Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

I know it has been forever since I’ve done any kind of boat work or boat related post, and for that I apologize.  With things like a failed computer that had me only publishing long ago saved drafts from my tablet, to the Florida summer heat leaving me incoherent at the end of every night to, honestly, becoming too addicted to our Instagram account, I’ve let the ball drop.  I’m going  to try and pick it back up because there’s a lot that’s been going  on over the past few months, and I’d love to keep you updated on it!

Just to start you out with a couple of the small things before I really catch you up, I’m posting a ‘Random Happenings’ post before I get to the down and dirty work that has been keeping us busy for the past few weeks.

 

  • We’ve purchased our canvas for the dodger & bimini!

Colors.  Just as much as renovating a home, picking out colors for a boat is just as much of an overwhelming task.  What do we think would look good?  What colors do we want to stay far away from?  What might clash with our bare metal hull?  And mostly….what can we afford?

As I’ve said before, I’m so lucky to be married to a man who’s biggest source of entertainment is researching items online.  Whether it be boats on yachtworld.com (how we came across Daze Off), eBay (how we were able to double the size of our winches for half the cost), or the fabric we’ll need to outfit the inside and outside of our boat.  We knew that Pacific Blue was out.  We had already done it on Serendipity, and as the number one canvas color out there on boats, we wanted something  that would help us stand out a little more.  As if that would be an issue anyway on this new boat.

We had been toying with the idea of a light or bright green for quite awhile, thinking that a lime green would give it a nice fresh look and give this old boat a more modern feel.  After searching for months and months, because we have that kind of time on our hands, he came across a  remnant roll of Ginkgo Green by Sunbrella.  It was a situation where we were not able to request a sample, but instead had to take a gamble buying the remaining 16 yards on the roll and hoped we liked it. Although at the amazingly low price of $6.95/yard, we were willing to take that gamble.  At a 70% discount, we were sure we could like it enough.

When the roll came in the mail we hurriedly ran it over to Daze Off and unwrapped it from the plastic to hold a corner of the fabric against the pilot house and see how the color looked in the light of day and between the white deck and silver hull.  A huge sigh of relief was released when the bright green matched the two perfectly and gave us the modern yet slightly funky look we were after.  It may be months down the road before its turned into anything, but at least we have it and won’t have to worry about hunting down a color later on.

Sunbrella ginkgo green canvas

  • We’re building up the pilot house…finally

This is the moment, at least I personally, have been waiting for forever.  It means that our construction phase is nearly over.  The last major renovation to the boat.  Sure, there’s still a million things to be wired and plumbed later on, but at least once this is complete it will look like a home.  Not to mention ALL the storage space we’re going to gain once this area is built up.  Can you imagine what it will be like when I don’t have to keep spare soda and chips in the van because its the only place to keep them safe and out of the way?  When all of our tools will have a home to be put away in?  It will be heaven.  I can’t say I’ll still love being in the work yard at that point, but at least our living conditions will be much more comfortable.

We’re starting on the port side and then moving to the starboard side once it is mostly built up, hoping the disassembly of the nav station and tool drawers can wait until we have a new surface to put them on.  The first step is framing in the curved area of the hull, which on that side, will eventually turn into storage units that will sit behind  the back of our L shaped settee in the pilot house.  Just as much of a pain as ever, trying to template these odd curves comes with it’s difficulties, but we’re still doing just fine with our 1/4″ pieces of wood attached together instead of using foam.  We’ve had this suggestion from many people, but we can easily take apart the template and reuse those strips of wood, so we think this way works out for us best.

The next stage of this project will be to build up the seats and what will be the storage units underneath them, before eventually moving on to the upper parts of  the walls, covering the three sides of windows.

*I had photos of this part of the project, but lost my memory card before I could transfer them to my computer, so you’re going to see a huge jump in this project.  Sorry!

pilot house 1

pilot house 2

  • Storm season is upon us once again

Oh yes, the reason it feels like we never got anything done last summer.  Come  3:00 pm, cue the storm clouds and heavy rain. A few things have changed since last year though, and hopefully our summer will be at least 50% more productive than it was last year.

The first reason for this is most of our work actually happens indoors now.  If we’re given a few good hours in the morning and afternoon of decent weather, we can make all of our major cuts with the table saw and circular saw outside, and spend the rainy hours of the afternoon indoors assembling what we’ve just cut.  Another is that we’re just doing many of our smaller cuts indoors at this point.  Once the big cuts to the plywood are made, most of the cuts from that point on are little cleats which we can easily tackle indoors with our oscillating tool or circular saw.

