Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Chandlery

The plan all along was to keep a small house in the US. Something close to the water, that was easy to maintain and that would allow us to have a place to stay when we come back to the US to visit family and friends. We found a small house and it had the added benefit of being close to the marina as well as having a garage for a workshop.

An internet sailing friend came up with the perfect name for the house when he came to visit. Not something snazzy and high falutin' like "Sea Breezes" or "Palm Cottage" but a name that accurately represents the house- "The Chandlery". No tv, no internet, furnished with only a couple of Ikea beds and sofas and a collection of odd chairs around a table fashioned out of a door upon which I got to practice my varnishing skills. It does have beautifully organized shelves stocked with varnish and epoxy and various odds and ends with which to complete the refit. Its something akin to campingin a chandlery but with running water.

So what do we do when the work day is done?  Sword fighting with dowels is pretty popular around here. With no furnishings to get in the way or art to be damaged its the perfect place for a battle. Even Kitty gets in on the act all though you have to watch that one. She'll attack from behind when you aren't looking. So far, no one has put an eye out. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Refit Creeping Forward....

One of the items missing from Ceol Mor has been a way to secure the house battery bank. Mark was poking around under the girls bunk and noticed a bit of wood rot from under the water heater. It was a small area of issue- very small but this is Mark we are talking about, Captain Perfecto.You know what that means, rip it all out and upgrade. We can make her stronger, faster...

Mark replaced the shot wood, then built and fiberglassed in the ribs to hold the house batteries. Perfectly sized for what ever size battery it is we are going with (hey, sometimes my eyes glaze over and I miss stuff), glassed and painted they await the installation of our new batteries.

 Now what happens if we go to sell the boat and the person interested in the boat wants a different type or size battery? Not to worry, Mark has assured me he plans on being buried on this boat so no worries about resale issues.

The plan is to do a bit of overnight sailing next month. I'm looking forward to it but as I look at the current state of the cabin I wonder how accurate that date is. No matter, we are getting pretty darned good at moving mountains...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dyneema Experience Draws to a Close

The Dyneema Experience ends officially on Friday. I've given it my all and the results will be what they will be. I've had a great time and no matter how it ends, I am so grateful to each and everyone of your for your support and encouragement along the way!

Thank you to Dyneema, DET 2011 team members, Gleistein Ropes, New England Ropes, Gottifredi Maffioli, Lancelin, Marlow, FSE Robline, Unlimited Rope Solutions, Anything Sailing, Sailnet, Cruisers Forum, Zero to Cruising, Forgeover, Zach Aboard, Dock Six Chronicles, Excellent Adventure, SV Totem, West Marine Rigging Services San Diego, Crunchy Couture, Kemah Boardwalk Marina and The Bungalow. Most especially, thank you to every single one of sailors who have discussed Dyneema rigging in depth, at length and over and over again for months on end. To everyone of you who followed us, offered encouragement and shared of your time to make this a great run- THANK YOU!

And on Monday, its back to very sexy photos of electrical wiring and battery banks.

*We came in second! Thanks all! Now no more Dyneema posts, I promise!*

Meet SV Conviva

Preparing a boat for extended cruising is not exactly scintillating. While we are making good progress on our shiny new electrical system and while we find options for toilet plumbing infinitely fascinating, I understand that you might not. Since you've all been such troopers in hanging in there and following the blog while we suffer through the boring stuff, I thought I'd share a bit of excitement with you.

Meet the crew of SV Conviva. Tucker and Victoria, have suffered through all the boring bits of pre-cruising prep work and now have reached a big goal. They are casting off and setting sail in just 4 days. 4 DAYS! I am so excited to see them begin their grand adventure and look forward to watching them achieve their other goals. Their plan? Once around the world- with kids.

Sometimes its easy to get bogged down in the minutae and set backs that come with getting ready to cast off. Its easy to lose sight of what the end game is and it really helps to see others who have been where you are just now beginning the real journey. Sometimes the best way to keep your eye on the prize is to take a peek just beyond your own horizon.

So fair winds and following seas to you Conviva. I look forward to reading about your adventures both big and small. Now go out there and see what you can see...isn't that why a sailor goes to sea?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Spain on the Brain

My last official Dyneema Experience blog is up. The competition ends in a week and you know what? I'll be sad to see it end. It has been a blast. I would highly encourage other sailors to give it a go for DET 2012. It will be something you will never forget.

So here is my final video entry for the Dyneema Experience. I hope you find it as much fun watching it as I had making it. How badly do I want to win Spain? Badly enough to part with any dignity that I might still have. Ok, I never had much dignity to begin with. Here it is, the entire Dyneema Experience wrapped up in one little bit of quirky, goofy Cid-ness. Enjoy.

