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02 May 2016

April In Numbers & Links To Cool Sailing Blogs

Clockwise from upper left hand corner: (1) Good wildlife at the marina. I'm kitty sitting Georgie the Adventure Cat while her humans are away; (2) Bad wildlife at the marina. It was a fine alligator who minded its own business until someone decided feeding it would be a good idea. That bad human turned this alligator into a nuisance pest and he had to be removed; (3) The insides of my computer. Hard to believe all of that junk in there lets you surf the internet and buy things on eBay; and (4) A picture one of the girls at the school I volunteer at gave me. Aww.

Although, it’s been all Nancy Drew on the blog during April, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t other stuff going on. It was an action packed month! Okay, well not exactly action packed, but some action happened. It was an action happening kind of month! If by action happening, one means that a few things got done at the sort of leisurely pace that a three toed sloth would find acceptable, then it was full-on.

So, what exactly did happen? Let’s find out, by the numbers.

  • 26 – The number of blog posts I published as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I actually wrote most of them during March, so I can’t exactly take credit for it during April, but it took a sloth-like amount of effort to make sure they got published each day, so I’m counting it. If you missed the whole Nancy Drew Investigates series and want to find out if Nancy cracked the “Case of the Missing Anchor,” just hop on over to this page where you can find a list of all of the posts and a recap.
  • 150  – The approximate weight in pounds of Gus the Alligator, who was trapped at my marina in southern Florida, along with his buddy, Fred. You can read more about it on Friday.
  • 6 – The number of months ago when I last replaced the joker valve in our marine toilet. I had to replace it again during April. It’s a gross and stinky job. I thought these things were supposed to last for a year, if not two. Six months was disappointing. Did I mention that it’s a stinky job? Ick. You can read more about my first attempt in changing joker valves and the importance of turkey basters here.
  • 26 – Number of hours I spent studying up on diesel engines. Can you believe it? Okay, I may have made that number up, but it seems like I’ve spent a lot time thinking about diesel engines. Me, of all people, reading engine manuals and books on diesel engine repair. Messing about with engines is a lot less gross and smelly than fixing marine toilets.
  • 13.3 – The draft version of my murder mystery that I’m working on. I’ve metaphorically ripped up a dozen drafts already (deleting documents on a computer isn’t nearly as satisfying as ripping up paper), but I think I’m finally gotten this heading in the direction I want it. Yes, it’s set on a sailboat and, of course, there are UFOs, cats and chocolate involved. Would you expect anything less.
  • 2 – The number of Moody 346 owners that I met during April. It’s so much fun meeting people who have the same boat as you do. This is the third set of Moody 346 owners that have come to visit me in Florida. How cool is that! I’ll tell you more about meeting Karen and John and the Moody Owners Association later this month.
  • 2 – The number of bloggy pals I finally got to meet in real life! Jaye and her husband, Dan, from Life Afloat, came for a visit to Indiantown Marina. I’ve known Jaye virtually for a couple of years now and it was so much fun to meet her in person. She’s just as adorable as I thought she would be and she brought me an exciting present from Aruba. You’ll have to wait to find out more about the present. It will be worth the wait, I promise. (I’m just full of teasers about what’s coming up on the blog this month, aren’t I? It’s like going to see a movie and watching all of the previews, which turn out to be more exciting than the real thing.)
  • 2 - But, wait, there's more bloggy pals! Lucy, and her husband, Matt, from The Larks of Independence, popped by for a visit on there way to Georgia, via Orlando. I got to know Lucy recently through the A to Z Challenge and it was fun to get to know her in real life too. They live on their boat not too far from here and they plan on going to the Bahamas next season, so I know we'll get a chance to meet up again. Yay!
  • 11 - The number of mud daubers I've seen inside my boat. I think there's a nest somewhere inside the hull in a very hard to reach place (hard to reach if you're a normal sized human, not hard to reach if you're a mud dauber) and now it's hatching season. Every day, one or two of them awakens, like something from that Invasion of the Body Snatchers, crawls out from inside the hull into the main part of the boat where humans live and flies around madly wondering how they ended up here. I run up and open the hatch and encourage them to leave. Eventually they do. It's creepy.
  • 2 - Number of times I took my computer apart to give it a stern talking to. It kept turning itself off after a few minutes (a problem we had about a year ago). I took everything apart, looked around carefully, fixed absolutely nothing, put it back together and it started working again. Until...the keyboard stopped working. Some of the keys worked, but none of the really useful ones, like vowels. I took it apart again, monkeyed around with a cable, put it back together and restored all my consonants and vowels. The CTRL key doesn't work, but I can work around that.
  • 3 – Number of things I won during a giveaway as part of the A to Z Challenge, thanks to Michelle over at Writer in Transit. I was the lucky winner of Alex J Cavanaugh’s book, CassaStar. It was right up my alley – spaceships, aliens and telepathy. Plus, it made me teary-eyed in parts. Always a sign of a good book. I also won a copy of The Partners’ Progeny, a short story by Shelly Arkon, and Writing in a Nutshell by Jessica Bell. I haven’t had a chance to read either of these yet, but I’m looking forward to it. 

