Monthly Archives: October 2015

What’s for dinner?

Ok, so the shopping is done and everything is stowed in anticipation of our Monday departure for the Caribbean and crew will arrive on Saturday.    Brenda arrives today so it will be nice to see her for a bit before things get crazy.

As an aside, I am pretty happy with myself for being able to spell Caribbean.  Until recently, I thought that it had two “r”s and one “b”.  Don’t ask me how I used to spell Bahamas.   Anyway, one more word, properly spelled, in my vocabulary.  Check…

So, back to food…

One of my loyal readers, actually, I am confident that I have at least three, asked me to talk a bit about what I cook on passage so here’s a few examples.

I am not a big fan of freezing already prepared dinners for the entire trip.  This is primarily because the freezer is already filled with meat for me and Brenda to have while we are aboard so while there’s plenty for the crew that’s frozen but it’s not in aluminum pans (aluminum is yet another word that I have struggled with), which take up a lot more room and generate tons of trash that we have to carry with us.

I try to rely on simple dishes that I can make up that day.  An example is pasta with Italian sausage on some sort of short pasta.  By sauteing the sausage links in a deep sauce pan with some onions until everything is brown and setting them aside while I boil the pasta, I can use a single pan and by the time the pasta is done, the pan is pretty clean.  And, it’s a one dish diner.  Of course, we eat in bowls.

For lunch, grilled cheese or sloppy joe sandwiches from a can are good.  I think that hot meals are a must, if possible.  A breakfast favorite for crew has always been fresh biscuits.   They sound like a pain to make but I can whip them up in a few minutes.  Here’s the recipe.

Two cups of flower, a tablespoon of baking powder and a half tsp of salt along with 1/2 cup of powdered milk.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Work in, with your fingers, a half stick of butter.  If your heart can handle more, it’s even better that way.  Work the butter in until it’s in small pea size pieces.

Preheat the oven to 450.  When the oven is hot, add in about 1 cup of water to the mix and lightly mix the mess together.   It should be fairly sticky but not slump in the bowl.   Use two spoons to scoop the soft mixture onto a cookies sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake until brown and serve hot with honey drizzled on top in a small bowl.  It makes about 8-12 depending on the size you ladle out.

The key is to use good flour.  I like King Arthur unbleached all purpose.  Also, don’t overwork the mixture once you add the water as it will make them tough.  And, finally, like the whole Goldilocks thing, don’t make the dough too soft or too firm.  It’s a practice thing.  So far, everyone asks for seconds, a good sign.

Anyway, my cooking for crew s simple and always focused on a single pan.

Another good example is to saute some sort of meat, cut it up and add the chunks to a can of vegetable soup.   It makes a sort of light stew and with the meat, is much better than just plain soup.  And, it’s easy to cook the meat in advance and add it to the soup, even frozen.

Of course, I also always have fruit and granola bars along with bite size candy out on the counter for them to munch on as they feel the urge.

Sound good?  I hope so and if the answer is yes, congratulations, you could be crew on Pandora.

On another note, since Tuesday (It’s early Friday morning) participants in the Salty Dawg Rally have been meeting several times a day to hear lectures on a variety of topics.   There was a particularly interesting one entitled “a view from the bridge” presented by a retired ship tanker.  He talked about how the “big guys” look at us little tiny sailboats and how someone on a 1000′ container ship wants to interact with us.   The simple answer is that they don’t want to run over us but it’s more complicated than that.  Anyway, you had to be there…

We meet in a place that is amusingly called the “dawg house”.  Nice size crowd and most of the crew haven’t yet arrived.  By Friday and Saturday evenings (we hope to leave on Monday) there will be about 200, nearly doubling of the group, in yesterday’s meetings.   It’s a very nice group of people.10-30-15a 008As you can imagine, the logistics for an event like this are pretty overwhelming.  And the amount of free stuff is quite impressive. They have over $6,000 of donated raffle items.  I am sure that they will sell a lot of tickets.  Of course, they have a dedicated group of volunteers.  Really great people. 10-30-15a 001With only a few days till we depart, weather permitting, I have decided to pull off the steering pedestal and fix, hopefully once and for all, some loose bolts that continue to cause an alarming “clunk” when we are underway.  This showed up at the survey back in May but I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix it until now.  I found an exploded drawing of the system online yesterday and now I get what has to be done.  Fairly simple, he said.  Well, we’ll see.

