Month: February 2016

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Cockroach update:  After bombing the boat a couple of weeks ago, I knew that we’d killed every last bug(ger)! About 2 days later I saw one emerge from out of no where, and immediately sent it’s little spirit to cockroach heaven. The next day Emma did the same to 2 more, and before long we realized that the bomb was just one big party for the little beasts, which caused them to be more confident and active than ever. I inquired about cockroach elimination on a women’s sailing forum, and was told by several people to use a product called Advion. Danny ordered some and spread the love around the boat, and ever since then we have only seen dead roaches, and a couple very sickly looking ones. I think this stuff has done the trick!

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This morning I was baking rolls in the galley, when a fancy boat pulled up along side Tanda Malaika. The people in it were looking up and down at our boat and pulled out a camera to take pictures. We have had several people take pictures of her, but none have ever stayed so close and so long, so I stepped out into the stern salon to greet them with a smile, and noticed a big YAMAHA sign on the side of their boat. I thought perhaps they liked that we had a 25 hp Yamaha engine on the dinghy, but the gentleman driving the boat immediately started to talk in an American accent I had difficulty following. I called to Danny and continued listening to what he had to say, and finally understood that he was from the Yamaha company and want to use Tanda Malaika in a photo shoot on Monday. They will have a model at the stern and another larger tender approach with big Yamaha engines. We told them they are more than welcome to do so, and felt proud of our pretty lady and all the hard work we have done on her. We will make sure she looks squeaky clean for the shoot.

We met up with our friends from church at Sombrero Beach again.

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We brought hot dogs to roast and the rolls I baked, as well as this crazy flavor of chips. They were not our favorite flavor by any means, but we have certainly tasted worse. I think I’d pick the jerked chicken flavor from the other day over these though!

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The creatures played Frisbee and then we pulled them around behind the dinghy. Mycah became airborne a couple of times but managed to stay on the tube. Toward the end of her ride she was daring and rode with her hands in the air. We all had a blast.

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We stood out on the beach and watched the beautiful sunset, and once again I felt immense gratitude for family, for love, and for Eternal bonds that hold us all together.

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Mending the Jib

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We’ve been waiting for a day with little or no wind so that we could unfurl the jib and lower it for mending. In two or three places the stitching on the blue fabric has separated from the white sail, and I needed to tack it back on. Danny and I lowered it so that it lay across the trampoline, and I got to work.

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The needle I use is very thick because the thinner ones I’ve tried in the past break so easily. The thread is also thick and is specially made for sail repair. In order to push and pull the needle through the thick fabric and Dacron sail, I have to use pliers and lots of muscle. One of the stretches I mended was about 8ft long.

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After 7 hours of tugging, my hands and fingers are bruised, bleeding and full or holes, but the job is done and the jib is in much better shape. One of these days I need to save up for an industrial sewing machine!

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Yesterday a friend of ours pulled his fishing boat along side Tanda Malaika, and dropped off some crab claws. What a great surprise! These are from Stone crabs which he caught in the crab pots he has set up.

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He told me that he brings the crab on his boat, cuts off their claws, and sets them free once again. The claws grow back, which makes them a renewable resource. We cooked them in boiling water for 7 minutes and then put them on ice so that the meat will pull away easily from the claw. We will enjoy them tonight with our dinner.

The tide was really low this afternoon, exposing grasses and mud flats in areas I hadn’t seen before. Many Egrets were slowly stalking, keeping an eye out for a special treat, and beautiful wispy clouds filled the sky, looking much like an artists brush strokes.

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Solar installation Day 2

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Our morning began with continued work on the solar panel installation. Holes were drilled through the helm bimini to thread the solar panel lines down, and then silicone applied to fill up the holes. Plastic cord holder thingys were screwed in to hold the cords in place.

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Screwing into the hard top is tricky because the clear coat can crack and spider out, so it is important use a counter sink first.

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We used clamshell vents to cover where we had applied silicone, which tidied the holes up nicely.

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The panels came with MC-4 connectors but we decided to remove them and hard wire directly to the panels in order to cut down on the chance of corrosion.

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We spliced the cables together and then used an extra layer of plastic shrink protector for added protection.

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In the few hours of cloudy skies from when cables were finally hooked up around midday until sundown, we had already produced 105 amp hours of energy.

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The finished product looks really good. We did use small black zip ties to further tidy and brace the stretches of cable between the screws.

While Danny was finishing up with the final touches, I installed a new toilet seat to our head, which turned out looking pretty spiffy.

