Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: The Last Chapter 2016_10_30 to 2016_11_13

Our end takes 14 days. All we really intended to do was get closer to I-10 and begin our way back to Florida. But, if you haven’t figured us out by now, we never take the simple route!

From Joshua Tree National Park, we decided to check out Quartzsite, Arizona.  Back in Death Valley, the couple (Dave and Nancy) who helped us out so much, sang praises of their winters on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas outside of Quartzsite, AZ. Where they pay a mere $180 for six months. We of course had to see for ourselves. This was not out of our way to some places in Texas we wanted to see, so off we went.

Leaving Joshua Tree National Park

ARIZONA!!!

Quartzsite, AZ

Once in Quartzsite, we headed out the main highway, looking for a good place to stay the night. We would check out the BLM land, but tonight we wanted some A/C, which unlike heat, we had brought on this trip, we are finally prepared for something! This was a very friendly park, they had a nice club house, laundry facilities and the managers, Mel and Ann (from Washington) were fabulous. They made cookies (made in the avocado green stove below) and coffee several mornings a week for everyone, and in the short time we were there, they had a movie night and several dinners at the club house. The only down side, was the dusty campsites…but every place in Quartzsite was just the same, or worse.

Split Rail RV Park, Quartzsite, AZ

Oh my! Can I take this home to the Lake? Yes, it still works perfectly…and no, that is not a microwave on top!

Our campsite at Split Rail RV Park

Art around Quartzsite, AZ

Cactus, its what’s green in Arizona.

Quartzsite is a winter destination for those who live in the cold Northwest. People from Canada, Washington, and points north, flood into this area when it is time to escape the cold. The town swells from 2,000 off season, to up to a million in January and February, when the annual rock and gem or RV shows are in town. The sunsets are amazing, too!

Sunset, Quartzsite, AZ

We settled in at Split Rail, and went exploring. We found the BLM land. It was expansive, but very dusty and remote. The town itself was very small. There was this great shopping area…I thought we could find a cute old trailer to convert. Which one do you like best?

Contenders for longer trailer

If I can’t have a fixer-upper trailer, how about a cool car…or two?

I really like the red one!

One thing led to another, and we found our way to R.V. Lifestyles…of course, we are just looking…right?

Just looking right?

We spent some time considering our options and talking about the things we wanted to do in the coming years. The new, two year old fifth wheel, really fit into our plan…so we added it to the family.

Our new second portable home.

It took us a few days to get everything set up, and hooked up, and ready to go. Our biggest issue was getting all this back home. This is what it looked like from Arizona to Louisiana. Did we change our name to the Clampetts? Hope we didn’t loose Granny!

Triple towing

Homeward bound. No more site-seeing for us, we gotta get this mess home!

Home, we are going home! Don’t mind my stoic look…I really am excited!

I-10 East

Triple Towing, it’s only hard to get gas!

You can only go so far in that rig. So a few miles into Alabama, we had to turn to other options.

Triple towing, not allowed in Alabama, Georgia or Florida. Plan B for getting the rest of the way home.

We are getting close!

Pepe Le Pew! We are home. I missed you!

There’s no place like home!

So that is how our Short, Short Trailer, went on a Long, Long Trip. We had a fantastic time on our trip out west. We have set in motion more camping and land travel. We just have to work out the balance of how to split up our time.

We really appreciate you following along and being patient with the time lapse of my posts. We love you all, thanks for adventuring with us. Stay tuned…I’ll fill you in on what’s been happening since we returned!

My Five: April Vinegar

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This might be the strangest My Five yet, but vinegar and I are having a month. When I grow up, I’d be interested in becoming a vinegar sommelier…if there is such a thing, but for now, I only have room for the basic standards I’ve been using.
So here’s my five favorite uses for vinegar.

Drain un-clogger:image

I have had a clogged drain, twice this month! And since I’ve had to minimize cleaning supplies for space reasons, fixing the problem with what I have and with stuff that won’t destroy the hoses, thru-holes and fishies in the water is a boon!

What you need:
2-3 cups boiling water
2 cups baking soda
1 cup white vinegar

Remove any standing water. Pour 1 cup boiling water down the drain then immediately put 1 cup baking soda in the drain, I had to mush it down with my fingers a bit. Let it soak a little while. This starts to move the sludge.

Next add another cup of baking soda and the cup of vinegar. It will bubble up. Put the drain stopper in (both sides if double sink) until there is no more fizzy going on.

