Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Daily Grind

We have left our full-time jobs in offices and at first glance, it seems like we might have trouble filling our days.  Truth is we work harder, longer, and don't get paid (in monetary terms).

Just a few items since Matthew blew through that we have been working on:
1) Installing a new head (aka toilet)...I don't think it's necessary or worth it to go into detail about that.

2) Trying to determine if our port water tank(s) are leaking or if the large amount of dew on the boat every morning is responsible for the puddle of water under a drawer in the galley on a daily basis.

3) Patiently and calmly facilitating the repair of our in-mast furler motor and gear box for our main sail.  This is a no-go issue.  If it doesn't get fixed, Terrapin is just a motor boat.  With two weeks before we expect to leave, that was a wrinkle in our plan.  Baxter didn't get mad - didn't get frustrated - he just researched and found the only person alive who can fix this, literally (and I hate the overuse of adverbs so I mean, literally).  The company who made this motor is out of business.  The company they sold their parts to stopped servicing these motors and they sold them to this guy (Eric).  Our only option if this doesn't work is probably upwards of $20k...which is almost an entire year of living on the boat.

4) Installing the backstay insulator for the single-sideband radio.  This entailed Baxter hanging 50 feet off the ground by his forearms for over an hour.  

5)  Installing the IridiumGo! mount and antennae.  This is our satellite connection while we are offshore, so pretty critical piece of equipment.

6) Provisioning for the passage.  It's a little early but since we won't have a car after this weekend, it is easier to do it now.  Hopefully Baxter and I won't go on a canned food binge and eat everything before we leave.

7) Servicing the Luke Prop - filling it full of grease via a screw called a zerk fitting.

8) Painting the bottom and buffing the hull - I might be in the picture, but Baxter definitely did the majority of the work.

There's still quite a bit left to do but more about that next time....
IridiumGo! mounted with antennae installed on stern, connecting to the device in the nav station.
We bought Kala her very own pink sleeping bag.
Servicing the prop via zerk fitting with a grease gun.
Preliminary provisioning list

Prepping to paint bottom.
Furling gear box and motor - removed and preparing to ship to our Obi-Wan
The Ship's Tailor made this "curtain" for us based on a design Baxter created.  It comes down from the hard dodger and protects the cockpit so watches will be warm and dry - but still allows quick access to cockpit.  It is also easy to take down - unlike a full enclosure.
Installing a new head
Thank you Chris - on SV Perseverance VII for helping to winch Baxter up the mast
The black line that goes halfway up the backstay is the antennae for the single side-band radio.  Baxter was hanging off the backstay for over an hour to install inch by inch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Life In A Small Town

Deltaville, VA was established in 1642...over 374 years ago.  That is 144 years before there was anything resembling the United States.  When Deltaville was established, most people who lived here were citizens of England - there wasn't even a United Kingdom at that point.

And so it has been here with the same geography as it has now, with creeks that meander through deltas and rivers that stretch out like fingers from the bay westward connecting the Atlantic Ocean to almost 100 miles inland.

Patricia at Bay Canvas made our cockpit cushions and a few extra covers...her jack russells George and Posey are too cute.
Debby and Susan own Cafe By The Bay and always have "cookies" ready for Kala.
Hurds - Hurds is so awesome.  They offer great alternatives to the high prices at West Marine.  Mr. Hurd celebrated his 100th birthday on Sept 15 (also my birthday).  He was a fighter pilot in WWII, was shot down by the Japanese, came home and opened this store - and still works here.  Sam, Harriette's husband, is our go-to guy and always there with a "What can I do for you today?"
Ulman Sails (Jerry, Justin, John and Tiffany) made some really awesome sails for us and we can't wait to take pics of them flying on Terrapin. 
Scot at Ship's Tailor made a custom "curtain" for us in the cockpit.  It will help keep the crew warm and dry-er during those cold days in early November.

Friday, October 14, 2016


This week, the news around the U.S. is something about Donald Trump or Hillary but last week - last week was focused on Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew did a couple of head fakes in his run up the Atlantic and kept lots of people guessing.  He seemed like he was almost going to run right into Trinidad - where we have friends who go there to avoid hurricanes.  Then, he was going to keep moving west, when he decided to turn north.  Then...well, let's just say, he had a mind of his own and it kept changing on a daily basis.

It turns out he made it almost to Cape Hatteras, NC before turning east and moving out to sea.  Cape Hatteras is about 100 miles south of Deltaville as the crow flies, so we were right at the edge of his fury.

Living on a boat that is held up by jack stands - we were trying to make sure we understood how and when we would be caught by him, if at all.  Our conditions weren't bad considering the potential threat.  We would feel a nasty gust as the boat would vibrate and our mast would howl.  It was hard to get restful sleep but the rain actually helped us find leaks in the boat and gave us the opportunity to fix those leaks before we are on the passage and the boat is covered by salty sea water.

