Wednesday, October 16, 2013


After my recent bout with tossing my cookies I figured I should get serious about making a move to get my seasickness under control. First up in testing is sea bands. You know, those ridiculous elastic wrist things that you wear on the pressure points on the inside forearm. They run around $13 and since my mom has owned a pair since they came on the market I knew what to expect--I just had yet tried them for water excursions. 

We saw the wind was very light a few Sundays ago but also that the swells were nonexistent. Perfect. I slid those oh-so-chic looking wrist bands on as we motored out and we were off. My only only real complaint is that the little nobby bit that pushes on your pressure point starts to hurt a little upon extended wear. I felt just peachy the 4 hours we were being carried along by the breeze. I wouldn't say this is a definitive review, as the sea was a calm one, but for now, I'll be using them again. I'm also looking for a product recommended to me by my sister-in-law called Motion Eaze, which I have yet to find. Will keep you posted!

Friday, October 4, 2013

out and about.

This week we are out of the Midwest! Tuesday we flew into Las Vegas for a weeklong birthday celebration/vacation with some people we love and adore. We rented a Mustang convertible and drove down LA Wednesday morning for a quick 24 hours as part of our adventure. We met up with my cousins and their adorable son and had lunch at a food truck meet up, ate donuts from Sidecar Donuts, and then drove up the PCH. We stopped at Huntington Beach for a quick dip of the toes in the ocean then headed further north to meet up with a long lost (ok, so not really lost, just out of touch as of late) friend of Josh's from his congressional page days for dinner. We ate at this very hip little place called Picca (you may have heard it referenced on the most recent episode of New Girl!) and then got donuts from Randy's Donuts (you know, the one from all the tv shows with the giant donut on top). We stayed in Culver City then drove back down to Irvine for brunch, meandering and beach time with Erin, Brian, and Nolen. That kid is the cutest, most inquisitive 3 1/2 year old I know. He's full of "whys?" and somehow I ended up trying to explain chemical bonds to him. So interested in the world around him, for sure!

We made it back to Vegas around 8 last night. Long 24 hours! We ate ramen out with Hannah and Chris, put gracious hosts then hit the hay! More later about the rest of our adventures to come. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

out of commission.

As you may have noticed, it's been radio silence around here for far too long. Oopsie. So much for my Sunday share project. BUT I promise to be better. I guess I just feel a bit like I'm by no means an expert on much of anything (boat related or otherwise) and sometimes it's just easier to ignore the blinking cursor at the top of the empty computer screen than try to come up with some clever "thing" we are doing on Interlude. So instead of feeling stuck, I'll just try to write about our life instead of just boat-y things. Sound good? Okay!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

crafty mcgee and how I fill my time.

We've been up at the marina for a bit over two weeks and while I haven't had any freelance jobs to work on, somehow I still feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. I mean, I guess I could get up at 6 am but that kind of defeats the laid back, easy-does-it thing we've got going here. 
What fills my days, you ask? Craftiness and reading!

I'm reading the third book in the Game of Thrones series. Gah! Addictive! I'm also taking my sailing 101 requirements very seriously by brushing up with Basics of Keelboating and, of course being quizzed on a regular basis by Josh, AND I'm still reading The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew. That one is best digested in small chunks. 

The other part of my time is spent being crafty. I have been crocheting and teaching myself new stitches/patterns and have completed one blanket with two more in various states of completion (the other two have a ways to go, one is pictured above). I'm also gearing up to do a little art project on the very end of them bow spirit. There is a beam that has a flat 4 inch face and I'm going to do a drawing on the end of it with a good luck symbol. I'm doing some research and am planning on starting it this afternoon. Yay! 

There might also be a bit of gym time, pool time, and cooking that have also been taking up parts of each day too :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013


So THIS boat is our neighbor at the end of our t-docks. Um, hello. 70 feet of pure gorgeous speed. The owner, Rick is a great guy and sailing enthusiast who loves racing and from our understanding, has been at it for years. One of these days we've got to get out there on her. The boat manager, Jack (a junior at a local college), is always ready with a story of adventure, or quick with some product recommendation (we are currently battling spiders). Just a really cool boat and more great people we see in our day to day lives here at the dock.