Hopefully, your April was full of chocolate chip cookies and bacon cheeseburgers (if you like that sort of thing), meeting up with old and new friends, and working engines. And, here’s hoping your May is full of more of the same.

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Normally, at the end of my “By the Number” posts, I list a few of our blog posts from the previous month that you may have missed. But, since I did “Nancy Drew Investigates” during April, I thought I would flag up my favorite posts from each of the sailing blogs who participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge last month instead.

I read a gazillion other blogs during the challenge, which I loved, but it would be impossible to list all of them (and my inner sloth would revolt at all of that work), so, instead I’m just focusing on just sailing blogs (can you believe it there were seven of us, that I know of, participating!). Check them out – they’re fascinating, even if you aren’t a sailor. Probably even more so, if you’re not a sailor, because it’s kind of a weird way of living.

Larks of Independence

Lucy’s goal during the challenge was to provide tasty boat tidbits, washed down with a shot of snarky British slang. Not only can you read about what it’s like to live on a boat, you can also learn all sorts of great words and phrases like palaver, mind the gap and collywobbles. Lucy’s blog posts brought me right back to my days living in Scotland and New Zealand. My favorite one has to be Knickers in a Twist, because, honestly, that phrase cracks me up.

Life Afloat

Dan and Jaye have been living on board their boat for 14 years. My favorite post during the challenge was FAQs, Flat Surface Syndrome & Favorite Things about Living Afloat. If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to live on a boat, you can find the answers there. Even if you’re not a boat person, you’ll want to check it out just to find out what “flat surface syndrome” is all about.

Little Cunning Plan

Melissa is a practicing psychotherapist who did an amazing series of posts on anxiety, illustrating each topic with stories from her cruising and sailing experiences. I like how she aimed to “normalize” anxiety, as well as offered tips and tricks on how to deal with one’s anxious brain. My favorite post during the challenge was R is for Reality Checks & Relationships, which talks about the effect of anxiety on one’s partner and vice versa. Melissa did a great job injecting her trademark humor into a serious subject matter and making it digestible and fun to read.

Roaming About

While not strictly a sailing blog, Liesbet lived aboard a boat with her husband for eight years, cruising down the East Coast, around the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and over to the Pacific Islands. Her A to Z series focused on life as a nomad, drawing on many of her sailing and cruising experiences in her posts. My favorite post during the challenge was H is for Health, where she talks about the links between good health and living a nomadic life. Liesbet experienced this firsthand when her husband was diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age (yes, it can happen to men). In H is for Health, you can find a link to an earlier blog post about how this changed their cruising plans, which is well worth a read.

SV Cambria

Stephanie and David have been living on board their boat for 15 years, first in New Zealand and now in the Pacific Northwest. Another long term liveaboard couple! Stephanie and I made a boggy connection due to our love of New Zealand and she’s another one of those bloggers (like Jaye and Melissa), who I’ve known online for a few year. My favorite post during the challenge was B is for Boat. Stephanie takes you on a virtual tour of their Westerly Ocean 43 sailboat. I’ll confess it – I’m nosy and like to snoop around other people’s houses, so it was fun to see their gorgeous boat.

Til the Butter Melts

Keith and Nikki are planning to sail their boat down from Maine to Florida later this year, store it at Indiantown Marina during hurricane season and then make their way south, to where the butter melts. My favorite post during the challenge was Learning Styles (https://sionnablog.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/learning-styles-the-a-to-z-challenge), where Keith talks about some of the differences between how men and women learn (generally speaking) and how this relates to sailing with his wife.

