What's In A Name?

When life gives you lemons..well you know the rest.  Several years ago we were given what looked like a large basket of lemons.  We had left comfortable jobs, sold our home in Illinois and moved to a new state to follow an opportunity that would change our lives forever.  And it did, just not in the way that we thought it would.  Now we had some decisions to make.  Do we go back to Illinois or look for other alternatives?  We chose door number two.

Many years ago while enjoying one of our charters in the BVI we had dreamt of living on a boat and sailing away.  At the time it was just a pipe dream, nothing that we ever really felt would happen.  But under the current circumstances, it seemed like a viable choice to throw into the mix.  We started looking at boats on Yacht World and putting together a list of boats that would suit our needs.  Mark spent time flying to Florida to look at boats while we finished the house we had purchased to flip. 

Our ideal boat was in the 40 to 42 foot range with two cabins.  We really wanted to pay cash and as we had the ability to rehab a boat a little sweat equity was ok.  After a couple of months of searching we found the perfect boat, a Baba 40, just the right price and ready to go.  She had been on the market for 6 month and the seller had taken incredible care of her.  We waited a day after seeing her and called the owner to tell him we would take it, only to find out he had sold it that morning. Sad but resigned we continued the search.  We eventually found a Perry 47 in need of much love.  She was bigger than we wanted and a lot more work than we had hoped but the price was right and the engine was brand new so we went for it.

For reasons that I will never understand the previous owner had named her Wet Dream.  Maybe it was the myriad of leaks that she had or perhaps he was just gross, I'll never know.  I'm leaning toward the latter as he had called the dinghy the Wet Spot.  As you can imagine, that had to change.  But what to name her? 

We spent a couple of weeks making lists of names and talking about our situation.  Mark said that this new plan felt like being a child again, shirking responsibilities and not growing up.  I said it sounded like a case of Peter Pan syndrome.  He immediately suggested Neverland.  Now as Michael Jackson had ruined that name with his choices I decided against that one.  But Peter Pan still fit, we were on the road to Neverland.
As most know from the story, one would set a course for the second star to the right and straight on til morning to reach Neverland.  So Wet Dream became Second Star. 

It's 1:15 AM, Do You Know Where Your Power's Coming From?

Like anything, marina life has its challenges.  Some are easily overcome, while others are completely out of our control.  The means by which we obtain electricity is one of those things that is completely out of our control.

We’ve been living aboard in our current Marina off and on for about 5 years, many more than we ever intended but that’s another story.  Our current and hopefully last stint began last October.  In that time we have had several power outages, brownouts and other fun power anomalies that had our lights, panels and inverter jumping.  So this morning at 1:15 am (of course it was 1:15AM, this stuff doesn’t happen in the afternoon) I awoke to the sound of the microwave resetting itself every 45 seconds or so.  It was also 85 degrees out and the air conditioner was not running.

I woke Mark to get his help with the problem.  We spent several minutes determining that the power coming into the boat was intermittent at best and the inverter was cycling on and off, hence the microwave reset.   We checked all of our breakers and other systems and everything looked good so we called the Marina.  Now every time we have called in the past we have been informed that the problem was on our end, even the time the entire Marina lost 1 of the 3 phases and they had Marina wide failures.  It was never on our end.  

After moving the boat to plug into a new power post we still didn't have power, yep it’s the boat have a good night.  Fortunately we had the generator working and were able to crank her up and run all of the systems including the air.  I know we could have opened the hatches but man is it hot and humid here.  Why be uncomfortable if it’s not necessary? 

This morning more investigation was in order.  Mark pulled the wires coming into the boat, which we had done last night but only one of the two and that one didn't have a problem.  The inspection went a little differently today. 
The end of the cord and the 30 amp inlet were completely burned up.  We are so lucky that we didn't have a fire!  I don’t know if this happened because of all of the junky power we’ve been getting from the Marina, but both the cable and inlet were only 4 years old.  I would think that they would last longer. 

In the do we stay in Corpus or do we go decision this one is definitely on the go side! 

I Just Love A Good Government Website!

For those of you that love nothing more than spending a couple of hours finding and filling out a simple application  this is not a post for you.  

Today I had the pleasure of applying for our DSC, MMSI and ships radio licenses on the FCC website.  I cannot tell you how much of a pleasure it was following the simple prompts, breezing through the intuitive and easy to navigate pages to comply with all requirements and the quick concise payment screen where I gladly handed over more of our money to a grateful government.  Oh wait, that was the fantasy I was hoping would become a reality.  

