Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boat Show: Foul Weather Gear and a Garmin Oregon 400c

Yesterday we convinced our friends to come with us to the New England Boat Show, so the six of us piled into the car and made the journey over there. We were only there for two hours...usually we go there, clamber around on as many boats as we can, and end up being there for five or six hours. Truthfully, it's a bit tiring when we do that and so I was happy for the short length of time that we were there.

Despite this, we were still able to spend a good bit of money while we were there! We already knew exactly what we wanted though, and have been saving up.

So here it is folks - our 2010 New England Boat Show purchases!!

West Marine Third Reef Foul Weather Gear

Garmin Oregon 400c Handheld GPS

Friday, February 26, 2010

dock troubles at Constitution Marina

So, this 'storm' doesn't seem real bad to Jenny or me. We are pretty used to mid-west tornados and thunderstorms that wreak some real havoc. On the other hand, being on the water makes things a bit different. While it hasn't rained a whole ton, nor has there been a massive lightning show, there has been a whole lot of wind. Last night the building just up the road from us clocked a couple gusts at around 55-57 mph. That's blowing pretty good. Well, that, combined with the strain of extra high tides from the storm surge has certainly caused some troubles for our poor old docks here.

The photos are from about halfway down d-dock. See dockplan here. That is the worst break so far, but word has it that a few other small breaks have happened as well. Luckily there is a good crew of workers here and they were on top of things all night long. Things are quickly being patched up and reinforced and soon all will be back to normal.

This is fun!!


Monday, February 22, 2010

who are you??

I've been realizing as of late - I have no idea who you are. Who are you? Why do you visit our blog? Where are you from? Do you have a boat? Do you have a dream? I'd really like to know.

It's interesting because as of late, we're realizing that quite a few people visit our blog. Some of these people we're fully aware of, but we've been discovering that there are people all over the world reading about us and we'd love to get to know you.

So if you're reading this, I'd love an introduction, a link to your blog if you have one, and a glimpse into your life.

Thanks much.

Oh, and I have one more question...what is going on in this picture? Silly kids.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Historic Downtown of Bath, Maine

Justin, Willie and I piled in the car on Friday on our one shared day off together and drove north. We got as far as East Boothbay, then decided that was far enough. We took our time coming back home, driving along Route 1 for quite some time and found our way to the largest LL Bean I've ever seen in my life in Freeport. I mean, this thing was not just one store, but something like 4 or 5 stores. It is a little village!!

Anyway, we both love Maine so much and it was such a great day for a drive. One of the best things about Maine is that it really is reminiscent of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a lot of ways, including some very bizarre kinds of little roadside shops, strange house decorations, and sheer beauty in the landscape.

The only picture I took of the three of us. Don't I look like a grumpus.

"The Way Life Should Be"...I think they're right.

I know they're speaking of goats, but the sign is still funny.

Boats in everyone's backyard.

Willie singing along to his favorite song on the radio.

Fluffiest clouds I've ever seen.

We stopped quickly in Bath, Maine on the way home. What a neat little town. Sadly I didn't take more pictures. Guess you'll just have to go explore it yourself!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treehugger and Sailing

One of my favorite websites to go to is Treehugger. They often have very neat little articles regarding self sufficiency, food, health, etc. Once in awhile they even throw in something regarding sailing.

Here are some recent articles that I found especially amusing.

Sail Your Bike with Whike:

This is a sailing kit for your recumbent bike! Sadly, we a) don't have recumbent bikes and b) I don't weigh enough. I guess you have to have a bit more meat on your bones so that you don't fly away...these things can get your bike going as fast as 30 knots!

The other article I always think about is this one:

Slow Freight: Sail Power is Actually Faster than Containerships Today

I read this when it first came out (nearly a year ago now) and I always think about that as I see those ships chugging along, pushing black smoke into the air. If you look at the comments, you can see that maybe the article is a bit misleading. Regardless, I think it's interesting to think about.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New England Boat Show time!

Well, almost anyhow. Boston's big boat show starts this weekend. Jenny and I are working some opposite schedules so we can't go for the opening weekend. We'll go next weekend, but sometimes that is better. The deals should be more plentiful on the waning weekend. All the vendors show up with truckloads of stuff in the beginning and then they don't want to have to haul it all back to their shops. So, we hope to catch some deals. Last year we managed to get a great deal on some new anchor rode from Northeast Rigging. This year they gave us some discounted "exhibitor guest" tickets, for which we are quite thankful.

Then again maybe we'll just buy a new Tartan 5300 while we are there....HAH! yeah... right....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

some sailing blogs that we follow

I love to keep up on sailing blogs and what other people are up to who share our lifestyle. It's been enjoyable to get to know people who are sailing around the world - I've learned so much from reading of their trials and tribulations, and that's what we hope to do here as well. The winter months leave much more time for keeping up with people.

