Friday, August 24, 2012

Baby's First Hurricane

Well... it is that time of year again: hurricane season. Technically, it's been hurricane season since June, but now is the time of year when there is a lot of action. Over the next few days, we're expecting the arrival of our first big storm of the year: Isaac.

Thankfully, we're prepared. Well, sort of. Back in June, we loaded up on canned food, so we'd have a stockpile for emergencies. Until (late) this afternoon, this was the extent of our preparation:

Food Stash 
We are much more prepared now. Around 4pm, Eric began stripping the boat of all canvases, which would be the first to go in a big storm. Our boat now looks a bit nude, but a little exposure is a small price to pay to ensure our canvas and cockpit covers aren't whisked away by a gust of wind (in fact, we had a minor wind causality during preparation when a cloth bag blew away).

Sea Gem in the Nude
Next, we dug out our spare fenders, inflated them, and positioned them for impact. Before the storm comes, we'll tie up the boat in such a way that our boat will sit in the middle of the slip, so hopefully, these guys won't see any action:

Spare XL Fenders 
Ready for Impact
While Eric slaved away on deck making sure we (and the boat) were safe and secure, I was down below doing something equally important--deciding which hotel we should stay at in the off chance we need to seek more stable accommodations (I was also watching the baby).

Although it is unlikely Isaac will reach us as anything more than a tropical storm, we will be prepared for the worst. 

Now, we wait. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Solar Power

One of the nicest things about living on a sailboat is that it is (or at least has the possibility of being) a very self-sufficient lifestyle.  Although we tap into the city's electricity grid and freshwater supply while at the dock, Sea Gem can go for weeks without using either.  We can make our own water with our watermaker, and we can make our own electricity with our diesel generator, engine alternators, and solar panels.

Our ability to operate off the grid is primarily limited by our fuel supply: although substantial (almost 400 gallons), it is not endless.  And at 4 to 5 dollars a gallon, it is awfully expensive to rely on diesel fuel for our energy needs.  Our generator, for example, burns about three quarters of a gallon an hour, and it must be running in order to run our A/C or our electric stove.  Even without A/C (which is not so necessary when in a breezy anchorage), we need to run the generator a few hours a day to top off the batteries, cook, etc., and that starts to add up quickly.

Solar energy, of course, is limitless and free.  The more we can rely on our solar panels, the less fuel we need to burn, and the longer (and less expensively) we can stay off the grid.  Unfortunately, the solar system that came with Sea Gem barely made a dent in our energy needs.

Sea Gem's prior owners installed four large rectangular solar panels and two half-size panels on the top of our hard bimini (cockpit roof), where they receive fairly direct sunlight:

Two of Sea Gem's Four Full-Size Panels
The panels came connected to a solar charge controller mounted at the navigation station, and the controller is connected to the battery bank.  During periods of peak sunlight, the controller would register between four and five amps DC.  And, of course, we only get four or five hours of peak sunlight per day.  That is enough to run our fans or small instruments (i.e. not radar) while sailing, but it is not even close to enough to keep our food cold, use the microwave, make water, and so on.

Five amps works out to only about 65 watts of power being generated by the panels, and based on the size and number of panels, that is a very, very small number.  Panels rarely put out more than 75% of their rated capacity (due to imperfect angles, air quality, clouds, etc.), but even accounting for those inefficiencies puts the maximum possible total output of the panels at only 85 watts or so, and modern panels of the same size would be rated at around 300 watts.  And so I assumed that the panels were either very old and inefficient or very old and no longer working completely.  Because we'd like to increase our ability to be self sufficient, replacing our solar system has always been in our long-term upgrade plans.  New panels, unfortunately, are expensive, and because the controller that came with Sea Gem was limited to 15 amps, we would need a new, larger controller as well.  Because complicated, expensive upgrades are the easiest to defer, we settled for our measly five amps for our first year aboard Sea Gem.

Out of curiosity, I recently decided to remove one of the solar panels to find the model number and determine whether the panels are so old that they were always inefficient, or if they are so old that they became inefficient with time.  To my surprise, the panels are together rated at over 250 watts--far more than the 65 watts they were putting out, and a drop in performance of that degree is much more than one would expect after the 15 or 20 years that have passed since they were installed.  A drop in output of about 10% of the rated output every ten years is more typical, and so I would expect to see a maximum of about 150 watts produced by the panels (250W x 80% x 75%), which works out to 11.5 amps at 13 volts--more than double what we were getting.

