Boat Repairs (again) and thoughts on others’ misfortunes

A few weeks ago we experienced first (on a Monday) being told we’d have to move out of our nice slip to somewhere else, second, (on a Tuesday) a fire (in the inverter/charging system), and third, (on a Wednesday) a runaway engine.

Over the course of the last few weeks with the help of a local mechanic, we figured out the engine issue – a crack in a gasket which sucked in some oil and cause the engine to go nuts and speed up.  Also the fuel pump required (after that) a rebuild of the thing, replacing an diaphragm.

I removed and rewired the boat so I had AC applied back to the systems where I needed it, and have installed a new charger for the system.  It is not yet “permatized”.  I need to mount it to the bulkhead, and hardwire it into the system through a breaker.  Right now it’s plugged into a wall socket on a temporary basis.

The slip issue was something we couldn’t fix.  The slip was privately owned and the owner decided, without notice to sell it, requiring us to move.  The problem is, now I’m in a supposedly 50′ slip and sticking out into the fairway.  Not cool.

We’re also riding in the mud again.  Again, not cool.

So this has prompted me to request that the marina find us another long-dock slip and get us into ASAP.  That is moving slowly.  Or perhaps not at all.  I don’t know.

Now, I am rethinking remaining here.  We are in a tenuous position on this dock, having had to back into it to even be able to get off the boat safely… the finger pier is only 25′ long and bow sprit-to-gangway is 33′.  Thus, we can’t get off the boat safely if we pull into the dock.  Backing in has placed our cabin against the dock, where people walk past all evening, make noises and so on.

I have been calling around in the south to locate a marina that might be a little better for us, but they are all vastly more expensive, sometimes double and triple the cost of this one.  Many don’t allow people to live aboard their boats either.  Some do for an excessive fee.  Others don’t care one way or the other (and it is dependent upon the state, county and local rules).

I have several good places and we will examine them individually soon.  The marina manager doesn’t want to lose me as an employee though.  Perhaps something will be worked out soon.

In the mean time we’re examining our options to just go to a mooring ball, live on the hook awhile, or find another marina to “call home”.  We want to be further south anyway, and be able to access the ocean so, it’s going to cost a bit more no matter what we do I think.

We have a storage locker with a few things in it, which will have to come to the boat, a boat box on the dock (for things we move in and out of the boat) that I’ll need to get rid of, a car, which might have to go into storage for a time until we find a place to bring it.   We need the car to get back and forth across country (flying is not for me any more and is significantly more expensive than travel by car; renting a car is out of the question for long trips, also too expensive).  Everyone wants your money, don’t they?

Over the course of the past few weeks, we went south to Charleston (Twice now) taking our friend Kevin down to retrieve his truck after he brought a boat back up from there and delivered it here.  We went this past weekend to hang out with our friends Alison and Daniel aboard Equus, for a couple of evenings.  We had a good time talking and hearing about their trip to the Bahamas.

I went sailing with Norm from the marina when he took his 94 year old Grandfather out and helped out on the boat.  His grandpa has been sailing since he was about 4 or 5 years old.  He took the tiller and had a grand time.  I stuck to running the jib sheets while Norm handled the main.  We might go out this Friday for awhile too (Norm, myself and one other).

This brings me to the last thing I want to write about here… the Couple from Colorado, who hit something in the water a few months back, lost their keel and sank their boat.

(See: http://www.tampabay.com/news/Couple-whose-dream-boat-sank-finally-set-sail-on-new-adventure-_168471537)

(See also: http://www.tampabay.com/sold-everything-to-sail-the-world-boat-sank-next-day)

The Facebook groups and forums are all over these people.  Some folks in the groups are so judgmental of the couple over this accident.  Yes, it was an accident.  Yes, people have accidents all the time.  People make mistakes, all the time.  Sailors are prone to accidents – though we all strive not to be the cause of one, they still happen.

Articles written about these folks cast them in a bad light, give others a chance to say how “stupid” they are, or “inexperienced” or just nasty things.

What I have come to learn about most of these forums is that 90% or better of the people in the groups have very little “cruising” experience.  A few do, sure, but most are day time, fair weather sailors who spend the majority of their time polishing the gelcoat on their boats.  Some of them brag about having had to “spend time paying their dues” on boats as crew, or under the tutelage of “masters”, and yet, still put down the people who are simply trying to live their dreams.

Granted, not everyone jumps in feet first without knowing how to swim, but a few do.  And they WILL learn the hard way how to do things.  We took sailing courses and spent a few years gaining experience before moving aboard our cruising vessel, Adventure.  And neither of us had crossed “oceans” before – nor have we yet.  We’ve spent extensive time in the Chesapeake, and in the Atlantic coming down the coast, sailing offshore near Cape Fear and a lot of time motoring the ICW in this boat.  Every day, you learn something new. Every time you make a mistake, you learn NOT to do that again, or what to watch for next time.

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Cruising too, is a journey, not a destination.  We don’t expect to set a schedule any more.  We don’t try to beat the weather now, or the night, we deal with it.  No one should be dissuaded about pursuing their dreams because a few nay-sayers are angry over circumstances beyond the control of the dreamers.  No one could have predicted their keel would fall off, they’d hit something, or lose all their property.

