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.


Boat Yoga: Squeezing tall bodies into tight spaces

Don helping Dave Perry work inside the
port side cockpit locker
When we took delivery of Florian in the Spring, Dave Perry, the broker from Robinhood Marina visited to go over some of her particulars during her re-commissioning. With a little twisting and folding, he slid into the port side cockpit locker (above) which lead me to believe we'd be able to do the same thing. After several attempts, not so much.  We've learned pretty quick that trying to fold, twist & contort your body to fit into small spaces is a normal endeavor on a boat. It's a bit more challenging when you're tall, and both of us are just too long to fit into many spaces on Florian.  But that doesn't stop us from trying. We refer to these contortions as Boat Yoga.

Port side settee battery compartment bend
Shop-Vac stretch to the anchor locker in
the V-berth - a low cobra pose?
Port side cockpit locker reach-in
Squeezing into the bilge to sponge out water -
a modified sunbird pose?

Sideways in the engine compartment
- a marichyasana pose?
On the galley (kitchen) floor, replacing a
water accumulator - modified eagle pose
Accordian-man; trying to reach a hose under
the sink - a Natarajasana?
Folded in the head (bathroom) to upgrade
toilet parts - a tortoise pose?
Dangling in the Lazarette, hanging on with a foot to
reach exhaust hoses - Locust pose
Post Boat Yoga Reward: Bread & Whiskey :)
Our boat is 36 ft with a 10'8" beam. I imagine a bigger boat has larger spaces to squeeze into, no? Do you fit into the crawl spaces on your boat?


Energy Efficiency on a Boat: upgrading to LED bulbs

Beautiful weather and a lot of fantastic boats at the Annapolis Boat Show
In October, Don and I went to the Annapolis Boat show to look, touch, test and ask questions about at all the latest boat gear. We enjoy the historic maritime atmosphere of Annapolis and we also get to see friends who live nearby.  One of the items we wanted to look at was LED lighting made by IMTRA. Florian arrived in California with incandescent bulbs throughout, which had a significant impact on our battery levels after only a few hours of reading time with two lights on in the evenings. In the interest of energy savings, and brighter output, we ordered and installed a few single LED bulbs from other manufacturers online with mixed results. We had heard about IMTRA, but hadn't seen their product first hand, so we visited their booth, and knew instantly that we found the new LED's for our boat (at "show special" pricing too).

The first LED bulb test during the summer - from a different manufacturer than IMTRA
After the boat show, a box of IMTRA LED lights and adapters arrive!
s/v Florian has screw socket reading lamps and dual contact bayonet down lamps
The dual contact bayonet incandescent bulbs (on the left)
 required an adapter (right) before we could replace them with the LED
The dual color LED bulb on the downlamp over the Navigation desk.
With the on & off cycle of the Nav desk light switch, we can illuminate the navigation area on Florian with a red or white light. The Dual Color LED uses a smidge over 1.5 watts (vs the 8 watts in the old bulb). Pretty sweet.

These bad-boys are my favorite bulbs. 
IMTRA makes these awesome Corona bulbs that put out serious lumens in either cool (200 lumens) or warm (181 lumens) light. I've got two cool (brighter) lights over my galley area on Florian, so instead of supplementing my previously dim incandescent bulbs with two or three candles to chop salads & sauté dinner in the evenings, I have what looks like squinty-bright sunlight washed evenly over my stove and sink.  I'll take a photo this weekend and add it here so you can see. (Update: see IMTRA lit photos below)

Before LED's - evening in the galley on Florian with an incandescent bulb and a candle
Oh, that? It's a Rum & Tonic - a wonderful little drink our friend JH introduced us to. He also supplied the ingredients, and joined us for an inaugural tasting of this concoction:  put ice in  a couple of glasses, pour a few fingers of Pampero Annivarsario Rum (a richly fragrant, dark rum, distilled from fermented molasses) over the ice, and squeeze a *generous* slice of lime into each glass, dropping the remnants of the rind into each drink. Top with tonic water and enjoy.

A benefit of bright Corona LED bulbs in the galley;
Hey, look at the mildew growing around the fixture base. Ew. 

Even in daylight, boat interiors can be a little dim. 
 This photo above was snapped mid day in early December when we were looking at Florian with the dealer. All the lights in the cabin were on so we could survey her bones and lines and particulars to see if she was the boat for us, but even with the lights on in the middle of the day, there were lots of dark and shadowy areas. By upgrading to LED's, we'll reduce the draw on the batteries, while simultaneously increasing lumen output. We can control the color and temperature of each light, depending on where it's located and what it's used for, and the life of the bulbs are significantly longer, and run much cooler than their incandescent cousins.

The starboard salon just after sunset, with Imtra LED bulbs (corona) installed.
Much brighter than the daytime & incandescent bulb photo above.

