storms in south Florida

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 (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 because we always take a tour guide from before we head out to any destinations.  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

Johannes, Jessica and Matt

We’re Like Catnip for Germans

If I look back to most of the young cruisers that have stopped into Indiantown with their boats, and inevitably ended up hanging out with us (since we’re the kids here), just about all of them seem to have one thing in common.  They’re German.  Starting with the Sailing Conductors, and then moving on to Mark and Hanna (an American and a German), and then Meike and Sebastian, it never seems to fail that if we make new friends, they all hail from this same country.  There just must be something about us.  It’s like we attract them here.

The next flood of Germans to hit up Indiantown happened to be from a couple we’d met once already, but were only able to spend a few hours with as they were here by car.  We talked them into another visit with us as they brought their boat from the Gulf side of Florida over to Palm Beach to prepare for an Atlantic crossing.  So, our now very good friends Johannes and Cati were back in Indiantown, with prepared to stay a few nights with  Maverick Too, and we were ready for an all nighter with us of drinking and talking, which was sure to end the next morning in terrible hangovers for anyone who listens to my persuasion of ‘Just have one more beer’.

A comment less surprising to come out of my mouth when I’ve just stocked up on a summer variety pack and my greeting once we met up began with, “Here, taste this Banana Spice beer”. Which really was how our first night started when we wandered over to Maverick Too in the water to check her out and inspect the Kiwi Grip non skid surface which is also scheduled to make an appearance on our boat soon. It was while we were sitting in the intense heat of the setting sun that I couldn’t wait any longer, and started forcing cold drinks on everyone. It wasn’t until the bugs started coming out around dusk that we eventually moved ourselves to the screened in area of the patio where I grossly underestimated how many burgers it would take to feed this group after we were all 2-3 beers in (16 oz cans no less). Cati and Jessica Johannes and Jessica

Matt, Johannes and Cati

The next morning Johannes and I joked over Facebook that we really should have paced ourselves with last night’s beer since they’d be in for more than one night.  That nights plan…pizza from Little Ceasar’s and a max of about two drinks each.

Earlier in the day though they did come by Daze Off for a visit and to also see how much we had not accomplished in the two months since they had been here last.  We did get a few oooo’s and ahhh’s over the deck, but basically everything else looked the same.  I had managed to get a few coats of paint to the inside of the head, which I was hoping for a dramatic contrast to the varnished wood inside, but because the painting isn’t finished all of the wood is covered in old newspapers to protect it and the effect was a little lost. Jessica and Matt on Daze Off Our pizza and limited beer night was just as promised, and it was then and there I learned what a slow eater I am.  For years Matt has always been able to eat two of whatever to my one, but when not only Johannes, but Cati, were able to keep up with Matt’s pace as I finished my first slice about ten minutes in, it was confirmed that I may be one of the slowest eaters on earth.

Now you’d think that with two nights in a row of hanging out with each other we’d want some time to ourselves, right? Nope!  Johannes was ready to play chef and invited us over to Maverick Too for their third night in the marina so we could have rotis, a meat and curry dish wrapped in a tortilla like bread.  Or actual tortillas if that’s all you can round up in Indiantown.  It had to be specified before dinner was made that not all in our party could handle spicy food, so they nicely agreed to make the children’s version for us. Even though the meal basically had to be made in a crockpot because they had run out of propane and couldn’t get a fill with their European adapter, the rotis were a big hit and I wasn’t even three bites in before begging for the recipe.

Dinner was followed by straight gin for Johannes and I, as Cati and I found earlier that Indiantown also does not seem to carry tonic water.  After 5 stops looking for it.  A few (neat) gin  drinks in and I was pulling Ricky, their stuffed cow, out of his comfy little hammock and giving him lots of hugs while learning his history, how his name is really short for Maverick, and how he’s probably put on more sea miles than the two of us. Johannes, Jessica and Matt

Jessica and Matt (and Ricky)

(Photos courtesy of Johannes).

After three nights our group finally did take a break from each other so we could all catch up on a full nights sleep.  It was all we needed to keep the four of us apart though, and by night five we were ready to get back together.  I made my beef stir fry down at the patio, although as it always goes, it was never as good when I make it for company as it is when I do it at home.  They were nice enough to tell me it was a great meal though, which is always appreciated, even when I know it’s not my best.

Our 12 pk of Dos XX disappeared way too fast between the four of us and it wasn’t long before I was sneaking off to buy a little more booze when Matt was looking the other way.  Basically another repeat of day 1.  We like to blame these Germans that come visit us as bad influences, but the best part is they are always more than happy to take the wrap.  All week we joked with Johannes and Cati that we were getting nothing done on Daze Off because of our nights out with them.  They just laughed and replied, “That’s fine, you needed the break”.  Which is actually very true.  We are long overdue for any kind of vacation and have been looking for any reason to slack off lately.

Cati with camera

Cati and Johannes

Johannes Erdman

By their last night here we were too tired to really create any kind of ruckus, but at the same time, also knew it was our last time to see each other and still wanted the company.  Making dinner extremely easy on all of us by just picking up another pizza from Little Ceasars, we gathered at the patio once more where we all slowly sipped on beers and put the television on where our bodies molded into the backs of our wicker chairs, watching a marathon of Naked and Afraid.

