Sunday, April 29, 2018

Eating and Drinking in New Orleans

I'm not gonna lie, we researched the food in New Orleans far more than the attractions. So the first night we walked to Bon Ton for dinner and it was delicious. Here's my shrimp etouffee.

During our week in New Orleans we tried Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp, Crayfish, Beignets, Coffee with Chicory, and Andouille sausage.

We also had drinks at Compère Lapin, the Den, Pat O'Briens, the District, and Bamboula's. I particularly enjoyed meeting Abigail, the bartender at Compère Lapin. She fixed me this lovely Campari and grapefruit, and two delicious Sazaracs for the boys.

For those of you who've never been to New Orleans, I've got to say, they make drinking too easy there. To-Go cups are de rigueur and nearly everyone walks around with a drink in their hand. Bars can stay open past 2am so drinking is possible almost 24 hours a day.

One of our funniest memories was in the elevator early one morning when a bachelorette party attendee said, "I'm going to need a liver transplant when I get home." We were still laughing after she left the elevator.

One of our best meals was Sunday Brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. We had Champagne, Eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, crayfish, and pecan pie for dessert, but the lavish buffet had many other items as well.

One cannot go to New Orleans without trying a beignet, so one morning we got some to go and ate them as we drove out to the Swamp Tour. They are basically a square donut doused with powdered sugar. Locals know not to eat them in their car, or wear black pants when they eat them, but we did both and paid the price. There is still powdered sugar in the car, but it's a sweet memory from our time in the Big Easy.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Refrigeration Recap

Ta-Dah! The galley project is finished.
On the left is the Vitrifrigo DW70 freezer with a cupboard below for its small Danfoss compressor and a trash bin. The Captain made the cabinet doors match the others on the boat.
The trash bin is attached to the door by a little bracket and a bungie. It's a very small bin and we use shopping bags for liners. The door can be secured open at anchor or while preparing a meal, then closed while underway.

In the center, below the stove, is the original pan storage area; a small, dark, difficult-to-access cave. That's one thing that bugs me about the cabinet design on the Aldens; large storage spaces are limited by small access doors. I understand there must be faceframes, but they should be narrower to make the doors as large as possible.
On the right is the new Vitrifrigo DW100 refrigerator with a cupboard below for its compressor and more pan storage.

Ventilation is a big issue with refrigeration units, so each compressor area has a 6" diameter hole to the bilges to bring in cool air, and another 6" hole up high, behind the stove, to exhaust the warm air. There is about 3" of airspace on the side of each box, 4" on the top, and 8" behind, so I think we have good airflow.

Another important requirement is proper wire size. The Vitrifrigo manual suggested 9ga wire for our length run, but we used 8ga. Heck, the wire cost more than the cherry wood!

Vitrifrigo has several sizes of drawer units. The smaller units can be either freezer only, refrigerator only, or a combination. They have two types of latches: traditional flush or bowed designer style. They all have lights inside, one sliding top rack, plenty of stainless steel dividers, and sturdy Blum drawer guides.
At only 3.3 cubic feet, our refrigerator is a little small, but we just couldn't fit a larger unit into our boat. The freezer, at 2.6 cubic feet is a little large, but we have plenty of room to make ice and I'm experimenting to find out what can be stored in the freezer without getting ruined.
When perusing the Vitrifrigo website, keep in mind the number after the "DW" refers to cubic liters which you can easily translate into cubic feet.
If you need help, the folks at Vitrifrigo are easy to talk to. The Vitrifrigo warehouse is located in Florida, so purchasing from Hanson Marine in St. Augustine meant quick delivery, and he was cheaper than Defender.

Now, let's drink that champagne!

Monday, April 9, 2018

During the Refrigeration Installation

Here's a photo of the boat during the installation of the new refrigeration system - and this is why you can't live aboard during a project like this.