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I peeked in on the creatures through the day and after they were done with school work, I found Emma in her natural habitat…reading on her kindle. That girl is a readerholic! She just completed the Divergent series, and did this to a box of Borax..

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She cracks me up.

When all the work was done, Danny and I borrowed bicycles from the marina and rode in to get a bite of eat to celebrate. I tried escargot for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised. My Dad used to eat it, and I thought he was nuts, but if you get it out of your head that you’re eating snails, you will enjoy the buttery garlic taste.

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Tomorrow our inverter will arrive, and we will install that, which will take us one step closer to having Tanda Malaika the way we want her to be. I’m so grateful for all that I’m learning, and for a husband how knows so much.

 

 

Solar panel installation

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After yesterdays Super Bowl food overdose, we were ready to work hard today on installing our new flexible walk on solar panels. We have been working toward getting these for 10 months now and are so excited to finally be installing them.

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The installer, Dave, came over this morning and he and Danny tore the boat apart, removing panels and cushions to map out where all the wiring had to be run.

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Danny measured with great care where the solar panels would lie and where screws needed to be placed.

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We decided to place three of the panels on the hard top over the stern salon, and one of them on the hard top over the helm station. Having all the panels in one general area allows us to wire each pair in series and then both pairs in parallel. I placed a piece of scrap wood under the panel and drilled holes through the panels in each spot where a screw would be placed, and taped the panels down where we wanted them.

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We then drilled holes in the bimini where the panels were to be placed, and used marine grade clear silicone in each hole we’d screwed as well as in a line joining each screw hole and some extra lines over the area where the panel would lie.

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After we had carefully placed the panels over the silicone, we used (#8) 1″ screws and finishing grommets and screwed the panels down.

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Meanwhile, down in the main salon, Danny was using his ninja skills and cut out the perfect spaces needed for the battery state-of-charge meter and the Outback Mate2 controller. We placed these right above the main control panel so that everything is in one place.

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Danny and I ran the Cat5 cables for the meters through the ceiling panels to the Flexmate 80 solar charge controller, which is now mounted under the salon seats.

Tomorrow we will tie all solar panel wiring and fire up the system. We are really excited to not have to run our generator every day. The solar panels equal 1000 watts (4x 250 watt panels) and our lithium ion batteries hold 1200ah of energy.

It is so rewarding to save up and make good purchases, work hard and install things ourselves, and look back and see the progress we are making in our home on the water.

Emma and I took the dinghy in to the marina office to grab our mail at one point during the day, and on our way home helped an older gentleman and his daughter who’s dinghy motor had given up the ghost. Emma is such a great dinghy driver, and our new friends in distress were very grateful.

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It was such a beautiful day here in Marathon Key. We passed a catamaran with lots and lots of plants all over the place. They are obviously here in the marina to stay!

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Tanda Malaika looked so pretty sitting on her mooring ball.

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Christmas in February

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For those of you who have been following this blog for a while or know me from before it, you know that I have difficulty passing up potato chips. I love trying new crazy flavors, and the other day came across this one:

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken. I’d have to give it about a 5 out of 10. Some of the creatures didn’t like it at all, but I thought it was pretty good. Good enough to where, after eating one, you had to try a few more to see if you liked them or not. They were a little spicy, which is always good in my books.

Many have asked me how we get mail. We have a mailbox in California where we lived, and when ever we arrive someplace that mail can be sent to, I call, email or text the sweet ladies at the Mariners Mails Stop with the address, and they send us all our mail. Here at Boot Key Harbor, all the mail is set out in alphabetical order in the main marina hall, and the cruisers gather it up.

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Yesterday, as we were passing through, the UPS man happened to have just arrived and said he had some packages for us. Our solar panels have arrived! We are so excited to get them installed onto Tanda Malaika. Right now they are sitting at the stern salon, ready for action. On Monday an installer will be here to help Danny install them.

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We also received a package from a beautiful couple we met in Hawaii. The Golds have been our dear friends ever since and are living in Idaho Falls, and happen to be the best cookie makers ever!

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The box was filled with delicious white chocolate chip, cranberry cookies, as well as butterscotch and chocolate chip cookies. They included a special note and booklet. What Angels they are!! It felt like Christmas.

This morning I awoke and made monkey bread for everyone to enjoy. I formed balls of dough, covered them in butter and cinnamon sugar, and dropped them into a bunt pan to bake.

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They were supposed to bake for 35 minutes, and after 2 hours they were finally done. I dumped the pan over to get them out and poured a cream cheese frosting over them.

