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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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Posted on Sep 26, 2014 | 2 comments

Dream vs. Reality

This boat was recently dismasted in an accident involving a drawbridge. I'm sure that's not exactly the dream that the captain imagined.

This boat was recently dismasted in an accident involving a drawbridge. I’m sure that’s not exactly the dream that the captain imagined.

Dan and I are not cut out to be live-aboards. And by that I mean living on a boat in a metro area while working full time. Over the last few months, both of us started to become increasingly disillusioned with our dream of cruising and even started discussing what we might do after cruising was over (something that is decidedly not on a set time-line).  We are living in a small tiny space with 2 and a half people and 2 dogs, fighting crazy traffic every time we try to go anywhere, Dan working worse hours than anytime in his career, 2,000 miles away from close friends and family, and our marina rent is the same price that we were paying for our mortgage, taxes, and insurance on our pre-downsized house! Conclusion: live-aboard city life is definitely not for us.

It’s easy to see why we might be slightly disappointed. However, when we recently purchased a cruising guide for the Bahamas and started planning the beginnings of our trip for this winter, suddenly a huge light bulb turned on. The reason why both of us had been feeling so discouraged was because we had subconsciously equated our current living arrangements with the dream we had been working and saving towards for the last three years, when the goal was still just around the corner! We want to get away from big cities and stressed out, high-speed life, so it makes perfect sense why we weren’t exactly feeling like we’d found ourselves in Paradise yet.

Now that we’ve realized what was causing some of our uncertainty about cruising, we’re able to move forward with our plans for this winter. The more that we read about and plan for actual cruising, the more energized we’re becoming again. A lot of our biggest projects stopping us from leaving are getting wrapped up and the official hurricane season will soon be over. Let’s just say that we’re getting to the point where the To-Do list is partially getting smaller due to completion and partially due to us making strategic decisions like “new cushions or leaving sooner…screw the cushions they’re fine.” Hopefully sometime soon we’ll be rounding that corner into the final stretch before heading out!

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Posted on Aug 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Learning the Meaning of Transience

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Enjoying an evening with friends.

Even though Dan and I have moved a lot in the last few years, our trip down the ICW was the first time that we moved our whole “house” with us. It was surreal to climb down onto a different dock and find ourselves in a place that we didn’t know. New neighborhood, new dock-mates, new stores and restaurants to find. We knew coming into cruising that moving frequently was going to become part of our lives, but I’m not sure that we really had understood what that would mean until this move.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.

The part that I think was the most surprising to us was how sad we where at leaving our old neighbors in Lantana. Though it was a realtively small marina, the community there was very tight-knit. You could find live-aboards enjoying drinks together on each other’s boats almost any night of the week in addition to group gatherings at the marina clubhouse many weekends. Invitations to go out on the water together were common place and always made for a good time.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.

We had always read that the cruising life made for fast friends and faster goodbyes, but I think we underestimated what that meant. We’ve quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell and when you share such a large part of your lives in common, the friendships that form defy traditional time lines. The only consolation to leaving so soon is the knowledge that in mobile community of so few individuals, we’re likely to run into our friends again in the future. We look forward to meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones in the future, but also know that leaving will always be a little bitter sweet.

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Posted on Jun 13, 2014 | 0 comments

Our Bout with Davy Jones

Don't let that innocent smile fool you, this is the face of a master of destruction

Don’t let that innocent smile fool you, this is the face of a master of destruction

Living on the water comes with the inherent risk of losing items to the drink. I just didn’t realize that it was more an inevitability than risk until we moved on board with a three year old and two dogs. Never mind my natural capacity for not paying enough attention to my surroundings (see Getting Our Sea Legs).

Can you tell he's excited about searching the mud for my keys?

Can you tell he’s excited about searching the mud for my keys?

One of the first rules that Dan instituted was “Never have your keys in your hand when getting on and off of the boat.” Alas, he knew me too well. One morning while Dan was at work, I was in the process of getting myself, Carter, and a large bag of laundry off of the boat. As I swung the bag of laundry onto the dock, I released the bag safely…and my car keys right into the water. I was honestly in shock and just stared at the ripples for a few moments before I could even think about anything. Our dock neighbor Gary, who I mentioned in the First Taste of the Cruising Community, graciously attempted to find my keys in the near zero visibility water but wasn’t able to locate them. Now I had to wait for Dan to get home and tell him that I had, in fact, done what he always told me not to do and that now he would have to dive in the disgusting water to find my keys. He only gave me a small “I told you so” and was able to find my keys, along with those of another unfortunate boater from the past.

Oops...

Oops…

On our first day in Lantana, the water and I had a rough time together. It was a beautiful day and so I allowed Carter and the dogs to stay out in the cockpit while I made lunch for us down below. I regularly checked on Carter and would find him looking out and the water or petting the dogs. All was well…or so I thought. What Carter was actually doing was taking every loose item in the cockpit and throwing them overboard one by one to see if they would float. This included our hose nozzle, the dogs’ 2 leashes and water dish.

Gavin after his little "swim" and bath. He had a rough day.

Gavin after his little “swim” and bath. He had a rough day.

I was so angry I could hardly see straight, so I sent Carter to his room before I overreacted and went back to making lunch. That’s when I heard a very strange noise from outside. I went into the cockpit to investigate and found only Winston topside looking straight down off of the transom at the water. Gavin had attempted to jump onto the dock to catch some landing ducks and, as his coordination is about as advanced as mine, fell straight into the water. I quickly climbed down the dock ladder and called him over to me as he sloppily dog-paddled his way around the boat. I’m sure the two of us would have been quite the sight to see as I had to get in waist deep to hoist him out as he flailed desperately trying to get out of the water, which he hates. He was none too happy with me as I had to spray him down with fresh water again.

At least I was able to rescue my shoe!

At least I was able to rescue my shoe!

Our current tally is as follows:

Lost
1 bottle of lemon juice (thrown by Carter)
1 dog dish (thrown by Carter)
2 dog leashes (thrown by Carter)
1 hose nozzle (thrown by Carter)
1 small toy car (accidently driven in by Carter)

Dropped and Recovered
1 fishing net (bumped in by a friend)
1 car key (dropped by Michele)
1 wet dog (jumped/fell in)
1 shoe (knocked off by Michele)

Found
1 car key

I think that makes the score Davey Jones 6: Us 1: Tie 4. We’re hoping to even the score with some fishing and lobster diving in the near future.

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Posted on Jun 9, 2014 | 0 comments

Sunrise on the Water

People on the west coast of Florida have the advantage of seeing the sun set over the ocean, but there’s something about an ocean sunrise that leaves me in awe. Maybe it’s because I am so rarely able to watch the sun rise or maybe it’s the reminder of my quiet early morning drives to work with Carter half asleep in the backseat. Sunrise may not always be as spectacular as the reds and oranges of sunset, but I love to watch the quiet beauty of the world waking up to the pinks and blues of the morning.

Last week was my first opportunity to watch the sun rise in our new marina in Lantana. While I’m not usually up in time to see it, I was glad to be awake on this beautiful morning.

Before sunrise

Sunrise clouds

Water at sunrise

Sunrise

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