’Twas the Night Before Shove-Off

‘Twas the night before shove-off, and all through the boat

Not a creature was stirring, not even a goat!

(A goat on a boat??  Think it, I don’t!)

The produce hammock was hung above the settee with care,

In hopes that Annie & Phillip soon would be there.

 

The many spare pumps and parts were nestled snug in their cubbies,

As visions of blue water told them they would soon no longer be landlubbies.

While Wendy in her UV cover and Westie in his nest,

Had just settled in for a long winter’s rest.

 

When out on the dock, there arose such a clatter,

Westie perked up to see what was the matter.

He peeked out the portlight in the quarter aft berth,

Roaming the marina, his eyes in great search.

 

The moon lighting the water with a bright winter glow,

Gave the brilliance of day to the bobbing boats below.

When, what to Westie’s wondering eyes should appear,

But Annie & Phillip, with a dock cart and eight boxes of beer.

 

With Annie steering the cart, so lively and quick,

Westie knew in a moment, a midnight departure they’d picked.

More rapid than eagles their many bags and boxes came,

And they whistled and shouted and called them by name.

 

“Now Produce!  Now Rum!  Now Stuff for Drink Mixin’!”

“Here’s our Foulies!  Our GFlex!  And other Stuff for Leak Fixin’!”

To the lockers and cubbies, in the bilge in bins big and small,

“Stash away!” they shouted.  “Stash away it all!”

 

As bags and cardboard and packaging did fly,

They stashed it away all, so they could sail light and dry,

Out into the great Gulf, where the water is so blue,

With a boat full of provisions, supplies and Christmas goodies, too!

 

In a twinkling, Westie heard over his head though he could not see,

Footsteps behind the helm and the high squeal at the turn of the key.

As his glow plugs began warming, the silent tension could be cut with a knife,

Until the ignition sparked and Westie grumbled and sputtered and rumbled to life.

 

Phillip and Annie were dressed in their foulies from their heads to their toes,

All bundled and ready to point their bow south with light winds on the nose.

With Wendy at the bow, this year they would be more prepared for headwinds,

Although with Spinny on board, they were hoping for more sailing downwind.

 

But, Westie knew, oh he knew, finally to the Bahamas they were headed,

All the work and cost of the projects that had to be completed first they had dreaded.

But now here they were, with every last project complete,

And Plaintiff’s Rest was more ready than ever to whisk them off their feet.

 

It would be a Christmas adventure, with their Rosemon aboard, as a miniature tree,

And warm fuzzy Santa hats to wear with board shorts and bikinis.

Their broad smiles and bright eyes were certainly telling,

When Annie shouted “Cast-off!” from the helm, jiggling like a bowlful of jelly.

 

She’s been docking the boat more this year, although it makes her shake in her knees,

But she’s getting quite better, Westie knows, because, while doing it, she no longer pees.

Annie calls to Phillip, “Jump on board!  I’m good!” Her Annie arms penguin-flapping,

And Phillip smiles, hops on and hollers, “Take us out, Cap’n!”

 

The boat rounded the pier, her sights set on the Bahamas alright,

And Westie trilled with excitement, knowing he was in for a voyager’s delight,

When he heard Phillip and Annie exclaim, as they sailed out of sight:

“FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS TO ALL SAILORS TONIGHT!”

Posted in Bahamas Bound | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pack Smart, Pack Safe & Book Giveaway #3

“Thru-hulls?  Oh, hush!  Nothing goes through my hull.”  You gotta love Mitch!  And every other new boat owner out there who is in that particular stage of boat-buying grief: Denial. When he thinks he is the only person in the world who just bought a boat that can’t sink.  As Phillip and I are preparing our boat for the big, blue water passages ahead, I have a much greater appreciation now for all of the gear, supplies, and spares we need to carry aboard not only to make our boat comfortable and well-stocked so Phillip and I enjoy the passage, but more so the safety gear and supplies we must pack to keep her and the two of us SAFE.  And by that we mean supplies that both: 1) ensure the boat is prepared to handle rough conditions, inadvertent collisions, fire, power shortage, or one of any other hundred equipment or engine failures that can happen out there; and 2) in the very unlikely, but possible, situation where Phillip and I need to ditch or distance ourselves from the boat, that ensure we, too, are prepared to do that as safely as possible.

While these are not the things you want to think about when planning for a voyage (i.e., a potential emergency), it is something you need to prepare for.  And, the more I have truly opened my eyes to cruising this past year and pushed myself to learn and master the more difficult tasks such as navigation, steering, docking, weather planning, and emergency response, I see the need more than ever for the safety gear we carry aboard.  I am also noticing that each time Phillip and I set off for another 4-5 day (or even 30-day) offshore run, we learn a few more lessons and add a few more very handy items to our safety gear and spares list.  I will share below the new spare items we have added to the list this year as a result of our experiences in sailing from Florida to France with the esteemed Captain Yannick on his 46’ catamaran and mine and Phillip’s longest-ever five-day offshore passage to Cuba, both in 2016.  And, since our Holiday Book Giveaway #3 will be a signed copy of my third sailing book, None Such Like It (of the tale of our Amateur-Kretschmer-like experience delivering Mitch’s Nonsuch across the Gulf of Mexico), I’ve included a fun excerpt from the book below from our efforts to fully prepare Mitch’s boat to safely handle an offshore passage.  Enjoy and good luck on the trivia!

None Such Like It, Chapter Two: DENIAL

Having gone through the process of trying to outfit a new-to-us boat for a pretty extensive offshore passage on the Niagara, Phillip and I knew, if we were going to be making this trip with Mitch, that that we needed to start making lists early.  It’s amazing the things you remember to bring the second time around.  Before Mitch even went down to Ft. Myers, Phillip and I jotted down critical safety equipment, spare parts and other items that would be needed for the boat and crew to safely make the passage from Ft. Myers to Pensacola so Mitch could verify whether any of the items were already on the boat while he was there for the survey/sea trial.  We sent Mitch with our rudimentary checklist and told him to inventory the items, note what was missing and what might need to be replaced, replenished or re-certified before we headed offshore in the Nonsuch.  

LIST FOR MITCH

  • The house batteries─What’s the situation?
    • How big of a bank?
    • Starting battery and house?  2 bank?
    • Charged by the alternator?
    • Power cord, battery charger, etc.?
  • Is there an autopilot?
  • What safety gear does the boat have?
    • Flares
    • Fog horn
    • Life jackets
    • Smoke signals
      • Check expiration dates on all of those
    • Ditch bag?
    • First aid kit
    • Emergency underwater epoxy kit
  • Does the boat have a 12 volt (cigarette lighter) charger?
  • What spares are on board?
    • Impeller
    • Oil filter
    • Fuel filter
    • Alternator belt
    • Zincs
    • Gaskets
    • Hose clamps
    • Fuses
  • What fluids are on board?
    • Oil
    • Coolant
    • Transmission fluid
  • Is there a repair kit for the sail?
    • Sail tape
    • Needle, thread
    • Whipping twine
    • Cotter pins, etc.
  • Make sure the head functions
  • Does the boat have a life raft?
  • Do all sea cocks function just fine?
    • How many and where─identify and try all
  • Dock lines, fenders, etc.?
  • Cockpit cushions?
  • Make a list of what tools are on board
  • Make a list of galley supplies on board dishes-wise─pots, pans, silverware, etc.
  • What’s the bilge pump situation?
    • How many bilge pumps?
    • Are they wired together or separately?
    • High-water alarm?
    • Check for manual bilge pumps─how many?
  • Check for emergency tiller, make sure it works
  • Make sure there’s wooden plugs, nerf balls, whatever for plugging holes
  • Fire extinguishers?
    • How many and expiration date
    • Smoke alarms, CO2?
    • How many and where?
  • Spotlight
  • Radio and VHF─check them
    • Handheld?
  • Reef the sails during the sea trial─learn the procedure

While Mitch really was taking it all like a champ, checking and double-checking the list with us, I knew he was having trouble understanding the real need for some of these things.

“Nerf balls,” Mitch screeched at me over the phone one day while he was getting ready to make the trip down to Ft. Myers, and I figured that was a reasonable question if he didn’t know that that magically-squishy material, an accidental invention by NASA I’m sure, is wickedly effective at stopping leaks.  But, figuring when it comes to Mitch is where I went wrong.  Turns out he knew they could be used to stop leaks, he just didn’t expect any leaks.  

