Rebuilding the Quarter Berth: Part I

The last room.  We’re actually starting work on the last room.  I honestly wasn’t sure this day would ever come. Ok, so work still needs to be done to to the starboard walls of the pilot house, but our aft quarter berth was the last untouched area….and now we have our hands all over it!

Our first step was clearing it out which was no easy feat in itself.  Ever since we moved aboard this boat the quarter berth has been our main ‘storage’ area (other than our 10′x10′ storage unit up the road), so if there was anything on the boat we didn’t know where to stick it…in the quarter berth it went.  About half of it we were able to keep chaos free, but the front half, the part we used to store all our tools, rarely to ever had a sense of order.  For more than 48 hours anyway.

To clear space in this area in order to tear it apart and rebuild it, we needed to find new homes for all the items that had been sitting there.  Most of the smaller tools we use nearly everyday were placed in what will eventually become an extra pantry for me; the bottom area of our nav station.  Our drawers from the old nav station; your run of the mill junk drawer; small tools; computer electronics; and then boat electronics; have been moved to sit on top of the port settee on the pilot house.  Over there also went the two boxes of canned food that we had brought over from Serendipity and never visited again.  They really should have been in an easier to access spot.

What resulted was a new chaos in the pilot house that even spilled out a little bit to our forward salon.  Imagine if you (as a homeowner) took everything you stored in your garage and attic, and moved it into your living room.  It is complete craziness.  I actually have video of it that I’ll put online as soon as I have a following video once we’ve cleaned it all up so we don’t look like we belong on an episode of hoarders, haha.

Anyway, back to the project. After the area had been cleared out we started the process of removing all the old walls and plywood, bringing  them below the boat to keep as templates for when we’re ready to trace and install the new wood. The existing pieces still didn’t fit exactly as we wanted though, so before they went down we went through and measured areas we’d like to extend them out just a little bit, and marked those areas with a Sharpie so we’d know later the adjustments that needed to be made.

cleaned out quarter berth

Matt taking measurements

taking apart quarter berth

Once all the old wood was out, there was the task of making sure the aluminum in that part of the hull was still ok and wasn’t pitting enough to the point it would need replacing.  Since our welder is still scheduled to come out and fix one or two more problem areas, we need to know of all issues to the hull, inside and out, before we send our welder packing for good.  This meant taking out the existing insulation against the hull below the waterline, which we wanted to anyway because it’s easier for moisture to get trapped there.

Getting to work with an oscillating tool, I worked through two rows of insulation until I was down to metal, and then scrubbed the area with a metal brush to make sure any remaining debris came loose and was vacuumed up.  Keeping a clean surface down here will help prevent any future pitting, and we definitely don’t want that.  But I have to say, after sticking my tiny little fingers from my itty bitty hand between a few of these metal frames because no other tools would easily fit in there to clean out all the dirt build up, I was tempted just to let it sit and rot.  But sigh…future Jessica would hate me for that.

The next few days on this project were easy sailing.  We used 2x4s as the cleats that would hold the new plywood flooring (seating?) and also put up the new battons which the Eurolite will adhere to.  On a rain free morning I epoxied all of them so they could be installed permanently, and we were ready to trace our old templates onto fresh wood.  In a few areas we made over cuts ‘just in case’ because we knew it would be much easier to shave a little off than be too short and screwed.  The plywood fit in perfectly, although the Eurolite needed just a little trimming.  All in all it was an easy process and the initial install came together very nicely.

Next step will be to route the v-groves in the Eurolite, and epoxy the backs before we can install them for good.  Then it’s onto my favorite task of filling and sanding the corners, and eventually I’ll be unleashed to prime and paint.

Jessica removing foam insulation

Matt adding new beams

initial walls of quarter berth

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Advice Is Not Absolute

shipwreck Bahamas

Don’t worry, we won’t end up like this if we don’t take every piece of advice given.

If you’re a member of Facebook, chances are, you’re probably part of one of the million and one subgroups about sailing. I know I’m in at least six of them. I love these groups, they can be a wealth of information.  Any question you have about sailing or cruising, just post it in one of these groups and you will most likely have 10 responses within an hour. I’ve used them to ask questions in areas I’m not particularly knowledgeable about, or even go the opposite direction and dispense the knowledge I do have to others asking questions.

Any time I post a question in one of these groups I am extremely grateful to anyone who replies. I take into consideration any information given to me, even if my broad question provides answers that don’t apply to my situation personally. So if you have seen me in these groups and helped me out with a problem, or hell, even just liked the comment; thank you very much for taking the time from your schedule to lend me a hand or acknowledge that I need a little help.

With that being said though, there is one thing that sometimes happens while I’m reading the responses that will immediately raise my blood pressure and leave me wishing for a squishy ball to squeeze the hell out of.  It’s when people give advice as if it’s an absolute. As if it is either the only solution to my problem, or they know me so well that of course their answer is going to apply to me and my life.  Well guess what?  Advice is just that. Advice. And because it may work well for one person or even large groups, it does not mean it will apply to everyone.

I’ve never been one that likes being told what to do, so when I’ve gotten out of my 9-5 world and into something a little more freeing and without the same conformity, I DON’T like someone telling me ‘This is how it’s going to be’. I guess this makes me an outlier among outliers. I will fully admit that Matt and I are not your typical cruisers.  On average we’re 30 years younger, live on quite a different budget, and view different things as necessities.

Let me enlighten you with a few ‘helpful’ statements I’ve been given…and why they just don’t work for me. Plus, they’re all things I’ve heard multiple times.  The first one or even two times, yeah, I can let it go.  Although somewhere around the third or fourth time my eye will start twitching. And keep in mind, in the manner they were given, these were not suggestions.

  • People eat everywhere in the world.  Don’t waste your time and storage fully stocking up with provisions in the US.  Instead, buy your food in the Bahamas and support the local economy.

