Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring has Sprung

and its time for walks in the woods. Time to notice the arrival of ladybugs, to drink in the beauty of the world in bloom and to enjoy breakfast with bunnies, but only for a few moments. Around here, Spring means its time to get cracking on yet more boat projects.

Yes, this is the deck handrail being stripped and revarnished. In my kitchen. That's right, there is absolutely no area in our house where there is not a boat project underway. As if having the boat torn apart wasn't enough disruption now we've got projects all over the house.

Maura and I chose the fabric for the girl's room. It has Maura's signature color of teal worked in as well as purple, which Kitty happens to look great in so we'll call it her color.

The pattern is busy enough to hide the fact that there is not one single straight seam anywhere on this berth enclosure. Straight seams are for Marth Stewartites and I think we have previously established that I am not one of her minions. It seems to be sturdy enough and that's what really matters. I should have the entire enclosure done by next month...I'm pacing myself.

Mark continues to work on the final 2 chainplates. I continue to work on the girl's room. Maura lends a hand tidying up the garden because a house requires upkeep as well. Kitty helps by not complaining once that she has to dodge various projects while scooting around on her pony.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Portlight Project

Just in case you were thinking that your pals the Ceol Mors were taking forever to do an easy task, such as a simple rebedding of the portlights let me throw some illumination down. I think you'll have a better understanding of why    its taking so gosh darned long.
 Mark, being the most meticulous of boat owners- is always careful to do every job to the best of his ability with an eye towards improving the boat and always keeping in mind the effects of water ingress on the boat. Sadly, the previous owners were not quite so forward thinking. Their slapdash, haphazard rebedding of the portlights in the quickest and easiest fashion means that all of the degradation that has occured must be repaired before we can move forward.

Mark gave me a very detailed, step by step tutorial on how he is effecting the portlight repair. It was very methodical and precise and unfortunately I think I fell asleep about 15 minutes into the lesson. So here's a brief run down of what's going on aboard Ceol Mor right now. I'll probably forget something crucial, but that's what the edit button is for-revising the post after Mark corrects me!.
1. Remove portlight
2. Spend a few hours removing rotten core and any saturated core with the much loved Dremel. (seriously, I think our Dremel count at this point in time is 3)
3. Seal up the opening and wait for it to dry out completely.
4. Cut marine grade ply into shape
5. Install ply wtih West System epoxy ( we should have bought West System stock)
 6. Cast fresh epoxy to portlight spigot
7. Grind out excess epoxy with the Dremel
8.Bore out exterior mounting holes to 3/8 and fill with epoxy.
9. Remove 45 degree chamfer from exterior lip
10. Sand
11. Paint.
 See? Easy peasy, quick and breezy.
Ok, so I totally lied about that quick and easy bit .

Fortunately, the weather is nice so Maura is usually off playing with her pals while the work goes on. Kitty is happy to play in the cockpit while keeping an eye on the progress. I'm just happy that while its slow going, it is moving forward and the finished portlights do indeed, look spectacular. More importantly, they keep the water outside which is Fan. Tastic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Babies, Bovines and Bunnies...

Rodeo Houston 2011, originally uploaded by CidnieC.
I am accutely aware of two things. One, its very easy to become so obsessed with getting the boat ready to leave that we fail to enjoy our life in the here and now. Two, our time in Houston is rapidly drawing to a close and there are lots of things that are quintessesntially Houston that I want the girls to experience before we leave. With these two thoughts in mind, we left Mark to finish up his portlight installation abandoning my berth enclosure project for the dayto take the girls to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to meet up with my pal Alma and her little girl Sophia for a few hours.

I am the first to admit that I am not good with crowds. They cause me great stress. I was feeling a bit anxious before we even got in the gate due to the huge lines to just get into the parking lot. We managed to get in, meet up with Alma and Sophia and spend a few hours checking out cows. And pigs. And rabbits. And more cows.

We had a good time doing well- nothing. Just kind of wandering around aimlessly, eating some barbecue and enjoying the kids. We didn't partake in any of the famed shopping opportunities because we are trying to get rid of stuff in order to fit our lives on the boat. I did secretly covet one of the prize winning quilts- it had MONKEYS. I have a thing for monkeys. The petting zoo was a bust as the long line of whiny parents and impatient kids put us off. The kids were happy to see the animals from a distance and it all went well until the rabbit incident.

