Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trying to Keep it Simple

First of all, how it is actually almost Labor Day Weekend already is totally  beyond me, but it might just be that not being on the boat for the last 4 weeks has put a damper on our sailing season. A big one. Which has me thinking about the boat, boat projects and cruising even more. Must be a symptom of boat withdrawl right?!? I'm trying to keep my imagination under control.

In an effort to keep things simple, we're trying to keep our project list in check. We fully intend to upgrade and buy items as we cruise and as we find them necessary to have with us, but we're trying hard to not waste money on things we think we need.

Boat Projects To Be Done:
  • Refridgeration - Still debating on what kind of system to use
  • Chartplotter/Radar
  • Propane conversion
  • Bottom Paint - Dreading it already
  • Solar Power
  • Replace H20 lines/ install H20 filter under sink
  • Install inspection port on water tank
  • Install macerator pump and seacock
  • Engine inspection
  • Motor mount inspection
  • Seacock inspection/replacement as necessary
  • Install cabin fans
  • Install new 6v batteries
  • Put shelves in lockers/cabinets
Other Items:
  • Safety gear - PFD/harnesses, jacklines, tethers, EPIRB, etc
  • Satellite phone
  • Medical kit supplies (people and dog)
  • Sail repair kit
  • Generator
  • SCUBA gear/upgrades/maintanence
This is by no means a totally complete list of things we'll need or buy before we take off, but most of the others are dependent on the condition of our cruising kitty before leaving. And I'd list all the domestic tasks that need to be done (ie. downsizing our 'stuff', renting out the house, getting a pet health certificate, banking/paying bills from afar) but that just might give me a nervous twitch. Who knew trying to simplify could be so complicated!

Image here

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You're Taking Your Boat Where?!? How?!?

We get a lot of questions from people about how a boat gets from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic without being hauled out and strapped on a trailer. At first I wasn't really sure either, I knew it could be done but I didn't know exactly where the route would take us. And us trying to explain the route to people only leads to a lot of blank stares, random head nodding and confused smiles.

Most people ask us if we're heading out the St. Lawrence Seaway, I don't think people realize how much of a long, isolated trip that is and just how brief of a seasonal window there is to complete it. Nope, not doing that, but we have other options!

Need a map? Sure, I stole one fair and square from our friend Kevin over at Sail Far Live Free (with a little modification)! If you're interested in the details of these options Kevin does a great job covering them, just follow the link!

Image adapted from Here

Since we'll be in the North Channel before heading for the East Coast we can either continue on via the Trent-Severn Waterway and Oswego Canal then enter the Erie Canal or we can head south and pass by Detroit via the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River and enter the west end of the Erie Canal off Lake Erie.
So what exactly are we going to do? With there being rumors of a seriously depth-challenged Trent-Severn Waterway for a boat with our draft (5'6"), we'll be making the trip around The Mitten (Michigan for you non-michiganders), passing by Detroit, hitting up the Erie Canal, getting dumped into the Hudson River in NY and passing through NYC where we'll start our treck down the East Coast. Due to low, immobile bridges on the Erie Canal we'll also have our mast taken down, tied to the boat and put up again once through the canal.
Our friends Matt & Jessica ready for the Erie Canal

A 50ft mast definitely wouldn't fit under here
Image here
And that, my friends, is how you get a boat from Lake Michigan to the East Coast and the warm waters of the Caribbean!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oh Canada

Sunrise fishing on Madawanson Lake
This past week we headed up to Ron's family's cabin in Canada. Since we're now firmly under the one year mark for our big departure and we won't likely have the chance to come back for at least a few years, this was at the top of our list of must-do's before leaving.

The trip wasn't completely non-cruising related though. Getting to Madawanson Lake takes you along the north shore of the  North Channel, the exact area we plan to spend an extended amount of time cruising exactly one year from now. We passed through quaint towns like Bruce Mines, Blind River and Spanish and caught glimpses of some of the clear waters and rocky shores and daydreamed about seeing this world-renowned cruising area from the comfort of Hullabaloo.