Finally, pour remaining boiling water in both drains because some has come up the other side.

It worked the first time for me, but you can repeat if not running clear. I read you can do this with salt water, but can’t remember if I did or not.

Allergy Reliever:image.jpeg
I do this, and it works. Even if it’s in my head, it worked for me. I was taking allergy medicine every day until I started. So there. Google searches say it doesn’t work. Now that I haven’t seen a pine tree or a bottle brush tree blooming, I don’t need it, but back home, I drank this every day.

I cup, cool, but not ice cold water
2 Tablespoons raw local honey
1 Tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix together with spoon and drink

Cleaning Wipes:image
Good paper towels
1:3 vinegar:water solution
Container with lid. I kept an old wipe container, but not necessary

You can use a whole roll of paper towels and saw in half with hack saw. I just fold up a stack of paper towels, accordion style and cut in half. Place each stack in the container. Pour vinegar solution over until towels are wet. Pull the top one up so they “feed” as you pull then. I can’t seem to get them to feed through the old wipe container, so I just take the lid off and tear the next one off. I clean the counters, sinks head, and anything that doesn’t breath or isn’t wood.

Vinegar Spray:image

Small spray bottle
1:3 vinegar:water solution

Filler up, spray and wipe with rag. I use this for bigger jobs than the wipes. It is a great head cleaner too,just a couple of sprays let soak a few and brush, it will remove stains and build up and smells.

In desperation, I sprayed this on my legs after being attacked by no-see-ums. It cooled my skin and relieved the itching. Now if I could actually find something to keep them from biting me!

Cooking Hacks:image

Tomato and onion salad: this is my favorite, tomatoes, onions, salt and pepper, tossed with a little red wine vinegar. My Mom used to make a pretty platter with slices of tomatoes with a thin slice onion on top, the. Sprinkle the vinegar over. It was pretty, but not very portable, so I just chop it all up! But you can add cucumber and bell peppers or anything you like.

Better baked beans: 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a squirt of yellow mustard and a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar will make even the cheapest can of baked beans all better.

“Cold”slaw: I keep a mason jar of 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar and 1/4 cup of sugar mixed up in the fridge. Grate of chop 1/2 head of cabbage and wet with this mixture and add Miracle Whip until creamy and that’s my Nanny’s “cold” slaw. Yes, she called it cold slaw.

Well there you have it, my love affair with that sour stuff vinegar. Hope your having a great week. Stay tuned for updates from our ‘Hamas adventures.

My Five: March

jenniferbaringer

My five this month have to do with storage and making things weigh less. We hope to head to the Bahamas in the next few weeks and we will have to leave the mobile storage unit behind. Everything I think we need must live on the boat or we will do without it.Mobile Storage Unit

#1 Taking more stuff off the boat. We have managed to reduce and thin out yet again. All this stuff in the back of the mobile storage unit is going home, but it isn’t enough, No Ka Oi has a sinking water line and as much as I think I am a minimalist, I fail miserably!

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#2 Vacuum bags. I have taken vacuum bags beyond collapsing clothes and bedding. I have bags of coffee in one, making it flat enough to slide behind the water tank and keeping them together so they don’t fall into any cracks. And how about this idea for toilet paper? Its working for me. That’s 24 rolls in that red bag and 18 in the blue one, waterproof and heading to the bilge.image

#3 Powdered milk. I tested out making my own yogurt from powdered milk and a thermos. This idea from The Boat Galley turned out quite well. And if I hadn’t read Carolyn’s blog, I would have never known about this brand of powdered milk. It is good. I will be throwing away the last package of the Carnation stuff I have, it tastes awful. Yogurt from powdered milkimage

#4 I took my jeans off the boat because they are bulky and hard to wash by hand. But, I think I need at least a pair of long pants for the summer. These light-weight 100% cotton ones should do the trick. They dried on my makeshift cloths line in an hour and need no iron!image

#5 Primula Coffee Brew Buddy. I’m in love with this little guy and my coffee maker is going home. I am the only one who drinks joe on our yacht, so this is perfect for my one to two cup morning habit. $5.99 and a small pot of boiling water and it gains me more space. Here’s a link, Coffee Brew Buddy. I just purchased the basket and set it right on my Yeti cup and it works perfect.image

I’d still like to raise the water line, let me know your best ideas for lessening the weight.

