August 10, 2013 – All Work and (some) Play – Poolside!

Boat projects were definitely abundant, now that we had the bottom job done on the boat and she was home, tucked safely away in a cozy slip at Palafox Pier:


We found a great slip at the very end, protected by a sea wall on one side with a floating finger dock on the other, and it’s just a short jump out into the Bay:

aerial palafox pier

While tossing the lines and jumping out in the bay is definitely always a better alternative, we had a growing list of things we needed to do to the boat to ready her for some real cruising this winter.   We started it the day of the Survey/Sea Trial many moons ago and it always seemed to be growing.


Full list HERE.

I could go into laborious detail (trust me, the projects were plentiful – I told you, owning a boat is a lot of work!) but let’s get a condensed version, shall we?  Over the course of the summer, amidst anchorages, sunset sails and other fun outings, Phillip and I did the following to the boat:

Changed out the batteries:



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If you recall, the batteries (which were already about 3-4 years old) ran completely down when the boat was unplugged in Carabelle.  As our buddy Kevin had warned us and he ended up being right (hate when that happens!), the complete run-down did have a devastating effect on the batteries.  They were never able to fully recover and truly hold a charge after that, so we had to slap four new ones in.  Not cheap!  But, thankfully, in exchange for exactly 3.5 beers, Bottom-Job Brandon helped us get them in and wired up.


We also cleaned up the wiring in the electronics panel and put in a new bus bar to reduce the number of connections on each terminal:

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We fixed the leak at the base of the mast by injecting silicone in/around the bolt heads and re-taping the boot cover:

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I got a little crafty again with some inexpensive fabrics from a place that rhymes with Schmal-Mart and made a cover for the power cord and fenders:


Now you see that hideous yellow cord …


Now you don’t …   Cord-WOW!  

That thing was a beast to wrestle though.  I tangled with that 50-foot anaconda for three days:



The fender covers were much easier:



(And, yes, this was all crafted with my trusty hot glue gun and stapler.  I love my Swingline!)


“Haa … have you seen my stapler?”

To up the “bling” factor, we polished all of the metal through-out:


And, last but not least, we replaced some gaskets in the coolant system on the engine:

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Yes, some days on the boat look like this.  It’s not all rainbows and sunshine.  And, it’s not spacious either. To get this job done, I had to cram down into the engine room on the boat.  A nice series of me crawling out of this dirty, grimy hole (through a tiny opening in the aft-berth) will help you truly appreciate the tightness of these quarters:


Where’s Annie?


There she is!  Now c’mon out Annie!

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Uggh ….  Grunt … 

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I now know why they call it aft-berth!  That’s about what it felt like – trust me.

But, thankfully, every time we spent a hot sweaty afternoon doing chores on the boat, we always ended it with a dip in the pool by our slip.


We can even see the top of our mast from the pool:


That way, we can sip pinot gris pool-side comfortably knowing she’s at least still up-right and floating.  And, speaking of, I have to mention our Cup-WOW wine glasses that also sit up-right and float in the pool.



I mean, could there be a better invention?  Wooowwww!!

And, the best part is, letting the glass float around in the pool helps warm up too-chilly white wines because the water is pretty warm.  Not for that reason.  I never do that in pools!  I’m always afraid they’re going to have that secret blue dye that will show up and I’ll be feverishly swishing a cloud of blue water toward the old guy next to me with the rubber duckie floatie pointing at him with a face of total disgust.  I never pee in pools!  (At least not without conducting a little squirt dye test first!).

So, with our boat chores done (for the moment at least), our mast upright and our wine perfectly warmed, we enjoyed many-a-lazy afternoon by the pool, which usually progresses in this manner:

Read …


Relax …



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Working on boats is hard!

May 27, 2013 – THE CROSSED!

So, after Dasani bottles and duct tape, what do you think the next most important item on a boat is?  A plunger?  No.  Unfortunately, if the head stops working, that glorious contraption of wood and rubber is not going to save you.  Try again.  Something incredibly important, like transmission fluid or oil?  The infamous ” Johnson rod,” maybe?


A what?!?   A Johnson rod:

Seinfeld: The Fusilli Jerry (#6.20)” (1995)

George Costanza: [about mechanics] Well of course they’re trying to screw you! What do you think? That’s what they do. They can make up anything; nobody knows! “Why, well you need a new johnson rod in here.” Oh, a Johnson rod. Yeah, well better put one of those on!

You’re right.  I’m sure it’s something incredibly important.  But, during those early morning hours of May 27th, as we were coming into the marina in Pensacola, I’ll tell you what it was.  Paper towels.  Strong and brawny ones!
Mmmm … ain’t he a beaut?  And, just for fun – it appears they cleaned old Mr. Brawny up over the last decade.  Apparently today’s “modern woman” just wasn’t digging the 70’s ‘stache and blonde shag, so we get the preppy, shaved, PC version.  Sad times.
Old New Brawny
But I digress.  So, we were nearing the marina and our Dasani catch bin was full to the brim with pink fluid jostling around, just waiting to drip over and spill into the bilge.  While transmission fluid in the bilge is not a huge deal, it’s certainly not an ideal one.  If it gets down there, it’s got to be pumped out and cleaned up and otherwise dealt with.  Needless to say, it was best for us to catch the fluid if we could.  So, I wedged myself down near the open engine and held up a wad of the old Brawnies under the transmission shifter arm to catch the drip until we got just a few minutes away, then I wadded up the biggest bundle of paper towels I could (about the size of a basketball) and shoved it down in the bilge to catch whatever dripped while we docked.  A mighty fine ‘sorbant pad if you will.

And, you laugh, but I now know that the standard-issue oil absorbent pad, which we now keep under the engine at all times, really does look just like a wadded-up Depends undergarment.

So, with my make-shift “Depends” in place, I was ready “get back into life” and get topside to help Phillip.  But, now we’re docking again, and we all know how exceptionally great I am at that.  So, of course, my heart is beating and thumping out of my chest.  My hands are all sweaty and I keep stubbing my toe on things as I’m scrambling to tie lines and hang bumpers.  We were coming in here to the Palafox Pier in Pensacola:

Palafox Pier

From slip

Here’s the birdseye view:


We were planning to just tie up at the fuel dock while we got our things together and wait for the dockmaster to find us a temporary slip for the day.  Our first plan once we got the boat to Pensacola was to have it hauled out for a bottom job.  That’s where they pull it out of the water with giant straps and set it up on jacks in a shipyard to sand and re-paint the hull.  We knew that would mean a couple of weeks out of the water, so we didn’t have a permanent slip lined up yet.  If you recall from the survey, we knew we were going to have to have a bottom job on ours done as soon as we got her home as our surveyor (you remember the ever-charming Kip):

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“Every gal loves a good banging first thing in the morning!”

had found the potential leak in the core where the strut is fastened to the hull as well as several blisters in the paint on the hull that were allowing sea water in (  Saltwater is just rough on everything, and every sailboat needs to have its bottom work redone once every 3-4 years.  We knew it was time for ours so we had scheduled her for a paint a polish as soon as we got back.  But, if you’re checking the calendar, you’ll see the day we pulled into that fateful dock was, unfortunately, Memorial Day (May 27, 2013), so she was scheduled to be hauled out the next business day – May 28th.  As luck would have it, we had arrived a day ahead of schedule this time but if the initial Crossing taught us anything it was to never try to sail anywhere in a hurry.  Always build in a few days’ cushion for weather, wind, boat problems. transmission leaks, complete engine failures, you know – the usual boat stuff.  So, we just needed a temporary spot at Palafox Pier for the night.  A transient slip they are called.   But, the guys that run the marina don’t tend to open up shop at 5:30 a.m. just in case some rogue midnight traveler needs a transient slip, so we planned to tie up at the fuel dock while we waited for the dockmaster to arrive at 8:00 a.m.

This was our path in to the fuel dock:

Path to fuel dock

Now, while I’m sure you may have tired by now of my many harrowing tales of our numerous docking debacles (docking is scary!), I will try your patience for just one more, because the true hero here was Phillip.  The wind was strong that morning (of course!), blowing about 12-15 mph right out of the east:


Which meant it was blowing our nose right off the dock:


As Phillip began pulling the boat up alongside the dock, the wind kept pushing us off and the gap between the bow, and even the midship, and the dock kept widening.  I just couldn’t make the leap (without losing a limb or two or my teeth when I hit the dock on the way down – and, to be honest, I’m kind of fond of all of those appendages – particularly the teeth).  I had a line clenched tight in my hand, this time, but it was just too far to jump.  I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully Phillip did.  He was still close enough to the dock at the stern to leap off, stern line in hand (smart man!) and tie it quick to a cleat.  He then ran forward and shouted at me to throw him the bow line.  I wadded a few loops in my hand, gritted my teeth and tossed it up in the air.  Phillip and I watched breathlessly as it snaked out, slowly unwinding and floating toward him.  It was like Rookie of the Year pitching the famous “floater”:


You can imagine the dramatic Hollywood score playing in the background and the bright clang of the cymbals as Phillip caught the tail end of the line.  Trumpets blared!  He pulled the bow of the boat to the dock and told me to go back to the stern and kill the engine.  I did, and the silence of the moment suffocated us.  Everything was suddenly so inordinately quiet.  There was no motor running, no shouting, no water or waves.  Just silence … and safety.  Phillip and I just sat for a minute on the dock, staring at her in disbelief.  There she was, our boat, tied to the dock in Pensacola.  She was safe, secure, home.  We had finally done it.