Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sailing Shadow

The kids went out for a little sail yesterday on our little hard dingy Shadow.  If you don't remember the story of Shadow you can look back in the Sailblogs archives for Oriental.  We rescued this little Dyer Dow from a pile of decomposing dingys in a shed and last year aquired a whole sailing rig from a Perrywinkle which we bought from some cruisers here.  The Perrywinkle was a little too small for our family so we refitted the rig for Shadow.

It's great to watch the kids tacking and jibing their way through all the boats and the experience makes better sailors out of all of us.

Enjoy the pictures.

Captain Tofer

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Big Job Ticked off the LIST!

(The New Stove)
A New Stove!  As I mentioned on the last post, one of the jobs we had was to replace our Force 10 Galley Stove.  The old one was rusted out inside the oven and none of the burners on top were reliable.  Not really too bad if you consider that the stove was first installed in 1989. 

(The Old Stove)
The problem with replacing anything on a boat is the expense.  This little propane stove is TINY compared to a home range and where you can get a VERY nice range for your house around $700.00 they wanted $2070.00 here in the islands for the little marine stove.  Fortunatly Becky met a great guy named Captain Jim who was staying at the marina and ate a lot of meals at Tickles.  He had West Marine, Port Supply and helped us get our new stove for only $1350.00 with shipping and it arrived in only 2 days from the mainland!

(Happy Tofer)
OUCH!  $1350.00 is a LOT of money for what is basically the same little oven and stove you find in RVs.  The real difference is in the quality.  These are very well built and built out of stainless steel rather than tin like the ones you find in a camper trailer.  But still the real reason they cost so much.... they are made for a boat.

(Happy Beck)
It only took a few hours to pull the old one out and put in some blocks for the Gimbals, this stove, although made by the same company was the closest fit to what the old one was and it was narrower but deeper.  Figure that one out... this company HAS to know that their stoves will be bought to replace their old ones so why mess with the sizes?  At least make a few with the same dimensions as your old ones!  Anyway both Beck and I were very happy to be able to cook and BAKE once again! 

Gotta go make supper!
Captain Tofer

Monday, March 15, 2010

Getting The Boat Ready

A lot of the people I have talked too, who dream of sailing and cruising as a lifestyle, seriously underestimate the amount of time and money they will need to maintain their boat in a “ready for sea” condition. I am flabbergasted at the constant repairs and maintenance our boat requires. It is almost a full time job just to keep up with it and requires a full time job to pay for it.

We have set our sights on Hawaii for next winter and the boat needs a bit more attention than normal when facing a non-stop offshore passage of 4800 nautical miles. Here is our list:

- Haul Out with bottom Job, new zinks, and cutlass bearing

(we will do this in Trinidad it has been 2.5 years since our last bottom job)

- Rebuild fuel pump and new seals on engine

(though it is still running there is a small fuel leak that would not be prudent to have for long)

- New mainsail

(we have needed a new main for years but with our smallish passages we have put it off with 4800 miles ahead in one leg we know it won’t do)

- All standing rigging checked and replaced as needed

(I suspect we will need some of the rigging replaced)

- Replace liferaft

(we are in the process of checking our raft to see if it will be Ok but suspect we will need a refurbished used one to replace the one we have)

- Bow pulpit repaired

(In November a boat dragged down on us and damaged the bow Pulpit it will need to be repaired or replaced in Trinidad)

- Solar Panels installed

(because we will be sailing NOT motoring a solar panel will be essential to keep the batteries charged so that we can use our auto pilot)

- New Galley stove

(our old 1989 stove is down to two working burners and no working oven the rust has eaten through the oven wall)

- New Batteries

(we replaced our batteries just 2 years ago in Oriental but with our alternator failure last summer they took a beating and are now refusing to hold a charge.)

- Recharge Iridium Sat Phone Sim card

(on a passage of 30+ days we will need our sat phone to send and receive e-mails and in this day and age it is my opinion that a sat phone is required safety gear.)

- New RO membrane on water maker.

(Our boat carries 160 gallons of fresh water in 3 tanks + 30 gallons on deck in jugs but with 7 people on board we will need to be able to convert seawater into drinking water. Our water maker makes 1.5 gallons of water every hour but only draws 4 amps so it can be run using the solar and wind power alone. We also have rain catchers that are very efficient when it rains.)

This list may seem daunting but believe it or not I have a list almost as long as this of things I have finished in the past two months. And as you can see from the picture above, today I am rebuilding the water maker and replacing the membrane. So I will be able to scratch that off my list.

