Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Greatest Hits

This year, I am making a list of all of our big boating accomplishments in 2009, as well as a list of things we hope to accomplish in 2010.  It will be fun to look back at the end of next year and see how far we've come.
So here it is:

Accomplishments in 2009:

*Rebuilt Exhaust for Atomic 4 Engine
*New Battery Bank for Solar Electrical System
*Purchase Oven & Add Storage in Galley
*A Closet Rod
*Dinghy Gets Bottom Paint
*Lighting in the Salon
*Stereo and Speakers
*V-Berth Add-On
*Wind Generator *
*Haul Out for Bottom Paint & Transducer
*We Weathered our very first Microburst
*Shoe Storage in V-Berth (see picture above right)

*Unfortunately, the wind generator was lost during the microburst and will therefore be added to our 2010 To Do List.

Fortunately, 2009 wasn't all work.  We also found time to play throughout the year: 

*First Anchorage
*First Ocean Sail
*Whale in San Diego Bay
*Spring Break in San Felipe
*Moving Day
*7,127 Mile Cross Country Road Trip
*Anza Borrego Desert

And finally, here is a sneak preview of  things we hope to accomplish in 2010:

*New Wind Generator
*New Lazarette Cover
*Propane System w/ New Grill
*New Foam and Covers for V-Berth
*Covers for Cockpit Cushions
*New Sails (Roller Furling and Main)
*Chartplotter, Depthfinder, Radar, Autopilot (Raymarine C70)
*Raise Boom
*New Anchor, Chain and Windlass

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cold Feet

Christmas has come and gone for another year.  We don't celebrate the holiday in the traditional consumerist way, but we do love to eat, drink and be merry. 

Christmas eve found us enjoying free enchiladas with the other misfit toys at our local watering hole.  It was Adam's birthday, so we had two reasons to celebrate!  

Christmas day, we enjoyed a delicious, home-cooked Christmas dinner with Ben's Aunt Patty & Uncle Jim and family.  What a treat for us!  Although we acquired an oven a few months ago, we've yet to hook up a propane system so planning and cooking dinner remains a tactical feat with one butane burner and a moody grill that is one punt away from meeting its final resting place in Davy Jones' locker.  It was nice to spend Christmas with good people and good food. 

The Christmas Tree pictured above graces the end of Newport Avenue in our favorite stomping ground, Ocean Beach.  This year's tree has to be my favorite yet. We even had a chance to watch the raising of it a few weeks back!

As often happens in winter, the temperatures have been cool... even here in sunny San Diego. Each morning, we awaken to steamy breath and a thermostat that reads our interior temperature in the low to mid 40's. "You're from New England," you might say. And I reiterate: our interior temperature is in the low to mid 40's. Luckily, the cabin heats up rather quickly once the sun starts blasting through the windows. We are constantly rearranging our neverending To Do list, bumping the propane system up higher and higher on that list with each day that passes.  Before we know it, it will be summer again and the propane will take second place to a new fully-functioning grill with electric igniter. 

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday! Looking forward to the New Year!

To see how Lola celebrated, check out The Little Salty Dog's Blog.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

It's that time of year when the boat parade comes to San Diego Bay. Last Sunday, Ben, Lola and I rowed out to the end of the mooring field with Markitos, Adam & Jasmine, and Justin & Anna to watch the parade of lights.  I didn't bring my camera this year since I got a bunch of pictures last year.  Last week's parade was pretty uneventful, but Ben, Lola & I rowed out again last night to check out Round 2. 

The parade seemed to get a late start and we were waiting a while before we started seeing boats.  The delayed start was the result of an accident in which a Coast Guard boat responding to an emergency call careened into a boat full of parade watchers and ended up killing an 8-year old boy and injuring 5 others.  You can read the article here.  Not a very cheery way to kick off the holiday. 

The thing that most perplexes me is why the Coast Guard boat was speeding to respond to a grounded boat... a boat that wasn't going anywhere fast... on a night when there were most likely record numbers of boats out watching the parade.  It's upsetting to think that the very people who are supposed to protect us are often times the people we need protection from.  I realize accidents happen, but this one just seems so senseless.  My heart goes out to the family of the boy.  I can't imagine the pain they must be feeling.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Haul Out: The Final Chapter

It feels like old news now, but I never got a chance to write about the remainder of our days on the hard.  There was a mishap when Ben glassed in the blisters.  The ratio of hardener was off, so we had to dig out the goo,  and then he re-sanded and refilled the blisters.  Not too big a deal.  It set us back a day, but luckily because of the Thanksgiving holiday we'd gotten 4 free laydays, so it was not a huge loss.  The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the Driscoll crew painted the bottom and we were ready to get back in the water on Wednesday.  Here are a couple videos of that process:

Then comes the big lesson.  It turns out Mother Culture was taking on water through the hole in which the transducer had been installed.  I had to go to school, so I bailed on Ben while he sat in the boat pumping out the bilge until they could haul him back out. 

