a squid body.

That's it!

We will troll at 4 knots or so, depending on the wind, and when we see the shock cord expand, we will know that we have a hit. We will then use a coffee can along with gloves to wind up the fishing line to fight the Dorado to land it!

This all works in theory ... it will be great fun to try this in real life.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

UK Canals - Burton On Trent Run

Last week on a business trip to the UK, the opportunity to go for an early morning run along the canal in Burton On Trent (Brandston) materialized. Along with 2 colleagues (one from the offices here in Atlanta, the other from our Brandston offices), we headed out.

We saw numerous very long, very narrow boats as we ran. In single file fashion, they were tried up along the sides of the canal. The scent of wood burning permeated the air, and the softness of lush green grass could be felt through our shoes. We were floating through the domain of live aboard long boats. These were peoples homes. My 2 other colleagues chatted nearly the whole way, and normally I would have been engaged with them but I was lost in fantasy land, thinking about the life of being on these boats. I could see the smoke billowing out of the smoke stacks on the boats. I could imagine the people inside puttering about, doing normal morning things, but on a boat!

We ran under a number of bridges ... a few were so low that I (at 6ft) had to duck. It appeared that from the water line, the clearance couldn't have been more than 8 ft for a boat passing under. The boats on the canal didn't seem to have a beam of more than 5 ft which, given the width of the canal, much more would have really jammed up the water way. These 2 dimensions, even with a stepped mast, means that our boat, Ariel, wouldn't be able to make it through these water ways.

As we ran along the canal, there were some boat folks up and about doing their things. As we ran by, they smiled and nodded. Interesting, when we were running off the canal and passed people whom were dirt dwellers doing their morning things, they didn't nod and smile. While not a scientific polling mechanism, it sure seemed that those lived on their boats were much happier.

My only regret was not taking any photos. I didn't even carry my phone, which has a camera, for the run. The memories, however, of that magical experience, that running through the backyards of true boat dwellers, with lush green grass, calm water, and the scent of the fresh wood being burned, will live with me forever. I can't wait!!!! What's the count today? 265? :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Does It Float?

During car rides, a lot of family time is spent on mentally walking through various scenarios that we will face as we live on the boat. Recent discussions were on our water strategy and the mechanics of ferrying water back and forth to the boat.

"What happens to a full water can when it falls into the water?" was a question that came up. It will probably sink. Val then chimed in, "I've read that some folks purposefully don't fill their water cans to the top thereby leaving some space at the top of the cans so that they will float." Brilliant! Such a simple solution.

My maximize space mentality would certainly have filled each Jerrycan full of water, but the "work smart" part of my brain sees that leaving some space at the top of the can will provide a certain amount of insurance just in case a water can falls overboard. There is also the added benefit of a lighter can. My back will like that!

Water cans going overboard isn't just a concern when ferrying them via dinghy, but also as they sit on the boat in the cockpit. One good rouge wave could send one overboard, and it would be nice to have the option of retrieving it if the conditions allow.

Lots of little details out there, and the mental scenario exercises really help flesh them out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Insuring Boat During Transport

An important item to have squared away when transporting a boat, or anything else, is insurance that reimburses the owner for the value of the item in case of damage or loss during transport.

This is not as simple as relying on your general insurance coverage. In fact, most insurers don't cover the item during transport. You should double check and make sure that you are covered completely. In our case, for example, our State Farm Insurance will not cover our boat during transport unless it is struck by a direct hit of lightning. Even when we asked for supplemental transport insurance to cover cases beyond lightening, they said no.

Another gotcha is that almost all transporters have freight insturance, and will tell you they are insured. However, freight insurance is based on weight, not the replacement value of the item. The going payout rate of freight insurance is $0.10 per pound on damages. To give you an idea of what this means in our case, our Gemini 3200 weights 7,000lbs. If we only had freight insurance coverage for our boat and there was a total loss, we would be reimbursed a whopping $700. Not good.