On the other hand, Common Sense says one must be prepared for every contingency.  Like, not sailing with a fin keel that is bolted to your boat.  Or taking all your cash with you.  Or any one of a dozen other little things that happened to that couple.  Common Sense, however, isn’t common  I suppose and  I can only hope that this couple learned from their mistakes, and they do not make them again.

We wish them well on their journey, fair winds and following seas–and hope they accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

And I sincerely hope that Facebook Groups begin weeding out the negative ninnies and nay-sayers that “know it all”, because of all the unhelpful things and people out there, they are the worst of the worst.

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Time to Go! Last Minute Things

Last minute things….

Check on Boat Insurance (Check).  Get provisions (Working). Do oil change (Scheduled). Check on SeaTow membership (until 11 November good).  Add Water.  Add fuel if needed. Wonder what we forgot.

That’s just a small list there.  A lot of other things have happened in the past two weeks since returning to the ship.  Those things included putting sails back up, and unstrapping the in-mast sails from the mast (hurricane preps before we left of course).  Cleaning out items we really don’t need on the boat.

Speaking of that, I was at the storage locker yesterday. Holy cow.  Where did ALL that crap come from?  Why do we have all that crap?  This isn’t a house, it’s a boat.  I don’t have a garage.  I did pay for a storage locker for a full year.  That will give us time to get rid of everything in that locker we decided we truly didn’t need, or at least the big, bulky, heavy items and things that won’t fix or repair the boat.

We ordered a few things too and await their arrival (today or tomorrow I believe).  New bathing suit for JoAnne, some scrabble pieces (as we’re missing a few in our ancient set) and some other items for the boat.  I decided to have someone else do this oil change for me, so I can be sure it’s right this time.  Turns out we were given bad advice about certain oils to use, by a certain mechanic.  The weight of the oil is apparently too high for this engine and causes significant blow by.

I found that the proper oil will NOT make it smoke as much.  We will find that out later today.  I’m not a mechanic, but I do understand the physics of engines like this, and I gather that we’ve had the wrong oil in here since we had the first oil change accomplished.  The other reason for letting someone else do it, is that I do not have the container/pump assembly I need to pull it out, and no real storage space for one if I did.  So, we’ve filled most of our areas with important things like spare parts, some tools, the clothing we need and food.  We should be self-sufficient for roughly three months once we depart, needing only occasional watering.

We will try to do rain catchment and see how that goes.  I’ve tested it at the docks and in theory, and practice it works well.  However, doing so under sail might be a bit problematic.  We will see.

Today I saw on Facebook that it has been exactly Two Years ago since we found ourselves somewhat “stuck” in Norfolk, VA, in a place that we didn’t want to be, and nothing but bad things happened there.  We made friends, and somehow managed to upset some of them over one of my postings on the blog.  I’m not going to reopen wounds, other than to say, two years later, I stand by my original posts on the blog here.  Friends or no friends, one person’s experience may be different from another’s, and my purpose here is not to blow rainbows and BS up people’s butts, but to tell what we personally go through.

Everyone’s mileage WILL vary.  That said, onward.

We’ve set a tentative date of 1 November to pull out, but of course, that will be based on the weather.

We’ve also NOT set our exact course, or chosen the path to take us to the Bahamas.  I did originally plan to sail out of Cape Fear, cross the Gulf Stream and head south to Marsh Harbor, but there is some trepidation on both our parts for doing this.  We’ve not done a multiday crossing yet, and perhaps this is too much until we get in the swing of things.

So, instead, we will probably take a tack southward and stay well off shore for a few days, but close enough to run back in if we get too tired, or have issues.  Boat issues are the one thing that constantly have plagued us, and while we can abandon ship in an emergency and have an EPIRB, radios, emergency ditch bag, and things to keep us alive while rescued, this is NOT how anyone wants to spend their evening, morning, or night.  Instead, we want a lazy sail to the Bahamas, and therefore we’re going to endeavor to do so.  This means we WILL still do a multi-day crossing, but not too far away from being able to get to land if required.  I trust the boat and most of the systems, but I don’t trust the sea and the magic it works on everything.  Like breaking things when you least expect it.

Things break even if you inspect them.  Even if they are brand new.  Sometimes things you expect to break never break.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you can engineer the perfect vessel, at whatever the cost, and eventually, something is going to fail when it ought to have lived a full, healthy life of sixty more years.  Therefore, I trust the boat to float, and me to keep checking on things.  And to be prudent.

Once we get our minds wrapped around multi-day travel off shore, we’ll change the way we do things, but small, baby steps I guess are best.

The best part?  I do NOT have to RUSH myself in a straight line, against the wind on the nose to attempt to beat darkness to drop an anchor to be safe.  I can be safe right on my own vessel, moving however slowly in the general direction I wish to go, without running a motor, creating smelly fumes, heating up everything, and spending money on fuel.

I’m rather looking forward to a successful, stress-less, sailing excursion.

We have wracked our brains on how to keep dry good, well, dry.  Salt, sugar, flour, corn meal.  Plastic baggies work mostly, but salt is still killing us.  Our friend Mike, in Missouri showed us a handheld device from Walmart that sucks the air out of bags (special bags) and I just got a brilliant idea to try it with containers.  We need something to hold the amount of sugar, flour and such we use on a daily basis so we’re not constantly unpacking everything, taking what we need, resealing everything away under seats and in compartments.

