Essential Equipment Our Boat Didn’t Have or Needed Replacing

When you think about sailing off into the sunset, there are a few pieces of essential equipment you probably want to have.  Our boat had none of them when we purchased it.  The previous owner only took this boat out on a small lake.  I am still trying to figure out how he sailed on Lake Pierce in Rockford.  By the time he got any wind in his sail, he would have been at the other end of the lake.  Forget tacking, there isn’t enough room for that.

We wanted to get this boat ready to sail on the Great Lakes and in the Florida Keys.  There were many things we needed to replace or upgrade.  Some electronic equipment was also needed.  You will see a few things that aren’t essential but we felt they would make things easier for us.

Sail Stop

A sail stop was something we didn’t even know existed until we were installing our single line reefing system.  The directions kept talking about using your sail stop to keep the sail from falling out. Sail stop, what sail stop?

We have always struggled with the sails falling out of the mast when you lower them.  You mean we could have solved this problem with a small $10.00 item.  Oh come on, seriously!!!!!

We never knew such a cute little thing existed.  I think our boat probably had one when it was new.  Where it ended up,  we will never know.  It was important enough, I  bought two of these.  When sailing you need spare parts whenever possible.   I will not be without one of these  again.  If your boat doesn’t have one,  stop fighting your sails and get one.

There are three different ones.  Take a good look at your mast before ordering.

 

Headstay

We looked over all our hardware on the boat and discovered some of it was rather worn.  We decided to replace the headstay and turn buckle.  I called Bluewater Yachts and ordered the headstay for our boat. Since they are the only distributor for MacGregory they knew exactly what I needed.

Bluewater Yachts website  talked about the fact that you should never use a straight quick pin or a ball lock type pin on your headstay.  They will fall out and your mast will come down.  They stated it is not a matter of “if” but “when” it will happen.  The thought of the mast falling on my head in a high wind, didn’t give me that warm fuzzy feeling.  Threaten me with a  mast falling on my head and I will purchase just about anything.  So we also order a new bow pin along with the headstay.  We suggest ordering two of the bow pins.  You would not believe how many times I have dropped the pin when raising the mast.   We also thought it was important enough to replace the 15 year old mast base quick pin for $11.00.

Life Lines

Our life lines were old, yellowed, and cracked.  It was not a safety issue to replace them but it made a big difference in how the boat looks.  We had Bluewater Yachts put a pelican clip on the line so it could be disconnected for easier entrance and exits.  It made a big difference when these  short legs had to get out of the boat in high water.  We were at Lake Mendota in Madison Wisconsin after a huge rain.  The water was level with the dock.  This made the boat so high off the dock it was hard to get in and out.

Wind

Silly me, I thought have wind… sail away.  Seems it is a little more complicated than that.  Any sailor can tell you how important it is to know where the wind is coming from.  We needed to shop for a wind indicator to put on our mast.  This wind indicator is easy to install.  Dave actually takes it off and stores it in the truck.  We could leave it on the mast, only we are afraid of breaking it off.  I am still a work in progress.   Dave is trying to teach me how to use this and how to tell where I need to point the boat.  I am extremely directionally challenged.  This is not going to be easy for him.

Almost as important as the wind direction is the wind speed.  For me I want to know exactly when I should panic.  I tend to keep the wind meter by me so I can keep checking out the wind speed.  Remember that to get an accurate wind speed you have to take the measurement the wind and then subtract the boat speed.  This will tell you approximately when to panic.

To measure the speed of the sailboat we use our Garmin GPS Chartplotter. It can give you the speed of the sailboat, the average speed over the trip and the miles traveled.  It does much more than that, but we are discussing wind today.  Hint: this is a great device, yes there is always a but.  It sucks batteries. It takes 2 AA batteries and they only last a few days because the GPS is always searching.  I have tried Energizer and Duracell and they lasted about the same time.   Rechargeable and lithium batteries do last longer. 

We ordered the Garmin Marine Mount 78 Series so we could mount it in the cockpit out of the way.   It works perfectly but you do have to be careful to make sure it is clicked in. There are little slots on both sides of the Garmin 78SC.  If you do not have the mount snapped into those slots it falls out. 

So I am going to be able to tell how hard the wind is blowing and maybe from what direction.  Remember, I am directionally challenged.   The next thing I needed to justify my panic was a way to know how far the boat is heeling.  I can honestly say with 100% certainty that Dave regrets installing these.  I watch them constantly and let him know it is time for me to panic.   I am working on this!!

Where Do I Put My Drink

You just can’t sail without a cup holders.  I wanted the folding type so they would be out of the way.  We ordered these for both sides of the cockpit and one for the back.  We mounted one on the side of the locker so Dave can have a drink while at the tiller. 

