Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Six Months.....Wait, What?!?

Didn't I just have my one year freakout last week?!?  Sure seems like it. 

I can only imagine the stress, anxiety and worry that I'll endure this next year as we prep and leave. Being notoriously bad with change, I'm sure it won't all be pretty, but you know what? I can't wait!! Because along with all that drama and stress (on my part) will come new discoveries, adventure, memories that will never fade and, darn it, a whole lotta have FUN!!

After five (yep, F-I-V-E) years of planning and always feeling like our departure was in some far-off time in a fairy-tale land I'm a bit perplexed by how quick our estimated date of departure is approaching. If five years can go by that fast, this next six months is gonna be nothing but a blip on the radar.

Oddly enough, the closer it gets the more ready I get...that's gotta be a good sign, right? I mean, if five years can fly by like nothing, then we've got some livin' to do and that livin' starts in T minus 6 months (with maybe a little before then ;)).

With each passing day we get a little closer
Here's to hoping this new year brings you fun and adventure of your own!! Cheers!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Santa Was Good To Skelton Crew

From our crew to yours - we hope you had a VERY Merry Christmas!!!

This year was a bit different for us in the fact that we actually got each other presents. The last couple of years we decided to save some money and forgo the gifts to one another, but not this year. And I forgot how much fun it is!

We had only one rule and that was that it had to be stuff that we'll take with us on our trip. I'm not going to mention the budget part because I totally went overboard in that department, although it was all stuff we wanted for cruising. You just can't beat some of those (online) Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, which we'll miss next year so it was a 'now or never' mood that struck. And I didn't hear Ron complaining too much about it.

A couple of our 'necessities' haha

Gettin' down to bidness with my gloves and bear spray
Sorry about the unfortunate face I'm making

So many toys and so little energy

The 'big' gift
We also got some more clothing, gear and galley stuff from our families that we can't wait to try out! We just might actually be ready to go when the time comes :)

Although we'll miss our families next year, we may have talked a few relatives into meeting up with us somewhere warm for the holidays next year...unless that was the champagne talking. ::Fingers crossed!::

Friday, December 19, 2014

Strays On Board

I think we have some hitchikers on board. I'm not too surprised by the discovery, but what kind of devil bug does this to someone's cushions?!? Can you say guh-ross?! We found this little mess on the back of one of our cushions, under some trim. There was no other 'traces' anywhere else and no corpse on which to place the blame, which makes me paranoid that the little perp is still running loose on the boat excreting all over it. I really hope not. 

I immediately thought I had hours of soaking and scrubbing ahead of me as I removed the cover and brought it home. I soaked it in warm, soapy water for a good hour and imagine my surprise when, with scrub brush in hand, I couldn't find the stains anywhere. Nothing.Zip.Zero.Zilch. I guess they're not lying when they call this outdoor 'stain resistant' fabric, I love it!
Okay, it's not as major as the first picture leads you to believe,
but still gross
I rinsed and wrung it out and it looks as good as new...which is good because it pretty much still is. Gee, I can't wait to get to the tropics where the real bug issues are at....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Magic Ezy 9 Second Chip Fix


We've got a few dings and dents around Hullabaloo, some from us, some not. They kind of drive me crazy every time I see them and I"ve wanted to get them fixed but wasn't sure exactly how to go about doing it and wasn't sure how much work it would take. So I just put up with them.

Then this past summer I found this stuff online that was supposed to be a super easy, super quick fix for fiberglass chips. I watched the Youtube clip and read reviews and, naturally, as I was trying to buy it I found out that it was only sold in Australia at the time. I begrudgingly moved on, but made a mental note to look it up before we left, hoping that it would be available here.

As I've heard over and over in the sailing/cruising world; things have a way of just working out. It must be true because wouldn't you know it, a couple months later I get an email offering to let us try the same exact stuff out! Uh, yes, yes I would like to try it.
MagicEzy is a manufacturer of a unique range of ‘world first’, nano-technology-based surface repair products that provide solutions to time-consuming and difficult DIY surface repair problems.
We were asked to complete the review by the end of the year and time was tickin', fortunately we have been having a bit of a warm spell lately so we took the chance to get up to the boat and try it out on a couple of our numerous chips while the temps were in the right ballpark.