And so I suspected that the charge controller was the culprit.  Because a charge controller is less expensive to replace than the panels, and because we will need a new, larger charge controller at some point anyway, I figured that upgrading the controller was a worthwhile investment.  Fortunately, birthday money came from Krissy's parents at just the right time, and I ordered a new 30-amp digital solar charge controller, the Samlex SCC-30AB.  (I did well for my birthday this year.)

Here it is, neatly installed at the navigation station:

Samlex SCC-30AB
The results?  I saw readings of nearly 140 watts--more than double the output of the exact same panels with the old controller, and that was with clouds in the sky and before the sun was at its zenith.  Although that output is still not enough to permit us to rely solely on the panels, it makes a real dent in our total usage and reduces the amount of time we will need to run our generator while at anchor.  Once we add enough panels to produce close to the 30-amp capacity of the controller, and maybe a wind generator as well, we should be in a position where we can rely on renewable energy for the bulk of our day-to-day energy usage, and that will be a nice feeling indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Diaper Duty

Our boat is completely enclosed, which is great for safety, but not so great when applied to other things, like smelly garbage. Prior to the baby's arrival, we ensured a "fragrance-free" boat by taking our trash out at least once a day. While I'm sure that sounds like a huge inconvenience to house-dwellers, it is hardly a chore for us. Our pier has heavy-duty garbage bins located every few yards, which are emptied by the marina staff on a frequent--if not daily--basis. Whenever we venture off the boat, we simply toss our trash bag into one of our pier's many bins and it is whisked away.

Of course, having a baby changes everything. Unlike Eric and I, who produce minimal garbage, babies produce mounds of stinky diapers. We knew that bringing a baby aboard put us at risk for having a boat that smelled like the interior of a septic tank.

To get rid of Helina's diapers, we planned to follow the same procedure we use for our regular trash; however, we (1) weren't certain that our once-a-day visit to the outside bins would be enough to ensure a fresh-smelling boat, and (2) we didn't want gobs of poopy diapers sitting in the outside bins marinating in the summer heat of Miami.

So, like most new parents, we got a diaper pail. We were hesitant to buy something so bulky, but we figured keeping our boat smelling fresh offset any inconvenience caused by the size of the can itself.

Not only is our diaper pail perfect for disposing of diapers, it may just be the perfect garbage can for a boat. Although it is very easy for us to dispose of our trash while docked, when at sea, there are few options and, assuming you don't litter, things can get a bit stinky. Although we currently use our diaper pail exclusively for diapers, there is no reason it couldn't be used to hold other forms of trash. And, unlike regular garbage cans, this diaper pail is engineered to keep smells locked in--and it actually works. Here's how:

(1) Dirty diapers are shoved into the pail through the cinched opening:

Arm & Hammer Munchkin Diaper Pail
(2) As the lid closes, baking soda is dispensed into the bag containing the dirty diapers and the bag is twisted shut. Here are some interior shots of the can in action:

Interior View

Sealing Mechanism 
(3) Once the bag is full, you simply open the door to the pail (as shown above) and remove the blue diaper-containing bag, which locks shut, so smells can't escape:

Full Bag of Dirty Diapers
Our diaper pail was money well spent! And, although our daughter seems to smell of curdled milk at all times, at least our boat doesn't reek of soiled diapers.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birthday Fans

I have written a number of posts about cooling fans, which go a long way to making life afloat cool and comfortable.  Over the past year, I have been continuously adding to and upgrading our collection of fans: we now have seven Hella fans and two Bora fans (more on those in a future post) in Sea Gem's interior, as well as the two insanely powerful (and loud) fans I recently installed in the engine room.

It should come as little surprise, then, that for my birthday I asked my parents for two more fans.  Although we now have plenty (nine) fans in Sea Gem's interior, we had none in the cockpit, which can get pretty hot when we are at dock on a calm day.  In addition, the cockpit had two unsightly and decaying plastic speaker covers, one on each side of the cockpit, that I have wanted to get rid of since we bought the boat:

Before
The speakers were replaced and moved to a different location long ago, so the speaker covers didn't actually cover speakers or anything else, but rather only looked bad and permitted water to leak into the boat during rainstorms.  I decided that a perfect solution to both problems (ugly, leaky, defunct speaker covers and lack of cockpit fans) was to replace the speaker covers with solid teak boards and mount a weatherproof fan to each board.

