Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Whale Season

The Humpback Whale migration up the east coast of Australia starts in June and goes until August, at which point, the Whales turn around and start making their way south again (September - November). This is a very sad but interesting government fact sheet about the history of whales and whaling in Australia.
We have never been in Whitsundays at the same time as the whales but we did see a couple on our trip up from Mooloolaba a couple of years ago. With one exception (The magical Pearl Bay), we only ever saw the occasional spouting and surfacing, never diving or breaching. A whale is a whale and they are amazing, giant, majestic creatures and we have now been forever spoiled by their visits.
Approaching Cid Harbour
We are currently anchored in Cid Harbour which is much to shallow for whales so we won’t be seeing any in here but our last few anchorages were much, much deeper. Compared to the one meter of water that we are anchored in now, at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island and Caves Cove on the west coast of Hook Island, we were anchored in upwards of 20 metres of water. In fact, Baby I. went for her first (of many) deep water swims with the giant fish (actual giant fish, not the whales). 

At Caves Cove, we were particularly spoiled when three whales surfaced about 15 metres away and continued to play around the boat. I. in particular, who probably had no idea what we were getting excited about every time whales surfaced further away, finally was able to get it and join in the excitement. In the 18 hours we were there, we saw several other groups of whales passing nearby and then just as we pulled up the anchor, I turned around to see a whale surface right behind us. We proceeded with mighty caution!


One of my goals this season is to catch a photo of a Humpback breaching. We saw one at Blue Pearl but I couldn’t tear myself away from them to go and grab the camera. Now that we know what’s in store… the camera is ALWAYS nearby!
The Great Humpback

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Interior Design on a Boat

So the thing about boats is that for the most part they come with the furniture built-in and, unless you have designed your own boat, you don’t get much say in it! We’ve talked about ways we could make changes to Batty’s layout but as everything is interconnected (tanks, storage, compressors, wiring, plumbing, etc) that doesn’t leave us many options, unless we want to get a different boat, which is not happening for awhile at least!

So short of a complete interior makeover, here are some of the ways we tried to liven up our tiny living space!

Wall Fixtures 
Whiteboard, canvases, ornaments, removable wall decals. The whiteboard is magnetic but because we are afraid of tiny magnets ending up either in the bilge or the baby’s stomach, we don’t really use that feature and instead doodle away to our hearts content. In reality, I use it to keep track of what’s in the fridge! 



The canvases were a project I did with my Mum. We set about finding a couple of complementary patterns that wouldn’t be too tiring in a small space and mounted them to some canvases with glue. That’s it. 

Fruit Bowl 
Because nothing is as sexy as this three-tiered hanging basket full to the brim with fresh goodness, it get’s it’s own category. It’s truly a work of art. Bottom tier is washed produce (apples, pears, tomatoes, etc), middle tier is stuff that doesn’t need to be washed (avocados, bananas, oranges, etc) and in top tier, I keep my ginger, garlic and a stash of onions so I don’t have to go digging in our longer term storage whenever I need an onion. So far it’s working great.

Cushion covers 
These were more of a baby proofing necessity than fashion statement and so I didn’t putt much effort into their design and fabric selection. I made our settee covers out of old sheets and have tied some sarongs around our pillows to make them pop a bit. This is about all we can change easily: material. Someday, when flying food and grubby fingers are no longer a regular occurrence, we will definitely recovered our settee cushions nicely.

Curtains
Again, more blue, so they had to go, Bryce’s mum made us some new lighter curtains which really brighten the place up.

Upholstery
When we moved aboard Batty, one of the first things I noticed (and didn’t like) was that EVERYTHING was blue. Now theres nothing wrong with blue, but being on the water, we see an awful lot of it so we wanted to lighten things up a bit.  The blue carpet was in great condition so I wasn’t going to mess with that. So the velvety material on the headboard  and reading nook in the master cabin was the first to go. I enlisted the help of my friend, Grace and her mad upholstery skills and recovered them both. We did manage to expand the  bed which made the reading nook just another part of the bed but its still cozy.