These constant repairs and little fixit jobs can really get you down if you let them. I started cruising with a little bit of a fixityourself mentality, living on a farm in the middle of Montana 100 miles from town will do that to anyone. Now I find real satisfaction in taking something that is broken and making it work again. I think anyone who aspires to live this life either has to start with that mentality or develop it… or be rich enough to pay someone A LOT to work on your boat… a LOT. If you are waiting to cast off the docklines AFTER the boat has EVERYTHING fixed you will probably never go and just as soon as you make your first passage you will be putting back into a marina to repair something yet again.

Toolin Around,

Captain Tofer

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What we do when it's too "cold" to go to the beach.

(the REAL temp -bottom guage- when thes pics were taken)
80 degrees inside 73 outside

So when you live in a small space what do you do when you wake up on the weekend to rain and "cold" weather?  (ok cold in our case means any temp. in the 70s or below.) 

The rain started yesterday and the wind began to shift from it's normal E or SE direction all the way around to W which usually means a Norther is blowing in.  Honeymoon bay, while very protected from the East, is not protected at all from the West so when that happens most of the boats move out but we generally stay knowing it will only last a few hours at most.  The waves build up and our comfortable little anchorage becomes a rolly bumpy place to live for a while.  Then when the wind shifts to the North the temperature drops.  Our bodies are used to a constant temperature in the high 80s and when it drops into the 70s, believe it or not kids start pulling out their polar fleece like its winter time.  The water is warm but the wind chill in the low 70s makes swimming too cold for sun ripened kids to find fun.  Charlie the dog looks for a little hole under the table to snuggle into with a couple of the kids stuffed animals.

Today the kids woke up to the same weather and all of the little guys decided to tough it out at the beach with Jimmy.  EmilyAnne decided to invite her friends over to play board games.  So here Dad is trying to write and read on a boat with 3 13 year old girls doing their silly giggley dancing to loud Avril Lavigne music while they play "Quelf"  which also makes them act like crazy people just to win the game.  (EmilyAnne has to wear a snorkle until the end of the game... for example)

What a hoot!  Think I might abandon ship for a while though, maybe I will brave the weather and go for a swim.

Captain Tofer

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chore Time

Let’s talk about chores. Most kids living on land have to take out the trash, clean their rooms, maybe vacuum the floors or in like we did in Montana, shovel the snow. Our kids live on a boat so, although a lot of the chores are similar, like taking out the trash or cleaning the floors, there are chores and work that our kids help with that would be considered strange or even dangerous to land kids.

Our kids take out the trash too but this involves a long dingy ride to the marina where they throw it in the dumpster, Jimmy also does this dingy ride for a cruising kid chore called, “the water haul” while he is at the marina he will fill up four six gallon water jugs and bring them back to the boat for EmilyAnne, who in turn, will use a siphon hose to transfer them into the main tank on the boat.

You would think that the floor cleaning chore would be considered easy for a kid, after all the whole floor is only the size of an average bathroom back home. This particular chore is EmilyAnne’s and she hates it! We have four rugs that need to be shaken out off the bow pulpit every morning and then she has to sweep and clean the floor with a sponge. This may sound pretty easy until you think about how much dirt and sand seven people and a dog would deposit every day if they all used only your bathroom floor. If it is not done every day it’s even worse of course.
Cleaning your room should be pretty easy if your room is only as big as a large refrigerator right? Wrong! You try crawling into a Refrigerator box and making two (that’s right there are two bunks in there) beds!

 Add to this the heat in the islands where any enclosed space gets so hot that if you do even the slightest work you break out into a sweat. Jimmy’s room is a little easier. His bed is bigger and he can move around and turn in there a little bit, but EmilyAnne’s bed is right out in the Salon area. She has a curtain to pull for privacy and she is a packrat so she is always trying to organize her stuff so she doesn’t have to sleep on her books and stuff. Keeping it nice is a real challenge I assure you.

Our kids also get to help with boat maintenance chores that would be considered crazy to land folks. Today we needed to replace our VHF antenna on TOP of the mast. EmilyAnne is our mast monkey. She doesn’t weigh much so she’s easy to pull up there and she likes heights and loves to be pulled up the Main Halyard just for fun to play. So today when I needed to replace the antenna she was the obvious choice. I love the looks we get from people passing by as they see our pretty little 13 year old girl wearing her climbing harness and zipping up to the top of the mast with a big grin on her face!  The view sure is something though huh?

Jimmy also has to clean the bottom of the boat about every two weeks. To do this he wears his snorkeling gear and gloves with a brush in one hand and a scraper in the other. He can do everything but the prop and the keel by just free diving it but when he has to clean the prop or go deep enough to clean the keel he uses our Hookah (a breathing system which uses an air compressor and hose with a diving regulator on it.

We may be “living the dream” but as you can see it’s not all sun, sand and play.

Cracking The Whip,

Captain Tofer