Saturday, November 24, 2012

The End is Now

Chopper has learned computers and the whole is now open to him
Chopper is most concerned about our plans. He's been researching the Everglades National Park, looking for campsites.  He must have overheard us talking about going to Southern Florida where the weather is warm and warm sounds good right now. He's also worried that no one in this family has "a job" anymore and has been looking at the Craigslist employment section. What a good boy! Not really. In truth, we have told him over and over again, that the  premise of this trip is to make no firm plans, and to go where the signs point us. Follow the knows!  I have never travelled with this much freedom, and it makes me giggle.

We're taking off tomorrow, finally. Me Voy is winterized, and we are back to hauling water  to brush teeth and make tea. Takes me back to the good ole days of her refit.

Engine room rot removal.

We have set up the car, got new front tires, tinted the back windows, got a cargo carrier, and a bike rack. We have made a little mobile kitchen in the back of the Fit, to store our food, and stove, and not have everything in one big pile like it usually ends up. Since this picture was taken, the plywood has been covered in black contact paper, and everything is packed away, i.e. lost,  including the camera card to upload finished car pics. Oh well, you'll have to take my word for it, it looks awesome, and only takes four small screws, discreetly placed to keep it attached. Our cans and pots and pans fit into the back shelves, with books and toiletries going on the shelves behind the seats. Really packs out nice. We'll see how this all works on the road, but you might be looking at the first prototype of a Honda Fit camping kit, you just never know.

Honda Fit camping kitchen build
We are not thru with Me Voy, and will be back to live aboard her in April. She has a lot more to teach us, but for now, this is the end of a chapter. She has been brought back from the "dead yard" and our goal of living aboard her has been completed. So, as everything must come to an end, so it is with this blog. It is finished.  We are going IRL. So lock your doors, close your windows, and keep your children inside, its gonna get ... well probably very peaceful actually. 

The archives will be up for those researching boat restoration, as somewhere in there you might find some useful information. For those who have been with us throughout this process, thank you! Its been fun and somewhat dusty, and I hope you were able to keep your hands clean of Epoxy. I've had a blast sharing this project with you, getting to know you thru your comments and suggestions. If you wish to keep in touch, become our FBFF and friend our social media representative Chopper on Facebook, as we will occasionally post things there. 

Be happy, be peaceful, and when you're stuck in a tight spot, don't forget to think BIG!

Love to you All, bye

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The things we do get ready for winter.

Folding sails
#1 Fold sails. Above is our main, genoa and jib. We also have a staysail and another main sail which also got folded into neat little bundles like the one below. It is no wonder furlers are so popular. Loading, and unloading sails onto the deck, hanking and unhanking after every trip, and of course putting them away for the season, these are not things you think about when seeing a pretty boat on the water. Next year we hope to join the civilized sailing world by saving up for some furlers.

All the sails get put away in these bundles and stored in sail bags. We used to keep them in storage for the winter, but since our storage has gotten ridiculously full, were gonna keep them on board. I  hope mold and mildew won't be a problem, coz right now with us still here and the weather getting cold, it is very damp in the boat.

Riding the bosuns chair

#2 Mast touch ups. Next was my time to shine as Travis lifted me in the bosuns chair to touch up some flaky paint on the mast. Armed with sandpaper, epoxy and paint I had no time to be afraid of heights.

M touching up mast
As you can see I am keeping a firm grip on that mast. Its funny feeling up there.

Chopper naps on kayak
Once again our deck mates proved useless.

Billy naps in v-berth
I'm seriously considering a rebirth as a pampered house cat. I mean how good is that life?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Counting down

After weeks of gloomy skies, the sunshine is back!

It has awoken us out of a stupor, and shone the light on the fact that we will be leaving, really leaving, the week after next. This has snapped us out of our let-it-happen mode into a make-it-happen mode.
There is the boat to be winterized, and shrink wrapped. Storage to be organized and consolidated. Car to be pimped out, camping gear to be acquired, address to be figured out, finances to be set straight, and all the other things I'm forgetting.