The other major reason is, other than a few big storms in May, the rest of the summer so far has been relatively dry.  I don’t even know how many days we’ve seen dark clouds come rolling up to us in the afternoon, winds beginning to gust…and then nothing happens.  Mostly we’re left with overcast skies and a bit of wind, but you won’t hear us complaining about that one bit.  In fact, if we can keep a dry yet cloudy a cool way of life all summer, we’d be on a fast track to get A LOT of work done by this fall!

storms in south Florida

summer storms in Florida

  • We bought an arch for the boat.  It didn’t work out.

This is an item we’ve been hemming and hawing about practically since we’ve purchased the boat.  We know we don’t want davits on this new boat, but we do need a system that will keep our radar and solar panels mounted.  Do we spend the money on an arch?  Do we even like the looks of a massive arch back there?  Or do we go much more simple with two vertical poles to house the radar and wind gen, and a horizontal one suspended between the two for our solar.

Having such a different setup on Serendipity where A.) our davits supported our solar panels, B.) our radar was up the mast, and C.) there was never a wind generator to deal with, I was at a bit of a loss as what to suggest for a solution on the new boat.  Will the three pole system work out?  If so, Sure, go for it!  If not?  Get an arch.  Easy peasy.  I don’t like to be bothered with details like that.  Whatever works, just get me the hell out of this yard.

Unfortunately it doesn’t  always work like that on our boat and we need to think smartly about all of our options.  In the end…the arch did seem the better option.  It would be stronger and give good support in all the areas we needed.  As far as looks go?  Well, hopefully it looks good, and if not….at least we know our goods are secure.

So when a 7′ wide arch popped up on Craigslist in Coco Beach within our price range, we figured we may as well bite the bullet and pick it up.  Choosing a random Friday night, we made the 2 hour dive north on I-95 to the boat yard where the seller lived.  Eventually finding it propped up against a gate (the owner was not there when we arrived) we noticed right away it looked very large for 7 feet.  Taking our measuring tape to it, we immediately found out why.  It was actually 9 ft wide.  We were half tempted to walk away from it right then, but we figured we may as well get it back to the boat and give it a try before we made any decisions.  If it didn’t work out, we could easily pawn it off on someone else.

Making a now 3 hour drive home on US-1 with this gigantic piece of metal hanging off each side of the van, we arrived back near midnight and didn’t even bother to take it off the van before passing out in our bed.  Over the next day or two we eventually did get it on the ground and even up on the boat with the help of one of our neighbors, only to find that the extra two feet of width made it too wide to fit on the aft end of our boat, especially with the angle of the feet the arch sat on.  We toyed with the idea of having our welder make a few adjustments to it the next time he was out working on our boat, but in the end, we decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and we’ll probably go with the other idea of the two vertical posts with a connecting beam.

Luck was on our side though in the fact that we had a neighbor in the boat yard that was more than happy to take it off our hands.

sailboat arch

9 ft sailboat arch

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It’s All About Money: Sail Loot Podcast

Monday July 13, 2015

I’d have to say that about 70% of the emails we get in our inbox have something to do with money.  It may not be the sole subject of the email, but it usually comes up one way or another.  “How do you afford this; What did you do to save; What does it cost to maintain this lifestyle”.  We don’t mind these questions, in fact we usually openly talk about our money.  Through our Cost of Cruising pages you can find out what we spend each month and year and where all of our money goes.

To take it one step further though and find out everything there is to know about us and money; starting from the beginning and going up until now, we were contacted by Teddy at Sail Loot to participate in a podcast talking about this subject. We talked about absolutely everything from when we bought our first boat, how we outfitted Serendipity to cruise, what gets covered in our monthly expenses, and how we try to save where we can.  If you’ve ever had a money related question for us, chances are it’s been answered in this interview.

Keep reading to see how our interview appeared on the Sail Loot website, including the podcast.  If you’d like to see the full thing on their site as well as check out more links relating to the discussion, make sure to check out the original post here. For even more podcast from other great cruisers talking about their finances, make sure to check out Sail Loot’s home page.

Thank you so much Teddy for taking the time to interview us, it was a pleasure talking with you!

Matt & Jessica The Baths

“Matt and Jessica decided that it was time to get off the couch and start experiencing life. How they would experience life was the first question. When they decided that sailing was the answer, all they had to do was learn how to sail, find a boat, and figure out how to find their sailing money. Easy enough, right?

