An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!

When Jeff was diagnosed with congestive heart failure we knew we would have to stray from our “keep it simple” principles when it came to our anchor setup.  Pre-CHF we planned to have a manual windlass (i.e. not powered by electricity) or perhaps go without one altogether.  After all, it wouldn’t be that difficult to raise a 22 pound Rocna anchor plus some chain by hand.  

With his diagnosis came lifting restrictions, so going without a windlass wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  I suppose if I had started seriously working on my pushups I could have raised the anchor by hand, but at 49 years old and aging every day, we decided that might not be the way to go.  The manual windlass also wasn’t ideal in case I was incapacitated and Jeff needed to use it by himself.  An electric windlass was clearly going to need to be installed.  But how to do it?  

Searching the internet, we couldn’t find any examples of Bristol 29.9’s with electric windlasses.  This may be because boats this size don’t typically need one, or it could have been that the relatively shallow anchor locker for the 29.9 wasn’t optimally designed for one.  No time like the present to give it a shot!

Continue reading “An electric windlass on a Bristol 29.9? Why not?!”

So did we do ANYTHING on the boat during my leave beside installing a VHF?

We were hoping to spend a lot of time sailing during my month off, but alas it was not to be.  Despite having four weeks off, between a delay in getting Pegu Club to Shenny, a trip to L.A. for my dad’s memorial service, multiple doctor appointments and cardiac rehab for Jeff, and a bad cold that I likely picked up on the flight back from L.A., we weren’t able to sail.  At. All.  

So if we weren’t sailing, what the heck did we do?  Well, we did bring Pegu Club back to Shenny on Tuesday, June 5th.  Pegu Club had been splashed the week before, but her sea trial revealed that the new propeller needed to be repitched.  Sam at Dutch Wharf did yeoman’s work getting the propeller back to us as quickly as possible, so at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5th we were at Dutch Wharf and ready to go.  It was an ungodly hour, but we wanted to take advantage of a  favorable current, and hopefully get to Groton before the forecasted rain and thunderstorms.  It was a nice sunny morning without a speck of wind.  What better way to break in the engine??

Continue reading “So did we do ANYTHING on the boat during my leave beside installing a VHF?”

Leap and the net will appear.

About two weeks into my leave I looked at Jeff and said, “It’s interesting.  Nothing has changed.  You’re still sick, dad is still dead, but I feel So. Much. Better.”  There it was.  Incontrovertible proof.  It was the job.

I’ve worked as a municipal attorney for just over thirteen years.  The people I work with are great, but the work itself hasn’t been enjoyable for a number of years now.  It’s not that it’s a bad job.  Far from it.  I’m just bored.  I’m not passionate about it, and stepping away made it clear that I’ve been burned out for a very long time.

My dad was the Director of Communications for the Southern California Golf Association and a classic musical critic for Southern California newspaper publications.  After he died it was clear that his passion had an effect on many people.  He lived his life enjoying what he was doing, and I want to do the same thing.

What do I enjoy?  Spending time with Jeff.  Being outdoors.  Being on the water.  Being warm.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Being active.

What am I doing?  Wearing business casual clothes while sitting behind a desk in an office forty hours a week in a place that’s too cold for my taste for six months of every year.

So I quit.

Tomorrow I go back to work until Friday, August 3rd.  After that I’ll work part-time (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday) if my boss needs me to, but only until Tuesday, September 4th.  At that point my lawyer days will be behind me.

What are we going to do?  Well, Jeff has improved enough over the past six months that his cardiologist said if he continues to do so we should leave in September as we had planned (flying or driving back for appointments every three months).  So we’re operating under the assumption that we’re cutting the docklines on September 5th.  We’re going to move out of the apartment and onto the boat at the end of July, and I’ll commute from Shenny for those last few weeks of work.  What if we can’t go in September?  We’ll find a studio apartment on the shoreline for six months and take off in the spring instead.

What am I going to do for work?  At the moment, nothing.  We’ve saved up a lot of money over the past few years as we’ve been preparing to leave.  If we have to stay for the winter I’ll probably pick up some part-time work (because why not?), but not in an office.  I’ll be perfectly content waitressing, bartending, working in a grocery store, whatever, for the winter.

