10 November 2014 | Sarasota, FL
After the adventure we had the previous weekend, in the cold front conditions of high wind, big waves, and a bouncing boat, during which none of our planned projects got accomplished, this past weekend, we were on a mission!
On Saturday morning we headed out early and the difference in conditions was immense. It was cool out – we went out in jeans and long sleeves – but the bay was like glass and it was calm and quiet. We got out to Mariah and AK went to work on getting things prepped for the installation of the solar panels while I did my usual “maintenance duty” of eliminating the never-ending bird poop from the deck. The birds and I are NOT friends, and our neighbors in the mooring field probably think I am insane, as anytime a bird flies close to Mariah or dares to land on the top of our mast, I yell and bang things to make it go away! Next up on the project list is going to be getting my owl placed, which I hope will help deter the damn birds!
Once AK had everything prepped, we got the solar panels mounted on top of the bimini, where he had already installed the support system and got them covered with cardboard – don’t want to hook up the electrical power with the energy flowing through them! – and then he ran all of the electrical lines. We then took the cardboard off and watched the control panel as it showed the minimal sun (it was a cloudy day) shining through the panels and generating power! Solar Power!!
AK had a work project that he needed to get back home for, but we decided we had enough time to try and get the wind generator installed and running as well, so we did that. A little tougher than the solar panels, at least for me. That thing is heavy and they certainly don’t make them easy to install, so trying to get the base of the pole back onto the piece attached to the boat, with the very heavy wind generator at the other end, with the blades tied, but still worrying they might start spinning, was a bit stressful. But again, we were on a mission and determined and we got it done and took the line off of the blades and watched it start spinning and watched the control panel again, and lo and behold – Wind Power!
As soon as that was done, we had to venture home, work called, and we were running a bit short on time, but we were both so happy that we finally achieved completion on both of these major power projects. We didn’t go to Mariah on Sunday, as we had tickets to the Buccaneers vs. Falcons game so we changed it up a bit and that was fun too! Got home in time to see Kevin Harvick clinch a spot in the NASCAR championship, so AK was excited about that.
Now we need to get back out there to monitor our new power sources and see if they are working how we hope; see how those batteries are charging up; and we can finally move on to the smaller, but also important, more cosmetic projects. Remember those walls I tore out months ago? Yeah, time to get new ones in; time to outfit and stock Mariah for extended stays and sails; and time to clean up down below and get everything organized and in its proper place.
Exciting weekend for sure, in a completely different way than the previous weekend, but both weekends good for learning and making things happen! We are so close now!
~ Set Sail, Your Future Will Thank You
AK & LoLo
Wind, Waves, Adventures
03 November 2014 | Sarasota, FL
It has been quite some time since we posted an update, for which we apologize. We (I) will try to do better when it comes to updating on a more consistent basis.
We have made some great progress on the various projects on Mariah. AK installed the new propane system; and a newly wired electrical system. The head is up and running and we have had the holding tank pumped out a few times by the marina.
The two remaining large projects, which we had planned to complete this past weekend, included the installation of the solar panels and wind generator. Mother Nature had other plans in store however. Similar to much of the eastern side of the country, we had a cold front come through on Saturday. The wind was blowing at 20 knots with gusts up to 30 knots.
But, we had a plan, so we packed the bag and the cooler and headed to the marina. As we were crossing the bridge on our way there, we could see the waves white-capping and it was windy out, but we thought we should still be okay in the marina and going out to the mooring field. As we were getting things into the dinghy, an "old salt" was coming in on his dinghy and said "it's an adventure!"; then one of the marina employees looked at us as we launched off the dinghy dock and smiled and kind of shook her head; and then a woman on a boat at one of the dock slips waved and said "Be Careful!". And the birds, they were all together standing on the dock - too windy to fly. None of these things has ever happened before...so I was nervous, and it was chilly and windy, sweatshirts on before we even got in the dinghy, hats and sunglasses packed away so we wouldn't lose them.
It was a scary ride! The waves were rolling and the boats were bouncing...they looked like toy boats bouncing in the bathtub, and I had no idea how the heck I was going to get from the dinghy onto the swim platform, with the boat bouncing four feet.