“Yeah, Mitch.  You can use them to plug a leak.”

A moment of silence and then: “But, isn’t that what the sea-cocks are for?” Mitch asked, sincerely curious.  “Water starts to come in, you just close them, right?  That’s what they do?”

I was glad he couldn’t see my face because I could not hide a smile.  That’s when I knew it.  He had reached stage two.  Mitch was knee-deep in denial.  I knew because I had been there.  When Phillip and I were looking at our Niagara for the first time, I kept looking around the interior for a good bulkhead wall to mount a television on.  Yes, a television.  When I finally showed Phillip the “perfect place” I had found for it—the wall between the saloon and our separate shower stall—I only found one slight hold-up.  

“We’ll just need to take this lantern out,” I told Phillip, all Bambi-like.  

“We’ll need the lantern,” Phillip told me flatly.  When my blank stare back didn’t convey understanding, he tried another route.  “How are you going to power the T.V.?” which was met by an even blanker stare (if that’s possible).  Then Phillip tried to walk me out of my denial, into the land of the knowing.  “Honey, we have to run wires and power it.  We need the lantern for light and warmth.  I don’t think I want a T.V. on the boat.”  

It turned out he didn’t.  Neither did I when I finally understood what we were truly buying and outfitting—a completely self-sufficient mobile home where we had to engineer a way to generate every bit of light, power, refrigeration and energy needed.  I’ll be honest, it baffled me when I first learned the two-prong AC outlets on the boat simply would not work when you’re on anchor.  They’re such a tease!  I thought they would always magically have power at any and all times, just like they do on land.  In Innocent Annie Land, boats out on the blue are still connected to the grid.  

I was up to my eyeballs in denial.  Like me, Mitch was now refusing to believe he had just bought a complete mobile home that sat, at all times, half-dunked in water with the ability to sink.  

“You’ll want the nerf balls, Mitch, trust me.  The sea cocks don’t always work.”

But that didn’t really frighten him either.  I truly believe Mitch felt he had purchased the only boat in the world upon which sea-cocks never seized up, because he maintained his stance, renouncing all things possible.    

“Well, what about the spares?  How many of those impellers and fuel filters and zinc things do I really need?”  

“However many make you feel comfortable,” I told him, thinking a little fear and weight on his shoulders might help give him a little bit of a reality check.  Pssh!  He thrust it off like a rain-soaked jacket.

“Oh, nothing’s gonna break twice.”

After a while I kind of admired Mitch’s euphoric “can do” attitude—as in “my boat can do anything.”  It was actually nice to not have the significant worry and responsibility of making the trip on our own boat.  For Phillip and me, the fact that we were embarking on this journey on Mitch’s boat made it less stressful and more pure fun.  It was also exciting for us to think back through that mental process of rigging out a boat for the first time on an offshore passage.  It’s a little frightening, a little exhilarating, certainly a fun prospect for adventure.  I remembered when Phillip and I wrapped up our own survey/sea-trial and reached that point where it was really happening, we were really about to buy a boat and we were really about to sail her out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Wow, that photo was taken April 12, 2013, the first day Phillip and I ever sailed on our boat.  Can you believe that?  Time doesn’t just fly, she soars!  Because she does, it makes me even more grateful to know we spend most of our days on the boat, on the water, in the sunshine, soaking it all up, even as it’s soaring by.  Phillip and I have been busting our hump this summer and fall getting our boat ready for another offshore adventure this winter and I believe she (and we) are more ready than we’ve ever been.  And I also believe that our “ready” benchmark will continue to notch higher and higher with each passage we make because we always seem to face a new situation (in addition to the ones we’ve faced before) that teaches us a lesson and prompts us to add something new to the safety/spares list.

Fuel filters.  You can never have enough fuel filters.  We changed our primary just last week and are bringing 5 spares!  We also changed the oil, transmission fluid and coolant and stocked up on extra fluids.

In addition to all of the safety items we usually carry (EPIRB, hydro-static life vests, jack lines, life raft, handheld VHF, handheld GPS, Delorme, Weems & Plath SOS light, flares, compasses, first aid, not to mention our dozens upon dozens of engine spares (oh heck, here’s a detailed inventory list from our Cuba voyage HERE if you want to see everything), Phillip and I have added the following to the list this year, just … in … case:

  1.  A spare raw water pump for the engine: It is our old re-built Sherwood which we replaced this year with a new Johnson one (because the Sherwood often leaked around the two seals that separate the oil side from the water side).  After seeing the struggles Yannick faced with his raw water pump on the starboard engine across the Atlantic, we thought a complete spare pump would be a good idea.
  2. A spare alternator for the engine: We recently found the old one our previous owner, Jack, had taken off our Westerbeke 27 when he replaced it with a higher-output one.  We had it checked by B&M Starter and Alternator here in Pensacola, who verified it runs great.  So, just in case our alternator goes kaput and there is not enough sunshine to allow the solar panels to power our battery bank, we have a spare alternator we can put on the engine to ensure we have continued power for radio transmission and the bilge pumps in case of an emergency.  Speaking of bilge pumps …
  3. Two spare bilge pumps: While our boat technically already has four (a 500 gph one in the forward bilge, a 1,000 gph in the center bilge, which sits under our sump box that has a 500 gph pump, as well as our manual bilge pump that is operated from the cockpit), we thought it never hurts to have more.  So, we purchased a back-up 500 gph and 1,000 gph to replace the pumps in our forward and center bilge areas if need be.
  4. A spare carburetor for the outboard: Okay, so this isn’t technically a safety item.  The dinghy is more of a luxury, but if a failed carburetor would stop us from being able to see and feed the Swimming Pigs, or get to a killer kite-surfing spot, or even just get to shore so we can be served drinks by a chesty bartender who smells like coconut rum, I might consider that an emergency ; ).

Phillip was a grease monkey this week, rebuilding both the raw water pump and the spare carburetor.

Now, since we’re having so much fun talking about spares and packing safely for an offshore voyage, even those where Phillip and I are merely helping to deliver a boat as opposed to sailing on our own, I decided to base our book giveaway trivia this time on a very important spare that we certainly could have used on the Atlantic-crossing.  This one is for all my diehard YouTube fans out there.

TRIVIA:

What was the first and foremost spare Brandon said we should have carried on our Atlantic-crossing on Yannick’s catamaran, a system which did ultimately fail us and forced us to pull in for repairs in the Azores?

When you need one of these, none such like it will do!  First follower to answer correctly gets a signed copy of None Such Like It.  And … GO!  And, if any of you do not know the answer because you haven’t yet seen our two-hour YouTube movie on the Atlantic Crossing, then you’re in for a holiday treat.  Pop some corn and call it Movie Night!

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season.  Phillip and I are excited to take you along vicariously on our holiday cruise!  ’Tis the season … to go to the Bahamas Mon!  Ha!

Posted in Annie's Books, Atlantic Crossing, Countdown to Cuba, Gulf Crossing, Provisioning, Voyage to Cuba | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Thanksgiving Top Ten & Book Giveaway #2!

While it’s an exercise I truly feel we should all try to do everyday, it’s nice there’s a holiday that comes every year that really motivates you to step back, take a look at your life, and appreciate everything you are thankful for.  I encourage you each to take a moment today to reflect on this yourself and see if you can name your top ten.  It’s a great exercise in humility and gratitude.  The adventurous life that Phillip and I currently lead and that we work very hard for is probably the thing I am the most thankful for.  It stemmed from a very brave but scary decision I made when I was thirty to get divorced, move out of and sell my home, and eventually leave the law practice to start a remote writing career.  And, it was this lifestyle and attitude change that has fueled each of my adventures since and it was the basis for my book, Keys to the Kingdomwhich I will be signing and mailing to one of you for our Holiday Book Giveaway #2!  Right after a very fun Thanksgiving Top Ten.  The first follower to correctly answer the trivia question below in a comment wins!  Good luck.  And, feel free to leave your own top tens in a comment too.  I found this exercise in thankfulness very revealing and rewarding.

In somewhat of a particular order, here are my Top Ten!

#1 My health.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like to simply not be able to do the things you want to do.  Even the simple ones like cleaning your house or driving a car, not to mention the thrilling and rewarding ones like sailing, kite-surfing and aerial silks.  I am grateful every day that my body happily rises out of bed and to whatever I want to do, responds: “I’m in!”