Oh, and if you haven't clicked on that little Follow Me button on the right now is the time to do so. Thank you!
Our matador took her job very seriously

Our bull was more interested in finding sticks to play with than charging

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DET Challenge 5- Dyneema Queen, what?

Every autumn in the United States, there is a certain set of girls in the high schools who begin a long campaign to be crowned their local schools Homecoming Queen. These girls start off by plastering the schools walls with posters emblazoned with a photo of themselves which list why they are the bee's knees , why they are full of win and why they should be crowned Homecoming Queen. The student body elects the Homecoming Queen and you would think that with all the posturing and bragging that goes on that they were winning something more than a crown, a sash and a photo in the school yearbook. The winner is usually the one to begin her camapaign 3 years before she is eligible and culminates with her baking cookies for the entire school. to say "Thanks!". During her crowning, she has to first look surprised " Who? ME?!?!", then as the crown is placed on her head she is expected to cry and finally she poses with a self satisfied, yet demure smile for her yearbook photo.

 I never ran for Homecoming Queen. The very thought of lauding my attributes and accomplishments in such an overt way just went against everything I was taught, namely that if you do good things you don't have to point them out to others. Actions will always speak louder than words. Answering the final point in Challenge 5 makes me feel awkward, a bit as if I am running for Homecoming Queen...or Dyneema Queen.....or something.

The final point in the Dyneema Experience Challenge 5 is to explain why Dyneema should send you to the Puma boat in Spain. That is something a heck of a lot more enticing than a crown and a sash. My discomfort at crowing "I am fabulous!" is dwarfed by my desire to take the master class in Spain. I'm getting ready to cast off the lines and sail far, far away and boy oh boy do I think I can learn some useful information from Team Puma. The only way I can do this is because in reality, the reason my campaign has been so beneficial to me and to Dyneema is because it has never been about me.
Just a few of the amazing cruisers who have been along for the ride-Canadians, Americans, Kuwaitis, Brits
During the entirety of DET, I've been nothing but myself. I know that I'm quirky, with a big, offbeat sense of humor and my video submissionsand writing illustrate that. Another quality that is just me all over is my tendency to be very sociable. People are some of my favorite people, after all and its this point that enables me to say " Yes, I did do a good job for DET". You see, the reason the Dyneema Experience has been such a success from my end, is because of the huge cruising community that I have been involved with for several years. Sailors that I am pleased as punch to be associated with.
from Portugal to Alaska, from Norway to the Midwest
In sailing forums, message boards, private Facebook groups and chat rooms, my participation in the Dyneema Experience brought conversation after conversation to Dyneema and not so much what I was doing with it but more importantly, how Dyneema could be beneficial to their boats. It never really was about me, I was just the catalyst for the conversation because they had known me online for so very long. Sailors who had experience with Dyneema offered advice, help and just talked about the qualities of Dyneema to myself and a huge contigent of cruisers who had previously never given much thought to what was inside their rigging. It was an amazing thing to see and to be a part of and I know without a doubt that the coolest thing of all is that my Dyneema Experience has been made up not of slick videos, or clever advertising but about sailors talking to other sailors. Conversation can be a very powerful thing.
There simply isn't enough bandwidth to include photos of all but I will not forget a single one of you!
So why do I deserve to go to Alicante? I don't, the hundreds of cruisers who supported, followed and encouraged me do. The sailors and cruisers who answered question after question from me and a plethora of other sailors about selecting the right Dyneema for the right application, about splices and alternative uses and about more rigging topics than you could imagine do. As it turns out, I'm the person representing these folks, so if I win, I'm the one who gets the privilege of sailing on Puma but I will not go alone. I will take everyone of these amazing sailors with me in my heart because it is all thanks to them.

Win or lose, I have a lot tobe thankful for. Looks like I am going to have to bake a metric butt load of cookies...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Turning Point

Today has been a very good day. First and foremost, today is the first day this week where we have been able to go outside and not breathe in smoke from nearby wild fires. The fires are still burning but the firefighters seem to be getting the upper hand. My throat is no longer scratchy and sore from the smoke and my clothes no longer smell as if I work in a pit barbecue joint.

The really good news is that we have finally reached a much desired turning point in the refit. We are no longer repairing damage and rectifying previous neglect but are now really and truly starting the upgrades. HOORAY!

Mr. Fed Ex brought us our lovely new control panel. Here it is in all its loveliness. Mark spent hours ensuring all the elements would fit and carefully diagraming the dimensions. I can't wait to see it installed.

