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Boat Projects in Exotic Sounding Places
Katie, too cold
11/08/2012, Oriental, North Carolina

Besides weathering Hurricane Sandy, I have weathered living on Mezzaluna with Hurricane Jeff whirling about on multiple boat projects simultaneously. It is true, living on your boat is just working on your boat in exotic locations, as long as you consider Oriental, North Carolina an exotic location.
Our life raft arrived here the same day we did and got mounted on the boat straight away but we're still looking for a place to stow the extra solar panels that were stashed where we now have the life raft.
Once Hurricane Sandy passed, Jeff got started on the Mezzaluna Metropolitan Sewer Project which spilled over into about 3 days. Some hoses in the head need to be rerouted and replaced and unfortunately, one of the hoses that got opened was full of something you don't even want to know about. Talk about a stinky mess.... We went through a lot of bleach, water, various cleaners, and air freshener, including sautéing onions and garlic to make Mezzaluna inhabitable again.
Next was reconditioning the batteries which, much to our dismay but not surprisingly, did little to improve the output of Mezzaluna Edison. Butch, the assistant dock master live aboard, called Chuck, the local electrical go-to guy who stopped by and found that the charger part of the inverter was shot, one battery was completely dead and another was operating at less than 30%. So, Mel, a marina live aboard mechanic whiz, offered to make a run with Jeff to West Marine in New Bern, which is 30 miles away, for a new charger which was promptly installed in the aft cabin. After Jeff did some battery research, Mel again offered to provide transportation, this time to Sam's Club in Jacksonville, which is 60 miles away. We bought six 12 volt AGM batteries for our house bank and another one for the starter battery along with a cart full of things that were not on any list but once there we decided we couldn't live without. Since the old battery compartment held only 5 batteries it needed to be rebuilt. Finding the necessary tools and supplies required ripping any remaining put together part of the cabin apart to find the tools and excursions to the hardware store and local West Marine to buy supplies. Luckily the Whittaker Point Marina courtesy car and/or Mel were available so we could make the necessary trips.
As Jeff was industriously working on the battery project, I got a call from a delivery company that the mattress we ordered at the sail show in Annapolis was arriving at the City Dock in Beaufort, NC in 10 minutes and I needed to be there to sign for it. Just a bit of an impossibility as it's a day away by boat and a bit more than an hour away by car, if you have one. A few phone calls later arrangements had been made for it to be held there until the next day. Mel came to the rescue again, when he offered to make the drive down to Beaufort in his truck with me so we could pick up the mattress. I was a bit wary when I saw the size of the box as to whether or not we'd be able to get the thing aboard, but Jeff, with a little help from Gary across the dock, maneuvered the mattress aboard and into the fore cabin without a hitch. With a few acrobatics and sheets hot out of the dryer I had the bed made and we had a restful night's sleep when we returned from Music Night at M & M's in Oriental.
Since the temperature has dipped into the low 40's we've had Mel, as well as a service guy from another marina aboard helping Jeff in several attempts to recommission the Webasto heater but so far it's no go. Fortunately, Lynn and Steve from S/V Celebration (who headed out for Virgin Gorda and warmer climes this morning) gave us a little electric heater that I'm sitting next to so I don't freeze to death.
We had Bob, the IT live aboard guy in the marina and his dog Sweeny, over to look at our WiRe internet booster which has not been working reliably since we left Wisconsin. He determined that the problem is due to product malfunction, not operator error. The good news here is that we are not incompetent, the bad news is now we need to contact the company and figure out how and where to get it fixed so we have reliable internet access.
The heater and internet booster projects are going on hold as Jeff is busy finishing up the sail rigging, mounting the safety equipment, and getting all our gear stowed back away so we can head south tomorrow morning chasing some warmer weather.

Cotton Picking
11/05/2012, Cotton Field in North Carolina

While driving with Mel from Oriental to Jacksonville to pick up our boatload of new batteries we whizzed by numerous fields covered in cotton that was as white as snow. Things just seemed to fly by in a blur when zipping down the state highways at 55MPH as I'm use to going under 7MPH on Mezzaluna and I really wanted to get a closer look. When I mentioned that to Mel, he obliged and pulled over in one of the better fields so we could check it out.

