Archive | Family RSS feed for this section


16 Apr

When we first published this blog over seven years ago (has it been that long?) we were surprised to find that was being used by a company. No worries, we snagged up Not as popular as the .coms but it would do in a pinch.

Well, lo and behold, on a whim, Andy decided to check to see if it was available and, indeed it was! So, now we have our very own .com site. We will keep the domain for at least another year or so. Apart from that, there are no other changes to the way you might access our page.

We are slowly fixing up the boat and taking care of some personal family things while we are here in Portland. However, we have started talking about our plans for the future. The current thinking is that we need to get back down south to where the weather is warmer.

Andy received a really nice camera for Christmas (Thanks Annie and Sharon!) and we will make a more concerted effort to keep everyone abreast of what is going on in our lives via the blog as well as YouTube. (Oh God, not another sailing channel!) To be honest, we have just been doing the daily grind while we are at dock in Portland. It’s really not that exciting. Once we start making more concrete plans on where Tango will travel to next, we will be sharing those details with you. Thank you to all who have visited our site and commented over the years. We really didn’t drop off the face of the earth, we’re just kind of coming out of hibernation right now. Stay tuned!

New Battery…New Gadget

8 Apr

So, we’ve had our two starter batteries for going on six years now. They are pretty much knackered. However, since we haven’t really been cruising (or even leaving our slip) lately, we’ve just kind been rather Zen about the “knackeredness” of the batteries. Last week we decided to start the process of upgrading them. Since they are kind of spendy, we are just going slow and buying one at a time. Since the starboard engine compartment is a bit less cluttered, we decided on replacing that one first. All went well with the installation, with the notable exception that I broke my rib on the installation. Yes, you read that right. I broke a freaking rib installing a battery. The battery compartment is located below Madi’s berth and the only way I’ve found to remove and replace the starter battery is to lay down on my side and carefully lift the battery out of the compartment. Part of the problem is that there is really no way to stand up in the constrained space. Another problem is that it is hard to get any leverage to lift and lower the heavy batteries.

That last bit is what did me in. I was laying down on Madi’s wooden bed support and I used my upper body strength to manhandle the battery into place. As I lowered the battery, I guess I put too much weight on my rib cage and I heard a very audible “snap” and a shooting pain radiated in my chest area. Dang! I guess I need more calcium in my diet. Regardless, I muddled through and buttoned up the new battery install. It was nice to press the ignition button and have the engine starter consistently turn over and to have the engine fire up without issue.

While I was laying on my side contemplating whether I should go to the hospital and get hundreds of dollars in x-rays and have them tell me that there is really nothing they can do for a broken rib, (yes, this isn’t my first experience with this) I thought how neat it would be to have some sort of permanent voltage monitor for the starter batteries. We have a monitor for our house batteries, but we’ve always had to use a multimeter to check the voltage on our starter bank. The downside of that procedure is that, since it’s kind of a pain to rip everything apart and check the voltage, we never really ever do it. For the past few years all I could tell you about our batteries is that they still kind of work but I couldn’t tell you what the state of charge is.

Wanting an inexpensive solution I hopped online and looked around for voltage monitors. Marine battery monitors are more expensive than I really wanted to pay so I looked for other options. I finally settled on a small LED volt and amp meter that also has a little USB port. Cool! The price was around 14 dollars. In the world of marine parts, 14 dollars is peanuts. Seriously, I’m down with 14 dollars. Add onto that a little switch for about eight dollars and about 10 feet of AWG 14 wire and bingo, a pretty nifty little voltage monitor. It works great and, as an added benefit, we can also see if our alternator is pumping proper voltage into the system. It’s nice to be able to see a real time readout of the state of charge. I’ll definitely repeat this for our port engine

I’ll include links to the parts that I used below.

Here is the voltage meter.

Here is the push button switch.

Message in a bottle

3 Jan

Back in 2014 or so, on one of our gulf stream crossings, Madi decided to write a message and put it in a bottle to see where it ended up. Today, she finally heard back! She got an email stating that yesterday the bottle and a young man named Emanuel found each other in Pico Island, Azores!

2018 bottle

Photo from Emanuel in Pico Island

If that bottle could talk about the nearly four year journey it had, riding the gulf stream. We speculate that it rode the current north towards Iceland, before it curved back around south to land on the Azores.