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We would love to hear from you. What other ideas do you have for brightening up a small space?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why Build a Drogue

Around this time one year ago, I was, what felt like 500 months pregnant (in reality, 35-36 weeks) and decided to build a drogue. We had actually decided to build a series drogue a couple of years earlier and had been carrying around the materials to make it since then. I was determined that if it was not made before the baby came, then we were getting rid of all the materials and never having a drogue

Irrational? Maybe! But the bits and pieces for the drogue were taking up precious space on this boat!  And besides, I was pregnant! While I did the actual building of the drogue, Bryce was the brains behind the research and design so I'm going to hand it over to him to share all his drogue-y knowledge! This is part 1 of 2. Part 1 will cover why we decided to build a drogue and Part 2 will cover how we actually built it!

With modern weather monitoring services, it is extremely unlikely that we would ever be in the situation where we would need to use our drogue. BUT, if a nasty weather system were to pop out of no where and surprise us, we want to be prepared! So just keep that in mind as you read what Bryce has to say! :)

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This is Bryce now!

As some background, the series drogue is a "series" of cones that are streamed out from the back of the boat to slow the boat down as our last line of defence in a "survival storm" scenario (i.e. a storm so severe that the only objective is survival).  The main features are: Once deployed it requires no tending in hideous conditions, it prevents the boat from being capsized or rolled, and allows all crew to go below-decks and hunker down until the nasty weather passes.  In many ways, it is like an airbag in a car - you hope you never need it, but it might just save your life if it all goes very wrong.  A lot of my thoughts on this topic have been heavily influenced by www.morganscloud.com (see there for a thorough analysis).  A very brief analysis of the options follows.

There are other techniques that people use for dealing with a survival storm, mainly consisting of "drag devices" .  They all work by slowing the boat down, and ideally stopping the boat from being thrown off the face of a large breaking wave (the boat landing in the trough of the wave, possibly tens of feet below, is the main issue, as is the rolling of the boat that will likely follow this scenario).  If a single drag device is deployed and fails at a critical moment, it fails spectacularly and there is no backup.  Further, any single unit could feasibly pull out of the face of the wave that it is dragging through, again potentially resulting in the associated free-fall and smash at the bottom.  The solution to these issues seems to be using multiple drag devices, but streaming several independent drag devices in these type of conditions is a recipe for them to tangle and become ineffective.  A "series" drogue has many independent cones performing light duty; the failure of several cones will be of little consequence.  Of course, there remains the issue of a single point of failure in the line and attachment points, so these need to be of high quality.

Assuming then, that a "series" drag device is the answer, the question of where to deploy it from is next.  Deploying from the sides of the boat is out of the question, as that would present the largest area to the wind as well as leaving the boat sitting broadside to breaking waves, inviting a capsize.  That only leaves us with the option of deploying from the the bow (a sea-anchor) or the stern (a drogue).  For us, a bow deployment was inferior.  I know from anchoring that when we get a little bit of the bow off the wind, that will expose the side of the boat to the wind which pushes us further in that direction until the anchor line comes tight and we get whipped around so the other side of the boat is now presented to the wind.  This process repeats!  At anchor, where we are mostly protected from any significant wave activity, this is only an annoyance.  In a survival storm, however, these loads will be ferocious and present an unacceptable risk of either a broadside wave-strike after the bow gets pushed around, or else the sea-anchor line chafing through from the constant yawing back and forth.  Contrast that with the behavior of the boat with the stern into the wind.  In this position, the boat is remarkably stable, and the opposite behavior occurs (i.e. if the bow finds its way out of position, the wind quickly snaps it back into place).  Additionally, the wider transom provides a platform to use a bridle rather than a single line, further accentuating the tendency to sit still and stable whilst stern-to in a strong wind.  