30 April 2016

Z Is For Zodiac | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.   

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When we last left you, Nancy hid in the lazarette to escape detection and noticed that the crew of Party Palace were dumping their waste directly overboard. As she was pondering their disregard for the environment, she decided to call for help on the VHF, but then Pete and Donny discovered her hiding place.

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Donny grabbed Nancy and pulled her out of the lazarette while Pete sneered and said, “Well, what do we have here? Someone sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Who would have thought a teenage girl could be so much trouble.” He grabbed a piece of line and tossed it to Donny. “Go ahead an tie her up and stick her back in the lazarette where you found her. We’ll figure out what to do with her once Captain Gus gets here.”

As Donny pulled Nancy’s arms tightly behind her and started to tie her up, a bright light shone off of their port side. A loud voice boomed out, “Attention Sailing Vessel Party Palace, Attention Sailing Vessel Party Palace, this is the United States Coast Guard. Prepare to be boarded.”

Donny quickly let go of Nancy and dived over the side of the boat. Pete started to climb out of the cockpit and make for the dinghy attached to the side, but Nancy was too quick for him. She had fashioned the line that Donny was going to tie her up with into a lasso and flung it around Pete, pulling tightly and causing him to lose his balance and fall onto the deck of the boat.

“Miss, are you okay?” shouted one of the Guardsman as they pulled up alongside Party Palace in their tender.

“I’m fine. I’ve got this one tied up,” Nancy answered as she pointed to Pete struggling to get out of the line coiled around him. “But, you better go after his accomplice. He dived off the boat and it looks like he’s trying to swim to shore.” Nancy watched as the Guardsmen raced after Donny, scooped him out of the water and into their boat. A few minutes later, two of the Guardsmen had boarded Party Palace.

“I’m so glad to see you,” said Nancy. “You came just in the nick of time!”

“We heard your distress call over the VHF and a young man had reported that you were in danger to us earlier,” said the older of the two men as he pulled Pete up to his feet. “That’s some very quick thinking, tossing a lasso around this fellow here.”

“Oh, it was nothing. I learned how to do that when I was solving the 'Mystery of the Old Stagecoach,'” Nancy said modestly.

“Wait a minute,” said the Guardsman. “I know who you are. You’re Nancy Drew, Carson Drew’s daughter! I’m Petty Officer Stan Lebonski. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve got to keep an eye on this guy.”

He tightened his grip on Pete, turned to his partner and said, “Can you imagine that, Lou. We’re in the company of America’s Favorite Girl Detective! This young lady is famous. She’s a crack investigator and solves all sorts of mysteries.”

Lou’s jaw dropped in amazement. “Wow, It’s so nice to meet you, miss. I’m Seaman Lou Potter,” he said as he shook Nancy’s hand. "What case are you investigating now?”

Nancy smiled and said, “Well, we’ve been calling it 'The Case of the Missing Anchor.' It all started when my friends’ anchor was stolen at the marina, along with equipment from lots of other boats. We discovered that Captain Gus from Xebec Charters was the ringleader of a dastardly group of criminals who were stealing marine equipment and then reselling it to unsupecting people.” Nancy pointed at Pete. “This man is Captain Gus’s nephew and the man you caught trying to swim to shore is one of their accomplices.”

Lou nodded and said, “There had been some rumors that someone was fencing stolen marine equipment, but no one could find any proof.”

Nancy reached into her pocket and pulled out the piece of paper she had found hidden in the model of a xebec ship earlier. “I think this might be the proof that you and the police need. It’s a list of all of the goods that they’ve stolen and how much they sold them for. It’s even got names and dates on it.” Nancy grinned and said, “And to top that off, you can find some of the stolen goods in the v-berth down below. These guys were going to move the goods from this boat over to that white catamaran across the way, Party Time.”

“With that evidence, we should have these guys behind bars in no time,” said Lou.

Nancy furrowed her brow and said, “The only problem is that we still need to nab Captain Gus. He was the mastermind behind this whole operation.”

“Did you say he ran Xebec Charters?” asked Lou. “If so, I think we’ve got our man. We boarded a boat called Xebec earlier tonight and conducted a safety inspection. While were were onboard, we found a number of serious infractions and took the Captain into custody.”

