Cause This is Ladie’s Night

Wednesday February 13, 2013

Finally a night away from the boat!  I had been telling Yu that we all needed to get together to go out again sometime, but with Frank plagued by pneumonia and and Matt just plain worn out from boat work, us girls seemed to be the only excited ones about this project.  So we decided, who needs the boys?, we’re going to have a ladies night!

Leaving early enough to still take advantage of happy hour specials we began our night at J.P. Henley’s, famous for having over 100 beers on tap.  Wanting to try something new, I went with Spaten, but now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’ve had that before.  Guess that happens when you’re a member of the Old Chicago World Beer Tour.  We only stayed for the one drink as we were also turning this into a bar hop, trying to fit in as many happy hour locations as we could.  We probably should have started much earlier….

Next stop on the way was Cellar 6, a very trendy bar down one of the cobblestone streets in the historic downtown area.  Going inside to order drinks, we took advantage of their happy hour martinis, and once I saw sake shots on the menu we had to have those as well.  They were out of the warm sake, but did have a nice fruity chilled version, which I think went down better than the more traditional drink would have anyway.  Since it was a warm night, we moved out to the street with our martinis, grabbing a table next to a heat lamp.  The rain that had been threatening us all day was thankfully holding off, and we enjoyed the warm night air, talking about boats and future plans for travel.  I must have been in this life for way too long now if you take out the guys and the girls are still sitting there talking boats.  At least this boat talk was more along the lines of “We’re so close to getting in the water, and these are the only things left we need to do!”.

When we finished our martinis we wanted to end our night at Scarlet’s for $0.50 wings and oysters, but just after we walked in and sat down we found that just a few weeks ago they had changed the hours on that special from ending at 9 pm to now ending at 7 pm.  So much for that.  As good as they sounded, they didn’t sound full price good, so we moved on to Mojo’s, a barbeque place that Matt and I keep hearing about but had never been to.  Inside we browsed the menu for food and drinks, and once I found they offered a Dark & Stormy made with Kraken, well, I had to have it.  Sipping on my Dark & Stormy I talked to Yu a little more about her fashion design career, time spent at Parson’s School of Design, and her friendship with Tim Gunn and their shared stage fright.  The food at Mojo’s really hit the spot after having had a few pre-dinner cocktails, and I think I ate my Ruben sandwich in three bites.  After eating we were picked up by Frank who brought us back to the boat to hang out before he made his way out to a movie, but not before picking me up a Lime-a-Rita from the store.  I haven’t had one since my last night racing on Island Dream, and it tasted just as good as I remembered.  More girl chat ensued on Moitessier, until we were so tired that we were falling asleep in the salon.  It was my first girls night in over six months, but it was just as fun as I remembered them to be.  I’ll have to make sure to schedule more in my future.


Decktop Sewing

Tuesday February 12, 2012

It did not work out.  It did not work out at all.  The little connector piece that I tried to add extra fabric to fits perfect in the center, but there is way to much excess on the sides.  But that’s not it.  I had also put the zippers on backwards last night.  When I was pinning them to the fabric, in my head I was thinking of the zippers on the bimini which start at the end, and finish in the center.  This connecting piece is opposite, starting in the center and finishing at the end.  Another morning now spent doing some of the most tedious work ever, seam ripping.  When I finished that and got to the point that I had to try and figure out how much of the fabric to take in on the sides, and how sharp the curve should be, my brain couldn’t take it any more.  I needed a little alcohol to calm my nerves.

Settled back out by the bow with a nice cold beer in my hand, I went to the new mark I had made where I thought the fabric would need to be taken into, and started pinning it in almost a straight line to the other mark I made where it had begun to go from tight to loose while properly zipped on.  This process went on for a few hours.  I’d pin it, fit it, and remark.  Sometime after the third attempt I was losing all hope, and was afraid that if I continued I’d deliberately sabotage the project.  I needed a new distraction.

So then I turned back to the bimini, which in my eyes, had turned out perfectly.  But Matt and I have different definitions of perfect, and he thought the sides on this were just a wee bit too tight and wanted me to let them out about a half inch.  I would have been content to leave it the way it was since I could barely see the imperfections he was talking about, but I still had Yu’s sewing machine, and I couldn’t work on the connecting piece any longer.  Normally I would have like to set up the big and bulky machine down on one of the picnic tables of the boat shed, but today was the day they decided to congregate around it all afternoon.

