Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quickie: Exploding Pipes & Good PR

journey abacos bahamas
Thanks, Ann Gates for this rare photo of Journey, our
365 sailboat  with all her sails up in the Abacos May '14.
Night before last we got to the apartment we're about to vacate for our boat and were greeted by a horrific stench.

The pipes backed up and exploded raw sewage all over our bathroom.

Ugh (massive understatement)!!!

Needless to say we're busy with the Rubik's cube of how to fit everything at once into our 150 square feet of living space on the boat.

Fellow cruisers -- you know it's a rare thing when your boat is drier and smells nicer than a landlubber dwelling!  Well, at least it makes us a lot less likely to miss our temporary dirt dweller digs!

More about all that, soon, including provisioning for a gluten free diet at sea for 2 years.

Meanwhile, featured us as sailors in this "tiny houses" article.

Location Location
Jacksonville Florida's NAS Mulberry Cove Marina (N30.12.980 W81.40.234).  Preparation, perspiration and anticipation.... Welcome to the wonderful world of getting ready.  And yet, the countdown to go is ticking down rapidly.  Best guess?  We set sail between the first and second week of December to the South Pacific.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tornados & Mast Monkeys: Cruiser Prep "Adventures" Continue

julian Crisp Sparman mast monkey
Julian points out some sail
re-rigging strategies at
Green Cove Springs.
With naked sails and our boom lashed to the deck, on Saturday Wayne motored away from Green Cove Springs work yard under leaden skies, a chill brisk wind in his face.  

While he arrived safely at JAX NAS Mulberry Marina before dark, cruiser preparation was still in full throttle.  Sunday marked our first baby steps putting Journey back in order to set sail for at 8,000 miles or more, and become our 150 square foot home for the next two years.

What a difference a day makes!  

Sunday sparkled with sunshine.  I was roasting in my cold weather garb, totally appropriate for Saturday, and loving it.  Pretty awesome for November weather.

pearson 365 sailboat
Julian scales Journey's mast.  See him up top?
Then came Monday morning.  

Maybe March can be a lion or a lamb, but it's got nothing on November!  

It started out beautifully balmy, ideal for the final touches in replacing the last bits of our rigging.  Julian Crisp, aka "Sparman" worked us into his busy schedule and was motivated get the job done ASAP, which suited us perfectly.

Bit by bit, the fluffy wisps of clouds became blobs and banks, while the wind and water whipped, swaying Julian to a fro, albeit not gently.  WIthin three minutes after it was clear the base was on tornado warning and lighting was striking about a mile away, all Julian's tools were inside Julian's truck as the thunder, lightening and downpour struck.  Whether the job was done or not, an incoming tornado was a jolly good enough reason to stop for the day!

julian sparman mast monkey cruising preparation
Julian "Sparman" aka mast monkey at work.
And today, the next day, cold, clear but calm.  Journey's rigging is ready to go.

As someone who still remembers clearly a schoolmate racing a storm front to shore in a small boat when she struck by lightening and killed, two days before the seventh grade, I have an exceptionally keen respect for lightening.

near jax nas marina
Waterspout!  Not too far away
near Jacksonvillle Florida downtown.
Photo compliments of 
Janet Farah
Thank you, Julian, and Wayne.  Normally, I enjoy being a mast monkey for simple jobs that don't require a lot of strength.  This rigging work was anything but.  Julian, I am especially grateful for your nerves of steel, and the good sense to get the heck outta dodge before it was too late.  

jax nas mulberry cover marina
Wayne gives Journey a scrubbing
in the serene Sunday sunshine at
JAX NAS Mulberry Cove Marina.
Location Location
Jacksonville Florida's NAS Mulberry Cove Marina (N30.12.980 W81.40.234).  Preparation, perspiration and anticipation.... Welcome to the wonderful world of getting ready.  And yet, the countdown to go is ticking down rapidly.  Best guess?  We set sail between the first and second week of December to the South Pacific.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Easy Does It -- Journey Gets Wet (Cruising Prep)

green cove springs moving pearson 365 sailboat
Green Cove Springs tractor and crew is ready before we are
to make way for the next sailboat in the work yard.
Part of cruising preparation often includes periodically hoisting the boat out of the water for maintenance, then, eventually returning it to its watery womb.

As a boat owner, it's an unnerving experience, watching relative strangers lift, suspend and move your 9 ton baby across crushingly hard surfaces.  Then it gets propped atop widely spaced seemingly spindly stands, excruciatingly close to other boats atop equally spindly stands, masts high like a herd of tightly confined antisocial giraffes, tall and close, but not touching.
green cove springs marina
Whoosh!  Just like that -
Journey's out of the work yard.

