28 July 2010

Mac Attack

I am going off-topic for a post.  I can't seem to manage to write more than once a week anymore anyway.  Maybe Kyle will make an appearance with some of the details of his new job.

Kyle's father has a most singular cat, Mac-Mac.  As all cats do, this one sleeps most of the day.  Unlike most cats, this one seems to be the most comfortable all twisted up.
 Yes, I am writing a blog post about a cat, and no, I am not ashamed.  I spend a good portion of my day bothering this cat, because he's is fun (and dangerous) to play with.  You see, Mac-Mac likes to bite.  Even if you're playing nice and just petting him, you still have to look out for the pointy bits because they attack without notice.  This sorry sucker here found out the hard way:
Actually this 'sorry sucker' is just Kyle.
I am also pretty sure this cat is the reason my eyes are red and itchy and I have sneezing attacks three times a day.  It's either him, or the other cat, or one of the three dogs....  Let's face it, folks, with everyone away at work all day I probably talk to animals more than people these days.  At least they don't talk back :)

Also, I would like to note that I am under the influence of Peter Gethers' The Cat Who Went to Paris, which is a pretty funny book.  Gethers writes stories about his cat, Norton, and all his antics.  I highly recommend it, though I am sad to say I do not recommend the subsequent A Cat Abroad (it isn't funny or even really about Norton).  And I have not read the third book in the series.  I should also probably tell you that our entire trip, I have been yearning for a boat cat.  I need someone to talk to who isn't Kyle.  I am very jealous of our fellow boaters who have pets aboard.  I never pictured myself for a pet person, but I think I am going to need a cat.
Nothing says comfort like curling up with some table legs.
 Kyle and I have already staked our claim in Mac-Mac in the event that his parents get divorced (they've already divided up the dogs).  Oh, and lest I forget, Mac-Mac has a strange affinity for boxes.  He just can't resist them.  So in closing, I'll share this video of the boxed cat, complete with dangerous pointy bits in action.  This is mostly just practice for uploading video, I have some funny ones from the trip that I need to put together.

video

Too funny...and too dangerous.  I found out the hard way that he doesn't discriminate against faces either - he find them equally as bite-able as hands.  Anyway, I hope you'll all forgive me for this useless post about a cat :P

20 July 2010

Dinghy Build (Part three)

Back in January, Kyle and I told you all about how we built a dinghy out of plywood, epoxy and bright paint.  Here's how it worked out:
After putting a couple thousand miles under the keel, our homemade dinghy has definitely seen some sights.  And better days, I might add.  I would like to point out that just Sunday afternoon some grown women were screaming in admiration of my paint job, and they didn't even see it in its full magenta glory.

Home again - 7.20.2010
Maiden voyage - 1.20.2010
 Despite the strength of the epoxy, in rougher waves the docks still took quite a toll on "Dinghalicious" (I swear, Kyle came up with that.  To this day, we still refer to her affectionately as 'Liscious).  One thing that we considered when building the dinghy is adding a second sheet of plywood to the bow.  As you can see, it would have been extremely beneficial.  While we were in Oriental, the dinghy could just slip under the dock, then a few waves sent the brunt of the force to the middle of the bow.

We had even put some pool noodles on 'Liscious to combat the brutal dinghy dock in Oriental, but by the time we left, you can see the bow was still looking a little sad.  Right now all we have left is the stern noodle, and it disintegrates on whoever leans against it (usually me.  It took me quite a while to figure out why I had blue stuff all over my back and shorts whenever we were walking around town).
These are all pretty cosmetic, nothing substantially structure-related.  Our worst problem, by far and above, was oar locks.  If you are going with a rowboat, shell out the extra cash and get some good oarlocks.  If you have to row a half mile, crossing a busy channel at night, you don't want to risk shearing off an oarlock and having to row canoe-style the rest of the way to the boat.  We started out with clamp-on oarlocks.  Those twisted, which made rowing nearly impossible.  Next we tried U-style oarlocks, and those both sheared off right below the U (and this always happens where you're about halfway between the dock and the boat). 

The original oarlock sockets were on the brink of failure by the end of the trip, but they were still holding.  On one oar, we have half of each original clamp-on oarlock (almost too twisted to row with), and on the other we have a combination of hose clamps through which we put a ratchet extension.  We've been through a couple hose clamps on that too.
Oh, and also, we managed to accrue a few barnacles whilst sitting in Titusville for a couple weeks.
The dinghy is alive!