Better get to it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy exits the stage

Sandy made her presence felt all night, but left us and surrounding area without causing any problems. The power stayed on, which was great as we currently rely on electric heaters for warmth. This needs to be remedied next season, but for now we are glad for the heat, as the temps are dipping.

Today was a grey, cold, day, with needle sharp drizzle falling steadily. Me Voy has her share of leaks which seem to be mostly situated wherever I sit.  The condensation inside is also crazy adding to the amphibious atmosphere. I remember someone complaining how their shoes mold in the winter because of the dampness, and now I understand. Still, we are warm, well fed, and have nothing to complain about. Nothing except not playing enough ball the last couple of days that is.

Seeing the mess to the North of us we send positive vibrations to all those who did not escape Sandy's fury. Nature is impersonal, making her awesome, and I feel a deep respect for her power. I hope, as a species, we make harmony with Nature a priority, or the future, for us little dots, looks bleak indeed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

Found a great site streaming live footage from the Storm. Now Tcan stop watching the wind indicator because Hurricane Sandy has turned into Superstorm Sandy. This means lesser winds, more rain and snow in points West. The biggest gust we've seen has been 47, and that was about an hour ago. She seems to be pestering.

waiting for her

 Wind still at 30 with gusts of 45, so we know she's not here yet, but she does have our full attention.

Hurricane Sandy almost here

This morning, with a steady 15-20 knots of wind blowing curtesy of Hurricane Sandy, we answered the question of how we are going to get Chopper to land to do his business. 

We put on our foul weather gear and do it... It was actually kinda fun in an adventure kinda way.  We were not the only ones out there. All the poor saps with their soaking animal friends were scurring about "taking care of business", and we exchanged glances of sympathy, along with a "stay safe".

Back on the boat, we finally got to put that cool radar we got gifted from Diversified Marine to some use. We installed in the galley so that we could monitor the radar from inside while sailing, but since we haven't sailed much it hasn't come in handy until now. Today we are watching it to see what the wind speed is outside. Since the morning, it has increased to 30 with some gust of 35. The worst is supposed to hit us around 7 pm and hang around till Wed.

Since I took this pic the wind has increased to a steady 35 and the water level has dropped to 10.4 ft, which means, as predicted the Northerly wind will push the surging water out of the bay, so that flooding should not be an issue.

We are now all battened down, just waiting for this thing to really hit. I got Irish cream in my coffee, brownies in the oven, and socks drying on the radiator. Chopper is sleeping soundly, Travis is reading calmly, but Billy is nervous. Outside the wind is howling but we are not tilting yet, and so we wait to see what happens.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is Coming

I just turned on the computer and read the headline "Impending Disaster Coming to Northeast!" Why, why do we have to be so dramatic??! I felt my heart start to race, and began getting scared just after that one exposure. How people watching TV all the time maintain their perspective and sanity I don't know.

In reality Sandy has started to blow here and a slight drizzle has begun. Lines are doubled, everything is battened, and the only thing left to do is to take down the boom fly. We're leaving it up for now, because it shields our companionway from the rain, but we'll take it down before it really starts to blow.

The latest we heard from NOAA, (one of the more matter of act media outlets) was the worst will be coming Mon. and Tues with 40-50 mph winds with gusts up to 65. I've experienced 63 mph wind on the boat and its not something I will forget soon. Add to that torrential rain, for a couple of days, and its bound to suck. Not sure how we will walk Chopper or what to really expect. There are quite a few seasoned boaters here, who have gone thru several hurricanes and their pointers, advice and confidence is great to have around. I do keep thinking that it could be worse; we could be looking at swaying trees wondering if they are gonna break on top of us.

Here at Anchorage Marina, we are docked at a fairly protected spot and are loving the floating docks now. If it does get to be too uncomfortable we'll head to a hotel nearby and watch the action from there.  Last year with Hurricane Irene, we docked Me Voy here, and we have no doubt she ride fine, as she did last year. The question is do we want to go for that ride or not. We'll play that one by ear, but so far we are snug, comfortable, and committed to staying put.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Forever goodbye

Early in the morning, Tara fired up her engines and began the journey to her new home near Washington D.C. Our spies told us of the excellent way Amy handled the boat, getting out of a tight parking spot flawlessly, and took this excellent photo.

