Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bottle Key.

by Riley

I have to to say, I think I get bored quick. I seem to not be able to stay in one spot very long. We planned on staying here in Key Largo until Christmas, but I'm ready to move on. I've looked at the same view while drinking my morning coffee for a few days now and I ready for a new one. I'm in search of that forgotten about island beach to anchor off of. It's harder to find than you may think! Perhaps because everyone is using the same guide books that have the same spots listed. So I've decided to look to where you can find all these kinds of answers to fix this problem... Google! That satellite imagery is pretty cool and beaches show up, so I've been going back and forth with my nautical charts to find one I can get to, with enough water depth, that's not in the guide books. I'll have to let you know in a few days how it works out.

We sailed not far today, about 10 miles or so, to Bottle Key, and worked our way around to the lee shore. I'm getting more comfortable in shallow water, I find myself with only inches under my keel for long periods of time with a lot less worry. Fortunately, today there was a bit more water depth than the charts had shown. I have to say this is one of the best spots yet! Zero boater traffic! Not really any sand like Google earth had shown, but just enough to take the dog ashore. After eating lunch, and going for a swim to cool off and check the anchor, we went for a short dinghy ride close in to the mangroves to see wildlife. No alligators, but some protective birds by their nest! I thought they might eat the dog the way they started soaring overhead. Then we headed back for a leisurely afternoon and planning for our sail tomorrow. We're going to grill chicken for dinner tonight with roasted brussels sprouts on the side. We're really roughing it out here in the solitude.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just Right.

by Riley

Some days we get just the right amount of wind to remind a retired thrill seeker why I took up sailing in the first place. 

After spending some time in Miami, anchored off South Beach, we left, spending one night in Dinner Key, and last night anchored off some little mangrove island that gave shelter from the wind. Leaving this morning with about 20 knots of wind on a beam reach, we flew all the way to Key Largo. It was awesome! We are now anchored in a nice protected basin. 

Most of you guys have kept up with the trip via Allison's blog, The Bauble Dept., but I figured I'd tell you what I've been doing. When we were in Fort Lauderdale, I found some engine sound insulation at a marine consignment shop, it was a must have. And it took about a half a day to install. Now the ole iron jib is a lot quieter and the engine compartment looks cleaner. While anchored in Miami, it was cloudy for a few days so the solar panels weren't charging the batteries that much, so I decided to start the engine to charge them a bit. But they didn't really charge. So yesterday I tore apart the engine and alternator to find a bad ground. After repairing it and checking the the rest of the engine over, and a walk around "sightseeing," we sailed the rest of the way down Biscayne Bay. Also along the way I have been dealing with a leaky freshwater system. Hard getting things tight in cramped spots! But I think I've finally got them under control. I also added a sprayer to the galley sink!! Now this probably only excites me, so let me explain. I'm the dishwasher, and this little sink is HARD to work in. The new sprayer now allows me to rinse the dishes with ease when before I couldn't even fit them in the sink. Next up, rebedding some deck fittings. 

Oh, life on a boat is great because, I only do this between swims, peanut breaks and naps.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cold Feet No More.

by Riley

So we've been on the water traveling now for over 50 days. Up until the last week it's been mainly cold and wet and injury involved. Perhaps that why I haven't been writing as much, just hadn't been feeling it. We left Jekyll Island, Georgia the day after Thanksgiving, freezing, and made a mad dash south. We covered a lot more ground per day than we had been, mainly attributed to good tide and the motor. For the past few weeks I haven't been able to do much sailing because every time I do the stitches would pop out and my hand would be back to bleeding again. This has been frustrating!

But the thing that has been a plague on my entire experience living on a sailboat has been the inflatable dinghy that I use to get to shore. I should have figured it was garbage when it came with the sailboat. What made this inflatable so bad is that it leaks not only air, but water also! I only brought one pair of shoes along, everything else was, well... flip flops. And for the past 50 days those shoes have stayed wet, making for an even colder experience.

I've always prided myself in the ability of being able to fix ANYTHING! We'll let me tell you, I can't fix leaks. I first tried to patch the boat before we left, then in Charleston, to no avail. When in Cocoa, I made another attempt. It was like having a car and every morning you have to pump up all the tires, and the windows were stuck down while it was raining on your way to your destination, then you have to pump the tires up again before going home.

