Installing the galley stove

Our day started bright and early with a trip to fill up the propane tanks. It was Dani’s first time seeing propane tanks filled instead of exchanged.
Filling up new Fiberglass propane tanks

And off to the boat with our usual truck load of crap in the back. I’m beginning to wonder if all of our dock mates believe that all we do is lug stuff to our boat. It seems like every time we go to the marina the dock carts cringe in anticipation of the coming abuse. Today’s tally was a heavy stove and a couple of propane tanks.
Hauling the Dickinson Caribbean stove to the boat

The first order of business was to make a place for the propane hose to pass into the boat. You know I really hate drilling holes in the boat. Man I hate it. But this time it wasn’t so bad because I repurposed an old hole for a GPS antenna that we don’t use and just made it bigger.
Drilling a hole in the boat for propane hose

This allowed me to install a fitting designed for propane hoses that is air tight. It works with a big nut on top that compresses a rubber gasket seal around the hose. Uncompressed the hose with the end fitting can fit through, but once tightened the hose cannot move.
Propane line secured on top of the fuel tanks

I pulled the hose up through the fitting and attached it to the propane tank before finally snugging it up. The line is below the passage of the tiller and fixed to the boomkin. I wrapped the propane hose with some old water hose to prevent chafe where I fixed it to the boomkin. In this photo we haven’t cleaned it up, but it is the photo we have since it began raining afterwards. I also wrapped the propane bottle with a length of old hose which prevents it from actually touching the sides of the pot.
Propane tank installed

I sent the monkey below into the engine room to route the propane hose above the fuel tanks and then down through the bulkhead to the galley. She was able to do this because she is small and nimble. We were also able to use some clamps along the ceiling of the engine room to secure the hose. At each attachment point we wrapped the propane line with the old water hose to prevent any chafe.
Dani squeezing her way into the engine room
Ubolt on top of the fuel tank for the propane line

The hose exits right behind the stove, perfect for the connection.
New gimbal mounts for the Dickinson Caribbean stove

Unfortunately the old gimbal mounts would not work for the new stove so I had to mount the ones that came with the new stove. The directions specified that the distance between the mounting surfaces be exactly 22″ apart.
Instructions to mount the Dickinson Caribbean stove

Our cut out for the stove was 21.5″. That turned out to be perfect since I had some scrap 1/4″ starboard laying around. The measuring was done carefully with a full size cut out of the side of the stove positioned in the space. We left exactly 2.5″ behind the stove (called for in the manual) and tried to level the top of the stove with the top of the fiddles. For any other Westsailors out there installing a Dickinson Caribbean stove… The top of the gimbal fitting needs to be approx 1/2″ below the bottom of the fiddles.
Gimbal for the Dickinson Caribbean stove

And while it was difficult to lift the beast into place, it fit, and just right too. The bolts in the stove to grab the gimbals were *just* right.
View of the Dickinson Caribbean stove from the companionway

And check out that swank dish towel that my brother in law’s mother, Pam, gave to us.
Dish towel with Sundowner Sails Again embroidered on it

She lives!
Propane flames on the new Dickinson Caribbean stove

Before actually igniting the stove, I mixed up some dish soap in a bucket of water and put it all over all the fittings and checked for leaks and there were none thankfully. Dickinson had very strict directions not to use teflon tape in the compression fittings for the propane so I did not. Still a little worrisome on the first go, but in the end it all worked out.

And so Dani and I retired to the cockpit, with hot tea to drink.
Dani drinking tea made on the stove

This project has been a long long time coming. We’ve never had a stove work on the boat before. Once we used the little magma bbq pit, but never since we’ve had Sundowner have we been able to just use a stove or an oven. But now we can and it feels really good. Running water. Working stove. Its starting to feel a little bit like home. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself once we wrap up “project mode”.

A coonass and a stockpot


There is just something about being a coonass (read: cajun). You cannot separate a cajun from his stockpot. Thats just the way it is.

Now, I’m not saying I can haul a 30qt pot around in a boat galley. I am saying I’m not leaving without a stock pot. You guys might think this the craziest of my admittedly hair brained ideas so far, but I decided to use a cooking pot as the propane tank mount. Yes, you read that right.

A few months ago Dani and I found some of the new style fiberglass 20lb propane tanks that were new old stock and on clearance for half price, so we bought them. The problem is that most propane tank mounts for boats are made for older conventional style tanks which were typically aluminum on boats. These don’t fit the fiberglass tanks. The Westsail manual suggested building a box on the cabin top and routing the propane line down into the galley. I didn’t really care for that idea. I like my deck space. I also don’t like propane tanks being inboard the gunnels. So I got to thinking about it. What would a fiberglass propane tank mount ideally look like? Well as it turns out a stock pot is almost exactly the right size to hold one. And so I finally had it. I had a way to carry my stock pot with me.