Finally, we've made some serious decisions about "next time."  Next time, we are building a sailing dinghy - too much fun, and only a little more work.  We actually saw the sailing version of our dinghy while we were in Titusville, FL.  It would be a lot of work to modify our current dinghy, plus she's a little beat up already so we would just build a new one.  And next time, we're bringing an outboard.  Maybe it will just be a little electric trolling motor, but dangit, we're going to have one.  Some of those anchorages are just too far from the dock to row.

And to top all this off, Kyle went to a job interview today, and he starts work at 8am tomorrow!  That is extremely good news, plus he'll be working at a marine electronics company so he still gets to work on boats every day.  I've had one interview already that I'm waiting to hear back on, and I am keeping on top of the job listings.  If anyone needs a mechanical engineer, I need a job - maybe we can work something out :P

14 July 2010

Photos!

If a photo is worth a thousand words, than this post will sum up our trip in about 270,000 words.  I made two facebook photo albums that can be view here and here.

OR just click the photos below to get to the albums

ALBUM ONE




ALBUM TWO


07 July 2010

Boat Garden

Now that we're back to a secure location, we can tell you more about the lessons we learned while living on a boat instead of bogging you down with all the adventures we had (right now the adventure is finding a job.  Weeeeeee this is a fun ride!  Not.).

For those of you who joined us post-January, one of the things I need need NEED on the boat is plants.  They make me happy.  Apparently, I do not make them happy.  In January I told you about the herb garden surprise as well as my awesome greenhouse build.  Well, needless to say, after we got back from First Trip the herbs all died.  I replanted them.  Then I realized I'd been feeding them brackish (salty) water.  Well that explains why Second Planting never sprouted.  So I planted them again.  I think one or two sprouts sprouted up and then died.  After that I gave up on herbs.  Somewhere around this time the mint also died and so I bought some mint that was absolutely glowing with chemical health.

Well, what are herbs but a supplemental flavor to a meal?  My real passion was for the vegetables.  As previously stated, watering them with salty water does not work.  That was the first planting of vegetables (particularly, ones we eat a lot of - lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, and peas).  I tried planting them in an egg carton to start - saving on space is always a big deal.  Nothing sprouted.  Yay.  So then I moved up, sprouting them in one of those little plastic six-packs.  I got three out of six to sprout (out of three peppers and three tomatoes, I had two peppers and one tomato sprout).  They were doing marvelously, until I transplanted the tomato to a more spacious environment (Solo cup).  The next day, the first pepper fell over and shriveled up.  Later that afternoon, the second pepper did the same.  The tomato still thrived, and the chemical health of the mint (pictured, left) was waning but still present.  I cried.  Okay, so I was down to a tomato plant, after failing miserably at everything.  I get too emotional about plants, I do.  I placed all my hopes and dreams in this little guy, the one plant child I had left.

But then tragedy struck.  I had to leave Titusville and attend a couple weddings in Michigan.  I warned Kyle before I left that he needed to treat this tomato plant with all the love and respect he treated me with.  Sufficiently threatened, he promised to "do his best."  Hardly good enough, but what choice did I have?  Upon arriving home, I was dead tired but I noticed Kyle was acting a little...guilty.  I couldn't imagine the cause, but when I got back to the boat, I knew.  My little tomato guy wasn't looking so hot.  Kyle promised he'd watered and loved it and took care of it, but it was still shriveling.

So what went wrong?  When I made the greenhouse, it was January and I aimed to trap as much heat as possible.  Maybe the Floridan temperatures were too much for my veggies.  Peppers are sensitive fellows, maybe the trauma of removing their tomato friend pushed them over the edge.  In Titusville we were attacked by a massive swarm of lovebugs, maybe the little mater was overwhelmed.  Or maybe it's just my black thumb.  I've never been the main gardener, only caretaker (okay, Mom, you're right - I was weeder and potato-bug-picker.  And eater).

Boat people, talk to me.  How do you sustain your boat gardens?  Now that I'm home, even though summer is half over, I have still planted everything that I would love to have a fresh supply of.  The herbs are still being stubborn about sprouting, but I still have high hopes.