Thursday, May 26, 2011

Refitting, Researching and Refried beans

I know, I know. I haven't updated the blog in a while. Its not because we aren't making progress. We are- slowly but surely the portlights are being removed, repaired and replaced. I've been remiss in updating because my focus for the past couple of weeks has been on the wee one.

Kitty had what we thought was a cold but as it wasn't improving, we put a call into her pediatrician who suggested we bring her in. We love our pediatrician who thinks the US habit of bringing in a perfectly healthy baby every month is a bit silly. Our last visit was at 6 months for a vaccination and check up where she was pronounced to be small (25-30th percentile for height and weight) but perfectly healthy and "we'll see her again around 12 months. Just keep doing what you are doing". So we kept doing what we were doing although we did start her on solid foods. She was a bit picky and not a big eater but since she was active, going through the dipes and growing, we thought all was well.

Surprise, surprise. When we brought Kitty in to see the doc, we were all shocked to see that while she was still in the 30th percentile for height, her weight had dropped to the 3rd percentile. The term bandied about for being under the bottom 5th percentile is 'Failure to Thrive'. Ouch. What a terribly scary label to stick on a  baby who seems small, but feisty. Neither Mark or I or the doctor freaked out, but we are concerned enough to do a bit more digging into the possible causes. My friend Laureen of SV Excellent Adventure was one step ahead of the doc when she suggested Kitty's issue might be a gluten sensitivity issue causing malabsorption. The doc echoed what Laureen suggested and ordered a series of blood tests to check for deficiencies and sensitivity. Poor Kitty had to endure 3 pokes in order to get the blood drawn for the tests. We should have the results in next week.

In the mean time, while Mark continues work on the portlights I spend my days chasing Kitty around with a spoon full of various foodstuffs in an attempt to get her to eat. My days go something like this- get up, make Kitty a breakfast of fresh fruit, gluten free pancake and scrambled egg. Kitty eats one bite of each and then refuses to eat anymore. Do various household, mom duties and make a second breakfast for Kitty- this time cheese grits made with heavy cream. Kitty will eat 6 bites because she likes grits. Chase baby with fruit, soft cooked veggies, cheese- baby will eat nothing but dry Rice Chex. Make Kitty a whole yogurt and fruit smoothie. Kitty acts as if I am trying to feed her liver. Then its on to two lunches, two dinners all of which are picked at. Kitty will eat cheese grits and refried beans(with LARD! It can be tough to find refied beans with lard in the US, guess we need to head to Mexico). Yes, a paragon of healthy eating but since we are willing to let her have anything she wants so long as she eats something we let her have her favorites and just keep offering fresh fruits and veggies in hopes that eventually they will be welcomed by Miss Picky.

I will say that since cutting out the gluten, she is sleeping much better and is eating twice as much as she was previously. We will have to wait to have her weighed again in a few weeks on the same scale but I am thinking that we might have found the issue and that issue is gluten.

All this time spent in the kitchen is coming at a great time. We are in the midst of figuring out what we want to do as we prepare to refit the galley. Due to the fact that we do not want to have to do this over again, we are really taking our time in figuring out what materials we want to use in the galley. I'm researching refrigeration options, counter top options and purely aesthetic issues. I'm still formulating a plan but I should have my act together and decisions made in time for a late summer galley refit. In the mean time, here's a  before photo of the galley.
So please forgive me for not updating a bit more frequently. It is difficult to type one handed while chasing a toddler around with spoon. We will get this weight thing figured out. Kitty is thanfully healthy, just a bit small. We will find out what the issue is, help her become a roly poly baby once again. In the mean time, we'll continue to offer her love, snuggles and refried beans.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Main sail, off to the loft...

While we are preparing to replace all of our standing rigging and are currently researching the many options of sail construction, we decided to send our old tatty main to the loft for some much needed repairs. I sort of wish that when the sailmakers applied a patch, the used a brightly colored patch. if this was the case, our main sail would look like a beautiful crazy quilt. Since we are still very much in the learning to sail category, we figured we'd use the old main while we make our myriad goof ups. This way, our "OH POOP" moments won't be as heart wrenching as they could be when say, you rip out a reef point on a brand new sail because you neglected to adjust the luff when reefing. Much better to do it on the crazy quilt sail. Don't ask me how I learned that lesson. That was so 2 years ago...

Occasionally, I do actually do some boat chores. Here is evidence of this fact.

We could have used a bigger dock cart.

