Changes to the Top and Bottom

Everything seems to be about the exterior of our boat right now, but that is ok.  We’d prefer to sit outside in the sun when it is merely 82 degrees instead of waiting until August when it is trying to break 95.  Most of the work on our interior has come to a screatching halt, but we figure we’ll be able to pick it back up in a month or so, our deck covered by a sun shade and two 5000 BTU air conditioners blowing cool air onto us as we work to complete all the projects inside.

Other than the paint and plexiglass which had been taking up most of our time so far on the deck, we’ve had two other major changes to the exterior.  To the upper most and lower most parts of Daze Off.

The first project/change is one you all knew was coming.  Or at least those of you that have been following us since this post when I originally talked about it.  Our mast has come down and is currently resting on jackstands in the open area next to our boat.  When we originally purchased Daze Off we had been hemming and hawing on if it would be a good idea to bring the mast down.  Yes, she would need a new light attached to the top.  Yes, there were a few new wires we’d like to run up the mast that were probably not of consequence to the previous owners.  But did we want to pay the fee of $500 to have her stepped and then raised again?

Unfortunately the decision was made for us when we were taking apart the overhead surrounding the deck step for the mast and found that one of the previous owners used an ORANGE EXTENSION CORD to wire it.  Whaaa??!!  We were speechless.  Who was the idiot that thought this was a good idea?  So yeah.  The mast would have to come down and be completely rewired.

This of course had not been a top priority on our list and was a project we had been planning on saving until near the end….until we learned a few things.  If you have your mast raised or lowered at the same time as someone else in the yard and the crane only needs to make one trip out, each party saves $50.  Ok, so all we needed to do was find a friend that needed a crane for theirs, and we’d go at the same time. And although we did have some friends in the yard who we thought were a month or two away from putting their mast up (and so we agreed to go together), we struck gold when another set of friends came into the yard and needed theirs lowered.  Best part was he used to be a rigger for Mack Sails and knew this process inside and out.

We figured our mast would be down for 3 weeks or so while we rewired, ordered new rigging, and then Bam, we’d still be in time to have it go up along with our other friends that were getting  ready to raise theirs.  Win/win.  The new friends in the yard happened to be the friend of a friend sort.  We’re both friends with Ren and Ashley of Evolve Freediving, and when this couple had come to the yard in September to put their Bayfield 32, Rainbow Connection, in the water, we chatted for a little bit, made plans for a weekend sail in Stuart sometime (which unfortunately never happened due to our lack of taking  days off), and kind of lost contact.  Until they came back to put their new/traded boat in storage (Long story.  Or short.  They traded Rainbow Connection for a Rival 39).

But when our new-ish friends, Jamel and Tania, came back to Indiantown, we were glued to each other.  Afternoons spent checking out one another’s boats, and evenings in their salon (cause who would want to be in ours?), eating  delicious meals Tania made, or even Little Ceasar’s takeout.  And when they mentioned they were taking their mast down before they went into storage for hurricane season, we were quick to jump on the opportunity and shout “We need to too!”.  Letting them choose the schedule since their timing mattered more than ours, we settled on a Monday morning to have A+ Crane services come out and bring both of our masts down.  Unlike previous years of storage in Michigan, you needed to do all the work yourself here, other than operate the crane, so we were especially happy to have a rigging specialist at our side.

Quickly getting through Jamel and Tania’s stepping first, we were over at Daze Off, and Jamel was riding a bosums chair up to attach the hook and a strap to the top of our mast.  Since I still know next to nothing on rigging, I let these three knowledgeable people around me unscrew the turnbuckles and bring the standing rigging to the mast to later be tied, as I ran around and tried to help them in any way I could.  Handing over screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, and sometimes vice grips to help them get our rigging (which hasn’t been touched in almost a decade), lose from our deck.

Because we had these friends with us helping out with a job that I know would have ended in a lot of short fuses if it was just the two of us, we soon had the mast resting on a set of jackstands next to the boat, and we paid the crane operator and sent him on his way.  One project down, but a lot of little projects left before it will be ready to go back up.

Jamel getting raised by crane

Jamel up the mast

Matt loosening the rigging

stepping the mast

The other change had to do with what we wanted to do to the bottom of the boat.  Not that we’re going to get as far right now as putting a coat of anti-fouling on, but we would like to have all the barrier coats built up so just before we are ready to go in the water, we can spend one quick day getting the anti-fouling on and be done with it.

This was the decision before us: Do we leave the previous barrier coats on, the ones that have been sitting there for at least 10 years now, (although doing a great job of holding up, it looked like), and just sand off the light blue anti-fouling coat and add a new one when we’re ready; Or do we take everything  off, getting  all the way down to bare metal, and start from scratch.  Both sides had their pros and cons.

By only taking off the top layer of anti-fouling that exists, we had the pro that it would be a cheaper solution, only having to buy 2 gallons or so to complete the bottom.  Even though it was old, it seemed to be holding up extremely well.  Would we make it worse if we attempted to start all over ourselves?  The negatives to this plan were that while going through the storage inside the boat (while trying to make this decision, actually), we found that the current bottom paint had tin instead of newer copper-free. To get a new bottom paint on that works with the aluminum, we’d have to heavily sand this layer, and in other areas, all the way down to bare metal.  A special primer would need to be applied, and then barrier coats….we were starting to realize the time and money we were saving ourselves didn’t put us that far ahead.

Then there was the option of taking off all the existing paint, bringing the bottom down to bare metal, and build it all back up again.  The negatives were of course spending what we expected to be about 10 days stripping the paint off, and then the multiple days of applying coats of primer and barrier coats.  Just like the top of the boat, any bare metal needs to be hit with our Aluma Protect before the metal can oxidize, so we have to work in small areas for that, grinding and priming within an hour of each other.  Then there’s the days spent building up the barrier coats, about 4 days, to get it to the point where it will be ready for anti-fouling this fall.  Plus, what if it somehow doesn’t end up as strong as what was already there?  What if we go to check it out in a year or two and find out that areas are flaking off?

Eventually the positives of this outweighed all else.  Yes, it was going to be at least 2 weeks of extra and unexpected work.  Yes, we’re  going to have  to buy another gallon of Aluma Protect and about three gallons of InterProtect.  And hey, let’s throw in another 2 gallons of paint stripper to get off everything that’s already on there.  But when we thought about it more and more we realized that if we went with the first option, we’d only be putting off the inevitable.  Eventually the bottom will have to be stripped and repainted, and who knows where we’ll be when this comes up on us.  Right now we’re already out of the water, in a DIY yard, and have easy access to all the supplies we need.  It may be a headache to go through all these extra steps here and now, but it could be a much bigger headache if we wait a year and have to do it in some remote island in the Caribbean, or while freezing my butt off while wintering over in northern Europe a few years down the road.

Matt has been doing a great job of getting all the old paint off and so far has been moving at a pace much faster than both of us expected.  In less than 10 days he’s been able to not only scrape both sides clean, but to sand off any remaining remnants.  The days have been a little hot and sweaty, and he completely ruined a set of lightweight Helly Hanson foulies he got off the free table a few months ago, making sure that none of the paint stripper came in contact with his skin.  He’s a real trooper though, and in the next few days we’ll getting the new waterline painted on.  I do have to say this this has benefited me in one big way….all these hot days of work under the boat actually has Matt craving beer at the end of the day, so guess who was able to pick up 2 cases during our last visit to Sam’s Club?!

 

Matt sanding off bottom paint

sanding off bottom paint

Daze Off, looking bad ass

Matt sanding the hull

bare hull and bottom

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: Fish On!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week we happen to be on the road, or on the water doing a delivery actually, so the backstory will have to wait until I can get back to my computer with internet access.

You can find the original post here.

Monday July 14, 2014

I hate to admit to myself, but mostly you, how very easy it is to become incredibly lazy on a passage. The sad part is that it has nothing to do with fear of seasickness or of moving around the boat too much. It’s just your everyday garden variety of ‘It is so much easier to sit here and do absolutely nothing than to put effort into anything at all’. Which is probably why we’ve let ourselves drift along at this sad pace, achieving an average of 2.5 knots of speed. Today though, that had to change. It was time to bring out the spinny. I have to confess, it probably would have come out sooner had it not been for our dinghy blocking the forward hatch where we’d normally feed it out of the v-berth, but now we have to drag it back an extra five feet to feed it out of the other hatch. Either way, we finally got up the motivation today to give it a try.