Constellation Tara leaving Baltimore Yacht Basin
Although I am glad to no longer have two boats, I think I could have lived aboard Tara forever. Whereas Me Voy has her living challenges, and feels like living aboard a boat, Tara was luxury itself.
I don't regret our decision to sell her, but man that was a great boat live live on!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Chopper guards his bone 

Well our instincts were correct, and the property sold for more then our "investor" wanted to pay. So, we will now guard what we have and start making plans to journey to warmer climates. Our house search will continue along the way, and depending on what happens may resume in Spring when we come back to the boat. A big exhale here  and a gosh darn too bad at the same time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Time has been flying by and new developments are on the horizon. We had an offer from an "investor" who proposed to buy us a house to fix up and sell. He would front the money for the initial purchase, we would do the necessary upgrades on our dime, and upon future sale of the house we would pay him a percentage of the profits. With this in mind we've been looking at properties in the higher price range, and one in particular stands out. It is going on auction tomorrow, and we are excited to see what happens.

That is the garage of the property in question. As you can maybe tell my T's expression it's pretty awesome.

Yes that is indeed a pool in the backyard. Since you can't see my expression, let me just tell you that my  mouth is wide open in awe with a little drool that needs wiping.

The bidding starts at 50k. The house has an unfinished basement and needs your casual updates, paint, floor, appliances etc. Both T and I expect it to go beyond the price limit of our "investor." We are looking for a deal, and this probably won't be one, but since we never know where destiny will take us, we will see tomorrow if the pool is getting filled with champagne in celebration.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not Sailing

Since the sale of Tara we have done zero work on Me Voy. In fact it feels like we haven't done much of anything, especially sailing. The total number of times we will have gone sailing this year  is six. That's pretty pathetic. Why is that?

Travis said to me recently, "it seems like the longer we live on this boat, the less likely we are to cruise"...

I think he's right. Having the experience of living aboard Me Voy for several months now, I have more and more respect for cruising couples. Do their tables not accumulate a ton of crap that takes hours to put away? Do their shoes, and coats, and clothes and books, always neatly store themselves in shelves,lockers and closets? Despite the sincere desire to be neat and orderly, to put everything away as soon as we are done using it, we often find our small salon looking like... well like two people with many diverse interests live there.

I wish we could sail more. We both love it when we are actually doing it, but the inertia to get going is incredible. Those blogs you read, where couples (some with dogs, some with cats) are sailing the Carribbean or the world, making it look easy, well I know better. Its not easy. There's a lot of  work involved, and those out there doing it have my total respect.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chopper and Billy

No matter where we go, or what we do, Chopper just continues to smile. He's the most easy going, happy dog I've ever met.

Living in such close quarters with a dog and a cat takes some practice. I mean how many times  week do we say "oh I'm sorry Buddy, I didn't mean to kick you in the face..."? Way too many. Yet Chopper takes it all in stride and smiles and twinkles and shakes his ears and goes on being happy.

Billy however is a different story. He is not happy being told what to do, and he is extra unhappy if he can't do as he pleases. His independence coupled with his sweetness makes him a handful.

Living in the Inner Harbor is hard on Billy. He's used to running down the dock and getting his feet in some grass, but here there is nothing. Boats, boats and more boats. I bring him grass from the park Chopper and I go to, and the way he smells and savors each blade is almost heartbreaking. I keep telling him that its only one more month in this hell hole, and he tells me to "go to hell". 

Yesterday however, he did the thing that he can't do, he went on another boat. It was a new boat that docked right next to us (evidently Columbus Day is a major holiday around here) and as we were sitting in the cockpit Travis gasps and points behind me. And there was Billy, on the deck of this power cruiser, curiously peeking into an open hatch.

"NO! Billy NO!" I was saying in my most baritone of voices. (Baritone signals that I'm very very serious)

Time slowed as Billy thought about going down that hatch and I thought about what that would mean. 

