Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Hunting for eggs in the back garden. Kitty was super excited that the "Easter Elephant" brought her eggs. I have no idea where she got the idea of the Easter Elephant but if a bunny can bring treats, why not an elephant?

We live in Texas where holiday celebrations are definitely influenced by the fact that we used to be part of Mexico. Instead of dyeing eggs or filling plastic eggs with sugary treats bound to wind the Wee One up tighter than a clock I purchased Cascarones- hollowed out, dyed eggs filled with confetti. It is considered good luck to have one broken over your head. Maura was a good big sister and gently sprinkled the confetti over Kitty's head.

Kitty was not so gentle. Maura took over a dozen hits to the head and maintained her good humor. Best big sister ever.

Since in my last post I spent a ginormous amount of cash (even if only in my imagination) I thought it fair to document precisely what I spent on our grand Easter celebration. I decided we needed to celebrate Easter mostly so I could grab photos of the kids so when they are older and say "Hey, we never celebrated XYZ!" I can point to the photos and say yes we did. Ok so I mostly wanted  photos of the little one in a proper dress  for her Granny but its as good a reason as any.

Cascarones- $ 3.70
Easter Bucket- $2.50 (Kitty seriously LOVES buckets. Seriously)
Family Dinner at home- $42.00 (got splurgy and bought a roast to make and a bottle of wine)
Total- $48.20*

And thus endeth our simple, if a little bit violent Easter celebration. Happy Easter everyone.

*budget posted mostly to lower Mark's blood pressure. Watching the pennies Mark,watching the pennies. ;)

Spring time is to Sailors as Christmas is to Kids

When Mark inevitably pooh poohs the last item on my list as being frivolous and unnecessary, I shall remind him of the useless big plastic owl he purchased to chase away birds (his issue is birds, mine is food remains). And the useless metal spider. And the useless platform he built for the useless spider.....
How do I know Spring is here? I can tell the season is upon us by the arrival of vast amounts of catalogs from Defender, Fishery Supply, Jamestown Distributors and West Marine. These things are the size of that ancient artifact the Yellow Pages. Apparently, Spring is to Sailors as Christmas is to little kids. Remember when you were a little kid and the Sears Christmas catalog would come and you would spend hours carefully circling the most coveted of toys in hopes that Santa might bestow one upon you? Its kind of like that, except in Spring and unfortunately the Easter Bunny is not filling my basket with goodies so for the most part, the following is just a wish list. So here's my wish list.

  • Leisure Furl in Boom Furling The one thing I covet above all others, the one thing Mark is adamant we will not get. I understand his point. When I checked pricing, I was given an estimate of somewhere upwards of $16,000. That does not include the new sail needed. I did not accidentally add a 1. That is a LOT of cheese. Still, based on the experiences of a few friends who have them and have cruised extensively with one, this is what I dream most about. Being able to reef from the cockpit single handed on any point of sail? Able to use a fully battened main? No need for a sail cover? Emergency ability to drop the sail manually? Yes please! *sigh* Yeah, $16,000. You can buy a whole boat for that. *again with the sighing*
  • Harken Battcar System Since a Leisure Furl is out of the question, my second choice is the Harken Battcar System. it solves a lot of the issues that the in boom furling does as far as making it easier to reef, raise and douse the main sail at a much gentler cost. 
  • Comfort Seat Yes, we have cockpit cushions but they do not provide back support, like to slip underfoot when sailing and are bulky as all get out to stow. Definitely putting these on the must have list. Sunbrella fabric, 14 reclining positions, carbon steel framen, completely foam encased so you never feel the frame and they don't take up a lot of room when stowed away. Yes, West Marine has a wildly popular seat but they sure are bulky when folded.
  • Oceanair Skyscreens We've already decided to get these, just not quite sure how to install them yet. Are they the cheapest option? Nope but for a clean, uncluttered look in the cabin and to not have to yet again find a place to stow other insect nets and shades seems worth it to me. If we had to we could get by with one in the forward cabin and one in the salon but having all out hatches finished with these will keep the ferocity of the sun and bugs out of the boat which when you sail in the subtropics, well lets just say you develop an appreciation for these features.
  • Zarcor Companionway Doors I can hear what Captain Perfecto will say "They don't match the teak!". True Captain,  but they prevent you from cringing every time the girls forget how to open our bifold door and smash it into the open position. Plus, no need to wrestle with insect screen when at anchor.
  • Cockpit Table No need for super pricey teak tables, we have kids. Plastic is just fine.
  • Stern Perch Seats Kind of spendy when you think about what you are actually getting but I have thought about my burning desire to install 2 of these every darned time we go sailing.
  • Lewmar Folding Wheel This is on my definitely getting list. We have a small cockpit. We have 4 people. This is a need, not a want.
  • Vesta Dshwasher And you thought I was going to put the Splendide washer and dryer on the list. Nope. I will wash clothes by hand with a bucket, plunger and washboard happily but if there is a way for me to avoid washing dishes by hand nonstop I am all for this. I will wash your smelly underpants, I will wash diapers and do head maintenance  more happily than I will touch your food remains. I also have issues with touching raw chicken. Just...eww. You know Mark will never go for this, right? Maybe if I can tell him how little water it uses to get the job done...