So, we might try that. I’m sure others have come up with methods for combating humidity, but we’re still figuring things out.  Remember, we lived at elevation and in very dry, desert climates for the past quarter century.  Colorado rarely has issues with salt chunking up in the shaker.  Not so, on the coast.

JoAnne will be starting her “provisioning run” in the next day or so.  Everything else is pretty much done (except of course, the Vee Berth is full of loose items again, as I have been working on the boat here and there, have tools out again, and cushions, etc)

Last week, Friday, I removed all of the enclosure from the cockpit, except the dodger, and the upper Isenglas. I want to be able to climb in and out more easily, and of course, there’s that vision thing – being able to see all the way around me at night is helpful, if not critical.  The old Isenglas is in dire need of replacement but I can’t really justify the cost of it.    There are a lot of things that should be “replaced” but none are critical to the operation of the boat.  Except one.  The furling line on the mains’l.  That, I will replace when it needs repair.  I have the line to do it, but I’m not going to pull the sail out, drop the main, unroll everything, reroll everything, and put it all back the way it was before I started. It’s about a ten hour job.

At some point, the furling line will need replacing, and that’s when I will finally drop the main (like a regular main sail, instead of furling) and replace the halyard, the furler and do a few other minor jobs all at once.  Even at sea.  Shouldn’t be much of an issue.  Except storms.  I have no plans to have battles with Mother Nature.  She will win.  I have two other sails I can have up anyway.  So, I’ll leave it at that.

We have gone over things verbally, and on our various lists and I believe now we’re ready.  After the oil change, I’m considering taking the boat out. There’s a race this weekend.  I’m not much a racer, but it’s the Stede Bonnet Race.  I don’t believe we will win anything, and I seriously doubt we will be able to move the boat in the light winds being predicted, but what the heck?  It’s a ketch named Adventure, so why not?

Not sure we want to mess with it though.  We will see.

Today is the 24th of October.  The first is 7 days hence.  Winds are predicted to be (at this time) light, variable, out of the North and Northwest (1-8 knots) and swell from the SW at less than 3′.  A very CALM day for moving, but probably too light to move US.  If we choose that day to depart, we might make more headway in the ICW and head for Little River.

Final decision will be made much closer to the day of departure and when weather predictions are more accurate.

 

Until next entry, Fair Winds to All!

 

Loss of a Friend – Guy Bernardin – Circumnavigator

“I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o’clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.” – Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World, 1900.

EDIT 21 March 2018: I have received numerous questions regarding Guy’s boat.  A boat was spotted off the coast of Honduras recently, and many believe it to be Guy’s boat.  I’m inserting the only image I apparently took of the boat, zoomed in on the aft end of the vessel.  The boat is a 40+ foot racing sloop, known to have a 7′ fin keel, and around a 60 foot mast.  The image does NOT show the new wind generator that I assisted him in installing a day or so before his departure.

To be CLEAR, his boat was found off the coast of Cape Cod, about 400-700 nm out from the area, in either September or October of 2017.  The date it was discovered is unclear.  The boat was intact and no one was aboard.  Given that he disappeared somewhere off North Carolina right after departure (in July) I venture to guess this is about right giving being set up north bound currents.

There is NO WAY the boat found in the Gulf of Mexico would have been Guy’s “Crazyhorse”.  The Gulf Stream doesn’t take boats to the south off the US Coast line, and no way it could have found it’s way into the Gulf of Mexico.  The image I saw of that upside down boat had two small keels.  Not a fin keel.  (End of Edit)

Above image of Crazy Horse, and the stylized “Horse Head” on the back of the boat.  I apologize for the quality of the image but I was taking pictures of a departing boat and only caught the back of his boat and slightly out of focus.  – RD

On the 16th of September I took a leave of absence from my marina job for six months – until April anyway.  Maybe a bit longer.  We did a quick (month long) road trip and returned last evening from the road to Colorado and back.

Our whole purpose for being on this boat is to go places.  Our boat has sat here for most of a year, December 2016 until now.  We had some bad experiences with the water, waves, wind and weather and took a break, but it’s time to go again.  For awhile I was of a mind to sell the boat and get back on land.  I don’t like JoAnne getting sick, and having experienced sea sickness myself, I don’t want her to be ill ever again.  However, we aren’t giving up quite so easily.

But, we need to move, we need to go, we need to see things.  Life is short and if we sit here, we waste our chance to see other parts of the world.

Nothing has driven that idea home more accurately than the sad news I received a few days ago.

A few months ago an older man came to the Marina here at South Harbour Village.  His name was Guy (pronouced as Ghee) Bernardin.  He was in his 70s.  He was aboard an older boat by the name of “Crazy Horse”, a racing sloop.  The boat was in need of attention, and he’d just purchased the vessel for a non-stop race around the world.

Guy and I quickly became friends.  I helped him on several occasions with lines and moving things around for him.  He had another friend named Larry Brown who came to visit and stayed with him for a few weeks while working on Crazy Horse.  Larry and I spoke often as well, while various parts were refitted on the boat.

Sometime in June I had asked if I could interview him and write an article for the local paper.  He refused at first stating that he was leaving soon for France to go back to work on his other boat, a Spray (Slocum) replica.  I found out more of his story in that conversation – that in 1998 he had completed a three year, round-the-world tour which duplicated for the most part, Joshua Slocum’s original trip.  He explained that the boat was steel, and he was going back for some refit work.

