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. 

Holding it down – water tank securement

Nothing is ever easy on a boat, especially an old boat. I remember years ago listening to my uncle complaining about his outboard motors. He was saying how they’re overly expensive and require way more service than a car engine. Today’s cars can drive about 100k miles with very little in the way of service. They’re almost bulletproof. Why are marine motors and parts different? Imagine if you were running that same car but you only drove it uphill on a steep slope all the time. Imagine if every time you used the breaks you were heading downhill on a steep incline. The fact is that the sea is just unforgiving. If there is a weakness, the sea will find it, quickly.

This weekend’s task was to secure the water tanks. With all the plumbing and sinks installed we were ready to finalize the installation. But of course there were issues, because the rule is, nothing is ever easy on a boat. There were two things that conspired to make a seemingly simple task into an ugly one. The first issue is that the new water tanks aren’t the same size as the old ones, so the tie downs needed some adjustment. The second problem is that the old tie downs are in fact, old.

Two of them had already let go when the screws that secure them broke, needing new holes and new screws. Then when I started to tighten the straps, some of them would break at the mounting points. This was an old angle bracket welded onto the stainless steel straps. I guess the years had taken their toll and the welds were just not what they used to be. So the first order of business was to fix that. I made up some new angle brackets and used bolts to secure them to the straps. Btw, I hate drilling stainless.
Angle iron for the water tank securement

The second order of business was to make sure the new poly tanks were damaged by the straps. The old tanks were metal and the metal on metal problem didn’t exist. With these newer plastic tanks I was concerned about it. So to rectify this I cut up some of the old fresh water plumbing hose and recycled it into padding under the metal straps between them and the tanks. This will hopefully prevent any damaging rubbing.
Water tank securement tiedown

I had consulted with other people that had Westsails about their tank securement. 40 gallons of water is a lot of weight, especially if it is sloshing around. I was concerned the tanks could slide around in the bilge, which could be really bad. If the tanks moved apart, they could pull all the plumbing apart and if they slide hard too far forward they could crack the front of the bilge. If they slid too far to the rear, they could crush the bilge pumps. Most of the other westsailors said that they just used the straps and have never had a problem. The tanks are in the lowest center of gravity on the boat. But I wasn’t entirely convinced so I hedged my bets a bit.

To prevent too much movement, I decided I’d put blocks between the tanks and the between the forward tank and the end of the bilge.
Wedge for the water tank securement

I once again recycled some of our old materials. I used chopped up pieces of the old sampson posts and scrap wedges of wood and starboard to slip them into place.
Another wedge inbetween both tank for the water tank securement
Front wedge in the bilge for the water tank securement

Finally, the big problem. The rear strap for the rear tank was mounted up so high that it was just not going to put any pressure on that tank. So instead of trying to strap it down I used an old trick I’d learned when we secured the port side fuel tank. Blocking. I made a big block to wedge between the tank and the floor. This holds the tank down. Since the bilge narrows in the stern, as long as the tank is head down it cannot shift aft.
After wedge for water tank securement

After all this was accomplished we put the bilge covers on, dusted our hands, and we were done. Now I’m free to begin to stove install this weekend.

The water must flow

We started this weekend out dealing with a problem that has bothered me since before we even bought Sundowner. The head sink drain was always sort of sketchy in that “will it sink the boat?” sort of way. As near as I can tell, the sink was plumbed to the seacock with some old vacuum cleaner hose. To complicate matters, it also involved a strange valve that I never really figured out. Well that stuff was long gone but plumbing a sink drain on a boat is not as straight forward as it would seem.

I consulted a great many websites to see if there was a recommendation on how to handle this. I also posted to several big boating websites and the Internet just failed me. There was silence on the topic of how to properly secure a sink drain. In the end, I just did what I thought was best, as you’ll see. But before we get to all that, we had to actually install the sink. This tired old sink is beat to hell and had been siliconed on the lip which makes it almost impossible to recaulk into place.

Instead of that, I had Dani get to work with neoprene to make a washer to fit under the lip of the sink.
Sink Washer with neoprene

Once installed you can’t even see it:
Marine fresh water plumbing and filtration head sink

I actually punched holes in the sink and screwed it into the counter top. This secured it well enough that I could install the drain and FINALLY address the drain plumbing. Instead of plumbers putty, we made another neoprene gasket for the drain fitting.
Installed head sink

After that I teflon taped the fitting and put a marelon 1.5″ barb fitting on the bottom of it. Tailpipes be damned. And so with one final mighty push I shoved the 1.5″ super heavy duty below water line hose onto the barb and once again, the head sink was functional.
Marine fresh water plumbing and filtration under the sink
And yes, more hose clamps are coming, I just happened to run out of the big ones when this photo was taken, so the seacock remains closed for now.

