The 3 month notice and a tour

I missed a…didn’t answer a call from our landlord the other day. The landlord just isn’t a person, typically, that you enjoy chatting it up with. Usually they are calling to tell you about a neighbor’s compliant, ask you why your last rent check is late and inform you that the next lease’s rent is going up. Sort of like a call from your parents during your early 20′s you pretty much just don’t answer and hope they leave it all in a message that doesn’t require you to call back. This time however I had a hunch about the topic, when were we planning to move out?

Our lease expired in April and we’ve been going month to month with our rented condo. Ever since we sold Tate’s house back in Dec of 2011 we’ve been renting from my previous coworker with the understanding that sometime in late 2014 we would move out and onto the boat. (Honest to God it’s hard to believe its been that long ago.) Well that time has finally come and we made the commitment to be out of the condo by the end of October! This has me giddy and excited beyond belief.

Often people ask me if I’m scared about leaving on this trip and this question always perplexes me. Why would I be taking all this time, spending all this money and quitting my job if fear surrounded my decision? I know they are just trying to be nice and make conversation and also perhaps vent some of their own trepidation regarding such a venture so I don’t read too much into it but no, I AM STOKED! Bursting to the brim with 10 times the excitement and wonder that I’ve felt before past long camping, hiking, and boating trips.

This is, give or take my emotional composition: 70% happy/excited/ambitious, 10% homesick, 10% uncertain and 10% fear.

I have already started going through what little remains of our “stuff” and throwing out some things while boxing up others to give away. I am so ready to reap the benefits and realize our dreams after of 5 years of saving, hard work, and slaving away on this boat. This past week poor Tate was sick as a dog and running over a 101 fever for 3 days! The doctor said it was Strep and while he isn’t running a fever anymore it’s slow going down here. So in between me washing sweat soaked sheets I’ve taken this opportunity to get to the boat and finish up the inside. Oh yeah baby it’s done now.

For over a year now I have taken as many lunch breaks as I can to go work on the boat which is only 10 minutes away. Those 40 mins add up to many days of work. Recently I have finished putting up the insulation and headliner in a couple of other places, covered holes with painted tiles, fixed some more leaks in the boat (it’s virtually leak free, for now), and cleaned all the stainless in the galley area.

Oh yeah I wanted to show you guys this neat little contraption. I painstakingly spent weeks measuring and researching dish racks that would fit in our second shallow sink. The plan is to wash the dishes in the deep left sink and let them dry in the dish rack over the second sink. I found this collapsible one on Amazon and while it was hard to spend that much it was totally worth it and fits in our sink like a glove! No really the sides are made of silicon so while the dimensions are bigger then the sink I knew the sides would bend in a little and provide a tight fit. This baby isn’t going anywhere in a moderate seaway.
Collapsible Dish drain
Two sinks

I have shared pictures here and there of the boat during various projects but now since all of my interior projects are done and the boat is so much more improved and ready to live on I thought I’d take you on a little tour of the inside. Once we move on and load her up we’ll probably do a video tour to give you the real feel of a provisioned cruising boat.

The Galley area ready for the stove! Check out my little sun tile covering up that old outlet hole.
Galley area cleaned

The Navigation area. The table is big enough to role paper charts onto and all of our communication equipment is housed here. It also doubles as Tate’s workbench with the hardy blue Formica.
Nav area

The port Salon Dinette, super excited here. The boat looks so much bigger when I see pictures of myself inside.
Dani in the Salon

The starboard Salon Settee area. We’ll bring the salon cushions when we move aboard.
Salon Starboard

Looking aft to the companionway.
Looking forward on the boat

The hallway to the head and vberth.
hallway to the vberth

The Head area.
The head area

The starboard Head cabinets and hanging locker. There is enough space here to fit 5 Dani’s.
Head cabinets

The Vberth area. Oh how I can’t wait to sleep in thee.
Vberth area

Well there you have it. Now however my project list is so short, whatever will I do with all my time? Hmm, maybe read all those books I keep postponing, run more, cook better food, learn photo/video graphy skills, brush up on my Spanish, learn French…

But we aren’t all done, done, done. Here are the items remaining according to my list: Install stove and propane, install solar panels, install new engine shifter, install water tanks and faucets, recaulk cockpit teak (it’s like the rainforest here this summer), hook up the anchor, install the windvane, remake the dodger and bimini (in Aug), shorten 1 stay, and paint the handrail area.

