Back on Grace, if not In The Water

Friday we moved back on board.  We have spent the last couple of weeks in a condo, just a fairly short bike ride from the boatyard.  We turned in the rental car what seems like weeks ago, and have been going everywhere on the bikes.  Now we faced the challenge of moving all our stuff – how many bike loads would it take?

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We managed it in six trips, with Cherryl doing most of them!  While I pretended to be working on the boat, she made trips with the trailer.

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Can’t travel without the cool Instant Pot!

Friday night we had a dedication for beautiful Grace.  We had a few close friends and family over (by way of the magic of internet) and had some great talks, prayers and even music in a small ceremony of committing this vessel to God.

Our stern thruster is now intact, our new Wi-Fi booster antenna is installed, we are updating some old outside stereo speakers that had rusted out, and the fiberglass repairs are looking good! (still not quite done, though)

But one of the most fun enhancements we have done is upgrading the cameras.  When we got the boat, there were two video cameras, both in the engine room. Neither worked.  It’s nice to have an eye on the engine room while cruising.  We got one of them to work, but it was a pretty lousy picture.  And I wanted good rear-view cameras as well.  So we are upgrading them all.  I can tell the boat had rear view cameras on each corner of the stern, because I can see where they were mounted.  So we are doing that again, and adding an additional camera under the radar arch on the flybridge to look straight behind us.  All these cameras should help in both maneuvering  and cruising safely.

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I recently came across some old pictures of our family’s first sailboat.  It was an Aqua-Cat; a small catamaran that was pretty sporty for the time… until Hobie came out with the vastly superior Hobie Cats.  So here we are at the Salton Sea, mid 60’s.  Now I’m in the mid 60’s.  Funny how fast life zooms!

I’m going to share some of the websites that we enjoy following.  Encouragement, Inspiration and Entertainment make them worth checking out!

Sailingtotem.com is a site about a family who have been living onboard their sailboat for over 10 years, with their three children growing up traveling the world.  They have recently crossed their outbound tracks- meaning they have circled the globe- just as their oldest heads off to college. The site is well written, and we feel especially close to them as we have taken classes from Behan, the author.

Gonewiththewynns.com is written by a young couple who lived aboard their motorhome traveling all over the US for years.  They then decided to go sailing – buying a large catamaran before even learning to sail!  They not only write about their learning and adventures, but have a YouTube channel where they post videos weekly.

Sailing-lavagabonde.com is mainly a portal to this cute Australian couple’s YouTube channel.  They started out on an older monohull sailboat, on which he learned to sail.  They have recently moved onto a beautiful new catamaran, purchased in France, and sailed it across the Atlantic.  The videos are very well done, and all the more fun for the Aussie accents!

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Soon we’ll be seeing these sunsets from the water!

 

Life on Bikes

We are being taught patience.  Everything takes a while longer that you’d think.  All is going well with the repair, and we are getting tons of other things done that I’d thought we’d just do as we travelled.  It’s really far better to get it all done now, but I was impatient.  (Or should I say I AM impatient?)  Anyway, we are getting to know lots more about our boat, and getting lots of little repairs and upgrades done.  What makes it more fun is that we have no car… all our trips to the store or wherever are done by bike.  Cherryl loves it!  She has been lusting after that cool little trailer for years, and now she finally gets to use it!

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This is coming back from the Grocery Store

We are staying in an AirBnb, a nice little condo very close to the boat.  The grounds are very beautiful!  We start most days with a nice long walk, then go to the boat and work on things, (see last post about messing around on boats), and then try to get back to the condo before the afternoon thunderstorms.  We’ve seen some torrential rains! (And we’ve been pretty lucky to miss biking in serious rain!)

Riding the bikes around town gives us lots more range that walking, and lets us see some cool stuff.  Like this Tesla Farm 😉 and a typical Post Office.

(If this sign is here, it means the machine is broken! Really??)

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This beautiful tree is just before our turn off the sidewalk into our condo area.

