Feb 22, 2017

Cruiser Coaching

Cruiser Coaching

Going cruising is a really scary thing. It can be really nice to have someone there to cheer you on, or maybe just tell you that you're not crazy. If you need some help I'm offering coaching. Fill out the following form to get started:


Here are a few things my wife and I can help you with:

Encouragement

Becoming a vagabond is a scary idea. You’re going against the grain of society. Giving up a large portion of your personal possessions. Leaving behind family and friends. There is the fear of the unknown and the “what ifs”. Those around you may be excited for you, but it’s also nice to have someone to talk with who has been there before, and can encourage you through your journey.

Spouse Reassurance

Perhaps your spouse (husband or wife), has concerns, and they just need to hear some reassurance from someone who is not you. Maybe your spouse is tentative about the idea of cruising on a sailbot, and would feel more excited after talking to someone who has actually done it. Maybe your spouse just wants to have a conversation with someone of the same sex.

Budgeting

How much money do you need? How do living expenses on a boat differ from land based living expenses? Will you be spending less or more money? What opportunities are there for making money along the way? My wife and I have lived on a boat as college students with no income, as business owners with steady high income, and as contract employees with moderate income. We’ve lived aboard with kids, and without.

Sailing, Navigation, and Seamanship

Are you worried about the skills and experience you need to go on your adventure? Do you have questions about navigating unfamiliar water? Plotting courses? Are you concerned about thunderstorms? Tides? Where to anchor for the night? Are you prepared for heavy weather? We can help you make a plan.

Destinations And Route Planning

Should you sail offshore to the Caribbean or take the Inner Coastal Waterway (ICW)? Are you thinking about the Great Loop? Maybe you're interested in a transatlantic passage to the Mediterranean? How should you travel to avoid burn out?

Boat, Equipment Selection, and Preparation

Power or sail? Monohull or multihull? What is the right size boat? How much holding for freshwater, fuel, and waste? Do you need solar panels? A radar? Autopilot? A spare for every part? You can go broke outfitting a boat, I’ve also seen people get caught in an endless cycle of always preparing and never departing. Don’t be one of them!

Living

Laundry, Grocery shopping, Boat repairs and maintenance, showers, what it's really like... etc!









Feb 21, 2017

Neoflam Midas Cookware Review


Neoflam Midas is a nesting cookware set with detachable handles. This comes in super handy on boats where space is limited. 

What I love:


The Neoflam Midas cookware comes in a fun colors: Emerald Green, Sunrise Red, or multicolor. I really like the handle style, which can be attached at any location on the cookware. Compare this to the popular magma cookware which has a specific attach point that could be challenging if you have to detach/reattach on a hot pan. If using a pot or pan in the oven, the grab and grip handle style of Neoflam looks quick and easy compared to trying to fit a handle into a keyhole on a hot pan while on a rocking boat as you lean into a hot oven. A Neoflam replacement handle is also about half the cost of the Magma set.
I also really like that these nesting pots and pans come with a plastic lid, so the cookware can double as food storage containers.
The tempered glass lids are rimmed with silicon which is handy for reducing vibration noise when motoring.

What I don't love:


There's not much to not like about the Neoflam Midas cookware. I don't like the ceramic non-stick coating. I'm probably alone in this. Everyone seems to love non-stick, but I love taking a metal scrubby to polish up stainless steel pots and pans. I have used a metal scrubber on a ceramic pan and it didn't seem to damage the ceramic coating, however I'd be concerned about doing this regularly.

One thing I think Neoflam really got right is their "Ecolon" nonstick coating is made from all-natural materials. It's PFOA and PTFE free. Honestly, I have no idea what the hell that means, but my hippie wife has warned me on more than one occasion about the chemical dangers of non-stick coatings. I think it's safe to assume boaters lean toward the "natural" side of things, so this Ecolon coating is a good call.

I also don't like the bowl like shape of the pots and pans. Honestly the bowl shape of the 10" frying pan is probably my main dislike of the Neoflam cookware. 


Overall:

This nesting cookware set looks pretty great. In my quest to find the perfect compact cookware for boating, I'm seriously considering buying this set. If you have purchased Neoflam Midas pots and pans, please let me know how you liked them!












Feb 20, 2017

Magma Nesting Cookware Review

Magma Nesting Cookware has a detachable handle so the pots and pans can fit together in a
conveniently small space. This is super handy for boat living where storage space is generally limited.

Magma cookware is really the gold standard when it comes to boat cookware. It's what most people use. I'm not sure if that is because it is the best, or if it is because of Magma's name recognition from it's very popular boat grills. 

