Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

 As we gear up for the crazy holiday season, in between food induced comas and Black Friday Door Buster maulings at 3am, I hope you find time to sit back and just be....Thankful.

And here's something for you brave souls venturing out for Black Friday...or Thursday...or whatever day they decide to make it: May the force be with you!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New dishes

Remember me talking about getting actual dishes for the boat?  Well I ordered them last Thursday.  I came home from work on Monday to both sets waiting on my doorstep.  Now that's some timely delivery Ebay!

Before ordering actual dishes, we'd been using Pampered Chef picnic plates and silverware.  They worked great for the last two seasons on boats but I started to notice that the plates were starting to get scratched up.  I love the matching silverware set, the knife, fork and spoon all snap together so all I'd have to do when getting ready for dinner is reach in the drawer and grab a couple fuss, no muss.  Except after regular use the freakishly sharp plastic knives were leaving their marks on the plates and I thought now would be a good time to invest in some Corelle dishes.  We'll still keep these on the boat and most likely still use them for some lunches and snacks but it's nice to know we have actual dishes to use now too.
 Plus, you gotta love that the plates have a cup holder built right in.  Makes eating in the cockpit...with no cockpit table...a little easier.

Corelle dishes are suposed to be "break resistant".  It even says it on the bottom of the dishes so you know it's legit.  I've read different reviews on line about using them in boats and for the most part many people do say that they don't break easily, even after being dropped.  A perk on a boat since broken glass on a boat is  muy mal.  However, I also read that if they do break it's like atoms splitting and you'll have a bajillion miniscule shards to clean up.  I'd like to avoid that. 

My mom had Corelle dishes when we were little and even between 3 constantly fighting siblings I don't remember any of them breaking. 

I chose the Stroke-of-color dishes.  I love the Caribbean feal of the teal set.  I also decided to be cheap practical and got a set of white ones for backup when we have visitors aboard.  The white set was $25 cheaper than the color sets!  Dumb.  I have a little color, I'm good with it.

I also loved this set because 1.) it didn't include coffee mugs and 2.) just look at those bowls!  We almost strictly use Tervis Tumblers for hot and cold drinks and don't need any combersome coffee mugs to find space for.  Besides, we already have Tervis coffee mugs anyway.  And look at those bowls, I love them!  The big, wide-rimmed one is huge, the mid-sized one is really deep (perfect for a boat) and the little one...well...just look at how adorable it is.  Perfect for dips or optional meal additions like cheese, onions...whatever!
My actual dishes
The camera flash makes them look like the online pictures, but in real life they're actually a darker teal than I expected.  Which is fine.  I still love them.  I'm just glad I didn't go with the royal blue color I'd also been eyeing (which were also cheaper!).  Those babies probably look close to black.   

The actual teal color can be best viewed in the lovely yellow glow of the dining table light
Thanks Mom for the early birthday presents!  Now, I'm going to have to get serious in devising a plan to store these things safely.  I've gotten some good suggestions so far that should make things easier, but first I just have to pick a spot to put them!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sail storage

When we took the sails off the boat for the winter, Ron had the idea that we need to remove them from the bags they've undoubtedly been sitting in for years, except of course for the main and genoa sail we used this past season.  In addition to those we also have an asymmetrical spinnaker, a symmetrical spinnaker, a second main sail, another genoa and a storm sail - all of which are of the 1980s era, with some being in better shape than the others.  Our backup main is pretty much a disaster and the second genoa is mylar with some mold.  But the spinnakers and storm sails on the other hand are just about brand new and look great...we think anyway.  So we took a couple of hours to get the sails unrumpled and 'rolled'.  Except that the stupid things are so big my rolling technique started looking like folding per the roll-master Ron.  By the time we were done I was sweating and somewhat out of breath, trying to maneuver those suckers in between pool tables, chairs and whatever other junk we have in the basement was hard work!

Mains, genoas and storm sail 'rolled' up. Ha
  The genoa that we use has a couple areas on the sunbrella strip that need to be sewn so we figured we'd just take all the sails into a sail loft in Muskegon to get some feedback from a professional.  The sails are dirty and could use a good cleaning anyway and we'd really like to see what they think of the condition of all the sails.  For the age of the sails, the main and genoa we used, I think, are in pretty decent and seviceable shape.  Maybe a restitching here or there and a good scrubbing.  Although I'm a bit worried they're going to say both mains and both genoas are garbage...I think I'd cry. 