The one line we did join was the one to see the different breeds of rabbits. They had us cue up, then you had to manuever around a winding path to view the rabbits. On the positive side, they had an angora rabbit out for a bit of petting and Kitty went nuts for it. On the not so positive side, there was a very large older Russian woman who decided that personal space was not necessary and she could get me to move along by prodding me from behind with her enormous bosom. Repeatedly. And she didn't even buy me dinner and a movie.

After the rabbit experience, I was about done with the crowds. it was time to go back for a nap and then some more boat work. The nice thing about working on the boat- no large Russian women herding me with their boobs.

Never mind. The kids had a great time and it was a welcome break for them. I can be happy in that I do not have to take the girls to the rodeo again. Their Texan passports have been stamped with a visit to the rodeo and livestock show. Done!

Friday, March 18, 2011

WOOT! We are on the Dyneema Experience team!!

What's better than entering a contest along with some of your friends and winning? Having your friends win too! We are honored and humbled and ever so grateful to Dyneema for choosing Ceol Mor as member of the 2011 Dyneema experience team along with our good pals SV Majestic , SV Excellent Adventure , and SV Conviva . Its nice to win but its even nicer when your friends win as well.

So thanks to all of you for following us on the Dyneema site, on FB and twitter (SVCeolMor). Your support made all the difference and we are so very, very grateful to you!

Sailors come in a few different types but the two most common subtypes are Racer and Cruiser. Racers not only want their boats to go fast, they are also the first to tryout new technologies and new products  looking for any performance advantage they can find. This is why Dyneema has been well known in the racing community for quite some time. Dyneema made a product that was stronger, lighter and less likely to stretch out of shape and no racer wanted to be left behind, which is why you will find Dyneema on any serious racing sailboat.

Now cruisers are a bit more laid back in their approach to sailing and to technology. They aren't in a hurry to get where they are going, they just want to arrive safely and comfortably. Cruisers tend to like tried and true equipment so are a little less likely to run with the latest advances in equipment until its been proven. Since we definitely fall into the cruiser subgroup, its going to be interesting to see how a high performance product- such as Dyneema works on a heavier cruising sailboat. I have a sneaking suspicion we are going to love it.

Who knows, there's well known overnight offhore race in these parts in October that would be the perfect opportunity to do a shakedown. Maybe with her new spiffy Dyneema rigging, we might just be feeling our oats enough to enter. Now all we need is a racing stripe on the hull to go with our new rigging...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Slowly moving towards...something

We are slowly but surely making progress. Mark has now finished all but the last 2 chain plate bulkheads. He's gotten yet another portlight pulled, the rotten core removed, dried, replaced, reglassed in and portlight remounted. Its slow going, but the direction of movement is definitely twoards our goal of a water tight boat.

Meanwhile, the girls and I are getting the house ready to go on the market. A bit of painting but mostly just tidying up the garden after the hard freeze we've had. Kitty likes to help in the garden, if by help you mean eat the pebbles, plants and bugs.

 We are preparing for the "Mother Of All Garage Sales" in a few weeks. Its all starting to gain momentum...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring comes early around here

The weather is warming up which means longer early morning walks where I can appreciate the beauty around me and grab shots like this because I am not freezing my butt off. While I walk, I think about that other sign that Spring has sprung... the Defender catalog

The Defender catalog is to boat folk as the JC Penney Christmas Catalog was to American kids back in the day. Chock full of goodies that you dream of and which provide motivation to be a very good girl in hopes that Santa would bestow said goodies upon you. If you think about it, the whole idea of a fat dude breaking and entering into your home while you sleep is kind of creepy but I digress...

