Sailing in the winds of peace

30 May 2016 | Gulf of Aqaba
06 January 2016 | Gulf of Aqaba
24 September 2015 | Gulf of Aqaba
25 March 2015 | Gulf of Aqaba
24 January 2015 | Eilat Marina
28 September 2014 | Eilat marina
30 April 2014 | Bay of Aqaba
29 December 2013 | Gulf of Aqaba
12 November 2013 | Bay of Aqaba
24 September 2013 | Gulf of Aqaba
11 June 2013 | Gulf of Aqaba
27 April 2013 | Gulf of aqaba
07 January 2013 | Gulf of Aqaba
11 October 2012 | Red Sea
09 September 2012 | Gulf of Aqaba
28 April 2012 | Gulf of Aqaba
13 February 2012 | Gulf of Aqaba
22 December 2011 | Gulf of Aqaba
10 October 2011 | Gulf of Aqaba
16 July 2011 | Eilat, Israel

Winter Projects

30 May 2016 | Gulf of Aqaba
35 C winds NW 15 knots
The New Year began with renovations.

Our cold weather lasted a good two months and winter passed in a blur of different projects. For months Yofy's cabin looked like a construction site. Our head compartment was first. Last summer, we decided to upgrade our head to an electric toilet. After weighing the pros and cons we were ready to give it a try. It was one of the best upgrades we've made on Yofy. The toilet needs much less maintenance, uses minimal electricity to run (and we have lots power coming off of our wind generator and solar panel), and is so much easier for guests to operate. Now that we added a new water tank we needed to resurface all of the old cabinetry so it would be water resistant and easier to clean.

The head was out of use for several days at a time as Manny tore apart cabinetry in order to install Yofy's new water tank. There were a few tense moments as he tried to align the tank in place and then a huge sigh of relief when it fit. Next he built a new sink front redesigning the cabinet and making the space so much easier to use.

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When we bought Yofy, we found the head sink to be really difficult to access. It sat under the side deck ceiling and made it impossible to brush teeth or to shave. So Manny designed a sliding sink that worked for a couple of years until corrosion set in. Since then, we've been brainstorming improvements. Now he glassed in a curved front to the cabinet that makes the sink accessible, attractive and compact. He glassed the counter top surrounding the sink so that it would be easy to clean and there would be no edges for mold to collect. And he made the sink counter removable so that we can access the tank underneath. Later he gelcoated the locker door and we have a modern and easy to clean cabinet. The rest of the cabinetry still needs to be resurfaced but the bulk of the work is done and it is such an improvement!

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As soon as we were able to make some sort of order in the main cabin, we called Rafa to come and measure our salon and Vberth for new cushions. There was a grand debate over how firm the cushions should be and what fabric would be best but Rafa guided us to make the right choices and now our cabin has a brand new look.

Rafa is a man of all trades, sewing yacht canvas and upholstery, managing the local sailing school and taking the job of head coach for Schahaf Israel's Olympic wind surf medalist. Part way through our cabin cushions Rafa had to take time off for coaching as Eilat sponsored the Windsurfing World championships. We headed out to watch the final day of races and were there to cheer Sahahaf as he took first place.

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Back onboard Manny began to tackle the next project which was renewing and reconfiguring all the boat's plumbing and installing a new marine air conditioning system. Here on the Red Sea, air conditioning is imperative for any liveaboard boat. When we moved aboard, Manny installed a marine AC unit that he converted from an old house AC unit. And it worked fine, but now with thoughts of sailing on the Med, we wanted a unit that could be used for heating as well. So he began to build us a new marine unit that is more compact, and will heat or cool the boat's interior.

Whenever we undertake big projects on Yofy, something is bound to go awry. This time, mid project, Manny found himself busy with other people's maintenance requests. As the cool weather was holding he wasn't too worried. Then in its normal fashion, spring arrived all in one week as temperatures rose twenty degrees mid March. The high temperatures caused a little concern, ruining local crops on the farmer's fields and making one sailor wonder when our new air conditioner would be complete. Then we had to leave everything and travel up north for two weeks. I found myself checking temperatures online and cringing as one heat wave after another swept through Eilat. Finally on our return, Manny put off all his customers for one week, dug in his heels and finished the AC installation.

The new unit sits under our galley sink and the control panel is next to our electric panel. The AC runs very quietly and cools our boat interior down in a matter of minutes.
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While I sit here at the computer with our AC blasting away, Manny is mid way through our last big project. The old solar panel is gone and new much higher powered one is ready to be installed. Manny has reconfigured the stainless stand which will hold the new panel and our wind generator and double as dinghy davits. The argument still stands as to how Yofy will sail with all this extra weight. Manny's been extra careful to try to design something that isn't clunky or awkward and I'm sure for all my resistance, I'll be the first one to enjoy the ease of handling the dinghy from the davits.