We followed the directions, except for using the hairdryer/heat gun to heat the area and/or dry it. We sort of forgot the extension cord. Oh, and we couldn't find the heat gun either. 

I tried squishing and squeezing the tube to mix up the contents before using it but was left with some inconsistent consistencies when I tried to initially apply it. So I wiped of the area, squeezed some into a paper towel until the consistency seemed to even out and reapplied. Ezy peasy. 

Although my leveling abilities left a little to be desired, I think it came out pretty well and am very happy with the color match. With Hullabaloo's creamy color I wasn't sure how well the cream color I chose would match, but match it did! 

We didn't sit around and wait for it to dry so we'll have to check out the final product next time.

Some of the lighter, more liquid-y stuff I wiped off
A little blurry but it matches!
There is plenty of the chip fix in the tube to patch up our current and future chip-fixing needs and will undoubtedly be coming along with us on our travels.
I'm also looking forward to trying out the Hairline Fix product on our hairline cracks around the mast, stanchions, all over really, I'll keep you posted on that!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nobody Likes A Complainer

I'm going a bit stir crazy. It's dark, it's cold and there's not much else to do..besides complain about it. Well sure, I could start sorting and going through all our stuff to make things easier on myself later, but did I mention that it's cold and dark? Plus my Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing, so it can wait.

Of course the arrival of our Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchases doesn't help either. We've got brand new gear just sitting around begging to be taken out of their boxes and put on the boat. But like us, they have to wait too. Bummer. As if we didn't have enough to whine about already (*wink*), we'll also have items from Christmas that will soon need to be added to our gear pile, so until Spring we'll just have to keep complaining about all the fun boat stuff we have occupying our small home.

For real though, complaining is one of my pet peeves (kinda like the term 'pet peeve') so if you don't buy into my serious, heart felt complaints above maybe you'll enjoy this clip; something that Ron and I like to say to each other when one of us bellyaches a little too much.

For the record, I won't be the one complaining about the heat, that would be Ron's department.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Change of Seasons

NOT our current season. Bummer.
If whiling away another winter weren't bad enough, it would be infinitely worse if there wasn't a simultaneous changing of the seasons elsewhere, you know, the kind that doesn't suck. Up here in the cold climates we've had our boats packed up, winterized and stored for the onslaught of winter for a couple months (hence the lack of posts-sorry). So very sad.

BUT for those geniuses in the south, this time of year signals the end of hurricane season and the start of the cruising season. Let the vicarious living commence!! If it weren't for those out cruising now and being able to blog-stalk them I'd be in a real world of hurt; deep, dark, depressed hurt.

So, if you're out cruising and taking advantage of this change of season know that I most likely will be stalking you like prey while simultaneously loving and hating you all at once. That said, I CAN'T WAIT to read all about your travels!!! Adventure on my friends, and write about...and maybe have a sundowner for me every once in a while!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jinxing Thoughts

Image here
The power of thinking is.....powerful.

Whenever you have a dedicated goal, it seems like something always gets in the way to some degree, especially when you're in serious saving mode like we have been. Last year we had to unexpectedly get a new lawn mower and garage door just a couple weeks apart and all in the middle of doing boat projects too. Let's just say that our savings took a hit that month, but since then things have been progressing pretty smoothly.

It must have gone to my head because I made the mistake of thinking to myself a few weeks ago (as in, NOT uttering a syllable to anyone), that it had been a while since we'd been hit with a substantial unplanned expense. I should have known better. Not a week later Ron's truck needs new brakes and shocks, my car has a leaky tire and both our cars need multiple headlights replaced. When it rains it pours but I guess I can't complain too much, all this was still cheaper than either the lawn mower or garage door and we weren't in the middle of purchasing any boat equipment or projects. 

Maybe this is a sign that we need to get crackin' on our winter projects and give ourselves something else to do (and write about). And if my thoughts are really that powerful, I've got a lot of better things to think winning the next drawing for that free Tower paddle board! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One Last Winter

My view today
Okay, seeing the first snow of the year is pretty...for the first few hours anyway. As with every year, the first snow sends people into ditches and causes accidents for the majority of people who seem to have forgotten how to drive in the snow since last year. 