We are at the point in the refit where we need to start making final decisions as to what equipment we will purchase and install. This gets tricky because the marine world is full of all sorts of gadgets and doohickeys which are cooool and also expennnnssive. As Mark continues to tick off rebuilt chain plates and port lights off his list, I've made another list. The shopping list.
  • Main sail  
  • Running rigging ( Here's hoping the our Dyneema Experience turns out to be a great one!)
  • LED Nav lights (have the mast tri color, need to get bow and anchor lights)
  • LED interior bulbs and new reading fixtures
  • Small chartplotter- we are using charts as back up and Open CPN on a laptop so a small chartplotter as further redundancy is all we really need)
  • SSB and data cable- Ugh. I really wanted to go Sat phone but we already have the backstay prepped
  • Origo Stove- Mark is making motions about wanting to keep the propane one we have but as bringing it up to safety standards far exceeds the cost of the Origo- I win.
  • House bank batteries- yes, we have some but not enough. We need MORE POWER!!
  • Anchor and ground tackle- I want a Rocna. I will name it Hudson....
  • EPIRB- so if it all goes to hell, we can be found and the video posted to YouTube.
  • Life Raft- Some cruise without one. We have kids so we are cruising with one.
  • Davits- I wanted to skip this because they are expensive and unattractive. I think Mark is going to win this one.
  • Dinghy- Definitely going used and ugly on this one. New, shiny dinghys have a tendency to runaway from home
  • Dinghy outboard- again, looking for a used but functional ugly one
  • Padeyes and jacklines
  • Offshore deck vests
  • WiFi booster- I need my internet. How else will I be able to get on Facebook and tell you what I had for breakfast and other important information?
  • Froli sleep system- I am a Princess and yes, I can feel that pea...
  • AIS- maybe. maybe not. We'll see...
  • SPOT satellite tracker- for our mothers to be able to see where we are from the comfort of their homes.
  • Watermaker- we go back and forth on this one. We've got DIY instructions to make your own or we could have one installed which will save time, but definitely not money. Totally undecided on this but this can absolutely wait until later. I hear they sell watermakers in Florida too.
Other than some non-exciting purchases for smaller household goods that will work on a boat, that's about it. There are plenty of peeps telling me that this really isn't enough equipment and that we will be roughing it. If I wanted all the comforts and convienences of home, I'd just stay home. Which would be a good thing because if we start going nuts and add a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, a sauna and a hot tub we won't have room for the kids or the money to feed them with.

Mark looks at the amount of work left to do to make the boat water tight, then sees all the equipment yet to be installed and says " I said we could leave in November but didn't specify what year". Oh no you don't Mr. We are out of here by November of this year so go back into your man cave and get cracking. It would make me very sad to leave without you...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Dyneema Experience!

UPDATE- The site is STILL accepting crew members. Please sign up to "Follow Me" to help us out. While you are there, you might send some love to the crews of  SV Majestic, SV Excellent Adventure and SV Conviva.

A big thank you to all who have supported us in our bid to win Dyneema rigging for the boat. The winners are announced on the 17th and its too close to say whether or not we will be hurrying up to order a new main sail to go with the new rigging. We have our fingers crossed and are spitting like mad because Dyneema really is the best line available on the market and will goa long way in keeping us safe as we plow through the waters of the Carribbean and Atlantic.

We've had a lot of fun particpating in the competition and loved the opportunity to over think this with our pals the crews of SV Conviva, SV Majestic, and last but certainly not least SV Excellent Adventure. In the immortal words of Cindy, from SV Majestic "its a bit like running for office". It IS like running for office. A ton of work but exciting as well.

Again, a big thank you to all of you for your support and thanks to Dyneema for sponsoring this competition. Now lets keep our fingers crossed because if we win, the next stage begins and will give Mark the opportunity to get all engineery on you all in articles on the structural properties of Dyneema and I know you want to see Mark break it down, Mr. Wizard style for you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Time in Texas with the Scots

My sister in law, Gillian called to say that she had a bit of time in which to bring her son Laurie from Edinburgh to the US for a little visit. They were planning a trip to Disney World and would we like to join them? Would we? Oh YES! A vacation sounded perfect and believe it or not, I have not made the requisite pilgrimage to see the Mouse with the kids yet.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. We were not able to see the Mouse. The school schedules in the UK are very different from those in the US. Then there is the problem of the ever ongoing work that the boat needs in order for us to leave this year. If we went now, Kitty would be too young to get any enjoyment out of it and I don't plan on seeing the Mouse more than once. Etc, etc for very many good reasons we decided to wait for the Mouse but Gillian and Laurie would join us in Texas after a week in Florida. Even without the Magic of Disney, we had a great time.

