Sunday, November 4, 2012

Four days and counting.....

We have two purposes for this posting. I am testing our ability to post
to Layla's blog site via email. If we are successful, we are ready to
add entries to the blog via our single side band radio. We will be
thrilled to be able to stay in touch using this approach.

Secondly, we are working to become homeless and jobless in Atlanta
within the next four days. Remarkably, everything seems to be falling
into place. We just sold my car yesterday which has served me very well
over the past thirteen and a half years. I had mixed emotions about
letting her go, but was surprised that I was more happy than sad. I was
relieved that I sold the car and excited about all that it represented
for the new chapter in our lives. I think there will be a lot of these
mixed emotions over the coming weeks, as we move and adjust to the next
phase of our lives.

The 1 bedroom apartment in which we have been living over the past two
years is quickly filling up with packed boxes. There are still many
more boxes to fill, but we are making progress. Various tasks at my job
at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are being
completed. I am sad to leave laboratory science, but excited to switch
gears to be immersed in the sea and nature in ways I could only imagine.

We still have a bit of work to do, but as it comes to a close, it is no
longer overwhelming or distant. It is happening now. We are living the

We will post again and more frequently once we have fully made the plunge.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The passing of an Andacht


We have sad news. Tracy's dad, Don Andacht, 89, passed away October 17th.  Don was a Navy Veteran active in World War II and Korean War. He loved golf, travel, nature, and of course his wife, Bobbie, and his family. Related to work with General Electric, and simply the love of travel, Bobbie and Don probably traveled more than nearly anyone. They have served as inspiration for our grand plans for global exploration. Tracy and I will take his ashes to join with the sea. We will miss you dearly Dad. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Closer each day

Projects, projects, projects. Over the weeks, we have been checking off the completed tasks. As we moved from the mechanical and the essential, to the brightwork and more cosmetic items, we began to see progress. Status update- You may be wondering what is next? We remain in Georgia, with some trips to NC for projects, but we have given final notice of our rental apartment. You may expect major events in the coming weeks.
Fresh paint, ready for batteries

After some repeated denials of the truth, we decided that the battery bank needed to be replaced. We had already replaced the starting battery, but two of the four house batteries had weak or dead cells. We could wait, or replace two batteries, or we could simply just get the new batteries. Besides, we knew if we were going to get refrigerator/freezer working, it was going to demand a good battery bank. 

New batteries and straps in place

We decided to go with the wet cell batteries as this required fewer changes.


CAREL controller
One of the biggest challenges was to get the refrigerator/freezer to work properly. We knew this Glacier Bay unit (a 12 volt holding plate system) is no longer made and parts were a challenge to find. But, we also believed that despite the age, this unit was powerful and could cool very well. Buying a new unit was out of the question. We understood that the problem was something to do with the thermostats. The message ''cool down" was simply not getting to the compressor. We could force the issue manually so we knew all of the mechanical stuff worked. And yes we needed one thermostat for the freezer and one for the refrigerator. As you would guess, contrary to what the technical reps promised, the new thermostats were not "just like the old ones" and you could not "simply plug 'em in". We had to go online to get the expanded installation manual. When we saw the manual was 60 PAGES, and that was just the English section, we began to doubt that we could do this. We discovered that we really had to read every page and, that this was going to test our relationship as we tested each new configuration. We soon discovered the previous system was not wired properly, and that it would be of limited help or wrong if we simply moved the wires directly to the new units. On the old freezer thermostat we had 8 wires for 9 positions. On the new thermostat we had two more positions. For example, the wires were rearranged where position 6 was now position eleven on the new one. And that was just the freezer. And it went on from there. And where was the wiring diagram for the refrigerator? Fortunately, there was some color coding for the wires and we could track them. After about 6 hours, we actually had both units working. And then of course we found the wiring diagram for the refrigerator and the diagram gave us some confidence that we might have done it correctly. As per the specs, the freezer holding plate cooled to -16F and shut itself off, and then the refer cooled to 40 F and shut itself off. Following several days of monitoring, the system continued to work better than expected. This has been one of our biggest achievements!

The fridge and freezer running as they should.  YEA!
  Bright work 

Bright work, as the name describes, is all of the woodwork and brass and bronze and more that demands you clean, polish, and shine. That is what everybody expects you to do, because that is what they see. They don't see or comment on that new battery bank, or that new thermostatic controller. No. They gently suggest though, that "you really do have a lot of work to do" as they turn their eyes to survey all of the peeling varnish and grey teak. It is a common debate about how much effort cruisers should put into this effort, and ultimately, whether it is really necessary. But the debate goes on as does the work.  We have begun a concerted effort on tackling the bright work, and there is quite a lot of it.

The little deck chests near the mast, for example, sure were an eyesore with their peeling varnish. A heat gun and scraper began to remedy that. It is actually very satisfying work. I would do this any day rather than mow the lawn.

Scraping the deck chest
Just another coat and it will be done
The ship's wheel was in need as well. Here we got a chance to drive the house around the neighborhood while we clean her up.

