Friday, November 30, 2012

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Many moons ago I wrote about how a boat next to us in Grenada had a loose, slapping halyard that would clink and clang incessantly when the wind blew (I followed up with a post about how to bungee your halyards to stop the ruckus).  Well, last night, we became THAT boat.  And boy did it suck.

You see, the other day our sails were removed to be cleaned and serviced which is no big deal really, until the wind kicked up last night causing our boat to rock and roll ever so slightly.  Then it was a big, noisy deal.  Here's the thing:  our boat has an in-mast roller furling mainsail.  Without getting too technical, inside our mast there is something called a "foil", which is an aluminum track where the luff of the main sail resides.  When the sail is "furled" (or rolled up), this foil is muffled by the sail and makes no noise.  When there is no sail, it's a different story.  No sail means no buffer.  No buffer means a ruckus that would put an elementary school marching band to shame.  The aluminum "foil" bangs against the aluminum mast with every roll, which then echoes down into the boat and out over the water for all our neighbors to hear.  It's sporadic, it's loud and it is NOT nice a nice sound.

Of course this happened the minute Scott left so it was up to me and me alone to solve the problem.  Initially, the sailmaker had attached the outhaul to the main halyard, raised the halyard about half-way up the mast and then snugged it up to create some tension on the foil and (hopefully) curb the noise.  This, obviously, did not work.  I took to our Facebook Page to see if anyone could offer any suggestions, and after trying three or four of those with no success, I knew I had to tap into my inner McGuyver and figure out a solution all by my lonesome.

I tinkered with different scenarios for about an hour.  I tried raising the outhaul further up the mast and tightening it more.  I tried slacking the halyard completely to see if that would help. I tried wrapping a towel at the base of the foil.  I tried even more halyard tension.  All of these did absolutely nothing to quell the obnoxious clanging, banging and clanking.  I was getting desperate.  Two of our neighbors had already gently mentioned the noise and offered assistance, but nothing was working.  I felt like a parent of the bratty child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store.  Embarrassed and at a loss for what to do, all I could do is smile, apologize and tuck my tail between my legs.

But as the wind kicked up further, it became apparent that something had to be done.  Because this boat is new to us, I wasn't entirely sure what I had to work with so I started digging in one of our cockpit lockers and found about 200 feet of super fat hurricane line.  The wheels in my head started turning.  What if I wrapped this fat line around the foil a couple of times at the base of the mast, attached it to the halyard and raised it all the way up?  In my mind, the big line wrapped spiral-style around the foil might be enough to cushion the noise, and raising it all the way up might help with the swinging distance of the foil.  If I then secured the line tightly to a midship cleat, it might just do the trick.  I donned a headlamp, grabbed my multi-tool and got to it.

Long story short, it worked.  I fixed it.

And this is precisely why I love living on a boat.  The satisfaction I felt when the noise was silenced was INSANE.  I wanted to crack a bottle of wine and toast myself.  I wanted to scream from the mountaintops "I DID IT!"  I had a smile on my face from ear to ear as I admired my work aloft from the deck.   Because we've been landlocked for so long I'd forgotten about this natural "high" that occurs from problem-solving on a boat; how much we are forced to use our brains and find creative solutions for situations that are not cut and dry.  I was proud of myself.
Picture 1 shows the slot where the foil begins, picture 2 shows the line wrapped around it, 3 shows the bowline I tied to attach it to the halyard, picture 4 shows it raised up the mast!  No more noise!
Turns out, necessity - combined with the fear of waking a sleeping baby, pissing off all your neighbors and the absence of your engineer husband - really is the mother of invention!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mini-Fit

Scott and I aren't entirely sure what a "refit" entails, but we're pretty sure we did it on our last boat.  Rasmus got a new engine, new sails, new rigging, new steering, new wires, new hoses, new seacocks, new electronics...the whole nine yards.  Sigh.  It was a hard decision to sell what was a literal "labor of love", but we knew that eventually we'd need a bigger boat.  The buyers market combined with being land-locked and able to shop around for six months meant the timing was right.  So here we are with our new boat, checking things off another "to-do" list. (And yes, our beloved old Rasmus sold).