Still asking “what’s for dinner?”.   Well, for dinner last night I had Chinese food.  Of course, the next question that follows is “what was my fortune?”  Well, I had two as they assumed that I wouldn’t be eating alone.  But I was…so I got two. 10-30-15b 002I expect that they both apply but let’s hope that life doesn’t get too “interesting”.  Not too keen on the second one, given the whole steering thing, but I am “relentlessly enthusiastic” so that’s got to count for something.

That’s all for now.  Got to get on with it, with ENTHUSIASM!.

Ok, now I am getting nervous about food.

I know that there are lots of folks that are obsessed with food.   You know,the kind of person who “lives to eat”?  As I have said in the past, I am more of the type that “eats to live”.  If I am hungry, I eat and it doesn’t make that much difference to me WHAT I EAT, a source of continual frustration to Brenda.  Most anything tastes good when I am ready.

But, that’s not what I mean by my being “nervous” about food.  In this case, it’s all about WHAT AM I GOING TO FEED MY CREW!  With the four of us aboard, it’s going to be crowded and perhaps the most important part of making passage is the whole question of “when is my next meal and what are we going to have captain?”.

As past posts have outlined in nauseating detail, we have a lot of food on board for me and Brenda to use over the winter aboard and I am not too keen on having it all vacuumed up in the ten days or so that it takes us to make our way to the BVI.

Anyway, I was going to wait till at least Cathy, one of my crew, arrived on Friday to begin getting the major supplies but now realize that to wait that long is making me just too worried about getting everything ready in time.  So, today it will be, shopping SOLO with the knowledge that what I have on board to feed my crew will have a lot to do with how well the trip goes.  Of course, weather and keeping things from getting broken is job #1 but keeping them fed is right up there.

However, for reasons that have always baffled me, I have found that when someone is on a boat they are somehow less gastronomically sensitive and that a meal they would send back in disgust at a fine dining establishment brings them to near-rapture when it’s served to them on the high seas.   As the late Andy Rooney might have said, “why is that”?  Who knows…   But, I cling to the hope that this trip will be no different.

An additional source of anxiety for me is the fact that our trip  is probably going to take us a week to ten days (I sure hope it’s not two weeks) and I have never had to provision in advance for that many meals in a single voyage.   To date, the longest trip I have taken without a stop was a week and 1,100 miles, from Nassau Bahamas to Essex CT.  And that was with two crew that I knew have the the discerning taste of your typical feral canine.    This crew?  They are a bit more high-brow.

Well, wish me luck today as I try to sort through all of this.  For sure, pasta will be high on the list.  “Ok Crew, repeat after me, I love carbs, I love carbs”  And the funny thing is, they will.  Well, at least that’s what they will probably say.  Perhaps they just want to encourage me for fear that the food will get worse if they don’t gush.  Whatever…  Works for me and I am sticking with that.

Enough about food.  How about a few cool boats.  The marina is full of boats ready to cruise.  Not a lot of day sailors in these parts now and a few really stood out to me.

How about this aluminum one?  My friend Chris, who doesn’t want to go to sea in anything that can’t be dropped into the water from 100′ and live to tell the tale, would love this one.  Very powerful. 10-28-15a 001It was fun to run into our old friends Rick and Julie who recently took delivery of a brand new, really red, French built catamaran.  “Rick, your boat is really, really red and amazing.”   They took delivery in France, sailed in the Med for a bit and then brought her to the US.  Ten thousand miles of sailing and they have only had her for a year.  Love the “lawn furniture” on the side deck.  Not too exposed to the weather.  Right?10-28-15a 004And, perhaps the “belle of the fleet”, this terrific Gunboat.  She looks like she is screaming along standing still at the dock.  Not even sure if “she” applies unless she is one tough woman, and she is.  What a remarkable machine. 10-28-15a 003Yesterday I posted a shot of a “Hampton/Salty Dawg” burgee.  I thought that it was pretty neat.  However, through some sort of quirk of the rally, you can participate in the rally and not technically be a “Salty Dawg” by membership.   And frankly, the additional benefits of membership are a bit blurry to me.  However, being the “I want to be part of the club” sort of guy that I am compelled me to join as an “official” member.  And, I got this terrific burgee.  Now, that’s a burgee.  And it’s big, which is good as I have always been a bit peevish about boats sporting a teeny tiny 8″ burgee on their starboard spreader.  Now, this is a proper burgee and I am happy to be a “dawg”.   Nice, shiny and new.  We’ll see how it looks after 4,000 miles of sailing come spring. 10-28-15a 005So, enough of that for now.  In a few days I’ll have a pack of hungry “dawgs” aboard.  Yikes…  I’d better get my yellow pad out and start making a grocery list.