While I won’t argue with this statement itself, I will only say that it unfortunately doesn’t always fit into our lifestyle.  Provisions in the Bahamas are usually at least 50% more expensive than in the US.  We’re 34.  We don’t have a full retirement fund, social security, or pension.  While the idea is great, we have to be realistic.  And while we love to support the community when we can (like the fish fry we went to in Long Island), we can’t just shell out money like that.  Truth is, most cruisers out there don’t.  But the pretentious attitude of those that try to push it on others just irritates me.

  • Don’t even bother bringing dresses or anything fancy with you.  I can promise you will NEVER use them.

I may have left the city behind when we stepped foot on our boat to sail away in 2012, but I still like my fair share of glitz.  Are fancy dresses necessary in this lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  But I still like putting them on every once in awhile, even if it’s just to wander through the dirt roads of Belize.  I’ve actually recently come to the realization that I spent too much time in our first round of cruising in jean shorts and t-shirts because I thought I had to.  I miss dresses.  And you’ll be seeing me in them a lot more our second time out.  (Heels though?  No.  You’ll still always find me in sandals or flats).

  • You have to listen to Chris Parker before you plan on making any passages in the Caribbean.

Sorry, nothing against you Chris Parker, but I have never listened to a broadcast. It’s on waaaay to early in the morning for me, and I’ve had zero issues with other forecasting routes.  Passage Weather has always been our go-to when we have internet, showing me what’s going on in any particular area of the world. And those combined 11 weeks we spent out in the Atlantic were handled just fine using Weather Fax through our SSB.

  • You have to have cabinets in your salon to maximize storage.

Ok, maybe I haven’t heard this one yet, but I know it’s coming.  Because it suits us and our style better, we’ve decided to forego wall cabinets in our salon, and we’ll be fully relying on storage under the settee.  But because of the pilot house aspect of our new boat, we now have more storage than we know what do do with, and we like the clean lines of keeping our salon walls bare instead of putting up cabinets to gain a little extra storage.  It may not be typical or even sensible as far as maximizing boat space, but we like it.  Besides, this is our boat, and we’ll arrange it to how it suits us best.

 

Now I don’t want everyone to freak out and never give me advice or tips again.  As I’ve said, I LOVE the help and ideas I get from these Facebook groups.  And if you’re thinking to yourself “I hope it wasn’t when I told her she should do XX or YY that pissed her off”.  No, chances are extremely slim that any of these comments came from anyone who even follows this blog.  You’ve all been so valuable and I’m so happy to hear your thoughts and advice.

But I have to know…am I alone here?  Has anyone else had cases of where they were given a piece of advice as if they had no choice in the matter but to accept it?  I’d love to hear the ‘absolute’ advice that didn’t fit into your lifestyle.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Stuck in Marina Rubicon

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 turns out there is a reason people don’t stay anchored in Isla de Lobos long, and the swell we kept hearing about decided to rear it’s nasty little head after 2 nights of staying there.  Only 3 miles away was our now favorite spot of Playa de Papagayo, and we were not sad at all to have to spend just a few hours getting back there.

It wasn’t hard spending our days laying out at the beach, and our evenings in the cockpit with a glass of wine, watching the volcanic rocks turn red around us.  We were still a few days away from being able to move ourselves to Gran Canaria when the ARC left, we didn’t want to be around there with that mass of boats, but it turns out we did have to move ourselves regardless of if we wanted to.

With a heavy storm on it’s way and our boat about to be pinned against a lee shore, we had no other option but to move ourselves to the fancy Marina Rubicon.  It’s kind of funny.  I remember not liking it a ton when we were originally there, maybe it was just being forced back into a marina when all we wanted to do was be at anchor; but now that I look back on it, it was a beautiful place to be!

You can find the original post here.

Friday November 21, 2014

Besteaver 18 in Marina Rubicon

Although we could have stayed in the Papagayo Peninsula forever, or at least until the madness that is the ARC leaves Las Palmas and we can move ourselves there, mother nature seemed to have other plans in mind. On Wednesday morning we were commenting how the wind was coming out of the south and kicking up a bit of swell, making things on Serendipity just a bit more uncomfortable than they had been even the few previous days. It became a bit of a game through the morning, to see how much we could tolerate. The only other option other than to put up with it would be to move ourselves to a marina and we were on a kick to see if we could go our whole time in the Canaries without having to enter one.

We were enjoying our second cup of coffee out in the cockpit, watching the waves coming our way starting to form cresting white tops, and both of us knew the game would be coming to an end as this was not only becoming unbearable, but possibly dangerous to stay. Calling Marina Rubicon on the VHF we asked if there were open slips and told them we were on our way and to expect us shortly. As Matt made his way up to the bow to raise the anchor it was diving in and out of the waves and splashing water all over him as I had to rev up the rpms just to get us moving far enough forward to bring it up. When I finally got the hand signal that I could start making my way to the marina I looked at the instruments in time to see the wind gusting over 40. Fully exposed to this as we were, we were grateful that we didn’t wait any longer than we had to try and get out of there.

Navigating the narrow entrance to the marina with waves now rolling on every side of us, we tucked into a slip just in time to watch the sky grow completely black and the winds really take off. Rains bucketed down and I had the satisfaction of enjoying this tremendous storm from somewhere safe now. When conditions settled down a little later we found our way up to the grocery store, something we were going to have to come to this side of town for in the next few days anyway, and stocked Serendipity back up with breads, meats, and even some cheap wine and sangria. For the rest of the night we let the rain rocket outside while the pressure dropped significantly, as we sat calmly at the dock enjoying a nice dinner and the use of internet. Hot showers followed which was almost, almost, worth the trip into the marina itself.

