Friday, August 29, 2014

Wish they all could be California girls

After a few summers in South Carolina with Nana and Pop paddling up rivers and creeks on SUP's (stand up paddleboards), the girls have said they really want SUP's for our cruising adventure. Like many "toys" we added SUP's to the list.

That was until today !

California girls + surfboards = perfect match

We've talked about learning to surf during our cruising adventure and how we'd like to pick up an extra board or two.  Today changed all that as both our girls wanted to try surfing "just to see" how it felt.
 This is Emma's first wave. Got up, surfed and was ready for more! 

After prying the surfboard out of Emma's hands it was time to give Jessica a try. Love at first sight! That's it....SUP what? No sup'ing way we're wasting room on our boat for SUP's....surfboards, all the way!

With a borrowed board from a friend in town each, Gidget got her own board for the day. Hours went by as they each took turns riding the waves and showing off their new moves.  They couldn't always agree on which was the perfect wave but we did settle that Jessica wants her very own pink board and Emma's ready for her own blue surfboard. 

Even the Old Farts (read: Phil) got a piece of the action. So that settles it....I (Aimee) don't have to feel like I'm settling for a SUP. Although they provide a great workout (as does surfing) they look boring as all get out.

Surfs up...this family's ready to ride!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Making ourselves useful

Boat. Just another four letter word. The only way to make "boat" sound more loathsome is to add "project" to it.  Although there is never truly an "end" to the list of projects, we are getting closer to finishing up most of the big ticket items on our list.  This past weekend was another "all work" weekend to knock some of the big stuff off our list.

Phil and Admiral Murphy discussing the best way to replace the shower sump.  Look at the beautiful original Perkins with 10k+ hours!

Upgrading our house battery bank has been one of the larger and more expensive items haunting our list.  A high capacity 12 volt battery bank is very important for a cruising boat.  Since we will mostly anchored out and not plugged into shore power, we need a bank with enough amp hours to run lights, fridge, inverter, autopilot, water maker, radios, etc when the solar panels aren’t charging.  The batteries that came with the boat were sufficient to do this at one point, but after about 7 years of constant use, they could only charge up to about 65% and discharged very quickly.  Replacing marine batteries can also cost a fortune.  Anything with the label “marine” instantly invites a 300% price increase.  In fact, to replace these three 245Ah house batteries with the same type would run us about $2000. No thanks.

2 of the 3 original batteries in the bank.  These babies weigh about 170 pounds each!

The secret to “marine batteries” is not that they are built to better withstand the environment at sea, but that they are deep cycle batteries designed to charge/discharge multiple times without wearing out.  This is why one doesn’t use car batteries for a house bank.  Well, golf cart batteries are also designed for deep cycling, arguably better than marine batteries and for a fraction of the price.  Costco happens to sell 220Ah 6 Volt batteries for less than $100 each!  So basically to replace 3 12 volt batteries, we bought 6 6 volt batteries running each set of two batteries in series (6+6=12) and the 3 sets in parallel together for a total of 660 Amp hours.  We were able to pull this off for about 1/3 of the price of regular marine batteries!

The new battery bank in all her glory!
Sailing with kids means that everyone gets involved in all projects. Why not teach them how battery banks work and why batteries are placed in series instead of parallel convergence?

The next project involved changing out the shower sump installed in the bilge.  For those of you that don’t know, a shower sump is simply a box with a small bilge pump and a strainer that collects and then pumps the water from the shower drain overboard.  The old sump box must have failed at some point and rather than replacing it, the previous owner decided to cut the hoses and let the showers drain into the bilge.  Not only is this disgusting, but it is also dangerous as the hair and soap scum from the shower drains can cause your bilge pumps to fail and sink your boat.  I’d rather not deal with that scenario.  