Besides, I have a reputation to uphold.

Well, Pandora’s in Hampton now. Mopping up last minute details.

It’s Tuesday afternoon and the first day for folks taking part in the Salty Dawg Rally to connect with one another as we all prepare to make our run offshore to the BVI in about a week.   There are plenty of boats that have not yet arrived here in Hampton yet but I would expect that many will begin coming into town in the next few days.  The marinas are full and Pandora is snug on the dock.  I have to say that it’s very convenient to have power, sort of unlimited (hot) water and all the comforts of home, albeit, without Brenda.  I even did a few loads of laundry in our washing machine.  Our own washer/dryer.  How decadent.

The good news is that Brenda will be visiting for a few days beginning Friday to meet some of the folks and participate in the activities (read: Parties).  This group knows how to have a good time and there is a cocktail party every night for the next week.  And, it’s BYOB, just my speed.

There are folks at all levels of experience participating in the rally although it’s pretty clear that this sort of voyaging is mostly done by those that are, shall we say, “mature”.   Me too, as much as that pains me to admit. “Bob, is that grey hair on your temples?”.  My mother calls it “dirty blond”. I’m going with that.   She also tells me that I’m big.  Hmm…

I did meet a young couple that are taking a year off from work to cruise for a year or so and it will be interesting to learn where they end up as their current plans take them to the Panama canal by March.  After that?  Who knows.

This came in my welcome bag. I  will proudly fly this SDR/Hampton burgee on the run south.   10-27-15a 033This isn’t the “real” SDR burgee.   I don’t have one of those yet as I haven’t actually joined the rally as a member, only as a participant.  Perhaps a subtle difference so I’ll have to learn more.

Our run from Deep River was uneventful with great sailing for the first half and then a motorboat ride after that.  As Chris Parker, the weather router, predicted, we did end up with head winds for the last 8 hours or so as the wind shifted to the south.  While NOAA was predicting much stronger winds to fill in, which they did, Chris was able to fine tune the forecast to let us know how much time we had till the headwinds got strong.   Good job Chris.

Many folks that were making the run from New England opted to stop in Cape May, something that we considered andI am glad that we didn’t as I heard on the SSB radio net that the harbor was just jammed with cruisers hiding from the weather.   Tight anchoring, short scope and strong winds make for a messy mix.

All and all, it was a good run, allowing us to cover the 350 miles or so in a bit over two days.    As we came within the last 10 miles of the mouth of the Chesapeake on Sunday we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise that was true to the adage, “red sky in the morning, sailor take warning”.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGlad that Chris was right with his forecast as that made the final part of our trip much easier.

As soon as we pulled into the marina, Gregg and Roger got to work up on deck getting Pandora all spiffed up while I worked down below.  Showers followed along with a nice dinner and a few well earned beers to celebrate our successful voyage.  The next morning, a nice crew shot on Pandora’s bow and off they went.  10-27-15a 023I enjoyed having them aboard but it was nice to havePandora back to myself.  As Brenda has often said, six for cocktails, four for dinner and two sleep over.   Not sure exactly how that applies to crew but cooking three meals a day and being responsible for the boat does tire one out, congenial crew or not.   They were certainly congenial and I appreciated their help in getting Pandora here.

So, with a good night sleep it was time to catch up on the projects that I didn’t get to prior to leaving CT.  One issue that I had debated was bringing my sewing machine with me.  It’s really robust and HEAVY.  However, in the end, I opted to toss it (carefully) below.  Really glad I did as on day one in Hampton I had a sewing project to attend to.  Pandora’s main is loose footed and has a heavy velcro covered strap that holds the clew securely against the boom as the out-haul moves in and out.  The material was badly sun damaged so I needed a new one.  Fortunately, my “stash” included 5′ of Velcro and after re-purposing a sail tie I made up a new strap.  Here’s my “sewing nook”.  Worked well.  10-27-15a 028And the finished piece in place at the end of the boom. 10-27-15a 029Very natty, if you can get excited about Velcro.  Absolutely!   It would have taken longer to find someone to sew this for me than it took to set up and do it myself.

A few weeks ago Brenda and I splurged and ordered custom area rugs for Pandora.   It was easier to have them shipped to VA so I was excited to pick them up at the marina office when I arrived.  They fit beautifully and do a nice job of bringing blue into a generally green boat.   There are a number of rugs that fit specific areas.10-27-15a 025We also had one made up for the aft cabin.  10-27-15a 026However, dark blue does show every crumb.  Perfect, one more thing for me to be anal about.  I may put them away for the run to the BVI.  One less thing to clean when I get there.