As Nancy breathed a sigh of relief, she heard the sound of an outboard motor and a voice call out, “Nancy, are you there?”

Nancy peeked over the side of the boat and saw a dinghy with Marvin, Shelley, George, Bess and Ned in it all waving and smiling at her. Lou said to Nancy, “Why don’t you head off with your friends and get some rest. We can touch base with you tomorrow to get more information as needed.”

As Nancy climbed down onto the swim platform, Ned helped her into the dinghy, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. He whispered into her ear, “I’m so glad you’re safe. I was so worried about you, but I should have known that you would be fine. You're such an amazing girl.”

Nancy smiled at Ned, sat down on the side of the dinghy and said, “It’s so good to see you all.”

Bess stared anxiously at Nancy. “Are you okay? I can’t believe you were on that boat when it took off.” As Bess looked at Nancy, she noted a stain on her friend’s bermuda shorts. “What happened there?”

“Oh, that must have happened when I was hiding in the lazarette,” Nancy said as she tried to brush off the grime

As Bess let out a gulp, George asked, “What did you find out when you were on board?”

“You’ll never believe it,” said Nancy as her eyes sparkled. “I found evidence that Captain Gus and his cronies were behind everything.”

“Now, now girls, let’s stop pestering Nancy with questions. We’ll take her back to our boat, let her clean up and then we’ll all have some lemon bars and cocoa while Nancy tells us all about her adventure,” said Shelley.

“That’s a very sensible idea, dear,” said Marvin as started the outboard motor and pointed them out into the bay.

As they sped across the water, Bess said to Nancy, “Did you see what type of dinghy this is? It’s a Zodiac, like in astrology. I bet if we looked up your horoscope it would say something about avoiding dangerous situations. I think it’s a sign that you should stop investigating mysteries.”

George rolled her eyes, “It’s just like you Bess to bring up horoscopes and astrology at a time like this. Nancy is fine and she solved the case.”

Nancy smiled at her two best friends. “I don’t know, maybe Bess is right and it is a sign. A sign that our next case is going to be ‘The Secret in the Chinese Horoscope.’ Wouldn’t that be fun! We could go sailing in China and solve another mystery.”

And that wraps up the A to Z Blogging Challenge! Thanks to everyone who stuck with us from the letter A all the way to the letter Z. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming and random nonsense on the blog on Monday.

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Our old Zodiac Zoom dinghy tied up behind our first boat, Rainbow's End, in New Zealand.
Dinghies (or tenders) are like cars to cruisers. They use them to get from their boat to shore and to transport stuff back and forth. There are different types of dinghies - inflatable ones with either solid or inflatable floors, rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) which have a solid V-shaped bottom and hard dinghies. (Check out this article on Cruising World for more information.)

Zodiac is a popular maker of dinghies. We used to have a Zodiac Zoom 230 Aero dinghy in New Zealand, but had terrible troubles with its oar locks (you can read about it here). We had to use our dinghy to get back and forth to our boat on our piling mooring, and because we stored our outboard motor on our boat, Scott had to row us to and from our boat. We had some dicey situations where the oar locks would break, the wind would be against us and Scott would have to paddle with one oar from the front of the dinghy desperately trying to get us to the dock.

Our new boat came with a Caribe RIB dinghy and a 9.9 hp outboard, which worked fine for us when we were in the Bahamas. We'll see how it holds up once we're back out there cruising again. Hopefully, we get out there cruising again one of these days.

Thanks to everyone for following along with our "Nancy Drew Investigates" series. We hope you had as much fun as we did! I'd love to know what you thought and if you think Nancy should make another appearance in next year's challenge.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!  


29 April 2016

Y Is For Y-Valve | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  

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When we last left you, Nancy found a replica model of a xebec boat in the v-berth and discovered Captain Gus's list of stolen goods hidden inside. Knowing that Pete and Donny would be coming back to the v-berth to move the loot, she made her way to the cockpit, hoping to escape from their evil clutches.

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Nancy looked around the cockpit and noticed a lazarette underneath the bench on the port side. She opened the lid and peeked inside. Normally, she would have expected to find equipment like extra line, jerry cans or a spare anchor in a storage locker like this, but it was completely empty, except for what looked like a large tank in the rear. She quickly jumped inside and lowered the lid behind her.