We got to Mariah and AK said GO, I hesitated, but I managed to flop myself onto the platform and then up and over and into the cockpit. Meanwhile AK is bouncing in the dinghy, trying to hand up our stuff and then getting himself on to the boat and the dinghy tied.
At this point I am hyperventilating and panicked that AK is going to fall out of the dinghy, but he made it just fine. We sat there, in the cockpit, as the wind and waves rolled us all around, and I think we both, at that moment, did not believe we were getting off the boat that day and that we were going to have our first overnight stay, although unplanned and completely unprepared to do so.
Obviously in that kind of wind and waves, we did not get the solar panels or the wind generator installed, but we did get some cleaning, sorting and organizing done, down below, and AK got the new inverter hooked up.
So it was debatable...were the wind and waves dying down enough for us to get back to land, before the sun went down, or would be staying overnight? We (AK) decided it had calmed down enough that the ride back to the dock would not be nearly as bad as the ride to the boat. He mapped out our strategy and our plan and our route and we made the decision to go.
I was scared out of my mind about us getting back on that dinghy, yes, it had calmed down a little bit, but in all reality, not even enough that it was noticeable to me. But we did it; we followed the plan and made it back to the dock and back to dry land.
So after a Friday Halloween night in which we didn't have one single trick-or-treater, we decided to make up for it on Saturday with a super scary trip to Mariah and back. We made a bad choice, looking back on it, but we also learned a lot. We learned that if we have to do something like that, because we're out cruising somewhere and the weather changes, we know we can do it. We learned that our boat needs to be better stocked, even in the marina with home close by. We need some snacks. We need to have more clothes on the boat, warm clothes, and something to change into, just in case; and we need to find waterproof, floatable tote bags so that on top of everything else we're worried about, we don't have to worry that if we drop or lose a bag, our important items are not going to end up at the bottom of the Gulf, but we will be able to retrieve them.
We didn't get to complete the projects we wanted to, but a wise man taught me to always remember to try to "adapt and adjust" and that's what we tried to do. We will try again next weekend to get the solar panels and wind generator all set, so that we will be in great shape in terms of creating power…and will FINALLY be at the point where we can unhook from the mooring ball and go SAIL!
Until the next adventure...
~ Set Sail, Your Future Will Thank You
AK & LoLo
Work Projects, Book Reviews, Dinghy Driving Update
10 August 2014 | Sarasota, FL
We spent a good part of this weekend working on Mariah. The projects are coming along, but it seems like there is still so much to be done! AK got the bracket in place for the new wind generator; is working on the structure for the new solar panels; and I got to rip out the interior “walls”. They had some old, worn-out material, with teak strips…I saved the teak strips so we can possibly use them for something else…and now they are ready to be re-done so that they will look beautiful.
I am trying to expand my knowledge about sailing in general, and about sailing to far-off places, since that is our ultimate, long-term goal. I love to read, all kinds of stuff – fiction, historical fiction, young adult fiction (serious fan of the Twilight series, Harry Potter series, Hunger Games series, and if you have not read The Fault In Our Stars – READ IT!), true crime, sports and political biographies, etc. I am also a total news junkie and everyday catch up on the local, national, and international news through online articles, twitter, facebook and blogs. But, back to sailing…I started by reading the entire course book, Sailing Made Easy, for the ASA Basic Keelboat Course, prior to taking the two-day class, a few weeks ago. I beg to differ with the title of the book, but it helped me with some of the basic knowledge, terminology (for those who are not familiar with sailing, it has its own language!), and it helped me to pass the class – got my official ASA certification and logbook sticker in the mail! Apparently, I am the only person to have ever read the course book prior to the class, at least that’s my understanding since no one else that I know that took the course, read the book. That’s a type A personality for you!