So now that we've decided on a series drogue, we need to look at some of the specific risks.  One risk that has been identified is the potential for a pooping wave to flood the cockpit and risk flooding the cabin through the companionway hatch.  From first-hand reports, this concern isn't especially significant provided a couple of factors are addressed:  
a) The cockpit drains quickly (ours has VERY large drains), and 
b) the stern has lots of buoyancy (ours does), and 
c) the companionway has a good hatch cover that is in place when the drogue is deployed (ours does and will be).  

Also, as alluded to above, the attachment points need to be very strong and chafe-free.  For our boat, each attachment point must be able to withstand forces of about 9,000kg.  The attachment points are still a work-in-progress for us, but we will upgrade this before we do any serious offshore sailing.  

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That's all for now! Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series where we will share exactly how we built the drogue!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hold me accountable: Join our Tribe!

I’ve been reading a book about habits and have learned so much about successful habit building. Every couple of minutes, I found myself having an “a-ha” moment as I would see myself in the pages of the book! Turns out some people need external accountability to get motivated and accomplish their goals, logical right? Totally me! I’m also an abstainer as opposed to a moderator. Perhaps self-explanatory but I do better to cut things out of my life rather than try moderation (Coffee, I’m looking at you!). I did know these things about myself, but it had never occurred to me that 1) it was a thing, just another way people are different, 2) I’m not alone, that there are others like me and 3) that I can use this knowledge to make habits work for me! It was really a great book. If you are interested, it was called, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I also like her other books as well, if you are looking for a new book!

Enough of my book report, I digress. For years, members of our blog mailing list would only get an email whenever we put up a new blog post and there were some periods where new posts were few and far between. Sure I would get questions when a couple of months had gone by without an update but so what?! I didn’t think there was anything to report. While I LOVE sharing our adventures and stories on the blog, there was no one actually holding me accountable for it.

This is no longer the case!

That old system did not provide me with any external accountability that I needed in order to stay current with the blog. I had nothing motivating me to get it done. Taking that into account, last month, we changed things up a bit. I declared that I will send out an email to our subscribers EVERY week on a Wednesday (give or take a day) and every Wednesday, for the last 4 weeks, we have send out a beautiful, newsy letter, with links to our latest blog posts, youtube videos, other blog posts or articles we have been reading, answered questions, you name it! And it’s been fun! We’ve had some great replies back from subscribers and that’s exactly what we want. We want to connect with YOU! 

So if you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to A to B to Sea. In the top right hand corner of this page, you’ll find the form for your name and email address. If you are on a mobile device, you need to view the desktop version of the blog to subscribe. 
What you are looking for!

Thanks for subscribing… and thanks for holding me accountable! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bowen Haul Out: Part 2

After the disaster that was getting us out of the water, the rest of the haul out went smoothly. Batty was last out of the water in September 2015 and we can normally get 18 months out of an anti-foul job, so we knew we were pushing our luck. While we were away, someone had been diving on Batty to scrub her bottom and they had told us that she was in pretty bad shape. I have see MUCH worse on other boats, but the growth that was on the bottom of Batty’s keel was the worst we’ve ever seen it get! We came out of the water on Thursday morning and were going back on on Monday morning (Bonus day due to the initial delay!), so we had a strict timeline to stick to to make sure we got all of our jobs done. 
NEW ANTIFOUL
The guys set to work straight away cleaning, sanding and painting Batty’s hull. After a hose down with the pressure washer, the hull got sanded to prepare the existing paint for new coats of paint. Antifoul paint is pretty toxic stuff so it’s best to wet sand it so that you’re not inhaling toxic dust. They applied primer where needed and were then ready to spray on the two coats of antifoul paint that we needed. The brand of antifoul that we use is International Trilux 33.  The sprayer applied the 20L wet-on-wet, after we called the manufacturer to confirm that that was OK.  This is expensive stuff, the 20L of paint alone cost us about $1,600!  

