Showing posts with label sailing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sailing. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28

Weatherman or Sailor

The more that I sail, the more that I learn about the clouds to forecast what to prepare.  Most every day or event planned this year, the weather forecasted was wrong or late.  We canceled or changed some of our gatherings because of the forecasted storms.  We can take the wind but the lightning I am more cautious.

A month ago we were out sailing in the bay.  The winds were perfect blowing about 15 knots from the east.  As we edged passed the line of cloud front, the winds stopped dead.  We had to turn on the engine and pull in the sails, but the chop on the water was still high for no wind.  We head back, and the winds picked back up under the clouds.

Sailors hear
  • "Mare tails and fish scales sailors furl your sails"
  • "Rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow to leeward, rain runs away"
  • For the barometer watchers, "quick rise after low, often portends a stronger blow"
  • "Red sky at night a sailor's delight, red sky at dawn sailor take warning"

Tuesday, March 29

Batten and Bruised Cruise

From Naples, Florida to Mobile, Alabama... What happened to Houston?  

On a pleasant day with clear sky, clear emerald green water, dolphins, and bright full moon that lit up the sky we left Naples for Houston.  No celestrial navigation tonight since only Orion could be seen with this bright moonlight.  Four hour two-man shifts I choose the 1 am - 5 am mark because of insomnia, a sailor's delight on the Gulf.  

Hello at the end of the trip on Monday morning, after a good sleep, breakfast, and scrub in the marina shower.
Change occurred quickly with four days of winds up to 48 knots, heavy stinging rain, lightning, numerous storms, and breaking equipment (a surprise nighttime storm, rudder chain broke, temporary emergency tiller split, autohelm broke, GPS chartplotter gave off readings, oil pressure kept dropping after adding more oil so could only use the engine until oil ran out). Passage weather and sail flow got the forecast wrong.  We changed our heading from South Pass to Biloxi and somehow ended up on Mobile Bay by the tow boats.

Lessons Learned...

Turn the radar on down below so that the helmsman can prepare for any storm cells (drop the sails and get chairs below).  

Follow the Captain's orders, do not use the autohelm when he says so.  Do not let someone else turn it on!  You have one Captain on board, and the boat belongs to him.

Do not tinker with anything if it is working.  This is not a race.

Four crew on a 38 foot Shannon sailboat 
One 43 yr old chick new to crossing the Gulf.

The weather started getting rough, the mighty sail boat was tossed.
Four sails to lead the wayJib, Staysail, Main, Mizzen.
Lost the jib sail early on.

The oil pressure kept dropping
'because diesels loves oil, like a sailor likes his rum.
Yes!  Why is that Captain Jon? Nobody knows...' If it was going to happen, it happened while we were trying to sleep in our off shift.

Offshore Foulies are a lie...
I could not stay dry and warm, no matter how many changes of clothes.
No sun to dry them out with four days and nights of rain and wind.

Endurance at the helm in the rough seas for hours is the key by willing yourself to muster on.  Be your own positive motivator.  You can do it by believing in yourself.  Ask for some assistance after an hour or more so that you do not strain a muscle.  I found a comfortable stance and kept the boat on a port tack, broad reach (120 degrees) with a staysail and mizzen sail.  Best workout available.  Don't pay for a gym membership. Go sailing instead. 

Ladies: Thermals top and bottoms, and smart wool socks by Under Armour (from Texas City outlet) dried fast enough in four hours to be used again.  Layer under the thermal if you are cold natured like myself a tank top and long sleeve shirt from Old Navy, and remember a couple great support bras (thank you Victoria Secret).  My one fleece over the thermal dried quickly. Boat shoes and boat boots kept my toes warm and comfortable when standing at the helm for an hour or two.  Prepare for water to seep in to the pants even with a full offshore jacket, and down into the boots.  Cover your ears and face.  Snow gear worked well.  I wish that I brought my Columbia snow pants from 1998 to test it out compared to Gills offshore sailing pants. Water would go straight down my backside into my boots.

Dry shampoo worked great to reduce oily scalp, and baby wipes (aka spit bath) daily cleaning of the body was very useful.

Always save at least one last change of dry clothes to meet help on the open water, USCG and TowBoatus.