Emma helping Phil prepare the new shower sump box.
I suppose this would be a simple job on some boats, but ours has a very deep bilge that in order to reach, one must dangle oneself upside-down and pray to not slip.  It is an exercise in flexibility, strength, coordination and balance.  Unfortunately for Phil, it resulted in 3 busted knuckles, 6 bumps on the head, a sore back, and enough F-bombs to make Lil Wayne blush.  However, he did emerge victorious and we now have a new functional shower sump and no more nastiness flowing into our bilge.

New sump, nasty bilge...

Sailing with kids doesn't mean the girls get to lazily swing in a hammock while the parents do all the work.   We are a crew and that means that everyone onboard has to share the workload to keep this boat afloat. For their last week of summer, we put our girls to work and they have now have learned how to crochet,  make skirts and bread and how to wax a hull! 

Want your shoulders to really hurt the next day? Hang from the side while you clean, prep and wax your boat.  Exhausting yet satisfying chore. By the end of the day, all her scuff marks were gone and she looked as beautiful as she's going to get without all new gelcoat....the boat, not Aimee

Jessica loved helping with cleaning the boat and was very helpful. Like me, she's glad we don't plan on doing this chore again any time soon.

After all of that hard work, we were happy to focus on some lighter tasks like sewing and cooking!  Thankfully, our girls wear the same size which means double the wardrobe, as long they're both willing to share. Skirts are easy to make and can be adjusted as they grow. Emma grew taller? No problem, just let down some hem. Jessica grew a little wider? No worries, every skirt made has different seams already made so as they grow I can apply a seam ripper to the old seam and let loose a new one. 

I found a few floor length skirts for myself that I cut to knee length and used the remaining fabric to make skirts for the girls. Light fabric with an elastic waistband is the perfect way to go.

                     Not exactly sure why, but the girls really wanted to learn how to crochet. After explaining that there will be zero use or need for scarfs and hats in the tropics, Jessica decided Murphy could use some items. She's come up with Tail Puppets.  Kinda like finger puppets only for your cats tail.  

Stayed tuned...I'm sure Murphy will be modeling some incredibly annoying Tail Puppets.  He already looks thrilled.


Words a mother never get's tired of hearing, "I'm hungry!" Almost as entertaining as when they yell, "MOM?" followed by "where are you?"  REALLY...really.  You can't find me? It's a 45' boat. Figure it out!  One more "I'm hungry!" and someone was going to start screaming, "I'm overboard!"  Thankfully I have The Boat Galley Cookbook with fantastic easy to make recipes. You should own this book even if you don't own a boat. Great recipes with few ingredients and most can be made in a short amount of time. In addition to a few stove top recipes, we've attempted to make loaves of bread. So far, so good!  Using a gas galley stove provides the disadvantage of not being able to easily set your oven to the desired temperature toss in dough for a set amount of time and walk away.  A gas stove means we get to babysit your stove temperature and your loaf, at least that's our plan till we've baked enough to really get it dialed in.

Regular bread loaf with a crunchy top for lunches or dinner.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cinnamon and raisin breakfast loaf. This was real tasty!

Up next, attempting to master a pressure cooker! This ought to be interesting, my girls are 4th generation "can't cook."  Their great grandmother is proof that you can live to be 93 while consuming mostly tea and bread, while my mother was pretty good at teaching me her #1 recipe, reservations. My nickname in college was "Scraps" as that's about all I subsisted on while living with roommates.

Stay next week for putting the boat logo and boat name on, joining the water tanks, gooseneck on the mast and tackling the dinghy!

Friday, August 15, 2014

If you're not geocaching, you're missing the boat.

If you have kids you've probably heard of other families out geocaching. You're thinking, "what the hell is geocaching"?  Geocaching is a world wide treasure hunt. A good place to start is the geocache website like I did. With a GPS (either handheld or an Iphone app.) you locate various "caches".

Depending upon if you have the free version or not..this is what the app on your phone looks like. It will show you surrounding caches. Click on any cache to be given coordinates, hints and read about other people's "activity" in searching for the cache. Once you find a cache, you mark that you "found it" or "did not find" and then have the opportunity to leave a comment.  Sometimes the comments left by others are more helpful than the hints left by the person who originally hid the cache.

