Entries

We're Home! September 9, 2006

We're Nomads September 4, 2006

Another Milestone August 18, 2006

Adapting June 14, 2006

Recovering June 14, 2006

Texas to Maryland May 8, 2006

Murphy's Law March 29, 2006

Plan B March 9, 2006

Miami & Key West March 6, 2006

Miami Boat Show March 6, 2006

On to Plan B Feb. 7, 2006

Getting High Dec, 2005

Christmas Dec, 2005

Will it snow? Dec, 2005

Things Nov, 2005

That's funny... Nov. 14, 2004

Just Because.. Oct. 5, 2005

Up to Now Oct. 4, 2005

In the beginning Oct. 4, 2005

send email to Mary

send email to Neal

We're home!

September 9, 2006
by Mary

On September 5 we arrived at Sea Fox to take up permanent residency. We shipped far too much stuff so now we're again in the throes of sorting through what we really need to fit onto the boat and how to dispose of the excess. Our task is to change it from a floating warehouse into our home - and with everything stow-able for crossing open water. A marine carpenter has been here to give us a quote on adding bookshelves. The rigger did the work to have the line for the 3rd reef led back to the cockpit (I hope we never need it.). So that's two more items about to be checked off the list. Now that we're here I really miss the convenience we had in Texas. Everything here is a trek. Neal commented the other day that we could never use this marina without having a car. If we stop in this area again, it will have to be at Annapolis where taxis are available for getting to grocery stores, etc. The cats have adjusted well so far. They seem to remember having been on the boat before. It'll be interesting to see what happens when we begin moving. There's still so much to do before mid October!

It's Official - we're nomads

September 4, 2006
by Mary

We finally left Boulder on Sept. 1 and headed for Sea Fox. Didn't get finished at the house soon enough to have time to visit Minnesota, but stopped in Chicago to pick up the cats who'd been staying with my brother, and visit with Mom and brothers. We've shipped more stuff to Sea Fox than we'll be able to find space for, but once we're there we'll have a better basis for deciding what we can actually fit on the boat.

We're anxious to get "home" to Sea Fox because we heard from the marina this morning that one of our lines broke during Ernesto and there's some gelcoat damage from hitting the dock. We're assured that it is very minor, but it will be good to finally get there and see for ourselves that she's really ok. And I'm certainly ready to get on with it.

We arrived at my brother's house on Saturday and will leave tomorrow (Tuesday) so we've had a chance to rest up from our hectic clean out project. Feels good.

As for being a nomad, it's an interesting feeling to realize that we no longer have a specific spot on the map that is home. We've filed papers establishing a domicile in Florida, but the address is our mail forwarding service, not a place where we can hunker down. I guess our home is now "the world"; and I'm ready to explore it.

 

A very different move

August 18, 2006
by Mary

Turns out that it isn't easy to get rid of stuff - especially old stuff. Over the years our junk has expanded to fill the space. It's amazing how much stuff we've carried around for years simply because we had adequate storage.

So where previous relocations have been a matter of having tons of boxes moved from one place to another; this has been an interesting shift of mind set. We acquired all this stuff because we "needed" it at the time. But why did we need so many frying pans, for example. A project like this really makes you aware of how much extraneous stuff we all tend to accumulate. Without going into the gory details, I'll just comment that disposing of large items such as furniture and appliances is a royal pain. And nobody wants books - of which we had hundreds. The shredder motor has been pushed to its limits as we got rid of records and documents, some of which were 30 years old. It costs money to dispose of obsolete electronics.

The deadline looms and, as expected, we've both been stressed. But we've so far managed to avoid screaming out loud in our frustrations. Ice cream helps. We'll be on the road on the 24th but won't be on the boat for a while because we're attending Neal's 50th high school reunion and then making a farewell tour to visit family in Minneapolis and Chicago. What a relief it will be to have this phase behind us.

 

Another milestone

July 25, 2006
by Mary

Neal has retired. I'm not sure whether the circumstance of Maxtor being bought out and fading from existence has made it easier or more difficult. On the one hand, it had ceased to be "the best job he ever had" and that made it easier. On the other hand, everything in his life is changing at the same time and that can be very stressful.