Any marina has its positives and negatives. Our marina is conviently located right smack dab on the entrance channel into Galveston Bay which saves quite a bit of time when going out for a sail. It also has many bars and restaurants nearby. Unfortunately, this means it is swimming in a sea of asphalt with no clean grassy area to fold sails. Fortunately, there are a few open grassy areas just a few blocks away. Unfortunately, we have a small car. Here we have an example of sail packing, Clampett style.

We did manage to take the main to a nice empty lot, fold it neatly and get it packed into the sail bag to take it to the loft for repairs.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Swag

Charts, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

For Mother's Day, Mark and the kids gifted me with a chart of the Gulf and Carribean and Galveston Bay along with a charting set and hand held compass.

We spent the evening eating a dinner of steak and lobster in the garden along with a few Fat Tire ambers. Much entertainment was had getting a bearing on the baby- 20 degrees and moving North. I'm looking forward to putting these to use next weekend as we head out for Red Fish Lsland.

Red Fish island isn't an island at all- its a spoil area but as it is marked on the charts and is a popular place to drop the anchor in safety while you watch the tankers pass by we thought it would be an excellent opportunity for Maura and I to do a bit of easy navigation practice.

The big news is that the chainplate bulkheads are rock solid now so day sails are possible. We are still awaiting our new Dyneema running rigging and will be replacing our standing rigging soon but first, a much desired day sail or two before Mark begins the Herculean task of rewiring of the boat. All work and no play and all...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Great Galley Debate

Our current cooking facilities on board consists of an elderly CNG stove/oven combo which is lacking in thermocouples, solenoid valves and a proper propane locker. We've got a small tank on the stern rail which is fine for day sailing but not for full time live aboard. We also don't really have the space for an enormous ventilated propane locker either.

In trying to rectify this situation in the easiest, most cost effective manner I, having done due diligence of all the pros and cons, want to go with a simple 2 burner gimballed Origo stove and skip the oven all together. I'm not a gourmet on land so I doubt somehow that a miraculous transformation will take place on board and turn me into a sea faring Nigella Lawson. I cook pretty simply on land and don't do an awful lot of baking but I would need an oven for the occasional brownies or baked ziti. Bread will be handled by the breadmaker Mark is dead set on having and for which he is adjusting the battery bank to accomodate.

My thoughts turned to using a Dutch Oven. Mark of course got all Mr. Wizard on me and required that I do a few dry runs baking and cooking on the stove top with Dutch Oven before I press my case further.

So here we have the test brownies. They came out splendidly. They had a bit chewier texture but as you can see by the photos, the kids enjoyed them every bit as much as oven baked brownies. Kitty has never before had a brownie so to her it was just as it should be.

Dutch oven on the stove top, pan placed on trivet in oven, lid closed and cook for 40 minutes. So, so not a big deal. I know there are cruising cook books out there that make a big deal out of cooking aboard but really, this isn't brain surgery. The Dutch Oven works and it works well and now I am going to seal the deal by doing a bit of cost comparison.

Origo 3000- $339.00
Gimbals- $90
Extra Fuel cannisters-$50
Installation- take out old stove, drop in new. Perhaps a 2 hour job. Added bonus- more space to install storage cabinet below stove to house that breadmaker.

Propane fittings including solenoid, control valve, detector, regulator, hose-approx $530
2 Propane tanks- $250
Locker- $760
New stove- $1200
Installation- remove old stove, replace new, Plumb in gas lines, solenoid, regulator, etc. Install propane locker and build a vent.
2-3 days.
Origo for the win!

I just need to do a test run on making baked ziti and then a cobbler then I can safely tell Mark that this set up indeed works just fine for our needs. Oh and my brownie recipe? Betty Crocker mix, oil, egg and water cook until done.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Rigging Rigamarole

With the completion of chainplate bulkheads ticked off the list, we are moving on to addressing the standing and running rigging. Since we've been so very fortunate to have new Dyneema running rigging coming from New England Ropes we get to use all of our brainpower (skint as that might be) to figuring out what we want to have holding up the rig.

Since this is Capt. Perfecto's boat, we can not just replace what we have without considering every possible type of rigging to ensure that we have "the best" for our purposes. Swaged, swageless, Norseman, Sta-Lok, Hi Mod, metric, imperial- it all begins to sound like a recitation of the Odyssey in the origanl Greek after a bit. Never mind, decisions are being made and parts ordered and I'll regale you with tales of exactly what we went with and why once its all figured out.

Meanwhile, Kitty is just happy to play with the shiny bits. Maura is keeping me on my toes trying tok eep up with the never ending end of school year ramp up of activities- parties, programs, performances, etc. Come to think of it, I think I'd much rather debate the merits of stainless versus chromed bronze fittings.