My frustration increasing daily, it became clear there was only one thing to do to solve the problem...I needed new tires. I've been a fairly tight person with money all my life. In Fort Pierce there was a West-Marine store right beside the grocery store. Allison pointed out that the inflatables were on sale BIG TIME. We went back to the boat with our groceries, knowing what we needed to do. After counting our "freedom tokens" we headed back. When we got there I really didn't think I could do it. Some might laugh, but my chest hurt. I would say I was getting "cold feet" but they had already been cold for weeks!

Now for the past day and a half I can't stop smiling! This thing is awesome!! My feet are dry and it's fast :) I'm so in love with it Allison is starting to wonder about us. I woke up this morning not having to wondering if my outboard motor had sank to the bottom of the anchorage with the old dinghy. I even leave the pump on the sailboat now. Now, I'm not one to put much stock in material things, it's experiences that get me. But man, am I having a better experience now!

Just a few side notes on the trip… we're in Florida. We saw a launch from Cape Canaveral that was really cool to watch. And the temperature is now in the 80's during the day. The water is super clear now and warmed up to about 81 today. We're finally getting somewhere.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There Will Be Blood.

by Riley

Well, there's been a lot of heavy wind here for a few days and the sound just south of Jekyll Island is pretty nasty. Unwilling to go out, a lot of southbound boats are trying to find a spot here at Jekyll Harbor so they don't have to worry about their anchors holding. Trying to fit another boat on the face dock, I was asked to move to an inside slip that no one else could fit in. Against truly their and my better judgment, I agreed. With about 30 mph wind and a strong current, trying to fit a big boat in a tight spot was a bad idea. When I tried to make the turn into the slip, the wind and current grabbed and flung the boat, pining it to the corner of the finger pier on the dock. Somehow in the process of trying to power it in, off the dock, and fending off the other boats, I managed to rip a deep gouge in my hand… nine stitches deep. But fortunately, only a few scratches to the boat from the dock (although, I haven't had time to inspect thoroughly). Good thing I got that GPS tied to the autopilot yesterday to help steer, I'm going to need it. Other than this mishap I've been having a great time here. The marina staff are awesome. And they have free bikes to borrow and bike paths everywhere on the island. Good thing I have a bit of mountain biking experience on my resume, because losing a hand mind have hindered riding around the island.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Real Trip.

by Riley

So, here we are at Jekyll Island. Getting here was, well... A real trip. Pun intended.

We left Savannah intending to sail straight to Jekyll island via the Wassaw inlet. A lot about these inlets is only local knowledge, something I didn't have. If I did have it, I don't think I would have tried to sail out at the tail end of a nor'easter with the tide coming in. It wasn't pretty. After beating into BIG waves and wind, things that I thought were firmly secure in the boat were apparently not. Everything got rearranged. The plan was to sail overnight to Jekyll, but a night like this seemed most likely miserable. So with enough light left, we turned around and headed for an anchorage just up the sound. 

So, if you've been following along, you probably already know that the chart plotter "GPS" doesn't really work very often. It wouldn't really come on at all after that experience unless I hit it really hard and then, it didn't necessarily stay on. On down the coast in the Sapelo sound, I found out how nice a working one would be when I found myself in some real thick fog. So thick I couldn't even see the channel markers, although I was pretty sure they were there. I would have used my iPhone but I didn't have service enough to download the chart I needed. But at least my depth gauge works! And man did I watch it. Truthfully, I felt kind lost. Eventually, the fog lifted. Phew! But it was too late in the day to make Jekyll once again. 

Well, we're here now and we'll probably be here for a few more days. Another nor'easter is blowing through and man, is it blowing. Some other boats left this morning only to turn around. But it's ok, I needed to tend to some things while also enjoying the island. There comes a time when you just have to suck it up and buy a chart plotter. A very nice guy that works and lives at Jekyll Harbor offered to take me to nearby Brunswick to get a new one. While I did get what is probably considered to be an out of date model, it's overwhelming how much better it is. I mean it WORKS! Because it is newer, I saw that it could be wired to communicate to the autopilot through a NEMA connection and follow the route. While the two units were different brands, I was able to work the kinks out to bridge the gaps in wiring. Now I have a real fancy yacht. Maybe they will even let me in the Jekyll Island Club. I'll have to tell more about the island when I have explored thoroughly.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Favorite Freebies: Savannah Style.

by Riley

So, it's about time I started my Favorite Freebie thread. Being in the right spot at the right time, recognizing an opportunity when it's in front of me, being willing to ask, and just being darn lucky has gotten me some pretty cool stuff over the years.  When it comes to cruising on a budget, finding anything free is well, priceless.  There are a lot of things I've planned on being on this list, but have never yet taken the time to post on the blog. 

