Friday, August 22, 2014

Spring Sprang Sprung

My cousin, Suet, came all the way from California to visit us in St Augustine.  Since it was much too hot to go sailing, we decided it was best to take a little road trip to Ginnie Springs. Normally, we hear, the place is packed full of people just tubing and drinking, but luckily for us (as it was weekday), we didn't encounter too many people, just a bunch of college kids here and there.  It was a 2 hour drive from St Augustine, and it was well worth it as the springs were beautiful.  The water was ice cold, but it was some of the clearest, bluest water I've ever seen.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

♫ That's A-Mooring ♫

Well, we finally got the chance to take Moitessier out and spend the night on a mooring and it was incredible. After paying for night at St Augustine Marina and preparing the boat with supplies and food, we set out early Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful day, and we couldn't have asked for more from the weather. Bright and sunny, with a little bit of a breeze.  Picking up the mooring ball turned out to be easier than expected.  Truth be told, I had expected it to be a bit of a debacle somehow, with me dropping the boat hook or something, but it turned out perfectly.  I was able to grab the ball with the boat hook first shot.  

After securing the boat, we decided to take a swim.  The water was cool but the current out there was quite strong, so I floated along holding on to our dock lines.  We spent the day just swimming about relaxing, reading, napping, and enjoying a lunch of Caprese salad sandwiches in our cockpit.  The usual afternoon thunderstorm rolled through, which was nice as it afforded me a cold fresh water shower.  Watching the Schooner Freedom getting pummeled with the rain was quite funny too as it was full of tourists….I know, I'm bad for laughing about it.  As evening came around, and the sun was setting with the sky displaying its pinks and blues, we enjoyed a nice, romantic dinner in the cockpit.   I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness and calm.  We were finally seeing St Augustine from the cockpit of Moitessier, something we had been dreaming of for years.  After our dinner, we just sat and watched the moon for a while before deciding to take the dinghy up to the bathrooms and shower as if we were real life cruisers.  It was a perfect end to perfect day. And though it was uneventful, we both felt one baby step closer to our dream.  I couldn't have asked for more.  

Singing in the rain...
Schooner Freedom :P

On a side note, the most serendipitous thing happened when we went up to shower.  As we were approaching the corner to the bathrooms, we bumped into Stephanie and Brian on Rode Trip.  We had met them a few years ago through our friends Matt and Jess, who had traveled extensively with them.  They were on their way taking Rode Trip up north from Panama and had stopped in St Augustine for the night.  They had just finished doing their laundry and were just as surprised to see us.  We stopped and chatted for about an hour and they gave us advice on cruising the Bahamas and Cuba.  It is such a small world and it was crazy that we ran into them at 11pm just as they were about to get in their dinghy with their laundry.  They set sail the next day as we were waking up and we saw them take off from our cockpit. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

More Cushion for the…

Since we have last posted, we have been quite busy.  We have gotten emails from readers (thank you guys for caring) wondering if we've taken the boat out for another sail and whether we are still well and alive.  Yes to both… Lately we have been trying to get to know the boat a little more and learning to dock her better.  We spent a day with a captain just doing straight docking drills and getting pointers on our technique and mistakes.  Anyone who has had to back up a 40,000 lb double ender can tell you that docking is not a walk in the park.  Rick, who was the captain, taught us the importance of clear, concise, and LOUD communication, and quick line handling.  It has giving us more confidence to safely return after a day out on the water. Eventually Frank wants to teach me to drive the boat so that he could be the one handling the lines when docking.  

On a side note, one of the last times we went out sailing, we discovered that we had a stowaway on board Moitessier.  When we unfurled our Genoa, out flew a bat!  He looked just as surprised to see us as we were him, as I'm sure we awoke him from his slumber.  Being that we were a couple miles offshore, he really had no choice but to just return to Moitessier and hang out on deck with the rest of us.  Eventually, he grew intolerant of the paparazzi's incessant hounding, and sought solace in the one of the dark limber holes of our hatch cover.  

From the bow
Our batty friend soaking up some rays...
Bridge of Lions
Storm on the horizon upon our return

For those of you who think that the boat projects have ended now that we are on the water, I'd hate to burst your bubble.  It seems there is always something to do, and I have been a little lackadaisical in updating the blog with current projects.  I apologize for that.  One of the most recent projects and one that has been extremely rewarding as well, has been our cockpit cushions. After taking the boat out a few times, we realized how much more pleasurable hanging out in the cockpit would be with a set of plush cushions.  We hadn't even given it much thought before now and had always put it off as we figured it would be too expensive. After doing some research on the forums, we discovered that it does not have to be that expensive at all if you are willing to do the work yourself.  Using his internet resourcefulness, Frank was able to find 2" open cell dry fast foam from The Foam Factory Wholesale, which we later had discovered is the same company, with the same contact info as The Foam Factory that sells the same exact product at nearly double the price.  Crazy because we didn't need to provide a tax ID or anything to get the significant discount. With the foam in hand and using this awesome Sailrite video as a guideline, as well as Sailors Exchange for their surplus Sunbrella fabric and Phifertex (the mesh material usually used for the backs of cushions to allow drainage and breathability); we were able to sew our own set for a total of $140.  Pretty awesome considering you'd pay close to $1000 to have  them made through a canvas shop.  I started sewing the starboard side cushion and after I quickly became frustrated with sewing, Frank took over and impressively did a better job than I was doing. The thing he did differently was that after cutting out the pieces, he took the time to staple the patterns together, preventing any slippage between the 2 opposing fabrics, and allowing him to ensure that the pieces matched up before sewing it all together.  (Something I was too reluctant/lazy/prideful to do, resulting in me using the seam ripper far more often than I care to admit).  It's really nice having an extra area to hang out in without our bums getting sore from the hard teak.  It's also nice to be able to lay out at night in the cockpit and watch the lightning storms, that have been pretty frequent here in St Augustine lately.  