"NO! Billy  NO!" We have heard way too many stories of cats who went into neighboring boats, startled sleeping boaters and got thrown into the water, or slammed against a bulkhead (wall).

"NO! Billy NO!" 

The third "no Billy no!" sunk in and he made his way down to the dock and back to Me Voy. 

Upon arrival, Travis wanted to wring his neck him and I contemplated locking him in for the rest of the night. But, if there is one thing that Billy taught us is that truly you catch more bees with honey. 
Screaming at him would only make him want to run away, and not listen to anything we had to say. Fear and force would not teach him to leave other boats alone. Had I locked him in that night I'm sure he would run toward the next boat he saw despite any "no's" that I may be yelling. No, Billy has to learn thru love. He has to came back because he wants to. Will he never get on another boat? I don't know, but I hope that somewhere in his pea brain he will connect that doing so is very very bad (said in a baritone) and that will be enough to stop him.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nest Eggs and Chickens

Since the sale of Tara, there has been a cloud of unknowing hanging over our life. "What's the next step?" it seems to ask.

Naturally, since our "ultimate dream" is to live off the land, we quickly assumed that is the next step. So began our search for "Yumbumland".  Visiting Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountain land however,  quickly put things in perspective. What perspective? We have to have a lot more money for the kind of set up we are imagining. And here's the problem. Both Travis and I like to work, but neither one of us likes jobs. They just don't make sense. Why work for money to buy a tomato, when you can work to grow your own tomato?

So, slowly the question has become : how do we turn this nest egg so beautifully laid by Tara, into a whole basket of eggs, that we can then hatch into chickens who will produce more and more eggs?

If you are now thinking that we have fallen into the trap of the capitalistic world, wanting more and more, I'm right there with you. This kind of thinking and scheming is really not my first priority. However, in order to realize my first priority - a self sustaining life that benefits my own highest potential and helps to realize the potential of others - practical decisions have to be made. Yawn. I hate practical decisions. Even writing this is bristling every hair on my lets-go-on-an-adventure soul.

However, seen from another perspective, this is uncharted territory, and as good explorers and adventures we should pursue all unknown trails to see where they lead. As such we decided to take a look into the real estate market here in Baltimore to see if there were any houses that we could fix up and sell in the near future. Houses are much easier to work on then boats, and if we could double our money while doing what we don't hate and are pretty good at, then why not look into it?

 Our maximum price was $50,000, which living in a city where row houses sell for 7,000 seemed like a decent amount. So for the last two weeks we have been crawling around basements, peeking into attics, and tapping on walls to see if the next step was a fixer upper in Baltimore.

The answer, so far is a resounding, no!

Our best prospect was this place we named the "white house".  It had a great yard, a new roof and nice new windows. It needed the plaster walls tore down and replaced with drywall and insulation (doable) the bathroom relocated (doable) and the back section of the house raised up and a new foundation poured (are you effing crazy!!!) Price $38,000

The next best thing we found was a cute yellow house in a great location.

Again it had a big yard, and...well thats about it. It needed a new roof (ok maybe we can work with that), plaster walls and paneling replaced with drywall (doable), nasty carpet removed (doable),  and the upstairs bedrooms redesigned (maybe doable). The biggest irreconcilable detail was the low ceilings. They measured 7 1/2 feet from floor to ceiling, not counting the unexplainable drop ceiling. Just couldn't live with that. Price $48,000

So for all our crawling, peeking and tapping, we only got a few stained articles of clothing, and a very realistic look at what $50,000 will get you in Baltimore, - a whole lot of shitty work!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Livin in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore

Heron on the pier. This is one the the best things about Anchorage Marina
I have very few good things to say about the marina we are currently docked at. Its one of the Inner Harbor marinas of Baltimore, and if you come to Baltimore, the Inner Harbor is definitely a place to visit. Fancy restaurants, waterfront shopping, water taxis, tall ships, charter boats, its all here.

The key word here is visit. The truth is, the Inner Harbor is a dead end inlet of the Chesapeake, where all the trash comes to die. The water often smells of dead or dying fish, and swimming is out of the question.