Conditions were not expected to improve the following day, in fact there were signs posted everywhere about the low pressure system moving through the area and mariners should take caution and put extra lines and fenders out to protect from possible damage. One night at the marina turned into two, and although we tried to enjoy our easy access to land again, nothing but dark skies and rain followed for another day, forcing us to sit on the boat, computers on lap, glasses full of sangria. Well, for me anyway.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

storm over Marina Rubicon

Today the clouds finally broke lose and let the sun out again. Being the guests who stay just until the moment of check-out, we used our morning for a nice leisurely walk back to the grocery store to stuff our bags with everything we couldn’t the day before, and take one last hot shower. It is a little sad that bad weather had to force us in here as the grounds actually look very nice for when you can get out and enjoy them. There’s a nice pool surrounded by lounge chairs, an outside market set up two days a week, and a lovely path that runs from the marina almost all the way to where we had been previously anchored. The marina is in fact set in a community, full of white washed condos and apartments, which is probably why the cost to stay here is twice as high as any marina we found in Portugal (or that you can find in the rest of the Canaries, so we hear).

We tried to get as much out of our sunny morning as we could, wandering all the paths and looking at the much more expensive and better kept yachts on the far side of the marina. Matt even found a Besteaver sitting in one of the slips. A certain type of aluminum boat that he’s been drooling over for a few years now. And not only that, but it happened to be the same exact one that he has multiple photos of downloaded to his computer, of this particular boat floating through icebergs in the Arctic. I think these photos are meant to show me what our aluminum boat might be capable of, although I still have little to no desire to see ice floating by me from the deck of my own boat. Stick me on ’18′ as crew or charter for a few weeks on a trip to the Arctic  though and that’s something I might be able to get into.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

Besteaver 18

paths around Marina Rubicon

paths around Marina Rubicon

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Prepping for Paint

It never fails that as soon as we get a few walls new up, and I get excited and gung-ho to get a  nice white coat of paint on them, only to find that project is going to be pushed back about a week for other things first.  Not only that, it’s usually for one of my least favorite projects on earth.  Using filler, and then sanding that filler down.

For all of our areas that are not overhead panels, basically meaning the ceiling, we would like them permanently fixed in the corners instead of solely using trim, and so we’v been stuffing them with an epoxy filler which then gets sanded down smooth.  And who gets to sand down these areas with peaks so hard and sharp they’ll slice open your finger if your hand skips off the sandpaper?  Ding ding ding, this girl here!

Ok, so this round in the pilot house wasn’t so bad because I was able to use  the palm sander for a good portion of it, and there were only a few corners that needed to be done by hand.  A Sharpie wrapped in sandpaper helped to do the trick in those areas, and for once I was left asking, “That was it?”.

Remember last fall when I had the horrible task of sanding all the seams inside the head?  At least these areas, for the most part, are a little easier to reach.

Taking the palm sander to the remaining boards to smooth down the surface for the initial priming, the job actually went by pretty quickly.  Sure there was another day added so we could go through and add a second filler that had better sanding qualities, covering the screw holes and any seams that may have had indents from the first round.  After about three days, I was let loose with my paint brush.

7.30.16 (1)

7.30.16 (2)

7.30.16 (3)

7.30.16 (4)

It was a long day, but I was able to get two coats of primer on all these boards in one work day.  Notice I say ‘work day’ because I will still throw in the towel at 5 pm even there is plenty of daylight left for working later.  I would say the next day where I did a hand sanding, as to not take of everything I’d just done with the palm sander, as well as put a coat of paint on a good day too, but I was suffering a massive wine hangover.  A side story that will be saved for a later post, but Will and Cat from Monday Never met up with us at the patio while they got ready to sell their boat Paradox, and after the few glasses of wine that Cat and I had, combined with the insufferable heat, and we both had headaches until 5 pm the next day.

In any sense, I kept pushing past the fact that I thought my skull was going to rip out of my head, because I was determined to get an actual coat of paint on that day.  The hand sanding took me from breakfast until a late lunch, and the painting was much easier.  Our semi-gloss Valspar just glides right on, although I do have to be careful about my brush strokes.

All this work did take me about an hour past my quitting time, but it was completely worth it.  Look at the difference it’s made in this space.  Pretty soon we’ll have the walls up on the port side as well, and once I’m forced to go through the hassle of filler and sanding once more, those too will be painted.

Gahhhh, I’m so excited to see how all this is coming together!

7.30.16 (6)

7.30.16 (7)

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Improvements on Our Cruising Necessities

Every cruiser has them.  The certain necessities they can not get by without while boating.  Items ranging from logically needing to function, or simply making our everyday lives easier.  Of course there is a wide range of articles that one find themselves requiring for their life on the water, but we were lucky enough to make some major improvements on a few items we use All.The.Time.

Here are a few categories of items that we find indispensable to have aboard or while traveling, and the new products we have which are vast improvements on how they used to work for us.

Backpacks

Friendly Swede 60L water-resistant combined duffel and backpack

As any cruiser knows, things on a boat get wet.  Easily.  Add in any trips to and from shore in a dinghy, and your chances of getting splashed go up exponentially. That is why we’ve spent the past few years carrying a dry bag/backpack with us, to get certain items to and from shore while keeping them dry.

Just as we were on the hunt for another bag to do the same thing for us as our old one is deteriorating, we were contacted by The Friendly Swede to try their new 60L duffel/backpack.  And wow, this thing is heavy duty. As soon as we saw it, we knew it would get the job done. It has so many features that will work out great for us in acting as a backpack that will keep all of it’s contents safe and dry.  The entire bag is made of industrial grade 500D PVC tarp and has waterproof zippers, covered by an extra flap to make it extremely hard for water to get in.  Just remember though, this bag is water-resistant, not water proof.

The Friendly Swede duffel has both both backpack and hand strap carrying capabilities, meaning we can either wear it on our back for long hikes, or use the shorter handles to carry it as a duffel when it suits us better.  The 60 liters of space gives us the option to tote tons of groceries and other items once we’re cruising again, and even has mesh zippered compartments in the top and sides to store items you need quick access to.

My only wish for this product is that it had a little more back support for when wearing as a backpack, but overall we’ve been very happy with it so far, and I see it getting us through a lot of wet conditions!