I decided that I’d mount it off of the boomkin, far past the gunnels. The boomkin came with some stainless steel tabs that were intended to be in place so one could put down some teak steps on the stern. I never cared for that idea, I have no problem stepping out there on the metal to be honest. They were to be re purposed into mount points for the propane tank. I took the old boomkin chainplates that I replaced and bolted them onto these tabs.
fiberglass propane tank mount

We marked the holes on the stock pot and drilled it out. I also drilled some drain holes. The bolt holes were counter sunk into the pot.
fiberglass propane tank drain holes

Finally, I went ahead and put a rail clamp onto the boomkin tower and used a small piece of bar stock to bolt the side of the pot to the boomkin tower so it would have a bit more rigidity.
Exterior of the fiberglass propane tank

Had to test it for strength.
Dani standing in the fiberglass propane tank

I had thought about removing the handles from the pot, but I didn’t. I kept them on there so I can secure the propane tank bottle into the pot using them as tie down points. Now this probably isn’t going to win any points in the beauty contest, but I’ve yet to see a “beautiful” propane tank. And there is something charming about a boat from New Orleans sailing around the world with a gumbo pot hanging off the stern.
fiberglass propane tank aft shot

Tomorrow I plan to route the propane line to the galley and then we’ll see about finally getting that stove onboard.

Return of Jefe (the anchor)

Bringing the anchor home is not always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes small adventures get in the way.

I had hemmed and hawed over how much chain to order for Sundowner. Chain is both heavy and expensive. The weight in the bow is not good for sailing and the weight off the wallet is not good for cruising but the strength of the stuff cannot be overlooked. So it was that I decided to order half a barrel (200ft) of Acco galvanized 3/8″ BBB anchor chain (which fit our windlass). This little parcel comes in a barrel that weights near to 400lbs. As such it must be shipped to a “freight” facility and not to your home.

So after it arrived Dani and I drove out to get it but there was standing water on the road in. I drove slowly through it and we got the chain in the truck via a fork lift and left. The drive out was not as uneventful. Dani had fussed about the water and potholes and whatever else the condition of the road may be. Well she got her wish when the truck took a nose dive into the puddle. Water came up over the windshield and I punched it… The tires caught on something and the truck hurtled out of the water on the road and came to a screeching stop with steam coming out from underneath on all sides. We both stared at each other in amazement. The old truck, the work horse had somehow pulled through and seemingly without damage. All for a barrel of chain.

Our anchor, Jefe, has been sitting in our kitchen for months. It was eager to meet this new chain and return home to the boat. And this was its weekend. We loaded everything up and made our way to the boat to offload. It took two dock carts with the chain split between them to haul it down the pier to the boat.
Moving 3/8

I wasn’t sure the little carts could handle the load but they made their way dutifully down the pier and returned a second time to haul the anchor and rope road as well. We have an additional 150ft of 5/8″ three strand nylon for anchoring and an additional 300ft of rode to spare but it will not be hooked up. Of course the three strand went into the anchor locker first.
Anchor rode going down the deck pipe

I tied a bowline in the bitter end and then secured this to the anchor locker bulk head.
Anchor tie off inside the boat

Next we hauled the chain on board the boat. Handful by steady handful we piled it on deck and worked it from the dock onto the boat. I had thought of marking the length before taking it aboard but I have not yet found a system of marking it off that I like, so new and naked it came aboard.

To attach the rope rode to the chain I used a pair of anchor shackles. These are 7/16″ alloy steel shackles that fit the 3/8″ BBB chain. They have a WLL of 2 and 5/8 tons. That is a lot of strength and they actually exceed the WLL of the chain itself.
Attaching the rode to the 3/8

And from there it was time to just feed it all down into the anchor locker, handful by gentle handful. It forms a veritable mountain in the anchor locker.

The very end of the chain was fed through the anchor roller and I attached it to the anchor which was waiting patiently on the dock. I attached it using two shackles. One shackle with a pin through the anchor shank and one shackle with a pin through the chain. All shackles were moused with SS seizing wire.