Brenda has made some wonderful pillows as accent in the main cabin.   The cost of having them made professionally was over $200 per pillow.  Granted, the fabric was luscious but that’s a very steep price.  I like what she made up yesterday and they cost WAY LESS.   Great job Brenda!!!IMG_1602Well, the week is young but I can’t believe that I am perhaps a week away from leaving on my long run south.  Happily, most of the “issues” that I have had with a “new” boat are behind me so, unless something unexpected comes up, I won’t have to worry about anything more complex than changing the engine oil.  Fingers crossed.

However, that’s a new feeling for me as just a few weeks ago as I was struggling to get ready to begin heading south, this is more of the sort of image that came to mind.  “What, that is going to cost how many boat dollars?”   10-27-15a 032Today I visited a rally participant to help him set up his SSB e-mail.  He has only owned his boat for a few months and I am sure that he can relate to this image perfectly.  He told me that yesterday cost him plenty with a parade of “fixit guys” on and off the boat all day.  Unfortunately, some of the fixes didn’t take and with our departure about a week away, the pressure is mounting.   I can relate to that.

Editor note:  Yes, this is a real car in a nearby neighborhood that I saw when I was walking yesterday.  I am not absolutely certain that the “guy” is real.  Hard to say as  Saturday IS, after all, Halloween.

That’s all for now.


First Night at Sea. Cold and Fast

It’s Saturday morning and we have just passed Atlantic City on our way to Hampton VA.   When we left Deep River yesterday we plotted a course for Cape May on the chance that we would opt to stop there for a night while a small front passed through, bringing adverse winds for a day.  However, after speaking with Chris Parker today on the SSB radio, it seems that those winds, while they will be from the south and on our nose, won’t be particularly strong,likely 10kts or less,until later on Sunday.  So, provided that we can keep moving along in the 6-8kt range, as we are doing now, we should arrive in Hampton by mid-morning Sunday.

The trip has been quite good so far with really spectacular 20kt winds yesterday pushing us along at around 8-10kts on a beam reach for much of the day.  As the night progressed, the wind began to shift to the NE and then to the East as it is now getting lighter.  I don’t expect that we’ll be able to keep sailing for much longer and will have to use the motor again but it’s fun for now.
We did motor-sail much of last night with the wind directly behind me.  The jib wasn’t doing much and slammed around quite a bit.  I should have dealt with that as I found that the sheet had chafed quite a bit so I will have to replace the line. It’s a good thing that I have plenty of extra lines aboard to address chafe problems and am thankful that I brought more lines from home at the last minute before shoving off.  I believe that I have extras for just about every line aboard.   That’s comforting.   It’s amazing how much wear and tear there is on a boat when things get bumpy.

The temperatures overnight were plenty chilly and it was a chore to stand watch, even though we were under the cover of the hard dodger.  I stood watch from midnight to 04:00 and was quite happy to crawl into my sleeping bag and warm up at the end of my watch.  I slept like a “bowling ball”, you know, “toss it onto a bed, it rolls to the center and never moves an inch”.  That was me and I didn’t get up till nearly 07:30.

It’s a lot warmer today, which is very good news.  It’s also beautifully sunny with sea birds flying around us.  Speaking of birds, we had a small bird land on board last night around nightfall, something that seems to happen on nearly every ocean passage.   He hopped all around, even in the cockpit and I think that he stayed the night somewhere up forward, probably near the dink, which is lashed on the cabin top.  I always wonder what happens to these little birds when they need to stop and rest and there isn’t a boat nearby.  I expect that a lot just get exhausted and, well… you know.   They must be quite desperate to land in the cockpit with three “giants” gawking at them.

Today got off to a beautiful start as documented by Gregg.  I guess that he just instinctively knew that I love to post photos of sunrises.  I was listening to the weather at the time and he had the presence of mind to grab my camera and take a few shots.  Thanks Gregg.


I guess that’s about it for now.  I’ll likely post again when we are heading into Hampton, hopefullytomorrow.
From the high seas… SV Pandora

We’re moving now.  On our way.

It’s mid-morning Friday and we are nearly to Montauk having left Deep River at 07:00 this morning.  My crew and good friends Roger and Gregg are settle in and it’s a pleasure to have them aboard.   I have sailed with them both before and have known each of them for many years.

We are really cooking along with the wind on the port quarter at between 8-9 and sometimes more than 10kts over the ground.