Friendly Swede duffel

Friendly Swede dufel zippers

Friendly Swede duffel and backpack

Friendly Swede 25L Ultralight Packable Backpack

Just as important as the ‘keep everything dry’ bag, we also need a good ‘go anywhere with us bag’.  So when we saw the Friendly Swede offered a packable backpack, we jumped right on it.  This little guy can hold up to 25 liters of goods, but folds down to 6″ in size and only 8.5 oz.  This means when it’s not in use we can stick it basically anywhere in the boat, but when we do want make a day trip to shore or carry some essential items with us on a hike, it is more than up to the task of toting around everything we need.

Made of a rip-stop nylon, it’s tough against wear and tear, which is especially great for us because it will probably be a secondary grocery hauling bag, now with the added bonus of easily clipping on to our primary bag.  On walks around town or hikes up hillsides, it will make a great bag to carry a few bottles of water, snacks, and my camera (safely tucked inside their 5L dry bag, of course).  Plus, its bright blue color makes me smile.  :)

Friendly Swede Ultralight Backpack 1

Friendly Swede Ultralight Backpack 2

Clothespins

FIXCLIP Storm-proof & Lockable Clip

Even if you are the kind of cruiser that will schelp all their clothing and towels to a laundry mat every few weeks (and we’re those people too), chances are that at some point, you still have items hanging on your lifelines to dry.  Towels from your day at the beach, your foul weather gear after the storm has passed and the sun comes out again, or those sink loads of underwear we all do because you can never seem to store enough clean pairs.

Whatever the reason, whatever you are hanging, there is a new clip in town that will knock your socks off.  Unless they’re secured to your lifelines, because these knew clips will keep them there in any kind of condition. Introducing, the FIXCLIP.  Winner of the Plastic Innovation Award of 2015, this clip is lockable, storm-proof, and can withstand winds up to 70 knots.  Versatile between your lifelines or pulpit, it securely locks onto surfaces from 0.5-32 mm, and won’t release its grasp until you unlock it.  If that were not enough of a selling point right there, the clips are made of plastic and are UV resistant, so you won’t have to worry about them rusting or becoming damaged from the sun.

We haven’t had the chance to put ours to the full test yet, but based on the conditions they’ve withstood shown in a video made by the company, I’ll be setting damp items out to dry no matter the weather.  Without the fear of losing clips, or worse, our clothing, overboard to strong or unexpected gusts, I see a lot more bucket laundry in our future…and I’m completely ok with that!

FIXCLIP 1

FIXCLIP 2

Turkish Towels

From what I’ve been reading on a few of my friend’s pages, Turkish towels have become all the rage lately.  It seems as if everyone I know has said goodbye to their regular terry towels in exchange for these smaller and more stylish versions.  After a little research into them, I’m beginning to see why.

Hammamas

Hammamas tout themselves as ‘The clever cotton towel’, that can double as a sarong, beach dress, beach blanket, picnic topper, you name it.  We also have it on good authority from friends that these towels make great cushion toppers on your boat to prevent sweat from leaking through in hot Caribbean climates.

We love them because of their super absorbent qualities, and the small amount of space they take up when folded down. During our vacation in Siesta Key, I was stunned to find how little room these towels used in my bag.  The last time I had tried to prepare us for a trip to the beach with my North37 bag, I was lucky to get a single beach towel and a bottle of sunscreen in there. On this trip however, I had four Hammamas towels in there with plenty of room to spare. Even with sunscreen, two one liter bottles of water, my camera, and our tablet…I was only at 2/3rds full.

These are going to turn into great beach towels for us, with their absorbent qualities, and quick drying time. The bright colors they’re offered in just scream seaside, and will make great a swimsuit cover when the wind picks up enough to give me a chill.  Something that seems to happen a lot. Another great feature is, the more you wash them, the softer they become.  And nothing beats nuzzling up in a super soft towel after a day of playing at the beach.

VV, Hammamas, North37

Hammamas 1

Hammamas beach

Doga Towels

I have just found the very last towel I ever want to own.  Mostly used for shower and bath purposes, but just as at home at the gym or on the beach, Doga towels have literally been engineered to be the best towel in the world.  On its way to perfection, this towel went through eight iterations before arriving at the current version sold by the company today.  After consulting with textile engineers to make sure they were using the best materials possible, they also studied the history of towels and different weaving patterns to learn what worked best, and areas that could use improvement.

What they came up with is a towel that is fast drying, extremely absorbent, and super soft and cozy.  I’m not joking, these are is the softest towels I have ever laid my hands on.  Forget ever trying to make myself feel like I’m lying on a bed of clouds, I want to lie in a bed of Doga towels.  Any time there is the slightest chill in the air, I can guarantee you will find me wrapped up in one of these.

I haven’t even gotten to two of the best features for cruisers though.  They are incredibly thin, which means they fold down to 1/3rd the size of regular towels; and they are antimicrobial, meaning they won’t grow mold or mildew, or give you that gross towel smell.  Those are HUGE benefits for us, as storage space on a boat is always at a premium, and we can get away without washing them for much longer.  The list doesn’t end there though.  Here are other elements you can expect from this luxury towel.

Doga Towel Features:

  • Natural + Organic made of Aegean cotton and bamboo
  • Machine washable
  • Antimicrobial! Naturally won’t host infection causing bacteria, mold or mildew
  • WON’T EVER GET THAT GROSS TOWEL SMELL
  • Repels sand!
  • Engineered weave allows air to pass through, allowing towel to dry three times faster than traditional towels
  • Super Soft
  • Nice and big measuring in at 31” x 69” BUT folds down to ⅓ the size, perfecting for saving space and travel!!

Doga brand antimicrobial turkish towels

Doga at beach

 

Now that you’ve seen our list, what do you think?  Do these items fit into your necessities as well?  What other items do you have on board that you can’t live without?

*Although the products mentioned above had been given to us in exchange for reviews, all opinions are our own; we only work with companies whose product we believe in.

