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Month: January 2014

Today’s surprise: Busted hose clamps


Every day we learn something new about this boat. We’re just about ready to sail to the Bahamas and we’re doing a final inspection of all equipment to see if there are any other spare parts we need to order before shoving off the dock.

During a random glance at the engine, Peter noticed one of the hose clamps was corroded and split. It was amazing there was any tension left to hold it on still. Luckily this was in a location that had been double clamped so it wasn’t a code-red emergency yet. Nonetheless, this is not something you want to find on your main engine.


After a little futher investigation, Peter spotted busted clamp #2. Crap! How many more of these are there throughout the entire boat?



Here’s a pic of where both busted clamps occured:


The upper hose had a single clamp on each end and we replaced one of those. The lower hose had the double clamp and we replaced the broken one there too.


No damage was done and a small catastrophe was averted. WIN! We continued through the boat double checking all the major hose clamps, screws and visible bolts. We didn’t find anything else today that needed to be replaced but we’ll definitely be reinspecting these kinds of things during our monthly safety checks.

It’s FREEZING, literally!

Okay, yes the temperature outside is on its way down to 36 degrees before sunrise tomorrow, but that’s not the kind of freezing we’re talking about here.

We are getting really close to leaving Florida and there are still a few minor projects that need to be finished up. One of the MANY boat projects that have been keeping us busy over the last few months was to install another refrigeration unit in the empty space next to the refrigerator we already have. The space was used as a freezer many moons ago but someone took it out. OBVIOUSLY they weren’t catching any 100 pound tuna like we will be soon ;)

Our existing refrigerator is an Adler/Barbour Dometic air-cooled CU-100 ColdMachine. It consists of a large vertical evaporator and an air-cooled condenser unit. The dial can be set from 1 to 7 and we only need to leave it at 3 1/2 in order to keep the inside of the evaporator at freezing temps. This is perfect for keeping the rest of the insulated box a nice cool temp resembling what a normal household refrigerator would be.

We like it so much that we opted to install the same unit in soon-to-be freezer compartment. This way, we can either set the dial for normal refrigeration and freezer space, or we can just crank the dial to freeze the whole thing and use it as one big freezer if when Peter catches all that fish. This isn’t his first luau… the man sure does know how to hook ’em!

Before the new unit could be installed we had to remove the plexiglass shelf and the aluminum rails that were inside the space. It was a puzzle to get those suckers out of there but we finally figured out that they had to be unscrewed and then pivoted out.


It got cleaned out really well. Peter did this project all by himself, and I kept busy with the camera ;)

Next, he marked up the rigid insulation foam we bought from Home Depot. It came in monster size sheets, or you can buy cute little 2×2 squares of the purple stuff. We got two of the squares. A bread knife worked well enough to slice through the foam.



Piece by piece the odd-shaped walls of our freezer compartment started coming to life. It wasn’t too critical to get an exactly flush cut, but he got it close enough.


We also bought a roll of Self-Stick Foam/Foil Duct Insulation to apply over the rigid foam. We thought the Great Stuff was a great idea, but didn’t end up using it for this project after all.


The walls of the space were already insulated and fiberglassed in but we wanted to just add a little bit more insurance so we don’t end up with an unnecessary loss of cold air.



A chunk of purple stuff was attached to the lid and a layer of the foil wrap was pressed on top too.


The lid needed a new seal. Again with the Duck brand… I swear it’s just a coincidence. This stuff really stays put though. No sponsorship or affiliation, we just really like it :)




Here comes the ‘cool’ part!! haha

We decided to limit the DIY part of this project to just the insulation. We hired a professional marine refrigeration guy to handle the install of the actual condenser unit and evaporator. So we’ve been told, refrigeration is nothing to mess around with if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The parts cost much less through a distributor: $1200 (compared to $1800 retail)

We paid about $800 in labor so the whole project cost $2000.

This is only $200 more than it would have cost us to do the whole thing ourselves and having it done right is totally worth 200 bucks. It was done way faster than we could have done it, and we know all the wiring and refrigerant is installed safely too.


The condenser unit was installed in the engine room which was directly behind where the refrigerator and freezer are in the galley.


This may be the first picture I’ve posted of our engine room but how frickin awesome is this?? There is so much room in here! If you look closely you can see a nice empty spot on the wall on the right where the condenser unit is going to be installed. The refrigerant lines have been run through.


Back on the other side… the evaporator box was mounted along with all the other components that go inside the freezer.








