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.

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.

 

 

What I Should Know…Now that I Live Full Time on a Sailboat

IMG_2445 jenniferbariniger

I’m finding out the hard way that I may be a fair-weather sailor girl. Although we have been doing this for many years on a part time basis, and I thought I knew a lot, I am finding out I don’t know near what I really need to know.

I believe in my heart that I can do everything the Captain can do, because at home that is pretty much true, and if not, I push through until I figure it out or come up with an acceptable work around. I can replace parts in dryers and stoves, I can change the oil and spark plugs in the car, use power tools, hang ceiling fans, trouble shoot the swimming pool equipment, and even drive to Pennsylvania, all by myself. But this kind of trial and error doesn’t seem to be working as well out here on the water.

We fall into roles of the things we generally do, household things are mine, and boat maintenance things are his. Cooking below is me, grilling is him. Cleaning the bottom, doing the laundry, shopping, repairs, and so on, all have basic owners. This has always worked on our short stints, but, as we work through our transition from part time to full time living-aboard, what we did for short periods of time is probably unfair going forward. Not to mention the list of things that I don’t always want to wait on the Captain to take care of for me is growing.

For example, I had to get my dinghy license when we first arrived. I always get a funny look when I say this, because everyone is afraid they missed a new law. In our world, “dinghy license” was the Captain’s blessing that I can handle the dinghy before I go off by myself. I was feeling trapped on the boat, now that we were no longer at a dock. When I complained about this, he took me out and pretty much made me pass a test, so I didn’t hurt myself, others or the boat. I have been driving the dingy every day for a month and a half and feel pretty comfortable and a lot less trapped.

Other examples of things I need to know aren’t quite that pretty, like the time I pushed the inverter button to use the microwave, while the generator was running. And yes, we have a system that doesn’t have a fault override for this mistake. I received 101 in electrical systems that sleepless night, until we were able to contact the manufacturer in the morning and find out if it was fixable. Fortunately, it was.

In my defense, I asked if there was anything in my world that would possibly lead me to believe that such a mistake could break an expensive piece of equipment. And the answer is no, but this is where I feel at a disadvantage to the Captain’s years of growing up in a sailing family and his mechanical/electrical skills, from 35 years with an electric utility.

Aside from going off to sailing, boat mechanic and captains license schools, how will I ever get all the knowledge I need? I have been giving this question a lot of thought, ever since the morning I drew myself a diagram of how the head piping and valves worked, because I was afraid I might accidently pump overboard when it needs to go to the holding tank.

Here are my categories of things I need to know:

  • Safety related.
  • Emergency response related.
  • Generally sharing the load.
  • I need to know how to do this. (If something happened to the Captain out at sea and I needed to get the boat back without the Coast Guard or Sea Tow.)
  • I want to know how to do this. (Because, I love sailing and living aboard, and I would like to know how to do it better.)

Here are my categories of things I don’t need (or don’t want) to know:

  • I can hire someone to do this
  • This is something the Captain does but isn’t necessary for everyone to do.

I don’t have all the categories or a list of all the things I need to know yet, but while we are in our second stage of transition, before we head off on the next leg or our adventure, I need to get more proactive about what I need to get up to speed with and not wait for it to be a crises of mistake.

I also know my main source of education will be my Captain, but I am asking these questions, and putting together my list, because sometimes when you know how to do things well, it doesn’t mean that you have a well laid out plan for transferring that knowledge.

If you have more experience at this than I do, or if you have any really good resources to help me in this endeavor, please comment below and help me along.

My Five: November

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We have left the dock. Living at the dock makes you lazy, well, makes me lazy. And our future hang outs, especially as we go south and beyond will be at a mooring ball/anchor, which means getting my water habits back in-line with living aboard reality.

No water hose.

Jerry jugs lugged from shore.

Paying for water.

So you won’t be surprised to learn that most of My Five this month have a water focus.