Monday, September 2, 2013

on tossing your cookies

Monday was a first. We took Interlude out for a sail knowing it might be windy and did our best to account for that by reefing in the main so we wouldn't be over powered (read: tipped way, way over with the sails practically straining from the force of the wind). What we didn't account for was the 4-6 foot waves. At first it was fine. We motored out, me as the lookout on the bow, the bowspirit bobbing up and then landing with a white capped splash back down. Totally cool. I held on to the railing, flexed my knees to absorb the impact and was a-okay. Then we put the sails up and I was at the helm, which I find greatly improves any feelings of nausea as I am constantly scanning the horizon and generally occupied making sure we are on the right course, taking full advantage of the wind for optimum speed, etc. And I was fine until I wasn't. It crept up on me real slow like. And I chewed some ginger candy and maybe I was feeling okay? It was hard to tell. But then those 4-6 foot waves I mentioned, well they were coming at us crosswise, rolling us from port to starboard instead of bow to stern. So I changed our course and we headed back bow into them. Up and down, rolling from the top to the valley like on the roller coasters that make your stomach feel like its dropping out of the bottom of you abdomen. Over and over, so high I'd lose sight of the horizon and then so low all I could see was the azure water surrounding us and the sound of the hull cutting through them sounds more like slapping than the usual melodious fizzy bubbling. I let Josh steer and laid flat on my back with my eyes closed in the cockpit, breathing through the discomfort. It seemed like it was working one second and then the next I've got my head over the downwind rail tossing my cookies. Did I mention this is the very first time this has ever happened to me (unless my mom can recount some horrible car trip I've blocked from my mind?). I did feel better but as for my future as a sailor, I'd say I've got some serious sleuthing to do on how to nip this in the bud. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

new toy.

We got a kayak! 

When I graduated from college oh-so-many-years ago, my dad asked me what I wanted as a gift. Wise old 22 year old that I was, having NO idea where I'd be at the end of that year, let alone in the next 5 years, I proclaimed that I wanted a kayak. 

I can promise you that I was not a die hard kayaker (is that what they call themselves??). I wasn't even an intermediate. Honestly, I don't think I had ever attempted to kayak in. my. life. So why this new found obsession with water sports? Couldn't tell ya. My best guess is that I had dreams of seeing the world from a boat, which is not actually too far from the truth at this point. Oh, and also, then, as now, I am haunted by water. My life is never so fulfilled as when I am in or near water. I am not even kidding. I'm like that girl/mermaid in "Splash". I start to wither up and die (figuratively, of course) unless I get to submerge myself in water on a regular basis. That's why winter is so torturous as a midwestern dweller.  

Majorly off topic there for a minute, but I'm baaaack. Okay. Kayak. A few years ago Menards, of all places, had kayaks as part of their after Thanksgiving sale and I get this call from my dad. "Hey, they have these kayaks on sale. Do you still want one?" And foolishly, I said yes once again (what is wrong with me??). At this point, we do not have a boat, I don't have a roof rack to carry it on the mini to the lake or the river, or even a space in which to store it. Duh. You guys, I'm super smart, if you haven't figured it out. Luckily, I have the super coolest parents around that agreed to store it in the top of their garage for us. Every trip up to see us since that purchase has had some sort of mention about bringing the kayak up. Sort of a running joke. But it's ours at last! They brought it when the visited last weekend and now she's tied up in front of our bow at the dock. I just took her out this morning, as a matter of fact! Between the two of us, we take her out at least twice a week. It's allowed us to explore the marina (and scope out what other types of boats have their home here at Reef Point) as well as paddle up the Root River. I've seen lots of mallards and geese and today I even saw some sort of weasel trying to haul a dead fish from the water. What a wonderful tool to explore with and a great workout too!

sunday share.

This week's share was a joint effort requiring some patience AND some elbow grease. Josh is the Internet surfer of the two of us and looks around for inspiration from other Union 36 owners--how they've modified, DIY'd, or upgraded their vessel to suit their lifestyle. One thing he found while poking around was a few owners who stripped down the teak in their cockpits. Ours, as you can see from the photo was in need of at least a scrape down and new coat of varnish and sealant. We decided that in the name of better traction for wet days and for a nice visual contrast, the cockpit bench will stay unfinished. 

A heat gun, a paint scraper, a chisel (which turned out to be a better scraping tool), and plenty of hours to spend were the key ingredients. I started on Wednesday around noon and finished the cockpit around noon on Friday. Slow and steady, right? Actually, the process was pretty tedious. Blow this crazy hot air from the heat gun over the surface of the teak, and when it blisters, run the scraper or chisel over the surface to pull off the varnish and top coat. Small sections, over and over and over. Some places it would all come off in a swipe, but some places required me to scrape again and again. Also, you have to be very mindful not to leave the heat gun pointed in one place for too long. Oops. There may be a few scorches places that hopefully some sanding and sunbleaching will take care of. We also did some teak on the cabin top. There are some boards inlaid on the fiber glass near the mast and we decided they should be unvarnished/sealed so they would have more traction when you're hoisting the main.