For three hours we watched people that actually did have it much worse than us, and suddenly, the boat projects we had all been complaining about earlier didn’t seem so bad.  I’m sure we wished we could have gone out of more of a bang, especially since Johannes and Cati are leaving soon to take their boat back to Germany, and for most people this would be a forever kind of good-bye.  We promised ourselves it would not be, though.  As it happens, these two will be taking ownership of a charter boat in the Bahamas this fall, just around the same time we’ll (hopefully) be cruising again.  So as we walked over to Maverick Too the next morning to give a farewell from Indiantown, at least we were able to say “Until we see you again”, and know that it will be a good possibility.

group shot

 (Photo courtesy of Johannes)

Cati, Johannes, Jessica & Matt

Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

It’s time for random happenings in the boat yard!  Times where there isn’t quite enough on a single subject to fill a full post, but things which are important enough where I don’t want to leave you in the dark completely.  They also come in handy when I forget to take pictures of something that could have been a full post, something I’m sadly becoming very good at.  Kind of funny for a person who used to get scolded for never putting their camera down and just experiencing life instead.

So, here’s a few things that have happened over the past few weeks which you might enjoy a sneak peak at:

  • Work continues, slowly, in the head.

As I get back to my task of painting the cabin top outside, Matt has once more taken to the head.  Normally I wouldn’t trade places in there for anything (remember my sanding woes of a few months ago?), but Matt is the lucky one that gets to do some amazing things in there.  After having put together pieces of sap covered cherry hardwood and plywood to make the cover for our composting toilet and also our cabinet door, he has now made the counter the sink will sit on.

For this we used 1/4″ thick by 2.5″ wide pieces of cherry hardwood that also had sap marks on them, and glued them on top of a 1/2″ piece of marine plywood.  It’s actually come together so nicely that I’m sad 2/3rds of it will be covered by the sink.  When that was done he began trim on all the pieces he’s made in there, routing rounded edges to take the place of the sharp 90 degree angles.  Having received our new toilet seat and lid in the mail, he was also able to cut the hole in the cherry lid, and also the square that will allow us to open a portion of the cherry seat to empty the…contents…of our composting toilet.

(I now realize I should have been using manual focus on these shots since the auto focus wanted to concentrate on the wall instead of the inside) cherry counter top in head cherry cover for composting toilet cherry cover of composting toilet

  • I am already in love with our new maple counter tops.

Yes, this has been one of the projects that both of us have been the most excited to start for months now.  For much too long we’ve been staring and the beautiful, pristine, and unblemished boards of maple hardwood sitting in our storage unit.  This wood will also eventually become our floors, but since that is the absolute last project we are going to complete on this boat, doing the counters in the galley will give us a small taste of what it will look like.

There is a slight difference between the sink counter top and the floors though.  On the floors we will be gluing 1/4″ thick pieces of maple hardwood to 1/2″ plywood, but in the galley we skipped the plywood and decided to go with 3/4″ pieces of hardwood maple.  Come to think of it, the lid of the fridge and freezer are also 1/4″ maple glued onto the plywood lid we’d already made.  Either way, we know that these two spots will be much easier than the floors, and that is because they are square.

For the sink counter we measured the general area and took into account the hole for the sink.  Going just a little large on that area, we glued all those pieces together, and once they had a few days to sit and harden, Matt attached the sink and used a router bit to properly trim the wood around the sink.  The lid to the fridge and freezer gave us just a little more trouble since we glued the full length of both of them together with the maple, and later went back to cut the line between the fridge and freezer so each can be opened on their own.

The line for the freezer side was perfect, but we forgot to take into the consideration the width of the blade and it cut deeper than we would have liked into the foam lid of the fridge.  Nothing a few more days and epoxy filler plus a few more layers of sheet fiberglass couldn’t fix, but it would have been better if we didn’t have to go back and fix any mistakes at all.  Now we just need to add some trim and a fiddle and that area will be all set!

gluing together maple counter top

  • maple counter tops installed
  •  New friends came to see us in the boat yard!

After nearly a year of corresponding back and forth through emails and Facebook messages, we were finally able to meet up with fellow young cruisiers, Johannes and Cati.  The funny thing about our getting to know each other is that although Johannes had been following our blog for a few years, he didn’t reach out to say hi until we arrived in Indiantown and just started refitting Daze Off.  As it turned out, we had mutual friends in the Sailing Conductors, who knew Johannes from being interviewed by him in Germany for Yacht Magazine, and them being our new neighbors and best friends in the work yard.

Ok, so maybe location was more of a coincidence in timing of them contacting us when they did, as him and Cati were passing through Florida and were situated in Palm Beach for a few days, extremely close in cruisers terms. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at the time, and we even missed out on each other once more this winter when they flew through Florida again on their way to the Bahamas, but the third time was the charm.

With their boat in Miami for a few days and a rental car at their disposal, they made the drive all the way up to Indiantown just to see us for dinner!  Showing up with a variety of German beers for us and cat treats for Georgie, it was nice to finally meet face to face after having become friends online. We quickly took over a table on the patio after giving them the grand tour of our boat, although we knew it wouldn’t be a late night (this time) because they still had to drive back to Miami.

We never had a lack of things to talk about as we compared boat projects, passages, and generally all got to know each other better. Some of our discussion was even able to revolve around the Vineyard Vines photo shoot we had all just participated in. When the producer had come to me in need of a solo sailor I was able to recommend Johannes as once upon a time he crossed the Atlantic alone in his old boat.  He’s since moved up to a bigger one as well as a beautiful companion, and we were able to laugh and swap stories of how each other’s shoot went…including the run in of his boat with the chase boat while sailing/shooting out on the Atlantic!

This was another occasion where I only brought my camera out for a total of about three photos, otherwise I probably could have written an entire post on our fun night.  The good news is that they’ll be passing through here soon enough on their boat as they cross through the Okechobee Waterway before getting back to the Atlantic and setting off for Germany in May.

Cati, Johannes, Jessica & Matt

German beers

  • My computer is trying to silence me.