There is nothing on here that we need but this isn't about need. We have a budget and as time marches on and the refit expenses grow I am paring WAY down on my wants. All I really want is to go sailing and that is definitely on the YES! list.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Who says we aren't wild and crazy adventurers?

" A plumber is an adventurer who traces leaky pipes to their source"- Arthur Baer

We live and breathe plumbing these days. I thought our boat, at 42 feet was modest in size.  If you are having to find supplies and install them inch by inch, 42 feet soon seems like a veritable megyacht. I was worried that I might one day succumb to 10 footitis. That was until I started having to source various 'esoteric' plumbing fittings to replumb the whole thing. Yes, that is the terminology a sales rep for a plumbing fitting manufacturer used to describe the 'oddball' fittings I was trying to track down. Esoteric and oddball and only available special order from the manufacturer and that $2 part will require $10 in shipping fees. Must be a Mark project.
Advantages to using pipe- tidy installation. there will be removable access to the pipes but this is the routing of the plumbing to our forward holding tank under the v berth. The wooden straps delineate where shelves will go in the new master cabin.

The standard procedure for plumbing a boat is to wrangle flexible sanitation hose into position. There are a couple of advantages to using hose. 1. Its readily available. 2. Its cheap- well, cheaper than pipe.3. Its fairly quick to install That is about all that recommends it. There are also disadvantages, like everything on a boat. 1. Eventually it will become permeated and your entire floating home will smell like a holding tank. 2. It is hose and therefore susceptible to friction damage. 3. It is inherently less structurally sound than pipe. 4. It has a constricted bending radius so you will never get as tidy an installation as you will with pipe. Can you guess where this is going? You are correct. Our plumbing is an absolute Mark project which means a vastly superior installation which will take 10 times as long and 4 times as much money. It makes him happy to improve upon functionality and I am 100% in favor of his happiness (and 100% in favor of fully functioning plumbing!) so I go along with it all and spend my spare time tracking down those exotic fittings.
Cleaned and ready to go water tank. The smaller tank which goes under the settee in the salon cleaned and ready to be installed in the newly sanded and painted compartment under the settee.
All of our seacocks, tank fittings, through hulls and outlet connections are fitted with hose and clamps between the fitting and pipe. The biggest advantages of using pipe are the smell containment, the ability for the system to be pressurized if needed, longevity and the fact that you can get a very tidy installation which leaves room for other systems, more storage, etc. The down side? Standard plumbing fittings from Home Depot are not going to get the job done. You will have need at some point for a strangely angled fitting and your delivery driver will start sending you thank you notes for keeping them employed. It will take for-freaking-ever to install the pipe because you not only have to route it carefully but it has to be secured with straps all along the pipe to keep it from moving. Its still susceptible to calcification so regular maintenance still has to happen.
And the fittings to the forward holding tank. There will be a pump between the first and second holding tank to keep things moving to where we want them.
So I might have to tease Mark about our over engineered plumbing but it really is a thing of beauty. I did have to point out that nobody else does their plumbing this way. His response is that no one does it  because of the man hours and expense necessary. I had to point out once again that everyone still uses hose. I really do believe that Mark's system is vastly superior but by pointing this out, I can say "This was your idea, you clean it up" should any plumbing ever fail. Seems he is not the only clever one in the family.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ever look at life and think 'How the heck did I end up here'?

I have been neglecting the blog, I admit this fully. I had a choice to make- either neglect the blog or neglect the kids. The kids won. They will always win, which I hope they keep in mind when it comes time to select my nursing home. Psst, Kids! I want a beautiful view and lots of light and cabana boy named Alejandro. Oh and a steady supply of Maker's Mark Manhattans. That is all.

This next bit is mostly about kids with a little bit about our new departure schedule and the decisions we've made to make cruising with a teen work. If you just read the blog to see the boat refit, now is your chance to go read something else although there will be a scintillating post quickly following this one all about plumbing. Yay for plumbing.

People often ask us how we are going to make cruising with a teenager work. The theory seems to be that teens don't want to cruise with their family seeing the world, but would rather have handy access to school, friends, internet, trendy clothes and the mall. This might be true in some cases but for us, we have made the idea of taking off to cruise work for Maura by ensuring that she gets to experience as much American teen stuff as is reasonable. Kind of like a bucket list but hopefully just the first of many in her hopefully very long life. So she has thrown herself full force into the things that interest her- choir, track, singing lessons, volunteering, summer camp, Starbucks after school on Fridays with friends and similar typical American teen activities. And then, there is the BIG compromise we made.

Maura has always been a bit of a drama queen. The negative of this has been her tendency to indulge in hyperbole and to wail and bemoan the fact that she is the ONLY person she knows who is regularly given chores to complete before she can move on to the fun stuff and to loudly exclaim that it is patently unfair that SHE has to weed the garden when we have a veritable NATURE RESERVE as a back yard. (for the record, we have a very tiny back garden). The upside is she is a very entertaining kid with a vivid imagination and a real love of putting on a show.