Eventually, all the teak will get stripped and some of it revarnished. The floor grate in the cockpit will stay naked teak once it's stripped, as will the grab rails on the cabin top. For now the boards by the mast and the cockpit bench that were stripped are "aging" in the sun while we are away this week. Next step is sanding to hopefully completely rid the surfaces of any remaining varnish/top coat and then replacing the caulk between the boards on the bench. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me!

Fair winds, and happy Sunday!

Top photo is before and bottom is after. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

family time.

My parents finally made it up last weekend to see Interlude! I didn't get near enough pictures. My mom was begging me not to snap too many, as both she and my sister were miserable with motion sickness, despite Dramamine. Sorry guys :-( 

Upon seeing the interior of Interlude, there were two different reactions from  my folks. My dad: "this thing seems HUGE inside", and my mom: "teeny, tiny. I could never see living in such a small space". To each his own, right? We happen to side with my dad's point of view, generally. I mean, who couldn't use more square footage? But then again, other than long term provisioning, we are pretty much living here and have everything we need with space left over (we are so proud of ourselves for being thoughtful with what we'll actually "need" as live aboards even at this juncture).

After a tour, stowing of our belongings, and trying out the kayak, we ate some Kringle (a local claim to fame), grilled up some local brats, then headed out for a sail. The wind was good but the swells were not great. I was a little queasy and I think by the end even my dad was a little sick. Must run in my family. My mom wasn't as sick as I have seen her, but Sara was barely functioning. She tried sitting on the deck, in the cockpit, and I think she even eventually went below and laid down on the settee. Poor kiddo. 

We only sailed up to the lighthouse (Windpoint) and back since we could see a front coming in. I think it was plenty for everyone. Once we got back, we tied up the sails, tidied the lines, hooked up the shore power and got below before it began pouring rain. Pouring, and pouring, oh and also? POURING. It was also blowing. Good times! My entire family, minus Josh and myself conked out in various spots in the cabin. All that fresh air really got to them, I guess! 

Eventually the rain let up and we ventured out to the Yardarm for dinner before saying our goodbyes. 

A good time was had by all, as my grandpa would say. Even though some could have had a less queasy time of it, to be sure!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

sunday share!

Welcome to Sunday share! I'm going to be sharing some sort of "project" every Sunday in an effort to post more consistently and fill you in on what I've been working on.

This week's project is brought to you via a pinterest pin that I found a few months ago. I love reusable bags and I KNOW they'll be invaluable when we are schelpping groceries to and from Interlude on provisioning days. I've sewn a few from old signal flags in the past with great results but I wanted to attempt a different design. I'm particularly fond of the open weave ones for produce. I've seen a few variations, one using old tees (which I have yet to attempt) and at least two crocheting and knitting designs. I attempted this one. JoAnn's Fabric was having a super sale on yarn, so I got 6 skeins of the Sugar'n Cream 100% cotton yarn ($15 total. Score!), so I could make three of these bad boys. After the first go, I can see little "oopsies" I made and correct them for the next two, so over all, I think this is a winner. I started on Monday night, worked off and on through Wednesday, and finished up today. My hands were sore from another project I've got going, so my digits needed the break. Overall, I'd say I spent 7 hours? The open weave part crocheted up in a snap. I got three different colors but I am loving how the natural color looks. We'll see how it holds up after a few washes and or stains...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

off the docks.

Bottom two photo by Corey

Last week we headed back to the city for a week so I could finish up a freelance gig but prior to that, we'd been tucked in the marina for a glorious 10 days. Over that second weekend, we had our first overnight guests, Josh's uncle Corey and his lovely lady friend Merrie. They arrived late Friday evening and we had a few beers, chatted, soaked in the cool evening air before turning in for the night. 

Saturday dawned perfect. Breezy, sunny, warm but not sweltering, pretty much ideal for our day at Bristol Renaissance Faire. Ok, so geek alert, but I am reading the Game of Thrones series and am waaaaay into the lords and ladies and knights thing. We'd been to Bristol 5 or 6 years ago and thought it was pretty cool but my current geekiness over GoT made it even more fun. Corey and Merrie are a fun pair who only added to our experience--we were all overgrown kids just "ooooh"ing and "ahhhhh"ing at the craftsmen, costumes, and shows being performed on various stages throughout the faire. We spent the entire day seeing and doing everything there is to see and do there. If you've never been, have kids, or are a giant kid or geek at heart, I cannot recommend a trip to Bristol enough. 

Sunday, took them out for a sail. It was a first for them both, I believe. The wind was very light and I'm sorry to say that it could have been a more exciting first time if only the wind had cooperated. Oh well. It was warm and sunny and I think they had fun despite that. Just means they'll have to come up later in the season for another try!

