"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, all in effort for tomorrow morning. The must-do preparations have been crossed off the list (either completed or deemed not truly a must-do) and we’ve enjoyed some treasured time with family and friends.
Kaleo staged for departure
Tomorrow morning, we set sail on the dream we’ve been pursuing for the past few years. We’re going into it with a lot of excitement, a little trepidation, and genuine wonder. But above all, we are thankful. First, to the Lord for a dream becoming a reality, to our families for all of their help and for lifting us up to reach this dream, to our friends for their encouragement and to our marina neighbors, who have become friends, for their advice, tool swaps, and making the marina feel like home.
To help us remember what has been a blur and to share with you what’s been going on since we left Dallas, here are a few highlights:
Our friend, Maurice, joined Matt aboard for a week to finish re-wiring the boat, mark the anchor chain, rig the reef lines, make a fender board, etc.
Survived some cuts, bangs and bruises as we worked in every nook and cranny of Kaleo
Installed a hot water heater (Kaleo now has almost all the luxuries of a modern home, just on a much smaller scale)
Finished loading and organizing provisions aboard
Spent a rainy night discovering a leaky gasket in the v-berth hatch (poor Matt awoke to water slowly drip, drip, dripping on his forehead)
Sold Christie’s car and tucked Matt’s truck in storage along with the rest of our land life belongings
Made about a million and one trips to West Marine, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and a host of other stores for final stock-ups
With the help of Christie’s dad, installed the chart plotter, loaded the safety locker (holds the liferaft, life jackets, safety harnesses, and EPRIB) and built a shelf for the dinghy gas can
Got to celebrate Christie’s birthday with her family (thanks for treating us to a celebratory dinner at her favorite local Mexican restaurant, Mas Amigos! and for having us as house guests for awhile)
Continued the birthday celebration with a visit from our friend, Crystal, for a dinghy ride to have dinner at Opus Bistro near our marina
Enjoyed a little send-off with our marina neighbors and received some great books, a set of Pardey cruising how-t0 DVD’s and lots of helpful advice
Received a visit from some fellow cruisers, The Sittons, who have their boat in a marina close to ours and have recently cruised the Bahamas. They generously shared their experiences with us and gave us a special super absorbent towel for drying off quickly and a conch shell they brought back from the Bahamas for us to return when we harvest our own.
Started adjusting our plans to the shorter days of Daylight Savings Time (sunrises at 6:30, sunsets at 5:30!)
Today Kaleo got a much needed bath, we painted the registration numbers on Squeak (our new dinghy), ran a few final errands (thanks Mike for letting us borrow your truck!), secured the dinghy on deck and are now off to get some much-needed rest. We feel a bit like kids on Christmas Eve with anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.
As we get underway, we want to point out a feature that’s now on the blog, our live track map. Click the GLOBE ICON in the upper left-hand corner of the site and you will see a map featuring the last position report from our SPOT tracker. It’s a new feature, so please contact us if you experience any technical trouble.
We have so much to share about preparing to cruise but with working 100% at our jobs and 100% on or sailing Kaleo on the weekends, we’ve had little time to blog about it.
We’re excited to say that Kaleo is closer than ever to being cruise ready!
In the past couple of weeks we’ve:
Solidified our initial cruising route. Details to come.
Learned a ton about provisioning (SSU Provisioning course) and have started building our master provisioning list.
Taken a cruising first aid course, and with the help of Matt’s paramedic/firefighter brother decided on our ship’s medical kit, the Marine 1000.
Completed the design of Kaleo’s electrical system (which needs to be redone) with help from Scott at SLTF Marine.
Chosen the best anchor chain (5/16” G40) and length (200 ft) to replace Kaleo’s current rusted chain and rope rode.
Decided on our integrated communications setup after watching Communications Alternatives for Cruisers on Seven Seas U. We are forgoing a satellite phone, and starting out with a WiFi extender, international cell phone that accepts local SIM cards, Skype, the SPOT tracker, SSB receiver and of course VHF.
Learned more about the optimal fridge/freezer setup through another SSU class. We’ve decided to test our current system out for a few months before re-insulating the fridge.
There is still much to learn and a few final decisions to make, like settling on our chart plotter and solar panels.