Surprise… the Tiller Moves

Did you know if you let go of the tiller the boat goes in a circle.  I found this out during on of my panic times.  Dave had asked me to take the tiller in high winds.  He was going to go up and take down the front sail.  I was struggling with the tiller, the boat heeled way over and I lost it.  I let go of the tiller and sat on the floor in the cockpit.  This was one of our first times out in high winds.  I am much better now.

Our boat had a tiller tamer but it was broken.  We decided we needed to replace it.  This little device keeps the tiller in a set position.  It is supposed to make it so you can sail alone.  Dave would attempt this but, you know who will never actually put this device to the test.  

 

 

Sailing Panic Attack

                                       Or

Life Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone!

Disclaimer:  I am still working on this one!!! It takes time!  The only way to get past this  feeling of panic is more and more time on the water.

This is a topic they discuss online almost as much as sea sickness.

Fear

Fear is actually a good thing.  It keeps us alive.  We would do all sorts of stupid things without it.  Men however, do not seem to have the same fear level as women.  Which causes a problem when couples sail.  Men love the thrill factor. It must be something to do with testosterone.

My Take On Fear

Part of my fear when it came to sailing was due to the fact that Dave was in control.  Oh, that didn’t sound the way I wanted it to.  What I mean by that is, Dave is in control not me.  My safety when sailing is totally in his hands. Dave would never do anything to put us in harms way.  However with that said, I also know, after almost 40 years together, that he likes to push the envelope.

David likes to do things such as see how far he can push the limits.  Taking the boat to a 25% heel and seeing how long he can hold it there and then trying  different things to bring it back to level are fun for him.  I just want it back to level ASAP.

One of the guys in our club told Dave he had his MacGregor heeled over at 40% without a problem.  My fear was that Dave would want to try it.

Talk It Out

Talk to your sailing partner about your fears and what you think  you need to feel safe.  When Dave and I talked, I explained to him, that if he wants me to enjoy sailing, he was going to have to take it easy and let me get use to things in my own time. He has my comfort level in his hands.  He can’t push  and make me get use to something.

My lack of confidence in handling the boat was another cause of fear and stress. Dave started insisting that I take the tiller more and run the motor more.  With this experience my comfort level went up.  When he has to go to the mast to take the sails down or change a sail, I am more comfortable taking the helm.

 

From everything I have read most women are uncomfortable with heeling more than 15%.  I am no exception to this rule.

It seems overly simple, but it is so true.  Experience and time on the water is the only thing that will truly help.  You can read all the books you want on sailing safety.  Until you get out there and handle situations, you are not going to fully understand it all and feel comfortable in these situations.

When we discussed my fears.  It was important to me that Dave demonstrated that he could bring it back to level with ease.  Seeing that he had control helped me feel more comfortable.  So instead of pushing it to the limit and holding it there, he needed to show me he could get it back under control with ease.

You can’t always keep the boat from heeling.  It is going to heel with wind gusts and sometimes with tacking.  It is just part of sailing.

An Idea to Try

When I was a teenager I had a problem with grinding my teeth when I slept.  It drove my parents crazy and I cracked a couple teeth in the process.  Our dentist told me he had great results with behavior modification methods.  He had me get in bed and as I closed my eyes repeat to myself, “I am not going to grind my teeth.”  After a few weeks, the grinding stopped and it never returned.

The same technique has helped me for years when I couldn’t shut off my brain and go to sleep.  Try it,  lay down, breathe slowly and tell yourself to go to sleep.  I won’t let myself think about anything else just the words, “I am going to sleep now”.   I fall right to sleep and stay asleep.

Seemed to me it should work with panic.  So, after a few months of fear, dread and a feeling of anxiety the day before a sailing trip.  I decided to try the behavior modification technique that worked for my grinding.  It really has helped me feel calmer and deal with the fear.

So when the boat would  start to heel , I would breath slowly and repeat to myself , “You are fine. You are safe” until the heeling was over.  I don’t feel the panic anymore.  If it heels 20-25% I may close my eyes until I feel it come back to around 10% or so.  I don’t even feel the panic at 15% any more.

I keep an eye on our inclinometer to see how far we are going before I panic.  I am working on going farther and farther.  I know it is almost impossible to tip over this boat.  I just have to convince my brain. 

The cool thing is that I don’t have to do this very often anymore.  I feel more comfortable with the heeling. I am go over to the high side but I don’t panic or scream.

So instead of yelling at Dave to stop heeling.  I now feel less panic.  He is also not laughing at me as much.

Talk Talk Talk

Your partner doesn’t want you regretting your decision to sail.  It is important that you talk it all out.  Let him know you are scared and at what point you feel panic.  Doing this, allowed Dave to know how far he could go before panic set in.    He now puts in a reef before he normally would have to make me more comfortable.  Another side of this… when you start to feel more comfortable let him know.  Let him know it is okay to go a  little farther, slowly.  Part of the whole panic thing for me was just coming to terms with it.  I needed to see that Dave could handle things and bring it right back to level.