While Asante's work list is impressive, we wouldn't call it an actual "refit".  We like to call what we've done the past eight weeks a "mini-fit".  For those of you boating enthusiasts who care about lists like these, here is what we have accomplished since we arrived down here at the end of September (actually, it doesn't look so "mini" at all now that I see it all typed out):
  • Deck coring fixed
  • Re-bedded deck hardware from bow to midship
  • Bottom peeled and re-painted
  • New custom-made navigation station panel
  • Moved chartplotter
  • Added stays’l
  • Added bilge pump control switch
  • Wired bilge pump directly to battery
  • Added two Y Valves to aft head and manual whale sanitation pump to allow us to either pump out our holding tank manually or divert black water overboard
  • Installed fresh water filter
  • Installed Cruise RO watermaker
  • Replaced pressurized fresh water system pump and added new fresh water accumulator and sea strainer
  • Replaced broken fresh water foot pump
  • Converted starboard salon from a two seat arrangement to single settee
  • Replaced pedestal wiring box cover with starboard
  • Replaced broken panel breaker switches
  • Replaced all halogen bulbs with LED
  • Added pad eyes in lazarette to secure bins and increase storage
  • Built starboard cutting board/sink cover to create more counter space
  • Custom-cut board to convert settee into double berth
  • Replaced old sink faucet heads
  • New EPIRB
  • New (to us) Yamaha 15 HP outboard motor
  • New deck-mounted liferaft
  • Added 7 isolation valves to sea chest
  • New manual whale bilge pump
  • New SSB
  • New AIS (receive and transmit)
  • Weber baby Q grill and mount
  • 2 Solbian CP 125 watt solar panels
  • Fusion stereo and remote control in cockpit
  • New VHF and RAM mic
  • 5 Caframo sirocco fans
  • 4 speakers - 2 cockpit, 2 in main salon (making a total of 4 salon speakers, as there were already 2)
  • PYI instrument antenna pole with rogue wave wifi antenna, aft deck flood light and AIS GPS antenna with wire run for optional secondary VHF antenna
  • Outboard motor hoist
  • New stern light with LED bulb
  • New custom made support for starboard side table
  • Victron battery monitor
  • High water bilge pump alarm
  • Remote for inverter/charger
  • Remote for Genset
  • 4 DC outlets (to make seven total on the boat)
  • 1 AC outlet (to make seven total on the boat)
  • Centerboard retrieval hole drain cover in cockpit
  • Got three jerry cans (5 gallon jugs for fuel, gas, and water)
  • New Rocna 73 lb anchor
  • New windlass gypsy to house 3/8 G4 High-test chain
  • Sails removed, cleaned and serviced
  • Canvas enclosure cleaned and re-stitched with UV protected thread
Still to come in the next few weeks:
  • New dinghy davits by UMT Marine
  • 275 Feet of new anchor chain
  • Replace all mast lights and navigation lights with LED bulbs
So... as you can see we ("we" being Scott for the most part) have done a lot.  None of it, aside from the deck coring and adding the stays'l was structural or what we'd consider "major".  Most of the projects were upgrades to make life a little easier and additions to make this boat a little better suited for cruising and for our family.  I am sure I've missed a few things, but this is the gist of it.  While Scott did a fair amount of this work by himself, we couldn't have done it without the help of our buddy Walt Genske, our boat neighbor Dave, our friend Travis and our new friend, Jake, of Muszynski Marine.  Work is always better and goes by a LOT faster when shared with (capable) helpers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Goodbyes and Marital Bliss

Scott left today for a six week rotation to captain the beautiful tall ship, s/v Diamant.  Thankfully, my mom is here with me which takes a little bit of the sting out sudden loneliness. Even still, the boat does not feel the same without him.  I miss having him here next to me, tinkering away at some thing or another... I miss feeling his presence and hearing his voice coo to little Isla.   I'm not going to lie, two strong personalities living together on a boat isn't always the recipe for marital bliss and movie style romance (though it might seem that way).  I have probably threatened divorce once a week during this refit, but the threat is always empty and the anger short lived.  The stress and tension ignite like a flame to gas and temper out just as quickly.  They say the line between love and hate is thin; cram that love into a living space about the size of a two car garage undergoing a refit and it can grow even thinner.  Sorry, but it's true.  Living on a boat is not always blissfully magical.  Only some of the time.