Danny, Mycah and I needed a couple things at Home Depot, and when we reached the dinghy dock, I jumped out to tie us up, and my flip flop slipped out from under me and my leg slid down between the dock and the post, into this hole where clams and mussels stuck to the post. I was instantly skinned above my ankle by the poor little creatures and walked into town with blood running down my lower leg.

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It’s really not a big deal and stung a bit. On our way back to Tanda Malaika I hung my leg over the side of the dinghy to wash it off in the ocean, hoping to attract a shark for a good photo op, but none came. All is well, I cleaned it and placed clean gauze on it, and life is good.

I love our life on the ocean and am so grateful for it. We have so much to be grateful for as we constantly see the beauty around us.

 

 

Happy Birthday Sweet Brother

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Yesterday was a ‘get things done around home’ day. We all had our projects and worked hard. One of the things that Danny accomplished was to set up our braai on the stern rail. A BBQ is what we in South Africa call a Braai.

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We had credit points built up at West Marine that were going to expire by January 5th, so we used them to purchase it. I’m so excited to have another place on the boat to cook. The next Mahi Mahi that Danny catches will be delicious cooked on that.

Since our nights have been really stuffy and hot, even with the hatches open, Danny set up the wind scoop over our hatch and it works wonderfully. Rather than the air flowing right over the top of our hatch, it is now directed right into our berth and it feels cool once again.

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In the evening we caught a taxi over to the church for a pot luck and game night. I was in charge of the game and prepared some Jeopardy questions, and we all had a really enjoyable time. The best part of the evening was when Danny and our friend, Hal, pulled out their guitars and serenaded us. Danny accompanied on the piano for part of the time and as always, impressed us all.

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They continued to play for a couple hours after everyone had gone home, and quite honestly, I could have sat and listened all night. I love and admire Danny’s incredible talent and hearing the two of them together was fantastic.

This morning I got really hot standing over the oven while making a big batch of granola, and to cool off afterward I grabbed my scuba gear and Mycah and I dropped down at the stern to search for a couple things that had fallen off the boat the day before. I taught Mycah a search pattern that we used when I was on the sheriffs body recovery and dive rescue team, and we were successful in finding part of our goods. I’m so proud of Mycah, because she has become such a great diver and has nerves of steel. Visibility was about 2 inches, and when were moved our hands back and forth across the bottom to feel, it became zero. It has never bothered me to dive blind but I know it does bother many people, but Mycah was a champ. When we were done diving the rest of the creatures joined us and we scrubbed Tanda Malaika’s belly, removing all growth. When we climbed up onto the boat, we realized that all of us were covered in krill. Teeny tiny shrimp looking krill were clinging to us, and we hosed them off and sent them back into the ocean for the manatees to enjoy.

For dinner, we enjoyed a good old braai. Danny cooked the meat and did an amazing job, and taught the boys the art of braaiing.

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We had corn on the cob and watermelon with it and felt quite satisfied afterward.

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Had my sweet brother still been alive, today would have been his 48th birthday. He passed away just 4 months ago, and we all miss him so much. Emma decided that she wanted to bake him a birthday cake, and called us all to the salon this evening where we tearfully sang happy birthday to him and ate cake together, I have no doubt he was there with us.

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Beautiful Sunshine

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Yesterday was an exceptionally beautiful day, and by the looks of it, this warming trend will continue.

Our morning began with Emma taking me in the dinghy to the crab dock once again, where I jumped out and walked to West Marine for some needed parts. She picked me up and we returned to Tanda Malaika to gather everyone up and meet our friends, the Hartzells, over at Sombrero Beach.

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The beach is beautiful with a wide stretch of bright white sand and beautiful blue water. It felt so good to have my toes in the sand again.

I explored an area of rocky shoreline and saw many Portuguese Man of War. Some were washed up while others bobbed peacefully in the water, with long strings of dark blue venomous tentacles that hang down as far as 6ft. These carnivorous little creatures pack an awfully painful sting but very rarely cause death in humans.

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I noticed something interesting while exploring…an aquatic cockroach! This guy was completely submersed, exploring a hole in the tidal zone and seemed totally unaffected by the seawater. He walked around, pausing here and there and then continued on.

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After the creatures had explored for some time while the rest of us sat and chatted, the Hartzells climbed in their kayaks and we jumped in the dinghy and made our way over to a rope swing in the mangroves.

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Everyone had a blast, and when it came time to leave, we towed the Hartzells back to their home which was over a mile away. The small waves kept dumping into the dinghy, so Emma bailed periodically. It was a wet, fun ride.