#2 Family.  I pay homage today to this fine, fierce fellow, John, my brother, and when we were growing up: my mentor, my tormentor (at times), my friend and my co-conspirator in crime.  Also known as “Bro-Lo” (because Annie Jo is his “Jo-Lo”)  and also boasting a face capable of rocking sunglasses of any kind because he looks that fucking fabulous.

And you do, Bro-Lo.  Rock those shades!

#3 My youth.  This Birthday Princess turned the big 3-5 this year and I feel just a few days older than 18.  I’m so thankful I spend most of my days at this age on a boat in the sunshine, rather than behind a desk under a fluorescent light, and I’m so excited about the many more years yet to come, however many I’m granted.  I also welcome the wrinkles and grey hairs!  They’re just proof of what a kick-ass time I’ve had along the way.

#4 My sense of adventure.  This was on our way to Cuba last December.  I sometimes can’t believe Phillip and I sailed there just the two of us over 500 miles offshore from Florida to Cuba on our boat.  While we did cross the Atlantic together in 2016 as well, there was just something about that voyage, our struggles, our fears, our accomplishments and being out there, traveling that far with just one other person, that made that particular voyage feel like the biggest adventure.  I’m so glad I have a thirst and passion to see the world by boat, not to mention a boat and a buddy to do it all with!

#5 My sense of humor.  Which I get from this guy.  My Daddio!  A man who, no matter how crappy the situation was when we were growing up (because at times it was), always found a way to slide me over on the bench seat of his truck, scoop me up under his arm and somehow make me laugh.  Usually by singing some silly made-up song, a habit I also picked up.  Thanks for all the laughs and silly ditties Daddio!  Funny, I just now realized one of the main songs he used to sing to me was about a sailor.  I guess it was a prophecy.

“Who’s that knocking at your door?  It’s Barnum Bill the Sailor!”

#6 Friends (who share the same senses).  These are the people in my life who also seek adventure and who also see something funny and ironic in even the most terrible of circumstances.  They know just what to say, or when to say nothing at all, they call me on my shit and slap me straight when I need it, and they make fun of me when I need that, too.  Someone’s gotta keep me humble.

#7 Our boat.  She is the sucking black hole of our money, time, sweat, blood, money, time and money and she is worth every damn penny and drop.  Plaintiff’s Rest is our ticket to the world.  Even when you break, leak, groan, ooze, gulp and guzzle, I still love you girl!

#8 Food.  It’s just good.  All of it.  So damn good.  And, I’m so thankful to be a healthy, active person so I can keep stuffing my mouth full of it.  This is from our first Thanksgiving on the boat, 2013, when we sailed to the Wharf to spend the holiday with Phillip’s family. Gobble!  Gobble!

Annnnnd this was us about an hour later.  I’m thankful for post-Turkey sleep too.  ZZZZzzzzzz

#9 Wine.  It just makes everything better.  Particularly boat projects!  Cheers!

#10 (But really #1) My Adventure Buddy.  My life partner, my rock, my friend, my confidante, my Everything Buddy.  My Phillip.  I wouldn’t be here (a salty sailor / traveling author with the world at my doorstep) without him.  Buckle up, Sir, we’ve got a million places to go!

  

Man, that was fun, right?  I encourage you to do one of your own and go find old photos to go along with it.  It’s a great exercise in humility and gratitude.  And, since Phillip and I are so grateful for all of our followers here, we’ve got a Keys to the Kingdom gift in store for one of you.  For fun, I went back and pulled a quick story from an old blog post about our very first Thanksgiving on the boat, in 2013, to inspire the trivia question.  Funny, I mentioned several Annie docking debacles and my fear of docking, even back then.  Well, that’s another thing I’m grateful for this year.  Working up the courage to take the damn wheel and just dock the darn thing.  You may bump a few things, you may scuff the hull, but you just have to do it so you won’t be so scared of it anymore.  Docking is always going to be an adventure.  Enjoy the old HaveWind tale and good luck on the trivia!

From my November 27, 2013 HWWT post:What’ll It Be, Sir?

We had a slip reserved at The Wharf for Thanksgiving, so we pulled anchor Wednesday morning (November 27th) and headed over that way.  We were going to have to stop first at the fuel dock to pump out before we could tie up at our slip.  The wind was really howling as we neared the dock so I bundled up some more (yes, more) and prepared to jump off to secure the boat as fast as possible.  We were not going to have another Annie docking debacle.  Not that day.  

As Phillip inched the bow up next to the dock, I jumped off (with an actual line in hand this time) and clamored around furiously cleating lines off to keep the boat on the dock.  It was a bit of a scramble but we did it.

And, when the fuel boy came out to see what we needed, the first thing he said to me was:  “What’ll it be, sir?”

I can’t imagine why … 

 

My God, look at me in that outfit.  Surely, it wasn’t that cold, do you think?  Apparently Annie did.  I can’t believe I even could jump in that get-up.  But Phillip and I loved that yellow slicker.  It came with the boat, and it was way too big for either of us, but we wore it anyway, for years.

TRIVIA!

For a free Keys to the Kingdom book, signed and mailed to ya: What did we call that rubber suit of yellowy goodness?  And … GO!

Posted in Annie's Books, Thanksgiving Voyage | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Video Annie Writes, Too?: Book Giveaway #1

“Why yes, yes I do!  I did long before the Tube of You.  And here’s a Writer Annie gift for you!”

Okay, maybe the exchange wasn’t quite as sing-songy and rhythmic, but that’s about how it went down last weekend at our favorite anchorage, Ft. McRee, when I had a Video Annie follower come knocking on the hull, and he had no clue I wrote, too.

It’s funny.  The power of YouTube.  It still never ceases to surprise me.  It seems this is the new learning hub of the 21st century.  Reading is a long lost art.  It is rare that someone “looks up” the answer to a question or learns how to do something in a textbook anymore.  They Google it or, far more often, find and watch a YouTube video on how to do it.  Video is the streaming source of knowledge and entertainment these days.  And, while that is a wonderful thing, I still love books.  I love words.  I love to string them together, rearrange and massage them and bring a reader into my world.  And, I especially love to read.  Since I decided to stop making my own YouTube videos earlier this year, I have literally been able to read eight times as many books than I did in 2016 when I was filming, editing and publishing a 20+ minute YouTube video every week.  Eight!  That was not because I wasn’t motivated to read.  I just didn’t have the time.  If you’re curious, I always (try to) keep a running tab of the books I’ve read each year, in order of preference, and you can see the books I devoured (and highly recommend) here.  Let me know if any of you have read and totally gorged yourselves on these books too.  And the Sea Will Tell and Brain on Fire gave my a whole new appreciation for the art of story-telling, the intrigue of missing pieces and the power of perspective.

I believe books are a wonderful thing and still more powerful and absorbing than videos.  You may not agree.  That’s totally fine.  It’s just my preference.  I prefer a bit of a blank stage for my imagination to fill rather than a visually-complete video that leaves no room for my mind to fill in the gaps.  Populating the stage myself with characters as I see them, quirks as I anticipate them and mental sights, sounds and smells inspired by the words I read is a complete thrill and—better yet—creating that stage for others by writing the words myself is the ultimate satisfaction.  I’ve said it many times, and it still rings true.  I believe in words.  I hope you do too.

I thought this little “Video Annie Writes, Too” would be a fun story to share with you all to kick off our four-week Holiday Book Giveaway.  That’s right, a free signed book every week until Phillip and I leave for the Bahamas in December.  Phillip and I are very thankful for our boat, our health, our ability to pursue this amazing lifestyle and the many followers who have inspired me to keep writing and sharing and we want to give back.  So, enjoy the little ditty below.  (You’ll love it.  Brandon becomes a lawyer – ha!).  Then try to answer the fun trivia at the end to win a free signed Salt of a Sailor book, mailed right to you, courtesy of HaveWind.

So, the Blue Angels show at Ft. McRee.  It’s an event Phillip and I try to catch every year because it is such a spectacular anchorage, with most of our boating friends out there along with us for the weekend PLUS a free air show.  I mean, what’s there to even think about!  In 2014, we rafted up at Ft. McRee five-deep for the show!

