Thursday, August 30, 2012

Surprise surprise! What sucked, what rocked and what will be most welcome

I am a little late in getting this up due to Hurricane Isaac. First, it was worrying about whether or not Isaac would make his way towards Ceol Mor and would we have time to properly secure her and the house (I would have picked the boat over the house if time was short). Then it was anxiously awaiting news from our blog pals Tate and Dani over at Sundowner Sails Again  to update as to how they and their boat fared. They seem to have weathered the storm okay so now I can write since I am no longer biting my finger nails and once again have use of both hands.

When we took our Suck! Down mini cruise, it was with the purpose of not only getting the kids used to the boat and trying to improve our sailing abilities ( a never ending task) but to really take a good look at what works and doesn't work so far as making Ceol Mor a comfy home. I can rough it with the best of them but if given a choice, I will take the cushy pampered princess route.

With that in mind, this post will not go into detail about our plans to redo the deck layout, change the blocks, clutches, winches, rerig, etc to improve the ease of sailing the boat. That will get SEVERAL posts all on its own because who ever set up Ceol Mor was obviously a masochist. Turning Ceol Mor into an easy to sail boat will take a lot of time and it will be done but for now, lets concentrate on the little things that make life aboard a little more comfy.

What rocked:
1. New lighting- The CCF linear lights sometimes take a few seconds to illuminate (nothing is perfect) but when they do the light is good quality, they don't draw much, the dimmer switch in the salon is lovely for softening the light and as a bonus- they look great. Their low profile means that the boat seems roomier with more headroom. Illusion, but nice anyway! Their chrome case and sleek design really help update the boat. We were really trying to find a way to bring the aesthetics of a 1980s design into the 21st century and these lights really help with that. The LED bi color task lighting LED bi color lights we have as task lighting in the galley, head and chart table work fantastically and the placement of them is unobtrusive yet absolutely fit for purpose.

2.Fabric Microfiber Suede Fawn P213 By Yard,1/2 Yard,Swatch - so glad we had the cushions redone! The inevitable kid spills cleaned up easily, they resisted water well and what moisture did get in them dried quickly ( we had lots of rain soaked butts to test it). Even an errant bit of pen ink came out with just spot cleaning and its a heck of a lot easier on the wallet than Sunbrella plus its soft and cozy.

3.Caframo Sirocco Fans - I might tease Mark about the fact that our boat is now absolutely festooned by these things but they are kind of awesome. They stow away flat when not in use and put out plenty of air for what they suck out of the battery bank. I am like a Golden Retriever in that I am happiest when my face is in a wind tunnel. Mark spent a lot of time ensuring that each fan location was carefully thought out and it shows. Pretty much anywhere on the boat you would want to hang out is within a gale created by these fans. With the fans, it was a bit warm but tolerable. Without them, it would have been stupid hot.

4. Onan Generator- I love my generator. Someday, I will love my quiet wind and solar set up but for now, the generator which allows me to sleep in the afore mentioned wind tunnel is aces in my book. Its not overly noisy and powers the fans, lights and any other little cushy princess requirements very efficiently. We were even able to run the ac at anchor for an hour to tone down the late afternoon wall o' heat in the salon. I puffy heart love you generator.

5. Zombie Dice 2 Double Feature - Still the best cockpit game ever. Just for the record, I got the most brains.

6: Electric toilet- I love this thing, power hog or not. I have kids aboard who (at least the potty trained one) are not currently able to be judicious in their use of toilet paper. The electric head makes this less of an issue. Hooray for non clogged heads!

7. Polar Fleece sheets- When my blog pal Behan over on SV Totem told me that Polar Fleece sheets were very comfortable to sleep on in the heat of the tropics/sub-tropics I thought she was out of her tree . I then thought hey, this trip is all about experimentation so lets give it a go. She was right. She tends to be the voice of cruising reason so it is to my great shame that I doubted. Never doubt Behan. Not hot at all and very comfortable. An added bonus is that Polar Fleece is very Craft Challenged friendly. You don't even have to hem it!! Wicks away moisture, regulates temperatures well- a definite and surprising win. Once I get a more elegant example completed, I'll share the details. Marvelous stuff.

What Sucked:

1. The galley. Ok, I am lumping it all together but let me just tell you what I absolutely hate and what will be changed before we leave whether Mark says is it will or not.
1a: The countertops- with our new spiffy lighting we are able to see just how crap the old laminate is. Cracked and EVERYTHING stains it. These will absolutely be changed before we leave. I hope we can find someone good who is willing to install such a small amount of Corian but it must be done. Even if it means an extra week or two for Mark to do it because we can;t find anyone. Laminate. Must. Die.