So, yeah.  Despite the fact that we've had our "moments" (which we always laugh about in hindsight) we are deeply in love and when he leaves, my heart always breaks a teeny tiny bit.  It doesn't get any easier and saying goodbye always leaves a pit in my tummy and a lump in my throat.  I love living in our (relatively) cramped space with him, I love sharing our dreams and imagining the next few years of our lives together.  I love the highs and, yes, I even respect the lows.  I think some of the most valuable lessons that we can learn about ourselves and others are found in these extremes.  So, while I really hate the fact that Scott and I have to be apart, I accept this as an opportunity for growth.  I've got work to do, projects to complete and an amazing baby girl to keep me busy!
Lucky for me we are able to Skype weekly and text message almost daily.  If not for those two modern marvels, I believe I'd go mad!  Isla and I have some trips planned over the next four weeks as well: we're going back to Chicago for a visit, and we head back over to Anna Maria Island to spend Christmas with family so here's hoping these next six weeks fly by.  Then, it's goodbye Florida, hello Bahamas and beyond!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Final Push to the Finish

Having been a former distance runner, I know first hand that the final push to the finish can sometimes be the most difficult part of the race.  Scott has been working like a madman these past couple of days to make sure this boat is as ready as it can be before he leaves for Grenada.  Despite the fact that most of the projects are not what we would consider "major" the little minutia that always seems to pile up at the very end can get overwhelming at the zero hour.  Every tiny set back is magnified when you're up against the clock.  Luckily, the "final push project list" (as it has been named) is really not that big at all, and if we are to be honest, we're super lucky to be in this stage of the game as it is.

We have come SO far in the past eight weeks.  Scott, however, is thinking ahead and he doesn't want to return to a litany of projects in January - better to get as much done before so we can focus on things like provisioning, test-sailing and systems checking when he gets back.  But if there is anything we have learned these past few years it is that there is ALWAYS something on the to-do list and work is never "finished" on a boat.  It's all about prioritizing.  If it's "perfection" you want, you'll wait forever for it.  And that doesn't only apply to boating or cruising or refits, that's just life.  There ain't no such thing as 'perfect'...


My mom arrives tomorrow.  She's going to provide her awesome babysitting services tomorrow night so that Scott and I can go out for dinner as a couple for the first time in months.  I am looking forward to spending time with him and him alone before he heads back to the islands on Wednesday.  My mom will be staying with Isla and me for a couple weeks and I am so grateful for it.  No matter how many times I have to do it, I really, really hate saying goodbye to Scott when he leaves.  Having my mom here to help out with Isla will ease the blow.

I'll be posting a list of all we have accomplished these past two months in the coming days for those of you who are interested.  It's been quite the marathon thus far; requiring patience, stamina and a fair bit of training ... it has been punctuated by high highs and low lows, but - like a marathon - all there really is to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Today Isla slept in until 7am which is pretty awesome considering she went to bed at 5:30pm last night.  Usually she's up at 6am, so this extra hour is cause for celebration on the rare mornings it occurs.  I hear her wimper, check my watch and when I see that it's 7,  I gasp, nudge Scott (who is sleeping soundly, mind you) and exclaim: "Honey!! She slept until seven! Seven!! Yes!!" I go get her smiling face out of bed and bring her into bed with us which means mega play time for her and gobs of baby slobber for our faces.

After breakfast we took a walk to a local park along one of the bazillion canals down here.  When we first arrived we thought all these man-made canals were a little bizarre, but now we love them and all the waterfront property they provide.  Isla enjoyed watching the boats go by and Scott is just dying for her to say "boat" or anything that resembles it.  So far, we're at "mama", "dada", "gaga" (the current fave), "baba" and "nana" (which we're guessing means "no" because she usually says it repeatedly in moments of angst).  After the park, we stopped off at the local Sunday Farmer's Market, got some fixings for lunch and dinner, and sauntered down Las Olas Boulevard basking in the mid-morning sun with our coffees.  Not too shabby.