For the past few months I’ve been having issues with my computer that I’ve been ignoring too long.  Mostly it consists of my screen shaking on me, and sometimes momentarily freezing.  Whatever is doing it, it has now gotten so bad that I literally can’t get on my computer do any kind of work (or even pleasure surfing) for fear of seizures or at least a terrible headache.

If you’ve noticed…it’s been about a week since I’ve gotten my last post up.  If you’ve sent me an email in the past 2 months, there’s a 40% chance I’ve not replied yet.  Getting on my computer to do anything has been a complete frustration lately and I’ve basically been ignoring it except when absolutely necessary.  I should say, some days are better than others, and although I should be spending my time looking in on how to fix this problem instead of sticking my head in the sand about it…I take whatever moments of visual stability I can get on it to do all the work that one would need to do on their computer.

We do have a few other devices I could use…but my computer is the only one with the photo editing abilities I like, and also the only device we own with an actual keyboard.  I may be old fashioned, but I don’t like to type posts or write emails with a touch screen.  I spend more time fixing mistakes than getting any actual work done.

There is good news though!  I posted a short video of my problem on our Facebook page, and a number of you poured in with recommendations of what might fix it.  Although I’ve tried just about every personal way to fix it that I can, it sounds like it may have to go in for service due to a lose wire or connection.  Or…I may just end up having to get a new one altogether.  Which may not be the worst case, because I don’t want to leave the country this fall with a computer that I’ve been limping around on.  I can already tell you from personal experience that buying new electronics in the Caribbean is not usually an easy (or cheap) task.  So this may have been the push I needed to get it done.

Since both Matt and I are so stubborn about letting go of money where we don’t need to though…I’ll probably keep limping along until we make t to Arizona to visit my parents in a few weeks.  At least there we’ll not only have a lot of free time on our hands to visit techie stores or service desks, but we won’t have to drive 30 miles each shot to do it.  So until then…just be patient on the lack of posts and updates on my end….I should be back to a more regular schedule soon.

shaking computer screen

Jessica opening champagne

A Visit From the Skelton Crew, and the Champagne that Went Bad

Jessica opening champagne

It’s not every day, I would assume, that you meet someone whose interests can be so aligned with your own.  Throw in the fact that this person found you via, the internet,  happens to be the same age as you, shares the same exact random thoughts as you, and even live within 30 miles of you to boot, is nothing short of astounding.  Yet this is how I met one of my best friends Jackie just over three years ago.

She happened to be a Lake Michigan sailor, just like me, who had plans to leave her life behind to cruise the Caribbean with her husband who has some obsessive compulsive tendencies, just like Matt.  From the very first time we met in person, participating in a Wednesday night race on Muskegon Lake, we instantly connected to the point we could finish each other’s sentences. Ever since that night we’ve had dreams of cruising the Caribbean together in our boats. Afternoons snorkeling, evening sundowners and dinners together, and night time bonfires. Fate appears to have something against our plans though, and for some reason keeps trying to squash our dream to sail together.

From the time Jackie and Ron were scheduled to come spend a week on our boat in the Bahamas, and we were delayed in Florida and stuck on the hard due to an accident; to our plans taking us to Europe when they were ready to begin their cruising, it was starting to look as if we’d never get our time together on the water.  Although this was disheartening, I had begun to think fate may have changed it’s mind when we purchased Daze Off, and had hoped to have her cruise ready just in time to intercept them at the end of the ICW.  That obviously has not happened.  As it turns out though, we will not be cruising with them for other reasons.

When Jackie and Ron left Muskegon Lake on the 4th of July, I began monitoring their progress south toward us, stood by to give advice when asked (and sometimes when not), and also lent a sympathetic ear when some of the not so glamorous realities of this lifestyle set in.  Admittedly I sometimes became a bit distracted with work on my own boat, but I always made sure to go back and read their blog posts to see what kind of adventures they were getting themselves into, and trying to catch them to chat on the occasions they had internet.

As their arrival date to south Florida approached I had the mixed feelings of being incredibly excited to see them, and also incredibly sad that we were not in cruise ready condition. For so long I had wanted nothing more than to throw off our lines and join them on a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas.  As it turned out, this second part did not matter.  For as much as I wanted the four of us to be official boat buddies, the universe did not have it in store for us.

Since it has now been announced on their own blog and I am not putting out any spoiler alerts, is they have realized the cruising lifestyle is not for them.  An unforgettable experience, that’s for sure, but after many discussions on their part they realized that their joy lies in the purpose the daily routine that work brings, with the benefit of weekend pleasure cruising.  I can remember the slog that is putting on miles just to get south, sitting behind a wheel for hours on end with no real enjoyment, only making sure you didn’t stray off the magenta line, and I can’t say I blame them.  That part of cruising was not enjoyable for us either.  Matt was missing work, just like them, but luckily for both of us I was so determined not to go back to work that I made him stay the course until he fell into the routine of having no daily plan.

I kind of want to cry about the fact that we’re losing our first boat buddies, but I can’t.  This is what is right for them, and if anything, at least the world brought us together through cruising.  They’ll be lifelong friends that we’ll always cherish, and just because we may not be sharing the same anchorage does not mean we won’t stay in contact.

So when Hullabaloo pulled into Indiantown Marina where she’d be hauled the following day to be put into storage until she’ll be shipped north in the spring, it was still a reunion for the books. Full of hugs that went on for ages and diving right into a case of beer as we caught up with each other.  Taking up residence at one of the tables at the patio, we sat and talked for so long that it wasn’t until I realized my stomach’s growls were taking over the conversation and Matt and I had never had lunch.  Except it was almost time for dinner already!  Taking a short break, we agreed to shower, I was going to shove a few slices of peanut butter bread in my mouth, and we would reconvene for dinner an hour later on Hulabaloo.