With the advent of spring we began to celebrate the growing potential of sailing Yofy in the Med this year and then delivery job offers began pouring in. Week after week, Manny received offers for deliveries through the Suez Canal, from the Ionian to Corfu, from Israel to Turkey and more. Some of these requests were so last minute that he had to turn them down. Others we just couldn't refuse. So it seems that this year's sailing season will begin with some delivery jobs while Yofy waits in Eilat. Only another reminder, that for cruising sailors an itinerary is just a loose plan.

Yofy's new upholstery:

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Some Like it Hot

06 January 2016 | Gulf of Aqaba
Winds S 10 knots
This fall, in the middle of yet another heat wave, I came across a Swedish saying:

“A year without summer is like a life without love”.

While I do remember Canadian winters and the intense longing for sunshine and warmth, I had to laugh. After years of living at the opposite end of the climate zone, mid summer we find ourselves yearning for cooler temperatures. In fact, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Celcius for months on end, if we were to go without summer for a year, we’d probably celebrate.

This year being an El Nino year, we’ve had an extremely long, hot summer and lots of wind. Month after month, three out of four weekends we’ve had winds over 25 knots. Combined with the heat, the winds have made everybody cranky, so we’ve tried to make the most out of any good weather. And there have been some wonderful days with perfect sails in a 12 knot breeze and long swims off the boat in flat calm seas. Those are the days that make it all worthwhile.

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Mid September we spent a long weekend at anchor and it was one of those weekends that you never want to end. The anchorage was quiet and the winds were light. We had good books onboard, swam for hours and shared dinners with friends anchored nearby. It was the closest we had come to cruising all year.

Each time we take Yofy out, we talk about sailing the Med. It’s been a dream for so long and always just out of reach. With terrorism on the rise, sailing in Egyptian waters is a bigger risk and so we’ve talked about alternate ways to get Yofy to the Mediterranean. We’ve also bantered around the idea of buying a bigger boat already lying in Greece or Italy.

Over the years we’ve made many improvements on Yofy and by now she is pretty much just how we like her, but there remain a couple of problem spots. As we haven’t found that bigger boat yet, and with thoughts of doing some offshore passages, Manny wanted to find some solutions.

Our water tankage is one main issue. Yofy came with two inflatable water tanks – one under the Vberth and another in the starboard heads compartment. A few years ago Manny built a fiberglass water tank to replace the tank that sits under our V Berth and it has been a terrific improvement. The tank that sits on the starboard side in our head compartment has caused nothing but problems and Manny has wanted to replace it for some time. As he examined possible solutions, he added in restructuring all our water hoses, and redesigning the head sink. I requested upgrading all the cabinetry in the head so that we’d have white fiberglass or formica surfaces that would be easy to clean and water resistant.

Winter project #1 came into being:
Building a new water tank for the head compartment
Moving all the water hoses and seacocks for convenient inspections
Rebuilding the sink compartment
Resurfacing most of the cabinetry and walls in the head compartment
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Another problem is how to carry our dinghy underway. The fortune 30 is a center cockpit sailboat with a small aft cabin. This makes for a terrific cockpit configuration, but little foredeck space. We’ve tried several variations over the years, but no matter how we do it, we can’t carry our dinghy on the foredeck without making sail handling impossible. So, Manny has decided that our only choice (other than towing the dinghy) is to make davits. We are clearly divided on this plan. I think that davits will make the already stern heavy Fortune 30, even worse, while Manny thinks that with a heavier anchor and other gear on the foredeck, she’ll balance out.

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Recognizing that we don’t have much choice, I seem to be loosing the argument and so:

Winter project #2 came into being:
Reconfiguring our solar panel and wind vane post
Building a “radar arch” (although we don’t have a radar) with davits

Along with these two major projects, we are renewing all the boats interior upholstery, putting another coat on the interior varnish, as well as completing all our regular winter maintenance projects. I’ve started with polishing and waxing the exterior stainless and next will come the brightwork. Winters are short here, so we have to really hustle on any projects that need to be done outside.

Finally mid November temperatures began to slide just below 30C and we could enjoy working outside. Just as we relaxed into our favourite season, a cold front from Siberia travelled south and hit us with cold weather. Overnight temperatures dropped 15 degrees and weather warnings were declared all over the region.

Later temperatures crept a little higher and soon all our neighbours fell into maintenance fever as well. These days mid day temperatures are in the low 20’s and on a sunny day sanders and grinders rev up, varnish tins are opened and everybody is in the rush to get things done before the heat returns. As the sun sinks behind the mountains, we all begin to pile on layers until evening temperatures plunge to single digits.

As I write this blog, I am wrapped in fleece and have the heater going. Our boat has been somewhat of a construction zone for almost two months. During the day Manny puts in long hours trying to finish the water tank and sink cabinet between his other jobs. I squeeze in a couple of hours each day to do a little varnishing. Evenings we each retire to a small corner of the cabin and escape via a good book or movie, trying to ignore the discomfort of the disorder around us.

