torn apart galley

Mission Demolition – Galley

Saturday August 1, 2015

Matt ripping apart galley

Today we ripped apart the entire galley.  Which must mean that we’re close to beginning work on it, and that makes me very excited.  After having ‘planned’ for the v-berth and salon area only to take 4-5 weeks to complete, and here we are moving on to week 8, I need to see a noticeable sign that we actually are moving in the right direction.

The only issue I had with this is we’d just gone through the boat to make it presentable to guests since our welder will be starting any time now, and this means that all the pots and pans and tupperware containers that had been sitting all willy nilly throughout the pilot house were actually placed in cupboards and out of the way.  Don’t ask me why this took so long, I think I had issue with putting things away into these filthy spaces until I realized that we won’t be using any of them for quite some time anyway.  So my mixing bowls might get some dirt and grime on them.  That’s ok, it’s not like I’ll be pulling them out tomorrow to make a culinary delight!  Which means I had to once more find a place to put all of these things and they eventually ended up in the storage area in the pilot house that runs under the cockpit.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Once everything in the galley had been cleared out though it was time for demolition.  Not quite as fun as easy as the forward salon though since this area was a little more complex.  In fact, instead of handing me a screwdriver and letting me loose on taking things apart like had happened before, I was set to stand back and watch Matt as he began taking a crowbar to the cabinets and shelves, ripping them out with abandon.  Since none of these items of wood are going to be reused for templates, furring strips, or anything else we can think of, there was no reason to keep them all in once piece.  As soon as a piece was torn out it was handed to me where I then placed it in the cockpit for later disposal.

This first part went fairly quickly and easily although I was soon called into action to help with the removal of the fridge.  Once the counter top was pried off we still needed to get this chunk of metal out from the multiple layers of foam in which it was encased. The outermost layer was only sheet insulation, and with a few good stabs from a chisel was pretty easy to get out.  The real trouble came when we needed to remove all the sprayed in foam that was sitting between the back of the fridge and the hull.  Hardened over many years, this stuff did not want to come out.

Each taking a side, we attacked it with whatever tools we had at our disposal. Chisels, pry bars, and even a bread knife.  Which surprisingly did the best job of all. Slowly we made progress as the extra foam fell away and we were doing well until it came time to find the wires for the fridge hidden in the bottom layers of the foam.  After a long game of hide and seek between the foam and the Dremmel we did finally locate them and found out they had melted themselves into the material since they were not in any kind of casing.  Of course they had.  Why should we begin expecting now that there was once one good spot of wiring on this boat?

The good news is A.) We’ll be replacing it all anyway, and B.) after this point the rest of the galley became extremely easy to remove again.  Working aft we took out the rest of the cabinets, the kitchen counter, and even the sink.  Everything was dumped in the cockpit until we could decide if there actually was anything we’d like to spare.  The sink?  Possibly.  Cabinet doors? We’ll take off and save the hinges.  The rest though could be trash.

A trash I was hoping to get rid of the next day since it was now raining, but someone felt it prudent to get out of the cockpit right away. So through a light stream of water we pieced out the items in the cockpit and tossed everything to become trash over the side of the boat and onto the ground. When everything was sorted it was tempting just to run back inside and leave the mess for later, but I figured that I was wet already so why not bring everything to the dumpster at the other end of the yard?

Back inside and toweled off we went through the work of cleaning up the remnants of our mess.  Garbage cans full of foam pieces and lots of vacuuming of the floor and the areas underneath where the frame of the boat collected bits of our destruction.  Soon enough the area was spic and span, or as much as it’s going to be at this point, and we were staring at the blank canvas of what our new galley will be.  I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a total pain in the butt to build, but we’re both extremely excited for this next step in boat building.

Matt ripping apart galley

Matt ripping apart galley

ripping apart fridge

taking out fridge in galley

ripping apart galley

torn apart galley

torn apart galley

galley ripped out


Matt installing v-berth foam

A Comfortable Place to Sleep

Saturday July 25, 2015

Matt installing v-berth foam

Today is a day I have been waiting for a very very long time.  It is our first day off from boat work in I don’t even know how long.  Since our Today Show filming, which I think was now three weeks ago.  And that wasn’t even really time off!

The reason we finally have the day off today, and maybe why it’s taken us three weeks to earn one, is because we have now put the foam mattress in the v-berth.  This probably doesn’t make sense to you on why it warrants a day off, but about two weeks ago when I thought we were 3-5 days from this happening I told Matt “We should take our next day off once we view mattresses and have one installed

01.  Spend the day lying in a bed from TV Bed Store and watching movies”.  He agreed.

One of the things I forgot about with Matt is how literal and stubborn he can be sometimes.  The date of putting the foam mattress in kept getting pushed further and further back because we’ve also been working at re-bedding a hatch frame with the timber bed base in the v-berth which can be quite messy at times and we wanted to wait until it was 100% finished before we placed our cushion below.  Since we know it won’t be easy to move the mattress around the boat once we have it in we didn’t want to deal with the fuss of even trying. (And if you’re waiting for a post on the re-bedding hatch, you’ll be waiting a looong time. Some of my friends suggested to get an adjustable bed at Sleep Essentials, which will reduce the task of moving the bed time and again. We didn’t document the first one since it was more of a trial.  We’ll show you how it goes on the 2nd or 3rd one once we have it down.)