They ended up taking some sailing lessons, and getting some sailing practice for about 2 years on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. Their sailing money came with a lot of hard work, some downsizing (of their possessions and their activities), and some budgeting to make sure that they wouldn’t blow through their cruising kitty while sailing across oceans.

Matt and Jessica started with a little bit of money saved up, “normal” jobs, and a dream. They took off with enough sailing money in the bank to cruise for about 4 to 5 years if they stuck to their budget. Enjoy listening to this episode of the Sail Loot Podcast for all of the details!”

A Few Things You’ll Learn About Matt and Jessica, MJ Sailing, and their Sailing Money In This Episode:

  • Their Hunter 240, their first trailerable sailboat.
  • Their jobs on land prior to taking off cruising.
  • How much they paid for all of their sailboats.
  • Their cruising budget.
  • How big their crusing kitty was before they left. You know, this directly relates to how long they planned on cruisng.
  • Where they’ve sailed so far.
  • Crossing the Atlantic…twice within the span of a year.
  • The Re-fit of their new sailboat, Daze Off (the current name).
  • Matt’s hobby.
  • Where they’re living while they re-fit Daze Off
  • How Matt and Jessica keep a low-cost lifestyle.
  • Going the “wrong way” around the Caribbean.
  • Jessica’s sailing money and frugal cruising tips.
  • And Much More!

Kimberly Joy lifestyle photo

Serendipity 3

Daze Off 2

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Contemplations

Tuesday May 5, 2015

contemplations in the boat yard

We’re back on Serendipity now after a fantastic week with my parents, but once again we’re being smacked in the face with reality.  No, not necessarily because we’re faced with boat work, this is no ‘woe is me for having to put forth efforts of labor’ so don’t cry for us just yet.  The reality we’re now faced with is we have a huge decision to make and we can’t run from it any longer.

The big question we’re now asking ourselves, and one we have to answer soon, is ‘Do we sell Serendipity? Or do we keep her?’.

And what you might be asking yourself now is..’Where is this coming from?  Hasn’t this been what they’ve been spending the past two months working toward?’.  Well….yes and no.

The more and more we get Serendipity ready to sell the more we’re questioning why we’re getting rid of her.  And the more and more we look at all the work that is going to have to go into Daze Off, we’re questioning if it’s the right decision to rebuild.  Let me go into each one in a little more detail.

 

First: Serendipity.  Let’s look at our past three years cruising on her.  She has taken us so many places and covered so many miles with us safely in tow.  About 15,000 nautical miles to be exact.  She’s weathered countless storms and always comes out the other side, none the worse for wear. She’s light, fast, incredibly easy for the two of us to handle, and has been a pleasure to sail.  We’ve had very few problems on her and if anything does arise it’s always a quick and easy fix.  How many boats out there can say that?

As if it wasn’t enough just to have a great cruising boat, we love spending our time on her.  The layout is perfect with double settees for port and starboard for us to lounge on, a v-berth that is comfortable enough to sleep with (if I were to wish for things I’d go for a king bed, but we’re on a boat, so let’s be realistic), and a galley that I have finally mastered and can cook quite a good meal in if I do say so myself.  The head is plenty big enough, although showers can still be a pain sometimes as I’ve found out in my unusual life.  It’s funny how one can easily forget some of those minor irritants after two months in a marina.

I’m sidetracking myself here. The point is Serendipity is extremely comfortable for the two of us to live on and there have rarely been times we’ve found ourselves saying “If only we had a different boat for one reason or another”.  To sail another few years on her in the Caribbean would be as simple as snapping our fingers.  She’s in perfect condition, there’s no work that needs to be done, we could go now and not think twice about it.

 

Second: Daze Off.  That boat, that hunk of metal, the money pit, and so many other names we’ve been affectionately referring to her as lately. The boat that we purchased sight unseen, without a survey, and traveled back across one healthy body of water to get to.  Not only is there a lot of time and money in our future going toward this particular boat, but there are so many unknowns!

Take the hull and keel for example.  Upon purchase we knew there were two definite holes from corrosion that would need to be welded.  Ok, we can handle that.  Although now we’ve been here a few weeks and have had more chances for closer inspection, we’ve found a few more, just adding to the fun.  Now we wonder how many more corrosion issues are hiding where we can’t see them and if we’ll get smacked with a huge bill from the welder as he starts the work.  How much will just this issue cost us?  $5,000?  $10,000?  We have no idea, and to be honest it’s kind of scary to pursue any further without that knowledge.

