Boat Food! - Chicken &/or Veggies and Dumplings.

It's a one-pot wonder on a cold, blustery day.  And this weekend was a perfect day for dumplings.  This is for chicken and green bean (weird combo, right?  But it was good!) dumplings, but I'll add info below for veggie/vegan/gluten free changes.


Water in the Bilge.

Yep, there's been water in the bilge. Actually - we've had water in the bilge since right after we bought the boat.


They like us, they really, really like us!

I cannot for the life of me remember where that quote is from.  And I'm heading off to teach some yoga and TRX, so I either have time to Google or blog.  Choosing blog.  Clearly.  Can you tell me what it's from?


Cha Ching - You're welcome West Marine. aka Chart Plotter Replacement

Did you read that post last week?  You know, the one about the chart plotter taking a nose dive mid-sail?  Mark worked with it - checking wires, looking for corrosion, etc.  It would flash on, then die again.  We finally accepted the fact that it's 10 year old technology and we need to move on.
That resulted in a week of technical research.  And the resulting paralysis of information overload.  We NEED a chart plotter.  We sail this boat based on technology.  We know our local waters, but are heading south in a month.  Sure we have an ICW chart book that shows us stuff, but it's from 2007, I think.  And as much as people have insisted that we need paper charts, the electronic versions are much more up to date.  Plus I'm a sucker for computerized anything.
We also really want to upgrade to radar.  Luna Sea came with loads of great equipment - solar panels, an Epirb, life raft, (relatively) giant fridge/freezer, AC/heater, etc.  But if we're going to take her across an ocean, I'd feel a lot better on night passages knowing that we can see what's in our path.
As we NEED the chart plotter and WANT radar, we need two that are compatible.  We ended up landing on a Garmin chart plotter/radar combo.  We'd gone to West Marine to touch and feel and experience the various chart plotters in real life - and while the boat is currently loaded with (old) Raymarine technology, we both feel that the Garmin electronics are much more user friendly.  AND West Marine currently has a chart plotter/radar combo on sale.  So we did it.  Mark loaded the online shopping cart with the combo, binoculars, and a hand held VHF combo pack.  I don't know the total cost but he groaned a bit when the cart hit the $2000 mark.  But hey - that's a lot less than the potential damages caused from running aground in unknown waters and it's a solid starting point for us as other pieces of equipment die - as I'm sure they will.  We can add on to this system, slowly (hopefully not all at once!) replacing the remaining systems with compatible Garmin electronics.  For now, our current depth sounder/speedometer is working fine, so it stays.
I don't know that we'll get the radar installed before the December trip, but that chart plotter installation is happening as soon as it shows up in the mail.  As is the davit installation - likely all arriving at the same time to create a giant pile of projects next weekend.
In the meantime, here's the chart plotter we went with (I think it's actually the one that Mark played with last weekend when Topanga stopped by) :

GPSMAP® 740s
Garmin 740s
  As much as we hate to spend money, it IS why we bought the boat long before our plans to set sail - we can afford to replace things and leave with the safest boat possible.  And we'll have plenty of time to learn the new systems, to boot!

You guys have any experience with this unit?


Luna Sea makes a new friend.

We've had a few boats stop in and drop anchor just across the creek from Luna Sea over the past month.  It's a quiet (free!) little spot that is close to ocean access for people to hang out in as they head south.  This past weekend we had the pleasure of  meeting John and Cassie from Topanga.  (you can check out each of their blogs via the link attached to their names.) These guys are a little younger than us - which we're learning is a bit of an oddity in the sailing community.  People tend to wait until retirement to leave their jobs and go see the world.  But over the past couple of years I've noticed more and more blogs written by younger couples.  It's nice to know we won't be the only crazy people to leave our perfectly safe jobs to go traipsing around the world, Christopher Columbus style.
Anyway - John and Cassie and their adorable dog Dexter dropped anchor Saturday night and headed over to Luna Sea for some dinner and drinks.  It was great to meet them and talk about their trip.  They're only a few months in, so it's still all new to them and gives us a fantastic glimpse into where we hope to be before too terribly long.
Sunday we all slept in before a brunch of sausage and gravy (I NEVER make this, but it was pretty tasty) and then Mark and I headed over to check out Topanga.  We keep running into sailors that have a TRX but don't use it - so as usual I offered to teach them a few things.  I love this thing and am always happy to share how great of a workout it is.  Didn't hurt that I offered lessons after they'd had a few drinks Saturday night...  People will agree to anything once the southern vodka starts pouring.  (*side note: we didn't realize anyone made southern vodka, but apparently it's a thing here in GA...)