The Interview was never to take place as my wife and I had also gone home in June to do medical appointments and other things.  Guy was ready to depart save for last minute things when we returned.

When we returned, I saw Guy infrequently, but I did chat with him on and off.  I assisted him in installing his wind generator a couple of days before his departure sometime in late July (I do not recall the date, and didn’t write it down).  I know he left and came back in with either engine or steering issues, or perhaps the weather bothered him.  I never got the chance to ask, as the following morning he was gone again and I never heard from him again.

Sometime in August (about a week or so after his departure) I wondered how he was doing.  Then I heard a rumor about a radio call for help and some people were saying they thought it might have been Guy.  I did not hear the call.  I don’t know the details of the call, who made it or why. I completely discounted the idea it was Guy.  He was, after all a seasoned traveler, sailor and knew what he was doing.  I never believed anyone actually heard the call themselves and were guessing (which they likely were).

I forgot all about it.  Until this past week.

JoAnne and I had to go back to Colorado for a few days.  A message came in from Norm at the South Harbour Village Marina while we were traveling with friends, asking if I had heard the news about a friend who had been in the Marina for awhile this past summer.  I received the sad news that he was missing and his boat had been found.

A few minutes later I had an article mentioning him and learned that his fate was not what I would have expected.

I was shocked, and to this day I am still in shock I believe. I’d written off the original rumor of the radio call because I felt it couldn’t have been Guy, it couldn’t have happened to a world cruiser, racer and a man who was very good at what he did.

Guy Bernardin went missing sometime in August we believe, somewhere off the coast of North Carolina, close to us. His life raft was aboard, the boat intact as far as I can tell from the article.  I have little information on what might have happened to him but have first hand experience on his boat.

“Crazy Horse” was a typical racing sloop, designed in a minimalist fashion, but there were narrow decks, running rigging all over the place to the cockpit, a scooped stern, easy to have fallen from there, life lines were short to the deck (no more than a foot probably) and little to grab onto.  Guy told me he had not had time to install jack lines when I questioned him the last time I spoke to him.

Guy Bernardin

We were raising the wind generator mast and he was putting in bolts and connecting the final wires.  I asked him about the jack lines, and he said that it was something he had not bought and probably wouldn’t require them for this part of the trip.  I didn’t question his wisdom on this for I knew he was experienced.  The image below was taken just a couple of days prior to installation of the wind generator.  I was shooting images of boats going through the fairway and happened to catch the stern of Crazy Horse in this one.

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Crazy Horse on RIGHT of Image above

It is now very apparent that Guy, while experienced in around the world cruising, a six-times around the Horn man, and a seasoned racer made a mistake that anyone could make.  He didn’t think anything bad would happen.

According to the article (Written in French), the boat was recovered with no one aboard.

For those who know the story of Joshua Slocum (and I hope all Sailors know it, if not, read it) Slocum traveled solo around the world, with an old wreck of a boat he rebuilt from the keel up.  A completely “new” boat from the old boat rose of the “ashes” (ok, sand actually) and he proceeded to travel the world, visiting exotic locations and becoming a very famous man in the late 1890s.

Bernardin sailed a steel boat called Spray around the world, following the footsteps of Slocum over a three year circumnavigation.

Like Slocum, Monsieur Bernardin disappeared at sea.  Unlike Slocum, Crazy Horse was found without it’s Captain. Spray was never located.  Today we can only assume the worst for Guy.  He never finished his last voyage.  At least I tend to believe he wished to complete it with success, not in the manner it ended.

So, to sailors everywhere…. do your best.  Never skimp on safety, know your limits.  Know that any little thing can kill you out there.  I’m sure you all know this, and I’m preaching to the choir, but seriously, I’m tired of losing friends like this.

Fair Winds, Guy Bernardin, where ever you are now.

 

Sail: disappearance of the navigator Guy Bernardin off the American coast

Guy aboard the Slocum Spray Replica

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http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2017/10/05/guy-bernardin-lost-sea/#.WdxRdryap7Y.facebook

http://www.lepoint.fr/sport/voiel-disparition-du-navigateur-guy-bernardin-au-large-des-cotes-americaines-03-10-2017-2161787_26.php#

http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2017/03/08/fifty-year-anniversary-spiritual-journey/

https://www.amazon.com/Sailing-Around-World-Retraces-Slocums/dp/1574091484

https://books.google.com/books/about/Sailing_Around_the_World.html?id=sAA6uNUnKYMC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Cabin Top Painting and other projects

Since we’ve owned Adventure she has needed a paint job.  We had the bottom done in NY when we got her, and she’s probably in need of a true bottom job soon, but we’ll wait until next year to do it.

But the top… the deck, the sides of the cabin walls, bow sprit and a few other areas have been in desperate need of help.  I cleaned the boat about once every two weeks, and she was dull, the white ‘wiping off’ on my hands, feet, legs or knees as I’d touch or crawl around her.

Last year, the bow sprit was in evil shape, messy with a mildew that ran the length of the sprit, some areas of wood showing through.  After testing the sprit for integrity (and after hearing one of the sister ships had a rotten sprit) I decided to clean and paint the bow sprit.  I did a bunch of research on paint and found everyone recommending this or that, at the cost of hundreds of dollars a gallon.  I lived in a house I owned for 25 years and successfully used all sorts of paints on the outside of the house, and interior as well.