I keep telling myself that I'm going to make a real effort to enjoy the winter as much as possible this year. Never mind the fact that I've already gotten into my winter hibernation mode and only step outside to get to and from my car, nope, this year we're going to get out, enjoy the scenery and make the most of our last winter (for at least a few years). While winter and I don't get along so well I know that there will eventually be (very brief) times where I will kind of miss it...however hard it is to imagine now.

Even though I'm making a concerted effort to enjoy our last winter for the time being, rest assured that this is the type of scenery I will be dreaming about:

Here's to hoping you're warm wherever you are!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Timers

The young hooligans....who really aren't that young!
For most people summers are crazy busy - and always too short. Between our schedules (and boat projects) and those of our friends and family it can be downright impossible for the stars to properly align and a visit to magically take shape...let alone have it work out where the particular day chosen is actually nice enough for a leisurely little day sail. But this summer was different and I'm happy to report that despite a summer of fairly questionable weather, we set a new record for visitors aboard Hullabaloo and almost all of them were first timers!

We've had nothing but support and encouragement and positive feedback from those who have visited (at least to our faces haha) and I absolutely LOVE all the questions we get, the interest in how sailing works (easy to explain - definitely not rocket science) and the wide-eyed stares I sometimes see on faces when people see exactly what we plan to live on. We think our little Hullabaloo has more than enough room for us but compared to a 2000 sq ft house it's not much....we get it.

I'm never really quite sure what people will think about visiting us on the boat and going sailing, but I know we love it so how could anyone else not, right? And I'm pretty sure that first timers don't really know what to expect anyway and that helps keep expectations low...we like low expectations.

I remember this summer as an unusually cold, rainy and very breezy summer (as do other boaters we talked to), but looking back through the pictures, just about every time we had visitors out the weather was decent enough for them to enjoy themselves. Sure we had good wind and some nice waves to bust through when my brother brought his friends out, but they had a great time white-knuckling it on deck (plus we ended the day with a nice relaxing sail on Muskegon Lake). Not so fun if my grandma were out at that time but those young hooligans loved it! Crazy kids.

And then there were the times we had visitors and zero wind and we just motor-sailed and floated around and that was fun too! Plenty of food and conversation to go around, that's for sure.

While she "couldn't live on a boat", I think my grandma still had a great time...
and she can get up to the bow while under sail like a pro :)
No one got sick, we never came back with less people than we left with and we didn't break anything major: I think that's a pretty good record with so many first timers.*

*We try to maintain these standards with everyone, so if you're not a first timer we still want you to come visit and we'll still try not to loose you overboard ;)

Harry and Tineke- How in the world did I not get any pictures taken when you were out??? Boo!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Laundering the Lines

Just like everything on a sailboat that needs care and maintenance, our lines are no exception. And some of our lines are looking a wee bit...nasty; some in part because of frequent (main sheet) and others due to lack of use (cunningham and boom vang lines).

The main sheet is not only used to adjust the main sail, which can be a lot when Ron is 'playing', but it also serves as a convenient hand hold when descending the companionway stairs (which is also a lot). Throw in some greasy, sunscreened hands doing all the touching and you can see how it would get grimy after a while. The boom vang and cunningham lines on the other hand are used much less, the ends generally lie on the deck and soak up water and have been allowed to get moldy, crusty and downright gah-rossss. Shame on us!
In case you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about
We've replaced a couple lines here and there and thought that we'd need to replace these as well but instead of just going out and getting new ones, and since we have 5 months of winter to play with them, we decided to try and wash them first and see what happens.
I like colorful lines...but not green a-la-mold
We packed the lines in  pillow cases, tossed in some detergent and Oxyclean and let the washer work its magic. The good news is that the main sheet and boom vang lines brightened up and can be put back on the boat, the bad news is that the cunningham did not (shocker). Besides the discoloration, the line was getting to be fairly brittle and stiff so we decided to just get a new one. At least it won't be too costly as it's only 18ft long and Ron can splice in the loop himself.

I was sort of secretly wishing they'd all need to be replaced so we could spice up our color motif but the cheap practical side of me would rather not waste perfectly functional (but boring) line.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Cruising Credit Card

Image here
Sometimes just thinking about trying to get finances set up for cruising can be a tad overwhelming. We'll need access to cash and a way to pay for stuff without paying exorbitant amounts of money to fees and surcharges, who has money for those anyway?? Here's (partly) how we're doing it, it's a work in progress.