Container ships docked across the harbor

The marina we are staying at now, called Anchorage Marina, is the second of about five Inner Harbor marinas. The Inner Harbor, being a working harbor, means there are huge container ships docking nearby. These ships make tremendous wakes, not to mention the wakes made by the tug boats that are buzzing around the ships pushing them into their designated spots. The first time we experienced one of these wakes was of course in the middle of the night. Without warning we were thrown sideways, then back again and again in a rolling motion. "When is it going to stop?" was all my sleepy brain could think, not so much in reference to the sickening rolling motion, but to the cursing and complaining that was going on next to me in the dark.

Travis has an especially hard time with the wakes. They make him bump his head, loose his balance and sometimes his temper.

Surrounded by water we can't swim in, concrete walkways, and nothing but neighbors and boats, I realized that still I can't complain that much. We live on a yacht! That realization hits me every now and then, and my vision clears and I can see the water and the sky and the boat again.

How is it that our familiar surroundings can become so invisible? I noticed during our trip to the Blue Ridge, how quickly we became accustomed to the spectacular scenery. In the beginning we were awed by the mountains and trees, but by the fourth day it was just background, and it took effort to really see them.

That's kinda how it feels with MeVoy right now. Busy with planning our winter, jobs, and hobbies, complaining about little aggravations, I usually glaze over the fact that I live on a yacht!

Our yachty interior
But... when I make the effort to remember where I am, everything becomes brighter, sharper, more real somehow... and that's where I really want to live.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 Look up Asheville and you will get words like, funky, organic, diverse, spiritual mecca, and my favorite, "City of Light". You will get testimonies of people who have been "magnetically drawn" to the "crystal mountain peaks", and vibe  of the "oldest mountains in the world". I ate all this up and expected the  sidewalks to be jammed with New Age crystal healers, wandering mystics and alien junkies. You know, good people.

The first clue that this might not be the earthy, small town we were expecting was the sign "University of North Carolina, which was promptly followed by angry, red brake lights that brought us to a screeching standstill. Traffic, lots of it.

Still feeling the peaceful vibe of our mountain hideaway, we crawled thru the main drag, gaping out the windows. Perhaps it was the wrong time of day, perhaps the mystics and healers were watching TV inside their crystal caves, perhaps we took a wrong turn and ended up at this trendy college town full of white people wearing OM t-shirts, riding bikes filled with over-priced organic goodies to their cars parked a few blocks away? The whole thing was weird, kinda like a movie set, on a very hip sitcom.

"Hey are you going to the festival?"- asks a college kid with pink sunglasses.
We look towards the tents, where a small group of rag tag kids are playing guitars, and vendors are selling what look to be jewlery and handmade soap.
"We don't know where were going, we just got into town" replies Travis.
"Oh well you can't go in there with the dog. City policy, no dogs allowed in outdoor festivals. Someone brought in a snake at the last festival and it bit a kid in the face, so..." he looks at Chopper who is furiously licking his nose, "you can't bring in the dog."

OK. Strike one, or is it two now? I don't know but I was losing interest in the whole project.

"Hey wanna hear a joke?" says a voice somewhere down on Choppers level. We look to see a smiling face, dirty feet, and a backpack that has been stitched, glued and pinned in all possible ways. His name was Richard and he's been traveling for three years. As he began his story, I noticed my aversion to bum story-telling. You get so much of that in Baltimore. Every homeless person has a baby that needs food, a bus to catch to a job interview, or a car that broke down just out of sight. Richard was no different, except that he didn't ask us for anything. He told us his joke, looked at Chopper and told us that Asheville had some strict dog policies, and mentioned that his own dog was in the pound, after being tethered while he went to get some booze. Evidently there is a crew that patrols the city looking for tethered dogs, that it then takes to the pound. Strange, but as we later found out true.

We left Richard and wandered around Asheville a bit, but as we weren't really feeling the place, we headed back to the car, ready to get back into the wild. We had decided that if Richard was still sitting there, we would take him to get his dog. He wasn't there, so we got in the car and promptly got lost. We circled the downtown area, and as we turned the corner there was Richard, talking with two other punk travelers.