It was also important that he gave me a heads up.  If he was going to push it to the limit,  maybe not putting in a reef as soon as I would have liked, he would give me fair warning.  It helped me knowing he was in control and knew what he was doing.

Stay in the Cockpit

One important hint, do not go below to hide.  Stay in the cockpit.   If you have any issues with motion sickness, the combination of fear and being down below will make it 100X worse.  You can move to the high side of the boat but don’t go below.  Moving to the high side seems to help.  You are not as close to the waters edge.

 

Reefing: When Wind Can Be A Problem!

Wind is the one thing you need when sailing.  Without wind you just sit there and bake in the sun.  Although, this is great for my tan,  it is not so much fun. This is where reefing comes in.

The opposite problem is too much wind.  When the wind picks up and you start heeling over it becomes a problem.  This is especially true when the wind gusting out of nowhere.  The other problem is,  if you are like most couples, the female in this equation starts to panic.

Time To Reef

When the wind is high and there are white caps starting to form, it is suggested that you reef your main sail.  This all sounds great.  However, it isn’t that simple.  The wind is whipping your sail and the boat wants to heel.

We were out on Lake Mendota this spring when the winds picked up to over 20 mph, gusting to more than 25mps.  We needed to reef.  Dave needed to go up and let the main sail down enough to put the reefing ropes in.  My job was to steer the boat into the wind to keep the sail steady.  This way Dave could reef without being knocked off the boat by the boom.  This was the problem!  With the wind and waves the boat didn’t want to do what I wanted. It just wanted to heel.

We finally got it reefed and decided to sail back to the dock until the storm passed.  But, this made us aware that we needed an easier way to reef and bring the sail down.

When you reef you release the halyard which mean someone needs to go up by the mast.  You  then need to fold the sail on the boom and tie it with the ropes.  This is easier said than done.  Especially, when your partner is in a full blown panic. ( Yep, partner, that would be me!)

The Answer: Single Line Reefing and Easy Jack Systems

I called Blue Water Yachts for help. When I first contacted them a few years ago Ezra was amazing.  He can always figure out what I am looking for, even when all I can do is describe it as “that thingy”. Sometimes I don’t know what I want.  There is a problem and I  want him to suggest an answer.  It never fails, Ezra has the answer.

Ezra listened to me describe our adventure.  Yes, I am sure he was laughing at my panic but I didn’t care as long as he had his usual answer, and he did.  Ezra told me they install single line reefing systems on all the sailboats they sell for just this reason.

easy jack system

He also recommended the easy jack system.  When you take the sails down you release the halyard and the sail fall all over the top of the boat.  You then have to try and stack it on top to boom and tie it up.  It is a real pain to do.  With the easy jack system it stacks itself within the ropes.  You tie it up and put the sun cover on.  All in a quarter of the time it use to take.

The Single Line Reefing and Easy Jack System work perfectly together.  Dave installed them both in a few hours.  You do need a drill and a rivet gun.

Someday I hope to meet Ezra so I can thank him face to face for all his help.  Until then,  all I can do is tell everyone how great Blue Water Yachts employees are and say THANK-YOU!!!!

Seasick: Oh My

Being seasick is a real problem for many including myself.  Dave has never had an issue with motion sickness of any kind.  He has a stomach made of iron so that is probably why.

Our club holds an event  a couple times a year called, “First Sail” .  The event is promoted by the American Sailing Association.  Clubs put on these events where their members volunteer to take people out and introduce them to sailing.

It surprised me to find that when we take people out, the first question they ask isn’t, “How do you get the sails up?” The first question they ask is, “What about sea sickness?”

In my opinion it is more important to know how to put the sails up but, I understand their concern.  I am one of those that suffers from motion sickness.  I was terrified that sleeping on a boat would be torture for me.  However, it doesn’t seem to bother me to sleep on the boat.  The rocking motion has actually helped me sleep better.

There are many different opinions on what you can do about motion sickness.  Some of them are old wives tales, such as, putting a penny in your belly button.  Yes, I will admit to being desperate enough to try this.  It didn’t work, at all!  My daughter suffered terribly with car sickness. This one didn’t do a thing.

Seasick Cures  Are Trial and Error

For me it wasn’t any one thing that worked.  It was more a series of things. It is easier to find out what helps you and prevent motion sickness than it is to recover from it once you have it.  Some options like motion sickness drugs don’t help as much once you already feel sick.

I love sailing along and watching deer drinking at the edge of the lake.  Don’t miss out on that experience because you  feel too sick to enjoy it.