Next up was Jeff Hartjoy’s book, on the recommendation of Captain Barry (S/V Seaswift) who is friends with Jeff. Jeff’s book, “Cape Horn, Ahead or Behind, Forever on My Mind”, is intense! Jeff sailed around Cape Horn, single-handed and the detail about the journey makes it feel like you are on the boat with him. Even though the book is not well-written, in terms of grammar and structure, I very much appreciated his thorough explanation of the sailing aspects and the technical information regarding every time he changed the sails, repairs he had to make, and life alone on his boat in the most dangerous and adverse circumstances. Why anyone would want to sail Cape Horn I don’t know, but hey, to each his own.
After finishing Jeff’s book, I moved on to “Island Hopping in the Caribbean”, by David & Annie LaVigne. AK has a full library of books about sailing, so I have been making good use of that, and since the Caribbean is on our to-do list, I thought this book would be a good starting point. This book has tons of information about the different islands, ports, anchorages, and how to explore all of them on a budget. They include many details about where to shop, eat, and how to get around, which is good for those of us who want to do this journey. What I didn’t like about their book is that they don’t really talk about the technical part of sailing to and around these islands, and in fact, I am not sure how much actual sailing they did, as most of the commentary about traveling includes the fact that they motor-sailed. If we wanted to motor around the Caribbean, we would have bought a motor boat… but again, to each their own on how you live your life and experience your adventures.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, says that anyone considering sailing, especially south to the Caribbean, MUST read, “The Gentlemen’s Guide To Passages South…The Thornless Path to Windward” by Bruce Van Sant. I am only on Page 3, and I am not a Gentleman, but I think (I hope) it’s going to be good anyway. This one is going to take me some time. I am typically a very fast reader, but this book has very tiny print and lots of details, ensuring that it won’t be a one afternoon read for me. I am looking forward to getting into it, as it has been deemed as the “must-read” and “must-have” for sailors. Stay tuned for that review…
For those of you following along on my dinghy driving…I thought I did pretty well yesterday driving from the dinghy dock to Mariah. I did everything to get us going without any instruction or coaxing from AK. No close encounters with any giant yacht anchors and no crashing into Mariah. Granted, I needed to do a few little spin-o-ramas (you know I LOVE my hockey!) to get us to the stern, but my feeling was that I will take a spin-o-rama any day over a crash. However, when we got to Mariah, somehow I had managed to cut the knuckle on my pointer finger of my right hand (how did that happen…I can’t even use my right hand – refer to previous post!) and there was blood, nothing major, quick paper-towel fix, but AK said injury on the dinghy equals a fail on that dinghy driving…sigh…I am a work in progress. When we were leaving Mariah, I asked AK to drive the dinghy, it was getting dark, we had a bunch of stuff to take with us (garbage, stuff to take home) and thankfully he obliged. And, once we got underway, total downpour, so I am glad I escaped that one as the driver!
After some work in the home shop (aka: the garage), it’s time to get back out to Mariah and get some work done…these weekends go by so fast! Until next time…
PS: Special shout-out and THANKS to my Maman and Dad, for our awesome Captain & First Mate hats!
~ Set Sail, Your Future Will Thank You
LoLo & AK
08 August 2014 | Sarasota, FL
I feel like I have been lacking in my posts and need to do an update...we haven't been on any sailing adventures, but we (I use that lightly) have been doing lots of work and projects on Mariah. AK is rebuilding the biminy to hold the new solar panels; installing a new wind generator; re-doing some electrical stuff; and the damn transmission linkage broke so we need to have that fixed before we go anywhere...neither of us feels confident enough to "sail" to the dock or into the mooring field, we've had a motor for those tasks until now. And we still need to get the new fenders out there and the grill...so we can eat...and fix the plumbing for the head...so we can use that...for when we are out there for more than a few hours at a time.
Mariah is in the mooring field, which means we have to take our dinghy back and forth to her. I absolutely stink at driving the dinghy! If there is a dinghy driving school somewhere, sign me up! Why does it have to steer backwards from real life? And, not only that, but I have to steer with my left hand (I am right-handed), with the motor and "steering wheel" behind me. This all comes after I remember to drop the motor down so the prop is in the water (the pin!), unscrew the top thing (all the way or it won't start - righty tighty, lefty loosie), move the throttle knob up, pull that starter cord and start it up! And then you have to drive it!