Most transport companies offer declared value coverage up to the full value of the cargo for an additional cost. The transporter that we have chosen automatically includes the declared value coverage in his quote.

So the next time you ship a car, boat, or a camera at your local PakMail, or other local ship store, be very sure to ask if the item being shipped is covered for full replacement value in case of loss. You may be surprise how many times the answer will be "no." However, you can always buy more insurance from someone.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Banana Nut Bread Recipe

The following Banana Nut Bread recipe is sooooooooo good that we have deemed it OMG Banana Nut Bread. It's easy to make on land. However, I'm still working out the kinks for cooking it in a pressure cooker so that it is boat-able. Enjoy!

2 cups self rising flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups mashed bananas (roughly 3 overriped and 4 very ripe)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup coarsely chopped peacans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar sugar until smooth.
  3. Stir in the bananas and eggs until well blended
  4. Add sifted flour and stir until blended
  5. Add pecans
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture.

Note: If you use smaller foil pan, you will need to cook the bread for about 20-30 minutes longer.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last $250 for Car Tags!

With February being Val's birth month, we had to renew our car tags.

For $250 USD, both of our cars are registered in the state of Georgia for 1 more year. Whoopie. This may very well be the last time, for a long time, that we have to get the car tags renewed. Wahoo!

This may also be the last time that we have to do car emissions testing too. At $25 per car, that is another $50 we shell out each year.

$300 each year for having registered automobiles in the state is a lot of money. However, our current lifestyle needs the cars. Our next life phase, the voyaging phase, won't require them so that $300 won't be spent! Now, about the boat registration money we send to the state .... :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sailing to Central America

As the weekend approaches, we've been thinking a lot about where we could be this time next year. It is very possible that we will be 2 months into the journey, and we suspect we will be somewhere in Central America.

Central America consists of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. We've been to Honduras before and found it to be exactly what we would expect of Central America. It has friendly people, absolutely beautiful landscapes, and a lot of poverty. The cost of living in this region of the world is very, very cheap.

Honduras is part of the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4). The CA-4 consists of 4 countries, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. As American citizens, we can enter any one of these 4 countries and stay for 90 days without any entry/exit formalities. If we need to stay longer, we can fill out some forms and then stay an additional 30 days.

For Belize, we can stay 30 days without a visa.
For Costa Rica, we can stay for 90 days without a visa! Wahoo!!
For Panama, we can stay 30 days without a visa.

If you sum up all the days just in this region, without doing anything formal, we could spend 240 days in South America, soaking up the culture, waters, and life style. This may be the best area for us to hang out as we start this journey ... figuring out what the heck we are doing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Calverts Boat Home Schooling Curriculum

KJ, the eldest of our 2 daughters, will be 5 when we set sail, and in the fall of 2011 she will need to be enrolled in kindergarten. Since we will be voyaging around the world at that time, how do we handle her formal eduction? We've elected to home/boat school her. In the boatschooling world, the most well known system is Calverts.

Calverts provides a fantastic eduction for those on the road all the way up to 8th grade. The system is designed for people who don't have immediate access to the Internet, and for people whom want to teach the learning approach of self paced/self taught learning. Interestingly, if you review all their materials carefully, you see that everything a child would need to pass the GED is taught to them by the 8th grade. At this time, you can't take the GED until you're 16, but it is nice knowing that the material will be in KJ (and Dy's) head. Thousands and thousands of children have followed the program successfully and gone on to college. KJ and Dy may just join their ranks.

We have a number of options after the 8th grade too, like enrolling them in universities that allow for remote education, such as Brigham Young University and the University Nebraska (these 2 schools are favorites of those roaming the world). Will we do that? We won't know until KJ is older. Our immediate issue is, however, kindergarten.

The cost of the kindergarten package, new, from Calvert is $585, a value in our opinion. However, we bought a Calvert kindergarten package from a seller on eBay for $98!