Oh Savannah, you're a pretty place and you've treated me with good ole southern hospitality. I was a little hesitant to come here, mainly because there were no anchorages, so paying to tie up to a dock was necessary. Upon arrival to the city dock, which was located smack dabb in the middle of everything on the waterfront, and after a small effort to find the place to pay, we were assured by everyone already there that no one cared to collect the money. We'll, you don't have to tell me twice! Apparently it's kind of a cruiser's secret that only the fortunate know about. So we've been squatting right in the middle of downtown Savannah, hooked up to power to run the heater.   Heck yea! And borrowing free wifi from a hotel across the street. All of this along with the cobblestone streets, parks, and nice eateries. After lunch at one of these locations, I stumbled across Byrd's cookie store. If this town hadn't given enough already, they had free samples to boot! So after trying just about all of the different kinds of cookies they offered, I felt like I had a sufficient dessert to finish off my lunch. This whole place has great freebies! 

For a few days at least, because all good things must come to an end, and it's time to head back to sea. I plan on sailing around most of Georgia's shallow waters from here on, since I haven't had much luck on their ICW and should have a good weather window after a front passed through last night.

Monday, November 11, 2013

(mis)Adventures of a Sweatpants Sailor.

by Riley

The sweatpants sailor, if there is such a thing, I believe is what I have become. You see, I really enjoy being underway to watch the sunrise. It's a spiritual experience for me by way of reminding me what a great God there must be to create such beauty, and I don't mean all of the mega mansions dotting the shoreline. To me, sunrise is one of the best times to admire this beauty. The air is crisper and there is less commotion...

... then, in the height of enjoying the morning, the gps dies again, just as we're entering an area with shoals.  I have to scramble quickly to locate myself on those good ole paper charts that I've been so thankful to have and that Allison had the forethought to already have laid out.  Now once again I can enjoy my morning, and a beautiful one it is. A bit warmer, clear and we're on our way to Savannah, Georgia... 

...then in an instant, we're thrown into action again. The boat hook, a long expandable pole used to do an assortment of mariners tasks, was grabbed by a moving line on deck, flinging it into the water! That thing was expensive! I'd be darned if I would loose it. So, maneuvering the boat and sails around with less finesse than I would like to admit, I turned in pursuit of the hook, in shallow waters, without a gps to quickly say for sure how close I really was. Then, with Allison hanging over the side in her pj's we retrieved our boat hook. 

If you couldn't already tell, all of this has been happening since I started writing this post. So now, let me get to the point about the sweatpants. While most people see a sailor as someone in khakies and polo shirts, I'm so excited to see what the morning holds, I tend to leave the anchorage still in what I slept in, sweatpants. This morning I haven't been disappointed!

*And then, after I finally finished writing this post, we ran aground.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making Adjustments.

by Riley

Well, time to catch up on our progress. We spent last night in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was a real nice town with a convenient waterfront. We grilled out for dinner, and with the use of a few paper plates, I was able to get away with only a knife to wash, since dishes are one of my most dreaded chores. For about the past week it has been really windy. While causing some hardships, I'm finally starting to get the boat dialed in with the sails. Bad performance, which I had originally blamed on poor sail shape, was solved with a lot of adjustments to everything from snatch block location to halyard tension. It took a while and I'm still working on it, because it tends to change quite a bit depending on my wind angle. But when you see your speed increase after it all, it's a very rewarding feeling. 

In the mornings, once I get everything the way I want it, I sight see for a while. But there's only so much of that I can do. The other day I came across a resistance band that I had brought, you know, keep up the muscle tone! It was a cold morning, so what better way to warm up? Now I'm nice and sore, so it makes trying to pull the anchor up even more amusing. But it is very refreshing, especially with all the fresh air, new sights and rewarding sailing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ocean Sailing.

by Riley

So the other day I got a little bit of a chip off my shoulder. If I had a dollar for every rolled eye I got when I was asked if I had ever sailed in the ocean and my answer was "no," it would pay for this adventure. I can finally say yes to the question and in fact, it is WAY easier than sailing inland. There's nothing to hit, no worrying about running aground, and a lot less wind shifts... so, less work! If it wasn't so much shorter to go inside the next 2 days, I'd definitely be out there instead. 