  1. Non adhesive window covering. Before I get to my  water saving ideas, I was about to put these away for a while and wanted to share them with you. We have these sliding shades in our v-berth area, they came with the boat, but they are expensive and for our regular routine, unnecessay. This was a fix I used many years ago on a door at work for privacy. I tried it in a pinch and it turned out to work well when we are at the dock. It lets in plenty of light and doesn’t have all the complications of curtains. And as you can see, I store them in one sandwich size bag until I need them again. I tossed my box long ago, so I’m not sure what brand they are, but I picked a roll up at Home Depot. I made a template, traced and cut the film to the size of the port. The window is sprayed with a mist of water, I have used window cleaner in a pinch. Then the film is applied, it can be repositions as needed, then the extra water is squeegeed off. Since my ports are so small, I just use a paper towel and press any water out. I picked a style that looks like water bubbles, but there are many other patterns. If you wanted to darken an area, you can even get some that will do that. I keep the lining pieces to separate them when I store them until next time.image
  2. Plastic scraper. Onto my water saving items. First is my Pampered Chef scraper. I went the first month without a scraper because I forgot to pack it and couldn’t find/was too cheap to buy another one (when I knew I had the one I liked at home.) This saves much time and water when cleaning up. I can practically have a pan clean before I’m ready to wash it. It also works well on messy plates and stuff stuck on the counter! There are lots of styles out there, I just happen to like this small size.image
  3. Refillable Dishwand. I have to thank the Captain for this one. I wasn’t the least bit interested in this gadget. After cleaning houses for many years, I usually found them down in the sink, leaking the soap and making a mess. However, after giving it a good home where it doesn’t leak its contents, I find I can do a whole sink load of dishes and rinse them at the end. It stays wet and dispenses enough soap to clean without giving me too much to soap to rinse off and the size is just right, I can get inside cups and small containers easily. We have the 3M Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty. It has refills for the sponge/scouring pad, which I will now buy because I wouldn’t let the Captain do so until I decided that it would work!image
  4. Fresh water foot pump. We have running pressure water aboard. But it is really difficult to turn it on, get the amount of water needed and turned back off again without wasting water, especially when doing dishes. I assumed all boats had such a thing as a foot pump, but I talk to boaters all the time that do not. I actually wanted one at home for those times when my hands were so messy and I couldn’t get the faucet on without making more mess. Ours works on the pump down and on the release up. So there is a lot of control over how much water is dispensed. I can press down a little or a lot, I can hold it down until I re-position the item and release the foot pump for more water. A quick Google says they cost around $50 and I think it is well worth the water savings. I’m not sure where we could put it, but I’d like a salt water one too.image
  5. Poly tubing. We added this to the fresh water foot pump faucet. I can control where my water goes and in the tiny sink I have to deal with, I find this very helpful. When I’m rinsing a cup, or whatever, I can move the hose around to where the water needs to go and save on my water usage.image

Well that’s My Five for this month. All is going well with Russ’ brother and girlfriend, they are on the mend, and we hope to be moving south again later in the week.

 

 

My Five: October 2015

 

2015_10_112 My Five

I decided it was about time to post some of my go-to live aboard must haves. I thought I could make a definitive list, but, I am having some issues.

  • I can’t narrow it down to just a certain number of items.
  • My list keeps fluctuating in importance, based on what happening this week, or last.
  • I like stuff. I’m trying to downsize my stuff to things I really need, but, I still like stuff!

My next best plan became, “My Five.” This will be a living list of the top five things I need to live aboard, based on what’s happening in our cruising life.

Love my Yeti cup

Love my Yeti cup

One:    Yeti cups. Yep, they are horrendously expensive, and where a big splurge for me. If your boat has amenities that mine doesn’t, specifically unlimited ice, you might not understand my need to try and keep a drink cold for more than ten minutes in the Florida heat. This does the trick, and if I can get my hands on some ice, it keeps the drink colder, longer, and there is ice left when I’m ready to pour another drink. They also keep coffee hot all morning, if I get distracted and have to come back to it a time or three.

