Tick Tock


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Remember your last day of school?  (God help you if you’re still in school.)  I remember mine.  I was watching the clock on the wall.  The second hand was begrudgingly metering out the final seconds of our confinement.  I watched it so closely and I swear that sometimes it moved backwards to spite me.  Time is like that.  The task master to the vicious little clocks.

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Sometimes…  I think on time.  I look at that counter that we keep that tells us how long we have until we untie the lines and leave.  As I’m writing this it is telling me there are eight months until that day.  Dani is so excited with it.  She says its no time at all.  “And the last year has just flown by.”   But for me, it isn’t so.  For me, the last year has felt like like it has stretched out into many years.   Its funny isn’t it?  How things are all relative.

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Do you think that perhaps Einstein had a little help with his grand theories because of boats?  He was sailor.   Perhaps he too experienced the expansion and contraction of time.   Or perhaps he had his own version of Dani telling him how quickly everything was going while he was in the quagmire of days between him and some goal.

The interesting thing about it all to me though, is that I fully expect it to work like a great rubber band.  It will stretch and stretch and seem to go on forever but then at the end when it snaps there will be a tremendous rush.  I guess all these thoughts came about when I began to set our final schedule for the boat refit in place.  We’ve been lazy these past few weeks.  We spent over a month just sailing Sundowner in the races.  (And had a blast doing it.)   But now it is time to buckle down and get to work.  But life keeps throwing things at you.

One weekend is a birthday.  The next weekend is a holiday.  The next weekend is some planned family gathering, or a vacation, or <insert life event here> and before you know it, you’ve simply run out of weekends.  This is why deadlines are so important.  And I suspect it is part of why so many old salts have said that the hardest part of setting off to go cruising is really just leaving the dock.

This weekend we’ll move the boat back to her home slip and restart our project list.  We’ll begin again to buckle down and spend all weekends on the boat doing some odd job or project.  We’re getting close to the final stretch.  We’re getting closer to discovering what is waiting for us.

I suspect our final six months before we leave will be one hell of a ride.
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I have battled seasickness pretty much every time we sail. Calmish weather, medium weather, rough weather, you name it and I’m feeling queasy. It’s actually been a source of frustration for me since every time I get aboard to race or pleasure sail I take some kind of medicine (1/4 to 1/2 pill of Scopace usually) and end up feeling strange and sluggish. Over a period of days this gets rough and my time just isn’t as enjoyable, except for the last two races. That’s right, I tried the mythical “Ear Plug Trick for Seasickness” and it worked!

I read about this Wonder last year on Spin Sheet, on various blogs and Facebook group pages but it seemed to get mixed reviews overall so I was skeptical for sure. I’m pretty skeptical of most Holistic and New Age approaches to severe illness (don’t hate me). I’m sure it works for some but my personal experience has shown me otherwise.

I’ve tried Ginger candy and teas with minimal result. Oh no, when the boat is rocking and rolling you can FORGET about Ginger keeping me from losing my lunch. Seriously does that really work for people in fitful seas? I’ve also tried not taking anything or I’ve forgotten and the results were not good even with a strong mind to not focus on the sickness and plenty of horizon staring. I’ve thought about springing for the fancy wrist bands, head bands and neck bands but really they are too expensive to just not work. I know for sure the meds work.

Since it’s just Tate and myself on the boat I consider the issue of seasickness an issue of safety. I can’t just “be natural” and not take the sluggish pills in the hopes that I get my sea legs because if I get sick Tate is on his own to man the boat and visa versa. It’s really just not fair and can be dangerous, so I suck it up and take the damn things.

Besides the feeling of the medicine is WAY better than the feeling of being REALLY sick. And so I resigned myself to taking meds when we plan to be on the boat for long periods or during high alert racing when we need “all hands on deck” but maybe now there is another way.

Shana in town
Two weeks ago when our friends Brian and Shana came down from Baton Rouge to help crew the Sundowner race boat I mentioned it might be a good day to try the ear plug trick. I knew the winds were strong but I thought they were out of the SSE which would lead to an easyish sail. Shana brought enough orange ear plugs to last me the trip and we giddily put one in our non-dominant ear (left ear for right handed people).

We headed out into the lake with high hopes and half hearing to be met with an East wind about 15-20 knots. This made for considerably rougher conditions especially since the races are windward leeward.

I worried a bit about just having the plug in because when you are beating into the wind on Lake Pontchartrain the 2 hour race can feel like a LONG time if you are hanging over the rail but I resolved to give it a chance. I needed to see if it would work and to my GREAT surprise it did.

I didn’t feel a hint of sickness the whole race even though we had the rail buried and were going up and down and around in an uncomfortable way. I am convinced if not for the earplug I would have been sick as a dog. Shana also did not get sick but couldn’t say if those conditions would have made her sick in the first place as her sailing resume is just starting to grow.

Some might say this is a case of mind over matter, the placebo effect if you will, but I do not think that is the case. I have a lot of control over my faculties, consider myself strong and have kept myself from going over the edge into a dying mess when I was already sick all by tricking my mind. I truly believe this to be something that works, for me at least and in these “roughish” conditions.

Who’s to say if it would work in very terrible conditions? I suppose I’ll have to give that a try later but for now I think it’ll be good for most conditions (crossing fingers).

Supremely excited about the success of this trick I tried it again last night during another windward leeward race. The conditions weren’t as rough as the week before but we had the rail in the water and the boat on occasion would round up and roll about, much easier conditions than this have made me ill 9.5 out of 10 times before.

