Monday, July 29, 2013

Feeling Frazzled

Ugh. This weekend was crappy! Cloudy and rainy with temps in the low 60s at the lake. Low July. This is absurd! As this was the forecast for the entire weekend, we almost decided to not to not head to the boat at all. Then we realized there's things we still need to do before we take off for our 2 week cruise in Dorr County, WI next weekend.

We spent most of the day inside with Ron installing an automatic bilge pump and me polishing the teak. We then lounged around for a good portion of the day and  put off filling up on diesel and water as long as we could. On the way to the marina Ron noticed that we weren't getting a reading on our speed sensor. In order to check it out Ron had to remove the unit from the thru-hull, which basically leaves a hole. In the boat. Knowing what had to be done made me slightly nauseus so I did the only thing I could and grabbed the camera.
Getting mentally prepared

"We're actively sinking..."
I like it better when water's not rushing into the boat
Removing the unit and putting in the dummy plug went pretty well. The hole didn't shoot a jet of water up to the ceiling like I imagined and we probably took on less than a gallon of water total. Phew! But I barely had time to appreciate the success of the swap because the second Ron help up the paddle wheel part that reads the speed I saw something squirming!! What kind of nasty, slimy critters are living under the boat!?!?  

Shrimp! Who knew?!?
These wiggly spazzes had clogged up the wheel messing up our speed readings. Apparently Ron gets these all over his wetsuit when he's working in the water at the nuke plants, but I had no idea these little nasties existed...makes me itch just thinking about 'em.
With that excitement over, we lounged some more. Ron got antsy and started messing around with  the fold-outs on the table while I gave him the side-eye for his enthusiasm over modeling the proper methods of contorting oneself on a boat. However, he forgot to take into consideration that most people don't have his long grasshopper legs and could easily fit in the space without too much issue. What a weirdo :)
The forecast for Sunday called for more rain and with Ron having to leave for work on Sunday we decided to pack it up and head home Saturday evening. Also, did I mention that we have a golf outing that we help put together the day before we leave? No? I also probably didn't mention the fact that Ron is out of town for work this week so packing for the trip, buying all the food and getting the lawn mowed is up to me. On top of that, plans have to be finalized for the golf outing this week. It's going to be a busy week. Looking forward to a two week sample of the cruising life!


Monday, July 22, 2013

MORE Anchor Light Woes And A Bimini

I'm starting to get the 'Groundhog's Day' feeling about our anchor light...issues. We again had to make a night time run back to the mooring ball after we were unable to see our anchor light turn on this past weekend. Yeah, the one we just replaced LAST weekend was not working. Sigh. We have no idea why it would work for an entire night then not work the next weekend but it's getting old fast. Ron is currently trying to find out what the issue is, in the meantime, we may just put the original bulb back up since the only reason it wasn't working was because of the bad wire connection at the base of the mast. We're gettin down to the wire as we leave in two weeks for a two week cruise to Dorr County WI and if we don't have an anchor light we're really going to be in trouble.

But on a good note: We have a bimini! It was installed just in time to shield us from the HOT summer sun. We're still waiting on the connecting piece that zips in between the dodger and bimini (and really creates the most shade), which should be ready by this coming weekend. Now, instead of our cockpit being a human frying pan, it's now a shaded, cool oasis where we can sail, nap, read and eat without feeling like pieces of bacon sizzling in the sun. This is however, still room for sizzling on the deck if one so wishes. Plus, and this is Ron's favorite part, it has a handy window with a removable cover so you can still see what the sails are doing without having to move an inch!

Look at all that shade...I think Lexie likes it too

While out sailing on Saturday we thought we were about to be stopped by the Coast Guard, which would be odd and pretty unsafe seeing as we were under sail and conditions were fairly rolly. One of their boats sped right behind us and we thought they might try pulling up beside us but instead they continued past and headed for the beach (although Ron really would like to be stopped to question them about our current gear and what else we should have aboard).

