Oct 26, 2017

Trouble with Engines and Alligators

Today started out like any day. One by one the kids crawled into bed with us. 

We got out of bed. Started a pot of tea. Started making breakfast. 

I checked the engine oil like I do every morning (thanks Eddie) then go to start the engines. Port engine won't start. I try the starboard, nothing. Like there is no electricity to the ignition panel. This has happened before when I forget to turn on the starter battery switch on the starboard engine. 

I check the switches. They are on. Confused, I get out my voltmeter and check for power at the engine starter. It's got power. So I opened up the ignition panel. No obvious problems. 

I went back to the port engine. After several tries, and by giving it extra throttle I was able to get it going. I let it run while I turned my attention back to the starboard engine. 

After several minutes with no progress, I decided to just get us going. It's a little difficult to get a catamaran moving from a dead stop with just one engine. The the boat just wants to spin in a circle like a car with only one rear wheel. 

I've found that turning the wheel in the opposite direction of the propulsion and only giving short bursts of power, I can pick up steerage pretty quick. It only takes about a knot of speed. 

However, on this morning we were anchored in a narrow river anchorage with fallen trees and submerged logs on either shore. 

So I turned the wheel hard over to starboard and gave a lot of power on the port engine to spin us around 180 degrees as sharply as possible. Luckily this was a deep river with steep banks. We turned around without any issue. 

Fortunately the kids were exceptionally well behaved during the whole engine debacle. LeeAnn was a huge help in keeping them entertained. 

The rest of our day proceeded as usual with two notable exceptions: we saw some huge white cliffs, and a huge green alligator!!

LeeAnn has been telling me over and over there has to be alligators around here. I kept saying "no, no, no... there is not!"

Well today she wins!

I glanced at the bank behind us and saw an alligatorish shape. I got out the binoculars and sure enough, it was an alligator of significant size. At least 6 feet. LeeAnn says 8 feet and since she is right about most things... she is probably right about the length. 

We are almost to our anchorage. Once there I will change the fuel filters on the engines. During the trip today I sat at the helm station poking around with a voltmeter. Suddenly the panel came back to life. I think/hope it is just corrosion around the terminals. I'm going to clean them and see if that does the trick! Fingers crossed!

Oct 23, 2017

Great loop: downtown Chicago to Ottawa Illinois

Super excited about this video for a few reasons:

- I added a "previously on" section to the beginning.
- I added an "intro reel" that... could be better... but it's better than nothing. I like it, and I'm proud of it.
- leeann and I had a lot of fun doing a voiceover commentary together.
- I experimented with detaching audio from clips and added extra "b-roll" to smooth out some edits.
- I switched to royalty free music. YouTube has been running ads on my videos to pay the royalties on the copyright protected music I was using. Switching to royalty free means this is my first monetized video ever!!
- I experimented with sound effects in the patreon scene at the end. It's goofy, but I like it and had fun making it. Unfortunately my GoPro was out of commission at the time, so the quality isn't the best during that part.
- I left in a lot more content than I normally do. Stuff I previously would have cut for being "boring". As a result this video is much longer than others I have done. I'm interested in hearing feedback on the longer format.
I hope you like it, and would love to hear your thoughts. What did you like? At what points were you bored?
This video required a lot of extra effort, but I'm proud of the result. I took this video more seriously than others I have done - thank you patrons for the inspiration, encouragement and confidence you give me... just by being patrons!!
I learned a lot on this one, and I'm already excited to be working on and applying that experience to the next video!
Thanks for reading, watching, and following along with us!! Here we go!!

Oct 21, 2017


We were going to make progress today...Then we saw this pretty little island and decided to stop for a picnic. The shore was so steep, we were able to beach the boat. Something we had never done before. That was super cool!

We skipped stones for a while, Ate lunch, read Tom Sawyer.

Then it was time to get going. Time to put some miles under the keel! But we spotted a cool island just a mile further on and stopped. Next thing we know some wild goats (?) come walking down the rocky shore.

We put the dinghy in the water and went over with some carrots. They were friendly enough to be hand fed but timid and jumpy. Very large and a little scary!

So... now we are just stopped for the day. I think we made it maybe 10 miles. But we had fun!!