DO

  • Stay hydrated, drink constantly.  Putting a squirt of lemon in my water bottle makes me want to drink more.  It doesn’t hurt to occasionally drink a sports drink.  They replace your electrolytes and prevent that feeling of nausea and dizziness.  Dehydration alone  will start you down the slippery slope of motion sickness. When you are dehydrated you get that dizzy lightheaded feeling.  That is caused by your brain shrinking.  NOT A GOOD THING EVER!!!
  • Snack constantly, do not let yourself get hungry.  You want to snack all day.  Once, I  get  hungry I get dizzy.  Keep your blood sugar up and it keeps that feeling away. I keep carrots, grapes, bananas, and chips to snack on.
  • When I  start  feeling sea sick , I have found a salty snack like chips seem to help more than say carrots.  I think it is probably the potassium and iodine in the salt.
  • First things first, when I wake up,  I head for the cockpit to see the trees and horizon.  If I sit around down below or stay in bed, I get sick.  I need to see the outside as soon as I wake up. This is a great time to have a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy nature.
  • It really helps to have breakfast right away.  If I try to postpone breakfast, I get sick.  Dave will make breakfast and we eat outside in the cockpit. Once we eat I am fine to go below and get dressed.

Ginger Has Been Proven

  • Zevia  Ginger Beer is my drink of choice when I start feeling light headed or nauseous.  You can drink any ginger beer but Zevia is my choice because it contains Stevia instead of NutraSweet.  Ginger is a natural cure for all things to do with upset stomachs. I personally think the carbonation helps me, but I have never found any research to suggest that carbonation helps.  Ginger beer tastes like root beer with a little ginger zing.  This one thing really helps calm down my nausea, whether it is from being seasick or the flu.
  • Ginger capsules are something I haven’t personally tried. However, I saw a show on Myth Busters and they proved them to be areal solution.

Do Not

  • When you feel sick, DO NOT go lay down.  It will be your first instinct, to go lay down and let it pass. Laying down works with the flu but,  I am here to tell you motion sickness won’t pass that way.  Get outside and look around.
    • Do not go below.
    • Fight that urge to lay down.
    • Closing your eyes and putting your head back will only make it worse.
  •  Try not to get over tired. If you get plenty of sleep you are less likely to feel light headed and fuzzy.
  • Don’t focus on the water. Keep looking out at the horizon. You are missing so much beautiful wildlife looking at the water anyway. Looking at the water moving by causes motion sickness.

 

Alcohol Wipes As A Quick Fix

I want to pass on a tip we learned while off shore fishing in Florida.  We couldn’t see land at all while we were fishing.  Sea sickness  seemed to be in my future.

A few of the macho men onboard wouldn’t try it and they were the one throwing up over the side.  It didn’t help that they were suffering from hangovers as well.

When we boarded the boat they passed out packets of alcohol wipes.  Although, I thought it was strange, I took one.  Before we left the dock they explained what they were for.  They told us to keep them in our pockets.  We were told to take them out and sniff them gently if we began to feel seasick.  It worked like magic.  I now keep a box of these alcohol wipes onboard.  You can get them at Wal-Mart or any pharmacy in the diabetic section for about $3.00 a box.  I found out this works because the strong scent confuses your brain.

There Are Drug and Electronic Options

There are drugs you can take like Bonine,  I do keep a bottle of Bonine on the boat.  For me,  Bonine doesn’t work if taken after I start to feel seasick.  That means I have to take before we go out sailing.  I am just not willing to live on drugs to enjoy my life.  So far I have been able to keep that seasick feeling at bay with these other methods.

I recently did a review of the Reliefband.   This is a watch like electronic device. It works by sending electrical pulses that interrupt the signals to the brain that make you nauseous. 

Try different things and find what works for you.  Just don’t let motion sickness ruin your sailing or cause you to give it up your dream.

How Do I Equip Such A Small Kitchen??

Look around your home kitchen.  Can you honestly say you need all that stuff?

What Do I Need?   What Can I Live Without?

The answer to those questions may surprise you.  I took an honest look around my kitchen and decided I probably could live very happily without 80% of the stuff I thought I needed.

So when I began outfitting my sailboat kitchen, I didn’t put anything in it or buy anything for it without asking myself:

  • Can I cook onboard without it?
  • Is there something I can get that will meet more than one need?
  • Does it come in a smaller or collapsible version?
  • Will I use it often enough to make it worth toting around on a sailboat?

I already discussed our cooking stoves and cookware in the blog on stoves.  What I would like to cover here are the essential items you need to cook meals for your family.

Insta-Pot

These are small cookers that can steam, slow cook or pressure cook.  You can make a meal with one dirty pot in 15-30 minutes.  My way of cooking.  I found a 3  quart model that is small and just perfect for two people.  It works on 700 watts of power.  You can cook at the dock or in the boat.  It is a perfect cooking option.

