Throwback Thursday: Land Ho!

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.

28 days after leaving Bermuda, and 48 days at sea since leaving Miami, we finally made landfall in Horta.  All of the nights of terror I been experiencing in the Bahamas and Miami earlier in the year prior to leaving were all for naught.  We did not get stuck in the 2-3 expected gales that one has on an ocean crossing (or so we read), and the storms we did encounter (other than our first night out of course), were nothing that us and the ‘Dip couldn’t handle. The few storms that had sent cannonballs of water against our hull only proved how strong all of us were.

Mostly the passage consisted of drifting along in winds under 5 knots and in glass calms seas.  It may have been an extremely long journey, but it was a comfortable one.  If we did one thing wrong I’d say that we may have provisioned a little light on food (mostly snacks) and are now arriving to our destination about 10-15 pounds lighter than when we left the US, but hey, a little fatigue and weakness is easily curable once you reach a land of plenty again.  And I was beyond ready for land, internet, and a full nights sleep again.

You can find the original post  here.

Wednesday August 6, 2014

Faial, Azores

When I woke up this morning there were only 45 miles separating us from Horta. A very dangerous distance because it gives you just enough hope that you will in fact be there before the sun goes down, but also allows you enough leeway to completely eff it up and leave yourself at sea for another night. We had 10 hours of daylight left and would have to average 4.5 knots to make it in time. Not normally hard, but the king of ‘I won’t turn on the engine, what’s another few days out here’ has seemed to move on board sometime since the Bahamas.

Luckily for me the winds have shifted behind us and built up enough, near 20 knots, that we were just holding that 4.5 average when I came up on watch. Through my whole four hours I watched the spedometer like a hawk, and even a momentary dip down to 4.3 would result in a sharp intake of breath. I was not going to lose landfall tonight.

Just as I was beginning to go crazy near the end of my shift since the winds were now almost completely downwind of us which was causing the headsail to flop around a bit (and drop into the low 4s..gasp!), Matt woke up from his sleep shift and I quickly ordered that we raise the spinnaker pole to get our speed back. That did the trick and we were comfortably coasting at 5 knots.

All afternoon I kept my eyes glued to the horizon in front of us for any sign of land or life. Directly across from the island we’re landing at, Faial, is another island, Pico, with a volcanic peak of 2350m high. It’s said that on a clear day you can spot it from 50 M away. This unfortunately, was not a clear day. After thousands of miles of nothing but sun and clear skies, our welcome back to terra firma was presented with low lying clouds and mist ahead of us. I had been burning holes into my eyeballs staring into the reflected light, trying to be the first one to yell ‘Land ho!’ while Matt napped below, but I couldn’t make anything out through the haze.

It wasn’t until hours later when I had given up and begun my showering routine to make myself presentable to people again after a month at sea that Matt was able to pick out a shadow through the clouds. After lots of pointing and references I was able to see it too, honestly a little disappointed that this barely visible outline was my welcome back to humanity. It was land though, and we were quickly approaching it with just enough time to eek in before sunset. Although I think it’s high time we finally update our clocks to the proper time zone, a full two hours ahead of what they’re currently reading.

If anyone was even going to be there to check us in at the now revised hour of 8:30, I wanted to make sure I looked very nice and hopefully distract them from the fact that I was handing over veterinary papers for our cat, just in case we didn’t have all the right ones. Plus I was just excited to have any reason to wear something different than the pajamas I’ve been living in for the past four weeks. Now came the very important decision of what to wear for my first night in Europe. Khakis and a cable knit sweater? My llama skirt from Peru?…there were just so many choices! I had finally settled on a pair of skinny jeans, a tank and a cardigan, but Matt stared with disappointed eyes. “I thought you were going to wear a dress?” he asked. “Have you looked around?”, I replied, “It’s cold out here”. I guess a drop down into the low to mid 70′s now makes freezing weather for us, and it was more than my Caribbean geared attire could handle.

Finally I changed into a somewhat nautical themed sweater dress and applied some eyeliner before joining Matt out on deck again to watch that shadow on the horizon grow larger. We were finally getting to the point now where we could make out features on land and spot little houses and villages on the hilltop. The nearly setting sun was throwing rosy glows off the clouds, and even though I had imagined coming in to the crystal clear images splayed throughout our guidebooks, the view of Faial as we sailed in was indelible. It was just as beautiful as I could ever have imagined, and I stood there slack jawed until I remembered that we actually had to begin taking steps to get ourselves in the harbor.

Bringing down the spinnaker pole, we rolled in the genoa and coasted along with just the main for a little bit, until we were well into the channel between the two islands. As the engine was turned on and sputtered to life, we brought down the main and began running dock lines and hanging fenders. I swear, Matt and I can sail a whole ocean together and not have any arguments or communication issues until we’re landing. As I was trying to run the dock line at the bow it kept getting tangled in the wrachet straps for the dinghy, and since it wasn’t being done in a timely matter, a very impatient and agitated person was yelling at me from the cockpit until I became so flustered that I couldn’t touch anything and went to switch places instead. Since it was the only boat related spat we’d had since coming into Bermuda though, I think I’ll still consider our overall travel a success.