This can't be good for the spinny
Then of course, there's always the ongoing battle with the dog who wants to be in your face while trying to roll up big, heavy sails.  Technically, we didn't roll the spinnies, we just layed them on top of the others to air out.  Now when we do take the sails in, we'll have to UNroll them all and get them back into the bags we just freed them from.  Not looking forward to that.  Please pray for our souls sails...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Refinishing the Companionway Stairs

Our companionway stairs, like our cabin sole, were in bad need of refinishing.  We should have brought them home right after having the boat hauled for the winter but thought we'd wait a little bit since we really weren't in a hurry.  As it happened, Ron's parents had borrowed Ron's truck right before we covered the boat and since the stairs wouldn't fit in my car, we left them on the boat again.  The last time that we went to check on the boat, with Ron's truck, we decided it was time to get the stairs home for refinishing.  Except now we had the tarps tied down all over the place.  We had to undo a few ropes and the traveler, wrestle the stairs out the companionway, through the cockpit, around the tarp and down the ladder.  Some how we managed with no major mishaps.  Probably would have been easier to do ealier but we like to keep things interesting.

The steps were worn down to the wood and looking pretty rough. 

Adding a coat of stain helped to bring back some of the color.

Then it was up to me to varnish.  We used regular semi-gloss polyurethane.  I did 2 coats on the storage compartments, 4 coats on the side pieces not being walked on and 5 coats on the steps themselves.  Of course I sanded and used tack cloth between coats as well.  Having never used tack cloth before I didn't expect it to be so tacky.  I had to wash my hands a couple times to get all the gook off after using them, nasty! 

Tack cloth and 200 grit sandpaper

We're not quite sure how slippery the stairs will be when we get back to using them on the boat so we may need to put grip strips or something down to keep ourselves and our guests from falling on our faces.  Since Lexie doesn't use the stairs on her own we don't have to worry about her at least...unless we slip and drop her in the process of getting her up or down. That could be bad.

These should hold up for a while.  I hope. 

One winter project done, a lot to go. 

I'm also getting real dishes for the boat for my birthday.  Yay! No more plastic plates and we won't have to eat out of plastic ziplock bowls anymore.  We're really moving up in this world.  This also means we need to devise a plan to securely store non-plastic dishes in the boat.  Any ideas? Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend Getaway

 I spent this last weekend in Venice, FL.  Mike and Linda, two of my favorite people on the planet, and my second parents,  have a condo on the beach and bought me a ticket for my birthday to come and see them to get a little break from the cold, gloomy Michigan weather.  As it worked out, my mom was able to come too!  With a direct flight from Grand Rapids to St. Pete in only a couple hours, a long weekend makes for a nice, albeit short, chance to get some much needed vitamin D while spending time with the most generous, kind and caring people I've ever met.  
Mom and I cruising the ICW
 Whenever I go and see Mike and Linda I get spoiled...really really really badly.  From refusing to let us pay for just about anything to taking us on boat rides on the Intercoastal, these people know how to be hosts.  This year we happened to be down during stone crab season, which also just so happens to be my favorite type of crab.  I was introduced to them a few years ago while visiting and this time the timing happened to be right again.  Instead of going to a restaurant to buy my own meal of stone crab, they bought six pounds of it to enjoy at the condo.  I now have a t-shirt that will always smell like crab - no matter how many times I wash it, I'll always remember the day I almost killed my mom with a large chunk of crab shell to the carotid and I'm certain that Mike and Linda will be finding remainders of that meal on their floor, in their carpet and on their walls for a long time.  I won't ever forget that meal; it was entertaining, rediculously messy, sometimes downright dangerous and most of all delicious! 

Prepare to feast...and feast we did!

The only casualty of the evening
 Although Friday and Saturday were a bit cloudy, it was still warm and we could still enjoy the beach, we also had to worry about sunburning a little less.  We lounged on the beach, read, napped and hunted for shark teeth.  Venice Beach is the shark tooth capital of the world, you know.
Mom looking for shark teeth
 A couple months ago my friend Jay got a job transfer from Michigan to the Tampa area.  And it worked out perfectly for him to come down and spend part of the weekend with us.  His wife and kids are still back in Michigan and are in the midst of completeing the sale of their home before they can move and since he doesn't know a whole lot of people in the area yet, and I haven't seen him in a couple months, now was a great time for a little reunion.  What fun we had!

The beach set-up

 I'm not sure what the reason was but the guys were catching fish almost as fast as they could get the shrimp bait in the water.  Flounder, lady fish and even a skate were just a few of the many catches.  We were even privied to a group of six or seven dolphins feeding right out in front of us, including two babies - my favorite.
On our last day the sun came out (of course) so we decided to take a boat ride down the intercoastal to Manasota Beach and see some new sights. 
The girls got in the water...the boys waited on the beach
Enjoying the change of scenery
 I didn't get too many pictures this weekend, I take that as a sign that I was having too much fun!