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Throwback Thursday: Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

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.

After our mostly uneventful week in Puerto Rosario, we were ready to get out of the industrial harbor and find a peaceful and picturesque anchorage once more.  Even though both of us were itching to get back to our previous spot by Playa Papagayo, I wanted to make another stop along the way.

Sitting just between the main islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are a little group of islands called Los Lobos, and they were touted to be a gorgeous spot to anchor, if you could handle the swell that sometimes passed through. Ready to take in one new anchorage before we eventually made our way to Gran Canaria to prep for our Atlantic crossing, we spent two beautiful nights in this relatively undiscovered anchorage.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday November 15, 2014

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

It was nice to have the conveniences of Puerto Rosario, but we were more than ready to get out of the industrial port and trade it for something a little nicer on the eyes. Our next destination was Isla Los Lobos at the northern tip of Fuerteventura. It was a placed we had originally passed on our way down and tossed back and forth in our minds if we should stay there. Our 20 year old guide book listed it as a nice day anchorage, but with too much swell running between the island and the mainland, not a place you’d like to stay overnight. But with the idyllic posters the guy at the information center showed me, accounts of a friend that had just been there, and the fact that we saw about a dozen masts there when we passed it the first time, we knew we couldn’t give it up.

Waiting for winds that would allow us north again, we figured a clam would be the next best thing and turned on our engine at the early hour of 5:30 to give ourselves plenty of time for the 20 some mile hop. We had currents pushing us all the way down Lanzarote and feared they may work against us on our way back up the island. No need to fear though as we traveled at a swift five and a half knots at 2,000 rpm and made it in just over three hours. I guess my math was wrong as well and the trip was only 15 miles. Oops! sunrise over Fuerteventura

sunrise over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands Coming in we had to be very careful of reefs and shallows on each side of us, breaking waves showing the danger we could be in if we drifted too far off course. All the guide books had listed this area as extremely popular for all kinds of extreme water sports and we were starting to see why. High winds wrapping around, strong currents, breaking waves. No wonder a world famous kite boarding championship had just been held in this stretch the previous week. Inching our way into the anchorage we dropped near the back in 40 feet of crystal clear water and took the rest of the day to relax, nap, and watch the charter/party catamarans that would bring tourists over from the mainland for a few hours to swim, drink, and play incredibly loud music. At least it was good though, none of that 80′s stuff that we can’t seem to outrun here.

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

Our second day I was ready to get out and do something. There’s been lots of lying around beaches or touring city streets in our docket lately, but not much exploring. I had been very excited to get on to the island itself to see what it had to offer. After drifting precariously close over reefs and darting in and out of what we thought were coves in the dinghy, we finally found a spot to land and found out that all the island of Los Lobos had to offer were rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Not even the pretty kind either. As we walked down the dirt paths it felt as if we had been deposited in a landfill of rubble.

bay at Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

trails at Isla Los Lobos

Back at the boat we took in a quick lunch and were right back in the dink for some snorkeling. During our hunt for an entrance to the bay at Los Lobos we had gone over tons of coral as well as seen multiple dive boats anchored outside of the area. A pretty good indication that there must be something of worth in the water. Donning our wet suits and masks we slipped below the surface of the water and into quite a shock at it’s temperature. A chilly 72°! I remember the days when I wouldn’t even get into Lake Michigan until it was pushing 75°. Sucking it up, I skimmed along under the water and just gave myself more motivation to cross the Atlantic once more and get back to those balmy 82° seas of the Caribbean.

Although there was no color to the coral surrounding us, there were definitely fish abound. On one of Matt first dives down to check out a rock he even found an octopus hanging out under there, something that’s been on his bucket list of things to see in the water. By the time I went down to catch a glimpse of it as well it had already hidden itself out of sight. Instead of searching for it even further as Matt was, taking dive after dive under the water and holding on to the rocks to keep him submerged while he looked in every nook and crevice, I was happy to float at the top and watch the parrot fish which swam below me.

For water that was so cool we stayed in a lot longer than I expected for only having ¾ suits, about 45 minutes in total. We also found the local drinking hole, hundreds of glass beer and wine bottles nestled into the sand just below a set of flat rocks that hung out at the surface. I’m pretty sure Matt could have gone a few more rounds through the bay, but he must have noticed that I was beginning to shiver and keeping my arms wrapped around myself the whole time, so he led us back to the dinghy where I took in a fresh water rinse and some sunbathing up on deck to warm myself back up.

anchorage at Los Lobos

beach at Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

In the evening just before sunset I ushered us both out into the cockpit where I had a nice little spread set up for us that I had been waiting for the perfect surroundings to appriciate. Having made up some bruschetta and toasted french bread earlier in the day, I went to pair it with the bottle of Maderian wine we bought in, where else, Maderia. Opening the top with it’s thick resealable cork, I poured us each a full glass and we went to toast in the glow of the setting sun. Then taking big sips of our revered wine, we simultaniously went back and forth between spitting it out and gulping down what was left while our throats burned like fire. No one had told us that Madeiran wine was actually more like a port. Thick and strong with a heavy liquor taste. We had both been prepared to enjoy it as if it were a chilled Rosé.

Matt poured his glass over the side of the boat while I continued on with mine, taking very light sips as if I were drinking straight rum. It wasn’t bad once you knew what you were in for, but I’m beginning to think this one bottle could very well last six months. Not to bad considering we paid about 6€ for it. Other than the initial surprise and fire in our throats, the evening was soon remedied when Matt had a Pepsi in his hand and I was chasing my wine with water. Good thing we never had the chance to bring that bottle to one of the parks in Maderia to drink like we had originally planned. I think we would have put on quite the show for any unsuspecting tourist that might have had their blanket spread next to ours.

sunset over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

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Continuing Work on the Pilot House

There has been a lot of work going on inside the pilot house lately! I am just a little more excited that progress is happening here, because as soon as these walls and overheads are built, we move on to the aft berth (which will hopefully be quick and easy), and that’s it for major woodwork!  When these areas are complete we can finally move on to trim, electrical, and plumbing, and BAM, we’ll be in the water.  Ok, so getting that far is still a few months down the road….but at least it finally seems within sight.