There was a very nice retirement party for Neal and Robert Metz that included the traditional retirement watch. There were dancing girls and live music by the Rolling Stones and Tina Turner. President Bush who was in town for a fund raiser found time to stop by to wish the boys well. Fortunately the president left before the cops broke up the party at 3:00 a.m.

I had a request to spice up the log entries a little so I'll leave the reader to decide just how much of the previous paragraph is factual.

Anyway, we're still getting rid of stuff. What a huge job! But I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. No specific departure date yet.

Adapting to change

June 14, 2006
by Mary

A quote from somewhere: "It's not that people resist change; they resist being changed" I guess that pretty much describes my initial reaction Sea Fox's new home.

It is a gorgeous area. The trees and greenery are lush - very much unlike the dry and sparse western landscape where we've spent the past 22 years. I love that part. But we were truly spoiled by the location of Waterford Harbor and its facilities.

In Kemah (basically a Houston suburb) we had many stores and good restaurants within a couple of miles of the marina including 2 West Marine stores and another marine store. Waterford has an abundance of toilet, shower and laundry facilities strategically placed along its waterfront. And I loved the full-length floating docks.

The Herrington Harbour marinas (we're at North) are in a semi-rural area which, by definition, means that it's more of a trek to find shops and restaurants. But that's the price for being in the lush countryside. And the facilities here are more typical of East Coast marinas. One big difference being that there's a boating "season" here and then there's winter, unlike the year-round boating climate in Texas. I must finally realize that I'm comparing an apple to an orange.

The best thing is that Annapolis is only 20 miles North. Fawcett's is better than any West Marine store; there's a Sailrite store; and plenty of good restaurants - not to mention the best gelato I've tasted. We haven't yet been to the big mall but it looks like it has just about everything and there's even a Whole Foods. Could be worse

Recovering from the trip

June 14, 2006
by Mary

We spent the last week of May on Sea Fox with a long to-do list that, as usual, is mostly intact for two reasons: We still always hope to accomplish more than time will allow; and we can't resist spending time sight-seeing.

We drove to St. Michael's and got to see a bit of the Eastern shore. St. Michael's is a popular sailing destination, but it's just another tourist town full of expensive souvenir stores.

Got together with Lana and Robert Lohe - friends from Carter Lake in Colorado who've relocated to Maryland - and had a great time with them at a great restaurant on the water.

Although we did retrieve a lot of stuff that had been stowed for the voyage, we didn't get into the lazarette yet. That will be a major project for next trip.

Texas to Maryland

May 8th, 2006
by Mary

Neal and I arrived at the boat on April 9 and spent the next week getting her ready to sail. It was a hectic time acquiring additional equipment, spares, and groceries and then figuring out where to stow it all. At least we had good weather. We made one last visit to most of our favorite local restaurants, but never managed to get to Rosie's fish market for shrimp.

Finally at about 11:30 on the 15th Sea Fox headed out of Waterford Harbor Marina. Neighbors waved and tossed flower petals as we left the slip. I can't express just how sad it was to leave Neal behind. I immediately went below to clean up the galley so the guys wouldn't see me crying.

The "guys" were Captain Roy Newberry, Sr. plus crew, James and Charles. We were lucky in having a very compatible crew. Although we were all very different personalities, there were no squabbles on board. Roy is an outstanding captain, having made several Atlantic crossings as well as sailing the Med, the Baltic, and the Pacific.. James and Charles are both experienced sailors. I was the weak link but others picked up the slack. We worked in 2 hour shifts which then gave everyone 6 hours off. This schedule also allowed Roy to be with me during my watch shifts.

The bay was a little choppy as we made our way to Galveston. The Houston ship channel very busy so we saw quite a few large ships. In Galveston we topped off the fuel and water tanks. We raised the main with 2 reefs in (it's easier to shake out a reef than to put one in) and finally headed into the Gulf of Mexico at about 4:00 pm. We were moving at about 6 kts and at quite an angle of heel. I got bruises on top of bruises as I adjusted to getting around the boat at that angle and with constant movement. Took me a couple of days to get my sea legs.

We shook out the second reef but kept one reef in the main. Roy had charted a course designed to minimize our time among the oil rigs, but we sure saw a lot of them. Rigs are huge. In addition, their work boats anchor out quite a way from them so it is necessary to give them quite a wide berth. They're brightly lit and visible at night. I'd heard tales of boats encountering unlit rigs at night, but those in our path were bright and obvious.