It wasn’t even until late afternoon that we were able to give it a shot because of our sleep schedules. That’s the real kicker of these passages. By the time both of us are finally awake it’s normally two in the afternoon, and once we have the energy to actually do anything it’s already creeping past four or five. Which gives me a good two hours to be productive before it’s time to make dinner and then go to bed. So just like any other mostly lazy day, the spinnaker was not brought out until five in the afternoon.

*I should quickly mention that even though we’ve passed through about two time zones now, we have yet to change our clocks. Part of it is to do with keeping a schedule that allows Matt to be awake at the right times to download our weather, and the other part is, well, laziness. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s been leaving us with 4:30 am sunrises and 6:30 pm sunsets.

Just as the sun was starting to make it’s evening decent into the sky we were finally running the lines to the cockpit, hoping to get a good 2-3 hours of flying it before it was time for me to go to bed and it would need to be taken down. There is just no way that thing is worth messing around with in the dark.  Winds were currently holding at 6-8 knots, and although raising the spinnaker would not send us flying along, we thought it would be enough to hopefully kick us up to 3.5 knots. Something has to be better than nothing, right? I won’t call what happened next Murphy’s Law, but I’ll just call it Our Luck. We had just gotten the spinny raised and flying perfectly when the wind took a dip. Our 6-8 knots turned to 5-6, and then eventually 3-5. We kept it up for about 30 minutes, hoping a nice breeze would come by to fill it in, but it never did. So back down it came. It looks like we really will be completing this leg of the crossing at 2.5 knots.

 

Oh, I also had the shock of my life when I was on my shift last night and I heard a loud and expected clunk just feet from where I was sitting. I checked all the lines with a flashlight to make sure nothing had snapped, but I couldn’t see anything wrong. It wasn’t until I came back out during daylight that I was able to see fish scales sitting on the vinyl of the dodger. That must have been a pretty good jump! There was no body left on deck though, or trust me, Georgie would have found it.

fish scales on dodger

 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Did this day actually exist in history? Because I don’t remember anything happening.

fish swimming next to boat

fish swimming next to boat

 

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Today was shaping up to be yet another forgettable day on Serendipity with only 550 miles under our keel since leaving Bermuda just over a week ago. I had my morning coffee, Matt was realizing a few things he messed up while working on boat projects yesterday (look, I did remember something!), and we were just settling into the cockpit and preparing to open our gift de jour. Having set it aside for a quick shower though, I went on deck to dry myself in the early afternoon sun when I noticed a familiar electric blue light passing through the water. “Matt”, I yelled to the back of the boat, “Our mahi is back”. Not the same one that escaped us before I’m sure, but one worth trying to catch nonetheless. Untying our hand reel from it’s normal stationary position at the stern, Matt brought it to the front of the boat as I tried to keep an eye on the large fish that was doing laps around our boat.

Conditions were once again incredibly calm as we drifted along on glass calm waters. As soon as I spotted the mahi was making it’s round from the back of the boat and toward us again, Matt threw the multi-colored lure in the water just in front of it. That fish didn’t even have time to think about what was happening, it just saw something land an inch from it’s face and went to nibble on it. We’d just caught our mahi! The question now was, could we keep it this time?

Without any time to prepare for actually catching a fish since I’d literally spotted it about 90 seconds earlier, we were in no way ready when we landed it. Matt began pulling it in toward the boat while I quickly ran to the back to grab the gaff. Food was beginning to get low and there was no way I was going to let this meal get away. Approaching Matt again with the sharp hook in my hand, he explained that he was going to hand the line over to me while he gaffed the fish and brought it on deck. Hearing about exhausting fights that other fishers have put up with while trying to bring in these powerful fish, I braced myself against the gunnel to keep myself from ending up in the water and getting dragged half way to Horta. Surprisingly though, there was no struggle.

At least, not until we got it on deck. Suddenly it began flexing it’s powerful muscles as it’s massive body started flipping all over the place. I had not been prepared for this and had no idea what to do next. I guess I assumed the gaff would kill it. Matt wasn’t quite sure what to do either and things were not handled well on either side. He began barking orders at me as I’m running around screaming ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!’. What makes matters even worse is that he can tend to get flustered in these kind of situations where he’s all anxious but can’t tell me what he wants. “Get me the…uh…you know…the…the thing!!”. “What effing thing?! I don’t know what you need!”. “It’s the…uh..just get me a hammer..quick!!”.

So I fly down the steps and into the aft cabin where we now have two bags full of Matt’s tools, and I can not find the hammer in either one. I am now beyond anxious and pissed myself. Stomping (quickly) back up the stairs I yell at him “Your effing hammer is not in the effing tool bag, you need to start putting your s&%t away!”*, as the mahi is partially listening to our heated conversation and partially fighting for it’s life. “Just get me the damn winch handle”, he called back, ready to end this in any way possible. Snatching a spare one out of our combing I ran it up to him, a few hard smacks to the head later, this fish was definitely not going anywhere.

Pulling out our fillet knife and the Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing, all the while trying to keep Georgie confined to the cockpit, we cleaned our first fish caught by anything other than a pole spear. I’m not counting those barracuda we threw back in the Bahamas, or, tear, that mackerel we mistook for one.  Most of it was bagged and frozen, but I can tell you one thing.  I am having fresh fish for dinner tonight.

*This conversation is actually kind of hilarious because a.) We normally never yell or swear at each other and b.) if we do, it’s Matt yelling at me to put my things away because I never do.

Matt with mahi

filleting mahi

fresh mahi fillets

 

You Might Also Like:

Installing the Last of our Plexiglass Windows

Somehow it has now happened that we are a water tight boat.  From the top at least.  Don’t go actually sticking us in the water just yet because there’s still that big hole on the bottom where we need to put a transducer in.  But we’re getting closer.  And Daze Off is actually starting to look pretty!

As fate would have it, the day we had originally planned to put in our five remaining plexiglass windows, Indiantown felt like giving us some torrential downpours.  The worst we’ve seen this year, actually.  It was one thing when we had the windows on the sides removed during rain storms, because the tarps covered those flat surfaces much better and all the water managed to find ways to the deck that did not involve coming inside our boat.  This was not the case for the forward windows which sit on a slant.

Even though we had covered them with HUGE tarps and weighted down every corner, water somehow managed to find ways to pool up under the tarp and come streaming right into the pilot house.  Same thing with the rear windows, but only because those tarps hat to sit in awkward half extended positions because we still needed a way to get in and out of the companionway.  For two days we had to sit put inside the boat while it poured down outside and chase multiple leaks as they came up.  Since we love to take advantage of rainy days as errand running opportunities (or in this case, going out to lunch with a blog follower that invited us out), we were shifting tarps and grabbing clothes out of our dirty laundry bag to stuff leaks.

Soon those memories were in the distant past though as we installed the remaining windows and were able to remove the tarps from our deck forever.

It was of course a much easier task the third time around as we had it almost down to a science.  The first two rounds gave us a lot of know how, but of course the initial measuring and placements was it’s ever lengthy process.  The one that causes lots of cussing as you measure and remeasure, but never seem to get things level from one side to the next.  And when the level was telling you that everything was perfect, you’d step back, and something about it just seemed a little askew.  Eventually we decided that even if the level may get upset that we were 1/4″ off on one end, it was the more eye pleasing solution.

Plus, as we try to remind ourselves, no one else in the future is going to be scrutinizing these details as much as we are.  Throw the mast back on, the deck hardware, as well as a bimini and dodger, and there’s a good chance no one would even be drawn to a slightly off kilter window.  At least that’s what we hope, and keep telling ourselves.

From that point it was time to move forward with the project.  Our pieces of wood that held the windows up were stuck on tightly with command strips, and we drilled the holes into the boat and temporarily stuck in the bolts.  I taped around each window so clean up with the caulk later would be much easier.  Another smart move we did this time around was to mark a line on the tape of the window and run that line up to the tape lining where the window will be placed.  That way when it was time to place the window in it would be much easier to line up again because our holes would be covered with caulk and not visible to us.

installing forward windows

forward plexi windows

rear plexi windows

lining up bolts

Taking the windows back off it was time to get them ready to permanently go in.  Wiping down the topcoat of paint with denatured alcohol, I also gave the exposed part of the glass a wipe down as well.  We then used the 3M VHB 4991 tape to outline the area right next to the opening, before covering the remainder of the exposed paint with DOW 795.  When the windows were actually ready to go in I was worried about them lining up perfectly, especially with the angle in the front we needed to worry about.  Surprisingly they all went in incredibly smooth, and before I knew it, Matt was down below tightening all the bolts to hold them in place.