My favorite part of this whole deal?? I get THREE, yes THREE new aluminum Adler/Barbour vertical ice-cube trays!! These suckers are something like $80 a piece brand new!! They make awesome monster size ice cubes and last a long time. Every morning we soak one tray upside down inside a 52oz bubba keg filled 3/4 of the way with water. When the ice is melted a little, it will slide right out. We top off the rest with water and it lasts practically all day even in 90 degree weather.

If you’re interested in other options for ice-cubes on a boat, check out my friend Carolyn’s recent post on The Boat Galley. Search her site to see a ton of other amazing tips and ideas for making life so much easier in the galley. If you weren’t as lucky as I was to score these awesome vertical trays, be sure to check out all the other ideas Carolyn has for making ice on a boat.



The finished product: a dedicated freezer for all of Peter’s fish… and other provisioning of course :)



All photos courtesy of Kimberly Young – LAHOWIND & Kimberly Joy Photography


This past Sunday our friends Kim and Jereme of LAHOWIND drove up from Naples to hang out, talk about cruising plans and go for a day sail in Charlotte Harbor aboard our boat, S/V Mary Christine. They are going to set sail for the Bahamas and Caribbean about the same time as us with their dog Oliver. Be sure to check out their website if you haven’t already! If all works out we may be buddy-boating for a while so hopefully you’ll hear a lot more about them soon.

We were SO lucky to have Kim take pics of our harbor cruise!! I love them all!!! Her photo skills make Betsy look 10 times cuter than she already is, which is pretty darn hard to do ;)


WHAT STUDS!! The guys had a great time chatting about boat stuff, fishing, diving and cruising.


There wasn’t too much wind that day and the guys had both trolling lines out. About half way into the afternoon we heard a beautiful sound… ZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FISH ON!!

Peter knew this fish was big. Real big. The guys couldn’t tell what it was until they got it to the surface.


LUNKER!! It was a 32″ grouper! It’s very rare to hook a grouper on a trolling line so the fishing Gods were definitely with us this day! We weren’t totally prepared to hook something so big so we were scrambling to find the gaff to bring him in. This was our second fish for S/V Mary Christine underway and thank goodness Kim was on it with the camera! We were all so excited. The winds calmed down even more and we slowly drifted along under full sail at an easy 2 knots which made it really nice for focusing on the fish situation. I kept an eye on our course and sails while the guys took care of the fish. We could only find a 20″ minimum regulation so he was a keeper for sure.



We had such a fun time with Kim and Jereme!! This is only the beginning…  in just two more weeks we should be ready to leave Florida and head to the Bahamas to continue these epic adventures everyday :)




Livin the dream as we sail to Where The Coconuts Grow in search of surf, sun, sand and serenity…

First night at anchor

Last weekend we had a perfect opportunity to take the boat out and try anchoring overnight for the first time. The weather was nice, tides were favorable and we finally had the confidence to take the boat out by ourselves with no extra crew! We’ve been out on S/V Mary Christine maybe 10 times already but every time so far we’ve had someone else with us, either friends or family. Our first time out just the two of us was amazing! Its starting to sink in a little more, we’re really doing this :)


We sailed across Charlotte Harbor over to Cayo Costa where our friends Jan and David had arrived an hour or two ahead of us. Its real tricky to get in and out of Pelican Bay where everyone anchors up. There is a very narrow channel with 1-3 feet depths on either side. Since we didn’t have previous tracks in and out, Jan and David met us in their dinghy to lead us in.




I backed the boat down as Peter dropped the anchor. We don’t have our chain marked yet for length but Peter did a rough estimate of how much chain he was letting out. It was pretty rusty and made an awful mess on the bow. We pulled the anchor snubber out of the depths of the line locker and got that all set up too. The current made it a challenge to keep the boat into the wind and to reverse in the right direction at the same time. We did pretty good for the first time though!! I suppose it’s just like docking… practice makes perfect. Pretty soon we’ll be doing this in our sleep, literally ;)


The next item on the agenda was to drop the dinghy into the water. We hooked it up to the mail halyard and lowered our dink down. Suddenly, we realized something was missing…

Our gas tank was safe and sound inside a crate… back on the dock at Burnt Store Marina!! No need to take the outboard off anymore! We will be rowing this time. Good thing I like to row!

We grabbed a spare line to tie the dinghy up at shore and got the dogs ready. Betsy is only 45 lbs so Peter could pretty much just pick her up off the deck and set her down. She was a little unsure of it all but that dog has no fear!



