Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013 Black Friday

On Thanksgiving Day, we sat and looked at our list of projects and the number of days needed to accomplish them before leaving Mobile Bay.  We need to do some work on the deck that involves drilling holes, reinforcing them and redrilling after 24 hours.  Ideally, it would be better to have the deck warmer.  With the forward heater not working, my toes were cold all night even with socks on.  So we decided we should buy a space heater for our comfort and to warm up the deck for our project.  Then we looked at each other and realized either stores were closed or there would be hordes of people at the stores on Black Friday.  We did not want to go shopping!  Then I remembered my Black Friday training with the Zellers in Mpls over the years.  I explained to Dave that if you go later in the morning, the traffic may be crazy, but the lines really won't be a problem.  We also needed some things at West Marine, so if we went there first, the other stores would settle down with time.
At West Marine, and I kept interrupting Dave's train of thought asking him questions.  So I went to the car for the ipad and occupied my time posting on Facebook and playing Spider Solitaire (my addiction).  I see our husband/wife roles reversing before my eyes.  Dave was our "homemaker" for the past 20 years.  And now I am working my way back into that role.  He is doing so many things for the boat that I can't help with.  So I feel useful being able to keep him moving by feeding him and doing laundry and making a "nest" in our boat.  Now here it is Black Friday.  Our roles used to be: me shopping and Dave waiting.  Now that we own a boat, Dave is shopping and I am waiting. 

I also realized, after several trips to West Marine, that it is similar to shopping at a store that sells cookware (like Someone's in the Kitchen in Rapid City) and having the clerks tell you how to make a gourmet meal and then what dishes and ingredients you would need and the steps involved.  Actually, Dave learns a lot from the clerks every time we go there.  And he ends up saving money in the long run by doing projects himself.  We were ready to call an air conditioning/heating service today.  But now Dave is going to flush the system and have what he needs to do it in the future, as needed, for less than a service call.  I guess we have more time than money these days. 

On the way to Home Depot, we are talking about the fluids we will need.  The conversation turns to "what is denatured alcohol anyway?"  With my chemistry minor, I turn to the computer.  Wikipedia's definition is: Denatured alcohol or methylated spirits is ethanol that has additives to make it poisonous, extremely bad tasting, foul smelling or nauseating, to discourage recreational consumption (now I remember).  Dave says "I should make that part of my name-Denatured Dave, or just Davenatured.  Just throw it out there and see what people say."  Kind of like how we explain that Dave is a "situation enhancer", whether the situation is going good or bad, Dave will do his best to enhance the situation.

Now that we've been to Home Depot and Lowe's and put in our exercise for the day (yesterday I didn't walk more that 10 steps at a time-didn't leave the boat. Boat exercise will be another blog topic), Dave decides a Guinness would taste great.  Well, it seems to be a Zeller tradition to have a few drinks after shopping on Black Friday, especially in Minneapolis (remember the meat raffle?). 

We go to our favorite Irish Pub in Fairhope and order Guinness, an appetizer and a meal to share.  Dave was apologizing because he got we he wanted off the menu.  I said I got what I wanted-we went out for a beer.  We made it home just fine, but not sure too many projects are going to be accomplished tonight.  Every Sunday night, McSharry's has a Traditional Irish Music Session.  Anywhere from 4-8 musicians sit in a corner of the bar and "jam".  That appears to be common in an Irish Pub.  So when Pete visited us last December, we went there so he could join in.  I have included an amateur copy of one of his songs from my iphone.  But it gives you a feel for the atmosphere.  When we returned the second week, they all cheered "Pete's here!!".  Made his mother proud.  As a side, Pete had the opportunity to "jam"  in an Irish Pub in the northern part of London with our good friend, Kendall Bodden, who passed away in November.  He will be missed at Ski for Light in SD. Great memories.    

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013 Thanksgiving

Well, this was an unusual, but comfortable Thanksgiving.  First, we have two air conditioner/heater units on our boat.  The forward one (where we sleep) decided to quit this week.  We had screens added to the through hulls where water is brought into the boat to cool the ac/heater and one for the engine.  With 5 rivers flowing into this bay, there is a lot of debris in the water.  Before placing the screens, Dave was having to clean the filter about once a week.  But everything had been fine since the screen was added.  Last night it was down to 27 degrees.  It was fine in bed, but hard to get out of bed this morning.  It was 42 degrees inside the boat this morning.  Still not as bad as our winter camping days. 

Thanksgiving is all about the food.  Dave has never been a fan of turkey.  And we don't have a very big oven.  So we ordered a barbecued pork Boston butt from the Knights of Columbus at my church.  We had to pick it up on Wednesday, so we decided to have our first feast on Wednesday night.  We don't have a lot of refrigerator space either, so we brought a cooler from out storage unit for the Butt and beer.  I had lined up fixings for some of our favorite traditional side dishes.  Again, because of the small space to work in and limited amount of pots and pans, I cheated on a few things.  Since there were only the two of us, I made two sides and buns Wed night.

We  had caramel rolls Thursday morning in memory of my mom.  But mine were from the bakery.  I'm sure she was laughing at her spoiled daughter this morning.  Then late morning I tried a new dish: scrambled eggs with leftover stovetop dressing along with more pork.  Loved it!

Mid afternoon we had our dessert: a pumpkin bar on a gingerbread crust.  I think of dad with the gingerbread.  Then for dinner/supper we had our pork again with different sides. 

We spent the morning making a schedule of things we need to finish before we can leave here.  Then we busied ourselves with little projects and listened to football games on the internet (no TV). 
Late this afternoon, Dave fixed our wifi booster, so I was up and running again on my computer.  Dave's Mac would connect, but my PC wouldn't.  So I was keeping connected with the world through our mini ipad or my phone.  It's nice to have a real keyboard again. 

We had a nice chat with our son, Pete, today.  Sounds like he had lots of invites to spend the day with friends.  He ended up at a large family gathering, which I'm sure he could appreciate after all the Zeller family gatherings.

Dave promised me a game of cards tonight.  But I have been happily updating my blog, so I think he is going to get out of it.  I know the cards are flying at my brother's in Minneapolis.  They posted a dinner table picture on face book, and one of the cleanup crew.  So I had to take a couple, too.

We are so thankful that we have the same interest in sailing and still enjoy each others company after 36 years.  We are also thankful for the wonderful family and friends that have supported us in this adventure.  Happy Thanksgiving to y'all.  And Happy Birthday Katie!

November 24, 2013 launching the dinghy

The dinghy that came with our boat was old and smaller than what we wanted.  So after researching for the qualities we wanted, we ordered a 10.5 foot inflatable dinghy with an aluminum hull.  Of course we also had to get a new motor, 15 HP Mercury.  Richard assured me that I would be strong enough to start this.

We took our old one to a second hand sporting goods store, Encore Sports in Daphne.  We have become friends with the people at that store.  Hello to those of you that are reading this blog.

The dinghy arrived while we were still in our condo.  Luckily, we had a large garage.  Dave also had a motor stand, which was helpful.  We moved the boat from our garage to the storage unit about 3 weeks after Dave's hernia surgery.  Again, we were lucky to have a dolly to move it and not have to carry it.  Dave still did more than he should have.

So today, we finally brought the dinghy to the boat.  We launched it at the beach next to the marina.  Dave then rowed it around the breakwater and into our marina.  We placed it on our deck on soft chocks that are removable.  This will only be an overnight storage.  If we are sailing, the dinghy will be upside down on the deck, on the davits at the stern, or we will pull it behind.

The motor is on it's own davit on the stern.  There is a pulley system to lift it off the dinghy and onto the davit.

The dinghy is a sailor's mode of transportation once you are settled.  If you are anchored or on a mooring ball, you use it to go to shore.  Even if you have a slip in a marina, you can use it to explore the area.  You might dinghy into a shallow area or another bay, to a restaurant, to another boat, or go fishing or snorkeling.  I have read other blogs that mention several boaters tying their dinghies together for a social gathering.  We would "raft up" with other boaters with our smaller boat.  But with a live aboard, once you are anchored for the night, you don't want to move your boat until you head to a new location.

With a dinghy, I don't feel so bad about selling my convertible to my sister.  But I may wish I could put the top up some day.  

November 23, 2013 boat name

We are now legal to sail according to the Coast Guard.  We have attached our name to the boat and the hailing port.  We would have loved to use Rapid City, SD as our hailing port, but it had to be where the boat was registered. 
Deciding on a name for a boat has been a tough decision in the past.  But we have talked about using this name for a long time.
Luck of a Fool is from a song we have loved since we were first married in the last 70's, French Waltz sung by Nicolette Larson.  The line says "I know that I'm not the wisest of men.  I must have the luck of a fool."  So Dave has been using that line for years in many of his adventures.
If you would like to hear the song, copy and paste this address: 

November 22, 2013 my world with Dave

This was our breakfast conversation after chasing down the second leak in our forward holding tank, near our berth (hence the importance of getting rid of the odor).
Dave:  I would like to make a statement of gladness.  That's allowed isn't it?  I'm so happy I have a viewing port into the holding tank and that it seals and works (first repair replaced old leaking access port cover with a clear access port cover).  And I can see that we are eating enough fruits and vegetables.  I kind of feel like a doctor now since I can determine how healthy we are by viewing our poop.
Mary's thinking: do I dare share my world?  Richard will understand.
Reminds me of an old joke about how the body parts were arguing about which part was the most important.  It came down to the ***hole because if it isn't working, everything else shuts down. 
Thus the priority of your boat projects changes also.  We do have 2 heads, but the one near our bed is the one that stinks.
The repairs have been a blue job, while the cleanup has been a pink job. 
Welcome to life aboard a boat.

November 17, 2013 Bellingrath Gardens

Some days Dave is more productive without me on the boat.  Lucky me!  He doesn't have to leave a path for me through the boat, and I'm not interrupting him.  So today I decided to do the one tourist thing I was hoping to do before moving.  I toured the Bellingrath Gardens southwest of Mobile.  We visited the Gardens last Christmas to see the unbelievable Christmas light display when our son, Pete, was here. 

The Gardens were created by Walter and Bessie Bellingrath in the 1920's and 30's.  Mr. Bellingrath was Mobile's first Coca-Cola bottler/distributer in 1903.  In 1917, he bought a fishing camp on the Fowl River as a way to relax.  His wife decided to transform the 65 acres into gardens.  They later built a home there.  They didn't have children, so they created a foundation to oversee the gardens and home and keep it open to the public.  Many of the planters are changed 4 times a year with the seasons.  But in November, they have the largest outdoor mum display in the United States.  I spent 3 hours walking through the gardens.  We had toured the beautiful home last December.  In the summer, there is a riverboat cruise.  You can check it out on

Today, five Azalea Trail Maids were present for photo opportunities.  These high school women are dignitaries for the Mobile area.  They dress in beautiful Antebellun-style dresses and use mannerisms of that era.  They are present at many events with their "southern hospitality".

I have included a few photos from the Christmas lights and of the mums.  But photos just don't do it justice, as always.  I would recommend a visit to the Bellingrath Gardens any time of the year to anyone visiting the area.  I am sorry we didn't take the time to visit with previous visitors over the last year.  Go to this site to see all of my photos of the Christmas lights and the mums if you would like to see more.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 16, 2013 projects

Projects are being accomplished every day.  Again, most everything is on Dave's shoulders.  I keep the meals coming and run errands.  I did earn my badge by completing my third task (filling water tanks and trimming all the lines were the first two).  Third task- cleaning the dorades.  A dorade is on the deck and captures air and directs it below into our cabin.  There is a scoop on top that can be rotated into the direction of the wind.  It is mounted on a "box" that will catch rain so it will drain overboard and only the air comes into the boat.  Ours were covered in mildew.  One of the boxes even had a wasp nest on the inside.  Now we need to paint the outside.  My friend, Cheryl, would have been proud of the way I disassembled the units and reassembled them (knowing how spoiled I have been over the years). 

Dave has the solar panels and the radar mounted.  We still need to repair the bimini in the spots where we had to go through it to mount the solar panels.  And that includes removing the solar panels first, repairing bimini, then replacing the solar panels.  He is connecting all the power for every piece of equipment that he added.  While running wires, Dave found another leak from a gauge on our fresh water tank.  He is repairing a leak in the holding tank for our head (waiting for parts) and still waiting for parts for the engine.  We are waiting for a forecast of a few sunny days in a row to put the name of our boat and our "hailing port" on the back of the boat.  Luckily, our neighbors used to own a framing shop in CO and will advise us on the placement before it is permanently fixed.  We would have liked to put Rapid City, SD on the back of our boat, but it has to be the city where the boat is registered, which is Daphne, Alabama.

Still hoping to be out of here before the end of the month.  We'd rather be working on the boat in beautiful blue water.  Here is a picture of the new solar panels and radar,  also during and after the dorades were cleaned.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013 Radar/solar panels

Dave feels like he has been training for living aboard a boat all of his life.  First, he attended vocational school for electronics.  We owned a couple Volkswagons over the years, which gave him experience in engine repair.  He worked installing and repairing dental equipment .  And even his years of rock climbing and mountaineering were helpful.  Many of the knots in the ropes of climbing and sailing are similar.  And his old climbing gear has helped raise him up the mast a couple times already.   Planning to climb a mountain has some similarities to making a passage on a boat.  You have to plan your route, your supplies, the best weather opportunity.  Often the peak (or shore) can be in sight long before it can be reached.
That being said, here is what we are doing this week.  We are waiting for our new friend Ray, the diesel mechanic, to call when our parts are in.  But engine work can be done indoors when it rains over the next few days.  So we are working on outdoor projects in the meantime. 
Mounting the radar:  Dave ordered the Raymarine radar, the pole and the mounting plates all from the same company.  So you'd think they would just go into place.  Well, from Dave's days of installing x-ray machines, he knows that no two dental offices are the same.  So there have been multiple steps involved just to mount the radar.
Second solar panel.  We have a framework with the panel that has to be adapted to fit over the framework of our existing bimini.  Then after making holes through the bimini, those holes need to be sealed with a neoprene patch and sewn closed.  Once we are in Florida, we will have a new bimini and dodger made.  I am researching companies now so we can start the work once we arrive there.  That involves sending them pictures and deciding on material and color and amount.  Then once we have a better idea of when we will arrive there, we can give them a week notice to get on their work schedule.  Once we are there, they will remove our bimini and dodger to copy what we have, make it and install it.  Every framework is unique.
I have totally moved to placing my appointments on my phone calendar.  We have not owned a paper wall calendar for a few years now.  But when it comes to deadlines, there is something about having that visual in front of you.  So I took a sheet of paper, drew the month of November at the top, and listed our projects under it.  We really want to be out of here by the end of the month or sooner.  Wish us luck!
These pictures give you a view of the existing bimini and dodger.  Our existing dodger has windows that can be closed or rolled up.  We want to look into the options of enclosing the sides and back end in a similar fashion for more protection in rain/wind.   Can't wait to show you the new ones we will get for Christmas.