There is a nature trail near here, which we hope to explore tomorrow.  Looks like a very overgrown jungle.  This fence is along one edge… very cool looking…

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But did you notice the Snake?

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One thing we are still waiting on is our stern thruster.  Some of you have asked what is a thruster anyway, and how do they work?  So here are the Cliff Notes on Thrusters.

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Notice the hole in the bow… it contains an auger-like propeller, housed in a tube that runs the width of the bow. Some are electrically powered; some, like ours, are hydraulic.

So here is the bow thruster in its tube, and the stern thruster in a special housing.  The stern is much wider than the bow, so it doesn’t make sense to have a tube running all the way from side to side.  Instead, a housing is made at the midline, wide enough to hold the propeller and get a good body of water rushing through, but narrow enough to allow access to the propeller.  So the point of all these tubes and augers is that we can move the bow, stern, or whole boat sideways when docking or maneuvering in tight spaces.  (Wish my stern thruster had been working a couple of weeks ago!)

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Staying here a while isn’t so bad… this is the view from the stairs up to our condo!

 

 

We’re In The Water Again!

After spending almost 3 weeks on the hard, we finally launched our boat again!  We still cannot get parts to get the bow thruster repaired, so we have moved it to the stern, and brought the stern thruster forward.  So we have a bow thruster that should work fine, and don’t have a stern thruster.  In a couple of months, when they finally have the gears we need, we will have to haul out again, and have the stern thruster fixed. We have a cool articulated rudder so that helps us some where you’d want to use the stern thruster. There are yet a few things that need work, that we can or must do while in the water.

But we had a great weekend, acting like retired people touring!  We got the folding bikes out, and the folding bike trailer, and did our first shopping trip on the bikes!  We went to the beach and got sand in our toes!  And we washed up the boat (it got filthy in the boatyard) and lots of other little chores.  (notice the huge tent like thing on the other side of the canal.  They are building a boat bigger than the town I grew up in!)

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Bikes and Trailer folded up

When we got to this marina, I saw a beautiful old car… a 1937 Oldsmobile.  In great shape.  I asked in the Harbor Master’s office who owned the cool oldster, saying anyone with a car that cool must be an interesting person.  Louise grinned and said “Yep, follow me!” She led me down the hall to the breakfast room and introduced me to the owner… a little lady who looked to be 90 years young and all of 3 1/2 feet tall!  She said she’d had “Blackie” since the 70’s, and the car had been a dear friend all these years.  She keeps a boat here, and drives the car up north every year when the season is over.

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I also took a break and visited what they claim is the largest Packard museum in the country.  I’m guessing it’s the largest in the world… Absolutely fabulous!  I’ve always loved Packards.  They were like an American Rolls Royce… very well made, often cutting edge technology for the time, and quite expensive.  A beautiful example like below would have cost more than a typical American’s home.

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1931 Packard

We also had dinner at a local legend: Jaxson’s.  Known for its ice cream and fancy desserts, it also has fun food in a really crazy environment.  The only things missing are the wheelbarrows to roll you out of there!

 

From where our boat is docked, we can see them launch and retrieve boats all day, especially on weekends.  The huge forklift grabs the boat, effortlessly lifts it up, positions it so somebody can rinse the bottom, and then drives off at 40 mph and places it on a rack that may be three stories tall!

 

 

So we have had fun while more work was getting done.  We had one day of training to finish before getting signed off on our insurance (pilots: think check ride). We were hoping to do that Thursday, but on Wednesday the winds were so high, and forecast to stay that way through the weekend, we postponed the final training day till next Monday.  Sigh.  We have one last guy coming to repair a couple minor things on Monday anyway.  But today, Friday, we decided to do our last training in spite of the wind.  It was blowing 18-20 kts offshore, and we went out and played in some fun seas!  I was too busy piloting to take pictures, but we had some 5-6 foot seas that would come breaking over the sides of the bow, the wind whipping them around and soaking the pilothouse.  Great fun, and the boat was very solid and rode very nicely.  That weather, bashing into the wind, would get tiresome if you had to do it all day…

Then some docking practice, which went really well considering the challenge of the windy conditions.  When we have less wind that will feel super easy now!