As a special treat for this occasion, I had been saving a bottle of champagne for the past few months for their arrival.  A bottle I had swiped off the Free Table at the marina, but that is neither here nor there.  Although I should have realized that one should be very weary of free champagne.  As Ron stood on deck taking down sails, and Matt chatted away with him about boat projects, Jackie and I went on the offense in the cockpit trying to get this bottle of champagne open.  That plastic top was in there damn good.  Passing it back and forth to one another and breaking out towels and rags, we finally passed it on to one of the guys to loosen, and handed back to Jackie for the honor of popping it open.

Pouring it into one of the 8 gazillion Tervis tumblers that sit on their boat, we noticed right away that something seemed odd about this particular bottle.  It’s contents were along an amber line of coloring.  Not to be deterred from free champagne though, I tilted my glass back to drink up.  And in doing so, learned there was probably a reason of why it was on the free table.  It tasted like a bad batch of fermented apple juice.  Both Matt and Ron dumped their glasses overboard after we did the initial toast, (Cheers!, I got you rotten champagne! So glad you’re here!’), and Jackie was polite enough to finish what was in her glass before passing the remainder of the bottle to me.

champagne that went bad

Jackie opening champagne

Jessica opening champagne

Jessica & Jackie

I asked Ron to take a photo of Jackie and I.  This is what I got.


It was determined that this gift was not a success, but also that none of us had enough beer to get us through the rest of the night.  So while Jackie got to work starting on the meat for a taco dinner, Ron and I made the run up to the local IGA to pick up a couple cold cases of beer.

Through the next few hours we went through nearly both cases of beer, and even Matt was getting into throwing a few back.  Ron brought out his guitar, and even though I had been promising for the past few years that I’d be ready to play with him when we got to Florida, all I could conger up was the ability to sing along to a few tunes.

I sampled a few of the alcohols they picked up at the St. Augustine Distillery, and Jackie forced around a bottle of cherry soaked rum.  Like that would have been hard to turn down anyway.  We only had one night together, and we were going to do it up right.  It may not have been what we’d all originally imagined a year ago, or even six months ago, when I’m sure all four of us thought we’d be on our way to the Bahamas together.  It doesn’t mean that can never happen though.  By this time next year we might actually have a boat in the water and ready for company.  And I can think of no one else we’d rather save our quarter berth for as our first guests.

Jackie cooking dinner

Ron on computer

Ron playing guitar

taking paint off aluminum hull

Going Bare: Stripping the Paint Off our Aluminum Hull

scraping paint from aluminum

Awhile back when we were de-naming our boat by trying different methods to remove paint and see if it was what we wanted for the final product, there was a debate on if we did in fact want to go down to bare metal or just remove the top layer and repaint with a fresh white coat.  And if we did decide to remove all the way down, what would be the best way to do it?

One of the first things we tried was to try an 80 grit flap disc to see how much of the paint it would remove, and how quickly.  We already had all the tools necessary for this, so we didn’t lose much by spending one hour one afternoon to see what it could do.  The second option of removing the paint would be with a strong chemical stripper, and that we would have to go out and purchase.  If you haven’t met us, we don’t like to spend money on things that aren’t necessary.  But since we were 90% sure that a bare hull was the route we wanted to go, it was worth it to buy a quart of the stuff just to test it out.

Working a small patch by the bow on the port side, we found out the instructions were completely inaccurate when it said that paint would be ready to come off in 5-10 minutes.  After believing this is how it was supposed to work and ready to give up on that as an option after 3 tries, we waited a few months until temperatures had cooled down just a little and left it on for 20 minutes to see what it would do.  Turns out that was the trick and using the chemical stripper became a very viable option.

Having done only one small strip though, we still didn’t know if we would like the entire boat bare.  I think I was initially more for it than Matt, although his big worry was that we would take all the paint off only to find out that a previous owner had put it there for a reason.  As in, there were many uneven spots that had to be fared and covered so they wouldn’t be noticeable.  Stripping off just a little more, and just a little more, we eventually got to a point where it would be too much work to replace it with a chrome primer, barrier coat, and paint would have been too much work.  A decision had to be made.  In the end we decided to take our chances with the bare metal as we kind of liked how it was looking, plus once it’s finished we’ll have the added bonus of forgetting all about it.  No worries about scratching the paint in our future.

Our test coats of paint removal were done with Klean-Strip Aircraft Paint Remover, but once we knew this was the route we wanted to take, Matt did a little searching online and found a good deal on gallons of Rust-oleum Aircraft Remover and we switched over to that. From that point on it became a goal to get as much of the paint off as soon as possible.  We had originally discussed it as a task to be done when we were stuck between other projects, or only an hour or two a day so we didn’t wear ourselves out.  Turns out though, our drive to complete just one project was far greater than the need to spread it out, and we were able to do the whole boat in under two weeks. (The two sides split up with the visit from my parents.)

paint on aluminum boat

chemical stripper to remove paint

paint coming off hull

Through a little bit of practice, we found a method that worked very well for us.  Overall it took 2-3 rounds of applying the remover before we were down to bare metal.  First I would go through with a chip brush and a metal pan filled with the remover, since it was one of the few items the chemicals wouldn’t eat through.  Wearing a full face mask, gloves and long sleeves, I’d go through and paint on a very thick coat to a section about five feet long, and all the way top to bottom.  Sometimes an unfortunate drop would come in contact with an exposed area of my skin that happened to sneak out of it’s clothing, but the good thing with this is that water neutralizes the chemical, and with a few seconds under the hose I’d be good as new again.