Our first cache was about .2 miles away from us. Both girls had an Iphone with the app on it and were guiding us with a compass. Between the hints and reading other's activity we were off in the right direction.

Off to find our first cache

After a bit of searching, we found it! Our first cache was hidden under a bush.  Emma is holding the cache. It was an old film canister wrapped in camouflage tape. Most caches have a scroll in them for you to sign your name. 

Every cache is different size, these sizes are indicated on the Iphone app.

Write your name on the scroll, mark "found it" on your Iphone app and move on to the next!

Here's a different cache.  Bigger than a film canister and filled with little things. Kids are encouraged to take a little thing in the cache so long as they replace it with something else. Before heading out, maybe grab coins, stickers, or little "doo-doo's".  
"Doo-doo's" is a Nanceterm for little trinkets, usually the stuff you find for 25cents in a machine.

Warning: geocaching is addictive! It only took two finds and we were hooked.  Before I knew it, the day was slipping by and I still had errands to run. With all of us in the car, we'd run an errand, geocache, run another errand, find another cache. Before I knew it,  I had an 11 year old riding shotgun screaming out
"turn left"
"slow down"!
"you missed it"
"go back"
"park over there"
"turn right" 

Jess found one in the bushes.

With the help of reading other people's "activity" we knew that in order to find our next cache we would have to go under a rope that was surrounding the Tunaman Memorial.  I wasn't particularly fond of having to crawl on a memorial, but hey it's for the love of the game.

Not ready to stop geocaching we took a picnic dinner to Balboa Park and began searching there too.  Geocaching is really hard to explain (you couldn't agree more after reading this) and the best way is to hand someone the phone and show them the app. The girls were happy to show Phil what we had been doing most of the day. After his first find, he was ready for more.

Geocaching at Balboa Park is a must! Like the park isn't beautiful enough, geocaching takes you to some of the most gorgeous parts within the park.

Did I mention how awesome it is to geocache in one of the most beautiful places?

Emma finds another one! It seemed like because of her height Emma found more than the rest of us. 
No exaggeration we spent 8 solid hours of geocaching. Geocaching is a great way to discover more of a place you already live or to get more acquainted with a new area.  Geocaching would be awesome on a long road trip to help break it up...or maybe even cruising. 

The next time you see a family rummaging through the bushes, looking lost you don't need to feel sorry for them thinking they're looking for food, wondering if you should buy them cheeseburgers, they're probably just geocaching.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Even the boat projects have boat projects...

Terrapin is an old lady. She's a 36 year old lady to be exact. We did not buy her as a "project boat" per se, but with her age naturally come a myriad of never-ending projects. She used to have beautiful teak decks, but her previous owner ripped them out and laid down white fiberglass.  We can live with this since these will be easier to live with in the tropics (cooler on the feet, good traction, low maintenance).  The only remaining teak on the boat was the toe rail which the PO decided to cover in fiberglass and paint green. A hideous green. After a few years of neglect the hideous green painted fiberglass was blistering and peeling.  We couldn't even sit with our bare legs over the rail or we would be itching for the next two days with fiberglass splinters.

Teak can be a bit of a pain in the rear to maintain. But when there's only a teak rail to "love" why would you cover it up?  

Hideous green blistering fiberglass, meet the sander. 

After two solid, itchy weekends of  tediously sanding off all of the fiberglass, the beautiful original teak was revealed. A quick acetone wash and two coats of teak oil was all this rail needed to shine again.  Apparently this process must be repeated every 2 or 3 months to keep the teak sealed and looking pretty, but the oil goes on very easily with a rag and it only took about 30 minutes.

What a huge difference it made! 

Each weekend we compile a list of items that need to be purchased, scour the internet for the best deals and make our purchase. By Thursday or Friday our items show up just in time for a project filed weekend. Sorta like Christmas each week. 