REPLACE SHAFTSEAL
Ideally we would have as few holes in the boat below the waterline as possible! The propeller shaft attaches to the engine inside the boat, goes through the hull and attaches to the propeller outside the boat. To ensure that water does not come into the boat through this opening, we have a shaft seal. Our seal had been leaking every time we ran the engine so we ordered a new one and Bryce needed to replace it. [[[All you worriers out there… don’t worry! It wasn’t leaking a lot!]]] When we bought the boat, the previous owner was kind enough to leave the important things behind.  We’ve found our fair share of crazy looking, random, unknown tools on the boat and one of them was a propeller puller. It was very useful last time we had to pull the propeller off, but this time it wasn’t working so Bryce had to find an engineering shop in town to refashion the prop puller and make it pull. He finally released the prop and was able to check out the shaft seal.  

Part of the problem with the leaking was that the alignment of the engine had changed over time (It’s possible that the new flexible mounts for the engine that we installed a few years ago had sagged a bit).  This meant that the seal wasn’t turning squarely, and hence water was popping out (and the seal was degrading).  After replacing the seal and trying to put it all back together, it wasn’t going together smoothly… definitely not a good thing, and a pretty reliable indicator that the alignment was badly out.  I called in a buddy and the conclusion was that I’d need to take it all apart again, re-sit the new seal, put it back together without one piece that gets in the way of aligning the bits, take it all apart again, and put it back together with everything in place.  Bryce spent LOTS of time on his knees with his head down in the bilge and his back has still not forgiven him.  A great trick that our buddy suggested that saved some time was turning the coupling faces 180 degrees from where they were, which improved things no end.  End result:  It doesn’t leak any more!
REPLACE ANODES
While we were out, we also needed to replace Batty’s anodes. Because we are an aluminum boat, we have to worry about electrolysis. Dissimilar metals all trying to eat the ones that are below it on the food chain. Our hull, made from aluminum, is below just about all of the other metals used on the boat, but above zinc.  Therefore, we have zinc anodes that get eaten sacrificially instead of the hull.

Our propeller is made of bronze and the propeller shaft is stainless steel, so we have an anode on the shaft to help protect the the hull. We also have an anode on one of the supporting struts that holds the prop shaft in place, another anode on the rudder and one on each side of the hull. When we are in a marina, we have an additional anode that we drop off the side of the boat to help in case the metal from other boats is using Batty’s hull as an anode (steel boats, we’re looking at you!). We replaced the anode that was on the prop shaft but the other three anodes still had some life in them so we’ve left them for next time. 

APPLY PROPSPEED
The propeller can get pretty grimy and a dirty prop really cuts back on our speed, as well as increasing fuel consumption.  Any barnacles that grow on there needed to come off. Once Bryce had reassembled the engine and the prop was back on, they were able to put a special coating on the prop that is slippery to barnacles.  The theory is that when the prop is still, the barnacles attach, but when the prop spins, they simply slip off the slippery coating on the prop.  The guys applied Propspeed by grinding the prop back to bare metal with a wire wheel attachment on the angle grinder, and then painting the Propspeed on.  It actually looked pretty easy, and Bryce is considering trying it himself next time.

ENGINEERING
We also had lined up a friend, who happens to be an engineer, do a couple of jobs for us. The anode for the prop shaft was too thick, which meant that it had to be shrunk.  We didn’t want to butcher this, because if it was not ground down squarely, it would result in uneven spinning on the shaft as it wobbled around. This would be bad for just about everything involved.  This friend was also the giant help to Bryce in helping to reassemble and realign the engine. Additionally, one side of the channel that our anchor chain runs through up at the bow has eroded after years of the chain running over it. This is still a work in progress as we didn’t need to be out of the water for it to be done but a fix is in the cards!