From there it was just a matter of using the windlass to pull the anchor back up into its home.  This moment came with a bit of trepidation from us as so much has changed on the front of the boat since we had this anchor rigged last time.  We have a new bowsprit with new anchor rollers.  The position of the rollers is further back than the old ones.  Would it fit?
60 lb Manson Boss anchor on the bow

As it turns out, the new arrangement actually fit far better than the last one.  The anchor rollers are bigger and allow the shank of the anchor to come up higher, so the big fluke of the anchor is much more snug under our bowsprit.  Welcome back home Jefe. The windlass also performed well and the anchor flukes just slid by the bobstay without hassle. What a relief!
60 lb Manson Boss anchor on the bow another angle
60 lb Manson Boss anchor on the bow on the full boat angle
60 lb Manson Boss anchor snug under the bow sprit

So what does adding a little over 400lbs of weight to the bow do?  It lowers the bow approx 3-4″ and it raises the stern a couple of inches.
Water line before the addition of the 3/8
Water line lowered inches after the addition of the 3/8

And the final chore of the day was measuring the how the spinnaker pole will fit. Glenn (SV QUEST) generously donated an old spinnaker pole from his Easterly 30 to our voyage and we intend to use it when the winds are right for it. It seems to be just about right for Sundowner.
Testing the size and position of the spinnaker pole

It feels good to have a boat ready to anchor out again. I didn’t get to the propane install this weekend as promised but its still on the list. Sometimes when UPS calls and says its time to pick up your chain, you just have to adjust plans.

Have wind – Will travel…to NOLA!

In April of 2011 Tate made a huge sacrifice to make our dream come true. He got his house ready to sell in Baton Rouge and moved in with me in New Orleans. After all this is where it was easiest to work on the boat and also where my job was stationed but it wasn’t without consequence. He traded 1900SF for a shared 1100SF, a spacious backyard where he spent most of his time lined with oak trees many owls called home for no backyard and most difficultly he also left all of his friends and coworkers to work from home in NOLA. So while he gained in boat progress and our relationship he lost in his connection with others.

Working from home may seem like a dream come true but for someone who loves the company of others it is a double edged sword. Refitting a boat takes up a lot of time and can make it difficult to visit with friends in other cities not to mention it is the happy time in many people’s lives where marriage and children become priorities. So while we will always love our friends from times past and try to get together when possible we also look forward to new friendships born out of our sacrifice.

One of the main reasons for this trip around the globe is to experience the world… and the people in it. We yearn for those deep friendships based on similar interests and fortunately from time to time get to meet people through this blog and our lifestyle. Since entering the “boating world” and starting this blog we have met many people, who I like to call friends:

  1. We met Todd through a Westsail Rendezvous which led to being crew on his boat, the Westsail 32 Morning Sun, for the 2013 Harvest Moon Regatta. Which is coming up again…
  2. During the HMR trip to Texas we met up with fellow bloggers/refitters, Cidnie and Mark with Ceol Mor for a fun night out in Kemah.
  3. A fellow blog reader, Skip,  came to see us all the way from California during a boat search.
  4. An incredibly talented artist, Jean Marc Bock, sent us a heartfelt illustration of Sundowner out of the blue.
  5. G and C from another sailing blog, Gremlin’s Hammer paid us a visit in NOLA while sightseeing.
  6. We met and continue to hang out with Brian and Shana from Baton Rouge who have long term Caribbean cruising plans and own a sailboat.
  7. After sharing the worst conditions in Mobile Bay in 15 years, Debbie and SJ of Savoir Faire, invited us for wine and stories at their beach house in Orange Beach, Al.
  8. Through my mom we met Tyler and Tina with SV Ro’annon, who took us sailing in the Albemarle Sound shortly before owning our own boat.
  9. Living in our marina while he goes to dentistry school is Ben who I met one day sailing his brightly striped sail near our boat.
  10. On our dock we met Beau and Beka, SV Seaflower, and preceded to have many adventures aboard including sailing at night!
  11. Beau introduced us to Skipper Glenn of Quest who we still race with every Wednesday. I’ve learned more about sailing on his boat than anywhere else.
  12. We met another retired sailing couple, Bridget and Pat, currently sailing the Caribbean. We may meet up with them once we start.
  13. Tammy and Bruce with SV Dos Libras stopped at our boatyard on their way East and we joined them for dinner and wine.
  14. Paul, a blog reader and Great Looper, currently building the 28ft wooden MV Tardis, sent us a HUGE collection of sailing books which Tate has gone through and read.
  15. Another Great Looper, Bill aboard MV Tortuga invited us onboard for STEAKS while we were working in the yard this past winter.
  16. And we met countless others in the racing circuit both here and in Texas, others at our marinas and boat yards and many others we correspond with through the blog. (I’m sorry if I left anyone out!)

Even though we haven’t left the dock yet our dreams are being realized through the new connections and relationships we make. Just looking at the list above makes me realize how truly lucky we are and how wonderful, friendly and inviting the “Cruising Community” is. If you are in need of friendship start hanging around boats.

And now we get to add another one to the list of people we call friends!  Annie and Phillip with the blog Have wind – will Travel took a weekend trip from their home in Pensacola Florida to New Orleans and invited us out for an evening of fun. Annie and Phillip are both attorneys who just came back from a AWESOME 6 week trip down the Florida coast to the Keys and back aboard their beauty for a boat, Plantiff’s Rest, a 35-foot Hinterhoeller Niagara built in 1985.

