Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Swear or rejoice, I don't know which...

View from the boat 

We are freezing cold in North Carolina.  Craig's mom, Anne, let us know yesterday that it was +10 Celsius in Calgary this week.  Here, it is hovering below freezing.  The wind is howling, and humidity is running icy cold through our bones.  This is the best incentive to get back into the water and head south.  Chris Parker is telling us that Tuesday the 3rd is a possibility.

Thanks to the watchful eye and elbow grease of our good friend Martin, the boat was in excellent shape when we returned.  We had vacuum packed our clothes and bedding against mould and we will do that again.  Our air conditioner kept the boat dry and cool but bedding picks up any bit of mould quickly.  It seems to be clear this time.

One of our (meaning Craig's) tasks was to repair the water maker.  To his surprise, it only needed new o-rings and not a complete overhaul as expected.  Since repairs usually entail much more work than planned rather than less, he muttered, "Swear or rejoice…I don't know which."  Checking systems out is a precarious job.  We hold our breath.  The boat gremlins were on our side for a change.

This is the to-do list we are working from now.  It seems onerous but is actually much shorter this year than in years past.  In her fourth season, I think Alberta Crewed is just feeling more at home with us.   TLC goes a long way and Craig is a master at preventative maintenance.

- Repair water maker.  We haven't used it in a couple of years and is one of those use-or-lose systems.
- Check battery water levels
- Change fuel filters and raw water impellers (two engines, generator).  Craig changed the oil last spring
- Install all sails.
- Install bowsprit.
- Sail Koat mainsail track.  This helps raise and lower the sail, important in an unexpected wind where we would want to drop it quickly.
- Install trampolines.  We removed them for the first time to protect them.  They have lasted remarkably well.
- Put the outboard on the dinghy.  Ugh.  Involves hoisting the engine up and out of the rear locker using the mainsail halyard.
- Clean and put the dinghy back into the davits on the back of the boat.
- Clean the boat, inside and out.  Then wax.  This is the only time we envy monohull owners.
- Charge generator and outboard batteries.
- Check safety gear according to Canadian standards, because we are a Canadian registered boat.  The Industry Canada website lists 12 required pieces of equipment including flares, an axe, navigation lights, fire extinguishers.  These need to be checked regularly for expiry dates and working order.
- Activate Satellite Phone, check EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon).  It activates when submerged and sends a distress signal to the Canadian Coastguard.
- Clean and grease propeller shafts and props.  Replace zincs, the sacrificial anodes that oxidize instead of our prop shafts and props, particularly in marinas.
- Install Hypervent under all mattresses.  We discovered this to keep moisture down in humid climates.
- Restock first aid kit.  On the advice of our world-travelling doctor, update emergency medications including an epi-pen, antibiotics, eye injury kit, ear infection kit, pain killers, cough and cold medicine, and sea sickness medication.  
- Provision and stock food for 5 months.  The Bahamas are light on grocery stores.

Those are the big items.  Provisioning will also take time as we think about 5-7 days at sea with 5 people (friends Martin, Maite, and Ed will be with us), and 4 months in the Bahamas where grocery stores are not in abundance.  The trade-off is that there are hundreds of people-free islands to explore.  In the meantime, I don my down filled jacket, wool sweaters, and fleece slippers trying to stave off the chill.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More about cats

The reason we own a sailboat is to have an excuse to go to Sailboat trade shows.  One can attend without owning a boat, which would be easier on the wallet, but not nearly as fun.   All of the experts on every aspect of equipment, destinations, safety, clothing, and electronics are there, and will spend as much time as you wish without selling you a thing.  As a matter of fact, most don’t have inventory to sell.  They are simply there to educate…so that you can buy later.  Every time we think about going we wonder what more we could possibly need and inevitably, something great and glorious is invented that we cannot do without.  We love it.

The Annapolis Sailboat show in October did not disappoint us.  Craig is not typically a social guy but claims he likes the boat shows so that he can see all of his friends.  This is one of the biggest surprises that sailing has brought for me.  Craig is now Mister Chatty Cathy and is a premier sailing socialite.  Along with our Antares friends, his social circle encompasses vendors we have come to know well through provisioning Alberta Crewed.  Craig and Randy from Ultra Anchor are like this (crossed fingers) although I think Randy sees us as stalkers.  He sometimes hides when he sees us coming.

Another highlight was meeting The Man, Chris Parker.  He is our infamous and genius weather service  provider who would cringe at the accolades.  He spent over an hour with us at his booth, showing us new software, describing how he interprets data, and wiping my drool off of his shirt.  He is one of those people whose brain is not of this earth, or in his profession, is all of this earth.  He described how he visualizes weather in multiple dimensions, and can verbalize what he sees as models of the systems move around in his head.  Wow.  Lucky for us, he spends his life sending that information out over the airwaves.  I will try not to giggle during our next radio conversation as I reminisce about our hour together.
My shirt would say "I'm shaking-standing-next-to Chris Parker".
Our favourite booths were Goal Zero for all things solar, including solar powered generators and spotlights (the technology is really coming along) and Smart Cat, a portable catamaran along the lines of a little hobie-cat.  I have often joked that I would like to tow a little mono-hull behind Alberta Crewed for some fun day sailing.  This seemed to be the perfect solution and it folds into a bag.  The booth also had a mini-tent trailer, which I think would be perfect for towing behind our motorbike.  Craig is less enthused.  He is a bit sensitive about his new, old 1971 BMW R6 and turning his baby into a camper. 

This folds down to this...

We are going through our now familiar lists of preparations as we anticipate our return to the boat on November 23rd.  FYI, these include insurance (boat and health), shutting down telephone, cable, and car insurance here, forwarding mail, re-stocking our medical kit with updated prescriptions, dental appointments, air travel arrangements, contacting the boatyard with the list of boat maintenance items, and everything related to taking our cat with us.  Travelling with Rusty is a costly and complicated process as far as air travel and taking him to the Bahamas.  I’m not sure how excited he is but he is about to become a tropical cat with his snowbird owners.