Friday, June 28, 2013

Sleeping and Boat Noises

Sleeping well on a boat is something that has been a real challenge for me as I'm an obscenely light sleeper. If it's not a surprise set of waves rocking me awake it's some random halyard hitting a mast, the sound of the wind hitting the rigging or water noises that make me wonder if someone is trying to steal our dinghy...true story, this single thought kept me up for hours last weekend. I remember being awakened and almost tossed to the other side of the v-berth on the MacG a few times because of boats coming and going at all hours of the nite and throwing wakes our way...not conducive to restful sleep.

Here's one thing that shouldn't wake me up while in the Great Lakes...I hope.
Photo credit: boatdesign.net

Thankfully, those events have been, and will continue to be, more rare as Hullabaloo weighs about 13k lbs more than the MacG and drafts 5ft 6in instead of 1ft and we're no longer a small bobber moving to every ripple in the water. We're  actually still quite surprised by the stability of Hullabaloo, often commenting to eachother, "just think how bad that would have been on the other boat" on a regular basis when good sized waves hit the boat.

Although this newfound stability hasn't solved my sleeping woes completely. Those pesky clanking halyards still prevent any quick or extended trip to Sleepytown for me. Sometimes it's halyards from other boats making a hollow (albeit loud) "CLING" as they hit the aluminum masts, but most of the time it's the halyards and lines inside our mast that are the culprits.  Being that the mast is only a couple feet from our heads, this noise tends to be really distracting and annoying.  Since the mast isn't coming down again anytime soon I guess I better get used to it but believe you me, the next time that mast is down those lines will be secured somehow!

Ron is another story completely, I'll ask him if he heard all the thunder that rolled through the night before in a storm that kept me up for its duration and his usual response is, "There was a storm last night?". Oy, guess that means I'll have to be even more on alert for troublesome noises...or more likely, noises that don't mean anything and just keep me awake.
Not sure the trusty Captain would wake up here either
Photo credit: theatlantic.com
 So just for fun, let's compare how Ron and I sleep differently on the boat:

                         RON                                                                               ME
   
                  
Photocredit: theroyalpoke.com and flickrhivemind.net
    


        

 
     
 

(photocredit: deshow.com, sabotagetimes.com, jatim.org and infernonashville.com).
 
By the way, the scenario with the dog is a real possibility and has probably almost happened...a few times...sorry Lex.

Here's to restful sleep on the boat this weekend!
 
 




Friday, June 21, 2013

Moor(ing) Is Less

When we tell people that we keep our boat in Muskegon a lot of people get curious about the costs of such a set-up.  Considering that we have areas down the Lake Michigan shoreline where renting a slip seasonally in a marina can run anywhere from $4,000-$6,000 each year (yow!) and some places requiring you to actually buy your slip, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, people are right to be curious about how we manage keeping Hullabaloo out by the big lake, especially those familiar with my budget-minded self.
The anchor on the left is the State Park, the anchor on the right is where we're moored
Photo credit: muskegonpowersquadron.org
Fortunately we stumbled upon our marina through our friends Matt and Jessica who kept their boat on a mooring (and whom we bought our current mooring equipment from). They were nice enough to fill us in on the price of mooring, which happened to be about a third of the cost of a slip at the same marina and way less than slips at other marinas.

Our marina is a no-frills marina; we have no pool, the showers are luke warm on a good day, and you won't find fancy landscaping anywhere. But what you will find is an affordable marina that is known world-wide for rigging and sailing with helpful staff to answer questions about all things sailing related, a few industrial barges, one of which is aptly named "Anchor Yanker", and a great sailing community.  Perfect. I'd hate to loose valuable time on the boat because I was lured to a cool pool and an open lounge chair. No siree, that desolate gravel/pavement parking lot/yard offers no such distractions, thankfully.

Plus, let's be honest, if we had to dish out a couple grand every year to keep our boat somewhere I'd be not only bitter about it but probably too cheap frugal to want to spend more money on the boat or doing fun things that cost money. And forget about booze, that certainly wouldn't be in the budget then. Needless to say we found a great marina for a great price with exactly what we need and nothing we don't that allows us to maximize the fun. I like fun.

What we like
  • The price
  • The dog friendly atmosphere (even in the ship store) and dog run on shore
  • Location-just around the corner from the channel to Lake Michigan
  • The privacy on a mooring vs. slip
  • The people-no stuck up yachties here!
What we're willing to deal with for the sake of what we like
  • Having to load/unload the dinghy to get to/from the boat
  • Having to lug the outboard motor and gas tank back and forth from home every trip
  • Us and our stuff getting wet going to/from shore (sometimes)
We think we found a pretty good place to call home for the next few years.