The reverse process is both more exciting -- getting ready to resume our adventures! -- and more stressful.  

Yesterday marked Journey's day to return to water, exiting Green Cove Springs, her temporary dry dock of the last 5 months.
green cove springs marina
Journey moves from tractor to Travel Lift,
about to be suspended by just a few belts.

It was a chilly day with a cold breeze blowing.  The skies were leaden, the day dark.  Our boat was scheduled to begin its move at 2:30 pm.  We'd planned to prep the boat for sailing, and arrived later than we'd wanted to, at 1:15 pm.  

pearson 365 sailboat in travel lift
Travel Lift moving Journey
from the yard
approaching the water,
viewed from the stern.
There wasn't a lot to do; an hour and 15 minutes was plenty of time for some cleaning, set up and straightening and a quick check to see what we'd need was in working order.  Besides, when our friend Ann of Krazy Lady left, she was scheduled to leave at 9 am, and left closer to 1:30 pm.

We pulled up to see the tractor and crew taking down the stands and moving our boat into the tractor.   No prep time for us!  Wayne climbed aboard.  My job was to send him off with lunch and warm clothes, drive to JAX Naval Air Station (NAS) Mulberry Cove Marina, get us checked in and be there to assist with docking upon Journey's arrival.

boat maintenance and repair in work yard
Likety split; another boat in
"Journey's" work yard slot.
Within less than 1/2 hour, another boat was sitting where Journey was and Journey was suspended over the water.   

Silently, we asked ourselves.... 

  • "Will the boat still float?"  
  • "Will the engine start?"
  • "Did the repairs work?"  (the v-drive, shaft, propeller, impeller...)
  •  "How quickly do I need to move my boat before the next one needs me to be gone?"  
  • "Will I make to my destination safely and before dark, successfully dodging the plethora of crab pots in the fading light?"

pearson 365 sailboat in travel lift
Drum roll please.... Journey is about
to drop into the water.
In just minutes, another boat was scheduled to be on the dock where Journey just dropped.

The experience conjured up the distant memory of my brother taking me for a late night joy ride in his souped up Datsun 610.  As he sashayed the car through the curvy hills of Santa Clara County's unpopulated Almaden Hills, he glanced at me and commented, ""You're awfully relaxed for someone who knows I did all the brake work on this car myself!"  "I wish you hadn't said that," I retorted, getting a better appreciation of the adage, "Ignorance is bliss."

The engine sputtered several times before starting.  Wayne, urged me aboard,  and applied a little chemical assistance to the engine, while I pressed the starter button once.  Presto!  Later, I kidded Wayne, "She just needed me to start her!"  I hopped off and Wayne pushed off....
read for  mulberry cove marina
"She floats!" Wayne exclaims with great relief.
Next up, will the engine start?

Journey was fully in the water and sailing -- well -- motoring, as our our disassembled rigging was still on the to-do list by 1:15 pm, 15 minutes before she was scheduled to begin to move.  She arrived, safe and sound at JAX Mulberry Cove Marina at twilight, safe and sound.

We love adventure, but when it comes to the mechanics, we like it best when "Easy does it," is the order of the day.
pearson 365 sailboat
And away she goes!

Location Location
Journey is at Jacksonville Florida's Mulberry Cove Marina (N30.12.980 W81.40.234) until early December, waiting for us to set sail for the South Pacific.  We'll be moving back aboard, finishing up her rigging, cleaning and provisioning, trying to finally decide what our long distance communication system will be (ham radio and modem? sat phone?  a host of smaller simpler hardware and software pieces?) as well as a host of other cruising preparation before we take off.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Splash! (South Pacific Sailing Countdown)

cruising preparation
This is how boats are moved from land into the water.
This is another sailboat at Green Cove Springs Marina
about to splash.
Less than a month and we begin our sail to the South Pacific!

Later today, after a 6 month sailing hiatus, our boat is "splashing" (going from dry land storage and work yard into sailable waters) -- fingers crossed.  It's both incredibly exciting, and a true gut-wrenching time.  We're hoping and even silently praying to Neptune that Journey is as or more ready to go than we are.

Assuming all systems are "go," Wayne will solo sail -- well, motor as not much wind is predicted today-- our Pearson 365 sailboat the several hours it takes to arrive at Jacksonville Naval base's Mulberry Cove Marina.  I will drive there to meet him with our car -- one of many silly small but important logistical details that need to be planned ahead.

st augustine legion of honor
Ann aka "Krazy Lady"
demonstrates how to properly
demolish a Boston bug
the night before our splash 
the St. Augustine Legion of Honor
$12.50 lobster dinner night.
We'll tie off, spend the next two nights there.  Then we'll begin transitioning from our temporary land-lubber apartment to the boat, provision what we can load that we'll need for the next two years for our 8,000+ nautical mile sail to Australia, or, as I prefer to call it, "Oz."  We officially vacate our apartment December 1st.