Certainly, something in these magical marine paints must be made of gold I thought.

Turns out many are a type of oil based paint, and some are epoxy based.  The two part paints usually go on the bottom.  Thus, I will reserve judgement on those for now.

After a year the paint I used on the bow sprit still looks great.  It was simply an oil based exterior house paint and it has held up well to smashing waves, a few dozen rain storms and the sun beating down on it day in and day out, cold and heat as well as ice a few times have assaulted it.  Yet, it still looks great.

Now, the top side of this boat is wooden, with a very thin coating of fiberglass and gelcoat.  Which, as I pointed out, was well gone from a wax job.  I thought to wax the boat, but there are some extremely thin areas along one side where something has rubbed it down to wood.  I decided to try the same oil based exterior house paint on the cabintop.  Instead of going with a messy mixing job, I opted for a simple, oil based, gloss white.

After thoroughly washing the boat’s top, and cleaning off some mildew that was laying in wait on the dark side of the boat (North side as we sit in our slip) and making sure it was very clean, I found no spots that needed sanding, because, frankly the boat is weather worn on top.

Next I taped off my grab rails, rigging parts mounted to the deck top, hatches, portlights and the edges of the non-skid (which is a light tan color).

I thinned the paint slightly and rolled it on in all the large surface areas, and went back over with a brush in the difficult-to-reach places, around hardware, wooden grab rails and mast steps.

The boat… looks amazing now, compared to what she did look like.  I’m considering a second coat, but a single cover should be sufficient.  I will now wait and see how well this wears.

I need to do a couple of repairs along the port side in the non-skid deck surface and one large chunk of “missing” fiberglass on the starboard side.  There’s a divot about an inch by inch-and-a-half that was dug out of the deck by something (not sure what, when or how it happened) and I need to fill that again.  Been hesitant to do so with the rain, heat and humidity though.  Once I get that figured out, I’ll likely do the deck surface in some new, non-skid.  Not sure when I will do it though.

Other Projects:

After looking at a lot of options, I’ve done some power calculations and decided we can get by for this cruising season to the Bahamas with two solar panels.  But, I want four to give us the right amount of power.  Unfortunately, there is no place to mount them.

I contacted a local “tower builder” here in town.  He has a good reputation and has been recommend by more than one person.  Unfortunately, we’re running out of time to get it accomplished this year.  It won’t be cheap work either, I don’t think.  But, perhaps I can put something together.

The idea is to move my two solar panels to a rig on the davits and add two more, for a total of 640 watts of solar power, as well as put a mounting post for a wind generator off the back of the rig, out of the way of the mizzen boom.  After speaking to him, he said he could accomplish anything.  But, he’s going through some medical issues.  This week, he had a stroke.  So, I am not sure he will be able to do any work this year now.   If he can, great.  If not, I will hunt for someone else, or I will work out some kind of temporary rig to move the panels off the bimini.

Bimini:

It is really, really old and needs replacement.  Plus, I’ve punctured it with holes for the brackets for the solar panels.  Which means I either repair or replace it if I move the panels.  I’d really like a new one up there to be honest.  Maybe a white one to keep the sun off our heads.

Wind Generator:

It’s on the list.  A 550 Watt generator will, along with 640 watts of solar be plenty to keep the batteries topped off, and we could even add a few things after that, like a….

Water Maker:  

We’re looking at the Rainman Water Maker, the DC version.  They sell three versions, all portable, don’t have to be mounted anywhere, and perfect for what we want to do.  They produce enough water to keep our tanks topped off in most areas, as long as we have the energy available to run it.

Butterfly Hatch:

The big, butterfly hatch in the center of the main cabin is a beautiful thing.  We can set up an air scoop to bring air down below, open it up for air, uncover it for light.  But, it’s ugly in another way.  It is now, except for some grab rails, the only piece I have not worked on and varnished.  I need to take it apart to do the work though, removing the metal, the hinges, doors and sanding it down first.  It is dire need of a makeover.  That might happen in the next week if I can find a few nice days to get the sanding accomplished.

Last words:

I have to go through the engine, and I need to order some spare parts (for a toilet for instance) and a few minor things, but otherwise we’re ready to “go” soon.

We have too much stuff though on the boat.  We’ve been slowing removing extra junk from the boat, but I sincerely do not want to get rid of it. There are spare nuts, bolts, screws, washers and a lot of other things I want to keep, but really don’t require them on the boat right now.  So, we’re considering a cheap storage locker where we can remove some weight, store those items in a safe, dry location and have access to them when we return in the spring.

It will clear out our Vee Berth, giving us room for some traveling companions if necessary, and a place to sleep for visitors.   In roughly six to nine weeks, depending on the weather, we’re planning to head for Bahamas.  The trip out will take a few days and we will sail outside away from shore and down to Marsh Harbor area.  We’ll tell you more on that as the plan coalesces.

On a Happier Note

Last entry I talked about Renata.  I did that because it occurred very recently and more recently than this week.

This week, we took a week off for birthday and anniversary celebration.

I turned 60 this past week, and JoAnne and I have been married now for 40 years.  As I said before, I am not sure how she has put up with me this long, but I’m very happy she has, and proud to be her husband.  I did a quick Facebook post honoring her, posting images and a statement.  I would try to recapture it here, but it will simply repost on FB and I’m sure a lot of people are tired of seeing it now. haha.