There are two main projects we’ve been putting all our efforts into for the past few weeks, and they are getting the upper walls of Eurolite on the port side of the pilot house, and beginning the desk/nav station on the starboard side.

For the walls in the pilot house, it was extremely beneficial to us that we had saved the previous templates from the old walls in our storage unit for the past nine months until we could use them again.  Placing the old boards up against our new 1/2″ plywood that will act as our seat back, we made necessary adjustments to cut the board down until it properly fit in it’s new space.  Once we were happy with how the old template was sitting, we brought the template down to a new 4′x8′ 1/4″ thick sheet of Eurolite, and traced the pattern onto the virgin wood.  The newly cut sheet was brought up and screwed into place.  Basically no tweaking needed!

We decided to leave the sheet that faces midship a smooth surface, but continued with our routing v-grooves into the pieces that face fore and aft.  Wow, I don’t even know how long it has been since we’ve taken on that project.  Maybe sometime last fall when we were throwing up walls in the galley? Everything is coming out great so far though, and I can’t wait to get a few coats of primer and paint in there to finish it off and brighten up the area.

woodwork in the pilot house

Matt cutting wood

 It was fun to begin the tongue and groove projects of the nav desk again.  After having to make odd shaped templates and squeezing boards into place for the walls, doing something square was a nice adjustment.  Not to say this project doesn’t come with it’s difficulties, but at least there are new and fresh ones to offer us a change from what we’re normally dealing with.

The front of the desk was a quick and easy day of cutting and gluing, once we had tailored the table saw to make the correct cuts in the hardwood.  Our frame that will support the doors for our drawers and storage space gave us a few problems of wanting to slide or move just a little bit when we’d go to glue and screw them together.  There’s nothing like having three 90 degree angles and one that’s off to leave you running through your list of expletives in a relatively short time frame.  After lots of tweaking in this area, we eventually did get all the squares to snugly fit our carpenter’s square, and we moved on to making the doors and fronts for these areas.

building nav station

Plus, I was able to paint the walls behind the desk and what will be our electronics area.  I love getting fresh paint in a new space!

painting the pilot house

 Next came the desk top, which is a variation of 2 1/2″ & 3 1/2″ pieces of cherry hardwood for the frame, and a piece of 1/4″ cherry plywood glued to 1/4″ Eurolite, with both pieces sliding into grooves in the hardwood. The tops of the hardwood were rounded over with our router to give them a smooth edge, and we did a light sanding on the bottom edge to take away the sharp corner which would no doubt end up in my forehead on passage.

We also built the frame and panels which will serve as the face for all our electronics.  Things like our switchboard, VHF, stereo, and bilge pump switches.  Once everything was built and properly fitted into place, we disassembled it all to give at least one coat of protective varnishing.  We are so happy with the way everything is coming together in here, and I can’t wait to keep you up to date on the rest of the progress as we get closer and closer to completion. Until then, I’ll just keep daydreaming about our evening at anchor, sitting in here and watching the sunset while comfortable eating dinner inside, or afternoons of reading books and sipping on sparkling water while bathed in natural light.

nav station pilot house

7.5.16 (7)

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A Night On the Town in St. Pete

Since we only had a two night stay in St. Pete, the original plan had been to keep things quiet and relaxing, just the two of us with no plans in the world for a few days of down time.  The only thing is…we happened to be within about 10 miles of my best girlfriend, Melody.  Someone I had been trying to see, unsucessfully, for the past two months.  More on this later, but Matt and I had been hired to do a boat delivery from Indiantown and ending in her very marina in St. Pete, but both attempts at the delivery had been cut short due to engine problems.  But because I have the best husband in the world, he agreed to let our ‘us’ time turn into ‘all of us’ time, even on his birthday, so that I could grab dinner and a few drinks with my best girl.

After having spent a pleasurable day lounging out on the beach, and even sneaking in a nap after, we (I) gussied up for the evening, me in a thrift store designer maxi dress, and Matt in his regular uniform of shorts and a t-shirt. As long as his beard and hair length don’t get away from him though, I’m always fine with this.  Of course there was a manditory pre-dinner beer out on our patio, with the smell of fresh flowers blooming next to us and floating through the air as we took in our gorgeous surroundings.  Have I mentioned yet how much we’re loving the Blue Heron room at Inn on the Beach?

BCBG dress

With plans to meet Melody at her marina since her vehicle had recently gone kaput, we took a look around what was to be the final delivery destination of the boat that we never quite got here.  Maybe there will be another attempt in a month or two once everything is ship shape on it again?  We didn’t have long to think about it before Melody came bounding out from the docks, where the three of us piled ourselves into the front two seats of the van and headed off for the downtown area of St. Pete.

Being quite familiar with the area, Melody had picked out a hip and cheap place for us called the 5 Buck Drinkery.  Walking up to it, Matt and I were surprised to find it in the middle of St. Pete’s restaurant district.  With a name like that, we had expected it to be a hole in the wall off some dark alley, but here we were in the heart of downtown.  Taking a few seats at a table outside, we browsed the menu of meals for under 5 bucks, and took advantage of the last hour of their happy hour specials.

five buck drinkery

Jessica and melody

After we had finished our cheap, greasy, yet extremely delicious meals, we tried to make plans of what to do next as the night was still young.  Once we had made the decision to get up and just wander a bit, I excused myself to use the ladies room, and when I arrived back at the table, I saw Matt and Melody busy posing with two parrots while a street entertainer was busy taking photos with them cuddling the winged color bombs.  Apparently I had gotten back to the table a little too quickly, because the original plan was to surprise me with the photos later and make me completely jealous I had missed it.  Mission accomplished without me even fully missing the event!