More soon, backtracking on our life in the yard, current preparations and plans!  Meanwhile, please wish us a smooth start of this first leg of our return to the great wet blue beyond.

cruising preparation
Journey, our Pearson 365 sailboat on the stands at
Green Cove Springs Marina work yard.
Location, Location
Temporarily land bound in Jacksonville, FL, USA.  Journey’s on the hard in Green Cove Springs (N29.58.9 W81.38.8) until hurricane season ends in November.  Then we'll finish up our pre-cruising provisioning, boat maintenance, repairs and upgrades and set sail for the South Pacific, through the Panama Canal.  Target date to set sail?  December "something" 2014.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wanna Sail Away?

dana greyson dana grayson sailboat cruising
One of the first "1,000 sunsets" my husband
promised we'd share, cruising.  This one's in the
Copeland Islands, Canada on a 26' O'Day
we owned before our Pearson 365 sailboat.
We co-owned it with another sailor, each paying
$2,500 for it.  We loved that little boat.
Just sailing away (or cruising if you're serious about going the distance as I talked about on NPR's Closing the Loop - link to GWT audio)... whether you consider the notion exciting,  romantic,  terrifying,  or crazy these days out of a world population of 7 billion, there's about 10,000 of us cruising.*  We are a rare breed, but we're not alone.  

When my captain and better half Wayne and I chat with folks intrigued with the idea of cruising, we hear a lot about fears and excuses.  And we know what it takes to "just go."  That conversation happens with such frequency and regularity, it's captured in this "Just Go" blog post about cruising (click here for that).

Whether you're serious or just curious about blue water cruising, there is one truly definitive book I recommend above all others on the topic:  "The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising" by  Beth Ann Leonard.  With over 110,000 nautical miles of sailing and two complete circumnavigations, Beth knows her stuff.  

cruising planning essential guide
This must-read book addressed all my concerns
and answered all my critical questions when we
were deciding if we wanted to go cruising.
What I appreciate most is Beth goes well beyond her own experience, and integrates a ton of research from other sailors.  Best of all, she boils it down into a clear, easy to understand description of what it's like, from the very beginning addressing the fears and concerns most of us have who consider long term sailing.   Beth even takes into account this kind of sailing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.  We too know of sailors whose boat seems to be held together by duct tape and sheer guts and whose diet seems to consist more of beans and rice and rice and beans (and a lot of fish and coconuts)... to substantially sized boats with all the bells and whistles and the ability to for its captain and crew to fly away several times a year.  Bottom line:  whatever level you're at, Voyager's Handbook is for you.

sailing pearson 365 sailboat
This is us -- Capt. Wayne Seitz and me,
Dana Greyson, cruising the Bahamas in 2014.

As for us, after our first year, sailing a new-to-us boat 1600 nautical miles through a myriad of typical  and incredibly frustrating "new" boat owner breakdowns, our confidence was shattered.  Yet, along with the lows, we were well on our way to appreciating the "1,000 sunsets" my husband promised at the start of our journey.  We love the simplicity and beauty of sailing and feel incredibly lucky we are able to do it.

Last year, instead of our initially planned foray down to Panama, through the canal, into the South Pacific and off to Australia (the land of Oz), we traveled the more popular cruising grounds of the Bahamas.  We've now sailed to 13 countries and over 4,000 nautical miles.  Thanks to that and some upgrades and repairs to our boat (thank you West Marine for your terrific employee discount!), our confidence is restored and we're ready to resume our plans to head to the South Pacific.  Considering on our boat we share a mere 150 or so square feet (though with one helluva back yard) for a long, long, time, restoring our confidence was pretty danged important.

As for you, now that you've read this, what are your plans?

*In his Cruising World article "Where We Explore" Jimmy Cornell defines cruisers as "People who set off on a long voyage, usually of several years, whose aim is to eventually complete a circumnavigation" (though only about 150-200 boats do, annually).

sailing away boat maintenance
Journey's first day in Green Cove Springs Marina's
work yard.  It was not one of our better days.
More on that soon.
Location Location
At the moment we're engaged in one of the least glamorous aspects of sailing, the true nitty-gritty of getting our boat ready to resume sailing after hurricane season.  This week our boat, Journey, a 36 1/2 foot 1977 Pearson 365 sailboat, moved from storage into the work yard at Green Cove Springs, Florida.  Lots of sweat, angst, dirty fingernails and some level of pride, satisfaction and excitement.  We're set to "splash" November 18th, and plan to set sail this December for Panama and the South Pacific.  While we've considered circumnavigation, our goal is to arrive in Australia in two years. That's 8,000 nautical miles "as the crow flies;" we may well sail three times that by the time we arrive.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

