Monday, July 14, 2014

Insert Clever Title Here

It seems as if every time I start to think that we are ready to really get into a routine and tick items off our list the Universe likes to throw a curve ball. If I were trying to divine a reason, it would be that we have yet to learn the lesson that there really is no such thing as a plan and schedules are like unicorns. Mythical, elusive and something that people have heard of but no one has actually seen.

I had planned to return from a week in Dallas with Maura and my mom to get the house packed up and moved in a few short days. What I did not plan on was a rare summertime outbreak of Influenza Type A at the Dallas hotel that felled so many people the CDC had to be notified. Who gets the flu in July? I do. That's who.

I managed to escape getting sick in Dallas only to return home and to cook up an impressive case for myself and Kitty. Maura apparently has an amazing immune system and escaped infection. I have been laid low for a solid week. So much for getting anything other than sleeping done. Kitty had the good sense to wait for me to begin recovering before succumbing herself. Fortunately we have some flexibility in our moving date so my viral induced slug like momentum was accommodated.  Mark wisely has avoided contagion by staying on the boat moving the refit forward.

Mark has been painstakingly going over every inch of the deck, seeking out any and all soft spots and crafting a raised base for all the winches. Lifting the winches and mast collar off the deck by just a few millimeters might seem like a whole lot of work for such a small measurement but we are really hoping that this along with bedding the hardware properly with butyl tape will ensure that this time, the deck core stays dry. I am hopeful because I never want to have to go through this again. Like Ever.

Yucky. Seriously yucky.
This week, it was chase down a leak at the mast, recore a soft spot in the deck and tidy up the mast collar. You can see in the photo below that attention to this area has been needed for sometime.

Since I have been holed up all week fighting the flu, Mark thoughtfully did a bit of content creation documenting the before and after of the mast collar project. A big thanks to him for taking the time to grab some short video for me.

So the word of the day is "Spartite" and the theme for the month is "Schedules and other mythical beings" and we continue onward...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Time For Some Changes

We are gearing up for some big changes. The kiddos are finished with school. Maura has her big event coming up next week and then its time to move on to the next chapter of the story. The house is sold, we are just waiting for Is to be dotted and Ts to be crossed and to finalize everything at the closing.

In a few short days, we will be leaving our little house in the suburbs for good and moving to the Chandlery full time to finish up the boat. The girls are understandably nervous what this next step will hold. I am anxious about several things. In the forefront are worries about keeping the kids engaged and starting to homeschool a high schooler while serving as Captain Perfecto's full time assistant  all the while ticking off the to dos on my own list.

In addition to helping Mark finish up the deck hardware, redoing the running rigging, installing new electronic gear, redo our anchoring set up, bottom job, replacing our refrigeration and fitting out the nav station I have my own list. I've been sorting through "must dos" and "be nice to dos" and have come up with my own work load.

1. Clean and commission water tanks
2. Get paperwork together- FCC ships station license, register new MMSI numbers for new VHF and Epirb, Coast Guard documentation renewal, Texas Parks Clean Water permit, renew passports figure out which mail forwarding service to use.
3. Finish new berth mattresses and soft furnishings
4. Sew weather and lee cloths
5. Sew ditty bags for gear in the cabins
6. Sew storage/pillows for salon
7. refinish galley counters (getting to the nice to haves !)
8. replace faucets in head and kitchen
9. refinish the salon table
10. get busy in the head to make it less ugly.

That is the easy part. Well, maybe not easy but straight forward. Leaving the suburbs is going to be a bit tougher.

I've never been a huge fan of our house. It served it's purpose and I have lived here longer than I have ever lived anywhere else but it was never my dream home. It's not the house I will miss, its all the things around it.The garden full of roses and crepe myrtles that Mark and I worked to create out of nothing? Hard to leave. The neighborhood tribe of sweet little people that Kitty absolutely adores? Hard to leave. Maura's friends will no longer be easy to hang out with at the Starbucks and YMCA around the corner. My parents will no longer be 10 minutes away. Neighbors I am very fond of will be missed. I will miss our walks through perfectly sculpted landscapes to a safe and well maintained playground. The workers at our local grocery who know my girls by name and whom Kitty runs to hug as soon as she spots them, then chatters at them about her adventures as they patiently listen intently. All hard to leave.