So, for my birthday, I asked for two weatherproof Kona fans and my father's assistance/tools to fabricate the teak boards.  The plan was simple: remove the old speaker covers and wooden frames, fabricate and varnish the new boards, and mount and wire the fans.  Like all boat projects, however, things got a little messy:

Highlights
I'll spare the details, but everything that could have went wrong did, and my simple birthday project turned into something of a nightmare.

Mid-Installation 
In the end, however, everything turned out great.  The cockpit looks much better with the new teak trim boards, and the fans work beautifully:

Finished

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Wardrobe in Waiting

Eric and I were cautious about buying Helina too many clothes before she was born (mostly because we didn't know what size she'd be at birth and didn't want to end up with an abundance of infant-sized clothes that were too small for her to ever wear). Even with our restraint, in just 4 short weeks, our daughter has amassed a rather substantial pint-sized wardrobe.

Although Helina's nursery is small, within it is a closet and built-in dresser. Prior to our daughter's arrival, I had envisioned all of her clothes fitting neatly into one dresser drawer. After all, babies are tiny--how much space could their clothes possibly require? As it turns out, a lot.

Eric and I are experts at managing the size of a wardrobe and storing it in a compact space. We condensed our own large wardrobes before moving aboard, so figuring out what to do with Helina's clothes wasn't challenging. To most effectively use the space in Helina's nursery, I opted to hang the majority of her clothes in her closet.

First, I bought a miniaturized version of the hangers that Eric and I use to keep our closet organized:

Baby Slimline Hangers
Next, I hung the majority of her clothes in her closet:

Helina's Closet's Interior
Although my preference is to organize by color, since size is much more relevant in the infant world, Helina's clothes are organized by month, which correlates to size (and at age 32, I'm thankful that this age/size measure no longer holds true).

Even with her clothes neatly organized, there is still a lot of other nursery gear that needs storing. Thankfully, Helina's clothes aren't very long, so even with them hanging, there is still enough room in her closet to hoard excessive amounts of diaper wipes, diapers, etc.

Overall, the storage of Helina's clothes has worked out somewhat as I'd planned. All of the clothes she is currently wearing (size 0M-3M) are folded neatly in one dresser drawer. Once she grows out of them, they will be removed from the drawer, donated (although I'm sure we'll save a few favorites), and replaced by the next size up--a rotation I anticipate us relying on for the next 16-17 years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taking the salt out

Because Sea Gem's prior owners sailed to far-off places, sometimes for years at a time, they installed a quality, high-capacity watermaker, which converts ordinary seawater to drinking water.  Sea Gem has a large, 267-gallon water tank, but that volume will not last us forever (without rationing, it lasts us about a week), and there are many desirable places to sail to with less-than desirable drinking water.  Accordingly, a watermaker is a must-have for any boat destined for serious cruising.

Of course, at this stage in our lives, we spend almost all of our time at the dock, and when we leave the dock, it is only for a couple nights.  Further, the city's water supply here is perfectly drinkable.  As a result, filling up our water tank once a week suits us just fine, and we don't have a real need for the watermaker, at least on a day-to-day basis.

When we bought Sea Gem a year ago, we "pickled" the watermaker (filled it with chemical preservatives) for long-term storage.  A watermaker is designed to be used every few days, and so it must be preserved if it is not going to be used with that frequency.  The pickling has a lifetime as well, however, and so we recently "un-pickled" the watermaker and, for the first time, tried our hand at making water.

Making drinking water may not be necessary, but it sure is fun.  There are all sorts of valves and settings to play with, and we have a special meter that tests the quality of the water before we divert the flow into our tank.  It's a lot like the first few minutes of chemistry lab when you get to play with the equipment before the teacher shows up with an awful assignment. 

Our Little Wonder Watermaker
Testing our Water with the TDS Meter 
For now, our plan is to run the watermaker for a few hours every couple days, at least through the end of hurricane season.  That way, if we lose power and the city water is no longer drinkable, we will be ready to flip a switch and fill our tank with our homemade, clean drinking water, which is definitely preferable to fighting people at the grocery store for the last tray of bottled water or boiling the city water from the tap.  (It would take about a day of watermaking to fill our tank from empty.)  In addition, we are adding enough water to the tank to make up for the amount we are now using to run our washing machine (about 20 gallons per load), so we can stick to our familiar once-a-week fill-up schedule. 

After hurricane season has passed and the novelty of testing our water for dissolved solids wears off, we will probably pickle the watermaker and store it again until next summer.  Whether we are using it or not, though, it is sure nice to know that it is there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Toe Jam

I've been told (frequently by Eric) that having a pair of practical boat shoes is important for a number of reasons. Good boat shoes (1) have rubber soles that provide traction on wet surfaces, (2) have non-marking bottoms, which protect the deck from marks, and (3) have a sturdy structure that protect feet and toes from injury.