As you can see, there's barely room to walk through the boat because the stove, floorboards, and the new freezer drawer are on the port settee, and the temporary refrigerator and new refrigerator are on the starboard settee.
The electrical panel had to be opened up to run the new circuits. The Captain is also redoing the navigation panel because some of our instruments were fried in the lightning strike two years ago and the new ones are a little different.

Floorboards had to be removed and the generator area had to be opened to run the wires. Tools are scattered everywhere. Someone is trying to stain and varnish while the other someone is trying to run wires and fit doors. It's chaos!

We were able to slip the freezer unit in without too much trouble, but we had to lower the refrigerator down from above before the countertop was put on because the space was just too tight. We also had to remove the drawer front to get the drawer into the unit.

I'll bet you didn't know that you had to be authorized to purchase or install Corian solid suface countertop material. But with persistence, we found a countertop installer in Jacksonville who would sell us the eight square feet that we needed. We took a scrap of the old top and found the perfect match. We re-used the old fiddle rails. With lots of sanding, and fresh stain and varnish, they look like new.

This little panel next to the sink had a controller for the old refrigeration system, so we had to make a new one since we removed that controller. With more space we were able to move the generator instruments down a bit which makes them easier to see.

The compressor for each unit is mounted directly below but only uses half the space, so we are utilizing that extra space for storage. On the right we will store large pots and pans, and on the left we found space for a trash bin. The Captain made the new doors match the old ones exactly. We think its very important to match existing details in any remodel.

So far we love the new refrigerators and the new storage space that we created. We'll do an update on power consumption after we've lived with them for a few weeks.

Refrigerators - Hanson Marine, St. Augustine, 904 825-7448

Cherry - Florida Southern Plywood, Jacksonville, 904 786-4382

Corian - Wellcraft Fabrication, Jacksonville, 904 880-6921

Hardware - Fisheries Supply

Fingerbreakers aka Fingerpulls - LaLuna ♡

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Refrigeration

This will be a long post detailing a long project.

If you want to replace your refrigeration I would recommend you first empty all the galley lockers, put tape over all the seams in the floor so gunk doesn't fall into the bilge, protect the floor with towels or rugs, get a Sawzall, a pry bar, lots of big garbage bags.....and get at least a case of beer, or, better yet, a big bottle of vodka. Next take everything else out of all the other lockers and throw it on the floor because that's where it will end up eventually. Then pour yourself a drink and start sawing.

This is how the galley looked before we started. We are hoping it looks this good again soon. The two doors on either side of the stove access the original boxes; freezer on the left, refrigerator on the right.

First we removed the stove and the refrigerator doors. Then the Captain started sawing chunks of wood and fiberglass out like this:
It took us two days to cut all that stuff out and pry out all the insulation. Tillotson Pearson did a great job on these boxes. There was 4" of insulation on the sides, front, and bottom. There was 8" of insulation against the hull, and 6" on top.

The old Grunert cold plate system had a remote compressor under the cockpit, so there were several copper tubes running back and forth through lockers. We used cable cutters to cut those, then pulled all the pieces out.

Somewhere along the way we decided that the counter tops had to come out too, so we carefully removed the fiddle rails and saved them, then removed the countertops. About here is where I was reminded of that time we Sawzalled 2/3 of our house down for the big remodel. Through the haze of sawdust, you just have to keep the faith, baby!

By the third day we had cleaned out both holes, and gotten the new freezer box up onto the boat. Because the doors in our boat are only 16" wide and the galley is not in the aft cabin, the new freezer had to come down the large overhead hatch in the main cabin.
To make the freezer smaller and lighter, we removed the drawer and mounting flange, and taped the remote compressor to the side. With it arranged this way, we were able to lower it all down into the galley area through the large hatch that you see beneath the Captain's feet.

After figuring out the height of each unit, we installed shelves for them to sit on and started working on the new cabinetry. Our boat's interior is all cherry, so after calling several places we found Florida Southern Plywood in Jacksonville. They sell not only plywood, but solid cherry, walnut, oak, and maple for cabinet makers. We selected two small pieces of cherry and a sheet of 1/4" cherry plywood and got out the door for about $120.00.