Clean up was done after each window was placed instead of installing a whole group and then cleaning the area up.  We found the caulk is easier to work with when it’s still a little wet, and if we left it too long it would become tacky and very hard to fill in spots if they needed it.  This time around I don’t know if I had Matt to thank for his wonderful caulking skills, or me for my taping, but this time we were able to peel the tape off to clean lines that needed very little to no touch-ups.

Before we knew it we had all five windows installed and all remaining caulk had been wiped away.   Peeling off the outside layers of protective paper from the glass, we were able to look at Daze Off as if she were a brand new boat.  What a huge step forward for us!  And a huge item checked off our list!  Time for me to go celebrate with a new craft beer to add to my World Tour.  ;)

backside of plexi window

caulking window opening

placing in plexi window

For a more detailed description on this process, make sure to check out our first post on installing plexiglass windows.  This post is more of a follow up with a few additional photos that I didn’t get in the first time around.

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: This Could be Paradise

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

With Matt’s birthday on the high seas, and the storm it brought with it, behind us, we continued to slowly trudge toward the Azores.  Riding  the southern route and it’s high pressure system, we were only averaging 500 miles a week.  So two weeks in and only 1,000 of 3,000 miles completed, we knew we would not be in for a speedy, or even average arrival.  Winds were averaging just under 5 knots and excitement would grow when they began to jump to 10.  The headsail would finally begin to fill and take shape, and our pace would pick up to nearly four knots.  Every time though, without fail, this would only last an hour before the next storm was on the horizon, edging closer and having us reef our sails once more, just in case.  It was a long and tiring routine, and one that had me sometimes questioning my mental state because it sometimes seemed like we’d be at sea until September.

The plan had been to take a direct route from Miami to Horta with no stops, even though Bermuda was on the way and would make a great retreat for a few days.  Both of us had decided early on though, especially since this was by far the longest passage we’d ever attempted to make (our previous one being 4 days), that any stops along the way would make it extremely hard to get moving again.  Due to all the delays we were having in Florida getting  ourselves ready for the crossing, we didn’t want our arrival in Europe to be delayed another few weeks.

Fate had it in mind though that we needed a break from our slow drift across the Atlantic, and the banging of our luffing sails we had to endure day in and day out.  Hurricane Andrew was just starting off the coast of the US, and although every prediction had it moving out to sea much further north than we were traveling, we didn’t want to take the chance.  Changing our route just a little further north, we set our sights on Bermuda.  Just after 24 hours after the decision was made, we were pulling into St. George’s Harbor and taking in all the stunning sights and smells around us.  We had found civilization again after 17 days at sea.

After getting a full nights rest and sleep, we went out the next day to explore an island that is truly paradise.

You can find the original post here.

Sunday June 30, 2014

Tabacco Bay, Bermuda

I realized something a little strange this morning after waking up, making myself a cup of coffee, and sitting to savor it with my laptop resting on my legs while enjoying some top 40 tunes blast from the radio.  The luxury of being able to do all these things, after being deprived of them for the past 18 days, feels completely normal.  There’s no novelty (ok, maybe just a little bit) of making my morning mine, instead of waking up groggy and sitting on watch for the next for hours while trying to be as quiet as a mouse as not to disturb Matt while he sleeps.  The transition from passage to anchoring has been pretty seamless.

After saying that, let me tell you this.  We had no expectations of Bermuda upon arriving here. Or if we did, they weren’t very high. Neither of us had done any research on this island since we figured we’d never be visiting it, and the only knowledge I had of it was vaguely remembering bits and pieces from Brian and Stephanie’s visit here last year. We honestly expected it to be like the Bahamas. Dry, barren, and flat. You come for the water, but not for the land. Wow, we could not have been further from the truth. This island is amazingly beautiful, and we took a few hours today to explore the area around St. George, where we’re anchored.

Based on just a little bit of an internet connection that Matt was able to find us last night, I was able to look up and print a walking tour of the city to my desktop.  Reading through it I found this area is incredibly historic (of course, settled in 1609, it should be), an UNESCO World Heritage Site (woo hoo, another one checked off!), and had more than enough things to look at to keep us busy all day.  There were churches, town squares, museums, forts, beaches, and even a few restaurant recommendations where we could rest our weary feet at the end.  Yeah, like we can waste money on such frivolities.  Instead, I’d be hauling around a bag with a couple of sandwiches, granola bars, and a nalgene bottle full of water.

In true Jessica form, I managed to leave my sheet of copied ‘must see’ areas on the boat, and was forced to recount what I could from memory.  Sure we could still stumble upon whatever church or home was listed in the tour, but how could we look at it with the same kind of awe and reverence if we didn’t know who built it at what time, or exactly what purpose it stood?  Then I remembered we don’t always pay attention to those kinds of things anyway.  Normally just the year something was built, and most buildings should have plaques letting us know that information anyway.

The dinghy dock from St. George’s Harbor into town dropped us off right in the main town square, and just randomly picking a street right or left, we were drawn toward the brick paved allure of Water Street and proceeded to gape at the immaculate shops and restaurants that lined it.  Again, we were expecting an area that was to be just like the Bahamas, and unless you’re in an outrageously expensive resort there, all other areas tend to be a little run down and in need of some TLC.  This spot, however, was high class living, and just mere yards from where our boat was anchored out in the harbor.  No wonder all the hoity toity sailors of Newport, RI bring their boats here for holiday.

Water Street, St. George, Bermuda

 Finishing back out at the main road we pointed ourselves in the direction we had just come from, knowing that the beaches and forts were in that vicinity, and whatever else we passed along the way would just be a bonus.  We happened to stumble on a few bonuses, both in a religious background.  The first place we found was one of the major stops that had been listed on the walking tour, St. Peter’s Church.  We (I) may have left all information relating to this place back at the boat, but knowing their own importance, the church had plaques plastered from one end to the other, giving a full history.  Among many other interesting facts, we learned that this church was built in 1612 and is the oldest Anglican Church in the western hemisphere.  You could almost get a sense of early settlers attending service here, and I had a good time searching the grounds on the cemetery for the oldest headstone I could find.

Next on our walking tour to the beach was Bermuda’s Unfinished Church.  Getting back to our guide tonight I found out this church was started back in the 1870′s when St. Peter’s Church was damaged in a storm, and then gave me a link to click on to find out why it was never completed.  Thanks for the required 3G data plan to get any information, walking guide, I don’t have internet anymore! (I’ve now gone back and researched and found out it was likely not finished due to the local population wanting to repair the old church instead of building a new one.  This was decided half way through the build of the new one)  Having just walked up a decent sized hill in the blazing heat to get here, we used it as a resting spot to sit for a minute and down some water.  I wanted to get a few photos in front of it, but a (American) family that was doing the same thing never got the hint that I was patiently waiting my turn for a photo in front of it without them in the background, and ten minutes later I finally gave up and went around to the side, where I feel like I got an even better background.

St. Peter's Church, St. George, Bermuda

St. Peter's Church, Bermuda

unfinished church, St. George, Bermuda

Jessica & unfinished church, Bermuda

 Further up the road we continued to follow the signs for Tabacco Bay Beach, the only real goal of the day, where we were sent through a narrow street shaded by tall trees with meadows off to our side.  Seriously, this place just keeps getting better.  And waiting for us at the end of the road was this view of Tabacco Bay.

Tabacco Bay, Bermuda

Definitely not what we had been expecting.  Pretty much running toward this oasis now we skirted through past all the tourist laying out on the beach and directly up to the rocks behind it.  The views here were amazing and we could have spent the rest of the day staring into the bay and the waters past it.  Families snorkeled through the shallow waters, while some of the parents waded through the bath like water with extremely expensive cocktails in their hand.  We heard one man tell his wife, who almost tripped while sifting through the water with a margarita in her hand, “Good thing you didn’t drop that, it could have been a $15 mistake”.  Now you can see why we packed our own lunch.