I'm a simple person and its the little things that make me happy. I am delighted that Mark took the time to get an actual silhouette of Ceol Mor on the panel. He even got the plumb transom drawn in. What will make the older girl happy though is the fact that the company included a little packet of Gummy Bears in the box. She might not be as tickled as Mark and I are by the panel itself but I guarantee she will think Front Panel Express is the best company ever. Smart marketing there FPE!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Texas is Burning...

Photo courtesy of Reuters

I should be submitting my final Dyneema Experience post in which I campaign hard to be chosen for the Master Class in Spain. I should be writing another blog post telling you all about the turning point we have reached in the refit. We will file those under "low priority" just now.  Instead, I'm trying to locate friends and family who have been evacuated, finding safe haven for their animals and livestock and keeping a watchful eye on our local conditions.

Yesterday we had a grass fire 3 miles away. Our house smelled of wood fire and was surrounded by haze but we were lucky. The fire was contained. 2 months ago we had a fire break out just 500 yards from our home. Thick clouds of smoke blanketed our street but once again, we were lucky and the fire was contained. There are other areas that have not been so fortunate.I'm keeping my fingers crossed as the Tropical Storm Lee winds which have fueled these fires have quieted down today.

To put it in perspective, Texas has lost an an area equivalent to the State of Connecticut or to the island of Jamaica. Not only have we had 2 deaths reported but countless forests, wildlife, homes, businesses and livestock are just- gone. So while I wait to hear the status of friends and family, I'm a bit distracted. If you want to know what you can do to help those who have lost their homes, donate here: Central Texas Red Cross . Yes, it really is that bad.

Oh and if you can send rain, that would be even better.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weather watching

Its that time of year again. Time for me to practice deep breathing, centering myself and work on my Zen skills. Hurricane season is in full swing and with it comes my annual nervousness. I don't panic but I do cast a wary, watchful eye on the Gulf. Everytime a storm pops up in the Gulf out of seemingly nowhere, my wary eye begins to twitch funny.

We usually come through the early part of hurricane season with no worries. Then September comes and with it ridiculous heat. Heat which raises the water temperature to something that would either be really nice in a bathtub or which would provide an excellent growing medium for storm strength. Every year it is the same, September brings an increase in my weather induced anxiety.

I'm the weather worry wart in our family. Mark is so focused on whatever task he is doing that he relies on me to keep up with the details outside his scope of work and often that includes wathching the weather. Lee popped up and surprised me. As it turns out, we are probably not going to get anything other than a bit of increased wind, surf and a decrease in temperature (yesterday we had a cold front- only 38c!) which actually makes the removal of the house battery banks a bit less of a sweat fest. This is good news for us, but the speed with which this storm developed has not escaped my notice.

I suppose since we will be meandering through the heart of hurricane territory soon enough, this is all good practice. See? There is always a positive to everything. I hope our friends on the coast in thepath of Lee get through the storm with no issues. I hope that there are no injuries or damage. I hope November gets here quickly...I'm ready for my eye to stop twitching.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And a ray of sunshine...

And just like that, when a bit of negativity enters my world I am innundated with a heap o' wonderful. The Dyneema Experience is not a sprint, it is a test of your endurance. I will admit that I was feeling down to begin the day. I had just lost my computer and the full week worth's of work for DET with it when Mr. Killjoy came along and shared his negativity. It was perfect timing to really annoy me. Just losing 40 hours worth of editing time alone was enough to set my teeth on edge but to have someone who obviously had no idea of what the DET is, or what has been happening or how hard we all have been working for the past 5 months- well, that did it.

And just like that I was reminded of why I am so happy- no GRATEFUL for DET and the people involved. You want to know who offered encouragement to not let the turkeys get me down? My competitors. That's right, once again the skippers and Dyneema representatives stepped in with encouragement. Have I mentioned what an incredible community sailors are?

My good friends the Giulietta sailing team have also helped me keep an even keel- pun totally intended. They have been nothing short of amazing in their support of me when I most needed it. Offering support and encouragement even though they have been extremely busy competing in the Quebramar trophy. I kid a lot about racers needing to learn how to slow down from the cruisers but in this instance, it was the racers who reminded me of what is important.

After almost losing their rudder in an early race, being besieged with equipment failures and knowing before the final races that the most they could hope for was 5th or 6th place, they gave it their all. The odds were stacked against them and still they fought on because it is easy to start strong but its much harder to finish strong. Finishing strong despite huge obstacles is an indication of character and if nothing else, i want to be known for my integrity and character. So thanks for the reminder Alex and Giulietta. I shall strive to finish as strong as I started.

Oh- and that is some mighty tasty running rigging you're wearing Giulietta. ;)