In, 2015, we rafted up again with Brandon and that’s when he came aboard and diagnosed our rotten stringers.  Episode #31: The Blues Bring Bad News.

While that was a sad day on the boat, Brandon was right there with us from the start telling us “It’s not really that bad,” and “We’ll get you fixed up.”  And, I’ll never forget Phillip staring at those rotten stringers, shaking his head and still saying, “This ain’t stopping us from going to Cuba.”  And, by God, it didn’t!  Not long after that weekend, 2015, is when we hauled out and spent an entire eye- (and wallet-)opening three months at the yard completing a pretty major refit on our boat with Brandon at www.PerdidoSailor.com.  While many days in the yard were hard, grueling, frustrating and just down-right depressing, we kept chipping away at it with Brandon looking over our shoulders and mentoring, it was probably the most beneficial, productive three months of our careers as boat-owners because we learned so much about our boat, how to diagnose and repair her, how best to maintain her and—to be honest—how well-suited Phillip and I were to work together on any problem she could conceivably present us (as there were, and will continue to be, many).

Now, almost two years later, an Atlantic-crossing and a fantastically-invigorating trip to Cuba (just as Phillip had predicted) under our belts, we decided the Blue Angels show this year would probably be our last big Hoorah in Pensacola before we shove off for the Bahamas this December.  So, Phillip and I planned weeks in advance to sail over and drop the hook to enjoy the air show from the view of the Fort.  And, it was a glorious weekend on the boat.  November temps in the high sixties.  Bright, sunny, cloudless skies.  An amazing performance by the Blues, right over our rigging.  And, another fun weekend out with our fellow cruising friends in one of our favorite anchorages.

But, that’s what we often expect at Ft. McRee.  What we didn’t expect (as Video Annie hasn’t been spotted in a while) was a knock on the hull from some excited HaveWind YouTube followers: Bruce and Chris on s/v Sea Hawk.  Chris could be short for Christine, Chrissy, Christorama.  I didn’t care; I like the name Chris for a girl.  These two were fun!

And they were just a few boat-lengths down from us!

The view from Sea Hawk:

Turns out Bruce and Chris were anchored not too far behind our boat, which had Brandon’s Gulf Star rafted-up on our starboard side, and they had recognized the name on the back of our boat “Plaintiff’s Rest” from some of our YouTube videos.  This past year, Bruce and Chris moved out of their house up in Michigan and onto their 1968 Morgan (beautiful classic boat) and started sailing around Lake Superior to get their sea legs feet wet (or freezing!).  They had eventually made their way down the coast to Pensacola with their sights set on the Gulf, the west coast of Florida, the Caribbean and beyond.

Bruce dinghied up behind Brandon’s stern and started chatting away with Brandon who was out on the deck, grilling sausage.  About 80% of the time when Brandon and the family are out on the boat, there is sausage of some form grilling—breakfast, lunch, happy hour snack, or dinner (and we love them for it!).  I heard the words “Video Annie” and figured I had to pop up to see what was going on (and more importantly, what Brandon might say in response).  Bruce—God love him—was talking ninety miles-a-minute with no one able to get a word in edgewise.  He was talking about my YouTube videos, our time in the shipyard, our sail to Cuba and how he and Chris had been following my video blog for a while, how it had inspired them to finally start cruising, yachta, yachta, yachta …

I peeked out our companionway and could see Brandon smiling and chuckling to himself.  Then Bruce said, “And you’re a lawyer too, right, like Annie?  You guys both practice, or used to.  Chris and I thought that was so funny, two lawyers become sailors.”  And, Bruce continues rattling on.  I’m now laughing behind Brandon’s back and seeing him try to cut in to correct Bruce, but after Bruce just kept on a-truckin’, Brandon finally said.  “Yeah, the practice is hard.  I have to go to a lot of depo parties.”  I then let an uncontrollable cackle out.  Brandon loves to call legal depositions “depo parties.”  I finally stepped up into our cockpit so I could finally be seen by Bruce and he bellows: “VIDEO ANNIE!”

Turns out she lives on.  That feisty old gal.  Bruce, a little confused, glanced down at the name on Brandon’s stern, 5 O’Clock, then at the name on our stern, Plaintiff’s Rest, and said “Oh okay, this is your boat,” as he pawed his dinghy over to our Niagara, still chatting away about us (Brandon and I as he pointed) being lawyers and all.  Then Phillip finally emerged from our companionway, and Bruce said, “Oh … ” the first moment of silence since he’d arrived.  “Oh yeah, the bald one.  You’re the lawyer!” Bruce shouted, and Brandon lost it.  “Yeah, the bald ones are better,” he laughed.

Brandon, you funny!

Love that guy.

After a few minutes of unraveling Bruce’s confusion and him now understanding this was the same Brandon with Perdido Sailor, from all of our shipyard videos, Bruce then felt like he was truly in a celebrity circle.  We had a very fun chat with Bruce and his wife, Chris, about their finding their boat, following our HaveWind blog, enjoying our videos and, even, their first big sea experience on Lake Superior.  Chris was telling me that their first day out, they experienced 6-8 foot seas all day, and I told her that sounded a lot like my first offshore voyage on our boat.  “Oh yeah?” she asked.  And, then I asked if she had read Salt of a Sailor.  Bruce perked up and said “Video Annie writes, too?”

’Course she does!

“Yes, I love to write!” I piped back at Bruce.  “Do you like to read?” I challenged him, to which he and Chris both immediately spouted, “Yes!”

“Wait right there, then,” and I promptly went below to fetch Bruce and Chris one of my books from our cabin.  I began writing an inscription in Salt of a Sailor for them and told them they would enjoy the story of my first voyage which I told them, as I winked over to Chris, “also involved some 6-8 foot stuff.”

“Oh, our second day across the lake, we were in 12-14 footers!” Chris responded.

12-14 footers?  In a cold-ass lake!  I thought to myself.  Holy Moley!  I can’t wait until Chris writes that story because I would love to read it!  You can follow along on Bruce and Chris’s Sea Hawk’s Journeys here.

The reason I share this fun little exchange is because while I will never have the same reach with simply my blog, Instagram and Facebook page, that I had with YouTube—because video marketing is simply the way of the future—I still always want people to know that my platform at HaveWindWillTravel started with words.  It started with one of my favorite passions: writing.  And, I want to share my love for books and stories as much as my love for photos and videos.  Writing that, just now, I had to go back and look.  Wow, here is my very first blog post, dated March 29, 2013, titled “My First Sail,” which later became my first article in a sailing magazine, Cruising Outpost.  Man, how time flies!

Everyone knows the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  And, most millennials would probably say: “Then a video is worth a thousand pictures.”  While that may be true, I believe it’s all in the eye of the imagination-holder.  My own humble view is that it is, in fact, words—with their silent draw, their open canvas, their endless possibility for interpretation—that are worth a thousand videos.  With that in mind, I blew on my signature to dry the Sharpie scrawl, closed the cover to Salt of a Sailor and handed it to Chris, saying: “I hope Writer Annie inspires you, too.”

After that fun little share, I believe it’s high time Phillip and I kicked off this four-week Holiday Book Giveaway.  What say you?  If some of you don’t know, I have published three fun, entertaining sailing books that I love to share with followers.  You can download and read free previews of each book or order copies here.  Just as Bruce and Chris now hold and (I hope) cherish their signed copy of Salt of a Sailor, one of you can too.  First follower, either here or on Facebook, to answer this question correctly in a comment wins!  If you know the answer but already have a hard copy (or do not need another hard copy to give away as a gift), please let another follower chime in, thanks!

Book Giveaway #1:

For our first book giveaway trivia, we’re going to dig all the way back to the origin of Annie’s sailing days, back to 2013 and our first passage on our 1985 Niagara 35.  Who doesn’t love the infamous Mitch, right?  The answer is no one.  Just no one.  So, “while you’re down there” digging around in your HaveWind mental archives, what was the food item the infamous Mitch was craving right after we broke down in Carrabelle and were waiting on the mechanic to come and have a look at our engine?

And … GO!

Happy Holidays folks.  Phillip and I are so grateful to have you all following along and we hope you continue to enjoy ours and pursue your own journey!  It’s a big world out there.  Mostly accessible by boat!  : )

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Bahamas Boat Project Recap!