I suppose when you look at it dispassionately, the things we are leaving behind could be found anywhere. I am ready to leave. I have felt for some time that my life has been on hold and I am ready for the next chapter to begin. You can not begin the next chapter without finishing the one before, but it's harder than I imagined it would be. So for the next two weeks its a crazy time for us all and there is really no time for to get settled. It's time to move and get busy but there are lot's of little things that I will indeed miss.

If you had told me 10 years ago I would miss any of this I would have scoffed. This bit of wistful nostalgia has surprised me and caught me off guard. So farewell Suburbia. We have enjoyed our time here but its time to move on. Time to move on to new adventures and fill our memories with new sights, new sounds and new people. Onward and upward....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Are You Going to Strawberry Fair?

Mark has an uncanny ability to completely botch song lyrics. It doesn't matter how well he knows a song, his brain will take a song he has known since early childhood, rearrange things and put it back together into something that somewhat resembles the original composition but veers far away into something completely new. Last week as he and Kitty were playing he began to sing "Are you going to strawberry fair"? Kitty thought he was singing a question and answered "Yes! I am going to the strawberry fair. Can we go now?". She became fixated on this wonderful "strawberry fair" her daddy was going to take her to visit. Huh.

Fast forward through a week of dealing with a major fish die off and the accompanying stench in the marina, a week of fiberglass work and a week of slow progress on the deck hardware installation prep and Mark was ready for an escape to Strawberry Fair himself. Kitty continued all week long with her insistence that she was going to Strawberry Fair because her daddy said so. Fortunately, I found that there is a pick your own farm near by. I made arrangements and we headed out on a bright, hot morning. (Mark you may thank me later for saving your street cred with the little one later)

We picked a bunch of strawberries. Or more accurately since this was a hydroponic farm- we carefully clipped berries with scissors. Kitty was delighted mostly because she has low expectations about what constitutes a fun filled outing. Being outdoors, doing what ever with us and she is happy as can be.

Once we had the berries home, Mark and Kitty got busy baking a strawberry tart. As Kitty was happily digging into the finished product, she piped up "Thank you for taking me to Strawberry Fair. Next time we will pick blueberries!" Easy enough little one. Glad you had a good time and even happier that for you, this was as good as a trip to Disney World.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Hard Stuff

Kitty fell fast asleep on the couch while pouring over her memory book from school. I think we will be laminating every single page of projects and photos of her and her little classmates and finding a place for it on the boat.

I am standing in a hallway, listening to little people's voices bubbling up with excitement. They are singing and their little voices ring with the crystalline purity of childhood. I glance at the wall to a smattering of crayon colored paper ephemera crafted by tiny hands. My eyes begin to become a bit misty.

I pop my head in the doorway and tell Kitty it is time to go. She grabs her back pack, waves to her friends and bounds out to give me a hug. She is shadowed by the most angelic little girl with long blonde hair and enormously big eyes who stops Kitty and gives her a tight , tight hug. "I will really miss you Kitty" Whitney says in a solemn tone. Kitty knew this day was coming and I think it hit her at this moment. Kitty usually is one to hug her best school friend with wild abandon, this time she was stiff and still. This is when I begin to actually cry.

Kitty has had an absolutely magical year at preschool. She has been fortunate to have good friends and a wonderful, loving teacher, Miss Suzanne that she adores. A teacher who gets who Kitty is as a person and embraces her and all her quirks unabashedly. Kitty has had the gift of friendship, laughter and lots of love. I knew it would be hard as everyone else was promising to see each other next year knowing that for Kitty, this would be a final good bye.

Kitty knows we are moving on the boat and going sailing but she has no reference point for what this means. She sees us packing up boxes, selling off the extras and she knows that things will change. While she is looking forward to having a bit of an adventure, I can tell she is having a tough time letting go. I can tell this by her insistence that our boat does in fact have room for Miss Suzanne to come too. And Whitney, Sydney, Emmalyn, Grayson,Sam, Cason and there just has to be room for Temisan as well. My heart hurts for her. Goodbyes are the worst.

It's a bit easier for Maura. To be sure, she is nervous about leaving but its much easier for a techno savvy teen to keep in contact with friends via texting, email, Instagram, etc. For a little person who only knows how to read and write her first name, its a bit tougher.