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Conveniently, there is a caravan park across the road from the boatyard and we rented a little cabin for our time out of the water. This was a good call for SOOOO many reasons. Bryce was able to make AS MUCH of a mess as he wanted on the boat and did not have to clean up at the end of the day. He popped home for lunch during the day and at the end of the day, he had a hot shower, warm meal and clean bed waiting for him. For me, it meant that baby I. and I were able to stick to a bit of a routine in a comfortable space and even enjoy the luxuries of land life as well (washing machines and hot water!). 

All in all, Bowen was a really good place to haul out. Expensive, but what haulout isn’t! But it’s over now, thank goodness, until next time!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sailing Maggie to Bowen VLOG

It took us awhile to get going but we finally did it! Not surprisingly, we went against the popular direction and decided to sail southward, into the wind!

Join us as we sail from Magnetic Island to Bowen!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bowen Haul Out: Part 1

We have known for a VERY long time that we needed to haul out, the only problem was that we couldn’t find a place to do it. One place in Townsville, we were restricted by draft and tides. Another yard in Townsville had a clause in their contract that rendered our insurance void. After Cyclone Debbie, we were told that all of the yards in Airlie Beach were closed to non-cyclone work for 12 -18 months. In our general area, that left Cardwell, 2 days north and Bowen, 3 days south. Our plans had us heading south so Bowen it was!

The yard at Bowen is a slipway, and was our first time taking the boat out in this manner. In the past, we’ve always used a travel-life, where they put the boat in slings and lift her out of the water before setting her on a hard stand. With slipway, the hardstand, or cradle, is already in the water, you drive into it and are secured and then you are pulled up the railway-like tracks to the work area.

We had been told to report to the slipway at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning to give us the maximum amount of water at high tide (6:31am). So we all got up early to have breakfast and get ready, no easy feat with a 1 year old. At 6:28am, we arrived and the yard was still shut, the cradle was not in the water and there was no one there. We were early, so we did a lap of the harbour. We returned to the yard at about 6:40am to see 2 of the crew working on the cradle and it was still at the top of the ramp. They told us it would be about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, they lowered the cradle and we were instructed to drive on in. The crew then advised us that they were having trouble lowering the cradle all the way because it had hit something on the tracks. We attached some stern lines to the cradle and put the boat into reverse to try and pull the cradle deeper into the water. It didn’t work.

One of the crew dived on the cradle and the boat and found a large block of timber blocking the way that they had accidentally dropped in there a couple of weeks ago. We tried to use Batty’s power to reverse the cradle a bit further again and we were able to bring it out a little bit more. We were now over an hour past high tide and we were instructed to power forward onto the cradle. We made it onto the cradle and then they tucked us in with the forward arms of the cradle. This took a little bit longer as they accidentally dropped one of the bolts in the water and had to get a screwdriver to jam into the hole.  Once we were securely attached to the cradle, they started to pull us up and that is when the cradle derailed from the tracks… with Batty on the cradle… with the three of us on Batty being told to remain still in the cockpit.
Boat, & plans, derailed!
They tried some maneuvers to get the cradle back on the track. They used their work boat to ram against the cradle to try push it into place. They tried pushing it over with their own strength, to no avail. Batty’s 12 tons were not budging. Once it became clear that were stuck, these attempts were abandoned. We were allowed to move around the boat and even allowed to get off the boat. At that point the cradle was jammed against the concrete so she wasn’t going anywhere. 
The dismount!
Bryce returned at low tide to reassess the situation with the work crew. They decided that we would attempt to re-float Batty at the next high tide which was at 7:30 pm that night. 
Night time escapades!
7:30 came and went. There were lots of extra hands on deck, including swimmers (in their clothes, in the cold water with the howling wind) but they were not able to move Batty in either direction on the track. New plan was to try again at the next high tide the following morning. The next morning, a front-end loader (a digger) arrived and pushed the cradle and Batty back into the water. It took nearly all of the digger’s power to make this magic happen and the water was up to the driver. With that roadblock out of the way, they used the front-end loader to clear the tracks at low tide and reposition the cradle ready for another go.