After the sail, we had lunch and found the lighthouse at the north end of Racine. The grounds are lovely. A garden, a tiny museum, and beach access make it absolutely picturesque. 

Just a wonderful weekend at and away from the dock. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

day in the life. or just another day in paradise.

Life on the boat is a whole different animal than anything we've experienced thus far. Truthfully, we've been moving more slowly around here and we aren't even mad about it. I feel better than I have in awhile. It seems like the sunshine, the flexibility of our schedule, and the change of scenery are just what the doctor ordered. I'm calm, I'm more focused, I'm relaxed. I like myself on the boat. That's not to say that there aren't days that are busy or demanding (I fully expect this to be the sort of ebb and flow we will experience once we are underway) but I feel less tense when tackling those instances. 

Every day is a little different but this is mostly how it goes:

We get up when our internal clocks wake us, take the dog out, maybe have some coffee, I go for a run or to the YMCA to work out, Josh works while I'm gone--takes calls, does paperwork, sends emails, etc. I come back, I fix lunch, we eat in the cockpit, plan our afternoon (is today laundry day? Or do we need to get groceries?) then he goes back to it and I work on blog posts, read, clean, or jump in the pool here at the marina. As of this week my bike is here so I plan on doing some exploring and we got a kayak as my college graduation gift a billion years ago (thanks for storing it all this time, mom and pop!).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

what to expect when you're expecting to be an overnight guest on a sailboat.

So you've been invited to stay over on your friend's sailboat. Congratulations! If you like water and adventure, you're going to have a memorable weekend.  We love entertaining and this weekend we hosted our first overnight guests. It got me to thinking about how hosting someone at our home is different than hosting someone either at the dock or on the anchor. There are at least a few differences so, I thought I'd post a guide for all future guests. 

First off, pack thoughtfully. We spend the majority of our time on the boat outside. Sunscreen, bug spray, hat and sunglasses if you wear them are absolute musts. We try to have at least an extra hat laying around as well as plenty of sunscreen and bug repellent but if you're particular or sensitive to particular ingredients, it's best to bring your own. 

We keep an extra set of towels and sheets but no extra pillows or blankets. Space is limited and we try not to carry more than we need. A good host will let you know if you need to bring any unusual extras so keep that in mind. 

Toiletries. Yes, you probably always bring them but if you're like me, sometimes you forget something and ask your host to borrow some of theirs. The problem with this is that since we live at the dock, we use the wonderful bath house our slip fees afford us.  Pack every item you'll need together so you're not stuck in a shower stall in the bath house cursing your misfortune of leaving your shampoo sitting on your berth. This is not so much an issue while anchored but keep in mind that if you're in a foreign port, your favorite toothpaste may not be easily acquired and you'll want to bring enough so that you won't have to impose on your live-aboard friends' limited supplies either. 

Nonskid, comfy shoes and maybe some flip flops. Comfort and utility are the name of the game here.  

If you have long hair, I will always suggest some means of keeping your hair tied back. Pony tail, at the very least. A windy day even just at the docks will leave your free-flowing mane in the worst tangle. 

And now a word about motion sickness. Even if we are docked, we are moving. Yep. When the wind blows, we roll slightly. Mostly the marina is protected from any real rough motion, but if you visit an anchored boat in a harbor, the weather is less predictable. I've read of cruising boats that are tossed relentlessly about, rocking and rolling on the hook. So. You should prepare yourself if you a person who is sensitive to that sort of thing. I sometimes feel queasy and have found that Ginger Chews (by Ginger People) are quite helpful, as is a full tummy. Sea bands or Dramamine are also options if your discomfort is the more severe bent. 

Now that I've covered what to bring, let's just have a quick "how to" have an easy, enjoyable visit aboard. 

If you're at a boat that is docked, keep your shoes and bath house key close to your berth. If you're like me and frequent the bathroom in the wee small hours of the morning, you'll want these items close enough you can stumble into them and to the bathroom without incident. 

There is very little, if any, privacy on a sailboat. On our boat, quarters are tight and your berth is next to ours. And the floor creaks/squeaks. Not much to be done about it but just something to keep in mind. We try to be mindful of that but unfortunately the guest quarters are not doored from the main cabin. 

Storage is always a top concern. If your visit will be an extended one, a duffle or some sort of collapsible bag is best. It's stowed in a small space and won't interfere with foot traffic on board. Hopefully your host can clear you a bit of space to stow your clothes and belongings. 

Power and water conservation are not a major concern at a marina, as most docks include these utilities in the slip fee but an anchored or buoyed boat is a different story. The boat has a finite amount of water to be drawn from the on-board tankage and the electricity is a self-contained system relying on a battery bank on board. It's an easy courtesy to the hosts to not let the water run an endless stream while you're brushing your teeth. 