The galley and starboard salon just after sunset, after installing IMTRA LED bulbs
Walking in Annapolis, on our way to the sailboat show
If you've not been to a boat show, but you own a boat, I highly recommend attending one. In the course of a day or two, you get to touch, test, try on, ask questions & read literature about, and compare various manufacturers of the latest advancements in boating supplies and merchandise, all in one place. You can research like crazy online (I have my hand up), but there's a lot of efficiency in looking at so many offerings, side by side, in your hands, face to face in one place. An added benefit is the reduced show pricing; everything we purchased in Annapolis was discounted, and shipped from the east coast to California - either for free, or at the most (in our case for a generator), $15. And if you're not in the market to buy anything for your boat, it's still fun to walk the show, explore the newest boats and talk to fellow boating enthusiasts and experts. If you do attend boat shows, which are your favorites? Should we go to the Miami boat show? Because, well, you know, a trip to Florida and the Atlantic isn't a bad way to spend a few days in February, right? :)


A drink at the end of the day

Late October Sunset in the marina on s/v Florian
Up to now, our blog posts have focused on what some may call the less-than-exciting topics of boat acquisition; cleaning, trouble shooting, upgrading, etc.  Even though we're still having fun with these projects, in the interest of our friends & family who aren't boaters, and to those who would probably choose to walk barefoot on hot coals rather than, say, repair a boat toilet, or swab the decks, we're going to throw in some subjects that speak universal languages. Like cocktails. :)

This is one of our favorite drinks, by Douglas Ankra,
called a Jadoo, which is the Hindi word for "magic".
Sundowner, in colloquial British English, is an alcoholic drink enjoyed after completing the day's work, usually at sundown. (It's also the name of a particular drink recipe, but I'll save that for another post.) In boating, a sundowner is pretty much any sort of cocktail, sipped casually on board, as the sun goes down. Here's one of our favorite drinks - a cousin to the gin & tonic, but a little sassier.

Here is the recipe snapped directly from our favorite bar book.
We used New Amsterdam gin, and simple syrup, with lots of fresh Kentucky Colonel mint (mentha spicata) that we grow in a pot for just such occasions.  Keep the skins on the lime as you muddle it with the mint. The fragrance is outdoorsy fresh and green, and your galley will smell heavenly.

Our favorite bar book, by the founder of the London Academy of Bartending - Douglas Ankrah: Shaken and Stirred.


Cleaning our Life Lines & Dorade Vents

Z-Cleaner sample (two sponges in a sudsy solution)
 After successfully cleaning our white, vinyl cockpit cushions with Mr Clean Magic Eraser pads a few months ago, I tried the same product on a few of our life lines with pretty good effects. I hadn't even thought about using them on the life lines, and then I got a comment from Pete over at Sailing the Dream asking if the pads might work on brightening the vinyl coating. I planned to finish the job in between other projects when I found a Zcleaner sample given to us at last year's Annapolis boat show.
Mr Clean & Zcleaner at work on the boat

Mister Clean works pretty well with a bit of scrubbing on the vinyl coated life lines.

It doesn't remove rust stains.
While the Mr Clean pad didn't remove the rust from the life lines, that's okay, because the stains are like little red signs hollering that it's time to inspect and likely replace the lifelines. (The ISAF Offshore Racing Congress has banned coated lifelines because the vinyl prohibits inspection for cracks, rust and corrosion. We aren't racers, but it seems pretty common sense to want to see & inspect the lifelines.)

The Zcleaner worked really well on the lifelines.
And made it easier to see all the pits in the vinyl too.
After trying both products, our old lifelines are pretty bright and clean, and I'd say the Zcleaner was a bit faster at removing the stains.  Dane over at Cadence of the Sea left a comment on our post about re-painting the bronze dorade cowl interiors, pondering if old, plastic vents could be painted.   I had a spare Zcleaner sponge in the sample packet, so just for grins, I swiped it over one of our stained, plastic dorade cowls. Huge WOW!  No need to paint if you can make them clean and bright again!  I had previously used Simple Green to clean them, with little to no results (even though that stuff works great for most things on Florian), but the Zcleaner immediately diluted the stains and suspended them in the cleaning solution. They wiped off effortlessly.

A swipe of the Zcleaner pad, and all the dirt and oxidization just fell away.

After wiping the dorade vent with a towel, it's good as new!

Two, formerly yellow-brown, and now bright and white plastic dorade cowls.

The Zcleaner sample pad after cleaning the life lines. Ick.

Florian's whites, looking good.
Cold beer dispenser (Don) while I'm working. I love this boat!

In the last post, Don was using errant screws to open the tip of his cigars.
Now, Florian has her very own V-snipper. (Thanks, MKH!)


Teak Oil and Little Projects

Scrubbing the floor boards with simple green and a little dawn dish soap

While Don and I were working on fixing leaks and blocked hoses in the head (bathroom) on Florian, we noticed the teak slatted wood floor that inserts over the shower basin was stained, and a little, er... odiferous - from its proximity to the leaking toilet.  We took it home, and scrubbed it thoroughly (diluted simple green & a drop of Dawn dish soap), rinsed it really well, and then put it outside in our dry, hot desert air for a week.

Putting the first coat of Watco Teak Oil on the slats
After researching options for treating the teak, we bought a can of Watco Teak Oil Finish, and followed the easy instructions: Apply it generously, wait 30 minutes (it soaked in pretty fast), apply it again, wait 30 minutes, and then wipe off the excess. It worked beautifully.