We had almost a week together. Gillian and I took the kids to Galveston while Mark slaved away on the chainplates and portlights. Sadly, the Elissa was in dry dock having some electrolysis issues resolved but we did see a presentation on the Great Storm. We had lunch at Gaido's, a restaurant which has been in operation for 99 years. I think that the first customer is probably tucked back somewhere still waiting for his entree. It was completely underwhelming but Gillian did try fried oysters for the first time. Next time I'll take her to Joe Lee's instead. It was too windy and cold for the beach so we happily spent the rest of the afternoon on the Strand. Maura and I took the Scots to the best place in all of Galveston- La King's Confectionary. La King's is an old fashioned sweet shop complete with a real, honest to goodness soda fountain. I was able to introduce Laurie to the wonder that is a Dr. Pepper float and the kids were gobsmacked by the selection of sweets on display.

The next day was a day for sailing. We all went out for a sail on Galveston Bay. Laurie had never been sailing before and as we were coming in just ahead of the fog, he commented that one day he wanted to have his own boat. Another converted! We had a nice, easy sail under jib alone and the big kids were able to daydream while lying under the boom.

All this staycationing was lovely, but the next day was a work day. We all really gave Ceol Mor a solid scrubbing. The new marina is closer to the bay which is good. It is also closer to the heavily traveled Kemah bridge which is not so good for keeping a tidy hull. The kids worked hard to get the boat shining once again. Laurie commented that he still wanted a boat, but he'd also like a big family with lots of kids to wash his boat. The boy is a quick study. The kids were rewarded for their efforts by an evening of fun on the Boardwalk riding every ride they could. The adults were rewarded by happy hour at the Aquarium.

The next few days were a blur of boat projects, a trip to Nasa, more boat work and then a day of utter rest. Our farewell dinner was of course held at a Tex Mex restaurant where I challenged Laurie to a jalapeno eating competition. I won, but he did manage to eat one and act cool by not immediately reaching for water.

 We were sad to say farewell to Gillian and Laurie, but we look forward to seeing them again next year, with Gillian's husband Robert  for some more sailing this time in the Bahamas.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Only you can prevent...

left brain engineers from hand plaiting their own running rigging from Alpacas they have hand raised themselves in order to acheive 'superior strength' in a 'cost effective manner'.

We are entered in the 2011 Dyneema Experience and could really, really use your help. Up for grabs is to have Dyneema rerig the winning boats for FREE and for the team members to write about their experiences. Now I'm not one to ask for much, but I would really appreiciate you helping us out for a few reasons.

First of all, we absolutely have to have the boat rerigged and soon. This is a huge safety issue and until the boat is rerigged we can not safely leave. If Dyneema rigs the boat for us, that's one less task that Mark will do over and over until he is satisfied and we will be able to head out much sooner- probably 3 months sooner. This means better content on this blog, I assure you!

Secondly and most importantly, this is a chance for me to be able to say to Mark that my Blogging isn't a pointless hobby, it is actively contributing to our journey. This means he will have to happily ensure we have internet/sat phone access at all times, but that's beside the point. Nothing would make me happier than have an active hand in getting us out on the ocean sooner rather than later.

So here is my plea. Please follow the link below and sign up to be a crew member. You will have to click on a acceptance link in a confirmation email. Share the link with your friends, post it on Facebook, etc. If I've ever made you laugh, or done something nice for you here is your chance to say "Thanks"! On the other hand, if I've annoyed you this is a handy way to get me out of the States sooner. Either way, your assistance is appreciated.

And now, your moment of Zen. Foggy morning on Galveston Bay.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hating on the new font...

So Mark loathes the new font I've chosen. He thinks that an all caps font is "adolescent and juvenile". I pointed out to him that my writing is adolescent and juvenile so it works for me.

Here is your chance. Since this might be the only time I ever listen to your good advice, let your opinion be heard. Should I stick with this font, or should I switch to something more traditional and less adolescent?