She has always been a big ole' ham bone within whose chest beats the heart of a drag queen. So it would come to no surprise to anyone who knows her that she began her long campaign to be allowed to participate in beauty pageants at age 7. I always answered her pleas with a resounding "NO!" My list of reasons why were good ones: 1. It rewards what you look like, not who you are. 2. I've seen the photos of what some girls wear and no way are you dressing up like a 7 year old stripper. 3. My Feminist side recoils in horror JUST BECAUSE. I mean, when I was pregnant with her I was adamant that no one purchase anything for her that was pink or was in anyway shape or form stereotypical  princess fluff. The Universe having a sense of humor therefore sent me the girliest girl ever. 4. All pageant moms are crazy. And many other valid reasons.

She kept on asking and every year I said no. Then one day when were talking about the cool things we would get to do when we go sailing, she once again lamented the fact that she would never get to do pageants because while they are a big deal in the Southern US, the rest of the world is pretty much pageant free. Except for Latin America. Man do they love some sparkly dresses and big hair down there. Since I love nothing better than to throw her an unexpected curve ball, I said yes.

I said yes because I knew she would be giving up a lot for us to pursue our dream so it only seemed fair that I allow her to pursue her dream, even if its not something I would have chosen for her. We gave her some ground rules. 1. She would have to earn her entry fees through doing chores. 2. She would not be allowed to dress or behave in a Hoochie manner. (when she asked what I meant by Hoochie I told her I would know it when I see it) 3. She must keep a positive attitude and 4. She must not drink the Kool Aid (And by drinking the Kool Aid I mean thinking that her worth as a person is based on what some random judge thinks of her.) Maura kept her end of the bargain and we let her do a few pageants here and there. And she won. A lot. Pageants gave her an outlet for her talent (she is a serious classical singer) and she made friends. Her self confidence soared. I had to admit that I was prejudiced in my opinion of these things. She did well, had a lot of fun, made friends and I saw her really start to mature and she seemed to be much more positive about cruising as a family.

When Maura turned 13 she said she wanted to compete in the Miss America Outstanding Teen organization. Yes, THAT Miss America. Since due to our cruising plans, she would only get to compete this spring, I let her. Even though she wouldn't win as she was soooo young compared to the other girls (most are 15-16 and she had only been a teen for a month) I thought it would be a good experience for her to learn to work really hard for something that she knew she couldn't win. The reward for her efforts would come from within, knowing that even though the judges didn't choose her she worked hard and grew as a person. This would be a great life lesson. You may not always win, but you can always give it 100%.

Would you believe she won the Miss Burnet Outstanding Teen title? Completely shocked us all, but full credit to Maura for the hard work she put into this. So, YAY! Now what?

Photo by Kathy Whittaker- used with kind permission Hair and makeup by Rouchelle Burdick. I am seriously trying to figure out how to bring the photographer and makeup artist with us when we cruise. I think you would see a heck of a lot more photos of me. :)

Now I am driving all over the State of Texas (and Texas is a BIG State) taking Maura to appearances, events and community service/volunteering opportunities. She has only had her title for 2 weeks and already life has just gotten a whole lot crazier. I am trying to juggle all the balls and keep things going because this is such a great opportunity to learn about herself, what she is capable of and to really grow as person. She has a lot more responsibilities but she also receives a whole bunch of opportunities too.

So things are a bit crazy in my world. Maura is working hard to get ready to compete at Miss Texas in June. She knows it is impossible for her win the State title because of her age but she is driven to make the best showing she possibly can. I am driving, driving, driving all over Texas. Life will settle a bit more after July and I will pick up the blogging pace just in time for us to really push through to the end of the refit. Since I believe that you finish what you started, we will be delaying our departure for a few months to March 2014 to allow Maura to fulfill her year of service. I'm not sure how the change in date and proximity of hurricane season will alter our planned route but we have a year to figure it all out.

Yes Maura, cruising will mean no prom photos but think of it this way- you have these gorgeous shots looking all glammed up and no awkward 17 year old boy to mess up your photos. WIN!
Maura is steadfast in her determination to one day win the  big one- Miss America. While I used to scoff at the idea, now I have to say "Okay. Maybe?!?! Who the heck knows and why not?"When her friends who have the same goal try to point out that she will suffer because she won't have had years of experience competing, she points out that sailing around the world is a great advantage. As she says "I'm going off to actually learn something about the world, then I am coming back to win Miss America and a few seasons on the equator means I won't need a fake bake tan." Maura says that you can still crank a winch AND wear lip gloss and you know what? She is correct- the two are not mutually exclusive. This will most likely be the only post on Maura's adventures as a Miss America Outstanding Teen title holder. First of all, this is a blog about the boat but secondly- its her story to tell, not mine. Her dream, her effort, her adventure and it should belong solely to her.

 I thought it right to let you know why you aren't seeing more regular blog updates. Its because life just got a whole lot busier for a while. Don't lose faith. I will be updating you very soon indeed on plumbing and master cabin make overs and deck layouts and a few shake down cruises. We now return you to your regularly scheduled boaty boat type stuff.