The last few days of getting Pandora ready to head south have been a whirlwind with a seemingly endless list of chores onboard and at home.   As I won’t be home for nearly a month, I had to attend to things such as cutting and fertilizing the lawn (yesterday morning actually).  Something that I would have loved to put off until I got back.  However, the maples had dropped many of their leaves and I can only imagine what the condition of the grass would have been by the time I return in mid-November if I didn’t clean things up prior to my departure.   Love that yard work stuff…

Between moving final things aboard and shopping for the last minute groceries, along with yard work, I have to say that I was wondering if life really needed to be this hectic.  Brenda for sure feels that way.  And, I really didn’t sleep very well last night as I was so keyed up from such a hectic day.  However, now that I am aboard and making tracks south toward Hampton, it all seems worth it.

As is always the case when you step aboard for a long run, we had a bit of a shocker this morning.   When I turned on all of the instruments to get going, surprise!  No autopilot.  Not good.  However, after a few frantic moments, I realized that the problem might be a loose connection in the instrument pod.   The bow thruster guys had had the pod open to check wires on the joy stick control and I wondered if perhaps they had just dislodged the power cord from the pilot control.  Yup… Simple fix and we were on our way.   Whew!

I don’t even want to think of what I would have done if the problem was serious.  Not my first choice to hand steer for 350 miles.

So, preventers are run, jack lines in place and a cup of hot coffee.  Life is good.

The weather, as I have mentioned in my last post, won’t provide us with favorable winds for the entire run to Hampton.  However, today’s grib wind files seem to suggest we might be able to motor/sail the last 8 hours and still make Hampton prior to any real adverse winds settling in.  So, for now, we’ll continue to head for Cape May and consider bearing off as we learn more.

Heading down the CT River this morning was beautiful.  The color is at it’s peak and it was nice to make one more run down the river knowing that I wouldn’t be back till next spring.   I will be covering a lot of miles between now and May. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeeing the CT River Museum from the water as we motored by was a beautiful sight.  I have been volunteering there for a year or so and I enjoy working with the gang there.   Actually, I have to edit a grant application before we get to Hampton as it’s due at the end of the month.  No rest for the weary.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also saw a bald eagle as we passed Hamburg Cove.  Is that a good or bad omen for our trip?  I am going with “good”. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I guess that’s about it for now.  If things are settled enough, and my Pactor Modem on my SSB radio is working, I will likely do another post on Saturday.

Heading south? Friday it is.

Yes, after months of saying “we’re going south”, it looks like I am actually heading out tomorrow, Friday morning.  Crew arrives tonight and we will head out at first light tomorrow morning.

I spoke with Chris Parker, the weather router, this morning and he told me that we should have excellent north winds to take us south for the first 24 hours or so.  After that we will see southerlies but under ten knots.  This is what the GRIBs look like for Friday.  Should be a very nice run.  Note that the wind is coming from the direction that the “flags” are pointing and that each “feather” means 10kts, but you probably knew that anyway.  20-22-15dThis is our route plan if we stop in Atlantic City to wait for favorable winds once the northerlies shift to the south on Saturday.    We’d only have to wait there for about a day until things shift again to the north, so that wouldn’t be so bad. 10-26-15bAlternatively, we might opt to continue on directly for Hampton and motor into what will likely be 10kts or less on the nose.  This is what the winds will likely do after the good northerlies go away on Saturday.  Not horrible to motor into light winds. 10-22-15a I guess we will have to see how things progress and I’ll likely check in with Chris again in the morning.   Yes, I am sure that you are on the edge of your seat too about all this.  If so, of course you can follow along with us by clicking on “Where in the World is Pandora” at the top of the page and see us on a Google Map.  Such are the wonders of technology.  

Yes, it’s very exciting to be on my way, finally and I am very much looking forward to visiting with folks in Hampton for the next week.  After that, on to the BVI.

The next flag that I fly from Pandora’s starboard spreader will be this one.  Very exciting.  BVI flag

Looking forward to seeing the “Queen’s subjects” very soon.

South it is…

Friday departure for Hampton? We’ll see.

Well, the weather sure has turned.  It seems like only yesterday, or a few weeks, that I was working on the boat in a short sleeve shirt.  Not now!  We had our first killing frost yesterday and it’s PLENTY COLD.  I can’t believe how quickly the season changed and the temperatures have dropped.   When Labor Day arrives, you hear the iron doors of summer slam shut and now we are getting close to the time when you had better be sure not to touch your tongue to those doors as it might stick.  I don’t know if you heard the same thing, but I was always told that if I touched my tongue to cold metal in the winter that it would stick till spring.  I have no idea if this is true or not as I have never tried it.  Have you?  Well, if you feel the urge, an opportunity is just around the corner  Never mind.

