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!