Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hoppy Easter!!


This week I discovered I have the biggest refrigerator, the biggest oven, and apparently the biggest mouth here in our marina because for today's Easter get together I'm in charge of cooking the 12 pound ham.


Maybe I should have mentioned with that big mouth that I've never cooked a ham in my life.


That little heart sticker on Wilbur's head signifies he was a good boy and took his heart worm medicine.



Wilbur thinks I'm a fabulous cook and has volunteered to be the official taste tester. As long as it's covered in whipped creme, he says, life is good.





Friday, April 18, 2014

Let the bitching continue...


... since that's all I seem to do these days.

Last weekend we motored out into the bay so we could spend the night at anchor. Everything went very well in that I got the boat out of the slip without scaring the bejusus out of our neighbors, our anchor dug in solidly, we enjoyed a peaceful breezy evening, played a few games of Yahtzee, slept like logs, had a huge breakfast including coffee with all the fixin's (a weekend tradition that involves hazelnut creamer, knock off Bailey's, and a lot of whipped cream), and executed a successful re-docking at our slip minus the drama of sucking trailing lines from our pilings into either one of our propellers.


For longer than I care to admit, we've used this green hulk as a one of our waypoints when anchoring in the bay. Only recently has it been brought to our attention that it's known for its frequent dragging.


Our systems played fair for a change; our solar panels soaked up the sunlight and our wind generator hummed in the breeze. We woke up to find our batteries still fully charged and Hans was then able to make our coffee thanks to our new (and cheap) RV inverter (remember, our marine inverter died awhile back).

So, what went wrong? Well, I hate to admit it, but I bragged on FaceBook about how much fun we'd had. Honest to God, I did. It was kind of like sending out that obnoxious annual Christmas Card letting everyone know our life is better than theirs. That's why I take full responsibility for the fact that when the electrician shows up at our boat tomorrow we will have been without electric for a week (but we did rig up a solution, explanation to follow).

What happened was, once we were back in our slip and fully hooked back up to shore power, I was down below taking a much needed shower when I heard an alarm go off. Of course this happened right when I had my hair completely full of shampoo. "Tell me I can rinse my hair!" I screamed out to Hans while keeping my eyes tightly closed. He told me I could and I did, but needless to say, we've been showering at the bath house ever since.

On a side note; Hans, who is first and foremost a scientist and believes if you can't see it, smell it, or touch it, it doesn't exist, is finally coming over to my side and is beginning to believe that there might just be something to my theory about an 'appliance union' wherein all the inner workings of the Knotty Cat are continually conspiring against us. Because (and this just blows my mind), our battery charger died on us. This was the remaining half of our inverter/charger that I posted about awhile back. When the inverter side died (it supplied us with AC power while at anchor) we were just thankful that the charger was still working.

And then it wasn't.

We (with my wet hair dripping down my back) sat it the cockpit and debated about what to do and decided to roll out our portable solar panels in hope that they could keep up with our daily demand. We didn't count on unseasonably cloudy and rainy weather moving in and the next day found me nervously monitoring our batteries like a mother hen and when they dipped down to 11.9 volts I ended up starting and idling our port engine two times. So we dragged our shore power cord into the boat and luckily we have an adapter and when Hans bought a battery charger on his way home from work we plugged it into our adapter and so far so good. And when I expressed my concern about what we would do if we were at anchor with no sun or wind, Hans reminded me that we have the Honda 2000 and it has an outlet we could plug the charger into.

However, on a positive note, our adapter has three outlets so we added a power strip and voila!! we have TV, a fan, and since it was ugly outside I was able to use my sewing machine all week long.

Our new battery charger fits perfectly under our companion way steps. A temporary fix until we get the boat repaired.

But even with all these wonderful solutions, I still don't have hot water. The only way to heat it is by running the engines and we're not going there. I now heat water on the stove for washing dishes and like I said before we have the bath house for showers.


Shore power cord on the left, adapter on the right.

Getting full use of the three outlets on the adapter.

And even more use thanks to this power strip. This all looks like something out of 'A Christmas Story' when Ralphie's dad overloaded the living room outlet with the tree lights.

An overview. Yes, that's our TV in the background.


Time to wash dishes.


And rinse them. I used our garden hose on day one because our water pump was draining the batteries. Now that we have the battery chargers I just rinse them with cold water.

Wilbur supervises from the stern while I repair our dodger.

Hanging up behind Wilbur is the quilt top I worked on all week. He thinks it's for him. It's not.