We've got a final push of projects and boat work commencing tomorrow (the sails are coming off to be cleaned and looked over, our davits will be test-mounted, the solar panel installation will be finalized as well as a few other things) but for now, we're just soaking up this little bit of time we have left all together.  Scott leaves Wednesday for two months of work and then it's crazy holiday time for Isla and me.  We're heading up to Chicago to see family and friends for two weeks, then down to the gulf side of Florida for Christmas and New Years, and by the time we return to the boat, Scott will be back.  Hopefully it goes by fast because this little girl loves her daddy and we'll miss him terribly while he's away!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Getting Settled

Phew.  We finally feel like we're "home".  The past couple of days have been really busy and tonight marks the first night where Scott and I have been able to really relax.  Everything is unpacked, the to-do list is down to almost nothing, our social calendar is empty and we're feeling pretty copacetic right about now.  Bob Marley is serenading us on our new speakers, the smell of fresh lilies (a "boat warming" gift from Travis and Emily) fills the air, and we're both stretched out on our starboard settee - legs all entangled - catching up on our respective computer work.  Home.

Aside from the insane amount of projects we have completed to make this boat our own (more on this list later) we've added a few accent rugs, some art and all of our personal effects to add to the "homey" feel.  It's great.  Isla's little room in the v-berth is all set up and she loves it.  Moving to a tiny wedge of a space for most kids might be downsizing, but for Isla (who has been sleeping in a closet the past eight weeks) this is a major upgrade.  Not that she would care much either way.  As long as mommy and daddy are around her, this child is a happy camper.

We also cooked our very first meal on the boat tonight by breaking in our new Weber Baby Q grill.  Scott, an excellent engineer in his previous life, designed a superb boat mount for this particular grill for Weber and while it's not available to buy just yet, it should be in the near future.   Suffice it to say we're stoked to have the prototype which allows us to have something other than a Magma grill, which pretty much has the monopoly on boat grills.  I might not be a good cook,  but I LOVE to barbecue!  I predict we'll be using this grill more than our oven.  The salmon, peppers, potatoes and squash we made tonight were de-lish.







Friday, November 23, 2012

(Elevator Music)

We're still getting settled in our (awesome) new home over here.  Between Thanksgiving yesterday, Uncle Al in town and Scott cracking the whip each time I attempt to sit down at the computer, time to write is minimal at the moment.  Scott has been finalizing a few last minute projects before he leaves next week (mounting our genset remote start, our inverter control panel, hooking up our solar panels...etc.) and I have been putting the finishing touches on our decor (new rugs, hanging our photos, baby-proofing...etc).  I must say, the boat is looking very, very nice.  I'll be posting pictures soon but in the meantime, get a load of this face!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Asante Sana

Asante sana (ah-SAHN-tay SAH-nah) means "thank you very much" in Swahili and not only is it the namesake of our new boat, but it sums up the way I feel today and every day.  I honestly cannot be more grateful for the blessings in my life: my family, my husband, our friends and, most of all, our incredible baby girl who enriches our lives every single day - to name a few.   I am thankful that we are healthy, happy and able to live our dream.  I am so humbled by the incredible gifts the Universe has bestowed upon us and continues to give us.  It's amazing how, if we tap into the energy of the world, we can be guided to the exact place we are meant to be.  I can't say for sure because I don't have the playbook for this game, but I feel like we are moving in the right direction, gently being pushed by forces around us.  There is not a single day that goes by that I don't take mental note of the fact that I am one lucky girl.  Asante sana.

It's a beautiful day here, Scott is hoping to go kitesurfing this afternoon (fingers crossed for good conditions) and later we'll be sharing a proper Turkey Day meal with our good friends Travis and Emily, along with Uncle Al and Emily's father, Nate.  Happy Thanksgiving to our fellow Americans and for those of you who don't celebrate, I hope that you too have much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

First Night Aboard

Our first night sleeping on the boat was a success!  After a semi-stressful day of lugging all our our belongings onto Asante and trying to create some semblance of it all, we were finally able to tidy up enough to feel like we were home and enjoy a nice dinner al fresco in our cockpit with Uncle Al.  We still have a lot of work ahead of us and we've got some adjusting to do in this new space, but it feels pretty good to be right here, right now.