Wonderbag

This is a non-electric slow cooker.  With this bag you can put all the ingredients in one pot and bring it to a boil.  You then place it in the bag and seal it up to finish cooking. Here is a detailed review of the Wonderbag.

Collapsibles

My first goal was to find some items for my kitchen that I could either store inside each other or collapse.

A dish pan and drying rack were something I felt were really needed.  I found these:

You can see here how small they fold up. I can store the dish rack and strainer on top my container of kitchen tools.

This picture shows what is inside the tote on the counter. The red strainer is collapsible.  Inside you will find what I consider essential.

  • A Ziploc bag with 10 sets of plastic silverware in it.
  • A wind proof lighter
  • A collapsible red strainer.
  • Our JetBoil Flash.  Inside the flash is the burn and fuel.
  • 1 metal pancake spatula
  • 1 rubberized stirring spoon
  • A wooden spoon
  • A wire wisk
  • 1/2 cup  measuring cup ( I can guess 1/4 and 1/3 cup )
  • All in one measuring spoon.
  • manual can opener
  • manual coffee bean grinder (Dave’s addiction)

These things are essential for David.  If he doesn’t get his coffee, sailing is not as much fun.  He prefers expresso.

 

Dishes, Dishes and Silverware

I found what I thought were the perfect dishes and silverware for our boat. 

However, I couldn’t figure out where to store them.  They didn’t fit in any space that would be easy to access.  You need to be able to get to them at least twice a day.  Enter Dave and his great ideas.

Here is what our cabinet originally looked like.

Our cabinet when we purchased the boat.

 

 

 

 

Here is Dave’s great idea.

Dave made the cabinet out of mahogany and finished it to look like teak. We then purchased a small mirror to replace the full size mirror that was there.  The cups stay in place because he cut indentations for them to tightly fit into.

We did a blog on building this cabinet.  Take a look.

If you like the fruit net here is a link. 

There was one more issue I would like to discuss.  The bottle of hand soap for the sink kept flying around the cabin.  It would leak and make a sticky mess.

Dave installed the hand soap dispenser and now no more soap mess.  We purchased this one at Home Depot.  The one we originally purchased at Menards was plastic.  It broke during the installation.  Home Depot was the only store that carried a metal dispenser.

No Stove Installed: We Needed to Cook

The boat we bought wasn’t used for anything but day sailing.  We had our work cut out for us to make it livable.

Long term our goal was to be able to sail around the Florida Keys, if they ever return to normal after Irma. We pretty much had the food storage part figure out.  Now to figure out how to cook all this food.

A Stove Would Help

Cooking would be easier with a stove.  We had room on the counter by the sink to put a stove.  Originally, it was an option on the Macgregor 26D.  However, I wasn’t comfortable with the alcohol or propane stoves they typically put in sailboats.  Maybe if our boat were larger it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.  It just seemed too dangerous to have the exhaust and fumes in the same area I slept.  I was also not thrilled with having one of the white propane tanks on our boat.   It didn’t seem that we had enough air circulating to be safe.

Jet Boil

We decided we could use a Jet Boil system for hot water and for heating up meals.  They are promoted as giving off very little fumes.  For heating water we purchased the Jetboil Flash. 

For larger items like heating up pans of soup, we purchased the Jetboil Helios.  It can be used with the Jetboil saucepan or fry pan.  The Jetboil systems  heat up and cook things really fast. 

You don’t want to order the gas canisters online.  They are considered hazardous material and cost too much to ship.   I have found them at Bass Pro and REI for about half the price you can find them online.  But only in the stores.

Coleman Butane Burner Stove 

For cooking things like spaghetti and sauce we purchased the Coleman Butane Burner Stove.  I prefer to use this one off the boat. It seems to get hotter on the bottom than the jetboils and it takes longer to heat things.

You can use this burner with butane canister sold at Menards or Wal-Mart.  They are very economical at about 3.00 each.  The Jet Boil and the Coleman can be used in the cabin or in the cockpit.  I purchased a rubber heat resistant mat at Bath and Body to put under it for protection.

I prefer to use the Colman Burner in a park or somewhere off the boat.  It gets hotter on the bottom than the Jetboil.   The Coleman takes longer to heat things up but, it is cheaper to operate.  In 90 degree weather, the extra heat it creates can make a big difference in your comfort level.

Coleman Fold and Go

 I really wasn’t thrilled with the idea of cooking things like burgers in the cabin.  We decided to reserve this greasy option for when we could dock and cook off the boat.  For this we purchased the Coleman Fold and Go.  I love this grill.  You can buy a bag to store it in and a griddle for making pancakes. 

]

We store the Coleman Fold and Go in the back locker.  The Jetboil is stored in the plastic box on the counter.   We put the Coleman Burner in the blue bag with the pans in the front berth under the sling.