Normally the next option would be to go to our table in the salon, but this machine is too heavy for even me to carry on my own, so there was no way the table was going to support it.  All my sewing was now going to have to be done up on deck.  Having Matt bring it up from below and set it on the coachroof, I tried to angle myself so I could have the fabric sit atop of me and have my foot in a place where it could push down on the peddle.  It was a bit uncomfortable, and a little trying, not having the necessary space to spread everything out.  But after a few failed attempts (like accidentally sewing down the piece of fabric that’s supposed to wrap around the metal bimini bar) I had successfully finished one project that day.  That is, until we put it back on and found out there was puckering from where the fabric did not get pulled taught before being sewn down.  Damn it!!

I’ve Got a Gun to My Thread

Monday February 11, 2013

It’s finally happened.  I had to do the thing I’ve been dreading and putting off for months.  Canvas work for the bimini.  Ugh.  If there is one thing I hate more than anything else, it’s sewing.  The pattern making, the trying to make everything fit together, and then ripping it apart and starting over when it doesn’t.  Not to mention that 80% of the time my little Brother sewing machine craps out on me.  I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen the E6 error message pop up on screen because my thread has gotten tangled, and this usually ends with me pulling my hair out and about to drop my machine overboard (or out the window back at home).

But there was no getting around it any longer.  Now that the end is finally in sight we need to tackle all those little projects we’ve been putting off and I could’t escape mine any longer. Adding to that time crunch, I was given a blessing and a curse.  Yu owns a very saught after Sailrite sewing machine which she’s currently using to do her own canvas but said she could break away from it for one day to lend it to me.  It was fantastic news because these machines can literally sew through 20 layers of fabric (Yu has tried), and the bimini fabric is so thick and tough that it’s broken many a needle of mine before on my own machine.  But….I only had the one day to finish everything I needed to do.  The sewing machine was dropped off to me just after noon, and that didn’t give me a lot of time until the sun went down.

The issue with the bimini and why it needs fixing, is because back in July when we went to add the two solar panels that sit on top of it, we had to reconfigure the shape a little bit to get the panels to lay properly.  New bars were added to actually support the solar panels, but we also had to change the angle of the bars that were already there, bringing them closer together.  This ended up causing lots of loose fabric to hang low into the cockpit, and has been a vexation to us ever since.  Originally not wanting to reconfigure the fabric as well, and take the chance of ruining it forever, we left it alone.  We even toyed with the idea of ordering a new hard bimini, but it would have been white and I was afraid it wouldn’t match the rest of the boat.  But with only a week or two before we leave (I mean it this time!), something had to be done.

So with time running out and no other options, it was decided to go the route of taking apart the current bimini and putting it back together, taking out about six inches from the front.  A few days ago Matt and I had pulled the fabric tight to where we wanted the new seam to be and I marked that line with chalk.  Then I took the whole bimini below and with a soldering iron, cut off the front part that contained the zippers so I could just move it back the few inches we need instead of having to remove the zipper and put them back together, as well as lose the very nice and strong seam already at the front.  After Yu left and I had the machine all set up, I grabbed a cold Mt. Dew from the vending machine behind me and I was ready to get to work.  Having to go back and re-mark all my lines that were now becoming faded, I pulled out my double sided tape and began running it along the line.

I was being oh so careful and precise, and within 30 minutes I thought I had perfectly lined up the entire length of the canvas and was ready to sew.  Matt happened to be walking up to check on me and I proudly showed him my work.  I was so content that I had done something right on the first try, until he pointed out a fatal flaw to me.  I had stuck the fabric together on the wrong side.  What I had put on top was supposed to be on the bottom.  Noooo!!  The curse of sewing was striking again!  He left while I sat there now discontented, having no idea how I would remedy this, since my chalk lines were apparently on the wrong side as well.  In the end it only took me a few minutes to find out that I could fold the fabric to still make it work, and I was on my way again.

Finishing that part up for a second time I realized I’d never eaten lunch and didn’t want to take on the sewing machine on an empty stomach.  I quickly devoured a hefty sandwich and cracked open an energy drink, ready to go strong.  Yu had already gone through the steps of helping me wind the bobbin and thread the machine, so once it was time to go, all I had to do was bring the fabric to the needle and press down on the peddle.  And it was…easy.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  Effortless.  Fluent.  The machine just took the fabric and made perfect little stitches from one end to the other.  No snags, snarls, broken needles, or error messages.  I was in love.

Now feeling much better about the remaining work, I happily plugged along, cutting off the extra fabric that I had overlapped and smoothing that seam to sew as well.  When it got late in the afternoon, Matt and Georgie came to bring me a coffee and watch me while I worked.  I finished with still close to an hour of daylight, and when we went to zip the bimini back on, it fit perfectly! Hallelujah!  For once a sewing project finally had gone right and I was able to enjoy the rest of my evening without having a meltdown on how no sewing projects ever turn out the way I want.

