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Score – dodger zero, Robin one

21 Nov

The dodger almost beat me. In between ducking raindrops, I commandeered the whole galley to lay out pieces and set up the sailrite machine. I roped everyone onboard into helping hold pattern pieces and cut vinyl windshield sections. I fretted over the wet weather and the earlier sunsets. But, we prevailed and showed that dodger who is boss!

Poor Andy got the fun of taking out the old posts from the deck and installing the new keder rail. Butyl tape and 5200 are so much fun to play with, right?! As an aside, who puts 3/4 inch posts into a deck – especially where there will be mainsail folding action? We’ve lost count of how many foot injury and broken post accidents have happened over the years. One of our big changes in the new dodger was installing a keder rail track.

After the keder rail fun, the hardest part was keeping the pattern on the windscreen for protection while I was sewing. That stuff scratches quite easily! The port side went up quite nicely, and I got a bit cocky. Ms. Starboard wasn’t going to play as nicely. She decided to warble and not follow the pattern that Peyton and I so carefully created. So, I seam ripped and tightened, waited a few days for the rain to subside, and then seam ripped some more. The final tightening seems to have done the trick and finally the starboard side looks pretty good. Good enough for Tango anyway. If you get up close, you can see some less than professional bobbles, but I’m happy!


Next up – the full enclosure. I feel much more prepared to tackle this bit, as the sections are more or less flat rectangles that will just zip together.

Updating router firmware – boaty style

16 Aug

We installed a Wirie four years ago on our spreaders. A Wirie is a marine grade wireless booster and access point. It has performed admirably up until this past week.

This is what it takes to work on Tango’s internet.


Three haul-ups, a hard reset, and a firmware upgrade later we have concluded that the hardware has died and it’s time to upgrade. Maybe Christmas will come early for us this year?

Nice bilge pump

18 Jun

Curiously, our bilge pump started cycling too frequently, even without the ac draining into the hold. After some investigation we discovered the raw water filter filter basket (a thick hard plastic part) just disinigrated.

Must be original to the installation of our mermaid ac system!

Nice bilge pump (as we pet it lovingly)!


Tied up with string (not a favorite thing)

31 Jan

We decided to move Tango to a different marina with better docks. Ha! Sounds funny to say that…since until recently we never stayed anywhere for more than a few months at best. Now the we are settled in Portland, dock quality matters more. Our old marina has wooden docks with nails popping up everywhere and in the summer the docks tilt sideways (in serious need of dredging). We put up with that all last year, even losing shoe soles to popping nails. In December we decided to move off the end tie to a more protected slip. The end tie was great in a lot of ways, except for the debris that would occasionally slam into our hulls. Debris like logs, big logs, often with a diameter over two feet. Once we even saw a dock glide by just feet away. These things are concerning when your hulls are fiberglass. Andy’s makeshift boom helped, but things did sometimes come down partly submerged…and then BAM!

The more protected slip was okay, but overall the infrastructure issues started adding up. One of the final issues was the string that the harbormaster used to tie our 30 amp shore power lines to the outlets on the dock. He did this because they don’t lock in (if you don’t know much about marine power – the power cords twist and lock to protect them from pulling out and causing all kinds of issues). They don’t lock in because they are very old…and the marina isn’t required to upgrade. Something about being grandfathered into a code exception? That and the plugs were only a few inches above the water line… To be fair, we did have a better power situation at our other slip, it just came with logging trees.


River barge

Anyway, we made the move. A lovely day in January, and even a few other sailboats out practicing maneuvers. Only issue of the day was discovering one of our 50-foot 30 amp plugs decided to up and die. Good thing we unplugged to check! We had unplugged it (as our second system it’s not necessary) to use as an extension cord. Went to the boat bucks store to buy a replacement. Thought about getting a short one, but the 12-foot was only $10 cheaper than the 50-foot. Weird!


Bad, bad plug! Kind of looks like a smiling face…mocking us…


Stewsday cheaters

18 Nov

One week in, and we cheated and didn’t have stew on Stewsday. Why? We went out on a family date to see Big Hero 6 at our local brew pub. They had a very yummy blackberry hard cider on tap too! Next week we will pick up our stew sampling…

Meanwhile, all is cozy on Tango as we settle in for our first chilly fall in a few years. We even had a few snowflakes fall, but nothing stuck around.

Unfortunately, the starboard engine is puffing out blue smoke. After some TLC and an oil change, we still are seeing signs of oil leaking into the combustion system, so we have decided to bow out of the Christmas Ships this year. Kindly, one of the other boats has offered to let us tag along a few nights. So, while we will still get to do some Christmas shipping, it won’t be Tango style.

Guess this means some greasy hours in our future…but with thousands of hours on the engines we knew this was coming soon.

The price you pay

4 Oct

Sail off into the sunset with dolphins and adventure off our bow?

Do stuff like this?


Sailing on the Atlantic by moonlight

and this?

Mooring ball in Warderick Wells

and this?

White Cay anchorage

Who wouldn’t say yes! Well, what the brochures don’t say is that there is a price to pay that sometimes looks like this…

We had a feeling that something was bound to break soon. Too much had worked well for months now (including Steve the auto pilot). Friday morning our premonition became reality with the toilet deciding to back up.

After hours of trouble shooting and replacing easy parts we realized the backup was in a six-foot run of hose under the floor, up the wall, and behind the house batteries.


Snaking didn’t work either. Turns out that calcium carbonate deposits had rendered that length of hose pretty much inoperable.


Warning: grossness

After many hours of hose wrangling and detoxifying the boat we are happy to be functional again…but now we are scared to use it. Guess that’s one way to keep the system clean!

Using our noodle

25 Sep

Monday a large log with attached roots banged into us and sort of snagged between our two hulls. A nice powerboater happened by just when everyone piled out to peer at it, and he pulled it out for us. Thank you, mister mariner!

This logging prompted Andy to invent a new device to encourage debris to move along downstream and leave us alone. Although he’s looking for a few more noodles, it seems to be working well. We’ll see when the next big log comes down if this will be enough.


Patent pending of course…

Dinghy bliss

4 Sep

Thanks to Robin’s mom we have a new motor for our dinghy. Yah!!!! Thank you, Mom!

Our old Mercury 9.9 got very finicky. Some folks say BOAT stands for break-out-another-thousand. With our old Mercury that saying was nearly true.

For the last few months on Tango our big question has been – when to say when? New (expensive) carb, new fuel pump, a professional tuning, gaskets, new fuel line(s), tank, gas, etc…and it still wouldn’t run reliably! Every time the stupid thing started, the girls would give out a cheer (and this often happened multiple times during a single dinghy run).

After the most wonderful gift of a Honda 8 (which is also much lighter…and that’s a GOOD thing when swinging motors around on halyards to and from the dinghy transom to the motor mount on the stanchion), we don’t have to answer that question. We can finally cry uncle! Our nice harbormaster even took the old Mercury off our hands. We are watching to see how his repairs go, what could possibly be wrong with it, and if/when he cries uncle too. Can a motor just be a bad apple? If nothing else, our harbormaster now has a new carb.

We got our dinghy inflated again, ordered a new fuel line, and can finally say that we are back in small boat action. Yesterday we motored upriver to the tip of the island where Max and the girls could run around after school and get muddy. Just in time for the last gasp of summer here in the Northwest. Days are still warm, but the chill in the evening air full of cricket sounds and crunchy leaves lets us know it’s not for long.


Could this be a hobbit hole?


Peyton is happiest making muddy creations


Ahh…a dinghy that works!

Back together

14 Jun

We have spent the past few days crawling through systems and holds, checking engines, and getting the exterior detailed and waxed. We pulled things back out and reinstalled them on deck (things like our life ring, ditch bag, man overboard marker…you know…important for safe sailing kinds of things).

We also got our stack pack repaired (yahoo!) by a local canvas guy, so it didn’t have to back up in tatters. So nice to not look all holey and thready anymore. Our stack pack has jack lines that run up the mast to help our mainsail fall nicely, so Andy even got to spend some time hanging in the wind…his favorite chore. At least this time he kept his hands intact and didn’t bleed all over Robin and the deck!

Saturday evening finds us all ready to sail and grocery reprovisioned, thanks to a nice local cruiser and her minivan.

Sunday we take our maiden Pacific  Northwest voyage on Tango across the Strait back to the States. The weather shouldn’t be bad, but it is supposed to be rainy and windy. Welcome to Washington,  eh?!


Galley provisioning

The loading deed is done

12 May

Sunday equipment break-downs delayed our load. Monday 8am we finally were allowed to pull up alongside the Dalian, and we turned Tango over to the dive and load crew. We offloaded on a shuttle that took us back to land. Leaving our home of three years was a bit emotional.





See you in a month, Tango, in a much different climate