Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shipshape...Our Style

One of the great things about Hullabaloo is that she is a very solid boat and has been very well maintained in her 32 years.  She's had recent upgrades including the head and autopilot in the last couple of years and has had regular maintanence.  Sure she needs a few things before we take her out cruising, but given our budget and our desire to just get out there, we're aiming to keep our "refit" to a minimum. 

Some people buy boats with the plans to completely refit them, and that's great, but that plan didn't fit into our desired timeframe or anticipated budget.  With my lack of experience sailing, I really wanted to focus on using the boat and sailing it in order to prepare to cruise.  And quite frankly, I was concerned that a total refit would be a major burn out.  Although there are a LOT of people out there successfully refitting boats, sometimes for years, before cruising.  I like to call these people 'insane' ;)

For us there is a very distinct line between maintanence and unnecessary spending.  Or, maybe we're just bigger risk-takers when push comes to shove.  We're planning on heading out with the original Volvo 35hp diesel engine, which has never been repowered and does not have a way to tell how many hours are on her (::pearl clutch::) and a sail inventory consisting of original, or close to original, sails.  Not to mention that we won't be sporting a windlass or all-chain rode for our anchor. 

While we have, and continue to, get more familiar with the boat's systems, we don't plan to completely tear things apart or replace items that are working as they should...even if they're old.  Sometimes it seems that the older something is the better it was built...sometimes.  Of  course if something like the electrical system were a mess of corroded wires that is still managing to work, we'd probably go ahead and change those out.  Luckily, that has not been the case.  We're not going to be complete idiots, just conservative ones.  Afterall, what good are all the cruising plans if we spend all our money, energy and time trying to get the boat perfect?  We're not perfect and we certainly don't expect HB to be either, but we do want to be safe.   

We do plan to add some gear such as a chart plotter, AIS (Automatic Identification System), davits, solar power, safety gear and refridgeration, however we plan to keep things as simple as possible.  We'll be reupholstering a couple interior cushions that have torn and the new ones probably won't be exactly the same as the old but they'll be covered and functional.  I like functional.
They looked alright in pictures but they were really in pretty bad shape

Duct tape: the perfect solution to ANY problem

Boats are in constant need of maintanence of some sort or another so it certainly can't be expected that the work will stop once we leave.  Besides, if something does need fixing while we're out, there's usually a way to do it.  It might take longer, might be a little more expensive but our time is valuable and we'd rather be out enjoying cruising (and maintaining) a less than perfect boat in a beautiful setting.

Companionway stairs need some love...badly

So does the cabin sole

Monday, October 21, 2013

Classin' Up the Boatyard

 Ron was able to come home for 36 hours this weekend, which meant one thing: Finish closing up the boat.  With iffy weather predicted, we headed to Muskegon with the goal of winterizing the engine, removing the batteries and making sure the boat was good for the next month or so until we'll be able to check on her again. 

We'd been talking about how to handle covering HB for the winter, including if we were going to do it at all.  The weather was 47, rainy and windy and I thought for sure we'd just hold off on it.  But then the sun started to come out, it warmed up (a little) and we decided to just do it, it might not be pretty but it would be covered.  The lady in the ship store told about a good place to get heavy duty tarps, so off we went for tarps and supplies. 

We just kind of made things up as we went, cutting slits in the tarp to get around the rigging and stanchions and using a LOT of duct tape.  We're hillbilly like that. 

Hillbilly Exhibit 'A'
We got caught in a pretty good storm, hail included.  As you can imagine, this sparked a flurry of inappropriate language, but we kept on pluggin' along. 

In addition to our duct tape party, we used lots of line to keep the tarps as close as possible to the boat, hopefully stalling the wind a little bit from tearing them apart.

Rainbow during the hail storm
Looking around the yard, we noticed that boats either didn't have any covering on them or they had nice, custom built canvas covers.  We've never been people to go with the flow so we proceeded with our genious plans.  Nevermind the fact that custom covers, or even shrink wrapping, is not in our budget.  Afterall, if the tarps don't survive the winter (which we highly suspect they won't), we'll only be out $60. 