Up until recently we've used a credit card that gives us frequent flier miles rewards. It was great, we accumulated enough to get 2-3 free round trip tickets a year (thanks to Ron's work related travel expenses) and it was easy to justify going on vacation when you only need to cover expenses at your destination. Let's be honest, just getting there can cost more than being there.

But with our date of departure getting closer, our budget getting tighter, and our need for air travel pretty much nil (not to mention leftover miles for a pair of tickets ready to be used), it was time to start looking for a cruising card.

For a while close family friends have been encouraging us to get the Capital One Venture card* because of the reward program associated with it; basically any travel related charge on the card can be removed using accumulated points (which don't expire - sweet).
Would these three lie?!?
Before signing us up for the card I wanted to make sure that it would work for us so I chatted with a representative who confirmed that not only can airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc. be redeemed with points but so can BOAT RELATED TRAVEL CHARGES including marina and customs (check-in/out) fees!! Granted, these charges have to be able to be charged on the card, which won't always be an option, but I'm sure we'll still be able to use points to save us some dough.

Plus, there are zero international transaction fees (which I'm telling you can add up!) and redeeming points is as easy as going online and selecting the charge to be removed from your statement. Easy peasy --> so I've been told, I have yet to try it. Ours is a VISA, which really is 'everywhere you want to be' so we don't need to worry about where we can use it...unlike some others.

BONUS: You can personalize your card for free, ours looks like this:

With all the stuff we have left to buy before leaving, we should have a nice little points nest egg built up so we won't need to feel so guilty for stopping at a marina when we want to.

Let's get wrackin' up those points!

*An 'excellent' credit rating is required for approval and there is an annual $59 fee for the card after the first year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Putting The Baby To Bed...One Last Time

Sad. Sad. Sad.
The good news: We got to the boat this weekend!

The bad news: She's on the hard waiting for yet another cold winter to hit.

Down are all the sails, removed is all the canvas and secured and/or stowed are all the lines. HB is naked once again....but for the last time!!! That last bit may be the only thing that gets me through OUR LAST miserable winter.

The weather wasn't too terrible so Ron and I toughed it out, him in his work gloves, me in my hot pink fuzzy gloves that make me look like part Elmo.

I underestimated how many "freezables" we had aboard. Between the sunscreen, cleaning supplies, food and booze we were woefully under prepared in the bag department. We winterized the water lines, holding tank and water heater with anti-freeze and literally gave the v-berth cushions the 'ole heave-ho (the last of our cushions to be reupholstered this winter, which we can do now that we have our extra padding for it).

Long ago we decided to forgo the classy full-length tarp covering of 2013. The few pieces of tape that were on the hull were a nightmare to get off! Instead we've opted to go with a single tarp over the boom to protect the companionway from any ice/snow buildup that might then find it's way inside the boat.

Besides that, we still need to winterize the engine, but we're holding off  until the marina has a chance to complete their pre-trip survey of it. Hopefully they can report some news about how our 33 year old engine purrs like a kitten and runs like a Ferarri! That would really make my day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sunset Dinghy Rides

Gosh do we love our sunset dinghy rides! Pack up a tasty beverage, maybe the dog and head on out and see who we run into and we've got a pretty perfect evening guaranteed.

The key is to getting comfy; we like to sit on a preserver on the floor, prop our feet up, lean on back and enjoy the scenery. Although I do like my space and being away from the crowd, sunset dinghy cruises wouldn't be as fun without people watching.

I love ghosting through the marinas, spying on boats and generally being nosy. Plus, watching the powerboats try to tie up and untie from the dock and seawall at one of the waterfront restaurants is pretty entertaining. Nothing against powerboaters, sailboats generally don't tie up here...but that could be entertaining too.

It's all about getting comfy. We like to sit on the floor on a life jacket, prop our legs up, lean on back and take it all in. And believe me, sometimes taking it all in can take a while. Especially when you run into a few familiars and get to chatting...the time just flies by. Of course we always pack our dinghy stern light and our spot light too. Dodging other boats in the dark on the way back to the boat, while a little nerve-wracking, is also a pretty fun way to end these outings (FYI- we've never had a close call by any means).