That’s the shortest list we’ve ever had. Woohoo! Here’s to making it happen.

The shopping begins!

Oh who am I kidding? Begins? More like continues, onward down the yellowish green brick road of blood, tears and dollar bills. This entire boat project has been pretty much a years long shopping trip of giant proportions but recently instead of nuts and bolts I have been shopping for livingwares. The things we need to live comfortably and put this show on the waterway.

Our living room and kitchen are slowly being taken over by cardboard boxes and I think they may now be multiplying on their own, but I can’t be sure. The windvane in on the very bottom of this reef:
Boxes in living room

And our stove rests quietly in the living room decorated with plastic cups and collapsing bowls.
Tons of boxes in the living room

I won’t lie, all this shopping, while exhausting, is SO MUCH FUN. Finally after 5 years, 5 years, I can shop guilt free for things for the house. Here is a list of some of the highlights to me either by use or anticipation of use:

  1. Dyna Jet BL-44 Clothes wringer. I got mine from the Wisemen Trading Company for $146 bucks plus the tub clamps. Constructed of bronze and aluminum I plan to use this wringer when I wash clothes on our boat out of a salt water bucket allowing me to use less fresh water to rinse.
  2. Pack Towel’s super absorbent towels. These little guys take up less space and dry quicker then big fluffy towels. I got them on Amazon.
  3. Stainless Kettle 2.75 quarts. We have tested this copper bottomed beauty and are truly impressed. It heats water quickly and has a wide heavy base to keep it steady in rolling seas. It’s home will mostly be on top of our stove and see daily use as we won’t have running hot water. Amazon as well.
  4. Manual Coffee grinder. We LOVE coffee and out at sea whole bean coffee is easier to find and last longer than already ground, but we don’t want to eat up precious Amps with an electric one. This one grinds quickly and has a removable coffee storage jar. YUM! Amazon baby.
  5. 11″ Everyday Pan safe for the stove top and the oven. I gave real thought to getting the whole Magma shebang but couldn’t really see myself using ALL of those pots. The most important thing for me was the skillet and this pan solves so many problems at once. It doesn’t have a long handle, it has tallish sides to help with spilling, comes with a top and can easily go from the stove to the oven and back.  We’ll use this pan, our 4 quart Presto pressure cooker and another smaller side dish pan and that’s it until we feel the need. Amazon.
  6. Thermoses – various sizes. We need a way to keep hot food/drinks warm after we shut the propane off and get underway, a Thermos is just the ticket. We have a few of these in various sizes.  Amazon.
  7. Tritan Plastic Cups – 14 ounces. We aren’t bringing any glassware on the boat so I opted for these great “plastic” cups. So far we like them and they have great reviews not to mention they don’t tip over easily.  We are going simple and plan to use these cups for everything from water to wine to scotch or rum. Who else?
  8. Cermaic Coffee “Volcano” mug.  Tate hasn’t been involved much with this shopping as he “hates” shopping but he did leave me with one criteria- NO STAINLESS COFFEE MUGS. Pretty much all of the travel mugs out there are a stainless tumbler type so instead I got these wide base ceramic mugs with nonskid on the bottom. We’ll use these mostly unless it’s blowing like crazy in which case the trusty Thermos (see #6) will have to do. Amazon.
  9. DMT Knife Sharpener – Coarse to fine.  This gem was so highly reviewed I couldn’t pass it up plus its compact “butterfly” style reminded me of my time on the streets in New York and will also fit nicely in the drawer.  The salt in the air and water will no doubt dull our blades pretty quickly so having a good knife sharpener is going to be important I think. Amazonian babe.
  10. Rapala Fish n Fillet knife – I have read good things about this and I guarantee that once we quit our jobs we are going to penny pinching like never before so catching our own food and having an easy way to prepare it will be helpful. Can’t wait to try this one out and just look at that hand crafted Finnish leather sheath. Found here.
  11. Aloksak water/sand proof bags.  Electronics and boats just don’t seem to mix. Boats love water, Electronics like to be dry so I purchased these along with some Silica beads to try out with some of our electronics to hopefully extend their life if things get really hot and humid out. Here. (Thanks Attila for updates on your gear failures!)
  12. Lock and Lock Containers - I just kept hearing the best things about these containers and so bought some in all different sizes including 4 for eggs to experiment with. They have a silicone gasket and 4 locking tabs so these will keep our bulk stores of rice, beans, oats, pasta, sugar, flour, salt and other dry goods, well dry and hopefully bug free.  I found the best prices at QVC.
  13. Light weight and easy to wash Clothing like Kuhl’s “Revolvr” Pants for Tate. Since we plan to wash most of our own clothes by hand they will have to dry by the light of day. This makes fabric’s like denim just impractical and so we don’t plan to bring much if any at all. There are all kinds of new blends of nylon and cotton coming out that are breathable while being easy to wash and dry. If things get colder we’ll have our foul weather gear and also our long johns.
  14. 500 WATTS of SOLAR ! This is the last one for now and perhaps my most exciting. We finally made the decision to spring for five of the 3 lbs, 100 Watt flexible panels made by Renogy. This company was started by an LSU graduate (which Tate and I both are) and the new flex panels are made using Sunpower’s solar cells. We got them for about $200 each on Renogy’s website but here is a link to Amazon which has reviews. We really debated on this for a long time…months and months. Do we get fixed panels or rigid? Do we buy from China or pay the local premium? Where do we put them?  In the end we are going to put two 100 watts on the back for sure and we are playing around with where to put the other three, maybe one on the dodger and two on the bimini with the ability to “unhook” them if we need to take them down or move them (reinforcing the back of course). This would give us 500 watts total with the ability to have more panels “active” at different times of the day.

