Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's cold, I'm ready to go, and New Sail Cover

Today was miserably cold and windy here in Annapolis. I'm not sure if the temperature made it above freezing or not but it sure felt like freezing today. It has been really windy too and the tide is unusually low. We have been hard aground for the better part of the day and the boat is healing over about 15%. It has really just been uncomfortable all around today. We have been living aboard for about 5 years now and we are usually pretty good managing the lifestyle. We live well with the small space. Still, there is never enough storage, the moisture and condensation create mold in every hard to reach space, and sometimes it can just be frustrating. All of those negative aspects are justifiable by our beautiful surroundings and the ability to be close to the water... except the idea of being outside today is miserable. Now that the weather has turned for the worse, we end up down below in the cabin with every window closed, hiding from the elements. I always tell people that we are good at living aboard but to be honest sometimes it isn't fun. I know that life doesn't get to always be perfect but sometimes I am better at dealing with it than others. When Matt and I are both trying to get something productive accomplished sometimes we get in each others way. We normally deal with it fine but with weather like this there is no where to escape.

We were recently gifted a slightly used sail cover from a 65' boat. Obviously, it was too big for our boat but we needed a new one. Our old one is torn and ripped in places (and purple) and has out lived it's usefulness. Since I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with being stuck down below in our cabin today, I figured now was as good a time as any to modify that over-sized sail cover. I really didn't have an excuse not to alter it now since we were also gifted that great sewing machine I mentioned the other day. It was a reasonably easy alteration as it was just too long and baggy basically. I did the measurement in the cold and wind then found an inside spot at the marina to set up the sewing machine. I took up on the top and shortened the ends. It's not a flawless repair but it forced me to go outside and get outta the boat. Only a few days left before we leave and I couldn't be more ready for a change of latitude.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last Week Prep and Karma

Matt messing around with our new sewing machine. Making a mast head pennant.

In the past few weeks (and especially after quitting out jobs) we have been preparing our boat to leave. It has been mayhem but we have been assembling items that we have purchased or acquired for cruising. We have installed a windlass, RVG winvane, jerry can storage boards, solar panels, generator storage, new anchor roller, installed reef lines, mounted fire extinguishers, installed clip in pad eyes, wired nav lights, installed preventer system, installed a new transmission, assembled a first aid kit, got a danbouy, got a 66lb anchor, installed various latches/ security straps, purchased paper charts, re-installed our auto-pilot, drilled toe-rail drain holes, installed an outboard rail bracket, installed line storage in the lazzeratte, installed anchor chain pipe in aft deck, marked anchor chain, installed the other two bronze opening ports that we never got around to last winter, and lots of other things I can't remember right now.

We have gotten a lot of good stuff accomplished. It is really starting to feel like a cruising boat which is neat. We still have a lot to get done but I have faith that it will all come together. Our friends and coworkers at the marina here have really helped us out. Thanks to our dock neighbor/coworker at the marina we are the proud new owners of a great industrial sewing machine and two fishing poles/reels. Thanks Kevin! Also, the marina had a little going away party for us an all the employees tonight. Living and working here has really helped propel us towards this goal and we really owe them a big thanks! We really don't deserve all the help and support we have received lately. The notion of Karma has been coming up frequently and we feel pretty strongly that we need to be thankful for every advantage that we have received. We will take the positive energy and pass it on whenever possible. Whether you call it karma or something else, it can't hurt to try to do good things and pass on whatever good vibes that we can. So far, things are looking up.

Here are some random things that we still need to do/get this week before we leave:
-Adjust linkage in engine
-Double check that we have all the engine spares we need
-Mount life raft
-Build a trolling rod holder
-Deal with land vehicles/storage unit
-Find our old dodger/ get the raw materials to fabricate a new one (the old one is purple which is the first strike. Also the fabric is literally rotting away.)
-Find/ Purchase a new boat hook, not sure where the old one got off to...
-Purchase Skipper Bob Waterway guide
-Purchase Explorer Charts for the Bahamas
-Look into Steve Pavidis' Bahamas guide. Not sure what it is officially called.
-Order Softlamp Paraffin lamp oil off the internet, it costs $20/gal at the hardware store
-Stock up on my iTunes credits, we've been streaming internet for the last year or so and haven't purchased any new music lately. Can't have a rum and coke in an island destination without some new reggae tunes
-Stock the Rum locker - see above

Shouldn't be too hard to get all of this accomplished. 11 days.

Monday, November 18, 2013

RVG Windvane

Another late night bolting things on the boat. Got the RVG (Reibrandt Vane gear) windvane installed last night. 14 days left till our tentative departure date. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SPOT Gen3 Tracker

The idea of cruising is confusing for a lot of people. One of the reasons we are going on this journey is the unknown experiences that happen along the way. We have been asked very often lately, 'where are you guys going?'. Well, we are not necessarily going anywhere. We are definitely leaving here, and we are definitely heading south; but where are we going? On an adventure. Our general plan is to head south out of the Chesapeake Bay then enter the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)*. This is where the plans get a little fuzzy. We would like to make it to the Bahamas and/or Eastern Caribbean but if we get to Charleston and find ourselves happy and having a good time we may just stay there. Cruising is not supposed to be scheduled and planned out which is one of the reasons the lifestyle is so alluring to us.