AK says I have to keep driving until I can do all of the steps without any help or prompting and until I don't get nervous the entire time. Right now, when he makes me drive, by the time I get off of that dinghy my whole body is shaking - I am so nervous and so focused on left = right and right=left. On the way to Mariah the other night, I almost took AK's head off on a giant yacht's anchor - good thing he ducked! And then I crashed into the stern of Mariah. Thankfully you can't crash too hard into anything with a plastic dinghy. I didn't cut the engine fast enough, but here's the thing, everything controlling the dinghy is behind me, and I don't have the "feel" for it yet, and it's hard to see where you're going or how close you are when you're looking behind you for that damn lever. Oh well, about to test out the "practice makes perfect" theory...again. Someday, I may actually have some patience, someday...maybe. I also cut it too soon coming into the dinghy dock, floating around, had to re-start the engine and CRASHED into the dock, so again, thankfully it's just plastic and can't hurt anything!
Back out we go tomorrow, and yes, AK will probably make me drive the dinghy both ways, but it's okay, I am determined to get it...I am set on "becoming one" with the dinghy...we're going to bond and work together and eventually, together, we will become experts at coming up on Mariah and coming into the dinghy dock! I know that at some point it will become second-nature, and I won't freak out coming into the dock (I freak about docking anything!) or getting to our boat, and someday, we will be in some fabulous new place and I will leave AK on Mariah and take the dinghy and go explore. But, until then...I am still bonding and trying to find my "zen"!
~ Set Sail, Your Future Will Thank You
LoLo & AK
Frustration vs. Patience
01 August 2014
For those of you who know me, you know I am not patient…ever, for any reason, in any situation. For most of my life, things need to happen NOW…I want it done NOW, I want answers NOW, I want you to respond to me NOW…because I am “Type A” from the Northeast…that’s how some of us roll and that’s what I do, so I expect that in return.
I also recognize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I feel like I know mine pretty well and I don’t try to pretend, especially on a boat, where pretending can cause harm, injury or death. No one is good at all things, that is what makes us human and gives each of us our own unique personality. If we were all good at the same things, we could either never move forward or we would be completely bored with other people, neither of which seem a good option to me. I am good at “soft” skills…writing, reading, history, cleaning, organizing, details for events, etc. I am not good at “hard” skills…math, mechanics, physics, science, cooking, or fixing things. In fact, when I was in college, as a dance major and then minor, those pointe shoes would arrive in the mail and my roommate sewed the ribbons on for me…I am not good at sewing!
I am not afraid to admit that I am not good at something, or that I don’t understand something. And I, most of the time, don’t “understand sailing”. I love it, but I don’t “get it”. I don’t get the wind direction, the points of sail, how to know with certainty when to tack and when to jibe…but I am trying, I am trying to get it, it’s just not something that comes easy to me with the way my brain works. I took the ASA Basic Keelboat Course, intense and good for me to do, but came home frustrated not invigorated. So, there is the constant question, am I ever going to get it, when does that “you’ll feel the wind and know what to do” happen? How long does that take? Remember…no patience…
I don’t know how to tie all the knots and if I don’t practice every damn day, it’s gone. I don’t know what every little thing is called on the boat; I don’t know how to hoist AK up in that Bosun chair without Barry to help and direct me; but I can tell you why it’s called that! Our living room is full of boxes, which are full of things we need to get Mariah to where we want her, but it’s completely overwhelming. The grill, fenders, a box of “stuff” I don’t even know what that stuff is, a wind generator, and the pole to attach it to, inverter, solar panels. We have boxes that have not been opened, and more on the way. How are we going to get this all on to the boat and how are we going to get everything installed and up and running? How are we supposed to do this, just the two of us? And how long is it going to take?
I just read Jeff Hartjoy’s book, in one sitting, about his solo sail around Cape Horn, and it’s an amazing story, journey, and adventure, but not one I ever want to do. It’s treacherous, dangerous and flipping cold…I moved to Florida for a reason! But his story is inspiring…and his next plan is to circumnavigate the world, ALONE…wow! I know I will never be where Jeff is, as a sailor, and I am okay with that, but I would like to be a good First Mate, I would like nothing better than knowledge, mechanics, physics and math to somehow seep into my brain, but the reality is that it’s not going to happen, I can’t change my brain.