So yesterday was great, I was on top of the world.  Today…not so much.  Because of all the caffeine I had chugged to get myself to work as hard as possible, I was also up until 4:30 am with insomnia.  It got to the point that I was going through the phonetic alphabet and trying to spell out our name as well as all our friend’s boat names. I had already gone through Serendipity, Rode Trip, Hideaway, and Hullabaloo, and was on Anthyllide when I finally started drifting off.   Waking up just a few hours later was not fun.  I was hoping my sewing would be done, but Yu was kind enough to lend me the machine for another day, so I was able to move on to the project I was really dreading.  Taking the connecting piece between the dodger and bimini and adding fabric so it would now make up for what I just cut off from the bimini.

I know it doesn’t sound terribly hard, but because of the curves, the only information I had to go with is that I needed to add 10 inches in the center and have it curve down to 7 at the end.  If I was smart I would have purchased some cheap fabric that I could have held up to both ends, and marked and cut to make a template.  What I did instead was lay out our old sailcover that we steal scraps of Sunbrella from, and pinned the existing connector to it.  From there I measured 10 inches from the center and marked straight lines until I knew the fabric started curving.  This is where the really hard part came in, those curves were really throwing me off!  Thinking that if I had a stroke of genius and that if the new piece I was adding needed to have the same curve as the current piece, I moved the pinned piece down to match my new lines I had begun drawing, and just followed the pattern of the current piece all the way to the end.  So smart!

Having it fully marked I began cutting the fabric and pinning it.  This was a case where the zippers had to be taken off and moved.  Using a seam ripper to remove them had actually taken up a good portion of my morning and early afternoon, so now the sun was beginning to set and I hadn’t even broken out the sewing machine yet.  Moving the picnic table to the area that had the best light and still had an outlet, I was now basically blocking the bathrooms inside the shed that half of the people living or working on their boat use.  I couldn’t worry about that, I needed to get my work done!

Having done a few stitches it was now way into the night and I was too hungry to carry on. Having Matt bring over the leftover General Tso’s Chicken I had spent an hour and a half making the night before, we heated it up in the shop’s industrial size microwaves and I took bites between pinning fabric together.  Pinning that took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  When I was still out there at 9:00 at night, a guy working on his boat in the shed came over to lend a battery powered lamp to help shed a little more light on the machine and fabric.  More pinning and more sewing.  When I finally made the last stitch I was completely exhausted and ready to fall asleep on the picnic table.  It was now 11:00 pm and I had been working on this project for over 12 hours, and on only five hours of sleep.  When Matt asked if I wanted to put it on to see if it fit, I told him I wouldn’t be able to take the failure if it didn’t. My sewing worked out yesterday and I wanted to think the same thing today.  He was so intent on seeing it up there he goes, “Well I’ll throw it on, and I’ll only say anything if it does fit.”  “How is that going to work?” I asked.  “If you come down and don’t say anything, I’m going to know it has to be redone.”  “Oh”, he thought for a minute, “I guess you’re right.  Look at the brains on this one.”.

LOVE this machine!

Check out our cool bikes in the background!


The Great Escape

Saturday February 9, 2013

After Thursday I was afraid it would happen, and it has.  We’ve raised a little escape artist. Georgie has found out that she can climb down the ladder.  There were a few times on Thursday when she would begin to jump down one rung on the ladder, and we’d quickly swoop her up and set her back on deck along with a scolding.  But then yesterday when both of us were distracted getting the dinghy down off the davits so it could get a good cleaning, she hopped all the way down to the ground.  I caught what she was doing just moments after she got down, and was able to quickly grab her and once again set her back where she should be.

From that point we said that we’d no longer let her run around on deck at night, one of her favorite things to do before bed to blow off steam.  It seriously sounds like a race track up there sometimes, with her sprinting lap after lap.  But now we couldn’t trust her to be up there alone and promised her only deck time would be during the day where we could keep better tabs on her.  Except, last night the sun went down and we both got distracted, forgetting she was out there.  After hearing nothing but silence from up above for quite some time I turned to Matt and asked, “Where’s the cat?”.  We both looked at the companionway which was sitting wide open.  Oh, s&*t.

Throwing on headlamps we scoured the deck, looking in every nook and corner and under the cushions that were still drying, trying to find any place up there she might be hiding.  Nothing.  So then we brought the search to the ground.  I had brought a bag of her treats with me, and we began to walk the yard, shaking the bag and calling her name.  I was on one side of Serendipity while Matt was on the other when I heard a yell, “I found her over here!”.  Running over to assist him catch her, I heard a loud noise and then a yell of pain from Matt, quickly followed by yells for me to quickly get my ass over there.  As I came up behind him and saw Georgie in his hands, and thought that maybe she clawed or scratched him as he tried to grab her.  Nope.  What he didn’t see as he was running full speed to get her, was a metal chain that ran the width of the boat next to ours, and ran smack into it with his face.