But let’s say that part all goes swimmingly and the only thing we have to worry about is refitting a boat.  It’s still refitting a boat…inside out and top to bottom.  We arrived with the notion that this whole rebuild would only take us 6-9 months, but now we’re looking at all the work and extending that further and further out.  12 months?  Maybe 18? It’s all such foreign territory to us.

Even if the welding and the time frame didn’t deter us…there’s the cost. Don’t get me wrong, if and when we fix up this boat it’s going to be done right.  The interior will be all new and very modern looking.  White wainscoting on the walls, cherry cabinets, and maybe maple for the sole.  There will be new recessed lights, fixtures, cushions, fabric…everything.  Plus the exterior will be outfitted with all new electronics and we’ll get even further into the digital world for all of our technology.  This boat’s gonna be plush. Pimp.  Whatever you want to call it, she gonna be lookin’ hella good when she’s done.

All of this comes at a cost though and although we’ll be doing all of the work ourselves (besides the welding), plus we know how to scour the internet for days and weeks if need be for good deals, it does all add up. The real question is, how much will it be at the end?  Will we have wasted a year of our time and the rest of our cruising kitty on a boat that is indeed beautiful, but now we either can’t afford to keep her or have to limit our remaining cruising time to 6-12 months because that’s all we’ll have left in the bank account?  We don’t know.  We hope it doesn’t come down to that and we don’t *think* it will, but again, we can’t be certain of it at this moment.

 

I’ve gone as far as to post this conundrum on my personal Facebook page and ask for my friend’s advice.  9 out of 10 people told us to get the heck out of dodge with Serendipity.  “You have a perfectly good boat, why get rid of her?”  “Refitting a boat is so much harder than you ever imagine it will be.” “Get back down to the Caribbean and hang out with me instead of working on a boat in Florida.”  Ok, that last one may have been biased and based on personal friendships instead of boats, but you get the idea.  Everyone is telling us to take the perfectly good boat and run.

So what will it be?  Honestly, I am 100% confused and undecided at the moment.  I’ve begun looking at marinas in Puerto Rico and it’s outlying cities that we can quickly get ourselves down to in time for hurricane season.  Then I think to all the possibilities Daze Off has and daydream about what a cruising life on her would be like.  Shortly after, I begin reading my guide books on the Eastern Caribbean and think of all the islands we haven’t seen yet that could be checked off in the next 9 months…only to revert to how much further we could travel in Daze Off. Getting to the Baltic Sea and tying up in Copenhagen or exploring the fjords of Norway. This boat could take us anywhere!

This is a decision we really need to make soon, but both of us are so incredibly torn. What’s logical and what’s right?  Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to this question.

 

*Editors note: Since this post is being published two months after the fact….you probably already know the route we chose.

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We Bought a new Boat!

Friday September 19, 2014

dazeoff1

Now that the check has been sent out (electronically) and received (electronically), I can now tell you that…we bought a new boat!!  Out with the old and in with the new.  Or, out with a perfectly good boat that we’ve grown to love dearly over the past few years, and in with a new gut and rebuild that we’re hoping wasn’t a huge huge mistake.  But what is life if not one great adventure?

If you remember back to my Never Ending Atlantic Crossing post, you’ll remember that when the deal on the first boat fell through (for which we can blame no one but ourselves since we HAD the boat and then walked away from it before realizing that we still wanted it), we were both in a bit of a funk.  Mostly Matt though, as he was taking this loss of our dream boat really hard.  Since we were stuck in a marina with nothing but rain and time and internet on our hands, he went back to scouring through Yacht World, a favorite hobby of his, in hopes of replacing the boat he had just lost.

Well somehow, he did it.  About two days after we found out we would 100% not be getting the boat in Rhode Island, he came across a decent backup in Florida.  Backup meaning that instead of 48 ft and basically cruising ready, it’s only 37 ft and in need of a major refit.  But…. the price was incredibly right.  Plus Matt has been getting a little bored lately and in need of a good project.  During his free time he is always thinking of minor things that he’d like his next boat to have, and with a gut and rebuild we’ll be able to start from scratch and hopefully put each and one of those to use.  Kind of like how when I was growing up my parents would build a new house every 4-5 years, stating, ‘I like how this house has this and that, but I want to make sure our next house has these certain specifics’.  And then they would build it that way. (Literally themselves, there was very little outside help.)