Tabacco Bay, Bermuda

Matt at Tabacco Bay

 After our time spent staring out at the ocean, as if we haven’t had enough of that already, it was time to check out a few forts.  Just around the corner from Tabacco Bay is probably one of the more famous ones of the area, Fort St. Catherine.  At the time we were already getting a little worn out and didn’t feel like paying for the guided tour through it, but here’s what I found out about it when I was able to get a little internet again.  Originally built in 1614 for the purpose of defending from Spanish attacks, it has now been renovated at least five times.  The fort is surrounded by a dry moat and accessed by a drawbridge.  Which we actually did get a chance to walk over while checking out the outskirts of the fort, pretty cool.  Right next to the fort is St. Catherine’s Beach, another popular spot for those who don’t want to be packed into the tight quarters at Tabacco Bay Beach.

Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda

Even though we were starting to get a little tired by this point, from not having this much exercise in almost three weeks now, we stopped at a few more smaller forts that littered the coastline on our way back.  I swear, these things are everywhere on the island.  How often was this place under attack?

One of the forts that held a few impressive guns and cannons was becoming overrun with a group of school kids that arrived at the same time we did, so after checking out a few things here and there, we let them have full run of the place.  It’s nice to see kids actually get excited about a piece of history, and we didn’t want to get in their way.

The next one on the list was Gates Fort, which we had viewed from the water yesterday upon entering the cut into the harbor.  It’s a small little place, two stories high, but only about 150 sq feet on each floor.  There’s a small paved area in front with a short wall coming up two cannons facing out to sea.  I don’t know what it was about this place, but Matt fell in love with it.  As a potential home.  We literally spent 30 minutes as he wandered around talking about how we could decorate, keeping all of the current walls as not to tear down a part of history, but then adding to the top floor, combining wood and stone for a modern feel.  There would be tall glass windows giving 360 degree views, and we already had a ‘patio’ built that would only need an awning or some kind of sun protection.  It would be more than enough space for the two of us to live in, as even just one floor would give us more than we currently have.

I think he might be on to something here.  Now we just need to get into talks with the Bermudian government and take some very large donations from you readers to make this happen.

Matt in Bermudian fort

Just a little to the left.

Bermudian fort, entrance St. George's Harbor

 Visibly exhausted after only three hours of walking around, and with blisters already beginning to form, we followed the road back toward town, ready to hop on the dinghy and pass out on Serendipity for the rest of the afternoon.  One last treat in store for us though was the view of the harbor as we were coming back down the hill.  All the sailboats dotting the water with the historic town as the backdrop was almost postcard perfect.  So I took a photo to hopefully turn into one.  You can even make out Serendipity in it, to the far left.

Serendipity in St. George's Harbor, Bermuda

You Might Also Like:

What are we Doing? We’re Still Painting!

Sorry for the few weeks of radio silence there.  With my computer running into so many issues it was hard to even look at the screen for a period of longer than 10 seconds, let alone try to edit photos and write a post using it.  There finally came a time where I had to put it away in a corner and pretend it didn’t exist, using our little 7″ tablet for all my internet needs.  Great for  keeping up and posting on Facebook and Instagram, but terrible for writing post and next to impossible for editing photos.

The good news was, I knew a new computer was in my future, so I just had to wait it out until we found the perfect one for me and waited for it to arrive.  A kind of vacation from blogging, if you will.  But now I am fully online again and ready to go at it!*

What have we been up to lately?, you may be asking.  The same thing we have been working on for weeks and weeks now.  More priming and more painting of the cabin top of Daze Off.  When we last left off on this project, you had seen us laboring over getting every millimeter of existing paint off so we could prepare it for the new layers we’ll be putting down.  It was a long and exhausting period that extended a few more days than I think either of us had originally hoped or planned for…but finally it was done and we could begin priming.

Because we had to grind down each area once more even after the original paint had been removed, so the primer could be applied before the aluminum oxidized, we broke the project of painting the area we’d just prepped into two sections.  The first was the cabin top which covers the forward salon and galley, as well as the front section of the pilot house.  We saved the cabin top of the pilot house as well as the companionway wall for the second day.  Mixing up our two part Aluma Prep, we slowly turned our boat into Big Bird once more.  Initially starting with the welds and hard to reach areas, we hit those spots with a chip brush before breaking out the roller for the larger flat surfaces.  Getting good coverage on it did end up using more primer than we were anticipating, but we knew that a well covered surface was much better than a thin or blotchy coverage in the name of saving a few dollars on a new canister of primer.

primer on roof

cabin top primed

sanding cabin top of pilot house

companionway primed

 Another reason for splitting our painting into two sections and multiple days was because we didn’t want to leave the aluminum primer exposed for too long without applying a barrier coat over the top.  Once a thick coat of the Aluma Protect was on, we waited two hours before going back over the surface with our Interlux InterProtect.  If you’ve seen from the other posts where we’ve painted other areas, you’ll know it’s a very light off-white color.  And when we applied it…WOW.  What a world of difference it made to the cabin top (and the boat by association) look brand new.   On the second day when we covered the cabin top of the pilot house as well as the companionway area, it was as if Daze Off had a complete face lift.  Yes, the deck still had to be done, as well as the cockpit, but those areas had never been as dirty as the cabin top, so overall she looked like a boat I actually wanted to own.

Now to the best part of our priming and barrier coating the cabin top….there’s no extra priming or top coat for 90% of it.  Yes!!!  Yay for my poor hands and all the sanding necessary to complete these steps!  Because we’re going to be covering most of these areas in a non-skid coating (most likely Kiwi Grip), the process stops there.  Just another barrier coat to be added right before the non-skid, and that’s it.

For the downside though…there were still the few areas that will still get the top coat.  The front and back walls of the pilot house receiving new glass, as well as a 1-2″ border along the edges as well as around the hatches and the welded areas where the granny bars connect to the deck.  Since the non-skid can be applied right over the top coat if necessary, we’re not being too precise on those lines at the moment and are covering an area about 3″ wide around each of those surfaces just to be safe.

It’s still time consuming to work around some of the tight or hard to reach areas, but I’ve fallen back into my schedule of one day sanding, one day priming or painting.  Hopefully by next week the last layer of top coat will be on and we can finally get the last 5 of our new plexi windows in.  In the meantime as I work, I’m finding out that I have to be very careful where I step while working on the cabin top…..

cabin top barrier coated

companionway barrier coated

footprint in paint

*Or so I thought.  Now my new computer is giving me issues too.

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: Birthday Celebrations on the High Seas

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

When we last left off on TT, just after leaving for our Atlantic crossing we had hit terrible storms just off the coast of Florida about an hour after the sun had gone down and weren’t even sure if we were up for that 3.000 mile journey anymore.  Deciding that it was most likely a freak incident that we would not experience again, we kept going.  It turns out that more storms were on their way for us, although luckily anything bad came during the day in full light and with lots of warning.

Getting as far north as Georgia, we turned our bow east and started making real miles offshore.  Or tried to at least.  Even though our nights were filled with thunderstorms which would always come a little too close for comfort without actually passing over us, our days were left with no wind and we were lucky to make 70 miles a day.  We tried to fill those days of bobbing around on glass calm seas by doing a little fishing, and did get a mahi on the line once.  It happened to outsmart us while bringing it onboard and escaped our grasp, but since we were only a week out I don’t think our fridge and freezer could have handled all that meat at the time.  There would be more chances.

Things out at sea were becoming a bit boring…until Matt’s birthday came upon us.  Just when I was looking forward to calm seas to throw the best at sea celebration I could….we were hit with another storm system.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday June 21, 2014

Some of you might be wondering how we’ve been getting our weather so far on this trip, probably actually feeling bad for us because we can’t seem to find winds to move us anywhere. The sad part is, we know exactly where they are. We just happen to not want to travel to those areas, mainly which are in the northern parts of the Atlantic, and you can refer back to my little freak out here to see why we’re so adamant about staying in the land of drifting versus following the route with more wind. As I said, we do know where the winds are, everyday, and that’s because we’ve been able to download forecast with Weather Fax, using our Single Sideband receiver. Similar to the single sideband radio, but we can only receive instead of transmit as well.