Walking out to the bowsprit to get this shot was no problem.
Rail in the water

Heeled over pretty far, still just fine!
Heeled over

And finally I was able to enjoy this gorgeous sunset with un-medicated eyes and a clear head. It worked again!
Sunset on a beautiful day

The only draw back is you lose about half your hearing on one side of your head…Although Tate would argue that’s not such a draw back after all:)

I can’t guarantee it will work for you but you should definitely give it a shot! (hint if you can still hear out of that ear your not doing it right). Happy rolling!

Unwinding after a long season of projects

Not too much to report.

After our last race on Wed night we had a few things to address. We broke a cleat off of the mast base that I was using to fasten the boom vang to. This wasn’t the wisest arrangement as the boom vang should really have been attached to the chain plates. I have put some big d-shackles on the chainplates so that the vang can serve as a vang and also as a preventer. The downside to this is that you must manually move the vang from side to side when you gybe downwind. It isn’t the most ideal arrangement when racing but it shouldn’t be a big deal when we’re just cruising.

Speaking of that race, we came in fifth place out of five. Last place. Although I think the race committee cheated us in some way. There were at least two boats that turned back mid race because they were in trouble or something. We saw them turning back and taking shelter. The wind and waves were admittedly pretty rough for a race and it was cold. But we aboard Sundowner soldiered on and finished it, despite being so far behind. I guess that is somewhat inevitable aboard a big heavy slow boat.

Other than that things are just moving right along in a way that almost inspires guilt. We’re not really doing anything. Today we secured all the turn buckles with pins and rings as we’ve become more satisfied with the rig tune. I tighted the forestay just a smidge. And beyond that, no real projects going on so to speak.

We are finally able to enjoy the boat some though. Saturday evening we hung out on the boat, just because. We picked up some pizza. Some wine. Brought the chess set and spent probably 4 hours just hanging out on the boat, dreaming, and talking about the future.
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Its hard to get out of project mode. But it is also pretty nice to just enjoy the boat for once.

But don’t despair all of my readers that enjoy the projects. The new propane tanks and stove are on the way. And soon after that it will be time for the new fresh water plumbing. Just because I’m not working doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming up new sadistic tasks to undertake.




Lately my days at the boat have been rather carefree. It’s close by, clean and relaxing with no major projects calling my name. It’s FANTASTIC and refreshing. So much so that while I was there this weekend a surge of creativity came over me. Finally there is some room in this brain for the fun stuff!

Tate recently went on a shopping spree for all kinds of goodies for the boat. Fun goodies, bland goodies, important goodies and luxury goodies. One of these were the 747 Caframo fans. Nothing says “Shit just got real” like a pair of 12 volt fans.

Over the years we’ve been researching fans this one has always stood out above the pack. Low in amp draw around 0.4 Ah, said to be quiet, move a lot of air and cost about half of most others.

After using our noisy $10 Walmart DC fans since we’ve owned the boat I couldn’t wait to get try those babies out! Thankfully Tate bought them before the grueling LA summer to see how they perform in the most extreme conditions but like I said I couldn’t wait.

Now the only two options the fan came with was to mount it with screws or “use” some dinky suction cup on the wall (and then in your hair when it falls). Needless to say this didn’t really cut it. We aren’t ready to hard wire anything and the suction cups didn’t work on our oiled interior. Besides we have a teak hand rail that is PERFECT to clip our old black fans on…only the Caframo fans didn’t come with a clip. I searched online for the clip, knowing I’d see one before but to no avail.

When I was sound testing all three fans my lightbulb went off and Crikey I spotted it. We don’t need a stinking extra cost clip from Caframo when we’ve got three right here, from our old fans.
Fan pieces on the table

I took off the old fan and mounted the new Caframo fan right on it’s base. I had to drill holes through the plastic clip and I also cut Neoprene pieces to fit under the clip mount and also a round one for the fan itself. This cut down on the vibration noise substantially. The thin black strips below are neoprene with holes drilled out for the screws.
Base of fan close up

My creation, They’re ALIVE!
Dani is insane with her fans

I really like the way they came out granted they are not all white but I can attest to their quietness and low amp draw. I am impressed. But seriously, be mindful of your hair when around an unprotected spinning fan. I don’t know this from experience but can only imagine what would happen.
Fan in the salon looking good

Another sign shit just got real. Our liferaft and Epirb have arrived. Tate chose the Revere Offshore Commander Liferaft in the valise style, meaning we will keep the raft down below instead of stowed on deck, in the sun and at the mercy of the waves. This will probably be stowed on the starboard upper berth which we no longer use as a berth and so it will be easily accessible. Now hopefully any of you that join us for legs of our journey will feel a little safer. We’ve reserved 4.6 SF in the life raft just for you.
Epirb and the liferaft

I love the little cartoon.
Funny liferaft pic

For the EPRIB we went with a Category 1 ACR brand with the auto deployment casing. An EPRIB will send off a distress signal via satellite from anywhere in the world and will be registered to us so whoever receives the signal will know who it is and exactly where we are. This is a great piece of equipment to have. I also think we are getting a satellite phone since the plans are so much cheaper now.

Tomorrow morning bright and early I head to the Northshore to finish the new mainsail cover I’ve been working on with my mom at the Basic Bag shop. It’s been quite a large job so I’m really excited to finish, which means I should probably get to bed. So Goodnight.