Big day.

Today was the day to re-raise the mast on Julie & Ryan’s boat. New windex, new lights, new halyards, new topping lift, new flag halyard, new sheaves, new wiring, new switches, refurbished outboard motor, replaced bulkhead mid-ships in the salon, chain plates reinforced, and some much-mended sails and boat canvas. I can’t wait to get out on the lake with these sailors. Next up: installing the boom, mainsail, and jib. Then we’ll take her for a sail!

Cheers to a new year.

I met up with some friends in Laura’s backyard today to cheer in the new year and to wish Doray a happy birthday.

Let’s hope 2021 is amazing. But I’ll take at least better than last year.

Cheers!

Full enough.

I grilled pork tenderloin for dinner tonight. Over charcoal. Marinated in Allegro. Indirect. 21 mins, ~7 mins per side. Measure with meat thermometer to 145 degrees F. AMAZING.

As I waited for the meat to grill, I snapped this photo of the not-quite-full moon over our winter foliage.

Christmas sunset.

I grilled a delicious cedar plank salmon for Christmas dinner, recipe below. Julie joined us and stirred up a tasty risotto dinner. Nom nom. Sunset was fleeting, but lovely.

Grilled cedar-plank salmon:

  • soak a cedar plank in water for several hours ahead of grilling
  • slather a boneless salmon fillet with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of garlic powder
  • place fillet, skin side down on the pre-soaked cedar plank
  • place cedar plank & salmon over direct coals for 20-30 minutes

Enjoy!

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.

CBC 2020.

‘Tis the season of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count! I met up with Doray and a team of birders at Reimer Ranch yesterday. We hiked all day and saw so many birds. The first half of the day was cold, but by 4:30pm I had shed 3 layers. The former ranch, now a park, overlooks the Pedernales River. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.

Pretty hill country cold-weather view

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

Looong Day 5.

We picked up anchor at 6:15am Friday in a thick fog.

Foggy sunrise

We left before sunrise because we had a long goal of making 68 nautical miles (nm), and a backup plan to go about 45 nm instead. The challenge is being able to gain more speed than the 5 to 5.5 knots (nm per hour) of the engine. Fog can hurt. Current can hurt or help. Wind can help.

We can’t just anchor anywhere along the way because there are long stretches of the ICW that are land cuts; very narrow, and the channel takes up the whole width of the cut. And you can’t anchor in the channel.

The fog eventually cleared and we had a little boost from the wind, so we made the farther anchorage after 11 hours.

As we exited the 20-mile Alligator River – Pungo River Cut the sun was setting. We went a few miles farther, anchoring right in front of the land on the far horizon in the picture above.

The sunset was beautiful.

Day 4.

Last night’s anchorage was in the Elizabeth River at Portsmouth. This is a view of the Norfolk waterfront across the river.

Today’s schedule was challenging. Ten hours of daylight to cover 60 statute miles, or around 52 nautical miles, while trying to navigate through 15 bridges and locks, 5 of which only open on the hour or half-hour, and maintaining an average speed around 5 knots.

We woke up before sunrise to be greeted by fog. We hoped it would lift quickly. We picked up anchor 15 minutes behind schedule, but only when we were able to see about a half mile.

Once underway we made up time and ended up a half hour ahead of schedule after the last bridge. The ICW was very crowded today, lots of boats passing one another only to have to wait together for the next bridge opening.

We were able to put up the jib to add a knot to our speed as we crossed Currituck Sound in the narrow channel. We needed all the time that we gained because when we made it to our anchorage it was 30 minutes after sunset.

Long day, but I loved it! Lori cooked a delicious dinner and we turned in early. More tomorrow…

Essentials.

At the beginning of the year, I introduced myself to essential oils. I was curious about them and the purported benefits of aromatherapy. Until then, my only exposure to them was during visits to the day spa. Right before COVID was a thing, a neighbor invited me to attend an introductory session at her house, as she had just signed up to sell for one of the major essential oil multi-level marketing (MLM) companies. I learned the basics of essential oils during that session, and wanted to try some, but I’m not really a multi-level marketing kinda girl. Instead, I found Revive for my first purchase, an on-line retailer of high quality, 100% pure essential oils. No MLM-strings attached, with free shipping, too.

After 6 months of using them, I am a fan! Years ago, Monte made me a wooden box out of mahogany boat scraps. It would be a perfect storage box for my essential oils, as they need to be stored in a dry, dark place to maximize their shelf-life. I drilled out cylindrical voids in a few pieces of wood to create two tiered rows inside the box to hold the bottles of my essential oils. I’m in love with this storage box. It smells amazing every time I open it.

I have found various ways to enjoy my essential oils. I haven’t become a fan of ingesting them. But, I use a diffuser to disperse the oils in the air, especially when I am doing yoga, a workout, or just working in my office/studio at home. Sometimes I use a single oil, sometimes I blend a few together. Revive has their own blend called “Sleep” that I really enjoy diffusing around bedtime.

Please remember that 100% pure essential oils should not be applied to skin undiluted. They should be mixed with a carrier oil or other liquid.

Dabbling with essential oils (pardon the pun) has expanded my repertoire of DIY projects with these that each incorporate several drops of oil:

Yoga-mat de-funking spray

  • small spray bottle (mine holds about 4 ounces)
  • 3 parts distilled H2O
  • 1 part witch hazel
  • 5 drops tea tree oil (note, tea-tree oil may not be pet-friendly, eucalyptus is another option)
  • 5 drops lavender oil

Mix all together in a spray bottle. Just spray on your sweaty yoga mat and wipe off with a dry, clean towel.


Foaming soap

  • foaming soap dispenser (Note, make sure it is for foaming soap, which is different than a regular liquid soap dispenser.)
  • 3/4 cup distilled H2O (Put this in the foaming soap dispenser first to cut down on creating foam inside the bottle while mixing.)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp pure-castile liquid soap
  • 1/2 Tbsp fractionated coconut oil
  • 5-7 drops of your favorite essential oil

My foaming soap dispenser holds 8.5 ounces and the above amounts work for that size dispenser. If yours is a different size, adjust quantities accordingly, but make sure to allow enough room for the foaming mechanism on the spray insert to fit without causing the contents of the bottle to overflow.


Hand-sanitizer (or hand-cleaner, whatever)

  • 2 parts rubbing alcohol (99%)
  • 1 part aloe vera gel

Mix together in dispenser of your choice.


Anti-chafe cream:

  • 1 part fractionated coconut oil
  • 1 part corn starch
  • 4-5 drops essential oil of your choosing

I find this helps alleviate chafing on my skin when working out. You may want to tweak the amount of corn starch to create a consistency you prefer. I keep mine in an old face cream jar and rub a little on my arms or my legs if things are experiencing a bit of friction.

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.

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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!