 Questions? Still confounded? Drop me an email or leave a comment!

Monday, July 1, 2013

top of the world.

No big deal. Just hanging around at the top of our mast while Josh looks on from below.

When we were up last week we decided we should try out the whole "hoisting-me-up-the-mast" thing for when I may need to go up and replace a bulb on the spreader lights, fasten a new line or antenna, etc. so no big deal. It was a bit windy but it was nothing major. I don't really have any issues with heights and I trust Josh like I trust no one else. Ever. In. My. Life. We worked out what I was supposed to do when it was time to come down before I was even off the ground. Ok. Fine. Cool. He starts hoisting me and I'm cool. I am concentrating on not getting tangled in any lines or accidentally loosening anything on my way up. I get to the top after a few minutes and all is well. I snap a few photos, look around and then it's time to come down. And then I can't loosen the ascender. I'm supposed to push a little latch down and back to let the rope off, only it won't come. I'm not panicked. I'm annoyed. I try one hand then the other, then both. I push this way and that and no dice. Again, I'm totally cool with being up there. Not worried just pissed by this time. Soon, the harness I was wearing was pushing on some nerves in my thighs which made my legs fall asleep. No bueno.  Luckily, there was an easy work around and Josh was able to lower me gently to safely on the deck just in time to still be able to stand upright when I was unfastened from the spinnaker halyard. All in all, an exhilarating experience. 

As I get a bit older my threshold for risky behavior gets lower, I will admit. I have no intention of letting those feelings of fear or apprehension keep me from living fully, though. Sometimes I force myself to be a little wild as long as the proper precautions have been taken. I mean, I'm not going to jump off a cliff if I have no idea what's below me, you know? 

Another very brief adventure I'll tell you about has no photographic proof unfortunately because it was extremely brief. 

I jumped in Lake Michigan. Wha?? Sounds crazy, right? What about 3 miles out in over 100 foot deep water? Crazier? Not my favorite decision, for sure. We took Interlude out on Sunday for a sail and it was hot. Steamy and sunny. I told Josh, half-jokingly, that I wanted to swim off the boat. He said we'd heave to (slow the boat to an almost imperceptible speed) once we hit 100 feet depth and I could swim. I thought he was kidding but once we hit the depth he called me out. I hemmed and hawed but eventually decided I should "man up" since I had brought it up. We hove to and the boat slowed to a crawl. He tied one of the fenders to a line and let it drag on our port side. We opened the life lines along the port side, he told me to get in, and swim toward the line/fender and follow it back along the side of the boat to the swim ladder. I had on the most awkward life jacket and my scared face. The one full of regret and indecision about whether or not I should slowly take the ladder in or just jump feet first into the inky blue water below. I almost had to have him push me, my nerve waning as the seconds ticked by. Eventually, I leapt. Into the inky blue, freezing cold depths, quickly being buoyed back to the surface by my life vest. I couldn't catch my breath, the waves were 1-2 feet and I felt myself immediately drifting toward the stern. Not the calmest of feelings overtook me and suddenly all I wanted to be was anywhere but bobbing, desperately trying to catch hold of the fender line in the icy water. As soon as I fought through the waves and hooked on to the swim ladder and I climbed up I began to breathe easily. No, not my favorite decision. Risky, sure. I was safe and it was an adventure so I'll just just count that one as one I might not try again. We'll see.

sunday share: bialetti.

Oh hey, do you like coffee? How about espresso? We LOVE coffee. One of the accoutrement for the boat that was an absolute must for us was a coffee maker. Josh did the leg work on this one so I claim none of the kudos here but I will tell you he did his homework. The Bialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-cup Stovetop Espresso Percolator is a great little gadget. We received it as a Christmas gift and promptly put it to work. This baby has just a few components and is kinda idiot-proof. You fill the bottom portion (up to the line) with water, place the basket over it, fill with your choice of ground coffee or espresso, screw the top half on and go to town. Over medium/high heat on the stove it takes 5-10 minutes for the brewed coffee to percolate into the top portion and then you're ready to enjoy your morning brew. Let it cool, or run under cool water to cool, dump the used grounds, rinse and repeat as needed. Josh and I each drink a 6-cup portion (we run it through that process twice total) a day, so we may or may not each drink 6 espressos? Regardless, it produces a rich coffee and the apparatus itself is easy use, clean up and storing. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

settled in.

Blogging from the boat! First time for everything and this one of those things I'm glad came sooner rather than later. The wi-fi is sketchy at best so I suspect there will some delayed posts. Oh well. If that's my biggest complaint, life ain't too shabby. Plus, I'm sitting in the open cockpit, breeze on my shoulders, fresh cup of joe in hand and my faithful pup next to me. No, not too shabby at all. 