1b: The lack of refrigeration- Sucks. Big time. I wanted to use a plug in free standing Engel freezer but with the space considerations on board I know we are going to have to go with 
Drop-In AC/DC Fridge / Freezer  but so long as its an Engel, I'm good. Sure, not having to crawl down into a hole to find what I need would be ideal but you have to deal with the space you have. Everyone I know who has had an Engel for over 2 years loves it so an Engel it shall be. They work. Well. This is what I require of my refrigeration.

1c: The galley sink- That thing is manky, too small and I hate it. It must be changed out for a deep, single bowl sink and a taller faucet. What will I do when I need 2 basins of water? Its called a plastic tub and you can get it just about anywhere for around $4. Farewell manky sink, you shall not be missed.

2. The master cabin- When we first bought the boat, I kept telling Mark I wanted to rip out the fore head and expand the forward vee berth cabin, which we use as our master cabin. Mark said it was too much work and we would just have to live it. Now that we have taken a couple of overnights, Mark has come around to my way of thinking. I'm not totally being a princess about it because the owners of a sistership which is for sale have done precisely what we would like to do. Yeah, its bargain priced to boot. Where was this boat when we were shopping? Oh well. Hopefully someone knows a really talented carpenter with boat experience in the Kemah area. We are willing to pay a more than fair fee for this, but I will be upfront and say that our level of expectation of the quality of the finish work is high. Recommendations are most welcome.

What will be nice additions:

1.Oceanair Skyscreen - Now that we have beautiful, streamlined lighting is just makes sense to go with an elegant, durable solution for the screening and shading of our hatches. We will be installing Oceanair skyscreens on our 5 overhead hatches. They are beautiful, they work well and they mean I no longer have to struggle with trying to sew mosquito netting. They will go a long way to making the interior of the boat bee-yoo-ti-ful.

2. Schaefer In Boom Furling- HA! You thought I wasn't going to talk about sailing hardware. Actually, I'm not. The Schaefer In Boom Furler is the one piece of gear that is absolutely, positively not in the budget (they start at 15 k. Ouch)- no way, no how. This fact does not prevent me from looking at it with lust in my heart. I do like to mention it from time to time just to watch Mark twitch funny.

3. Porta-Bote- Mark's reasons for waiting to purchase our dinghy until the last possible minute makes sense but boy it would be great to be able to do this short little trips without having to make 2 trips to shore each time in STINKY.

I feel pretty darned good about the level of finish in the interior boat. There are some little unnecessary but nice little cosmetic tweaks we will be making but really, she's looking quite good and she functions well as a family boat. I think that even though we are facing a major plumbing rebuild and then there is the whole deck layout/rigging stuff to deal with, we are in a pretty darned good spot 14 months out. And moving forward...

* I've been an Amazon affiliate for over a year, but I haven't ever found anything I liked enough to link to it. I can't recommend something that I don't like because it makes me feel slightly dirty. *shiver* Now that we are getting a bit of experience with stuff, I feel like we can make some recommendations that are not based on marketers hype but on being 100% Ceol Mor approved. ;) If you decide to follow a link and purchase an item through our blog, we get a few pennies for it.  Pennies that will be used to tell Mark- "Hey, I have to have internet access I am a PROFESSIONAL writer!" because even if its the princely sum of $5 a year, income is income. Funds will be completely wasted on a yearly latte at Starbucks. You can rest assured I will never post anything that I don't absolutely love because I am nothing if not honest. Cheers.


  1. Great report. Can't wait to see what you do with the drop in Engel because we have the exact same thoughts on that.

    Also on the laminate counter tops. Dani and I have looked into the laminate paints they have today to cover old counters. They look pretty good, have you thought about trying that before redoing the whole sha-bang?

    Glad to hear your trip went well despite the heat!

    1. I don't want to use the paint because then I would have to repain in 2 or 3 years and i want this sucker DONE! I look forward to only having to do maintenance.

  2. Great to know about the polar fleece. Thanks!

  3. I'm left thinking, "What an undertaking?!" And..."zombie games!" But my favorite thing -- the fans!

  4. I love that you tried the fleece sheets and it worked for you. I mean, of course it did! But it's one of those things that sounds batshit nuts until you try it for yourself.

    I feel for you on the laminate. It sounds very familiar. Ours is original to the boat- that makes it 3 decades worth of cracked and yellowing. Like our headliner, my other sore point. We WERE going to do these when we bought the boat but somehow they weren't a priority! Let me revel in your glory once yours are finished... I hope I won't be waiting any longer than the cheap labor in SE Asia next year.

  5. Zombie games, I knew I liked you. (Zed is not my real name of course, a Zed is sometimes slang for zombie in some zombie apocolyse books, and a feel like a zombie a lot of times)

    When I do buy a boat, I will also get an Engel, for their reputation and low power consumption. And thanks for the heads up on the polar fleece.