Sailors Need Food: How to Eat on A Sailboat

I know this topic seems obvious, however, a sailboat is very small.  If we were going to sail around lakes for weeks at a time, we needed a place as well as a way to keep food.

The Obvious A Refrigerator

If only it were that easy.  A refrigerator or 12 volt cooler takes up too much room and electric.  On a sailboat you can’t spare either.  Another problem is the heat they give off.  It is already hot in the cabin without air conditioning.

We needed a solution that didn’t take electricity.  The thought of chasing after ice everyday didn’t appeal to me.  I want to sail, not go hunting for ice.  Plus, there is the issue of what is left when the ice melts.

A Yeti type coolers seemed to be my dream come true. There were so many different coolers in this category.    I went shopping on “You Tube”  and watched all the videos that compared the different brands.  The three I was most interested in were the Yeti, Engel, and Orca.  My requirements were simple.  I was going to buy the one that kept the ice frozen the longest and didn’t weigh as much as a  small car. The Orca won on all counts.  It still had ice in it after 10 days in the sun.

We settled on the Orca Extra Heavy Duty 40 quart white cooler.                                                           

My Tricks for Keeping Food Cold

We have used it for two years now.  I have developed a  few tricks.  The night before a trip I put two frozen gallons of water in the cooler and close it up.  This way I start out with a cold cooler before I fill it with food.  Then I use frozen water bottles in between the items I want to keep cold.  Then the bags of ice go on top.

One of the things that just drives me crazy is when ice melts it makes everything soggy.  Even the food in Ziploc bags gets water in it.   If I put meat in my cooler, I don’t want it getting water mixed in with it.  Then you have bloody water in all your food.  Are you grossed out  yet?

Can’t  Give Up The Room

I can’t bring myself to give up any of the prime space in the Orca cooler for condiments.  So, I ordered packets that do not have to be refrigerated.  They are stored in with the dry food under the seat. 

My Love Affair With Food Saver

The food is put in Food Saver vacuum bags or in those cheap Rubbermaid disposable bowls.  The frozen water bottles go between the bowls. On top of the  food, I put Ziploc bags full of ice.  After 4 or 5 days the water bottles still have chunks of ice in them.  Once they thaw out we can drink them.

If I am putting hamburgers patties, spaghetti sauce or left over meals in the cooler, they are frozen first.  See what I am doing?  Everything stays cold and the ice lasts for almost a week.  If you put dry ice on the bottom first, you can go almost two weeks.  The best part is that at the end of the week, there is almost no water in the bottom of the cooler. If I want to add ice, I just dump the water out of the Ziploc bag and add more ice.

What Do We Take

What do I pack for our trips?  When I cook it is always large batches.  I will make spaghetti sauce, chili, all kinds of meals and then freeze the leftovers in 2 serving size Food Saver vacuum bags.  When I am packing the cooler, I pick some frozen meals to take.  In a few days they are thawed enough to heat up.

Another example,   I buy hamburger and make patties to freeze.  You can freeze steaks, pork chops even chicken in these bags.  There will be no bloody water in the cooler.

Eggs are too darn fragile.  I love these egg keeps.  You can buy them as a single holder or set of two.  Using them has kept my eggs crack free.

Under the seats there is a compartment that is supposed to serve as a cooler.  I could never figure out how it was supposed to keep anything cold.  So, I use it as a dry cooler.  I pack pastas, pancake mix and soup mixes (in  2 servicing size Fresh Seal bags).  Tuna, raisins, granola bars and other dry items can be stored in this compartment.

In one of the pull out drawers we store canned goods, applesauce and canned fruit.  We take chips and cookie type snacks in a store bag every trip. The best part about these storage areas is that I leave the food all summer.  I just replace what we use.

The table and the Cooler

The Orca cooler is stored under the table out of the way.  We just lift up the table to get in the cooler.  The table is attached with hooks. We will talk about how Dave made this table in another blog.

 Our Locker Cooler

Cold water is a must for me.  However, we didn’t want to use up all our cooler space to keep soda, water and Gatorade cold.

Dave wanted to make the locker more usable.  The bottom was shaped like the hull of the boat.  Everything slide down to the V.  He put a level floor in the locking using styrofoam.  I will explain how he did this in the blog on the locker.

The important thing is that he built in a cooler surrounded by styrofoam.  He put a drain in the cooler and attached a drain hose to our cockpit drain.  It keeps the beverages cold and out of my main cooler.  There is no need to keep opening the main cooler to get drinks and guess what? I never have a wet mess from the melting ice.  It melts and goes down the drain.

Life is good on a sailboat and our food is cold!

A 21st Century Sailing Girl Needs Electricity

After a few sailing trips we decided this sailing thing was perfect for us.   We now had to figure out how to make it work.  That sounds easier than it was. Oh sure you can recharge the boat’s battery, but not when you are out on a lake. Electricity was something I couldn’t pack to take with us.  Too many batteries equals too much weight.