A few minutes later a Coast Guard helicopter started going back and forth over our boat. Out of curiosity we turned on the VHF to listen in on what might be going on. We were hoping they were just running search and rescue drills but it turns out they were searching for a missing 15 year old girl. They also had divers out looking for her as well and instructed boaters exiting/entering the channel to "be cautious and prepared to assist as necessary". Gulp. Then, just as abruptly as the boat and helicopter appeared, they were gone. We never heard anything more on how things turned out but the rest of our sail was a bit sombering. A good reminder that the waters of Lake Michigan, while beautiful and inviting, can also be dangerous and surprisingly powerful when you least expect it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Short But Great Weekend

Up the mast one more time
A few weeks ago we had a canvas company come out to the boat to measure it for a bimini; we knew that the summer heat would soon be in full force and we wouldn't have anywhere to go to get out of the blazing sun without it. This week we had to make an extra trip to the boat on Thursday so we could move the boat to a slip so the bimini frame could be put on. We arrived Friday afternoon to the frame being biggie, we waited for a half hour or so then loaded our stuff on the boat. From the dock. No loading the dinghy, riding to the boat and lugging everything onto the boat. That was nice. We had everything on in just a couple minutes and we were throwing off the bowlines in record time. Did I say that was nice?

We went over to the State Park and anchored for the evening, or so we thought. At around 10:30pm as we were getting ready to go below we happened to notice that we (again) couldn't see our anchor light on the mast. Now, the light actually sits in the middle on top of the mast so we can't see the bulb itself but we can usually see a little glow after dark. This time, nothing. We did our usual on-off-on-off test but couldn't see a thing. Ron checked the wiring at the base of the mast and everything looked good there....hmmmm. So we did the only thing we could; we hauled the anchor and made our way back to the mooring for the night. I couldn't see a thing and was pretty sure we'd be bouncing off boats to get to our spot. I blame the bad night vision and the old presecription on my glasses, not to mention the bright lights on shore that really threw me for a loop. At least Ron knew where we were at, I thought we were a ways down from our mooring not coming right into it. Good thing I was not at the helm.

I think my point was made that we need a good spot light on board. I've been telling Ron that we need one but he didn't seem to think it was too urgent. Until tonight that is, when we were coming into a pitch black mooring field and I had to use a hat with a built in LED light to try and find our ball. Luckily the week before we had put some reflective tape on the buoy that we grab that is attached to the lines, it was just enough to catch the light.

The next morning Ron went up the mast again and found that the light was actually on and functioning but the bulb had turned black (possibly a bad seal?). So we replaced the bulb and went on with the weekend. Maybe buying the cheapest light bulbs wasn't the best idea, we'll be splurging for an LED light as they use less power and work for much longer.

The Stepmonster and Lex soaking up some sun
 After more anchor light expeditions and catching the pump-out rush hour, we headed back to pick up my Dad and Stepmonster (an affectionate name, I promise) who were coming out for the first time. Thankfully it wasn't blistering hot and there was a great breeze. I was worried that my dad, who is infamous for his intolerance of heat (and us with no bimini), would be hot and miserable all day. But really, they couldn't have picked a better day to come out. High 70s, winds around 10kts- a little chilly for me at times but everyone else seemed to be quite comfortable, and dare I say, even enjoyed the outing. ::Insert sigh of relief here:: What a great day!

For a big guy, he can still clear the rails pretty well!

Seeking shade

A few good sunburns later, we were ready to the shade. We left Sunday morning since Ron still had a 6 1/2 hour drive to southern Ohio for work that afternoon. Well, that plus I'd gotten enough sun on Saturday to hold me over for another week.

I'm classy, and I have the hat to prove it.

Friday, July 5, 2013

UNcommon Sense

"Everyone OK? Good, great, grand, NO YELLLING ON THE BUS BOAT!!
 I'm not going to lie, there have been times when we've docked Hullabaloo while 'verbally expressing' frustration and anger with eachother. Nothing quite like pulling up to a dock while looking and sounding like abnoxious and inexperienced boaters, huh?!? Kidding, it's never been that bad. But bad enough.

It has become obvious that what Ron and I consider to be common sense are not only very different things, but his ideas appear to be totally UNcommon. Ron, having a lot of experience with operating and docking pleasure and commercial boats, assumes that what he would do given a curcumstance is what everyone should do and if they don't do just that, said person clearly has their head lodged securely in their sphincter. With the boat, this person usually turns out to be me, if you ask Ron. Cue the yelling and arguing....NOT good.