  6. Great post! I absolutely LOVE user reviews when they come from real people.

    I'm interested to see how the fans hold up. Also with the Engel we are going to use the cold plate retro fit thing they've just come out with, not sure if you have an existing fridge box you can just install the cold to.

    I bet your boat is beautiful! So you didn't cover the cushions with sunbrella? One of the things in our boat that I'd probably really like to redo is to replace all the foam and maybe the fabric on top. The foam gets flat and I find myself with more than one numb body part when sitting or sleeping.

    I was thinking of getting 5" latex foam and cutting it to size. But i'm not sure what type of fabric to use. I worry about the "main fabric" getting dirty and being uneasy to clean. What are you thoughts for when the covers get sweaty, suncreeny, salty etc? Are they easy to remove.

    Keep the reviews coming! One day if you are ever out this way and want to check out our porta-bote let me know. While I love the convenience of them, they are kinda a pain to set up and take down.

    I think Tate and I agree that if we had a bigger boat with more deck space we'd do an RIB dinghy.

    1. Sunbrella is too spendy to me for fabric I don't really love. The microfiber is kid friendly, soft, repels stains and its at a price point that if I have to redo the covers in 3-4 years (my tastes are likely to change in that time!) I won't cry over the cost.For day to day, I plan on making a throw cover for the seat out of microfiber. Most microfiber is machine washable on gentle in cold,no bleach, air dry. This is why I had zippered covers made though once I get the buttons on they aren't so easy to remove.

      If you are going to buy new foam- check out I've heard nothing but raves from friends and that is where we will be getting our new bed foam- once I figure out what I want.

      I saw the Engel retro fit kits but since our insulation in our cooler is crappy at best, it makes sense to get the full, well insulated unit. Plus when it dies in 20 years, we can just yank it out and replace it.

      We might decide later to add a RIB but for now, we are sold on the Porta-Bote. Not only for space considerations but for using a lighter, smaller outboard. Keep in mind, anything is an upgrade from Stinky.

    2. "Keep in mind, anything is an upgrade from Stinky."


  7. When you find your "laminate Assassin" - send him our way when he/she is done. Our kitchen counters need to die as well.

    1. It might end up with Mark and I donning ninja suits and doing it ourselves. If that is the case, we will be sure to tell you how we screwed up so maybe you won't have to!

  8. Nice write up. Make sure you keep us informed of what works and what doesn't! We are on the 4-5 year plan. So we are interested in your opinions on all this stuff. Thanks! We love your blog.

    1. I am always so appreciative of the good folks who read our blog. Let's face it, refitting ain't exactly sexy. Thanks for being with us from the boring parts and hopefully we will be able to share some photos of lovely sub tropical beaches and anchorages with you. Looking forward to seeing how you get on with your plans!

  9. You've solved a mystery for me. The previous owners had these fleece sheets that covered the bed and settee, and I thought why would anyone use fleece sheets in the tropics and promptly threw them away. Now I know. Oops!

    Also, could you please come kill our laminate countertops too? I wanted to redo them, but Vlad pulled the "why would you want to spend our cruising budget on something so superficial" card. I couldn't really argue with his logic, but I still hate them!!

  10. OH NOES! You threw out premade fleece? Ouch. The only thing better than fleece sheets are fleece sheets someone else made.

    Yes, countertops are superficial and not important unless you are like me and the amount of muck that accumulates on the shot laminate makes you very, very angry. Suddenly it becomes a mental health issue!

  11. I have to learn not to read your blog and drink coffee at the same time. The minute I read 'Suck! Down mini-cruise' my shirt needed laundering. I guess it's good it was only the shirt.
    Love the post! The only (and I mean ONLY) good thing about the fact that we still don't know what boat we're taking where is that I have the opportunity to learn from those going before me.
    Regarding refrigeration, I would not be without it. I do have one of those units you have to crawl inside in order to get to stuff, and I just about have to unload it each time I need something because it will surely be at the bottom. But that said, I cannot imagine not having it. Especially in the heat you have there. There is simply nothing better than having ice cold drinks. With ice.
    I have thought of using microfiber in the boat and think I will do so. I have two microfiber love seats at home and they are my very favorite pieces of furniture because they can be cleaned so easily and always look good. By the way, a trick I used is cleaning them with one of those 'magic' erasers. Works really nicely on little spots.
    Now regarding countertops, I agree that laminate sucks. What I also think, having lived with this in Moonrise for years, is that I cannot wait to have a sink that is mounted under the counter like I have at home and, yes, deep with a tall faucet. I am wicked tired of having food and liquid pooling up against the side of the sink, not to mention the fiddle at the edge of the counter top, and never feeling like they are really clean. To me, this is not a superficial issue. It's a quality of kitchen cleanliness issue. I say go for the corian.
    Thanks for all your thoughts on these things. I love knowing what is good and what isn't from people I trust who use the things themselves.