Waiting for 20 minutes to let the stripper set in, you could actually begin to see the paint bubble and flake in some areas as the chemicals did their job.  With a 2″ paint scraper, Matt would then go through to take off the first round of paint.  I can’t remember what the names of the existing coats were, but there was a white top coat, a yellow barrier coat I’m guessing, and a peach primer.  In some areas he would get all the way down to bare metal, and sometimes he’d only get down to the barrier coat.  I really liked the times he was able to get down to the primer.  That is because as soon as he finished his first round of scraping, I’d be right behind him applying another coat.

The second coat didn’t need as much time to set in, sometimes only 5 minutes we we had removed almost everything already, or maybe 10 minutes where he’d just been able to get the surface coat off. Â I really liked it when we were down to just yellow, because it was my muscle that went through and did the second round of scraping. Luckily I have a husband with some pretty good pipes and a lot of determination, so by the time it got to me there wasn’t a lot of work left. Â At least, nothing that my arms couldn’t handle. I easily scrapped off the yellow coat, and usually the peach coat as well. If things were extremely stuck on there though, we’d just brush on a third coat of paint remover. If you’re planning on painting your boat and need a thickening agent, I would recommend you learn more about cabosil.

taking paint off aluminum hull

taking paint off aluminum hull

chemical paint stripper

It was quite an accomplishment when all the paint was off, but as you can see from the photos, the scrape marks from the paint were still very visible as there were just the smallest amounts left. Before we’re completely finished with the hull there will still be a few steps left, but right away we wanted to get an initial sanding done.  Just like we’d tried before on the stern, Matt went though the hull with 100 grit flip discs this time to take off any remaining paint and give the slightest shine to it at the moment.  Before we can call ourselves good on this project though, he’ll have to go through again with a 150 and then 220 grit, and finally an acid wash to brighten the hull and overall even the tone.

While he was getting quite the workout on this project, I had the not so muscle straining, although very much detailed project of removing paint from the toe rails.  All the little areas where I have to get in there with chisels and small scrappers. It hasn’t been as much of a pain in the butt project as I thought it would be though.  4 partial days of work on it and I was able to get enough paint off for Matt to come in with a grinder and give them a good shine.

With the headache we thought the task of removing the paint would be, the whole process turned out to be much easier, cheaper, and even quicker than we thought.  2 gallons and 2 quarts later and we have a bare metal boat.  Now we’re very happy the marina doesn’t allow soda blasting and we didn’t put a lot of money toward that when it turns out it wasn’t necessary.  An actual win for us on a project!

taking paint off toe rail

removing paint from toe rail

temperature control

Building our Refrigerator Box: Stage 3

Oh yes, the never ending project of building our refrigerator box.  The very good new is, other than adding a seal around the lip and the decorative trim parts to make it pretty, this project is now done.  Or if you had read from a few posts ago, done enough to store cold food meaning we can now eat on the boat and don’t have to go down to the kitchen any more for our meals. A major plus in my book because after 5 months of that, it was beginning to get a little tiring.

When we last left off on Stage 2 of building, we had glued all of the pieces of sheet insulation together and had also glued together a few sheets of foam for the lid, cutting a hole in it for the opening.  It’s been so long since I’ve posted on it that I forgot we had also drilled the holes between the fridge and the freezer, allowing the evaporator to work inside of our freezer producing the cold temperatures, and blowing that air into the fridge portion as necessary.  Although since I forgot that I’d already gone over it and I sometimes upload my photos first….you get to see it again.  You’re welcome.  You also get a shot of when we had first started piecing together the sink and drawers to see how it would all fit together before permanently mounting it all.  Ta daa!! Doesn’t it look pretty…ish?

cooling holes in fridge

venting holes in fridge

setup of kitchen

Ok, on to the real work though.  Our next stage in getting the fridge ready for use was to coat the exposed pieces of sheet foam with a filler, that would not only seal them shut from moisture getting in, but also help conform the space to the lid we just made. Mixing Q cells into expoxy, we spread the thick goop over the lip of the insulation we had already cut down.  Placing a plastic garbage bag over the lid itself so it does not permanently adhere to the epoxy, we set it in it’s place to form a mold with the filler.  Pressing down on the lid forces all the excess out which we scrape off and allow the rest to dry. Then sanding down the remainder once it has dried, we give it a smooth surface, see how well the lid fits into place at that point, and then do it again if we are still finding gaps.  Needing 24 hours to dry and sand each time, this is a very lengthy process.

Overall, I believe this process was completed about 4 times.  Independent of the lid, we also had to do this process to all of the cracks inside the fridge to properly seal them up and blend them together.  Possibly only a 3 day project, damn drying time, we tried to turn these into smooth and seamless transitions between the multiple pieces of fiberglass we’d installed inside.  The palm sander was my best friend for some of the larger areas, but can you imagine having to do that in the small space of the freezer?  Not the most fun I’ve had in the world.  I begged Matt to let us go with a few bumpy surfaces in there, because who’s going to see into the dark corners of our freezer?  Alas, no.  There are no cutting corners on this boat.  I’m sure I’ll be happy about that someday.

adding filler to foam insulation

forming closure to lid

The next steps were quite easy and also had me excited because I knew we were nearing the end of this tedious and time consuming project.  Painting was the first one.  Just like everything else it was a project that needed a few days to complete as we could only do one coat a day, and we used two coats of primer and two coats of paint.