Every morning at 0800 UTC, Matt hooks up the SSB to my computer and fiddles with the dials until he can fine tune a station from Boston that transmits a fax audio signal to us for the next 24 and 48 hours*. The app on my computer deciphers the tone and turns it in into files that we can read, giving us a surface analysis of the entire Atlantic, as well as a separate wind and wave forecast. Each morning we read these forecast through the images, much the same way we’d look at the GRIB files through Passage Weather, to find out what the winds in our neck of the woods are going to be, and also tracking low pressure systems to make sure that we can stay out of their way. Here’s an example of both a surface analysis and a wind & wave forecast from our Weather Fax.** ***

Atlantic surface analysis

Atlantic wind & wave forecast

While keeping an eye on these images for the past few days we’ve noticed that a cold front is heading our way, which is going to bring us some stronger winds and unfortunately, probably some bigger waves with it too. We’re trying not to be near the center of it, but our file is telling us that we can expect 15-20 knot winds and waves at 2 meters. Treating it just like we always have our Passage Weather forecast, we’re interpreting that to mean the winds will actually be anywhere in the 20-30 knot range. To be fair to our Weather Fax though, it was showing data spread all the way across the Atlantic, and what we were experiencing was local weather which is very hard to pinpoint down to a few degrees of latitude and longitude when you’re looking at an entire ocean. But why is it that winds always seem to be higher than forecast when they’re stronger than we want them, but never when they’re forecast for 5-10?

We’ve started to see an increase a little bit tonight in both wind and waves, already reaching those predicted 15-20 knots, and seas going from less than 1 meter, up to the 1-2 range. The pressure is starting to drop on our electronic barometer, and although I am enjoying logging these miles while we finally push along at 4.5 knots, I have to wonder what the next day or two will bring. Hold on to your hats, it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

*There’s also a 96 hour forecast that we can receive and sometimes go through the trouble of getting later in the afternoon.

** If you’re interested in learning more about using Weather Fax, tips and tricks, or a schedule of broadcast frequencies and times, check out a great post that our friends Brian and Stephanie wrote while they were making their own Atlantic crossing last year, here.

*** We’re also very lucky to have my dad, who’s the best for helping us out with this, send us reports from Passage Weather via a text message on our Sat phone, so we have multiple sources to confirm forecasts.

 

Sunday June 22, 2014

I had one goal this morning when I woke up. Something that’s been in the works for weeks now, and that was supposed to be decorating the cabin with balloons and streamers for Matt’s 32nd birthday while he slept. All the necessary items were shipped to me weeks ago by Matt mom and all I had to do was display them. Waking up and looking around though, I realized it was going to be a lot easier said than done.

The low pressure system and cold front that we had been watching on our Weather Fax for the past few days and were beginning to feel the effects of last night, was now in full swing. When Matt woke me up at 8 am I stumbled out of bed and poked my head out the companionway to see gray skies and building seas. Winds were now steady at 25-30 knots and waves appeared to be in the 8-10 ft range. Carrying on at 3.5 knots under a triple reefed main alone, we were looking at a long and uncomfortable day ahead. Even though I was planning on spending most of my shift in the horizontal position on the open settee below, I was still strapped into my harness in case I had to run out into the cockpit for any reason. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a seasickness patch on. After doing two straight runs of them I was not willing to become cross-eyed and I was weary about putting another one on. That’s ok, this is now 10 days at sea, by body should be able to handle a little motion, right? Wrong.

This is how my four hour morning shift passed: Lay on the settee where I had a wrist-watch next to me, and after dreading each time the clock hit the quarter of the hour, I would roll myself off the settee and onto the floor. Slowly standing up I’d walk the few steps to the companionway and rest for a moment while my dizzy head gained itself and I could trust my body to walk again. I’d go up 2-3 steps while still keeping myself in the companionway, check the wind speed, check the sail, check for boats, and then rush back down the stairs and throw myself back on the settee for the next 12 minutes until I had to do it again. It looks like the balloons were going to have to wait another day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening followed the same suit. When Matt woke up I took a short nap. When I woke up we cuddled together on the settee and I kept apologizing about what a horrible birthday he must be having, as if I had any control over the situation. Matt, not being one to care about birthdays, laughed it off. His grand birthday dinner which was supposed to be meatloaf ended up being a can of Progresso soup that he had to heat up himself because I couldn’t be bothered to move. Happy birthday my love, I’m glad you were able to spend it taking care of me.

Matt on his birthday

 

Monday June 23, 2014

Today is day 13, and the madness is beginning to set in. Not because of our time at sea. Not because I have been almost two weeks from land. It is the damn sails and their consistent flapping. 10 knots of shifty wind behind us and they are flogging all over the place. Slamming in and slamming out. Every 5 damn seconds. I could even handle the snails pace of 2 knots we’re currently moving at if it weren’t for the racket going on above my head. It makes any kind of concentration impossible. Adding to the madness are the low but rolling swells that are passing through. Our limited speed is keeping us from riding on top of them, so we are left to bob between the crest and trough, constantly wallowing back and forth. My body can’t handle it. I can’t even take up the simple task of reading at the moment. You’d think that after 12 full days at sea it would be a non issue for me now. That any seasickness would be long gone due to the length of time we’ve already been out here. Granted though, the first 8-9 days were ‘at anchor’. How could my body grow accustomed to a bobbing sea that was never bobbing? Since the real motion hasn’t started until two or so days ago, I’m praying that I only have two more days left before we can be violently thrown about and I won’t even shrug a shoulder. I’m starting to miss being becalmed.

On a different note, a fun story that I forgot to mention yesterday on Matt’s birthday, and why we’re moving at just over 2 knots even though the wind hasn’t dwindled all the way out yet, is that we were hit with another surprise squall. Just when we were beginning to think that we were safe from them. It was late in the afternoon, and since it’s been cloudy for a few days now, we had to run the engine for an hour or so to charge the battery. Just as the winds were beginning to die down again and our speed was dropping, so it seemed like a win/win. I was hoping to be able to pencil in a 100 mile day, and the extra power from the engine was looking like it was going to get us there.

Just like our first night out from Miami, Matt was in the cockpit and I was down below when it came. It took me about 2.5 seconds to realize that something seemed wrong, and then about 10 more seconds to put my harness on and race up to the cockpit to see what it was. Once again Matt had the sheet for the headsail in his hands, which he was desperately trying to release slight tension on while trying to roll it in at the same time. Unlike last time though, between the two of us, we were able to gain control of the situation before I was going to spend another week making repairs to our genoa. With daylight on our side this time it wasn’t hard to see how many degrees we needed to fall off to put ourselves downwind and take pressure off the sails. The sheet to the headsail was passed to me, and still having it wrapped around the winch, without the full pressure on it now I was able to ease it little bits at a time while Matt furled it in from the other side of the cockpit.

Phew, crisis averted. But now, just as we were starting to let our guard down about squalls and thunderstorms, we don’t trust that we won’t be hit with one out of nowhere and have gone back to keeping minimal sail up, even in these 8-12 knot winds we’re now getting after the front.

rainbow after storm

You Might Also Like:

Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

It’s time for random happenings in the boat yard!  Times where there isn’t quite enough on a single subject to fill a full post, but things which are important enough where I don’t want to leave you in the dark completely.  They also come in handy when I forget to take pictures of something that could have been a full post, something I’m sadly becoming very good at.  Kind of funny for a person who used to get scolded for never putting their camera down and just experiencing life instead.

So, here’s a few things that have happened over the past few weeks which you might enjoy a sneak peak at:

  • Work continues, slowly, in the head.

As I get back to my task of painting the cabin top outside, Matt has once more taken to the head.  Normally I wouldn’t trade places in there for anything (remember my sanding woes of a few months ago?), but Matt is the lucky one that gets to do some amazing things in there.  After having put together pieces of sap covered cherry hardwood and plywood to make the cover for our composting toilet and also our cabinet door, he has now made the counter the sink will sit on.

For this we used 1/4″ thick by 2.5″ wide pieces of cherry hardwood that also had sap marks on them, and glued them on top of a 1/2″ piece of marine plywood.  It’s actually come together so nicely that I’m sad 2/3rds of it will be covered by the sink.  When that was done he began trim on all the pieces he’s made in there, routing rounded edges to take the place of the sharp 90 degree angles.  Having received our new toilet seat and lid in the mail, he was also able to cut the hole in the cherry lid, and also the square that will allow us to open a portion of the cherry seat to empty the…contents…of our composting toilet.