I’d like to get my USCG Master Captain’s license, and if we are able to leave in the fall I’ll have enough sea time to be able to do that within the year.  That way if I do decide to go back to work in the future or we want to pick up some extra cash, I can do something within the marine industry – work as a boat captain, a launch operator, for Tow Boat, something like that.  I’ll be outside, on the water, warm, active, and wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I’ll be doing something I’m passionate about.  And that’s all that matters.

Am I nervous about leaving a well-paying, full-time job with excellent benefits and a pension?  Hell yes!  But I know in my core that it’s the right thing to do.  I’ve taken risks in the past and I’ve always made it work out.  This time will be no different.

I read a quote from John Burroughs a few weeks ago that has stuck with me:  Leap and the net will appear.  I’ve leapt – and it feels so good.


Cutting through the red tape – our international MMSI number.

One of the items we purchased this offseason was a new VHF radio.  Pegu Club had an old working radio (plus we have two handheld VHFs), but technology has greatly improved since it was installed an unknown number of years ago.  We decided to purchase a Standard Horizon GX2200 primarily because we’ve been pleased with our Standard Horizon handhelds, and this model has a built-in AIS receiver along with DSC and GPS.

Continue reading “Cutting through the red tape – our international MMSI number.”

The longest offseason – literally and figuratively.

This has been a really hard offseason for me.  It’s typically difficult in that I hate winter with a white-hot passion and I hate not being on the boat, but this one has definitely been the worst.  Jeff came really close to dying during the holidays (and ended up with a heart failure diagnosis which has been life changing for both of us), I sank into a depression (which I tried to white-knuckle for a few months before finally listening to my friends and therapist and starting Lexapro), and then my father (who inspired me to start the blog and commented on virtually all of my blog posts) passed away a few weeks ago after being diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer last summer.  Less important, but still a significant factor for me, is that winter rolled in with a vengeance in January, was slow to go away, and we’ve had cloudy, rainy, and below normal temperatures for several months now.  Needless to say (and obviously based on the lack of posts), the blog has taken a back seat.

But this post isn’t all gloom and doom.  At this point Pegu Club is finally in the water.  She still needs her mast stepped and a sea trial on the engine, but I’m keeping every finger crossed that next weekend we’ll be taking her back to Shenny to finally, FINALLY, start our season.  I’m still struggling with everything that’s been happening so after next week I’m taking a leave of absence from work for a month (maybe longer) to try to clear my head.  Boat therapy is definitely in order so expect much more activity on the blog from this point forward.

So despite everything, what did we manage to accomplish over the past several months? Well, we put new wires in the mast (although we still have to finish the terminals) and installed the new B&G wind instrument; installed the new B&G transducer; finished hooking up the new electric panel which included new heat shrink terminals at the end of all of the wires and running cables to the battery selector switch; reinstalled the galley cabinet that was removed to install the engine; ran new bilge hoses for the electric and manual bilge; finally installed a new backing plate for the electric bilge so it won’t fall over anymore; and we put two coats of bottom paint on to get Pegu Club ready for the season.  Jeff also started varnishing the hatch boards and I started making a new mainsail cover (which has stalled until the mast is stepped).

It doesn’t sound like much, but it wasn’t until the last month or so that Jeff has been able to spend more than a few hours working on the boat (and climbing the ladder), so we actually did pretty well under the circumstances.  Here’s hoping that things will start looking up and we’ll have a great season – once we can finally get it started!

Our mastless Pegu Club, almost ready to go.

Making our bosun’s chair.

One of the items I started sewing before Christmas was a bosun’s chair.  A bosun’s chair is one of the less-expensive ways to get to the top of the mast.  Basically you sit in a seat, attach it to a halyard (and a backup line for safety), and someone uses a winch to hoist you to the top.  We figured that I would generally be the one going up because I’m lighter, making it easier for Jeff to hoist me vs. my hoisting him.  However, we needed to keep open the possibility that he might have to go up there.

Looking at the most common suppliers, we discovered that hoisting Jeff along with some tools would put him uncomfortably close to the weight limit of the chair.  Fortunately Sailrite had a kit that was not only cheaper, but also had the highest weight capacity of the options we’d seen.  After convincing Jeff that I felt comfortable enough in my sewing skills to make one by hand, I ordered it up.

