Half and half.

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Today is July 1st, and you can either consider that the year is half over, or there is an entire half a year left. I will take the latter view. Time does fly by, but I’m trying to enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

We’ve been busy. Working on house projects, boat projects, yard work, getting out and enjoying the lake, and, thankfully, finally spending time with friends face to face again.

The dishwasher conked out, and we installed the new one ourselves, as the first available installation appointment was weeks out. No thank you. AND, it works!

We’re enjoying the boat. The lake and our favorite coves are busy and packed with boats, but we’ve figured out that if we head out to anchor right before sunset, the majority of people have headed home. So, we have plenty of room to anchor and enjoy a peaceful sunset.

Monte’s below watching golf as I motor us over to Arky North.

I got together with friends to celebrate Laura’s birthday in Lori’s new home. Getting this up close and personal with people outside my bubble a year ago was unthinkable. I’m glad we are where we are now. We played some fun new games that Tina introduced us to. This is an action shot from “Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza,” a fun, silly, fast-paced game. I recommend it if you’re looking for a fun game to play with a bunch of your vaccinated friends. 🙂

Patience…

Patience, and a really big tractor. That’s what it took to finally re-launch our boat today, after 7 weeks on the hard for new barrier coat, new bottom paint, new cutlass bearing, new zincs, and a hull wax and polish.

Our batteries were dead after 7 weeks without charge, but we knew they were in need of replacement anyway. Starter battery and one of two house batteries are goners. A jump at the dock got the engine started. We are back in our slip now. Monte has the charger on the boat working on the one remaining battery to keep it charged, which is fortunate, because the packing gland is leaking pretty vigorously right now, as it had dried out. So we really need the bilge pump to be working off the one battery. We’ll give it a few days and hopefully the packing will swell back up after being in the water. We will replace all three batteries, too. So, we have some work left to do to get her ready for summer, but it’s very nice to have her back. As Keeto would say, “She’s so preeetty.”

The cycle of life.

We welcomed a new Weber grill into the fold today. We have 2 or 3 out back at a time, but when we burn through a grate or the body of a kettle, it’s time for a new one and recycle the old one.

So shiny!

Clean socks!

A couple of days ago, I observed over the course of a few hours Monte coming in from his shop project du jour, going into the laundry room, swearing, and then going back out to the shop. This happened at least three times. I finally asked him what was up. He said he was just trying to do a load of laundry because he needed a clean pair of socks. But the washing machine wasn’t cooperating. Every time he came in the machine had stopped, unlocked the door and the laundry inside was drenched.

Having fixed one of our washing machine problems a little over a year ago myself (a leaking rubber door gasket), I decided to try and figure out what was wrong this time.

The symptoms:

  • the wash cycle would not complete
  • it would start filling the tub, putting way more water in than I have ever noticed before, up to about 6″ up from the bottom of the door window.
  • at 45 minutes left in the wash cycle, it would stop filling, unlock the door, and blink the start/pause light
  • a 12 minute drain and spin cycle would sometimes work to drain the tub. Sometimes not.

After doing some research online, and messing around with the washer for a bit, I thought we had at least 2 problems:

  • the drain pump, which empties the tub and sends the water out the drain hose into the wall, was not working consistently. I took that out and Monte hooked it up in the shop to a switch, and sure enough, it would only turn on about 2 out of 10 tries.
  • the water level switch hose (a rubber 3/8″ hose) had a hole in it, which prevented the fill computer from correctly detecting the level of the water in the tub. Wear on that hose can happen over time from abrasion against the side of the washer tub and housing.

The website AppliancePartsPros.com is great resource for how-to videos, and also to follow discussion threads from other DIYers.

Our washing machine is a 12-year old GE Model WCVH6800J1WW. The 2 parts we needed were the drain pump (part #WH23X10028), and water level switch hose (part #WH41X10129). I ordered certified GE OEM replacement parts. The fix was easy, requiring only a phillips screwdriver and some pliers.