Anyway, it’s high time for me to “get out of Dodge” with Pandora and begin my run south.  First stop, Hampton VA and if the weather cooperates, I will shove off on Friday morning.  There is a front, one of many these days, coming through which should provide some good NW winds for at least a day.  We might have to stop in Cape May or Atlantic City to wait a day for another quick front to come through but it seems that we should be in Hampton by the weekend or Monday. Fingers crossed.

Pandora’s about ready, the pantry is loaded and the freezer is stocked with meat. The fridge is a lot bigger than on “old” Pandora and the freezer is so deep that I have to use one of those “geriatric grabber thingies”, you know the kind that old folks use to pick up things off of the floor?  Anyway, even if I lay on the counter top I can’t reach the bottom of the freezer.  Now, that’s an image… But if you want a sirloin steak, you do what you have to do.

It’s tricky to guess how much we will need of each item to last the winter as most things cost more in the Caribbean so it makes sense to buy them here. Well, it seems like a good idea to us and my Scottish heritage and thrift make it a necessity.  So, how many rolls of toilet paper do you need to last for five months? Brenda says “you can never have too many rolls of toilet paper”.  She said 50 so that’s the number.  Ok…

Under the category of “random segues” how about a sunrise photo?  Our frined Gail (of Gail and Al fame) sent us this great photo of the sunrise in Essex a few days ago.  It’s been a while since I posted a sunrise photos, something that I do a lot of when I am aboard Pandora so perhaps this will get everyone in the mood for what’s to come when we get to warmer climes.  Here you go.  Thanks Gail. Amazing shot.  Give that girl a gold star!essex sunrise gailAnd, speaking of the CT River.  We were treated to a ride on the river aboard Pastime, a beautiful 1960s vintage Lyman runabout this past Sunday.  It was a beautiful “crisp” day on the water.  “Crisp” is code for “It was frigging cold”, complete with snow flurries.  What  a glorious day.  We headed up the river to Middletown and back.  Pastime’s owners, Steve and Irene, were the perfect host and hostess.  What a fun time. 10-20-15a 012Even though they had just met, Brenda and Irene were like old friends as they kept warm with some of Irene’s chili.  Get it?  Chili on a chilly day?10-20-15a 011It’s going to be a while till we have another cruise on the CT River so the “last gasp” for the 2015 season will stick with us.

Oh yeah.  Almost forgot.  My crew had inquired about lee cloths for Pandora. Voila!  Made em.  Wasn’t that easy?   All installed.  Three bunks plus the aft cabin are now ready for occupancy.  Here’s the one to starboard. 10-20-15a 003I put one up in the forward cabin but I’ll only use it when it’s fairly calm. However, it’s also a great way to keep stray gear out of the way and in place, when things get rough.  10-20-15a 005I think that just about everything is ready to head south.  I just hope that the weather cooperates.  Based on the low temps these days, it’s high time that Pandora “flies the coop”.

Friday departure?  I sure hope so.   I’m freezing!

Back in the water and ready to cruise. Yahoo!

It’s Saturday morning and PANDORA IS BACK IN THE WATER!  Yahoo, Yahoo, Yahoo!  It’s been a month since she came out and after so many “I’ll be ready to launch in a few days” I can’t believe that she’s FINALLY in.  And, it’s just in time as it’s late October and it’s getting COLD, in the low 40s outside as I write this.  Yes, it’s high time to head south, so here’s the plan…

Now that she’s back in the water I’ll check all the systems and get the refrigeration going again.   Check, check, double-check…  I’ll begin stocking the freezer and other last minute provisions in anticipation of shoving off when the weather allows, later in the week, for Hampton, the staging port for the Salty Dawg Rally that gets underway in early November.  Of course, if you feel like hearing more, you can sign up under “sign up to be notified when I publish a post”. Pretty descriptive, right?

And, on the upper tool bar, you can also click on “where in the world is Pandora” and see where we actually are or at least where we were when we last “pushed the button”.

