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...

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Image here
I've recently been seeing this award being passed from blog to blog in an effort to give bloggers a chance to show appreciation for and share blogs that we ourselves enjoy reading. If you have a blog you've likely seen this at some point, but if you don't here's how it works when a blog is nominated and the award is accepted:
  • Identify the nominating blog
  • Answer the questions posted for you
  • Nominate up to 10 other blogs you enjoy
  • Choose up to 10 questions you'd like them to answer
So, Skelton Crew hereby accepts the nomination from Jessica at MJ Sailing. Thanks so much for thinking of us! In answe to your questions...

Explain yourselves. Take that to mean however you wish.
Simply put, we like to distinguish ourselves from 'the norm'. Having a big house, fancy cars or lots of 'stuff' doesn't do much for us. At all. We like to live simply and use our time and resources to experience people, places and things, all of which can be grand adventures in themselves. And what is life if not a big adventure?!?

When was the first time you ever set foot on a sailboat?
2011, when buying our first boat. Before that we'd been on little 14ft hobies.

Where is the worst place, traveling or stationary, you've been with your boat?
On the ground. A grounding is bad enough, but when you have a ferry full of gawkers it's even worse.

If a genie granted you a lifetime supply of one kind of alcohol, what would you choose?
If I even hesitate before saying RUM, there could be a mutiny afoot on Hullabaloo. If we get to be picky, we like dark spiced rum with an occasional fruity Cruzan thrown in the mix.
Sailing on sv Rum Punch in Belize
What's the nicest thing the other person has done for you while traveling?
Jackie - Ron has this can-do, get-it-done attitude that helps keep me from my usual analysis paralysis. As in I don't have time to think and plan, it's happening now and I better be ready!. If it weren't for his get-up-and-go personality I might still be sitting at the dock, still immersed in every manual available. He probably didn't know that, guess now he does.

When asked the question Ron replied, "you make me drinks". That's pretty sad, I better step up my game!

If you had the option to transport yourself anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
The North Channel, Lake Huron. Of course the boat would have to come to. We're quickly approaching my favorite time of year and enjoying it in the clean, quiet, clear blue north sounds about perfect. Plus, this is at THE top of Ron's list for cruising grounds, I don't think he'd mind going now.

What did your family say when you told them you were going to up and leave everything in order to travel?
For the most part they've been very encouraging, although some have concerns about our choice and my mom might have a nervous breakdown over her worries of pirates and storms. I think most of the concern comes from our plans to live on a sailboat, people have a hard time grasping that for some reason.

Do you think you've found the place you'd like to retire?
Ha, we haven't left yet! Besides, given the pace that things change places we love now may not be places we love then. At the same time I can't wait to see how our travels change our attitudes about what characteristics we want in our next place of residence (whether it's on land or boat).

What language do you think would be the most fun to speak, even if you have no plans to learn it?
Sign language. It fascinates me.

Outside of the US, where has your most expensive meal been?
That would be a steak dinner on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls overlooking the falls. Major tourist trap, but it was fun. Other places we've been have had fairly cheap food or been included as part of an all-inclusive package.

My nomination list is short and sweet, I think most of the blogs I follow have been previously nominated.
My questions for you
  1. What do your future sailing/cruising plans look like?
  2. How did you find out about the cruising community?
  3. Who's idea was it to get into sailing and what convinced the other half to go along with it?
  4. What do you think is most overrated about sailing/cruising?
  5. What ONE word describes why you sail/cruise?
  6. What was/is your biggest fear about cruising/living on a sailboat?
  7. What was your scariest moment on the boat?
  8. What is the hardest part about blogging?
  9. What's the story behind your boat name?
  10. Tell us something we don't know about you
Happy blogging!

Monday, September 1, 2014

A For Effort

We were so looking forward to a long weekend on the boat for Labor Day, but our plans we short-lived because of shoddy weather and this little thing called work. Ron's work. As usual, we find out his (estimated) work schedule for the next week at the end of the previous week. Of course the next project would begin working 6 12hr shifts per week on Labor Day weekend. And since this project will go until November/December, the kitty will be nice and full but our chances to get on the boat will be dismally limited despite our best efforts. Real bummer.

After being gone from the boat for a month (tear), we had to break through a solid wall of spider webs that circled the whole cockpit. And there were giant, nasty, fat spiders everywhere! I spent way too much time with a broom in hand scanning the bimini, dodger and various piles of lines for the continuous onslaught of spiders that creeped out of every nook and cranny. Let's not even talk about how they really started coming out once we turned the engine on. I may have abandoned my post at the helm when I looked up and saw no less than 4 man-eating spiders directly above my head. Pretty sure they were ready to pounce. Fear not, I grabbed my trusty broom and sent the little demons overboard and resumed my navigation.

Even though the whole weekend was almost a complete boat-bust, we did get to finally test out the port visors in heavy rain and wind. We had a little mist coming through the ports but the wind was really rippin' and it wasn't enough to make us have to close them up...thankfully, because it was already warm and humid in the boat and closing everything up would have been quite stifling! Point for the port visors.
It just so happened that replicas of the Pinta and Nina we in Muskegon too. We had to stop by and check it out...from afar. We thought the $8 entrance fee was a bit much.

We also took advantage of some of the end-of-season and back-to-school sales to get stuff we're going to need next year. Like pj's.