Matt & Melody parrots 1

Matt& Melody parrots 2

After a few laps around the restaurant district we were in, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves wandering toward the water and the swankier end of town.  Even though it was the middle of the weeks, groups of people strolled through the street, browsing through the shops or enjoying an evening drink at one of the many cafes or outdoor seating at the fancier restaurants.  Children walked around with gelato in one hand and their parent’s hand in the other, and we all realized what an opposite end of the spectrum this is from our normal day to day lives. After all, at the moment, Matt and I have to wash our dishes from a spicket and walk a few minutes outside every time we want to use the bathroom.

Agreeing that are lives are by no means fancy, but still much better in our own eyes, we skirted the waterline of a small enclosed anchorage, and slowly made our way to The Vinoy, a historic pink landmark hotel built in 1925. Passing through the lobby and and admiring their revival of the original style and furnishings, we took our own little tour of their pools, wandering up and down flights of stairs, past cascading waterfalls, and finally ended at their rooftop pool and restaurant area. It was agreed that all of us were in the mood for another drink, although this wasn’t the right location for it.  We had something with an even better view in mind.

restaurant area of St. Petersburg Florida

Jessica taking photo

anchorage in St. Pete

The Vinoy St. Pete

Matt & Jessica

Having walked by a hotel called The Birchwood on our walk earlier, I had spied a group of people on the roof and remarked what nice views must be up there.  Turns out there is a rooftop restaurant here called The Canopy, and it is a very popular spot in town to grab a drink or two.  Taking the elevator up to the top, we found out it was ladies night, so Melody and I took part in drinking fancy cocktails at a reduced rate, while Matt stuck with a normal and manly beer.

the canopy

 (Image taken from here)

Although it was getting dark and we knew we didn’t want to spend the next day nursing a hangover, we knew it wasn’t time to call it a night just yet.  With Melody’s husband Chris just getting out of work, we organized to meet up for one, or possibly more, drinks back at a pub we had passed earlier in the evening and much closer to where our van was parked.

When the four of us all met up and took a seat together, it was like time was on fast forward.  We blew through nearly two hours like it was nothing, with lots of laughing, joking, and catching up on the past 9 months since we had all last been together.  It was sad we only had this one night to spend together, and I kept joking that when we checked out of our room the next day, we were going to show up on their boat and crash it for a few days.  Georgie was in good hands back at the marina and its not like we have a specific schedule we have to stick to.

Unfortunately that’s only the case for the two of us, and it wouldn’t have worked out to unexpectedly intrude on our friend’s lives, as fun as we all thought it sounded at the time.  There will be more opportunities in the future though, of that I’m sure.  But if all four of us get our wish, one of the next get togethers we’ll have will be out on the water, with no jobs, boat work, or anything else in our schedule, other than to have a good time.

Matt's Birthday

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Throwback Thursday: One Week in Puerto Rosario, Fuerteventura

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.

I know it has been a long time since our last Throwback Thursday has gone up, but the funny thing is, chronologically, this happens to be the next post in line after our R&R on Playa Papagayo.  After having enjoyed just a little over a week in the Canary Islands after having arrived from Madeira, we knew it was time to move on, try to find officials, and properly check into the country.  Something we heard they were relaxed about here, and honestly the only reason we found to make our way to Fuerteventura.

It was a nice week there where we stumbled upon tapas restaurants, a shopping mall where the reminders of my old life and Christmas shopping sent chills down my spine (they were already gearing up for it here), and stocked up our boat on cheap and delicious produce from Hiper Dino.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday November 12, 2014

Tapas in Fuerteventura

For a town that we only stopped in to check into the country, we spent way too much time in it.  Being an industrial town that drops off loads of cruise ship passengers each week yet we have no idea what they do because we spent  8 days and couldn’t find anything to do other than wander the mall, we really spent to much time here.  But so it goes.

When Matt asked what our next destination was after Playa Papagayo, I looked at my trusty map drawn up by Island Drifter and saw that on the neighboring island of Fuerteventura there were two ports of entry and only one of them was suitable to anchor in.  No more marinas here for quite awhile, thank you.  It was a windless day as we sailed down, until we were only a few miles from the port and the clouds rolled in and winds kicked up.  We were both thankful to find a calm spot to drop anchor and just prayed that winds would not shift to the east during our stay there.

Getting off the boat and going in search of the port official and then the Policia Nacional, I found that it is indeed impossible to check in to the Canary Islands.  Just don’t even bother until you get to Gran Canaria, its not worth the trouble because no one will have any idea what you’re talking about.  But the good thing about the whole debacle is that I spent about an hour in the tourist information station talking to an extremely helpful man named Jose who gave me all the ins and outs of Fuerteventura.  And suddenly it became clear of why a cruise ship comes here.  This is the only port that can handle a ship of that size, and everyone is immediately shipped off to other parts of the island where there were more interesting things to do.

I loaded myself up on brochures and bus schedules and planned our week here although Matt was planning to get out, with the boat, asap.  The other good thing about stopping in the information booth is that Jose gave me the low-down on his favorite local restaurant, a place that served tapas for only 1€ on Mon-Fri.

As it turned out, every day we were there we thought we’d be leaving the next day so we never took one of the tours by bus although there were plenty of things we would have liked to see.  Instead we toured the town which had some parts that were actually pretty nice, and wandered the giant mall where it felt to strange to see Christmas decorations already going up.  We did manage to find the tapas restaurant, El Expresso, and twice in the week sampled random items off the menu and enjoyed beers, usually ending with only a 10€ tab including the tip.

In the afternoons, if the sky wasn’t completely overcast, we sat in the cockpit and watched all the local children partake in the town’s yacht club where they’d learn different water activities.  In droves we’d see them launch themselves out into the water in kayaks, sailing dinghies, and windsurfing boards.  Sipping on wine and nibbling on bruschetta we’d look on as they’d skim by our boat, laughing and yelling in Spanish.  It was really great not only seeing an opportunity like this offered to the local children, but to see how many were taking advantage of it.