Grabbing Georgie out of his hands I climbed half way up the ladder and pitched her on deck as I tried to catch up to Matt who had stumbled to the men’s bathroom to check out his face.  It was not a pretty picture.  The nose was most likely broken, he had to snap it back in place, and covering his nose and forehead were cuts and bruises.  He took it pretty well, and back at the boat, although I knew he was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t help but look over at him and giggle a little bit.  He looked like he had just stepped out of a hockey ring without a helmet on, but when people inevitably see the damage and ask what happened he’ll have to reply with “I chased my cat into a chain link”.

Today has been back to work on both projects we couldn’t start until this point, and ones we should have done once we first got here.  Since the dinghy was lowered yesterday, that was given a nice cleaning, bringing it back to close to it’s original white shade.  Gotta love MaryKate On & Off.  I swear that stuff is like a Magic Eraser for anything boat related.  Then it was on to faring the prop shaft area and getting that ready to install.  A little time spent with 3M 4200, and lots of time afterward with vinegar and acetone, and we were ready to call it a night.  Knowing what’s in store for me tomorrow though, I’m not sure I’m ready for this night to end.

I think all the trouble started here, during her first walk.

V-berth cushions drying up on deck.


Gone Today, Here Tomorrow

Friday February 8, 2012

I think one of the most exciting things of us being here in the yard has just happened. The keel bolt issue has been fixed! Can you believe it? And you were probably sitting there having no idea it was even being worked on. You know why? Because it took less than 48 hours for us to start a conversation with the person who was going to fix it, to having it completed and delivered back to us. Amazing!, right?

Ok, let me back up a little bit. If you’re not familiar with the whole story of the keel issue, this is how it started. We took the keel off back on January 10 only to find out that a few of the bolts had crevice corrosion and would need to be replaced. This bummed us out as it was now one more project to add to our never ending list. What bummed us out even more, is that as soon as we began searching, we could not find a soul anywhere near us to do this kind of repair. And only being a few hundred miles from ‘The Boating Capital of the World’ no less. We thought we were going to have to ship the whole keel up to Canada or Rhode Island to have it repaired as they were the only capable people we came across. Not only would that have taken a lot of time, but it also would have cost a lot of money. So we kept searching, and then came across a guy from California who actually builds keels, and would be able to fly out to Florida to do the job. But after costs kept rising due to little add ons, we canceled that deal as well. With, however, lots of helpful tips from the guy on how to do the job on our own with help from our yard.

So on both Tuesday and Wednesday when we were out running errands, we’d stop by Moitessier to talk to Frank who had lots of good ideas on how to do it ourselves, and we’d also be out scouring the aisles of Home Depot for a top grade drill press. We were all ready to make the purchases and start work when Matt had been talked into contacting the the owner of the yard next door where Frank and Yu have their boat. Ever since we got here we’ve been hearing rave reviews about this guy, how there’s never been anything he hasn’t been able to do, and how his work is always meticulous. Tracking him down, Matt had a nice conversation about what needs to be done, and the guy says, “Sure. I’ll have it brought over tomorrow, and have it finished by the end of the day.”.

Even that night (Wednesday) as we planned for the keel to be taken from us the next afternoon, we sat and thought really hard about the directions we’d give him on how to perform the job. Sister in a few new bolts? Take them out and replace them? We were still figuring this out when there was a tap on our hull. We climbed out to see a neighbor of ours, Terry from m/v Island Girl, coming over with a dinner invitation. Having met Matt a few times while I was away, Terry thought Matt was still living the bachelor life and might need a hot meal. Although I did happen to be back, that hot meal was nowhere in sight from my end, so we took them up on their offer to join them for burgers on their boat.It was so nice to be on a boat that’s on the water, and we were able to enjoy a spectacular sunset from the windows in their salon. The burgers were delicious, the company was great, and it was a much needed distraction from all our boat work.

Yesterday afternoon we were just doing little projects here and there, more fiberglassing for Matt and washing the cushions up on deck for me. The guy to fix the bolts stopped by and said that after some preliminary work that morning, he figured that replacing any bolts would be better than sistering in new ones, so we decided to go with his judgement. A few hours later he’d be back to have the keel brought over. After he left, Georgie started her routine of crying out to us while we were on the ground, so once more I strapped her into her harness and leash and let her roam around the yard. She’s doing much better now on the rocks, walking and even running through them without issue. I think she’s still getting used to the fact of being on a leash though, since she did try to chase down a random piece of paper in the yard, and was yanked back in mid-air as she tried to make her leap. The even bigger issue though, was when we put her back on deck and I caught her two times making her way one step down the ladder. I could see that causing some big problems in the future.