After applying the 2nd coat, and wiping away the excess
I was amazed at how quickly the oil soaked into the wood, and the transformation from dull and parched looking, to rich and grain-beautiful. I chose this route with the floor slats after I read about teak oil in an article by Don Casey. Access to information like this is one of the thousand reasons I love the internet. In my day to day boat ownership school, I'm in the 1st grade, learning to read See Jane Run, and the expert advice archived online is a stadium of generous tutors, waiting for me to pull up a bench and absorb the knowledge they're sharing. I feel so stinkin' lucky to be mounting this boat-ownership adventure at this time in technical history.

Re-installed in the shower basin floor, and it looks brand new

Old and new rubber ladder caps
The next little project was replacing the caps on our Swim Ladder. They were split and cracked, so we bought a few spares to swap them out. I dont expect them to last long in the sun and sea air, but at least I don't have to worry about the stainless ladder tubing cutting through the old rubber to mar the gelcoat on our transom (rear end of the boat - the ladder legs rest against the transom when it's dropped down for climbing in and out of the water)

Drop-down stainless swim ladder on Florian

Before & After - Rubber Swim Ladder caps
Next up on the swim ladder is a little stainless polish and some elbow grease.

Every boat needs a bottle opener
The bottle opener on Florian is mounted to the cabinet under the Nav desk. It's in a good spot, but had seen better days; the ridge that catches the lip of the bottle cap had chipped and required a bit of wrestling to get the cap off a bottle. Since Florian is the Patron Saint of Firefighters, we thought our new bottle opener should be adorned with the Florian Cross. We tested it with a couple of frosty Sam Adams when we finished projects for the day, and I'm happy to report that it works beautifully.

The next handy tool we need to bring aboard Florian is a working cigar snipper. :)


Prop Wash & Anchor Rode

We had a great Labor Day weekend laboring on s/v Florian. We re-installed new, longer rope with a new splice to our existing chain, and put the anchor back on with a new shackle, minus the last 6 chain links that were corroded.

Stiff, twisted rope in the anchor locker. With Don on deck using the windlass
and me down below wrestling rope kinks, we eventually got it all off the boat.
The splice in our chain/rope was too stiff & swollen to fit through the windlass. After several attempts - both wet and dry - we decided to pull the chain, rope and anchor off Florian so we could lay it all out in the garage at home and take a closer look at the entire rode.
Anchor and rode off the boat and in the car.
We cut the fat, old splice off, and I was amazed at how fluffy and light the interior of the nylon strands are, considering how hard and stiff they were on the outside from compression and 16 years of silt & salt water.

After cutting the splice, the rope opened up, like a flower.
(I know, that's a total girl-statement, but I get to. (: )

The anchor shackle screw pin was corroded, and the last 6 links of chain were pretty beat up too. Don used a plumbing wrench to get the shackle off, and we bought new, longer rope. We had a new splice made to our existing chain (70 ft), after cutting the bad links off. I'm interested in learning to splice, but since keeping the chain and rope connected is rather crucial, I'll opt to leave this new splice to a professional so I can relax when we're anchored, and I'll practice splicing with the old rope.

The previous shackle had to be wrenched from the anchor
 We haven't been able to identify the manufacturer of our chain. It could be Simpson Lawrence, since we have a SL Windlass, but after calling them (now Lewmar) to ask if they sold chain in the mid 90's, the support staff had no answers and little interest in finding one.
Do you know of a chain manufacturer that stamps the links with SL?
*UPDATE* At the Annapolis boat show in October 2012, we had the good fortune to speak with Kevin Donahue of Lewmar, formerly Simpson Lawrence. He helped us identify that the SL on our chain stands for Short Link, and that it's 3/8 BBB, likely manufactured for Simpson Lawrence by ACCO back in the early 90's. Mystery solved! Thanks, Kevin!
Pile o' rode
We re-attached the anchor to our partially new rode and fed it through our cleaned and greased Windlass (more on that in the next post). It's a tall pile of rode with not a lot of fall in our anchor locker, so we'll have to be mindful of kinks & hockles by letting the full length of chain and rope out without the anchor in deep water so it can untwist and right itself once or twice a year.

Bearded Propeller on s/v Florian
Florian hasn't left her slip for about 8 weekends while we removed & re-built the head, cleared a sanitation hose block, and worked on the windlass and anchor rode, so our prop has grown a beard. (Which is a good thing; no growth = galvanic corrosion from electrolysis) Our zinc anodes are working.

This is a 20 second video Don shot with the GoPro - to test the camera & dive housing mounted to the whisker pole, and to see if he could clean the prop from the cockpit. :)

After lots of labor over Labor Day weekend, it's time to relax on Florian.
After ticking off a list of To-Do's, it was time to relax with a cold brew in the cockpit. The weather was beautiful in the marina (though we heard a big Southerly swell from Pacific storms was not fun out on the water, and most of the boats that left in the mornings came right back.) We hope you had a safe & fun (and productive, if that's on your list) Labor Day weekend. Happy September!