So there we were with a hatch frame that needed a ridiculous amount of sanding and priming and painting and could not go in for about two weeks later than we originally expected.  You’d think that we’d still allow ourselves a day off in the mean time, but my stubborn husband kept reminding me that ‘No no no, we said we wouldn’t take a day off until the foam went in’.  I should have known better than to make deals like this with him.  To be fair though, we have been busting our butts and getting a ton of work done lately with the remaining Eurolite pieces for the ceiling and overhead to the v-berth and forward salon.

But today, after staring at the two cardboard boxes of foam we’ve been hiding in storage for nearly two weeks now, we were able to bring them back to the boat to make a comfortable sleeping spot for ourselves.  In total, we have three different pieces of foam which together add up to a thickness of 6″.  Two inches of a firm foam on the bottom, three inches of a medium foam in the center, and one inch of a soft pillow topper to rest on top. To elevate the quality of sleep, products like a mattress pad warmer might do so much wonders.

Each of these sheets of foam is 80″x60″, so in order for them to be shipped to us in a somewhat tiny package they were vacuum sealed to suck out as much air as possible. The real fun part was watching them expand as the tightly wound pieces of plastic containing them were cut free.  In mere seconds these tight packages blew up to their full size and we went through the process of trying to neatly layer them on top of each other.  Not without a few swan dives into our new cushy bed first of course, just to test it out.

Since we were trying to get a section of material that was 60″ wide into a space that eventually runs down to 36″, we knew it would not be a smart move to try and perfectly line the foam pieces up and glue them together while parts up them were running up the wall in v-berth.  Spraying together the half of the foam that was able to stick out onto the flat board of the murphy bed, we attached the three pieces together using a spray adhesive from 3M specifically to include foam.  Waiting 5-10 minutes to fully let it dry we rotated the foam 180 degrees to line up and glue the other side.

The only thing left to do now was to cut them into place.  We couldn’t leave it as one big piece overall since when we go to flip up the murphy bed, the piece that sits on the ‘wall’ would not fold well into the area since the foam is so thick. Measuring from the tip of the v-berth up to the hinge where the wall folds up and down, we made one cut horizontally to give us the two pieces.  Since the wall of the murphy bed is so wide now, that piece was all set.  Using a sharpie to mark the angle of the v-berth, Matt then used the hacksaw to shave off the edges of the second piece and get it to fit snug into the v-berth.

For the time being the cushions will be left uncovered with fabric as we didn’t like what we had originally ordered online for them.  A clearance gray/silver fabric we thought was Brisa, but turned out to be some kind of off brand pleather that does not look very breathable and we think will get way too hot in the heat of the tropics.  So they’ll just get covered with our bed sheets for now and hope they stick together until we can encase them in a fabric we actually like.  I have to admit, I don’t mind putting off my sewing projects just a little bit longer.

Tonight I am looking forward to the best night of sleep I’ll have had in about a month and a half, now having six inches of pure heaven underneath me.  No more stiff as a board sport-a-seats or cockpit cushions so thin you can feel the plywood underneath us.  All we need now is a finished galley (and possibly lights) and I think we can live comfortably on this boat.

opening foam from package

opening foam cushions

foam cushions expanding

resting on new foam

half of v-berth cushion installed

tongue & groove cabinet face

Tongue & Groove

Monday July 20, 2015

settee face

The intricate construction I was mentioning in the last post?  Unfortunately does not just apply to the routed plywood we are using for the ceiling and overhead.  We have decided to make things very complicated for ourselves in the way we are going to assemble all of our cherry doors, cabinets, and pretty much everything made from cherry.  To make them look really nice and add a fine detail, instead of using just plain pieces of cherry plywood we are now using cherry boards to frame an inset of cherry plywood.  I’ll give you a quick example of the cabinet doors in the v-berth before I confuse you further.

(*Let it be known now that I will probably do a terrible job explaining this process.  If you’re looking for actual know-how, visit this page for someone who made cabinet doors for a home using this style of woodworking.)

cherry doors in v-berth

For anyone curious to know the details or specs, for the frame we used cherry 4/4 lumber that we milled down to S4S 1″x3″s and 1″x4″s, and used 1/4″ cherry plywood for the inserts.

To get the boards of the frame to fit together we did it in a tongue and groove style so there are no nails or screws holding any of it together.  Now that we’ve done this process a few times it’s begun to get a little easier, but there were about two solid days of trials on pine 1″x3″ boards, using our table saw to slice 1/4″ grooves right down the center for us to be able to slide the plywood in. The grooves only extended 1/2″ into the boards, so a lot of practice was getting the proper blade height and the distance between the blade and the fence to make sure the grooves ended up in the middle of the board.  Once that part was down we had to spend even more time practicing the perfect cut for the tongue on the end to be able to piece the frame together.

Again, I’m probably getting ahead of myself and should explain the full process better.  Getting into technical terms, the frames are made out of what are called rails and stiles.  Rails run horizontally across the top and bottom, and stiles are anything that run vertically.

rail & stile

After the cabinet doors in the v-berth our next project was to make the face of the settees in the forward salon.  The plan was to use a 1″x3″ rail on the top and a 1″x4″ rail on the bottom, as well as 3 stiles, one for each end and one for the center.  The rails were the easiest part as they only needed one groove.