After we had finished our little jobs and were running out of things to do, our yard manager showed up with a fork lift to get it ready to take over to the yard next door. Securing some heavy duty chain to the front and back bolts, the keel was lifted a few feet off the ground and we waved to it as it made it’s way out of the yard. Both of us would have been really interested in following it and watching the progress, but the owner next door doing the work gave strict instructions that no one was to disturb him for the rest of the afternoon while he worked on it, not even his employees. But we were just happy that it was gone. A month of just trying to figure out what to do with it, at least now something was happening. In a construction site, one should buy crane warning lights on the site.

Then this morning Matt ran over to see how the progress was going. We’re used to having things go wrong, having things delayed, or at least two more projects coming from anything we start, so we were thinking it would probably be over there through the weekend and a couple of days into next week. When he got back I asked him how it was going. “It’s done”, he replied. “What do you mean it’s done?”, I asked. “It’s done”, he said said again. “And it was done right?”, I gaped, “Like it’s actually ready to come back and be put on?”. He just smiled. For once, we finally got it right. Four weeks of anguish and a four hour remedy.

It was delivered back this afternoon with a shiny new bolt sticking out of the lead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything prettier. Well maybe when the boat is all put back together, but we’re not at that point yet. For now this is more than sufficient. It means that very shortly we can start putting the boat back together. Finally light at the end of the tunnel. Finally I can let myself believe we might get back in the water.

Terry and Patty (photo courtesy of Island Girl Cruising)

Frank & Sense

Tuesday February 5, 2013


You know all that work that I talked about us doing on the boat yesterday? Can you believe that we still had enough energy to go out that night? We had to. It was Frank’s birthday and we have been planning on getting together ever since Yu’s birthday last month. And being me, I did what I always tend to do, and that’s hijacking other people’s special occasions. This was me while we were standing on the street while planning to get together for Frank’s b-day. “Hey, you don’t like wild nights out like this, right? Since you’re more low-key, we should have dinner at your boat, Yu can cook for us, and then if you’re up for it we can head to the White Lion and take advantage of their $1 tall boys.” Yes, I told him exactly what he’d be doing for his birthday. Let it be known though, that every I do this, as it happens more than I like to admit, everyone always has a great time. So the night went exactly as I planned it, and everyone had a GREAT time.

 While running out to ABC earlier in the day to pick up some Guiness for Frank, we ran into Yu who was also there picking up some supplies for her specialty margaritas, and told us that another set of their friends were in town for a few days and would be joining us that night. So at 7:00 Matt and I walked down the dirt road that connects our marinas and scaled the ladder up to Moitessier. We were greeted by Yu and the delicious smell of food cooking, and also by two fellow sailors, Gary and Courtney of Gremmlin’s Hammer. They’re currently living on their ’79 Endeavour 37 up in Boston at the moment, but needed to swing through Florida on some business. Good thing they did, because we all hit it off right away. It’s always so fun to meet new sailors, especially when they’re in your age bracket and have your sense of humor, because then you can automatically start busting out lines from “Old School”, and they’ll laugh along with you and throw out another line, instead of looking at you like you’re crazy. (Seriously, if you ever meet me, there will be a minimum of five movie or tv show quotes thrown out, more if you join along with me.)

We were all having a really nice dinner of chicken tacos that Yu made, and I was instantly grateful I forced her to cook for us when I planned Frank’s birthday. She had always told us about all these amazing meals she makes, and one of my goals before we left St. Augustine was to come over for at least one home cooked meal from her. And her specailty margaritas definitely lived up to the hype as well. I was trying to be good and pace myself, but that’s when Frank decided he wanted to do a shot of Patron, and there were no other takers to do one with him. Well I couldn’t leave him taking a shot all by himself on his birthday, so I saddled up and threw back a drink with him, instantly feeling the effects. All of us going back for seconds on the tacos now we sat around their large and beautiful salon, talking about zombies (yeah, I don’t know how we got there either), and laughing up a storm. When Frank committed himself to another shot, Courtney and I jumped right on the train to join him. It was definitely time to slow down.

Which is why of course, with all our good sense, we all packed our things together to do down to the White Lion. Walking in the door I was used to it being overcrowded from the past few times we had been, but this time it was completely deserted. Which completely baffled us because you’d think when a bar is offering $1 drinks in a college town, everyone would be there. Maybe there was just a big exam in the morning, but better for us, since we now practically owned the joint. Right away we pushed together a few tables and started filling them with beers and mixed drinks (also only $1!). Also hogging the juke box we all stormed it, searching for our favorite artist that were not listed on there and paying extra to have them downloaded. But when you’re only paying $1 a drink you can splurge a little on the extras.