Now the Captain cut the cherry to make the faceframes and doors, and I started staining and varnishing. Today, after almost two weeks of solid work, we set the two units in place to see how it will all look. The freezer, on the left, is a little smaller than the refrigerator. That gave us room for a garbage bin underneath. We've cruised all this time with the bin wedged in the corner. Yes, sometimes it tips over or slides around; this will be so much better!
Of course, the compressors will be installed below the refrigerator units, there will be cabinets doors below, and there will be new Corian countertops, but it's actually moving along!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

It's Official!

We have a legally registered car!

Yesterday our license plates arrived from South Dakota. This might seem like a simple thing, but it's actually been a long and complicated project.

We first thought we could register our car in California since we technically "live" in California, but no, we couldn't do that because California wants all cars to be tested for emissions, and we will be in Georgia for a couple more months, and can't get the smog certificate here.

Then we thought perhaps we could register a car in Georgia, but to do that you need a Georgia drivers license, and to get one you need proof of residency; as in a lease agreement, a power bill, or mortgage papers.

Then we considered using a popular mail forwarding service in Florida to get Florida residency and a Florida Drivers license, but we would have had to register our boat there even though we have federal documentation. That's because Florida actually just wants their sales/use tax which would be a lot of money in our case. If our boat was 30 years old it would qualify for the annual antique boat fee of  $6.25, but it was built in 1990.

Then our smart cruising buddies, Steve and Debbie, came to our rescue and suggested the mail forwarding service they use in South Dakota. Very popular with RVers, this service will register your vehicle without you having a South Dakota drivers license or even being there.

So we sent in our information and got an address in a couple of days. Then we bought the car and got a temporary Florida tag. Then we scanned and mailed all our documents to the mail forwarding service, they ran it all to the proper authorities, and Voila! we received our plates yesterday.

Admittedly, it took a while because we had to send lots of forms and documents to them, but it was all done rather painlessly and I would highly recommend Americas Mailbox in Box Elder, South Dakota as the best option for cruising sailors and RVers.

Thank you SOOOO much Debbie!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

House Sitting

Some of our boat projects are messy interior things which would have made living aboard difficult, so we asked around (through Women Who Sail and the St. Marys Yacht Club) and found a house sitting gig.

So about two weeks ago we removed all the cushions and clothes from the boat and moved into a palace. We have a remote to access the huge garage. There are three bedrooms, four baths, a huge living/dining area, two decks facing the ICW, and a big modern kitchen. It's pretty cushie.

From what we can see, it's a typical Georgia tidewater home: garages on the bottom level, living areas on the second level, and bedrooms on the third level. It's a beautiful plan, but this flatlander is having trouble adjusting to the stairs! I'm forever wanting something that's on a different level. However, if I get really lazy, I can use the elevator! Yes, it has an elevator.

Not our house, but typical for this area.

Meanwhile, back at the boat, I continue to sand and varnish interior bits, and the Captain is cleaning the engine compartment and removing the old refrigeration components. We bought new drawer refrigeration units because the old Grunert system was getting tired, and required daily generator use. Also, we couldn't run it on the hard because it uses salt water for cooling.
BTW, this cup holder for the cockpit table is making me crazy. I'm on the fourth coat of varnish now, but seriously, who designed this thing?! It's almost impossible to sand.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia is really starting to grow on us. The people are so nice and friendly, and the weather is pretty nice too. Everywhere we go folks smile and wave, and tell us to have a blessed day.
We usually play tourist on Sundays, and recently we drove over to St. Simons  Lighthouse. We went up to the top and toured the nice little museum in the old light keeper's house.
Then we wandered over to the public pier and found this character sitting on the railing waiting for a handout from any cooperative fisherman. He was quite tame and lots of tourists were taking selfies with him. Georgia is friendly like that.

It's azalea season here in Georgia. They grow like weeds, often reaching 10' tall! They are planted everywhere and often thrive in the woods with no obvious care. Huge clumps of them create spectacular displays along the roads.