We came up weekend before last around lunch time, unloaded our many bags and dug in. We brought the pup with us who seemed to remember the drill from the brief time up here last fall. She jumped aboard like a champ. She and water are not buddies so the proximity of water, especially deep water, always makes me a little worried for her anxiety level. We even let her roam the docks off her leash for awhile later. 

Josh decided to do a bit of organizing below deck so I cleaned out the dock box so we could stow some folding chairs, our power cords and hoses there when we are out for day sails. Guess what laid in wait?? Spiders. And grime. Oh, and also? More spiders. Not tiny ones. Big ones with fat bodies the size of your pinky toe. I thought I might have nightmares of them crawling on me and I was right. I woke up in a cold sweat on Monday thinking one had climbed into my ear. Yech. 

We grabbed groceries at Aldi, popped in the local Salvation Army (which is a hidden gem near the marina--yes! going back on a lazy afternoon once i bring my bike up), and picked up some beer and made dinner on the grill.  Grilled baked potatoes, salad, and grilled pork chops. After a long afternoon tidying, fending off spiders, and cleaning, it was heavenly. 

The rest of the weekend was a lazy, windy, wonderful time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

a gift from a friend.

One of Josh's friends kindly sent us this stack of sailing books yesterday! Hopefully they'll be full of wonderful tips or insights we can soak up. Thanks, Rod!

I'm back to reading all our guides and how-tos, seriously taking the ideas of the authors into consideration now that we are pretty much less than a year from departure. Especially about provisioning. Starting July 1st I'm going to begin keeping close tabs on what we use for food and dry goods over the next six months. The idea is that I need to understand our consumption so I can better keep the boat stocked (we are talking toothpaste, t.p., ziplock baggies, shampoo, wax paper, bread, eggs, sugar, flour, etc.). This idea came from "Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew", which I mentioned in a post before. Eventually, I'll catalog, enter data in excel, and graph (Josh has generously offered to help me do this) the results. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

at last.

Interlude is FINALLY back in the water, ladies and gents. Yes! Finally. It all happened in just a few short days. After much heel dragging on the part of the marina/shop where Interlude was being "serviced" (I very loosely will acknowledge that she did indeed have some work done though not near enough) they pulled it together, finished up 90% of outstanding issues. Thee is at least one that will be completed in the coming winter (supposedly) and I would guess the other one as well (chain plates STILL need replaced and there was some fiberglass work that needs addressing as well as the malfunctioning autopilot remote). 

But enough of the bummer part of the whole process! The fun now begins!  

We went up to Waukegan, where she's been all winter, on Saturday with Josh's parents who graciously agreed to help us get her put back to sailing condition and deliver her to her home port in Racine. We put up the sails, tidied the cabin, scrubbed down the cockpit cushions, filled tanks, checked electrical systems, hosed her down, etc. 

Bright and early, err...late Sunday morning, we came back, climbed aboard, stowed belongings and snacks below and motored out into the lake. Seriously you guys, the weather was unbelievably perfect. It was the type of day sailors daydream about: 8-10 knots per hour wind, moderate waves, sunny and clear. I had thought we might be sweaty beasts but once we got out on the lake it was clear the humidity was not going to be an issue. Heavenly. Magical. We motored out around noon and arrived in Racine just about 6pm. We only had to jibe once which was nice. There is a reef, of sorts, just outside the harbor in Racine so we turned on the motor to maneuver her in about 3.5 miles out since the wind wasn't ideal for bringing her in under sail. Once we switched on the motor there was a little hiccup where the propeller wasn't engaged and moving us forward so Josh was a little frazzled trying to drop the main but we got it all sorted out and then we were right as rain. 

And now Interlude is tucked nicely in her slip, waiting for us to come do a few projects and generally enjoy the remainder of the sailing season. We'll head up Saturday morning and stay a few days and hopefully next weekend or the following we'll be there for most of the summer!

Friday, May 31, 2013

a whozit whatzit now?

What do you know about GRIBs? Yeah, me too. Not a darn thing. 

Part of our deal in this upcoming journey is that Josh will manage the engine maintenance and I'll do all the weather forecasting. "Fine," I thought, "how hard can it be?" Apparently, harder than I anticipated. 