The old faucet in the galley had been a Moen designed for normal pressurized water systems.
Old faucet system

This had to go in favor of a lower flow manual pump style spigot. Of course this left us with the problem of three big holes in the area between the sinks. I had thought about using stainless steel caps in the holes, the kind they make for granite counters which are plugged. But in the end we settled on just using a piece of starboard over the entire old mess.
Faucet holes in the galley

I cut a piece of starboard to the right size and Dani absolutely insisted on attempting to use butyl tape to seal it. The piece has a center hole drilled for the spigot and I put bolts through the place where the old standard holes were so I could use a backing plate and secure the piece in place.
Butyl tape to seal galley faucet

We were satisfied by the overall fitting.
Marine fresh water plumbing and filtration in the galley completed

The spigot is plumbed to a filter I installed under the sink.
Marine fresh water plumbing and filtration under the sink

Speaking of filters… We had been looking at the different options and I was shell shocked by the sticker prices on these marine and RV filtration “systems” being sold. A seagull water filter system costs almost 400 dollars! After some research and asking around I discovered that the filter elements in these systems aren’t rocket science. And there were cheaper alternatives if you knew what you were looking for. In the end I chose:
1 x Pentek 158620 1/2″ 3G Slim Line 10″ Blue Housing @ $11.99
2 x Pentek FloPlus-10 Filter – 10″ Carbon Block Filter @ $15.99

Ordered from Filters Fast. So much cheaper than the stuff they sell at the stores. It just took some research to see what those systems were actually using. We chose a carbon filter intended to make water taste better and remove cysts. There are more expensive filters that will actually filter out almost all bacteria, but we intend to use chlorine to purify our water. If this isn’t working for us we can easily and cheaply just upgrade to a higher end filter.

From the water filter, the plumbing runs to a Whale MKIV foot pump on the galley floor in front of the sink, and from there to the tank manifold.

Dani was a little excited at having running water in the galley
Dani getting some water

In fact she completely forgot her cup and just went right for it.
Dani drinking straight out of the faucet

After much chastisement, she used the cup…
Dani drinking out of a water cup.

So for the first time in five years aboard Sundowner, water has flown from a water tank through a faucet, into a drain and passed out to sea. After I wrapped up for the evening, I actually washed my hands in the sink. What a feeling! Now all that is left is to finish securing down the water tanks and this project is a wrap. Next up, the stove.

New water tanks

There has been a fixture in Dani and I’s bedroom. For four years, two big brown cardboard boxes have taken up space next to a chest of drawers. Waiting… These strange boxes held water tanks that we ordered years ago. And there they sat, waiting for the day they’d be unwrapped and put to use. My my, how long they had to wait before their purpose was fufilled. But finally, over the labor day weekend, their time had come.

It’s strange removing a permanent fixture from your bedroom, but the time had come. We hauled them to the dock and stripped them of their cardboard sheaths, revealing the fresh and still shiny poly plastic material they are rotomolded out of.
Tate with the water tanks

And thus began the great fresh water plumbing project. Complete with half naked men in the bilge.
Tate in the bilge preparing for the water tanks

The main goals for this weekend were to install the spigot in the head and also to install the water tanks themselves. I opted for the most simple approach possible. I wanted a manifold to select which tank water would be drawn from, with this being the only valve(s) in the system. Most people have pressure water on boats but Dani and I decided that at least at first, we would attempt only pump water from the tanks. To facilitate this I built a simple manifold from parts from our local hardware store.
Water tanks manifold setup

Each valve simply turns on or off a tank from which water is drawn. The water is then pumped at the faucet at either the head or the galley. Not much to it, just a couple of valves and a couple of T-fittings.

I’ve run the vent line to a part of one of our lockers. Its pretty low in the boat boat but if water goes up over the locker I figure we’re in trouble anyway. I couldn’t find a good 1/2″ vent fitting so I used a 5/8 fitting with a step down between the typical 1/2″ line and the 5/8″ fitting.
Vent for the water tanks

I also finally installed a new spigot in the head. We went with a MKIV style hand pump. I know that foot pumps are better but the sloping floor of the head threw some hurtles at that idea, so instead we have a hand pump.
Head sink faucet

I attempted to install the head sink itself along with the drain but this didn’t work out like we hoped with the angle between the seacock and the tailpipe being very tight. I’ll have to work some more on it next weekend. After that, I’m looking forward to pumping our first water through the head sink!

To finish this project we also need to install the galley spigot + foot pump + water filter. And finally I need to install spacers between the water tanks which will prevent them from shifting around while sailing. We already have the metal straps that go over the tanks to keep them in place during a roll over (God forbid), but the old tanks we removed were longer and didn’t need spacers that I’ll have to make up to keep these guys in place. Feels good to be working on Sundowner again despite the heat. With the amount of sweating I did this weekend I fear I could have filled one of these 40 gallon tanks myself!

It’s a far cry from where we were way back in 2011
Bilge after original water tanks were removed back in 2011