So, being in a deserted bar with good music and cheap drinks, us girls did what any girl would do. We turned the place into our private discoteca, and even got the bartender to throw on the strobe light. It was an absolute blast, and now that I’m feeling it the next day, it gave my legs an even better work out than Jazzercise. We were even so into our own little party that at the end of the night, the bartender rewarded us with free shots of Rum Chata. Which if you’ve never had, go out and get it now! It honestly taste like a cookie and is the best stuff in the world. It was definitely worth the workout to get it. After completely tiring ourselves out and probably annoying the three patrons at the bar, we eventually we were able to tear ourselves away from the bar to walk to Gary and Courtney’s hotel just down the street so we could all meet their dog, Johnny, who goes along on their sailing adventures.  A few slobbery kisses and it was time to go home.

So at the end of the night, it actually ended up being much more wild than Yu’s birthday, but just as predicted when I hijack an event, everyone had a g-r-e-a-t time. I may have had to look at the camera today to remember all of it was great, but I don’t think it’s a night any of us will forget.  As long as we look at our photos.

Just a couple empty cans.

I Do My Little Turn On The Catwalk

Monday February 4, 2012

The painting is, dare I say, done.  At least for the areas that have already been fiberglassed.  It was a lot a long process, and a lot of time spent in small spaces, but now it’s one more thing checked off our list.  The process wasn’t hard, although we had to split it up over yesterday and today in order to do two coats.  Yesterday we washed down the whole area.  While waiting for it to completely dry out, we ran some errands on the bike.  Trying to fill the fridge again with at least two or three nights of meals we walked through the aisles of Winn Dixie before jumping across the street to Home Depot. We’re trying to find the right fittings to connect our grill to our propane tanks, and no matter what we buy it never seems to fit.  Hopefully today will be different.

 Errands ran, we got back to the boat and wiped down the now dry areas with Acetone before painting. Then it was the squeezing into small spaces.  The only area I had to do yesterday was the bilge running from the mast to the galley.  I thought it would be easy, it’s painting.  I like painting.  But I guess what I really like, is painting in areas that I can see.  Plus I was given one rule (besides don’t get paint on the floor or settee), and that was Don’t get paint on the wires.  So what happens as soon as I get my brush wet and stick it under the floor boards? I get a big ‘ol splat on one of the wires.  Ooops.  Looks like I didn’t tape them away quite well enough.  Then there was also a little more trouble while painting in between open holes in the floor where I couldn’t even see where my brush was making strokes, but after dousing the area I’m pretty sure it’s covered.

 Matt painted the engine bay, which at first I felt really bad about because he had more square footage, but then I realized his area had much easier access, and then I didn’t feel so bad for him. Then today was a day for the second coat of paint.  Once again we had to wipe down and Acetone the areas, but this time we first had to take sandpaper to what was already painted so we could rough up the surface a little and give something for the paint to grab on to.  Once again Matt tackled the engine bay while I did the bilge.  But in addition to that, I was also given the project of painting the remaining storage areas under the port settee.  I thought it would be a cinch compared to the bilge, because like Matt, it was a much larger and more exposed area to work in.  What I wasn’t counting on, again, where wires and hoses.  It was very hard to work around them and I didn’t finish until more than two hours after Matt.  He was probably sitting around on his computer watching me and thinking “Ah, so this must have been what it was like for you last week while I was working”.

My expert work didn’t finish there though.  We had taken one of our water tanks out weeks ago to make room for the fiberglassing, and while it has been sitting on our deck since then, we were ready for it to go back.  But not after a good cleaning.  I asked to take the hose to it while trying to get the most pressure possible to blast the sides of the tank with.  I tried once and it didn’t work too well.  What I did find out though, is my arm is somehow small enough to fit in whole, so with a few paper towels I was able to give the entire inside a thorough wipe down.  I think I’ll feel much better drinking our water now, after seeing what the inside of the tank had previously looked like.

Also, I hate to admit it, but we have become ‘those’ pet owners.  While browsing through Amazon I came across this cat harness and leash, and thought it would be a good idea to have for Georgie.  It still worries me a bit that she won’t know how to handle herself right away on deck with the rocking motion of the boat when we’re back in the water.  It will probably be more of just a training tool for a little bit, or if she demands on being outside when conditions get just a little bit rough (only in the cockpit of course).  But we also feel so bad for the times right now while we’re on the hard and we’re running around on the ground and she sticks her head over the side, mewing, and basically asking if she can come with us.  So today, we let her.