I didn’t get any pics of lowering Gunner down because it was a two-person job. I’ll try for some next time so you all can see how we get this big guy around. Thanks to our AWESOME ‘Help’EmUp‘ harnesses, we were able to get a 75 lb dog off the boat into the dinghy relatively easily! Peter grabbed the forward handle and I held the rear hip lift handle and we lowered him down. Gunner had one thing on his mind… Get To Shore!! He gets really excited to go anywhere so this was totally fun for him. They both did really well once they were inside. We have an aluminum floor so we didn’t worry too much about their nails.


The current was moving with us and we got to shore pretty quick. The dogs got to stretch their legs and we checked out a few of the trails.

We wen’t back to the boat right away and started on dinner. BBQ pork loin and Caribbean rice was on the menu. Our LED cockpit lights were on and the evening was just perfect as we enjoyed our first meal at anchor. Next was time for showers. Since our generator isn’t quite fixed yet, we ran the main engine to be able to use the hot water heater. Hot water showers at anchor? Yes Please!! It was sooo refreshing. We snuggled up and enjoyed being rocked to sleep as the small waves lapped up against the hull.

All was quiet until 4am. Gunner has been recovering from a bladder infection and in the wee hours of the morning he HAD to go potty. The way he was whining and talking to us let me know that he really had to go.  Peter was sound asleep, but I got Gunner up into the cockpit and took him back to the aft deck where our chunk of Astroturf lay waiting for the first potty away from the dock. It didn’t take long and Gunner copped a squat. HOORAY!!!! This was such a relief to know he’ll actually go if he needs to.

The dogs have been in training for a few weeks now. We would sneak the fake grass underneath them as they peed to get a little scent on it. If we held them in place long enough they would go as long as it sat over top of the real grass on shore. Betsy finally got the hang of it and she doesn’t have any trouble going on the boat if we tell her to.

Gunner must have been nervous because he had to go again at 6am and 8am. He was whining all night long and would NOT go to sleep. When 6am rolled around I decided to just stay in the cockpit with him incase he was trying to hold back a #2. It was cold, breezy and very dewy. Even though I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep I did my best to enjoy the stillness of the bay around us. The sun began to come up and the gratitude slowly grew. A sliver of serenity? Youbetcha!


We had anchored in the deep hole in the center of Pelican Bay. When the sun came up I heard splashing all around and realized the dolphins were herding fish and feeding. They kept popping up in different places as they went around in circles swimming by all the boats.


In the morning we went to shore again and walked across the island to the gulf.


There were shells EVERYWHERE! The tiny pieces littered the white sand beaches as far as I could see.



There were a few horseshoe crab shells along the shore as well. Check out Jan’s post if you want to learn a little more about these strange-looking creatures of the sea :)



When it was time to row back to Mary Christine the wind was NOT our friend. It was blowing 15-20 knots and we had to row up wind. There were a few times we got a little scared we would be swept out to the gulf. We were barely making any progress and I all could do was cheer Peter on. He powered through it getting us and the 12′ dinghy back safely. Scary.

We wanted to get back to the marina before sunset so we pulled up the anchor and followed our tracks back out to the harbor. It was a little tricky keeping the boat into the wind again while Peter pulled up the anchor but we managed.


We sailed back and the puppies were happy to be going somewhere again.



We ended this awesome adventure by catching our very first fish while underway!! Spanish Mackerel… mmm!


Back at the marina we docked for the first time alone, and of course it went way easier than I expected :) We had a lot of firsts and a lot of fun!

Until next time!!

I’m gonna be an auntie!


My little sister Carmen and bro-in-law Keith are expecting their first baby in March! We’re so excited for little Jackson to arrive :) They live here in Florida so it’s really nice that Peter and I have been able to spend some time with them before we leave the U.S.

Carmen and Keith came down to see the boat and puppies a few weeks ago and we took them out for a really nice day sail. Neither of them had been sailing before. It was really fun to show them what we’re going to be doing for the next few years. Pictures are great but it really helps to put things into perspective when you can see the boat in person.





Keith was having a great time relaxing even as we were heeled over :)



Gunner and Betsy do better each time we take them out. They weren’t anxious or feeling sick. Gunner sleeps almost the whole time and Betsy cruises all around.



Of course the guys had to set up the trolling lines… You never know when you’ll get a bite!




Baby Jackson was getting rocked to sleep as we cruised through the harbor quietly under sail.


Keith tested out the helm and did an awesome job.



It was so nice to have family come visit and it’s always great to get in more practice out on the water :) While we won’t still be in Florida when Jackson is born, we will definitely come visit him as soon as we can! Hopefully baby Jackson will be able to come visit his auntie Jody and Uncle Peter at some beautiful island soon too!