In no particular order, here's what we're generally reading - this is just a partial list...there are so many great blogs and not enough time to tell you about all of them.

Blue Schooner Publishing

Ben built his schooner Falcon and spent some time at Constitution Marina (prior to us living here, so we've never met). He's since sailed away to Florida and continues to keep a well-kept blog.

Adventures of Sarabande and Keli and Stu are two blogs from two couples we met in the Virgin Islands. They met our cruising friend Mike in Puerto Rico and have been all meeting up at various points along their journeys. They were a joy to get to meet, and in short, meeting them has changed our lives forever.

Mike and Brian

Mike and Stuart

S/V Third Day
The Boren family's blog is always chock full of useful information, especially the expense reports that they put together. This family of four is cruising the west coast and I discovered their blog on their one year anniversary of setting sail! They're an inspiration to all cruising families.

Peregrine Sea
Tim and Sandra live aboard their boat Peregrina, a cutter rigged Stevens Custom 40 in Constitution Marina. They're a fantastic couple with a beautiful pup Pequita. Willie and Pequita are in love. Tim takes fantastic photos as you're bound to see on his blog.

Zach Aboard
This crafty mama's blog discusses living aboard with her five year old son. The family that is portrayed in this blog is serene and magical. Think Peter Pan. This is a must read for anyone raising a child on a boat.

Chris and Cate
Chris and Cate live...err, almost live on a Alberg 30. Their recently acquired gem is the foundation to a dream of sailing the world. Currently, they're sneaking off into the night to stay on their boat as often as possible, and have plans of being fully moved aboard by March 1st.

Photo is from Chris and Cate's blog, after the first of many snowstorms over the past week. We're quite jealous.

Hobo Sailor
Here's a blog of a (very) young couple who has been there, done that. Chad and Leeann have sailed over 3,000 miles in the Great Lakes, the Atlantic, and have done a Trans-Atlantic crossing. They loved the cruising life, but wanted to be closer to family, and for now they're living in our home state of Michigan.

Photo taken from Hobo Sailor's blog from February 2009

Coronado 25 Sailing Adventure
Allan hosts a wonderful blog of his adventures on his boat with his wife in Canada. He's another blogger that likes to let you know how much things are going to cost, so if you're interested in boating or living aboard, stop by his blog to get a better picture of the real expenses of boating.

s/v Bella Rose
Rob and Cheri live aboard their 36 foot sloop in Louisiana. Their goal is to help others move aboard a boat and their website has a lot of useful information in helping you do so. They even sell a DVD - 7 Secrets to Moving Aboard Your Boat.

And when we're not reading blogs, we're constantly cruising around these forums:

Ericson Yachts
Living Aboard Forums
Cruisers and Sailing Forums

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great Lakes sailing, Petoskey and other oldies but goodies.

Jenny and I are both from Michigan. We loved it there, but we were never sailors til we moved to Boston and bought Madrigal. Knowing what we do now about sailing, we both think it'd be FANTASTIC to get a chance to sail on the Great Lakes. They are wonderful lakes and we both love them. I've vacationed on their beaches and on fishing charters a number of times, but having never sailed, I didn't know what I was missing... Maybe some day in the future we'll get a chance to head up the St. Lawrence and spend some time on our native waters, but that day is likely a very long ways off.

In the meantime, reminiscing about fresh water adventures of days past led me to look at some old pictures. Shortly after we first met we went on a group camping trip with some friends. We stayed at a beachfront campground in Petoskey, Michigan. What a great place. These pictures are all from that trip. Incidentally, this is really the trip that caused Jenny and I to realize what a strong connection we had to each other.

It was memorial day weekend, so that was some COLD Lake Michigan water that Jenny had ventured into.

We tried to get a photo with our two friends Jason and Katie, but something went terribly wrong with Jason's face.

As you can see, that tends to happen to him...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mid-February blues and will love us this spring.

Winter is beginning to drag on. We are slated for 6-10 inches of snow today and it is just beginning to fall as I type this. Jenny and I both enjoy snow quite a bit, but it is around this time of year when I begin to enjoy it a bit less. After our recent trip to the vi's it is even more poignant of a loss to be unable to use our boat for its intended purpose of sailing.