We arrived in Georgetown South Carolina yesterday after a quiet night in the middle of nowhere the night before. It's a nice town, although, there's a large steel mill in the back drop. The sounds gave me flashbacks to my days as a working man, much like PTSD. The holding here is soft mud, which is bad for keeping a boat in place, but after the howling wind last night it must have been good enough (we're still in the same spot, which is encouraging). I must be getting better at anchoring. There are high winds today, so I think after I walk over to the Kudzu Bakery and get a muffin, I'll try to keep myself occupied here for the day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Unexpected Conveniences.

by Riley
photo courtesy of my friend James
Funny, I never have this problem with Allison...
docked at Carolina Beach State Park marina
Southport, NC
View from our slip at the Provision Co.
So, I've come to realize that there are some things that just might be more convenient for us while living on a boat than they ever were on land. We made it to Southport today, at the mouth of Cape Fear. We made the short trip from Carolina Beach, where we stayed last night after being joined for the day's sail by my buddy James and his wife. But, to get to my point, last night I was really diggin' a pizza. So I got delivery from Papa Johns, something I could never do back home (we lived so far out in the country, there was no such thing as "delivery"). Today we tied up at the Provision Company, a restaurant that allows free overnight dockage with a meal. I toured just about the whole town, on foot. It was fun. Came back, took a power nap, then went and found a Napa Marine for a part I needed.  Then this evening, we needed dinner. Back home if we didn't cook it, we could figure on at least a 30 minute drive, but when you're tied up to the dock, it's just a 50 yard walk. So convenient and great food to boot.

Tomorrow I plan on sailing offshore from Cape Fear to Little River Inlet. I'm excited!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Week on the Hook.

by Riley

heading out of Mile Hammock Bay this morning with a few other sailboats. and a dolphin, too!
coming into Wrightsville Beach
our anchorage at Wrightsville
A week on the hook. That really isn't a long time but still, it's an achievement for us.
Right now we're in Wrightsville Beach. We got here Friday after a one night stay in Mile Hammock Bay. Mile Hammock is within a military base with a lot of training activity. Other than the sounds of bombs, and personnel zipping around our sailboat on fast inflatable skiffs, it was a pretty relaxing anchorage. We were also invited over to another boat for drinks that evening. The next day, we arrived here.

My friend James, who was a great help in the refit of Winbrandt while we were at the boatyard, came down to visit this morning. We met at the dinghy docks about 7:30 and man, it was cold on that ride over there. There was frost on the ground. After a warm breakfast, he took me to get a few parts I had been needing but was in too much of a hurry to get before we left. Later this afternoon, Allison, Gidget and I went to the beach and hung out. I'm just now finally starting to trust my anchor. I had been having a hard time letting the boat out of my sight for very long.

All in all, life aboard is just getting better. Hey, it might even warm up in a day or two.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Days.

by Riley

Beaufort, NC

Three days at anchor. Not a lot, but I have to say, I get restless easily, even though I've been in a new place everyday. We are currently in Beaufort, NC. We've traveled about 20 miles a day, just trying to figure things out. I hope to be at about 40 miles a day soon. It's been a little chilly the last few days, making it kinda nice for sleeping, but slow going in the morning. I'm still in the learning process of anchoring. It took me two tries today, I was a little too close for comfort so I pulled it up and moved and am glad I did.

When Allison and I went ashore today, I was able to get charts enough to get us to Florida, hopefully without getting lost. I have a GPS but my faith in it isn't the best; paper is easy to read and doesn't have glitches. While at the dinghy dock we met some other cruisers. So apparently when cruising, you're supposed to have "boat cards" to trade. You know, name, which boat, contact info, etc. I kinda knew this, but it fell between the cracks on the to-do list. So needless to say, without one, I looked like a newb. Since it was so obvious, one seasoned cruiser asked us, "how long have you been cruising?" I replied, "three days," which sounded kinda funny and took some of the pressure off. It was fun talking with new people, but I'm afraid those darn cards are going to get me in trouble again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We're Gone.