A little information on this new boat, it’s a 37 ft Trisalu, a French design boat that was built in Quebec, has a deck salon (basically a pilot house, but no wheel inside), and it’s made of aluminum.  Surprise, surprise.  For some reason Matt has been fascinated with aluminum boats the past few years and has always wanted to try one.  Their rugged utilitarian look and the fact that they can go anywhere.  I have a feeling he’s going to try and sneak me up to the Baltic Sea or down to the Falkland Islands in it when I’m not looking.  The kind of boat where you don’t worry about the gelcoat, and when you bounce off some rocks (or an iceburg) you say, ‘It barely left a dent!’.

The draft on this boat is 7 ft, but with a lifting centerboard we’ll be able to get it down to 3.  There’s a quarter berth in the aft as well as a small storage area, a head that will actually have a shower stall!, a decent sized galley for me to cook in, a small settee area ahead of that, and a v-berth which we’ll probably still keep as our sleeping quarters.

So, all of this means that we will not actually be heading toward the Med this year.  As soon as the next weather window allows we’ll begin traveling south, getting ourselves to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and crossing the Atlantic, once again, sometime in December or January.  From there we’ll try and enjoy the Eastern Caribbean a little bit while making our way north and to where the boat is sitting in Indiantown, FL.  We think that if we can get there in April and begin non-stop work on it (because really, what else are we going to have going?), that it will be cruising ready by next November, just in time to cruise the Bahamas and Caribbean during the winter months.

It’s a lot to take on, and it’s all definitely come up suddenly, but we’re excited and looking forward to the adventure ahead.  Or, who knows.  Maybe we’ll get to Florida and realize this was the worst decision in the world and there’s going to be a bunch of scrap metal going up for sale.  Only time will tell.

dazeoff09

dazeoff

dazeoff6

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This is No Vacation

Wednesday July 2, 2014

sunset St. George's Harbor, Bermuda

As much as I would like our time here in Bermuda to be all relaxing and rum drinks, unfortunately there is a lot of work to be done as well.  Since we did happen to land ourselves in an amazingly beautiful area that deserves lots of exploring though, we decided to break up our days and do off and on boat work versus having fun.

Yesterday I hauled our overflowing bag of dirty laundry to the laundromat.  Even though we’d basically been living in athletic gear the entire passage, wearing clothes for three days at a time before changing them out (although who’s going to complain about the smell?, it’s just us), we were kind of lax on some of our chores in Miami, and laundry fell to the bottom of the list.  Which meant that on top of the past three weeks of dirty clothing and bed sheets, we had about two weeks worth of clothes from before the passage to deal with as well.

While Matt tackled some minor projects back on the ‘Dip, I loaded myself down like pack mule with about twenty pounds of clothes, sheet, and blankets between two bags, and set out into town.  I had spied a laundromat the previous day on our little hike about the area, so at least I knew where to go before the extra weight could reduce me to a mess of tangled limbs and nylon bags in the street while trying to hunt one down.  I did find out that things are done a little differently here, and instead of just inserting coins into a machine, I had to spend $5 on a card to then load money onto, which then gets inserted into the machine and deducts from my balance.  Not really an ideal situation for someone who is only going to be here once, but I didn’t have many other options.*

Once all the clothes were in the middle of a rinse and repeat, I took off down the road to check out a few of the markets to gauge pricing in the area and we could see what kind of costs we might expect to fill our pantries again.  As soon as I stepped into the first market it became apparent that our pantries would remain at low until we reach the Azores.  In only looking for basic items, this is what I found we’d be paying.  Head of lettuce: $3.50; quart of milk: $2.50; pound of chicken: $7.50; loaf of bread: $5.00; 5 lb bag of rice: $10.  At least this means we’ll finally be able to go through all the items we provisioned for while heading to the Bahamas.  And I know for a fact that there’s a can of pear halves I bought in St. Augustine that still need to be eaten.

Today, which on our ‘schedule’ was supposed to be a fun day, kind of slipped into a work one.  After sleeping in entirely too late (I’m using the excuse that I’m still catching up on two weeks of sleep), I didn’t have much drive to get off the boat.  Once the coffee was made and enjoyed we were now into lunch time, and the prospect of exerting enough energy to get off the boat and do something enjoyable was too much.  The settee, a bowl of popcorn, and an afternoon matinee sounded much more appealing.  That’s not to say we could get away without doing some kind of work though, to allow ourselves two fun days in a row then.