Another easy finishing touch was to cut the plywood to sit on the top and connect to the lids of the fridge and freezer.  Working the same way we do to make the walls for our boat, we took a few small and thin pieces of wood to make a template that fit over the surface perfectly.  Originally we tried just straight measurements, but because the back is at an angle, we didn’t want to take the chance that it woudln’t properly fit.  All straight lines though, making the template was incredibly easy and 20 minutes later we had the top cut out. Eventually there will be pretty maple wood covering this ply, but that’s still weeks or months away.

painting inside of fridge

plywood cover for fridge

Now that we had a completed box capable of holding food, we needed to get it working so that we could get and keep that food cold.  We’ve had friends that have made ice boxes only to get to the Caribbean and either not be able to find ice, or only to find it at an incredible markup, so we knew we wanted a compressor running to keep our food cold, just like we did on Serendipity.  Definitely the most expensive part of the project, we purchased a brand new one from Vitrifrigo.  Mounting it underneath the bottom drawer in the galley, we specifically left a little extra space from the floor up just to fit it.  From here it’s tucked out of the way, but still easily accessible and not too far away from the freezer where the evaporator is held, meaning it wasn’t a pain trying to extend the wires and cords.

To make things easier for us to know how things are running in our new fridge, Matt purchased two digital temperature controllers.  Currently sitting under the sink, these items will probably be moved to the inside of a cabinet once we finish the galley, we now have an incredibly easy way to read precisely what the temperatures inside the fridge and freezer are.  Back on Serendipity we had a little mercury thermometer that always got lost in the bottom (since we only had the one that we kept switching back and forth between the fridge and freezer), but now we’ll be able to tell what’s going on inside just by sliding open a cabinet. They also give us the option to control the temperatures inside exactly as we’d like them.  Pretty cool nerd factor for only $16 each.

And there you have it.  The story and all the steps of how we built our own fridge.  I know I spent the last post complaining about what a pain in the butt the whole process has been, but now that it’s done usable, I think I can honestly say that it has been worth it.  The space inside is incredibly large, and we were able to build everything in to fit the galley just the way we’d like.  It gives me great counter space when I’m not trying to get inside, and the separate lids for the fridge and freezer even mean that all I need to do is simply side things from one side of the counter or the other to get in whichever side I need.  If there has been one downside so far, it’s that we forgot to add a shelf for condiments, eggs, and other such things.  Ooops.  That was one of my favorite features of the fridge on Serendipity.  No worries though.  Once the crowds leave the marina and we don’t mind storing our food down at the main kitchen again for a few days, it should be a simple enough add.

fridge compressor

temperature gauge

Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off

Our First Meal on Daze Off

Monday November 9, 2015

first beer on Daze Off

One of the first of many momentous occasions has happened on the new boat.  We’re now able to cook on her and have made our first meal!  Just in time too because eating down at the kitchen in the marina was beginning to become unbearable.  Ever since we arrived back to Indiantown after our mini vacay to Stuart, the marina has been chalk full of cruisers coming back to move their boats from storage You might be able to call me whiny or petty for having to put up with this, but it’s more than just the fact that I have to now share ‘my kitchen’ with other people.

Yes, it was kind of nice throughout the summer when we walked down to the patio area and were the only ones there.  Sitting down at a table in the screened in porch area we’d put the tv on to whatever channel we felt like watching (usually syndicated shows on FOX), and we pour a cold pop or beer and I’d run back and forth between the kitchen to the patio as I prepared my meal, with no cause to worry if I would be able to use the communal cutting board or measuring cups because I was the only one there to use them.

Then…people came. By this time another tv had been installed in the actual kitchen area, which also houses two little cafe tables, so we usually found ourselves in there since the later tables on the patio were for larger groups of cruisers that liked socializing at meal time.  Me…not so much at the moment.  There’s my work time during the day and then my me time at night, and with some stressful workdays lately, I’m kind of craving my me time.

Eating there still wasn’t a nuisance for awhile until little things began to eat at me and build up until the point I could no longer take.  Things (mostly) that were by no means anyone else’s fault, but only me being selfish that I couldn’t always have my way anymore.  I had to begin sharing.  Sharing the grill, which for some reason, one certain guy liked to keep at 600 degrees every night to cook his baked potato.  This resulted in multiple burned meals for me and one time even a burned hand. Now I also had to begin sharing all the meal prepping utensils I was used to having to myself, along with the counter space to prepare my meals. There were also other things, like having to wait in line to wash my dishes. I could no longer take up the sink for myself while Matt was showering and then retreat back to the boat as soon as we’d finished, but instead I’d now have to wait for six other groups of people to wash theirs first.  Again, just me being selfish…but I wasn’t loving this new routine.

One night last week we walked in to the kitchen around 6:00 pm to find that every table was full and all the counter space was being used by other people to prep their meals.  This was after an incredibly long and horrific day of sanding colliodal silica on the boat and I was not in the mood for any more hardships of any kind.  I swiftly turned around and drove right to the Subway up the road where I thankfully had a few gift cards and let the friendly crew there prepare our dinner where we enjoyed it back on the boat in peace.

The final straw came a few days later, after another torturous day of sanding which is quickly driving me to insanity, when I was at least excited about the fact that I didn’t have to prepare dinner that night because the leftover pizza I had made the previous night was sitting in the fridge.  All I had to do was heat it up. We made sure to head down to the kitchen after 7 when the other cruisers were heading back to their boats and maybe getting ready for bed, when I opened the fridge to find my pizza missing.  Someone had stolen it.  My homemade pizza.  It wasn’t even in a tempting delivery box, just a wrapped up cookie sheet. I wanted to loose it.  I wanted to cry and throw a tantrum, but instead I pouted in silence as I ate a bagel and watched The Big Bang Theory. I needed out.  I couldn’t force myself to do this dementia building boat work during the day and still deal with stupid s%*t in my off time.