So as Kitty's school time comes to an end and we get ready for the REALLY difficult goodbye to her little tribe of friends on our street, I am full of resolve. I am resolved to get this boat done and get going because to have made her make this sacrifice without a payoff and a payoff SOON is just too tough to take. There will be other friendships made Kitty. And magical experiences and discovering new places and laughing and singing too. But there will be hard things as well and I think maybe, goodbye is the hardest.

I wonder if Miss Suzanne would like to crew...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Feeling Ranty

Not really ranty, just mildly annoyed. Ok, perhaps a bit more than mildly but in the grander scheme of things the 2 things bugging me today are not a big deal. That being said, we have had a smattering of good luck when it comes to marine equipment as of late. As pleased as I am that things are going well if slowly, one needs to have contrast to fully appreciate the good things, so I am not certain whether to be annoyed with Jamestown Distributors for pushing an inferior product or to thank them for giving me something to complain about. An occasional cleansing rant is good for the soul they say.

We have always been positively inclined towards Jamestown Distributors. We have certainly spent enough money with them over the past 4 years to have an opinion. It was our former experience with them that made Mark decide to try their Total Boat resin. Based on the amount of push they are giving this line, it seems like Jamestown has invested quite a bit into these products. We were very, very disappointed in the quality of their product. Not only did it offer poor adhesion but it also lacks sufficient strength and once cured, it becomes extremely brittle. Not exactly what you want when redoing fiberglass. We have to assume that they have lousy quality control.

Mark was so disappointed that he actually took the time to write out a very thorough review of the product and even went so far s to get all engineery and technical on details of his review- and they have not as of yet published the review. It could be a timing issue, but if you are only seeing 4 reviews on the JD site and only one mildly negative, then rest assured they are not publishing the reviews but are cherry picking. I would also like to point out that customer service has not contacted him despite having to submit his review with his email attached to see what they can do to make it right. This is making us not only want to avoid all of the Total Boat products but is making us not feel confident in the Jamestown product review process so I think we will be sourcing products elsewhere. Bummer.

The other thing that is bugging me to no end is trying to find foul weather gear. If you are a man, then there are tons of options. If I was a man, my pick for foul weather gear would definitely be the the Gill OS2 jacket. It has all the features one could ever want plus it is available in fluorescent lime which might seem like not big deal until you realize that if (God forbid!) you ever go overboard wearing a highly visible fluorescent lime jacket is going to improve the likelihood of your crew spotting you. All the MOB drills in the world won't help you if you can not be seen so it is really a good idea to go with the highest visibility color jacket you can.
A photo of my imaginary boyfriend James May in the Gill OS2. I <3 James May and here he is with a cute scruffy dog. BONUS!

I said I would get the Gill OS2 in lime if I was a man, I won't get it though because I am a woman and THEY DO NOT OFFER IT IN LIME FOR WOMEN. This seriously annoys me. It's not just Gill, its just about every foul weather gear manufacturer who usually offer an array of colors for men and women are given the usual, red, white or even better- navy. Yes, if I fall over I want to be in a water colored coat. I know, the hoods are in safety colors but I promise you that if I am ever in need of being spotted I want more than just my head to be covered in a highly visible color. Even worse are the companies who offer women's coats in blueberry or mauve. Seriously. If I am having to don foulies I am not concerned with being fashionable. There is not much you can do when you are suited up and resemble the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Keep you mauve, rose and light aqua and give me hideous but highly visible lime please.Are you listening Helly Hansen, Gill, Henri Lloyd ? Hmm?

I like to end on a positive note. So here is the littlest crew member. Summer is coming!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Deck Deck WINCH!

Everyone should have a teen on board who is an ace boat washer

We have begun the final big project in earnest. The former layout of the deck hardware was...well, it was crap. Our lines running into the deck organizers and clutches were just off a straight line just the perfect amount to ensure unnecessary friction. Friction is bad. Not just because it tears up your running rigging but also because it makes me have to work just a bit harder to sail the boat. And then there were the winches. Someone has decided that the original plan Bob Perry came up with was not good and they undersized the genoa winches. This once again means I am having to work harder than I actually have to. Again with the sailing being physical enough as it is, Project Rig It For Slackers is now in full force.