By Sunday morning, the sky was blue and the sun was shining.  The temperature was perfect and the wind was still....a nice example of nothing bad lasts forever and blue skies will return.

Obviously, I had nothing better at 1:56am then to take a picture of the radar on my phone.
These two goliaths were placed in front of us (Terrapin is between them on the left) - good wind protection; bad if they fall over.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Boat Yard Life

For those who have never lived in a boat yard, it’s interesting and different and hard to explain. You have neighbors who are 10 feet away and you don’t even care. When it rains, everyone is sleeping on a damp bed (all boats have leaks and usually they are either right over your head when you’re sleeping or when you’re eating). Everyone has several “maintenance” projects and then one really big project that is make or break for their cruising plans. No one has money that they are willing to spend on stupid stuff. Most people don’t have cars at their boat. Everyone is doing laundry at a laundry mat. Everyone knows all the details about the weather and the forecast to the level that would qualify them as a meterologist. Most people work on their boats from sunrise to sundown – more than what would equate to a full-time job and they get up the next day and repeat all over again.

Even having just moved away from the convenience of land life – nice grocery stores with good plant-based options, stand-up refrigerators, houses that don’t leak, etc…we embrace boat yard life. It is pretty simple and intrinsically rewarding. When you spend 3 hours buffing your hull and someone says, “Wow, your boat is so shiny”…there are few things that compare and you know they understand the effort.

Here's a bird's eye view video of boat yard life.

We are lucky to have such a large space for fuel tanks and an inspection port.
El Burritos de Terrapin
"Just because we live on a boat doesn't mean I'm not in charge"
Deltaville's amazing sunsets
Fairing the keel
A selection of options in climbing aboard - using the scaffolding or the ladder - you pick.
View from the deck to the scaffolding. 

Friday, September 30, 2016


House is sold, bus is in storage and we have officially moved from Utah to Virginia.  It was a 2,300 mile drive and in true "Baxter, Molly & Kala style", we made it in 2.5 days…with stops in Salina, KS and Huntington, WV.  Kala had the worst of it with a small cave-like space carved out in the backseat with a thunder of things falling on her every time we hit a right turn a little too fast (i.e. over 50 mph)...she is a tough girl.

Making the transition to something you've done before is always easier the second time.  The walk up the ladder to our house that is 20 feet off the ground is familiar but the last two times we've done this, we were able to live in the Sportsmobile - this time, the Subaru makes things a bit different - especially for Kala.  Although, every day gets a little easier and our routines are becoming, well, routine.  

It has not stopped raining since we arrived on Monday at noon.  Even when it's not raining, it's drizzling, which makes boat projects difficult.  Of course, most of the projects are contingent on each other - for example, we need to have our initial 500 h service done on our new (2013) engine...but we can't do that until we go in the water.  We can't go in the water until we get the bottom painted and buff the hull.  We can't paint the bottom and buff the hull until it stops raining.  By we, I mostly mean Baxter...

Baxter, being as resourceful as he is, has found things (not that they escape us by any stretch of the imagination) to do indoors until the rain stops...but these are the type of projects most people procrastinate on as long as possible..but needless to say.  

When we purchased Terrapin, our bilges (think of a bilge as the gutter on your house but on the bottom of the boat) were plumbed to the galley and the head.  So if you're mapping this out in your brain as you read, you will eventually realize as we did, that the water never really leaves the boat.  That is not what we want - we want water on the outside, air on the inside.  So we (he) replumbed and wired the forward bilge pump to travel aft and out a new thru hull.  He also installed a new high-water alarm so lights are flashing and sounds are going if there is a lot of water in the bilge.  In addition, he plumbed and wired a new bilge pump in the aft portion, under the shaft.  He had installed that thru hull in 2013.

Other projects the fuel and swabbing the fuel tanks.  He also checked the water tanks and hoses so we can stop having to carry water bottle by bottle up the ladder every few hours.

The most important thing we have learned is that we love being on Terrapin - it is such an awesome boat and no place we'd rather be.  We can't wait to see what new adventures she has in mind.

 Not much room - Kala is a tough girl
Saying goodbye to Utah
Can we stop at the next rest area?

So close...
Molly's job to organize and put away...

Reward for being tough is a new Rocky, the Raccoon

Sunday, September 11, 2016

... and we're BACK!!!

 Sorry for the brief detour into the mountains but we're headed back to Terrapin with a plan to sail back to the Caribbean this winter! As Robert Hunter says "the compass points to Terrapin..."

Cabin selfie!
New Spinnaker with sweet Terrapin logo

Got the winter coat off and she's looking almost ready!

Climbing on Rainier

A little crevasse crossing on Rainier

The leaves are changing in Salt Lake so it's time to go!
I wonder if Kala will like waterfalls in the Caribbean as much as she likes the ones in Utah?