Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trying New Things

A couple weeks ago we saw a family attempt to sail on to their mooring, it was a disaster. The young son couldn't reach the line with the boat hook, neither could the wife, which left the dad spouting off in a true cursing-like-a-sailor rant. I felt so bad for his family, it was his inept sailing that was to blame for the situation to begin with.

Instead of falling off the wind and coming in again Dear Old Dad felt it appropriate to curse out his family and be the Drama Mama of all mama's. I wanted nothing more than for sweet, quiet little Wifey Poo to give him a swift kick overboard. Seriously. What an ass!

Image here

After watching the situation unfold, Ron started talking about how easy it would be to sail onto the mooring. I believe I gave him a good eye roll accompanied by a snotty, "clearly" while dramatically gesturing to our boat neighbors.

With some favorable winds, a pre-set plan of approach and a promise of no swearing we attempted to sail onto our mooring this past weekend. All I had to do was go to the bow and grab the pole attached to our lines so it was pretty easy for me, but Ron had to judge our momentum, time it just right to turn into the wind (so we slow down) and roll in the front sail all while getting the boat within an arm's reach of the mooring bouy. And you know what? It.Was.Perfect. I guess sometimes he really does know what he's talking about!

Don't get me wrong here, we've had plenty of things not go as planned the first time, but it sure is refreshing when it does! Now what's next....

Monday, June 23, 2014

Servicing the Winches, Finally!

Winches on a sailboat are a pretty important piece of equipment, they're what allows us to control multiple sails on the boat. Have you ever tried to tack or trim a sail without one? Unless you feel like loosing parts of your hands/fingers, you don't want to.
We love having our seriously awesome winches that make controlling the sails a breeze, but they also need some love in return from time to time. And in our case they needed it bad. It's recommended that they be cleaned and re-greased about every year, but I don't think there are many people who actually follow this tip.
We took ours apart to see what they looked like and give them a cleaning they were no doubt overdue for. Dirty, dirty, dirty. Grease and dirt caked everywhere.
Look at that gunk!
A lot of people neglect the winches because they can be quite complicated to put the million pieces back together correctly (I had no part in this part!) and because cleaning them can be quite tedious - ours were no exception, I doubt if they have ever been cleaned before. However, in all honesty, I really enjoyed cleaning them! I geniunely enjoy this type of instant gratification and deep cleaning. Plus I like picking. At pretty much anything. With my mini screw driver in hand I was havin' a ball.

Ron was a little hesitant about getting them back together but, in the end, it all went pretty darn smoothly. The trickiest (and the dirtiest) were the Lewmar 44ST's (above)...way different than the other 4 we did first but still not too bad, I don't recall any swearing by the Captain anyway.

In total it took around 6 hours over 2 days to get these neglected winches up to snuff. We (Ron) disassembled them and put the parts in a tub of mineral spirit to soak for a few minutes before I got down to business with my screw driver and toothbrush. I know some people let them sit overnight for a super easy cleaning the next day but where's the fun in that?!? Plus, we wanted to go sailing!

If we thought these behemoths were fantastic before, they're stupendous now that all the dirt and gunk is out of there! They turn so much easier and the 'clicking' isn't nearly as loud as it was before (which could get pretty loud when pulling in slack line). We put the handle in the top of one and one little flick would send it 'round and 'round. Awesome.
No gunk, fresh grease, (almost) ready to go!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Strake Time

Not Good
When the boat is tied up to the mooring ball we use the two cleats at the front of the boat. With the entire weight of the boat being put on these lines, we found that they quickly rubbed on and wore away our pretty toe rail finish. Not so pretty.
However, there is this dandy thing called a strake that is made to prevent this issue. Earlier this spring I sanded and resealed the areas around both cleats (admittedly not the ideal fix) and Ron put on the strakes before we launched the boat.
No more rubbing here!
When Ron went to put them on he found that our hefty cleats took up too much of the toe rail to just put the strakes at the edge next to the cleat. Instead he had to cut out pieces of the strakes so they'd fit where we needed them.

For $16 I think this was a pretty good investment, and so far they're performing perfectly!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Taking That Chance

"I learned you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love." -Jim Carey
::Gives me chills everytime::

Fear of failure keeps a lot of people from achieving, or even trying to achieve, their dreams. It keeps them in places, relationships and jobs that don't make them happy, and for what? Fear that what comes next might be even worse that what currently is. But what if it's better....much better??

Besides, just because you take the 'safe' route, it doesn't mean that you won't experience some level of failure in it. There are factors that are out of your control that can come out of nowhere and completely blindside you....even on the safest of routes.

I was technically laid off from my first job in public health, a job I loved. It wasn't because I wasn't doing a good job or got in a physical altercation with another employee or vandalized the ladies' restroom, it was because an entirely different program lost funding from the state. As part of a union position, I was then subject to being 'bumped' by another nurse who had more accrued public health time than me. A nurse who, as it happens, didn't even want my position and only stayed in it a couple months until finding another job. Meanwhile, I was getting laid off - out of my control. So much for my safe, secure, dependable job.*

It's not that I didn't want (or love) that particular job, or the one I'm currently in - abandoning a steady any income to go cruising is more about taking time to enjoy life, exploring new places, meeting new people and seeing what's out there waiting for us. We're taking that chance, taking it by the horns!