Here are some pictures - pretty much stolen from Cassie's recent post on their visit to Savannah:

John and Mark finding a good height to hang the TRX on Topanga
Cassie working on her triceps so she can keep pulling up that manual anchor.

John giving it a whirl

Mark and I hanging out on Topanga
It was really great to meet Cassie, John and Dexter - and even though my dogs are rude and tried to eat Dexter once or twice, it was fun to share stories.  And their boat is gorgeous - I'm still coveting those couches.  As John continues to stretch their cruising time line, I have high hopes that we'll meet up again in a much warmer climate!  (they brought a horribly cold Canadian front with them - thanks, guys.)


Prepping for Shake Down - wifi, dinghies and safety netting, oh my.

At least I guess that's what you'd call it - a shake down sail?  We have 3.5 weeks in December that are FREE!  Free of work, free of school, free of any obligations.  We are heading South!

We don't really have a plan.  I figure with that long we can spend 1 week sailing South - looking for sun, and then redetermine from there.  I want to have plenty of time to get back - in case weather doesn't cooperate, etc, before work starts back up for both of us and school starts back up for me.  But I'm really looking forward to getting out and sailing - just the two of us,and our little weenies.

In the meantime, we're in prep mode!  We've got the safety netting up for the dogs and it's working nicely.  We picked up a 2nd dog life jacket, so we no longer have to choose which dog gets to live when we go for a sail. And we brought the dinghy to the dock and the motor is working - so we're mobile!  Davits have been ordered (from two different companies! Oops.  Got that straightened out though) and will be installed asap.
Safety netting has been installed around the cockpit to keep the dogs from sliding off when we're heeling.

Not only is the engine here, but we've also got it mounted in its home on the stern.
I've started some very basic provisioning (just threw a couple of extra items in the cart when I was at Sam's the other day...)  Here are some more prep items I'd like to accomplish in the very near future:
  • A wifi booster - still have no clue which one to go with, but need to get it ordered/installed/learn to use it soon!
  • Get the proper lightbulb for the anchor light - I was up the mast this past Sunday to install one, but it turns out to be the wrong one.  Mark has ordered the correct one, in LED form, and I'll get on back up the mast as soon as it arrives.  I also need to check out the steaming light to see which bulb it uses, as it is out as well.  (we run an LED up the halyard when we anchor, y'all, we don't just float around all invisible.)~~~~ update here - the crazy looking LED light finally made it from Singapore.  Too bad that it, too, is the wrong type of bulb.  Another (proper) bulb has been ordered...
  • We'd like to get a hand held VHF and need to get some binoculars
  • Serious provisioning.  This is a test run, so I want to practice provisioning for longer stints.  While we will have easily accessible stores along the ICW, relative to being out in the ocean, I want to see if I can provision without needing to count on the stores.  But it will be nice to know they're there for backup!
  • The chart plotter may or may not be dead.  It went out yesterday mid-sail, but Mark seems to have revived it.  Looks like maybe a corroded wire...  Hard to believe, right?  Corrosion on a boat.  Thinking of getting the Navionics app for my phone as a backup.  I did not like sailing around without our chart plotter - at least we were in home waters and know the channel/sand bars here.
  • Sleeping bags!  Holy smokes it got cold here Friday night.  Apparently these crazy Canadians brought their native weather with them.  We have a heater, but won't have the luxury at anchor, so we'll need to bring along a couple of our sleeping bags, just in case. 
We are heading to the boat show in Miami in February, so we want to only purchase the necessities for now.  We want to see what's out there before we make any big purchases.  I'm thinking we can get so much more for the money, technologically, than could be had when the current systems were purchased in 2007.  We'd like to have AIS and radar before we shove off the dock for good.  And after we noticed our crazy water consumption this week, maybe a water maker!  We're working on our consumption rates, as well, but we'll see how that goes.  No clue yet where to stick a water maker on this sucker.

Any thoughts/experiences/opinions/suggestions, etc?


Boat Food - Chili!

It's freezing around here.  That's not really a frequent occurrence waaay down here in Savannah, GA.  But it's a great excuse to make a big ole pot of chili - boat style!
I found a big pot on board (we still find random things stashed around everywhere) and got to work.  It's really an easy thing to throw together with stuff you probably have on your boat (and if you don't maybe you can add it, depending on your location).

