Monday, October 31, 2011
I think I mention that we live in a massive mosquito swarm about every other post, but it's a problem that really bites, if you catch my drift. Pretty much every evening we hang out in the cockpit to watch the sun go down and the fish jump out of the water like reverse skipping stones, and then, like clockwork, the onslaught begins - citronella candle be damned.
No doubt, we'll be suffering from West Nile virus in the near future, but in order to stave off illness for a bit longer and get the lovely night breeze through the cabin we have mosquito netting over our hatches. The people who owned the boat before us graciously left custom made hatch covers that are making all the difference.
Here's a link to the article. Plus, with mosquito netting you can take creepy pictures like this:
Friday, October 28, 2011
A front blew in last night, bringing a nice, heavy rain and some wind. Nothing too crazy, and Vlad and I knew it was coming (thanks, iPhone!). Nevertheless, I was still surprised at 10:30 p.m. when rain began pouring in through all the open hatches. Preparation? Foresight? A bit of planning? Sailors don't need stuff like that.
Despite a few minutes of frantic hatch closing and cleaning up all the water I had stupidly allowed in, I still absolutely LOVE the sound of the rain on the boat. Take a listen in this video:
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
So we got towed twice in 24 hours a couple of days ago. Did we learn anything from the experience? But of course!
1. Get towing insurance! It's a couple of hundred dollars but can save you big money if you ever need it (think $600 for those two tows). Because we're newbies to the whole sailing thing and I'm somewhat paranoid, we bought insurance first thing. Thank goodness.
2. If you think you need diesel, go ahead and fill up. Enough said.
3. When running low on fuel with old diesel in a tank that probably hasn't been cleaned since Panama, change your fuel filters.
I'm not sure how we're going to deal with the sludge in our tank, but Vlad will no doubt figure something out that doesn't involve us paying a fortune. Other than that, I may be the only one in our party who had a good time when our engine gave out in the channel and we had to hoist the sails and turn around before we ran aground (I make it sound like we were sooooo calm), but it was fun in an adrenaline surging kind of way. I'm glad I got to experience something going wrong and our quick reaction to it. A good way to learn those lessons, for sure.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
We finally got to go sailing again! We hadn't been able to go out for a few weeks because of some traveling and work, but this weekend we broke free from the dock. Vlad's mom and brother were in town, and we took them out twice in the bay. Yesterday's sail was gorgeous - good wind, the best weather Texas has to offer and a respite from the mosquitoes that have been plaguing the marina. As usual, I just wanted to keep going. Who cares about the fact that we need to raise money, finish an ever growing to-do list for the boat and provision, right? Patience has never been my virtue.
Though the afternoon started out beautifully, we had a slight mishap getting back to the dock. The day before we had to get a tow because we thought we had run too low on gas, but it looks like we have sludge in the tank instead. Anyway, when the engine quit working in the middle of the channel, we had to hang a quick u-turn, hoist the sails and call the tow company. Again. But, hey, we got to see this rockin' sunset!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Do you know how hard it is to bathe a hedgehog while trying to take a picture in a tiny boat bathroom (called a "head" in marine speak)? Yeah, I didn't either. And, yes, our bathroom sink is a shell.
Sorry about the blurriness of the pictures, but Sid Vicious really hates baths. I mean, really hates baths, and Vlad couldn't help me because he can barely fit in the bathroom by himself, let alone with me in there too trying to douse a freaked out hedgehog. Fun times!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I finally have a stove! Well, one that works anyway. When we moved aboard, the stove was suffering from neglect. I had to cook on a camp stove on top of our real stove, which proved to be rather tricky since we live in a moving house and once I had piled the pot on the stove on top of the other stove I had to stand on my tip toes to see what was cooking!
But last weekend, Vlad fixed our stove for me, and in return I made him lasagna. He's pretty sure he'll get some cookies out of the deal too, and that may be cause I'm pretty jazzed about being able to make oatmeal again without getting cramps in my calves.
My new-to-me stove is of the propane variety, meaning that we have a tank of propane in the workshop that is vented to the outside, which is very important!! If you don't vent the propane tank properly, you run the risk of blowing up your boat. Not a good situation. Oh, and propane burns at a higher temperature than gas. Vlad gave me that chemistry lesson while I was trying to use my monkey brain to figure out how why the flame was so low.
One last stove tidbit, I promise. Our stove is also gimbaled, which means it swings with the movement of the boat. This way, theoretically, you don't spill chicken noodle soup all over yourself while out traversing the Atlantic. Theoretically, of course.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Before we moved onto Bettie, Vlad and I had a decently active social life. I mean, it's not like we were jet setting across the country or that we didn't sometimes spend whole Saturdays reading or watching movies, but we did our fair share of meeting and greeting.