If there was any concern whether or not Isla liked the boat, it was crushed instantly.  She was so excited in her new v-berth that she was almost manic.  She'd excitedly sprint-crawl from side to side - I'm talking Olympic crawling here - and pull herself up on the shelves to jump and pant with joy with a huge grin on her little face.  Her excitement was so severe that I honestly became concerned that she ate something weird and was having some sort of reaction.  That is how exuberant she was. But no, she didn't eat anything funny at all, she was just really, really happy.  It was awesome.

Being the sleep freak that I am, I was concerned that this obvious "high" she was enjoying combined with new surroundings would kill her pretty great sleep schedule.  Lucky for all of us, the worry was for naught.  Before we left Chicago we bought a tiny travel pack-n-play contraption off Craigslist and it's going down as one of the wisest purchases we've made.  Despite the fact that this child has slept in about fifteen different places in the last five months, she (almost) always goes to sleep for naps and bedtime without a hitch.  I attribute this to a) sleep training and b) the fact that her little bed remains the same.  No matter where we plop her down, she's in familiar territory: she sleeps on the same blanket, listens to the same little musical sea horse and as soon as I lay her down she knows what to do and does it.  Most of the time.  She is still a baby, after all.

Anyway, we are here, in our new boat! It is so exhilarating and exciting!  Scott leaves next week for Grenada which means Isla and I have a couple weeks to get acquainted with life aboard until we head up to Chicago for a visit.  The learning curve will be steep.  We'll quickly realize areas that need improvement, we'll slowly and surely figure out the best/most convenient places for things, we'll make lists and notes of projects to do "in the future" that will make life a little easier: a shelf here, a light there, new latch for this, better configuration for that...we'll get there, it's a never ending process when you live on a boat.  This is the beginning of many new "firsts" for us as a family.  In the meantime, it feels good to be home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reel Big

Uncle Al arrived yesterday to visit for the week and he arrived bearing gifts.  Not only did he bring us a bunch of great wine and food prepared by Aunt Willa to enjoy for Thanksgiving, but he gifted us two beautiful fishing rods.  His very generous son, Brandon, used to operate a charter fishing boat in Hilton Head and has since moved on to a new business endeavor   As such, he has some incredible fishing rods that are not being used at the moment and he thought they'd get more use by us.  For those of you who know fishing rods and reels, you know that this particular one is an incredibly generous gift.  Apparently, we can reel in a 500 lb marlin with this setup.  What we would do with a 500 lb marlin, I have no clue, but the possibility of actually catching one exists which kind of scares the hell out of me.  I'm not too worried about that however because our fishing history is not so great.   We'd be perfectly happy bringing in a mahi mahi now and then or a little tuna here and there.  Maybe just maybe this monster rod will be the harbinger of change for us and bring us better luck. Here's hoping!  We are so grateful for their generosity, Scott was like a kid in a candy store this morning imagining reeling in fish and eating fresh sushi.
Today isn't only about big reels, but big change as well! We're moving onto the boat!  As comfortable as I have gotten in our little one bedroom apartment, it's time to move on.  We are so excited to move into our new home and get settled!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Two Most Common Questions We Get

Our lifestyle is a little different than most, so it's only natural that we field a lot of questions from curious/interested/bewildered people.  By far the most common questions we get are (in this order): "How can you afford this?"  and "How long will you do this?"

The first question, though I have come to expect it, always catches me off guard.   Have you ever walked into someone's house and said, "Wow! Beautiful home!! How much did this cost and how EVER do you afford your mortgage?!" or when you first meet someone do you ask, "Really?  An investment banker?  Interesting.  What are investment bankers bringing in these days?"  I realize the question is innocent and I understand that people are curious about our lifestyle.  The fact that we live a pretty publicly documented existence (thanks to this blog) outside of what is "normal" seems to trump social mores and give people a free pass to ask personal questions that most would never dream of asking in everyday situations.  Even knowing this I am still caught off guard when someone asks us about our finances.   I've touched on it before, but without getting too specific, the reason we are able to afford our roving lifestyle really boils down to five things:
  1. We had/have zero debt 
  2. We had a nice little nest egg to start off with (thanks to our wedding) 
  3. We owned nothing of any real value on land (like a house) 
  4. Scott is a working captain on a steady rotation so we have a reliable income stream 
  5. We live a relatively "simple" life and spend significantly less on day to day life than our land-lubbing counterparts
These five things, more than anything, are what allow us to live the way we do.   That and the fact this is the way we want to live, of course.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, we have met people doing what we are doing on much, much less, and people who are doing it with much, much more.  If you want to live a certain way (be it on land or sea) get out there and do it your way.  You will have to make sacrifices regardless of your financial situation; you might not be able to have the fancy boat you want, will probably have to sell your house and you might be limited to coastal cruising - but the truth is there is no magic number that I can give you that will guarantee you will get out here and do it.  There are just as many "rich" people as there are "poor" not doing what they want to do.  Whether or not you are going to live the way you dream is up to you, and our financial specifics aren't going to change anything for you.