SCUBA Lessons: Serendipity @ West Marine

scuba later
Dancing on the beach after our Hawaiian wedding;
SCUBA was the next day.
SCUBA lessons in near-freezing water with visibility so poor I could barely see my own hand.  Tacoma Washington in February is not the most ideal place to get SCUBA certified.  The payback for my SCUBA lessons was diving in Hawaii for our honeymoon with my SCUBA certified husband.  Holding hands with Wayne, swimming together underwater in the warm, clear Pacific among the near shore reefs was unforgettably sweet.

Then several years went by without any SCUBA diving.  Even our last two years in the Caribbean, our below water experiences were all free diving or  snorkeling or using our hooka (not all hookas are for breathing tobacco).

boat maintenance and repair
Wayne prepares to descend with the "aid"
of our hooka (the yellow tank and clear
air hose) for an underwater boat repair
in Pointe a Pitre Guadeloupe in
December 2012.
Our hooka was scary.  We inherited it with the boat.  While we admire the thrifty cleverness of hooking an air compressor to a hose to get hull work done without free diving, using it freaked me out.  It required running our Honda Generator to power it, but the generator's sound was handily drowned out by the jackhammer-like noise of the compressor.  Breathing with the compressor was not smooth and easy; it was more like gasping for air and not quite getting satisfied.  It didn't help that my first stints with it were unsuccessful attempts to discover something (find a dropped item, check out what was causing vibration on our propeller shaft) in silty water.

jacksonville fl west marine sponsored
Cris of Guardian SCUBA explains how to use
the regulator to breathe underwater.
As we prepare to set sail for two years sailing the South Pacific, from Florida to Australia, we decided the time has come to ditch the compressor and get at least one SCUBA tank and the requisite gear to use it.  As we venture out into deeper anchorages and more isolated areas, becoming more self-sufficient is paramount.   That likely includes more underwater boat work.

Then, serendipity struck!

The folks at West Marine Jacksonville Florida Town Center welcomed me back to work.  Lo and behold, since last year the store added a dive shop!  Great gear, good prices made even better with my West Marine employee discount (shameless plug -- West Marine Dive students get a 25% discount on their Mares dive gear).  Better still, our store got tapped to pilot selling SCUBA lessons in conjunction with Guardian SCUBA, who offers SSI certification (SSI covers the same skills at its better known counterpart, PADI).

The pool work portion for the classes are held in a pool a block and a half from our apartment, just a few weeks before we move back onto our boat.  I couldn't resist showing up for West Marine and Guardian's first lessons -- a free orientation and dip in the pool, fully geared up!  It was amazing just how much nicer the Mares gear was than when I took lessons back in 2007.  Everything was so easy to get into and out of, fit comfortably and the weight pouches were much easier to use than the unwieldy weight belts from the days of yore.  Plus, the enthusiasm of the Guardian folks is infectious; it's impossible not to get excited, and their unflappable attitude quickly resolves any learning hiccups.  
jacksonville fl
High fives... not an official dive hand signal,
but a congrats on our completing them prior.

scuba lessons jacksonville fl
As a savvy dad himself, Jon figures it's smart to get
this little girl into mask and fins while her parents
are busy getting used to their SCUBA gear.
"Was it cool?" Cris, the instructor asked (Cris shot and provided the video clip  - Thanks, Cris!).  Yes, I agreed, though itching to take this awesome experience out beyond the confines of the pool, and into a tropical wonderland teeming with life... I can hardly wait to swim with the fishes again, this time, deeper and longer than my snorkel alone allows.

Even if our SCUBA is mostly for anchor management, changing zincs and to keeping our boat hull free of barnacles and other unsavory attachments, it will feel good to do it with confidence in myself and in our equipment.  Best of all, anytime I get into dive gear, I'm reminded of my Hawaiian wedding and honeymoon.

jacksonville fl
Yes!  Jon's diversion worked.  
This couple is ready to take on
the next step... full-fledged 
SCUBA lessons for their
planned trip to the Philippines.
Location Location
Just a few more weeks in our Jacksonville, FL apartment. This week our boat moves from Green Cove Springs Marina storage into the work yard, to have its mast pulled and re-rigged,  a new bottom job, buffing and whole host of other maintenance tasks.  We're set to splash November 18th, and head towards the Panama Canal sometime this December.  

This morning in Jacksonville is clear at the moment, but 44 degrees F right now.  Looking forward to heading South soon!