I started by browning some ground beef (season with salt and pepper), but this could just as easily be all veggie by skipping this step.  Next up, added some roughly chopped red onion and let that soften.  I have a few cans of beans that I keep on the boat - today I opted for light red kidney beans, a packet of chili seasoning, freeze dried garlic and a can of diced tomatoes.  I keep tomatoes on the boat, too - I like to whip up a batch of tomato bisque every now and then.  You could use any type of canned tomato item - sauce, diced, whole, etc.  I also keep at least one tube of double concentrated tomato paste and added a good squirt of that to make a more tomato-y sauce.   
After that you can just let it simmer.  If you want it spicier, you can add some cayenne or crushed red pepper (I added both!).  

 While it was all cooking, I washed some big potatoes and threw them in the oven.  The bonus to all that?  I haven't had to turn the heater on yet - the oven/stove are keeping the boat nice and toasty.  :)


Open for business!

I've been looking for some art form that I can do on Luna Sea.  That's a little more complicated than I imagined...  I need storage space, accessibility to supplies, room to work, and the ability to photograph the work when it's done.  I'm officially a painter - per my degree, but I do a lot of fabric dying and hand dyed silk scarves that sell in a boutique here in Savannah.  But there's just no room for painting.  And the chemicals that I have to use/dispose of to dye the fabrics?  Forget about it!  And storage of blank/painted canvases or bulk amounts of fabric?  It's just not going to happen.

I've spent a couple of months thinking about what I want to do.  It needs to be small.  It needs to be tedious (it's an active sort of meditation for me - you know, that feeling you get when you get sucked into a project and don't even realize how much time has passed.  This also happens when I play video games, but hey - there's not really a market for that.)  I finally decided to research bracelet/jewelry making.  It's small.  It's tedious.  I requires minimal storage for plastic containers.  I can mail the tiny packages from anywhere in the world.  And most exciting to me?  I can find beads/charms/inspiration in any corner of the world - this can work when we sail away!

I've made about 15 so far and just opened an Etsy shop.  I'd love some feedback.  I'm trying to keep it affordable - but they are hand beaded originals, so a profit would be nice.

Here are shots of a few of the items currently in the shop.  And when I get back to wifi, I will add a little widget to the blog somewhere, so you'll always have a subtle little reminder ;)
Every pirate needs a skull bracelet.

Happy Sunday!

Chilly Weekend Peace

It's quiet here on dock.  It's chilly enough that the "fun" boaters are all home until Spring.  The only people out on the water at this early hour are the crabbers checking their traps.  As I sit here below, doing my homework with the companionway doors open, I can hear as dolphin swim by - blowing as they come up for air.  I took a homework break, grabbed the always-present camera and headed up to see if I could sneak a peek.  I counted at least 4. 


Free at last, free at last!

(Every blog needs an injection of MKLj every now and then, right?)

We DO have a new-found freedom as of yesterday - we got the dinghy motor on the dinghy and to the boat and running!  We just both tooled around the marina a little.  It's a bit sketchy for me still - I was apparently keeping it at too low of an idle and it died once (as I was floating out to sea, alone.  Or maybe the tide was actually pushing me to the dock.  Depends on which one of us tells the story) and it kept trying to stall out.  I got the thing back to the dock and Mark hopped in with me.  If I'm going down (or over in this case) he's going with me.  We are a team.  That's what he signed up for.  (Maybe he should've read the fine print...)

The engine has tiller steering and it is kinda wacky to me.  I have to face the bow of the dinghy, put the tiller in my left hand and steer opposite of the way I want to go.  Not that complicated.  The gas is also in the handle and it seems backwards to me.  So along with moving the tiller to the right in order to go left, I have to twist the handle one way or the other to speed up and slow down.  And don't forget that I can't actually slow down too much or the engine dies...  It'll just take practice.  I need to keep going out until it becomes second nature.  Don't want to accidentally turn into an oncoming boat and speed up when I'm trying to slow down and turn away.

We also saw a dolphin or two when we were out.  I've been up close and personal with dolphins before, so I know how enormous they actually are - but you forget that when you're on a 40ft sail boat.  When one of the dolphins surfaced right behind the tiny dinghy it was a nice reminder of how gargantuan they really are.

Here's a little video proof that the dinghy is up and around.  We now have the freedom to get to land when we're anchored out!  Having to take the SUPs with us every time and paddle the dogs to distant shores for a pee break is over.  Now we just have to figure out which davit system we're going with and get that sucker strapped to the back of LunaSea.  Only about 6 weeks before we set sail for 3 weeks!

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