The other question we field all the time is "How long will you do this?" It's another one we never really have a concrete answer for because, honestly, we don't know.  People jump right in and ask us about homeschooling Isla inquiring whether she'll go to a public high school or not.  High school!? She's not even out of diapers yet.  Truth is, we haven't really thought that far ahead.  I've never been much of a "planner" and instead tend to live my life by putting one foot in front of the other, ceasing opportunities as they present themselves.  If we are still cruising when it's time for Isla to go to school (which I think is age 5?), we will absolutely homeschool (to be honest, I believe very strongly that Scott and I would provide a far superior education for our children than any conventional school would).  As far as high school is concerned, well, if she's anything like her mama we will most likely be shipping her off to military school (I kid...sort of).  We'll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.  So, back to the main question... how long will we do this?  The bottom line is that we plan to live like this as long as we enjoy it.  When we bought this new boat (being that it was a significant investment) we committed to five more years.  That said, we might sail for five more years, ten more years, or we might cut that short if need be - we have no idea.  We definitely plan to have more children (see, I do plan!) and we'll be making trips back home to have those.  Or maybe we won't.  Maybe we'll have them in Australia or Panama or somewhere else.  We don't really know.  But as long as we all enjoy what we're doing out here, we'll keep on keeping on.

What other questions do people have out there?  Feel free to ask us on our Facebook Page where I post and interact daily!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

LED Lights

This Sunday, for me at least, is all about LED lights.  We're swapping out just about every fixture we can with LED's (light emitting diodes) which is not an inexpensive task, but well worth it in energy saved.  Most of our lights were hallogen which wastes a lot of energy by producing heat as well as light.  LED's run cool and are extremely efficient and long-lasting.  The only downside that we have found to LED's is the light they provide is not always as nice as the light emitted from their incandescent brethren.  For most of our cabin lights we opted for "warm white" LED's which emit a softer yellowish light, and for our reading lights we've opted for "cool white" which is a brighter, almost bluish hue.  The difference in amperage for the lights on our boat will be significant once we get them all switched over.  I'm heading back to Boat Owners Warehouse with Isla right now to swap out a few more...

In other news, we had a little BBQ here last night with some super cool blog followers that we have befriended here in Lauderdale.  We all had a blast intermingling with each other and the coolest perk of this blog, by far, is the fact that some fantastic friendships have evolved directly because of it.  Pretty neat.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Industrial Strength Velcro


The fewer holes on a boat, the better.  This is a pretty good rule to be mindful of,  because no matter how little or seemingly innocent it is, there is no such thing as an insignificant hole on a boat.  Typically, once they are there, they are there for good.

On Rasmus, we were pretty liberal with screws.  We permanently mounted all sorts of stuff from spice racks to picture frames onto our walls with them.  They worked great until we moved everything off the boat, at which point we uncovered a litany of tiny holes that the new owner had to cover up.  On this boat we have decided to be more thoughtful of the holes we drill should we ever want to do a little rearranging, redecorating or, ya know, sell her down the line.

Enter: Industrial Strength Velcro!

We have the kind with sticky tape on either side and have found that this stuff is excellent for mounting just about anything to almost any surface a boat can offer up (wood, fiberglass, metal).  When Scott first suggested using velcro as an alternative to screws I thought, "No way, not strong enough".  Boy was I wrong.  The photo below?  Taking that picture off the wall required a tremendous amount of force to the point that I thought the glass was going to break.  I was going to take off the spice racks pictured below to show you a "before/after" for those too, but they would not budge.  That's a pretty strong grip.  According to Wikipedia, a two inch square of velcro is enough to hold the hanging weight of a 175 pound person.  I don't know if I would trust hanging from a building by a two-inch square of velcro if I weighed 100 pounds, but that's an interesting little factoid.