(I now realize I should have been using manual focus on these shots since the auto focus wanted to concentrate on the wall instead of the inside) cherry counter top in head cherry cover for composting toilet cherry cover of composting toilet

  • I am already in love with our new maple counter tops.

Yes, this has been one of the projects that both of us have been the most excited to start for months now.  For much too long we’ve been staring and the beautiful, pristine, and unblemished boards of maple hardwood sitting in our storage unit.  This wood will also eventually become our floors, but since that is the absolute last project we are going to complete on this boat, doing the counters in the galley will give us a small taste of what it will look like.

There is a slight difference between the sink counter top and the floors though.  On the floors we will be gluing 1/4″ thick pieces of maple hardwood to 1/2″ plywood, but in the galley we skipped the plywood and decided to go with 3/4″ pieces of hardwood maple.  Come to think of it, the lid of the fridge and freezer are also 1/4″ maple glued onto the plywood lid we’d already made.  Either way, we know that these two spots will be much easier than the floors, and that is because they are square.

For the sink counter we measured the general area and took into account the hole for the sink.  Going just a little large on that area, we glued all those pieces together, and once they had a few days to sit and harden, Matt attached the sink and used a router bit to properly trim the wood around the sink.  The lid to the fridge and freezer gave us just a little more trouble since we glued the full length of both of them together with the maple, and later went back to cut the line between the fridge and freezer so each can be opened on their own.

The line for the freezer side was perfect, but we forgot to take into the consideration the width of the blade and it cut deeper than we would have liked into the foam lid of the fridge.  Nothing a few more days and epoxy filler plus a few more layers of sheet fiberglass couldn’t fix, but it would have been better if we didn’t have to go back and fix any mistakes at all.  Now we just need to add some trim and a fiddle and that area will be all set!

gluing together maple counter top

  • maple counter tops installed
  •  New friends came to see us in the boat yard!

After nearly a year of corresponding back and forth through emails and Facebook messages, we were finally able to meet up with fellow young cruisiers, Johannes and Cati.  The funny thing about our getting to know each other is that although Johannes had been following our blog for a few years, he didn’t reach out to say hi until we arrived in Indiantown and just started refitting Daze Off.  As it turned out, we had mutual friends in the Sailing Conductors, who knew Johannes from being interviewed by him in Germany for Yacht Magazine, and them being our new neighbors and best friends in the work yard.

Ok, so maybe location was more of a coincidence in timing of them contacting us when they did, as him and Cati were passing through Florida and were situated in Palm Beach for a few days, extremely close in cruisers terms. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at the time, and we even missed out on each other once more this winter when they flew through Florida again on their way to the Bahamas, but the third time was the charm.

With their boat in Miami for a few days and a rental car at their disposal, they made the drive all the way up to Indiantown just to see us for dinner!  Showing up with a variety of German beers for us and cat treats for Georgie, it was nice to finally meet face to face after having become friends online. We quickly took over a table on the patio after giving them the grand tour of our boat, although we knew it wouldn’t be a late night (this time) because they still had to drive back to Miami.

We never had a lack of things to talk about as we compared boat projects, passages, and generally all got to know each other better. Some of our discussion was even able to revolve around the Vineyard Vines photo shoot we had all just participated in. When the producer had come to me in need of a solo sailor I was able to recommend Johannes as once upon a time he crossed the Atlantic alone in his old boat.  He’s since moved up to a bigger one as well as a beautiful companion, and we were able to laugh and swap stories of how each other’s shoot went…including the run in of his boat with the chase boat while sailing/shooting out on the Atlantic!

This was another occasion where I only brought my camera out for a total of about three photos, otherwise I probably could have written an entire post on our fun night.  The good news is that they’ll be passing through here soon enough on their boat as they cross through the Okechobee Waterway before getting back to the Atlantic and setting off for Germany in May.

Cati, Johannes, Jessica & Matt

German beers

  • My computer is trying to silence me.

For the past few months I’ve been having issues with my computer that I’ve been ignoring too long.  Mostly it consists of my screen shaking on me, and sometimes momentarily freezing.  Whatever is doing it, it has now gotten so bad that I literally can’t get on my computer do any kind of work (or even pleasure surfing) for fear of seizures or at least a terrible headache.

If you’ve noticed…it’s been about a week since I’ve gotten my last post up.  If you’ve sent me an email in the past 2 months, there’s a 40% chance I’ve not replied yet.  Getting on my computer to do anything has been a complete frustration lately and I’ve basically been ignoring it except when absolutely necessary.  I should say, some days are better than others, and although I should be spending my time looking in on how to fix this problem instead of sticking my head in the sand about it…I take whatever moments of visual stability I can get on it to do all the work that one would need to do on their computer.

We do have a few other devices I could use…but my computer is the only one with the photo editing abilities I like, and also the only device we own with an actual keyboard.  I may be old fashioned, but I don’t like to type posts or write emails with a touch screen.  I spend more time fixing mistakes than getting any actual work done.

There is good news though!  I posted a short video of my problem on our Facebook page, and a number of you poured in with recommendations of what might fix it.  Although I’ve tried just about every personal way to fix it that I can, it sounds like it may have to go in for service due to a lose wire or connection.  Or…I may just end up having to get a new one altogether.  Which may not be the worst case, because I don’t want to leave the country this fall with a computer that I’ve been limping around on.  I can already tell you from personal experience that buying new electronics in the Caribbean is not usually an easy (or cheap) task.  So this may have been the push I needed to get it done.

Since both Matt and I are so stubborn about letting go of money where we don’t need to though…I’ll probably keep limping along until we make t to Arizona to visit my parents in a few weeks.  At least there we’ll not only have a lot of free time on our hands to visit techie stores or service desks, but we won’t have to drive 30 miles each shot to do it.  So until then…just be patient on the lack of posts and updates on my end….I should be back to a more regular schedule soon.

shaking computer screen

You Might Also Like:

A Night of Luxury in Miami

Tonight we were able get away from the boat and and all the work that comes with it, but not only that, we were able to experience a night at the complete other end of the spectrum from what our lives have been lately. From our normal routine of stepping over power cords every time I walk through my ‘home’, and washing dishes from a nearby spicket (we’re working on the galley counters at the moment); to staying in a suite overlooking Biscayne Bay and dining on refined cuisine on the waterfront overlooking downtown Miami, our 80 mile drive gave us a 180 degree change in lifestyle.

How did opportunity fall in our laps you might ask?  (Because you know there is no way we would treat ourselves to this.) That may just be the best part of it all.  Because if we thought our night tonight was incredible, the motive leading us here is pretty epic.  The entire reason we’ve been pulled away from the boat to come to Miami is to participate in a photo shoot for Vineyard Vines.  They’re a preppy clothing company that originated in Martha’s Vineyard, and it turns out that they’ve been following us for a few months after finding our Daily Mail article  and thought we would be a great fit for their summer catalog with a theme of ‘Every sailor has their story’.  Along with a few other athletes (cyclists, surfers, swimmers), they’ve gathered a few sailors to feature in their summer line of clothing, and we happened to be two of them!

This line of clothing, as well as the photos of us modeling a few of the pieces, won’t be out until mid-May, and since there’s a strict ‘no personal photos on set’ rule, I won’t be able to share the details of that part of our experience for a few more weeks, but I can tell you about the 5 star treatment we received during our time in Miami prior to the shoot.

Knowing that the prep for the shoot would begin around 7 am and we’d have a good 2 hour drive ahead of us (not considering traffic that may pop up), the company offered to let us stay the night prior in the Mandarin Oriental Miami, a 5 star hotel on Brickell Key, overlooking both Biscayne Bay and the downtown area.  Not only that, but just like the crew that flew down from CT to work the shoot, we were given the opportunity to eat at any of the fine dining restaurants inside the hotel for our meal while we were there.  To say that we were stoked even for these amenities alone, beside the added excitement of the shoot the day after, would be a bit of an understatement. As soon as check-in time arrived, we were going to be there to take full advantage of our night of luxury.

Since we’re still not high profile enough to have a car sent for us, that meant we needed to take the Kia minivan down.  Although she did have her (major) issues this past fall, we knew that this time she should get us there without a problem.  Except one.  We still had to show up in her.  To a hotel that only offers valet parking. Oh, and did we mention that Georgie was along for the shoot too?  So imagine us pulling up in our faded jalopy, dents in a few areas, and even a door handle missing from one side; to hand the keys over to someone whom I’m sure thought we mistook the employee entrance.  Either way, they were extremely nice to us and contained any puzzlement they may have had of why we thought we belonged there as we grabbed our overnight bags, Georgie, and her litter box.  A feat which kept our minds so occupied that we actually forgot to tip the guy.