With Dy being only 2 years behind KJ, Dy should be able to reuse the material without an issue. We suspect that KJ's learning sessions will naturally spill over into Dy's consciousness anyway. The boat is only so big, plus Dy is always curious about what her sister is doing.

This is a most excellent way for us to dip our toe into the water of boat schooling. We're glad to have found this system, and to have purchased it cheaply.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bubble Sorting Boat Modifications

Once we acquired Ariel, our list of all the things we wanted to do to her to make her ready for sailing around the world began to grow. It grew and grew and grew and grew. Over the past few months, we began to question all the items on the list. How many were "must haves" ? How many were "should haves"? and how many were just "desires"?

Our list contained 80+ boat modifications. But how many were absolute needs? To identify this we did what is called a "Bubble Sort" (wow, a computer algorithm I learned in college is paying dividends!).

To do the Bubble Sort, we listed our 80+ items one by one straight down a page. Then, starting at the top, we asked our self "Is item 1 more important than item 2?" If yes, then no change. If no, then item 2 goes above item 1 on the list. We then ask the question, "Is item 2 more important than item 3?" If yes, then no change. If no, then item 3 goes above item 2. We then ask the first question again (since there is now a new item 2). This is best expressed by example.

Let's use this simple 4 item task list:
  1. Replace main sail
  2. Replace rusted bolts holding engine to boat
  3. Fix navigation lights
  4. Replace batteries
We start with, "Is replacing the main sail more important than replacing rusted bolts?"
Our answer, "Well, the main sail works fine. It has one small tear that Val can fix ... but the rusted bolts can break and the motor would fall into the ocean. So, number 2 is more important than number 1"

The example list now stands as:
  1. Replace rusted bolts holding engine to boat
  2. Replace main sail
  3. Fix navigation lights
  4. Replace batteries
Is fixing the navigation lights more important than fixing the main sail? In our case yes, our navigation lights are turned 90 degrees plus the steaming light is out.

The example list now stands as:
  1. Replace rusted bolts holding engine to boat
  2. Fix navigation lights
  3. Replace main sail
  4. Replace batteries
Is fixing the navigation lights more important than fixing the rusted bolts? We answered yes, so that moves the navigation lights up the list.

The example list now stands as:
  1. Fix navigation lights
  2. Replace rusted bolts holding engine to boat
  3. Replace main sail
  4. Replace batteries
Then we ask if replacing the batteries is more important than fixing the main sail. The answer is yes.

The example list now stands as:
  1. Fix navigation lights
  2. Replace rusted bolts holding engine to boat
  3. Replace batteries
  4. Replace main sail
Is replacing the batteries more important than fixing the rusted bolts? We answered no, so we can now stop.

When we applied the bubble sort to our list of 80+, we ended up with a priority order of everything we wanted to do. Then we walked up the list, from the bottom, asking ourselves if something was required to be done for us to start our voyage. Once we hit the first item of something we believed was critical for starting the voyage, we noted that from this point up the list as "must do to sail." We resolved that there are 12 such items.

Here is our current list of must do items, in priority order:
  1. Replace mast navigation lights with LED ones (steaming light is out)
  2. Bottom Paint (currently covered for lake life, not ocean life)
  3. Fix fiberglass fractures above waterline
  4. Replace splashwell steering plate with a fiberglass one (one is rusted)
  5. Replace all rusted bolts (one is on the motor mount)
  6. Replace batteries (ours are 5 years old and swollen)
  7. Install Radar system (already bought, just needs to be installed)
  8. Troubleshoot and fix windvane
  9. Inspect standing rigging and replace as needed
  10. Install fuse between 30amp shore power receptacle and circuit breakers
  11. Replace engine fuel line (it is a bit weathered, it will soon start to show signs of cracks)
  12. Add manual windlass
We've agreed that we should still have the funds to complete all 80+ items, we just won't spend the funds until something goes from a "should have" to a "must have."

