Monday, June 6, 2016

Shouldering the Storm

   Remember when I wrote a while back about having some extra time on my hands? . . . Well, that was a momentary lapse in judgement.  I think the ethos took that comment as an invitation to "bring it on". . . I'm sure you all thought we just disappeared  . . . Or "fell into the ocean", as Bill's mom says . . . but, we're still here. We've just had A LOT going on lately. We're still working, still improving the boat, and still trying to get out of here as soon as possible.
   It began with a planned procedure for Bill. . . He's been having issues with his right shoulder for quite a while. Bone spurs, a bone growth under the joint, and some bone fragments behind the shoulder were causing him a lot of pain; several doctors over the last couple of years have recommended surgery. Bill was trying to put it off even longer but, we think his most recent return to work was the last straw.  The pain elevated to an unbearable level and he finally consented to an operation . . .

Bill snapped this pic from his hospital bed . . .

   Well, the simple operation didn't go as planned (the damage was worse than the surgeon thought), and 1 out-patient procedure turned into recovery at home, a partial shoulder replacement, a few nights in the hospital, more home recovery, and physical therapy. Whew!

Bill had no sooner settled in from the hospital, when the cats
started welcoming him home

   It wasn't long after we got Bill settled in on the boat (maybe a couple of days), when our aft head decided that it just wasn't going to work anymore. . . After a failed attempt at rebuilding the head (too many years of previous owners not taking care of it), we replaced the toilet and the hoses . . . Yeah, fun . . . we finally had a brand new working head. This would have been a huge pain under normal circumstances but, with Bill's shoulder out of commission, let's just say it was NOT a pleasant experience.

   This is just a small bit of what we've been dealing with . . . If I ever write that I have too much time on my hands again, call me out on it  . . . It just might save me from being struck by lightning or something . . .
This is Oliver clearly NOT being productive 
    Ok, so, we have been able to be somewhat productive during all of this. Bill's time off gave him a lot of time to work out plans for building dinghy davits and a new salon table.  We've, along with the whole head replacement, replaced our aft cabin fan, fixed our air conditioner (that also went out after Bill's surgery), and finished the bottom salon cushions . . . just the back cushions left. I'm so happy with my progress that I've already started pricing out materials for a few more projects ( Next, a new dodger!).
The bottom cushions fit nicely
My fist zipper plaque!

The pillows give a better idea of the color scheme I'm going for

   Bill also bought me an Ultrafeed sewing machine for my birthday last month! Not only will this allow me to work on our own projects but, once we get out sailing again, it will allow me to take on projects as we go.  Earning a little extra money as we go will certainly help to keep the cruising kitty topped off.

My new "toy" with the back cushions (sans the covers)
in the background

   We were also able to move the boat back to the City of Hollywood Marina (where we were first towed in after the engine fiasco).  This is a much better place for us to be; the staff is friendlier, the marina is cleaner, we have friends here also living on their boats, and the rent is significantly cheaper.

Simeon likes to "help" me sew . . . (notice the measuring tape
around his waist)

   I have added another recipe to the galley page as promised. I really enjoy putting this casserole together. It's pretty versatile and could be changed to suit a variety of tastes.
   Bill's therapy will last another 6 weeks and then he should be good as new. His full range of motion and load bearing ability should return . . . Something he hasn't had in a while. This will, according to the doctor, give Bill another 10 years of sailing before anything else has to be done to his shoulder.

   Hopefully our problem trend will start to subside . . . And there'll be a calm after the storm.


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sew What? (Part 1)

   Cruisers are do-it-yourselfers. By nature and necessity, if we can rewire it, unclog it, stitch it, or jury-rig it, we will. This is in large part due to the fact that cruisers are often in remote locations where getting outside help isn't an option. Most of us are also on limited budgets. So, in an effort to make our cruising dollars last as long as possible, we either rely on current knowledge or learn as we go in order to get the job done. The latter reason was the driving force behind my next big project.

   If you've been following along with us, you know that I have dabbled in sewing. The projects I have taken on have been rooted in necessity. We needed more storage around the boat. So I made pockets to hang over the life lines and mount on the walls. When the hardware on my purse turned green from the salt air, I stitched up my own bag, sans the hardware. . . So, when Bill and I decided that we needed to look into replacing our saloon cushions, I immediately wondered if I could do it myself (Being a left-handed, right-brained person, I thrive on a good creative project).

   Now, I know what you're probably thinking . . . That's a big leap . . . From a few minor projects to a large job. And what if I mess it up??? . . . I know . . . This wasn't a split second decision. I poured over fabric choices, spent hours on sewing websites, watched several how-to videos at least half a dozen times, and filled several pages of ruled paper with notes and measurements. All of this lead up to one conclusion: I could do this. It might be a challenge but, I could do it. Not only could I completely customize the cushions but, based on local quotes, I could save us at least $1,000 (Yes, you read that correctly . . . Amazing, right?). That's even with the price of new foam sheets (since the old foam that we had was not only falling apart but, was glued together like a patchwork quilt of scraps).