The week we ended up staying in Puerto Rosario was still lazy and relaxing, but in a completely different way than we had been enjoying in the Papagayo Peninsula.  Here our days consisted of taking advantage of the incredibly cheap groceries at the local Hiper Dino, about 60% of the price of the same chain in Playa Blanca, and sitting at the local cafes to enjoy some tapas or coffee & milk while playing around on our computers.  I am sad that we didn’t get to explore more of the island, maybe check out the northern coast where they filmed the movie Exodus last year, but I know there’s still plenty more sights in store for us in our time in the Canaires.

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

coast of Fuerteventura

Puerto Rosario port, Fuerteventura

Spanish tapas

water sports in Fuerteventura

Matt

Fuerteventura

 

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Inn on the Beach – Pass-a-Grille

 

Every year when Matt’s birthday comes around, in his mind, it is a day just like every other.  No reason to celebrate or do anything different, and if he were left to his own devices, nothing special would ever happen on that day. Although to me it is an important day, regardless if he realizes it, so whether he wants to celebrate it each year or not, I make him. Usually this was much easier when we were back home and there were a group of friends that needed a reason to get together for a few beers as much as I did, so this task was a planned event every year.  Since we’ve been cruising…its gotten a little harder to keep it up.

Year one was in Utila Honduras where we went out for strawberry daiquiris at a local restaurant, but with a departure time of 7 am the next day to head over to Guatemala, we were still in bed by 10:30.  Year two was spent over 1,000 miles from shore on the Atlantic Ocean, and even though I had huge plans for the day which included balloons, streamers, and a homemade meatloaf, an unexpected storm popped up and left us hunkered down for the day and eating a can of Progresso soup that night. Year three,  a few months after arriving to Indiantown, was supposed to be a non event, but when our friends Mark and Hanna heard it was Matt’s birthday they wanted to have a few drinks after the work day which turned into a soiree with dinner and balloons, and Hanna and I losing track of our men for a few hours when the travel lift operator Alex stole them for a few shenanigans.

This year I was going to be at a complete loss of what to do.  Still sitting in Indiantown, the yard has thinned out to only a few people, so there would be no dinner get-togethers.  A day at the beach was out due to the extreme heat (not to mention the toxic algae currently flowing through the area), and tickets to the local water park didn’t go on our ‘buy one get one free’ sale until fall. Then a huge bout of luck came my way.  I was contacted by a blog follower at Inn on the Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida who had been following our story and work in the yard for awhile.  They asked if we would like to get away from the boat yard and spend a few days at the Inn.  Scrolling through available days in their schedule, I saw that the time around Matt’s birthday was widely open, and booked a two night stay in one of their rooms overlooking Pass-a-Grille Beach.  We chose the Egret room, and it looks like we chose wisely as it did not disappoint.

The countdown to our vacation seemed to last forever, and all the while I was worried that I was going to build it up in my head so much during that time, that when I arrived, my dream vacation would be a letdown.  I’ll give you a little spoiler alert.  It was not. In fact, it was one of the best getaways I’ve ever had.  Think of a perfect hideaway on a pristine beach, just a 15 minute drive from the bustling and hip downtown St. Pete.

Hitting the town was the last thing on our minds though as we had just driven three hours across the state, in June without air conditioning no less, and all we wanted to do was relax.  No problem there.  Checking in to our room with the incredibly friendly staff, we were led to our newly renovated room where we took in a quick view from the balcony and the fresh ocean breeze in the air before plopping down on one of the most comfortable queen sized beds my body has ever touched. Only because we had spent the last 6 weeks working so hard on the boat, we allowed ourselves to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in a state of complete laziness.  The tv was flipped on, covers were pulled off the bed as we snuggled between the crisp white sheets, and Bud Lights were sipped as quickly as we could cool them down in the freezer.

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

A few hours later we pulled ourselves out of bed to make a run up the road for dinner (Chinese) and to stock ourselves up on a few gastronomical necessities for the next day, including danish for breakfast and some oh so tasty Sun Chips that were on sale at the supermarket.  Seriously the best kind of chips ever made.

As the sun began to sink lower in the sky on the longest day of the year, we took spots on our private patio (normally shared with the next room, although no one was there) and watched the sky turn different shades of gold and pink while soft beats of techno music played on Pandora in the background.

Deck of Blue Heron

sunset pass-a-grille

We let our laziness continue into the next morning and after eventually forcing ourselves out of what I’m coming to find out is one of the most comfortable beds in the world, I wandered down to the patio area where a coffee station is set up every morning, and poured us two steaming cups, making sure to add lots of cream and sugar to mine.  We enjoyed our morning coffee and danish out on our patio while once again listening to Pandora on our tablet (I am going to miss that SO MUCH once we leave the states again), and let our eyes wander down to the street where people were out for late morning strolls, or already showing up to the beach.

Knowing  that it did happen to be June, and we were in the middle of Florida, we didn’t want to wait too long before going  to the beach ourselves.  For our convenience, the Inn has a host of beach goodies at the disposal of their guests, so we were able to pull out a few beach chairs and umbrellas from their pile before walking across the street to the shore. Setting up shop just steps from our room, we marveled at the white sand under our feet and the tantalizing colors of the gulf only yards away from us.

It had been so long since we had seen such a pristine beach as this, vibrant colors and mostly untouched.  Yearning for the days of being back on the water and stumbling across this type of scene almost daily, it felt like a return to nirvana and a semblance of the lives we used to lead not that long ago.  Spending the day lounging in the sun and running out to the water to cool off seemed like everything we could hope for during our time away from Daze Off. Turns out all of our big fun was still in store for that night, as I finally, after moths of failed attempts, had the opportunity to meet up with one of my best friends, Melody, for a night on the town.

coffee on the deck

St. Pete Beach

Jessica on the beach

Matt on St. Pete Beach

water view St. Pete Beach

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