The Bubble Sort technique is fantastic since it allows you to apply whatever rules you want in determining priority. If you change how you pick priorities, you simply run through the list again. You could do the sorting based on costs, you could do sorting based on safety, you could do sorting based on your skills for doing your own repairs, and more. You can even run the bubble sort in each different priority picking mode, then compare lists, and then identify which items always appear near the top and simply work on them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Going After Big Challenges

We received a very nice email from someone looking to make a life change. The sender shared, in summary, that getting from where they are to where they want to be (sailing around the world) is too big of a challenge and change for them; they were seeking advice.

We've found that if you want something bad enough, you will go after it regardless of the size of the task ahead of you. Whether it is sailing around the world, or owning an exotic car, or visiting the Great Wall of China, when you find what you really want, you will go after it and not even see the challenge.

Here are some general comments:
  • When we formally committed to this in September 2007, we predicted that we wouldn't be ready until April 2016. Still, we went forward and we've found that the possible sail date has slowly crept inward. First the date pulled in to April 2012, dropping 4 full years, and now it sits at December 2010. Maybe it will pull in even more! We don't know.
  • Focus on your daily actions, not so much on the end state condition. The latter will provide you mental fuel to remind you of why you're doing what you're doing, but you can't change the future state ... you can only change and control the now. So do something now. Focus on right now. I once heard a story about Dr. Livingston, the famous explorer of the 1800s, that, while it may be folklore, demonstrates this principle perfectly:
When Dr. Livingston was asked how he could possibly have made it to the interior of Africa given how much jungle he had to get through and the huge distances he had to travel, Dr. Livingston responded that he just focused on one vine at a time and he didn't know how far he had to go... and that if he did know, he may not have made the journey in the first place.
  • As far as we know, we will only get one ride on life's merry-go-round, and we refuse to spend it floating along. We will always move towards what we want.
  • People around you will want you to spend your life as they do, but we are going to spend our life as we want to. Often times the obstacles seen are illusions placed in the path of goal achievement by others, sometimes on purpose but more often than not simply out of ignorance. As you punch through each illusion, you will gain more confidence to challenge and knock down the next illusion.
As we get closer to making our voyage, under 275 days, the reality of owning life and being able to change it to whatever we want becomes more and more clear. Unfortunately, I cannot find the right words to convey the empowerment feeling, the true power of owning life, that we are gaining. Like love, it must be experienced to be understood.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lining Up Your Dates - Early Bird Gets the Worm!

When I was growing up, I was fortunate to live next door to my grandparents. My grandmother was always saying "early bird get the worm." Recently, while setting up the different appointments to have our boat hauled out and shipped I was reminded of this saying.

Around the beginning of February, the decision was made to move our Gemini 3200 to the Atlanta coast in April, instead of September. This gave us two months to complete the boat moving task list. After selecting a destination marina and boat transporter, we turned our attention to setting up all of the appointments for hauling out/power washing/blocking, step the mast, transporter pick up, and receiving boat at destination marina. Bill expressed his desire that the appointment be made as soon as possible. So one afternoon, I went about the task of coordinating with the two marinas and the transporter and making all the necessary appointments. Since I was making the appointment almost 2 months out, I had no problem getting our first choice of dates and times. All the appointments were made and everyone, except the transporter had been notified. Everything was going great until I talked to the transporter and give him the pick up date. He didn't take issue with the date, as much as the day of the week. See, I had scheduled pick up and deliver for a Friday. The transporter's concern was what if something happen and he is not able to deliver the boat to the Sail Harbor Marina before the boat yards last appointment time/closed. Most boat yards are only open Monday through Friday. If he didn't make delivery by the last appointment on Friday, no one would be around to unload the boat until the following Monday morning. Not good.

It was a good thing that I was making the appointments almost 2 months in advance. All I had to do was call the marina and change the pickup appointment to Thursday morning. No problem, it took just a minute. The lady, at the marina, that was helping me stated it was a good thing that I made the change as quickly as I did, because if I had waited a couple of weeks the change might not have happen so smoothly.

So, early bird gets the worm!