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Posted on Mar 9, 2015 | 4 comments

So Much To Do

And this is after a year on board!

And this is after a year on board!

We are now finally in the final stages of prepping the boat and ourselves for our trip to the Bahamas. I would do a sigh of relief here, but there is so much work to be done that in fact it has been the busiest time that we have been aboard. We’ve made our list and checked it about one hundred times a day trying to find at least one more item to check off before bed. Dan even printed us some blank calendar pages that we filled in with all of our tasks to make sure they were getting done with the right time margins.

Our most time consuming project was repainting our non skid on the deck and cabin top. Previously, the deck was extremely slick anytime it got a little bit wet (I’m talking dew in the morning) and was a real safety hazard for walking, let alone going sailing. We decided to go with Interlux Interdeck paint as we thought it would provide the most value for our dollar and time. We also added some additional Interlux Intergrip dust to the deck paint after we did the cabin top a little more grip on the crucial areas. It cost a total of about $250 all supplies and paint included so we figure that justified giving it a try before shelling out a couple thousand on cutting out the old non-skid and replacing it with matting material. We are very happy with the results and feel much more secure on deck now that it is finished.

A big box of things we don't want to use.

A big box of things we don’t want to use.

Another major task was going for physicals, dental appointments, and assembling a thorough medical kit. While we were nervous about asking new doctors for prescription medications to have on board, they were actually very understanding about the situation. We brought a complete list that we compiled from OceanMedix.com prescription kit and the doctors prescribed for us the medications they thought would be appropriate for our situation. We are now properly stocked for an emergency in the case where we might be many hours (or sometimes a day or two) from advanced medical care. Our top concerns were treatment for burns, bacterial infections, and severe allergic reactions, all of which we feel sufficiently well stocked for now. Bandages, splints, and other supplies were ordered from Amazon and have all come in now other than the skin stapler. Please God let me never be called upon to use that thing! 

Somehow my ID pictures always turn out the worst.  Don't worry, it will only be 10 years until the next one.

Somehow my ID pictures always turn out the worst.
Don’t worry, it will only be 10 years until the next one.

Let’s not forget the good old government paperwork. Because we have dogs, we needed to apply for pet permits and get them vaccinated at least a month before entry into the Bahamas. Carter and I both had to get new passports, the first in his case and mine updated with my married name. Dan still had about 3 years remaining on his, but we decided to renew it anyway so that we would be on the same renewal timeline in the future. Interestingly, the only stamp that both of us had in our old passports was from our last trip to the Bahamas when Dan proposed to me while we were there for my brother’s wedding. The Bahamas certainly have a lot of meaning for our family!

We also decided to apply for the Customs and Border Patrol program called the Small Vessel Reporting System. This will allow us (as US citizens) to have a much easier clearing in process when we return home after our trip. To apply, you have to go to the SVRS website and fill out applications for the captain (with vessel information) and all passengers on your ship. Then you have to go in for a short interview with a customs agent at the nearest port. The paperwork process is a bit tedious to get through, but for anyone who does a lot of cruising between the US and other nearby countries like the Bahamas, Mexico, or between the USVI and BVI, it is probably worth your time to not have to clear into customs in person each time.

We still have a lot to do before leaving, but we are in high energy mode eagerly anticipating casting off. We are so mentally ready to go that it is hard to concentrate on getting our supplies to the same level. Just a few more weeks until we can be counted among the cruisers!

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Posted on Jan 16, 2015 | 0 comments

Laundry On-Board: Scrubba Wash Bag Review

“How would you carry a laundry machine up a mountain?” This intriguing question was part of a Scrubba Washbag commercial that made me take a closer look. I had been looking for a solution for laundry on board, but hadn’t made up my mind on what I wanted to try as my first manual washing experience. Our friends on Cool Beans showed us their preferred method, essentially a modified plunger in a bucket, which probably would have been what I tried first if I hadn’t seen the Scrubba on a facebook group called Women Who Sail. I liked the idea of the smaller footprint of the Scrubba bag and thought it might be better for us due to our limited space. When Dan spotted it on a Woot.com sale, I decided to take the plunge.

The bag folds up quite small when you aren't using it.

The bag folds up quite small when you aren’t using it.

First of all, let me say that the price point is a bit high in my opinion. At $55 for what is essentially a 3 gallon dry bag with some bumps inside, it took me some serious consideration before I decided to buy it. Even after using it, I’d still say the price could have been a bit cheaper but it is fairly new so it may go down in price in the future, especially since it has already come down $10 since I first looked at buying it. Since I ordered it from Woot.com, I can’t say much about the customer service directly from the company or their shipping time, though they do offer free shipping to anywhere in the United States and internationally I believe.