by Riley

We'll we're gone! It was a lot of hard work to get here, but hopefully it will be worth it. Sunday after church we threw off the dock lines and headed for warmer waters. There are so many unknowns, so I'm a bit nervous and probably will be for a while, but we're going to try and live the dream.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Time Has Come.

by Riley

Well, the time has come. I'm dictating this to Allison as we are driving down the road, headed to live aboard a sailboat. At times I thought this day was never going to get here. And the amount of work that needed to be done too great to accomplish. Now I've found myself homeless and jobless, with no other better place to be than floating down the coast. I've always lived a life of very little change. I grew up in the same house all my life. And when I moved out to live on my own, I moved three miles away. I've had the same job since I was 15. Now I'm leaving behind all I've ever known to chase an idea that constantly has me wondering if it really was such a good one to start with.

Yesterday, as I left the house that I built and had put so much work into, I really felt the sense that my life was making one of those large transitions. The house was originally built to be a rental, and now it has become just that. While I have no clue what direction things are going to take, I feel a combination of excitement, anxiousness and fear for the life we are getting ready to live.

So here I am, with everything that we (hopefully) need for two people and a dog to live, all in a few tupperwares in the back of a pickup truck.

Did I mention it's a really small boat?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Before and After.

by Allison

It's only a matter of weeks now before we start to call this old boat "home."  In some ways it feels like we have been working on her forever, and we thought that this day would never come.  But on the other hand, time flew by and I can't believe that we've already accomplished so much!

Let's take a look at some of our before and after shots:
We bought Winbrandt during the winter, and we spent most of those long, cold months sanding and refinishing all of the teak interior.  ALL of it.  To be perfectly honest, once we started... we wished we hadn't.  It took forever.  But, it really does look nice now. Riley built the beautiful new table, complete with an inlaid compass rose, and my mother in law sewed new covers for our cushions.

With just a few pennies, Riley built the new doors himself, and they really changed the whole appearance of the cockpit (not to mention making entering and exiting so much easier).  This is when we finally felt like some of our hard work was starting to make a noticeable difference!  He also cleaned up that side over there with the broken electronics.  He's installed a few others since the picture was taken.

Once the weather started getting a little nicer, Winbrandt got a good cleaning and polishing, a fresh coat of bottom paint and a new boot stripe before going back into the water.

We also replaced the countertop in the galley and replaced all four windows.
And these were (mostly) just the cosmetic changes!  You can read about all of the other projects we tackled (well, the ones that made onto the blog, anyway) under the repairs and restorations tab.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Answer is Probably, "No."

by Riley

So, I think some people may be wondering how I gained the knowledge and competency to take on this kind of adventure? The truth is I haven't. Yet.

No, I've never sailed in the ocean.
No, I don't know what to bring, or exactly what foods I'll eat.
No, I haven't planned out exactly where we're going, or when, or for how long.
No, I haven't planned all my finances out to a T.
No, we've never even spent that much consecutive time on the boat.
No, I don't have money for a new engine if mine breaks.
No, we don't have a shower, microwave, A/C, or a sink big enough to reasonably wash dishes in.

But, I also didn't know how to do so many of the things that I have already figured out along the way. The entire reason for this trip is to find adventure outside of a normal, land-based life (where I was beginning to feel like a hamster on a wheel). I may appear reckless, and perhaps I am. Some people have told me I'm looking for something, I think they're right. I'm 27, and I'll be old with arthritis soon enough. I'm going to live while I can. If I wait until I have the things most wouldn't leave without, I simply couldn't go. Living on this boat has a lot of primitive qualities compared to others, but I believe the "lack of" will do my soul good.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Catching Up.

by Riley

Well folks, it's been a while since I caught you up on the progress. We are getting pretty close to our shove off date. The house is being packed up into boxes and it's starting to feel real. 
I was fortunate enough to acquire an autopilot recently, and was able to install with only one call to tech support. When I was a kid, I always wanted a robot to do my chores for me. IT'S BETTER THAN I THOUGHT! While I do love steering my boat, it sure is nice being able to take a break and eat a sandwich or go... you know.
This past week we took a short, shakedown overnighter. These are always good to give you a sense of what you have to look forward to. Oh, it was so nice. A cool breeze blowing, the sun was shining, but we were in the shade under our new bimini top, with books and magazines to read. When those got boring, I jumped off the side to go for a swim. Did I already say it was nice? 
All good thing must come to an end.

