Thursday, May 20, 2010

Water IN the boat?

On Sunday after a lovely weekend, Scott and I thought we'd sneak down to the boat for three hours without kids and . . . remove the air conditioner, maybe the holding tank, fix the furling and strip . . . the wood. So I started hauling off venting, bits of insulation, and so on while Scott worked above decks. Then I went into the port aft cabin and saw WATER!!!!! INSIDE THE BOAT!!! So I rather calmly asked Scott if it was supposed to be there and of course he went white, ran wordlessly down below and flipped on the bilge pump. We started working on our manual pumps as well, water was up to the floorboards from bow to stern and after a couple of hours determined that the sea cock was flipped open a hair when he removed the air conditioning unit, allowing a small leak that allowed water in over a day and a half.

Now we have a very clean bilge. Scott observed while pumping madly that at least this hadn't happened while sailing in the Atlantic.

Great. One more thing to worry about.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our home on the water

This is a photo from the original brochure to sell our boat, a Beneteau 38 First built in France in 1983. It was purchased by a VP at Ford who shipped it in a container to Detroit, where she stayed with just one other owner until we purchased her in 2006. So Messenger (formerly named Tempest) has only ever been in fresh water - a big bonus.

A lot of people have asked if we're actually staying on the boat. Yes. It's our home. We have a three-cabin layout - not a popular choice for most as most don't sail with their families. We need separate spaces with doors to close to keep sane. So, Scott and I have claimed the V-berth at the front. It has a separate hanging locker, shelves and almost enough foot space at the V for the two of us. Note the almost. Elizabeth has a double aft cabin which can be used as a guest cabin and she can move out to the salon. Reg has the other double aft cabin. Aidan takes the pilot berth above the main settee - kind of a bunk bed. Scott's mom made cool crew bags designed by our friends Art and Linda Alyea on AirFair that snap on to the teak walls at the foot of his pilot berth, giving him space for his things. We can sleep nine on board and have done so more than once. In fact, we've had more than nine, but that's another story.

We don't have a shower per se - we have one head with a hand-held shower. See earlier post about retrofitting that for our trip. (There's another roughed in a tiny cabin between the two aft cabins but no one seems to use it for that - it's storage).

We have a two burner propane stove and oven, a deep fridge with small freezer, hot and cold pressure water and an inverter (to plug in applicances). We need to improve water capacity, hopefully with a new larger water tank and our electrical system, hopefully with new golf cart-type batteries, and at least a wind or solar power generator or both.

It's comfy, with a deep stainless steel double sink. We have a large table in the main salon - note the pic, but we also have a large cockpit table our friend Marc Fournier just repaired and made to look nearly new. We tend to entertain and live a great deal in the cockpit and are currently also debating whether or not to add a fixed bimini (awning) over the wheel in addition to the dodger.

It's surprising actually when we've been cruising for a week or two when you come back you realize how big your house really is and how little you really need to live comfortably.

If we can only find a way to fit a bathtub in, it would be perfect.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Named wind storms

So we just got a quote for boat insurance for the duration of our trip from our broker. Right now our premiums are a reasonable $530. It's a lot more to insure for offshore. But here's the thing that gave me pause - our deductible from August 23 to Nov. 16 and again from May 31 to June 30 is $8,000 - due to possible damage from named wind storms, a.k.a. hurricanes. Yikes. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it. The deductible otherwise is $1,600. So on the advice of many, we plan to keep north of Norfolk, Virginia in the Cheasapeake until at least Nov. 1, then high tail it out of the deep South by June 1.

No perfect storms for me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

We're ready for New York but is New York ready for us?

Half the fun of travelling is the planning. For us, travelling by water on a sailboat turned motorboat (our mast has to be down from Buffalo to Albany) through Upper New York State and the Hudson River presents some challenges and promises to also be a fantastic way to explore. We know for example, that at times on the Erie Barge Canal we may not have access to water or electricity. We can only go so many days without a shower and we start to offend, so we may have to resort to showers on the boat. Right now, that's kind of tricky. Messenger was built in the pre-shower-in-all-boats era in 1983.We have a hand-held shower in the head sink and a couple of solar showers. If it's chilly (it'll be September) or if we're in an area where there are lots of tourists or people in cars, it could be a bit awkward. We have to figure that one out. I'm thinking of lining the head with double-sided velco and sticking a shower curtain around the perimeter of the tiny head, sitting on the throne and using the hand-held for a quick refresher. We need to seal off the bilge pump drain and pump the grey water overboard with a small pump in the sump. We'll add that to the list. We may even need a separate, additional fresh water tank - not sure about that. Hmmmm.

But then, there's the promise of pastoral landscapes, kitchy shopping districts, and the beautiful Hudson River. This is a great spot for any kind of travel, you can check out the Erie Barge Canal website at and order a great manual for under $30.

After that, it's the Big Apple.