Sleeping was rarely achieved for five days of super loud snoring (earplugs and earmuffs helped), being thrown about the cabin, and dumped out of the salon berth. Take some strong rope and tie your legs, bottom, or chest to the side (with no lee cloth).  The regular whacks onto the wooden floors, tossed into the table, and corner galley gave me a baseball size bruise above by right back hip.  My bottom and back are sore and bruised hitting the floor as I slept.  No sleep for you!  The next 4 hour sleep I moved to the starboard salon berth since we were heeled to starboard most of the time.  After an hour of sleep a rogue wave came across the beam pouring into the cabin from an unknown unsealed top hatch with the inflatable dingy on top. Two gallons of cold salt water poured on my head and body.  I was soaked to the bone in my once warm dry clothes and so was the berth.  A sailor's tongue is sharp and vulgar for a reason.

Some times the seas were so bad that the Captain just locked the wheel, dropped the sails, and stayed down below until the worst of the storm had passed.  I told the overheard story of William F Buckley, avid sailor, who was sailing across an ocean on his sailboat.  On a bad stormy night his crew mates stayed below as he battled the storm at the helm.  As a thank you for their help in surviving the storm, he offered a drink to everyone with a hidden ingredient, bilge water. The other crew members got sick.

Fear a captain if you abandon him when in need, and do not accept a drink. One four hour session due to seasickness, injury, and lack of sleep, I abandoned the captain to sail by himself- but fate got its revenge on me with an upset stomach after the trip.

A disagreeable crew mate can make for some good cage rattling to entertain the other crew as I voiced my strong support about following the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Politics and religion that I have always heard should never be discussed in a pleasant community, but with the harsh weather conditions and trapped in a cabin for 5 days that was fun.

Cooking, serving, throwing up, and eating in that order.  My captain had never seen someone throw up, and then immediately eat.  That takes talent learned from early college drinking days. No corn, spicy foods, or beans are good advice that I researched when JT did his first crossing two years ago, and reduces the chances of an upset stomach. Peanut butter crackers and bread, and dramamine were my staples when I felt sick and hated the light.  My first migraine?

Too many apples, bananas, and oranges were purchased when someone else had the list and refused to use two grocery carts.  I was born without the shopping gene and hate crowds. When I got thrown into the ring with a shopper for provisions, I breathed and followed along up and down every aisle getting food not on the list. Everything was a disagreement.  I foresaw this happening when asked, but sucked it up until now.  Worse than the worst storm at sea.  Stinging rain versus shopping, I would choose the stinging rain.

The captain's wife had prepared a few frozen meals for the trip.  They were perfect for the high seas except the fact the pot rolled around the stove top as the wave broke on the beam and stern.  Lunch varied by the sandwich variety, Boars Head low sodium roast beef, or ham with swiss cheese (pre made before leaving), or peanut butter and grape jam.  First night was delicious beef stroganoff (added sauted green beans with smashed garlic, herbs, and oil), second was sumptuous chicken and rice (rough waters), and for the next night was peanut butter crackers, and bread for me. Another crew mate heated up some taco soup for the other crew and the next day was pulled pork for them.  Where is that dramamine?  

The last day Sunday we were towed in 48 miles from shore on smoother water and little waves.  I opened all the swollen wood cabinets to prepare a final feast.  There I found the cilantro, new potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes that we purchased.  I made a hot vegetable medley that was delicious with salad and dressing, and fruit and ginger snap cookies for dessert.

That night everyone left for a hotel room at 11:30 pm but me.  The boat was quiet, drying out, and cool from the AC and fans blowing.  I had tons of food, some Maduro Brown Ale, and adrenaline pumping.  I had a case of the sea legs like walking on a trampoline.  Walking to the showers, I was worried that I might fall into the water.  I looked around for a ladder just in case. Seeing none I walked close to the grass.  

There is one female shower stall at the Turner Marine Supply which I choose the perfect hour and could use as much hot water that I wanted.  After exposing a new layer of skin, I contemplated using the two sets of washers and dryers ($1 each) but decided with my wobbly legs and need for vitamin beer I would stay in the cabin.  I found a container of southern style pimento cheese (is there any other style) in the refrig that got lost, and toasted some whole wheat bread on the stove, added some lettuce, and slices of tomatoes, with the cheese and crispy pretzels and beer.  After texting JT to inform him of my whereabouts and witching hour dinner, I finally crashed about 3:30 am and did not move until 10 am.  Solitude and quiet I do so enjoy it.

