Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tropical season shifts into high gear

When we moved the boat down to the Gulf coast, hurricanes became a greater worry for us.  And this year's season is ramping up fast with Invest 99L lingering as a possible tropical storm for the coast next week. 

While we watch and wait, we decided to head to the boat to make sure it's ready to get underway if needed.  The amount of sediment and growth in the a/c lines since we moved had me worried about the engine and prop, so it was a diving day!  It was my turn so I scrubbed and scraped the hull, somehow losing a fin in the process!  The water was so murky that even though I felt it fall off, it was lost immediately.  The real work was in the prop, which was so encrusted in the closed position that I had to work to get it open.  I went ahead and changed the prop zinc while I was there, too.  We started up the engine and it sounds great!  In just about 2 hours we managed to get the boat sortie-ready and I am way less stressed about it.  And I got a treat at Pop Brothers as a reward. 

Now we continue to watch and wait.  We didn't take down any canvas or add any lines yet.  Though I'll be gone Wed-Thurs I know we have friends that are willing to help Frank if needed, and I am very thankful for that!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Decisions, decisions

It's never been super easy, but as the kids get older and retirement gets closer it gets a bit harder.  I was asked by my detailer to "power rank" a few potential next assignments.  We are just over a year out from the end of this tour (feels like I just started here!).  This next move may be the one I retire from.  This is forcing us to expand the conversation to what is after this next job.  Are the kids still excited about a few years of cruising?  Do we want to return to somewhere familiar, or try something completely new and adventurous?  Will our next home allow us to return to living aboard and prepping the boat?  And even after we discuss and rank all of this, will it even matter?  Perhaps not.  Decisions, decisions...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence is great!

Today was a heck of a mixed bag!  After coffee we got right to work to take advantage of the relatively cooler morning temps, you know, with a heat index just below 100F.  In a major twist, the Captain and I switched rolls--he went up the mast to swap out the steaming/deck light and I stayed on deck to man the winch!  That was some hard work on both ends!

I cleaned up the dinghy and dewatered a hold while he was aloft, then the 2nd Mate and I went on a little dinghy ride.

After that rough morning, it was time for a refreshing trip to Pop Brothers.  This may be our favorite place in town!

And that was just the morning!  After lunch we bit the bullet, opened our wallets, and headed over to the carnival. The kids rode a few rides, but it was stupidly hot so we went to the splash pad.  Who cares if your clothes get wet?  

As if that wasn't enough, I decided to attack the barnacles on the hull when we got back.  There were jellyfish everywhere so I stayed in the dinghy and just hit the waterline.  It sucked and was crazy hot, but it's done!  Then we flushed the a/c lines and cleaned the filters before finally kicking back to relax.  The heat kept us from getting a ton done, but we made some progress!  And we think we've narrowed the forward a/c issue down to low freon.  More on that later--it's about time to enjoy the Gulfport, MS fireworks!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A holiday surprise

Well, we arrived at the boat to two surprises.  1--a freaking carnival was set up adjacent to the marina.  2--after a quick dinghy ride it was clear the a/c was not doing well.

So of course we listened to the bands while we worked on the a/c!  Kids weren't thrilled, but we spent the night clearing the strainer which was totally gross and full of critters.  The forward a/c still isn't really cooling, but the aft perths were great at bed time.  Free wifi--the kids survived!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Time to fix stuff!

We headed back to the boat today after stocking up on long dock lines and cleaning gear.  We lost a fender sometime in the past 4 days, so we adjusted all the lines, added a line, and fixed up the fender situation.  Between storm clouds I headed up the mast for an inspection.  It's always great to get a new perspective!

Now it's time to shop for replacement lights!  We also grabbed the scuba tank to get it inspected/filled.  It was a short trip, but we are happy with what we got done.

On the way home we treated ourselves to artisan ice pops (yes, it's a thing!) at Pop Brothers in Gulfport.  Oh man, that was good!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We're home!

After a rather easy day on the ICW, we made it!  We are now officially "home" at the Gulfport Municipal Marina!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday funday--fuel, dolphins, and OPLATs

Today's excitement started during Frank's balls-to-04 watch (that's for all our SWO buddies!).  At about 0100 he woke me and called me onto deck (in my skivvies!) so he could investigate intermittent slowing of the engine.  Thankfully it was quickly resolved by switching fuel filters, made especially easy with our Racor dual filter system.  It always happens at night!

