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.


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.


In Pursuit of a Dry Bilge: Kracor Water Tanks (& a cocktail recipe)

My step-dad TC and Don on Heiress (Cape Dory 31)
For my non-boaty friends, a bilge is like a miniature basement; a compartment on a boat that sits in the lowest area - under the sole (floor) - below the waterline. It's purpose is to collect & contain liquids - everything from waves-over-the-boat sea water, to leaking engine oil & diesel, etc.  A wet bilge is normal, so automatic bilge pumps are installed to keep the levels manageable.

A little water in the bilge is normal and acceptable.
But I'd prefer ours (above) to be dry & dusty.
The contents of bilges can be informative, because other than wet marine environment condensation running down the interior walls of your hull, the other stuff boaters find in bilges is often evidence of some looming project (a split in the sanitation hoses, a leaking oil seal, corroded gas tank, weeping through-hulls, etc.) I'll go on record and say it; we want a dry bilge. Our salty, seasoned, sailing friends shake their heads at this seemingly naive & futile goal. But determination works for salmon swimming upstream, and we're determined.  If you're not into bilge water source diagnostics (and if you're not a boater, I don't blame you), scroll to the bottom of this post for a groovy cocktail recipe that has nothing whatsoever to do with bilges or boats. And thanks for stopping in.

Mopping pooled water around the caps of the tank under the nav berth
 After finding tiny rivers of wetness snaking down the sides of the bilge from three directions, we traced those little water maps back to the sources and found pools on top of all three fresh water tanks after recently filling them.  We reduced the level of the water in the tanks by running the faucet, and took the caps off to have a look at their sealing abilities.

One of the existing caps on our Kracor water tanks
One of the existing Kracor water tank cap gaskets
They were probably original to the boat (17 years old), and looked like they needed to be retired. We jotted down the serial number and manufacturer of the tanks, and called Kracor to ask about replacement caps. Steve at Kracor took our call, and he was kind, helpful and very knowledgeable. He deduced the make and model of our boat by the serial number of the starboard tank, because they were custom made for Cape Dory and Robinhood boats. Then he informed us that the openings and caps, which are actually called clean out covers, are manufactured to be splash proof, but *not* water proof, so the tanks should not be filled to maximum capacity. Now we know. (And I wonder; how does that work when we're heeled over?)

New cap & gaskets arrived in the mail; big difference!
 When I explained that I wanted to order replacements for our old and slippery "splash proof clean out covers",  he said we'd save money by ordering them directly from the supplier Kracor orders them from. (How cool is that?) And the company - Claire's Marine Outfitters - recently opened an Ebay store, to make online ordering easier. So, for $14 each, we got three new caps for our water tanks. Yahoo!

Much better = not leaking. :)
 Boaters are all too familiar with the concept of Scope Creep; when your original plan for a project stretches and grows to take more time, more supplies and more money.  Well, of course, once we got the tanks open, and saw the slime on the original caps, we used flash lights to explore the interior of the fresh water tanks.  Too Many Floaties.  :(  So, we began - in earnest - researching all the different ways and products used to clean fresh water tanks. But I'll save that for another post.

Canadian Smoke Jumper (think: pancakes at a campfire)
I found this drink - a Canadian Smoke Jumper - online here, and since Don a) loves Laphroaig, b) loves all things maple, and c) is a fire fighter, we had to make it. The recipe calls for equal parts:

Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whiskey
Crown Royal Maple Finished Whiskey
Simple Syrup

We erred on the side of sweet-caution, and reduced the simple syrup by half, and will probably reduce it further in the next round. If you like smokey, peaty scotch, and maple scent & flavor - like pancakes by a campfire, you might like this drink.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!


One Year as Boat Owners (& a Force 10 Sea Kettle Grill for sale)

Pacific Ocean skies above Florian's sails off the coast of Ventura
We took delivery of s/vFlorian - our Robinhood 36 - one year ago. I keep a folder of all boat related images on iphoto as a visual documentation/log of our projects, and as a reminder of our progress. In a year, we've taken a little over 2500 boat pictures.
This is how happy boat owners look (photo by our wonderous friend, J.H.)
Now, to be fair, I'm trigger happy on the shutter, and I like to document *everything*. This comes from being so visually oriented that I'm pretty much lost if I don't have visual cues in life (things like math & numeric time tables make me cry). But being turbo-girl on the camera is a benefit  I think, because when I scroll through the photos, and jot down the projects we've accomplished on the boat in the past twelve months, it's a loooong list, and I'm pretty sure I would have forgotten half of them without this pictorial diary.  I have many blog posts to write, to share all the repairs, upgrades and retrofits we've tackled, and I hope to write more this summer.  And in the meantime, we've got a Force10 kettle grill for sale. (See pics below.) Did I give you whiplash with that subject change? Ooops. Sorry. :)

This globe kettle was in the lazarette on our boat, and after a little cleaning, it's ready to grill.

Force10 still makes marine stoves, but I don't think they make kettle grills any more.

The stem of the kettle grill, to attach to your pulpit rail.

Propane connection on the grill (propane tanks are not included in this offering)

The manual to the Force 10 Sea Kettle Maine Barbecue

The hot plate and grill inside the kettle. It works fine, or use it for parts.

Hinges for the cover work great, as does the vent.
 If you're interested in buying this little sea kettle, send me an email at bdelpesco   at  mac  dot  com. I've got a box to ship it pretty much anywhere, and if you're in the area of Los Angeles or Ventura, you can just pick it up. Grill season is here. :) (Sold)

Sunset in Ventura, CA