Nancy grabbed her flashlight out of the pocket of her jacket and turned it on. Shining the flashlight around the lazarette, Nancy noticed a horrible smell. Oh no, she thought to herself, Of all the luck. I jumped into the lazarette which has the holding tank in it. No wonder it smells so bad in here!
 
Nancy held the flashlight up to the holding tank and saw that it was completely full. When was the last time they had emptied it? she wondered. Then, she noticed that the Y-valve, which controls whether sewage from the marine toilet goes into the holding tank or directly overboard, wasn’t locked off properly. She couldn’t believe it. Not only were the crew of Party Palace running a dastardly operation to steal marine equipment and then pass it off as legitimate second hand merchandise to unsuspecting buyers, they were also discharging their sewage directly into the water! Why didn’t they just get their holding tank pumped out instead of bypassing it with the Y-valve?

Nancy decided that the Y-valve was the least of her worries and turned on the portable VHF. After making sure she was on channel 16, she pressed the talk button and quietly said, “This is sailing vessel Party Palace. This is sailing vessel Party Palace. This is a distress call. I'm trapped on Party Palace in X Cove with...”

Just then, the lid to the lazarette was yanked open and the two men were glaring down at Nancy. “Look what we have here,” said Donny. “It’s that nosy girl from the marina. Didn’t you get my warnings to stay out of our business?!”

Tune in on Saturday for the final installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – Z is for Zodiac.

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The y-valve on our boat. If you look closely, and you know something about y-valves, then you may notice that something isn't quite right. Can you guess what it is?

Nancy is kind of a goody two-shoes. Given the fact that her father is a well known attorney, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Nancy is well versed in marine regulations regarding discharge of sewage in US waters. Only Nancy would think about how Captain Gus and his crew are flagrantly violating regulations while she's hiding in a lazarette to avoid detection.

In case you're not up on the regulations, like Nancy is, here's the scoop on how it works in the States. It's illegal to discharge untreated sewage in inland waters or within three miles from shore. That means that you either need to have a porta-potty, store all of your sewage in a holding tank (what I affectionately call our PPB, or pee and poo box) and have it pumped out ashore, or have a treatment device that macerates and disinfects your sewage. Ick, I know.

While some countries regulate discharge of sewage, others don't and boaters discharge their untreated sewage directly overboard. In many cases, there simply aren't facilities to pump-out holding tanks, so there's no point in using them. If you're in a crowded anchorage, it pays to have a look around before you jump in the water for a refreshing swim. Yeah, I know, ick again.

That's probably more than you wanted to know about marine sewage, but if, for some odd reason, you want to know more about how bathrooms (or heads), holding tanks and Y-valves on boats work, then check out my slightly quirky take here.

Have you ever had to empty a holding tank on a boat or RV before? If not, would you be willing to give it a go?

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28 April 2016

X Is For Xebec | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  

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When we last left you, Nancy was hiding in the v-berth when one of the men heard her make a noise and went to investigate. Armed with a winch handle, Nancy nervously watch the doorknob turn and worried about getting caught.

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As Nancy braced herself for the door to the v-berth to come flying open, she heard Pete say decisively. “Knock it off. I’m the captain of this boat and what I say goes. Now get up on deck and we’re going to check that anchor out. After we’re done with that, we’ll start moving the stuff out of the v-berth.”

Nancy breathed a sigh of relief and sat back down on the v-berth cushion. As she set the winch handle next to the bolts of Sunbrella fabric, she noticed a small wooden model of a ship. She got her flashlight out of her pocket and looked at it closely.

Noticing its distinctive overhanging bowsprit and the aft-set mizzen mast, Nancy instantly knew it was a replica of a xebec. As she turned it over, she noticed a small indentation on the bottom. She pushed down on it and the bottom of the model boat popped open. Inside she found a rolled up piece of paper.

Could this be the list Captain Gus was talking about, Nancy wondered. Realizing that she needed to get out of the v-berth before she was discovered, Nancy put the piece of paper in her pocket, closed the model boat back up, put it back where she found it and grabbed the portable VHF.

Cautiously opening the door to the v-berth, Nancy peeked out into the salon. Not seeing anyone, she crept over to the companionway, climbed up the ladder and poked her head out. She saw the two men at the bow of the boat arguing over the anchor. Nancy looked across the cove and saw Party Time, the white catamaran anchored nearby.

The men’s argument grew louder.