I did not hear anything from anyone that morning or lunchtime.  The night before they discussed fixing the engine and rudder chain, but since West Marine did not open until Thursday, that would not be happening.   Hopefully the captain can file a claim with his insurance for all the damage the storms did to his boat.  The Mobile Yacht Club was closed most of the week too.  So at 1:30 pm I started making another even better pimento cheese sandwich wth sauted sliced tomatoes and lettuce, and a beer.  As I piled the food in a napkin heading up to the cockpit, the captain came aboard and said that the truck is ready to go back to Houston.  What truck?  I always said that I was staying.  So I tried to finish my lunch in the cockpit, while another crew mate was chomping at the bit to go.  Since our captain had his daughter there to help, he did not really need me, and the boat will not be headed back anytime soon.  I agreed to go after I finish my lunch.

Do not guess what people want or mean. Ask first.  I was planning on staying on the boat and help out where needed.  But someone else was making demands that were never agreed upon so reluctantly I agreed to come back to Houston since more storms were moving in.  All creatures are horrible mind readers.
Lighthouse at Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay
At the Naples marina
Around the harbor in Naples

Jump down onto the Shannon

Cabin on the water
A bungalow on the water
Improvements to Naples neighborhood
Bye Naples

Assistance from some US heroes 48 miles out

Visitor on the Gulf, as David Jones went into the engine locker
Going to Turner Marine Supply on Dog River
We were very lucky since Monday I meet a catamaran from Fort Lauderdale that left on the 23rd as well and got struck by lightning over a hundred miles off shore from Alabama.  Blew out all their electronics and their toilet for a day.

Meclizine found in dramamine suppresses the nervous system by blocking acetyl-choline in the Vestibular region and reduces the excitation.  It has the ability to block the transmission of information from the vestibular apparatus of the middle ear to the emetic center in the medulla.

Friday, January 1

End of the Year of Travels, 2015

Pre-Christmas Trip east to see family
Entrance to the Hideaway in Brookhaven
Frost in the field for a chilly morning walk, after enjoying the warm firepit, pizza, and s'mores the prior evening

Tuesday, September 29

Art of Night Time Sailing

After the end of summer on the bays in Texas, I can let the secret out, and reflect on all the cool, relaxing, and solitary evening sails. With normal afternoon temperatures ranging from 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, high humidity, and low wind, we have learned to bide our time in the air conditioning until the perfect hour, nightfall. We love an evening sail.

Friday, July 24

Eyes of a Sailor

Once this sailor, Yachty, hit 40, her vision was supposed to change overnight.  Well it did.  Six inches in front of my face things got blurry, but it got better.  Or as much wiser people have told me that I just got used to it.  I tried out a few reading glasses at Target.  The lowest level of 1.0 diopter worked, but I did not like any of the styles.  

When do I need to see details 6 inches in front of my face?  Playing the violin, I have discovered.  I cannot see the bow on the string without closing my left eye.  Glasses, I will need when I decide to play the violin again.  Too much humidity to keep my violin on the boat.

Tuesday, July 7

Gnarly Dreams from Sailors

First Canoe Trip, fast asleep, life on the water
Hiding eyes to sleep together
If I ever decide to crew on an another boat, knowing the crews' training, idiosyncrasies, and sleep irregularities are essential for a safe and fun journey versus dangerous and scary.  Since everyone sleeps or naps in shifts, watching another sleep can be a real education about problem sleepers.  Whether it is sleep apnea, dream enactment (RBD), sleep talking, sleep paralysis, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, lucid dreams, or insomnia affects the lives of the other crew.

Tuesday, June 30

I Feel Happy!

Occasionally in the boating community I meet a curmudgeon, 'an angry, surly, mean' individual who wants to make other people unhappy.  People I call a^* holes.  I have met my fair share of them in my life.  I learned to hang up, walk away, and avoid them as much as possible because they seem to thrive on spreading their negative vibe.  I have tried engaging with them to see the positive but they rarely cheer up and make me upset.  So if I ignore them and walk away, I feel better.

I am a naturally happy and positive person.   Seeing the glass as half full helps me cancel out any negative people around me.   Being a rational optimist, I do not understand why some are so negative.