Driving around the neighborhood
Ready to go

We cleaned up the dinghy and motor (our car). "Zoe", as she is now called, will be ready to go when we are. 

One important lesson most boaters eventually learn is patience. I am learning this and working with it. Most things take longer than you think they should to complete. But maybe that is to simply a way for you to appreciate them more when they are finally done.

Here are some pictures of a project that is still underway. Can you guess what this thing is?

Stay tuned to see the transformation of this mystery contraption.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Views from Layla

Sunset in Taylor's Creek

We have turned the page and it changes everything. 

Among the different views

Marsh, birds and everything
More of this to come

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Checking out Layla under sail

Riding over a swell
Over several days and under varying conditions, we took Layla sailing to check out systems and get familiar with her strengths and weaknesses. On the day pictured above, the winds had increased to 15 steady knots with 3-5 foot seas. These are not conditions many boaters, particularly motor vessels, typically embrace with zeal, but these were certainly the conditions that gave us a good test for Layla. She impressed us as she rode the swells with that comfortable "sea kindly motion" for which Hans Christians are known. 

Layla on her own headed to Cape Lookout
On the very first day sailing, we discovered that once the sails were set, Layla sailed straight without any assistance. She was very well balanced under sail. She seemed to find the best course that was not necessarily the fastest but always the most comfortable for long distance cruising. 

Good speed

Fred guiding Layla
Layla also demonstrated that she is no slow poke. On each of the days, we could readily get her up to hull speed (about 8.4 knots).

I have been serving as "the apprentice" to Fred and Ernie as they provide tips and tricks from their years of living aboard and sailing to distant shores. I am shedding the "landlubber" habits and re-discovering those lost skills.
Ernie relaxing under sail

Overall, Layla lived up to her reputation as solid, and comfortable blue-water cruiser and impressed us with her agility and ease of sail. This is fun. We will get you on board again Tracy. Really we will.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Splash! Finally in the water

Getting ready to travel across the yard
After all of the work and whining over the past year and a half, by comparison the decision to put Layla back in the water came together very quickly. With the bottom painted and a slip located, Layla was going to get wet!

An amazing sight to see her "driving" through the lot
Tracy was not here for the event. But our good friends Fred, and later Ernie and Oliver, provided expert guidance to get back in the water. 

Ah, water at last.
 We then headed back towards Taylor's Creek to Layla's new home in Beaufort.
Fred and Ernie

Layla in Beaufort inlet
Oliver inspects Layla from the dinghy
More inspection by Oliver
In Taylor's Creek
The plan is to continue with some shakedown cruises and complete more of the projects on the "to do" list. We are now in the next phase.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And now for the paint

Yes, that is black paint in his hair
Water break about every 15 minutes

Tedious task but excellent results

Paint on the face and about everywhere

Tracy was not as messy

Nice smooth bottom
With this all important task done, you know what is next?

Catching up - First with the bottom

Layla's sanded bottom
We have had a lot going on these last couple of weeks and will now be catching up in a flurry of posts here. 

It was HOT, HOT, HOT. So let's do something that is really fun to do in the heat and humidity - let's sand the bottom in preparation for painting the bottom with "anti-fouling" paint.

Actually it was not that bad of a job. With an electric sander, I completed the job by myself in about 4 hours. The bottom was in pretty good shape. Of course I don't have any pictures of how I looked after all the work. And yes, I used the proper equipment including a vacuum attached to the sander to collect the dust and a nice warm mask on my face to collect more dust.  

But the boat is all ready for Tracy to arrive for her "holiday" to assist in the painting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Following in their wake

Hakahua Oa Pua. See this picture and others on the Hoag Family blog on S/V Morning Glory.

Although we have visited Layla in North Carolina several times and made progress on her projects over the past couple of months, we have really very little of "boat interest" to report. Our most immediate goal has been to get the tasks done to get Layla back in the water. Otherwise, we work towards completing one chapter and turning the page on the next. Yes, I know. Believe me, I am sure I am more tired of saying that than you are of hearing it. But, really, it will be very soon.

During this time to help us cope with jobs, traffic, city life, and all of those challenges that have been made more unbearable since experiencing the cruising epiphany, we have taken much needed inspiration from various blogs of cruisers and cruisers-in-progress. In particular, we have followed the blog of the Hoag family - Arthur, Amy and kids, Steven and River, aboard their catamaran Morning Glory. We met the Hoag's in the boat yards of Beaufort, NC as we all prepared to embark on our travels south. As cruising plans often go, they left and we did not.

Earlier this month, the sailing vessel Morning Glory and crew arrived in the Marquesas after departing from the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador and sailing over one of the largest expanses of open ocean on the planet! Above is one of Arthur's picture's of a Landfall in Paradise. You will want to see their blog with the narrative and more pictures of their remarkable travel these past months along the east coast of the US, down to the Bahamas, Jamaica, San Blas Islands of Panama, through the Panama Canal, on to the Galapagos and then, to French Polynesia.

We hope to be following in their wake in the very near future.