Using our calipers to measure the blade height of the table saw and getting a few more practice runs in with our pine, we brought the cherry boards over to cut the groove in them, sending them across the table saw twice, rotating the board after each run, front to back, to get our desired width of 1/4″.  Then they were set aside until later when they’d need to be cut to their proper length.

The stiles required this step as well, placing a groove down the center, each end piece only received a groove on the inside, and the center piece receiving grooves on both sides. To be able to fit the stiles into the rails we also had to give them a tongue, with a length of 1/2″ and a width of 1/4″. To do this on the table saw we first cut the stiles to the proper length, adding an extra inch to account for the tongues on each side, and then raised the blade up just high enough so it would not cut through the entire piece of wood, but would only come up approximately 3/8″.  Measuring back 1/2″ from the end you make a swipe on the table saw and then keep moving the board further from the table saw, still making swipes until you’ve hit the end.  Flipping it over and doing the same to the other side you should be left with a small piece in the center that is now 1/4″ wide and 1/2″ long.

The next and easiest step is cutting the 1/4″ plywood insets.  Measuring the length and width of the open space in the frame, we needed to add an extra inch on each side to account for where the plywood would slide into the groove.  Something we almost forgot to do on more than one occasion.  Measuring the lengths we ran them through the table saw to get a straight cut and that was it.

Then it’s time for the dry run!  Setting the bottom rail on a flat surface we slid the tongues of the stiles into the gooves of the rail and lined them up flush on the ends and centered the middle piece.  From there we slid in the plywood pieces and then placed the second rail on top where the groove encased both the tongues of the stiles and the extra 1/2″ of the plywood.  If anything wasn’t fitting properly we’d take it apart and make a few necessary cuts, usually just an 1/8″ here or there.

When we were satisfied with the way everything was fitting together on the dry run it was time to glue it all together.  Bringing all the pieces inside the boat we went through the same process, just adding a wood glue to the tongues of the stiles this time.  After it was all pieced together we used clamps to press the boards tight together and left it to sit for about an hour.  Then voila!  Time to install!

Kind of.  We’re not permanently installing anything at the moment, plus all of our pieces of cherry will need about six coats of varnish in the end (three with gloss and three with satin), but it’s still nice putting them in place and becoming one step closer to finishing an area.

measurements for settee face

Matt making measurements

tongue & groove cabinet face

tongue & groove cabinet frame

gluing v-berth door

glued & installed settee face

cherry settee face

Serendipity 3

It’s All About Money: Sail Loot Podcast

Monday July 13, 2015

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

To take it one step further though and find out everything there is to know about us and money; starting from the beginning and going up until now, we were contacted by Teddy at Sail Loot to participate in a podcast talking about this subject. We talked about absolutely everything from when we bought our first boat, how we outfitted Serendipity to cruise, what gets covered in our monthly expenses, and how we try to save where we can. If you’ve ever had a money related question for us, chances are it’s been answered in this interview. Meanwhile, for those who want to quickly earn money for their cruise, they can do so by trying their luck on games like 유로88.

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

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

Matt & Jessica The Baths

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

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

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

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

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

Kimberly Joy lifestyle photo

Serendipity 3

Daze Off 2

spray foam insulation to v-berth

Spray Foam Insulation – V-berth & Forward Salon

Wednesday June 24, 2015

spray foam insulation kit

Over the weekend we were able to knock out the project of insulating the v-berth and the forward salon on Daze Off (you can read The Top 8 Ultimate Benefits Of Spray Foam Insulation, which is what we’d preferred).  When we bought the boat this is a project we were not expecting to do, but as anyone knows, plans to rebuild anything is always full of surprises.

We thought the boat was fully insulated and found out that wasn’t true when we began to rip out the ceiling in the forward salon.  All of the insulation there had been removed for what we’re assuming was a place for previous owners to hide drugs.  I guess that’s just one of the things you have to deal with when you buy an ex drug running boat.  The v-berth did have insulation…but it was only sheet insulation which we don’t quite trust because we wanted to prevent condensation from forming behind the foam and causing eventual corrosion. The overhead has spray foam insulation and we’d like to continue that throughout the boat. To find a good salon that suits your personal style and caters to your needs, one can view more here.

Serendipity didn’t have insulation, but after a quick look at this site we wanted to make sure this new boat does. Not only will it help keep us cool in the Caribbean while we have a blazing sun beating down on the shiny metal surface that is our boat, but once we get to the high latitudes we’ll need it to keep all heat possible inside the boat. Even when we were traveling down the ICW on Serendipity, the ambient air and water temperatures would sometime bring the inside temperatures into the low 50’s overnight. Getting ourselves into ice fields? I don’t even want to think about what it would be like inside the boat without insulation. (Although we will have a heater to keep us warm as well) When it comes to insulation you can contact for crawl space encapsulation here.

Having had a little experience with doing spray foam insulation ourselves from adding a little extra thickness to the existing insulation of Serendipity’s fridge (which you can read about here), Matt felt confident that he could cover the easily accessible areas of Daze Off himself.