Deep water is the most perfect blue you can imagine.

The investment in satellite phone turned out to be a good one. I was able to call Neal each evening with a progress report. Reception wasn't always perfect but it was great to be able to talk to him every day. It eased his mind to know that things were going well; and he charted our progress. He also sent a daily email report to my kids and to contacts for Charles and James. Sailmail also worked well. It usually took some time and several attempts to find an open channel, but I'm happy with it. I didn't want to leave the computer on the nav station in rough conditions so it did take some effort to safely get it back and forth when I wanted to use it.

The lee cloths on the settees worked pretty well for James and Charles.. On the Gulf we were mostly heeled to port so I slept snugly in the berth in the forward cabin. The problem was climbing uphill to get out of bed!

On the morning of the 17th we saw and passed a ketch headed in our same direction. That same day we encountered a seismographic ship. These ships tow several seismographs on lines that extend as far as five miles. Each one has an escort boat to clear the path of small boats like ours. The escort contacted us and requested that we change course but Roy determined that the ship was traveling slow enough and we were traveling fast enough that we'd cross well ahead of it without changing course by more than a few degrees. Once the wind came up to its daytime strength we had a great sail - but heeled way over with the rail making the occasional contact with the sea surface. That evening Roy had the sails so well trimmed that we were sailing at over 7 kts in winds of only 10 kts. Even though wind was almost on our nose, we had a pretty comfortable ride.

Night time is spectacular in its own way. The sky is filled with stars and the wake of the boat sparkles with bio-luminescence. It looks like fireflies in the water. What a wonder!

We had a little bird with us for a while - a swallow, I think. Poor thing must have been blown off its course. We also had dolphins - small ones - playing in our bow wake for a while. As we got closer to Florida there were flying fish. They look like huge dragonflies flitting across the surface. The wind died down so we actually had a sit-down meal at the cockpit table with real plates and everything!

After the first day, I realized that I'd provisioned for the way Neal and I eat and I didn't understand just how much 3 men can eat. We didn't run low on food, but meal portions turned out to be a little smaller than optimal. At this point, there were still plenty of snacks available to fill the void. James took over some of the cooking chores which made a big difference for me. He was great about making sandwiches for everyone, too. After our daily hot meal, he and Charles did clean up duty. For the most part, the Gulf crossing was uneventful. Roy was anxious until we passed the last of the oil rigs. Days were sunny and hot which made the cabin very uncomfortable. All hatches and ports were closed to keep water out and one of the salon fans wasn't working. We need to replace the broken fan and perhaps even add another one.

Everyone was eager to get to Key West. As we got closer the wind died. While we'd rather have had wind, the glassy water gave us better visibility of the many, many crab pots. As the water got more shallow it changed from deep blue to a gorgeous turquoise. We expected a late afternoon arrival so the plan was to get fuel and water then find a slip for the night. We were dreaming of hot showers and a meal on shore. There's a store where I would beef up the provisions and we'd have a good night's rest. WRONG!

 

We got to Key West late on the afternoon of Thursday the 20th just in time to get fuel before the fuel dock closed. Turns out there was a fishing tournament starting and there wasn't a slip to be had anywhere. We moved to an anchorage and got the anchor down just long enough to figure out that we didn't really want to mess with the hassle of getting the dinghy into the water and the motor onto the dinghy. So the anchor came up and we headed out again. We found our way out through the markers in the dark and headed for the Gulf Stream. Roy was up all night across all watches making frequent fixes and making sure we got out ok. Saw a bunch of cruise ships. They're all lit up like Christmas trees at night. There were also cargo ships and bunches of little fishing boats all heading for the spot where they expected land the big ones.

By 5:00 pm on Friday we were passing Miami. We were still close enough to shore to see the high rise buildings. The Gulf Stream had us moving along at about 9.5 kts. We had the big jib out but still had one reef in the main. As we got into the apex of the stream we were averaging about 10 kts in winds that also averaged about 10 kts. We surfed down the big swells. At one point we had 8.5 kts boat speed (which is also our hull speed) and hit 14.9 kts SOG (Speed Over Ground). What a great ride. The 21st was a 227 mile day!

