Thursday, November 28, 2013

Friends, Food & Fond Thanksgiving Memories

dock at ortega landing marina jacksonville fl
Ice on the dock Thanksgiving morning at Ortega Landing Marina.
"Don't you think they have kosher turkeys in California?" Mom asked Gram, who hauled along a 17 pound turkey from Buffalo from California for Thanksgiving. Yeah, that was wayyyyy before 9-11 and revised TSA flight carryon regulations.

Yet, this morning's America's Test Kitchen (click here to hear that episode) chose the Kosher Empire turkey as the favorite in their blind taste test of commercially available turkeys, so maybe Gram was onto something after all.  Mom, too was right, they were readily available in California.  Mom remembered; we chuckled at the memory this Thanksgiving morning.
thanksgiving for live-aboards
Steam rising from the pool on a chilly Thanksgiving morning.

That was after Skyping Lili in Slovenia.  Far from home, we loved introducing her and and Tomaz to the US Thanksgiving tradition with all the trimmings last year in Antigua (click here to read about Thanksgiving, Caribbean Style).  As we're not sure when we'll see each other again, we're grateful to stay connected digitally.

Today we enjoyed an abundant "orphan's Thanksgiving" amongst a congenial crowd of 39 folks at Ortega Landing Marina's clubhouse (will update photos pilfered from the marina Facebook page).... We will miss the folks here as we prepare to set sail in a week.  

thanksgiving potluck for live-aboards
Today was a day of rest, other than our potluck contribution of home-made cranberry sauce (recipe follows) and pumpkin pie.   Tomorrow, well, that's another story. Oh, and dunno if the turkey was a Kosher Empire, but it was really, really good.
Shrimp grits... woulda been the perfect Southern turkey-day
breakfast. Alas I've yet to learn to make them with shrimp.

Friday, November 22, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

hypalon dinghy from West Marine
Our new dinghy.  Ahem... davit points are a bit further out;
some adjustment is in order.
Alas, I was deluded on Dec. 4th when I wrongly proclaimed "Dinghy Dramas... Done!" (click here for that). Okay, this time it wasn't really a drama, thank goodness.  Suckers for a "bigger boat" or in this case, dinghy, we are now on our 4th dinghy in a little over a year.  

To be fair, the first two dinghies leaked like a sieve; so much so we threw them away.  Our third (see "Dinghy Dramas") was fine, really.  It was a roll-up, which we figured would be perfect when we added a windvane off our davit, where we currently hang our dinghy when not out and about in it; we'd roll it up and stash it on our foredeck.  At 8', it was light, easy to carry and made of sun-sturdy hypalon.  Only, we decided not to get a windvane after all.  Those long rides from anchorages were slow, all the more so when we drug along heavily loaded down from grocery runs.
boat maintenance from Boatswain's Locker
Thanks to Boatswain's Locker (click here for their info) our
bimini and dodger's back up.  Notice how nicely
the water beads up?

Working at West Marine with access to awesome employee discounts provided strong incentive to "trade up."  Thanks again to Craig's List, we sold our Apex (to a couple with a smaller boat who wanted a roll-up), and bought a larger, ten footer with a rib bottom (fiberglass, non-roll-up).  We stuck with hypalon (click here for specs).

We're waiting until we leave the green slime (watch for a future post on that) in our marina to test-drive our new chariot.  At 10', it's roomier and sits higher on the water.  With a ribbed bottom, it will plane much faster.  Sure, we'll curse it when we have to carry it; not including the weight of our outboard, it 93 lbs. --26 lbs. heavier than our Apex.  
fabric suncreen water repellant
Sunbrella sunscreen and 
water resistance for our bimini
and dodger.  Boatswain recommended

303 Fabric Guard,
Wayne applied it; worked like 

a charm !(click here for product info). 

Wayne got a little taste of that carrying it out to our boat. We're incredibly grateful to the fellow from Lamb's Yacht Center (click here to learn about Lamb's) and his friend with a good-sized truck who spared us lashing it to our tiny Plymouth Neon's roof.  They not only drove it home for us, their "No good deed goes unpunished" was helping Wayne loft it out to to our boat, which is a ways down the dock at Oretega landing.  "What, are you the last boat on the dock?"  they asked, laughing.  "Ummm.... no, but close," we admitted, about a third of the way there.
Ortega Marina Landing Jacksonville FL
A lot more of these empty slips in our
marina as the Southern seasonal
cruising migration begins.

We look forward to our first test drive.  Really. It means we'll once again be footloose and fancy free.  That's just over a week away!

And the countdown to push-off continues!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Boat Beautification Project #67

Exuma, Bahamas,  cruising destimation
(Teaser photo) Bahama Exumas ... we keep in mind this is where
we're headed whilst Wayne works on the boat (and Dana at
West Marine) in Jacksonville FL.  Photo credit to
Okay, I made up the #67:  replace bathroom faucet.  Truth be told, it might or might not be that number on Wayne's well maintained boat to-do project spreadsheet.

