15 May 2016

Dinghy Update

Sometimes, I think Keith is brilliant in his ideas, solutions, fixes. Other times, I think he's certifiable and needs to be committed to a hospital ward.
Such was the case a few weeks back when he told me he had someone to help him bring the "work in progress" dinghy to the boat. Okay, not certifiable, good idea.
Than he got certifiable. He couldn't get schedules to coincide with the guy to get the dinghy to the Sue, getting impatient and feeling the five bucks a night cost was wasting money (it was), he decided to tow the dinghy out with our "deflatable" dinghy (we call it that because the entire front end is flat and there are a number of leaks on the port side).
He couldn't find any of the transport carts for the work room, so he drags the dinghy to the front dinghy docks where the deflatable is located. It's actually quite a distance for dragging something, so I'm sure it wasn't good on the bottom of this work in progress.
A couple of his buddies saw him, and helped him get the dinghy into the water. So, he tows this sad looking dinghy shell out to the Sue.
Okay, this is where he is certifiable. He couldn't wait for a nice, sunny, low wind day. He did it on a windy, cold, cloudy, "we're going to get rain any minute now" day. 
He comes in the cabin and tells me what he's doing. Looking at the sky through the hatch, and hearing the wind blow, I just shake my head. I think, maybe, after 20 years, I'm getting used to "bizarre". 
Anyhow, the water is too rough for him to get the dinghy on the deck, but he tries anyway. He attaches the lifting line fore and aft and starts to raise it out of the water.....when it started to fold. Great. He dropped it back in the water, but now, it was half full of water. Now, he's depressed and pissed, convinced it will sink by morning.
Okay, nothing we can do about it now. If it's still afloat by morning, we'll haul it to the deck together.
Lo and behold, the morning brings decent weather....and it's still afloat. But instead of waiting for me to help him (impatience is not one of his best qualities), he hoists the dinghy up on the deck by himself, by clamping sturdy wood to the port and starboard shears and lifting it up to the deck.  
By the time I got up on deck the dinghy was set in place at the bow. Keith is still pissed, convinced that there is no saving it and wants to chuck it back overboard and watch it sink. We'll just buy a used dinghy, he tells me.
Oh, no...no...no. We didn't spend all this money to give up. I asked him if it could be saved. He wasn't sure. Okay, let's tarp it down for the coming weather (still windy....rain expected) to keep it as dry as possible (and to dry it out), take a couple of days and think about this dilemma. 
Bottom line.....he repaired the collapse the following weekend. He is now working on it once again, with it sitting on the Sue
I do believe he might be the only person to build a boat on a boat.
He's certifiable.

04 April 2016

Pause on the Dinghy

I think, maybe, a good rule of thumb for doing any planned project is to not accept kind offers of help. Sometimes, that can be difficult, as some just jump in without really extending the offer.
Such was the case in our third session of building our new sail dinghy. The form had been completed, and it had been time to fiberglass the outer hull. Things did not go as planned.
I have observed with a project such as this being accomplished in the public eye, there are different types of "looky-loo's" that wander past the project room.
The first type walk by and glance, but continue walking.
The second walk by, take a look, than walk a-ways, turn around and come back for a second look.
The third type walk by, stop at the bay door entrance, talk amongst themselves about the project, and, eventually, continue on their way.
The fourth type is like the third, but they will talk to Keith about the project, ask questions, etc.
The fifth type is like the fourth type, but they don't ask questions - they will tell Keith how to do it. They are the experts.
Out of the fifth type comes at least one person, who insists it is being done all wrong, and wants to help "fix it".  This type also, somewhat, blends in with the beautiful and well-meaning friends who just wants to help with such a tremendous time-consuming project, but does not know anything or have any knowledge of the task at hand.
Now, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with any of these types of "looky-loo's".  The first four are simply curious. The fifth can become a lesson in patience, at times. 
It is the other two types that come out of the fifth that one has to risk offending, but say no, as politely as possible.
This is where Keith and I fail miserably. We do not like to offend people - or hurt feelings of people. So, we didn't say no.
As a result, the fiberglass applied to the outer hull now needs a grinding and sanding almost down to the first layer, or more, and the bow section needs to be completely redone. More time. More money. 
First lesson learned. It is better to politely say no.
On top of that, Keith has been told he cannot grind or sand in the project room. So, our only other option is to find a way to bring the project out to the boat and do that here. 
We did not work on the dinghy over Easter weekend. Keith worked on it a bit yesterday. He wants to get the inner hull done before repairing the outer hull. I did not know he was going to work on the inner part, but having been sunburned and energy-drained from Saturday's trip down to Boca Chica for the Air Show, I probably would not have been much help anyhow.
I guess the problem of transporting it out to the Sue will be a bridge we cross when we come to it. Keith thinks the only way is to tow it out, although he admits it will do some harm to the outer hull by doing so. He is hoping that if we get it out of the water right away, it will minimize the damage. I think we should ask around and see if anyone has a large dinghy that could hold the hull and we can tow it up out of the water. 
I'll just have to wait and see what Keith decides, I guess. 
Forgive me for not having photos of the fiberglass session. I forgot to bring my camera.