We use this stuff all over our boat, to keep cushion backs from falling over, to mount electronics in discrete places and, of course, for our artwork and photos.  Next time you get that handy dandy power drill out, think twice about drilling those holes and ask yourself, "Is this a job for industrial strength velcro?"  You might be surprised!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Winding down...The Twelve Days of Refit!

We have exactly twelve days before Scott leaves for Grenada to Captain s/v Diamant.  That is has inspired a twelve days of christmas style song...because frankly, Isla woke up at 5am this morning and I don't have much more in me at the moment.  Here goes nothing...

On the first day of refit, my true love gave to me: a Y valve in our aft head!
On the second day of refit, my true love gave to me: two pumping bilge pumps!
On the third day day of refit, my true love gave to me: three working faucets!
On the fourth day of refit, my true love gave to me: four new DC outlets!
On the fifth day of refit, my true love gave to me: five fuses fusin'!
On the sixth day of refit, my true love gave to me: six fans a blowin'!
On the seventh day of refit, my true love gave to me: seven brand new hoses!
On the eighth day of refit, my true love gave to me: eight icky roaches!
On the ninth day of refit, my true love gave to me: nine pieces varnished!
On the tenth day of refit, my true love gave to me: ten electronics wired!
On the eleventh day of refit, my true love gave to me: eleven bins to stow things!
On the twelfth day of refit, my true love gave to me: twelve ordered spares!

...and so much more.  This boat is a completely different boat than it was two months ago.

While this list has obviously been manipulated to fit into a zippy Christmas tune, Scott has been nothing short of amazing and with a little help from our friends, he has seriously kicked our project list's ass.  It's incredible how proficient in everything "boat" he has become.  It looks like we'll be good to go come January 21st.  Most of our big projects are complete or well on their way to completion, and all we have left are piddly little projects that can be done underway if need be.  It feels so good to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am SO proud of my handy hubs.

As for Isla, it looks like she might have inherited her parents athleticism.  At seven months old, she is not only crawling around like mad, but standing up and balancing on her own!  She even creeps and inches along furniture to get from point A to point B.  She is so clever and funny, so inquisitive and deliciously cute but boy oh boy do I hope she holds off on walking for another few months!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Naked Boat

If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice something is missing.  Yep, our boat is naked.  Our entire cockpit enclosure was removed yesterday by a local canvas company to not only be cleaned and re-waterproofed, but to have the zippers for our new solar panels stitched into it.  I described our new approach to solar power in an earlier post, and now it's show time.  Zippers were sewn into our flexible solar panels last week and the guys came yesterday to bring them back and mark where they will be mounted on the bimini.  It's going to be a lot easier to have our flexible, light-weight panels zipped right into our bimini rather than a cumbersome superstructure over our enclosure to house heavy, rigid panels.  How well our new system works remains to be seen, but we're pretty excited about it.  We'll let you know more about it when we get our bimini back and put these babies to work!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Maiden Sail

We took Asante out for her maiden sail yesterday.  While we sea trialed her back in July, yesterday was officially the first time we sailed her as our own.  Despite the fact that we still have quite a few projects to complete and cleaning up the boat to take her out for a day sail was no small feat, Scott was adamant that the first time we go sailing NOT be to the Bahamas, which I get.  Scott readied the boat, cleaned her up all spic and span, I made sandwiches and packed the beer and off we went with a few of our closest Lauderdale friends.  It was a little nerve racking at first:  new-to-us boat, unfamiliar engine, new deck layout and feel to the helm.  If Scott was nervous, he didn't show it but I had butterflies in my tummy as a myriad of "what if's" scrolled through my worrisome head.  It was all for naught though, because as soon as we made it out to the ocean, our boat behaved beautifully, little Isla was a natural and the entire process went off without a hitch.  Huge thanks to our good friends Travis and Dave for being a big help to Scott while I tended to (and napped with) Isla.
The wind was about eighteen knots out of the ENE with 4-5 foot waves and our boat, tank that she is, handled the confused seas and gusty breeze beautifully.  She's a lot less lively and significantly more solid on the water than our old boat, Rasmus.  She will definitely be able to handle bigger seas and heavier winds with a more grace due to her size and relative weight.  The success of yesterday's sail was exactly the confidence booster we needed to push us through this final stage of refitting.  When we got back to the dock, Scott cracked a beer with a big grin on his face and toasted, "Let's go to the Bahamas!"  The next time we go sailing, we just might!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Boat Cards