In my experience, the more practical a shoe, the uglier it tends to be. Some boat shoes, like Sperry Top-Siders, are actually rather cute...on other people. I don't know if my legs are too big or if my feet are too small, but whenever I put on a pair of classic boat shoes, I look absolutely ridiculous. Although my current boat shoes are halfway decent looking, other than having non-marking soles, they offer little benefit.

Eric has encouraged me to buy a better pair of shoes, and has even taken me shopping for some. While well-meaning, these shopping trips typically don't end well. What usually happens is this: Eric presents me with a pair of shoes and says, "These are really nice looking shoes, don't you think?" Inevitably, the shoes in question are the most hideous, homeliest shoes ever made. My response is usually, "If you think those shoes are attractive, and you also think I'm attractive, then what exactly do I look like?!" After repeating this scenario a dozen times, my self-esteem bottoms out and our shopping trip comes to an end. This is why I don't own a pair of good boat shoes.

When we sail, it is my job to run back and forth between the cockpit and foredeck to do various things while Eric steers the ship. Since I opted to buy a pair of semi-attractive, bad boat shoes over a pair of good, yet ugly boat shoes, I have stubbed my toes many times during the last year.

Since I am not completely willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of my feet in order to have cute shoes to wear while sailing, I finally caved and purchased a pair of practical boat shoes. Well, they are 90% practical--technically, they are flip flops, which isn't the most functional style of boat shoe:

KEEN Waimea H2 Flip Flops
Although they are sandals, as you can see, they have great toe protection:

KEEN's Patented Toe Protection
Are these the best looking flip flops I've ever worn? No, but they are practical, which is attractive in some sense of the word.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

And Yet Another Post About Laundry

If you have been following our blog since its inception, you are well aware of our laundry woes.  Back in Chicago, we did our laundry in a contraption operated by a hand crank that Krissy referred to as the "butter churn."  In Kentucky, we had a washer and dryer combo in our basement, which was great, but we left that convenience behind with land-based life when we moved aboard Sea Gem.

Over the past year, we have primarily been collecting quarters to do our laundry in the Marina's laundry machines.  This worked well enough for awhile, as the inconvenience of getting quarters, battling for empty machines, and hauling our laundry back and forth from the laundry room, was bearable so long as we didn't have to do laundry more than once every couple weeks.  We also sent our laundry out once using a service that comes right to the boat for pick-ups and deliveries, and that was very pleasant (perhaps decadent is the word).  However, as you might imagine, it was expensive, and it required that we be without our clothes for a few days.

Despite these downsides, we were doing alright on the laundry front--until Helina came along.  Helina, somehow, generates at least triple her volume in dirty laundry every few hours.  We can no longer wait two weeks to do our laundry, but rather have to do it at least every two days.  Collecting quarters and running laundry back and forth from the machines (and often arriving to find that all the machines are full) simply does not work for us anymore.  And sending laundry out with the required frequency would bankrupt us.  And so we needed, yet again, to find a new method for doing our laundry.

Sea Gem arrived from the factory (in 1986) with a European-style combination washer and dryer (a "Comb-o-matic").  That is, a single machine both washes and dries the clothes.  On its face, this would appear to be an obvious solution to our laundry woes.  Surely you are wondering why we would have ever lugged our laundry to the coin-operated machines when we had a machine right inside our boat?

The answer is that we were scared to use it.  You see, when Gulfstar built Sea Gem in 1986, they opted to build the boat around the washer/dryer.  The unit is neatly nestled inside a cabinet, which looks nice and tidy, but it is completely encapsulated on all sides except the front:

Front Access to Comb-o-matic
Back of Comb-o-matic Protruding into Nursery
How, then, do you check the hoses for leaks?  Or clean the dryer vent or lint filter (which is on the back of the machine for some reason)?  You can't, and because we did not want to start a flood or fire, we simply didn't use the machine.  Sea Gem's former owners similarly explained that they did not know how to clear the dryer vent and hardly ever used the machine.  And so the Comb-o-matic continued to sit unused (with the exception of infrequent Dryel emergencies).