“Go, go!  To the Bahamas you must!” said our good friend Pam.  As she went on and on about their fresh Bahamian bread and jam.  So “go, go!” we decided: “To the Bahamas or bust!”  But first Phillip and I had to break out the boat projects list and blow off the dust.

Hello followers!  I hope you like green eggs and ham.  I like it on a boat with a side of Spam.  I also like, nay love, Dr. Seuss, which is why I’ve written a few ditties here in true Seuss-style, and I thought a recap of the many, many projects Phillip and I have been knocking out this summer to prepare our boat for some more extensive cruising in the Bahamas and beyond this winter would be more fun with a Seuss spruce.

So, do you want to know how many projects we were able to squeeze in?  Kick back, grab a snack and let the project roll begin!

A leaking starboard water tank simply won’t do.  When we found the crack, Phillip said, “Out with you!”  But wrestling that tank out was a monstrous feat.  One I’m sure we won’t want to soon repeat.  As Phillip scratched his head and went about ordering anew, we thought the re-install would definitely go smoother if we spared an inch or two.

  

Once the water tank was out, the diesel tank was as accessible as could be, so we thought why not pop it out, too, and have a look-see.  We knew we’d had a wee leak that Phillip had previously clogged with JB Weld and we wanted to see if it had held.  An air compression test by a local welder told us it was no good, so have the tank professionally patch-welded we decided we should.

 

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.  And it seemed our diesel tank was of the same ilk.  Because not only did she demand a professional weld repair, once out and exposed she also wanted some Rhino-liner as protective wear.

Our cookie theme continued as we kept saying “While we’re in there,” and promptly decided, with both tanks under the starboard settee out, to glass it up and Bilge-kote down there.

  

With Westie nearby saying he wanted some love too, we decided to go ahead and dump the  old engine oil and pour in new quarts, just a few.

 

Some of you may recall the movement we noticed on the way to Cuba in our rudder post cap.  We reinforced the bolts with big thick custom washers to stop the wobble and called it a wrap.

  

Work, work, work.  Now you get the gist.  Clicking off projects left and right.  What’s next on our list?  Old flaky varnish?  That simply won’t do.  Not for our gal, she deserves every percent of our work, one-hundred-and-two.  Time to strip, clean, sand, and coat anew!

 

The brightwork was about a three-week job, a sweaty one for sure, but rewarding too!

So, tell us are you liking this spin on green eggs and ham?  Do you like it as much as a new Garhauer Cunningham?

While we were on the rigging, Phillip and I knew there was something else that needed our touch.  No one likes a clutch that won’t clutch.  We had a few on the coachhouse that were losing their grip, so we swapped them out for new Spinlocks with no slip!

  

Are you tired yet?  Perk up!  We’ve much more to do!  Time to knock out and re-bed some port lights that were letting rain water through.

Phillip asked of Annie: “Speaking of water, how’s that original 1985 pump in the head sound?”  “Like a wailing rat that’s about to drown!”  We’d had trouble with this guy not holding pressure and sucking our power, so we decided to replace him and save our amp hours.

And if we ever, God forbid, took on water out there, we’d want to pump it out quick.  Better get a few bilge pumps to spare.  “Stick your head down there Swab,” Phillip teased.  “Try to read the model number upside down, without bumping your head!”

A solar panel, sitting useless, scratched and giving no power?  Unacceptable!  When you can rip the old one off and pop on a new, in under an hour.

A dirty toe rail all scraped and scuffed?  Nuh-uh, no way, not when we’ve got Acetone and time to polish that stuff!

It seems almost every inch of the boat needs some unique form of care.  Some Iso-shield here and Armor-all there.  On-and-off went the mustache as we cleaned and polished everywhere.

And nothing shines like stainless steel.  Bust out the Colinite and polish that shit for real!

Man, look at those ratty old shifters, all wax-dipped and peeling.  I conspired with Brandon to surprise Phillip with shiny new ones, it just took a few free beers and secret dealings.  But I think we’re both going to enjoy driving the boat more with these on there, I’ve just got a feeling!

 

Speaking of driving, that’s been our great goal of the summer!  Get this gal behind the wheel more, so she won’t think docking is such a bummer.  And, it’s a good thing those shifters make it clear how fast you go, because I’ve been getting better and better following Brandon’s rule: “Go slow, hit slow.”

 

Enough with the plumbing and steering and everything else that so often fails, let’s talk about the one thing that you can always rely on, the sails!  Phillip and I knew we wanted a much broader sail plan this year to allow us to sail comfortably no matter the wind or weather, so we finally busted out our spinnaker to see if we could sail in winds light as a feather.

And when the winds, as they often do in the Gulf, want to stay above fifteen, we had a 90% working jib made so we can sail more comfortably out there and reduce our lean.

 

And, while we never want to find ourselves in blue water when it really starts to wail, if we do, we’ve got the 35% storm jib we had made this year in case we find ourselves in a gale.

And what’s that you say, Phillip?  Our whisker pole is in a funk?  With a dent that prevented it from sliding we were considering throwing it out as junk.  But, in a pinch, I decided to ask an auto body shop if it was something they could fix and Coastal Body Works here in Pensacola did it for this little gal just for kicks!

Chore after chore, have you yet grown weary?  That’s right when Mother Nature will throw you something frightful and eerie.  Twice we braced for hurricanes this season, Nate forcing us out of the water and up on the hard without reason. While we were incredibly grateful to come through unharmed, it was a great lesson in storm boat prep so next time we’ll be more practiced and less alarmed.

Once we were out of the water, the cookies continued to fall.  Because you know the first thing you’re going to want to do, if you have to haul.

A bottom job, that’s right!  If her hull is out of the water it’s what you must and should do! And, our pretty gal is so lucky she got a full-boat buff too!

But with our boat safe from the storms and ready to be floating again, that didn’t mean our boat chores would end.  Once she was splashed back, the reassembly began.  To retrieve the halyards, First Mate Annie (I wasn’t a Captain yet ; ) had to climb the mast again!

But it was a fortuitous hoist as it gave me a chance to inspect and give our new 5/16 wire rigging a polish.  It’s terrible to think of what simple sun and salt can quickly demolish.

Too many projects?  Is your head spinning yet?  We just got word, the new water tank came in!  We must go get!

Boy, was she pretty and sturdy and our eyes she sure lit.  We were quickly disheartened to find, however, she simply did not fit.

We wrestled and struggled and scraped knuckles and cursed.  And soon we were starting to fear the worst.  Perhaps we would have to order another new tank, this one even more slim.  Thankfully, before we made that decision, our buddy Brandon found another way to slip her in.

With a snip by the Dremel and some more cursing and prayer, we got the new water tank in (finally) with just inches to spare.  As with every minor refit, there is always one particular project that stresses you to the max, and this water tank, being the most costly and irritating, was definitely that.  But, despite our tired state and our water woes that we thought were through, our boat whispered: “I’ve got something else for you.”  Just when we were crawling out of a boat project slump, we discovered we had a leak from our raw water pump.

So Phillip and I rolled up our sleeves and decided to replace that too.  We might as well do everything here at the dock that we can possibly do.  While a summer spent on projects is definitely not what we’d call great fun, it’s better to knock them out now than trying to handle them during an offshore run.  So, little Sherwood, we’ll fix you too.  In fact, we’ll put in what we learned is a better pump, a Johnson that leaks less and is new.

While the water tank still holds the gold as the most frustrating project of the summer, the injuries Phillip and I received during this water pump replacement were quite the bummer.  A nasty burn from the heat gun to my right calf that thankfully resembled a heart, and a huge ripped blister on Phillip’s hand sure did smart.

Okay, I believe that covers the biggies.  Here’s our completed list!  Although I can already see there are some that we missed.

But, in comparison the remainder are minor and probably qualify more as routine care.  If you ever think you’ll get “finished” with a boat, trust me, you’ll never get there.  There will always be more polishing and whipping and cleaning and fixing to be done.  If you don’t think you’ll like that, then I’d say, a boat, you maybe shouldn’t get one.

For Phillip and I, while we enjoy much of the work that we do: lawyering, writing, marketing and all the rest.  It’s really the work we do on the boat that we like the best.

Hope you enjoyed the hammy recap – ha!  We’re Bahamas bound now!  Shove-off date is a little flexible (as it should be, right?)  But, it will be sometime in the next 3-4 weeks.  In the meantime, we’re poring over our Explorer charts and Steve Dodge Abacos guide (thanks again for the recommendation Pam Wall!) and planning our possible stops and routes.  We can’t wait to share this next adventure with you all!