We were about even with Cape Canaveral when a jet fighter spent some time looking us over before he continued on his flight. He came down low and circled us a couple of times. We all waved. Had another bunch of dolphins with us for a while. The wind came up a little on the 21st and we spent most of the day wing-and-wing with the reacher poled out. It was very very rolly and hard to move around on the boat.

At about 5:30 pm the wind came up more and it was clear that we were headed into a storm. At first it looked as though we'd pass through just a small part of the storm but James watched it grow bigger on the radar. Very heavy rain and lots of lightening - some of it pretty close. It was a bit unnerving to realize that we were the tallest thing on the water during an electrical storm. James and Charles counted seconds between thunder and lightening - except for the one strike that was too close for counting. Strange thing is that I wasn't frightened. There certainly was some anxiety and I felt every nerve on alert, but it was more being vigilant and careful. We eventually got through it. I continued to see lightening on the horizon until I went off watch at 11:00 pm. Another storm came up in the wee hours of the morning. Strong swirly winds with gusts up to 30 kts and 8 - 10 ft seas. They got me up at 3:30 am to be awake, in my PFD, and ready for whatever might happen. Roy didn't want me up in the cockpit so I stayed below. It was pretty rough and I got a good start on a whole new set of bruises. Conditions finally eased up and the seas flattened out. We ended the day motoring in 2 kts of wind.

The 24th was a major decision day. Our original plan to stay out in open water the whole way was changed because of forecasts for gale force winds off Cape Hatteras. Crew said they were willing to forge ahead but that seemed like a bad idea. We headed for the inlet at Cape Lookout that leads to Morehead City and Beaufort, NC. There were no ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) guides on board so I called Neal for help. It was the one time I was glad to have him at home where he could provide support to us. He found room for us at the Beaufort City dock. I radioed and got "instructions" on getting there. So we found ourselves heading into a strange harbor at night straining to find markers. Only one of the spotlights worked so we handed it back and forth as we spotted markers on each side. We never did make our way to Beaufort. We anchored for the night near the Morehead City turning basin. Finally got to Beaufort in the morning where we fueled up again and had breakfast on shore. I got directions to a store because we needed bread - Big Daddy's Grocery, Bail Bonds and Bait. More like a convenience store than grocery, but probably handy if you need a bail bond.

Entering the ICW we faced our first fixed bridge. Fixed bridges are designed to be 65' at the center. Our mast is 63.5' plus antennas that rise above the top of the mast. We made it through without touching. There were several of these bridges along the route and we lightly brushed the antennas on only one of them. Went up a very pretty section of the ICW. Lots of well-kept modest houses, each with a dock and a boat up on a lift. Once we got out into the wide area of the Neuse River it was a different story. Strong current and markers that were far apart gave us fits for a few hours. It was very difficult to stay on course. Anchored again for the night. I woke the next morning to 25 kt winds and a rocking, rolling boat. Everyone was glad that we weren't out on the Atlantic. Very cool overcast day. It was dark before we went through the day's last bridge and 9:00 pm before we got anchored for the night.

The ICW is where the chart books prove their worth. The chart scale is right and the book size works pretty well in the cockpit. Where there are lots of turns or where the channel is very narrow, navigator and helmsman need to be in close proximity and in synch on a deep draft boat like ours. Next day was overcast and cool again. 15 kt winds on the nose and strong chop sent cold spray through the open front window of the dodger. Had to keep it open for visibility.

Went aground in an area of the ICW that has shoaled over not far south of Coinjock. Saw water depth reading of only 4 ft. We got assistance from a passing trawler who hung around while we plowed through the soft muck and he zigzagged ahead of us while radioing the depths. Thanks to trawler 20th Maine we got safely through the silted up area. The ICW channels can be VERY narrow even in what looks like open water. Tied up at Great Bridge for the night with more than a dozen other boats waiting for the morning bridge opening. Here we were just 12 miles from Norfolk and having to stop for the night.