Having put her in the harness for a few hours for the past few days just to get her used to it we figured she was finally ready for a little walk today.  We clipped on the leash and carried her down the ladder.  We set her on the ground,….and nothing.  She didn’t move.  Thinking she may not like the surface of the rocks in the yard we picked her up again and brought her to the little park across the street.  She wasn’t a fan of walking in grass either.  She literally just went limp on the ground.  Trying to get her moving we would pull up on the leash, but she’d still just stay limp, with her feet dangling a few inches off the ground.  It gave us a good laugh for a minute, until we felt bad.  On pavement though, she likes to move.  We can walk her just like a dog. That is, until she decides to stop and twist herself in circles, which was often.

Getting Down and Dirty

Saturday February 2, 2012

I knew there would still be projects to do after I got back from Arizona, but I foolishly thought that Matt had done the bulk of them while I was away. Maybe I just wasn’t ‘in the know’ of things still on our to-do list, but I honestly thought there were very few projects for us to do ourselves, and we’d wait for the yard and contractors to go about their work, getting us ready to go in the water. Silly, silly girl. I was allowed a little adjusting time on Friday, after having just got back, to get back into the swing of being on a boat, plus I think he wanted to spend all afternoon with my new laptop, finding out if he wanted to steal it for himself (not going to happen!). I had my heart set on going to First Friday Artwalk again, and after a little begrudging on the part of Matt, he said that if we got our projects for the afternoon done then we could go. Since I was still used to a ‘boat project’ being along the lines of making sure all the dishes are done and the galley is clean (yes, I get all the pink roles), I was thinking that whatever he had up his sleeve would only take us an hour, two at max. Still plenty of time to then clean up and then head into town.

The boat project for the day was to help Matt fiberglass the areas under the port side settee.  This sounded like a long and extensive project to me, all fiberglassing ones had been in the past, but he assured me it would take an hour, tops.  And I believed him.  Silly, silly girl.  Luckily, my part of the job wasn’t hard.  I was the mixing wench.  Which meant that while Matt was covered in ooey gooey goodness, I’d mix his next batch of epoxy.  Knowing from unfortunate experience that even though this job is easy, it would still be messy for me too, I searched through my bags to find at least one outfit I wouldn’t mind ruining.  Because that’s what epoxy does, it sets and you never get it out!  What I came up with was a Hanes white tee and some purple leggings that would have been great for Jazzercise, minus the side pony.

So there I stood, mixing one part resin with three parts hardener, and sometimes throwing in kitty hair (shredded fiberglass), and silica (thickener).  I’d hand the cup over to Matt and he’d stuff and spread the mix in the necessary areas, gloves completely torn open and epoxy all over his hands and arms.  This was a medium temp epoxy which meant that it set a bit quicker than the regular kind, but also created higher temperatures to do so.  Since some of the area he was using it on was below our floorboards, he’d occasionally have me take out our heat gun and check the temperature of the floor in areas where it was curing.  A few of the areas were getting close to 130 degrees, and I expected the plastic sheet we had set down to protect from any mess on the floor to burst into flames at any second.  But even in the hurricane state of the boat, I knew where the fire extinguisher was and was ready to grab it at moment if need be.

This one hour project turned into four hours, and before we even cleaned up there was only thirty minutes left in the art walk.  We would not be making it out that night.  But the work Matt did looked very professional, and I’ll take one step closer to leaving over a night out on the town, even if it is one of the best events around.  I really did want to make it to one more art walk during our stay here though.  But if for any reason we’re still here in March for the chance to attend again, heaven help me, I will burn this boat down.

Today was a bit more of the same, but before we could get to the fiberglassing, I was able to run some errands on my own while Matt stayed behind to get the engine bay ready to paint.  And what my errand for the day was, was to run out and get that paint that would be used for the engine bay and the bilge area.  We had spent all morning debating which kind of paint to use in those areas.  On his way back from dropping me off at the airport, Matt had stopped at a West Marine in Jacksonville and picked up a specific bilge paint from them, but wasn’t sure if he wanted to use it.  Plus there was only a quart of it. To get the best epoxy paint, one can go on this Homepage and also find out why it is way better.

The other thing he had his eye on was a high build epoxy paint from Sherwin Williams.  It came with a price tag five times that of the West Marine paint, but was two parts at a gallon a piece, should be stronger and longer lasting, plus it’s likely there will be enough left to cover the anchor locker as well.  We hemmed and hawed for a bit about the pros and negatives as well as the cost, but knowing Matt, and knowing that he truly wanted the better paint but just felt bad about spending the extra money, I made the decision for him and got myself ready to go to Sherwin Williams.  Besides, I had just been completely spoiled by my parents, I think we could afford to swing an extra few bucks on something necessary.