I think Matt was getting a little tired of it as well, not quite as much as me though, and agreed that the sooner we could begin cooking and eating meals on our own boat the better off we would be.  There was a chance I might burn the marinas kitchen down soon if we didn’t.  So making the galley our biggest priority the past few weeks, we’ve finished up our new fridge enough to get it working (but there will still be some more small details to finish) and finding the right hose to connect our stove to the propane tanks out in our cockpit.  And people, that day has finally come.  A few days ago we tested out the fridge to find that it does work (yay!!) and enjoyed our first cold beers produced from it.  Once we knew it was keeping cold temperatures in we’ve stocked it full of goodies and had our first opportunity to cook a meal on board.  Beef stir fry.

This has become one of our favorite meals ever since I perfected the art of frying the veggies when we were back in Madeira, and I’ve even worked out making my own stir fry sauce that isn’t too bad if I say so myself.  Because there are so many preparatory steps and it’s best if you’re working with more than one burner, it’s not something we ever tried on the grill down at the patio.  But our first meal on the new boat?  I couldn’t think of anything better. And let me tell you; enjoying this meal that I cooked in my own space, even though it’s about 5x smaller than the kitchen, and then eating it without having to suffer through a football game on tv and then wait in line to do my dishes, has been nothing short of heaven. I may have even just gotten a little slice of my sanity back.


unfinished galley

using stove for the first time

cooking first meal

Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off

beef stir fry

veggies for stir fry

first meal cooked on Daze Off

Cairo, calico cat

Update on the Stray Cats of Indiantown Marina

Wednesday October 28, 2015

Cairo, calico cat

In case you’ve been curious about what has become of the stray cats of the marina that we’ve kind of been looking after…well, they’re still here!  And we’re still looking after them.

We’ve actually developed a bit of a routine with these three cats lately and it always starts with them waiting at the bottom of our stairs for us every morning.  I run to the van and unlock their container of food, where they follow me right to the door and wind between my ankles as Georgie watches curiously on her leash a few feet away.  Even shy and timid Bandit will come right up to me when it’s time for food, but still goes running five feet away when I reach out my hand to see if she’ll sniff it.  Then us three (me, Matt & Georgie) head off to breakfast at the patio while the cats eat theirs under the boat, and they’re always gone by the time we return 30 minutes later.

Into the late morning and early afternoon they’re still off hiding wherever they go to get their privacy.  Maybe they’re cat napping after getting up at sunrise and waiting for us to come down and feed them, but they should know our schedule now and be well aware of the fact that we like to sleep in.  No rising before 8:30 am. Just after lunch we might see a little movement from them, but not all the time.  It’s strange though because either we see absolutely no sign or they’re boarding our boat and looking for new places to settle in.  I get extremely giddy about this, but Matt thinks they’re becoming just a little too comfortable. I suppose I shouldn’t let myself get too attached since I know they’ll be out of our lives in about 6 months.

In the late afternoon just a few hours before sunset they become super active.  At least the kittens are.  Lynx kind of lays back and watches and Cairo and Bandit play around.  They love to bat at pebbles and pounce on pieces of grass.  They also wrestle with each other which is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.  Partially because Bandit makes this face while she’s trying to bite her sister, and somehow becomes even uglier than she already is.  Not in the way that it’s so ugly it’s cute like her normal face, but a This is going to haunt my dreams kind of ugly.  Poor thing.  It’s what makes me want her the most of the three.

On the subject of finding homes for these kitties, I have had a few inquires, but the prospects were unfortunately not close enough to come get them.  Anywhere from a 2 hour drive but no access to a car, to being half way around the world.  One day though, we’ll find something that works out.  The big issue now is trying to make sure no more litters of kitties come around that need adopting.

I’ve called the local humane society and found out that for $40 per cat I can get a spay, microchip and vaccinations.  Not a bad price!, really.  The only issue is catching the cats to bring them in for an appointment.  I doubt Lynx would be an issue as she is incredibly affectionate and often seeks me out each afternoon for scratching her chin and rubbing her belly.  I can’t *guarantee* that I’d be able to get her on any given day though, and the appointments are non-refundable.  Catching the other 2? Fuggedaboutit.  Bandit won’t come anywhere near me and Cairo will sometimes fall into a dead sleep nap under our boat, but that is the only time I’ve been able to touch her.  (But I did give her a belly rub the one time she did and it was fantastic!)

I did hear from the Humane Society that Animal Control sometimes goes around once a month to trap stray cats and spay them.  They’re next on my list to call, but I just keep hoping there’s no reason for them to come back and ‘take care’ of these cats later for any reason.  Like getting AC involved will somehow end up in their demise.

So that is where we are at now.  Still trying to get them spayed and still trying to find them homes.  I did just hear from someone that the office hear might have a cat trap.  So if I can learn how to set up the trap, get one of the kittens in there, and have this miraculously happen on a day I have an appointment at the Humane Society, we’ll be all set.  At least in preventing new litters.  Anyone have some tips for me?

cats in cockpit

Lynx nursing Cairo

manx cat, Bandit


Lynx and Bandit

Lynx sleeping

Guess what we just found out the other day?  The litter that Lynx had back in September that she seemed to have abandoned after 2 days so we assumed they were dead?  Well, they’re not.  4 healthy and adorable kittens are now roaming around with their big sisters.  Only one manx of the bunch, a spitting image of it’s mother.  Click on the link below to see them playing in their safe haven behind our boat.


Matt relaxing in forward salon

Video Walk Through of Daze Off – 4 Months into Restoration

Monday October 12, 2015

Matt relaxing in forward salon

Today is one of those rare occasions that the boat is as spotless as we can get it.  This is because Matt’s family is here to come sweep us away for a week of fun in Stuart, and we wanted to make sure Daze Off was impeccable for their tour.  Or, as much as a boat under construction can be.