“You’re always grumbling about the anchor. It looks fine. We gotta get this stuff moved before Captain Gus gets here.”

“Fine, we’ll check it again later. Come on, you get the dinghy down and I’ll get the first load from the v-berth.”

Nancy’s eyes got wider as she realized they would be making their way back to the cockpit.

Tune in on Friday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – Y is for Y-Valve.

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Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.

There aren't that many English words that start with the letter X, so I was delighted to find a nautical themed one that I could use in my Nancy Drew series - xebec (last year I went with xenophobia). As Nancy already knows (and what doesn't she know?), a xebec was a Mediterranean sailing ship with a long bowsprit and an aft-set mizzen mast.

Don't know what a bowsprit or a mizzen mast is? Join the club. I'm kind of clueless when it comes to all of this sailing stuff too. Basically, a bowsprit is a pointy thing that sticks off the front of the boat and the mizzen mast is a pointy thing that sticks up out of the deck. Pointy things are important when it comes to sailing. Along with plenty of snacks, as Bess would tell you.

You'll notice I don't have a picture of a xebec. That's because they were used in the olden days, before cameras were invented and long before I was born. Plus, I'm quite wary of using images on our blog that we didn't take and getting sued by someone for copyright infringement, so if you want to have a look at some pretty pictures of xebecs, check out Wikipedia.

For those of you who share my paranoia about getting sued for large sums of money that you don't have (you can read more about it here under point 6), but like to jazz your blog up with pretty images, check out The Graphics Fairy. She has all sorts of vintage images which you can freely use. Having said that, she does have a disclaimer on her site saying that she can't guarantee that everything is royalty free and that every country has its own copyright regulations, so you do take your chances, but the images, like the sea lions above, are charming. (Charming is a word Nancy would use, don't you think?)

What about you - what's your favorite word that starts with X?

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27 April 2016

W Is For Watch | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.   

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When we last left you, two men had boarded the boat Nancy was hidden on, started up the engine and pulled out of the marina. Nancy realized that the men were Pete, Captain Gus's nephew, and Donny, the man on the white catamaran who tried to hurt Nancy at the marina, threatened other boats and stole a dinghy.

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Nancy tried opening the hatch in the ceiling of the v-berth to crawl out onto deck and make her escape, but it wouldn’t budge no matter how hard she pushed on it. Realizing that she might have to confront the two men, she grabbed a winch handle to use in self-defense if necessary.

Putting her ear up to the door between the v-berth and the salon, Nancy heard the men argue about the weather.

“I’m telling you, the forecast says that the wind is going to shift and get up to 30 knots tonight. This cove is notorious for poor holding, especially with winds like that.”

“That’s what makes it perfect. Other boaters never come here. It’s an ideal place to move the goods between the two boats.”

Nancy determined that they must be anchored in Witch Tree Cove on the south side of Grande Isle. The marina was located in the more protected cove on the north side. She hoped that Ned had been able to warn the others that she had been on Party Palace when it left the marina. But, would they know to look for her in Witch Tree Cove, especially as boats didn’t typically anchor here?

As Nancy puzzled over this, she noticed a portable VHF radio lying underneath bolts of Sunbrella fabric. She picked it up and examined it. When she turned the power switch on, the VHF started crackling loudly. She quickly turned down the volume, but it was too late.

“Did you hear that, Pete? I think I heard something in the v-berth,” said Donny.

“That’s your overactive imagination again. It’s probably just a mouse. Captain Gus just got a cat to get rid of them. Come on, let’s go out on deck. I want to make sure that anchor is well set, given the winds that we’re going to get. I think we’ll also have to take turns keeping anchor watch tonight as well.”

Donny huffed. “I’m not imagining anything. There’s something in there and it’s not a mouse! I’m going to go check it out.”

Nancy grabbed the winch handle tightly as the knob on the door to the v-berth started to turn.

Tune in on Thursday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – X is for Xebec.

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The dark and spooky sky after we dropped the anchor off of Waiheke Island in New Zealand after having to move in the middle of the night when the winds changed.



While we trust our Rocna anchor to keep us safe and secure, there are times when you have to keep anchor watch, to make sure that your boat doesn't drag and either hit other boats in the anchorage or end up damaged on a reef or the shore. Anchor watch isn't a lot of fun. But, it's part and parcel of cruising. For all of the incredible highs of living on a boat, there are lots of lows, like sitting up in the middle of the night, listening to the howling wind and wondering if your anchor will hold.

