If you're lucky enough to live to 100, the years between 50 & 75 are your third quarter. That segment in life could be the waning of your physically agile years, so it's a good idea to stay active. It's also a good time to challenge your brain to keep things limber up there - by mastering something new. We decided to go sailing, and this is a chronicle of our journey.


Metal Polish on a boat: Using Flitz on our Dodger (& a pomegranate martini recipe)

Rust eating the dodger, and removing it with metal polish
As a kid, I used to wander in my grandfather's tool shed in rural Connecticut, and marvel at the aged, rust brown patina on all of his wrenches, hammers, files and pliers. I thought it was all cool and wise and old, like my grampa,  until I saw a neighbor's rear bumper fall off in the gravel driveway from rust corrosion. That's when I realized rust eats stuff. :(

Now, I live in the desert north of Los Angeles, where corrosion isn't so common, but an hour west, at the Pacific, where we keep our sail boat, I've waged a war on rust. After we put a new dodger and bimini on our boat (more on that in a later post), it took about 3 weeks for tiny rust spots to bloom on the 1.25" stainless tubing. We had rust on the old dodger tubing, but watching it propagate on brand new, shiny parts caused a shudder and a wince.  I ordered a tube of Flitz metal polish, poste haste.

before and after using Flitz on the bimini
I hadn't used Flitz before, but the application was pretty straight forward. Put a dab (a little goes a long way) on a terry towel, apply to affected area, and buff it off. The rust was completely removed, and the paste leaves a wax finish to help slow the growth of new rust. I've "de-rusted" the steel tubing around the cockpit twice in 18 months, and I'm pretty happy with the product. You can also use it on fiberglass, oxidized acrylic, corian and formica (but *not* on metal plated surfaces).  So, in the interest of a good "find", I'm sharing it here. What's your go-to rust remover?

No more rust

Shiny & Cozy; an afternoon in the cockpit on s/v Florian

The happy Captain, taking the dinghy to meet some friends
Fresh Pomegranate Martini
It's pomegranate season, and I'm a new convert to loving the ruby orbs of goodness. Here's a cocktail recipe that rides the line between sweet and sour. You can adjust ratios in one direction or the other with the lime juice (more sour) and triple sec (sweeter).

This makes two drinks:
(Put your martini glasses in the freezer)
3 shots of your favorite vodka
1.5 shots of fresh pomegranate juice
1 shot of fresh squeezed lime juice
1 shot of triple sec

Remove the seeds of one medium pomegranate. (If you don't have access to the fresh stuff, bottled is good too, but it's a very different flavor.) Suspend a sieve over a measuring cup, and use a muddler to press the juice from the seeds. In a cocktail shaker, add some ice, and pour the vodka, pomegranate, lime juice and triple sec over the ice. Cap & shake heartily. Pour equal parts into your frosted martini glasses, garnish with a sliver of lime and enjoy!


New Marine Sound System & a plum and blackberry drink recipe

Jensen Stereo, circa 1995
When we took delivery of our boat, she had a Jensen stereo system with a CD player at the Nav desk. Since we don't use CD's, and we wanted to upgrade the sound system, we researched marine-grade alternatives, and found great reviews on the Fusion product line.
Fusion MS IP700
Last Fall, we took advantage of the steep discounts at the Annapolis Boat Show and brought home the Fusion MS IP700. The unit is built specifically for the marine environment; it's encased in an aluminum chassis, and it's water resistant. It's NMEA 2000 certified, and sourced for AM / FM / VHF / USB / AUX / iPod / iPhone  and SiriusXM.
Fusion interior adjustable chassis for ipod, iphone, mp3 players....
We really like that you can insert your iphone or ipod in this adjustable interior chassis (above) to listen to playlists from home, or play music or audio books via iTunes. Volume is adjustable from three separate zones; the salon/galley, and cockpit have separate volume controls, so if one of us wants quiet down below deck, and the other wants to rock out in the cockpit, we got that. It's also ethernet ready. Oh, and it sounds really good too. You can read more about Fusion here.