Although dropping out of conventional society for a while is great, safety is paramount. Which leads me to our physical locations. We obviously will be in tangible places and now with the advent of modern GPS technology you can know where we are too. (For non-boat people this may be a good point to skip to the bottom) We had some serious discussions about whether or not to install an AIS system on our boat. AIS is pretty expensive to buy and the install is a pain. On top of the actual AIS you have to buy a hundred feet of wire and conduit. For us, this just didn't seem practical right now. We would love to have the comfort of being able to see who and what is around us but it just isn't going to happen right now.

The other option is to use personal GPS trackers. There is a company called SPOT that makes some pretty neat, affordable products. We decided on the SPOT Gen3 tracker. It costs about $150 to purchase and you will also need to pay $150/year for their service. We found this to be a very fair cost for the product. The SPOT tracker allows us to send out predetermined messages to up to 50 contacts and also automatically updates our location on our SPOT map as long as it is turned on. It has an SOS function that we can push in life threatening situations and a few message options. We are pretty content with this and I'll let you know how well it works once we actually leave in a few weeks.

You can track our progress here: SPOT Gen3 tracker or click on the 'Where' link above.

[*Check out what Wikipedia has to say about the Intracoastal Waterway here: ICW.]    

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bunt Lines

I know it is weird because we have had our boat for five years but, like Keith was so eager to point out, in San Diego you don't really need to reef. The wind in San Diego usually picks up around noon and levels off at about 10-14 knots. It always dies around sunset and it never really gets super windy. While we were sailing there we never really needed to reef and when we did we just used our roller furling boom. It was kinda a pain but it didn't get used much so it didn't matter. Now that we have been in the Chesapeake we were reminded that it gets windy. When Matt was teaching sailing in the straights of Gibraltar he regularly needed to put in a third reef. We have been in places that have both extremes and knew it was time to have a proper reefing system. 

Matt installed all the hardware and spliced the reefing lines the other night. We tested the system and it seems to work pretty well. He installed a winch and cleats on the mast to secure the reefing lines. The main already had two reef points with grommets but it did not have mini grommets for bunt lines (to tie up the excess sail while reefed). Tonight it was time to address that issue. 

Thanks to Charlie from Warrior Yachting in Annapolis we got some sticky back Dacron and Kevlar to reinforce the holes Matt was gonna poke in the main. We already had the grommets from when we made our lee cloths. Matt installed those grommets in the main in line with the reef points at the leech and luff. This allows us to tie up the excess sail while reefed without a whole lot of wasted time.

I know we probably should have done this years ago but that is how pretty much everything is going lately.

ps. Sorry for the sucky quality of the photos lately. They are all iphone snapshots.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Time to Get outta Dodge

Winter is coming. Snow. Ice. Cold. Bitter wind that makes your eye balls hurt. I detest winter in Maryland. This weekend marks our second anniversary living on the boat in Annapolis and I think we have had just about enough. Living here has been somewhat bittersweet for us. Our reason for coming was family. We have shed a lot of tears together and created a lot of great memories too. However, our usefulness here has sailed it's course and we no longer need to live here. The past two years have been the hardest for Matt and I yet but somehow we have made it to the other side. We are elated to have the major boat projects are behind us (even though they never stop). It has come to time to make a choice.

Our first inclination was that we wanted to get back to California to pick up with our Cali family s soon as possible. We quickly found out however that shipping a boat East to West is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive that West to East. Our second thought was to just sail home to San Diego. We do live on a sail boat after all. After some quick calculations we figured out that we might even end up spending less money sailing home. We don't have a strict time line, so it seems like the logical next step. Going cruising without a plan has been something that we have been ironically planning for a long time. We are not sure that we will make a direct voyage straight from here to there but life is about the journey not the destination anyway, right!?

Thinking that we will get outta here around the 1st of December give or take a week or so. The trade routes allow for a pretty swift southern route this time of year but the longer we wait the colder the air and the more sweaters i'll bring on our packed boat!

Hopefully less of this...

....and more of this.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reef Lines

Our boat has an old fashioned roller furling boom. The entire boom rolls in place and the sail wraps around it. This old way of reefing allows for infinite reef points however it isn't the swiftest process. While we will never get rid of the old system (because it is part of our booms' design), we thought it might not be a bad idea to have both the traditional and modern systems in place. 

We are stil working full time and getting boat projects done after hours. I am currently roasting a chicken in the oven while Matt is installing cheek blocks and cleats so we can reef the modern way. I have been giving Matt shit for the past 5 years for hoarding boat goods but fortunately this install isn't gonna cost us anything. 

Still have a lot of stuff to go through but we are getting closer every day.