I remember the first night I did anchor watch, sitting up in the cockpit, huddled under a blanket looking out at the starry sky and cursing Scott for sleeping so soundly while time ticked away so slowly during my watch. Isn't amazing how quickly time goes when you're having fun and how slowly it marches on when you'd rather be doing something else? Fortunately, we didn't drag that night.  Although, I think some other boats did.

Have you ever stayed up all night worried about something destroying your house, like a tornado, high winds, forest fire etc.? 

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26 April 2016

V Is For V-Berth | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  

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When we last left you, Ned had left his watch at the dock when he heard a girl scream on the beach. When he went to help her, she told him that she had sprained her ankle, but what she was really doing was distracting Ned so that Party Palace could make a getaway. One problem - Nancy was on board!

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When Nancy heard the two men speaking on deck, she quickly looked for a place to hide. She opened the door to the v-berth and ducked inside. As she closed the door, she looked around in astonishment at all of the nautical equipment and goods stowed on the v-shaped berth. She saw a Rocna anchor, winch handles, bolts of Sunbrella fabric, an outboard motor, chart plotters and a windlass, among other things.

Now, if only she could find the list that she heard Captain Gus talking about. It supposedly had details of all of the items they had stolen and how much they had sold them for. Between the list and all of the equipment stored in the v-berth, there should be no problem putting Captain Gus and his gang away for a long time.

Suddenly, Nancy heard the noise of the engine starting up and the two men shouting at each other.

“Quick, let’s get out of here,” one of the men said. “Nellie is distracting that chump standing at the end of the dock so that we can make a clean getaway.”

“No problem, Pete. Let me just get the bow and stern lines and we’ll be good to go,” said the other man.

“Hurry it up, Donny,” said Pete with an irritated tone to his voice.

Nancy suddenly remembered where she had heard that voice before. Donny was the suspicious man on the white catamaran who had pushed Nancy to the ground in the boatyard, tried to ram her boat and another boat, as well as stranded two people on the beach when he stole their dinghy. She knew it – the white catamaran, Party Time, was in cahoots with the boat she was on, Party Palace!

Nancy felt the boat pull away from the dock and head out into the bay. She wondered where they were headed. Were they going to rendezvous with Captain Gus somewhere?

As the boat motored along, Nancy moved some of the boat equipment aside and sat down on the v-berth to think about what she should do next. While she was mulling over her options, the boat slowed down and she heard the two men talking to each other.

“This looks like a good place to drop the anchor,” Pete said. “Why don’t you head up to the bow and get it ready.”

Nancy heard footsteps along the deck, a creaking noise as the anchor locker opened, followed by a splash as the anchor and chain were dropped into the water.

“All set, Pete,” said Donny. “Party Time isn’t anchored too far away. I figure we’ll have to do a few trips in the dinghy to get all of the stuff moved over there.”

Nancy froze as she realized that they were going to be coming into the v-berth to get all of the stolen items which were stacked up in there. There wasn’t really any place to hide in the v-berth. Should she climb out of the hatch onto the deck, dive off the boat and swim to shore?

Tune in on Wednesday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – W is for Watch.

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See the pointy area? That's the v-berth on our old boat. It was too small for both Scott and me to sleep comfortably in, so he slept on the settee, while I shared the v-berth with the laundry and other bits and bobs. I bet you're loving the retro plaid cushion covers.

There are so many sailing words that don't make any sense at all and bear no resemblance to what they're describing, but v-berth is one of the exceptions. It's a berth (or a bed) in the shape of a V. So simple that even I understand it.

A lot of people happily use their v-berth as their main sleeping area, but, when we were shopping for our current boat, I had my heart set on a center cockpit and a spacious aft (rear) cabin. I love the fact that we don't feel the waves as much when sleeping in our aft cabin at anchor (of course our Moody 346 is a far heavier boat than our old Raven 26, which probably has something to do with it). But, what I love even more is how much easier it is to get in and out of bed and the small sitting area that the space affords. (You can see pictures of our boat here.)

The downside of our aft cabin is that you have to practically crawl through a low passageway between the galley and the engine room and go through a door better suited to a hobbit than a full-sized human. However, once you get inside, it's so cozy that you never want to leave. (You can read more about our ridiculously small doors here.) I think our aft cabin is my favorite room in our floating home.