Image here
You can only get to the cabin by boat and don't even think about your phone, internet or being 'connected'; won't happen. In other words, other than the other dozen or so cabins on the massive lake (that may or may not have people at them), you're extremely isolated. And it's fabulous. 
We spent a lot of time fishing and taking in the gorgeous scenery...

fought about whose fish was bigger...
And goofed around with family

Clearly we did a terrible job getting pictures as this is pretty much all we got...which only means we had a great time! Hey, trying to fit in all your favorite things before leaving is rough work!
The only real downside is not getting to the boat for FOUR weeks!! It's pretty sad, I'm in a bit of a funk about it really. But we're looking forward to spending the last few weeks of summer reminding HB how much we still love her...maybe even squeezing in a trip or two down the lakeshore before the season ends.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fisherman and the Businessman

I saw this story posted by Drena on Journey (adopted from Paulo Coelho) a while back and it's stuck with me ever since. Sometimes we get caught up in the game of bigger-better-more-more-more that we forget that we might already have what we're working so hard to get.

The Fisherman and the Businessman
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
What we're doing now in a year. Hey, nobody's perfect!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mantus Anchor: 3 Months In

Being able to stay put when you need to stay put is as important as moving when you need to move on a boat. Having the proper ground tackle (anchor and chain/rode) set-up is the difference between safely sitting out a nasty storm and being blown around, possibly hitting shore or other boats. The latter is Not.Good. Not only is a proper anchor vital to the safety of the boat and those on it but, in my case, it's also vital to peace of mind, sleeping at night and not morphing into a walking, paranoid basket case constatnly nagging their spouse about how much scope is out (ie. how much line we have out that is attached to the anchor).

Let me just say that we haven't moved an inch after anchoring all summer. We even decided to really test the anchor when we only had about 75ft of line out in 25 feet of water during some 20-22kt winds. This was during the daytime and we were just hanging out on the boat, had it been over night we would have let more line out to be safe. But guess what? Yup, didn't move. Yes, we know the 'proper' scope is 5:1 minimum but this was for the sake of science!

I've mentioned a few times about being a very light sleeper and having trouble sleeping on the boat before and it turns out that most of my sleeping woes were related to anxiety about dragging anchor. Well, that and thieves trying to steal our stuff...but mostly dragging.

And have you ever tried to pull one of these up by hand? I tried after a night anchored out that had only slight winds and that thing was burried so hard I could never have gotten it dislodged on my own. Point for better sleep at night (and no more bags under my eyes!).

Let's just say that when we drop anchor I no longer sit on deck staring at shore trying to make sure we're not dragging, instead I'm kickin' back enjoying myself. What a concept.

Our 45lb Mantus anchor is worth its weight in gold if you ask me, and having it onboard and knowing that THIS.THING.WORKS. only makes me that much more excited to get out see new places!

Friday, August 8, 2014

So Simple

Let's be honest; boats are dirty! You could easily fill an entire cupboard with various cleaning goods to help keep the ever-present gunk, grime and grease off the boat but that's just not practical. Simple Green is though.

This concentrated, biodegradable stuff works. We use it for everything from cleaning counter tops to getting the built up crud out of the bilge to getting those pesky green bug stains off the deck and cockpit...it's the only thing we've found to work on those nasty spots.

The directions indicate that the solution can be diluted with water depending on what needs to be cleaned but we like our Simple Green with full power and don't dilute it.

If it weren't for that awful wintergreen scent that smells like a freshly scrubbed hospital room, I'd probably find even more uses for it. Smell aside, we love this stuff. We should probably buy stock in it with how much we use.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunset Sails

Everyone could use more sunset sails in their lives
Usually by the time we get the car loaded, make the drive to the boat, load the dinghy and then get everything on the boat we're ready to anchor in our little spot off the State Park, make dinner and relax. On this particular day, after completing a few tasks on the To Do list, I wanted nothing more than that but Ron talked me into heading out for a quick sail. And I'm so glad he did! With clear skies and 12kts of wind it made for a leisurely sunset cruise...and lots of pictures. So here's a little break from our mad run on project posts, just to show you that we still do manage to squeeze in sails!

Channel into Muskegon Lake

The pooch on her perch