We were one of three boats to get through the 6:00 am bridge opening. That was great except that the next bridge didn't open until 8:30 am. While waiting for the second bridge opening a barge was leaving dock and also preparing to go through. Again there were 3 boats milling around waiting - with us in the last position and the barge getting himself into position. We were watching the barge carefully to stay out of its way, but apparently the barge captain wasn't sure of us. Across the radio came "I'm gonna run you down, rich boy". According to Roy, the barge captains can get pretty frustrated with recreational boats that don't understand the potential danger.

Once the bridge opened, we left the barge far behind. Going through Norfolk is tedious. When we got to the Navy docks we acquired a security boat escort. The markers are very close to the Navy ships so I guess that every boat gets an escort. Lots of traffic here - both commercial and navy. The lower end of Chesapeake Bay was awful. Very, very choppy with winds of 20 - 25 kts right on the nose again. We pounded up the bay in a strong opposing current. We never got speed over 3.5 kts in this part of the bay. It's also frustrating because the markers are far apart and hard to spot. Overall, this was probably the worst day we had. Winds eventually eased and the ride got a little more comfortable. We ran all night and got to our marina at about 8:30 am on the 29th. Found our slip and the guys got us docked.

Everyone was glad to reach our destination. Neal got to the boat by mid-afternoon. The guys flew home Saturday night after a job well done. Neal and I flew home on May 2.

We made good time overall. Our daily average in the Gulf was 160 nm/day and in the open Atlantic was 180 nm/day. If we'd been able to stay outside for the whole trip, we'd have arrived earlier than Roy had predicted.

Other Observations:

The cockpit enclosure was great. In the warmth of the Gulf we had the side curtains rolled up, but once we got headed north in the Atlantic and especially after we left the Gulf Stream, having protection on all sides made a big difference. On the ICW, as we passed sailboats without enclosures or even bimini tops, their occupants sure looked cold and miserable.

I should have gotten weather fax working before we left. I wasted so much time trying to get one program working that it didn't leave enough time to get going with an alternative. I also should have investigated radio nets along the route and been prepared to dial in on the SSB. We should have thought to have had at least one ICW guide book on board.

I'd planned two meals that turned out not to be appropriate for passage because they required knives and forks. One was adapted for eating in a bowl and we didn't need the other one. Passages need one-dish meals. I learned a lot about provisioning.

I can't wait to get going again.

Murphy's Law -

March 29th, 2006
by Mary

We'd planned to get a lot of things accomplished during the week of March 19th but Murphy had other plans for us. Replacing the leaky port turned into a much bigger project than expected and took up most of the week. Neal says he'll add details in a separate entry. We had our new ShadeTree awnings up for most of the week. They're high enough to walk under so we can still get around on deck easily. The new dodger STILL wasn't on the boat. Late Friday afternoon Dave was finally doing the promised polishing of the dodger frame. Neal has much more patience with the canvas delays than I do. But he'll have to keep on Dave's back so that we get the connector and remaining side panels before we leave Kemah. Got most of the "stuff" stowed but there's still work to do on the storage plan. We'll be back on April 9th to do the final prep and provisioning. Maybe Murphy will have mercy on us next time

Plan B

March 9th, 2006
by Mary

I just realized that I never explained Plan B. In keeping with our original thought of leaving Texas in mid-April, our delivery captain was available then so we set a date with him for April 15. Then Neal put in for the time off. OOPS! Turns out that his boss will be vacationing in Europe at that time and Neal cannot be gone at the same time. What a let down. The sailing plan stays the same, though. I'll go as planned but the Captain will have to rustle up another crew member if he wants to have three crew in addition to himself. I'm looking forward to the trip but very disappointed that Neal can't be part of it. We've got a Texas trip planned to get Sea Fox ready for her voyage. Lots to do to be ready to sail next month.

Miami & Key West

March 6th, 2006
by Mary

We finished our boat show agenda early on the second day (Friday) so we did some sight seeing. Drove to Key Biscayne for a look at No Name Harbor in the Bill Baggs State Recreation Area. It is pretty much as described in the guide books. There were 15 boats at anchor filling the small harbor. There's a restaurant and a very nice picnic area. We drove around the park stopping at the lighthouse and taking a look at the beach.