Posted in Boat Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Let’s Talk About This Captain’s Paperwork

My, my, the paperwork for this thing!  It was almost as hard to complete as the Captain’s License exam.  Okay, not really.  That exam was no freaking joke.  But the paperwork was a bit of a hurdle to overcome too.

Applicant Annie, mailing off her paperwork September 13, 2017.

Ahoy followers!  Hello from … now I can officially say it … Captain Annie!  If you haven’t seen on Facebook yesterday, I GOT MY CAPTAIN’S LICENSE!!

Man, I take a lot of selfies!  But, I’m not ashamed; I’m mighty proud of mySELF! : )

That is super duper cool.  But, just like the exam, it was no small feat.  For any of you out there thinking about going for your USCG Captain’s License, too, we wanted to share with you all the process and what all was required for me to obtain my license.  I wrote previously about my experience studying independently for and passing the Captain’s Exam (whew!), article here.  Now that I’ve received the official license, I thought I would share with you all the process of compiling all of the necessary paperwork for my application and my experience with the Coast Guard submitting and supplementing my application.

So, what all is required to apply to become an Operator of an Uninspected Private Vessel (OUPV)?  The checklist published by the National Maritime Center (“NMC”) was, in my opinion, the most organized, easy-to-follow list I found that sets out the OUPV License Application Requirements.  So, let’s start there.  Here’s the link.

Looks pretty straightforward, but I did have some hang-ups.  Perhaps there were blonde moments on my part (likely), but just in case some of you run into similar issues, here’s how the process played out for me:

     1.  Transportation Worker’s Identification Card (TWIC)

No more bank robberies!  You’re in the system now, ha!  A TWIC card is basically an identification credential issued to Merchant Mariners to allow them unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities, outer continental shelf facilities, etc.  To get a TWIC card, you simply visit this website and fill in an application online or schedule an appointment and complete the entire process at one of their processing centers.  You can find an application center here by inputting your zip code.  The center closest to Pensacola was in Mobile, so not a bad 45-minute drive for me.  And, it was a quick 15-minute in-and-out process.  They took my photo and fingerprints and filled out my application.  I was then issued a TWIC card that came to me in the mail about two weeks later.  You will have to include a scanned photocopy of this card, front and back, in your OUPV application packet.

One rub.  I hate my picture!  The TWIC guy (we’ll call him that), told me specifically to not smile.  “Hold a slack face,” he told me.  And, look at me!

There, I do look like a bank robber.   Why couldn’t they have used one of my typical, open-mouth selfies?

At least that way people wouldn’t question as often whether the woman on the TWIC card is me.  But, c’est la vie.  Moving on.

       2.  Evaluation User Fee

This should be paid online, your receipt printed and included with your Captain’s License Application.  Initially, I did not know this and was planning to pay by check.  But, first I checked with my contact at the Mariner’s Learning System (recall this is the company I used to buy an independent study packet for the exam so I could study at my own pace).  I wasn’t sure whether, having purchased their Captain’s License Package, the Mariner’s folks would help me compile my application to make sure it was correct and complete, so I sent an email inquiring.  Lisa over at Mariner’s (who was phenomenal and very patient with my many, many questions) confirmed they do not offer a document check, but advised she was available to answer any specific questions I might have (which were many).  The first of which was this payment issue.  You’ll see here, Lisa sent me the link to pay online and advised me it would cost $145.

You can also access the Pay.Gov payment center through the National Maritime Center here; it just takes a little more navigating to get to the Captain’s License page.

I got confused, however (who me? nooooo …), when I got to the actual payment page as to whether I was paying for an “officer endorsement” or “rating endorsement” and whether I needed to pay my “exam fee” or if that was waived because I had purchased the Mariner’s system.  So, again, I reached out to Lisa and, again, she steered me in the right direction.  Here is what she advised (you’ll see the drop-down menus filled in appropriately below):

Once the payment was processed, the NMC emailed me a receipt, which I printed and included in my final Captain’s License Application packet.  You’ll also notice I had to select a USCG Regional Exam Center during my check-out process.  You have to be sure to send your Application to the same REC you select during the check-out process to make sure all of your license requirements and fee are processed at the same facility.  Here is a list of the centers.  I just chose the one closest to me, in New Orleans.  And, I love NOLA, so I was hoping it would make for a little good luck boost on my application.  : )

P-Dub and I biking the beautiful oak-lined streets of NOLA April, 2017.

    3.  CG 719B Application

 You’ll notice it says “CG 719B” application.  That means it is an official Coast Guard form.  Before I found this detailed NMC checklist, I didn’t know some requirements had to be completed on an official CG form and, as a result, almost made a big mistake on my medical certificate, see #6 below.  Here is a link to the CG 719B Application.  You can fill it out online or print and fill it out by hand.  It’s pretty straightforward, just be sure to read each section carefully and make sure it is a section they want you to fill out or one that is for USCG use.

OATH

You’ll note in this paragraph on the NMC checklist that the Coast Guard requires an oath, stating the oath “may be administered by a designated Coast Guard individual or any person legally permitted to administer oaths in the jurisdiction where the person taking the oath resides.”  Hmmpfh.  Again, I haled Lisa as I wasn’t even sure what the oath should say.  Again, Lisa saved me by directing me to this form in the “Resources” section of the Mariner’s Learning System website, which I was able to print and sign.

Also, lucky for me, Phillip is a registered notary in Pensacola, so I had a readily available notary to notarize my oath.  Done.  What’s next?

    4.  Form I-551 Alien Registration Card

Applies only to foreign nationals, so this was not a requirement for me.

    5.  Signed Conviction Statement

 Thankfully, this “statement” is included in the CG 719B application, Section III, page 5, so completing and signing this section of the application satisfies this requirement.

    6.  CG 719K Physical Examination Report

Here’s where I almost goofed.  As I mentioned, this NMC checklist was the most useful to me because it was detailed and explicit in the types of forms required by the Coast Guard.  Many other “license requirements” checklists I had found on other websites (example here) merely stated a “physical examination” was required, not a CG 719K report.  I made an appointment with a doctor here in Pensacola before I knew anything about this specific CG 719K form.  Thankfully, my doctor (Dr. Tim Tuel with Baptist Medical – “Thank You Dr. Tuel!”) was much wiser than me.  It’s a good thing I told him what the examination was for, just for fun.  As you can imagine, Applicant Annie was excited about this whole process and willing to share with anyone willing to listen.  “I’m going for my Captain’s License!” I told Dr. Tuel, which made him chuckle at my energetic burst.  This tan little toned-up blonde trying to be a Coast Guard Captain.  It is kind of funny when you think about it.  But, Dr. Tuel just smiled and asked, “Where’s your form?”  [Insert Annie’s look of bewilderment here.  Form?  What form?]  I asked, “How do you know it has to be on a certain form?”  To which Dr. Tuel replied, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”  Ha!  Love that guy.  He was a lot of fun.   Dr. Tuel Googled and pulled up the correct form himself right there in the examination room, took the time to fill it out and even printed it for me.  Nice guy, that Tuel.

Unfortunately, he missed one section of the Report (I’m telling you, these things are tedious).  The first response I received from the Coast Guard after sending in my application was this:

That’s right, “Notice of Incomplete Application.”  Uggh.  Not the best feeling in the world.  But, when I read through the email, it seemed it was just a simple mistake of Dr. Tuel failing to state on my CG 719K form which methodology he used to test my vision.  So, I went back to Dr. Tuel with my previous 719K form and asked if he would complete the section and initial it and then re-sign the certificate at the end.  Thankfully, I caught him on a slow day and it was just a 15-minute wait while he finalized my report.

Also, after speaking with Beverly at the USCG, I was advised the completed medical form could be emailed in for processing (as opposed to snail mail) and that was helpful.  So, one glitch there.  Fixed and re-submitted.  Moving on.