About 4 hours later, they hauled him out again.  The mechanic took a look at Ben's craftsmanship and the only thing he lacked was 5200 marine adhesive/sealant.  (Truth be told, Ben never lacked that at all. We came to the boatyard equipped with and ready to use 5200, until a certain shall-we-say *big-wig* of the boatyard assured Ben he didn't need to use 5200 to seal the transducer.  So he only glassed it in with West Systems Epoxy.  Some of our hardest lessons are learned by trusting self-proclaimed experts.) Anyway, Ben knocked the transducer out, refabricated the mount and sealed it in with 5200.  The next day we were back in the water and dry as a bone, sailing home.  It was a long, tiring ordeal that now seems dwarfed by Monday's storm.  Here are a couple pics of the transducer (before and after) and the bottom of the boat:

Transducer *Before*

Transducer *After*

Mr. Jones inspecting the work

A couple pics of Mother Culture back on the ball

I still need to get a picture of the back, where we brought the paint right up to the bottom of the transom.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mommie Dearest

We got taken on a wild ride last night. We've heard rumors of wind speeds anywhere from 50 MPH to 125 MPH. The brunt of that only lasted ten seconds or so, but it always feels like longer when you're at the mercy of Mother Nature. I wasn't sure if I should jump ship and make a mad dash for shore or wait it out. Oddly, my safest bet seemed to be to wait it out, so I did.  So much for mild San Diego weather.  Anywho, here is a video to complement the one from last night... and some pictures below of the aftermath.

Possibly the light at the end of the tunnel?

A sunken dinghy

Jaybird's bowsprit was destroyed when a runaway boat went careening into his

The front of this electrical box was torn off

Used to be the home of the wind generator

The hinges remain, but the lazarette cover is long gone

This strut used to hold up our solar panel before it was ripped free and chucked into our cockpit

What remains of our wind generator (besides the pole and supports, of course)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Macroburst of Ego

Apparently, there is this little thing called a "microburst".  One whipped through this afternoon, shortly after I rowed back to Mother Culture on my way home from school.  (Thank goodness I wore my foulies!) Judging from the vibrations felt throughout the boat and our bodies, Ben and I believe said microburst may have exploded on or in the very near vicinity of Mo-C. Here is a video of the solar panels and wind generator in the "Before" positions. Tomorrow we'll post the "After" pics. Oh yeah... and we lost an oar. But, luckily we found it on the rocks when we braved the storm to make a packie run.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home Again, Finnegan

We're back on the ball and I have plenty of pictures, videos and stories to share but it's also my busy time for work so I've been chained to my laptop doing other less desirable work activities.  As soon as I have time to breathe again, I'll be sure to update you all.  Thanks for following!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Around the Yard

It's Day 6 in the yard.  The bottom has been primed and Ben is glassing in the transducer as I type this.  Yesterday was rained out so not much was accomplished other than a much-needed rinsedown on Mother Culture.  Once the primer is dry, we'll slap some paint on the bottom and then she'll be ready for the Driscoll crew to finish up the paintwork and add zincs tomorrow. 

We've had to the opportunity to see some interesting sights while here in the yard.  Check out these pics (click on them to see full size shots):

First we have Pyewacket... She's a pretty famous racing boat once owned by Roy Disney... And we are lucky enough to share the yard with her. Her mast is so tall you can see it poking out above the tree tops when you come across the bridge from Ocean Beach. (Well, that is also due, in part, to her super-long keel. I'm guessing it's about 20-25 feet long.) She is one of 3 boats that has "wings". You can learn more about Pyewacket in Latitude 38

On the other end of the yard, some people are rebuilding this old wooden boat.  They have pictures posted that show what she will look like when she's finished.  Pretty spectacular!

This morning as I was walking back to the Mo-C, I could hear a bird making a strange ruckus.  I glanced around and found this hawk peregrine falcon perched on our neighbor's mast.  Luckily, Lola was inside the boat or she may have been invited to dinner.  Who would have thought hawks falcons hang out in boatyards?

Because of yesterday's bad weather, the channel was shut down to boaters.  Word around the yard is that the captain of this boat tried to sneak out amongst the whitecaps and his boat flipped.  The passengers were all ejected and when the Coast Guard headed out to rescue them, the Coast Guard boat flipped as well.  This picture shows the smashed window and torn electrical wiring.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Power To The People

Last night, I worked online 'til well after the sun went down.  When I finished working, the charge on our batteries had dropped down to 12.28 volts.  Ben had to work last night, so I also stayed at the hotel.  When I woke up at 6:30 am, it was cloudy and raining.  When we got back to the boat this morning, the meter read 12.85 volts.  Thanks to our new wind generator! 

[This is for the record... for those skeptics who told us a wind generator was worthless and we should instead invest in a gas generator.]  