After one particular dockage in some decent wind that could have gone smoother, it became very evident  that we had differing expectations. When Ron asked me why I didn't do something that was common sense, I had to point out that just because he 'knows' something does NOT make it common in anyway. That would be like me expecting him to come to my work and give shots...just because it's like second nature to me doesn't mean that everyone else knows how to do it. Aha! I think I just finally got through to him. After cooling down a little and further talking, the solution to our problem seemed pretty obvious: we needed to stop assuming/guessing what the other would do and start COMMUNICATING. What a novel idea, huh?!?

We've gotten pretty good at mooring but we're still learning on pretty much everything else (ie. docking and anchoring) to a degree. Wait, let me rephrase that: I'm still learning how Ron expects things to go. I've started to, and will continue to, ask him "What's the plan?" when we have to do something that I'm not 100% clear on. We make the plan together and AMAZINGLY, things go much smoother than before. Although I'm still waiting for Ron to start talking about 'the plan' without me asking, we do have a system that (mostly) works for us now.

We also have a firm no yelling rule on the boat that helps us to solve unexpected issues better and faster....but boy, sometimes I just really want to have a good scream to relieve some frustration.

We're no longer the screaming idiots pulling into the dock*...we make a plan, get on the same page and look like pros people that have some idea of what we're doing.
I don't think this was in 'the plan'

*We were never screaming idiots, just not very organized in our approach.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Low Key Weekend

With the cancellation of guests for this weekend, we had a pretty quiet couple of days. It started of with a cool, bug-free walk through the State Park for some exercise. There's nothing like the gorgeous scenery and the smell of that fresh "up north" air to start your day!

I never get sick of this scenery
Our first sail found us in rainy/dreary conditions. I put on my foulies to stay dry and warm while the captain toughed it out in a t-shirt while sipping his coffee. With the building wind we were in 2-4 footers and while in the other boat we would have been tossed around pretty good, all we experienced was the fluid motion you'd expect to find on a sailboat. It was actually quite fun, a little bit like riding a roller coaster when we'd catch big one just right. Ron was having a blast at the helm, especially once the waves were big enough to start spraying the deck.

The real fun hadn't started yet. Clearly.
As we were coming in, the wind picked up from 15kts to around 20kts making for an interesting time getting the genoa (front sail) rolled up. After some good gusts, and bad steering (apparently) on my part, we got the genoa in and the main came down shortly after without any issue.
How can a camera possibly make 2-4 footers look completely calm?!?!
We spent our first night at anchor since fixing the bad anchoring light bulb the loose wire connection at the base of the mast. Such a nice nite with a great sunset to boot. I managed to sleep better that night but since we were anchored instead of on the mooring my natural overreactive instincts thought it important to listen carefully for any sounds indicating that we were dragging anchor in the very light winds we had overnight...I think I should just give up on hoping I can ever get a good nights sleep on the boat. Which I'm totally willing to do.

Sunday turned out to be sunny and warm! We went out for another great sail that I wish could have lasted longer. I even had my bathing suit on...while's a miracle (and a first for this year)! We had sunshine, 10kt winds and 2 foot seas that were on the verge of lulling me into a sweet, sweet nap just about the time we started heading into the channel. Bummer. The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging (me) and swimming (Ron and Lexie).

Just so you don't think we didn't do anything productive this weekend:
Ron put up the new motor mount he had made at a local company from some scrap stainless steel.  Since other motor mounts made from stainless can retail for well over $300 I think we did pretty well at $65. Plus, it could also double as a weapon if needed...that sucker is heavy!

Ron also changed the oil for the first time. Since we're not really sure when the oil was last changed (probably a year and a half ago) and we're planning a two week trip to Dorr County, WI in August we thought it would be a good idea to get it done and out of the way. I'm happy to report that all went smoothly and even though I complained about having to spend $70 on the oil evacuator, I'm glad we have it, it definitely prevented a lot of unnecessary sweating and swearing on Ron's part.
The Mityvac 7400 7.3 Liter Fluid worth the money 

Dare I say he even had a little fun?
So really, maybe I didn't do that much this weekend aside from getting a slight sunburn. Oh,well, you'll have that sometimes I guess. Maybe next time. Maybe not.