Once Helina came along and it became apparent that we really needed to be able to use a laundry machine on the boat, I decided to put some effort into figuring out how to safely use the one we already have.  My solution was to cut a hole into the cabinetry behind the machine to be able to access the vent hose, lint trap, water hoses, and everything else located behind the machine that needs to be serviced:

Access Hole
Instead of leaving an ugly, gaping hole in the cabinetry (which is right next to Helina's bed), I installed an attractive teak cover that can be easily removed to service the machine.  (As you can see, the stain does not match right now--a project for another day.):

Teak Access Cover
Over the past week, we have been washing and drying one load a day (sometimes two), and have finally been able to clean clothes at the same pace that Helina soils them.  What's more, the Comb-o-matic in our boat is perhaps even more convenient than the separate washer and dryer we had in our basement in Kentucky.  First, we don't have to haul our clothes to and from the basement.  We simply walk them a few steps through our boat.  Second, we don't have to move clothes from the washer to the dryer.  What was once a two-step process now takes only one: throw the clothes in the machine, and when the machine stops, they are both clean and dry. 

Downsides?  So far, only one.  Because the machine spins clothes at a very high speed to wring the water out and enable the dryer to work more efficiently, the spin cycle sounds more or less like a jackhammer.  (I have looked into it, and this is a common complaint.)  So, for a couple minutes per load, we can't hear ourselves think.  But, compared to the butter churn, how far we have come...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Been a Year!

Exactly one year ago today, Eric, Moishe, and I moved aboard Sea Gem and set sail for Miami, FL. It has been an eventful year for our family--we sold nearly all of our worldly possessionsbought a boatsaid goodbye to our land-based life, moved to a new city, and welcomed our first child into the world.

Since neither Eric nor I had ever lived on a boat prior to August of last year, in the months leading up to moving aboard, we spent a significant amount of time preparing for the unknown and hoping that everything would work out as we anticipated (and for the most part it has).

Recently, a friend of ours asked what we thought was the most unexpected part about living on a boat. Both Eric and I agreed that the most surprising part about living on a boat was how normal it is (for us at least).

In a lot of ways, our water-based life is indistinguishable from our former, land-based life--we still have jobs, cars, etc. However, in some ways, our life is even more "normal" than it was before. For instance, for the first time since childhood, both Eric and I feel like we live in an real neighborhood, even though we don't. I can't remember the last time I knew any of my neighbors by their legal name (as opposed to the nicknames I gave them, like "creepy guy that smells like cabbage" or "lady with 1,000 cats"). Not only do we have neighbors on our pier (whose first and last names we know), everyone living and working at the marina is extremely friendly and sociable. For the first time, we are having engaging conversations with our neighbors, as opposed to in the past when we'd just exchanging robotic nods with them.

Although our first year living aboard Sea Gem brought many surprises, it is safe to say that the one thing Eric and I were not expecting to encounter was normalcy.

Moishe, Krissy (Helina), Eric, and Sea Gem

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Baby's First Trip to West Marine

Prior to living on a boat, one of my favorite things to do was browse home improvement stores and interior design boutiques. Now that we no longer live in a house, these type of stores are much less applicable to our life. Although we occasionally still visit stores like Home Depot, for the most part, whenever we need something for our "home," we head to West Marine.

Today was Helina's first trip to West Marine (outside of the womb)--and not just any West Marine--we took her to the West Marine mega store in Ft. Lauderdale. Helina was so excited to shop that, upon entering the store, she became overwhelmed with emotion and pooped her pants! Thankfully, Eric and I did not have the same (explosive) reaction upon walking through the entrance (of course, this wasn't our first trip to the mega store)...

Helina Under Cover
Despite Helina's initial reaction, it was a successful shopping trip and overall memorable day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Preparing for Take-off...

Sea Gem, like all Gulfstar 54 Sailcruisers, has two diesel engines, each driving a separate propeller.  This is unusual for a sailboat, even a big sailboat, but I love the configuration:  If one engine fails, we still have power, and the two engines make it much easier to maneuver the boat in tight spaces (with one engine in forward and the other in reverse, the boat turns very quickly).  The engines are located in a walk-in engine room located underneath the main salon, and I love that configuration as well:  I can maintain the engines and other mechanical equipment without encroaching into the living area, which would be required on most boats.

The downside of having twin engines located under the salon is that they generate a lot of heat, and this heat is transferred through the salon floor into the living spaces of the boat.  The result is that the interior can get very hot after running the engines, and the boat is often uncomfortably hot at anchor unless we run the A/C, which requires that we run the generator (yet another engine), and that means that the engine room never cools down.  (At the marina, we run the A/C off the grid.)