Until next year sunset dinghy rides...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Battery Shuffle

Old spot
Hullabaloo currently has a starting battery for the engine and 2 6v house batteries to run everything else; which is pretty much our cabin, anchor and nav lights and our bilge pumps as necessary (rare). At this time they all get charged by the engine and will later also be charged via solar panels and a generator. Since owning the boat the two house batteries have provided more than enough energy for our currently limited needs but as we add more watt-sucking equipment and prepare to live aboard full time we really need to add more .

The problem was that our storage area under the stairs was limited and the starting battery took up a big chunk of that prime real estate. So we moved the starting battery into the compartment under the lazarette to make room. Now we just need to build boxes for 2 more 6v batteries and hook it all up...all with about 1/8 of an inch to spare. 

New spot
The key here is to have enough battery juice for our needs without going way over the top and having a billion amp hour battery bank. That would be nice (maybe) but we lack the space and the money necessary. We think we'll be okay with 4 house batteries.

However, if we are in need of a 'Come to Jesus' speech on this, we're certainly all ears.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Look What We Caught!

Maybe I should try pulling up the anchor more often. Last time I tried we managed to snag the chain of this little anchor. What are the chances?!? Okay, so it was out in front of the State Park where lots of people probably loose stuff, but still....what are the chances really?

It's way too small to use for the boat but it'll still work for a dinghy anchor. Assuming we can ever remember to put one in the dinghy that is.

I love finding burried treasure (it was in mud!)'s very pirate-y right? Maybe next time we can find something a little more useful and/or valuable!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Third Wheel

  • I tried to get a pic of Ron and I 
  • Lexie felt left out
  • Lexie remedied the situation
  • I became the third wheel

It's a good thing they're so cute...otherwise I might be offended!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Little Moments of Panic

Usually right about the time something happens
It happens just about every time we're out on the boat, we're happily enjoying ourselves and everything is postcard perfect. Then something happens that causes you to have a moment (or a few) of panic-ridden, adrenaline packed "what the hell was that?!?" mixed in with an unhealthy number of visions of water rushing into the boat, the boat being pushed toward something hazardous with no way to stop it or smoke pouring out of the cabin. Or maybe that's just me.

Then a light bulb goes off, you realize what's happening and start fixing the issue (if it's even our issue, read on).  While these experiences usually end up teaching us something, it's not very comforting to know in the back of your mind that our next lesson could begin at any second.

The two things that worry me most on the boat are, without a doubt, electrical/battery/fire issues and engine failure. Both of which we have experienced. Fantastic.

Some of our moments of panic thus far:

  1. The time a wire shorted out on a battery terminal while installing the inverter - As part of the process we were installing, moving and replacing wires. During this time one of the (small) wires accidentally fell on a battery Ron was working on (hence the cover was off), hitting the terminal and immediately commenced a nuclear meltdown (in my mind) and the companionway filled with thick, nasty smoke. Ron replaced the shorted wire, we aired out the cabin and Lexie and I took a couple extra doses of Xanax and changed our shorts.
  2. The time we forgot to turn on the diesel - After being gone from the boat for an entire month we were a little rusty on our 'standard operating procedures' for getting the boat ready to get off the mooring. We took off with a stiff breeze at our backs and made it about 100 yards when the engine stutters then up and dies. And we're crossing into part of the lake currently being used for a sailboat race. OH SH!T. With the wind at our back we're still moving at 3 kts so at least we still have steering but on the other hand, none of the other boats could tell that we were currently engine-less. Ron starts poking around in the engine compartment and realizes the diesel was never turned on. Oopsies. He turns it on, bleeds the lines of air and I hold my breath and turn the key. That little beauty fires right up and away we go! Crisis averted.
  3. Something smells hot - Man I hate that smell! Earlier this summer our engine got hotter than normal after motoring a short ways. Ron checked everything over and didn't find any issues with intakes, impellers, all that stuff. This issue resolved on it's own and hasn't been a problem since, but now we check the temps regularly. On this particular day, I had just checked the gauge, which was perfectly placed where it should be. A few minutes later we both get a big whiff of, boy. Our heads whip around and we look at each other in that moment of panic. Is it us?!? It's pretty strong and is coming from somewhere close by. I check the gauge again and we're good. Then I notice a boat behind, but upwind of us who is clearly having some (outboard) engine issues. 
No panic here, just the way I like it
Not listed above are my personal moments of panic when Ron makes me dock the boat. I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable with it, but I think it's going to take a loooooong while before that feeling goes away!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We've Got Some Spending To Do

We're in the midst of what is turning out to be a fantastic weekend on the boat. After such a cool, drizzly summer I'm glad Mother Nature has relented a little and agreed to give us some sunny, high 70s weather for what is most likely our last weekend on the boat (in the water) this season. It's beeeeeauuuuuuutifuuullllll!