I picked a boll but was even worse at picking cotton than I was at picking pickles. It's a good thing they have machines to do that now!

Not to be left out, Jeff thought it would be fun to drive the tractor so Mel was going to teach him how but we decided it would be better if we got some lunch at the Sting Ray Cafe in New Bern first. Then, after dining on striped bass and grouper, we remembered there was that battery installation project waiting. Driving the farm tractors will just have to wait for another day....

Courtesy Flags are Cut Out
11/03/2012, Whittaker Point Marina, Oriental, NC

Jeff bought me a book with patterns for the flags of 28 Caribbean countries and all the signal flags along with the material needed to make them before we departed from Milwaukee. He figured I could make flags instead of the nearly 200 pairs of mittens from felted wool sweaters and a couple of t-shirt quilts that I sewed up over the past 3 years. It did give me an excuse to take three sewing machines aboard the boat with me, although I really consider the Sailrite machine his. While Jeff was busy working on all the boat projects I set up a nice little cutting studio in the upstairs of the Whittaker Point Marina for a few days. It was bright and sunny with big windows and skylights which provide beautiful views in three directions. It also gave me a place to go instead of that stinky and ripped apart Mezzaluna. I cut out all the nylon pieces and packaged everything I needed to make 18 different country's flags in handy dandy ziplock packages. The next time we stay somewhere for a few days I'll be setting up one of those sewing machines and getting out that Bahamas kit and stitching it up.

Weathered the Storm and All is Well
10/29/2012, Whittaker Point Marina, Oriental, NC

The storm was not too bad here where we are tied up to pilings on a dock at Whittaker Point Marina in Oriental, NC. Water level rose about 4 feet so it was just touching the docks and wind speeds topped out at about 45 knots. The boat was difficult to get on and off of as the deck was 3 to 4 feet above the dock and there was a lot of rocking. On Saturday and Sunday nights we were in the marina clubhouse enjoying the company of some other folks who have boats docked here and slept in the large empty room upstairs. This morning, there were blue skies, the water level is back to normal, and the wind is still blowing but not as strong. We've hauled a cart load of stuff we brought ashore for the hurricane back to the boat. Jeff is busy replacing the faucet in the shower and I'm cleaning up a few things. We will be staying here until at least Thursday morning as there are some other maintenance projects to get done and we need to put the boat back together after stowing things in preparation for the storm. Hope to be sailing south soon as its getting cold here.

Hunkering Down
10/28/2012, Whittaker Point Marina, Oriental, NC

We are hunkered down at Whittaker Point Marina in Oriental, North Carolina waiting for Hurricane Sandy to blow through. The headsails, canvas, and anything else that could catch the wind are stowed below, the rigging and lines are fastened down, and the boat is secured to the pilings with 12 docking lines. We are cozied up inside the marina with a few other cruisers watching the weather, telling stories, drinking rum, and making periodic boat checks to be sure all remains secure. The wind is blowing, with an overnight high of 44 knots and the water level is up 3.5 feet nearly touching the bottom of the docks. Rain is coming down and current predictions indicate wind speeds of 35 to 50 knots with a slight change in direction and water levels rising up to 6 feet.

Welcome to a New Crew Member
10/26/2012, Belhaven, NC

We welcomed a new crew member on Mezzaluna this past week. We made arrangements for him to join us while at the sail show in Annapolis earlier in October. He lives in the rear lazzerette. He has his origins in Kansas and China. His name is Gar Min. He does a fabulous job of steering the boat. Gar is our new auto pilot.

The auto pilot that came with Mezzaluna died early this summer. We have hand steered most of the 2500 miles on this trip so far. Today we had a relief from that drudgery.

At the sail show we were told it would take about 3 days to install. They were right on. We broke that up to different times when we had some bad weather. It was pretty much a plug and play system. We put in the "B" drive which is hydraulic and made for boats up to 70,000lbs. We run about 32,000. It is good to be over built.

The best part of this is who ever is on watch can do some other things when we are in open waters. We also have a remote control and can let Gar know what changes in direction we want to go, even from the bow. And, to top things off, Gar is quiet and doesn't eat much.

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