Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | December 7, 2013

We have cast off the lines…

We have finally cast off the lines to our land life and set sail. Our original plan was to sail to key west as our shakedown cruise and then head to Roatan Honduras from there. Well a shakedown cruise is just that, let’s shake the boat and see what breaks.
On our first day we had almost no wind to start with so we motor sailed and the wind that we did get was at our nose so we had to tack. Couple that with some rough seas(in my novice opinion) and cold temperatures it made for a very unpleasant ride. And to top it all off, I wasn’t feeling well due to the rough ride aka sea sick. So that first day was not quite what I was expecting.
There were some positives that first day. We have a great crew of two young people with great sailing skills and a never ending supply of happiness and optimism. Also we had a gorgeous sunset

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And the night sky was filled with so many stars it was indescribable. We must have seen at least a dozen shooting stars, it was truly beautiful.
The second day was better as far as the weather and sea conditions and we had a much more pleasant ride and because we were getting further south the temperature was not as cold. BUT…
The one thing Darryl was sure of was the motor. We have never had any trouble with it in the entire time we have owned Spellbound. With that being said, we really have never ran it for extended period of time. So like I said before, we were motor sailing and the motor was in constant use and decided that it had had enough. The starter went kaput and so did the motor sailing. We still were able to sail but we were not making much progress. We were near sanibel/ft Myers area so we decided to head in and make our repairs there.
We found a nice marina named Moss Marine. And we called for TowBoat US to tow us in. If you don’t have a towing service I highly recommend TowBoat US They are courteous and efficient and expensive unless you are a member. Our bill came out to $935 but because we are members we paid $0.
Leo, who is one of our crew, got on the phone with his dad who is a diesel mechanic and he found a starter for us so we called and ordered it. So now we wait til it comes.
Our first night at the marina we just kinda caught up on our rest. But yesterday the part came for the boat and so we got that installed with the help of Darryl, Leo and his dad. That motor starting was music to our ears! So to celebrate we went out last night to the pier/beach to watch the sunset and then on to Times Square and listened to some great music, danced, and generally had a great time.

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We were up early this morning and made ready the boat, and once again cast off the lines headed for Key West.

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Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | November 21, 2013

10 days to go…

We are in the final stretch of our preparation to cut the lines and leave our land life. We are working from sun up til sometimes after sundown trying to tie up all the loose ends. The list seems never ending and I find myself asking ” will we make our deadline”? Every time we think we just about got it all under control we remember something else to add to the never ending list. We are taking 2 very experienced sailors with us on this trip because we are obviously not experienced enough to cross the Gulf of Mexico on our own. Brooke, who is a sailing instructor and has crewed many boats including the Bounty, has made this trip in the past and has also been on a transatlantic voyage and Leo, who is hubby’s coworker at west marine, has crewed many boats and has traveled down to the St. Somewhere chain of islands. We had a get together last evening to discuss the plans for the trip. We decided to go for a sail this coming Sunday to make sure all system are a go since we have many new additions to Spellbound. I think our plan is to sail to Key West first as our “shakedown” cruise and see if our weather is right for a smooth sail across, if not we will wait there til it is. Oh darn! What a terrible place to wait…

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | November 13, 2013

IPad, not just for games

Wouldn’t it be great if you could control your boat from inside the cabin? Just think how nice it would be when the weather isn’t so great you could sit in the salon and control your autopilot with a touch of the screen. (I know there has to be a person on watch 24/7) Well for us, that just became a reality! Hubby installed our B&G Zeus Touch 7 and downloaded the app for Go Free Wirleless that can be controlled by an iPad or tablet, and be viewed on a smartphone.
The Zeus T7 is specifically designed for sailing, unlike many other chart plotters/GPS. It has a feature called SailSteer which provides a composite view of key sailing data, including Heading and COG, Current Layline, Calculated Tide, True Wind Angle indicator, Rudder Angle Indicator and Opposite Tack Layline. The data is displayed according to the boats bow, providing a clear image of important sailing data. Here is a screen shot from the instruction manual.

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Enhanced Sailtime calculations, removes reliance on ETA and provides a maximised view of tacking angles on the chart, even without an active waypoint. SailTime functions display the Time To Waypoint, Distance To Waypoint and Estimated Time or Arrival at waypoint using the layline calculations. This ensures a realistic value for these functions rather than relying on a feature designed for a power boat.

The Zeus T7 also integrates your autopilot computer via a NMEA 2000/0183 and/or SimNet, which then can be controlled by the unit or your iPad. For those of you who don’t know what an autopilot is, it is a electronic device that is designed to maintain an accurate course in various sea conditions with minimal helm movements. Now this does not mean it is a “set it and forget it” situation. When your waypoint changes, you still have to set the sails properly to maintain that course. We chose a Raymarine SPX5 Wheel Drive for our autopilot.

Another good feature that integrates into the Zeus is AIS, which is a system that uses either VHF or satellite systems to pinpoint locations of vessels for the purpose of collision avoidance. We chose a SIMRAD radio that has integrated AIS. This component will aid whoever is standing watch in locating nearby vessels. Now, if it would just locate sleeping whales!

There are a few other systems that can be integrated that we do not have. Radar, weather(either GRIB weather or SiriusXM weather), and StructureScan which uses high frequency to provide a high resolution image of the seabed directly below your boat down to 90m.

The Zeus is definitely a step up from the Garmin 178C which is really outdated and the cards are difficult to find. This will make our trip much easier ride.

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | November 10, 2013

Homeward Bound…

I am sitting here on the airplane some where over Nebraska anxious to get home and see the hubby. It has been a long 13 weeks without him(ok 12 weeks since he came out here for a week). We have never been apart and this time away from each other has been tough! We love being together and try to have fun in everything we do, even chores! But our time apart is coming to an end thank goodness.
Once I get home the mad rush begins to get the final preparations completed so we can leave as planned at the end of the month.
Hubby has a long, yet distinguished list to complete like rewiring the mast lights and installing the weather station, repairing the deck, installing the water maker, putting starboard under the toilet in the front head, and the list goes on. He thinks I will be helping him, but I have my own list to attend to. I have a storage shed to clean out, bike cover to make, food storage to organize, food shopping and prep, and I am going to attempt to make an enclosure for the cock pit. I also have to get the dogs ready to go by taking them to the vet and I have to go to the doc to get all my scripts refilled and get our emergency kit fixed up. Then there is the important things, like spending some quality time with our friends and families and trying to get out to sail to test out all our gadgets.
When I start writing it all down it looks overwhelming for the short amount of time we have. I guess this is where prioritizing and time management will come into play.
The race begins tomorrow…

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | November 7, 2013

To document or not to document, that is the question…

According to the USCG, documenting your boat is a form of national registration. there are a few types of documentation that can be done, such as fishery, coastwise, recreation, and registry. A boat must also weigh more than 5 tons to be documented. The basic requirements for documentation are to demonstrate ownership of the vessel, U.S. citizenship, and eligibility for the endorsement sought.
The question is, do I need to do it? It depends on where you plan to sail. If you are planning to stay within the US boundaries, then it probably isn’t necessary. But, if you plan to sail outside the US it is a good idea. In many countries it helps streamline the clearing in process. Or if you plan to use your boat as a charter, ferry, or fishing service you must have it documented.
The process is not difficult and all the paperwork is found on the USCG website. It can be printed, filled out, and either faxed or mailed back. The fee schedule can be found here.
Hubby and I decided to do it, and of course when we sent our paperwork in it was during the government shutdown, so it took some extra time. When you do file it they will also ask you for a copy of the title and you fill out an extra paper regarding the build specs of the boat. We sent in all of the required information and they gave us our number over the phone and are mailing the paperwork to us.
Once you have the number it must be placed in a visible area on the interior of the boat and be permanently affixed. This means you cannot be able to easily removed the numbers. We have an area in the head that is visible as long as the door to the head is open that we are going to place our number. You must also have your boat name and correct hailing port on the boat and there are certain specifications and they can be found here.
We have to change our hailing port lettering and are in the process of looking at different websites to do that. Hubby also has to figure out the “permanently affixed” aspect and get it mounted. The time is getting short for our departure and there are so many things left to do…

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | November 6, 2013

Almost time to go home…

As you know, I have been in California working as a travel RN to fund the outfitting of the boat. My time here is almost at an end, which is bittersweet. On one hand I am ready to get home to see my family and friends, but on the other I have really enjoyed this time that I have out here with my extended family. It has been a time of reminiscing old times and forming new relationships with cousins I haven’t met or seen since they were babies. My aunt and uncle have been so gracious to let me live with them and I hope I wasn’t too much of a bother. Thank you Aunt Elsie and Uncle Lenny!
Now, on to what has been happening at home to the boat. Hubby has been a busy bee getting things installed for our departure. Solar panels are up and batteries are charging! What a great thing to know we will be living off the grid!

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He also installed an amp meter to tell us how much energy we are using and how much we are making. This is really important to know since we don’t want the refrigerator and freezer to lose power.

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We upgraded to a new chart plotter/GPS made by B&G that is made for sailing and that will communicate with the autopilot and weather station. Hubby built a box out of starboard to hold the chart plotter and Raymarine auto pilot head. It is mounted on the binnacle.

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A new radio with AIS was installed as our old one was just that… OLD! And when he installed it he found that all the wiring was corroded and falling apart so all of that was replaced as well. The radio is made by Simrad.

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The next big project is the water maker install. We order our water maker from DIY Watermakers. We met the founder/owner of the company at the St. Pete boat show and was really impressed with the product and ease of installation and care of system. It is on order and will be on hubby’s to do list for next week.
Once I get home there will be lots of smaller projects still on the agenda and we will have about 3 weeks to button things up. I have my own projects to complete as well. Our 5 year plan is so close to realization!
I fly home on Sunday night and Monday the race begins!

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | September 11, 2013

Companionway doors= no more sailboat tetris!

Remember that game of sailboat tetris I talked about in an earlier post? Well, thanks to my creative and capable hubby, we no longer have to play that game to get in and out of the cabins of the boat.
When we went to the boat show this year in St. Pete, we saw a booth selling companionway doors. Now this was not the first time I had ever seen them but it renewed my desire to have them on my boat. The problem with that is they are extremely expensive and I need two sets, so the idea was put on a shelf for a later time.
Since I have been away in California hubby has been working on outfitting the boat for our departure to Roatan in November. I will be chronicling his projects here to show what he has accomplished.
One of his recent projects were creating a pattern for companionway doors and then executing that pattern. We knew wee wanted to be able to change out the windows in the doors and be able to slide screens in their place. We decided that we would make them out of star board instead of wood for strength and less maintenance.

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Using a square ruler to measure the angles of the companionway opening he then transferred those measurements to the starboard and cut it out. He then cut narrow strips for the edges.

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Next step was to measure and cut out the window in the door

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These door panels are made of two panels of star board combined. This allows a space to be created for the window/screen to slide in and out. The hinges and screws are made of stainless steel and the screw heads are covered with white caps for decorative purposes. We had to order the acrylic for the windows, but here is a shot of the doors in place with solid inserts.

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They are almost finished and he is enjoying not having to pull those hatch doors in and out. 🙂

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | August 16, 2013

Berth repair

While I am here enjoying the beautiful California weather, hubby is at home hard at work on the boat enduring the sweltering heat and humidity of Florida. It’s an awful job, but somebody has to do it! So his project for this week has been replacing the plywood on the bed in our back berth. Our boat is a 1978 and when we bought the boat there was a pretty steady leak from the davits, so the plywood had quite a bit of rot going on.

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Demolition was first, the hoses that you see in the pictures were from a water line connection for a shore hose and our propane line. We disconnected the water line due to leaking and we decided not to use it after it burst one morning and woke me up. NOT the way you want to wake up, just saying…
So hubby cut the wood out in pieces so it would come out of the hatch easily

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He then used the pieces as a template to cut out the new wood. For the replacement wood, he used 3/4″ plywood. He placed all the wood for the fitting and once all the pieces were right, he took them all out and put several coats of epoxy resin on both sides for strength and water protection.

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Once it was all dry he put all the pieces back in place and secured in place with screws.

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All and all he said it wasn’t a difficult job, but it was time consuming due to having to do the cutting in the work area on the other side of the marina and then having to bring it back for fitting, and of course applying the resin and letting it dry. The finished job looks great and will last us probably as long as we have the boat. One project down, many more to go… Great job hunny!!

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | August 10, 2013

A new adventure!

A new adventure has begun for me. I have left my job in St. Pete, Fl and taken a travel nurse assignment in California. My last day there was really hard as I was leaving so many good friends! But we have a lot of expensive items to add to the boat for our eventual departure to Honduras in November, so it prompted me to take a higher paying job to help pay for it. So you will be seeing some pics of my adventures in California in the next few weeks. Hubby will be at home working like a dog to finish up the projects.

Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | July 10, 2013

Solar, wind, and batteries Oh My!

When you are outfitting your boat for cruising one of the most important aspects to consider is power usage and power production. Knowing how many amps you use daily and if you anticipate adding electrical items such as refrigeration, freezer, fans, etc… you will need to know how many amps they use. To accomplish that there is a gadget called a system monitor that allows you to see at a glance how many amps you are using and can monitor two battery banks. The one we looked at is the Trimetric 2025. It is labeled in this link as RV but can be used on boats as well.

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Once you have the number of amps that are being used (plus the estimate of future amps needed) you can then apply this number to this equation: AMPS X VOLTS= WATTS then divide by 3 for low latitudes or 4 for higher latitudes. For example if you using150 amps X 12 volts= 1800 watts/3= 600 watts of solar/wind power needed. If you are in the Caribbean you definitely need to consider wind power as well as solar. There is always at least a 10 knot breeze, and if it is not sunny it is usually windy.
If you don’ have a system monitor or don’t want to purchase one, there is a worksheet you can you to calculate amps used. here is an example:

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The company we have decided to use for our solar/wind products is S/V Hotwire. John and Libby are a couple that has cruised the Caribbean extensively and know what you need and are there to help you every step of the way. They run their business out of their home and we went to visit them recently. They welcomed us right in and were eager to talk about solar, wind, and cruising in general. The website is a little difficult to navigate, and they are working on making it friendlier, so my suggestion is to call them directly or if you are within driving/sailing distance of Tarpon Springs go visit them. if you sail there, you can dock at the Tarpon Springs City Marina. It is in the heart of the sponge docks and some great greek food! They charge $1.50 per foot, which in my opinion is very reasonable.
S/V Hotwire sells several different brands of solar panels in all sizes to meet your personal needs. The wind generators they sell are KISS Systems. They also have all the accessories and hardware you might need.
There are many schools of thought on batteries. Some think 6v golf cart batteries are the best, while others think deep cycle AGM’s are the way to go. Our personal thought is for the AGM’s. We like that there is no maintenance for them, no worry about spillage or damage from acid leakage, and they come in many amp hour sizes. We currently have 2 Duracell deep cycle marine batteries that are 105 amp hours each. We plan to have 6 total for our house bank and 1 for our starter bank.
Obviously there will more to come on this subject when get this project going.

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