The cabins received new fans, the salon received new lights, a new "throne" was installed in the master head, 

One of the bigger projects was putting our netting up. Boats that cruise with netting are indicative of cruisers with either A) children on board, B) animals on board, C) clumsy parents,  or in our case D) all of the above.  We had to wait until the toe rail was finished to start this project, but this was actually much easier than we expected.  We had some help from a great video that Sailrite put out.  The most difficult part is putting up the netting on the gates that open and close.  We are still working on this part...  Click below the see the video from sailrite.

What's one of the best ways to deal with the never ending boat projects? Taking a break and sailing with friends on their boat. Sometimes it is good NOT to be the captain.  You might remember Dave. He served as first mate during the maiden voyage down the California coast.  We went out on a great sunset cruise with Dave and family on his beautiful 34 Catalina.

Boat kids.

The girls were sporting their new Coolibar hats. Complete with chin straps, the girls can sit on the bow with their feet over the rail, dodging waves and they'll never lose their hats.

What a great way to end a productive and fun weekend!  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Recycle your unwanted old sails into fun new gear with our latest sponsor!

Exactly what to do with your old unwanted sails. Toss them out? Find a way to recycle them? Here's a great idea, contact Sea Fever Gear and trade in your old sails for new, fun gear. Or simply donate your old sails to have a new life. Heck, they'll even pay for you to ship them your unwanted sails! Sisters Pixie and Penny have been giving old unwanted sails new life in a variety of fun products, from totes, Ipad covers to shower curtains. We're pretty excited that Pixie and Penny are going to be working with Jessica and Emma soon for their own creations. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dirty Jobs

This weekend, we took advantage of the rainy weather in San Diego and paid some much needed attention to the never-ending boat project list.  Here are a few of the projects that we worked on:

Looking for an easy way to lube your slugs ;) ?  Not only is this easy, it's also cheap and can be done with something you've already got onboard.

Our friend Dave told us about this little trick. Squirt some clear dishwashing soap in the track and let it trickle down through the slugs. Spray most of the soap off with the hose and then hoist sail.

We were amazed at how easy the sails went up and down with this easy trick.  A few minutes in the rain and we had a soapy deck to scrub. #winning.

One of the less desirable tasks that has been haunting our list was rebuilding the master head. This involved replacing every single gasket in the flushing mechanism.  Believe me when I say that it is no fun to open the outlet valve of a 15 year old marine toilet and fish out the old rotten gaskets.  Despite the horrific smell and the instructions written in Thai, we were able to pull it off in a couple of hours and have a perfectly functioning head.


Up next was reseating the glass hatch in the forward head.  The previous owner decided to use duct tape for this job and surprisingly, it was quite leaky!  This was a quick job that involved a bead of marine silicone on both sides of the glass.  Hopefully this holds better than the duct tape.  

You may have noticed that Phil is the only one working in the pictures. Ya well, my job was to whittle down our shopping list and research where to buy items for a decent price....sure beats rebuilding the head!

Of the many items bought today, a new LED light panel was one of them. It's amazing how cheap these are.  Unless, of course, you buy them from Worst Marine.  I went with eBay for $8 a panel.

Also purchased were  new cabin fans, a new jib furling line, a new toping lift line for the mizzen, new toilet seat, food hammocks and mosquito netting!
Today was also a "no electronics, go play with your sister" day. The girls actually had more fun today than most days sitting on their kindles. In addition to everything else, Barbie now has a 45 foot Ketch.

Ok, so maybe I lied. We did allow the girls to each find a some recipes that they want to make. Our goal is to have them able to cook a few simple meals from start to finish before we leave.  I can't be the only one serving mediocre food to the crew!

So despite the dirty work and the rain, it was still a productive and fun weekend onboard the Terrapin.  It was also nice to get this beautiful sunset today after the rain cleared out.