Bike Week and Work Week: What Happens if You Leave Boot Key Harbor

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Well we left the Harbor to meet family and friends at Daytona’s 75th Annual Bike Week. We had a great time at the bike week part, unfortunately, anytime we head home there are problems to deal with!image

Let’s me share the problems first, so we can finish this blog up on a happy note!

You might remember the tree that was struck by lightning last summer? Well it wasted no time dying and had to be taken down. This was not in the budget, but the dropping part was out of our skill set. We settled for having it dropped and cut into big pieces and we supplied the labor to cut it up the rest of the way and stack up for fire wood. For the record, our retirement hourly rate is $88.23. We aren’t discussing what the split on this rate is.imageimageThen there was the swimming pool. Not a good day when you come home and the pool is only half full! Fortunately, the pool guy had turned off the pump when he thought there might be a problem, so the Captain donned the only mask living at the house and put down a patch. We will get a bill later this month letting us know how this impacted the budget.image

I’m not sure how mixing up the vet appointment for the wrong day, turned into pressure washing the decks and driveways. We could have rested on that extra day, but not when you live with Captain Bligh!image

We ended our “week” home (actually ten days) by waiting for the vet to fill prescriptions for Nyah and Pepe, who apparently picked up a little something along the way. Meds all ingested, they are good to go. And so are we!

Bike week was beautiful.image

We couldn’t have asked for nicer riding weather. BB and Howard came over and we took a nice ride to Lake Weir and then back to Daytona for dinner and a cruise down Main Street.image

We met up with Pete at Rossmeyers on Friday and enjoyed looking at the “big wheel” bag bikes competition.imageimage

Damien and Julie came up and and we had a perfect ride on Saturday morning and Saturday night. We spent the day at Rossmeyers, the Daytona Speedway and Main Street. Fortunately, Julie was able to find a nice leather jacket and could throw this one I loaned her away, before the world was full of black flakes.image

Rick and Jennifer made a last minute trip up on Saturday and it was great hanging out and seeing them before they had to head back home.image

We are back at the boat making final preparations for heading to the Bahamas soon. It’s always nice when the locals come out to greet us.image

We are glad to be back in Boot Key, but what’s up with this temperature in the middle of March???image

But we will take it as long as we keep getting these views.image

Working Hard in Boot Key Harbor: SSB Installation

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No Ka Oi has an additional radio aboard. After months of research and weighing of options, we took the plunge and invested in a single side band marine radio (SSB).

Our main reasons for even considering adding more weight to our already sinking water line was to receive accurate and timely weather, as well as safety and personal communications abilities, when we are out of the country and do not have accessible wifi or oh one service.

The Captain started the research by polling other cruisers and killing our cellular data plan. Our friend Addison on S/V Three Penny Opera, started out his recommendations with this insight.

“The answer to what is the best way to get weather info in areas of weak or no cell coverage is a little tricky because it all depends on your budget, where you are cruising and how long you plan to cruise.”
Taking his advice and the ideas from other cruisers, the options we considered included:

SSB receiver only: Grundig Yacht Boy or a Sony World Traveller
SSB HF/MF radio with a Pactor modem
Satellite phone
Satellite appliances: Iridium Go, Delorme Inreach or Globalstar Spot Messenger
Doing nothing at all and relying on cell phone reception, VHF, word of mouth or wifi connections, because we did not have this item in our budget.

We finally decided an SSB was the best option for us. One comment from Addision kept coming back into our conversations, “There is a lot to be said for dead reliable technology, even if it is over 100 years old.” We highly considered just getting the receiver, but we didn’t feel it was a good investment in the long run because we knew eventually we would need to communicate out and also add email capabilities in the future.

We purchased:
Icom M802, transceiver, and an AT-140 automatic antenna tuner
GAM split lead back stay antenna
KISS counterpoise
DSC antenna emergency receiving antenna
2 – 35 foot LMR 400 coax antenna cables
Misc screws, brackets and wire ties

We didn’t get the Pactor modem at this time for budget reasons and our adventure for the remainder of this year will regularly have is in places we can get wifi. We also heard there might be some options to hook our PC directly to the SSB if we purchase certain software, so we will be checking into that option.

The parts trickled in. The SSB remote and the transceiver were on back order, but rather than wait for everything and have one big install, the Captain worked in stages.

