Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Seat at the Helm

Although Helina has already ascended to the rank of Captain, she has only recently perfected her physical climb to the helm.

Step 1: Check for spectators/spotters

Step 1
Step 2: Find your footing

Step 2
Step 3: Push up!

Step 3
Step 4: Steady yourself

Step 4
Step 5: Plop down

Step 5
Step 6: Exclaim "Did it!"

Step 6
And that's how it is done, folks.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Helina's vocabulary has more than doubled in the last few weeks, and our recent sailing trip offered the perfect opportunity for her to add several more boat-specific (and ocean-related) words to her arsenal.

Quite possibly, the funniest thing she now says is "travel lift." What exactly is a travel lift? This:

Travel Lift in Action
I'm sure it was quite impactful for Helina to see her home hoisted from the water by this enormous contraption, so it is of no surprise that she was able to put a name to the machine.

Other words mastered during this trip were: ocean, captain, kite...

Flying High
...hammock, towel, instruments, Hinckley, buoy, marker (as in ocean marker, not magic marker), barometer, dolphin, sunset...

Rodriguez Key
She now even knows our boat's name--Sea Gem--which she pronounces "Sea-sea."

In addition to all of her new boat-themed words, she also, for the first time, said "House." This might seem like somewhat of an outlier, but it isn't when you consider we passed through Stiltsville twice during our journey. As we approached the collection of homes, a look of confusion came across Helina's face. After studying the seascape, however, she began repeating "house," as we passed by each home.

Spotted: Houses!
I have often wondered when Helina would learn the word house, since she has limited experience with non-boat dwellings  (even some of her grandparents appear to live on a boat)--it never occurred to me she'd learn the word while at sea.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Sailing with Helina used to be extremely challenging (except for when she was a newborn and just slept in her car seat the entire time). Pre-Helina, Eric and I went sailing every two weeks. "Sailing" involved loafing around the cockpit, eating, drinking, drifting in and out of consciousness, and listening to music. It was great. Our recent sailing trips with Helina did not allow us to do any of those things. The lifestyle of a 1-year-old is not compatible with leisure. 

In addition to being the longest sail we've taken in awhile, our recent excursion to the Keys was also our first solo-sail with Helina. Before now, we've always had another person (or people) on board because Helina was such a handful. 

Much to our amazement, Helina did extraordinarily well--especially considering she spent the bulk of the 48-hour journey confined to an area (the cockpit) the size of a minivan. 

Although there were moments when Helina embraced her inner sailor...

Tiny Sailor
Professional Loafer
...the rest of the time, she needed some serious entertainment.

Thankfully (for me), Helina is now 1.5 years old and has the ability to play independently (for short periods of time), so I am no longer constantly forced to play the role of jester in Helina's high-seas court.

To prepare for our time at sea, I bought Helina a bunch of new (small) toys, like this tiny Etch A Sketch, which Helina believes is her own, personal "instrument" (pronounced "em-ten-ent"), as it resembles our boat's navigation instruments (minus the hot pink color):

Sketching at Sea
We brought piggies to life...

They're Alive!
...barked orders at the new recruits...

Captain and Crew
...produced fabulous works of art...

Masterpiece in the Making lost in literature...

Pout-Pout Fish
...and kept a lookout for land (and lobster traps)...

Land ho! 
There were moments when Helina tried our patience (and we hers), but if this trip was any indication of Helina's tolerance for being at sea for extended periods of time, I have a feeling there will be more overnight trips in the future. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sea Gem's Working Vacation

Today, we returned from a 9-day journey to the Florida Keys aboard Sea Gem.  Well, mostly aboard Sea Gem.  Although we had a full 9 days of vacation, Sea Gem spent 4 of those days "on the hard" (out of the water) having her bottom repainted.  During that time, we rented a car and continued our vacation without her.

All boats kept in saltwater have some sort of anti-fouling bottom paint to prevent growth of barnacles and other unwanted sealife, and after a couple years or so, the paint loses its anti-fouling properties and needs to be redone.  Sea Gem's bottom was last painted 3 years ago, so the time was right for some brand-new, barnacle-killing paint.

We also hadn't had Sea Gem hauled out of the water since we bought her 2-and-half years ago, so we had no idea what horrors we'd find.  Giant barnacles?  Fiberglass damages?  Dented propellers?  The process of hauling Sea Gem out (on slings hung from a giant boat-pulling machine called a travel lift) is also nerve-wracking.  Sea Gem weighs 32 tons--what if a sling breaks or she slips off?

Travel Lift
Fortunately, the haul-out was uneventful and everything was in good repair.  The bottom looked good (other than the worn-out paint), and nothing was damaged.

Out of the Water
The only unwanted surprise was the nylon rope of a lobster trap twisted around our starboard propeller shaft.  (The lobster traps are tied to buoys floating on the surface so that they can be easily located and retrieved.)  Since we ended up in a mine field of lobster traps on the sail down, it really was not much of a surprise that our propeller caught one.  Fortunately, the propeller cut its way free and did not give us any problems on the sail down, and the remaining rope easily pulled away by hand. Perhaps the only victim of this story is the poor lobster stuck in a trap that will never be found.

After our 4-day journey by car, we returned to find Sea Gem with a freshly painted bottom and ready to be returned to the sea.

Fresh Coat of Paint
In what seemed like a few minutes later, we were back in the water and motoring away, ready to begin our two-day return sail back to Miami.