As some of you know, several years ago my family became the tragic victims of a careless drunk driver. My sister Shannon was paralyzed. Although she does well with her disability and is successfully raising a great kid on her own, she is in desperate need of a new wheelchair van.
My poor Dad can only patch it up so many times. Shannon doesn't really explain in the video just how bad the van is. It's in really poor shape. Most recently, the motor to open and close the door with the ramp started to fail. Unfortunately, they don't make the motor any longer and can't fix the one that she has. Once the motor goes, she won't be able to get in or out. Ever.
There is a national contest going on right now and the winner gets a new ramp van. Can you help her win?
Please watch the link to the 2 minute video and vote. You can vote every 24 hours!
And yes, that IS me as a kid standing next to Shannon a couple of times. I don't remember giving her permission to use my image... Oh well, it's for a good cause.
Lately I've been spending much of my free time making all new cushions for the boat. The old fabric was dark blue, collected (and held onto) cat hair and had gold embroidery. Yuck. Oh yeah, it was too easy to stick your finger through it, too. I intended to just reupholster the existing cushions but once I got them apart it was obvious that the old foam had to be tossed. It's been a huge project.
I'm actually not even done. I still have two mattresses to do. Guess I saved the best for last. Ugh.
The hardest part of this project was finding a fabric that we both liked. We went to several stores in Seattle and got several samples from online vendors. If we found a color/pattern that we liked, the fabric didn't seem tough enough to hold up to daily use. If we found a fabric that seemed durable enough, the color/pattern was bad. We finally found restaurant grade upholstery that had good color and pattern.
For those of you who are curious, I used Sunbrella on the bottoms of the seat cushions and #5 YKK continuous zips. I used 40 yards of upholstery fabric and 15 yards of Sunbrella. I did the dinette, the nav station, the settee, both beds and 2 cabin seats. I have a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1.
I made cat beds out of the scraps.
I had a feeling that all of the sewing that I did as a teenager would pay off. I was given an estimate of $10,000 to reupholster the boat a few years back. I'll have about $3,000 into my project by the time it's done. Mom, thank you for teaching me how to sew. And thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to sail! It's all coming together...
We've got a few more months until we move back on the boat. A few more projects, too.
09/24/2011, Seattle, WA
Home. I've got mixed feelings about being 'home'. Home being our house. I came to believe that the boat was home. A moving home with a different back yard every day, but home none the less.
My friends are all asking what the trip was like. It was exciting, boring, fun, frustrating, challenging, relaxing, enlightening, fulfilling and exhilarating (but not all at the same time). Oh, I forgot one; expensive!
Groceries were our biggest expense. We found prices comparable to the US in Vancouver and Campbell River. All other places were probably 20% higher that what I am used to paying. Stores in remote areas had prices more than twice what I am used to paying. I paid $7.00 for a pound of butter more than once. Fuel was higher than in the US too.
I was amazed by the remoteness of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Even the north coast is sparsely populated. More than once we went for 3 days without seeing evidence of other humans. Although I am not the most social person in the world, I like to know that others at least exist! For several weeks we didn't even have FM radio.
I was surprised how my body reacted to the motion of the Pacific. I didn't mind the swell even when the waves were 11 feet high and 10 seconds apart. It was the weird movement in the troughs that we occasionally encountered that got me sick. We made a mistake of heading out on a stormy day and had to endure 5 hours of 9 foot swells, pouring rain, 30 knot winds on our nose and heavy chop. Not fun.
I was dissapointed by the weather. We had weeks on end of rain. Not periods of rain. Rain all day long, day after day after day. We ended the trip with 6 weeks of sun and there were smiles all around.
We'll do some things differently on the next voyage. We will get satellite radio and install speakers in the cockpit. We want to install a washer/dryer (keeping my fingers crossed on that one). I was frustrated by a lack of laundry facilities at the beginning of the trip. By the time the end of the season approached I had the laundry ordeal under control. We want to install an instant hot water heater. We currently have a 12 gallon hot water heater. It takes forever to heat up. I need to learn how to feed us while we are out in the weather and the swells. When I'm not feeling good and the boat is moving all over, I don't like to go below to make food and get water. We got too hungry and probably a little dehydrated because I didn't have grab and go food available. Our last passage was more than 90 miles and was at night. By then I had learned a little about making easy to grab and eat food available but I think that I can do a better job next season.
We didn't use our crab pot very much. Prawning was more fun but by the time you buy a trap and get a license, it is cheaper to buy directly from a commercial fisherman.
Overall we really enjoyed the trip. We found a few great hiking trails, one that really kicked my ass. We really like being out on the trails, getting our muscles stretched out. We met some awesome people and hopefully have made some lifelong friends.
The biggest challenges were making repairs on the go (Ken was my hero more than once on the trip), dealing without when needed, learning to cook when all the ingredients needed to make dinner weren't readily available, and keeping the cats occupied to prevent boredom.
09/17/2011, Sidney BC
We've got a temporary fix on the engine (for the 4th time this season) and will do a permanent fix once we are back in our home slip. It seems that our coolant has been leaking slowly, creating a vacuum in the loop that goes to the hot water heater. We've filled and bled the lines 4 times this season but have never found where the leak was. The mechanic identified a probable leak and we'll fix it when we get back to Seattle.
We'll leave Sidney tomorrow and will head for Roache Harbor to clear Customs. Then it's just a matter of heading home before the weather turns on us. We've got a few days of rain heading our way this week. I learned this year that I don't really like being on the boat when it's raining... At least our heater is fixed! Yay!
09/12/2011, Sidney, BC
Well, we've returned to Tsehum Harbour near Sidney. The darn engine started kicking up a fuss again (same problem that we've had all summer). We keep 'fixing' it, the 'fix' lasts about 3-4 weeks then we start noticing problems again. We're both frustrated so we've hired a mechanic. This will blow the September budget but we HAVE to get this thing under control before heading to Mexico next season.
Took the cats for a walk this morning. Two small, old dogs were out for their morning walk and Elliot (the brute) stared them down. The dogs took a route as far from Elliot as they could. Elliot didn't move. The guy walking the dog laughed the whole way, as did I! I'm glad that our silly cats can bring a smile to others.
We're going to walk around Sidney tomorrow as we've never spent much time seeing the town. Wedneday we'll move into a slip and the mechanic will take a look at the engine. He's perplexed by our description of the problem so that isn't a good sign. He's the authorized Westerbeke mechanic in town though so he's probably our best bet. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for us.
09/11/2011, Princess Cove, Portland Island
Our friends George and Daphne (Hi!) recommended Portland Island for its nice trails. We dropped the anchor in Princess Cover on the southern side of the island and headed for the shore at 3:00. We decided to take the coastal trail and when it came out to a beach we couldn't find where exactly it continued. We found a bit of a trail and followed it but half an hour later found ourselves lost in the woods (is this a continuing theme with us??) Oh well, we were on a small Island, how bad could it get? After an hour of beating back the brush we managed to come out on a real trail and got ourselves home. Ugh. I was in shorts and my legs are all scratched up and now I'm itchy.
The weather continues to be nice.
Ken lost the remote to the TV. How far could it go on a 44' sailboat? He watches Seinfeld every night while I fall asleep. I think he's seen every episode 3 times on this trip alone.