Getting behind the instruments
Connector Goblins
Antenna connection; this was upgraded for a marine environment too
The screws that come with the Fusion: painted black,
but they stripped immediately going into a pre-drilled hole
Do yourself a favor if you buy a Fusion for installation in a marine environment; purchase stainless screws before you install your stereo, because the screws they provide, while painted black (props for that), are terribly soft, and ours stripped going into pre-drilled holes. Everything else about this product was high quality, so this small but crucial tidbit was a disappointment.

Beverage Recipe! :)

Fall has officially arrived, so it's time to indulge
in a dark and tasty plum & blackberry smash
10 blackberries
1 ripe, juicy dark plum
6 mint leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
2 shots of your favorite whiskey
1 shot of Cointreau

Chop the plum, remove the pit and put pieces in a cocktail shaker or a tall glass tumbler with the sugar, mint leaves and blackberries. Muddle everything together. Add 2 shots of yr most flavorful whiskey and 1 shot of cointreau, and a generous pile of ice. Cap and shake everything hard - 10 shakes. Pour the frothy, purple goodness into two glasses, top with a little soda water or ginger ale if you prefer a "lighter" drink, garnish with extra mint if you have it, and enjoy.
(recipe adapted from http://picturesandpancakes.blogspot.com/)


Antique Boat Bling and a Whaler's Rum drink

Bronze Antique Florian Cross
One of my cousins has an antique shop in Plainfield, Connecticut and he surprises us with random packages sent to California with fire fighter themed goodies from his antique treasure hunts. The florian cross plaque above was mounted with industrial strength velcro, and its holding beautifully, despite the fact that it's weighty. Our boat already has holes in the teak from previous items mounted here and there, and we don't want to add any more, so the velcro is a perfect solution for attaching things utilitarian and symbolic. (Our boat is named Florian, for the Patron Saint of Firefighters.)  What else have you used to avoid holes and mount things to your boat?
Velcro loop attached

Industrial Strength Velcro

The Captain at his newly adorned station

Our new favorite drink - Whaler's Rum and Fresh Grapefruit
We have a lovely friend who told us about this drink, so we call it the Amy West in her honor. This drink is perfect for boat cocktails because there are only two ingredients. Pour two shots (each) of Whaler's Original Dark Rum (available at Trader Joe's for about $9/bottle) over ice in two glasses, and juice one big grapefruit (we use an old fashioned dome & bowl juicer, the kind your grandmother used to juice citrus). Pour the fresh juice in equal parts into the two glasses of ice & rum, stir and enjoy. Don't cheat yourself by using canned juice or a different type of rum. Take this from someone prone to experimenting, and trust me; the subtle flavor and aromas of the Whaler's is so complimentary to fresh grapefuit, it's just scrumptuous.


Just sailing

Don raising the mainsail
Thankfully, many boat blogs share details of their repair and upgrade projects, exotic sailing locations, and variations on the art of sailing. We learn a lot from the sailing community through blogs, and we like to share our projects for the same reason - a sort of pay-it-forward. If we find a tip or trick to solve a problem on the boat, it seems like a good thing to share it here. 

But sometimes, you just want to sip your morning coffee and have a look at a boat on the water. Even if it's foggy and there's not that much to see. There's a peacefulness to sailing, so today, we're just sharing that.

Rest stop for the sea lions.
"Push over, Joe, you're being a real-estate-hog. Get your flipper off my head."

“hark, now hear the sailors cry, 
smell the sea, and feel the sky 
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic...”
---Van Morrison

5.4 knots - being pushed by the same air we're breathing.

In case you're wondering what the heck I'm doing with a hoody over my PFD, it was just for a few minutes to cut the chill. I promise to wear it under my PFD next time. (Can you tell, I've been finger wagged over this? Uh-huh.)

Sitting uphill. And the sun came out for a minute.

I spy an R for Robinhood

Heading back to shore, where everything hazy looks like a watercolor painting.
And that blue boat with the yellow SUP on her deck to the left is one of our slip neighbors.
Hi Rex!