"Hey you wanna get your dog out of the pound?" I asked as we rolled to a stop alongside the crusty bunch.

Yeah! was all Richard said as he jumped to his feet grabbing his pack.

"You've been blessed!" says one of the punk kids, mouth slightly open. "And so quickly!" I could tell the punk kids were slightly blown away, but I wasn't sure why. Turns out they were praying together on that sidewalk for someone to help Richard get his dog out of the pound. Their heads were bent and the prayers were spilling forth, and then we pulled up and offered to help. Perhaps there were mystics in Asheville after all.

Riding thru town with Richard, we got a good look at some different parts of the city. Asheville is quite huge, and outside of its cute and trendy neighborhood, there was nothing distinguishing about it. Wal-Marts, auto parts store and pizza delivery joints. Anywhere USA.

Richard's dog turned out to a a very big boy named Kaiser.

This wasn't his first time at the pound, and he seemed to take both his imprisonment and his release in a happy stride. I could only imagine how Chopper would have looked after seven days at the pound- a drooling, shaking, and neurotic mess.

It was at the pound that I drilled the attendants about Asheville laws, and found out that tethering is a big no-no. After expressing my ignorance of this law, the nice lady at the desk explained to me it is the responsibility of the owner to be familiar with all the laws of the city, and if indeed you plan to go get a cup of coffee and leave your dog tied outside, you better expect  him not be there.  All part of some city protection and revenue building scheme. Don't you feel safer knowing that Asheville is free of tethered pampered pooches?

By this time, Chopper was completely over this adventure in the Dog -Nazi City, and meeting Kaiser didn't improve his mood.  Mostly his attitude reflected an avoid and ignore strategy, with a dash of tolerance and a tad of leave me the f  alone.

Kaiser was unfased. He slobbered freely in back, snorting happily. Richard was glowing at the reunion, and after I commented on Kaiser's great teeth, he took out his tooth brush and showed me how he brushes his teeth, twice a day. For an outdoorsman, he had great dog hygene.

Richard filled us in on the city of Asheville from the perspective of a homeless man. His attitude was jovial as he showed us the stack of tickets he got from the police. Tickets for loitering, tickets for not having the proper dog tags etc. "Why would you give a homeless man a ticket?" he joked. It seemed obvious to me. To get them the hell out of the city. Ban the bums, and keep Asheville clean! For a place that was supposed to be progressive, this really seemed like the same old us vs. them strategy.

As we left Richard and Kaiser to "hustle" in Asheville, we reflected on our own travels and how close we once were to becoming stranded in a broke down van with very few options. We were then functioning on a survival level, working very hard to hustle our next move. We survived by making up an address and getting jobs. We were young, and it was all an experiment that got almost too real. What would we have done if we were old and it did get that real? Would we be seen as useless and lazy, recognized long enough only to be given a few tickets and fines that we obviously couldn't pay? One thing is for sure, we wouldn't go to Asheville, they ban the bums there.

As we made it back into the surrounding mountains, the excitement of the day began to wear off. Maybe it was the magnetic pull of the Blue Ridge, but we began to once again regain our centers. Our first impression of Asheville left us disappointed, but nonetheless the mountains, trees and hills of the area were spectacular. Billy greeted us with a "hey where you been?" and we told him all about Kaiser and Richard, and warned him against loitering around Asheville.

However, just as we have completely written Asheville off, we heard a little bird call followed by some human sounding footsteps. 

On the path leading to our tent was a young couple who came to look at the land. They lived near Asheville, settling there after having been drawn to that area of the country. Hmmmm. They looked around, and as we began to talk, Travis and I both realized that they were the representatives of the people of the Blue Ridge that we were wanting to meet. The real deal, people of the Earth. Not mystics, not crystal healers, not alien junkies, but real people, living in the mountains, learning permaculture and dancing around the fire. We didn't need to go to Asheville, or anywhere for that matter, to find community. Wherever you are is the right place and whoever is there is the right people. Home is where the cat is, when we will finally understand???