11 March 2016

Beginning the New Dinghy

Last weekend, we started building the new dinghy sailboat. 
Start of the Base Frame
Another view of the base frame. It's formal name
is the Set Up Frame.
Actually, our first major decisions had to do with what days to work on it, and when I would be up there to help. Keith and I - we're vastly different on time schedules. Because of his work history through the years, he is a morning person. Me? Well, it goes all the way back to Middle School when I was babysitting for my brother and sister-in-law who worked the night shift at the hospital. I am a night person. 
One of many Cut Out Forms
Our final agreement was to work on the dinghy on the weekends with Keith heading up to work on it from early morning to about noon. He would come out to the Sue around noon and pick me up, where we would work on it together.
Keith placing the Cut Out forms on the Base Frame
So, last Saturday and Sunday began the new sail dinghy - aptly named Runaround Sue.
When I arrived Saturday afternoon, Keith had the base frame done and set up. The base frame will hold the cut-out forms for the dinghy frame.
Keith setting the Stem.
We spent the afternoon, along with Sunday, finishing up the tracing of the patterns, cutting the forms for the dinghy frame, and placing them on the base frame for accuracy in measurement. 
Throughout this past week, Keith would take a little time out of his sail work to go over and sand out some of the rougher pattern forms and keeping the measurements intact.
Accomplishments by the end of Sunday
So, tomorrow continues the work on the dinghy. We have a tentative plan for possibly an hour or two of work on Sunday after the Seafood Festival.

17 November 2015

The Plans Have Arrived

The boat plans arrived in the mail on Saturday. Keith spent all evening going through them quite thoroughly. I will do the same after Thanksgiving, and after decorating for Christmas. 
We have been discussing the little "personal" changes we will make to the boat when we build it.
I'll discuss those as the changes commence.
In the meantime, we have been kicking around name ideas. We've always called the inflatable "Sunset Sue", but since this new boat is going to look almost identical to the Sue, we are considering a new name.
Names in the hat for consideration are - Little Sue, Moon Sue 2, Sue Two, MS2, or just keep Sunset Sue. 
Any suggestions?

 So, this is what happens when we leave Face out of our plans.
 He won. He will be getting his own little space set aside in the new dinghy.

08 November 2015

The Waiting won't be the Hardest Part

So, here we sit - waiting. Keith can't take care of the cataract in his eyes until he gets Part B on his Medicare. He can apply for it in January, but it won't kick in until July.
What to do?
Well, it won't be boring. We have had a bit of a problem with leaks in our inflatable dinghy. Not one, but a few burst out here and there. Keith is now calling it our "deflatable" dinghy. It's beginning to look like a floating patchwork quilt.
So, we have decided - with all this spare time until July- to build our own 1 off fiberglass "non-leaky" dinghy. 
It will be an 11' mini Moonlight Sue with a genoa, mainsail, centerboard, Hunter-style reverse transom, and outboard engine. I ordered the plans and patterns from Glen-L yesterday. We will begin construction after the first of the year, and we will be building it together. 
I'm stoked. I've never built a boat before, but Keith has - a 14' footer.
I will be documenting every step in this endeavor, so stay tuned. 
Hope it floats.


14 October 2015

The Work Never Ends

I came across more photo's from the early days on the changes made to the Sue.
As I was going through the pics, I couldn't help but think back to that time. Constant work, constant change. I remember thinking, "I can't wait for all this work to be done so things will get back to normal". It took a few years during these constant changes to realize that the work never stops when you own a boat.
Now, as I hope you'll remember from previous posts, the first thing Keith did was change out all the standing and running rigging. 
The second thing he did was haul her out and paint her. And, boy, what a paint job! His son came down for a visit and they applied the graphics before she was splashed. 
By the way, after that first haul out, the Sue would haul three more times before the year was out.

The next thing (if memory serves me correctly) was our absolute dislike of the Nav Station. Keith hated the control board. I hated the design....and the chair. So, even though the chair went bye-bye much later, Keith changed everything else.


Oh....all that has got to go!


Much Better!

New radio, New VHF, New Design....this will work.

13 October 2015

I'll be posting various photo's of work done on the Sue over the years, as I come across them. Maybe, one day, I can get Keith back online to blog about a few of them.

Shortly after acquiring the boat, Keith hauled it out and changed the look.
This is what the hull originally looked like before the change.

 The graphics for the port and starboard bow and  the graphics
for the stern.

 The sailmaker. He'll use any space he can find to get the job done. In these pics, he's making a new genoa for the Sue after the other was shredded up when the boat grounded on Mustang Island.

 Evolution of the galley shelves. I'm sure I have a pic of the finished project somewhere. I'll add it when I find it.

 Organizing the lines.

The propane locker he made for the stern rail.

The cushions he made for the cabin.

11 June 2015

The Battle of the Box

Having a cat on board really doesn't take too much extra care and attention. Face gets fed and watered every day, and with the weekly sweep and vacuum of the cat hair (especially when he sheds his winter coat), there's not too much left to do to make him happy. 
Oh, there are two other things. One - he likes to have conversations with either Keith or myself. He will sit next to us and meow. Of course, we answer back with our Cat Language 101 lessons we've mastered. Face will answer back, then we answer, and so on and so forth.
Then, comes the battle of the box - the litter box, that is. It gets cleaned every 4-5 days, give or take. When I clean it, I always start with a cold beer and a few cigs. I know that from the time I start to clean that box, until the time I finish, it's going to be 5 o'clock somewhere.
Once the beer and smokes are set up, I get the "quiet stuff" - broom, dust pan, trash bag. I get these things together first because I know that the minute I move the fresh litter container out from under the v-berth, no matter where Face is napping on the boat, he's going to be right there to supervise this particular chore. And he starts by tripping me as I lug the container back to the nav station where we have his litter box.
Getting the litter box from under the Nav bench and cleaning it out is easy enough. I just avoid looking at Face as he sits as close as he can and stares at me in his attempt to intimidate a well done job. 
Once the litter box is clean and any spills swept up, the chore becomes a sport. I switch into my "goalie" mode to protect the box from Face hopping in to either examine or use it. It becomes a contest of wills as Face circles around me looking for a chance to pounce. 
There have actually been times that I have held the box high with one hand and wagged my finger at him with the other hand, lecturing him on allowing me to finish the job.
I finally manage to find a stance that protects the box to fill it with fresh litter, and keep Face at bay, only to keep looking over at the area where we keep the box as I scoop the fresh litter. Why? Because that darn cat is over there, circling and sniffing around as if he's going to use his box whether the box is there or not. 
So, I spend the next few minutes guarding the box, furiously scooping fresh litter, and looking over my shoulder at a cat who seems to relish such a game.
I finally get the box filled, shoo him away from the Nav Station, get the box all set up and done. And it never fails - he sniffs around and over the box, then goes back to his favorite place to continue his afternoon nap.
It's five o'clock somewhere!
He's really not as innocent as he looks

30 May 2015

Second Time Around

Well, my grand idea of Keith and I writing a blog together has pretty much bit the dust. All attempts at dragging him to the computer to write his share of the blog failed miserably. So, I guess, now I will be doing this blog all by my lonesome (this is a good time to head out if you only read this for Keith's posts).
We have now been in the Keys for eighteen long months. It's not a really bad place to be for so long, but I am getting real ansy to get out and continue this trip. Really.....honest.....truly.
So, I came upon a bit of good fortune, and convinced Keith that we were ready. So, with fingers crossed, it looks like we will be leaving soon. Can you see this first mate doing the happy dance?

I have already begun trying to get the cabin in order before we start again. How we managed to accumulate so much junk is beyond me. We didn't leave Texas with this much junk. I cleared out a ton of that crud from the port side in the salon - piles of stuff that would get tossed on the settee for lack of a better place to put it. I also convinced Keith to junk the old dorm-size refrigerator he bought a few years back. It had stopped working, so we used it to store extra stuff for the galley. I junked or re-distributed the galley stuff and got Keith to take the frig ashore and trash it. It is amazing how much roomier the salon looks now. 
I also got Keith to dump all of the old charts that he bought from a friend a couple years ago. Some of them were 20 or more years old! We had stored them behind the port settee, but now they are gone, and I have all of that wonderful space to use for something more worthwhile.
I also cleared the shelf above the port settee,  taking all the books, cruising guides, etc. down, cleaned, and re positioned the tv and dvd player so that I could put all of the dvd/cd's on the shelf, too. These are in plastic shoe boxes, and were previously stacked on the floor. It's not perfect, but it does look better.
I know I probably won't be done with all of this before we leave, so I'll just have to keep it going as we keep going until it's all done. 
So, I hope soon that I will have new stuff to write about, and new pics to post of different places, peoples and events. Soon....I hope.....soon. 

14 March 2015

Peaches 1999 - 2015

Peaches Portman came into our lives in early December of 1999. We believe she was about nine months to a year old at the time.

Keith's mother, Susie, always had a dream of breeding poodles. An acquaintance of ours had a poodle that he wanted to find a home for, so on a cold night, I drove Susie over to his trailer to pick up this dog.
When the man came out with Peaches (the name was given to her prior to her joining our family), she was small, frightened and shaking. Susie took her and immediately nestled this scared little dog in the inside of her coat. When we got her home, we were able to examine the shape she was in - and it broke our hearts. Her nails were long and her hair was horribly matted in knots. She had huge brown eyes that showed genuine fear. We knew immediately that this was not a dog who had been treated well.
We made the appointment and took her to the groomers. Actually, it took about three appointments to get her cleaned up, groomed properly with her hair and nails looking good. 
She took to Susie right away. Even during the process of grooming all the extreme knots from her fur, Susie kept her close by - petting her, talking to her, and giving her the attention that I believe Peaches had never before experienced from any human. 
But with men, Peaches did not like them. If they were in the same room, she steered far away from them. If they came too close, she growled. I seem to recall that it took Keith about 3 weeks for Peaches to trust him - but she still wanted nothing to do with any other male human.
Through time, we discovered some of her history before she arrived in our household. Peaches was born in a puppy mill, cages stacked 4 and 5 high where waste and dropped food and spilled water rained down on the cages below the top ones. She was given to our "former" acquaintance who treated her so badly that when he came to visit our home shortly after giving her to us, Peaches stood between him and Susie and bared her teeth and growled like we've never seen her do in the time that we had her. We suspected that this was the reason she disliked men.

We lived in the mountains of Northern California at the time, with plenty of space for Peaches to run and explore in her newly found happy home. She also had the run of the house, but while inside, she stayed close to Susie's side. Sometimes, just a little too close.
Susie had a penchant for chocolate covered cherries. One day, she had an opened box in her room. Her bedside table had no room to set the box on, so Susie set them on the floor next to her bed. We walked in to find Peaches plowing down, as fast as she could, a box of chocolate covered cherries. Oh, was she going to town on them! We snatched them up, but not before she had eaten enough to make her sick to her stomach.

When Peaches came to live with us, Keith was a few months into driving professionally, on a regional route of the Western States. We found ourselves having to move from the house. Keith had made a run through Las Vegas, Nevada and thought the warm climate and multitude of activities the city had to offer would be good for us. But until we could get settled, Susie flew to Texas to stay, temporarily, with her niece; and Peaches and I became ride-alongs in the truck with Keith. It was also during this time that the company Keith worked for sold out to another trucking company. This had Keith driving further than the Western States. 
At first, Peaches didn't mind riding in the truck. We would stop at rest areas in varying States and Keith would give Peachy time to run and play. Their favorite game was for Keith to make sudden, surprise moves toward Peachy and she would run in various directions all around him, circling here and there. Then she would stop and freeze, not making a move until he did it again, and she would run around again. She absolutely loved that game!
There were a few humorous moments, also, on our travels through the various States. In Washington, in the snow, she left a "steamer" - and I do mean a steamer. It really did steam. In California, she left a "missile", standing straight up! Keith and I laughed over her creative ways of relieving herself.
We finally did manage to get an apartment in Las Vegas; and Susie, Peaches and I settled in while Keith went back to driving by his lonesome. But we weren't there very long before Susie's health declined and her daughter moved her into a care home in California. Peaches and I were back in the truck again.
Eventually, I obtained my Commercial Driver's License, and Keith and I drove team coast to coast. Peaches was right there with us, visiting every State in the U.S (except Hawaii and Alaska, of course). She loved being with us, and guarded the truck diligently. Not one soul could get with ten feet of that truck where she did not hear them and start barking. We always knew when someone was out around the truck.
But, after a time, Peachy grew weary of being in that truck. We discovered this one day when she began to "put on the brakes" when getting back into the truck. What I mean by that is, we'd walk her right up to the door of the truck and she'd stiffen up her front legs and back her body up and resist getting back in the rig. She began to hate riding in that truck.
While visiting my parents, who lived in the same area we had lived in the mountains of California, my Dad took a liking to Peaches. He had just lost his Keeshond, and he asked us if we would consider letting Peaches stay with him. We made an agreement that he would act as owner to Peaches, take care of her teeth (which were in the early stages of going bad), but if there came a time that something happened where he could no longer take care of her, or did not want her, she was to come back to us. So, Peaches found a new home with Mom and Dad.

Now, this was one of the amazing things about Peachy. Most dogs connect to one owner, and that is the one person they fiercely protect for the rest of their lives. Peachy had five owners (Susie, Keith and I, and Dad and Mom) - and she was protective, loving and loyal to all of us. She was with Dad until he passed in 2006, and stayed with Mom until she passed in 2009 (Susie had passed in 2003). Shortly after Mom passed, she came back to us again.
We were still driving long haul, but now we lived on a sailboat in Texas. Peachy wasn't thrilled to be back in the truck again, but she took to the boat quite well. And it was only a year in the truck before we retired from driving and Peachy no longer had to ride in "that big noisy contraption".
However, after we retired from long haul, we acquired a cat combo. Brother and sister tuxedo kittens, who had been abandoned on the side of a highway in San Antonio, came to live with us - and Peachy wanted nothing to do with them. No matter what Face and Elvis (later renamed Ziva) did to try to play and make friends with Peaches, she would not have anything to do with them. As time passed, she went from warning them away to just tolerating them, but she was not all that excited to have them around.
After a time, we left our home port in Texas, and traveled the Inter-coastal Waterway to Florida, straight down the west coast of Florida to the Keys. Peaches never got seasick, and her regular spot was in the cockpit, sleeping next to Keith or I as we traveled. By this time, Peaches was about 14 years old, and she did not have the energy she had once had. She had been diagnosed with arthritis in her back legs and her lower spine, and her eyesight and hearing wasn't what it once was either. She was not in pain at the time, and seemed to be content staying indoors for the most part and sleeping. Keith would take her out for exercise and potty breaks, but had to keep a close eye on her as she had a tendency to walk right off the dock. Many times we just carried her, as she had difficulty walking due to the arthritis.

But a more loving dog you could not find. Throughout the years, she would sit on Susie's lap.....or Dad's lap....or Mom's lap....or Keith's....or mine, and lay her head against us, looking up with the biggest brown eyes ever seen on a dog, and those eyes expressed the deepest love she had for us. She was gentle, kind, compassionate, loving, and protective. And she had the most amazing life - from puppy mill, to abuse, to a caring home in the mountains, in the city, on the water. She traveled the country and sailed the coast. She was a companion, and a comfort, to three people during their last days....and I believe she loved every minute of her life.......

I sat in a room, at the vets, that created a peaceful and serene atmosphere - oriental decor, the sound of a gentle flow of trickling water, in a chair designed for comfort. Peaches had already been given her sedative to calm her into a peaceful state, and she was wrapped in a large, soft blanket. She was not feeling any pain. The doctor had told me that, along with arthritis, blindness and deafness, she had also developed diabetes. I talked to her even though I knew she couldn't hear me. I walked down memory lane with her - from the time she came to us until the time we sailed away on the water. I told her how much she meant to me...to Keith...to Susie....to Mom and Dad.....and I thanked her for all the joy and happiness she had given us. I held her close, and I kissed her forehead as she took her last breath. It was the most difficult, heartbreaking, precious thing in my life.