The GAM antenna arrived first and the Captain had it in place on the back stay in 30 to 40 minutes. He snapped it onto the stay and slid it up into place. The wifi antenna had to be removed and ended up just a bit lower after the GAM was in place, but seems to be working fine. This was an easy install and we didn’t have to cut the stay to add ? like some antenna options require.

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Next, he installed the DSC antenna he picked up for $15 from a friend who had never installed it on his boat. Finding a place on our already full transom and a trip to Home Depot for a couple of SS screws and nuts, was the hardest part of this install. This is the one component we hope is never actually used.

The automatic antenna tuner was not on back order, so the GPS store shipped that ahead of the other pieces. This was installed in the inside of the transom in our rear locker.

A few days later, we received notification that the antenna coax arrived. While I went ashore to retrieve them, the Captain emptied lockers so he could crawl into the bilge to run them from the tuner box to the navigation station. When we opened the box, we had one white wire and one black. They should have been the same. Upon inspection, the white wire’s package was labeled LMR 400, but the imprint on the cable was SI 400. So much for Amazon orders! We contacted the manufacture, MDI Digital, and they shipped us two new cables, with a discount. They were on a truck within an hour. We returned our Amazon order, and put the boat back together until the correct cables arrived. Installation of cables was finally completed, with the Captain being a Houdini.image

Finally the SSB and transceiver arrived and the final connections were made. Nice job Captain.

Pepe is a true ships cat, maybe a former plant operator in one of his nine lives. He performed all necessary walk downs and hung all the clearances.image

Now to test it out!

Success! We tested our reception early the next morning by listening to a Chris Parker broadcast. We could hear anyone he was talking to who was Northeast of the radio towers to the East of us in the harbor, those towers cause all kinds of issues.

The Captain applied for the necessary FCC licenses online and we received them in a few days. After programming our MMI numbers into the radio, we were good to transmit. We had clear conversations with two different vessels in the harbor, and we feel comfortable that we have added a layer of safety to our adventure.

If you have information on the SSB email options without using a Pactor modem, I’d love to hear about it.

Better Weather: News from Boot Key Harbor

IMG_4720 Boot Key Dinghy dock

Better weather has finally settled in and we are taking advantage and getting out and about to enjoy Marathon and Boot Key Harbor. Everyone else seems to be doing the same, the dinghy dock has been filled to capacity.

We had a fun evening at Burdines enjoying the music of Ty and Cory. Our front row seats at the groupie table were perfect and the company was great too. Thanks so much Marsha for letting us crash your table after we were too late to get a seat with Lori and Mike!jenniferbaringer

Georgette and Gary had to leave to go work at Turkey Point for a couple of months, before they begin their Great Loop adventure. We have had a great time getting to know these two better, we met last summer in Marineland and clicked immediately when we learned they are nuke workers like us. A great part of our adventure is all the great new people we have met and the wonderful friendships we are making.jenniferbaringer

If you find a small trail in the mangroves, on the west side of Sister’s Creek, near a rope swing, you should definitely spend a few hours hiking the old roads on Boot Key. We had a lot of fun exploring and the harbor view from the bridge is awesome. The Captain was car shopping, I didn’t let him get one though.jenniferbaringer

Full moon over the harbor. No wind + no rain = a great view.jenniferbaringer

Nyah was not impressed by talking tug boat at the nautical flea market, she certainly felt the need to protect us from it.jenniferbaringer

Our SSB radio arrived in bits and pieces and the Captain was a real trooper to run wires up the stay, down the bilge and everywhere in between! Next up licensing and learning to use it. Blog post to follow.jenniferbaringer

After all that contorting, I convinced the Captain that he could do yoga…doesn’t he look so relaxed!jenniferbaringer

Lunch at La Meditarrenee Restaurant. This gyro was excellent as was the service. We also had dinner here before Georgette and Gary departed, they make an awesome shrimp parm!!!jenniferbaringer

It’s all fun and games when someone leaves a line hanging around. Pepe thinks a sailboat is cat’s heaven.jenniferbaringer

Well, that’s the news from Boot Key. We hope you are doing well and would love for you to come visit us here in paradise. Sunsets for free.jenniferbaringer

 

 

My Five February: Reasons I Go to Boat Shows

 