   A few days ago, I finally had a beautiful sunny day off; the perfect day for a project. With the saloon cleared out and all of my materials at the ready (well, as much as they could be in a 38' boat), I set to work . . .


   I first layed one of the foam sheets out on the port settee frame. The foam had to be cut to size. So, I used a marker and tape measure to determine and mark the shape of the frame.

This was easier to use than I thought.

   Then, using an electric kitchen knife, I made the initial cuts.

The kitties "helped" by inspecting my work.

   Since the cushions are supposed to taper towards the bow, I trimmed the foam to fit the angle of taper. After a few tries, the foam fit snugly in the frame. I then repeated the process for the starboard settee.

As you can see, the batting took up almost the entire floor in the saloon.

   Next, the batting had to be glued down to the foam. After rolling it off of its giant spool, I gathered all the batting up and brought it, along with the trimmed foam, up on deck.

Ok. It's not a glamour shot but, . . .
safety first

   I then set to spraying the foam and batting with glue and pressing it into place. I left the back panel void of batting so that it wouldn't catch in the zipper when I put the cover on.

   After the batting was glued on, I trimmed off the excess and let the cushions dry.

Hmm . . . at least I didn't glue
my fingers together

I certainly made use of the deck


In case you're looking closely, the lower of the two cushions
is turned the wrong way.  They really do fit flush.

Once the cushions were dry, I wrestled them back into the boat and checked the fit again. Voila! They fit perfectly.


   So, now that the cushions themselves are ready, I have to tackle the job of sewing the covers. . . I'll keep you updated . . . In case you're curious, this is the fabric for the back cushions.  The fabric for the bottom cushions is a solid navy to go with the darker stripes in the pattern.  Oh, and there's another new recipe on the "From the Galley" page. Check it out!


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

French Bread

   During the last few days that Bill was working in Oregon, I met up with a couple here in the marina.   After exchanging stories of how we came to live on our boats, Pierre (Did mention that they are French?)  and Ann Marie offered for Bill and I to have a drink with them after he had returned . . . I thanked them for their offer and decided that I would mention it to Bill once he was settled back in on the boat . . .

Lost in Translation?
   Fast forward to a few days later . . . Bill was beginning to recover from his red eye flight, I had finished the last of Bill's massive load of dirty laundry (I do a lot of laundry . . . at least it feels like it), and Bill and I had decided that a walk around the marina would be nice.  We had just made it to the other side of the marina when we we heard an "Ellooo!  'Ow are you?".  Pierre was standing at the back of their 65" trawler waving to us.  He invited us in for that drink . . .

   That simple invitation turned into a tour of their beautiful, spacious boat.  The tour turned into appetizers (with Champagne . . . from their built-in wine cellar), which turned in to a lot of conversation.  The conversation turned to food and cooking on the boat.  When Bill mentioned baking, Ann Marie's eyes lit up. Apparently, she had been trying for weeks to find a recipe for a bread starter. When Bill told her that we had a sourdough starter in the fridge, she asked if he would show her how to make her own.  Of course, he agreed and even came back to the boat to grab a spare glass jar for her when she couldn't find one of her own.

Stirring the Starter
The Finished Starter

   It took the four of us to actually make the starter because, Ann Marie's English isn't as good as Pierre's.  So, Bill demonstrated, I explained the steps, and, when Ann Marie didn't understand, Pierre translated.  We soon had a starter bubbling away on their kitchen counter.

   After out little cooking class, we were asked to stay for dinner.  Since they hadn't really planned on us coming, you would think that dinner might feel a little off-the-cuff.  It was exactly the opposite.

   Ann Marie served us (over several courses, in true French fashion) shrimp and rice, bread and cheese, peaches with mint, and little dark chocolate cookies; simple but, delicious and filling fare. . . The wine and conversation continued to flow.  By the time we returned home from our "walk" we had spent roughly 5 hours with our new found friends . . . time flies among friends . . . especially cruisers.

    In case your were going to call my bluff on my resolution from my last post (because you thought I forgot), sorry, you can't.  I thought this story was a very fitting introduction to my next recipe addition.  I have added Bill's sourdough starter  and bread recipe along with some tips to our galley page.  If you've never tried baking at home, try it.  You just might find that it's easier than you thought and it's certainly tastier than buying something out of a bag at the supermarket. . . Ann Marie thought so . . . she liked the end result so much that she offered to bake us a "thank you" loaf.

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Table For One

   For the past week, I have, in essence, been on my own.  Bill had to fly out to supervise a job on a cruise ship in Oregon for a while.  Ever since he left, I've noticed that I've had a little more time on my hands. This is odd, especially when you consider that I am now working two jobs (part-time teaching at a Huntington Learning Center and cashiering at a West Marine).  I guess it's because I now have full use of the car; Neither of us is waiting on the other to get off work or run errands.

   My alone time has had its pros and cons.  I'm becoming more familiar with getting around Miami.  However, the traffic is definitely something with which I would like to be less familiar. . . My schedule is a little more my own but, doing everything by myself isn't really all that enjoyable or easy.  Getting armful after armful of groceries from the trunk to the pier and then on to the boat, especially when the wind is blowing the boat away from the pier, is, well, a challenge. I have been able to sleep in a little more (although having the bed to myself isn't all that great), catch up on some cleaning, and start on a few to-dos around the boat.