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When we reached their home they broke out some fishing rods and we fished for a while. They have previously caught mangrove snapper behind their house, and though we had a couple bites, we didn’t have any luck.

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Our ride back to Tanda Malaika was quite exciting. Danny opened up the throttle, and I unplugged the drain hole in the dinghy, and thanks to the self bailing system, all the water drained out. We hit some waves that got the creatures airborne and giggling for part of the ride.

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What a fun day in the sun!

This morning I celebrate my two year anniversary with my pacemaker. It’s been an interesting two years with many appointments and adjustments to its settings, but all is well and I feel great. Five or six more years before I need to have it replaced.

Life is good, and I am grateful for it. I am especially grateful to have an incredibly amazing husband and 11 beautiful children. Family is everything, and I happen to have the best of the best.

 

 

 

 

Tools, glorious tools…

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One of my fondest memories from child hood, is being my Dad’s right hand man on projects. When we lived in Cape Town, I remember helping him install our sprinkler system. I helped him carry supplies around the yard, hand him what he needed at different times, and listen to his plan on what we were doing. I’d lie on my belly in the dirt with him and I felt so important. I loved organizing his tools, which he took great care of.

Yesterday, Danny worked for much of the day on the engines, and once again I gladly took my place as his assistant.

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After making a few trips back and forth to the tool stash to take him what he needed, I finally carried a couple of his tool bags out to the stern close to where he was, and organized them all. Call me weird, but I LOVE tools. I love arranging them all, finding missing pieces and returning them to their correct spots, and cleaning them up.

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Whenever I am in a hardware store I love to walk through the tool isles, admiring the beautiful shiny nuts, bolts, screws, nails and other whatchamacallits that are in there. I also love the beautiful colors of handles and neatly packaged stuff. If I had it my way, we’d have an entire berth dedicated to tools, and I’d have them all perfectly arranged like most women’s craft rooms. I love it when Danny asks me to hand him something and I know exactly what he’s talking about and what it’s used for, and better yet, I love to know how to use it. He has also had to learn my language when it comes to tools…like the word, ‘spanner’, which is what we call a ‘wrench’ in South Africa!

Aside from my heavenly time of being his right hand man, I also cleaned in Tanda Malaika and enjoyed time with our amazing creatures.

Since the weather is supposed to be warm and sunny today, we might go explore and try find Sombrero Beach. It’s guaranteed to be an awesome adventure.

A new week

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I have a new goal. Actually it’s not new at all – I’ve had it for years, but now it is renewed and I am NOT going to fail. Back in April of last year when we found out that my Dad had cancer, and then also my brother, my doctor put me on an anti anxiety medication to help me get through the rough months that followed (and continue to follow). One of the side effects from the meds, is weight gain, and in those months I gained 25 lbs. My goal is to lose all that and more, and this last week I bought a scale. This morning when I got on it I was pleasantly surprised with my weight…(But then realized that I was standing on the outside of the box) I think the last time I weighed 124 lbs I was 12 years old.

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Yesterday morning we all got ready for church, and took the dinghy in to the dock and on the way going in the opposite direction, was a family going for a relaxing Sunday trip in their house. They were out on their front porch enjoying the fresh morning air.

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The taxi driver who took us in to church was a young Hawaiian man, who is from the Big Island where we lived. It was fun to talk about places we’d explored and foods we ate that are unique to the island. It felt like we’d run into long lost family. Church services were great as usual, and during them Mycah took care of the cutest little baby boy. Little kids love her, and she does such a beautiful job taking care of them.

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We returned to our ever faithful Tanda Malaika, and later in the day I tried a new recipe from Pinterest and made everyone ‘Samoa Truffles’, with caramel, condensed milk, coconut, cookie crumbs and chocolate. They are very rich but quite delicious.

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My mom gave us some exciting news this week. She is wrapping up a few things in Idaho and within the next week or two is going to join us for a couple of months. I know this is a sacrifice for her, because it means she will need to leave her sweet companion, Teddy the poodle behind, but he will be in good hands and we will love having her. We have no problem with having him on the boat, but each country has its rules with pets and complicates things. When we head to Bermuda, my sister, Bernadine and her husband Gary, will be visiting too! Fun times ahead and we are so excited.

In the mean time we are continuing to add much needed gadgets (including solar) to Tanda Malaika, as well as working  on the engines. Everything takes so much time – longer than one anticipates. But, we would rather be getting slow work done while living on a boat, than slow work done while living on land. Life is good, and we are so grateful for it.

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