We’re also still debating (and exhaustively researching) a hot water heater and watermaker. Any guidance or experience you’ve had with or without them is always welcome.
If the last post left you hanging, don’t worry. We returned to Kaleo last weekend to fix the unresolved heat exchanger issue. Earlier in the week, I took the original rebuilt heat exchanger to the cooling place that claimed to have rebuild it. After a quick pressure test, it proved to be faulty, which is why we dumped all the coolant and overheated coming back in from the night sail.
I found a replacement through Mr.Cool, who had a new one rush built and shipped to our marina by Friday (for less money than the original rebuild). Jim, from Mr. Cool, was very helpful and I would highly recommend them. While waiting for the heat exchanger to arrive, I replaced all the fuel filters (our motor has 3) and the raw (ocean) water impeller, which had 4 of 6 vanes broken. Our engine is partially cooled by raw water which runs through the heat exchanger to cool it. But that same water is also corrosive which eventually caused the failure we just experienced.
Matt in the engine room (room in a misnomer, it’s more of a very small box)
After getting everything put back together, Christie’s parents joined us to hoist me up the mast. I spent almost 3 hours up there, got a nasty sunburn, but installed the new Garmin wind sensor and OGM tricolor/anchor light. Upon returning to sea level, I discovered only the anchor part of our tricolor light doesn’t work. Oh well, something else to add to the infinite project list.
We then took the boat out and motored fairly hard to test the cooling system and she worked like a champ. We’re ready for a trip to Galveston next weekend with friends!
Lack of activity on the blog certainly isn’t reflective of lack of activity on the boat, as we have been hard at work over the last 4 weekends. In fact, we spent more time aboard in the last month than the two previous months combined!
Our whirlwind work weekends began on May 14, when I headed to the boat alone, as Christie was traveling for work. The plan was for her to fly into Houston and join me for our anniversary weekend. (Yes, I have a committed wife because she agreed to spend our anniversary aboard.) Unfortunately due to flight cancellations she wasn’t able to make it to Houston. I drove back to Dallas where we had a fantastic celebration at Hotel Joule, the place we stayed on our wedding night.
But before I left I was able to:
Unpack the Cape Horn self steering
Become completely intimidated by the installation process
Attend the annual Kemah swap meet to sell and score some boat gear
We returned on May 20 for a great 4-day Memorial Day weekend and to celebrate my birthday. While there we managed to:
Remove the old name (Fiona) and polish the transom
Sand and re-varnish the forward cabin handrails
Celebrate hard work, being debt free and my birthday with champagne
Get the neighbors and family involved in deciding how to mount the Cape Horn
Measure and drill the test hole in the transom for the Cape Horn
Enjoy some family time at the Legend Point Craw Fish Boil
The next weekend aboard began by returning Kaleo to the water where she belongs. We also:
Had Casey, Christie’s brother, aboard to help strip and sand the coaming tops. Thanks Casey!
Remeasured the mounting location of the Cape Horn (to be sure), then drilled a 2 1/2″ hole in the transom
Test fit the Cape Horn and fiberglassed the interior supports inside the lazzerette
And finally our most recent weekend aboard allowed us to complete the longest ongoing boat project yet.
We finished installing the cowl vents on the dorades, which were rebuilt last summer. On this note, do not deal with Blue Water Hardware, as Scott, the owner, took our money, didn’t deliver the product and will not return emails or calls!
Matt spent more time in the lazzerette working on the Cape Horn and the install is now about 60% complete
Attended Christie’s cousin’s graduation at Dayton High School
We’re taking a break in Dallas this weekend, but we’ll be back aboard this summer for more projects, family time, friends visiting and of course, sailing!!
As Christie and I are learning, boat projects always take much longer than anticipated. But that means it feels even better when a project is finally complete. We crossed another item off the list with the final hanging of the companionway (a boat’s front door) doors.
Finally they were hung on the boat, providing a much easier way to close, enter and exit the companionway
These will provide a more pleasant living experience when we are anchored or in easy sailing weather. For rough weather we will use still the drop boards as they provide better protection against boarding seas and heavy rains. I really enjoyed this project in particular because I was able to work alongside my Dad, learn from his experience and have his craftsmanship aboard.