Early Saturday we headed for Key West. I'd never been there and wanted to see what all the shouting is about. Heavy traffic made it a very long ride down Hwy 1. It was fun to see the pelicans sitting among the fishermen/women on the fishing bridges along the way. I wonder how many fish get stolen right off the hook. After 2 days of walking around the boat show, we continued the trend by taking a long walk through the old town to a Cuban restaurant for lunch. Picked up a flyer as we went past a house for sale. 1,300 sq. ft. condo (refurbished cottage) for only $1.9 million.

The walk back to Duval Street took us past the marker for the southernmost point in the U.S. Walked to Mallory Square for sunset. The street performers in the square remind me of Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. The sky was clear and the sunset was right on time. Very much like the cloudless sunsets we had when we lived on the beach. Key West today is nothing like Neal's memories of it many years ago before it became a major tourist destination. The famous Duval street is much like the main drag in any tourist town. There are more upscale shops than in some places but otherwise it isn't much different than Bourbon Street, Estes Park, the Wisconsin Dells, or Gatlinburg, TN. Same tourists, same bawdy t-shirts. But the ocean was sparkling turquoise and the breeze was warm and soft - nothing like that in Gatlinburg.

Miami Boat Show

March 6th, 2006
by Mary

Since the idea was to save money by getting "show pricing" on our purchases, we economized on our Miami hotel. As a result we've definitely determined that it's not really a good idea to stay at a place that's priced too far below the mainstream. It recently had an obviously much needed refurbishment, and it was clean and it was pretty full. But the furniture was right out of the Salvation Army store and you wouldn't walk in the neighborhood after dark. The bed was so noisy that it was funny, but turned out to be surprisingly comfortable.

Thursday was spent at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Just as we entered we found the Winslow booth and spent quite a bit of time there. The product is obviously top quality and the sales rep was extremely knowledgeable about his product. We were impressed. As we walked the show we stopped and examined every other life raft on the floor. No other raft vendor had much of a clue about their product - it was very disappointing.

The other major disappointment was the Furuno radar booth. Neal was prepared to purchase a specific system because he'd understood that it would be compatible with his existing Max Sea charts. Not only did he find that was not the case, but the guys in the booth came on with so much Attitude (with a capital A) that they never had a chance at recovering the sale. So we expanded our agenda to look at every radar vendor on the floor. We'll wait 'til we move the boat before following up on radar. The Furuno guys were bested by the ICOM group. We approached the booth where there were no other customers just the booth reps commenting on some woman's amplitude. Having just come from another radio booth Neal asked about wireless mikes and got major ATTITUDE. Seems like a little remedial training should be mandatory - Customers & Prospects 101.

The convention center seemed to have many more vendors oriented toward power boats. There were lots of huge inboard engines and many, many huge outboards. It was interesting to see but there was too much stuff that we weren't interested in. Friday we went to the Strictly Sail show. First thing we did was visit with Scott, our broker. He was working the Hunter display. We walked the docks but the only boat we went on was the Saga 48. Neal got to meet the Saga folks he's been talking with. The 48 is great looking boat but I'm happy with our 43. Here's where we purchased the Winslow life raft and my sewing machine. We also took a look at the KISS wind generator which is on the acquisition list. As usual, we picked up lots of product literature, but didn't find many things to add to our wish list. I guess that means that we're just about ready to take off.

On to Plan B

February 7th, 2006
by Mary

While I was pretty disappointed about the delay, it does make some things easier. I was prepared to come home after New Years and dive into rapid disposal mode for our remaining furniture and stuff. Final disposal now becomes a more orderly. The added income will make the final big-ticket purchases a little more comfortable.

There will, however be an added expense: moving Sea Fox. Neal is determined to avoid spending another season in the hurricane box so we're going to move her to the Chesapeake. We've reserved a slip at Herrington Harbour North near Deale, MD. To accomplish the move as easily and quickly as possible, we'll hire a delivery captain to get us there. We'll crew. Yes, hurricanes do get to the Chesapeake, but the area doesn't see the kinds of high-intensity direct hits that curse the Gulf Coast. No date has been set yet for the cruise.

Next week we're off to the Miami boat show hoping to get good "boat show pricing" on some major purchases. We're shopping for a life raft, new radar, and a wind generator and probably a SailRite sewing machine. It's been a mild winter here in Boulder, but I'm looking forward to a few days of truly warm weather.

Getting High

January, 2006

Mary's first trip up the mast.

