Sunday, December 23, 2012

Deck the Halls with Teak and Holly

Many factors contributed to us purchasing a Gulfstar 54 (and many more factors contributed to us purchasing our Gulfstar 54, Sea Gem), however, the fact that the Gulfstar's design would easily accommodate our vintage rya rug sealed the deal. I wouldn't say that having a space large enough to fit the rug was our #1 criterion when shopping for a boat, but I will say that we ruled out other boats because their interior wasn't large enough (or wasn't the right shape) to hold my prized possession.

That being said, I'm feeling a bit foolish because my precious rug is no longer covering the floor in our salon. It is (sob) rolled up (tear) and out of the way. Why did this happen, you ask? Helina. Helina made me do it.

Yes, it seems that shag rugs and tiny babes don't mix...or rather they do--a bit too well. Now that Helina is 5 months old, she is becoming increasingly mobile and as such, she is spending a lot more time on the floor. Of course, we live on a boat and floor space is scarce, so when I say that she is spending a lot more time on the floor, what I really mean is that she is spending a significant amount of time pulling at, chewing on, and spitting up all over my vintage masterpiece! It was getting a bit gross (both in a general sense and also quite literally in terms of the rug), so I rolled it up and moved it out of the way, exposing our brilliant floor:

Sea Gem's Teak and Holly Floor
Now, don't get me wrong--revealing our floor wasn't at all like the magical moments you see on HGTV when a home owner rips up their disgusting carpet and discovers pristine hardwood below--we were well aware of what lurked beneath our rug, it was just nice to have a glimpse of the floor again.

Helina squealed upon seeing the striped floor for the first time (she loves stripes). However, one member of our crew wasn't as thrilled with what was unveiled--Moishe. Yes, our dear little Moishe doesn't quite "get it" when it comes to reflective surfaces. He's been known to bark at his own reflection and proceeds with extreme caution when walking on anything shiny. Without the rug, the mirror finish of our floor left Moishe unable to determine the depth of what he was walking on and and unwilling to venture into the salon. It was sad (both in a general sense and also quite literally in terms of Moishe's intellectual bandwidth). So, we got a rug. A very inexpensive rug, with a pattern to camouflage Helina's path of destruction (spit up, drool, baby food, etc.) and enough surface area to give Moishe a bit of (much needed) assistance:

Seeing Spots
Do I like this rug as much as my rya rug? No, not at all. In fact, I can barely stand to look at this thing without getting dizzy; however, it is a temporary fix for a temporary problem, and that's all that matters (at least, that is what I keep telling myself). 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


When we bought Sea Gem, the galley came furnished with several wall-mounted wooden spice racks, which are the perfect size for storing traditional spice jars. Unfortunately, we don't own traditional spice jars. Instead, we have an abundance of wide-bottomed glass spice jars that are just large that they don't fit into the wooden holders. Because the racks couldn't accommodate our jars, they remained empty until this past summer when we began using them to store sleeves of Nespresso pods:

Repurposed Spice Racks
Recently, however, we've been using a few of the racks to store something much less addictive--baby food:

Repurposed, Again.
The racks are the perfect shape and size for holding all sorts of baby food containers, and since we were previously using the racks only as overflow storage for Nespresso pods, we haven't had to give up any of our precious cupboard space in order to accommodate Helna's baby food (we've just been making more frequent trips to the Nespresso store). 

Eventually, our daughter will be able to eat actual food (as opposed to the unseasoned mush known as baby food) and we'll restore the racks to their previous use--pod storage. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Captain is 5 Months!

5 Months Old
When my dad saw this picture, he joked that Helina was "crushing my hat." He makes a good point--our baby girl is getting nice and big! And who knows, perhaps by 6 months her neck strength will have improved enough to support wearing the hat on her head.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

But What About a Christmas Tree?

We're Jewish.

However, unlike celebrating Christmas on a boat, which would only pose logistical challenges (Where do you hide the presents? Where does the tree go? How will Santa enter? Are reindeer's hooves non-marking?), celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights (open flames), on a boat--particularly one with a mostly wooden interior--was shaping up to be a rather harrowing event (oy).