At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.
-  Robin Lee Graham

Back in her slip in time for clear skies and a sunset
Twenty years from now you will be more disppointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain


Buffering the Banging & a Strawberry Ginger Bourbon drink recipe

Dodging floating tree trunks after a storm in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu
 Sailboats move a lot on the water. There's the undulating roll of ocean swell and waves under the hull, and in monohulls (single hull, as opposed to something like a Catamaran), there's heeling. Depending on your points of sail, or angle in the wind, the boat leans over to one side. In a hard heel, it's sometimes referred to as "dipping the rails" because the lower side of the boat's deck rails submerge in the water.  Heeling looks great in sailing posters from afar, but it takes some getting used to on the boat. When boats bounce and lean and hobby-horse on the water, they make noise.

45 degrees of heel on a 39 ft Jeanneau sailboat
image courtesy of Sailboatcruise.ca

One of the benefits of sailing is shutting off the engine and letting the wind propel your boat. It's peaceful, very "green", and relatively quiet; and there's something enormously satisfying - and exhilarating - to feel the same air you're breathing fill your sails and push a 16000 pound boat through the water fast enough to leave a wake.

But down below deck, inside the boat, there's a lot of creaking, clattering and banging. Glassware, pots & pans, and tools bang together. Teak doors rattle in their frames. Unsecured pantry items slide & roll back and forth, banging into each other and the walls of the cupboards.

The creak and groan of the boat itself is something I find comforting, like she's singing to be moving on the water. But the clanking and banging of the supplies we've brought on board is bothersome. It feels like we haven't anticipated and planned for the ride very well, and the banging is tiresome - like a pile driver at your beach picnic.

Felt Bumpers with Adhesive backing

Maybe this is a leftover of growing up with a father who used to ask me, as a child passenger in the car with him, to climb over the front seat, into the back, and crane my ear toward the left corner of the rear windshield to see if I could identify exactly where that squeak was coming from, so he could address it when we got home from the grocery store. If so, I'm okay with that. I just know we can increase the joy, and dampen the barrage of banging on our boat with a few quick fixes.

Enter self adhesive felt bumpers. I use these on the back corners of the frames on my art to reduce marring walls, and inhibit the crooked hang. I order them on Amazon in 84-packs, so I brought a sheet to the boat, and used them to cushion the teak door frame to the head (bathroom). The door doesn't fit the frame snugly, so it rattles teak against teak. Several teak cupboard doors swing open and bounce against teak bulkheads, which also scars the wood, so I added a few here and there, and voila; soft little barely audible bumps when doors open under the sink, to the trash and in the head.

Felt bumpers every 6 inches inside the frame of the door to the head.

I lined all the cupboards and pantry shelves with this: Easy Liner Select Grip

If you live in a very hot & humid environment - be careful putting this stuff directly against teak, as I hear it can stick to surfaces after awhile & bond. I haven't used it against teak; my cupboards and cabinets are formica, and after a year of being loaded with pantry items and canned goods, my non-skid comes right up if I lift it. But - our temps are much cooler than, say, the Caribbean or the Florida Keys.

Basic measurements inside the cupboards, a pair of scissors and some non skid
No need to tack or tape it down, since the weight of dishes
 and canned goods hold it in place.
Rubber mouth, sealed plastic containers to cut down on weight & noise,
and in a square body to optimize space in very limited storage.

Excess strips of non-skid were sandwiched between cups & glasses,
or laid between stacked pots and pans to keep the sound of bumping & clattering down.

My friend Vicki sent me this recipe for Bourbon Strawberry Ginger cocktails
I've altered it to be more "boat friendly".   For tools, you'll need a
muddler, a measuring cup or wide mouth bowl, and a small sieve & ramekin.
Strawberry Ginger Bourbon garnished with mint
This makes two drinks: In a measuring cup or bowl, muddle 4 strawberries and 3 or 4 quarter sized, peeled disks of fresh ginger. Pour the thoroughly crushed mixture into a sieve over a ramekin and let the liquid sift through, helping it a little by pressing down gently with the back of a spoon or your muddler.