With the changing of the season quickly approaching my mind has been occupied with thinking about just how much stuff we have yet to buy and install on the boat. In reality it's not that much, but you how it is with boat projects; they take twice as long and cost twice as much as you planned. Big projects, little projects, there's quite a lot to do when I start accounting for everything.

I'm just hoping that we'll have enough time to install all of the big stuff before leaving, although I'm starting to wonder if Ron has procrastination planned so he can quit working even sooner!

It was nice to see the 'prep' fund build up but man is it about to take some major hits! But that just means our time is getting closer so no real complaints here!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DBL Vision is a Good Thing

This weekend we met up with Dave, a fellow sailor from Muskegon, who we first met on White Lake (when Ron was gawking at his boat), randomly ran into in Feyette (of all places) and have kept in touch with since. He and his wife are in the process of moving to the coast of North Carolina and he'd just taken his boat to the coast via the Erie Canal, same as we're planning to do.

He generously gave us a whole pile of cruising guides for the canal and East Coast, tons of great tips from his recent experience AND a few Garmin Blue Chart cards to use in the Garmin chartplotter we plan to buy this fall.

Cruising guides are very handy tools when traveling on the water, especially in unfamiliar areas. They show mile-by-mile navigation information and tips, aerial photos of marinas and routes, detailed marina listings with contact information and bridge tables, GPS waypoints and mileage charts. It's pretty easy to figure out where you are, but these guides also let you know what's coming and help make planning and plotting a course a lot easier. I like easy.

Add these to our existing pile of cruising guides from others and we've got a nice little stack started!

The generosity of the sailing community continues, and we look forward to paying it forward someday.

Thanks DBL Vision!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dock(ing) Queen

A fine docking job if I do say so myself
I've known for a while (since we got the boat) that I would need to learn how to get the boat on and off a dock. And I've dreaded it, but there's no getting around it, this is non negotiable.  Plus, after a particularly interesting dock experience we figured it might be best all around for me to learn to bring the boat in while Ron handles the lines and ties us off. At our marina there are no dockhands, and other than a random volunteer on shore from time to time, we're pretty much on our own when docking. And we're totally okay with that, we'd much rather be able to bring our boat in on our own and (gladly) accept help where/when it's available than needing help and not having it.

With the transient docks at the marina pretty much cleared out, no audience on hand and favorable winds there was no better time for a first attempt. I managed, with Ron's close supervision and instructions, to coast Hullabaloo right into the slip. A touch of reverse and BOOM, we're in! I just did that! Getting off the dock went just as well, albeit probably a little slow for Ron's taste.

Unfortunately for beginners (ie. ME), docking is just something you have to learn by doing, which also includes doing it wrong and making mistakes somewhere along the way. I just hope there aren't any large audiences or major damage WHEN they happen.

At the end of the day I didn't damage anything and I didn't injure anyone...that's a perfect docking day in my book! Now I just need to get more practice under my belt. Baby steps people, baby steps.

Even the witnesses survived
Thanks for the boat warming gift, moral support, pics and beer Mike and Linda!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Put A Little Toothpaste On It

We've pretty much skipped fall and are into pre-winter around here. And I hate it. Why we even come out when it's windy, rainy and topping out in the 50s is beyond me, but we've done it before and we'll no doubt do it again. Feeble attempt to eek out a few more days on the boat before she comes out for the season I guess.

As is usual when the weather stinks and we're stuck inside, Ron gets bored and starts digging through lockers and pulling, pushing and investigating whatever he stumbles across. Sometimes he finds stuff we forgot we had. Like new port screens.