Since we started living the dock life, however, I feel as though we are constantly meeting people, having dinner with people, talking to people, sharing a few beers with people we've known less than a week or a day. We've lived on board for two months and have already attended another liveaboards' wedding. You get the picture.
So why the difference between boat life and land living? Vlad and I discussed this the other night after yet another impromptu dinner party, and our theory is that boats don't have yards or driveways or garages or any of the other things that separate you from your neighbors. You are, in a way, forced to meet and mingle with others and learn about their lives, philosophies and political viewpoints even if they differ from your own. Quite the change from life in the digital age where face-to-face contact is increasingly rare.
Monday, October 17, 2011
One of the things I love about living on a boat is getting to watch strange, new wildlife gurgle or fly by the boat. I don't even have to go anywhere, and there are gar, night herons and sheep's head fish just doing their thing right beside me. It's great entertainment if you grew up watching nature shows on PBS.
Lately, the marina has been invaded by these funky pulsating jellyfish that I thought looked like glowing balloons but Vlad discovered were called cannonball jellyfish. I'm sure other people don't find them quite as fascinating since, according to Wikipedia, these jellyfish are incredibly common this time of year in the Gulf, but, of course, we are obsessed.
To give you an idea of how many of these puppies are floating around right now, I was on a second floor balcony looking out at the bay, and I must have seen over a hundred bobbing in the waves. Evidently, cannonball jellyfish are supposed to be good eating, a delicacy in Asia as Vlad was telling me, but I think I'll just stick to looking at them.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Check out the podcast here if you need a little fuel for the adventure fire.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The other day we were strolling down our dock, and our neighbor who was walking in front of us gave a shout and jumped. Evidently, he got the figurative pants scared off him by the oldest trick in the book - the plastic, blowup snake floating in the water.
Of course, we had to have it, and the snake now resides in our cockpit. Vlad is pretty sure it will scare the birds off our boat, but I'm not convinced. I practically had to shake a grackle loose from our staysail the other day. Those things are fearless!
Speaking of snakes on a boat, it seems to be a pretty popular, and amusing, topic of conversation over at the Cruisers Forum, specifically sea snakes swimming up into the toilet. Now, this sounds a bit far-fetched to me, but the curious little critters do climb up people's transoms or into their dinghies, an idea that Vlad particularly likes. He thinks we can train them to catch us fish.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I want to give a big, huge thank you to Steve Harris, a longtime friend of Vlad's and a new, but already treasured, friend of mine. Steve is an amazing photographer and an incredible human being who is always ready for the next adventure. He even managed to corral the best of the best of Texas musicians for a book of photography and quotations called Texas Troubadours.
Steve has generously let me use a shot he took while sailing with us on Bettie as the main photo for this blog. So thank you, Steve!
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Not to get too inspirational, but I read an Andrew Sullivan post yesterday about Steve Jobs and how he took, in many ways, the road less traveled. (Full disclosure: I'm writing this on a Mac Powerbook from 2004 that obviously still works. Love those Apple products.) Included in the post was a quote from a commencement speech Jobs gave in 2005 that I found thought provoking.
A good philosophy to remember whether you're sailing through the Caribbean or commuting into Cleveland.Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Friday, October 7, 2011
When we first started talking about this crazy adventure, I read Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi, which is about Aebi sailing solo around the world at 18 years old. It was a good read, but I was shocked that her brand new boat leaked like nobody's business. Then, I realized that most boats leak, and that part of basic boat maintenance is fixing all the leaks that either develop or come that way from the manufacturer. I don't know about you, but if I paid a giant ton of money for a brand new boat that came with a brand new leaky hull-to-deck joint, I might be just ever so slightly upset.
Thankfully, Bettie is a dream in the leak department. She has one through bolt that gives us a few drips, but other than that nada.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
I've always been a big fan of storms but have never really considered their behavior until recently. I guess it's the luxury of living in a house firmly attached to land that leads to such complacency, but there's nothing like having a home held in place by six dock lines to make you pay more attention.
The storm that hit us followed a pretty typical pattern. First a drop in air pressure, measured by the barometer (or "the barry," as I call it), then a sudden increase in wind speed, followed by lightning and finally rain. Once the rain hit, the wind slowed quite a bit, and the front was past us before I even finished my beer, though admittedly I'm a sipper.
So there you have it, the anatomy of a thunderstorm seen from the middle of a marina in the middle of an amusement park.