Friday, January 30, 2015

Transom Project Complete

We did something cool and fun this morning aboard Aletheia...we gave her an official hailing port on her transom. On top of the two previous owners' hailing ports: Florida, USA and Portland, lays Denver CO

We scoured local craft and hardware stores all over the East Coast only to find 3-inch letters that come individually and this likely would have been a bigger project trying to match each letter, evenly spaced, to my OCD-perfection. After asking the Universe for where to look next, a fellow blogger at suggested Winner! After just a few minutes on the website, t'was a no brainer. Customization out the wazoo, with hundreds of fonts, more than a dozen colors, sizes and several grades of vinyl, depending on your specific needs. 

Before beginning such a project, we checked the requirements for US Coast Guard Documented vesselsAccording to the USCG, the required letter height on a recreational vessel needs to be at least 4" tall. DoItYourSelfLettering had everything we needed, and we ordered it from the boat! No more traipsing around!

Since we only need a hailing port, we matched the font as best we could with her name. It costs $20, shipping included. Other signage companies can easily charge upright of $75-100 for similar apply-it-yourself lettering. 

Denver, CO came in one long piece with easy, detailed installation instructions - fairly foolproof. They even guarantee "anyone" can install the lettering and if there are any problems with the installation, they will send a replacement at no cost. I'll admit I was a bit nervous, but we walked through our installation process a few times and it came out great! No need to request a replacement! Thank you DoItYourselfLettering for making me feel like a pro!

I highly recommend this company both for personal and professional projects.

Here are some pics of our install:

Step 1: Green tape applied as a "hinge" to set the location of the name
Step 2: Remove the backing off the label
Step 3: Pull taut and adhere to the surface, scraping the overlay to remove any air bubbles 
Since we have drainage holes on the transom, we cut around to make sure the surface area is flat. So far, so good! 
It's working!
Complete Success in about 10 minutes!

That's one less project from the to-do list. 

Love to all,
Nate & Jenn

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ho hum

Life continues apace here on the boat. Since Jenn's on vacation (who leaves south Florida in the winter to go to Colorado? Intentionally?) there isn't much going on for me and the dog. I'll tell you a bit about what our days here have been like.
We are now in Sunrise Bay, Ft. Lauderdale.
It finally cooled down a bit! Being able to bundle up in blankets at night is so nice. And by bundle up, I mean use them at all.

Wakes from the water taxi and passing mega-yachts on the ICW get us rolling sometimes. Mostly at mealtimes. Walking up our steep stairs with your hands full is an invitation for spilling disaster. We live dangerously around here. Wyatt reaps the benefits.
The ICW, in a rare moment of calm.
We have to wait for the tide to be right to go to or from the boat, which is kinda inconvenient. Our current anchorage is on the other side of a bottleneck from where we land the dinghy. The tidal current goes fast enough through there that I can't row against it, so we need to wait until the current is going with us. Every 6.5 hours (roughly) it changes direction. When the tide is going out in the morning and in during the afternoon, all is well. But right now we are getting to a time where it is coming in during the morning, and out in the afternoon. So if I want to leave the boat today, I do it at 7 am, or between 1 and 7 pm. It also means I can't get back to the boat until after 7 tonight. In a couple days the tide will flow in a more convenient time for me. But not being able to go back and forth as many times as I'd like whenever I want is a little inconvenient. Almost enough to make me want to move the boat somewhere else where I can do whatever I want. Maybe next week I'll get to that.
Not what my cockpit looks like. But it is me driving a 127 foot motorboat. Work work work.
Grocery shopping is an all-day affair. Have breakfast, read, clean, pat the dog, time the tides, row 10-15 minutes to land, walk 30 minutes to the beach, play volleyball for 3 hours, get some ice cream, walk 30 minutes back to the dinghy, walk another 15 minutes the other direction, shop, carry bags 20 minutes back to the dinghy, hope your food doesn't spoil in the 80 degree heat (in the shade. We're pouring sweat in the sun), visit our friend's community pool for a bit, row 20 minutes back to the boat (dinghy is heavier now, and I'm tired), try not to work up a sweat again, and perhaps have a celebratory cold beer upon arrival for having had such a rough day.
Shopping is hard

The superhero

We ignored The Incredibles, and we have a red Cape on the back of our boat:
Probably won't get caught in a jet engine. Probably.
The Cape takes us where we want to go. It's our self-steering mechanism for the boat. We rotate the red wing (using the 2 little ropes angling in from the left side of the photo) so the edge of the wing faces into the wind. In this picture, that's the left side of the wing. So, since we're looking backwards, the wind is coming from the starboard (right) side of the boat, and we are sailing on a beam reach. The bottom of this pipe and mechanism is the rudder, about 3 or 4 feet long and nearly a foot wide of hard plastic which is turned by the wing and steers the boat.
Always tie the rudder to the boat with the blue rope. If the primary attachment fails and we lose the rudder, then I have to actually steer, and that sucks.
In between the wing and the rudder is some pretty cool steam-punk mechanical action. Left/right motion in the wing moves a piston up and down, which moves an arm left and right (with a user-adjustable pivot, for different amounts of motion), which moves the angled bracket forward and back, which rotates the pipe that the rudder is attached to. So: since we've set the wing to face right into the wind, if the boat turns a little and now the wind pushes on one side of the wing, it tips down, which turns the rudder and moves the boat back on course.