Upon check in at the front desk, not only did my lacy dress and new sail bag help me feel a little bit more in place, but everyone was so enamoured with our cat on a leash that I’m not quite sure they ever noticed us.  A few minutes later we had our room keys in had and were told that they’d upgraded us to a larger room so Georgie could have more space to wander.  In this pet friendly hotel, it looks as if they really do take care of their guests needs. Taking the elevator up to the 14th floor and walking down the hallway to our room, we were greeted with a gorgeous suite which housed stunning views from our wraparound balcony.  Directly in front of us was downtown Miami and the bridge leading over to Brickell Key, and to our left was the beginning of Biscayne Bay.

Once we had picked our jaws up off the floor we took full advantage of the in-room espresso machine and walked around with tiny little drinks in our hands to fully take in the magnitude of this room. The bathroom, I’m not joking, was bigger than our boat.  The room itself had a king size bed, a large couch, and a desk and tv separating the two.  The best feature though was of course the outside, and since our little espressos only lasted us about 5 minutes, we stopped to make another round before enjoying the view out there and the cool breeze passing by.  Since we had unfortunately arrived late in the afternoon, it wasn’t possible to fill up our evening with too many activities, especially since we needed to save most of our energy for the next day.

Throwing on our swimsuits and retrieving Georgie after she had somehow magically managed to find a way inside the couch, we took a stroll by the pool and the large man made beach they had created at the breakwater to Biscayne Bay.  The clock was nearly striking 5 by this time though, and not only was the sun beginning it’s decent behind the skyscrapers of the city, but we had dinner reservations at 6:30.  Something I planned to get into full girly mode for.  Laying out on some beach chairs for about 20 minutes just to say that we soaked up a little sun, we were soon back in our suite and, you guessed it, enjoying more espresso.

Georgie at hotel

Matt at Madarin Oriental Miami

 room - Mandarin Oriental Miami

Mandarin Oriental pool

When dinner time did roll around I exited our room in a full Miami style crazy print maxi dress.  Our destination for the evening was La Mar, a Peruvian inspired restaurant that gazed out on the same waterfront view we had from our room, only 12 floors lower.  Opening up the drink menu it took me about two seconds to zero in on the Pisco Sour, a traditional drink in Peru which I only experienced once during our entire trip there while backpacking a few years ago.  The menu was a much tougher call, since many of the names were the familiar street vendor food we were used to consuming for $1/person.  Deciding on the Chaufa Aeropuerto, a cheap Chinese meal we were used to filling up on, I was not disappointed when La Mar’s version came out.  Fried rice, succulent shrimp, and spiced sausage all mixed together with a perfectly seasoned soy sauce, this meal made me feel like I could subside on nothing else for the rest of my life.

Enjoying a second Pisco Sour and the cool evening breezes rolling through, we wanted to stay out and enjoy the night as long as possible, but it seemed that all the espressos in the world weren’t enough to keep us alert and awake after the exhausting weeks we’ve spent working on the boat.  Signing the tab to the room, we made our way back upstairs where it was time for a little pampering session.  I enjoyed my first bath in years, and even Georgie received a shower since her new hobby seems to be rolling around in the dirt of the boatyard.  By 10:30 I was passed out in bed, a huge smile on my face, and butterflies in my stomach about our upcoming photo shoot.

La Mar at Madarin Oriental Miami

Miami at night

Matt and Georgie

As if I needed any more perks, this trip also gave me an excellent excuse to pack up my new sail bag from North 37 Designs, as it made the perfect overnight bag for me.  Although this French company offers a wide variety of different sized and purposed luxury purses, bags, and duffels, my Sam Bag fit right into the category of easily and stylishly fitting every thing I could need for 36 hours away from the boat.

I haven’t owned it for long, but I’m already head over heels for it and I can tell that this will be a main staple in my outings when we’re once again out sailing.  Listed on their site as a ‘shopping bag’, I could see it coming in very handy for this purpose when we find ourselves in spots like the Azores where I would run out every couple of days to grab fresh bread, cheeses, and crisp fruits and veggies.  Not to mention how handy it will also come in for beach outings as it will perfectly fit a large towel, sunscreen, e-readers, and snacks and drinks for the day.

A few of the features I adore about my new sail bag is how sturdy and well built it is, as well as it’s exquisite architecture.  Each item is is a one of a kind product designed from previously flown sails.  And they genuinely mean it when they say one of a kind.  Once my bag shipped to me it disappeared from the website  since it was literally the only one they owned in that specific mix of sail, colors, and number. As a testimony that your item is unique, each product also comes with an authenticity label on the inside, with a backstory of your sail, including what type of sail the items was made from, where it has traveled, and even who the skipper of the vessel was.

Because I knew my bag was meant for a slightly rougher life than most landlubbers who may purchase them, I opted to go for a mylar sail which has a laminated coating and will let sand or other debris easily wipe or wash off.  The top is zippered to keep all my belongings where they’re supposed to be as I board our dinghy and boat, and the shoulder straps are extra thick, which means I won’t be cursing a non backpack style bag if I am walking around with it for a few hours.  All in all I think this North 37 Design bag makes a great fit with our lifestyle and honestly, it feels kinda good to own something so pretty again.*

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 1

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 2

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 3

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 4

*My Sam Bag was a sponsored gift from North 37 Design, although all views and opinions are my own.

You Might Also Like:

On to the Next Big Project

Now that we’ve finished putting 10 of the 15 new plexi windows on Daze Off, it’s time for the next big project.  Not only to we have to prep the companionway wall in the cockpit and the front of the pilothouse for the last 5 windows by going through all the steps to get the high gloss paint on them, but at the same time we’re also going to tackle grinding and priming the top of the cabin top and pilot house.

Matt had, as always, the very non fun job of grinding all the existing paint off until we got down to bare aluminum, which ate up a few days where I spent my time below working on a sewing project (to come in a future post). I was hoping there would be very little hand sanding and we’d be able to get right on with the first layer of Aluma Protect, but this was so far from being the case.

Even though we had taken off all the hardware (including winches, blocks, and other items), there were still a number of nooks and crannies that our sander could not make it into. The areas that were becoming hardest to reach were the spots under the grab rail on the cabin top as it butts up with a rail at the edge.  With only being able to get to it from one side, and having about three inches of head room, it was my little hands that had to squeeze in there and work vigorously to remove the multiple layers of paint.

From there, the hard to reach areas only got harder.  Since everything is attached to our boat through welds, and let’s just say they’re not all clean lines, we were also left to manually remove paint from all the divots and holes in all the weld lines for the grab rails, granny bars, and cleats.  It was after I spent a full day agonizing over these areas with my measly sheet of sandpaper when I had the bright idea to bring in other tools.  Our 1/4″ chisel did a great job, with it’s tiny and sharp corner, of getting in those hard to reach areas.  Plus since I was able to put a decent amount of force on the handle, instead of slowly scraping I was usually able to just pop out the remaining chunks of paint.

The hardest area by far though, and the one left to me because of my tiny hands (yay me!!) was getting under the area where the winches sit on top of the pilot house. An area that is raised up about 1.5″, and fully painted on top as well as underneath.  For the longest time I had tried to get in there with just my hand and a sheet of sandpaper alone, working it from each side, and I hate to admit that it took me so long to figure out the best way to really get in there and apply the kind of pressure necessary to actually remove the paint (I kept bumping my knuckles against the top any time I’d try to add speed in as well), was to attach the sandpaper to a long thin stick, to reach the areas I couldn’t.  This in no way made the job a piece of cake, but it did make it manageable.  In 6 hours I think I actually removed all the paint from in there.

So you can see why we’ve probably been exhausted, robotic, and a little quiet lately.  I literally have to drink a coffee at the end of each work day now just to stay awake past dinner.  Yes, we are kind of killing ourselves and are in desperate need of a break.  There may not be any extended vacations coming up in our future for awhile, but the good news is that we do get two days off coming up for a trip to Miami.  A little bit of fun, a little bit of work, and the opportunity to do something we’ve never done before.  Curious?  Stay tuned for the next post where we go from our dirty and laborious days in the boat yard to getting 5 star treatment in the Magic City.