Remember how I mentioned we got a little lax about a few projects back in Miami?  Cleaning the bottom of the boat was another one that kind of slipped through the cracks.  A bad one.  One of the last things you want when making a 3,000 mile journey is a bunch of barnacles on the bottom of your boat slowing you down after having spent one month sedentary in a hot tropical climate.  I’m pretty sure it took at minimum a half knot off our speed during this passage, and possibly up to one.  That bottom right now is nasty.  During one bored day on passage we actually put my camera in it’s waterproof case and shot video as we dunked the camera below the water line to see exactly what we were dealing with.  No wonder all those fish attached themselves to us like a reef…..we looked like one!

Probably due to the fact that every time Matt has gone about cleaning our bottom before and the project had taken him all of one hour, I thought that with the both of us working on it we could knock it out in 45 minutes and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Sigh.  You silly, silly girl.

What happened in reality is I spent the next two and a half hours shriveling up like a prune in salt water while using muscles I haven’t used in quite a long time, and pushing myself to the limits on breath holding capabilities.  It was sad, really.  At the water line I was doing ok as long as I could hold on to something to keep the current from pushing me away from the boat.  But as soon as I tried to get the under body, my body would only allow me to stay down for three scrapes before scrambling back to the surface to gulp fresh air.

I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever pushed my body as hard as I did today while cleaning that bottom.  Even though I wanted to give up very early and make Matt finish the project himself, I stuck it out and cleaned one whole side myself.  I give major props to Matt for doing it himself every few months in the past, as well as anyone else out there who is stuck with this horrendous project.  Unless you’re like our friends Ren and Ashley who can hold their breath for five minutes at a time.

When I finally finished and was able to climb back on to the topside of Serendipity, I was like the living dead.  I could barley move, and bumped about the cabin in a zombie like state.  An immediate nap was in order, and now hours later, I am finally regaining the status of a normal conscious person.  Just in time to enjoy a glass of wine and this sunset.  So I guess it’s not all bad.

 

*My card was purchased back from the owner once he found out I was a sailor in for a one time visit.  He may have actually run the barber shop next door…….very nice guy.

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Getting Rid of those Leaks….Hopefully?

Friday June 6, 2014

portlight

*I wish I could write more about this project, and I’ll probably go back later and add more to it, but here I sit on the eve of our departure for the Azores and I had to get something down so that you don’t just wonder why we’ve disappeared out of the blue.

Last Thursday and Friday we tackled the project of rebedding one of our starboard side ports, and the forward hatch.  Who would have thought that getting all of the old caulk out would be the easy part?  That only took about two hours, we each took on one area, and then after a visit to the post office to find out that yet another package (filled with fuel filters) has now gone missing, we came back in the late afternoon to finish the job of getting our new 3M 4000 on there.  That should stop any leaks we previously had coming in!  Turns out though, that clean up with that stuff is a total b*tch.

Only smearing it around at first we found out that if left alone for an hour or so it gets a little tacky and is then easier to remove.  Waiting for the second port to dry, our one hour break turned into a two hour nap (yeah, we were a little tired after our day of finally working on something), and when we woke up the sun was already going down.  Which means that I got to spend a good portion of Friday trying to remove it once it had fully hardened.  A lot more work when you have to be extra mindful of what you’re scraping off.

Let’s just hope that if our previous leaks did happen to be coming from one of those two areas, we didn’t just make the problem worse while trying to fix it.  Looks like we’ll have the chance to find out soon enough.

Matt cleaning hatch

rebedding port

working on portlight

looking out portlight

caulk removal of portlight

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When Everything Works Against You, it Sometimes all Works Out

Wednesday June 4, 2014

everything works out

It’s suffice to say we should have been gone by now.  In the cruising world it’s almost impossible to adhere to a schedule, but we still like to when we can.  You can see that by the way we rushed ourselves through the Bahamas this year.  We’re also the kind of people that would rather show up early than late.  So the fact that we’re still sitting in Miami 4 days after our intended departure date, and still have about 5 days minimum before we can think of leaving, is a bit of an oddity for us.  That’s because we seem to have everything working against us right now.  Almost every aspect that depends on us being able to get out is being held up.

At the moment, we have a multitude of things preventing us from leaving.  I’ve just spend my whole afternoon getting to know the Miami transit system once more so I could swing by the USDA yet again (let’s see, that would be my third visit to their office) to pick up the notarized forms that the vet signed on Monday. If you’re wondering, it was a five hour round trip to go from the boat to their office about 10 miles away, and come back.  That’s one item checked off our list, but it’s by no means the only thing keeping us here.