  • Designed specifically for RVs and boats
  • 100% 18-10 mirror polish marine grade stainless steel, encapsulated triple-clad bottoms for superb even heat distribution
  • Secures conveniently for storage with the included bungee cord, stores in less than 1/2 cubic foot of space
  • Includes 3 sauce pans (1-1/2 qt., 2 qt., and 3 qt.) with interchangable lid a stock pot (5 qt.) and a saute / fry pan (9-1/2 inch diameter) with interchangeable lids, two removable handles and storage cord
  • Oven and dishwasher safe, not for use with induction cooktops 
 

What I love:

I think the thing I love most about the Magma cookware set is that it comes in both non-stick ceramic and stainless steel. I also like that there are some options on the exterior finish, either polished stainless steel or a really nice blue color. 

What I don't love:

I don't like the weird lid. It's a smart design to reduce the number of lids required, which I do appreciate. I hate having a million lids. However, I don't like that the Magma lid is either going to overhang on smaller cookware, and dip down into larger cookware. I think the Neoflam Midas set does a better job having "normal" lids.

 

What users are saying:

I spoke with a number of people using Magma cookware, and everyone basically raves about them. Several people mentioned that these are heavy duty pots and pans, able to stand up to daily use and abuse for years.

Overall:

I think you really can't go wrong with Magma cookware. It's a safe bet that is comparable in price and quality to a "normal" set of household cookware. I also think it's awesome that they give you two handles with the 10-peice cookware set instead of just one.





Feb 19, 2017

Black and Decker Dust Buster Review

On our first boat, we didn't have a vacuum. On our second boat we had a small shop vac. We had a cat who would get litter all over our small floor space, and because we didn't want to sweep kitty litter into the cracks between the floor boards, we ended up using the shop vac all the time. On our third boat, we bought a Black and Decker Dust Buster.

There are two versions of this dust buster. The less expensive, and more expensive version. We have the less expensive model. From what I can tell... there is no difference. Perhaps the more expensive version has a better battery.

The main benefit to the dust buster over the shop vac is that the dust buster runs on battery, so we don't have to use the generator, inverter, or be plugged into shore power to run it. It's also nice not having to worry about the distance from the wall outlet. Whether outside, or inside, near or far, the dustbuster works. The dustbuster is also easier to grab really quick.

The dust buster has a clear "dirt trap" that is super easy to empty. There is also a filter. You can buy replacement filters, but the filter is also washable. We've washed ours several times.

With as dirty as boats get, on top of the mess that kids make at every meal time, we end up using our little dust buster several times a day.

I'd recommend staying away from the BDH9600 pictured below. We had one of these at work and it stopped working within a few months.











Jul 28, 2016

Charlie's 1st Birthday, Beaver Island Pirates, and Leland

We were kicked out of the Mackinac Island Marina due to the 200+ boats arriving from the Port Huron Mac race. We were going to anchor in the harbor, but it’s exposed to the south, which is the direction the wind was forecast to be coming from. Not only wind, but a thunderstorm overnight. We had two options:

1. Head for Mackinaw City in the lower peninsula. It’s fairly large with a grocery, hardware store, etc. No protected anchorage though.

2. Head for St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. Protected from all directions except the east, which the wind in Michigan rarely blows out of. Smaller town, but a “real” town (verses tourist) again with a grocery store, hardware, marina.

LeeAnn said “let’s go to the upper peninsula, it’s more adventurous, plus we can anchor and save money.” It’s logic like this that makes me I love her.

I anchored us near shore, behind the St. Ignace Marina where I was very pleased to discover we could pick up the marina wifi! The drawback to our location was that the Mackinaw Island Ferry’s passed by every hour throwing up enormous waves. The sweet and the sour.

As I sat daydreaming about the shows we would be watching on Netflix after we put the boys to bed, it started to rain. Then the wind started to blow. Guess what direction?! From the EAST! Damn it!

Suddenly…. the shore looked a lot closer than it did a few moments ago. Oh, yes, we were definitely dragging anchor. Drifting might be a better way to describe it. Drifting toward shore.

I jumped out into the rain to fire up the engines. Port engine, no problem. Starboard engine, nothing. Nothing at all. shit. shit! SHIT!

I put the port engine into forward hoping to counter the drift any way I could. Unfortunately going from stopped to moving on only one engine, a catamaran has to go in a few circles to pick up speed for steering. I put it back into neutral.

I quickly fired up the generator and turned on the battery charger. Then I sat. Sat there watching the boat drift closer and closer to shore while the starting battery for the starboard engine charged up.

200 feet from shore.

I’m going to get one shot, if I try too early it will drain the battery with out starting the engine and I’ll have to start back at zero, so I wait.

150 feet from shore.

Resist the urge to turn the key and watch the depth sounder. Still good with 15 feet under the boat

100 feet from shore.

I can’t wait anymore. Cross my fingers, say a prayer to whoever might be listening, and turn the key. She sputters, she coughs, she comes to life!

I yelled to LeeAnn: “I’m going to need you’re help. I need you to steer the boat!”

She quickly put the kids down in our bedroom and went to the helm. I went to the bow and gave her direction on where to steer while I pulled up the anchor. As soon as I could see the anchor I told her to head for the middle of the bay.