Phifertex bottom
Stapling before sewing...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

For Sail

Hello strangers….been really busy lately and have let the blog fall to the wayside…sorry. Since I've last written, many projects including the rewiring of the battery system as well as the re-insulation of our fridge have been completed.  The rewiring turned out, as expected, to be a real pain in the ass.  In typical boat fashion, it was one of those projects where no matter how many lists you make as well as how comprehensive think you are, you are always inevitably going to forget something.  Grrrrr….more on that in another blog post.  

Frank also re-insulated our fridge with Aerogel, which is this silica-based insulation originally developed by NASA and way more efficient that fiberglass or foam.   It has an R-value of 10 per inch and was cheaper and easier to work with than vacuum panels.  Though in truth, less efficient in comparison to vacuum panels, which have an R-value of 50.  But vacuum panels are puncture prone and once punctured, their R-values drop from 50 to 0, making them useless.  Aerogel does not suffer the same fate.   It is hydrophobic (it repels water) but we still took the extra precaution of adding an extra moisture barrier.  Once insulated, he finished out the interior with a textured FRP panelling from Home Depot, that is typically used in shower stalls.  At the same time, he also installed our new Frigoboat refrigeration which is far superior to our old AC Fridge, that I had previously written about. It's tiny, quiet, and a power miser. When I say small, I mean the compressor is 1/4 the size compared to the old one, and we even opted for the larger Danfoss BD-50.  A smart speed controller was also installed to help the compressor run more efficiently.  This project was well worth it and we are very pleased with the outcome.  

The biggest recent news which I have to report is that we took Moitessier out for the first time this weekend.  It was an unnerving day to say the least, but we did it, and it was fun as hell. Going out of the inlet was surreal.  It was the culmination of everything we had worked towards for the past 3 years and to be driving your home around with everything you own inside is sort of an odd feeling.  I remember the day before I kept thinking, what do I need to bring, and then quickly realizing that anything I could have brought was already there.  

We left bright and early along with 2 buddy boats which happen to live on the same dock as us, as well as being some of the first friends that we made here in St Augustine.  Frank and I kept wondering if we were actually dreaming and had to remind each other that we weren't (though Frank is still asking me if that really happened).  We couldn't have picked a better day and though the winds were light at 8-10 knots, Moitessier sailed like a queen.  Far better than either of us had expected in fact.  For being a notoriously heavy and slow boat, we were surprised when we were averaging half the wind speed with only the main and jib up and were gliding along comfortably at 4.5-5 knots on a beam reach.  We kept playing with the sails trying to eek out what we could.  As it always seems to happen, dolphins made an appearance at exactly the right moment.  As soon as we hoisted the mainsail and killed the engine, a pod of around 50 dolphins came to play with us, slapping their tails as they dove down.  It was at that moment, I turned and told Frank that I thought that it was the best day of my life and he warned me not to jinx it.   

After having a beautiful day of sailing, we made our way back through the inlet at exactly the same time that everyone else decided to.  Since it was Father's day and there was an offshore regatta, the inlet was packed with traffic that reminded me of the Williamsburg Bridge at rush hour.  Because nothing had gone wrong thus far, we kept awaiting our usual dose of humility, which made our return slightly more stressful.  Having checked the radar several times throughout our sail, we knew we could possibly be faced with some pretty strong thunderstorms, so we accepted that that was going to be our fate.  Luckily for us, it was not. As we were making our final turn to approach our slip with large thunder clouds directly at our heels, everything came to a sudden stop.  Thud….we had run aground in the middle of the channel.  Apparently a sandbar had formed, even though it had recently been dredged. Derrrrr.  It was a dead low tide, so our worst case scenario would've been having to sit with our bruised egos for another hour or so until the tide came in, but luck was on our side…. Not five minutes after our grounding, our friend, Eddie who works at the boatyard came around the bend on his jonboat with its big ass outboard and pulled us right out of the mud. After creating such a scene with our grounding, we even felt lucky for the crowd that had formed as it's always nice to have extra hands catching my ill thrown dock lines.  Especially since this was both of our first times docking a boat….any boat, EVER.  Yeah…docking drills are definitely in our future.