As the projects progress, we allow ourselves to dream a little and to hope that maybe… just maybe… this year we will be cruising in the Med.

At the Crossroads

24 September 2015 | Gulf of Aqaba
Sunny, hot, winds NNW 10 knots
Here it is September and we are at a crossroad of sorts.

One famous cruising couple insists that cruising should be done while you are young. In many ways I agree with them. As our bodies, age the rigors of cruising become a little harder and while we do not all age the same way, there is a certain advantage in the vigor of youth. Even though we see their point (and we really do), for us, there have always been other factors to be considered too.

We are a couple who have their feet spread over two continents and that means a life of juggling. When we were young, every time we'd pack up and go travelling one or the other set of parents would feel we'd deserted them. When we cruised south from Canada to the Bahamas, my parents missed us but understood that we weren't THAT far away. On the other hand, Manny's parents felt that we had disappeared into a remote hinterland. When we arrived here on the Red Sea, Manny's family understood that we were actually close by, while my parents felt that we'd disappeared forever. Over the years those distances have cost a hefty price. During our stay in Canada, Manny lost his father and grandfather. While we've been here in Israel I've lost both my parents. No matter where we were, we were too far away to be there for both our families.

These are the worries that go through the minds of all cruisers and everybody has to make their choices based on what feels right for them. In the end, Manny and I made the choice to stay here on the Red Sea, close enough to have regular contact with his aging mother - the last parent. We felt we'd have the freedom to explore the northern reaches of the Red Sea and still be close enough for regular visits.

Two years ago Rachel was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and being close by began to take on even greater importance. Last December, Rachel fell and broke her pelvis, and the disease began to take greater control. By the end of June, we were with her full time. Rachel left this life in the middle of August and we spent the rest of the summer in mourning. Now a month later, we can look back and be grateful that this time, with this parent, right till the end, we were there by her side.

Rachel became my Israeli mother and quite the role model. She had a fighting spirit while still being gentle and compassionate. One of her outstanding attributes was the ability to accept change and make the best of what she couldn't alter. For a woman whose life revolved around family, accepting the fact that her only son had moved half way across the world to live on a sailboat couldn't have been an easy adjustment.

It feels like yesterday when I watched her rolling her huge suitcase down the dock to our little sailboat/home in Pickering, Canada. She was as far out of her element as she could be. As her heels clicked along the dockboards, I remember the raised eyebrows of our neighbours, but within days she had settled in to the life of the liveaboard.

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Some months later when we had parted once again, we were now anchored in the Bahamas. On a hot day long before cell phones, internet or Skype, we rowed our dinghy ashore and walked the two miles into town to the only phone booth on the island. Several months into our cruising, we each were going to call home. After several tries we finally got a connection to Israel and Rachel picked up the phone. After hellos and where are you's, she asked Manny if he could do her a favour.
"Can you pop over to the Israeli consulate in Miami and fill out a form for me. They'll mail it express".
Manny looked at me mouth agape. Now just how was he going to explain to her how impossible that would be?

As the years went by, Rachel began to understand that the cruising life wasn't just a whim, it really was what made us happiest. Now and then when we'd catch her bragging to friends about our experiences, we knew she was finally accepting our lifestyle.

A few years ago, on a long delivery we decided to surprise her on her birthday. Ignoring the outrageous cost we were about to incur, Manny called her from the boat's satellite phone. When he said hello, she asked him where we were. As he explained that he was calling from the middle of the sea on a passage east through the Med, we could feel that she didn't quite get it.
"So you won't be here for my birthday dinner?" she asked.

Some of the realities of our lifestyle simply weren't comprehendible.

As we begin to return to our life aboard Yofy we look forward to the next year. The death of the last parent is a crossroad of sorts. We have decisions to make.
Even as we sit and weigh our options, we feel Rachel gently urging us to follow our dreams. It's true, we're not as young as we used to be and we may have to alter our choices because of that. However, these last years have taught us that we don't need to go half way around the globe to find pleasure in cruising. One thing is for sure. Wherever we go, we'll make the best of it, Rachel.

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Rachel Kremer 1927 - 2015
Vessel Name: Yofy
Vessel Make/Model: Fortune 30
Hailing Port: Red Sea
Crew: Robyn and Manny
Our names are Manny Kremer and Robyn Coulter. We have been living on, and mucking around in boats most of our adult lives. Manny, who is an electrician, marine mechanic and refrigeration and air conditioning technician earns his keep maintaining other people's boats. [...]
Extra: Sailing in the winds of peace
Home Page: http://yogaandboatmaintenance.weebly.com/
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Yofy's Photos -


Who: Robyn and Manny
Port: Red Sea