Whew, so I think I am finally done with all the major shopping. Everything else, if there is anything will have to wait until we are out there and find the need.  Check out The Boat Galley by Carolyn Shearlock, she has TONS of good info on outfitting the galley.

What are some things you just really wished you had while cruising?  What about some things you thought you needed but ended up not?

I’ll leave you with a couple of shots over Lake Pontchartrain on the eve of July 4th and my moms birthday. I’m practicing now so I can capture the beauty this trip is sure to bring.

Purple Martins flying at dusk, you can see the moon spec solitary and bright.
Purple Martins July 4th

The moon a few minutes from setting.
Birthday Moon

A brief intermission

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to dust off our blog and write a short note to say thank you to all of you who’ve sent your condolences. This year has been particularly hard. Losing two grandparents back to back has been a sobering and emotional journey. I’m happy that both of my grandmothers lived long and full lives and left behind wonderful families which Dani and I can be part of. I know I haven’t been really “present” here in the cyberspace, and nor will I be for some little time longer. I need to collect myself. And my life has been busy.

In the next week I’ll be helping my Dad move, then I have the wedding of my best friend to attend to. And after that I’m sure there are some other odds and ends to tie up that haven’t been boat related. For some reason I have this sort of “block” against writing about none boat related life. I wonder who would care to read it and why? But I wanted to stop in and say, don’t worry, Dani and I have many projects to complete before we leave and I’m sure I’ll be able to write once we’re “out there”. I apologize to all the great writers out there that I normally keep up with and correspond with, don’t worry, I still read you, I’ve just been running silent.

The loss of my last grandparent has sort of been an experience for reflection about our departure. Our family has always been matriarchal. The women held the family together. Family gatherings tend to be centered around the matriarch and the family gathers there. On both sides. And now they are all gone. I’ve lost my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother on my Mom’s side and now my grandmother on my Father’s side. I believe we’re all left wondering who or how the bigger extended family will stay tied together.

I’ve often wondered how we’ll stay connected with our family when we leave. How will we stay in touch? Dani and I started this blog as a way to sort of stay in touch and give a status update on what is going on in our lives. Interestingly enough it has turned into a wonderful meeting of the minds. We’ve met so many of you and our comments sections just abound with great advice and interesting people that we never expected to meet, Its been a truly humbling and powerful experience for us. But one thing that remains by and large absent is our family. They rarely comment here and while I believe they check in from time to time, I don’t think that our ramblings about boat motors and rigging parts really inspires them to communicate with us. Go figure right?