Getting down to the primed aluminum hull, all Matt had to do was keep the nozzle 6 inches away from the surface he was covering and squeeze the trigger.  We had purchased a two part kit that had everything else ready to go for us.  The hoses that were bought from the local industrial hose suppliers were already attached to the canisters which means all you have to do is point and shoot.

He made sure to go slowly and also went lightly the first time because we didn’t know how much it would expand. We made the mistake with the fridge on Serendipity of spraying too much at first and it expanded so far that we were left with days of chiseling extra out.  This foam kit dries in one minute so it was easy to tell right away how much he needed to spray in one area.

v-berth with sheet insulation
primer on the aluminum hull
spray foam insulation to forward salon
spray foam in forward salon

When the salon was finished and we liked the results we removed the sheet insulation from the v-berth to be able to cover that area as well.  Covering the ceiling first we saved the overhead for last and ended up running out of foam.  Everything was covered but it wasn’t as thick on the overhead as the other areas.  It didn’t quite come out as far as the frames hung down.  Even though we’d bought enough foam to cover 200 board feet we ran just short.  Since we know we’ll eventually have to purchase another kit to cover the head, galley, and probably pilot house, we’ll come back and touch up the overhead of the v-berth.

Once the foam had fully dried we had to go back and uncover the frames so we’d still have a place to attach the furring strips to.  At first we were dreading the part since we remembered how miserable it was to chip out the extra foam on Serendipity, and then Matt had an idea.  Grabbing his Dremmel out he put on a long blade and ran it along the frame.  It worked perfectly!  With barely any work we were able to cut the foam off cleanly down to the aluminum frame.

Switching out this project back and forth since it can get a little tiring on the arms after awhile, we were able to do all the frames in just over an hour.  Now we are all set to start putting up furring strips and then the new ceiling!  She’s going to look so different with walls in again, I can’t wait to see the progress!

*You can spare us the lectures on how Matt wasn’t wearing a mask in this process.  We already had a stern talking to after posting a few photos on Facebook.  I will say that the kit we ordered is non-toxic and we also had all hatches open and a fan blowing.  It didn’t smell the best, but I don’t think we took any years off our lives.

tearing out sheet insulation
spray foam insulation to v-berth
cutting insulation from frame

The 22nd was Matt’s 33rd birthday, and even though he does not like to celebrate them we kind of forced a small party on him anyway.  Mark and Hanna had just gotten back from visiting family and when they found out it was his birthday they said we should all gather at the patio that night for a few drinks.  Not that hard since we’re there every night anyway for our dinner.  Hanna promised us a new mango drink she’d just invented made using fresh mangoes and an energy drink, and Mark said he’d have all the ingredients handy to make a few mojitos as well.  Having a plan of making a big pot of white chicken chili anyway, I invited them to eat with us too.

Since Matt still made us put in a full work day, we got down to the patio to shower just after 6 and just in time to watch a very large yacht pulling in the marina. It turns out it was a sunset cruise boat on it’s way down from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast and was pulling in for a spot to stay on their transit.  When they found out it was Matt’s birthday they invited him on board to snap a few photos behind the bar so we could pretend we had rented it out for his special night, but apparently that didn’t sound as fun to him as it did to me.  Finishing up the chili instead we gathered on the patio for dinner and drinks.

It was a fun and relaxing evening and I think Matt did get to enjoy some birthday antics when one of the yard guys, Alex, came and kidnapped him and Mark for a few hours where they went to a friends house and enjoyed some Coronas and billiards.  Hanna and I stayed back and mixed a few more mango/vodka/Monster drinks and enjoyed some girl time.

Our friends at the marina, Ellen and Scott, had also didn’t know about Matt’s birthday until the day of, so the next afternoon when we came down to the kitchen for lunch we found a bottle of Coca-Cola with a note that said ‘On your birthday you deserve to enjoy the real thing’.  A joke since we only buy the cheap $0.84 store brand soda at Walmart.  How sweet of them.  And funny.  I think overall it was a good birthday for Matt, considering we’re in a boat yard.  But when my birthday comes…I am getting out.

Princess of Naples
Matt, Hanna & Mark
Mango/Monster drink

Instant Cruiser: Just add Water

Monday March 4, 2013

Today is the day we have been waiting for, for three months. To the date. Today we finally went back in the water. Granted, we knew the accident was bad when it happened, but when we arrived to St. Augustine Marine Center back on December 4th, we honestly thought we’d be hauled out and put right back in after a quick survey. After receiving the damage report we were thinking ‘Ok, this is really bad, we might be out for two to four weeks.’. And then we sat and sat and sat. Shortly after being out of the water for one whole month, we finally got the claim approved by our insurance company (they were still swamped with Hurricane Sandy claims), and work finally began. We thought it could be done in two weeks since we had already started a lot of the projects ourselves. Then the keel came off and we found out that bolts needed to be replaced and there was no one in the area that could do the job. From that point it didn’t matter when the rest of the projects were finished, we weren’t going anywhere until the bolts were replaced and the keel was put back on. When we had hope that we could fly someone out to do the job, we forged on with other projects. The engine and transmission were taken out to be fixed, and the rudder was sent off to be straightened. Matt fiberglassed all the tabbing on the port side salon. The bilge and engine bay were painted.