Let me back up a bit.  Friday I had the pleasure of hanging out with our friends over on S/V Dos Libras.  Tammy mentioned a post she had written about getting licensed for the SSB and other radio communication equipment for the boat.  As this was something I had on the ever growing to do list I decided this morning to take a peak at the post and thought I would just get it crossed off.  Tammy did a great job of laying out all of the steps but my experience was not as easy as hers seemed to be. 

The first part of my journey was relatively easy.  I followed the link to get our login and initial registration number, the one by which the FCC will forever track and store our license requests.  Once completed I logged into the system.  Again, following her link, I went to get the first of the two license applications.  For the most part it was pretty simple, when it came time to pay I was taken to a third party payment site to make my "plastic card" payment.  Bing bang boom and our bank account was $160 bucks lighter.  

Now on to license number two.  Tammy says just go the license manager and find the "RR" license in the handy dandy drop down menu.  I looked for what seemed like forever and could not find this wonderful tool.  I'm starting to feel a little stupid here I must say.  Ok plan B, follow the link  provided, it worked the first time.  So I click and yep there I was at the infamous RR page.  Now the fun really begins, we are required to fill out form 605, so I click on 605.  Right there on the top it says online form, so I click.  But wait, no form, it's an explanation of the great benefits of being able to apply online.  Back button and click on the form number, again "click for online form" and again the wonderful explanation.  Really?  

Plan C, logout and start over, maybe I missed the drop down menu on my first pass or had gone beyond the screen.  It had to be there somewhere. Of course it was, turns out it just wasn't my day.  A couple of "who are you questions" and $60 later we have successfully applied for the stuff we know that we need right now.  But what a pain in the ass.  Ok, granted it was partly my fault for not clicking the right button in the first place, but the "online form" button on the explanation page couldn't take me where I needed to go?  I can't be the first person to get there.  Oh well, it's all done and doesn't need to be repeated for the next 10 years.  

One more thing off of the to do list!

More Power Captain!

Since we started spending more time at anchor and less time riding the dock we came to realize that our battery bank just wasn't going to cut it.  When we purchased the boat it came with a house bank of two 8D batteries that were seriously cashed.  We chose to replace them with four 6V golf cart batteries with the same capacity.  That was five years ago and they served us well over the years. 

A couple of nights before our anchor out Memorial weekend we lost power on the dock.  Since I don’t sleep much I was awake when it died at 3 am.  I went back to sleep and figured we’d deal with it when we got up.  By 5 I was wide awake and we were completely dead.  Not even two hours on the house bank.  Well crap.
Of course we had been dealing with the generator sage, so this was exactly what we didn't need.  Add another obstacle to getting to anchor out.  Saturday morning, before digging back into the generator, we ran to Sam’s Club.  Now I know every boater has an opinion on the best batteries for a cruising boat.  Some love the gel, others the AGM, don’t forget the Optima’s.  We had built our battery box which is conveniently located 18" under the floor, to fit six Trojan golf cart batteries and lets face it we’re cheap.  Sam’s had an Energizer equivalent to the Trojan T105 for $85 per battery so we purchased enough to fill the box.

Since we were trading in our four old batteries we only had to pay the core charge on two of the six.  Bingo, bango, ouch my back and we were in business.  Our fabulous new battery bank gives us roughly 700 Ah of power.  This should be all of the power that we need once we leave the dock for the big blue.  

Now if we can only fashion a way to charge them when we aren’t on shore power.  Solar panels, a working generator, an alternator for the Yanmar how I can’t wait until you are mine!

Our New “Normal”…Again

Mark & I have been liveaboards before.  We purchased our boat in 2008 and spent 3+ months sailing from North Carolina to Texas.  That was an experience to say the least and a topic for another post.  At that time we needed to get back to land to finish our house and get it on the market.  It only took three months to get back to the boat full time.  While living aboard we had everything that we had owned while in the house, that  wasn't on the boat, in a storage unit. 

Fast forward two years.  Just when it was time to get ready to cruise we received an offer that we couldn't refuse and returned to land for three years.  It was a strange transition, now we had two fully functional homes 1500 miles apart, both needing to be cared for, both full of our stuff.

When we were aboard full time we knew that almost everything had to be thought of in advance.  The dog is going to have to be walked, better get moving early.  I’m going to need to be walked, don’t wait until the last second!  Little things like “I just ran out of underwear” become a big deal; we really should have carted all of our laundry up to the boaters’ facility a couple of days ago.

Google Earth view of our "T -Head".  The yellow line leads
from our boat to the facilities.  The path box shows it's
.15 miles one way to the bathroom and laundry!