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanky Panky

Today has been a quiet day on Mother Culture. Ben finished sanding the new waterline and then popped out the old transducer to get a better idea of what needs to be done to install the new transducer (to be used for our Depthfinder, once we purchase the rest of the system). I worked for a bit and then made Turkey Hash for lunch.  Then we went for a row around the marina to check out the boats and now we are relaxing on the boat.  The crew here at Driscoll will be painting Mo-C's bottom on Monday so we'll probably be back in the water on Tuesday.  Due to work and school schedules, we won't be able to sail back to the mooring ball until a week from tomorrow.  Once we're back in the water, we'll anchor in Mission Bay for the time being.

Today I'm thankful for my family and friends, my good life, good eats and the hot shower provided by Driscoll!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Haul Out: Day Two

Yesterday, Ben popped all the blisters on the keel so they
had time to dry out before sanding, priming and repainting.

This morning, we taped off a new waterline, about 3 inches higher on the sides and all the way up to the transom in back.  Since we live aboard, Mother Culture carries a little more weight than she used to, and the old line was a little too low for us.

Next, we hung plastic all the way around in order to protect our neighbors' boats while sanding. Bottom paint contains copper which can cause stains.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Haul Out

Here are a couple vids of Mother Culture being hauled out...

And a few *Before* pics of her bottom...

What a beautiful keel she has!

Row Your Boat

We encountered this boat while we were motoring over to Driscoll's today. 
This die-hard sailor was rowing his sailboat out of the bay. 


Sail to Mission Bay

Yesterday, Ben, Lola & I captaind our first solo ocean sail from San Diego Bay up north to Mission Bay. We have an appointment this afternoon at Driscoll’s Boat Yard to have Mother Culture hauled out and her bottom painted. Once we got out of San Diego Bay, we had to swing really wide in order to avoid the kelp beds that run all the way up the shore. Our GPS wasn't working so we just hugged the kelp bed all the way up and made our best guess as to where the entrance to Mission Bay was.  The trip took us about 5.5 hrs and we actually motored the entire way. It’s crazy to think how a 10 minute car ride can take 5+ hours in a sailboat. After the first 3 or 4 hours, I began to channel my inner child with the words, "Are we there yet?" When we finally arrived after the sun set, we anchored in Mission Bay and went for a stroll over to the boardwalk for some grub and cocktails. Here are some pics from along the way:

an America's Cup Racing Boat.

To watch this thing sail is an experience in itself

Ben watching the HMCS Protecteur off our starboard bow



Point Loma from the Ocean

Waiting for the Green Flash

Me & Lola (Disguised as a Backpack)

Ben enjoying his Mug O'Jack

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movin' On Up

It seems summers here are filled with sailing adventures while fall and winter are filled with repairs, renovations and upgrades.  Ben installed a wind generator a week or so ago.  He is still fine tuning some of the details but here are the specs on our new wind thief: 

Rutland 913 Windcharger

Low wind speed output: The Rutland 913's high inertia generator starts producing power at 4 MPH. At 10MPH it produces 2 amps@12v and 4 amps at 15 MPH increasing to 7.5 amps at 22 MPH. The Rutland 913 outperforms all others in real cruising conditions yet withstands gale force winds unattended.

Quiet - The Rutland 913 produces only 75dB at 11 knots, by far the quietest generator on the market.

Size - 36" blade diameter won't dominate the stern area of your boat, less windage and weight aloft. Easy installation on mizzen masts or stern post.


Weeks ago, we upgraded from a 1980's FM stereo/cassette player to a more appropriate AM/FM/USB capable stereo (w/remote control!) and booming speakers.  We can finally listen to Dr. Laura the way she's intended to be listened to.

Special Guests

On Friday, we went for a sail around the bay with Karla, Karol and Karen. Karla is a friend of Ben's mom and lives in the neighborhood where Ben grew up. She and her sisters had a reunion in Newport, CA so the three of them came down to San Diego on the last day of their trip and we tacked back and forth across the bay for a few hours. It's been a few months since we got off the ball, so it was nice to brush up on our sailing skills while enjoying the sights and some good conversation. Tuesday we'll be pulling Mother Culture out of the water in Mission Bay and spending the holiday "on the hard" in order to paint the bottom and do some repairs and upgrades on her.

Thanks, ladies, for stopping by! We had a great time!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meteors & A Menagerie

Last night, on a whim, we took a little road trip out to Anza-Borrego State Park to check out the Leonid Meteor Shower. We watched some awesome meteors shoot across the desert sky while bands of coyotes howled from the (not-so-distant) trails around us.  Let's just say big earth and big sky make for a mesmerizing and humbling experience.

On our way back to San Diego this morning, we stopped off to take pictures of the giant metal creatures that make up Anza-Borrego's own Jurassic Park. It was the perfect finale to an awe-inspiring evening.