0400-0800 watch was awesome again!  Look at that sunrise!  We were offshore between Destin and Pensacola by this point.

Katreina joined me around 0700, just in time for a ton of dolphins to join us!

Just before noon we entered the ICW in Pensacola and began an afternoon on the water with Memorial Day boaters.  They were really quite good with ROR!  

This ICW is really nice--wide and deep!  We had some pretty big thunderstorms in the area, but they kept to the north of us so we pressed on.  After we crossed into Alabama the traffic got more commercial and we saw our first oil platforms.

We pushed on to an anchorage at the west end of Dauphin Island for the night. It was the first time we'd stopped the engines in 56hrs.  Yes, I know it's a sailboat.  But <5kts or 10kts on the nose aren't going to get us where we need to be.  Anchorage was great!  We enjoyed a few beers, I took a quick skinny dip in the insanely warm water, and we took showers up on deck.  And with the breeze it cooled off enough for a good night of sleep.  I've missed all of this so much.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday at sea

I'm happy to report this was a mostly uneventful day!  K and I came on watch at 0400 and enjoyed a quiet sunrise watch.  Ok, she slept and I stood watch!

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful.  We filled diesel with a few of our jerry cans, slept, ate, and stood watch!

The kids joined me for the start of my 2000-2400 watch and a nice sunset.

Trent left us shortly after sunset and once again the girls had some excitement!  ~2130 we heard a loud bang from up forward on deck.  I clipped in to go investigate and found that the noise came from our anchor light assembly finally breaking free and falling.  But the night sky was amazing again!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Let's get this party started!


We got to the boat last night around 2100 and promptly went to work putting things in order, picking up provisions, and filling lots of diesel cans as we expect to have to motor a lot.

This morning we returned the car, filled water, and were ready!   As we tossed off the lines and headed out Frank said, "something's wrong--we're not moving." "Yes we are," I replied but he had already thrown it into reverse to get back in the slip.  Something was definitely not right.  He said we barely moved with high RPM's and suspected a fouled prop.  Frank won (?) the toss and dove on the boat.  The prop was seriously fouled and the rudder and hull were covered in barnacles, too.  After about an hour of bloody, challenging scraping, he was done.  We hit the fuel dock for a BSF and we were on our way ~1200!

Kids were great--they hung out on deck a bit, but mostly slept!

As we headed out we watched storms grow along the FL coast.  By some miracle they all stayed behind us and we got an amazing lightning show from a distance!  And we picked up a seagull that decided to ride our boat and poop everywhere.  Yippee!

Nightfall brought some new challenges.  We haven't had a masthead steaming light for some time so we usually throw on the anchor light with our nav lights--better to be lit wrongly and seen than not seen at all!  Well, our anchor light is now flopping at the top of our mast, blinking in and out.  Awesome.  Add that to the list...

Katreina and I took the watch at 2000.  Mars was amazing and I loved sharing the beauty of the night sky with her.  Then about an hour into watch, as I was sitting at the helm with K at my right side, BAM!  SLAP!  Something had come from the port side and literally slapped me in the left cheek, then ricocheted off me and hit K in the face!  We screamed, waking up the Captain.  I was sure it was that damn bird, but it was a flying fish!

Thankfully the rest of the night was peaceful.  We are on our way!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Take 3! Or is it 4???

With the kids out of school, a long weekend, and a forecast that, while not perfect, isn't horrible, we are heading to the boat!  Today we'll drive over 9 hours, give the boat a once over, and get provisions.  Tomorrow we fix anything that needs fixing, fill the tanks, and head northwest!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Happy Easter...from the dock! 😄😔

We arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday to a so-so forecast and some concerns about how tight the weather windows were.  Oh well, we were here!  The boat was in great shape and after a quick scrub it was back to looking like the home we know and love.  I optimisticly filled the fridge.

Today we woke up to a hard decision.  We need a 4 day window.  A 2 day window could get us to Panama City Beach, but we would have to find a marina there and figure out the next leg.  We were stuck between thunderstorms and light winds, with a leg at the limits of our motoring range.  Then all those sayings came to mind..."you can't fight the weather," "if there is any doubt, there is no doubt," and "this should be fun."  It's just not meant to be this time.  And honestly, I think we knew it when we got in the car to drive here and we knew spring storms were going to be a challenge, but I'm glad we did it.  We know the boat is in great shape and we have planned an alternate fun spring break!

And even though we didn't get underway today, we had plenty of boat fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Prepping for the final (???) push

Once again it's been way too long.  There is my daily life, then the one that occupies my daydreams.  In one week, all 4 of us will be aboard our home for the final push to bring it closer to our house.  The kids have asked about meals and watches, and I've packed more snacks and ginger ale than I did when it was just Frank and I.  I need this.  All of us need this.  Just need to make it through this week and get a good weather window!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Now that leg 2 (of 3???) of the world's longest boat PCS is over, we'd like to thank those that made it all possible!  THANK YOU!

Grandma and Grandpa Katrein--Had they not signed on for 2-ish weeks of childcare and a trip to Louisiana so the kids could stay in school, we'd still be planning how to get the boat out of Jacksonville!  Thanks, mom and dad!

Sadler Point Marina--Seriously impressed with the customer care this small yard provided.  We certainly wouldn't have made it to Tampa if they hadn't splashed us on an "off" day.

My carrier Shipmate, Craig--Craig drove I don't know how far out of his way to pick me up at the car rental place and take me to the boat on NAS Jacksonville.  We had been so crunched for time I didn't even manage to get him an adult beverage to thank him!  I'm so thankful for the many great Shipmates I've met along my Navy journey, and especially thankful for Craig.

Another great Shipmate and friend, Bethany McDonald--Despite work, grad school finals, and holiday events, Beth provided us with weather routing on this leg.  I know, I know, I'm a METOC officer, but I've actually never been an official forecaster!  Beth has been a ship router and forecaster and provided critical information when we were offshore and couldn't access all the models, and it was always nice to have another (trained) opinion!  She basically walked us in to Tampa Bay with an hour-by-hour breakdown--we were not surprised by the conditions we saw at all thanks to Beth!

My Maine Maritime classmate, Brian--As we sought out a place to leave the boat around St.Petersburg, Brian generously tried to fit us in at his home's slip, but we wouldn't fit.  He gave us a great recommendation for a marina though, and we now know that we have a friend near the boat--so comforting!

My stellar XO, Mike--I think he hates the fact that it was his idea that I use the middle of December to try to knock this out, but Mike covered down as acting CO wonderfully while I was out and allowed me to focus on my duties underway.


Always an adventure!

We pulled the hook at sunrise as planned, or rather tried to.  We were set good!  After a few tries we were off.  Once we cleared the channel into Tampa Bay the real fun started!  20kts of wind across the length of the bay had stacked some impressive short period waves--we slammed our way across!  As we were headed for a tight channel with very little extra depth, the wave motion was concerning.  The Tampa bridge dampened the waves at the start of the channel, but all that wind had managed to blow water out of the bay and the channel was extra tight!  In one spot of reported shoaling Frank saw 7'--we draw 6'3"!  Tight!

We got a little reprieve as we made our way toward the marina and had a few friends join us.

The marina approach was shallow and the tide was going out--more stress!  We were finally to the dock and still couldn't catch a break.  The current and 15kt wind kept pushing us all over the place as Frank tried to back in.  After 4 tries and much help from our new dock neighbors, Lehe Paine was docked!  Whew!  

We quickly packed, grabbed a rental car, had a nice lunch as the marina fish shack, and buttoned up the boat.  That's the end of this leg of the move!  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

End of the road...for now

Well, the problem with having a schedule is that weather may not always be on your side.  This trip has been a prime example!  With about 24hrs of thunderstorms in the forecast between here and Panama City Beach, our childcare and leave running out, and our strong desire to see our kids, we have made the decision to leave the boat in the Tampa area until we can start again.  We thought that decision would be the hard part, but finding a marina with room for us proved even harder!  After about a dozen calls we found one that had "one more" slip available!  We will strike out at sunrise to make the 20nm journey and then rent a car and head home.

It's been crazy windy today so we spent the day cleaning up the boat (when we weren't trying to find a slip!).

And after the stress of trying to find a slip, it's 5:30--I don't care what your clock says! (Yes, both are mine.)