Interestingly enough the Niagara was in the running when we were looking at boats but they are rare and there just weren’t any close enough. Annie is also an accomplished author, self publishing the book “The Billable Hour, a Legal Practitioner’s Guide to Smarter Billing”. Hopefully sales for this well written book will take off allowing her and Phillip to come cruising with us sooner. Are you an attorney? You can help this happen by purchasing here.

Annie and I have similar stories in that the plan started with the guys but infectiously spread to every part of our being. Are you saying you want to travel the world in a boat, YES sign me up!  It was also nice to meet a couple around our age who don’t have kids and have long term sailing plans. For us it’s coming up but for them it’s years out…luckily they get to take trips every year to keep the adventure alive. Maybe if we’re lucky they’ll join us in for a time in the Caribbean next year (it’s just a plane ticket away guys). I’ll be sure to stock the boat with alluring fresh grapefruits and gin, one of my favorites and, surprise surprise, Annie’s too.

Having traveled many times to NOLA Annie and Phillip had an agenda different than most people who come to visit.  Forget Bourbon, take me to FRENCHMEN street. You can see on the map is >just< outside the French Quarter boundaries to the right.  This area is crawling with local music and unique (and D-lish) restaurants.
Frenchman street map

Hell in New Orleans you often don’t have to choose between music or food, they’ll sit a trumpet and a double bass right next to your table. This was at The Three Muses where we had “small plates” of bacon wrapped blue cheese dates, fish tacos, scallops, blue crab spring rolls and lamb burger sliders. The food was topnotch and the music was very very good. I just love live music!
3 Muses band at dinner

Extravagant art hung on every wall.
Art work at 3 Muses

After a long dinner with Mojitos, Mint Juleps, Grapefruit Margaritas and wine we took to the streets, Annie and I both in highheels/wedge shoes. Tate advised against such high shoes for “Quarter walking” but hey this may have been one of the last times I get to wear anything over 1″ high!
Frenchman street sign

Annie and Phillip make such a great couple who know how to sit back and have a great time. If you get a chance you should check out their blog and their wild and crazy adventures down to the Keys. Annie is a talented writer and there are lots of laughs to be had.
Group picture, Annie, Dani, Tate and Phillip

We headed just a few blocks away on St. Claude to the Allways Lounge to catch, Clue a Burlesque Mystery! Would you believe that just then I almost had my handbag stolen? In all the times I’ve gone to the French Quarter, over 50, I’ve never ever been robbed or had anything stolen. We were simply standing RIGHT IN FRONT of the Allways Lounge when I felt a tug under my right arm where I was carrying my handbag. Naturally I spun around to see what it was and didn’t see anything. Then I started looking all around and saw two young men speeding ahead on bicycles.

Feeling the power and speed of the tug and having no one else around me I just knew that the first bike rider had actually swiftly ridden by and tried to grab my purse. Wow, I was blown away. Thanks to all the work on the boat my beefy guns held it in place but it was close. I couldn’t help myself as I yelled repeatedly towards the guys on bikes, “Hey they just tried to steal my purse!” One of them turned quickly and started talking about how he didn’t try to take anything while the front runner was long gone. We calmed any tempers and sent the would be thieves on their way without any more trouble. This purse snatching from atop a bike was a new one for me and thank god it wasn’t our visiting guest Annie who also had a small handbag.

Just as quickly as it happened it was over and we were headed inside for the show and drinks.
Clue a Burlesque show

We made it in and got a table just in the nick of time as about 15 minutes later the place was packed with standing room only. Arrive early to Burlesque shows people…folks like these things.
Allways Cabaret before the show

The whole night was a whirlwind of drinking, eating and talking, and talking and more talking. We all just had so much to say in such a short amount of time it seemed like the night could go on forever.
Annie and Dani

None of us guessed the killer correctly so we were sent on our way empty handed. We hit a couple of more bars around there and ran into someone who REALLY liked Sailor Jerry.
Sailor Jerry car NOLA

Eventually my feet got blisters and we were up way past our bedtimes so we said goodnight and got a taxi home. We promised we’d try to make it over to Pensacola this January on our trip down to the Keys to meet again. This time they can show us around their stomping grounds.

I’ve heard that friendships in the Cruising world are made quickly and deeply but that they are also short since everyone is on the move eventually. So far this hasn’t been a problem for me as I cherish each of the experiences and have fun planning the next time we’ll meet up. Thanks Annie and Phillip for a night out and a break from boat work, we hope to see you again one day!

*As a tribute to these new relationships I’ve made a link on the right “Friend’s we’ve Made” so we can always look back and remember.