Faial, Azores, Portugal

Monte da Guia, Faial, Azores

Matt & Georgie coming in to Horta

Horta, Faial, Azores

Monte da Guia, Faial, Azores

Getting all the lines squared away we pulled up to the reception desk and music blasted from the main road. Unbeknownst to us, we arrived in the middle of Semana do Mar, or Sea Week. Horta’s biggest yearly event. Having read about it in our guidebook we knew that it was at the beginning of August, but we thought it only spanned one weekend and that we had already missed it. But from the sights and sounds on shore, it was still in full swing, lasting ten days instead of 3, and we could not wait to get out and partake.

Before we could go party though, ourselves and the boat needed to be checked in to Portugal. Having called many times on the radio prior to arriving and getting no response, I went to scour the office of the marina but could find no sign of life there either. Getting ourselves tied up to the fuel dock at 8:05, it looks as if we had just missed them. Our passports wouldn’t be stamped until tomorrow, allowing us one more day in a Schengen country. Darn.

We used up our last remaining hour of daylight talking to other sailors that had just come in within the past two days, many of them not faring as well as us. While we had taken a more southerly route and became trapped in the stillness of high pressure systems, most others took the northerly trade wind route and got a little bashed up along the way. We talked with one boat that had their autopilot crap out their second day out, meaning the crew of 4 had to hand steer the whole way. And to make matters worse, the halyard for their headsail broke not too long after, meaning they completed the rest of the journey with just the mainsail. Stories like that make me extremely happy we took the route we did, even if it means it took us twice as long to get there. Time we have. Money for fixing boat issues…not so much. Or at least, not that we’d be wiling to part with.

Bidding adieu to our new friends as our stomachs growled with the recognition that it had been about 8 hours since we’d last eaten, we pulled some Euros out of an ATM and went to join the throngs of people milling in the streets. One small section of park was set up with a stage playing what I’m guessing was traditional Portuguese music, and small food stands were set up all around it. Our noses guided us toward a mini doughnut stand where we happily handed over a few Euro for our first taste of fried sweet goodness in months. Continuing up the road we wandered into a tent filled with other food stands and restaurants.

Getting an eye full of this one stand that was selling huge sandwiches filled with sausage or presunto, we were sold. As Matt grabbed his sausage filled baguette and I asked for my presunto to be slathered in a creamy cheese, we ordered a few cans of Coke and went to sit with our new treasures on a wall overlooking the harbor.

Taking everything in as we enjoyed the food and the sights, I turned to Matt after about ten minutes and asked, “Does it feel strange to you to be sitting here, finally on land after 30 days, surrounded by people, and drinking a can of Coke? Do you feel as excited as you thought you would to be back on land after so long? Like this is what’s been missing from your life?”

He thought about it a second and observed, “No, not really. This is definitely nice, but it just feel like ‘Today we were at sea, now we’re on land’, easy transition, not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.” I pondered on it for a second, kind of surprised to hear myself say, “Yeah me too.” Smirking he looked over at me and asked, “So then you think you could go back out to sea for another month?” Laughing I looked back and him and replied with a resounding “Absolutely not!”.

Horta Harbor, Azores

Horta fuel dock, Azores

Horta insignia

Horta harbor at dusk, Azores

 

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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

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Throwback Thursday: Alien Encounters

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.

Since the last TT, there has been a lot that’s happened, yet at the same time, nothing.  All of these days were spent at sea, sometimes getting a little monotonous, but somehow I managed to find something special in each one.  One of the most important to mention is I found out, I actually like sailing!  When conditions are right and I’m the only one awake and tending to sails, figuring it all out on my own.

We also found ourselves in the middle of a front, which did increase our speeds for awhile, bought also brought some very uncomfortable conditions with it.  12 ft seas that would constantly crash against the side of our hull as it rained and misted outside, us miserable down below deck.  Not only were we dealing with that, but we also found out there was a stationary gale with 40 knot winds sitting between us and Horta.  Rather than going for one crazy ride that we didn’t know how well we’d make it out of, we opted to change course and make miles south and out of harms way.

Lastly, is that we had our first winged visitor on board.  A little song bird that landed on our lifelines to rest for awhile, which I’m sure it needed since we over 500 miles from any land.  We were enjoying it’s company and beauty…until Georgie decided it needed to leave.  She attacked the poor bird before we even knew what was happening.  Prying it from her mouth, we thought it would recover, although sitting in a makeshift hospital bed we made for it, it did not survive through the night.

Which leads us to tonight’s post.  Strange lights out on the water in the middle of nowhere.  What were they and where did they come from?  We’ll never know…

You can find the original post here.