What about you - what's your favorite room in your house (or boat or RV) and why?

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25 April 2016

U Is For Underway | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  


APOLOGIES - MY COMPUTER HAS STOPPED WORKING, so responding to comments here and leaving comments on all of your wonderful A to Z blogs is proving challenging, to say the least. And I haven't written my Z post yet - yikes! - so I'll have to try to do that on my phone this week, otherwise, you'll all worry about what happened to Nancy.

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When we last left you, Nancy had sneaked aboard Party Palace and was snooping around when she heard two men talking on the boat.

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While Nancy was looking around Party Palace, Ned heard someone scream and rushed over to see what happened.

“Are you all right?” Ned asked the young woman, who was lying down on the beach and clutching her ankle in pain. “I think I sprained my ankle. I was walking along the beach, when suddenly I tripped over some driftwood and fell down.” As she tried to get up, she moaned in pain.

“Here, let me help you,” said Ned as he gently grabbed her arm and helped her to her feet. “We better get you back to the marina so that someone can look at your ankle.”

“Thanks so much, that’s very kind of you,” she said as clutched Ned’s arm. Ned noticed the sprinkling of freckles across her nose as she looked up at him with big, blue eyes. “My name is Nellie. I’m here at the regatta with my uncle, Captain Gus, on his boat Xebec.”

“Captain Gus, the man who runs Xebec Charters?” Ned remembered Nancy telling him that she suspected Captain Gus of being the ringleader of the thefts at the marina. “I heard that he owns two other boats – Party Time and Party Palace. They both have a distinctive dolphin logo on their bows. Is that right?”

Nellie eyed Ned cautiously. “I don’t know anything about those other boats. Now, if you could just help me back to the marina.” Just as Ned was about to question Nellie more about her uncle, he heard the sound of an engine and saw Party Palace pull out of their slip.

“Hey, wait a minute,” he shouted. “My girlfriend is on that boat!”

While Ned stared helplessly at the boat getting underway, Nellie pushed him aside and ran up the beach and into the woods that covered the island. Ned watched in astonishment. Her ankle seemed fine. Had it all been a distraction to lure him away from the dock so that he wouldn’t notice anyone getting on board Party Palace?

Watching the boat make its way out into the bay and knowing that there wasn’t anything he could do to help Nancy from the dock, he rushed back to the barbeque to alert the others.

Tune in on Tuesday for the next installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – V is for V-Berth.

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Underway to Whangarei in New Zealand. I still remember how choppy the water was and what a struggle it was to get the mainsail down that day.

It's such a good feeling to get underway on a sailboat. It means you're going someplace. Whether out for a day sail, off to a new anchorage for the night or embarking on an overnight passage to someplace new and exciting.

Getting underway isn't a simple matter of hoisting the anchor and pointing the boat in the direction you want to go. An awful lot of planning and preparation is involved. For starters, you have to make sure everything is stowed away down below. Trust me, the last thing you want to hear as you're hoisting the mainsail is a crashing noise as your glass French press coffee maker tumbles off of the galley counter and onto the floor, leaving you with shards of glass everywhere and no way to make coffee the next morning.

Does it look like rain is on its way? Are you expecting to be crashing into heavy seas? Then, you need to make sure that the hatches are battened down and dogged, so that you don't get any salt water rushing down below all over your bedding. (I don't know where the term "dog the hatches" comes from, but it means to make sure the hatch is securely closed by turning the handles so that water can't seep in.)

Do you know where you're going? You need to make sure you've got your charts (paper and/or electronic) and guidebooks at the ready, you've planned your course (any reefs or shallow waters you need to avoid?) and you know what anchorages or hidey holes are along the way, in case you need to duck in due to weather or other issues.

And, of course, there's the weather. No one gets underway unless they've looked at the weather forecast. Mother Nature can be very unforgiving, so you need to know what you can expect before you head out. If it looks bad, sometimes the smart thing to do is not get underway at all.

But, probably the most important part of getting ready to get underway is making sure there are enough snacks and refreshments. Although, Bess isn't the best when it comes to sailing, I'm pretty sure this could be a strong suit of hers - ensuring the crew (and herself) is well fed.

What do you do to get ready for a trip? Are there any special preparations you make?

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