Free at last! 
Thursday morning (2 days after the first attempt), we showed up with Batty at high tide and everything was in it’s proper place. The crew was on deck, the cradle was in the water and the track was clear.  We drove into the cradle, were secured and up we went!
Take 2!
We are able to laugh about it now and occasionally while it was happening, but for the most part, it was a wee bit stressful! The yard was very apologetic and paid for our extra nights accommodation on land due to the delay and they also comped two of Batty’s days on the slip, both of which we greatly appreciated. 

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Stay tuned for Part 2 and hear about all of the TLC that Batty got while she was out!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Getting ready to go!

It's taken us ages to get ready to leave Maggie. We unpacked the boat, then had to repack as Cyclone Debbie was heading straight for us, and then unpack again. The cyclone missed us... phew!! 

Get a glimpse of the other side of boat life!


Newly Salted Interview

Back when we were first starting to look at seriously buying boats, we were doing alot of research about what it was like to actually cruise. We read a lot of blogs and Newly Salted and it’s sister site, Interview with a Cruiser, were two sites that we literally devoured information from! It’s so great to get other people’s perspectives on this lifestyle. We are thrilled to be joining the ranks of other new cruisers on the Newly Salted site. 

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We are Bryce, Alissa and our 1 year old daughter, I. We started cruising in April 2013 in Mooloolaba, QLD and have cruised up and down the Queensland coast getting as far north as Cairns. We have spent significant portions of that time at Magnetic Island and the Whitsunday Islands. Despite having had the boat for 4 years, we’ve taken breaks to travel, work and have a baby, which brings our active cruising time down to 20 months. We live and sail on a 40 ft aluminium monohull named Aquabat, that was built in 1985 by the man we bought her from. We love meeting other cruisers so please feel free to contact us if our paths may cross or you have any questions!

1. What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
Bryce: Don’t buy anything at all until you have lived on the boat for 6 months.
Alissa: There will be days when equipment breaks and the weather is crap that you will want to be done with the boat but then you have the most amazing days ever that make it all worth while. Actually, I was told that cruising combines really low lows with really high highs which is basically the same thing… I just didn’t truly understand what it meant at the time!

2. As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
Bryce: Lack of a regular income.
Alissa: Things we take for granted being relatively unlimited on land like electricity, water and internet, are no longer unlimited!

3. What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?
Bryce: Bought too much “stuff” for the boat that we didn’t really need. - Didn’t have the surveyor go on test sail! - Ran aground a couple of times, don’t just blindly trust the charts or the coastguard over the radio, (“there’s deep water if you hug the marker” There wasn’t!). - One time when we hauled out, our hydraulic steering pump needed replacing, because we were hauled out we paid way more ($1000s more) then we would have if we’d had time to shop around. We were just going back to our mooring so we could’ve used our emergency tiller and taken our time to find a replacement. - I am a competent sailor so I had thought that we had cruising figured out… but it turns out sailing is only a small part of cruising. You also need to be a diesel mechanic, plumber, electrician, rigger, sailmaker, carpenter, among other things! - Should have bought a smaller boat as our first, learner boat… bigger boat = bigger, more expensive mistakes.
Alissa: What mistakes didn’t we make!? See Bryce’s answer! :)

4. What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
Bryce: I really like meeting new people and cruisers generally seem to be really friendly, good people. 
Alissa: We can have a new amazing backyard whenever we want! And the people! We’ve made some great boat friends in the past few years.

5. What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
Bryce: Not having space to just stretch without bumping into something. I struggle to fit into any of our beds, even having modified one of them. 
Alissa: I am definitely a fair-weathered sailor. Whereas Bryce is quite happy trimming the sails and actively sailing, I would prefer just to set the sails and go for a ride on nice calm seas! I also dislike have to disassemble the boat to do anything or find something. I don’t like mess though so that’s not surprising!

6. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?
Bryce: I read it’s a cheaper way of life but that hasn’t eventuated. We’ve needed to upgrade a number of systems to suit our style of cruising and it’s been very expensive. For example, a compete rewire, new solar panels, new batteries, replaced head and the list keeps growing. 
Alissa: When we were preparing, we were reading about the pioneering cruisers, like the Pardeys, who were doing it hardcore. Cruising without refrigeration, freezers, washing machines and watermakers, using oil lanterns instead of electric lights and oars and sails instead of engines. Boat life would definitely be a lot simpler without the extras “complicating” things. I didn’t know that you could have an inverter and still run AC appliances so we bought manual (hand-powered) versions of appliances. I didn’t know that you didn’t have to live without creature comforts. You can have anything you want on a boat (basically) but there is the tradeoff that it makes your boat more complicated with more things to break and more things to repair. You just have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not!

7. What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?
Bryce: It’s a constant series of jobs to keep the boat shipshape.
Alissa: Boat Maintenance in exotic locations. 100% true! 

8. Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
Bryce: We probably should have ripped out the fridge and reinstalled it as the insulation is shot! The fridge is out biggest battery drain by far.
Alissa: The wishlist is long! I would love a freezer and a watermaker but they are staying on the wishlist for awhile! I will settle for a functioning fridge!

9. What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Bryce: A lot of our books probably. They are heavy and take up a lot of space. We may yet get rid of them. 
Alissa: Bryce will hate me saying this but his fishing gear. I don’t eat fish and Bryce doesn’t go fishing, so it’s just taking up valuable space. 

10. What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.
Alissa: We have a 1 year old on board now so we are just taking it slow and easy as we all acclimate to life on board.
Bryce: We will probably stick around the North Queensland coast for a couple more years and maybe head out to New Caledonia or Vanuatu once our crew is less dependent. Longer-term aspiration is to circumnavigate the globe.
11. What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?
Bryce:  How do you decide your cruising plans?  Initially, I went about planning like I had in business.  i.e. make a plan and then do it!  This lifestyle is not suited to that approach and just provides endless frustration! Instead of plans, we now talk about options until we quite close to being able to actually do something. 

Alissa: How would you recommend that someone prepares to cruise?  We both joined Hoofers Sailing Club in Madison, WI (Me as a complete rookie, Bryce as an already excellent sailor just looking for more experience) which was a great place to learn. We were able to make mistakes on a boat that wasn’t our own! We also went to a couple of boatshows and attended some really informative lectures there and we read alot of books and blogs. In preparing for cruising again, given that we were coming from a place where (apart from sailing) our knowledge base was zero, I would’ve liked to take more hands-on intensive courses on a couple of the trickier topics, like engines repair, plumbing and electrical systems. We’ve learnt alot but some of it was probably the hard way! 

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Thanks for reading our interview! Be sure to check interviews with other cruisers on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baby Proofing 101

Being that we live on a boat, everything is mostly contained and secure but we have had to make a few modifications to the space in order for us all to be safe with a baby on board. 

Here’s a few of the changes we made!

A safe sleeping space was a given but we forwent purchasing a cribs or portacot and made our own lee cloth to create a boat crib. This is also a place which we can stick her if we need all hands on deck quickly and know that she is safe, no matter how much she protests.
We don’t have a car so hadn’t planned to get a carseat but in the end, we ended up being in a car enough that we needed one. We had it set up on the boat for our longer passage south just in case we came into some rough weather and needed a really safe and secure place to pop her but thankfully we didn’t need it! Now that we are in protected waters we will put it away and reclaim our settee. We made sure to get a convertible carseat so that it would last for as long as possible!
Our cushion protectors (see above) aren’t fancy but they do the job. I whipped up covers for our cushions out of some old sheets and they are the first line of defense for spills and flying food. They are also much easier to take off and wash then the spot-clean only seat cushions that the boat came with. 