No need to shell out the big bucks for views like this. Actually, the view from our mooring may have even been better!

Photo credit: Sailinganarchy.com


Monday, June 17, 2013

Reaching New Heights

This weekend we had more visitors on the boat! Well, technically Aaron and Jerm both have seen the boat and been on it as they were with us when we went to see her for the first time (and Jerm made the maiden voyage with us) but we had visitors none the less. 

It really worked out quite well that my brother was able to make it out this weekend as: 1.) our anchor light was out at the top of our 50ft mast 2.) he has previous climbing experience and gear and 3.) he is part monkey and can climb/traverse pretty much anything, including but not limited to trees, Las Vegas hotels and radio towers. But no one is suposed to know that, it's a secret.

Anywho, what better time to send someone up the mast than when we've got two more strapping men at our disposal to test our luck (or mostly my brothers)? Plus we really wanted to get that light fixed so we could start staying at anchor over by the State Park.
"Do you think this will hold"?


Let the chaos begin!


It doesn't look THAT high...from the deck
 After Aaron retrieved our 'faulty' anchor light from the top of the mast (keep reading for details on this) we took of for a perfect sunset sail. Winds were about 10kts, the water was calm and the sun was shining. Besides being a little chilly (for me) and coming a little close to a fishing boat this was a great evening.
"I think this is the first time my boat shoes have been on a boat" -Aaron


My boat shoes are prettier ;)


Apparently the captain is also a master photobomber, who knew?!?

Lexie's new perch
 On Saturday after Jerm and Aaron left, we ran to the ship store and picked up a couple anchor lights. Now it was time for me to haul the captain up the mast, which probably explains why he's been extra nice to me recently.  We have some massive winches on our boat, I guess that's one nice thing about buying the boat from an older gentleman, there are plenty of things to help make sailing this boat easy. But could we use one of those monsters to make my job of winching Ron up the mast easier? Heck no! The angle for the line combing through the rope clutch didn't work so I had to use the smaller winch (although still plenty big, just not as big) under the dodger.  That is hardwork! It's a good thing Ron had climbing gear that he could help pull himself up the main sheet or he may have needed a lunch packed for him. Fortunately the system worked fine and he went up and down without anything eventful happening...except a couple good waves that apparently feel much larger at the top of the mast.
Okay, this might be a little high
 After all of the high-flying excitement we'd had over the last two days wouldn't you know that the new anchor light still wasn't working! At least we knew the bulb was good now. So Ron got down to business playing with utilizing his new multimeter that he just had to have in case a scenario like this should pop up. In a nutshell: The anchor light wasn't working due to a loose connection at the base of the mast...as in just under the floorboards, not 50ft in the air. Who knew? Guess we do now. Besides, the boys still had fun playing around and now we have gear to go up the mast in case there is ever an actual need to do so.
The loosely-connected culprit
 Now that the anchor light was fixed we planned on spending the night out anchored in our usual spot.  However, soon after we anchored and got cozy the wind started kicking up and coming from the exact wrong direction. It got bouncy and blustery and since we were planning to get up early and head home to celebrate Father's Day with our families we decided to just head back to our mooring, which also just happened to be sheltered from the winds in a calm bay. Lame. Oh, well, we'll be back on anchor getting our shine on next time.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Unlike last weekend where the winds were really ripping, this weekend was calm.  The 5-10 knot winds gave us the chance to get the boat out on Lake Michigan for a nice, slow, smooth sail that didn't require us to battle the winds constantly.  We certainly weren't breaking any speed records but it was perfect for getting Lexie (and us) more comfortable with moving around the boat while the boat is in motion but without being thrown around.    
Heading out for our first leisurely cruise


Smooth sailing today
 We've learned that a happy sailing Lexie is a tired Lexie.  Before we head out for a sail we make sure to let her run and swim at the State Park (#86,501 why we love Muskegon Lake) until she can barely move.  Although these days it doesn't take all that long before she's good and worn out.  We then head out and by the time we have the sails raised she's passed out for a good couple of hours and we're all happy. 

This weekend Lexie seemed to really morph into a true salty freshwater dog.  She was going up on the deck while we were mooring or tying up to the dock and just checkin' things out on her own without trying to jump off, climb on me or otherwise freaking out. So nice! We even got compliments from people at the marina when we left her laying on the deck while we went to help grab lines for a boat coming into the marina a few slips down and she just layed there and watched.  To be honest, we couldn't believe it either!  But not having to worry about her every move is.....well.....refreshing. I think we're all learning to relax a little and that is a good thing. Even loud noises like the sails luffing/slapping in the wind or the noise of the winches, which used to send her immediately onto my lap, only made her ears slightly perk this weekend. I realize the weather this weekend was extremely tame and I know that we have a long way to go, but I have no doubt that we'll get there. Count me (us) relieved!     