I see the same price for the Yeti cups everyplace I look, so the best deal I found was to purchase them at West Marine and get reward points. I actually got triple points during a special sale they were running. If you don’t have a reward number set up, I’ll be glad to send you my number, we seem to spend more than our share at that store.

Laundry hanger thing

Laundry hanger thing

Two:   This laundry hanger thing. It hangs on our bimini frame or down below easily, and keeps my undies off the life lines, which for some reason still ekes me out. I may get over that after some cruising time, but for now…I can’t hang the undies out in plain view. It can be taken below quickly if the weather changes, which it always seems to do, when I want to do laundry. It folds away neatly, and doesn’t take up too much space. It also works well for socks and swim suits.

I have no idea where mine came from, probably a thrift store, but I did a Google search for “hanging dryer with clips,” and several styles came up from $7 to $14. I may have to get another.

Cat food lid fits several size cans.

Cat food lid fits several size cans.

Three: Cat food can cover. Yes I have a cat, but he eats dry food. This is for my grease can. I don’t make a lot of grease, but we have bacon every so often or I cook some ground meat and need to drain the fat. I have tried grease cans and don’t like having to deal with the mess when it comes time to clean them out. And pouring it into a coffee cup until it cools is always a disaster waiting to happen. These lids fit multiple size cans, which I save from veggies or soup. I use it until the can is full, or until I can’t stand the smell when I open the lid. But the nice part is I don’t have to clean the can, just throw it away when I’m finished with it and reuse the lid.

Another freebie, from my vet’s office. But, they can be had for .50 to a couple of dollars, if you can’t find a free one.

Oster burner

Oster electric burner

Four:  Portable electric burner. We bought this earlier in the summer to use while we are staying at the dock. We have a CNG (compressed natural gas) stove. CNG isn’t easy to find and it isn’t the most economically priced. I actually love cooking with CNG, it is a shame we have only found one place on the East Coast of Florida where we can get it. I have talked to cruisers who have stove issues. The most common solution is to use a Coleman type portable stove, but I don’t have a good place to store one and I didn’t want to deal with the little gas cylinders. The burner has worked great at the dock and the Captain says it will run from our inverter (ours is 2,000 watts.) Even though my stove has three burners, I can barely use two at a time, because they are so close together that two pots won’t fit. Because of my limited burner space issue, I have already perfected many one dish wonders. This is just a temporary work around, until we bite the bullet and move to propane.

I got a solid burner for $19.94 at Walmart, and a regular coil style burner is only $8.10. Don’t get confused with the induction burners they sell, I wasn’t familiar with them, they need specific pots to work.

Ninja processor, mixing banana bread, Cup, Strawberry Banana shake and only one cup to clean

Ninja food processor (left) mixing banana bread, Ninja 16 oz cup (middle) Strawberry Banana shake, only one cup to clean up

Five: Nutri Ninja 2-in1. This has two 16 oz individual cups, a food processor and a blender.  The blender piece may go home, because the cups do a great job and the few times I might actually need the volume of a blender, I could just make batches with the cups. The cups are great for my morning work-out protein shakes or a quick breakfast smoothie. It also does a great job with frozen drinks when we have ice on board. The processor has three different blades. I use it regularly to make guacamole, and to mix banana bread. I also tested it before we left home with bread dough and cookie dough, it mixed the heavy dough well. My favorite things are the size and how easy it is to clean. With the separate base, I can use tight spots to stow it all. I had a regular blender on board, but didn’t use it very often, because it was a pain to clean. I took it off for the Ninja and am glad I did.

I got it on sale at Sam’s for $99 earlier this summer.

Well here is my disclaimer. I don’t get paid by any of these companies, and they didn’t give me any products to try. Although, on a couple of them I would like a dime for every time I tell someone how much I like them. Maybe I’ll sign the blog up for some advertising in the future. Until then, these are just a few things that make living aboard a bit easier. I’ll share more of my favorites soon. Let me know your five.