I designed some new boat cards yesterday.  Cruisers use these in the same way landlubbers use business cards.  We made a set of cards before we left in 2010 on Rasmus and they came in handy lots of times.  You meet so many new people on the water and, believe it or not, it can be difficult to keep everyone straight.  Writing down the email address and/or blog of everyone you meet isn't practical, so people often just exchange these cards.  We probably collected a hundred or so different cruiser cards.  What you chose to put on your card is up to you, some things we've seen are:  radio call signs, satellite phone number, cell number, crew credentials (welder, bosun, electrician, rigger, USCG Captain 200 ton...etc), and some just have the basic information - like ours above.

I realize I did not include Isla on our card.  The reason for this is that we plan on having more kids sooner than later and I don't want to make a new card every time we make a new crew member!  I ordered these on Vistaprint and they cost less than $20 for 250 cards.  I designed this card myself using a photo I took in Rum Cay, but they have plenty of nautical-themed stock designs that are easy to customize for those that are not up to the task of creating something from scratch.

In other news, we had a little BBQ last night with some great new friends that we made through this blog.  Say what you will about the the world wide web, but there is nothing that can bring together a random mix of people who would not otherwise cross paths quite as well as the internet.  It's so neat and such a pleasure to not only meet some folks through our blog, but form legitimate life-long friendships because of it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let there be Light!

One thing that surprised us about the Caribbean was how fast it gets dark at night.  They don't recognize daylight savings time in most of the islands so it's light's out every night at 6pm.  And when I say "light's out" I mean it is black. as. night.  Lots of people joke about "cruiser's midnight" being 9pm and as corny as it is, it's true.  I'm of the opinion that this early darkness - and consequential early light - has a lot to do with it.  No matter how hard you try to fight it, you're body clock just starts winding down when the sun goes away.

As such, cockpit lighting is something that we consider essential; the cockpit being the area we spend most of our time on our boat, especially in the evening hours when beer and wine taste their best.  Cockpit lighting can be tricky.  A lucky few have light fixtures hard-wired into their dodgers or biminis, but they are the exception.  Most string up some temporary solution using either a kerosene lantern, headlamp, or battery powered lamp to lighten things up.  Not us.  We used DC powered LED automotive Christmas lights (the kind you'd plug into a cigarette lighter).  I bought a couple of strings before we left on our first boat because a) I love decorating for Christmas and b) I thought they might be useful.  Useful they were!  Turns out, these lights are the perfect cockpit lighting solution, and not just during the holidays.  They give off a pretty light, use trace amounts of energy and add a beautiful ambience to boot.  We leave them up 24/7 and all we need to do is plug them in* and we're good to glow (yep, I just typed that).
Scott rigged these up last night and they look beautiful, don't you think?  What is your cockpit lighting solution?  Has anyone else out there tried LED Christmas lights?

*We love DC outlets and always install more than the boat comes with.  On Asante we installed one in the cockpit (and five others elsewhere) because we found it so useful on our first boat.  We also get DC chargers for everything that we possibly can.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Placemats

I made placemats yesterday.  Backed with non-skid and complete with a Sunbrella trim, these are going to class up our table.  If you haven't noticed, I have two speeds:  full throttle and off.  I am currently full speed ahead with this sewing thing and there is no end in site.

I even have a super cute little helper which makes it even more fun.
In addition, Grandma Sue is in town which means Scott and I have a babysitter who is more than happy to spend time with little Isla while we go off and do adult things...like go out to dinner. So last night with our good friends Travis and Emily we hit up the local Raw Bar and enjoyed a few too many adult beverages.  Interesting to note that I totally forgot about Saturday nights and how many people go out and enjoy them.  If you would have told 23 year old "party Brittany" that future Brittany would write that, well, I'd have thrown my martini in your face.  Furthermore, if you would have told me I was going to sew my very own placemats I probably would have laughed out loud in your face.  My how things change!
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