Although we will never be able to eliminate the problem of heat transfer from the engine room, we can reduce it by improving engine-room ventilation.  The faster we can remove the heat from the engine room, the faster it will cool down, and the more likely we will be able to sleep at night without firing up the generator.

Sea Gem's engine room has three 4-inch ventilation ducts that vent to outside the boat.  One is attached to an exhaust fan that runs only when the engines are running.  Unfortunately, the engines don't cool to room temperature as soon as we turn them off, so ventilation is needed even when the engines are not running.  For that reason, the other two ventilation ducts are connected to exhaust fans that can be turned on and off independently of the engine.  As a starting point for adding additional ventilation to the engine room, upgrading those two fans makes the most sense, as they provide additional cooling when it is needed the most: after we reach our destination and are trying to convert Sea Gem from "boat" to "house."

I did some investigating (slithering around in the far reaches of the engine room) and discovered that the two exhaust fans are 120mm (around 4.75") computer fans:

Our Old Fans
Upon further inspection, two deficiencies become immediately apparent: (1) at just over 2 watts a piece, the fans were far too weak to be useful, and (2) one of the fans was not working at all.  The result was half enough power to ventilate a computer, and nowhere near enough to ventilate an engine room.

The simple solution?  Tossing the half-broken and completely underpowered existing fans and replacing them with the most powerful 120mm 12-volt fans I could find.  And that is where things get interesting.

Most computer fans spin at around 1000 rpm.  Any faster, and they get too loud for the typical computer user.  A 120mm computer fan spinning at 1000 rpm moves about 25 cubic feet of air per hour: plenty for a 2-cubic-foot computer case, but woefully inadequate for a five- or six-hundred-cubic-foot engine room.  I figured that I could find fans that are maybe twice as powerful--enough to improve the situation, but no game changers.

As luck would have it, some computers apparently run as hot as diesel engines.  Enter the PFB1212UHE-F00, a screaming, 5500 rpm mad man that moves over 250 cubic feet of air per hour.  The rated output and power (48 watts) is at 12 volts--our battery bank is 13.2 volts, fully charged, so I'd expect the output to be around 10% higher, even--closer to 300 cubic feet per hour.  And, of course, there are two fans, and that should be enough to make a serious impact on our ventilation situation.

New Fans Pre-Installation 
Due to their freakish speed, the fans even came with a friendly warning:

A Serious Warning 
After installing the new fans, I flipped the switch, and--blew a fuse.  Oops.  No surprise--an appropriately sized fuse for 2-watt fans is going to be a bit small for fans that are twenty-five times more powerful.  After installing a larger fuse, I tried again.

The old fans, from their location deep in the engine room, were completely inaudible from the salon.  The new fans--not so much.

They started off with a gentle purr, but quickly grew louder...and louder...and louder.  At full speed, the fans screamed like a jet engine.  From inside the engine room next to the fans, it is too loud to hear anything else (why would anyone put one of these things in a computer?).  From inside the salon or the cockpit, the fans sound about as loud as a hairdryer or small vacuum cleaner--loud enough to notice, but not untolerable while waiting for the engine room to cool down.

Which, thanks to the new fans, should take no time at all.  Results to come.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baby's First Sail!

Our hiatus from sailing is over! At just 2 weeks old, Helina took her maiden voyage aboard Sea Gem. Accompanying her on her first sail were my parents, Moishe, Eric, and I. With my parents on board, our ship contained 10 watchful eyes, 8 free hands, 4 sailors, 2 physicians, 1 certified babysitter, 1 non-certified (although experienced) babysitter, 1 former lifeguard, and several strong swimmers--a pretty good combination to ensure a safe first outing for our tiny sailor.

Before setting sail, we stuffed Helina into her life jacket, which was no easy task:

Securing Our Precious Cargo
Initially, she was a bit unsure about her new attire; however, once Eric adjusted the straps, she seemed at home in her puffy pink suit:

Ready to Set Sail

With the exception of a slight rigging malfunction (a few lines and pieces of sailing hardware had been moved so our teak could be refinished and they weren't reassembled correctly), Helina's first sail was rather uneventful. In fact, she spent the majority of the day lounging in the cockpit, sleeping on various laps and in her car seat:
Helina's Portable Captain's Chair
Moishe Watching Over Helina
At the Helm with Mom and Dad
It was a bit daunting setting sail with such a delicate passenger, but Helina took to the water like a natural. And while we hope our next sail is as uneventful as Helina's first, we look forward to future sails in which Helina is actually awake.