Maybe the safe route isn't that safe. Maybe doing what you love could be easier than you ever imagined.

I know that I said I'm not a big quote lover, but this is one quote that I can really, really appreciate.
Thanks Lloydd Christmas
Image found here

*Don't pity me too much, thankfully, I was able to find another job in another (non-unionized) health department that just happened to start the day after my last day at the previous employer. Funny how things have a way of working out. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Taking Off My Cranky Pants Now

These last few days I've been a bit of a cranky mess. It was really a compilation of little stuff adding up to what ended up being...nothing. Isn't that the way it always goes?

Up until a couple days ago there was a good possibility that Ron would be shipped off to the bowels of Ohio for a couple months for work. In the middle of summer sailing season. I was bummed and irritated and downright pissy. Top on family obligations for this next weekend that wouldn't allow for boat time and I was convinced that we wouldn't be back to the boat until late summer.

Sure, I could always head out on my own with the dog, but last time I tried to get her from the dinghy to the boat on my own we had a bit of a snafu wherein she refused to put her hind legs on the boat. I stood in the dinghy trying to push her up all the while the dinghy was slipping further and further from the boat....until I did a belly smacker and she toppled in after me. I emerged laughing hysterically but I don't think I'd have the same reaction if it happened this time.

Then came word that Ron would actually be working other jobs locally and would be able to make it home most weekends. Guess I can stop being cranky now.

I hate how worked up and stressed out I can get about potential situations, must be my naturally anxious tendencies rearing their ugly heads. Taking off my cranky pants...which I apparently never really needed anyway.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conversion to LED

On a boat there is a finite amount of power available to use. We've never exceeded our limits on the boat but we barely have anything on there that sucks down the juice. We'll be adding things like a fridge (big energy sucker), a chartplotter, (possibly) a windlass and probably multiple other little items that will contribute to power consumption and, while the addition of solar panels to the boat will help replenish what we use, using less from the start can only help the (potential) issue.

I've been reading a lot about people switching from the old incandescent lights to LED lights, which use something like 90% less power. Less power is good, but these bulbs are also suposed to put out the same if not more light...and at 90% less power draw I don't have to feel like I'm in a cave, afraid to use more than one light at a time. Then there's the heat that the incadescents put out, not good in tropical heat. Another point for LEDs.
The ever popular 1141 bulbs we replaced

The one drawback of LED lights is that they can be expensive! As in, like $30-$40 a bulb depending on where you look. That won't work. But fortunately, prices have been coming down and there are a lot of manufacturers to choose from. Plus, they're suposed to work for somewhere around 50,000 hours or something rediculous like that, so the cost doesn't sting quite so much. All you have to do is find the right size LED bulb and plug it into your existing fixture and voila! You've converted!

The only pic in the cabin when the lights were on. Not very useful, oh, well.

After checking reviews online I ordered 10 bulbs for the interior light fixtures from M4. They made it easy to figure out which bulbs we needed and had several different colors, 'classes' and prices. They offered free shipping and an automatic 10% off orders of 10 or more bulbs. Why, 10 is exactly how many I need, how handy! I got 10 warm white bulbs for a whopping $89.90. Not too bad if you ask me.
Our new, fancy LEDs
We put them in a few weeks back but weren't able to try them out until this past weekend...and I love them! I opted for the 'warm' white color as oposed to the 'cool' or 'natural' because I've read that the cooler the color the more harsh and unforgiving (eek!) the light can be. If memory serves me right, the new bulbs are almost the exact same warmness as the previous incandescent bulbs, which is exactly what I was going for. Although I don't think the 'natural' white would have been too bad either.
Sorry for the blurriness, had to turn the flash off which apparently also turns off the stabilizer function
Bright, but nice and cozy at the same time!

When we initially put in the LEDs we noticed that about 7 of the 10 lights caused interference with the radio/vhf. This could be bad. Very bad. Ron read that a lot of people had experienced this issue and our friend Matt said they had to just keep trying different bulbs until there was no more interference. Sounds expensive! But if that's our only option...
I emailed M4 to see what they had to say about it and they said that they haven't had many complaints of such interference and that the bulbs are identical to one another so any interference between fixtures is probably related to our electrical system somehow. He recommended that we try something called a snap choke core on the problem fixtures, which could help.
I have no idea what that interference was from because when we tried all the lights this weekend there was no interference from any of them. The only difference was that we were now in the water and not in the cradle in the boatyard. Whatever the cause, I hope we don't have to deal with it in the future. The mystery remains... 
Otherwise, we're completely happy with the switch! Next up, we need to get LEDs for our anchor light, spreader lights and nav lights and we'll have more power than we know what to do with ! ;)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sailing Season 2014 Has Begun!