We also visited Fort Frederica which was established in 1736, and saw a decisive battle between the British and the Spanish forces which came from Castillo de San Marco in St. Augustine, Florida.

The shallow marshes of Georgia, that make running aground on the ICW so easy, create some beautiful views in the early morning. This is the view from our deck this morning.

Georgia is really starting to grow on us. Y'all have a blessed day now, hear?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Boat Yard Blues

We've got the boat yard blues....

You may wonder what we've been doing in the three weeks since we've been back to the boat. Above is a clue. It looks sort of like worms, but it's actually little ground out spots where there were cracks in the gelcoat.

If we'd just painted over them, they would have merely reappeared in the new paint so the Captain is grinding them out with a Dremel tool. Then he's filling them and sanding, sanding, sanding.
Here's how the starboard side looks; it's almost ready for primer. Thank goodness our boat is only 44' long. A project like this makes you wish you had a smaller boat!

While the Captain works on the hull, I've been sanding, sanding, sanding too, and applying varnish to various parts. Here are the Dorade  boxes and cockpit table parts.
Aside from the relentless bugs, the conditions are pretty nice here. We have a great view out across the marsh, the temperatures are moderate, it doesn't rain much, and we have a car for quick runs to the grocery store and Home Depot.

So maybe the only boat yard blues are Malcolm's pants!

Friday, February 23, 2018

We've got Wheels!

Although it seems to have taken FOREVER, we've been back to the boat for less than three weeks and we've got a car.

Before we could even shop for a car we had to get a South Dakota address, which took about a week. Then we had to get money out of Malcolm's retirement account to purchase it. Then we spent a whole exhausting day running around Jacksonville looking at every Odyssey within our year and price parameters. Then it took another five days to get the title because the seller had to wait until our check cleared.

On that long day in Jacksonville, we eventually went back to the first one we looked at and bought it. It was the cleanest one and that's what won us over. Honestly, some of these soccer mom cars were filthy, but this one looked like it was owned by a single woman and regularly garaged, and the title proved that. Look, here it is in Nancy's driveway:

So life has gotten a little easier here in St. Marys, Georgia. We can run to the store, or the barbershop, or the propane place whenever we feel like it instead of bumming a ride or renting a car. If we need to, we can just run on down to St. Augustine to buy paint at Marine Supply and Oil Co. and go to Ann O'Malley's for Cruisers' Happy Hour like we did Wednesday.
With the title finally in hand, this morning I scanned and emailed all the paperwork to our mail forwarding service in South Dakota to get the car registered. Hopefully in about two weeks we will be legally registered and have South Dakota plates. Thank goodness for our scanner/printer to email all the paperwork back and forth. It hasn't been easy, but I think we're almost there!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Never Ending Bureaucracy

I've always been a law abiding citizen; paid my taxes, maintained proper licenses, registered my cars. We were in business in California for over 30 years, so trust me, I know about bureaucracy, but I've recently run up against something I just can't solve.

We have been bobbing around on the ocean, footloose and fancy free, for over three years, but now we have decided we'd like to buy a car to use here on the East Coast. The problem is California is our mailing address and we are not in California. Here is just a short list of the roadblocks before us:

  • Generally speaking, when you purchase a car out of state, you have 30 days to get it to your home state and registered. Any time beyond that usually incurs large penalties. We don't want to drive right home; we want to use the car here for a few months before we drive home.

  • We can't register the vehicle in California anyway because the car must actually be in California to get an emissions/smog certificate.

  • To register a car in Georgia you need to have proof of residency (electric bill, lease agreement), and a Georgia drivers license. So Georgia won't work.

  • I'd been told you can use St. Brendan's Isle (a mail forwarding service) to help establish Florida residency. A lady named Anna there told me we could register a car in Florida without a Florida drivers license, but a call to the DMV quickly corrected that falsehood. However, we could still get "domicile" in Florida through St. Brendan's Isle, and get a Florida drivers license, but you still have to register your boat there (and pay a big tax). Not impossible, but expensive. And after Anna's whopper, I don't really want to deal with them.