 

Christmas on Sea Fox

December, 2005
by Mary

Our second Christmas on Sea Fox was much more comfortable than the first because the weather was great. Very cool when we arrived but it got warmer each day. We had a great couple of weeks on board.

The cats were much better on the long drive to Kemah than we expected. When we got them on the boat and opened the carrier they immediately began exploring. They adapted very quickly and very well. It didn't take long for them to find a good hidey-hole in the aft cabin where they felt safe. That was their refuge whenever there was a stranger on board or they heard a strange noise. While Lefty is generally the more assertive, Patty was the one who was the most curious about her new surroundings. She seemed very interested in what was outside so I attached a tether and took her into the cockpit. That lasted about 1 nanosecond - as long as it took her to turn around and jump back into the cabin.

 

 

Lefty
Patty

Annette and Philip from s/v Samba joined us for drinks before dinner on Christmas Eve. Neal made his traditional dinner of clam chowder. Christmas day was beautiful and warm and bright. Santa brought nifty new toys for us and for Sea Fox. We learned about tuning the rigging and practiced going up the mast - see the "Getting High" post. As you see from the photo, there are still some slip covers to be made. And we came up with a couple of more projects to get done back in Boulder.

The only thing lacking was water. Winds had been from the North so we never had enough water under us to be able to get out of the slip. We'd planned a trip down to Freeport but that never happened. On the other hand, we got some boat chores done and it is great just being there. I always hate to leave.

The most interesting thing that happened during those two weeks was not at all boat related: Neal's company is being bought by its biggest competitor. Our plans for the near future are changing. Stay tuned.

Will it snow again in Kemah?

December, 2005
by Mary

We leave on Saturday to spend Christmas and New Years on Sea Fox. Gifts have been wrapped and sent to kids and grandkids. I finally remembered to get my car smogged so I could get new tags. Would have been expensive to return in January with tags that expired in November. Much of the Christmas stuff has been sold or given away - there are a few things that still need decisions. The latest batch of setee cushion slipcovers is ready to go. And I'm anxious to get going.

This trip we're taking the cats with us. Two cats in the car for 16 hours straight. Then in two weeks we get to do that again. With any luck they'll settle down after the first hour or two. They've adjusted to being in harnesses and even tolerate having a lead attached and dragging. The only way we'll let them on deck while we're in a slip will be to have them attached to jack lines so they can't go over the side so the harness training has been crucial. I wonder how they'll adapt.

It'll be great to have two full weeks on board. There's always so much to do and we'd like to get out of the bay and into the Gulf to do some sailing - especially if we have all of our sails. Unless Neal has called him often, I suspect the sailmaker may not yet have our main ready. Neal's been pretty patient with him but he sure frustrates me. I'd be willing to bet that he hasn't even begun to make the pattern for the new dodger. There's a new section of furnace ducting to replace what got crushed in the bilge so we should be nice and toasty this trip. Temps get into the 40's overnight. At least we won't have mosquitoes.

 

Things

November, 2005
by Mary

I'm surprised at how attached I've become to some things - pieces of furniture to be exact. There's an understandable sentimental attachment to family things - photos; hand made cards from my kids when they were little; the genealogy research that that connects me to history. But furniture??

Maybe it's because we're not "decorators" who've simply selected pieces that fit into some theme. Each piece was selected after careful searching. Each piece selected because it fit with us. We've admired each one as it complemented our idea of "home". After years of collecting foxes, Neal finally had a beautiful lighted cabinet to showcase them all. The chairs are all inviting and comfortable. And now they're gone - all the good stuff, that is. Off to a consignment shop. It has been great to have and enjoy all of this stuff. We've been lucky.

But it's time to move on to the next chapter. Sea Fox sits patiently in her slip waiting for her next voyage. It will be quite an adventure; but who'd have thought that the transition would be such an adventure in itself.

That's funny - they fit like a glove at home….