Whew! That was a CLOSE ONE!

I anchored us close to the ferry docks where they would be going slow while docking. I knew they wouldn’t like it, but to hell with them. If they would have some common courtesy about their wake, I would have anchored further away.

The new spot was excellent! Except no wifi :(

The next day we went to the fuel dock where we ran into a really cool race boat, "Far Cry" from the Port Huron Mac Race. They were heading south to Chicago. Fairly drunk and rowdy. They were super excited to see our kids on the boat. And even complimented LeeAnn for doing cloth diapers which were hanging up to dry on the life lines. (At first they thought the diapers were bikinis.)

One of their crew came over and put some bait on Hobie’s fishing pole and tried to help him catch a fish. We got a tour of their boat, and they toured ours. With the race boat distraction,  It took forever for us to get water, gas, and a pump out. We then got a day dock and walked a mile to the grocery store.









The next day we got up early and sailed back to Mackinac Island for Charlie’s birthday. We had planned a party with some local kids at the children’s horse riding academy. Hobie got to ride a horse again. Everyone sang happy birthday and shared cake. Doud’s Grocery didn’t have a candle so we used clean piece of straw instead.

We stayed anchored at the island that night. The next day we walked around, settled on what souvenirs we wanted to buy, and slowly admitted that tomorrow we should leave.

















We sailed to Beaver Island and stayed for a day to wait out stormy weather. A large schooner, the Appledore 4, came into the harbor to wait out the weather. With nothing better to do, we decided to create pirate costumes and go visit the tall ship.

I had a pirate hat, because... I just did. We made a bandanna for Hobie out of the bottom of a dress that was too long for LeeAnn. Charlie has a pirate hat. LeeAnn put feathers in her hair. We grabbed our Styrofoam pirate swords and prepared to board the pirate ship!

Unfortunately they were having some major difficulty anchoring, and we were unable to come aboard. Being all dressed up with no where to go, we went ashore and walked around the island. We got some strange looks from people, but Beaver Island is a strange place, and many people showed a complete lack of surprise at seeing a swashbuckling band of pirates walking down the street.

When I got strange looks I said "didn't you hear it's Pirate Day on the Beaver Island?" Again, Beaver Island is a strange place, and several tourists asked me for me details about the event. I'm hoping Pirate Day organically catches on as an annual event.

















We left for Leland the following day.

I love Leland Harbor. It’s a little fishing village on a little river that is so uniquely authentic. It feels like you've accidentally stumbled into a Mark Twain novel, or Fried Green Tomatoes. It's familiar, and make believe. A story based on true events. A place you want to believe exists but know it shouldn't in reality.

The clear river is small, but deep enough for the old fishing boats. I think the boats must be props, put there for tourists, but no, they have radar and other equipment that wouldn't be invested in a boat that isn't actually used for fishing.

The first time we ever went to Leland another boater brought us to the village. He walked with confidence, but as we followed him I got the sense that we were going to get yelled at for being in a place we shouldn’t be.  Then suddenly we turned a corner, and there were all these adorable little wooden shops. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve loved the place ever since.

The fish shop that reeks of gutted fish sells the MOST DELICIOUS beef jerky I’ve ever had. There is also a sweet candy store. Hobie and I bought jerky and candy, then when to “Rick’s Cafe” on the river. They have a big deck where you can sit next to the water roaring over the river damn.

I bought a beer and we sat next to the rushing water and ate our beef jerky and candy while LeeAnn explored the girly trinket shops that would have bored Hobie and I. Once the sugar buzz kicked in, Hobie practiced hopping on one foot.







Jul 21, 2016

Pictures from Mackinac Island


Charlie at the Butterfly Conservatory



Hobie very excited to be holing a butterfly




Butterflies were landing on my hat, so I put it on Hobie, then told him there was a butterfly on it, so "hold still and I'll take your picture!!"


Hobie and Mom Cross stiching
Charlie trying to use the outboard like Dad

We had our picture taken at this anchor when LeeAnn was pregnant with Hobie. Again after Hobie was born, and now with Charlie!

Learning from the Soldiers at the Fort on Mackinac Island

Locked up in the Fort Jail!

"PRIVATE" says the sign. Challenge accepted.

"FIRE!"

Soldiers don't smile!

Day 37: lost in the forest.

"I love you Nash!"


crunch crunch crunch rock candy!

Hiking on Mackinac Island

It's a long way down.

This will be a nice picture. Hobie stand here and smile. I said SMILE.

Stay away from the light!

We'll get a nice picture of the gazebo with Hobie running and screaming in front.

The fort on Mackniac Island no one goes to.

Passed out Charlie.

It's 1,487 steps to the fort on top of the Island. This is when no one else comes here.

Looking out the window in the morning. A favorite activity. Please don't throw things out the window.

At the public school playground on Mackinac

Banging on pots and pans. This is making lemons out of lemonade. Or whatever.