Getting my butt all the way to the Walmart area where Sherwin Williams sits, about three miles from the marina, I may have quickly popped into McDonald’s for an iced coffee, a usually unnecessary expenditure, before going to Walmart to grab a few items as well.  No surprise that I had come back to an empty fridge and we had no real food to eat.  Then jumping across the street I walked into the paint shop and pretended I knew what I was doing, by throwing down an envelope with some scribbles written on it to the guy behind the counter.  Along with it I tossed down the bilge cover since we wanted to do a paint match and hopefully patch that little area that Matt nicked while sanding.  It took awhile for them to be able to match the color, I think our cover was a little too dirty to get a clear reading, but soon the can was shaking away in it’s mixer.

Going to pay the tab, I don’t know if the guy thought we were with an organization and gave a contractor discount, or there was a sale going on that we didn’t know about, but the price came out $30 cheaper than we were originally planning.  That could buy me a lot of iced coffees….  After I paid the bill the guy asked if he could help bring the cans out to my car and I had to sheepishly admit that I had ridden my bike there and the cans would be going home with me in my backpack.  Wrapping them up in extra plastic to make sure they didn’t spill, we eventually got them stuffed in and I was able to put on the backpack without toppling over.  Now back to fiberglassing, and tomorrow, paint!

Georgie supervising while we work.

anchor 1

Built Rocna Tough

Friday February 1, 2013

It’s official, we have our first sponsor!  The very kind people at Rocna Anchors have collaborated to work with us after we lost our original Rocna during our grounding in the St. Augustine Inlet.  It was a big blow to us to lose our trusty Rocna, and before we hauled out and found out what the damage was, at the time, it was to us the worst part of the whole incident.  After we got back that night after some much needed dinner and drinks with our friends on Hideaway, I kid you not, Rocna Anchors were the first people we contacted.  Not family, not friends, but a thank you note to Rocna for saving our boat from certain demise.

Let me explain a little.  When you live on a boat and you’re anchored out all of the time, you anchor is a HUGE part of keeping you and your boat safe.  When we left, we went big with our anchor.  It was 55 lbs of peace of mind attached to our bow.  The one we purchased was rated for a boat ten feet larger than ours, but in the case of our anchor, we really wanted to oversize.  When the size and brand of your anchor can determine whether or not you might drag through an anchorage in bad conditions and crash into shore, or worse, other boats, you want to go with the one that’s going to give you the least chance of that happening.

We had heard great things about Rocna from other sailors, and while getting all the last necessary bits to start cruising, it was enough to make us switch over from our Manson Supreme this spring.  And I have to tell you, we could not be happier with it.  I’m not kidding when I say this, it sets on the first try every time.  There have been so many times where we’ve been sitting at anchor when another boat comes in and they go through a routine of dropping and upping their anchor multiple times because they just can’t seem to get their anchor to set.  Not only do I feel bad for their extra hassle, but I worry that they may not stay set and might go bump with us in the night.  We on the other hand, drop, back-down, and relax.  It has never failed us once.  During Hurricane Sandy we were relying solely on our Rocna to keep us safe while settled up a creek, and any worrying was for naught.   We never even straightened out our chain.  It has been magnificent, and certainly the most trusted part on our boat.

The biggest test for our Rocna so far though, was when we had our grounding mentioned above in the St. Augustine Inlet.   Our prop was fouled leaving us dead in the water with no engine power, and the wind was right on our nose giving us no way to sail out.  Although we were eventually rescued by US Tow Boat and a local Search and Rescue team, they were nowhere in sight while we were quickly drifting back towards shore.  With his quick thinking, Matt dropped our anchor to keep us from drifting any further back than we already had.  And guess what?  It set right away.  No positioning, no backing down, just solid and secure.*  If our anchor had not held right away like it did, there is no question that Serendipity would have rolled over in the breaking waves of the shore and our boat would have been a true shipwreck, completely totaled out.

So do we love our anchor?  Yes.  Do we love it even more knowing that it’s a Rocna and built Rock Solid?  You bet.  Would we trust our boat and our lives to it?  Already have.   And it has passed with flying colors.

To check out our testimonial on Rocna’s website, including pieces of the letter we sent to them thanking them for saving our boat, check it out here.  And if you’re at all interested in buying a Rocna, please do.  We’ll feel much better if you’re ever anchored next to us.

*Not that I’m suggesting you shouldn’t always anchor properly.  I’m just stating that in this emergency, it did what it was made to do without any help from us.