Some cruisers have Internet connectivity and simply log onto a website like, or Others pay a service and use the single-side band radio and call up a person somewhere back on land who is an expert weather enthusiast (for lack of an official term) through or similar and get the skinny on whether optimal conditions are heading their way. Still others, using email service (sailmail and saildocs, which I'll in a later post) send out an email request to NOAA for a specific area denoted with a series of coordinates, then download the file (called a GRIBGRIdded Binary or General Regularly-distributed Information in Binary form) they send you, open it with your reading/viewing software and interpret the file. We fall into the latter category. The files look like the above. It's a chart/series of charts that you can animate (much like the weatherman on the 6 o'clock news does) with markings to indicate wind, pressure, wave height, etc. that is from NOAA's satellite imaging with their best guess of what the weather is going to be based on past conditions and what is currently happening in the vicinity. This is why meteorology is not an exact science. There are certain weather patterns/behaviors that can be assumed based on generally accepted weather knowledge (for instance, high pressure usually equals sunny, fair conditions and low pressure air is rising and may bring precipitation) but it takes lots of practice to interpret. And that's my next order of business. Researching, reading, and gathering all the advice and information available to me now so I will feel confident when its time to test in real life. Even when we get out to sea, don't worry too much about us, as we will ALWAYS err on the side of caution. 

For now, I plan on starting a weekly if not daily exercise of doing the above described and checking weather conditions for the great lakes area. 

Also, quick update on Interlude: still not in the water. Yep. Not thrilled. Josh is traveling part of this month as it is, so we will not have her back in the water before the middle of the month. Still no resolution on the work that needs done and we are having difficulty contacting our surveyor. Will keep you updated!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

what do you do...

When no one seems to be in a big hurry but you?

As you may have guessed, the lack of posts around here has much to do with the fact that Interlude is not yet in the water. She went into the shop around the first of the year and up until mid-March, we were told she was being serviced. The purchase agreement had a laundry list of things to be fixed and we were told the service department would address them all and let us know when repairs were completed. Around the end of March, Josh received an email update complete with photos of the king plank and bowspirit being replaced, as well as the compression post being replaced. We assumed that all meant the boat was in tip top shape. Josh took a trip up one Saturday following that email to look over the work. Lo and behold, during his inspection he saw that the chain plates had not been cleaned, replaced, or in any way serviced. He also noted that the sea cocks hadn't been replaced (both issues are troublesome and need attention before being launched). He followed up in person by showing the head of the service department the lack of action on the issues. He subsequently sent an email with photos of said problems. No response. 

Fast forward to last Saturday. Our surveyor wanted to take a look at the work that had been done in order to get insurance all squared away and felt a boat in better condition would merit a lower insurance rate. Great. We like that idea. We still haven't heard any more from the service department but I think we both assume they'd seen the email and had taken action. Guess again. As of last Saturday, the boat's still not completely fixed. We are back to the drawing board and the next steps are to involve the salesman who sold us the boat and probably the owner of Larsen. It's a super big bummer because we were really hoping to have Interlude back in last week. Will keep you posted. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

under pressure.

One of the challenges we will be facing when we move aboard Interlude full time (and there will be many) is being contained. Very unlike we live now, our resources will be limited. We can only carry so much food, water, and fuel. Responsible and efficient usage of those resources is something I'm obsessed with being mindful of (now is the time I admit my cheapskatedness). 

A way that I am trying to make the best usage of one of our resources is in food prep. We have a very small oven and 4 very small burners that will use propane tanks. Interlude has two on the deck that will be filled before we leave and monitored incessantly while in port and underway. We love food and we love to eat well and if possible we want to get the most bang for our pounds per square inch of fuel. One way to do that is use a pressure cooker for items that would normally use a substantial amount of fuel/time to cook (various vegetables, more substantial cuts of meat, etc.) as well as eliminating the need to have the galley heated up for extended periods of time. 

You might think that it's weird that I am terrified of pressure cookers. I had heard horror stories of these things exploding or burning people from the women in my family from previous generations (my mom swears my grandma forgot she turned hers on and it burst open, not sure if I believe that but hey, caution never hurt anyone). Not only that, there was this major fear that the food would be over or undercooked, rendering the high pressure cooking pretty much worthless since you'd have to finish it off by other means anyway! So you can imagine my trepidation in giving it a test run. 

My lovely mother donated hers to my cause since hers had been sitting unused in the back of one of those unreachable corners of the kitchen cabinets. She even included the almost pristine cookbook/instructional guide it came equipped with. Guess she didn't do too much cooking with it but she did use it for canning and she tells me it cut green bean cooking time down to next to nothing.

My test subject was a chunk of pork loin I wanted to cook to a tender state and shred and coat with sauce to make barbecue pork. Instructions were pored over 5 times, equipment was checked and I was ready to go. I seasoned the pork, added enough liquid to cover the chunk of pork and fastened/locked the lid tightly in place. You are supposed to crank up the heat to high to get things going then adjust it to medium/low once the pressure control starts jiggling. It should only jiggle four times a minute at the correct temp, so there was a tiny bit of futzing around to get that happy medium. An hour later, I pulled it off the stove, ran it under cold water to release the pressure, took off the pressure controller, and opened her up. Voila. Perfect! 