We recently had a red-letter day in pursuing the cruising dream! As of April 29, 2010 we officially own Kaleo and no longer owe the bank a dime on it. More importantly, it was a red-letter day in life – We are officially debt free! We don’t owe a dime to anyone. No ifs, ands, or asterisks involved.
Screen shot of our loan account
Not only is it great to have paid off the boat, it feels even better because we did it earlier than planned (thanks to the payback of a generous interest-free loan we gave the government last year – aka our tax return) and a dedicated savings plan outlined by Crown.
Since before our marriage we have both been following the biblically-based Money Map (which is available for free right now) from Crown Financial Ministries. Following its steps have guided us to this liberating day of being debt free. The Money Map outlines specific steps to not only becoming debt free, but achieving true financial freedom (being able to use the resources we’ve been given to help others and live enjoyably).
Of course, our intention is to stay debt free as we follow the remaining steps of saving for a future land house, our future children’s college funds, and … well you’ll just have to order a Money Map to find out!
The presence of wind powered self-steering is one of the surest ways to tell if a sailboat is used for passage making (sailing for extend times to different destinations). And Kaleo will soon enough be among the ranks of those boats. A wind powered self-steering system uses the wind to steer the boat on a steady course and once set, doesn’t require anyone to be at the helm. When sailing somewhere more than a few hours away, hand steering can be tiring and it’s hard to stay on the correct course after hours at the helm.
Cape Horn – Integrated Self-Steering System Schematic
We recently ordered our Cape Horn self-steering system and are now in the 6-8 week build window, anxiously awaiting its arrival. We did a lot of research on self-steering gear (in fact Matt read up on this topic before we even owned a boat) and considered many brands and types – Monitor, Hydrovane, self-made. We ultimately landed on the Cape Horn for three reasons:
Its reputation among the blue water sailing community
Its integration into the hull structure
A recommendation from an Aloha 34 owner who sailed with it to the South Pacific
Custom made for each vessel, the Cape Horn is built in Canada and will arrive via UPS in the next few weeks. Expect some pics of us unwrapping the system and a post or two detailing the install.
For the crusing inclined, read on about our reasoning for going with a wind vane over an autopilot. There are advantages to both systems and since they both cost about the same we chose the wind vane because it:
Requires zero power
Functions no matter what the boat systems are doing (important if you’re offshore for extended periods of time)
Requires crew dilegence in monitoring the wind and course (There is potential that an autopilot gives you an excuse to be lazy)
Doesn’t involve a computer. After all, part of going cruising is to get away from daily dependence on computers :)
It makes the boat look like a true blue water cruiser, which is very important for your in-port credibility!
Lastly, I can’t say enough about how great Yves Gélinas, owner, designer, and builder of Cape Horns was during the research and order process. Matt had so many questions that Yves answered and he even had numerous phone calls with Matt to talk him through the measurement and optimal install for Kaleo.
Our vessel, as with most cruising boats, is powered by 12-volt batteries that hold enough electricity to run the boat systems for 2-3 days without a charge. Many cruisers use alternative energy sources (i.e., solar or wind power) to help charge their batteries. We’ve been discussing the pros and cons of both for the last few weeks and are reaching out to other cruisers like you for advice. Do we need solar panels, a wind generator or neither?
Solar panels or Wind generator?
The pros/cons of solar panels:
Works on sunny days, with wind or without
Acts as extra shade installed on the bimini
Operates only 8 hours at best
Overall less efficient than a wind generator
Big installation on top of the bimini
The pros/cons of a wind generator:
Generates more electricity than solar
Operates 24 hours a day (when the wind’s blowing)
Doubles as a water generator when sailing (DuoGen)
More expensive than solar
Noisy (compared to solar)
Large installation on the transom
This decision is informed in part by our cruising destinations of which the first season we’ll be sailing the route from Florida to Trinidad. And for our comparisons we are assuming two 90-watt Siemens solar panels or the DuoGen wind/water generator. We have a 90 amp alternator on the motor which would need to run for about 1 hour per day to keep the system charged without any alternative energy source.
We also managed to wash and scrub the entire deck, cleaning it of winter grime and dirt. Scrubbing 34 feet of boat deck took the better part of the morning but Kaleo shined like she hasn’t in a long time. Christie finished the to-do list by installing one of her Valentine’s Day presents, a new stainless throttle handle.
All this work was capped off by a great sail in Galveston Bay, where we saw Captain Kidd, a two-masted schooner. The sail also reminded us of how well the Aloha 34 is designed as she balanced herself (stayed on a course without any input from us) on the tack out and back in. The sail was capped off by the best slip-parking job to date, if only they all went that smoothly there would be a few less scratches on the hull.
On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Christie’s grandmother’s house celebrating the most important date in history, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everyday we thank Him for our talents, abilities and the desire to pursue this dream.
Part of the fun of boat projects is crossing them off the list and we are finally seeing some big progress in getting some crossed off. Over the last few months we got quite a bit done, though it was all planned to be done months before that. One of the details about refitting a boat that we’ve learned is that every project “costs twice as much and takes three times longer than planned”. Boat friends had warned us of this reality but it didn’t really sink in until we started experiencing it.
Matt installing solarvent above head
Often times what takes so long is waiting for parts. Matt makes an order and sure enough they get delivered the Monday after we had already been down to the boat for the weekend (we travel 4 hours each way to work aboard Kaleo about every other week). Along with waiting for parts to arrive comes the truth that every project takes longer than planned, no matter if you plan in extra time for it. That means there were quite a few Sundays we leave the boat with projects partially done. And there are of course the times we have all the parts and all the time but weather (too cold or too wet) manages to get it the way to see bigger progress.
We’ve even dropped the car keys in the water (not unlike the wedding band a few months before) but luckily had the Davis Key Buoy on the keychain, which floated the key to the surface just as promised.
Over the last few months we’ve crossed of the following (but there’s still plenty of work we’re in the middle of and ahead):
From hand-pump low quality to bluewater-worthy Lavac electric toilet
Our original single-basin sink in the galley. A little caulking romance. Casey brought me to meet up with Matt while he was working on the new sink install. Looks like he found Kaleo to be pretty relaxing amidst the minor construction. The original single-basin sink in our galley was too shallow & small for any real dishwashing so we went on the search for the right double-basin. After months of research & an exhaustive search for an affordable option, we finally found one on eBay that fit the bill.
After a few weekends more than planned Matt got the old one removed, the counter cut out & the new one in place. In between all that, he managed to add fresh and salt water spigots (for greater water conservation), a new sprayer faucet, and plumbed all the necessary hoses. A now we have a fully functioning sink and an experience Matt hopes to only do once.
It’s official. Today marks the LEAST amount of money we’ve spent at West Marine to date. That’s right, the decimal is in the right place … we spend a whopping $0.39 on 4 fasteners for the shower install.
We spent the weekend getting a few new parts installed for liveaboard necessities. For some reason the former owner removed the shower system, but no worries Matt was able to install a more space and water efficient design that works perfectly for us.
Deciding where to mount the manual back-up pump. Installing the waste hose.Helping our marina neighbor load up his dinghy to be repaired. Family stopped by for a fun visit and brought BBQ lunch for the crew.
We spent this Labor Day weekend with one of our 1st major refit projects aboard Kaleo. September is dedicated to all things plumbing so we started with upgrading our manual-only toilet to an electric / manual back-up, Lavac. The 1st step was to have the holding tanks pumped out and rinsed followed by removing the old toilet. The greatest challenge was engineering a hose run that involved an electric pump, a manual back-up pump and a downhill run to the tank – all within the confines of the space below the v-berth.
We’re happy to report that with the help of Christie’s dad, Craig, the install was a success within “plan a” and without any sacrifices. We now have the convenience of an electric head with a manual back-up in case of power failure.
Our Seattle weekend continued as we started Saturday with a visit to Pike Place for breakfast at The Crumpet Shop and to pick up some flowers to bring to Matt’s mom. We then hit the road for a 5-hour road trip to Coeur d’ Alene to visit the family and celebrate Ken’s birthday. Before heading out for Ken’s birthday dinner, he and Matt reviewed the test companionway doors and talked through their final design. We’ll leave the materials and plans in his good hands to be built. He even offered to build us an overlay for the bathroom countertop from some scrap granite he’s collected. It means a lot to us to have his craftsmanship aboard. The boys taking a break while dad takes Jeff’s new bike out for a spin.