Calling all boat project fanatics, this one’s for you! Boy, did we have a time trying to get our engine aligned. While Phillip and I knew we had some kind of issue going on with our prop shaft, the key that fits in the shaft (which was always coming out and we were hammering back in, brilliant plan!), and our coupling, we didn’t know it was quite as bad as it was.
Watch along as Brandon, Shane, and the great team at www.perdidosailor.com help us diagnose and solve many issues relating to our prop shaft and how it seats in the transmission. We had a machinist re-engineer our old coupling and make us a new one. We also re-bedded the strut and replaced the gutless bearing.
And, just as boat projects always do, the boat had a lot of extra hidden work in store for us in the form of a rotten engine stringer portion (under the raw water pump on starboard, no surprise) that we had to repair along the way. Fun, fun! Misery loves company! Give it a watch! More photos and write-up available at www.havewindwilltravel.com.
I hope you all have been enjoying these shipyard videos while Phillip and I were off galavanting across the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll have plenty to share from that adventure once we get our heads back on straight. It can be hard, at times, to transition from offshore sailors back to full-time lawyers/marketing gurus. But, the work is always worth it. In exchange for all of those photos and videos of us out sailing and traveling the globe, enjoy seeing us here all grimy and greasy wedged down in the engine room on our boat! You’re welcome! B.O.A.T., am I right? : )
Maybe they should change that B.O.A.T. saying to “bonded or about to.” The hardest part of our rudder drop was getting the stinking quadrant off! Heat, impact, cheater bars, nothing would work. So, the creative guys at Perdido Sailor had to come up with a different fix, and boy did they!
Ahoy crew! Shipyard Vid #2 coming at you, from Cascias, Portugal nonetheless! I put this video together a while back so you all would have something fun to watch while we were embarking on our second Atlantic-crossing helping deliver a new Lagoon across the pond from France to the USVIs! I know how you all LOVE boat project videos, so here’s another one for you from our interesting work at the shipyard this past summer.
While I wrote about this project several months back here, some of my followers love to see the video! This one’s for you! Phillip and I always enjoy working alongside the guys at the yard because we learn so much. They point out problems we didn’t even know we had and teach us fixes we didn’t even know were possible.
Watch here as we (finally!) get the quadrant off and make the necessary modifications to do that, check on our G-flexed keel seam from 2016, replace the cables for the throttle and shifter (because, according to Video Annie, they sounded like “Grandma’s panties coming down”), and shared some fun lighthearted joshing at the yard!
We hope you are all enjoying the shipyard videos and having a great time tracking us along while we are sailing back across the Atlantic Ocean. Follow on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/havewindwilltravel for real-time updates and locations via our Delorme!
Hey hey crew! As I write from La Rochelle, I have a confession to make. I’ve been saving a treat for you! I was holding this for when I knew we would likely be shoving offshore, so you all would have a fun video to watch as we struck out tomorrow into the notorious Bay of Biscay. We’re planning to head out tomorrow for either a short hop to a new port or a quick shakedown and turn-around. Either way, we’ll get water moving under the hull, learn a lot about the boat and crew’s capabilities and quirks, and hopefully make it to a new port in southern France or even Spain. The adventure begins! And, to celebrate the moment: a gift for you all! Your favorite, a (drumroll please) … SHIPYARD VIDEO! : )
I know how much you guys loooove our boat project/shipyard videos. Misery must love company, although I will say Phillip and I are far from miserable when we’re working on our boat. It beats sitting at a desk any day! While I wrote about this project previously (Shipyard Project #1: Reinforcing Our Rudder), this will be a very fun “catch-up” video for my folks who are strictly YouTube followers as these videos will bring you up to speed on all of the very cool work and upgrades we’ve been doing on our boat this past summer while Phillip and I attempt to complete our first Atlantic Circle this winter by helping some new friends deliver their new Lagoon 42 from La Rochelle, France to the BVIs. You’ll meet Kate and Cyrus with CruiseNautic soon, a very fun, adventurous pair. I guess you have to be to willingly hop on a small boat and sail across the Atlantic, am I right?
When we finish that voyage, Phillip and I will fly home to Pensacola, work for several months and then shove off on our baby girl, the beautiful Plaintiff’s Rest, to sail her as south as possible for hurricane season next year. Likely Grenada. We are not riding out another season in the corner pocket or the Gulf. It is horrendous to see what hurricanes can do.
I’ve got several more Shipyard Videos coming over the next few weeks so you all will have some fun things to watch while we are crossing the pond. Be sure to follow along on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/havewindwilltravel) where we will be posting via satellite through our Delorme. That way you can track us in real time across the Atlantic. Giddyup!
It isn’t a bad place to have to wait for the Lagoon, I will say that. La Rochelle is exquisite right now. Mist that fills the harbor every morning. Vivid yellow leaves the fall leisurely from the trees to the cobblestones, always mesmerizing me when they fall right before my eyes.
And the food! Fruits de mer! There are a thousand little restaurants, pubs, bistros, and—my favorite—fromageries! I’m afraid I have knowingly cultivated a full-fledged cheese addiction, and I, in no way, regret the decision. They eat cheese for dessert here. I mean … I love these people. J’aime La Rochelle!
Hello crew! From the stunning Atlantic-coast village of La Rochelle. I wanted to write you all a quick note from France before we shove off next week and begin our Atlantic adventure! I wanted to share a little more about our plans, our new friends, Kate and Cyrus, and why Phillip and I made such a drastic change to our cruising plans this year. When we were working in the shipyard this past summer, we had pretty-set plans to sail our Niagara 35 slowly and intermittently from November through the Spring of 2019 from Pensacola, to the Exumas to explore what we missed last year, then eventually to Grenada for hurricane season. Yet, we decide instead to hop on a new boat, with new crew, and sail back across the Atlantic Ocean?!
We must be crazy right?
We kind of are … : )
Or just in full-fledged pursuit of adventure! So, how did this whole opportunity unfold? How did we meet Kate and Cyrus? As Kate and Cyrus would tell you, all great stories begin with either “Once upon a time,” or “This ain’t no shit.” Well, this, my friends, is no merde!
We actually crossed paths with Kate and Cyrus while cruising but did not know it. Phillip and I were making our way back up the west coast of Florida after our cruising in the Bahamas this past season and we made an unplanned duck into Destin to get out of some not-too-comfortable conditions out in the Gulf: 18 knots on the nose that was set to continue well past midnight, well before we would be able to get to Pensacola Pass to get out of that mess.
So, we navigated the entrance to Destin Harbor for the first time, which was not easy. It’s a bit of a tricky zig-zag, shoaly entrance, but we made it. And it was one of those moments, when you finally get out of the stuff, the boat is settled and in one piece, and you drop the hook and feel your nerves finally start to settle out. Once the hook was set, Phillip and I both promptly made a boat drink (because that’s exactly what you do in that moment) and were kicked back in the cockpit heaving happy alternating sighs of satisfaction, when this large catamaran cruised by.
I saw a gal on the bow filming, which, being a bit of a fellow videographer, caught my eye. I could see she had a remote for the winlass around her neck, and I shouted some comment about how it would be awesome to be able to drop and raise the hook with the push of a button. We shared a lighthearted exchange or two and said “Cheers!” before their catamaran cruised on out of the anchorage. I had no clue at the time that cheery blonde on the catamaran would soon become one of my very good friends, someone I would cross the Atlantic Ocean with, but it was. That was Kate!
Kate and Cyrus were sailing with a captain to gain sea time towards their RYA licenses, and they were making the overnight run from Destin to Pensacola for bluewater experience. The catamaran they were sailing on, s/v Makarios, actually stays in a slip in Pensacola just a dozen or so boats down from where Phillip and I keep our Niagara 35. While Kate and Cyrus noticed our boat name, s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, as memorable when they were cruising through Destin Harbor, they didn’t think much more of it until they went the next week to Sea School for the necessary credits toward their USCG licenses. Ahhh … STCW Sea School, that was a fun time.
It was their Kate and Cyrus saw the insignia I had left on the Sea School wall, put two and two together (HaveWind with the boat they saw in Destin), and Kate then decided to reach out to me. There were here exact messages!
It’s connections and stories like this that will always make me feel grateful I created this (once very little) traveling sailing blog that has somehow reached so many. Seeing young cruisers like Phillip and I, and many others who are sharing their stories via blogs and videos, Kate and Cyrus decided to similarly sell the house in Minnesota and downsize to life on a boat. It was really neat, as we began to chat further, to learn about their plans to start a crew-chartered boat, CruiseNautic, on their Lagoon 42 in the USVIs as their quote-unquote retirement. Kate and Cyrus had already created their platform and signed up with Dream Yacht Charters to act as the broker for the boat purchase by the time we connected. The boat, a brand new Lagoon 42, was supposed to be completed early- or mid-November and their vague plan was to sail it from France to the Canaries to the USVIs from mid-November to early-January. A very fun plan indeed!
I’ll admit, Phillip and I get offers to crew often at HaveWindWillTravel, which is very cool but most of them do not work with our schedule or our own cruising plans. This one, however, seemed to fit a particular niche for Phillip, the offer of an amazing journey during the holidays when his work is a bit slower. When I told Phillip about the offer—mostly in jest—one evening while cooking dinner, I was surprised by his response:
“We would complete our first Atlantic Circle,” he said.
And, I remember thinking, then and there, there was a real chance this was actually going to happen. Phillip is an avid sailor and lives for offshore sailing and once he was thinking the voyage would fit with his work schedule and offer him something that is a true bucketlist item for him—completing an Atlantic Circle by sailboat—it was very likely he would work hard to make this happen.
That was July. Only three months before Phillip and I had planned to set sail in our own boat headed eventually for Grenada. But, the more we continued to talk about Kate and Cyrus’s offer, the opportunity to cross the Atlantic Ocean again was like this luminous jewel on the horizon. Another epic voyage. Another month of amazing challenges, memories, and bonds between new friends. How do you turn that down if it’s even remotely possible?
Look at these two. The answer is you don’t.
Phillip and I figured we would have plenty of time to sail our boat all over the Caribbean in the coming years, but another Atlantic crossing with a young fun couple felt like an opportunity we could not turn down. And, we are very grateful for the commitment and work we have put toward making our lives, careers, and income as flexible as it is so that we can seize opportunities like this when they come along. Phillip was the man who initially taught me the incredibly important concept of time-value. That is, to make sure I valued experiences and time more than money and things, and it was his support and creativity that helped me begin my online marketing business (which has since grown across many avenues and platforms) that allows me to say, with resounding excitement—“YES!”—to adventures like these.
Once we began emailing, at first, then Skyping, with Kate and Cyrus to both get to know them and to discuss more details about the voyage, their travel plans, etc., Phillip and I started to get that tingly “Holy crap this is really happening” feeling. It’s a prickle beneath our skin that tells us there is one amazing, eye-opening adventure in our future. And, each conversation we had with Kate and Cyrus told us the four of us were very like-minded, in pursuit of the same goals, with a similar approach to challenges and provisioning, and collectively a very knowledgeable and fun crew. While Kate and Cyrus do not have the extent of bluewater experience that Phillip and I do, we all compliment each other in different ways. Cyrus is a mechanical engineer by trade, capable of dissecting and repairing virtually any system, with a good bit of sailing miles under his belt on he and Kate’s Precision 26 on Lake Lanier. Big plus for an offshore voyage.
Kate also grew up sailing with her father on Lake Lanier, and is an adventurous, fun-loving, talented singer and songwriter. Another huge plus for an offshore voyage. Here is Kate jamming out with her Fleetwood Mac cover band!
I can’t wait to sing a duet with her during the passage!
The four of us clicked very easily and we all had a good feeling about crew comraderie for the voyage. The good thing, though, we knew we would be spending several weeks together in France in a tight little Airbnb—a great place to see if we really did mesh well together, before shoving off for good.
Kate, Cyrus, Phillip, and I been here a week now, cooking dinners together, sharing stories, laughs, worries, concerns, and we all get along fabulously and foresee an amazing experience ahead. It’s a goal worth every 12-hour days’ work we put into it. Offshore voyaging is such a reward. And, doing it with friends and fellow sailors who share the same joy and awe of it as Phillip and I do, makes it even more memorable. We cannot wait to share this voyage with you!
Here is a fun video tour of La Rochelle—our haling port for the moment—as well as some very fun photos from Paris and our rendezvous with the infamous Captain Yannick from our first Atlantic-crossing in 2016. We are soaking up every minute of this journey and looking forward to seeing and getting on the new Lagoon 42 next week!
Pics from Par-eeh!
This guy …
Boy did we miss Yannick!
And, it was great to have such a personal and knowledgeable tour guide in Paris!
Who me? More to come about this medal of honor.
Love this man!
Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
This guy had a happy ending. Google Victor Noir Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Fun story there!
Shopping in the sail gear shop brought back some fun memories from our first Atlantic Crossing!
Some pretty big news here at HaveWind! Many of you have been wondering about our cruising plans this coming season, where we are going, which routes, etc. I’ll bet this one hadn’t crossed your mind! We’re going to complete our first Atlantic Circle! We’ll be helping some new friends deliver their new Lagoon 42 from La Rochelle, France to the BVIs, likely via the Canaries, in Nov-Dec, 2018. Phillip and I are both stoked to go and share the journey with you. We’re flying to France this very day to spend some time with Captain Yannick from our first Atlantic crossing and enjoy La Rochelle for a bit before we shove off. Check out the announcement video below and follow along in real-time via our Delorme posts on our Facebook page! I’ve also got some fantastic shipyard videos coming out here for you, too, while we’ll be offshore so be excited for those. Au revoir! : )
Is Spam in the Bahamas really $9.00? Find out in the November issue of SAIL Magazine, featuring an article by Yours Truly! Peter Nielsen over at SAIL asked me a while back for a piece with tips on preparing for a trip to the Bahamas. So, Phillip and I put our heads together and came up with a few key factors to consider when prepping for the Bahamas and what provisions and supplies we would recommend stocking the boat with. For us, it all started with the Explorer charts. Those are a must! I hope you all grab a copy of the November issue soon and let me know what you think of the article. Many thanks to the hard-working crew over at SAIL Magazine for putting this one together. We love it!
And, stay tuned next time as we will be announcing our cruising plans this winter in a fun new video next week. You’ll never guess where we’re going!! : D
While this is tough to share, it is also humbling and inspiring. Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane to hit US shores since Andrew. Practically speaking, it was pretty much a Cat 5 when it hit the shore the Florida panhandle on October 10, 2018. With sustained winds of 155 mph, it was just a shade under the 156 mph rank for a Cat 5. We heard reports, however, of gusts up to 178. One hundred and seventy-eight miles an hour. Can you even imagine? I think it might peel the skin off of your face. I honestly don’t know and don’t want to. Although Phillip and I are incredibly grateful for how lucky we were that Michael did make that anticipated hook to the east and missed us entirely here in Pensacola, it is a stark reminder of how close we came to having our downtown, our homes, and our marinas and boats here in Pensacola look like this.
Phillip and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Panama City to deliver hurricane relief supplies to a local church that had put together a drive. We wanted to go to offer our help, of course, but I have to be honest when I say I also wanted to go to see, to document, and to share. Hurricanes are horrific. They’re terrifying and infinitely stronger than you can imagine. Those who have the means to evacuate if a cyclone anywhere close to a Cat 5 is coming, but don’t simply because they feel they can somehow save their house, business, or boat if they stay behind, I hope footage like this can help educate.
The damage in Panama City (the only location we went to) was primarily from wind. While the damage from a hurricane is typically some combination of wind and water via a storm surge, it did not appear in the areas we went to that Panama City experienced a large storm surge. There were no signs of mud slathered across the streets or water lines on the buildings to suggest that. Rather, it seemed in Panama City wind was the deadliest force. It shocked Phillip and I to see entire fields of trees, hundreds of them, all snapped clean in half. Just from the wind. Seeing them all cracked over, my mind instantly tried to re-create the scene mentally watching full-blown, thick-trunked trees breaking from the sheer force of the wind. I could almost hear their horrific cries. I don’t want to visualize these scenes. My mind forces me to when I see damage like this. It is a humbling reminder of who is in charge on this earth, and why we should make a much greater, collective effort to treat her better, to help heal her so we do not feel her wrath as frequently.
While I share this footage to educate, I also want to shine a spotlight on the many, many volunteers we saw out, gathering and giving away supplies. There were people on the side of the road at intersections with signs that read: “Free Lunch” or “Free Supplies.” There were many donation stations. Free food, water, and ice locations. We saw dozens of freshly-mounted new powerline poles along the roads where power company employees had worked feverishly to restore power for those affected.
To the extent we saw devastating damage in Panama City, we also saw courage in the face of disaster. People can sometimes be awful, selfish, terrible things, but it’s nice to be reminded that other times they can be generous, brave, and kind. Here is a link to the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Michael Relief Page if you, too, would like to help the Hurricane Michael relief efforts. To those affected in Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tallahassee, and the surrounding areas, our hearts and thoughts are with you as you regroup and rebuild.
There’s a storm brewing out there. You know it’s coming. You often know how fast it’s going and what the sustained winds are. You even have many, many predicted tracks. But, you just never know with 100% certainty where it’s going to hit and what it’s going to do.
Deciding what to do when a hurricane has its sights set on you is always a very tough call. The cone is so large (made even larger by varying predicted landfalls) and sailboats move so slow.
Even if you have purchased a hurricane haul-out plan, which Phillip and I have, deciding whether to haul-out or not is still a tough call. Being on jack stands among dozens of other boats propped up on what look like toothpicks is no guarantee of safety. But, even if you tie your boat up super secure in an anchorage or marina, that’s no guarantee another boat won’t come loose and come barreling into you. It’s just tough. As Phillip and I wait for Michael to make landfall, I thought I would share with you all some of our thoughts on hurricane preparation and some of the measures we took to (hopefully) keep our boat safe. Many of these are passed down from sailors much wiser than us, and you know me, I’m always happy to share. Here’s to the Kretschmers and Pam Walls out there who have taught us so much. We hope some of these tips help you all someday (if not today!) too.
Whether to Haul
The decision of whether to haul is usually difficult because it has to be made very early in the process, when the hurricane is out there with varying predicted landfalls. But, understandably, the shipyards have to be prepared to haul as many people out on their list that want out, so that takes 2-3 days to coordinate and schedule. They cannot allow all owners on the list to wait until the last day and then demand to be hauled out. For Phillip and I, if our marina requires a mandatory evacuation, then that makes the decision to haul-out easier. However, as with Michael, where the marina merely issued a “voluntary” evacuation—encouraging but not requiring owners to leave—that makes our decision tougher.
While it would be (well … nice isn’t really the right word as I’m sure the experience is a wet, wild adventure) but it would be reassuring to be able to stay safely on the boat in the marina during the hurricane constantly checking for chafe or other wind-driven problems, and watching out for other boats that may come loose. Staying in the water, however, does expose the boat to a potential sinking if something collides with her or strikes her in such a way as to punch a hole or cause a break that would allow water intake. Being on jack stands does give you peace of mind that she won’t sink. However, up and on jack stands does create significant more windage. Jack stands can fail, and other boats can topple over onto you.
While Phillip and I believe hauling out can be the safer option, it’s not guaranteed. Some friends offered us a mooring they dropped themselves (a 2,000 lb tractor axle) with a super hearty shackle up in a hurricane hole where they rode out Hurricane Ivan safely, and I would imagine that would be a safer option than the shipyard. However, it’s in a neighboring state where we are not insured. So that would be a huge downside if something did occur and our boat was significantly damaged during the storm. All of these pros and cons were weighing on us as we left Pirate’s Cove in Alabama and made our way home Sunday to our slip in Pensacola.
It was no surprise when the folks at our hurricane haul-out yard called us during our motor back asking us if we wanted to haul-out and, if so, when we wanted to be scheduled. They offered us a 5:30 p.m. slot the following day on Monday, or a 7:00 a.m. slot on Tuesday morning. Debating a not-so-ideal evening haul-out versus the benefit of earlier prep of the boat, we chose the 5:30 slot knowing that would give us all day Monday to watch the storm and make a last-minute decision on Monday afternoon.
Knowing we would strip the boat entirely whether we stayed in the water or hauled-out, we set to that job on Monday morning while we watched the NOAA reports during the day and waited for the final 4:00 p.m. full report that would force our hand. When the report showed Hurricane Michael moving faster, allowing it less time to hook further east before making landfall, Phillip and I decided to haul-out. We did the same thing last year when Nate was barreling down on us (I wrote a piece on that experience here), so we knew the process, we trusted the yard, and we felt it was best.
Photo from our Nate prep, October 2017.
But, the haul-out itself was just one step of the prep work. I wanted to share with you all here a detailed list of the additional work we did to ensure (we hope) no canvas or sails are damaged during the storm, no halyards or other lines come untethered and start slinging around like ball on the end of a chain, and that our boat stays as absolutely safe and undamaged as possible.
First, we start with Annie up the mast! Detailed list with photos below. Prep smart people, and best of luck out there!
Hurricane Prep on Plaintiff’s Rest
We send Annie up the mast to bring down our convertible inner forestay for our storm sail. We know we’ll have to send me up after the storm to bring other halyards and things down, so removing this just to ensure less “whippage” potential during the storm is a no-brainer. I will install it back when I go up the mast after the storm so it will be ready for our offshore sailing season.
And that video still came from our “How to Rig Your Boat for Heavy Weather Sailing” video where we share some other tips on rigging your boat for heavy offshore winds. Feel free to check it out here.
2. Drop, flake and bag the genoa, and put it below. We leave the sheets on it, so they are also removed from the topside as well.
3. Pull the furling line out of the furling drum on the headsail. It’s easy to re-install and it means one less line on the deck.
4. Remove the flag halyards. (Again, we know I will have to go up the mast again after the storm, so anything completely outside of the mast that can easily be taken down entirely and re-installed when I go back up, we remove.)
5. Remove the dodger and stow it below. (We’re getting a new one this year by the way; our old one is “played out!” as Phillip would say. Zippers coming off and falling apart. This might be the last time that old dodger rides on the boat! Sorry Charlie. See you later!)
6. Unhook the solar panels on top of the bimini (usually by marking the right connections with blue painter’s tape and Sharpie).
7. Carefully fold the bimini with the solar panels attached and stow it in the vberth below.
8. Remove the lifeline from the stern rail and stow it below. Now the cockpit is completely stripped and clean.
8. Secure the bars of the bimini and the remaining solar power cords with tape, line, and zip ties. Same with the dodger frame.
9. Remove all other canvas (hatch covers, hand rails, etc.).
10. Drop the Stack Pack and stow it below. I usually take a photo of it and make myself a little diagram so I remember how to re-install it. It’s not that hard at all. But, when it’s a wadded up pile of canvas and lines it looks a little intimidating.
11. Drop the mainsail and stow it below (with the reef line at the tack stored with it).
12. Check the figure-eight knots on each end then pull Reef One and Reef Two at the clew down into the throat at the aft of the boom with the remainder of the lines in the cockpit.
13. Remove the Cunningham and stow it below.
14. Remove the whisker pole and stow it below.
15. Okay, we’re not quite through but in yesterday-time it’s now 4:00 p.m. and time to head to the shipyard. It’s haul-out time! Let’s go!
Last thing to deal with is the lines that are remaining on the boat. Pam Wall gave us some great tips on these.
16. We pull all all halyards in the mast up to the top so the lines are protected and the shackled end cannot come untethered and start whipping everything on the boat with a fury. This includes the genny halyard, the staysail halyard, the topping lift, the spinnaker halyard and the main halyard. (That’s one busy mast!) We run dyneema leads up with the spinnaker and genny halyard (the two lines we often use to raise me up the mast) so those can be pulled back down to raise me up to retrieve the others post-storm. At the shackle end of each line I tie a big figure-eight knot to (while I’m sure it already is, but just to be doubly-sure) it’s too fat to fall down in the throat of the sheave. I then fold the shackle back onto the figure-eight knot and tape it all securely with blue tape (that way the shackle can’t bang and beat itself to death). We then attach a dyneema messenger to those we will pull back down. I tie several knots in the dyneema and tape them with blue tape to prevent the knots from slipping out. (That dyneema is super strong but notorious for un-tying itself. It’s so slickery! Annie word of the day.)
18. The remainder of the dyneema (because we don’t want to cut it, it’s one piece long enough to replace any stay or shroud) I stuff into the boot cover at the bottom of the mast and tape it round and round (to ensure the Velcro doesn’t give during the storm).
17. Here’s the Pam Wall trick. We run the remainder of the genny and the spinnaker lines round and round (tightly coiled) around the base of the mast. The main halyard that is back in the cockpit we run the same way (tightly coiled) around the binnacle. And the other lines (outhaul, main sheets, reminder of the topping lift, staysail halyard, etc.) we stuff in a bag on a port wench and we tape the throat of it shut and secure it to the wench. You can see the bag here:
18. You tired yet? We were. It was a loooonnng day yesterday. Now that everything topside is as secure as it can be, it’s time to reinforce the bottom. We run seizing wire around the handles of each jack stand (a trick Brandon with Perdido Sailor taught us – thanks B!) to help prevent them from rattling themselves loose in heavy winds.
19. We then run chain or dock lines (chain is best) from jack stand to jack stand to create a sort of secure “cradle” for our boat. To make all of the jack stands work together to support our hull.
20. Okay, I believe that’s it (as I’m running through this mentally). We’ll always do one last sweep to make sure all hatches are closed and that we didn’t miss anything. I hope this list helps some of you!
And, we hope this sheds some light for those who do not own a boat on how much work really goes into preparing a boat for a storm. Phillip and I got this all accomplished yesterday and we’re hoping our baby girl is as secure as she can be for Michael’s fury, whatever he may bring. We hope all of you remain safe during the storm, too. We’ll be sending our thoughts to your hearts, homes, and vessels. Hold fast followers!
It’s always the people. When you come to a new place and have an experience you know you will remember for a lifetime, it’s often because of the people you met there. People you connect with instantly. People who feel like long-time friends in a matter of minutes. Phillip and I are always humbled and astounded at the quality of people we meet cruising. It doesn’t matter if they are dirt poor or filthy rich, big corporate CEOs or car mechanics. For the most part, cruisers are just quality people, with astonishing stories and experiences to share. And sharing is what they do best. Before I dive back into another vivid video from the Bahamas, I had to share this one in words first. I believe in words. And, they are the only thing that could do this pair justice. I give you, Pat and Steve:
“Sailboat coming in from the south. Sailboat coming in from the south,” we heard his voice crackling over the radio. Phillip and I were just preparing to drop the hook at our first island in the Berries when he reached out to us over Channel 16. Phillip and I looked around a few times. There wasn’t any other sailboat that was coming in at the time. We literally had the place absolutely to ourselves.
“He must mean us,” Phillip said as he picked up the receiver.
“This is the sailboat coming in from the south,” Phillip said cautiously.
“There are mooring balls just a bit further north of you,” the voice said. “They’re free and good holding. Hell, I helped drop them. The sands and strong shifting currents don’t make for good holding here. You’d be best on a ball,” he said over the radio.
Phillip thanked him for the advice and asked about the Berry Island Club (a place we thought we would go to ashore to grab a sandwich). We thought wrong.
“Hasn’t been kept up in years. It just changed owners, but it’s a dust bucket right now. But, get settled in on the ball, then come ashore to my house. It’s the yellow one on the north end. Feel free to use my dock. The name’s Steve. My wife is Pat. See you soon.”
Phillip and I shared a bit of a what-else-are-we-doing? look and said “Alright, thanks! See you soon, Steve.”
Just like that, a relationship was formed. And, I’ll tell you, I am 100% confident I will not meet two people quite like Pat and Steve as long as I live. They broke the mold and built a new one in its place. My mind is struggling with where to begin. I’ll start where we did.
When Phillip and I tied up the dinghy at the little dock next to the “yellow house on the end” and started making our way up the hill Steve greeted us. He was cheerful, tall, and clad in a hodge-podge of clothes it looked like you would wear to paint a house, oversized and old. His shoes were duct-taped together. His hat was dirty and crooked. And I loved him instantly. You could just tell from the way he shook your hand, to the way he welcomed you into his home, and told you about its trusses he built back in 1982 that Steve was a man who could care less what you wore, what you owned, or how much money you made. He judges character by experience. What have you done with your life and what have you gathered that you can share? Because boy did they! Their food, their home, their time, their stories, their laughter, their help, their advice. Even their toilet paper! And they don’t have much of that there. I’m getting ahead of myself, I know. It’s just so inspiring to meet people like this. My fingers are tingling.
When Pat came out from the back of the house, she, too, looked like a painter’s apprentice, draped in a stained men’s button-down that was three sizes too big for her, sporting blue pants, and pink Crocs, and I loved her even more. She was, just, hilarious, is the best word.
“Would you like a Rum And?” She asked me.
“A rum and … ?” I repeated, a little confused.
“Yeah, rum and whatever we got.”
When we got the truck stuck in the sand on the way to our hot dog party (we’ll get there), Pat plopped down, happily started digging sand out from under the tires, and said: “Well, it wouldn’t have been any fun if we just got there.” I mean … kudos, Pat. Well said.
These people just don’t see any point in getting upset or stressed over things they cannot change. It’s humbling and refreshing. While Phillip and I have met many hearty, resilient, interesting people in our cruising—Pam Wall is a perfect example—Steve and Pat have a story, a past, a presence, and a perspective that reminds me every day that if I wake up and I’m coherent and breathing and walking, it’s a good damn day! Listen to this:
Steve was an engineer. He’s freaky smart and can fix, build, and repair anything. And I do mean anything. He spent a good bit of his adulthood building and growing a program where high school kids built submarines then raced them in a competition. Submarines!? Are you with me? Steve and his son built their yellow house on the island in the Berries themselves. From the ground up. On an island that does not have any running water. No electricity. They sailed all of the building materials, including the trusses he showed me, in on their boat. Mixed concrete by hand in buckets. Built scaffolding out of trees on the island. Can you imagine taking on a project like that? Then, when Hurricane Andrew took the roof off in 1992, Steve built it back. When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2006 and tried to pull it off again, he repaired it.
“It would have ripped the whole thing off like a Band-Aid if the porch roof would have gave. But it didn’t,” Steve said with a wink. “Cause I used 5200 on it. Have you heard of that stuff?”
Have I …
Steve, what a guy. And, Pat, her story is even more inspiring. She was a teacher and helped Steve with the submarine project for many, many years. Before she and Steve began teaching stateside, they (much like Pam Wall) took their two children to live aboard a sailboat, and they sailed around the Caribbean for several years. Pat home-schooled the children and Steve worked odd jobs to allow their kids a childhood rich with experiences and travel. You can see in this photo a framed picture of their boat behind me and Pat.
Gusto they named it.
“Oh, that’s a great name. Live with vigor,” I said. “How did you choose it?” I asked Pat.
“A beer commercial,” said Pat as she imitated guzzling from a can. “When we were thinking about a name for the boat, a Schlitz ad came on that said ‘Go for the gusto,’ so Steve did,” she said laughing.
Pat. She’s just awesome. No matter the situation we found ourselves in, she found humor and an entertaining perspective. I mentioned the stuck truck. That didn’t phase her.
We couldn’t find a good place to make a fire pit to roast our hot dogs: “Use that old toilet,” Pat said. “It’ll be a hot dog potty.” I’m not kidding.
Jostling around in Steve’s Volkswagen creation in the hot, hot sun, Pat was just smiling and cheery. “We call him Mr. Toad,” she said with a snort. She’s not kidding. Steve starts it by touching a wire to the 12V battery that sits behind the passenger “seat” (plastic chairs bolted in) and flicking an “on” button. I’m not kidding.
When talking about the painful root canal Pat had to have a few years back: “We went to Hungary to have them done on the cheap. Steve and I got the ‘tooth’ for one special,” Pat said with a cackle.
When telling us about the horrific plane crash that almost crippled her and took her son’s life: “He lived more in his 21 years than most do in a lifetime,” Pat said.
I hope your heart is beating as hard as mine right now. I look forward to every day, every experience, every stuck truck, and every hot dog potty because of the very fact that it is beating. And because I’ve met people like Pat and Steve who inspire me to keep the right perspective, never sweat the small stuff, and fill every moment of my life with … well … GUSTO!
And, speaking of hearts beating, thankfully, island life requires they be hands-on, hard-working, active people. At 73 and 74, Pat and Steve are able to walk steep hills all over the island. They are more mobile and capable than many, many older people I see in the states, and far healthier. The lifestyle speaks to its own health benefits. Maintenance of the house, rigging up the solar and sistern, and foraging in the sea for food keeps them fit. And, Steve is always fixing something, for either he and Pat, or Dan, Donna, or any of their other five neighbors on the island. Here, Steve is fixing a leak on Dan’s water cistern.
The island has an intermittent population of approximately ten, and eight buildings total, two of which Steve built. He built Dan and Donna’s house up on the hill which has a stunning view of the entire island. The four of them come from such diverse backgrounds, with different educations, careers, and socioeconomic status but, as Pat says: “We all have the same view.”
And boy do they! That’s Steve and Pat’s view! And that’s Plaintiff’s Rest in it!
Love those people. Dan, Donna, Pat, and Steve are all very good friends who spend a portion of each year together in the Berries where they relax, fish, garden, read, and play dominos together every night. It was so fun to be invited to their game and learn about all four of them over many-a Rum Ands!
Oh, but the dominos came after dinner, which we shared with Steve and Pat every night when we were in the Berries. About an hour after we met Pat and Steve in their home, Steve asked us if we wanted to know where the good reefs were on the island. “Of course,” was our response. But before we could get that out Steve was grabbing his wet gear. This is not the kind of guy who just points things out on a map. “Well, let’s go!” he said to our stunned faces. “Get your spear!” Pat shouted to him. “And bring us some dinner.”
Us. They had already considered Phillip and I as part of their crew. Having only known us for an hour, we were already an “us.” It was such a cool feeling. Steve and his spear then took us out and did, in fact, catch us dinner. I got to see myself (for the first time in my life) a fish speared! A lobster stabbed! Fresh dinner caught right before my eyes!
And, remember Steve is doing all of this at 74! What an inspiration. He taught us so much, that very first day, about fish and spearfishing. Phillip was wide-eyed and happily challenged. I was excited and happily hungry! Here, Steve is showing Phillip how to look for the lobster’s antennae and hold gently onto the reef to steady his launch.
We were all so chummy by the time we got done spearfishing and snorkeling, it didn’t phase us at all when we dropped Steve and the fish off at his house and he said: “Y’all go spiff up at the boat and come on back for dinner. Bring anything you’d like.”
“We like eclectic dinners!” Pat shouted from inside (because you have to remember there is no grocery store there, they live off the pantry and land). “We won’t starve!” she promised. And she was right. Every night with Steve and Pat was shared over a fantastic, fresh fish dinner, mixed with a fun side of “canned whatever” and rice. They’ve got lots of rice! And conch! Steve showed us how to look for conch that are fully developed and harvest them, and Pat taught me how to clean a conch with my own two hands.
Once that wiggly alien-looking thing was out, she gave me a tenderizing hammer, told me to “beat the shit out of it, then make conch spaghetti.” You see? I can’t make this stuff up! Island people are so resourceful and creative.
And, every night after dinner, the four of us, Steve, Pat, Phillip, and I, would walk up the hill, a pretty hearty but much-welcomed digestif, to Dan and Donna’s to play dominos till dark.
Our experience in the Berries was just … unforgettable. Sure, the island was beautiful. The spearfishing was thrilling. But, as is often the case: what made the Berries our favorite stop in the Bahamas was hands-down the people. Before we left the island we stopped by Steve and Pat’s place one more time to bring them a little gift, a signed Salt of a Sailor(Pat’s going to love it I’m sure!) and some toilet paper. They were thrilled! You have to really scrimp on that stuff there. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but I’m confident we’ll see Pat and Steve again. Hopefully in the Berries, and hopefully with a spear in hand.
Steve, Pat—now, two of our absolute favorite people—this one’s for you:
Whatever Phillip and I may do, wherever we may go, I know now, thanks to you, we will GO WITH GUSTO!