In the meantime, we are preparing for a big (read: expensive and busy) spring. Work on our seahood that Jenny blogged about last fall came to a grinding halt when shrink wrap season and end of semester papers took over. So I'll have to resume that soon-- hopefully it will begin warming up under the shrinkwrap on nice days soon and that will help me get back to work. After that gets fiberglassed, I have some work to do on our decks with repairing some blemishes left from old thru-deck stuff that's been long removed. All this has to happen with the shrinkwrap still on, because then we plan to paint the topsides with Easypoxy, so they look new and fresh and then our seahood will match perfectly. A couple friends used this product last year and got GREAT results. I'm excited for it, but it will be a huge project. Our hull paint is still fresh with only 2 years under its belt, but once the topsides are dry and the shrinkwrap is removed we need to get hauled out for new bottom paint. Our bottom got considerably crusty last season and if we are to make any speed through the water this year we need new paint. While we are hauled out, the plan is also to install a seawater foot pump for dish washing purposes. This all adds up to lots of $$$ all too quickly. Hopefully there won't be any problems with the haul out and we can accomplish everything in a timely manner. When all that is said and done we should have a boat which finally looks right fine from all angles, top, bottom, and sideways :)

As a finishing blow to our spring bank account we are also hoping to grab a Manson Supreme anchor from It is a ripoff of the Rocna anchor, but for half the price it has far more holding power (second hand knowledge mind you) than most anything else. Our plan is to anchor as much as possible this summer instead of grabbing moorings. That will help justify the anchor price and will get us more comfortable with anchoring.

Oh, and we have some bad batteries that need replaced, and a we need a new mainsail, and we have some crusty looking rigging.... and our inverter needs some new wiring, and we need the mast pulled to put some lights up, and there is a leaky port... and... and... ahhh boats. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010


We've been all about playing board games lately. Partly, we have been egged on by our friend Mark who is even more excited about games than we are. But it is also because there isn't always a whole ton to do in the winter here. At least not without going out to spend money. Well, there is always rum I suppose.... but I digest...

We've been playing lots of Tichu when we have 4 players around. It is a card game similar to spades or hearts, but a bit more fun. Card games are great because they don't take up any room.

RoboRally takes up a bit more space, but it is pretty fun even with only 2 players and that is ideal. You run around a board with little robot pieces that you have to "program" by selecting 5 moves ahead of time. You miscalculate a lot and run into each other and accidentally kill each others robots. Pretty fun really.

Jenny and I have always been fans of Scrabble, and we have a travel-Scrabble version that is very boat conducive. The letters clip onto the board and it all folds down in a neat package. Perfect!

One of Jenny's favorites has become Munchkin. In particular, Munchkin Booty. It is a card game, which is great on being a space saver, but it takes more than 2 people to make it worth while and that doesn't always work out as well. Your character is a little munchkin and you collect cards that help you fight monsters and you can plot with each other and whatnot. Neat.

Mark has a ton of games on his boat (single guy on a Catalina 42--he has tons of room) So we've also been playing Ra, Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Puerto Rico, and others, but they are mostly all multiple player games. (Dominion is fun and can be 2 player, tons and tons of cards though and it's more fun with 3+ players) If anyone has more ideas on some fun two player games, let us know. Thanks. :)

Oh, and we need to learn Cribbage...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

some quick links regarding Annie Hill

So, Jenny and I have both read Annie Hill's 'Voyaging on a Small Income'. We read it a year or two ago and have been re-reading it lately. It is very good. It led Jenny to look Annie up and see what she is up to lately. Turns out she has a blogger account--This set of photos from Greenland is AMAZING. I would LOVE to do something like this someday.

Here is a sample photo....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

May T and the Beast of Burden

Justin and I have been trying to get out sailing with a fellow dockmate, Wayne. Sadly, we were so close today, but the engine wouldn't work, and we didn't think it would have been a terribly good idea to take the boat out without one, since it's only 22 degrees out. Getting stranded didn't sound too terribly fun for any of us.

I had planned on taking tons of photographs but instead only got a few. Regardless, I generally upload my photos to flickr and I discovered that I can embed slideshows directly into a blog post. I'm giving that a shot now!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

more on self sufficiency

Self sufficiency is a way of life. It is sometimes habit, sometimes obsession. I'm always interested in finding new ways of living as off-grid as possible. If I could, I'd have a garden growing up on deck, (And really, I suppose in these winter months when we're all bubbled up, it might work just fine), I'd make all of our food from scratch, I'd sew all of our clothing, hand wash the laundry, etc. etc.

We try to think of self sufficiency as a whole - you can't forget about water, food, warmth (or cooling off, which is hard to think of at this point in the winter). And then there are the little things - showering, hair cutting, sewing, etc.

In many ways, we are practicing self sufficiency on a daily basis. When the boat breaks, we fix it. We've never hired anyone to come in to figure out what's going on. When the problem requires some obscure tool, he walks the docks looking for one, unless it is something that we'll need many times in the future.

With our small icebox, it's hard to keep fresh vegetables. The fresh spinach touches the ice plate and gets slimy before we know it. As an alternative, we grow sprouts. It's fun and easy, and they are so delicious. I use a very small jar and a special lid that helps with rinsing them but really I don't think the lid is necessary. Mind you, we do still buy veggies, but these are great when we're running out.