Matt sanding the coachroof sanding under winch holder Matt sanding coachroof bare aluminum on deck bare metal on pilothouse Georgie under boat

You Might Also Like:

Throwback Thursday: Never Leave for a Passage on Thursday the 12th

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It finally happened that our time in Miami was finished and we were ready to cross an ocean.  The boat had all of it’s needs addressed, we had provisioned, and the weather forecast had started to slide back into it’s normal patterns.  Our 7 day outlook was looking pretty good and there were no more excuses to keep ourselves stateside.

Hindsight is always 20/20 though, and if we knew then what we knew now….we probably would have hung tight in our spectacular little anchorage in Miami Beach.  We could have enjoyed a few more episodes of Sherlock on our hard drive, stocked up a little more at Publix, and just enjoyed sitting still.  But at the time we knew that any excuse to stay another day could turn into another week or two and we were ready to take any opening we could get.

And we learned…why you should never leave for a passage on Thursday the 12th.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday June 12, 2014

6.12.14 (1)

They say that you should never leave on passage on a Friday. Sailor’s supersition that it’s bad luck. We were almost caught leaving for our Atlantic crossing on Friday the 13th. Does that make it doubly worse? Or do the two negatives cancel each other out and make a positive? I wasn’t sure and made SURE that we busted our butts so that we wouldn’t have to find out, leaving one day earlier on Thursday the 12th instead. I think we would have been better off taking our chances with Friday the 13th

The morning should have started with relaxing, enjoying our last cup of coffee for the next month where we didn’t have to hold everything down on the counter to make sure it didn’t slide off, before completing last minute projects like stowing everything away and deflating the dinghy. It did not start like that. Just as we were going to bed last night we realized that the fitting on our bow water tank had broken, leaking all of it’s contents into our bilge. Since this was to be our back-up source of water for our crossing, only taking from and refilling our port water tank, this was an issue we needed to fix right away.

The new goal was to wake up first thing in the morning and walk to the local Ace Hardware to pick up the replacement part. Knowing that we were already going to get very little sleep as it was, since we had stayed up well past midnight since we had pushed off all that evening’s projects to enjoy a hot pizza and an episode of Sherlock, I was vexed, and truthfully, terrified, at the thunderstorm of epic proportions that rolled through our anchorage at 5 am, bringing with it 50 knot winds and leaving me wondering if something similar could roll through the next night while we were on passage. Letting ourselves sleep in just a little bit longer we ended up with a late start to our morning, but we were back to the boat with the issue fixed by 11 am. The other small projects took a little longer than we anticipated, as they always do, and the anchor wasn’t weighed until 1 pm. Spending another 45 minutes circling the anchorage as we calibrated our autopilot we were finally off, exiting the Government Cut at Miami just after 3 pm.

Even though the sun was shinning down on us on our way out it didn’t take long for the clouds to roll in, and we watched Miami become consumed by darkness and rain which we were soon swallowed up by as well. It wasn’t anything more than a nice rain shower though, and winds continued to stay around 10 knots and we glided up the Gulf Stream in glass waters at 5 knots under headsail alone. Based on sheer excitement about the journey ahead of us, we even frolicked out in the rain for a bit (or Matt doing whatever the manly term for that would be) while taking in a free shower during the downpour. Things cleared up a few hours later as we passed Ft. Lauderdale and we even managed to catch a decent sunset while enjoying left over pizza in the cockpit.

6.12.14 (2)

6.12.14 (3)

6.12.14 (4)

Before I even knew it my eight o’clock bedtime was before me and I was more than ready for it. I’ve learned that the key to a good first night on passage for myself is collecting no sleep the night before we leave so I am more than ready to conk out at such an early hour. Sliding in behind the lee cloth that we’d set up on the starboard bunk in the salon, I slid easily into sleep. Something that normally takes me three hours to do our first night out.

I had been lying in my bunk for just over an hour when I heard a loud ruckus on deck. I knew it was Matt messing with the headsail, and even though all sounds are amplified below deck, this seemed much louder and as if something were wrong. Jumping out of bed I raced over the companionway boards and into the cockpit. It was immediately evident to me that we were in trouble. I looked at the chartplotter to find winds nearing 60 knots and we were being pushed so far over that our rail was in the water. Matt was feverently working to get the headsail rolled in, but had enough good sense to yell at me to get back in the boat and get a harness on before I could topple out the boat and into the Gulf Stream.

Rushing back below deck I tore through the cabinet to search for our second harness. Usually we never have both out at the same time unless we know bad weather is coming, normally just trading off the one harness between ourselves, but this storm came upon us so suddenly that we barely had time to react.

Finding the second harness I raced once more into the companionway where the headsail was still being overpowered by winds that were now sustained in the upper 40′s. With the furling sheet in hand, Matt was still trying to save the sail by bringing it in, asking me to gently release the sheet for the headsail still wrapped around the winch. The strain on the line was so heavy that I couldn’t even loosen it from the teeth that hold it in place, all the while trying my best to work it free while we’re still heeled all the way over in Force 9-10 winds. Finally Matt realized this was not going to work and it was very likely we’d tear the sail in half while working to winch it in. Looking up through the dark and thinking that we’d already blown it out he slid over to my spot he released the sheet from the winch and let it flap in the wind while he quickly grabbed the furling sheet back to get it in. Eventually the sail was rolled in, though the lines were a knotted and tangled mess that would have to be saved for another day.

Now at hand we had to deal with winds that were still blowing in the 45-50 knot range and showed no signs of relenting. Not wanting to keep any of the sails up we turned ourselves downwind and began to ride the storm out with bare poles as we were pushed along at two knots of speed.  The winds were coming directly out of the north which meant that we were now moving south, working against the current of the Gulf Stream, had absolutely no sail up, no engine on, and were still making that kind of forward progress.  Bolts of white and pink lightning were crashing down on each side of us as buckets of rain began to pour down.  The whole experience was miserable and I think both of us began to start rethinking this whole ocean crossing.  As I stood behind the wheel to hand steer us, Matt sat clipped in under the dodger and confessed, “This just isn’t for me.  I can’t do this anymore.”  Can’t do an ocean crossing?  Or can’t do cruising?

Seeing that we were only 12 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale we tried to start setting a course there to ease our nerves and see what steps we wanted to take next.  As I tried to keep us ass to the waves, I was going just by feel for the wind direction and slipped up a few times where we took the building waves on at a bad angle and they’d crash over the stern and into the cockpit, soaking me in the process.  Yes, a break from cruising sounds pretty good right now.  Immediately my mind went to us leaving the boat in Ft. Lauderdale while we hopped a plane to Guatemala to backpack for a few weeks while visiting friends, and then returning to Michigan for the rest of summer to spend it with friends and family.  It all sounded so tantalizing that it was probably one of the only things keeping me from breaking down while we continued to fight this monstrous storm which was showing no signs of letting up.

For another hour I stood behind the wheel, knees growing weak and teeth chattering until the winds finally let up into the mid 30′s and the autopilot was able to go back into use.  Somehow I was still wired even though I’d only gathered about 5 hours of sleep in the last 30 hours, and sent Matt to bed while we pushed on toward Ft. Lauderdale with the engine on, still fighting the Gulf Stream and moving at 2 knots.  Two hours later, while he was resting his nerves and gaining a little perspective while I stood awake and continued to daydream of a life back on land, he came to relieve me and discuss our rash decision.  By this point I was beyond exhausted and finally started to break down.

I complained about how it seems like everything for the past six months has been working against us and maybe this is a sign that we should stop before something really awful happened.  He told me to grab a few hours of sleep, but for him, removing himself from the situation for a little bit made him realize that it was just frazzled nerves that made him want to quit before, but he thought that moving forward and continuing our crossing was still the right decision and what we really do want.  He made the comment that it was extremely unlikely that we’d go through anything like that again and the worst of it was probably out of the way.  We might hit the random storm here or there in the future, but none of it would likely be worse that what we’ve already seen in our cruising history.  Hmmm.  Guatemala, Lake Michigan, friends, family…….or 3,000 miles of open ocean and uncertainty ahead.  I think a few hours of sleep might be necessary to make that decision.

You Might Also Like: