Monday, August 25, 2014

Party Rockers in the House Tonight

We drove into town (Ashtabula, Ohio) on a Thursday night.  We were greeted by cousins also visiting, and the first party began family reunion style.  

The neighborhood annual summer party was themed pirates this year and just so happened to occur shortly after our arrival.  Though the kids didn't have to dress up to fit the part, we crafted a costume out of some dollar store finds.  Argh!!  

Amidst all the excitement, Pip sprained her knee and had to take a time out from guard dog duties.  She had a resting party.  

We picked Gunar up near Niagra Falls and brought him home.  We celebrated with a hooray our family is complete and back together party.  

And then we honored our Dayma with a very special birthday party.

Tonight, we attended a Finnish heritage party complete with a Fish Fry put on by one of Gunar's first employers.  

These days, life goes from one party to the next.  We shall never look back and say we did not live while we could...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Power of the Woods

I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan.  Although it continues to grow now that Hollywood and the elite are coming in and setting up camp, along with everyone else, there is still a fair amount of small town charm remaining.  We have unsalted waters where the biggest stress is a zebra mussel cut (thanks to ballast water from foreign vessels) or the random leach having a go at some hemoglobin (though I hear some pay big money for their cleansing abilities).  

Something I miss most of all from our life of travel is the ability to walk in the woods as I can do up north.  The woods of the north is simple and safe.  The foliage is easily passable and the predators are non existent.  As we journey down the east coast and through the islands, we learn that this is not the case.  We have to maintain awareness as we hike of snakes, gators, poisonous insects, etc.  etc. etc.  We have to stay on paths and maintain a vigilance.  Not all woods are created equal.  

We spent nearly two weeks at a secluded family cabin where the kids ran without restraint, built forts, and tested the limits of nature.   As it was surrounded by woods and water, it was a dream come true for kids looking to experience a bit of freedom.  Such is tough in a world where you have to keep your little ones under your heels.  They stayed away from anything with three leaves (poison ivy possibilities) and donated a fair amount of blood to starving mosquitos while having the time of their lives.   They kayaked to cross paths with other kids and painted their faces with charcoal from last nights campfires to blend in to their surroundings better.  They were wild and they were free.   Armed with their imaginations, there was no creature that could hurt them and nothing that held them back from living. Such freedom is a lost art, if not a total impossibility.  And when the oppertunity arises, most do not know how to take advantage of the great outdoors in these electronic times.   

I love the cottage.  It had been in the family since the fifties.  It is very special... Orange carpet and all.  I am so grateful for the chance to share it with my little people.   It is surrounded by woods, Platte Lake, and Platte River.  Having the company of my cousins and family makes it even better!    

Fallon didn't skip a beat and tagged right along with my cousins in jumping off the Frankfort pier into Lake Michigan.  

A little mouse was captured thanks to Kayden's eagle eyes and lived to see another day.  Kai released him by the compost pile.  I'm sure he was glad to be transplanted to such a spot.  

There is much more that I failed to capture on film but we have many memories that will always be with us.  Thank you all for making us feel so loved.  

Now onto OHIO where more Great Lakes  fun awaits us.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fastest refit in the history of boating

Here we are about 3 weeks into the 2nd phase of the refit. The boat is torn apart and new parts are arriving daily. So far our new wind generator has arrived, nylon black water tank, new electric toilet, and 8 new chain plates are being fabricated. The mast work is being handled by a rig shop so that's a totally different project. 

Out of everything that needed to be done, 3 items were of the utmost concern to me: Standing rig, chain plates, and seacocks. It's funny that atleast 3 boat people told me the chain plates would likely be fine but at 30+ years old they needed to go. Upon disassembly we learned that most of the bolts holding them in turned to dust or fell apart when a wrench was taken to them. 

While new plates are being made I might just roll on an extra coat of West System for added insurance. 

We opted to put the crapper tank under the v-berth as opposed to the dining area for obvious reasons. 

And thar go the timber. 

The final project before splashing the boat will be to remove all the old through-hulls and Groco seacocks. This is a job I do not want to do but if we are to eventually sail to the Med or across the Pacific then it will have been necessary. I used to be of the mindset that most things can be rebuilt, but in this case they are cheap enough to justify the replacement. And there is no better security offshore than new seacocks. 

We also ordered a new anchor windlass as the original was kaput. When living on the hook it's important to have a good strong windlass. In most conditions I can pull the anchor by hand but in an emergency or if I were to become incapacitated from too much insane partying, there'd be no other way to retrieve the anchor and all of its chain. With this thing we can just push a button and up she goes. 

Also while the boat is hauled, Jenny and I are going to paint the topsides. Normally this is work left to the professionals but I'm confident we can do a good job. We've painted a few of our past boats with success and are looking forward to this little project to do together. Besides that it will save us about 4 grand which is always nice nice. The paint is beyond compound buffing if that's what some of you were thinking. Even one coat of new paint will preserve the glass for the future. And we'll also muck on a couple more coats of anti-foul even though the bottom was painted recently. A little extra won't hurt a thing, except the barnacles. 

Once back in the water we'll finish up with a couple of creature comforts like a new double drawer refrigeration system. The fridge that came with the boat was beyond any hope of ever working again. 
And maybe some new counter tops and teak flooring. There are other miscellaneous projects but these are the major things we are working on. Before heading offshore we will eventually instal an RO system and hopefully a new diesel generator but we'll see. And central AC so I don't have any more flashbacks from Nam. 

Meanwhile it is fun in the sun up North. Jenny and the spawn are enjoying their time with friends and family at the summer cottage in Michigan. 

No greater treasure than a dead snake. 

And wild turkey feathers. 

Pontoon boats have come a long way since hill billies first invented them with empty oil drums and plywood. 

Uncle Brian caught a Great Lakes Piranha. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

When In Stuart...

We lived in Stuart, FL on and off for the past five years.  When we first purchased our initial cruising boat, the Aslan, off Craigslist over half a decade ago, we brought her to Stuart to do a simple refit before hitting the Bahamas.  When we were chased back from the Bahamas by hurricane Irene, we sought shelter in Stuart and rode out the storm.  For us, Stuart is a familiar zone.  

After securing a yard for Refuge, we spent a few days with my folks and relished in the luxuries of a bathtub, laundry machine, ice, and cable. 

As we are beach dwellers, we visited Hutchinson Island beaches on a few occasions.  Many sea turtle nests line the beach.  May we someday catch a live hatching.  

Who knew leatherback sea turtles could grow to such sizes?  Meet my folks.  

We checked out the Florida Oceanographic Center.  Petting and feeding stingrays is a surreal experience.   It was nice to get up close and personal to some that were de-barbed and touch their silky cartilage.  They always flock to us in the wild but remain aloof.  At the center, we fed them fish bits tucked between our fingers and it felt like a soft small vaccum pull as they grazed. 

We took in a "mad science" presentation on the power of air and each little guy was called upon to assist with an experiment and answer questions.  

And Kai turned 6!!!   So we celebrated with How to Train Your Dragon Two.  Amongst his assortment of gifts were new threads for all three kids and glowing wands that made terrific microphones.

We are on the road again.  This time north bound.