On land that’s not the case.  The dog needs to go out, no problem, open the door and call his name.  No need to plan a personal potty break either.  Friends all think that life aboard a boat is such a romantic notion, little do they know that the most basic things that we all take for granted become serious points that need to be planned and perfected.
So here we are again, back on the boat for the past seven months.  This time we've sold or given away the bulk of our land junk.  It has taken a lot more time to get back into the swing of boat life.  There are so many things that I miss from land.  My king size, pillow top mattress is a biggie.  As boat mattresses go our queen bunk isn't bad, but man do I miss being able to spread out and not hear that I’m crowding my hubby.  I also miss night time bathroom trips that don’t involve climbing over your partner.

Not my actual plant but
a good representation of
the final result!
Fresh herbs, on land I had a huge herb garden and tomatoes and peppers and zucchini, well you get the idea.  I attempted a single basil plant here on the boat.  That poor thing really deserved to go home with someone that could keep it alive.
In a couple of weeks we will be house/dog sitting for good friends followed by a 10 day trip to home to Chicago for a family reunion.  We’re looking at a good month off of the boat.  I have to admit I’m a little worried.  I love my little floating home.  I can’t wait until we can finally cut the lines and head out to cruise, but that isn't where we are right now.  We are tied to a dock in a nice enough marina but not living our dream.  The challenges of day to day life on the dock don’t have the rewards that cruising promises.  Am I going to want to come back after a month?  Probably, but the old normal was a lot easier than this new one. 

I’m sure all will be fine and I’ll celebrate a joyous return to this fine yacht.  So in the mean time I will live life the way that I always have.  Taking what today gives me, hoping and planning for tomorrow and enjoying whatever is thrown at me to the best of my ability.

Now I Remember Why We Wanted This Boat!

If you read my previous post you know that we spent the week rebuilding the generator in order to have power for a two night anchor out.  We worked right up until the Saturday of Memorial weekend on that infernal hunk of metal.  After a very frustrating morning it was clear that this was not going to happen and the decision was made to bail out on the Bay Yacht Club cruise with our friends.  It was a huge bummer.
As I headed down the dock headed to the car to run errands I ran into our friends on Sea YawlLater.  Rusty and Linda have docked their boat here for several months, but they are not currently living on the boat and hadn't been down in about 6 weeks.  I spent a few minutes catching up and filling them in on all of the fun we had had all week with the Generator.  They took pity on us and lent us their portable Honda 2000 generator.   Now we could anchor out for the weekend!
After a quick run to the store and to fill the propane tanks we were off….to the fuel dock and pump out.    The weather had been building all day so by 2:00 when we threw off the lines it was blowing about 25 knots.  It was a tough beat into 3 to 5 foot waves the entire way across the bay and up the Port Aransas ship channel.  When we made the turn in Port A to the Lydia Ann channel we were finally able to unfurl the jib and sail for 8 miles of the 28 mile trip.

Everyone Is In Place, Here We Come!
We arrived at the anchorage just as happy hour was getting into full swing.  By 7:30 we were showered, dressed and ready to go.  We had a great time hanging out with friends.  Eight other boats had made the trip, so it was quite the gathering.

Saturday morning was spent exploring Mud Island.  It’s very cool with its little ponds and pink Spoonbills.  Ziggy had a great time running through the water and plopping himself down to cool off. 

On our way back to the boat we made the rounds to say good morning.  We were invited over for lunch and a float.  What a great way to spend a couple of hours.  The water was a bit chilly for some, only 85 degrees, but incredibly relaxing in the new noodle chairs.

For dinner our group gathered on the beach.  A couple of years ago the club built a new picnic table to go with the shelter that 
the Rockport YC had built.  Everyone brought their own meat to grill and a side dish.  One boat brought the grill.  It was a lot of fun and we were joined by former YC members on S/V DosLibras.  It was great to see Tammy and Bruce.  We all set off before the sun set to settle in for the night.

Most boats departed for various points on Monday, but we decided to hang for another day.  We still had fuel for the Honda and were really enjoying being away.  One boat, S/V Kerry Ann, stayed on with us and joined us for lunch.  Unfortunately it was just too rough to get in the water since the wind had yet to lie down.

Tuesday we had a pretty quick downwind run back home.   With a little help from the incoming tide were hitting 10+ knots in the ship channel.  The ride across the bay was a little bumpy and I had to be on my toes with the waves, but we Averaged 8.8 knots.  Mark shot a couple of videos of the fun.  We were back in our slip by 1:00 and despite the less than ideal conditions, can’t wait to do it again!