3954149325e945f280c81bc6356bb14bI have lost count of the amount of times in the past 15 years the Captain and I have gone to boat shows. Our main shows have been the St. Petersburg and Miami Boat Shows, because of their sailboat emphasis and proximity to home. My bucket list includes going to the Annapolis Boat Show some day, just because I think every boater should attend it at least once in a life-time. We have never been able to go because of work schedules and distance, but at least one of those is no longer a problem.image

  1. Comparing boats. Back in the day, before we purchased No Ka Oi, we went to boat shows to look at boats. So we could dream, drool and dillydally. Of course for those of you who do not yet have a boat, this is reason number one to go to a boat show. Even if you cannot afford a new boat, or aren’t quite ready to take the plunge, boat shows are the place to see many different boats in one location. You can compare what each brand offers, what you like and don’t like in lay-outs, hull designs, size and amenities. You can also begin to narrow down your choices, and come to terms with what you may have to do without, unless you have an unlimited budget! There is nothing more magical than going back and forth between your favorites and visualizing sailing away.
  2. Hands on comparison of gear and equipment, and boat show pricing. Pictures of the water maker and seeing the actual size of the components can be eye opening. how items actually work can also help you narrow down your selection. We purchased a set of life-line fender holders after seeing how smoothly they worked, after taking them home and putting them to the test, we purchased another set. Allow time to see new widgets and paraphernalia, get ideas for things to budget for in the future or to go back and improvise your own similar solution. Always ask how long their show prices are good for, some only offer specials for the actual show dates, others will offer them for a month or more out.image
  3. Returns, exchanges, and talking to the manufacturer in person. Last year we were focused on resolving our electronic navigation chart needs. Our Ray Marine system came with Navionics chart cards, but we found out that we could trade in our current cards for another brand. After going back and forth between vendors with our various questions and concerns, and by being able to view and compare the actual workings of the charts, we decided to stay with what we had. This year we wanted to talk with the manufacturer of the SSB system we were looking at before we met with the vendor to finalize the purchase and get the best show price. These tasks were made much simpler by having everyone and everything at one convenient location. We have exchanged items that were defective, been handed brand new replacements (thank you Magna Grills,) and determined that we should shop for a new dinghy, when it became clear that the manufacturer of our slightly out of warranty one, that was literally falling apart at the seams, wasn’t going to be help us.imageimage
  4. Clearance items and show specials. We have purchased line, cushions, fabric, clothing and a variety of miscellaneous items on clearance. Vendors usually have an item or two they have brought to the show that they would rather not pack up and take home or last years model on clearance to make way for the new. Last year we purchased off shore life vests with tethers for a great price because they were the previous year’s model. This year the Captain got a great jacket because they didn’t have the clearance one in his size, but offered him a similar style at the clearance price.image
  5. Seminars and experts. Look at the seminar offerings and pick ones that are helpful to you and attend. Also, go to the book tables and talk with authors who have expertise in what you are planning on doing. Buy their books if you have the budget and space, but even if you don’t we have found them to be helpful resources. We were able to attend a seminar by Chris Parker this year on weather and speak with him about some of our questions on the best way to receive his broadcasts. In previous years we have attended cooking, provisioning, and gear seminars. One year, I had several great conversations with a gentlemen who wrote a book about re-using jars of all kinds for canning foods aboard.imageI won’t break my rule of five by making this an item, but, yes we have purchased things we thought were a great idea in the moment, but in the end were just trappings of impracticality…think Ginza knives and Fuller brush salesmen. The best way to avoid these purchases is to have a list before you go to the show, make a wish list of items for the future, and budget for an unexpected purchase. Walking away and coming back if you still think it is a good idea in a couple of hours can also keep unnecessary items off your boat. There is probably nothing wrong with the mooring ball grabber that we purchased, but now that we are actually out here, we aren’t grabbing mooring balls all that often. The money spent on this item may have been better re-allocated to something we needed more or at least a bottle of rum.

    "I don't have opposable thumbs, I can't use it!"

    “I don’t have opposable thumbs, Mom, I can’t use it!”

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For Sale, unused boat show purchase…

Finally, dress comfy. Unless your boat shoes are as good to walk miles in as your sneakers, leave them at home, most brokers won’t let you wear shoes on their boats anyway. I also suggest planning more than one day if your list is long. We have actually drove to Miami two times in one weekend, because our one day wasn’t enough time to do everything we needed to accomplish. And don’t forget pre-sale tickets are cheaper.

What’s your best boat show how too or your worst impulse purchase??? We would love to know.