Tarps on nice and snug...kinda

None of our hatches or vents leak that we've seen, so if the tarps do happen to disintegrate we shouldn't have any major issues but I do feel a little bad that we're the first of her owners to subject her to outdoor storage for the first winter....ever.  I'd like to think that the tarps will help, but I have a feeling that this will not be the case.  Sometimes you just can't win.


Just blending in...
It's not pretty, but it's done!  It should help, to some degree, with some sort of weather protection.  The future will tell just how much.  I think, if we choose to do the same next year we'll opt for smaller tarps.  Obviously cutting the tarps makes them more apt to tear, especially as the wind gets ahold of them.  I think it would just be better to get smaller tarps and tie them down good and tight.  Plus then we wouldn't need so much duct tape, which will not hold a lick anyway.  We're just hoping the ropes tying it down will help too.  Live and learn I supose!
Remember that time we grounded?
Ever since we managed to ground ourselves at Washington Island, I've been wondering what the keel looks like.  Now I know.  Considering the bottom was full of rocks it's not bad, just missing a little paint is all...thankfully!
The booze stash is now easily accessible safely at home 

 Next time we're at the boat we'll be taking home some interior cushions to be reupholstered as well as the companionway stairs so we can refinish them.  Baby steps...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Falling for Michigan

Gotta love crisp, cool, clear fall days
By far my favorite season is fall. I know, the more obvious answer would be summer with its endless sunshine and sailing, but really fall still offers great potential for fantastic sailing.  Let's just forget the fact that HB is now safe and secure on her cradle, if she were in the water you can bet your behind that we'd still be enjoying some great sails along the coast of Lake Michigan enjoying a front row seat to the color show nature puts on this time of year.
Not my photo...I wish
It's time to dust off that crockpot, get out those sweaters and rake a few leaves.  Oh, let's not forget my personal favorite; the glazed pumpkin and apple donuts and the CIDER. Dear God, the cider!! I wouldn't be surprised if I got a cavity solely from my glazed donut and cider consumption in the next few weeks. 

Michigan is famous for its apple orchards, apple cider and really all things apple this time of year.  Fortunately for me, we happen to live near one that has the best homemade donuts and cider I've ever had...says the multiple awards they've won in recent years.  And this year is sporting the sweetest, tastiest and biggest harvest in a while. 

So off we (me, my mom, brother, sister in law and 3 nieces) go to said orchard, who also happens to have made an empire out of the fall affair.  These people are true geniuses.  They have a mini petting zoo, rides and slides for kids, apple cannons and one giant corn maze. On top of that, they also have a few apple trees and a major store selling everything fall from homemade canned fruits and veggies to apple butter to fall d├ęcor and candles.  Seriously, visiting this place is an all day event.  And very good birth control...not that we need it.  But it was a great way to enjoy a perfect Michigan fall day.

Getting lost in the massive corn maze

Giving up hope of being found

Wagon rides shuttle you around to various parts of the empire
Happy fall everyone! Here's to hoping your fall is a (short) distraction from the impending winter.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Winter Projects

HB will be back in her cradle this week. Ugh.

Now that our sailing season is officially over, we're being forced to switch gears. It's time to tackle some of the projects we'd been putting off while enjoying the boat this summer.  Some of them need to be done asap, some need to be done sometime before HB splashes in the spring and others we're just starting to research. 

ASAP (as work allows for RON)
Winterize engine
Tarp/cover boat

Before Spring
Make grill cover
Reupholster interior cushions
Make cockpit table
Adjust helm cover to fit cockpit table
Refinish cabin sole, companionway trim teak and companionway stairs

Research For Future Projects
Solar panels/power
Conversion from CNG to propane

To Be Done At Some Point
Replace cabin lights with LED bulbs
Change haling port on transom
Install inspection port on water tank

Of course, while I'll be doing some of these projects myself (or attempting to), some will depend on how much Ron is traveling for work.  I guess we'll do what we can and procrastinate what we can't.

The upside to this winter: We've already chosen a (rough) splash date next spring, no waiting for every boat to be launched before HB can go in because she won't be in the back of a massive pole barn.  On the other hand, we're also subjecting her to her first year of outside can't win 'em all.

So come on winter, let's get this over with!