It wasn't a must-do safety; and Wayne's been slaving away at many of those.  But on a cold, damp Jacksonville day, temps dipping down into the low 40s with a wind chill sinking further into the high 30s (thank you for sending my down jacket, Phil & Gunnel!), it was the perfect invitation for inside projects.  And it made his Galley Wench very, very happy.

boat improvement projects
Bathroom faucet before....
Maybe it was the 30+ "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"s I gave him on replacing the galley sink.  
boat faucet
Bathroom faucet after.... 'Nuff said!
Soon we'll set sail... first our Florida coast shakeout.   Then we're off and down into the beautiful Bahamas, at long last finding our own piece of private beach, after many months working in lovely Oretga Landing Marina, a tight-knit but all-too-public marina. Meanwhile, Wayne tackles the next item off the list, while our countdown to paradise clock ticks.

Monday, November 11, 2013

(Almost) Naked Boat for Countdown

Journey sailboat getting ready for cruising
Journey feels naked in the cold morning with her sailcovers,
bimini and dodger off in Ortega Landing Marina.
Hooray and oh-my-gosh!  Only 18 days until we set sail, weather windows permitting. Our target date continues to be Dec 1st, 2013.

Meanwhile, our lazarettes are stripped while Wayne completely rewires Journey, steadily checking off his project spreadsheet list daily.  Our boat looks naked with our sailcovers, bimini and dodger gone for repair (click here for earlier post to see why).  

The backseat of our car is jammed with the dinghy we're hoping to sell in exchange for a bigger one (2012 hypalon dinghy, anyone?  perfect for a solo sailor on a smaller sailboat)....

rushing to work
Terrible photo, yeah... rushing from
shower to work, towel in tow, still.
West Marine Cruiser's Forum
announcements in the window.
Meanwhile, West Marine is helping reduce our B.O.A.T. (bring on another thousand) with generous enough employee discounts it feels great to work there 5 days a week.  Stretching myself a bit thin as I couldn't resist pitching in on helping launch an innovative redesigned cast iron skillet (click here to learn about that and it just got covered in Wired -- click here for that), the first cast iron skillet I'll ever use (not counting Dad's, used as a kid).

Anyhow, that's why my posts are a bit thin of late.  Not for lack of material!!!!

Watch for more frequent posts when we set sail.

Meanwhile, where are you at on your cruising schedule?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Brrr… Migration Countdown

weather bar chart jacksonville florida
Yup; we did get unseasonably cold "January"
weather in October.  Weather bar chart from
Wikipedia's Jacksonville FL entry (click here to link to it).
The coldest temperature recorded at Jacksonville International Airport was 7 °F (−14 °C) on January 21, 1985 reports Wikipedia in its Jacksonville roundup (click here to learn more about the largest city by area in the lower 48).   Okay, it didn’t get that cold, but two weeks ago, temps dropping into the 40s overnight inspired us to buy a space heater; a luxury marina shore power makes possible.

“This is January weather!” exclaimed Bertie, my walking buddy, who’s lived here long enough to call herself a local (watch for a future post on Bertie, aka “otter mom”).  We shivered in our sweats in our sweats on our morning walk.

I got used to heat indexes of 100+ F.  Spending the last 16 months in lands where 70+ F is more the norm, anything over that prompts me to reach for warmer wear… for me 40s are darned cold!  Okay, there one one very brief fleecy exception (click to witness its chilling effect).
One of the many items on our to-do list prior to leaving...
fix our bimini and dodger.  Salt air and sunshine are not kind
to many boat parts!

In fact, we’re back to warmer weather again… for now.  Today spaghetti straps were fine on a thin-blooded gal who gets the chills in the low 70s. 

A cold front’s due in next week though, so I’m relieved Wayne’s down to 35 items on our countdown list.

What countdown? 

Setting sail for our winter migration South.  December 1st is our target date for at long last going vagabond again.  We plan to meander down the intracoastal and Florida Atlantic Coast until January; then it’s off to the Bahamas and perhaps points beyond until ~June 2014.  Then it’s back to work again for 6 months over hurricane season.
cruising route map Bahamas and beyond
This is the most ambitious cruising plan option we'd tackle
this year.... Jacksonville Florida to the Spanish Virgins of
Puerto Rico.  Lots of time in the Bahamas, potentially stopping
off in the Dominican Republic.

What list? Fellow cruisers… you know what that’s all about!  Wish us luck and feel free to commiserate.  For cruiser-wanna-bes or curious souls, “the list” is rich grist for future posts.
Jacksonville, Florida, where we currently are, is Point A...
At the very least, our sail will take us down Florida's East Coast,
then into the Bahamas.... its many islands trailing South and East.