We also have a number of projects that need to be done to Serendipity before we drag her across 3,000 miles of ocean without rest.  Projects that were supposed to have been completed well over a week ago, but our shipment of odds and ends was lost in the postal system and we didn’t get a chance to purchase them again until just a few days ago.  So even if a weather window came up tomorrow, we still have about three good hard days of work on our hand now that we have a few tubes of 3M 4000 in our possession.  

Another thing keeping us in this spot is waiting for just the right weather window.  This one is a biggie, because, well, weather windows are key.

Ah yes, and the last minute project that just came up..  Even though we’ve had three weeks now to deal with it, we just thought to ourselves, ‘Hmmmm, we should replace the backstay’.  The one we currently have up there right now is original to the boat, and we don’t know if we want to trust it to 30 straight days of pressure.  Better safe than sorry, right?  As you can tell we’re taking this crossing very seriously.  You’d think we’re making ourselves out to be the first people to ever accomplish this feat.  

We just placed an order for a new one today, and even with expedited shipping, we won’t get it until Friday evening.  The real kicker on this is we had a new backstay lying around.  Right in our aft cabin!  Truth be told, we should probably get a stupidity award for this one. The only reason we didn’t install it with the rest of our rigging after exiting the Erie Canal is that we didn’t have the right fitting. So we kept cruising with the old one. Then when we just came to Miami now and we wanted to run an inner forestay, we thought, ‘There’s some rigging lying around in the aft cabin we can use. Brilliant!’. And so we thought we were. Not realizing that, duh, that piece could still go up as a new backstay once we ordered the proper fitting. Now we’re left to ordering new fittings as well as the rigging for our blunder.

So as you can see, we seem to have just about everything working against us right now.  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  Paperwork, projects, weather….the list goes on.  You think we’d be cursing the fates, wondering why everything had to fall on us at once.  Can’t we just get a break, somewhere?  But here’s the thing.  When everything works against you, it actually all works out.  We’re not sitting here just cursing one single thing.  We’re not pounding our fists saying ‘If only the weather would change’, or ‘If only that package would come in’.  When there’s only one thing working against you, when there’s only one thing holding you back, it’s easy to become angry and think of all that could be working in your favor had that one thing been different.  But when everything works against you, you just sit back with a smile and say ‘Oh well, there’s nothing I can do about it’. And then you make the best of what you have.

 

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One Project Forward, Two Projects Back

Thursday May 22, 2014

inner forestay

Don’t you love when a list of projects leads to another whole group of projects that weren’t even on that list? Things that come up while you’re doing said list, and you think to yourself, ‘Well that just can’t go ignored’. Such is the case on our to-do list. We’ve had it all printed out since the Bahamas and even got busy checking off little things here and there. We were confident that with about a week of hard work in Miami it would all be completed. If only it were that easy. Because the one unplanned thing that can be added to a list and drive any sailor crazy are unexpected leaks.

There we were one afternoon this week, cleaning out our garage aft cabin to lube up the steering system when Matt gets to the very back part of the cabin, only reserved for the the things we never have to get to (like my sewing machine) and therefore never pull those items out of the way, only to find dampness all over the bottom of the cabin. We had just suffered through about a day of constant downpours and assumed that was the cause of the wetness…but where had it come from? Doing a little tracing we found that it also followed along the shelf that runs against the wall and since there are no hatches or ports that far back, it must be from the toerail.

It looks like our simple and relaxed day of just doing two small items to get off the list was now going to be taken over by pinning down the source of and fixing that leak. The bung plugs were taken out above deck, and while I did my best up there to keep the screws from moving while Matt worked in the small confines from below with the ratchets, we successfully removed about 10 screws that would be rebedded with a little more staying and leak-proof power. We hope.

Originally placed in the toerail with butyl tape, of which we find works great for many other things, we just weren’t sure if it was up to handling the job here, which meant it needed to come off all of the screws. And if you’ve ever worked with butyl tape, especially once it gets warm and gooey, you’ll know that it is a pain in the butt to remove. All of the screws were handed to me since Matt has only nubs of fingernails and I spent the next hour trying to get this blessed yet wretched product off. It wasn’t until after I’d gone through and cleaned them all down to a nice silvery sheen that Matt found out, and quite by accident, that WD-40 will actually remove butyl tape clean off a surface. Nice to know. I wish I could blame him for ruining my nails after going through this process when it turns out I didn’t have to, but it turns out that I had already done it myself with a sewing project. Constantly pushing a needle through fabric using my thumbnail to put a little force behind it kind of screwed it up to begin with.