Night fell, and so did the battery levels. Our sailboat had two, 100 amp hour batteries. That should be good enough to run everything we have for a pretty long time. But the thing is, while I have just about fixed or repaired everything on the boat, I crossed my fingers with the battery bank. $$$. I'm frugal, not cheap! So as night came and I turned on the anchor light, I could see on the voltage indicator that something was up... or should I say, down. As I lay in bed looking through the front hatch at the light atop the mast getting dimmer and dimmer, I we had a problem. But hey, no worries! I'll just turn the switch over to the other battery. Haha, it was worse than the first. No lights, no fan, I went back to bed. But, Allison needs her fan. It's 2 am, so I do what I do best. Fix stuff. I put on my head lamp and headed for my tools. Believe it or not, I just so happened to bring along another battery! Actually two. They were free, so I didn't know how good they were. So at 2:30 in the morning I find myself sanding battery cables and turning a wrench while my headlamp is now going dead. "Work faster!" Allison yelled. Sweaty, bleeding and tired, I tightened the last bolt and flip the switch. Done. Crisis averted. Why does it always happen in the middle of the night?

Ok, I made up the part about Allison. 

The next morning all was good in the world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Time Out.

by Allison
our new marina is directly across the water from New Bern.  It's a beautiful town that I can't wait to get to know a little better!

Windbrandt's new home

It's been a little quiet on the blog front lately, I know.  Mostly because we've taken a little two week break from the boat.  The weekend after we made it to New Bern, we brought my sister down with us to celebrate the 4th of July.  We all had a wonderful time and it reaffirmed our belief that moving the boat to New Bern was definitely the right decision (maybe not the best timing, but we're over that now).  We were feeling like a little break was in order though; we don't want to get burnt out before the fun really begins!  And even at home, the boat is never far from our minds, anyway.  Riley spends any free time that he has (not much these days) researching, planning, and ordering any parts and accessories that we might still need.

We'll be back in New Bern this coming weekend though, and we're both looking forward to it.  We have a long to do list of chores (Riley) and sightseeing (me) that we're hoping to check off this weekend.  The summer seems to be slipping away and it's time to get serious!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wind and Small Vessel Advisory.

by Riley
So this weekend, as planned, we took our first overnight cruise over to New Bern some 70ish miles away from our marina in Washington. It started with a nice sail down the Pamlico, to where we entered the Intracoastal Waterway, over to the Neuse part of the Pamlico Sound. 

When we entered the Neuse, it was clear the wind was stronger than it had been earlier, but still manageable. Then the wind started to build, and the waves. Before too long it got rough. The wind was right on our nose and making headway against it and the building waves was difficult. 

Originally, we had planned on Oriental, NC as a halfway point to stop at for the night, but after realizing that getting there at a reasonable time would not be possible, we found a small hole in South River to anchor after 13 hours of sailing. 

We didn't get much sleep. I was worried all night about the anchor not holding, hopefully something I will get over in the future. The next morning, I tuned in to the NOAA weather to listen. High winds, waves and a small vessel advisory for our location. The forecast had a way of making me nervous. After evaluating my options and saying some prayers, we pulled up the anchor and set sail to pound our way against the weather, with a few contingency plans in case it got to be more than we could handle. After 3 more hours of the weather getting the better of us and making little headway, the channel turned a bit, putting the wind off our port side and allowing us to ease the sail a bit and sail straight for New Bern.

What did we learn?
Never leave with advisories in effect.
Allison and I can trust each other to stay cool and not quit in hard circumstances.
Pray before, during and after.
We have a far sounder vessel than I thought.

You can read Allison's account of the trip at The Bauble Dept.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Planning the Escape.

by Riley
It's time to go on a short shake-down cruise. You know, see if all of the stuff I fixed is really going to work the way I hope. While it was nice to be in a DIY boatyard in Washington, North Carolina, we feel like it's time to move elsewhere. So, this weekend we plan to take a two day sail to Winbrandt's new slip in New Bern, with a planned stop in Oriental if the weather is nice. It will be our first time on Winbrandt overnight at anchor. Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kabob Kings.

by Allison

We made a quick trip down to the boat this past weekend, and the main agenda (in my mind) was to finally get some fresh shrimp to cook for dinner!  Riley's list was a little longer, but he indulged me and my need for seafood first.  Really, I don't think he minded too much.  Eventually we are going to have to experiment with something other than kabobs, I know.  But it was entirely too hot and humid this past weekend to try out our oven.  And since Riley is pretty much the grill master, I take every opportunity I can get to hand over some of the dinner reigns.  The shrimp, scallop, pineapple, red pepper, and red onion kabobs were a winning combination.  I foresee many more kabob dinners in our sailing future.