Of course,  we would need things like food and a way to cook it.  However if we wanted to stay out on the water for weeks we would also need a way to connect to the outside world. This chick needs her electronics… IPad, IPhone, Mp3, DVD player and Kindle. I needed electricity.

A 21st Century Girl Needs Electric

The electric in our boat had never been used.  The previous owner hadn’t even installed a battery.  He had no use for electricity.  We did research and decided we wanted to convert everything to LED.  Not only do LED lights last for years even decades but they take little to no electricity to run.  This is a plus in a sailboat.

Dave got ready to install LED lights and discovered our wiring was rotting and corroded.  He replaced all the wiring and installed new fuses.  We went to Menards and bought two Exide Marine batteries. They cost bought $80.00 each.  Dave placed them on rubberized shelf liners so they didn’t slid around in the compartments.

Dave understood my need for electricity, but he wanted to balance it with our safety.  For some reason, he was worried I would use all the power and we would be stuck in a shallow area because the depth finder didn’t work.  I guess he knows me pretty well after all.   It was decided that we would hook one battery to the depth finder, mast and running lights, GPS, and Marine Radio.  The other battery would be hooked to all the lights in the cabin, fans and electrical outlets for my toys.  This way if I got carried away with charging my laptop and watching videos we still had power for the essentials.

Now it was time to replace all the light fixtures with LED replacements. 

Navigation and mast lights were next.  We needed them to be energy efficient.  We ordered the mast lights and the running lights below. 

We had another board meeting and decided that we needed fans.  Of course, the cabin has no air conditioning and it can get pretty stuffy at night.

We put one on each end of the cabin.

 

We installed 12 volt fans and it made a huge difference.  Even during the day it can get pretty hot down below.

 

There was still the problem of my electronics.  12-Volt outlets were a must.   The end of the seats seemed to be the perfect place to install them.

We also put one on the back of the stair shelve to plug our DVD player in to.

 

 

We have 6 of these type plugs all around the boat.

  and

So, we now had the boat more efficient.  The batteries could be 100% charged when we left for trip.  But,  what if we were going to be gone for weeks?  What if we didn’t have a dock with electric to recharge the batteries? These questions were why we decided on solar.

With the solar collectors installed we have gone for 9 days and returned with almost full batteries.  Remember, as far as sailors go, I am an energy hog.

We knew we needed to install them on the deck and that they needed to safe. Tripping over them while raising the sails was not a good option.  We decided to go with Ganz Solar panels because you can walk on them. It is recommended that you try not to place them in a high  traffic area.

It was hard to figure out what we needed so, we sort of based our decision on what would look better.  We could have easily met our needs with just one.  Dave wanted the meter so we could monitor our usage.  Since we were using two batteries we needed the controller. 

If you have one battery all you would really need is one solar panel.

 

Here is exactly what we installed.

Sailing in Comfort!

Blondes and Sailboats?

So, we had our leaks fixed.  Our next problem revolved around my being a fair skinned blonde.  With that said,  you can imagine  how fast I burn.  I have also suffered from heat exhaustion in the past and that affects my comfort level.

We went out sailing  one afternoon in July. The temperature was in the low to mid 80’s , but the sun was strong.  By the time we were ready to pack up and go home, I was burnt.  I do not mean red.  I mean sick to my stomach, dizzy, and giving off more heat than a furnace.  Yes, I had used sunscreen.

Dave had to figure out how to take down the mast alone.  I simply could not help at all.  All I could do was sit in air conditioned truck.  We stopped at a convenience store and purchased ice and aspirin.  I had to put the ice in plastic bags and lay it across my thighs. Dave had to figure out how to take down the mast alone.

If Burnt Try This!

Years ago,  a nurse friend taught me to  take 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar and keep wetting the sunburn with a washcloth until it cools.  If a large part of my body is burnt, I fill the tub with cool water and vinegar and soak.  It really does minimize the burn and keep you from peeling.  I also take two aspirin as soon as I realize I am burning.  The purpose for the aspirin is that it thins the blood and cools the body temperature.   It really does help.  I now keep vinegar and aspirin on the boat.

Yes, Let’s Get A Bimini

We realized that if we were going to spend sunny days on the boat, I would need some protection from the sun.  Researching  biminis  was not as easy as I thought it would be.  Most places that make them for boats, make them for power boats.  These are too high to work with the boom of a sailboat.   The boom is very low on a Macgregor so it is tricky to find one that will work.  I eventually found SoftTopper.  They make the perfect bimini for a Macgregor.  They shipped it fast and it was so easy to install.  You will not believe the difference it made in our comfort level.