What a wonderful way to start 2018, as we prepare to move back on Tango in the spring and continue getting her ready for future cruising adventures.

Thank you, Emanuel!

Starter? I Hardly Knew Her.

24 Oct


From Andy,

Since the day we bought Tango we have always had a nagging problem with our ignition system. The two Yanmar diesel engines have both displayed the same crazy frustrating behavior. Turning the key an pushing the starter button always yielded varying degrees of success. Generally one would have to push the starter button around 15-20 times to finally hear the reassuring sound of the solenoid engaging the starter followed by the even more reassuring sound of the engines roaring to life. That nagging problem ended today. Well, on the starboard engine anyway.

Before we left Maryland we had a diesel mechanic come aboard and check out the engines. We told him about the issue and he kind of hmm’d and hawed, but couldn’t figure out what the problem was. We should have been persistent, but, I think at the time we just thought we could live with it. For the years that we have cruised on Tango, we have done just that. Lived with it. However, living with it has always kept me up at night. What if we are drifting towards a bridge or trying to get out of the way of an oncoming cruise ship? Pressing the starter button in the hopes that it would kick over is, ultimately, not a satisfactory answer when lives are at stake.

So, scouring the internet for many days, I finally came across a possible solution. Apparently there are two wires that run from the key switch and the starter button that tend to degrade quite badly over time. This degradation increases the resistance and when that happens, there are not enough amps to kick over the starter motor. Solution? Replace the two wires with some shiny new wires and a new 30 amp fuse.

Since running wires on Tango is a major pain in the arse, I started the experimental fix on the starboard engine first. (Why do they make some boats so hard to work on?) The run between the key switch and the starter is only a few feet on the starboard side and, within a few minutes I had the wires running from the source to destination.

Long story short, I just ran the wires along the pathway for the existing wires, cable tying as I went along. A few splices and connections later, the time came to test the system out. First press of the starter was a success. Could be a fluke, though. Second time? Success! Third, fourth and fifth time? Great success! The fix was remarkably easy and I feel stupid that I let self doubt of my abilities get in the way of fixing something important.

Bad Andy.


If you happen to have the same issue, here is a link to the original article that I used for this fix.


Now, on to the port engine. This one will be much trickier as there is quite a long and convoluted run from the ignition switch to the starter. Onward and upward, as they say.

A different kind of adventure

24 Jan

We rented a house! Now we are true landlubbers.

There are lots of reasons we decided to move off Tango (for now), but a main one is that Tango needs some major TLC that’s tough to do while living aboard. Things like rebuilding the diesel engines (starboard is under Madi’s room). Other things include cleaning out every hold and removing the hidden piles of stuff we accumulated over the years that we don’t use anymore. One thing I’ve always loved about Fountaine Pajot design is the storage. Seems like we’ve filled up this house, and we haven’t started cleaning out the deep holds yet.

We expect this to take a few years (doing it slowly on our own), and since we aren’t leaving Portland any time soon a house seems like a good solution. Most of our family and friends felt like this was a good and logical thing to do, but it feels very revolutionary to us!


The last few weeks we’ve been walking around the house talking about how decadent things feel with unlimited running water, an oven, a flushing toilet, a bathtub, a furnace, a normal address (no more “what is a slip?”), and high speed internet. One of the girls commented that she’s glad to have a foundation in our Tango life, because she appreciates things that others might take for granted.

Someday the cruising adventures will continue, but for now we look forward to land-based ones. Here’s to adventure!

Didn’t beat the first cold snap

9 Dec

Winter  arrived a bit early in Portland and I didn’t finish the enclosure. In fact, the last rolls of vinyl windscreen just arrived a day ago.

Oh, well! Perhaps it will warm up enough soon to make patterning outside a more enjoyable venture.

Happy Thanksgiving 

25 Nov

The Tango crew wishes you all a very happy Thanksgiving from the Oregon coast.

Sixth Halloween aboard

31 Oct

As we float here in Portland dockland, we are feeling a bit of nostalgia…hope you all enjoy another Halloween!

2011: Our first Tango Halloween

2012: Sandy and journey prep

2013: Goodbye hurricane hole

2014: A very Harry Potter day

2015: Zombies in the food bank


Happy boaty October

11 Oct

Boo! Fall has definitely arrived, with temperatures getting cooler.


You know it’s time to cast off the dock lines when…

16 May