Continue reading “Making our bosun’s chair.”

Hello, boat!

Saturday we drove down to Dutch Wharf to say hello to Pegu Club and check out the engine progress.  As avid DIY’ers it felt very strange to see that things are being completed without having to do anything but write a check.  I think we could get used to it, but alas, the bank account won’t let us!  Sam at Dutch Wharf has been doing a great job keeping us up to date, but it was still fun to see everything in real life.

Our Firefly batteries arrived just after Jeff got out of the hospital.  Given their weight we knew there was no way we could install them ourselves, so that was our first non-engine outsourced task.  We knew they wouldn’t fit in the existing battery box, so the guys removed it and did a new install that looks like it’s always been there.


While the engine was out Sam called and said the 40 year old fuel tank looked a bit suspect and the fuel tank hoses weren’t looking too good either.  We had planned on pulling the tank out to inspect it prior to Jeff getting sick, and we had bought an extra five gallon diesel jerry jug in anticipation of the task.  After briefly debating whether I could just pull it out myself, we ultimately decided to have the guys do it – our second non-engine outsourced task.  A pressure test confirmed that it was time to get a new one. Cross that off the to-do list.

Since we were getting a new engine and shaft, we figured we might as well have the cutlass bearing taken care of and a new PSS shaft seal installed.  We’ll consider that an engine-related task!  Although we had replaced the packing in the stuffing box last winter, we were tired of the water in the bilge that resulted from the drip-drip-drip.  We had heard good things about the PSS and checked it out while were at the Annapolis show in October.  Now seemed like the logical time to install it.  This is the marine version of buying a new dishwasher which leads to an entire kitchen remodel! Continue reading “Hello, boat!”

In a New York Minute

I’m not a big Don Henley fan, but I’ve always liked a few of his songs: Boys of Summer, Dirty Laundry, Sunset Grill, New York Minute.  “In a New York Minute, everything can change.  In a New York Minute, things can get a little strange.”

Prior to 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, our plan was to cut the dock lines on August 4th.  I was waiting to put it on the blog until it was more widely known at my job, but I had let my boss know and we were entering the home stretch.  We had seven months and eleven days to go.  Now we’re going to need to wait a bit longer.

Continue reading “In a New York Minute”

Calculating our power needs.

One of the many things that I find appealing about cutting the dock lines is the challenge of living off the grid.  Pegu Club will be our full-time floating home, and since we’re planning on being at anchor 99% of the time we needed to figure out what to do about electricity.  

While the simplicity of not having any electrics on the boat is appealing, even I can’t go that far.  We’ll want to recharge the iPad and the music player.  We prefer a chartplotter with paper charts as a backup vs. paper charts and a sextant.  The Nature’s Head works best with a small computer fan for venting.  Clearly, we need and want electricity, but how much is enough and how should we get it? 

Continue reading “Calculating our power needs.”

Wait – where’s the fuel gauge?!

Our Catalina 30 boat-yard neighbor (who is also getting a new engine this winter) gave us yet another good idea for saving a bit of money on the engine installation.  Thanks to his suggestions we had disconnected all of the wiring and hoses before the engine was removed (saving several hundred dollars in labor costs already), and we will be reinstalling the sink ourselves.  Talking to him a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he had recently installed his new engine control panel.  Of course!  Why didn’t we think of it?  So last weekend saw us down at Dutch Wharf doing exactly that.

The timing was actually pretty good for this small project because a few weeks ago I fell on my way to work, bruising my ribs.  This seriously limited the boat projects we could do because I couldn’t climb down into the main cabin.  The sink has been removed for the engine installation so the stairs are not in place (they don’t have the same lateral support with the sink out).  That means getting into the main cabin involves stepping onto the edge of the quarter berth which is a LONG way down for me.  At 5’3″, I don’t exactly have the leg length of a supermodel.  Until the steps are back in place, climbing down (and back up) involves a lot of upper body work which I was definitely not in any condition to do.  Keeping Jeff company while he completed a relatively easy task that didn’t involve going down below?  That I could do.

Continue reading “Wait – where’s the fuel gauge?!”