I just realized... we are in Alabama!!

Oct 17, 2017

Fighting against the current

We are 3.6 miles from the pickwick lock and damn. We have both engines running (rare) and are only making 4 knots against the current. Not fun! I'm glad we are almost there!

Once through the lock we enter the Tennn-Tom waterway and I think from that point on everything will be going with the current. 

I hope we make some killer time on the ten-tom. I'm ready to be off this blasted river. We have around 450 miles to the Gulf. 

LeeAnn was at the helm for most of the day today. I have the kids baths, made lunch, etc. My biggest challenge of today was getting Hobie to wipe his own bum. 

It's very windy and cold today, which is a nice relief from the heat and humidity of the previous few days. 

Oct 16, 2017

Amazon in the rain

Last night we anchored behind Kelly island. 

It was supposed to be around 10' deep. Ended up being 25'! Luckily the bottom was clay and provided great holding. 

We stopped around 4. It gave me plenty of time to make dinner. Then we sent the boys to their room to watch a PBS show while leeann and I sat outside and enjoyed our dinner in peace. It was WONDERFUL. We talked while the sun went down. Watched an eagle land on the island next to us. It was great. Hope to do it again soon!

They boys were very restless last night. I ended up laying down with them to try to get them back asleep around 3 or 4 am. Charlie kept hitting me and trying to lay on me. By 5am I was getting extremely frustrated... then he started to gag like he was going to puke. 

I swept him up and luckily got to the bathroom in time. 

I stayed up with him the rest of the morning, getting small cat naps here and there. 

We got the boat moving around 9 and traveled 4 hours to Clifton marina where I had shipped some packages from Amazon. 

It started pouring so we hung around the marina until there was a break in the rain. 

Now we are traveling up the river to make a little more progress before stopping for the night. 

Oct 14, 2017

Goodbye Kentucky Lake

We left Kentucky Lake today. I will miss the dramatic landscape and plentiful, well protected anchorages. The landscape reminded me of the North Channel in Canada. Rocky, steep hills. It's been a nice break from the rivers. 

We're now on the Tennessee river and I'm not at all looking forward to the crappy riverside anchorages I assume we will have for the rest of the way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

We have 535 miles to the Gulf. Without taking currents into consideration, and assuming we travel an average of 30 miles a day, we have 17 days before we reach the ocean. We are traveling 40 miles today, so I'm hoping we can make it in 12 days. 

We've been traveling with a group of boats. It's fun to hang out with other people, and we've made some super great friends. But in some weird way it adds pressure and expectations. 

Everyone is rafting up, we will look rude if we don't? Do they hear our kids crying? Is everyone eating together? Will we look rude if we leave before everyone else? The group wants to travel another 10 miles, if we stop now, and then they stop, will we feel guilty for slowing them down?

The friends we've made are so nice, we want to hang out with them until it's time to put the kids to bed. By the time the kids are asleep, we are tired from a day of traveling and want to go to sleep. The next day we get up and do it all over. Leaving no time for LeeAnn and I to talk with each other and work through the emotional roller coaster of turning our lives upside down. Or to just be alone with our own thoughts. 

After a few weeks of this, we started to slump into a depression

Traveling on our own has been really nice. We've taken some really easy days and it has made everyone feel better. We can keep to our own schedule rather than the groups, and when we stop for the night we relax and recharge. 

I had also been really stressed about money, and it was making LeeAnn stressed. Then I spoke with a business acquaintance and he asked "if you could do anything for 8 hours a day, what would you do?" 

I thought about it and realized at best all I have is an hour or two for work right now. 

So I don't have time to work for clients or customers, and worrying about money isn't going to solve anything. It's just going to ruin this once in a lifetime experience I'm having.

As my buddy Jon told me: "Don't worry about money (I know easier said then done).  You'll always have the ability to make enough money.  You won't always have the ability to sail with you wife and kids to the ocean."

LeeAnn and I discussed this, and both agreed to just not worry about it. When we get to Florida we will find a nice place to dock for the winter and I'll figure it out then. 

Between traveling on our own terms and letting go of our worries about money, our onboard happiness guage has gone from empty, to half full and rising!