Nice and sleepy...just the way we like her
When we don't have to worry about the dog, we (er, RON) gets antsy and starts tinkering, messing with sails and otherwise creates mischief.
  
Wanna-be pirate Trusty Captain


This is what happens when I leave him unattended even for two minutes!

  Ron also discovered that only while we were plugged in to shore power could we use any electrical outlets on the boat. Since we don't plan on staying in marinas regularly and keep the boat on a mooring (ie. no shore hook-ups for power, water, etc.), we needed to find a way to be able to plug in phones, computers and the wifi hotspot to charge. While the phones, computers and internet aren't must-haves per se, they do keep us entertained.  On the other hand, we rely on the ipad for navigation and like to keep that charged up in case we want to take off somewhere or just see what we did on our last/current outting.

12V outlet in the galley next to the companionway
As we didn't have a 12V outlet on the boat anyway, Ron decided to hook one up directly to a house battery and bought an inverter that has regular outlets as well as a USB port.  This is more of a short-term fix as, at some point, we'll need to be able to use the outlets in the boat without needing shore power and doing so will require some electrical work. Good thing Ron is so handy and I'm so good at handing him tools (most of the time)! During this project Ron also discovered that of the three batteries we have on board only the one used strictly for the engine is a 12V battery. So while hooking up the 12V outlet to the engine battery isn't ideal, the other two 6V batteries weren't an option. Until we can get two more 12V batteries we'll just have to keep an eye on voltage and switch batteries when we can.  Guess the saying that "every boat project leads to two more" is holding true for us.

Not bad for under $30
 
Anchored out at our favorite spot in front of the State Park on Muskegon Lake

Lounging

Relaxation
 Big news, HUGE news....the Tinkle String has been launched! Okay, well this was more of a dock line and lacked some randomly disbursed knots for grip but you get the gist; Ron was desperate antsy enough to jump in and try it out.  We're going to have to get busy getting the official Tinkle String ready before too long as it has become a highlight for friends and family (read: boys). I mean, who would want to go in a normal head when you could jump in the water, hang on for dear life and relieve yourself?!?
 Ron's parents made it out on Sunday for a short sail, during which we lost ALL wind and also hit a nice front blowing north. After eating some lunch at anchor and having the wind die off yet again it was time to start packing up and heading home after our best weekend on the boat yet.  With the A/C on high we pulled out of the marina, and promptly into the Frosty Cove for a couple slushies. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it took us this long to stop there being so close to the marina.  And wouldn't you know it, Ron spots the doggie dessert on the menu.  Besides a slight brain freeze episode, I think Lexie quite enjoyed her special treat and after this weekend she certainly deserved it!

Soft serve a la milk bone


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Not so summery

We knew this weekend wasn't going to be very nice, so instead of inviting friends out and planning on a fun weekend we thought it would be a good time to get Lexie out on the boat for the first time and get a few little projects done. 

Getting comfy in the v-berth
After taking Lexie to the State Park to run I got busy oiling ALL the wood in the boat.  I destroyed an entire bottle of Old English and although I thought the wood looked great before, now it really shines!  We then set of for West Marine and to check out a place to potentially make our bimini.  By the time we got back, the crazy wind had slowed down a little and the sun even came out so we decided to make the most of it and go for a sail since it may be the only time this weekend that we could.


Nice down-wind sailing
 We took off down the lake with less than 10kts of wind and had a smooth, calm sail.  By the time we'd gotten to the end of the lake we had steady 20kt winds with some major gusts occasionally.  After trying to keep Lexie off our laps so we could tack and battling the feisty winds we'd had enough, we furled the jib and motored back to the mooring for some ice cold Yueng Lings and to take cover from the ever-increasing winds. 
Lexie relaxed with some Bowser Beer...mmmmm...chicken malt flavored beer
 While hiding out from the wind Ron decide to replace both cockpit drain tubes (as in the ones that caused us to take on water last weekend), one of which required cramming himself into the lazarette, the other, contorting himself in/around the engine compartment. 

Proof that I did indeed help
 We ended our colorful day with a game of Battleship, which neither of us has played in at least 10 years.  It was a nice flashback and although Ron fell prey to my 'strategery' I'm sure we'll have more battles in the future.
s-t-r-a-t-e-g-e-r-y
So here's to hoping next weekend is more summery than this one...