I think I'll continue to do some experimenting with it just so I'm good and versed in the ins and outs of care and cooking times before we put it to the test on the boat. Next meal is going to be a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and I may even attempt a recipe I saw for pressure cooker cheesecake!?

Monday, February 11, 2013

strictly sail chicago.

For the first time since we've been going to Strictly Sail Chicago at Navy Pier, I was giddy. Sure, I'd always gone along but my heart wasn't really in it. There were always cool booths, gorgeous new boats to step aboard, interesting seminars to attend but when you don't have a boat, all you can do is long for the day when you were officially a boat person, not just an interested passerby. This was finally our year. Actually, our first, since I'm sure next year will be even more fruitful! The day was pretty much perfect. I only wish we could have come back for Sunday's seminars and demos.

Strictly Sail is the only all sailboat show in the midwest, and so, one of the best places to find a variety of services and goods for the avid sailor and his vessel. They bring in the best/most interesting speakers, authors, experts in a variety of areas and you can hear them speak and meet them afterwards. Some are your regular joe's who've taken up the cruiser lifestyle, some are pioneers in sailing around the world, and some literally wrote the book on cruising. 

Before we went, Josh looked at the speaker schedule and mapped out who we'd hear when, and we planned to walk the expo floor in between sessions. There were a few vendors we were specifically seeking out, Nature's Head and Air Head (more on those in a later post), West Marine, Larsen Marine (where we bought Interlude), and a few others. We got there as the doors were opening and had a little time before the first speaker so we wandered around the edges, planning our assault. It was packed!! The event spans Thursday-Sunday, and it seems Saturday is one of the busiest. We didn't mind the crowds though. 

We listened to a family who cruised around the world with their three kids, departing from Chicago as we plan to do; two well regarded female cruisers, Jimmy Cornell, and a few others. It was wonderful to hear tales from all these people but also frustrating to have to wait a few more months before we can get Interlude back into the water to start our own adventures. I'm revved up and ready to do more exploring and learning on our boat. Hurry up, May 1!

We picked up a few items at the vendor booths while we were there too. I got a foul weather gear coat (as seen above), some deck shoes (both from West Marine, who ALWAYS have super deals at the boat show), and our life vests/harnesses. I'll talk more about those once we start using them on the boat, but they are expensive ($150 a pop--on sale. Yikes!) and necessary. I'm always a happy girl when I get new shoes, so you know, all in all, a great outing.

Every year it's a wonderful expo and if you've got the curiosity, I highly recommend checking it out. There are plenty of sailors at all levels and opportunities to get more plugged in with the sailing community even if you don't have your own boat. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

a note about our mission.

There are plenty of cruising blogs out there, I know. We've certainly read our share. There is something very, very important missing from all of the ones we've found. Transparency.

When it came down to living out this dream, we wanted to know the nuts and bolts of what it would take to make it happen. Josh has been covering the technical aspects (outfitting, upgrades, DIY upgrades, etc.) and I'm in charge of comfort and provisioning and all the travel stuff. He's done a stellar job of pricing out the things that we can handle before we leave. I, on the other hand haven't fared so well. Sure, I can find out how much groceries and supplies generally cost stateside but the further reaches are a bit of a mystery. How much does it cost to pass through the Panama Canal? How much is a six pack of beer in the Bahamas? THAT is what we want to know. 

We aren't offended by the money questions. For people who live the lifestyle we plan to live, that sort of knowledge is immeasurably helpful. I need to know how much hoses for a septic plumbing fix cost in Barbuda. How can you undertake such a lifestyle change such as becoming a cruiser without weighing the risks and costs, especially when they lie in foreign ports?? So, our pledge is to be utterly transparent beginning now. I'm proud of our frugality and will happily share that knowledge for the mission of educating those on the brink of stepping into this great adventure too. Once we get closer, I'll post some excel type graphics of costs of repairs, provisioning lists, gear purchases, etc. For now, if you have questions, let me know. I don't think there is any impropriety in being transparent about our financials and I'd be happy to answer any such questions.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

365 and counting.

In an effort to 1. become a better photographer, 2. keep my momma and friends apprised of the goings on of one of her city dwelling kiddos, and 3. be sure to keep the blog going, including projects and musings about life, I am starting a 365 photo a day project. I did it successfully once before and this year is going to be way better. I want to be a better photographer and storyteller and I think this'll be the best avenue for me. So, going forward, look for pics here as we'll as at my Flickr account. Happy 2013!