The two videos I watched to understand how to replace the parts I ordered were:

The first load just finished, and we finally have clean socks!

Wood-fired pizza.

Julie and Ryan came over this weekend with their new toy – a wood (pellet) fired pizza oven! It’s made by ooni. They set it up out back and we made pizzas until we couldn’t eat another bite. It worked really well, and the pizzas were delicious.

I made my favorite, a knock-off of Brick Oven’s Tuscan Truffle pizza. It has a mushroom and truffle oil pesto, with a little bit of prosciutto. It is topped with arugula and shredded asiago cheese after it comes out of the oven. Stupendo!

To make the mushroom pesto, blend the following in a food processor:

  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp white truffle oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 oz shredded parmesan cheese

Nice rack.

🙂

My latest build request to Monte was a thread-spool rack for my work closet. My projects continue to expand, and my thread inventory has become an unmanageable pile of spools. I also want to be able to store each bobbin with its corresponding spool of thread, since it’s hard to tell the difference between V-69 and V-92 thread sizes; and navy blue, black and dark green start to look the same to my old eyes. So, the top of each dowel is tapered so bobbins can be stored with each spool. I can also use it to store my growing collection of binding tape, basting tape, cord, and webbing. Voila!

It’s perfect.

Does this bag make my boat look big?

🙂

I have entered the “bag” phase of my maker existence. I decided to try to make a bag styled like the classic LL Bean Boat and Tote. We were gifted a pair of them as a wedding gift, and have been using them hard and constantly for almost 2 decades. And they still have much life left in them.

The LL Bean totes are made with 24 oz cotton duck. I already had some 15 oz, so I used that for my first bag prototype. I also used some 8.8 oz navy cotton duck for the bottom and straps. Duck cloth is supposed to shrink anywhere from 5-10%. So, I’ll have to see how my design holds up over time.

The finished dimensions of this bag are 17″ W x 14.5″ H x 7″ D, which is pretty close to the Large-sized LL Bean Boat and Tote. The ones we already own are the Medium and X-Large sizes, so this will be a nice addition.

If you’re interested in trying to make one yourself, here are my notes:

I used V-92 polyester thread, and a #18 needle. My Sailrite LSZ-1 cuts through all those layers like butter.

I may try making one with Sunbrella material for the bottom and handles, instead of the 8.8 oz duck cloth, as I see that marine Sunbrella is 9 oz, so fairly close. Though Sunbrella is much more pricey than duckcloth…

Next challenge: making bags out of a used mainsail that friends gifted me. Stay tuned.

Clearing the decks.

I have been keeping my year-old Sailrite sewing machine busy with boat canvas and sail projects, to make way for the next ones on my list.

Finished projects:

  • mainsail repairs for Julie & Ryan’s yet-to-be-named Catalina 25
  • new LifeSling 2 cover for Nirvana to match all the other sunbrella on-board
  • instrument panel cover v3.0 for Trident (this one can be tied to the boat so it won’t blow away in 50+ knot winds)
  • sailcover repairs for Cupholder
  • new mainsail luff-tape cover for Nirvana‘s furling boom
  • tool roll-ups for Monte, one for his metric wrenches, and one for his SAE wrenches

Next projects:

  • custom mattress covers & sheet sets for Nirvana‘s fore and aft cabins
  • sailcover repairs for Catalina 25
  • tiller cover for Catalina 25
  • design and make custom bags from an old Hunter mainsail that marina-friends Thomas and Monique gifted me
  • new stern-rail seat cushions for Nirvana
  • repairs to Nirvana‘s salon cushions
  • shade cloth rollups for Nirvana‘s bimini

Bring it on!

Watching from afar.

We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.

We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.

When you can’t be there in person…

And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.

The next patient in the loft.

Julie and Ryan recently acquired a new-to-them sailboat. It’s an older Catalina 25. It needs some work, so we are helping them get things fixed up. Clever Monte got the outboard motor working. Now he is helping Ryan repair the electrics on-board. Julie brought over the sails, which need some mending. Their mainsail will be my next sail project. It’s in pretty good shape, except where sun damage caused some tears and deterioration where the previous owner left parts of the sail exposed.