Back in the same, un-rinsed measuring cup or bowl, muddle 4 more strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the sifted ginger-strawberry liquid to the ingredients in the measuring cup. (Note: if you like little bits of raw ginger, skip the straining step, and just muddle the ginger, strawberries and sugar together.)

Press the juice of half a small lemon into the strawberry & ginger mixture. Roughly about 2 teaspoons.

Add 2-3 ounces of bourbon to the ingredients in the measuring cup. Stir and pour into glasses over ice. Top off with soda water, and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

fresh ginger
mint leaves
soda water

You can make these sweeter or not by altering the sugar to lemon ratio. They're incredibly fragrant, and very refreshing. A perfect sundowner on the boat. Cheers!


US Coast Guard Auxiliary Classes: Navigation (paper & GPS)

Two phones, the same compass app, in the same location, with different readings.
Last weekend, I took a Navigation course at the US Coast Guard Auxiliary in Oxnard, CA. Up until a few months ago, I had no idea the Coast Guard offered affordable and comprehensive boating courses to the public.  For two days, my brain was marinated in latitudes & longitudes, fathoms, soundings, range bearings, magnetic vs true compass readings, GPS, Radar and plotting courses with a parallel rule, dividers and a pencil on paper, etc. It was excellent. Challenging, for sure, especially for my math-phobic gray-matter, but I learned so much.

Electronic chart (Nobeltec) showing the shipping lanes in Santa Barbara Channel
Taking a class on navigation has equipped me with a full course back up plan, and a side dish of confidence.  If GPS goes out while we're floating somewhere in the sea in a fog bank, due to electrical failure, a lightening strike, military activity, or this summer's predicted solar flare GPS failures, I can figure out where we are, and where we need to be, and how to get there with a chart, a rule, a compass & a pencil.  That peace of mind is a good thing.  (I don't know how to use a sextant yet, but just you wait.) 

The first weekend in June, Don and I took a USCG course on Boating Skills and Seamanship, which included ID of buoy systems, ATONs, understanding light & horn communication from other vessels, and rules & regulations on the water, etc.  That course was also excellent, and the quality of the curriculum and instruction was confirmed when I saw many of the same people we met in that first class attending the Navigation course.  

Buoy Rest Stop for Sea Lions
Each of the Coast Guard classes cost us $40 apiece, which pays for the in-depth book on the course subject, so if two people take the course and share one book, it's $40. (And if you insure your vessel with BoatUS, they'll give you a 10% discount refund check on your insurance for completing the course.)  The instructors are members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and they come from a variety of backgrounds with a broad range of interests and specialties.  If you're new-ish to boating, have a look at taking a course through your local Coast Guard Auxiliary. Most of the other attendees in the Navigation class were seasoned boaters, and they all agreed that they learned a lot and it was well-worth the time. Since the US Coast Guard has been on the water since 1790,  I like to think about the breadth & depth of knowledge they have. That's an abundant well to draw from.

The book used in the Navigation Course - it's excellent.

The instructors and fellow attendees shared useful resources on a variety of boating topics.... here are a few:


National Weather Service Brochures, Publications and Pamphlets

Annual Boating Accident Statistics

Free download; USCG ATONs (Aids to Navigation) Manual, including buoy markers, beacons & symbols

Details on compliance for a safe vessel, and complimentary vessel safety checks from USCG

s/v Florian headed back to Ventura CA 


Pursuit of a Dry Bilge - Part II (& a blueberry mojito cocktail)

Searching for the source of unpleasant oder; we found it.
After the last post in our ongoing endeavor to dry the bilge, we were feeling smug for halting the weeping water tanks. I grinned to see a 1/2 cup of water, instead of a gallon or two in the bilge. But, as everyone with boats knows, there's always another surprise waiting around the corner. Our beautiful sailboat started to smell. The kind of stink that made my nostrils constrict without any help from my pinched fingers. 

Looking under the galley sole at the Pink Water. Ick.
By the 2nd weekend, we found pinky/orange water in the bilge, with stuff growing in it. Since we aren't on the boat during the week, organic materials have 5 days to putrefy. It was a bad-smell-party all week. We searched high and low for a source, and found standing pink water under the engine compartment. There was enough to flow forward over the top of our glassed-in holding tank, and into the bilge. Our first suspicion was the stuffing box.  But it wasn't leaking. A relief, but what else could it be?  The hot water heater? Nope; this was not fresh water. A leak in the hull? Why is it pink? What would you guess?