Diesel Saga, Part II

The generator saga is still playing out and has been frustrating to say the least.  Some might think that a little retail therapy would be just what the doctor ordered.  Those people aren't buying diesel parts. 

As previously stated, we have far more time on our hands than money.  After much research, we found that the motor part of our Westerbeke generator was manufactured by Mitsubishi.  A couple of hours of conferring with my friend Google and I had a Mitsubishi manual in hand, and 50% in Japanese.  I spent a couple of hours looking at schematics in both the Westerbeke & Mitsubishi books and had two sets of parts lists.  Dealers selling the Mitsubishi parts were far cheaper than their name brand counterparts so we got parts on order.

After hours of searching I found one company that had all of the gaskets, etc. that we needed and could ship overnight.  That would give us plenty of time to work on the rebuild.  So I placed my order with Choo Choo Parts.com, hoped that all of my crosses came back accurate, and shipping was only $65.  I would pay almost anything to get my cockpit back, although I don’t know if it will ever be the same.

Promptly at 10:30 am on Tuesday the parts arrived.  Unfortunately we had not been told that they shipped or provided a tracking number, so about 2:30 pm I called the dealer.  It turns out they were shipped from a warehouse in Ohio and Choo Choo got screwed on the shipping cost, but he traced the package and told me that the marina had signed for them in the morning, they just hadn’t bothered to let us know that a UPS Red Morning Delivery package was there for us.  I guess nothing important gets shipped UPS overnight, silly me.

It appears that most of the parts that I ordered were correct, which is good.  The parts that were incorrect were not returnable.  Wednesday morning we had located a set of piston rings to replace the one that came in the wrong size.  Thanks to some oh so gentle prying and hammering by Mark we now needed three sets of rings at $70 each, oh and that will be $100 for overnight shipping. 

While we waited for the rings to arrive we spent the remainder of the day cleaning up the engine block and other components.  We needed to get anything done that can possibly be done while we wait.  Did I mention that we have a deadline?  We really want this generator rebuilt, installed and generating power by Saturday.  Without our GenSet we won’t be able to manage the power requirements of a three night anchor out. 

Friday morning the rings arrived, a perfect match from the Westerbeke dealer.  By 1:00 they were installed. It was now time to install the head gasket that we saved $60 on by going with the Mitsubishi part, too bad it didn't quite fit.  It was close, very close, so close that we decided to go ahead and make a couple modifications and use it for the weekend.  It was cheaper to go with what we had than to try to find one and have it shipped in.  With that puppy installed we were off and running on the remainder of the installation.  Everything was going great until we got to the exhaust manifold, the Mitsubishi gasket was close enough to use for the weekend but will need to be reordered too.  So much for saving a few bucks.

By 4:00 pm Friday the bulk of the parts were installed and it was time to bring the beast back into the belly of the boat.  A platform inside the cabin, a dock line on the boom with a 4 to one pulley and a control line to a winch and we were in business.  A couple more hours of installing the generator and we could get her started. 

Fast forward to where I sit writing this post.  We are anchored out for the weekend, it is Monday and we’ve had a great time.  And no, the Generator didn't start.  A very generous friend was kind enough to lend us his Honda 2000 for the weekend.  Tomorrow we’ll sail home and take up the task of getting the generator going again. 

That's us in the middle.

That’s Using Your Noodle!

In preparation for our upcoming weekend cruise I spent the day getting prepared.  Did I plan out our provisions?  Nope.  Did I replace the secondary bilge pump so that we would have a backup?  Not that either.  Today the most important thing we needed to get ready was our floaty toys.  I looked at all of the websites for our local big box stores to see what they had to offer.  While there were a ton of chair style floats, most seemed like they wouldn't last out the weekend, others were way too expensive so I decided to design my own.

We had some leftover Sunbrella from a previous project, so I decided to start there.  Next was the float, off to Walmart to grab the fattest noodles that I could find.  Back home, with measuring tape in hand, I measured the diameter of the noodle, added seam allowances and sat on the tape to estimate just how big I wanted to seat to be so that we would float at the proper height in the water.  I added all of these numbers together and came up with 70”, the theoretical perfect fabric length for our chairs.

Below are my pictures of the construction. 
1" Seam Allowance (1/2" + 1/2") On Long Edge

Long Edge Folded Over to 14 1/2" Mark 

Sailrite Hem Tape On the Edge Hemmed
To 4", Making it Easier To Position
at the 14 1/2" Mark
After a quick test I realized that the noodle doesn't sit at the top of the water, which I would have realized ahead of time had I thought about our noodle use from last summer.  That changed the dimension of the fabric for round two.  

Below is the drawing and stitching guide for the finished chair.