We originally replaced our inverter charger when we first moved on board in 2010 and I told Hans I feel like we've come full circle. Just when we felt like we had our ducks in a row, we're starting all over again. I'm just hoping and praying that our heads don't buy into the whole appliance union thing because I've spent more time on them than I ever dreamed I would.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Try not to be too quick to judge.



Last week I got caught up with the blog 'Rebel Heart' written by Charlotte Kaufman. I ran across Charlotte's blog a long time ago when I was googling boat type sewing information. Thanks to her I found a YouTube tutorial that shows how to sew a pillowcase that has no raw seams. I loved it and after a $40.00 visit to the fabric store I soon had four completed (and very pricey) pillowcases. I realize this has nothing to do with maritime sewing but it made me feel good (and it also dressed up our berth). Charlotte sewed tons of stuff for her family's boat and last night when I watched the dramatic NBC news broadcast of their rescue at sea, I was shocked, when amid all the drama, I recognized the beautiful salon cushions Charlotte sewed.


I can't imagine there are very many people out there who haven't heard this story and I hope those that do, don't rush to judgement too soon without knowing the specifics. But for those who haven't, here's a brief rundown. Charlotte and her husband Eric (a certified captain) have been liveaboard cruisers for several years and last month they set off on an around the world cruise. They left Mexico with their two daughters (3 years old and 1 year old) on a heavily provisioned (and I mean something like 4 months worth) blue water boat. This is nothing new in the cruising world and over the years many families have safely completed this voyage.

It can be a tedious journey and Charlotte's posts are brutally honest (which most likely explains the vicious nature of many comments on many forums). The newscast stated that the baby had suffered from salmonella poisoning that had been diagnosed before the family left port, but they also reported that doctors had cleared them for departure. This wasn't news for those who follow the blog because Charlotte wrote about delaying the trip while she and her girls had to take rounds of antibiotics after a check up revealed problems. It was after the doctor declared them okay to go they left Mexico on the first leg of their journey to Australia. Charlotte and Eric updated their blog frequently and then a couple of days after the last post and nearly two weeks into their jouney there they were on the news. Of course most of the early reports were conjecture and the first report I heard on TV was that a couple who are sailing around the world were on a disabled boat with an infant that has heart problems. I immediately knew they were talking about the Kaufmans but I also knew Lyra did not suffer from heart problems. If I hadn't known who they were referring to I, too, would have wondered who the hell goes out to sea under those circumstances. And I believe that's about all it takes to bring the haters out of the woodwork. It kind of makes me wonder how many other news stories start out wrong because the media feels the need to 'fill in' the blanks.


This much we know: A call for help was sent from Rebel Heart. The baby was sick and the boat disabled. Rescue crews were dispatched and upon arriving on the scene were able to stabilize the baby. Unfortunately, they could not get the boat restarted and once the family was evacuated, it was scuttled (purposely sunk). Personally I feel the situation was handled well. The Kaufmans had the proper equipment to call for help and did. I know a lot of people are upset about the cost of the operation, but that's what rescue squads are trained to do. Wouldn't it be a perfect world if they were never needed.


So here's a true story I read a few years ago. A cruising couple (mom was pregnant) and their two year old set out on a known to be very dangerous passage (I can't remember the exact piece of water). Among other problems, they knowingly left on a boat with bilge pump issues. For crew they brought along an exotic dancer they'd just met who had no sailing experience. The passage was every bit as bad as it had been described and in addition to a couple of knockdowns they took on an alarming amount of water. Of course the automatic bilge pumps quit working and had to be manually operated. The wife was down below in a berth with the two year old and the husband had to man the pumps with the dancer at the helm. There were a couple of times they nearly did sink when huge waves crashed over them and the husband couldn't keep up with the manual pumps (after all, he could only handle one pump at a time). But somehow they survived and later on wrote a rather light hearted article about it. Of course the world didn't weigh in on this couples questionable decision to take off on an un-seaworthy boat because, lucky for them, nothing happened.


The point of my story? We can prepare and take precautions and try to always do the right thing, but then life happens. Because honestly, Rebel Heart should have had a typical sailing adventure; not always pleasant and easy but certainly manageable. And that other boat? There are a lot of vessels like that sailing around and somehow they manage to stay afloat.


We make decisions every day to drive on highways, fly on airplanes, and sail the seas. And sometimes bad things just happen.


I'm relieved that Lyra appears to be doing well and I can't imagine what it was like for Charlotte and Eric when they were told their home had to be destroyed. If you read any of the links I provided you can see how hard they worked to make that boat a real home.


I do know they have a huge support group among the sailing community and I hope only the best for them.