Although we had a great experience with anyone that worked directly for the marine center, there were a few issues with vendors, and work on our boat kept getting pushed back and back. When I got back from Arizona at the end of January, I honestly thought we’d be splashed and moving by the middle of the month. We had canceled the guy flying out to repair the keel bolts and instead went with the owner of the boat yard next door who took on the project and did it fantastically.  There was the long wait for the transmission to  be repaired that we had not been expecting, and then once we were finally being put back together, the fact that the new  bushing for our rudder did not fit.  Eventually after a lot of blood and sweat, but surprisingly no tears, we’re finally put back together and ready to go.  Three months behind our original intended scheduled, and now six weeks behind all of our friends who have been enjoying the white sand beaches of the Bahamas for at least that amount of time.  We’re finally ready to go and join.


Although it’s been spread out through months and multiple posts, you might be wondering what work went into Serendipity while we were here.  Taken straight from the estimate being sent to our insurance company, this is what kept us on the hard for three months:

  • Remove max prop

  • Remove shaft

  • Remove strut

  • Rudder shaft repair

  • Glass repair A.) Rudder B.) Interior bonds C.) Stern tube and strut fairing D.) Fuel tank drained and removed

  • Lift to remove rudder and keel

  • Remove and replace multiple keel bolts

  • Lift to install keel and rudder

  • Repair bushing

  • Align motor and shaft

  • Strut and shaft reinstalled

  • Reinstall max prop

  • Pull & inspect transmission

  • Rebuild transmission

  • Reinstall transmission

  • Install new motor mounts

  • Bottom paint, one coat over entire bottom, second coat on repairs

  • Replace cutlas bearing

  • Canvas – Replace glass on two panels

  • Inspect Rigging

Over the weekend we had tentative plans to launch around 12:30, as close as we could get to slack tide. The river we’re on has a terrible current, and I’ve watched and heard of multiple boats bang up against the side while making their approach into or departure from the well. Having been out of the water for three months, as well as not even being as skilled as some of the captains who have beat up their boats here, we didn’t want to get swept away or banged up our first day back in the water. After talking with the yard manager, he penciled us in after a catamaran getting hauled out for a survey, and said that if it didn’t go over time they’d have an hour available to get us back in the water. Hiding out in the salon for the better part of the morning, and occasionally peeking out to keep an eye on the cat that was being surveyed, we received a knock on our hull, telling us to be ready right after lunch because we were going in.  As the minutes ticked by, I could feel myself getting stage fright and I could feel it growing.  We’d never had to move our boat out of a boat well before, it was always done by the marina, and we had never tried doing it in an area with such strong currents.  In front of a crowd no less.

We tied the fenders to the side and waited for the lift to come.  Georgie was locked below to make sure she wasn’t trotting around deck while all this was going on, although at the first hint of a loud noise she’s usually hidden in the aft cabin anyway.  As promised, the lift pulled up at thirty minutes to one.  We climbed down the ladder for the last time and unattached it from the boat while the large sling was wrapped around the bottom of Serendipity.  Lifting her up and removing all the jackstands, she was slowly moved away from her home and closer to the boat well.  She was lowered down with ease, and just as she was floating, we were allowed to climb back on.  Firing up the engine, everything was looking good and after not having a slip assigned to us we chose the one that was at a 90 degree angle from where we were currently sitting, and would require the least amount of turns.  Backing out, the small current that was flowing through did begin to catch us a little bit and begin turning us ways we did not want to go, but Matt quickly got it under control and while putting us into forward and giving it a lot of gas, began to move us with ease toward our intended dock.  The men working the travel lift were already waiting to catch our lines, and within moments we were neatly tied off.  Floating once more, as we had been waiting so long and patiently for.

We’re hoping to leave on Wednesday, after we finish a few last minute things around town.  The weather is looking too nasty to jump out and head straight to the Bahamas like we wanted, so instead we’ll be making our way south via the ICW once more, getting to Lake Worth and making a jump across once we get there and find a weather window.  But I am so excited to be back in the water, we are cruisers once more!  Or will be, once we take care of that enormous bill waiting for us at the service desk and are given the OK to leave.

Kraken Up

Sunday March 3, 2013

I know I said a few weeks ago that if we were still here for March’s First Friday Art Walk, that I would burn the boat down. In my defense though, I had not thought through that the first day of the month would be a Friday. So here it is on March 3rd, and Serendipity is still standing. I guess I will just have to eat my words and keep her structurally standing. But with how cold it has been this past weekend, highs hovering around 50, low’s just entering freezing, and winds howling outside, we probably could have used the heat from a good fire. Luckily our little heater managed to keep us just warm enough, and we realized we were still far better off than our days down the ICW with the same kinds of temperatures, sleeping as close as we could get to each other and wearing four layers of clothes, just to keep warm. Even now though, when temperatures drop below freezing and I can see the cloud of my breath in the air, I will always wear flip flops while traipsing the few hundred yards to the bathroom and back. Maybe the sight of the few lone palm trees buried in with the deciduous ones across the street that remind me that I’m in Florida and not Michigan, because in Florida it’s never too cold to wear flip flops.