Friday, February 20

Nominated for Liebster Award

Questions for the Liebster Nominee from Bigdumboat: 

Our task was to answer Dyad's ten questions that they hear too often about their boat.

1. What kind of a boat is that anyway? 

Catalina 34, cruising sailboat.  We enjoy the journey and studying the natural beauty of the world, as much as the destination.  

We spend more money on beer per week than fuel for the year.

Thursday, September 25

Preparing for Six Pack Captain License

We have been considering getting our Six Pack License so that we can make some money captaining our sailboat with up to 6 paying passengers on our boat.  But it is very expensive to get your license.  

Here is some basic information that I have found for our area.
Generally, operations that carry 6 or fewer passengers for hire are referred to as Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV), 6 Passenger (pax), or 6 Pack operations. These are your typical charter boat fishing guide or tour boat operations that may use a state numbered boat. UPV operations traveling on navigable waters of the United States under U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction are not required to be inspected by the Coast Guard. They must comply with minimal federal standards for safety, navigation, pollution prevention and the vessel operator must hold an Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) license issued by the Coast Guard.  

The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary provide courtesy UPV examinations to assist you. These exams are free of charge, comprehensive and confidential. Contact your local Coast Guard Sector Office. Many times they can put you in touch with a Coast Guard Auxiliarist in your own town.

Will Rain Fall over Clear Lake

Having our boat between Clear Lake and Galveston Bay for seven years, we had long heard and witnessed the Clear Lake umbrella effect.  Storms would be coming from the west or south and completely miss or slightly brush over Clear Lake.  Tornadoes would be hitting League City and disappear by the time that it gets close to us which is a huge relief.  Understanding the Clear Lake effect is difficult to nail down because it is not a perfect model.  

Tuesday, August 26

Leading New Cruisers to Moody Gardens

Turning into Offatts Bayou channel
Marina at Moody Gardens from the beach

We organized and lead our first cruise to Moody Gardens Marina in Offatts Bayou.  Our other sailboat cruisers had never been to Offatts.  We slowed down and stayed behind another tug to insure that everyone made it under the Galveston Causeway RR bridge together.  We radioed the bridge using their call sign to make sure that all the sailboats will be able to go under before they dropped the bridge for the train.  We all made it with no problems from the courteous bridge tender.  Dolphins greeted us along the way.

The cruise was made so much easier with A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations in Texas.

Wednesday, December 11

Harvard Lessons for Cooking on a Boat

My total benefits for agonizing over once forgotten college physics, chemistry, and biology:
  1. searing your meat or vegetable creates maillard reaction (flavor compounds) over 120 degrees Celsuis (~250 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Cooking with wine or alcohol helps break down the beef tissue (reduces the crosslinks).
  3. Ledenfrost effect: for a drop of water on a skillet of 190 degrees Celsius (374 degrees Fahrenheit), gas suspends the liquid over the skillet
  4. Making cheese with whole milk and a little white vinegar or buttermilk
  5. 1 part salt to 10 parts ice & water, drops the temperature the best to cool the beer down
  6. Avocado brown when in contact with oxygen.  Cilantro has low pH (vit A) and bond to avocado to block attachment to oxygen.  Lemon, lime, or orange juice (acidic) blocks the bonding to oxygen
  7. How many and the types of meals can I cook on a tank of propane
  8. How much heat per mass of food will be needed to cook the meal.
  9. Idea of building a solar oven on the deck when anchored out
  10. Reducing chances of getting sick from microbes in our food
  11. Is my temperature of the oven or pot on the stove correct, use a thermometer
  12. Use the scale and measure in grams!
  13. Make soups thicker or thinner (viscosity) with appropriate hydrocolloid
  14. Bread Flour make my buttermilk biscuits better.
  15. Making Ice cream on the boat is so easy using small and large ziploc bags.  Large bag with 600g of ice and 200g of salt (temperature drops to 22F), and small bag with 90g cream, 100g milk, and 20g sugar placed the larger bag and shake for 10 minutes.
  16. Not a fan of chocolate, so I had to eat all those Chocolate Lava cakes-no chocolate for a year or more now.
  17. Fermentation for beer and wine.  Understanding distillation of alcohol. Why whisky or rum will stay good on the boat but not beer and wine, because nothing can grow in the high alcohol content.
  18. Making breads and pastries: thank you Joanne Chang, understanding why salt is needed to kill off some of the overproducing yeast in the bread.  Burping and farting yeast molecules.
  19. 10 sessions of research, homework, and labs (eating)
  20. Pesto (adding a little flat parsley to reduce darking of the basil)
  21. Viscosity: Mac and cheese, make a roux of flour and butter before adding the cheeses and milk-increases the viscosity and improves the taste on the tongue
  22. Elasticity: cooked proteins in bread or meat changed the mouth feel and reduces the chew factor from the uncooked foods
  23. Cooked Noodles: you do not have to wait for the water to boil before adding the uncooked noodles.  Add the noodles when the water is cold and heat it up and use less water, to save energy and water.  Adding salt to the water barely affects the temperature, so save the salt and do not add to the water.
  24. Use Ice water to revive wilted lettuce in 30 seconds
  25. Aioli is an emulsion garlic, olive, oil, and egg yolk, (alioli is without egg yolk)