Thursday July 31, 2014

I’m not going to lie, it’s starting to get really hard (and boring, probably for all of us) for me to come up with something to put for every single day of this crossing.  So until we make landfall, I’m only going to put down things that are worth putting down.  And then hopefully, just hopefully, I can start getting pictures and stories up of what I’m assuming is amazingly beautiful Horta.

On that note though, something happened that I thought was kind of cool and noteworthy.  Today we crossed a spot on the globe where we had the exact same coordinates for latitude and longitude.  I wonder how often that happens for people?  I obviously haven’t done a lot of research on the subject, but it seems like a lot of areas covered by land (or at least the United States) are higher than 80 degrees West, meaning there is no matching latitude.  So to find numbers close enough to match pretty much means you’re going to be over water.  Maybe something random I can add to my bucket list?  Seems like a cool enough accomplishment.

matching latitude and longitude

Oh, and if you can tell from the photo, we’ve now passed the stationary gale (which has all dissipated now) and we can begin heading north and directly toward Horta again!

 

Friday August 1, 2014

There’s just something about me and night shifts and strange lights. Don’t get me wrong, that fireball I spied just a few days outside of Bermuda was probably a once in a lifetime sight that I’ll never forget and may be worth crossing the Atlantic for itself (mayb-be), but the past few nights seem to be surprising me with questionable lights amidst the dark. Yesterday morning around 2 am I was popping my head up on deck between relaxing with my podcast on the comfortable settee below to see what looked like a flashlight beam oh so briefly shine on our American flag flapping at the stern. There is nothing on the boat that could have illuminated it at that angle so brightly unless Matt decided to sneak up behind me with an actual flashlight, unnoticed by me, while I still stood on the steps. Very unlikely. As my heart quickly jumped into my throat I thought it was another boat trying to identify us, but after frantically searching the horizon and then turning to the radar, we were the only thing out there. Alien encounter? Apparently once they realized we were American it was enough to make them leave us alone.

Which brings me to this morning’s odd light. More astrological than extraterrestrial, but still startling nonetheless. It was moments into my 12-4 am shift when I was just climbing up the steps to do a cursory glance before my more in depth check that would be coming up in ten minutes (what can I say?, I like to stick to my schedule), the sky directly in front of us suddenly lit up as if the deck light had been thrown on. In the split second it took my mind to register that this shouldn’t be happening I saw a very bright greenish-white sphere fall from the sky leaving a bright trail behind it. My first thought was ‘Oh my god, it’s a flare!!’. Although from what I’ve been told, flares are red or orange and nothing else. But this was close! As in, someone must be lighting off fireworks next to our boat close. Surely it couldn’t be a meteor?

Quite startled and still not fully registering what had just happened in the two seconds it took to happen I let out an audible and nervous “Ummm….” as Matt was still settling himself into bed. Asking what was the matter I told him that I’d just seen a very bright light that looked flare-like just ahead of us, and as he raced to untangle himself from the sheets he had just slipped under, I added “But it was greenish-white”, knowing that his first thought would be that someone in a life raft was trying to alert us to their existence. By now my head was finally wrapping itself around the fact that it probably was a meteor. Just a very, very close meteor, and that there was no need to worry. Not taking any chances though, he dove into full rescue mode, not wanting to risk the possibility of missing someone out there trying to signal us. Asking me question after question of exactly where I’d seen the light, how close it was, and what kind of shape it took, he set about trying to figure out our drift and trajectory while trying to find out when and how close we’d come to the source of the light After ten minutes of more horizon scans, scrutinizing the radar, and follow up questions such as ‘If it were you, how long would you wait to set off a second flare?’, I assured him that, as amazing and unlikely as it was, I think we were just incredibly close to a meteor that happen to be falling in this vast ocean that we’re traveling. He finally relented and went back to bed as I promised to stay up there for a while longer, keeping an eye out for any more lights or loud signaling noises.

In non-astrological news, we’re continuing our path directly north as we ride the east winds before they shift east in the next day or two and force us to turn directly east instead. So close and yet so far away. I keep focusing on the miles remaining as the crow flies, wishing we could take that same direct path, trying to count down our arrival based on those numbers, but instead preparing myself for yet another day or possibly two at sea on top of my predictions because we’re forced to travel at 90 degree angles instead. The pressure is still steadily rising, now at 1022, 10 mb higher than we were 48 hours ago, and I guess I should just be grateful for having any wind at all as we make our way into yet another high pressure system.

In more exciting news, I saw another sailboat today. What??!! I honestly didn’t think that would happen until we were within 20 miles of Faial. For some reason this sight makes me extremely giddy. We’re not alone out here, the only thing under 400 ft and carrying cargo. Part of me wants to call them up on the VHF just to say hi and find out where they’re going. Possibly get a little encouragement from someone out here that’s just as crazy as us. Another voice to say, ‘Yup, we’re right there with you’. Except, knowing our luck, they’d come back with, ‘You’ve been out how long??!! We just left the states two weeks ago. You must be traveling extremely slow’. Yup, that’s a much more likely scenario. Maybe they won’t get a call after all.

Atlantic sunset

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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

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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