The old ones...Not very bug proof
We'd swapped out a couple screens when I commented how cloudy the port lenses were. They had a bad case of cloudiness that really hindered the view out of them. So naturally Ron got out the toothpaste and started smearing it all over one of them. Sure, there are products out there specifically designed for this purpose (for a cost of course), but actually, the toothpaste did a pretty good job and the lenses were much clearer afterwards. Not perfect but much better.

Ah, the power of toothpaste. This stuff is like vinegar; it has 97,837,530 uses but I only know about 3 of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Great Fridge Debate

We have (what I think is) a rather large ice box on the boat and up until now we've always brought ice with us to the boat to keep our food cold. And it works quite well; when we went on our 2 week cruise last year we still had some of the ice we put in it the first day when we got back to our home port. However, we also added some more over the course of the trip and, admittedly, the air and water temps were no where near what is seen in the tropical climes.

The ice box goes to the back corner of the counter and extends down to the floor
With the fall and winter approaching, we're trying to research, choose and buy what we need for some of our larger projects, so that when spring rolls around we can tackle them in a timely manner and be ready for our July departure --> Geeze, I still get butterflies when writting that!

While Ron seems to have chosen a particular approach to this problem, I wanted to pick your brains for a moment and see what refridgeration-related experiences you've had.

Option #1 - Convert our ice box to a refridgerator unit

This would require us to buy a compressor, evaporator plate (or cold plate....are these 2 even the same thing?) and necessary hardware to complete the conversion. Then we would have to beef up the insulation of the current box, which I hear is a nightmare itself.

Conversion Kit
Image here
However, this system could also give us the option to freeze a small amount of food or make our beloved ice cubes. I like ice. Plus, we have a handy spot to put the compressor...or so Ron tells me.

Option #2 - Drop-in unit

These units are made to drop into pre-existing ice boxes and come fully insulated and ready to go. And I've heard that they use a suuuuuper small amount of battery power to run.

Drop-in unit
Image here
This unit has to be used as either a fridge or a freezer but not both. And it is substantially smaller in size than our current ice box...which could very well be why it is more energy efficient. This option would also still likely require some level of alterations to install and could result in loosing access to the remaining space in the ice box.

Bottom Line
From what I can tell the conversion kits run anywhere from $700-$1000 and the drop-ins are $1000-$1500.

What has been your experience dealing with an existing boat refridgeration unit or installing a new one? Any advice? What are we missing?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back In The Saddle

It's quickly approaching the time of year where nights are cooler, the morning takes longer and longer to warm up and you can tell fall is well on its way. The lake is quieter with fewer boats and one by one I'm putting on more layers to stay warm.

While waiting for the weather to warm up this past weekend (so we could finally sail again), Ron got busy replacing the water lines in the boat. We didn't know when they'd last been replaced and we'd had a couple times where there were gross little floaties in the water when you first turned on the faucet. Most of the lines looked pretty good, but there were parts that were definitely in need of a switcharoo. And guess what? No more floaties. Next up we just need to get a filter to catch any 'extras' that might be in the water and keep out that 'stale tank water' flavor.
Let's go with, "it's jus a little rust"
Afterwards we were rewarded with a fantastic sail on the big lake. Minus the raining of nasty, fat spiders when we raised the main, that is. I actually heard a couple fatties hit the cockpit floor when they fell. And much to Ron's side-eyed annoyance, I was not so graceful at keeping the bow pointed into the wind while dancing around falling spiders. Go figure.

With winds at 18kts, we reefed the main and only had out about 75% of the genoa and I know it's silly, but these conditions still make me nervous. Not for the boat but for the crew, I'm always worried Lexie will get sick or stir-crazy (and fall in) or that I'll do something dumb and really get us in a pickle.

But I'm happy to report that all was well and it was actually fun! I know that for a lot of people these winds are nu-thin but they aren't for me and I feel great that 1) we got out there and 2) that no major mishaps occured. We got to use our reefing system again and make a few little tweeks to make things easier in the future and I got some needed helm time. It turns out I need practice reading the wind and the waves simultaneously - according to Ron, but what does he really know anyhow?!?

And it really didn't hurt our mood when we were treated with perfect wind to sail all the way through the channel, Muskegon Lake and right onto the mooring!

Gosh, it felt good to get out sailing again! I just wish the fall would hold off a little longer...