Today was still one of those days where the temperature was just a little too low and the winds were just a little too high to get any productive work out of us. Instead we each settled into our own settee dressed in sweatpants and fleeces, taking advantage of the Internet access that we won’t be having for much longer. Being a Sunday there were no workers in the yard, and since we seem to be the only people on our side of the yard living aboard, we usually have the run of the place on weekends. Which is why it was strange, while perusing Cruiser’s Forum and other blogs, that we should hear a few voices that sounded like they were just outside our boat. Sometimes the woman with a small day sailor behind ours will come out to work on it on the weekend, so for a moment we thought it might be her, although it seemed strange that she’d want to come out during such blustery conditions.

The voices continued to grow and begin sounding like they were coming from directly next to our boat. Again, it seemed like something we could brush off since sometimes owners that had their boat at the marine center would stroll the yard and admire other boats. We had done it when we first arrived, and we had met a few other boaters in the yard when they’d come to check out our boat. The strange part came when we heard a ruckus outside that sounded very near our boat. Like someone was climbing up a ladder near our stern. It’s fine when people walk around the boat to give it a look, but if they were about to climb aboard to check it out, that’s another story. Really curious about this noise now, I got up off the settee and tentatively climbed up the steps, slightly pulling back at the sliding glass on the companionway and just letting my eyes peer out. Sure enough, there was a woman that looked to be my age, teetering on a step ladder right off our stern.

Still thinking it was a curious wanderer that did not know the etiquette that you never step aboard someone’s boat without their permission*, I was all set to give her a mouthful, but lost my nerve. Having her not see me yet, I slid back down below and whispered to Matt, “There’s someone climbing up our stern.”. I expected him to pick up the slack where I had dropped it, going out and yelling for them to get off our property, since he’s much better at being an authoritative person than I am. (Remember our anchor dispute back in Beaufort?) He climbed the steps and stuck his head out as well, but instead of yelling, he issued a polite greeting. Some conversation ensued after this, and left me still below, scratching my head. What was going on out there? For the second time in one week, I had to go check out these strange new visitors for myself.

Climbing out in sweats and unwashed hair, not how I normally look when I’m expecting visitors, I found out that the stranger was actually a friend of a very good friend of ours, sent on a courrier mission. Angie was the girlfriend of Jeremie, who is best friends with our friends Jackie and Ron back home. When they found out that she’d be passing through St. Augustine on business, they called in a huge favor to her to stop by our boat with a little present: Kraken spiced rum and Skittles. The first time I had ever been introduced to Kraken was on Jackie & Ron’s boat last summer, and their going away present to us was a bottle to take with us on our travels. Having gone through most of it during our Frankenstorm party with the invention of the Frankenstorm drink, I had always kept enough left in the bottle for when they were to come visit us in the Bahamas. But our unfortunate accident not only kept us from meeting up with Jackie & Ron in the Bahamas, but had actually tipped over our bottle of Kraken and drained out the remaining few shots. Although there had been lots of offers by them to have a new bottle sent to us in the yard, I said I would not accept a new bottle unless it was handed to me personally. I was intending this to mean that they either needed to make a spur of the moment sixteen hour drive across the country to see us in St. Augustine, or that they made sure to book tickets (much closer to the visit date this time) in whatever tropical location we happened to be in the next winter.

I was not expecting it to be hand delivered by a friend passing through town, but I still wasn’t about to turn down the gift. We chatted with Angie and her friend for a few minutes and thanked her profusely for making the side trip over to visit us, before the cold had everyone running back to their warm shelters, her the rental car, and us the salon. It wasn’t until I was talking to Jackie online shortly after Angie left, to also thank her profusely for the gift, that I found out the whole thing was orchestrated just that morning. Just to bring a smile to our faces and with no expectation of anything in return. Can I just say that we have the best friends in the world?


*Angie, it’s completely fine for you to step on our boat, especially if you’re bringing us booze or candy.

One Out of Two Ain’t Bad

Thursday February 28, 2013

Time to get back to reality a little bit today. We do have a boat getting ready to go in the water, and as much fun as we’re having taking time away from it, we can’t neglect it now that we’re so close to the finish line of going back in the water. In all honesty, we should have had the day open to do whatever we pleased with it, but there were rudder issues once again. While we were having our fun at Disney yesterday, Serendipity was lifted once again so they could remove the rudder, put a proper fitting bushing on, and place it all back together. Upon inspection though, we realized an issue with how it was put back together. It was done through one of the vendors through the yard, by a newbie that’s not familiar with sailboats. This kid had actually put in backwards. Yes, backwards. Matt had to spend over two hours packed into the lazarette getting it straightened out while I ran back and forth, handing him tools. Eventually it was all straightened out and put back together the way it should be. These are the times I’m very happy to fall into my pink role of cooking and doing dishes and not getting stuffed into dark and greasy corners. Unless a nut or bolt falls into the far reaches of a nook and I’m summoned into the cave to dig it out.