Once these were all clean we went through with the drill to make sure all the holes were wide enough, and Matt took some Life Caulk to the screws and made sure they were fully coated before placing them back in their holes. Then just as before, I sat above deck and held the screws in place while he tightened them from below. Now we just wait for more rain to make sure the whole process has worked. I’m sure we’re the only cruisers in history that have been disappointed by every rain cloud that keeps dodging us, keeping us bathed in sunshine instead.

In good news though, we did complete one more project that didn’t give us any hassle at all. That was to place a permanent (for the crossing) inner forestay up at the bow instead of relying on the temporary Amsteel we currently keep up there. Ever since we replaced all of our rigging upon getting the mast back up on the east side of the Erie Canal, we’ve had a spare piece of standing rigging just sitting in our aft cabin going unused. We figured this would work best since we want to keep our staysail rigged during the entire crossing so it’s ready whenever we want to use it, and this way we don’t have the hanks chaffing the braided rope of the Amsteel.

All in all this project took us about two hours which isn’t too bad in my book. We’d already taken the previous Amsteel inner forestay down and brought it to shore along with the new rigging to measure the two pieces to the same length and mark the new one. Back on the boat though, before we got down to any cutting, Matt had the suggestion of attaching the new forestay and measuring once more down to the deck just to make sure our cut would be precise. Good thing too, because as soon as Matt came down from the mast and we went to hold it out we realized that our original measurement was about a half an inch too short. And there would have been no getting that back if we went ahead with that cut! Re-marking our new measurement we got busy making the proper cut and getting everything attached. Voila! New inner forestay installed! Now, if we could just make sure the order we just put into Defender can get here by this weekend we’ll be able to start checking the rest of these projects off and look at getting this show on the road.

toe rail

inner forestay

sunset over Miami

Georgie at sunset

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La-Ho!

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Sailorman, Sailorman. Does Whatever a Sailorman Can.

Thursday March 13, 2014

Sailorman

You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the photos in this post, but 1. They were taken on my point and shoot, 2. I couldn’t do much in editing due to the bright backlights, and 3. They were done at 2 am, so, not a whole lot of motivation.

 

We like whenever we can find a marine consignment store, it’s like a candy shop for Matt where he gets just as much joy picking through used and reduced price boat parts as I used to while flipping through the racks at Plato’s Closet. 2nd hand isn’t always bad, you just have to search a little harder for the perfect item. The thing that brought us out today was a search for a new housing for the membrane for our water maker.  Salt water corrosion strikes again.  If we just turn the oceans and seas into fresh water, that would be great.

As soon as we entered, our eyes were assaulted with every kind of boat part possible.  And multiples of each of those.  Since I’m not even positive what a water maker housing looks like, I busied myself by walking down each aisle looking at all the parts we could load our boat up with, but hopefully wouldn’t need to.  I think I’ve taken a 180 from our first marine consignment shops back in NC and FL where I wanted every item that I thought would make our life any easier or at least entertaining (Oooohh, a cassette tape on sailing the South Pacific filmed in 1993!  Forget that we don’t even own a VCR).  Now I’ve found myself trying to get as much off the boat as possible (except all my clothes, those will always stay).  ‘Here, want a cast net?  We’ve never touched it.  Just for good measure why don’t you take our reciprocating saw as well.  And guess what?  It comes with a free cat!’.

Needless to say, I was having fun looking at everything boat, as long as the only thing that made it’s way into our backpack was for the water maker.  Pulling out items here and there, we had only been able to find whole systems together, but no housings standing alone.  Matt checked a few out just to see if he could disassemble them and use only the parts we need, it would still be cheaper than buying a new one, but so far we were coming up empty handed.  Talking to one of the associates, he mentioned that his garage at home was filled with boat parts as well and he would be more than happy to search through it for us.  Giving us a business card he told us to contact him about exactly what we needed and he’d get back to us on if he had one.  And if he didn’t?  He’d make sure to put us in contact with someone that did.  Is that service or what?

3.13.14 (1)

3.13.14 (2)

3.13.14 (3)

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Add a little entertainment to your boat?

3.13.14 (6)

 

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