We only have had to install one cupboard lock yet but reserve the right to install more! Everything is mostly securely away but there are a few cupboards whose latches are the convenient height for playing. We put one right away on the one that contains some nasties and that one happens to be the one that is played with most often. 
We had some electrical stuff that we needed to protect. That problem was solved by running toy box interference! It’s also a great out of the way location for her to play. The toy box is also acts as limiter on our toy volume. 

Our latches to pull up our floor boards are a huge draw for I. and she loves playing with them and leaving them up! We ran into them a few times before we taped them down. It’s not pretty but it works! She pulled the tape off one but now no longer seems interested in them. 


Installing lifeline netting is probably this biggest, most important, non-negotiable baby proofing that we did on board. With it in place, I. can freely crawl around the boat and we know that she won’t slip through the lifelines.
At the top of the stairs, we always have one, if not two, boards in to keep I. from falling down the stairs from the cockpit. This also acts as an additional line of defense between her and the water if she manages to evade all of our other methods and climb up the stairs! At least she can’t get out! At the bottom of the stairs, we have a temporary rail (a toddler sleeping rail) that we can quickly put across but we also have a more permanent cloth which we can secure across. But for the most part, I. is free to climb and explore!
As I look around the boat, those are the only changes that I can see! There may well be more to come but only time will tell! 


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Beginning

We've owned Batty for 4 years now and been on all sorts of adventures with her! We started in Mooloolaba, QLD and have sailed as far north as Cairns. We've also had a couple of adventures without her! Lots of visits to Brisbane and Adelaide, a quick trip to Melbourne, Stints in PNG for work and a couple of trips to the US!

Join us as we reminisce about how far we've come!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Southbound

Our plan had always been to spend this season in the Whitsundays. We missed the Northerly winds to get down there so we had been toying with the idea of heading north but our hearts still really wanted to go south! Last Saturday morning, we woke up in Horseshoe Bay to calm winds and a favourable forecast for the coming days and, quick-as-a-flash, made the decision to head south. The winds were still from the southeast, which was the direction we were headed but they were light so we were hoping for a nice-ish ride! 

We had left Nelly Bay for the quick sail around to Horseshoe Bay just a couple of days earlier. It was I.’s first sail so we didn’t really know what to expect. She was a champ and stayed in her carrier the entire trip, napping, chatting and just looking at the waves going by. She didn’t get seasick either which is a huge plus. One seasick person on this boat is enough! Some friends came for the sail with us which took our kid count up to two babies and one toddler but the extra hands also meant that I didn’t have to do anything boat related! A huge thanks for them!
We passed mighty close to this guy at anchor!
To get to the Whitsunday’s, we knew we were in for several really long day sails. We had contemplated doing it all in one go but decided that that would be too exhausting. We also considered sailing at night while the baby was sleeping but we couldn’t figure out how we would balance watches and then survive during the day! Ultimately, sailing during the day and getting a good nights sleep was the best decision for us. Baby I. was so good on our big sails. She explored, played, ate, bird and wave watched and read books in the cockpit well. I will say though that I have never appreciated naptime as much as I have when seasick and want to do nothing but stare at the back of my eyelids!
Sails down as the sun goes down!
Our first day was a sail from Magnetic Island to Cape Bowling Green. It was long and rough. We got in after dark, with no moon and were exhausted! We were off again first thing the next morning in the same miserable seas, destination Cape Upstart. We had our engine running the whole time to charge our batteries (solar problems AGAIN!) and give us some extra speed: loud, smelly, extra unpleasant! But then magically that afternoon, the wind shifted and pick up and we were able to point straight at our destination, turn off the engine and arrive at Cape Upstart with enough sunlight left to head ashore! Winning!
Those blues!
And then our good wind ran out so we have just been hanging out at Cape Upstart waiting for favourable conditions to return! Cape Upstart has always been a stop on the way somewhere else so we’ve only ever overnighted here. The forecast has us here for at least a few days so it should give us a good chance to explore!