As I have been going on and on about my bow thruster for the last two weeks (yes it took that long to do the overhaul) and get it going reliably again, I thought it would be fun to post a video of it going up and down, up and down.  I think that is just so great, and mildly amusing.  Among the nifty features of the unit is the remote-control.  You might want to ask yourself “why Bob, would you need a remote when you are only feet away from the “joystick” in the cockpit?  Just use that.”  Well, that’s so I can control the bow while Brenda does the “forward and reverse thing” as we go up to a dock.  It also made that neato video you just saw possible.  Here’s the receiver and “brains” of the unit.  It was relocated inside the boat from in the “sometimes humid”compartment near the motor.  A much better spot, I am assured. 10-16-15a 004I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t crap out again any time soon. However, I am pretty sure that it’s going to be a lot better as I have worked hard to modify things to keep everything dry.   And speaking of dry, here’s the now dry compartment, complete with dry drive motor.  Let’s hope it stays that way. 10-17-15a 001And, just in case somehow, some way, water gets into here, there’s a pump ready and willing to assist.  10-17-15a 002But wait, there’s more.  When the above featured pump has done it’s work, this unit is on hand to pump out down to the last teaspoon.  It cycles every few hours, 24/7 “just in case”.   Let’s hope that it lives up to it’s name. 10-16-15a 003And, to deal with anything that might be missed, and to keep things desert dry, I added a decidedly low tech item to catch those remaining molecules of H2O. Fingers crossed that it all works in harmony and, well, continues to work.  10-17-15a 003If all of this isn’t up to the task, I still have the option of putting in forced ventilation but that’s another project for another day.

Well, there you have it, and as my day used to say, “more than you want to know about penguins”.  A complete rundown of my “for the moment” functioning bow thruster.

Of course, everybody loves photos of boats “on the move” so here’s Pandora making her way across through the marina at a stately pace.  She won’t look so shiny and clean for a long time to come. 10-17-15a 013I guess I’ll close today with Pandora’s first beautiful sunset since being “back in business” again.  Nice spot, nice spot indeed. 10-17-15a 017I am really looking forward to being in many more nice spots in the coming months and I very much hope that you will stay tuned and make the journey with me.

Time to cruise.

Inching toward the water, honest!

It’s Tuesday morning and I am happy to say that the thruster is ALMOST done.  I say almost as everything is set and adjusted but now I am told that the “mother board” is not good.  BAD MOTHER!!!   Yes, it does sound REALLY BAD.  However, because they feel bad for me, and I guess that business is good elsewhere (they are starting a rebuild job on 200′ yacht at Hodgons Yachts, in East Booth Bay), I am not being charged for that, which is good.  I can only imagine what that would have cost.  The new “mother” will be installed on Thursday and I should be good to go.  While the final bill will be a “bit more than estimated”, I am not being charged for all of the “coming and going” over the last ten days.  I have to give them credit as they worked very hard to keep things moving, even though it kept them there on both Saturday and Sunday of last weekend.

In any event, NO MORE FLOODING is allowed in the thruster compartment and I am optimistic that the two, count em, two bilge pumps will keep things in good shape. I’ll also be putting desiccant bags in there to see if I can keep humidity at bay.  If not, next spring I’ll put in a vent system.  More to come on that.

Oh yeah, remember the “ostomy hole”, the bilge pump outlet installed RIGHT IN THE SIDE OF THE HULL!? Yes, this one. The nasty white “orafice”.  10-4-15a 001Well, they did a pretty good job of making it look OK with a matching stainless fitting that is of the same design of the smaller one near it.  I had checked into having the hole plugged and repainted, but opted against that as it’s very hard to make a good match on a dark green hull and I expect that the “cure would have been worse than the disease”.  It doesn’t look that bad, right?Anyway, it seems that the issue of the thruster is finally, almost, done which is good.  It’s been painful at best, but at least I now know what to look for in keeping things in good shape.  As an added plus, this “experience” has reminded me, once again, just how important “preventive maintenance” is.  All and all, it’s probably a good allegory for life in general so, with that in mind, a good, if expensive, lesson.

Pandora is now scheduled to go in the water on Friday morning so I can check out the “new” Autoprop and be sure that everything is in good shape.  I’ll change the oil, fire up the freezer and fridge and all the other things that have been on hold while she’s been on the hard.

I had also promised an update on the Salty Dawg “fleet” page.  This is a screen shot of the group as of today.  It looks like Domini and Altera “flew” literally, no doubt with their transponder in their pocket aboard a plane.   Altera started in Cape Breton, NS and Domini in Boston.  I think that Brenda and I know the Altera gang from previous winters as I think that they used to own a SAGA 48.  Note that I have “clicked” on Pandora, in the image below, so she is highlighed.   You can see the actual shared page, in real time, by clicking here.  when you get there, you will have to put in SDR where it says “group” or “Pandora” under Name (you can’t do both).  For the date range, you can either choose today only or a range to see where we are right now.  Of course, I’ll be posting as we get closer to let you know when we are hoping to depart.  If you save this page on your screen,  you can just refresh the page and see, any time, what’s going on as the fleet assembles in Hampton and more sign on.  I’ll also have this link on the “where in the world is Pandora” on my home page.

