A look back at my 2021.

A year ago, it was anyone’s guess how 2021 would roll out after the cluster that was the year 2020. Today I paused to reflect on a few of the memories I captured from the last twelve months.

January – I started to direct my energy towards making things and sewing. I asked Monte to make me a rack for my growing collection of spools of thread. It turned out perfect, as usual, and has been well used by me over the last 12 months.

February – The deep freeze descended upon Texas. We were incredibly lucky to not have lost power during the prolonged freeze. So many people were really hurting during the weeklong outages. I can’t deny that I loved the temporary snowscape around the house. But I was happy to see it go.

March – The power across the state eventually came back on. The weather warmed up. Things started to bloom. The leaves fell and were raked up. I think we set a record for leaf bags set out on the curb. The City of Austin yard waste collection crew even took a picture of our curbside menagerie.

April – Incredibly, a year after this shit-storm started, COVID vaccines were available to the masses, and we got in line. For both of us, the reactions were pretty mild. The worst thing I can report is a temperature of 100 degrees F.

May – I flew to Charleston to help Lori take Trident north to Annapolis. We had some great days and nights on the water, including several legs on the outside. Sadly, my precious little Keeto died while I was away. Nearly 10 years old, it was still too soon. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for my sweet baby bird. And I’m sorry Monte had to go through it alone. It still brings a tear to my eye. He was just the best bird ever.

June – Nirvana received lots of TLC. A prolonged bottom job. New batteries. Scheduled maintenance undertaken by me and Monte. Inverter replacement. Cushion repairs. Some new running rigging. And many hours with friends and family spent on her this year.

July – We had fun family visits this month; the first since the pandemic descended. And, as we do every year, we took a boatload out on Lake Travis to watch the July 4th fireworks.

August – Monte and I continued enjoying Nirvana and the lake throughout the summer. One week, we spent several days sailing 30 miles upstream, anchoring up around mile marker 44. Our goal was to watch the Perseids meteor shower. We did see some meteors. It was just nice to be out and about on the boat so much this summer.

September – We crewed for Kurt & Kevin for the Austin Yacht Club Fall Series Regatta on Camelot. We helped them nab 2nd place for their class in the end. Huzzah!!

October – I flew up to Baltimore to join Lori on Trident for the Annapolis Sailboat Show, my first. This was more of a for-fun trip than a move-the-boat trip, and I really enjoyed the two day trip we took sailing to St. Michaels and back across Chesapeake Bay. After the boat show, we drove back together to Austin, stopping at 4 US National Parks along the way. Amazing!

November – We enjoyed more time out and about this fall. Monte took me curling for my birthday. We both had loads of fun. And I think we’ll do it again!

December – Wow, the year flew by. Again. We took another boatload out for the Christmas boat parade. Unfortunately, COVID fears are starting to seep back into our lives. But I really hope that by this time next year there are many more fun outings and visits under my belt. I just can’t take another lockdown.

Time flies. We are immensely blessed. It’s easy to complain about the events swirling around us, but I’m focused on celebrating the small day-to-day good times that we spend together and with friends and family.

I wish you all an amazing, healthy, and happy 2022.

CBC 2021.

This year was my fifth year participating in the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Doray and I joined a bunch of other birders to count birdies in the Westcave area. Over 8 hours we logged 7+ miles and ~40 species over 3 different properties. I haven’t birded much this year. Other things have crammed their way in to fill my free hours. But I do enjoy walking around with my eyes on the treetops.

The temperatures started out in the mid-60s this year, instead of the 30s, for a change. No rain. Just a perfect day to tramp around the hill country trying to tell one Sparrow species from another.

Nice. Very nice.

Reflections on the Pedernales River near Westcave Preserve.

Hard fought.

Today, the crew of Camelot fought back in a tightly run race. We had a hard day yesterday in high winds, overpowered with the whomper foresail. It whomped the grinders for sure. We came in third in the long upstream there-and-back race to Lakeway.

We changed to a smaller jib this morning. We got off the start line close to our competitors and ran a good three hour battle of tacks and jibes. At the end of the day, we came in second, which was good enough for second in our class. Not bad.

The course… -ish
Close hauled. Low-flying aircraft off the starboard bow.
View from the clubhouse.

Well done lads and ladies!

Regatta time.

Monte and I joined Mary Ann today to crew with Kurt and Kevin on S/V Camelot on day 1 of the 2021 Governor’s Cup at the Austin Yacht Club. It was a beautiful, sunny, windy day. This was a 20 mile course. Tomorrow’s will be shorter. We’re in the mix!

The J class heading for the finish line.
Yeah, we foil on Lake Travis.
The finish line.

A good day!

Mid-week lake play.

We rafted up overnight with Julie and Ryan last night, grilling up dinner once they tied up to us after sunset. It was a new moon night, dark and clear.

The only other boat in the cove with us, as we enjoyed the sunset.