Siphoning stinky-pink water from under the engine
How do you get under there?

Boat Yoga; climbing into the engine compartment with hoses.
Everything on a boat is better as a two person job.
The source of the pinky-orange tint;
a socket wrench submerged under the engine.
 We removed all the smelly water, and rinsed the hull sides and hoses with fresh water and mold inhibitor before we had to leave for the work-week. The following weekend, she smelled a little better, but not much. We worked on other projects, searched for leaks & found none. Just before heading home, while running the engine, I climbed into the aft end of the engine compartment with a flashlight, and found a stream of salt water coming from the lazarette locker, and running down the hull to the void under the prop shaft. The area we had just emptied was full of water again.

The transom is on the left; water appeared to be pouring out
of a hose juncture on the Espar Heat exhaust.
Out in the cockpit, we took turns hanging upside down in the lazarette with a flashlight to trace the source back, and found water pouring from the Espar Heater exhaust hose (see above). We shut everything down and went home to start the work week, totally perplexed, because there is *no water* in the exhaust system on an Espar Heater, and it was brand new. :(  What the heck.

Standing over the lazarette, wondering how to get in
without getting stuck, or breaking things mounted inside.
Note: if you do this alone, always have your cell phone on you. :)
 I took a mid-week trip out to the boat, with a gopro video camera mounted on a pole to get close ups in an area we couldn't physically climb into, and the footage revealed the problem. We had used our new Espar Heater a few times on chilly evenings, and the exhaust hose was installed too close to the Vetus Waterlift Muffler. The hot exhaust hose melted a small hole in the top of the plastic muffler gooseneck & "glued" the insulation cloth to the muffler.  Sea water was escaping the muffler through a hole, filling the insulation cloth around the Espar hose, and flowing into the lazarette. It *looked like* the Espar exhaust hose was leaking water, but the source was the engine's muffler system. The area where the Espar hose & the muffler made contact was behind the Vetus gooseneck where we couldn't see it. Of course.

Looking up from the base of the lazarette at the contact point between the Espar & Vetus
The culprit.
A new Vetus muffler was installed, and angled farther to starboard, and the Espar Exhaust was re-wrapped with new insulation and bowed farther to port. They broke up, but the relationship is amicable. :) All of this was done by someone we hired who is a lot smaller than we are. I watched him fold, twist and shimmy into the lazarette with awe. Now that I know how it's done, I can climb in there too. (See images here.) I'm not sure how well I'll do if we're bouncing around on the Pacific, but at least I know I can scrunch enough to squeeze in and get access to the systems in there. If you have an Espar Heater (we love ours), be sure to give the exhaust hose lots of room. :)

A hard day's work deserves rewards. This is a Blueberry Mojito reward.

Blueberries, lime juice, & mint leaves - the aroma is all about summertime
This delicious recipe is from a wonderful blog called The Novice Chef.

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup of fresh blueberries (& extra for garnish)
4 oz of clear rum
10 fresh mint leaves
2 tsp of sugar
Juice from 2 limes, and extra wedges for garnish
6 oz club soda

Use a blender to puree all but a few of the blueberries, and set aside.

Add 8 mint leaves and the sugar to a cocktail shaker (or a bowl if you have none). Use a muddler (or the end of a wooden spoon) to muddle the mint and sugar together.  
Add the lime juice, and the rum, and the pureed blueberries; shake vigorously in the cocktail shaker (or stir in the bowl).
Pour ice and club soda into tall glasses and then pour the rum & blueberry/lime/mint mixture into the glasses. Stir gently and garnish with lime wedges and a mint leaf. Serve immediately.
These go down smooth and lip-smackingly easy, so enjoy them carefully. ;)

Preparing for sunset on s/v Forian

Our favorite bar book, by the founder of the 

London Academy of Bartending - 
Douglas Ankrah: Shaken and Stirred.