So, here comes the battle between frustration and patience. This sailing thing it grabs you, and almost catches you off guard, and is slowly teaching me to be calmer, more patient, and as AK says, teaching me to BREATHE. When you get out there on the water and you raise those sails, and you’re sailing, and it’s complete peace, YES it’s worth it. There is no comparison to that feeling. That is complete freedom and you don’t want it to ever end.
So with the wise words of one of my favorite people’s Dad in my mind all the time, “Breathe in Peace, Breathe out Anxiety”…we move forward with
life and with Mariah…
~Sail, Your Future Will Thank You
LoLo & AK
Work, Work, Work
30 July 2014 | Sarasota, FL
I know I forewarned everyone that this blog would not be technical, but I am going to get “technical” for a minute…as technical as I can get and no worries, this is not going to be a recurring theme.
We have A LOT of work to do on Mariah…to get her to where we want her, for our future adventures. So as I mentioned, the living room of house #1 (which is being neglected, thank God I had some time off from work this week to clean!) is the “warehouse”. Not including what we have already received and moved onto the boat, we now have Solar Panels; a new Inverter and lots of wire; stuff to make a propane system (yes stuff!); a new grill; and a box of other things (if you want to know what those things are in the box, you’ll have to ask AK).
As I mentioned, Mariah is in the mooring field, which means we have to take the little dinghy out to her and along with us, any items we want on the boat. Please note, said dinghy has a weight limit of 360 lbs. and is not very big or stable. She’s a tiny, little boat, which gets us from the dock to Mariah and back.
Our dinghy, she got caught up, through the line, on the shaft of the boat on Monday, AK tells me it’s because the transmission bolt broke and it got stuck in forward, therefore it filled up with water and it needed to be bailed out….see previous post, best therapy ever!
How are we going to get all of this stuff on the boat?? I don’t know…we will either have to have many trips back and forth to the dock and the truck, in the dinghy, or we’ll have to move Mariah to the dock, and load everything on.
Just move her to the dock you say…easier said than done. In a mooring field, you’re hooked to a mooring ball and anchor, which is then tied to the boat with two lines. Untying those lines and moving away from the mooring ball is not so hard, but getting into the dock can be a challenge…all depends on the wind and the currents, and this is no small boat, she’s 39 feet! And, there’s all the people in the restaurant watching you….AK said it doesn’t bother him, performing in front of crowds is no issue (former Rock Star), but it makes me that much more nervous – I don’t need or want an audience! But the reality is that we need to get all this new stuff on the boat so we need to figure out a plan.
AK orders all of the technical stuff, while I focus on the “living” and “cosmetic” stuff. Similar to home #1, I want it clean, I want it to be somewhere that people like to visit and spend some time. And I want to be prepared. First up, replacing the First Aid Kit. The one that was on the boat is from forever ago, I am pretty sure the band-aids are expired! I need to go through what they had and make a new one. Don’t worry - we’re safe – we have all of our necessary and Coast Guard required items – flares, flare gun, fire extinguishers, PFDs, LifeLines, etc.
Oh, and I need an Owl…yes, an Owl. Apparently the Owl keeps other birds from bothering Mariah, as in keeps them from pooping on our boat deck. That is something I can’t tolerate and getting on to the boat and then having to make a bucket from the shop-vac, with a line tied to it to bail bay water and wash the deck was not something that made me happy. I guess these owls make the birds stay away, a little bit. So an owl is next on my order list.
I wish I could show tons of photos but that would mean I would have to “upgrade” on this blog site (yup sorry, without my paid upgrade there is no RSS or Subscribe feature), but I am on a spending freeze right now and the blog upgrade doesn’t fit into a “need”. One of the wisest people I have ever met always said there are wants and there are needs…which one is this? So, you all get one photo and no RSS feed – SORRY! If someone wants to pay for that, let me know. More updates soon…on all of work!
~Set Sail, Your Future Will Thank You!
LoLo & AK