Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Year in Review

This has been a pretty tough year for us, all things considered. Finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel that isn't a steaming locomotive. 

Family comes first around here and when someone falls ill we try our best to hang tough with them. Especially Jenny who's calling in life was to go to med school. I've met some brilliant people in my life but this woman Trumps them all. My hat goes off to her and with any luck we will see continued improvement for her father. 

During our hiatus on the Treasure Coast we've managed to accomplish a few things on the boat. After delivering this thing down from NC we hauled her and began the arduous task of gutting all plumbing, glassing in transducer holes, removing fifteen sketchy thru hulls and replacing with new proper bronze fittings and seacocks. 
Many of the original seacocks I removed by hand. Not sweet. 

Example of a new flanged seacock. I cut fiberglass backing plates, drilled and tapped holes in them for bronze bolts which were epoxied and screwed into place, then epoxied and 4200'd the whole thing to the hull along with the thru hull. All of this per instruction from Compass Marine. The end result is bullet proof. But we'll see on splash day if I made any errors. 

Then we replaced 8 chain plates. 

This front chain plate was a monster. 

A few of the thru hulls were huge so we had to glass them in and re-drill them for smaller seacocks. This one here was beveled and has 10 layers of woven glass in and out with some kitty hair epoxy in between. I think the original T-hull was for the diesel generator but that's down in Davey Jone's locker now. Going with a Yamaha EF3000IS generator from now on. 

Then we slapped some paint on. 
J and I did all the prep work ourselves so it didn't turn out perfect (we're YouTube experts) but we saved about ten thousand dollars in the end. It looks fine to me but most importantly the hull is clean, dry, and protected. 

In a couple weeks once I'm back from work we will move from the boat yard to an actual marina and continue with upgrading creature comforts. At the top of the list is a new air conditioning unit, then a fridge, counter tops, and floors. Before any of this however, we must acquire our mast from Mack Sails who is replacing the standing rigging and halyards. I still have to get in there and rewire everything. 

This year I also upgraded my boat driving license. This took too many hours of study time and a number of different prep schools but it is done. I've maxed out my ticket and should hopefully never have to take another dang Coast Guard exam again. 
Not all was lost to obligation though. We did spend some time back home in Michigan and Ohio, saw fam and friends, and enjoyed all that has to offer. 
We packed up the beloved Hunter Xcite sailing dinghy and trucked it north for safe keeping. There's just not enough room on the boat for toys like this and besides, the kids can sail her when they visit their Dayma in the summer. 

We are still deciding on marinas for the last few months we'll be here. The Club Med is very tempting as it provides all inclusive type living like any resort. Lots of food, entertainment, sports, pools, and an active European culture so the kids can interact with others in their heritage, but it's hard to justify the cost. Otherwise there are a couple other options that are perfectly suitable as well. Then it's off to the Keys, then Bahamas for the winter. 

Happy Fall

While Gunar has accomplished amazing things on the boat... More on that story to come...  The kids and I have been staying busy.  

We are still supporting my dad on his cancer journey.   

We have taken up quite a few new hobbies.  

And we are trying to do our best to live life to the fullest. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tender To

When you live on a sailboat, your dinghy is your automobile. 

Have you ever seen the guy in the RV towing a nice Jeep Cherokee?  He's got the right idea. 

When your tender is your primary source of transportation in destinations you have worked hard to visit, then why mess around?  Of course, this is my personal opinion. The wife tends to agree. But when we pull up to a secluded island, we want the option of traveling far and fast. After all, exploration is the goal in our minds. 

We've had a number of dinks over the years. Sailing dinghies, putters, eco models, you've seen them all. But with a growing brood we needed (wanted) more. 

Our current dink is a Caribe 13DX with a Nissan 40 two stroke. I'm not sure what the DX means but I think it has something to do with the forward storage locker. It's a heavy rigid inflatable. Probably too much to hang on our davits, but we don't care. This boat will cruise at 25 knots with 5 adults and 3 kids (plus gear) at half throttle. With just me I can top 42 MPH and that's with a dog-eared, under-pitched aluminum wheel. Once I get around to putting something else on the hub I anticipate speeds of 48+ mph. Is that necessary?  Who knows. Is it fun?  Hells yes. Especially if you intend to pull a couple wake borders or zip back from Bimini on a calm day. 

Normally a rig like this can run you upwards of $20 grand. We picked ours up for around $3k. It had a Honda 20 four stroke that barely planed the boat out. We sold the engine for almost the same price we paid for all of it ( who says dudes can't shop) and bought a Nissan (Tohatsu) 2-stroke for like $2500. We did a full service and it's been running like a top ever since. Total out of pocket, around 3 grand. 

Some people like four stroke motors but I simply won't own one, not on a boat anyway. Four strokes are almost there, but manufacturers have a ways to go before they can match the abilities of a two. Yes four strokes are smooth and quiet. That's nice. But two strokes are nearly half the weight and have a power band that trumps the four out of the hole and on plane every time. A 40 two stroke will destroy a 60 four stroke in a race. And to me, that's all that matters. 

We don't hesitate to run down to Jupiter for lunch in this thing. Last time we went offshore. Always loads of fun. For us, the moral of the story is get the fastest dink you can find. It adds a whole new dimension to your cruising lifestyle.