Riley's main priority this trip was installing our table.  We had removed it from the boat months ago while we were refinishing the teak interior.  It was previously a generic, off-white colored laminate, the same as the galley countertops.  We tossed around a few ideas for it, and Riley kept coming back to the idea of finishing it with the same laminate we recovered the counter tops in.  This just didn't sit well with me; the "dining room" table is not supposed to look like a kitchen counter.  My preference was wood.  So, Riley took this idea and ran with it.  We couldn't have just a plain wood table... no, we had to fancy it up a bit.  Fine by me!  He covered the existing table with a thin sheet of mahogany, and stained it to match the rest of the wood interior.  Then, we picked out an inlay.  Now, by this point, this may not surprise you, but Riley had never done an inlay before.  So of course, we picked out the most complicated shape we could find for him to experiment with on our mahogany table.  A compass rose, with many sharp angles, in sycamore and blackwood.  And it turned out perfectly (If you ask me.  If you ask Riley, he will gladly point out all of the flaws).  Then, we covered it with a layer of epoxy.  Also a first time experiment.

My favorite part of the whole table project was when Riley actually brought it to the boat.  We arrived on Friday night, but he waited patiently until late Saturday morning to carry it down to the dock.  I think he was pretty pleased with the number of "oohhs" and "ahhhs" he received along the way.

I oohed and ahhed quite a bit myself.  Who picks up skills this quickly or creates something this nice on their first try??  He's pretty talented, that husband of mine.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Long Weekend.

by Allison

Most of our weekends at the boat have been a hurried "pack up and drive 5 hours, get as much work done as quickly as possible, pack up and drive back home," kind of trip.  The weekend before last, however, we were able to spend four days at the boat, giving us a little bit of extra time to enjoy ourselves, too.  Riley had just gotten the running water working on the boat, meaning that it was a little bit easier to do things like cooking and cleaning.  We tried out our grill and made our first dinner on the boat; steak, red pepper, and mushroom kabobs.  The grill is going to be such a wonderful tool to have; it really helps to open up the cooking space when we're working with such a small galley.

We also finally went on our first sail together on Winbrandt!  Riley had taken her out briefly when we bought her, but I wasn't able to make that trip with him.  It was also Gidget's first time sailing, ever.  Overall, that went pretty well.  I think she has a mariner's spirit!  We bought her a lifevest that she doesn't seem to mind wearing, and it also seems to restrain her from feeling quite so adventurous.

We even took a little bit of time away from the boat completely to do some strawberry picking.

All of this and Riley still found time to do a little work.


All in all, it definitely felt like our most successful trip to the boat yet, and also provided a much needed break from the hectic work trips we had been making.  You know what they say about all work and no play...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bye Bye Boat Yard.

by Riley

Over the past several months of having Winbrandt in the yard at the marina, I have felt like I was constantly tap dancing around gimmicks. It became clear that they had set up to prey on people that bite off more than they can handle, and then try to use intimidation when one doesn't fall for their own overpriced, poor workmanship. Because that's how pirates do it these days. 

While this issue was troubling, I've also met some awesome people there. It's been a lot easier recently, swimming past all the baited hooks, after making some friends in the same "boat." Because I live almost 5 hours from where we keep Winbrandt, I feel a lot better now, knowing that someone is watching my back and boat. My friend James and his wife were redoing an Oday 34 next to us when we met and became friends. His plan is to start chartering the boat, and he has done a exceptional job, as he is a very capable, meticulous craftsman. His work inspired me to step it up a notch on my own refit, and I am very glad I did. 

Boatyard friendships, I feel, have been critical in getting Winbrandt back in the water. I knew little about some of the repairs I needed to make when I started, but that was ok, because my friend did. He didn't have a woodworking shop for some trim he needed made, but I did and could make it. It's also good to have another set of eyes giving ideas and opinions on your projects. While Winbrandt is far from done, I know that she wouldn't be as nice, and I wouldn't have tackled some of the repairs, if I hadn't had help. 

Now, both of our boats are free from the bonds of dry land, ready to go wherever the wind blows.
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