Yes, Pandora is inching forward and I am getting pretty excited about what the next month will bring.  Fingers crossed that “mother” will check out and we’ll be good to go in a little more than a week.

And as they say “but wait, there’s more”.  And that’s true, but you will have to wait till my next post to find out.

Thanks for tuning in, if there’s anyone out there.  Are you listening?  Say something…please.

Just a few (thousand) details left…

It’s Sunday morning and, as far as I know, the bow thruster was finished up and tested last evening.  It’s been a long, expensive process and hopefully the improvements put in place, designed to keep it dry, will avoid a long slow decline again.  If “an ounce of prevention”, no make that “thousands of ounces of prevention” will make things better, than we should be in good shape.  The one remaining item to add will be a forced ventilation system which I expect install in the spring.

This whole issue reminds me of the first time I installed an refrigeration system on my Tartan 37 many years ago.  I really didn’t know what I was getting into but really wanted to have a few ice cubes for my G&Ts.   Sounds simple?  Not!!!

I WANTED A FRIDGE. So, I added a compressor etc.  Little did I understand that this would eventually mean more batteries, a high output alternator.  The list went on and on.

Anyway, those ice cubes cost me big time and now, with all the time the “thruster guys” spent crawling around on Pandora, I am reminded, yet again, of how things can get complicated.   Boats in general and thrusters, watermakers and fridges, in specific, are good examples of how you can take simple things, like docking, plopping ice cubes into your drink or having a cup of water from simple to PLENTY COMPLICATED.  I guess that’s what owning a boat is all about.  Right?

So, now with the thruster back in business I will begin to wrap things up and get ready to launch, probably later this week.

I had a call with my crew for the run to the BVI a few days ago and the question of lee cloths came up.  Of course! I forgot about that.  Oops.  Anyway, lee cloths on the way.  I worked up the basic pieces yesterday, one for the port and starboard main settees as well as one for the forward Pullman berth.  I also installed the hardware and will be working up the rest of the items such as clips and straps, needed to finish the job in the next few days.  Thanks Jim for that reminder.   I’ll post some photos when I finalize the installation next week.  They will certainly come in handy when the going gets “spirited” along the way.

There are so many details to work out to get ready for a run like this, especially with a new boat, well, new to me anyway, that it seems TO-DOs keep finding their way onto my list faster than I am able to check them off.  And sometimes, in my desire to make everything perfect, I end up breaking things and then have yet another item to fix.  I am thinking of one particularly stupid example that I did the other day but I’ll “take the 5th” on that one.  Sorry, no comment.  However, parts on the way.

Changing the subject, I have also set a nominal departure date to head to Hampton VA, October 22nd.  I’ll have Pandora launched around the 15th or 16th, which will give me nearly a week, once she’s in the water, to make certain that everything is in good working order.  I’ll also be able to crank up the fridge and begin stocking the freezer.

I should note that I have renewed my subscription for my SPOT, GPS transponder and will be updating my position every four hours while I am underway.  This section of the sight is “where in the world is Pandora“.
I also understand that there will be a tracking service that participants in the Salty Dawg fleet will be subscribing to for the duration of the run from Hampton to Virgin Gorda.  It’s Snap Track and it will allow you to see where Pandora is an how she’s doing relative to other rally particpants.  This is an example of what you’ll see when we are underway.  I’ll post details of this as I learn more.

So, to keep things moving along, I’ll continue to provision and stow everything we’ll need for the winter aboard.   No point in putting her in the water any sooner than necessary as it will just mean that there will be more time for the bottom to become slimy before we head south.  And,a clean bottom means and a bit more speed along the way which will make a big difference over a 2,000 mile run, that’s for sure.

Hopefully, this will be the last post that mentions the “thruster guys” and that from here on out, I’ll be able to turn Pandora any way I wish against currents and wind when I am close to pointy and hard things.  Fingers crossed.

As I “gird my loins” in preparation for the “thruster bill”, I need to keep my “eye on the prize” and think about making landfall at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda.  Yes, that will be very nice indeed.  And, when I arrive, I plan to sit here and have a drink with a little umbrella stuck in it.  That’s of course, if I have any $$ left over from the, well, you know …
Just a few (thousand) details to tend to first.  I’d better get on it.