Thursday, October 10

Quickie Guides Ready for Racing and Cruising

Buy A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations in TX Kindle version (best with Fire HD 8.9 or Kindle for Ipad) with live web links. 

Louisiana Kindle version, (best with Fire HD 8.9 or Kindle app for Ipad) with live web links.

Mississippi Kindle version, (best with Fire HD 8.9 or Kindle app for Ipad) with live web links.

2013, Louisiana, Quickie Guide for Sailing
Second Edition, Texas, A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations
A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations in Mississippi

Tuesday, February 5

Stop Suspicionless Searches of Pleasure Vessels

The US Coast Guard and Border Patrol can and do board any vessel in the slip or out sailing without any probable cause. There are been numerous reports in Houma, LA of the Border Patrol and US Coast Guard boarding recreational vessels (sailboats and power) in the ICW. As a former student of Constitutional Law these meritless boardings give me great pause, and I recall the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Sail Magazine did a great article about the very topic in October 2012 which I will reprint here. Definitely worth the read. In fact lets take it a step further and contact your Congressman and Senator about changing The law of 1790 Revenue Cutter to now exempt recreational vessels from suspicionless searches.

Personal Handwritten Letters seems to have a heavier weight to the Congressmen (when I worked for a special interest group)
The Honorable (Contact Your US Representative)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable (Contact Your US Senator)
US Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Coast Guard Boardings and Your Fourth Amendment, Part 1
Coast Guard Boardings and Your Fourth Amendment, Part 2
Coast Guard Boardings and Your Fourth Amendment, Part 3

Friday, February 1

Quick Go Sailing

As my first order of business, I decree that all sailboats must leave the slip at least once a season and go for a quick sailing trip.  

Fussy and frustrated with present Sailing Guides, I created my own: a fast, to the point, and up-to-date guide, for TX, LA, MS, and AL. 

A Quickie Guide for Sailing Destinations on the Gulf Coast

Go for a Quickie.

Wednesday, May 9

Time to Let Go

Setting out to Sea
For over nine years, I have kept and protected the ashes of my beloved golden retriever, Natasha, who died tragically at two years of age in MS.  With us setting to leave our home in east Texas and move close to the water, I felt that it was time to let her go.  JT was the one that found her body and returned her to me where I kept her ashes all these many years ('because you never leave a man behind').  She never enjoyed being cooped up in a crate, being left alone, and loved being on the water. Her final resting spot needed to be in the water. 

Tuesday, November 1

Books, Boats, and Films

Joshua Slocum on Spray (first man to single-hand Sailing Alone Around The World)
With the cool Holiday season coming around the bend and nights getting longer, we might be spending more time in the cabin. So here are some true boating movies that have real boats on the water and not all filmed on a studio. In fact my criteria insists that the boat be a main character in the movies. If you can, use a home projector on a sheet for your boat buds and you to enjoy. Popcorn is in the galley.

The books that I have paired with the movies must be written by someone who clearly knows boating and the correct terminology, whether fiction or nonfiction. Most of these books are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free in ibooks, plus in itunes university the free audio version for some is available for download by chapter.

Tuesday, October 4

Spring 2011 Texas trip

While I do prefer to remain in the shadows on the Internet, I now feel thrust into this other realm. Our one month sail down the ICW (aka GIWW) last spring with our clan of four was far more than I imagined, and staying connected to TMCA made it bigger than us.