Thankfully, just like the Christmas tree, which is no longer adorned with actual candles, menorahs have evolved, too. Here is our new, electric menorah that arrived yesterday afternoon--halfway through Hanukkah (the brilliant idea of getting an electric menorah didn't occur to us until after the holiday was already upon us):

It's Electric!
At first, the idea of an electric menorah seemed kind of cheesy, but then I remembered that I hate scraping dried wax off of wooden surfaces (or any surface for that matter), at which time I fell in love with the idea of an electric menorah.

Amazon had several styles to choose from, but ultimately we settled on the menorah pictured above because its flickering bulbs gave the illusion of a real flame, which made it feel very menorah-y (plus, its low profile makes for easy storage).

So now, instead of our usual Hanukkah tradition of heading to bed under threat of house fire (or boat fire, as the case may be), we simple turn off our menorah and go to sleep.  

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bed Fit for a King

Before moving onto Sea Gem, Eric and I tried very hard to anticipate what life aboard a sailboat would be like and plan accordingly. Of course, without any real context, some of our preparation and purchases turned out to be unnecessary or not a great fit (in some cases quite literally).

The process for preparing for a baby to arrive was extremely reminiscent of preparing for life as a live-aboard.  Once again, we found ourselves making plans and buying things according to assumptions, even though we had no true understanding of what the future held. And, much like when we moved aboard, we discovered that certain things we purchased were spot on, while other things we bought proved useless.

For obvious reasons, one thing we felt obligated to buy before Helina arrived was some sort of bed for her to sleep in. Although we didn't immediately purchase a crib, we did get a bassinet co-sleeper, which we intended for her to sleep in, in our bed, for the first 3 months of her life (which is something I now find hilarious considering she was out of our bed almost immediately).

Despite the co-sleeper not working out as we had hoped (having it in bed with us), we thought we could at least use it like a traditional bassinet. We were wrong. Although the co-sleeper is well constructed and appears to be a great product, it just didn't work for our baby. So, after only a few nights, Helina was out of the bassinet and sleeping--like a baby--in her bouncer, while the barely used co-sleeper was set aside...until now.

Fur Baby
Yes, our tiny pup has a fabulous new bed! His compact little body fits rather nicely in Helina's former bassinet. Moishe is thoroughly enjoying his new bed, which is quite the upgrade from the tattered pillow on which he used to sleep.

Moishe spends a significant portion of his day reminding us that he is still the baby of the family--and he now has the bed to prove it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Unwelcome Repairs, Part I

I recently wrote about our first major repair on Sea Gem, replacing the hot water heater, and that the repair went about as well as we could have hoped for.  We have been lucky with maintenance on Sea Gem, as very few things have broken in the past 16 months.  There have, of course, been the usual, routine maintenance tasks here and there--dead light bulbs, oil changes, etc.  These tasks are rarely cause for worry, but this weekend brought two maintenance tasks that, while predictable, are nonetheless unwelcome.

First up is replacing a failed "ball-valve seal" in our toilet.  Over the past week or so, the vacuum pump for our toilet has been running at odd times due to an air leak in the toilet bowl.  Basically, the toilet works by sucking everything in the bowl out with a vacuum pump.  When you flush the toilet, you break the vacuum seal, and everything inside instantly disappears (just like an airplane toilet).  When you release the flush lever, the toilet seals and the vacuum stops.  Recently, the toilet seal has begun to fail, causing the water in the bowl to slowly leak out, and once the bowl is empty, there is no longer an airtight seal, and the vacuum pump turns on.

Our toilet manual says that the seals need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.  And 3 to 5 years happened to fall on today, unfortunately.  As it turns out, disassembling the toilet and replacing the seal was relatively easy.  It was not, however, clean or enjoyable.  Here is the old seal, properly disposed of in the trash can:

Tired Ball-Valve Seal
At least that maintenance task is over with, at least for the next three to five years.

Stay tuned for part II...