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. ❤

Any reason to celebrate.

Today is National Champagne Day! At least that what some of the Google search results tell me. But it could also be on December 31st, or October 22, or some other day in May. No matter. As long as there is an excuse to make a toast with bubbly, I’m in.

Today I am toasting to a big step forward in the remodel project of our hall bath. I started tearing out the 1980s-era terracotta floor tile in November of 2019. We drug out the ginormous cultured marble countertops and wall-sized mirror. New countertops, sinks, faucets and wall paint went up in early 2020. Then COVID happened, which slowed things down quite a bit. Monte put new face frames on the cabinets and painted them, and they look fantastic. But the bare slab floor hung with us for over a year.

As of today, I’m loving the new floor tile and backsplash. Next up: new baseboards.

Celebrate the little things. And keep moving on.

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!

It’s alive!

After the prolonged deep freeze we experienced in February, our giant sago palm appeared to be dead. Until about a month ago, I saw no signs of life. I’m very happy to report that now it is teeming with new growth. Yay, Nature!

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. 🙂

Quasi-normal.

Yesterday Monte and I drove out the Texas wine trail to our favorite wine-club vineyard to pick up our May box of wine. It’s a big deal for us. We’ve deferred picking up our wine boxes for over a year because of COVID. But the winery is now open by appointment, so I booked us for a pickup, a tasting, and some lovely charcuterie.

Zinnias!

I’ve missed our drives out here. The visit to the winery was very nice. The wine was delicious, we saw the tail end of some lovely wildflowers, did a little antiquing, and grumbled about the return of traffic on the way home.

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.”

Thriving.

It’s been raining since the end of April in Central Texas. A weird happening. It’s so humid and WET outside. The plants are loving it though.

Purple coneflowers in their 4th year blooming with little help from me.
Our sago palm is finally showing signs of life after the big freeze.
Zinnias abound with help from Monte’s green thumb
Impatient for impatiens, but they don’t disappoint.

Life is good on the ranch.

Bye bye, sweet Keeto.

A day or two after I left for Charleston, in one of our phone calls, Monte gave me the sad news that our sweet Keeto bird had died. We had been keeping an eye on him for the last year or so, as he seemed to tire out quite a bit after flying around, and sleep more and more. We took him to the vet for a checkup, and he was given a clean bill of health. But last Monday he went down to the bottom of the cage, laid down, and flew his spirit away. That little bird had the biggest personality. We are both so terribly sad.

Buon viaggio!

We moved Trident to her slip Friday, just an hour or two before a hellacious storm front moved through. We were rocking and rolling at night, but we were safely tied up in the marina. It’s been raining here ever since.

We were so fortunate with the weather window that we had for the prior 2 weeks. We really had no crazy weather to speak of while we were on the move. Thanks mom! 🙂

We walked around in the rain on Saturday just because it was the only day I had to explore the town. We visited a couple art galleries and wine bars and uber-ed home, falling asleep while watching Master and Commander for the millionth time.

Nibblies!

Today is Sunday, and I’m flying home. Happy to close the book on another adventure with my sailing sister. I’m looking forward to spending a new summer on Nirvana with Monte.