The video uploading aspect of Blogger here seems to not be working, so you'll have to come down here and see it for yourself!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Remember the Icicles

I was inspired by a fellow blogger from Skelton Crew to share our own thoughts about complaining about the temperatures. We know exactly what you're going through, my friend!

I'm a winter baby at heart, but living on a sailboat in frigid temperatures isn't my idea of fun. People that choose to sail in subzero, icy, snowy conditions baffle me. They are certainly more daring and hard core than I.

Looking back, as we sailed through some frigid temperatures, we thought about our future selves when we'd be able to complain about the heat once we arrived in tropical Ft. Lauderdale. Now that we are here, wiping sweat from unmentionable places, we're saying "Man, it's so hot" (and I love it!) The only difference is that we're not really complaining at all, simply stating the facts and soaking up the glowing beads of sweat on our foreheads! I'll take breakfast in my bikini over a winter hat in the cockpit any day! 

When its cold, we wish it was warm; when it's warm, we wish it were cool. Experiencing some very cold temperatures out on the water, not being able to warm up in a subzero sleeping bag, wearing layer upon layer thinking I'm going to pee myself before I can get all these clothes off, we get the sweltering heat we've been wishing for. Now we have the days where its so hot, you can't think straight or you don't want to wear any clothing for fear of it sticking to your skin. But all we have to remember are the times we wished not to emerge from our sleeping bag at 1AM for a night shift or the icicles falling from our foresail when leaving Elizabeth City, NC. 

Since getting to warm, sometimes stifling hot weather, we've been finding ourselves on the beach playing volleyball, swimming in the ocean, reading on the foredeck and eating all of our meals in the cockpit. Cooking has now become something we try to do quickly as opposed to having a reason to warm up the cabin. It's freakin' hot when I cook, although this is what I love to do so we deal with it, take fresh air breaks and try to eat meals that don't require lots of cooking time. 

I'm heading home (to winter) for a much needed visit and look forward to seeing my family and friends. I'm sure I'll be the tannest one on the block! I'll probably complain about how cold it is too!

It's A Small World Indeed!

Happy 2015! It's my first blog entry of the new year. I feel the need to apologize for not writing in a while. We haven't had too much to write about in our eyes, but some of you might beg to differ. We've been busy slowing down, enjoying the warm, tropical sun, people watching while walking the Ft. Lauderdale strip, spending time with Jess & GR, and getting some wonderful R&R after pushing south to warm weather the last few months. Our week long job was a great success, including a special treat out in the ocean on the 127ft yacht for a photo shoot for Fisher magazine, a very high end yachting lifestyle magazine. We spent Christmas Eve quietly tucked into Aletheia with some traditional treats and movies, Christmas dinner and New Year's Eve with Jess & GR. They have been such great friends to us! NYE also marked our 4 months aboard Aletheia. I like to announce these milestones because it's important to me and a way to track and share our progress; to look back just 4 months ago and measure our experiences and whereabouts and compare them to today. I like to account for the accomplishment. 

The morning we arrived in Fort LaLa Land, we visited GR's 50ft Hatteras, Felicity, for french toast and a mini reunion. After breakfast we went up on the bow to soak in the beautiful weather and watch the sunday water traffic. Looking to starboard (to the right) Nate saw a sailboat leaving their mooring ball and shouted “Hey Jenn, it's Mendocino Queen!” Standing in shock, I thought to myself that's not possible, but living among a small population of sailors on this little planet, the world reminds you that it ain't so big after all.

Back in December 2006 after a week of visiting Nate aboard Heretic (cousin Seth's former boat) in the Bahamas we were looking to find a way to hitch me a ride back to Nassau so I could catch my flight home without Heretic having to sail back the 40-50 miles to “drop me off”. Spending our last night in Allen's Cay, we met a lovely couple, Allen and Kate. To make a long story short, they happily offered to sail me back on Mendocino Queen since they were headed that way and didn't mind the company. After parting ways with Heretic, we had a lovely sail, I stayed the night on their boat, and they even took me out the next morning for a birthday breakfast before sending me off in a cab to the airport. Who knew that eight years later we'd see them again, moored right next to our friend's boat in a random mooring field in one of the most populated sailing communities this side of the Mississippi. I don't know if that's actually true, but it sounds good. Serendipitously, they chose to move their boat into our anchorage. After seeing their boat, we knew we had to say hi. So we rowed over one afternoon to pay a visit. I introduced myself and they immediately remembered me! They invited us back over for a visit the night before they weighed anchor. It was wonderful to hear new stories from them and share with them our travels. I get chills thinking about our paths crossing again! We wish them well on their continued journey after 25 years as full-time cruisers. These are inspirational people!

Here are some pictures from recent weeks:

So many wild iquanas here! I have yet to take a close up of one
Bridge going up
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park - a stone's throw from Aletheia
First Pina Colada!
Canceled yoga class inspired this as my studio
Lady manatee - she loved drinking the fresh water
New Year's Eve potluck
Jammin with Jess (sorry, it's a little blurry)
Love to All,
Nate & Jenn