November 14th, 2005
by Mary

Our favorite boat guy, Lane, came to replace the aft port chock and part of the toe rail that had been storm damaged. Not from Rita, but from a land-based storm a couple of weeks later. He also spent time diagnosing a problem we have with the fresh water pump. Found one problem but it's still acting up. Lane is about as limber and agile as a contortionist. To get to the bolts for the toe rail he had to bend himself around and squeeze in between steering, autopilot, diesel furnace and miscellaneous bilge partitions. I don't know how he does it. Then, once in place, he discovered that he'd forgotten to take one wrench he needed. Neal got the wrench and got it down to him. I'd say he handed Lane the wrench but that's not quite right. Lane grabbed it with his toes and then got it to his hand. I'm the family bilge rat, but I'll never be able to get to the places Lane can get to. The rigger came and gave us an estimate for rig tuning, replacing some of the hardware and adding a boom brake. On Friday, the sailmaker came and brought back two of the sails. These three guys account for the boat bucks disbursed. I finally had a chance to install the three slipcovers I'd made for setee cushions. It took me a while to figure out why they seemed too big. They'd fit very snugly when I made them here at home. The foam in the cushions expanded in the thinner air at altitude in Boulder where I'd made the covers. Now back at sea level the foam went back to its normal size. The difference was probably just about and inch in every dimension. We brought home three more cushions to be covered but I'll have to figure a way to make them adjust. On the home front, more music has been transferred to the MP3 player and more stuff has been sold or donated. On Saturday most of the furniture will go to a consignment shop. It will be very strange to have it gone. Made my "farewell tour" a few weeks ago. My timing coincided with a trip to Chicago by my daughter, former daughter-in-law, and granddaughter so I didn't have to travel to Minnesota. It was really great to see everyone. I stayed with my mother and we had a good visit. It was very odd to think that I may never again be in the house where I grew up. I did a lot of reminiscing. So now it's back to the disposal project. Time to dig out the Christmas stuff and see if anyone wants any of it.

Just because I'm paranoid……

October 5th, 2005
by Mary

doesn't mean they're NOT out to get me! This hurricane stuff is getting personal. We had Emily, my mother; Katrina, a deriviative of my middle name (ok so maybe that's a stretch); Maria (=Mary); Nate (=Nathan); Rita - I have two cousins named Rita; Stan - one grandfather and two uncles named Stan; and now Tammy - my former daughter-in-law and the mother of one of my grandchildren. Enough. Pick on someone else's family.

Up to Now - October '05

October 4th, 2005
by Mary

Up to now:

Household: We're getting rid of everything. Almost. We have no idea where we'll end up when we're too feeble to sail anymore. It won't be Colorado. We have no ties here and we'd rather be coastal. The costs of moving everything into storage, paying storage fees, then moving everything to wherever we'll end up would likely be more than replacement costs. We're both accumulators and have always had plenty of storage space so it's been quite a challenge to get things cleaned out. Some gets sold; some donated; some just trashed. But there's so much of it!

Boat: Sea Fox now has a bimini and a cockpit enclosure is in progress. We installed davits for the dinghy. She's got new bottom paint. Research has been done on radar and life rafts. We hope to get "show special" pricing on these things at the Miami boat show.

In The Beginning

October 4th, 2005
by Mary

Sailing off into the sunset has been a long-time dream for Neal. Mary loves the ocean but didn't take Neal's dream very seriously for a long time and was at least a little intimidated by the seeming complexities of sailing. As retirement got closer we talked about it more and more often. We bought a boat and Mary learned the ropes, the jargon and the wonderful feeling of breeze in the sails. Puddin' was a Catalina 250 - big enough to feel like a "real" boat but small enough for a Colorado mountain lake. We spent weekends aboard getting the feel of concepts such as conserving water and limited cooking facilities. We also got the feel of morning coffee in the cockpit and watching the docks come to life as the other weekenders on our dock greeted the day - not to mention sundowners watching the sun drop below the mountains.

Our friends, the Poyers, who lived aboard their sailboat for several years invited us to spend a week with them on the Chesapeake one September and that was the point of no return.

An instructional charter in the San Juan islands got us our bareboat certs. Soon after our western Florida charter we began looking seriously for the "big" boat that would become our retirement home. After much research including a couple of Annapolis boat shows, we had a shortlist topped by the Saga 43. It is a capable blue water boat easily handled by a couple and large enough to be our home. And it was do-able - used Sagas were within our price range.

The research paid off. Sea Fox is a great boat. Move aboard is scheduled for March, 2006.