Following Bob.

Our original plan, to leave the ICW and head offshore in Beaufort, was intended to avoid the challenges associated with the ICW south of there. These include transiting the dozens of ocean inlets that the ICW crosses south of Beaufort where significant shoaling always occurs, often changing the ICW channel depth, making it dangerously shallow, and passing under a number of bridges that are less than the required 65′ vertical clearance with tides than can vary from the mean water level by up to 4 feet. But, alas, the weather offshore has been unfavorable, so we continued on south.

There is a kind soul on the internet, Bob Sherer, who maintains a blog called Bob423 ICW Tracks and Routes where he provides tracks (collections of GPS points) that he has carefully taken and mapped out for maximum depths. The tracks are available for download as GPX files into chart plotting software, like the openCPN that I use on my laptop and the Garmin chart plotter that Lori has at Trident’s helm. Fortunately, Bob’s latest track is as recent as a week or two ago, so it contains safe tracks around hazards that even the Corps of Engineers haven’t moved the red and green buoys around yet. There have been reports of multiple boats running aground this week in those spots. Not wanting to be one of those boats, we have been following Bob’s track. It can be a little spooky when Bob’s green track goes outside the marked channel. But so far, so good.

Bob’s track in green, through the ICW at Snow’s Cut

The bridges are a challenge of their own, especially with the flooding in North Carolina rivers currently going on, and an especially high tide. We have had to wait for the water level to go down on some bridges before passing underneath, but even so, we have bent the springy VHF antenna at the top of the mast back as we passed under 2 of them. That’s a little too close for comfort.

Hopefully, we only have one more bridge and one more shallow spot, at Snow’s Cut, today. Then we will be at a marina in Southport tonight, and pick up Tony tomorrow and head offshore for a leg south tomorrow afternoon. We think there is a 24-hour window that will allow us to get to Charleston without weather drama. But we’ll see how that plays out.

Even with those challenges, it’s been a nice few days since Beaufort. It’s been sunny, with wind to put up a sail. We anchored one night, and were on a mooring ball last night. Very nice.

Sunset last night at Carolina Beach

A thing from long ago.

Julie has moved back to Austin!  She drove, pulling a trailer full of her things behind her.  When she arrived, she told me that she brought my mom’s sewing machine with her.  It is one of the things that Noreen has been storing for me since mom died.   I was very excited to unpack it.  This is the sewing machine that I learned to sew on.  It is a Montgomery Ward Expert BT long shuttle sewing machine, complete with the original manual, attachments, and storage cabinet.  I have vivid memories of sewing on this machine with my mom when I was a little girl.

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I believe my mom bought this machine before she married my dad.  That would make it at least 65 years old, but may be even older.  I cleaned it, oiled it, threaded it, and took it for a spin.  It works great!  What a solid piece of machinery.

IMG_1058

Many, many thanks to Noreen, Julie, and David for getting this machine to me.

Lost. And Found.

We are making more frequent trips to the lake lately to get a break from the endless 100 degree days we have here in Austin.

Last Sunday when we came home from the lake, we realized we were missing our styrofoam cooler. It’s not just any styrofoam cooler, though. It is a cylindrical bait bucket that’s been in Monte’s family as long as he can remember.  And it has been along on all of our camping and boating adventures for the last 20+ years. It makes a great, compact ice bucket. As it has worn thin and broken over the years, Monte mends it with wood and epoxy. One day, I expect it will be all wood. It’s special.

We went back to the lake Tuesday but didn’t find it on the boat. So we sadly assumed it must have blown into the lake from the parking lot while we were loading the car.  Monte added it to our Lost-shit Log of things we’ve lost in the lake.

We looked for it on lee shores as we sailed, but didn’t spot it. Returning to the marina Wednesday afternoon after anchoring out for the night, we learned it had been found and turned in to the office. Awesome!