It was easy to tell how full to fill the bag.

It was easy to tell how full to fill the bag.

The packaging was totally rage free and user friendly, which is always nice. My first impression was that the material was a bit thinner than I had expected but it still seemed pretty sturdy. After using it for multiple large loads, it held up with no problems though I was still careful not to use my fingernails too much when massaging/washing the clothes. The overall appearance is pleasant and I especially liked the clear window on the side with water-fill suggestions for load size. I will say that the air vent (very similar to one on a beach ball) was almost impossible for me to function but Dan had no problem getting it to work, so it’s either a hand strength issue or a brain issue I’m not quite sure at this point.

Let's just say I will never do this much laundry at one time again!

Let’s just say I will never do this much laundry at one time again!

The actual washing process was pretty straight forward. I had a full week and a half of laundry to do (3 people with Dan’s work and casual clothes) and I will say that I would not under any circumstances recommend doing that much with the Scrubba at one time. On the up side, I was able to get a very good handle on how much of different kinds of clothes could fit in one washing load. It really could fit more than I had anticipated and should not take too long for a normal wash load of a few days at a time. Here is a sample of some of the loads that I did:

The Scrubba could hold a decent amount at one time while still getting everything clean.

The Scrubba could hold a decent amount at one time while still getting everything clean.

  • 5 of Dan’s medium men’s polo shirts or 8 of my small women’s shirts (cotton and high-performance fabrics)
  • The entire supply of Carter’s size 3T clothes for the week including t-shirts, shorts, socks, underwear, and a pair of jeans
  • a pair of Dan’s jeans, one maxi-dress, one pair of men’s cargo shorts and one pair of women’s Bermuda shorts

The dirty water from just one load. It certainly is getting the clothes clean!

The dirty water from just one load. It certainly is getting the clothes clean!

Here is the inside of the bag. You can see how the wash board would be different than a normal dry bag.

Here is the inside of the bag. You can see how the wash board would be different than a normal dry bag.

The cleaning power of having the washboard inside the bag was also very helpful. At least of few of the pieces I washed had visible dirt/stains on them before washing but afterwards came out clean (I did spray them with a bit of Spray n’ Wash first). If you had anything that was heavy soiled, it would probably be better to do a pre-rinse of that item first just to reduce the transfer of oil or other junk onto your other clothes or the inside of the bag. The official recommendation for soap used is basically any washing liquid (as opposed to powders) and even shampoo or body wash would work in a pinch. I chose to use a dye and chemical free liquid that I got at Costco since I figured that some of the soap would be staying in our clothes without an intense rinse and spin cycle like you would have in a washing machine. You only need a very small amount for each load and I found that putting in the detergent before the water worked best for getting it to suds quickly.

This is our salon table after washing a load. Not a lot of water left over, but enough that I wouldn't do it on the bed or carpet.

This is our salon table after washing a load. Not a lot of water left over, but enough that I wouldn’t do it on the bed or carpet.

All-in-all I’d say that the Scrubba was easy to use, well made, and good for use on a boat (or other traveling) due to its compact size and only using about 1.5-2 gallons of water per load.

There are a few caveats, however. First, due to there being a lot of water transfer going on, I would not recommend doing your washing on top of a bed or carpet area as there is some water that will get on your work surface. Nothing too drastic but just something to know ahead of time. Also, even with hand wringing the clothes are still very wet compared to an electric machine. The guys at Scrubba sell a microfiber towel to roll/squeeze the water out in and I would highly recommend using something similar if you want your clothes to dry in any reasonable amount of time. Or you can do your own version of a spin cycle by doing the windmill on the back of your boat, your choice.

 

Have you had any experience with a manual clothes washing system that you would recommend? Tips or tricks for us? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Posted on Dec 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Our First Year Aboard 2014

The year 2014 will go undoubtedly be ranked among the most significant of our lives. This was the year that all of our planning and saving culminated in moving 1,000 miles onto our own Irwin 37. Though at times we experienced incredible stress and frustration, there were far more moments of joy, excitement, and true wonder at our new life. We look back on this year with a great feeling of accomplishment, knowing that so many have never reached such a tangible realization of their dreams.

It is with that knowledge that we head into 2015, having faith that what is to come will be greater still. We hope that you will join us as we continue to Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on Nov 14, 2014 | 2 comments

Invasion of the Boat Kids

Ethan and Carter making castles on the beach.

Ethan and Carter making castles on the beach.

Thud. I look up through the companionway to see two blonde heads peering down at Carter and I. “Are we invading?” asks James. They were, but I didn’t mind at all. Since last Thursday when we moved to the Hollywood City Marina, we’ve been in a near-constant state of invasion by the three boys of Viatori: James, Matthew, and Ethan. Carter is absolutely loving his time with other boat kids and we are having a great time talking to their parents, Richard and Leah!