We did a little road trip, traveling to Georgia to see Stone Mountain, something JoAnne has wanted to do for some time now.  We spent a couple of days in a very nice hotel there.  We also visited a local restaurant here on Oak Island, called Swain’s to try their sea food.  It was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not the worst.

We found a nice brewery near Atlanta and tested several beers.  All of the beers were very good.  I tried five tasters and wound up with my “standard go-to beer”, an Irish Red Ale, which was so smooth, it made Killians (not my most favorite, but one that most will know) taste like cheap crap.  (Which, I suppose, technically it is after so many craft brews under the bridge.)

The only thing of note on the trip (other than a good time) we had was a massive amount of rain yesterday.  Torrential downpours throughout the day made traveling difficult and cost us about an hour or so of time in going so slowly at times.  At one point, we couldn’t even see ten feet in front of us and were doing 25 mph behind a large truck so I could see his lights and keep an eye on the road lines.  Going off the road would have been very dangerous and probably we’d still be stuck, as there was water flooding the sides of the roads and median.

Eventually, we made it back here, and surprisingly, we had very little leaking going on in the hard rains.  I had placed a large tarp up to reflect the sun off the decks a few days back, when it was choking us with heat and humidity, which actually helped reduce the heat, and apparently the leaks.  So I now know most of them are coming from the top of the main cabin somewhere.  I’ll continue looking for them.

Turning 60 sounds awful to some.  Especially you younger folks, right?  I’m sure many can’t even imagine being this old.  I certainly couldn’t when I was 30 and in the military.  I figured I’d never make it out alive anyway.  But, I did.  And I have made it past several dangerous things in my life, including a nearly “heart stopping” heart attack.  We’ve both had our share of dumb and awful things happen to us over the years.  An accident once in Colorado nearly got us both killed.  A guy ran a red light.  My “quick thinking” and previous “training” I’d had years before kicked in and I managed to put more car between me and him, than had been between him and JoAnne split seconds before.

The car was destroyed, as was his own vehicle.  JoAnne was injured but not anywhere nearly as severe as it would have been had I not acted.  We’ve had two “butt kickings” out “there”, neither of which was really all that bad, but it did give us a deeper respect for the ocean, and the weather.  Mother Nature will surprise you when you are not watching closely.  A boat is as good as it’s master.  Sometimes though, a boat is better than the Master’s skills and the skipper can do almost anything stupid and survive.  Except if they don’t care for the boat correctly (as in the last blog entry).  Eventually, doing nothing at all, can kill you.

Cancer tried to get her.  My heart tried to kill me.  Together, we’re stronger than ever before, but also, we’re more wary, we’ve slowed down, and realize that while we want to go-go-go, we can’t-can’t-can’t hurry.  Taking our time and eking out as much from life as we can takes not only courage, but perseverance, and thinking, reasoning and time.  You can’t always just rush in and get it done.  Sometimes, you seriously need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you’re going to do it.

Setting sail is easy to do.  But, when you live aboard, it’s more difficult, because you become comfortable leaving things laying about, sometimes you don’t take all the precautions you would in a seaway, like wearing your flotation device or keeping your radio on all day/night.  You don’t have your wind equipment turned on constantly and tend to guess the wind speeds from experience.  You don’t always remember to close certain hatches at a dock… until it rains hard and you were away from the boat, and your bed gets wet.

You sometimes get bugs in the boat, even though you try hard not to introduce themselves, or you take precautions against them.  But, you learn, you cope, and you deal with everything.  From an emergency, to simple day-to-day things.  And sometimes, you watch as someone else’s dream sinks beneath the waves, helpless to help them.  And yet, you go on.

As to the boat, and the ants…. they seem to have fled or died finally.  We have tried two different kinds of ant traps, both of them seem to be attracting those left and both having different sorts of poison in them, they have pretty much left.  I have seen no sign of any of them since our return yesterday evening.

Our plan at this point seems to be – because we do not set hard dates now for anything – to try to get a good weather window sometime in October, to depart for the Bahamas.  The plan is to head south, outside the Gulf Stream, and sail directly to Marsh Harbor.  We will probably use that as our hub to explore as much as we can see in three-six months time there, and return to our “home” here by not later than April, to try to catch decent winds and weather.

All of that depends on the boat, the crew, the skipper here, and our ability to accomplish it.  I am extremely confident of our ability to accomplish it.  I’ve seen “Lesser Humans” come through here who’ve accomplished more.  No, I’m not insulting them, I’m stating the obvious.  Younger people with much less experience than we have now, having accomplished wondrous things that we have not. We can, and we will do them though.

At 60 life has become shortened.  Time on this planet is meted out in moments and memories and we intend to make the best of them.  We don’t want to wind up stuck in a dock for the rest of our lives, living like the crew of Renata, watching as our home sinks beneath the waves due to lack of hope, caring or whatever finally took it’s toll on Renata.

While time is slowing ticking away, we are still learning, as are all people, every day.  Each event is a learning event.  Each day is a time to reflect on your skills (or lack thereof) and move forward.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new learning events.

A sailor never becomes a complete expert in everything they do, but they surely have skills that most can only dream about.  Sailors KNOW what they know, and know there is much they do not know.  Sailors are not afraid to test the waters, sail the tides or do without things they would like to have, but do not.  Sailors learn as they go, and they pass on to others as they can.  This sailor never stops reading, never stops learning, and will never give up.