I wonder about how we’ll stay in touch. I wonder if we’ll write cards or letters or maybe emails or texts. Who can say? One thing my recently deceased grandmother did for our family was bind us together. And now there is a huge void there. The thought of leaving and being “away” from family has become all the more real. I miss her and the bond that she gave to our loved ones.

I’ll be back to write about our adventures in boat refit soon. Sorry I just need a break. I’ll leave this blog in the capable hands of Dani for a month or two while I reflect.

The art begins!

Hello people from the outerworld, we come with great news! This past week I finally hung the first piece of artwork in our boat which was a milestone for me. I have actually completed all of the major items I had to get done before we leave so all that is left is the fun stuff or optional projects. It’s honestly hard for me to believe that after 4 years of work on Sundowner I am shopping for art to bring our space to life.

This isn’t just any old art though…this art took research, planning and oh so much thinking about what to use. You see we have various holes in the walls of the boat left over from electrical outlets and other things but I really really didn’t like how it looked to simply cover them with plastic blank plates. I just couldn’t stand it so I thought for a couple of months of what would be the best thing to cover the holes.

Using something artistic would serve a dual purpose by covering the offending holes while at the same time being pleasing to the eye. I went round and round with ideas of needlepoint art, paintings, decoupage, rope and spent many hours on Ebay and Etsy getting ideas.

One of the ideas that always stuck out to me were painted tiles. Impervious to liquid, heat and cold they seemed like a perfect way to add some art. Not just any tile would do though because for the head in particular I needed a 6″ x 10″ piece to cover these two holes:
Holes in the wall in the head

Every day or so I searched for painted tiles on Ebay hoping to find something that would work and lo and behold one day I found this pair of teak framed tiles painted with Brazilian fishing boats that were exactly 6″ x 10″ each. Not only would they fit perfect they were only $10 including shipping! I LOVE them:
Painted tile art of Brazilian fishing boats
Painted tile art

Now I’m not going to go all nautical on the boat decorations but these two add a really great feeling to the boat and cover up those holes nicely. I rebed the tiles to the frames with some 5200 we already had open and attached them to the wall with the same industrial strength Velcro I used for the headliner. It’s not budging.
Finished art work in the head

I also found some Spanish painted tiles I liked to cover up single outlet holes like this sun that will go in the galley (after I trim it 1/4″).
Sun painted tile art

I suppose tile does have a weakness in that it can break but unless it’s under the worst circumstances I don’t see that happening so I’ll take my chances.

Our ticker has moved down to 6 months and we are moving into the last phase of life on land and getting the boat ready. We’ve been to doctors and are stocking our offshore medical kit with precious medicine, making a list of vaccines we’ll need and I’m in the process of getting a passport and Tate renewing his. We finally got our Dickinson Caribbean stove in so I’ve started outfitting our galley with cookware and also getting our clothing/washing situation sorted out.

We measured and are about to order solar panels and install the windvane. Next weekend I’ll start my last and final “major optional project” where I’ll redo the cockpit teak caulk seams (pray for me) and in August I’ll head back to my Mom’s shop to remake the bimini and dodger.

Exciting times people. It’s weird really, all this time I’ve dreamed of the last 6 months, couldn’t wait to be right there. I wondered back then if I would really be as excited as I thought I’d be. Well I am. For me it’s the feeling you get the days leading up to a fun vacation, stretched out over 6 months intensifying to depths of which I’ve never experienced before.

Speaking of vacations, here is a short video I made with the GoPro of our time in Orange Beach, Al earlier this month with Tate’s family. We got a cool new Olympus MES51 microphone with a GoPro adapter cord and a GREAT “wind muff” from Windcutter, the Storm Chaser model. It made a huge difference and I can’t wait to try it while we are sailing.

On a sadder note, Tate’s other grandmother passed away recently so we’ll be headed back to Southwest Louisiana to pay our respects and see the ones we love again. Hold onto each other tight.