We got new Lewmar Evo 55 winches to handle the genoa sheets. This should make things much easier for me. We aren't so soft as to install electric winches but I am seriously excited about the extra oomph the new winches should provide.

We removed the ridiculously tiny main winches and moved the 44s that were previously handling the genoa sheets into their place. Before we reinstalled them, we sent them out for a bit of cosmetic surgery. They were functioning just fine, but time and the elements were beating them up more than we would like. When you start pricing winches, you understand why its in your best interest to protect what you have against corrosion to extend their life expectancy. We had our old winches rechromed by Speed and Sport Chrome and so far, we are very pleased. $270 for 2 winches and the chrome is thick, even and SHINY! Hopefully this will help keep corrosion at bay.
Now that's a shiny winch!

We are carefully checking our layout before installing and so far, it looks like this project is going to be a HUGE improvement in the functionality of the boat. We've got some cute almost miniature Antal deck organizers to route the lines into our new Lewmar clutches. We went with  Selden deck organizers to handle the lines off the mast. We still need to figure out what we are going to do to make the traveler more functional and we've got to get the rigid boom vang installed but I am getting excited. Once the deck is reorganized, we can put the cabin back together and then it's time to GO SAILING.

Yes, I am more than ready to try out the new deck layout.

So thankful Maura is handy with a boat brush and hose

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fishermen, Moisture Meters And Other Liars

Fishermen are known to be great liars. Its not widely known, but moisture meters are also great liars. They will tell you that there is only one small area of wet deck core but once you take the time to fix that one small area, you will discover other  small areas (all under deck hardware) that are wet and need attention. By attention I mean recoring and recoring is a pain in the butt. Anyone who tells you otherwise is also a great liar.

As part of the deck hardware redesign project, the old winches, organizers and clutches have been removed. Once these were removed,  we found wet areas of deck core under them so...remove old core, cut and install dry balsa. Sounds easy until you factor in the hardeners that don't want to play nice so we get to to remove and repeat. Finally get it to a workable state, then pull out those power tools and fair, fair, fair. Soon enough it will be time to start vacuum bagging which sounds straightforward until you remember this is all on the deck, which is the ceiling of the cabin and gravity is always on. Now add in the fact that this is a project lead by Captain Perfecto and so there is no "good enough", it has to be completed to a finish better than new and you see why I say recoring is a pain in the butt. Hopefully soon we have a perfectly dry and sound deck ready to accept the deck hardware. I will tell you that there will be LIBERAL use of butyl tape on all the insertion points so we never have to do this again.
The girls cabin looks like a haunted house right now. Or a work space draped in plastic to keep the dust down. Same thing.

Let me remind you all that we did not buy a project boat. Ours just needed a "little"bit of work. I say this because just today someone was asking whether or not they should take on a boat that the sellers have deemed a "project" boat. If a seller is calling it a project, run screaming in the other direction.

On a happier note, the front cabin now has an installed hand rail and cabinetry on the port side where once there was a cramped head.

Want to make Captain Perfecto's eye twitch? Point out that you can see the teak bungs covering the screws. He spent more time than you can imagine trying to get the grain to match perfectly so they would disappear. It confounds him that they are visible. I told him they were almost decorative and hey, its just craftsmanship on display. I have yet to convince him but he has accepted it somewhat due to other pressing projects.

Visible bungs or not, we have more storage and I LOVE storage.

As Mark was fighting with the fairing of the deck recore, I was washing the boat. It is becoming apparent that it's time to think about having the hull painted. The Awlgrip is just past its prime and is nearing the end of its life and dying a slow, chalky death. While trying to get the boat clean I had a couple of thoughts. One- Awlgrip is crap and I don't know why anyone even bothers with it. Two, even though painting the boat is definitely NOT something we need to do and its on the spendy side of things after all the time and money lavished on Ceol Mor, it would just make me happy to have the hull as beautiful as the interior. Gilding the lily? Yes but at this point why the heck not? It's only money (HA!) and since we have not been bleeding money but have apparently severed a major monetary artery what's a paint job and new canvas really? So I am looking at Awlcraft 2000 color charts and trying to convince Mark that new canvas and hull paint is justified after the huge amount of work that has been done. Stay tuned...