 We may have let ourselves sleep in a little this morning, but it was still near 2:00 once we finished this project and got ourselves presentable enough to go out. After seeing our photos of when we had gone to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees, Matt’s mom was wondering if we’d be willing to make the trip out there once more with them while they were visiting. We didn’t know how long we’d be able to stay, with it now being so late in the afternoon, but we were up for it if they were. Making a call to the park just before we left, I inquired to see how many manatees were spotted at the park that day. When we had gone last month with Chris, the count was near 120, and of those we probably saw 50 swimming through the creek. Today…there were only 5 spotted. I relayed this to Crystal so see if she still wanted to go, driving an hour out there to take the chance that we may not see anything at all. Since Matt and I had already been there and had already seen dozens, it wouldn’t have been a big loss to us if we didn’t see any. Crystal was ok with that chance too, and we piled into the car to head out.

It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit windy, and I was excited to see the springs in a new light. Literally. Last time we went it was blustery, overcast, and even misted a little bit. Not that I didn’t enjoy that trip A TON, but I love sun and warmth. Turns out I should have been wishing for the opposite. As we entered the park we spoke with the ranger for a moment and she stated that the low number of manatees today compared to when we had come a few months ago was due to the warm weather. I remembered hearing from Chris before that they flocked to the springs when all surrounding areas were cold, since the waters in the spring always stayed a toasty 70 degrees or warmer. I just didn’t know how quickly they hightailed it out of there once the surrounding waters warmed up a bit as well. We were hopeful as we stepped out of the car and walked to the dock that overlooked the creek. This is where we had been surprised the first time by close to 40 manatees all hanging out in this area, as well as schools of hundreds and hundreds of fish.

The anticipation grew as we peered out over the water, but there was nothing there. Not a single manatee and not a single fish. The sunshine that I had been so excited to see just moments earlier was also now casting a harsh glare on the water, making it impossible to see into the water in some areas. The breeze was also kicking up ripples, making it hard to even see the empty sandy bottom. This was not an ideal day to come here. Not for manatee or fish viewing anyway. But on the bright side, the area was still beautiful and there were plenty of trails to walk. Meandering through the sidewalks and boardwalk, we constantly peeked out at the creek at every opening, still hoping for a manatee but not really expecting one. By the time we had gotten to the end of the creek where the spring was, we had seen a few gar fish, but no manatees. And to make matters worse, the setting sun was throwing a glare right over the opening to the spring, making it impossible to see. Matt and I felt so bad that we had made the hour drive all the way out here to not see anything the area was known for, but Crystal and Jack just seemed to be happy to be out with us, and the sun and warmth didn’t hurt. The area was still beautiful with it’s picturesque Spanish moss and palm trees being blanketed in the glow of a setting sun. Maybe the day wasn’t a total waste after all.

Believe It….Or Not

Tuesday February 26, 2013

We woke up to some pretty bad thunderstorms today, which normally for Matt and I, would just mean sitting on the boat and taking advantage of our internet.  But since his mom and step-dad were in town, we didn’t want to ignore them and I spent a little time using that internet access to find some fun things we could do indoors.  It was kind of fun to find out what all the ‘tourist’ spots in the area were, since usually the only places we visit in town are the bars and restaurants.  Jumping on Trip Advisor, I searched the highest rated things to do in town.  Narrowing it down to three, I came up with a tour of a well preserved boarding house from the 18th century, a tour of the Pirate Museum (full of actual pirate information and artifacts), and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.  Since we were not the ones who went through all the trouble of traveling over 1,000 miles last minute, I gave the options to Matt’s mom to let her pick.

She ended up deciding on the Ripley’s Museum, with the option to go to the Pirate Museum afterward if we still wanted.  I had never been to a Ripley’s Museum before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but they had done a ton of them over family vacations and assured me it’s not as corny as advertisements may make it look.  She was absolutely right.  As soon as we walked in the door there was a giant sculpture of Captain Jack Sparrow, made with spare metal parts from the movie set.  Just past that was a Lego photo made by someone from our home town.  All through the museum were little interesting and intriuging artifacts and bits of information.  We actually had a really great time and spent over two hours taking in all the information and sights.  We never did make it out to the Pirate Museum afterward since we walked out of Ripley’s into pure sunshine and warm weather.  We used it to do a little driving tour of Anastasia Island, running a few errands, and made the finishing plans for our trip to Disney World trip tomorrow!!

Captain Jack Sparrow.

Originally made for Art Prize.

Vampire Killing Kit.

This was made from popsicle sticks.

Frickin Bieber.

It took me forever to realize these people weren’t real.

You Can’t Live Without It!

Saturday February 23, 2013

I don’t even know if I should let myself hope it, but I think we’re finally getting close to leaving here.  All of the last little bits are falling into place, and with any luck, within one week from now we will be somewhere that is not St. Augustine.  Weather will dictate if we jump the Gulf Stream and head to the Bahamas directly from here, or if we have to continue down the ICW, making any progress south possible while waiting for a good weather window.  But one of the very big things that will help us out with that now is we just had our engine and transmission put back in!  Since we’re not as cool as our friends on Rode Trip and can’t anchor under sail, it’s a handy little thing to have back on our boat.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve now gone a month without them.  (And harder to believe that we’ve been here for almost three months).