The finished chair

Ziggy modeling the finished chair!

And now back to our regularly scheduled boat maintenance!

Carpe Diesel

On a boat something is broken; you just don't know it yet.

After years of being alone Second Star was beginning to feel a little neglected.  In fact if this boat were a person she would be downright pissed.  We knew that there would be issues when we returned.  Despite having come in and tried to do preventative maintenance three to four times a year, and replacing bilge pumps twice a year, there is just no keeping up with everything when the boat sits for months at a time.  Four weeks out of fifty two just doesn't cut it. 

So when it came time to fire up the GenSet did we expect it to work on the first try?  Yep. Did it? Nope. Go figure. It cranked over but wouldn't catch. OK, no problem, like with any other engine ether will do the trick and she'll fire right up.  Good thought, totally wrong.  Turns out you never, and I mean never, put ether in a diesel engine.  It causes engine lock.  We confer with a friend that's a former diesel mechanic and find out while not good; but it isn't the end of the world.

After several hours of waiting and trying she finally began to turn over again, but again wouldn't catch.  But the captain thought that it sounded like it wanted to. He bled the injectors, confirmed there was fuel and did a few other small things and tried cranking again. It was turning over but he now felt it was trying to hit, it would start any minute.  Unfortunately that "hitting" sound was in fact something hitting, after a while it stuck.  Now this baby is good and seized  

Since we are made of more time than money El Capitan decided that we would attempt to rebuild this beast ourselves.  Day one was spent cleaning out the cooling system.  Sometime over the course of the previous three years salt crystals, or something resembling them, began building up inside the exhaust manifold and all of the corresponding hoses and valves. Not pretty and not sure why it happened, but after three hours of cleaning and carefully flushing it into a container, it appears to be all out.  

On to day two, the disassembly.  We spent the better part of five hours carefully labeling wires, taking pictures and removing all of the generator parts from the engine block.  This included the generator itself, the starter, the alternator, heat exchanger and any other part that isn’t going to be part of the rebuild.  With all of the parts installed the GenSet weighs in at about 450 pounds, there is no easy way to get that out of the boat.  With the parts removed the engine alone is roughly 250 lbs.  Still not easy, but certainly more do-able. 

Engine block on the left, everything else on the right.

Now we wait.  With any luck we will have a few strapping lads, or at least some still pretty strong older gentlemen, around in the next day or so to help with the heavy lifting.  We need to get this puppy out of the engine room and into the cockpit for the big work.  I’m praying that it’s not something too major or costly.

NEW BEGINNINGS...with a little back story back story

Four and a half years ago we sailed from North Carolina through the Keys up to Destin and then motored in the ditch to Corpus Christi, TX.  It was a journey that was filled with poor decisions that ultimately led to some very expensive mistakes.  That was on another blog, one that we have chosen to leave in the past.  This new blog is about the future and the journey to again begin cruising.

For the people that weren't here for the previous blog let me get you caught up.  We purchased our 1978 Perry 47 in North Carolina in August of 2008 with the intention of living aboard and eventually cruising.  Beginning in late September of that year we set sail from NC with our eye on Corpus Christi, TX.  Why you might ask?  The boat was in need of extensive cosmetic assistance, a total gut job of the interior, and we decided that if we were going to be in one place for a year or so we would be near family.  My sister lives in San Antonio, so....to Corpus we will go.  

We had a few misadventures and some really good times bringing the boat around the Keys and on to Texas.  We arrived December 30th 2008 and promptly left the boat in the marina and headed back to New Mexico to get our house on the market.  By February 15th the house was sold, closed, all of our belonging were in storage and we were full time liveaboards.  

The boat refit took a little longer than expected and like any good cruiser in waiting I went and got a job at West Marine.  March 30th of 2010 I gave notice, it was time to get out on the water.  That was at 10 AM, at 10 PM that same night we received a call from a friend with a job offer that out we couldn't refuse.  

On April 5th Mark moved back to Chicago, a brand new two year job contract in hand.  I followed June 17th.

Bentley Wayne
Mathew Danger
Fast forward through those two years, o.k. two and a half years, daughter number 1 and her hubby gave us our first grandson, daughter number 2 got married,  daughter number 2 had a baby boy and we enjoyed every minute of it.

On September 30th of 2012 we cut ties in Chicago, sold the bulk of our possessions and returned full time to the boat.

Last year we invented a product and have been working to get it into stores and culinary schools.  We've seen some success and hope this will fill up our cruising kitty and keep it topped off.  We'll see.  Getting something new to market is a little tougher than we had hoped, but we are encouraged!