Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Weeks In: What We Love, What We Don't

We just hit 800 miles and it inspired me to post about what we love, and what we don't so far about our boat and cruising.

Day sailing on a boat and calling it 'home' are two very different things.  Moving aboard for an extended amount of time offers you ample opportunity to learn more about what you like and, unfortunately, what you don't.  I was originally going to list 10 things we liked, and 10 things we didn't, but Scott and I couldn't come up with 10 things we didn't like so we'll just see how this goes...

Top Things we LIKE (actually, LOVE) so far...

1)  Our AIS transponder and receiver.  AIS stands for "Automatic Identification System" and is an automated tracking system for ships.  Basically, we can see every single ship within 30 miles of us - where they are heading, their name, how fast they are going...etc.   It's overlaid on our chart-plotter and is great for peace of mind when night sailing.  It also saves a lot of energy because we don't need to run our radar all night long.  As I type this, Scott is adjusting course to avoid coming too close to a ship that is over 30 miles away.  We are also sending a signal, which means those same ships can 'see' us.  This system is seriously AWESOME.
2)  Our Force 10 Propane Heater.  When we first bought the boat we looked at the funny little heater in our main salon and thought, "What the?!" - but now, we love that thing.  It is amazing on chilly nights, it is fantastic for drying out wet gear and it makes for a suuuuuper cozy and toasty cabin.  We are told it will be great in the tropics as well for nipping humidity in the bud and drying out the boat.
3)  Our Hard Dodger and Fully Enclose-able Cockpit.  If we didn't love it before, we sure did after this debacle.  Hallberg-Rassy knew what they were doing when they did this, and boy oh boy has it proved it's worth a thousand times over.  The cockpit is almost always dry (and I mean, bone dry), and even sailing upwind in 45 degree fall weather with 5 foot waves we chill out in the cockpit, totally unaffected,  in sweatshirts and flip-flops.  I am sold for life on the hard dodger and when we are in the tropics, our bimini will provide some very essential SHADE.  There have been MANY times where we have said, "Wow, if we were in another type of boat we'd be in head to toe foulies and freezing right now!". love love love you Hallberg-Rassy for the ingenious design.    Comfort = Happy Cruising.
4)  Our on deck Navigation Station.  We have our Simrad chart-plotter (with Radar and AIS overlay) right here in our cockpit.  We can be steering and simply look up at our course and see what is around us.  We also have a spot for our paper charts (yes, we have paper charts too...) right next to it so we can do all navigating from the cockpit.  It's very nice not to have to go up and down and back and forth for all this.
5)  All the storage on this boat.  We have a TON of storage space.  We have empty bins in our lazarettes and still some storage space to spare!  We also did a great job of storing stuff, putting all our clothes in labeled zip lock baggies (they stay fresh and dry no matter what!), and all our other 'stuff' in bins that are clearly marked and labeled.  Sure, I have to lift a cushion and remove a bin or two to get to the bin holding the canned goods, but they are safe, secure and not shifting around!
6)  Our water heater.  We had taken ours out thinking we didn't really need it, but thankfully my dad (who has cruised extensively with my mom) hinted, "Britt, even in the tropics hot water is nice".  And he was right.  We love having hot water for dishes and face washes.  Again just another little perk that makes life just a little more comfy.
7)  Having internet on board.  Can you tell I enjoy blogging?  But seriously, it's been great to get further weather data, and connect with great people (like our friend Bill Flemming in Buffalo!) who are helping us out along the way.  Since we are under way 90% of the time, we would have very little time for internet cafe's and such.  The connectivity isn't always there and will only be available where there is a cellular signal, but hey - it's better than a kick in the face!
8)  Our new sails and the "stack pack" system.  The stackpack makes setting and dousing the mainsail a piece of cake.  Seriously, it wasn't cheap - but it makes our lives a lot easier and safer.  It can easily be done by one person which is also nice.  Our sails are up right now and we are motor-sailing along at over 7 knots.  Boo yah!  They also look beautiful, which is always a bonus.  We kind of dig our color scheme of beige and toast too.
9) Autopilot*.  Scott is up on deck clipping his nails right now, and I am sitting in the cock-pit, blogging.  No one is at the helm of the boat.  'Nough said.
10) Our Galleyware Cookset - It's nesting, compact, and stores like a dream.  We love our set and use it every single day.
11)  Our brand new Yanmar Engine.  Purr's like a kitten.  She brings us tremendous peace of mind and we call her "Jenny".  She is becoming a very good friend.
12) Cruising.  We seriously are loving every second of this.  We love being together, we love tinkering around on the boat.  Whether we are on an eight or a forty-eight hour passage, we just love our boat and being on it.  Just last night we were talking and I said, "You know what?  I want for nothing right now.  There is nothing I feel like I am missing or wish I had".  That is a pretty awesome feeling considering  just two weeks ago we turned our lives 180 degrees.  We both have adjusted, dare I say, seamlessly.
Top Things We DISLIKE - or things that need improvement:

1)  Our line management at the mast.  We have a LOT going on on our mast.  This is not that unusual, but it's not ideal.  We need to find a better way to keep all the halyards and reef lines separated, stowed, and organized.  It's like spaghetti soup up there and when it's blowing it's a little bit of a pain to work efficiently.  We'll fix this eventually, so we'll consider this a temporary problem.
2)  Head Odor.  The lazarette where our holding tank is smells...always.  Not like poop or urine or even a port-a-potty...just gross.  The locker has "perma-smell" and I think the fiberglass has just absorbed it.  Luckily, we can't smell it anywhere but the "poo locker" so I guess that's a good thing?
3)  Our Nicro Vents - They are solar powered and are great for moving air around the boat, but make a constant whizzing sound which annoys both of us so we have to turn the one by the v-berth off at night.  (can you tell I'm struggling to find things we don't like here!?)
4)  Having to dig to find everything.  We are getting pretty good at this, but when you want to find, say, a rubberband, and have to open the locker, remove a bin, shift another bin to the side and then reach back and grab the appropriate bin to get the rubberband and then put it all back together again, it's kind of annoying.  But that is life on a boat and we're just rolling with it.
5)  The weather.  ...And having to watch it like a hawk all the time, lest we get caught in another gale.  Again, just part of cruising and the way it is.  Also - the wind is rarely ideal for sailing, so we have to motor to make headway (see number 8).
6)  Our furling line.  This pulls our jib in.  It's too small and not as smooth as we'd like.  Rough on our pretty little hands.
7)  Night sailing.  This is more me than Scott.  But being alone on deck in the middle of the night (while exhilarating) is a little freaky.  You can't see anything (and I mean ANYTHING) and every single sound seems reason for alarm because every sense is totally heightened.  This is something I, obviously, must get used to.  This boat isn't going to cross the Pacific on it's own!
8)  The fact that we've been motoring so much.  We are chasing Fall and really want to get through the Erie Canal and start heading SOUTH, so we need to make tracks!

So, that's it for now.  I'm sure this will change as we head into warmer waters and start "really" cruising.  However you slice it though - we are loving life!

Brittany (& Scott)

*We will be getting a windvane (powerless self-steering) somewhere on the East Coast or before we make our Pacific crossing, for now the autopilot is working just fine.


Bill said...

Sounds like there is way more to love! You're blog is great, wonderful pictures. I'm enjoying following your journey.

Windtraveler said...

Thanks Bill!! Hope all is going well for you guys! We'll be keeping an eye out for you :)

Philippe said...

Great post, thanks for the info! Glad to hear you love it, and I can't wait to be out there too! Question about equipement: how are you getting internet on board? That's pretty nice.
Oh, I spoke to Doyle about their Stack Pack in Annapolis. I see how it works now, great design.

Windtraveler said...

Hey Philippe...thanks! We have internet via cell signal. We have a W35 Erikson router on board, which takes a SIM card (it's a mobile broadband router) and, in addition, we have a cellular amplifier for it (for example, we would not get internet right now if we didn't have it, we are 15 miles offshore) which boosts the signal. This means we don't need to rely on wifi hotspots, but rather a cell signal - which are pretty much everywhere. All we need to do is buy a local SIM card and put it in the router. It's a little more complex than that, but that is the jist. Works great so far!

Philippe said...

Thanks for the info! I'll research more about the W35 Ericsson. It's good to have the two of you opening the path, and just read what is needed for such trip :)

adriftatsea said...

Head Odors—

You should check the hoses and tank to see if either has become permeated. While tanks becoming permeated is pretty unusually, it is worth checking.... also check the fiberglass lining the lazarette. The easiest test is to soak a cloth in very hot water and place it against the surface you want to check for a few minutes. If you can still smell the odor when you take the cloth away from the surface, the material is likely permeated. This is pretty common with cheaper hose.

If the hoses are permeated, you should replace them with Trident 101/102 hose.

Spraying down the compartment with Raritan CP will eliminate any odor that is the result of the tank leaking or the hoses being permeated. This should be done after replacing the hoses.

You should also get Peggie Hall's book on keeping the boat odor free.

Stowage Shuffle—

Having a good stowage plan will help with the locker digging problems. You'll eventually figure out the most commonly used/needed items and stow them where you can get at them readily.

Furling Line—

A common solution to this is to use a larger diameter line and to either remove the core or the jacket of the line. The larger line will be more comfortable on your hands, while removing the core or jacket allows the line to still fit on the furling drum.

A second, slightly less common solution, is to use a small diameter spectra or dyneema line and jacket the line with a polyester single braid covering. This gives the line a larger diameter where you have to handle it, while not really sacrificing strength for the furling line.

Night Sailing—

Once you're aboard long enough, you'll get used to what is a normal sound and what isn't. Then you won't really notice all the noises your boat makes in the course of a normal passage. Avoiding alcohol and getting sufficient Vitamin A are key to having good night vision. Carrying and using a red-lensed flashlight or headlamp is also very useful.


Just remember, the autopilot and/or windvane can't keep a proper lookout., so one of you still has to do that.

I hope this helps. :-D Fair winds and keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoying your posts... they seem more fun, raw and edgier than the average sailing blog. We are getting our boat ready to go south with our kids (although leaving from the west coast)... maybe one day we'll catch up to you)! Have fun, and keep writing and keeping me inspired to get out there asap!

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great post! Good idea about placing your clothes in a ziplock bag.. we need to remember that. The Stack Pack is something we're considering thanks to one of your previous posts. Sounds like a pretty good life, and makes me think even more that the good will definitely outweigh the bad when we leave.

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