So bottom line – we passed! After the final upgrades on Monday we will be good to go… and we’re so ready!

One consolation about having to stay through this weekend – There is a huge airshow going on Saturday and Sunday that we will probably be able to watch from our boat!

 

 

 

 

Hauling Out

Grace needs a little “out of the water” time – to get the bottom painted, some seals upgraded, the prop swapped out with the spare, the rudder adjusted, and the stabilizer fins serviced.  So we left our beautiful marina, and did the 1.5 hour trip to the Playboy Marine Boatyard.  (Not sure where the name came from – not a bunny in sight.) So down the New River, past many beautiful old Florida type homes, then by hundreds of high rises, and under 5 drawbridges.  Next a few minutes on the Intra-Coastal Waterway.

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Then up the Dania Cut-off Canal; more industrial and less private homes.  There are many boatyards along this canal.  We were soon at the Playboy Marine site, and the Travelift was in place awaiting our arrival.  A little intimidating, with a bit of wind pushing us forward, and two gigantic Mega Million Dollar yachts close on either side!

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But we managed rather painlessly to get Grace in proper position, and the excellent handlers arranged the slings under her hull and lifted her out of the water.  She only weighs 98,000 pounds!

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If you ever get somewhat smug, thinking you have a big boat, Ft Lauderdale is the perfect cure for that!  Our boat looks like a toy between these two Super Yachts!

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Once lifted out of the water, they power wash her and drive her to a parking spot, where they carefully rest her on blocks and chocks, undo the slings, and drive the Travelift to the next boat.  They seem to move about 1 boat every hour.  Again, while I am very impressed how the Travelift can easily lift a boat this size, the next yard over has one twice the size used to lift boats you see on either side of us.

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So now our “little boat” is “on the hard”, getting her work done.  She does somewhat dwarf the van…

Road Tripping… or “I thought you moved onto a boat?”

I know I said we were finally on the boat… but we hadn’t finished moving out of our house yet.  So we have been doing a bit of driving.  Like 6,000 miles!  We have been dispersing furniture and things all over the country.  We are getting pretty good at dragging U-haul trailers around- from our home in Denver to Monterey, California to see friends, then a cousin in Grass Valley, California, and on to Kennewick Washington to spend a little time with our oldest daughter and her family.  With the trailer emptied and returned, we drove back to Denver to finish emptying the house.  Then the second trip – this time to Minneapolis via Lincoln, Nebraska.  Another trailer load of furniture and storage stuff!  While staying with our younger daughter and her family, we got to visit the cute little chocolate shop where she works as a chocolatier.  Very cool!

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Then back to Denver and get rid of anything left in the house!  Some things shipped to keep on the boat, more stuff shipped to each of the kids, some to other family members, lots donated locally and even more to the dumpster!!  In 41 years of marriage we have accumulated lots of stuff!  And we are now on an anti-stuff crusade!

So our first day back at the boat we got her new name put on!  It looks great!  Fun to watch him put it on, too.  We worked a long time to get just the font, size and placement as we wanted, so it was great fun to see it finally done!

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Finally On Board!

IMG_0150What a week it’s been! I can hardly believe it’s been a week now that we’ve been on board.

Every possible cupboard, nook or cranny has been stuffed with spare parts, extra oil or filters, or maybe covers for something else. (Who wants stuffed crannies?) So we have spent a lot of time inventorying everything, rearranging into what I consider a more logical system, and cleaning cleaning cleaning!

 

We have had our share of repairs to do too! Seems like we are constantly finding things that don’t work quite like they should… Leaking tanks, bilge pumps that don’t pump, etc. Some other things just take a while to figure out how they work.

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Jerry, Wendy and me in Pilothouse

Which brings me to our trainers, Jerry and Wendy Taylor. They have spent LOTS of time with us, making sure we are up to speed on all the complicated systems on board and know how to handle the boat well. They have lots of wisdom that they are doing their best to share with us (how much can we soak up before we explode?) and they have helped us unravel some challenging mysteries.