Friends have told us that South Dakota is more lenient and will register vehicles there without a South Dakota drivers license. You need to use a mail forwarding service to get a South Dakota address, then provide clear title, and proof of your identity via your social security card. All this can be accomplished via Notaries and the United State Postal Service, so there is no need to even travel to South Dakota.

  • At first I thought I would do this, but my wallet was stolen years ago and I don't have my social security card any more. I was self employed so I never replaced it. Yesterday I sat at the Social Security Office for two hours and was finally told that I can't get a card because I'm not at home. They will not mail a replacement card to my home address in California. And the woman behind the thick plastic screen had no ideas or solutions for me. (I think I know why those plastic screens are there now, because I wanted to strangle her!) Seriously, I am so tired of banging my head against the walls of bureaucracy! It's no wonder that people in difficult situations sometimes just give up and end up jobless and homeless. Even when you try to do the right thing, various government agencies make it impossible to do.

Thankfully, the Captain has his social security card. So, guess who's moving to South Dakota?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

California's Gold

A man named Huell Howser used to have TV show called California's Gold. We watched it often and my favorite part was when Huell would say, "That's amazing!"

Well, California is kind of amazing and we certainly enjoyed our two months there. Our last day was spent in and around the Presidio in San Francisco. By driving out to the Golden Gate Overlook near Battery Godfrey, we were able to get this view of the bridge.

Nearby is the Palace of Fine Arts, on the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. This beautiful pavilion is surrounded by the fine art buildings and is still a popular attraction for visitors.

At Disney's Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, find the Yoda statue we did.

Here are the "Painted Ladies" a famous row of Victorian houses, and our transportation for the last two months: our daughter's 1971 VW bug. She never drives it and it's really nice to have a garaged car in San Francisco for our use. Thanks Katie.

And last but not least is a sunset from our sailing club parking lot, out across the channel with Mt. Diablo in the distance. We managed to attend a few Friday Night Dinners there and enjoyed catching up with old friends.

Just a few examples of California's Gold for you to enjoy.

Friday, February 2, 2018

E. Charlton Fortune Exhibition

We recently had the pleasure of seeing an exhibition of E. Charlton Fortune's paintings at the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento,  California. The Captain is a first cousin twice removed of the artist. He remembers meeting her as a child, but she passed away in 1969, so I never got to meet her. What a pity; I hear she was quite a character and had a great sense of humor.

When Effie was 21, she and her mother survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. For several years she traveled, studied, painted, and exhibited her work in New York, Scotland, and France.
Returning to California in 1912, she divided her time between Carmel, Monterey, and San Francisco. This painting, "Afternoon (Waters Off Monterey)" was painted in 1912.

"The Pier (Late Afternoon, Monterey)" 1914

"Wharf, Monterey" 1915

"El Rancho del Carmelo (Hatton Ranch)" 1920

In 1921 Effie again went to Europe to paint and exhibit her work.
"Conversation Piece" Cromwell House, Scotland, started in 1921, finished in 1962

In St. Ives, Cornwall, UK she did several 12"x16" plein air studies of the harbor. Above is "Scavengers" 1922.

This one is called "Mackerel Season: Bidding on the Catch" 1922.

From these and other studies she did this large studio painting "Summer Morning, St. Ives" in 1923. This painting won a Silver Medal Certificate at the Société de Artistes Français Salon in 1924 in Paris.

"Wine Cargoes"  St. Tropez, France 1925

"Drying Sails"  St. Tropez, France 1926

"The Old Port"  St. Tropez, France 1925

Effie is recognized as one of the great California Impressionist painters. We saw a retrospective of her work at the Carmel Art Institute back in the 1990s, but there are more pieces here. I love her work and sure wish I could afford one of her paintings.

This is just a small sampling of the exhibition. It runs through April 22, 2018 at the Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street, Sacramento, California.
From there it moves to the Monterey Museum of Art from May 24 to August 27, 2018.