    7.  CG 719P Chemical Testing Report

 Ahhh … the drug test.  I knew I was totally clean there.  While I will readily admit that I love my wine and liquor, Captain Annie does not do drugs.  No judgment on folks who do.  It’s just not my thing.  But, mean ole’ Brandon had me really freaked out about it when I stopped by the shipyard to pick up some parts we had ordered right after I had already taken the test, and he told me they were going to analyze my urine for alcohol.  “If you still have alcohol in your system, they’ll pick it up.  Did you drink last night?” Brandon asked.  “Did I drink last night …. Is it a Wednesday?” I thought.  Of course I did!  I think most sailors operate on a pretty base-line low-alcohol level, am I right?  But, what was done, was done.  I had already pissed in the cup, and sent it up the chain, so I just had to be a little freaked out about it for a few weeks before it came back COMPLETELY NEGATIVE.

Take that Brandon!  Ha!  My piss is primo!  (Love that guy.)

But, how did I go about getting a test conducted that would be sure to meet the USCG requirements?  Again, like the medical certificate, the drug screen must be completed on the Coast Guard’s specified form, here, the CG 719P.  The gal at Mariner’s Learning System recommended I contact Quest Diagnostics to handle everything.  It was a breeze.  I called to request a drug screening specifically for my Coast Guard’s License application, paid over the phone (I believe it was $65.00), and set up an appointment online at a local facility.  Luckily, there are two facilities in Pensacola, so this was an easy 30-minute appointment to make and the results were emailed to me by Quest a couple of weeks later on the appropriate CG 719P form, which I printed and included in my Captain’s License Application packet.  Voila!  Next up?

    8.  Front and Back Copy of Driver’s License

Piece of cake!

    9.  3rd Party Release

This is needed if you want the NMC to be able to discuss, release or receive information or documents from a third party (i.e., spouse, employer, etc.).  This didn’t apply to me.

    10.  Evidence of Appropriate Sea Service

This is the real meat of your application (or at least it was for me).  In order to apply for an OPUV 6-Pack license, the applicant:

  • Must be able to document 360 days of experience on a vessel
  • Must have 90 of these days within the last 3 years
  • 90 of the 360 days must be on the ocean or near coastal waters, or the license will be limited to inland waters only.

The license will be limited to uninspected vessels of less than 100 gross tons.  When calculating qualifying sea time, you must have been underway on the water for a minimum of four (4) hours to count as one (1) sea day. (Only one day’s credit is allowed per date.)  And you must document the time on the Coast Guard’s specified Sea Service form, the CG 719S.

I had not been keeping up with my sea time since I started sailing in 2013, but I would recommend anyone who is thinking about going for a mariner credential at some point in the future to do this along the way.  Bring along a few blank Sea Service forms when you know you’re going to make a passage or be on the water for several days and get the Captain or Owner of the vessel to sign off for you once your sea time is complete.  Because I had not been doing this, I had to sit down with a calendar and re-construct my time over the last four years and obtain signed Sea Service forms from the various Captains and Owners I had sailed under.  It was actually a very fun escapade down memory lane and I did a brief write-up and tribute to each of those captains here.  Thankfully, with mine and Phillip’s many offshore passages on our own boat, our Atlantic-crossing in 2016 and the handful of passages and sails I have done on friends’ boats, all within the last four years, it was fairly easy for me to meet the “90 days within the last three years” and “90 days offshore” requirements.  It was really cool, too, to tally these up and see how much awesome sailing I’ve done in such a short time.  I’m quite proud of these days!

Total days experience:  368

Number of days offshore: 112

Wow.  I hope I double those numbers over the next three years.  Sail on Captain Annie!

    11.  Photocopies of all applicable Training Course Certificates

This is why Phillip and I went to STCW school back in June!

While the firefighting was wicked cool, and I got an awesome burn, the first aid, CPR, fire-fighting and water survival training included in this certification sufficed for my Captain’s License “training course” requirements, which is the primary reason Phillip and I took the course.  We went through the Sea School because they had a facility relatively close to us in Bayou la Batre, AL.  After completing the course (there were some moderately difficult tests involved, but the instructors worked hard to make sure you passed), the Sea School sent Phillip and I a packet of certificates for the courses we completed, copies of which I included in my Captain’s License application.

    12.  Course Certificate

Proof that you passed the MPT Captain’s Exam within the last year.  I took my Captain’s Exam on June 26, 2017 at a USCG testing facility (a.k.a. a conference room at a Holiday Inn here in Pensacola) and thankfully passed!  After Mariner’s Learning System was notified of my score, they emailed me a certificate documenting my accomplishment which I printed and included in my application packet to prove I had passed the exam.  That was a biggie.  Whew! 

    13.  Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

This was one requirement that was a little hidden in my opinion.  At least not every Captain’s License requirement checklist I found on the web included this.  For example the NMC checklist I cited primarily above did not mention this.  But, if there was anything I learned from studying for the Captain’s Exam, it was to consult a lot of different sources.  Several other sites I found mentioned this “letters of recommendation” requirement for original license applicants, meaning, those who were seeking issuance of a license for the first time.  ‘Tis me!” I said, and promptly Googled around to see what an acceptable “letter of recommendation” looked like and found this website, with a sample letter of recommendation.

I typed up three of these for three of the captains I had sailed under to sign and complete and that sufficed for this requirement.  But, I have talked to several other applicants during this process who did not know about this “letters of recommendation” requirement.  So, there are many potholes to fall into, so to speak.

The good news?  I found the Coast Guard folks were very forgiving and easy to work with.  They were responsive and notified me immediately of any deficiencies in my application, noting I had 60 or 90 days to fix each one.  So, that was comforting.  After my incomplete Medical Certificate issue was fixed, the next errors the Coast Guard caught were a few places I forgot to sign my own Sea Service forms (doh!) and areas on my Sea Service forms where I had filled in the vessel owner’s name, when I should have put my own.  However, the Coast Guard folks advised I could cross-through the wrong name, fill in my own and initial it and that would remedy things.  And, I was notified of all of these issues and errors via email from the Coast Guard and offered the ability to send in supplemental portions via email.  So, that made things a lot easier for me as I do most of my work remotely via email and digital documents.

In all, the OUPV documentation process took me about four months to complete (although, granted, I wasn’t focused on it every day, but there are many moving parts and you have to rely on the cooperation of other people, so it does take time).  I was advised by the Mariner’s Learning System folks that I had to complete and submit my application within one (1) year of successfully passing my Captain’s Exam (for me, that would be June 2018), so I was well within the time limit.  But, it is definitely a project you want to get started on early as there are a lot of hoops to jump through.

Many thanks to all of the Captains I have sailed under who were generous enough to review and sign my Sea Service forms and provide letters of recommendation and the very patient folks at Mariner’s Learning System and the Coast Guard who helped walk me through the process and answer my many questions.  I hope this post will help shed some light for those of you out there who are also thinking about pursuing a Captain’s License to get a better understanding of the paperwork and requirements involved.

I honestly can’t believe I have obtained this credential.  While Phillip and I decided this would be a good endeavor for me to help shape me into a far more capable and knowledgeable mate (and now sometimes Captain!) on our future travels, it still shocks me a little that I, who only started sailing four short years ago, was able to accomplish this so soon in my sailing career.  The training and education I have acquired have already started to show in mine and Phillip’s passages and cruising, and I am so proud that I am able to offer him, now, so much more insight, input as well as a sounding board for some of our very difficult decisions when navigating, weather routing, deciding on destinations, passages and – oh yeah – docking!  I’m getting better at that, too.  Primarily the goal was to grow my skills so that I can contribute more to help share the “stress of cruising” so that the entire experience is more comfortable for us both.  It’s also a very good benefit to know this license will help decrease our annual insurance premiums (yay!) and will allow Phillip and I to earn money on the occasional offshore delivery that works with our schedule and plans.  In all, it was an educational and enlightening process that I am proud and glad I completed.  If any of you out there are thinking about going for your Captain’s License and have questions this post and my previous “Let’s Talk About This Captain’s Exam” post did not answer, please feel free to email me and reach out.  I’m happy to share.

Now, when Phillip and I head off on our next adventure, it will be Yours Truly more often at the helm, scanning the charts, checking the weather, and shouting to Phillip, “Hey Swab, while you’re down there, tighten that hose clamp.”  Ha!

Thanks to my followers, as well, for your support and encouragement.

Captain Annie, signing off.

Posted in Sea School | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Chasing a Blown Impeller: Get Back Here Little Feller!