The temps were perfect, but no wind overnight.

Thankfully the winds came up around 10AM this morning and Monte and I enjoyed a lovely sail up to the yacht club and back.

A good day.

Summer’s gone.

Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden it is October 1st! We’ve been busy the last month or two.

We have happily welcomed out of town visitors, after a long COVID-induced drought of sorts. In July we enjoyed Patrick, Nga, and Nick. In September we had visits from Jake and Natalie, and then Noreen.

We enjoyed our visits with them, but somewhere in there Autumn slipped in. The high temperatures have begun dipping into the low 90s, so I guess I’ll have to brace myself for wearing pants and shoes soon.

The best way to beat the heat when guests visit is to hit the lake.

We went on a brief brewery crawl with Jake and Natalie. Outside seating, of course.

When guests are here, the gameroom actually gets used for playing games. Lots of billiards and darts played. I actually hit a double bull to win a game of darts!

We always eat well when guests are here. BBQ, TexMex, homemade pizza, and more. Julie made sushi rolls one night for Noreen, Monte and me. Delicious.

I wonder who will show up next?

Up a creek.

Yesterday Kurt, Kevin, Monte, and I went for a long sail on Nirvana. We went past Starnes Island and up Sandy Creek to grab dinner at Shack 512. Nice spot. And a great day!

Work and play.

After being out of the water for seven weeks for its bottom job, Nirvana’s packing gland had dried out a bit, and it was dripping too much. The packing gland keeps the propeller shaft cool while it is turning. So dripping too much is better than dripping too little. But, dripping too much means that we are constantly sinking a little bit, so we didn’t want to let it go too long. 🙂 We have hired out the engine maintenance on the boat in the past, but decided to do this ourselves. Finding the right tool for the job is important. These wrenches from CatalinaDirect fit the nuts exactly, are narrow enough to turn the lock nut without turning the gland nut, and have stubby handles for the cramped space in the bilge by the propeller shaft. Perfect! We tested the temperature on the shaft after motoring for a while with an infrared thermometer. Looks like a good fix.

We were on a roll, and kept going and checked the impeller on the sea water pump, which pumps water to cool the diesel engine. We’d let it go too long and one of the blades had broken off. Now to find it…

Debris in the cooling system is not good, it blocks the hoses to, and the tubes inside the heat-exchanger, which can lead to overheating. Plan A: use a shop vac to try to suck the broken vane out of the hose between the water pump and the heat-exchanger. Plan B: open the inlet side of the heat-exchanger, which requires removing the alternator. Thankfully, Plan A worked. The entire blade was retrieved. After a new impeller, o-ring, and lubricant, it was all set to go.

We fired up the engine and left the dock for a 30 minute test run to make sure things looked good. And they did.

Then we decided to sail upriver 30 miles to anchor overnight and watch for some Perseid meteors a little farther away from the city lights. We saw a dozen or so.

We had a great sail up and back on Tuesday and Wednesday. And, wow, is Nirvana in top shape with her new bottom job. We hit 7.7 knots more than once.

Sweet.

Wing-on-wing is so pretty….

I love this boat. ❤

A few scenes from July.

I need to get back in the groove and post more frequently. Here’s a quick recap of July.

Pat, Nga, and Nicky visited us for a week. We split our time between being tourists and lake bums. We walked around the University of Texas campus one afternoon.

We’ve spent much time on the boat, enjoying the lake with friends. We rafted up overnight with Kurt & Kevin, and Brett one weekend. It’s nice to be on the hook with a breeze blowing through the boat.

Doray dropped of some eggs from her chicken coop. I love the varied colors.

When Pat and Nga were visiting, I bought a fiddle-leaf fig plant. I asked Nga to pick it out, and she selected a good one. It’s already putting out new leaves.

On to August!

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. 🙂

We’re back.

Last week was busy. We rescued Nirvana from the boatyard, brought her home, and I spent the next few days schlepping 100 lb batteries up and down the ramp, and Monte made sure they worked. The old ones lasted 5-6 years. The new ones will hopefully perform similarly.

Out with the old. One starter battery and two house batteries. The big ones weigh 100 Lbs each.
She’s back home and shiny!

We got everything installed in time to race the beer-can regatta on her with Kurt and Kevin and she flew with her new bottom. We think she’s at least a knot faster.

Then over the weekend we anchored in the cove for a sunset grilled dinner. Nice. Very nice. We had our annual first jump in the lake, finally, a week or so past the usual Memorial Day dip. It was fantastic.

Ahhh, sunset.

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.”

A couple of Catalinas.

After four months of work, Julie and Ryan’s sailboat is ready to be enjoyed. This week we sailed alongside them, and then rafted up together. It was their first time taking Arya out in high winds (gusting 25 to 30 knots!) and they did great.

It was also their first raft-up, and they christened their new grill. A good time on the water. Can’t wait for Spring!

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