We came back to Michigan over a massive storm system, but with our smooth flight, we didn't actually know just how crazy the wind and weather was that we'd flown through until we were on our way home.  Wind, debris, tornado warnings and watches.  Oh, and no power at home.  Sweet.  To top it all off, the area where the boat is at had winds upwards of 70 and 80 mph with a tornado somewhere in the local vacinity.   I delegated the task of calling the marina to inquire about any boat damage to Ron.  Still waiting to hear back on that.  Either way, I'll have to go check on it this weekend just to make sure everything is okay.  I fear for our tarps

A HUGE, WHOPPING, REDONKULOUS thank you to Mike and Linda for your generosity and love!!! Thank you for all you've done and continue to do for me!  Not sure how I got so lucky, but I sure did!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Safer on the Boat?

Country livin' at it's finest
 We live in the country...I LOVE living in the country.  Plenty of space, almost no houses in direct sight, peaceful.  Until yesterday that is when I came home to this:
Well that's odd....but I have to pee!
I came home to this sight.  When I first saw it I was baffled...what in the world happened in here?!? But I had to pee.  While sitting on the toilet, which faces this particular wall, trying to figure out what was going on I looked at my feet and saw a small object.  I picked it up and I'll be damned if it wasn't a bullet!!  What the hell!?!?  I run outside to look around and find not one but TWO bullet holes in the back of my house.  Now I'm pissed, what kind of drugged up, inbred idiot is shooting at my house??
Hole #1 - in the bathroom

Hole #2 - fortunately this one hit a stud and didn't come into the house

 The police are called, a very nice State Trooper comes over to check it out, take some pictures and make a report.  Our options of possible responsible parties is pretty limited, there's only a couple homes behind our house and we regularly hear shooting from one of them.  (In fact we've caught this particular group poaching a pheasant before)  We know they hunt, we know they have guns.  No biggie, shooting guns is allowed out here, we even do it from time to time.  However, a couple weeks ago I hear more shooting than normal.  Not hunting related target practice but fast, repetitive shots going on.  A bit annoying but it didn't last that long, didn't think anything else about it...until now.
Our backyard...the perps live off to the left at about 10 o'clock
 The Trooper goes over to the suspected house to investigate and comes back to tell me that it was some "young kids" (I'm guessing around 18 since that's the legal age to buy a gun) who had a new 9mm who were shooting at a flimsy target POINTED AT OUR HOUSE.  I.was.furious.  You see that field beyond our yard?  Theres another field further to the left, directly behind the neighbors house, so instead of shooting into fields where there is not another home in sight, they decide to purposely put a target up facing our house.  Morons.  We've decided not to press charges and they have agreed to pay for repairs.  

I'm not against guns.  I grew up around plenty of them, both my family and Ron's family are hunters and I think they have their place but when stupidity takes over and my home and my dog...mostly the dog, are put in danger it's a whole other ballgame.  Believe me, should another 'incident' occur, we won't be so nice.

The angle of entry pointed directly at the perp's house. 
I now refer to the neighbor as 'the perp', I think it's an appropriate name.

Our not-so-little blowout. Notice the chips where the bullet ricocheted.  It bounced off this cabinet, chipped the cabinet door on the opposite wall and landed in front of the toilet.

A nice sized hole in my house

The bullet bounced off the outside of the cabinet but still manage to shoot drywall dust and insulation into the cabinet

Chunks of drywall and plaster. Behind the toilet, in the shower, on the counter
For reference here's a couple pics:

The hole is between the tall cabinet and the hamper, the bullet bounced off the tall cabinet and hit the cabinet door of the sink Ron is standing behind.
(We converted a small bedroom to our master bath a couple years ago, hence the random bathroom pics available for your viewing)

This pic, oddly enough, was taken exactly where the bullet hole is.  The shower door was open and there were wall chunks inside the shower and behind the toilet.  I found the bullet in between the two rugs, in front of the toilet.  That's also the cabinet door that was dinged as the bullet pin-balled around a bit.
 Upon hearing the news, my friend Jessica said we'd be safer living on the boat.  She may have a point.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boat Check-up

Ron and I went up this past weekend to check on our hillbilly-of-a-tarp-job on the boat.  I wasn't sure what to expect, part of me thought we'd pull in and see our tarps blowing wildly in the breeze.  We'd had a seriously windy couple of days and I was a bit afraid of what we'd find.  To my delight we came upon this:
What a relief!!
  We checked everything over, added a few more staples, re-allocated a few strips of duct tape and hoped she'd hold up for a while.  We also wrastled (that's right....wrAstled) the sails, remaining cushions and the companionway stairs out of the cabin, into the cockpit, around the tarps and ropes strung up all over, down the ladder and into the truck. Phew!

Our neighbors could have used some duct tape...clearly ;)
Now it's time for me to get my rear in gear stripping and refinishing the stairs and getting started on reupholstering the interior cushions.  I've lured Ron's mom into going with me to the fabric store for fabric and supplies and with her help, the cushions might actually look like cushions when I'm done.  Plus, she gets awesome discounts on this stuff by being a frequent flyer buyer! Let the cursing fun begin.