   One of these to-to do items, has to do with this blog.  If you have been following along with us, you know that a few months back  I added a new recipe/cooking page to the blog.  My intention truly was to add to it regularly, allowing it to coincide with my regular entries.  However, that obviously didn't happen.  I added to it a couple of times and then . . . well . . . life kept happening and the page was neglected.  I'd always sit down to write my next post, telling myself, "Okay.  I'll post this and then put up another recipe" or "I have to post those tacos we made last night!". Then, the computer would wig out (as it does often), I would take too long putting finishing touches on my writing, or I would be flat out too tired.  Sooooo,  . . . it didn't get done.  I know, I'm making excuses . . . but, I have decided to change that.

   I'm not one for New Year's resolutions but, I do want to commit to paying more attention to this blog (especially the aforementioned cooking page) and, therefore you, our readers, this year.  So, after you read this, please click on our "From the Galley" page and check out the new recipes that I've added (They'll be there.  I promise.).  Then, keep looking for new additions as Bill and I continue on our ever-changing life afloat.  

   My hope for this galley page is that you take something from it to share, whether you learn something new, find a recipe that you can make your own, or simply find a different perspective.
I'll keep cooking and blogging (I have a pot of stew on the stove as I write) and, hopefully, you will keep reading my humble ramblings on boat life. . . maybe when Bill gets back, I can convince him to post a bread recipe . . .

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Year in Review

   Today marks a milestone for us.  One year ago today, Bill and I set out on our journey.  Having either sold, given away or stored everything we couldn’t keep on the boat, we threw off the lines and officially started our new adventurous lifestyle.  Over the last twelve months, we’ve experienced quite a bit.  While looking over our log book, Bill and I were quite surprised at what we had accomplished . . . even with our forced stop here in Florida (Thank you, engine). 

   So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to highlight our year’s trek down the ICW, around the Keys, over to the Bahamas, and back across the Atlantic to Florida.  

Miles Traveled: 2,280; Nautical Miles: 1,981 . . . and this was really covered in about half of the year since we were forced to return to Florida in June.

Engine Hours: 323 (for propulsion).  There were other times that we ran the engine but, it was simply to charge the batteries.

Nautical Sailing Miles: approximately 530 (about 350 after the engine died)

Number of Projects Started/Completed: Countless . . . Project lists are never-ending on a boat.  There was the wind generator, a couple of bilge pumps, adding on solar panels and repairing then later on, the air conditioner, the dinghy motor (just to name a few) . . . oh, and there was the little problem of the engine . . .  

States Visited: 5 plus 3 of the Florida Keys

Other Countries Visited: 1 – The Bahamas; We anchored off of/explored 11 islands – or Cays (pronounced “Keys”)

Scariest Moment: Riding out the surprise of Tropical Storm Anna in Black Point Harbor on one anchor (not set by the engine) and no way to set another . . . There were waves coming over the bow (at anchor!) and boats all around us were dragging . . . we didn’t drag an inch (We LOVE our Spade anchor now!)

Favorite Spot: There were many places that we really enjoyed but, we really have 2 favorites.  Black Point was our favorite cruisers’ haven.  This was THE best place overall for us to be.  Shroud Cay was our favorite place to explore.  Shroud’s beaches were spectacular and offered the best picture-perfect, breath-taking views.

Least Favorite Spot: Honestly . . . this title goes to Ft. Lauderdale because it seems that, on the whole, no one seems to have the time for or interest in sailboats.  Mega yachts and money rule here . . . sailboats and their owners take a back seat . . . This is a LARGE part of why it took sooo long for the engine to get the attention it needed to get up and running again . . .   

Awesome Animal Encounter: Manatees!!  These guys are so cool!

Most Unique Experience: Teaching for 3 weeks in Black Point Settlement.  The students there were amazing.  Getting to know the community in this way was wonderful.  Sailors often talk of getting off the tourist paths and really experiencing the places that they visit.  This certainly allowed me, and consequently Bill, to do just that.

Proudest Moment: For Bill, this would be when Tropical Storm Anna blew over.  Seeing that we had set the anchor well enough that we were one of the few boats in a harbor of many that didn’t budge was definitely a confidence booster.  

   For me, this came from one of my students.  From day one of working at the school, I always had a hand full of books with me (a habit I picked up from my substitute days).  The first time I pulled a book out, one of the students told me that he didn’t like stories.  I told him that he didn’t have to listen but, he did have to sit and be respectful to his peers.  It didn’t take long for this boy to go from not liking the story to listing to it.  By the time I left, he was engrossed in the books I presented and was obviously enjoying them.  On my last day there,  he shyly told me, “Do you remember when I told you that I didn’t like stories? Well, I like when you read them”.  Turning a child on to reading: priceless.    

  Thanks for keeping up with us and our travels.  Here's to many more miles, adventures, and blog posts in the future!

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)