One of the even better things about having them finally re-installed, in my eyes at least, are that we can finally get the steps back in.  Ever since I came back from Arizona we have been living with two steps or less on the companionway.  There are normally four.  Can you imagine if your staircase was cut in half, and you only had the top half to climb in and out of?  And if that weren’t bad enough, for the past week or so, it’s only been the top step.  To get out I’d have to get one of my legs or knees approximately three and a half feet in the air and then pull the rest of myself up with the grabrails.  When getting back down, I’d set my butt on that first step, place my hands on the sliding cover of the companionway, and literally swing myself in and drop to the ground.  To have all four steps in again is a luxury I have been drooling about for quite some time now.

We also have a tentative date to get Serendipity back in the water, next Tuesday the 26th. Since we hadn’t given her a good wash-down the whole time we’ve been here, in fear that she’d only get filthy again will all the work being done to and around her, we kept putting it off until the last minute.  Since we are almost to that point now, we waited for the next sunny day to tackle that project as well.  I saw the forecast for today was going to have temperatures in the low 80’s, and thought, ‘What a perfect day to break out the hose‘.  It actually would have been a great day, if it weren’t for the 25 mph hour winds that were blowing through the boat yard.  Not a huge issue normally, but since the cleaner we use for the deck always leaves a residue on our port lights, and Matt had spend a good portion of a day polishing them a few weeks ago, we wanted to make sure they were covered and not affected by the cleaner.  Trying to get those things covered by plastic sheeting and glued down with some Gorilla Tape while the wind tried to whip the plastic up, down, and around was a lesson in team work we hadn’t had to experience in awhile.  Let me just say that we were a little rusty and should work on communication a little bit before we get back on the water.

All ports eventually did get taped up though, and I was ready for the easy part.  Scrubbing down the deck.  I remember our summers on Lake Michigan when even this simple job seemed like such a pain in the ass, but after living aboard for six months, it was a welcomed relief of a project.  Something that wouldn’t end in ‘Oh s&*t, we’re missing a piece’.  Or ‘Damn it, why won’t this fit?  It used to fit!  Why does everything on this boat keep breaking??!!’.  Just a nice simple scrub down.  I can handle that.  We started on the coachroof and then worked each side, starting at the bow and working our way back.  After each section, we’d hose down and watch the dirt and grime that’s built up over the past few months just wash away and leave behind a clear and clean deck.  And by the time we were finished it actually started to look like a boat and our home again, instead of a never ending construction zone.

The cockpit is still a mess, but since most of what’s out there belongs in the aft cabin, and we can’t get all that squared away until they finish hooking up the engine, that area will continue to be unlivable for at least a few more days.  One project we did still do in there today though was remove the hot water heater.  I had posted on here awhile ago that  we were thinking of doing this, and while the controversy against it wasn’t huge, there was still one there.  I had so many comments from other cruisers saying that we have to have one to take hot showers, or use hot water for our dishes.  That we shouldn’t remove it because you can’t live without it.  And honestly, we did give it a lot of consideration, but then realized we actually do not have to have one.  For most people, their hot water heater is run by a generator or by propane.  Ours however, is run by our engine. Only.  So this means it never gets used.  I can actually tell you how many times we’ve used our hot water heater so far on this trip.  Once.  We took semi-hot showers in the cockpit while traveling up the Potomac, and only because the engine was already running and we didn’t have to take any extra steps.

‘But’, you ask, ‘What will you do then for those hot showers and hot water for dishes if you no longer have a hot water heater?’.  It’s simple, we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing this whole time.  For our showers, we use a faucet that’s hooked up to the water tank from the cockpit.  The water temperature in the tank is usually ambient with the water temperature surrounding us, so never really ice cold anyway.  If for any reason we’re dying to still have a hot shower, we can boil some water using our electric water heater, which only takes about three minutes, and then pour it into a 1 gallon bug sprayer which we’ve attached a shower nozzle to.  Instant hot shower.  As far as dishes are concerned, I haven’t even thought about using hot water for them since we’ve left.  Yes, sometimes there are very greasy messes that hot water could really help out with, but again, for an engine run hot water heater, it would be so much more of a pain to get that going just for a little bit of hot water, rather than boil some up real quick or just use a little extra dish soap.

So as I said, we did think long and hard about it for a few days after all the comments started rolling in that we should keep it, it would be nice to have ‘just in case’.  But, we needed the space for something else.  Something much more important.  Because….we just purchased a brand new four person offshore life raft, and need a place to store it.  We decided against the canister kind that mount on deck, since those are exposed to sun damage and can become unattached if the boat rolls, and opted for a bag balise version instead.  I won’t lie, it’s not as small as we had originally been anticipating when we purchased it.  In fact, when it was dropped off to us at the marina, the whopping 65 pound item looked like it took take my spot in the v-berth and Matt could still ask, “Have you gained a few pounds?”.  So the debate on the hot water heater ended as we had no other option than to get rid of it so we could squeeze the new life raft in it’s place.  After taking apart all the connecting hoses and bringing it to the dumpster (it had a little dent and probably couldn’t have been re-sold), I was sent into the far reaches of the bottom of the lazarette to clean up all the gunk and goop that’s been building up for the past six months.  After I had been sufficiently grossed out but produced a clean white bottom, we slid the life raft into it’s new home.  Hot water, I’ve decided I can live without.  Safety out at sea?  I think that’s my new priority.


*Sorry, I got a little lazy snapping photos today and had to use my Instagram ones.