And since our boat is finally in show off condition I thought it was as good of a time as any to do a walk through to show you the progress we’ve made since starting and also explain what we have left to do.  The other month I put up a quick video of when we first purchased the boat and she was still sitting in storage, and wow, the difference between the two is amazing.

From when we first moved on to her to begin our complete restoration, inside and out, this video is always a good reminder that progress is happening and it actually is possible that one day we will be out cruising again instead of sitting in a hot and dusty work yard.  The thought of those days are what keeps me going, but visual reminders of our progress always help too.  I love flipping back and forth between the two videos to see what we’ve been able to tear down and build back up so far.

At that time I also promised that I would begin working on more videos to show you and I do like to keep my word (most of the time). So here we are, a full walk though and explanation of our work on Daze Off, four months into our progress.  Enjoy!

Matt replacing alternator

The Little Van That Couldn’t

Friday October 2, 2015

Matt replacing alternator

Our group scene here around the marina has been pretty bland lately.  They say it should be getting busier any time now, but we’re still in that slow spot where you won’t see a new face for a week or more at a time.  While we kind of like how we mostly have the place to ourselves right now it also doesn’t help our social calendar that the only people we have to talk to are those who work at the marina and sometimes our friend Ellen when we can wrangle her off her boat.

That is why I was so incredibly excited when our friends Bo and Allison wrote stating they were coming to check on their boat in Stuart for a few days and would love to get together.  Even better…it would be on their boat.  Which is in the water with nice breezes rolling through and not a dusty work yard which we’re always reminded is 10° hotter than all of the surrounding towns. There was pizza and beer promised and even a pretty sunset over the water.  Yes, I was looking forward to this night.

Since we were going to be out and about anyway we left a few hours early to be able to fit a few errands into the day.  Things like stopping at Merritt Marine Supply for a crap ton of epoxy resin and hardener (we go through that stuff like water if you can’t tell); Harbor Freight (we also go through gloves like water); and an intended stop at Home Depot just before the marina to pick up another sheet of foam insulation for our fridge.  We were sure our trusty Kia Sedona would get us safely to all of our locations.  She’s been doing a good job of it since we picked her up for the low low price if $1,000 back in May.

So I like to blame what happened next on Matt.  Whenever we tell people about our sweet ride with dents in it’s side, no AC, and about three door handles missing (including mine from the inside) he always just laughs and says “Sure we could have gone with a slightly more expensive and more reliable van, but the great thing about this one is it was so cheap that if it ever breaks down on the side of the road we can just sign the title and leave it there. It probably wouldn’t even be worth the money to fix it.”  Well, our van felt like testing him out on that day.

As we were heading north on I-95, going from West Palm Beach to Stuart, a light that I hadn’t remembered seeing before went off on my dash.  It’s not unusual for lights to be showing there.  For some reason my Kia feels the need to remind me any time I have the auto-cruise button on.  There’s also been a check engine light on since we bought the vehicle, but the previous owner assured us to ‘Not worry, it’s not for anything big’. There had been plans to get it to an Auto Zone once upon a time to have that light diagnosed, but we’d always been to ashamed of the messy state of our van to let anyone see it.  However…the light that came on this afternoon was new.  Something red and having to do with our battery and leaving me questioning if I should pull over on the side of the expressway right then and there.

As Matt frantically leafed through our manual and I kept us going at extremely slow speeds in the right hand lane, we realized that the next exit happened to be the one we needed but it was still five miles away.  I just kept slowly plugging along until we departed the expressway for familiar grounds and I convinced Matt we should pull off into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot to further diagnose the problem.  By the time we pulled up, a dark cloud that had literally been looming over us for the past 20 minutes finally opened up and sent a torrential downpour our way. I still wasn’t too worried about the van at that point so I saw it as a perfect excuse to run inside and enjoy a pumpkin spice iced coffee while we Googled the light further on our tablet.

My fall flavored bliss was quickly cut short when we found out that the light meant there was an issue with the charging system, most likely our alternator.  This also meant that we were still 20 miles from home and with no means to charge our battery along the way.  Not only was my perfect night of pizza, beer, and sunsets thrown out the window (and run over by my crappy Kia about 30 times), but it meant that we may not even be able to make it back to the marina under our own juice and could possibly have to call a tow truck to get us the rest of the way.

Once the rain eased up we jumped back in the van (since using windshield wipers was now a luxury that I didn’t have the battery power for), and Matt gave me instructions on what to do if the engine cut out on me along the way.  How it would switch to power steering and breaks and I might have to manhandle it to the side of the road.  I looked at my little noodle arms and then back at him as if to question ‘Then why the hell did you put me behind the wheel?”, but we were already on our way and there was no stopping now.  Not if we wanted to get the van started again.  Luckily it never came down to it and we pulled in next to our boat before I had to test my upper body strength.

The next morning we went back to look at our problem, and with the help of our volt meter did realize that there was in fact no power coming in and we would need to replace the alternator.  4 days later we had a brand new one shipped to us at the marina (for only $60) and Matt was able to spend hours and hours under the hot sun, taking apart the van and putting it back together.  If he could say one thing to Kia I’m sure it would be that they suck at putting their vehicles together.  It’s like the built everything around the engine because it’s almost impossible to be able to find room to remove any screws and bolts.  Even I had a hard time getting in there with my tiny hands.

Eventually we did get the new alternator in and while we were at it, also installed the AC compressor which we’ve been carrying around since May.  Yes, air conditioning!  Just in time for fall!

Matt replacing alternator

taking apart Kia

fixing our Kia

* Also, a big thank you to Bo and Allison who decided to come to us while we were stranded and even brought pizza and beer with them!  As well as a few other essentials like milk, cat litter, and pumpkin spice coffee creamer.