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Another Selene pulled in the other day on the next dock over, and they seem like nice folks. Hope to spend some time with them.

There are plenty of other colorful creatures around here too…

 

We have bought new docking lines, hoses, and even a new bedroom set.

Now the boat is all cleaned up and organized… feels a lot more like a home!

We are in Marina Bay, and won’t leave here till we have all our furniture out of our house and some further repairs done to the boat.  She has had the old name removed, and the new name will hopefully be on soon!  We will have to haul the boat out of the water for some of the work that needs to be done; probably in early April.  Stay tuned!

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This truck pumps out sewage… and the caution sign tells where it goes next!

 

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Our Bon Voyage Party

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My Awesome Team

My wonderful daughters, Karen and Becky, and their husbands, Loren and Kevin, and my great (former) team, put together a terrific Bon Voyage party!  Above you can see next to me are Angie, Kathy, Oneida, Liz, Brenda, Leslie, Mindy, Debbie, and a sideways Mandy.  Thank you all for all the work you did to create such a great time!!

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With Dr Mike and Lara

 

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Our favorite Mark Twain quote

It’s Trawler Time!

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So this is the trawler!  Soon to be named “Grace”

In January, we met with our broker in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.  We looked at tons of boats, in and out of the water.  We further studied and discussed hull shapes, prop placement, keel design, engine considerations and much more.  We then found a new listing, that had all the features that we most valued, and we spent a few hours climbing all over her!

The more we explored, the more we were impressed.  We could imagine this boat taking us wherever we wanted to go, in safety and comfort.  One big consideration was to have plenty of space for guests, including our kids and grandkids!  This boat looked like it would do very well, so we made an offer.

A couple of weeks later, we returned to Ft Lauderdale for the survey and sea trial (Nautical Speak for inspection and test drive).  We had three surveyors, (one was for the diesels alone).  Almost two full days of testing!  We hauled the boat out to check the integrity of the hull and running gear.  It is really amazing to see a 50 ton boat just hanging on slings in the air!  I’d have been more concerned, but I got to see the boat hauled out just before ours- it was at least 50% larger!  After the boat was launched again, we took her out in the ocean for a series of runs at specified RPMs, measuring a dozen engine and performance parameters at each setting. We then anchored in a large bay and launched the tender, a very sporty little RIB to zoom around in (or to shore if you are anchored out a ways).  The boat performed well and we were in love!  So now we are moving from our much loved Colorado to a floating home!  You can read more about the boat in the All About Grace tab.

Trawler Trauma?

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This doesn’t look like a sailboat!
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A very large salon

So we set foot (barefoot) on our first trawler… Oh what space!  But no mast!  Maybe we could get used to all this elbow room.  It took some work to get our heads around power vs sail, but the greatly increased livability and reduced work load won over… We wanted a trawler!

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Chairs for each of us if only we could sit in them!

 

 

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Clear side decks if they’d put away the lines…
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In her galley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nice island bed

Annapolis Sailboat Show

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Blue water sailboat cockpit

October 5-12, 2017

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Blue water sailboat deck

We attended the Annapolis show all excited about the fantastic sailboats exhibited there. We also spent 4 days in classes about how to care for diesels, provision boats, communicate with the rest of the world, understand weather and more.  We had a great time… but learned a bit more than we wanted.  After talking with many experts, we concluded that a sailboat that was big enough to live on, and safe enough to cross oceans well, was too big or too much work to handle for the two of us.  We were pretty bummed.  We sailed with one sailing captain, who when asked what sailboat he wanted, said he was getting too old for the effort involved and wanted a trawler.

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Blue water sailboat living space

I thought he was crazy. Until we stepped onto our first trawler.  Wow!  Lots of space! Comfort!  No sails to raise or sheets to pull.  A bit less at the mercy of the wind.  So after a few weeks of lamenting joining the “dark side” and contemplating diesel power vs sail power, we shifted gears.  We were now working towards a trawler.