Two days after our wedding, I discovered a very sad thing - I am allergic to hops. It is my belief that I have always been, but on that particular day, things decided to go full force against me and I haven't been able to drink beer since. We've searched the city high and low for hops-free beer and (until last week) it was nowhere to be found. (Last week, we discovered that Boston Beer Works often brews their own hops-free beer!!) As it is, Boston Beer Works will not always be close at hand, and really it would be quite fun attempting to make our own. That's where the Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible comes in. Thus far we have not attempted to make anything from it, but it's a darn amusing read in the meantime.

Oh and I almost forgot! A couple of years back, I bought my dad a cheese making kit. I made mozzarella with him and it was wonderful. Apparently I just keep talking about it to Justin, because he bought me a kit for Christmas! He bought me the "hard cheese" kit and it'll take two months for our cheese to cure. I'm sure I'll blog about it when it's ready.

Justin and I have been together five years, and in those five years, I've only gotten a professional haircut once. I think it was about 6 months into our relationship and when he saw it (and found out how much I paid) he said "well, I could do that!" I chose to believe him at the time and it was definitely no mistake. This boy could make a killing at cutting hair!

For some reason, he also trusts me with the task of cutting his hair. I really keep trying to tell him that this is a bad idea, but every so often he asks for my help. Other times he just does it himself which really is probably a much better option.

For Christmas, I asked for, and received Don Casey's Canvaswork and Sail Repair book (Thanks mom and dad!) This is a fantastic resource for us because anything relating to canvas or sails is very expensive and we'd rather just do this stuff ourselves too. The year before, my parents bought this sewing machine for me for Christmas:

It has been a great tool to have on the boat, even though the beast is 50 lbs. We store it behind the companionway stairs, so when I want to sew it's kind of an ordeal. It's also difficult for me to hoist this thing up on the table, but somehow I do it. Last year when our sail had a tear, we were able to get a great deal on sailcloth from Bacon Sails and I went to work repairing it. It was an easy repair until I got to the fourth side, and then it took me probably an hour to stitch a little less than two feet of material. Otherwise this is such a great (old) machine and I love how it just powers through every project I work on with it. I also fixed our friend Mark's canvas, as he had quite a few holes that needed patching. That also went well, but I learned the hard way that you have to just put your foot down with the pedal and don't try to do things slow. The needle broke in half and flew into my eye and I had a chunk of metal in it for a few minutes. In the end I decided to not go to the doctor, but it definitely crossed my mind!

Ok ok, back on track with self sufficiency. A major component to self sufficiency is creating your own power, but these are also generally the most expensive components! We don't use a lot of power (we don't have many fancy electronics, we rarely use our GPS, we don't have wind speed controls or a depth sounder or anything like that) but we do have our fridge system and Justin enjoys having the lights on regardless of where we are (I wouldn't care one way or another - I think headlamping it is pretty fun!)

We do have a small solar panel, and are looking into buying a couple more. We were actually given the solar panel we have now (for free!) but will probably have to throw down a few hundred bucks when we decide to get some more. We're looking into "solar panel kits" in which you build your own panel, therefore saving a bit of change. It'd be neat to see how they really work anyway, so we may end up doing that.

The other component is wind power, and we'd like to get a kiss generator (or two). Again, these are expensive but between the solar and the wind, we'd be able to live on anchor if we chose without really having to worry about running out of power.

Another thing we'd like to do is install more water tanks in the boat. We currently hold around 18 gallons of water and we have the space to probably hold close to 50 or so. We'd also make a rain catching system so we'd be able to fill the tanks with rain water for dishes, shower, etc. The neat thing about this is that we'd be able to keep the rain water tanks separate from our current tank, so we'd still have one full of fresh, acid free rain.

And then, there's one last thing that I'd love to try next winter to try and save some money on electricity. In searching for solar powered gadgets, I came across a "solar space heater". What?! Really?! I think that's fantastic. The best thing about this one is that it costs next to nothing to build. I really just found out about this yesterday so I haven't read about any real life accounts of how they work. Guess I'll just have to try it out myself!

All in all, we're certainly not self sufficient. We're tied to a dock with an endless supply of power. We use the boathouse for showers, laundry, etc... but if I had the time, (and if we were cruising) I'd definitely want to hand wash our clothes. We definitely don't have the self sufficiency we want yet, but it does cost money to buy some of the things we'd like to have, and we're certainly on our way to being able to afford to get these things.

Hopefully by this time next year our list of things we want will be much smaller and we'll be much closer to being self sufficient. Hopefully we'll be enjoying the sunset with homemade crackers, cheese and hops-free beer.