 

A Sad Ending

First, I want to say “I’m sorry” to the folks who make comments on the blog posts, and I forget to check and approve them right away.  Sometimes, I get away from the blog for a few days or even weeks at a time because it’s not always the first thing on my mind, every day (which, for a wannabe writer is saying I’m perhaps not as focused on writing as I might be).

On to the actual blog post for today though.

This past week and month has been both a blast and blur.  We had our 40th wedding anniversary on the 5th of August.  It also happened to be my birthday as well.  The main milestone is that I am still alive after all these years with JoAnne and she hasn’t killed me yet.   I’m happy for that.

But more, I’m happy that we are both still around to enjoy the dreams that took hold ten years or so ago – sailing and living aboard a ship, in this case, the sailing ketch Adventure.

This boat has been, I’m positive, several others’ dreams before us. I know the previous owner had similar plans and designs as us.  I know of many people who talk about, but never quite make it to the place we have made it too.  I also know many give up on their dreams when they become difficult.

I believe JoAnne and I have “found our stride” and will continue to walk this world a few more years trying to continue to stretch these dreams into reality.  Living on  a boat is difficult, but easy.  It has it’s ups and downs sometimes daily, like that tides.  Your dreams of living aboard and seeing the world can be blown about by everything from the light breezes to hurricane force winds.  You can watch others’ dreams die.

Sailing Ketch Renata, now at permanent rest

We watched one die this last month as a ship called “Renata” sank finally.  She was an old ferro cement boat.  The couple aboard her were elderly, and apparently had little income other than, we think, a social security check.  They landed in this marina a few years ago, due to some unfortunate circumstances and literally became “stuck here” as money was tight, and I personally believe, their hearts were no longer in it.

The boat sat at the docks for years, collecting crud on the bottom, plant and animal life.  A few weeks ago, she started taking on water, though I believe, knowing the design of the boat, it had been taking on water for months and months prior to the fateful day that landed her under water.  The boat had broken loose on two occasions, being saved both times by marina personnel and people standing by that assisted (including, the last time, friends of ours who happened to be sitting at the docks at the same time Renata broke loose most recently in a wind storm). The first time she broke loose was during Hurricane Matthew, last year.

One evening, the owner, Jerry, contacted the marina and mentioned that his boat was “leaking”.  It went from bad to worse over a few hours.  I believe the hull finally became dangerously soft in places and began sending water into a crack, which likely (I’m guessing, as no one has seen the hull for sure to determine the exact cause of the sinking) caused the crack to enlarge.  Smaller pumps were tried, and eventually, TowBoatUS came in with a huge pump and tried to keep the boat floating. Towboat, the marina, the owner and the USCG made a series of decisions to protect the ICW.

Had the boat sank on the outside dock where she was located, she’d have heeled her masts over to cover most of the ICW canal, thereby becoming a danger to navigation.  Taking her up into the creek was out of the question due to the draft (and apparently had been tried once before, which may have led to originally crippling the boat).  Finally, the decision by the USCG was made to put the boat over in a shallower area, off the canal in such as manner as not to block that canal.

The boat remained afloat for a full 24 more hours before it sank suddenly at about 5pm the next day.  The couple have since been assisted by marina people, live aboards and locals in the area, collecting enough money to get them sent back to their native Ohio.  Both vehicles they owned (neither in good repair) were towed by a trucking company to them in Ohio a day later.

That day, a couple of sailors lost their home, and their dream to the deep blue.  It could happen to anyone, even the best of us, or the worst of us. It can happen to expert sailors when something goes dreadfully wrong, or it can happen to the novice with minor mistakes.  But, it happens all to often.

Watching the Internet talk about these things, and especially Facebook and Social Media and the condemning of these people who have unfortunate events occur to them tells me the human race is rather callous sometimes.  Even I feel as if they could have done more to prevent what happened, instead of relying on the rest of us around them to rescue them.

But, in the end, even the naysayers stood up and helped.  For that, I am grateful, because it tells me that humanity isn’t completely doomed.

I will help anyone as I can.  And I hope if I ever am in need of assistance, my fellow sailor will stand up and lend me a hand if needed.  Judging those folks on the Internet, where your “anonymity” is promised but not guaranteed, is simply atrocious behavior.  For those around the marina and community who talked about these people behind their backs constantly, I feel only sorrow and shame for their behavior and words.

Because they were elderly, I had little doubt they were unable or incapable of making knowledgeable decisions for themselves, which by itself would have been no worse had they lived in a home somewhere instead of a cement boat.  But because they were in a ferrocement vessel that was slowly losing integrity, the remarks beg the question of “Why did no one attempt to help them before?”

I can’t answer the question either.  I didn’t know their whole story until after the sad ending, and even now, many pieces are missing.  Now that I know much more than before, I feel bad for not being able to help sooner.  Then, the days we passed them on the docks and said Hello to them, receiving only a grunt, or sometimes not even acknowledgement we were there says a lot about the way others treated them.

If you’re standoffish, or downright rude in your treatment you might not be acknowledged in return.  Some were rude here, and treated them rudely, but they too, treated others in kind.  So, honestly, I can’t say what would have become of them later in life, had the boat not sank.

