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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

Owl Mail

10 May

This morning our owl notified us by cell phone that our load time is 1500 tomorrow…Sunday!! Yikes!

In between all the packing and stowing we did manage to fit in some birthday mischief.


Peyton is all ready for Hogwarts


Madi's creative birthday envelope


Cauldron cakes! Peyton's very pleased.

Some work and play

5 May

This weekend we began prepping Tango for her voyage by cleaning out storage holds in our forwards (stuff like tracking down suitcases buried under mounds of gear), tearing down the dinghy, washing the cockpit and cushions, and other tasks on the list. The more important items, like taking down the sails and canvas, will have to wait until the last moments because we can’t figure out where to stash them. Last minute flurry…

All was going well until a big rain storm moved in and stopped our scrubbing activities…but then no need for a fresh water rinse! Guess we shouldn’t put in too much effort on this side either, since the real work will be to scrub off all the travel grime in Victoria. We packed it in for the day and decided to visit the nearby mall. Those places are a bit overwhelming!

With some boaty mischief managed, Peyton whipped up some solar german chocolate cake. Her friend Lilly aboard Whistling Cay had made some german chocolate cake back in Warderick Wells, a new cake flavor for Peyton, and she had been dying ever since to make some of her own. Very yummy post scrubbing snack, thank you Peyton!



We also discovered a beachy park about a mile away on Lake Worth, so we spent Sunday afternoon enjoying Florida a bit more before we say goodbye for good.


Speeding boat wakes make for good wakeboarding too



Leaving the Keys

14 Apr

As we prepare today for an overnight sail of roughly 100 miles back up to Miami, I thought I’d share my leaving list. Any time we plan on anything more that a day sail, we try to knock out as many of these items as possible. I know, it really is probably overkill for an overnighter, but I would much rather be over prepared for the unexpected than under prepared and wishing we had done xyz (as we run out of cooking fuel, drinking water, have nowhere to pee, and all shrivel up and die).


  • Fill up water tanks (girl chore)
  • Top off cooking propane…if a service like that exists near us
  • Pump out holding tank (not to gross you all out, but this isn’t a part of our Bahamas checklist as that service doesn’t exist except at Atlantis Marina)
  • Wash shore dirt off boat deck (girl chore)…depending on availability of fresh water
  • Clean galley area and stow all the nick-knacks that collect inside while we aren’t moving
  • Clean cockpit and stow all swimming gear and sun shades (girl chore)
  • Remove all drying laundry on lifelines (girl chore)…hate to see the jib sheet snag a favorite beach towel and donate it to Neptune
  • Run a few loads of laundry so crew have clean undies again…if we are fortunate to be near a laundry machine
  • Clean up anchor locker (where lines, hoses, fenders, bikes, inflatable kayaks, etc. all get stowed…we hate needing a boat hook or extra line and having to dig around to find it in a crunch…or having something snaked around the anchor rode while we are trying to run it out and set it)
  • Make a grocery run so we have fresh produce, sailing snacks, and things like eggs, butter, and milk
  • Charge up the spotlight (especially important when stuck in lobster trap land after dark)
  • Charge up the Spot check, so family can find us
  • Stow the rigid kayak on the davits
  • Make sure dinghy is hoisted and secure on davits, and won’t swing around too much. Those little repetitive bangy, squeaky noises make me want to poke my ears out after a few hours.
  • Make sure girls clean their rooms so their tiny things and glass bits don’t go flying
  • Hide the candy bowl in the microwave…nothing like stepping on chocolate or caramels when coming in from outside
  • Bungee the microwave, tea pot, cutting board, and swing arm TV
  • Wash and stow all dishes (I like to start with a clean galley when we leave dock)
  • Turn Steve on (our autopilot is still acting up and needs a few hours to warm up before the fluxgate compass settles out and cooperates)

I think that’s it…


My bungee system...seems to work well even in 30 knot winds and 8 foot seas

Reanimation Juice

5 Mar

I am a big coffee lover, especially in the morning. Especially those mornings where you just can’t reanimate yourself (every morning?). I even do serious provision planning when it comes to coffee so I can always have my morning fix. No one wants to sail with a cranky Robin.


This is how mornings SHOULD be…as long as I don’t notice that we only have one orange left for breakfast… which means I need to plan another grocery run

A quiet coffee morning is much better than what greeted us the other day. We awoke to strong paint fumes leaking out of our forward port hold. Now, we may not be the saltiest of sailors, but we definitely know this is a bad smell inside a boat (especially when you aren’t doing any painting). A quick crawl back to dig through our various containers of extra supplies revealed the culprit hissing away happily.


Salt air is corrosive. This was in an enclosed salt water free zone: in a bag that was in a box.

This day now became an inventory maintenance day to check the state of our other under pressure supplies . That and fan-out-the-smell day…actually two fan-out-the-smell days. Paint does reanimate one in the morning, but it’s not as enjoyable as coffee.


27 Feb

See that beautiful stream of water? That means our AC is now working again, and cool air on sticky nights feels GLORIOUS!



Not very cruisy of us to miss air conditioning? I know…and not very solar of us either. But, there it is. We like air conditioning when it’s hot and humid.

On a sailboat, the air conditioning systems use a separate pump that pulls in water to cool the unit. They have to pump the right amount of gallons per minute, and take the corrosive nature of salt water. Last summer our pump began having issues. We figured no problem, it’s probably the impeller. We’re replaced many of those now, so thought it would be no big deal. We pulled the thing out and tried to crack it open to fix it, just to realize that the old pump was completely sealed up and not repairable (not without cutting it all open…something that would be hard to repair with rescue tape or 5200). We limped along with a cheap ac in one of our large hatches when we were at dock (did I mention that a boat summer in Florida is very humid and sweaty without ac), but that was unsightly and leaky.

We finally broke down and ordered a little giant, and after a few hours of Andy contorting to make the replacement we can say that it’s performing wonderfully!

The lady carpenters are done

16 Feb

The girls put in a weekend of putty filling, sanding, staining, and varnishing to finish their desk/shelf thingies. We walked to the hardware store to let Madi dig through shelf boards for the perfect grain. Peyton also brought in photos of her teak so she could match up a wood stain. These girls aren’t fooling around!

This time we called a cab for the ride home from the hardware store. Proud of my girls, and boy are they proud of their new furniture!


Covering up all of the imperfections


Learning how to stain wood


Let the decorating and arranging begin!


Madi smiles every time she looks at her shelf

Lady carpenters

13 Feb

Now that the girls have finished moving into their separate berths and all the toy sorting and memory foam bedding mischief has been managed, they set their eyes on custom shelf desk thingies. I grew up helping my dad build our house and assisting in the shop with furniture creations, so I was game to tackle this project. I’m certainly not as good as my baby brothers and their mad finishing skills, but I did okay for only having one hand saw, a drill, and a few basic measuring tools.

The real challenge was the fact that the lumber store was four miles away. Not wanting to spend money on a cab, I decided to try and bring it all back on my folding bike. I know I won crazy lady points, but I got the bike, wood, and myself home one piece!

Yes, I am crazy

I do know that I am crazy

Next part of the plan required thoughtful measuring to accommodate all the odd angles, since the girls both wanted their desk/shelf systems built against the inner side of their berths where the starboard hull angles up. Madi really got into helping build her shelf, and it was fun passing on to her things I learned from my dad. Things like measure twice but cut once, drill a hole for the screw to keep the wood from splitting, use a level to know how high to make the next leg, and so on. One of the local guys passed by Madi and I out on the dock cutting down a 2×2 and asked us if we were “lady carpenters.” That’s a new one! To top it off, at the time Andy was inside making us all a big stir fry for dinner. We are stirrin’ it up for sure…


Madi and I still need to make the eight mile round trip for her shelf top (she gets to pick out the kind of wood), but Peyton’s desk is finished using left-over teak flooring. Other than staining and varnishing the frame and edging (which is her responsibility), I’d say it’s pretty functional. It was all her design too! Way to go my lady carpenters and a great improvement over the $10 plastic shelves they had before!