Man, it feels good to be back on the boat! Here I thought we were way behind everyone else getting the boat in and getting out sailing but when we pulled into the marina on Friday night we noticed that only about a third of the mooring balls had boats on them and of the boats that were in, only a couple had people out on them. It was eerily quiet actually, not that I'm complaining. Apparently we aren't as behind as we initially thought.

We headed over to the State Park again for the night, after making sure our anchor light on top of the mast was working. It was a perfect evening, it was still, the temps were pleasant and there were NO other boats anchored in front of the park. Perfect.

This also happened to be our first time using our new Mantus Anchor. I'm not sure if it was knowing that we had this fantastic anchor holding us in place, the calm water or the comments from one of our friends about how great of an anchor Mantus' are but I slept better than I ever have on the boat that night!
Our new sacrificial covering on our head (front) sail
We also got the genoa on the furler. Things were going fairly smoothly until the furler stuck after just a couple of turns. Then the swearing began. A little more swearing. Then I noticed that one of our lines coming from the top of the mast was catching the sail as we tried to wrap it up. Then Ron noticed the spinnaker halyard doing the same, once we moved these lines out of the way it rolled up perfectly.  Luckily there was no wind at this point. Crisis averted.
Ron made a couple bridles with his fancy splicing skills to secure the dinghy on the
davits and after a couple small changes it's all set!
Saturday we headed out to Lake Michigan for some sailing! The winds totally pooped out so we floated, lounged and swam (not me!). While lounging Ron decided to scrub the deck...with the hatches and ports open. Not the first time it's happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. But the wet blanket from the vberth did provide some nice shade from the hot sun on deck.

A dog and her tennis ball...
Sunday was a completely different day from Saturday. Cold, cloudy, full of shifty winds. We thought about going on the the big lake again but after seeing the big waves and feeling the massive temperature change between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan we decided to turn around and stick to the smaller lake. Winds were varying from 3kts to 18kts and were clocking around in all directions. A little stressful after not sailing for almost 9 months but it was a good refresher and also gave us a chance to play around a little more with our reefing set-up (which is pretty easy anyway).

Overall a GREAT start to the 2014 season! How I've missed this!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Outdoor Eating in Style

Even though we've been going to the boat for projects fairly regularly, it has taken us, well Ron (since I was gone), until this past weekend to get the cockpit table installed. We forgot the table, we forgot the hardware to attach it to the pedestal, we ran out of time, we brought the hardware home and forgot it again. I was beginning to think it would never get done.

But last weekend the stars aligned, all needed supplies were present and we now have a new (and gorgeous) cockpit table just waiting to be broken in this coming weekend! And after all the time Ron put into it making it from scratch, he's been anxiously awaiting this time.

Dinner will no longer be a show itself, full of balancing and tactical manuevering, but a nice, relaxing time where our conversation doesn't consist solely of asking eachother where dinner-related items and condiments were randomly placed.

And we finally have drink holders!!! The importance of this should not be overlooked. Now our Tervis', and their contents, can be safely stowed instead of rolling around.
A work of art, no?

Now, let's get this weekend started already!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Land Travel

Park City, UT
I had a little hiatus from boat related stuff this past week, my younger brother moved out to Utah last fall and (again) using frequent flier miles was able to get a free flight to see him and do some exploring. The good thing is that we had a blast, that bad thing is that it gives me a little insight into just how tough it might be to not see family and friends for extended amounts of time.

We headed south to check out Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park and Zion National Park.

Get ready for some picture overload...I think the pictures do a better job of showcasing the trip than I ever could.

Bryce Canyon National Park

After BCNP we headed off to Kodachrome for the night. What a spectacular place! We had a campsite in the back of the park that backed right up to the cliffs without another camper in site.

Coincidentally, it was a full moon that night
 After our night at Kodachrome we headed down to Zion National Park for two nights.
The colors around here are crazy!

Red Rock Canyon on the way to Zion

Tight squeeze in some spots

We hiked all kinds of trails in the 90 degree heat averaging 6+ miles/day. Quite the physical workout, I think I even may have lost a little weight on this trip, not to mention the serious toning up of my legs!
A little oasis in the desert
Getting braver
We had some pretty intense hikes

And some very serene moments too

But the Grand Daddy of hikes, the reason we came to Zion, was to do the infamous Angel's Landing hike. I was a tad nervous after hearing some of the stories of people falling to their deaths but sucked it up and gave it a go. I'm so glad we did this hike, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G in every way!
Angel's Landing in the background...sure looks a lot smaller in the pictures!
The narrow trail out to the Landing
Psyching myself up

Aaron had a 'no using the chains' competition with himself,
thankfully he's half monkey and came out victorious...
and still alive
I, on the other hand, am not an idiot and used the chains

WE MADE IT TO THE TOP! Now to make it back down...

(Did I not warn you about the photo overload? I hope you survived it!)
Man, this trip was one for the books! If you ever get to this area I highly suggest you check out the sights.
And don't worry, while I was out galavanting (again), Ron was at home (working and) tinkering on the boat...which now happens to be IN the water! Looking forward to our first weekend back on HB in T minus 3 days! Yahooo!