Today, I understand they are back in Ohio, under care of their children.  I know nothing more of their circumstances than what I have mentioned here.  I don’t know how long they lived on the boat, where they started from, where they went or how life will go for them in the future, but I can only hope their children brought them back with open arms and will show them the love they have missed for so many years being alone and away from humanity (whether by choice or not).

We’ve had dozens of cruiser friends pass through, all happy in their lives, doing what they wanted to do more than anything.  We’ve watched a few start their journey, and traveled with some who were barely days along in theirs, as we moved into the first and second year of our own journey.  All have been happy in what they were doing, a few with trepidation, some ready (including me more than once) to hang it up and return to a normal, quiet, less rolly life in a house, and not an anchorage or marina.

But for the folks in this story, their days of travel are finished.  They have swallowed the anchor, not of their own choosing.

Fair Winds to Jerry and Dorthy of Renata!

Milestones

I hesitated to post this today, but… exactly two years ago today I had a heart attack.  The following Monday (19 May 2015), I would be in cardiac surgery for open heart, aortic valve replacement “procedure”.  (Edited – I thought today was the day I had the surgery.  My wife reminded me it was Wednesday the 13th the attack occurred.  Oh well, so much for memory, right?)
I also hesitate to use the word “procedure”, but that was their term for it. It was a mind numbing, very humbling experience to have your chest cracked/sawed open in surgery and for people to be touching your inner workings, in particular your heart.  I honestly didn’t believe I was coming out of surgery alive at that point.  I’d said good bye to everyone I could, just in case.
JoAnne and I had previously set a date to leave Colorado and move aboard Adventure on 1 June 2015. On 11 May 2015 I had turned in my resignation.  On 13 May I was driving home and experienced a heart attack. Not a classic heart attack, but a sickening feeling, nausea, cold sweats and heart “palpitations”, along with trouble breathing. I pulled the truck over, knowing something was wrong (but what, I was not sure) and called JoAnne thinking I might never see her again. I knew it was my heart, but there was nothing “classic” about what happened, and nothing I could do sitting in the truck on Highway 94 outside of Colorado Springs, 40 minutes from home and ten minutes back to work (and worse, going through security to get back in.  Then, there was the issue with calling an ambulance and eventually getting my truck home…. but I digress).
The aortic valve was calcified, and deformed from birth (I knew that part and had for a couple of years, and also knew I had a “heart murmur” all my life). I also knew that some “day” I’d have to have that “procedure” but didn’t expect it for 5-10 years.
I think the stress of selling the house, quitting my job to “retire” and getting rid of all our “stuff” probably brought on the attack.  I was, after all moved out of the house and we’d already gotten a good price, signed on the dotted line, and had gotten rid of 90% of our “stuff”, bought the boat, and we were moving aboard soon.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  The kids too, because we’d moved in with my daughter and son-in-law and their three children, into their tiny (at the time) house.
I was terrified of the surgery and honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but you can never say something like that is routine.  Many people die on that operating table for various reasons from the anesthesia to not being able to restart the heart.
But, here I am today.  Alive, and well, and very likely in better shape today than I was before the heart attack (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been in ‘bad shape’, never been overweight, I’ve always exercised and even exercised the day I had my heart attack).
I went on to recover in pretty much record time.  Six weeks after I left the hospital I went back in for a check up and they released me to go back to work (with a few restrictions on lifting of course) and I stopped to visit the nurses who had cared for me so well at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs.  One nurse hugged me and cried… she told me that it was extremely rare to see a patient return looking so well in so short a time, and most of them never saw the same patients again ever, or if they did, it was due to them returning to the hospital in even worse condition.
JoAnne and I went on to move on to the boat in July 2015.  Slightly over a full month from our originally scheduled time.  Since then, we’ve had a lot of adventures on Adventure.
Today, I racked our first batch of beer made on the boat.  It won’t be the last, and we’re starting a second batch in a couple of days. (We have an ulterior motive though, we’re entering a home brew contest through Check Six  (https://www.facebook.com/CheckSixBrewingCompany/) located in Southport, NC.  I highly recommend a stop there if you like beer.
We won’t stop living our lives because of medical issues.  We’ve been slowed slightly, but getting back up to speed has been fun.
JoAnne went through her own bad experiences with cancer prior to my heart attack.  It wasn’t a cake walk either, but she’s doing fine.
I suppose, in the end of it all, life is how you lived, and are remembered.  It’s not always about how you die.
I believe that people who want to do something with their dreams need to stop right now, evaluate just how much you want that dream to become a reality.  Think it over carefully.  Judge how difficult it would be to start that dream, or the realization of that dream and then write down a plan to make it happen.
It is very, very important you write it down.  Then read it every few days.  I’m serious.  If you have a written plan to follow, you will soon discover you can break it down into smaller, achievable chunks.  If you want to set sail into the sunset, go around the world, or visit the Bahamas, or fly to Europe on a vacation, then by golly, do it.  Don’t wait for “retirement” to happen.  Because, retirement my friends NEVER HAPPENS.  It will never come for some people, they won’t make it there.  Others will be infirm medically by the time they “arrive” at retirement.
Tomorrow is NOT the day to start. Tomorrow never comes.
Right now, this minute is the time.  Write your plan for your dreams.  One year, five years, ten years – and plot your course for how you will arrive at your dream.
Make the dreams happen.  Don’t wait for them to come to you.