Matthew helped Carter build his K'nex helicopter

Matthew helped Carter build his K’nex helicopter

Spending the last few days in the company of the Viatori crew has been a great pleasure for us. One of my favorite parts of watching the boys play together is realizing how free of boundaries they still are. No small talk necessary, only an imagination and permission from Mom to go play. Their enthusiasm for life is contagious and their energy seems unlimited at times!

The boys can't resist reading new books!

The boys can’t resist reading new books!

While we haven’t had extensive experience with other cruising families, what we have previously heard second-hand about boat kids seems to be fairly true. They are smart and fun, generally good natured, and are very socially adept. In comparison, Carter and I have spent a good amount of time in the company children these last six months who weren’t interested in playing without a screen, couldn’t be bothered by a kid of a different age, or who were downright mean when Carter attempted to join in their fun.

A sample size of one family certainly isn’t enough to make any scientific comparison, but it is enough for me to know that I’m glad Carter can be counted among the boat kids.

If you’d like to read more about the Viatori crew, check out their blog: exceedingthedrift.com.

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Posted on Oct 24, 2014 | 0 comments

How To Defeat the Leak

Nothing better than spending a rainy day snuggling in a warm, dry bed

Nothing better than spending a rainy day snuggling in a warm, dry bed

At some point or another, most of us have had to deal with having a small leak in our home or business. A window or even a roof dripping a bit during a flooding spell in springtime is cause for a check up and a few buckets, but not any real concern for most people. Not so on a boat. A primal fear is awakened when you find yourself on a leaking boat in bad weather, even if you clearly are in no danger of sinking or drowning or in fact any horrible fate at all other than a few sopping beach towels lying around and some wrinkled book pages.

Our first big rainstorm on the boat happened just a week or so after moving aboard. Dan was working and I was attempting to turn a very foreign space into our home. As the heavy rain started to fall and the boat began to sway on our dock lines, I started to hear the tell-tale sound of dripping, something I had (naively) never considered when moving aboard. My heart started to beat faster but I decided that the most logical thing to do was to find the leak and write it down so that I could tell Dan about it when he got home in an hour or two. And thus began the hunt, me with my flashlight and notebook scouring every inch of cabinet, hatch and window, all the while becoming more and more panicked as 1 leak become 2, and then 3, and then 10. After my final count of around 15 of so separate dripping areas, I finally sat down on our settee with my face in my hands and sobbed. What had I gotten myself into?

Luckily, Dan had no such fears of our leaking boat and went immediately to work checking out the problem once he had assured me that our boat was, of course, not in danger of sinking. Nearly 6 months later, I’m quite dry while writing this post during a lovely wet spell to say that we’ve finally located and eliminated all of those leaks (for now at least), though we weren’t able to completely accomplish that feat until just a week or two ago. It is amazing how difficult it can be to locate the source of a leak on a rolling object, especially one in which you can rarely see the direct underside of the deck.  Now that we are leak free however, the boat feels like a totally different place in a storm; a cozy refuge for our family rather than a derelict tent.

A few things that we have learned through the process of finding our many water intrusions:

  1. Start with any leaks that are at risk of affecting the integrity of your hull or decks. Luckily we didn’t have any majors so we moved onto the leaks that were easily assessed and fixed, followed closely by those that were the most negatively affecting our comfort. A small leak in the galley is a lot easier to live with than one directly above your bed or bookcase.
  2. Many times 1 leak can manifest in many different areas of the boat. One of the first and easiest fixes that we found was intrusion where a cable/phone hookup had been removed and not properly covered again. A couple of pieces of duct tape (and replacing the hook-up a few days later) completely eliminated at least 4 different spots that I had marked in one shot.
  3. Check which way your boat is leaning. To go along with #2, one of our leaks would find its way port or starboard depending on which way the wind was coming from, causing us to think we had separate leaks to fix when there was really only one.
  4. If you are having trouble locating a leak, you can try using a hose directly on suspected spots. Always check for leaks from the highest point first and make your way down. We started with the cockpit hardware mountings, then moved to the cabin top, etc. before finally getting down to the deck. A word of warning though: make sure that you give enough time for the water to potentially get through before moving on and test it with your boat leaning in different ways otherwise you could miss your leaks if the water is pooling somewhere first (see #3).
  5. Finally, make sure that when you do find the leak, you fix it properly to avoid any (further) damage, especially in the case of cored decks or hulls. You do not want your leaky hatch bedding turning into a soggy deck!

Hopefully, you’ll find that you look forward to getting out of the rain when you get home, rather than spending the night in it!

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