“The end of a mystery?” Yannick wrote me just a few short weeks ago. That’s a title that will catch anyone’s attention. And when I open the email what do I see?   Yannick’s grubby fingers clutching the culprit. Yannick has been after this guy since we first pointed his 46’ Soubise Freydis south toward the Gulf of Mexico on our way to sail across the Atlantic Ocean last year. Seriously, not two hours into the first day of our offshore voyage, May 29, 2016, the starboard engine on Yannick’s boat overheated and we had to shut her down to investigate. For those of you who watched our movie from the Atlantic-crossing, you’ll remember this little gem.  For those who haven’t seen it yet: Lord!  Clear your calendar tonight, grab some popcorn and carry-out on the way home and call it Movie Night!  Link to view here.

What we found when Yannick took the water pump off and disassembled it was a blown impeller.  The thing had launched several of its vanes.  (Or “impeller fingers” as I call them; it’s a good thing Phillip speaks Annie.)

Yeah, those guys.

By boiling the thermostat from Yannick’s starboard engine, we also found it was not opening completely, so Yannick dutifully replaced both the impeller and the thermostat and the engine then held temp fairly well.  However, the starboard engine continued to struggle at times to hold temp and it was not pumping as much raw water exhaust (“pissing” Annie called it) as Yannick would have liked.  And, apparently, that was still the status of the engine all the way up to a few weeks ago.

That’s when Yannick found the end of a mystery!

This little guy.  The culprit!  Do you know what that is?

That’s right.  An impeller finger!  Wedged in the output end of Yannick’s water pump, only detectable when he took the entire pump off to change the seals.

The lesson here?  When facing a blown impeller, your first instinct needs to be “Get back here little feller.”  Brandon with www.perdidosailor.com has warned us about this many times.  If you throw one or more impeller blades, do not put the engine back together until you’ve found every last piece.  Yannick did not know this blade had been stuck in the back end of his water pump for over a year restricting his raw water exhaust.  But, he extracted it this time and has reported he’s now thoroughly satisfied with his pisser!  : )

Nice work Captain Yannick!

Real-Life Example #2:

I swear it felt Phillip and I were attracting water pump issues that week.  The same week Yannick sent me that email, Phillip and I had another chance to chase down a little feller.  We headed out on a Friday afternoon, like we often do, sailing across Pensacola Bay over to Red Fish Point for a quiet, relaxing weekend on the hook.  Some anchorages around here are absolute party towns where everyone knows your name and everyone starts drinking at 10:00 a.m.  I can only do that for so long before I lose my voice and my dignity.  Phillip and I like to shake it up and spend some weekends in PartyVille (known as Ft. McRee) and other weekends at more secluded, quiet anchorages (like Red Fish Point or Big Sabine).  We’re lucky, Pensacola offers handfuls of both.  Some fantastic photos for you here from our exquisite sunset sail over to the anchorage

We arrived at dark, dropped the hook and were pleasantly surprised the next morning to find the masthead lights we had seen the night before were actually some very good cruising buddies of ours: Mike and Sherry on s/v Imagine, a 1981 Tartan 37’ that they have done a fabulous job restoring.  I did a tour of Mike and Sherry’s boat that you can view here:

After the end of a glorious weekend on the hook, Mike and Sherry weighed anchor early on Sunday morning to sail home but, unfortunately, did not make it very far.  Not thirty minutes after they had left, Phillip got a call from Mike:

“Uhhh … hey Phillip, I’m in the North cut and we had to cut the engine because it overheated.”

Good times.  Sometimes boats can drive you crazy.  Wait.  Scratch that.  Often times.  Thankfully, Mike had a very favorable east wind that, on Phillip’s suggestion, he used to sail his way back through the tight channel to our anchorage so we could help him dissect the overheating problem.  Phillip and Mike dug in and sure enough, found him again.

The culprit!

One of the blades on Mike’s impeller had wedged itself in his exhaust hose and impeded the flow.  So, say it with me now: If you’re facing a blown impeller, what do you say?

That’s right.  “Get back here little feller.”  You’ve got to locate and account for all of the missing impeller blades because you never know where one might wedge itself at a moment when you desperately need your engine.  While Phillip and I had been told this many times, our recent experiences with Yannick and Mike really brought the message home.  And, it’s always fun to learn a good lesson when it happens on someone else’s boat, right?  Thanks for the perfect exemplar Mike!

But, here’s the real kicker.  It’s as if our own gal was getting a little jealous of all the attention we were giving other folks’ raw water systems.

Real-Life Example #3

After getting Mike all buttoned up and running again, Phillip and I weighed anchor ourselves later that morning to motor home from Red Fish Point and—as if on cue—our water pump started leaking on the way home.

While we weren’t sure we had thrown an impeller blade (but I can assure if we had, we would chase that thing to high heaven!), we have experienced a water leak at this very spot several times before.  It’s at the weep hole between the two seals that prevent the oil side of the pump from leaking into the water side (and vice versa).  We’ve had to re-build our water pump twice due to a leak in this area, the last time was the day before we were planning to shove off for Cuba.  Phillip said, “Nuh-uh, Sherwood.  You ain’t stopping this show.”  Ha!

It’s not too difficult of a task, just one we were sick of repeating.  Phillip had researched and found this was a known issue on the Sherwood pump (a leak between the oil and water seals), which caused Westerbeke to start using Johnson raw water pumps instead.  Phillip had ordered one a while back that we were planning to bring with us to the Bahamas as a spare.  Well, it was now high time for that spare.  We decided to just go ahead and put the new one on in hopes of it lasting throughout the season (and hopefully longer) without issue and re-building the Sherwood to bring along as our spare.

Scraping off the old gasket is the hardest (and most curse-worthy) part.

 

Now, that’s a fine-looking impeller.  Always remember to coat it really well with glycerine on the first “dry” crank so you don’t throw a blade right out of the gate.

We also changed out the zinc (it was high time) while we were in there and cleaned out the heat exchanger as best we could.  She had a graveyard of old zincs knocking around in there!

Much better!  Good work Miner Annie!

Putting the new pump in (we painted it Westerbeke red to match!):

Replacing the pump isn’t too taxing of a chore, but you probably need to set aside an entire afternoon to do it. And that’s assuming everything goes as planned.  When, during a boat project, does everything fit, you always have the right tool or part and you’re able to start and finish the job on the same day?  If we learned anything during our three-month stint in the shipyard in the Spring of 2016 it’s that just about every project has its fair share of kinks.  During this water pump project, Phillip and I got a little kinky ourselves and ended up some very bad hoes!  Anytime we talk about hoses on the boat, it always reminds me of that brain-cell-suckingly stupid “Boats & Hoes!” Will Farrell video from Stepbrothers.

And, yes, I sing that out-loud every time we deal with any kind of hose on the boat.  Now, it’ll be stuck in your head.  You’re welcome. Phillip loves my musical contributions.

Phillip and I decided, since we were going to replace the water pump, we might as well replace the super-old hoses on it, too.  We call it the Mitch theory: “While you’re down there.”  But, what all-important lesson did we learn during this raw water project?

NEVER FIGHT BAD HOES!!

Just don’t.  They will bite, cut and maim you.  Look what they did to us!!

     

I got a good “doctoring” (as my Dad would say) from Phillip.

Those are some serious boat bites.  And, I promise you, none of these boat bite pics are in any way edited.  Now, how, you might ask did Phillip and I get so beat up just trying to wrestle some hose onto the new water pump?  Because we’re idiots, is the short answer.  And, we apparently need to go back to Caliper School.  Phillip and I accidentally got the wrong size hose and spent the better part of the day trying to fight 3/4” hoses onto 7/8” barbs.  Yeah, brilliant.  Turns out, hoes don’t like to be tortured.  Boy did they fight back!  I’m surprised we got those too-small hoses on as far as we did.  We should have realized something was off, but what did we do instead?  Kept fighting bad hoes!  Don’t let this happen to you, my friends.  Our boat bit me the hardest she ever has to make sure this lesson stuck for me.  I first got burned by the heat gun we were using to stretch the ridiculously too-small hoses, then the boat ripped my blister open while I was trying to fight them on.  But, after I saw the mark she left behind, I realized she what she was trying to show me:

SOME BOAT LOVE

Even when she bites me, I love that salty gal.  I don’t ever want to think what I would do without her.  It gives me heart burn.  What, too much?  Ha!

Two weeks healed!  I’m kind of digging it now.  It’s like the best boat bite ever.

Posted in Boat Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments