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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!

The end of the playroom

28 Jan

Those who know us and have been aboard Tango in the recent know just how proud the girls were of their playroom. Every visitor got a tour of all the important playroom components.

Instead of each having a separate berth, they decided to share a bedroom so they could have an elaborate playroom area. Well, last week they decided to end the playroom. Madi will be 13 in April (gulp) and is feeling the need for her own space, so Peyton granted her a move-out as an early birthday present. It took us three or four days to sort their possessions and divide them back out again, but we are happy to report a successful move. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but any large move on a boat is a feat until it’s all sorted and put back together.

Now Madi can lounge, read, and listen to the Beatles while Peyton sets up a miniature house for her dolls and stuffed animals. Peace aboard.

The things we do for our dog

26 Jan

Once upon a time (almost two years ago) the Becks decided to replace the main galley floor that came with Tango when we bought her. The vinyl flooring was peeling, stinky, and ripped so it had to go. We decided to be all fancy and what-not, and put in teak planking. The teak was really beautiful, as you can see.

Does he look guilty?

Does he look guilty?

BUT, our elderly dog (Banyan will be 18 years old in a month) has become incontinent in his old age. It’s not his fault as he’s been boat broken for many, many years. His prostate (or whatever boy dogs have) just can’t take it any more. For the last year he’s begun having the occasional accident. It just happened that he found a spot where the sealant between teak boards wasn’t complete and over time he managed to soak the underside of the planks with his old man pee. Boy dog diapers work really well at night, but with his bad back he can’t really walk in them…so we put up with the pee and thought we were cleaning it up…for a while. One spot slowly started to warp and we realized that we had a bigger problem.

Robin tried to fix it last year by ripping out the offending planks, cleaning the underside really well, and laying the planks down with new glue. It seemed to work for a while, but recently that area began warping again and put pressure on the port side flooring. This started causing some mild sliding/shifting and the Becks said, “Enough!”

This weekend we got some cheap vinyl squares from Home Depot and laid down a test area on one stair step. Everyone declared that it looked wonderful, so the great weekend floor replacement commenced. The teak came up easily…just a confirmation that we were doing a good thing. Every time Banyan complained about not being able to walk around the boat freely we reminded him that this was his fault. It was nice to get the floor really clean. The hard part was the glue. It did its job really well…until Andy bought a hand sander and attacked it with gusto. Take that glue!

Madi gamely scraping off floor glue

Madi gamely scraping off floor glue


Sunday afternoon we had all the vinyl cut and laid…we’ll see how long this floor lasts!

Why yes, I am MacGyver

4 Dec

I have a mifi device with a Batelco SIM (this is Robin, by the way). Great internet until yesterday, when it kept telling me that there was no SIM card. This is my work backup, so it’s kind of important. Grrrr…

Looking inside, I realized that one of the connector pins broke. Something that could be Ebay repairable, but out here where there are barely stores and clean water, chances are if you can’t fix it, it stays broken.


SIM connector bed...if you look really, really close you can see it

After some google detective work, I learned that some copper wire pinned under the connector might do the trick. Cool…but apparently in all our spare wire aboard we don’t have anything with copper. Really?

Fortunately, Hans the marina manager (and yes, he is German) found me some. He wandered over to a construction project and clipped a few inches off a new plug’s ground wire. I pounded it down with a hammer into a thin bar like strip, snipped it into teeny tiny little bar segments and embedded them into the connector bed.


Copper bits

Viola…working mifi internet!! Yes, I am still gloating.