Cockpit Seating Hurts My Butt

Next, came the cockpit seats.  I originally made seat cushions from foam and outdoor material.  They looked nice but they got wet and stayed wet.  One of the issues with a sailboat is dew.  We had to take the seats inside the cabin every night or they would be soaked in the morning.  You can only imagine how much space in the small cabin those cushions took up.

We attended the Chicago Strictly Sailing Show and found a booth called C-Cushions.  They sold cushions made from closed cell foam.  They also make cushions for medical equipment.  The cushions are made with a  unique vinyl coating process that makes them durable and comfortable.  You can even use them as a float.  People have commented that they are comfortable enough to sleep on.

Now, we just take an old towel and wipe the dew and dead bugs off every morning.  When the grandkids enter the cockpit after swimming, no problem.  Even Dave’s dripping fishing pole goo doesn’t bother me.  You just have to wipe the mess off.  This was one of the best investments we made in our boat.

To order from C-cushions you just have to trace your seats.  They make them to fit any boat.  They recommend you use the brown shipping paper you can buy at Wal-mart and a marker.  Once you trace the seats you send that pattern to them.  They make your seats in about 2 weeks.   You can also see that we purchased the L cushions for the back of the seats.  The L-cushions come with snaps to attach them to your boat.

First Things First: Seabreeze Had A Leak or Two!!!!!!

We Can Fix The Leak?

When we purchased Seabreeze the previous owner was honest in telling us that she had a leak or two.  She leaked water in the seat compartment areas.  He told us it came in when sailing and when it rained.  He had no idea where it was coming in.

Dave looked over the outside and he  couldn’t come up with an defect that would be a real problem.  Dave’s first thought was that it probably was leaking around the rub rail.  He thought that wouldn’t be too hard to replace.

After we purchased Seabreeze it rained and we had about 2-3 inches of water in the compartments.  After pumping that out,  we took our first sailing less on  Lake Clinton  with an instructor.   We ended up getting about an inch or two of water in the compartments again.  In all fairness we did get a pretty strong rain storm while we were anchored out at the lake. The water was probably more from that storm than from sailing.

The Leak is A Hose?

When we arrived home, Dave started his brain storming.  He discovered that a hose going from the cockpit drain to the outside of the boat had a huge crack in it.   The hose was leaking under the boat into the  seat compartment area.  Menards sold the hose by the foot in their plumbing section.  Replacing that hose made a big difference, but we still got really damp when it rained.  It wasn’t 2 or 3 inches but it was enough water we needed to use a sponge to clean it up.

Our Rub rail was faded and cracked from being out in the elements for years.  We call all around about getting a rub rail for a Macgregor 265D.  Nobody had the same rub rail.  We even traced it and sent it to a few suppliers.  Finally, we contacted West Marine and after sending them our traced pattern they could special order it.   We ordered the rub rail thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to put on.  We were so wrong.

After finally getting the old one off.  One purpose of the rub rail is seal off the seam  to keep water out.  We decided it would be beneficial to loosen all the screws connecting the boat seams, apply marine sealer under each screw and then tighten them back down.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of screws under that rub rail.

Easy Rub Rail Replacement? Not!!!

When we finished sealing all the screws, we needed to start the rub rail installation.  The instructions that came with it said to wait for a hot day.  It didn’t mention how miserable you were going to be doing this on a hot day.  It was 90 degrees in Illinois and  miserable.  The directions said to use a heat gun to heat only about 6 inches at a time to make it pliable enough to squeeze it into the frame. We had to work fast or it hardened up again and couldn’t be squeezed into the frame.  This ended up being an all day project.

Seabreeze with new rub rail.

After we finished this tedious project we waited for a rain storm.  In Illinois during the summer you don’t have to wait long.  After the storm, we opened up the compartments to find water. No, there wasn’t as much.  Each time we fixed something we got less water.

 

 

We decided we were never going to replace that rub rail again.  So, a couple of times during  the summer and before we put the boat away for the winter we treat the rub rail with Starbrite Rub Rail Restorer.  It keeps the rub rail shiny and also pliable.

We Need More Silicone

Dave decided  to go inside the sailboat and look for leaks while I sprayed the outside with a pressure washer.  Actually, we were worried that the windows were leaking.  That would be costly to fix.

So, while I gave the boat a bath, Dave tried to trace where the water was coming from.  Success, he discovered that the water was coming in around the lifeline stanchions.  We loosened all the screws and removed the plates.  We sealed the around the screws and under the plates with marine silicone and then screwed them down again.

This is where you insert prayer.  We were running out of ideas.   The other option was to live with moisture in the compartments under the seats, right?

Success, we waited for the silicone to dry and tried the pressure washer test again.  It was a miracle.  Well, maybe not a miracle, but it felt like one.  We didn’t get a drop inside and everything stayed dry.

Dave and I have been sailing for two years with no leaks and dry compartments.