I know currently I don’t have any readers of this site, but I really should be better about posting about the sailing and sailng related things I do get a chance to do.   So, to catch up, I will try to bullet point some things that have happened since my last post.

  • Repacked the stuffing box that had begun to leak at a steady stream.  Found just a sliver of flax left.  Repacked with two strands of 3/16″ flax, now dripping at spec.
  • Bought a Yeti Tundra 50 for the boat.  Currently sitting in my closet, half full of ice, as a ice retention test.  Will post more later.  Wife is working on a cover for it.
  • June 11th marked the 3 year anniversary of my discovering sailing.  A catamaran/snorkeling trip at South Padre Island  had me turn to my wife and say “I think I could enjoy this”, a month later I was taking my first lessons.
  • Estimated that I have about 40 sea days, only 320 more sea days before I can apply for a captains license…no problem. :)
  • Sailed a number of times over the last couple months, including a solo sail, and a sail with three 12 year olds…yeah, glutton for punishment I guess.
  • Have a done some digital art lately, most of a tropical theme.   Will be creating a gallery on the site to upload them at some point.  Below is most boat related.

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Another weekend of no sailing.  Rain and colder temps kept me at dock this time.  Instead I just lazed about the cabin, watching TV and drinking beer.  k2-_3ef84381-9a80-4b8a-a330-29dd705ec6f0.v1 Found an antenna that I could pick up all the local stations without running it outside and up the flag halyard.  Might have to that if I travel farther south, but for now it works.  But most of my TV watching was streaming video, catching up on The 100 and The Walking Dead on Netflix.  If you read my last post, you should now be saying “But Michael, the marina wifi sucks, and you will blow through your mobile data”.  Well, the marina wifi still sucks, and I did go through 15gb of mobile data.  After doing to some research, I found that my carrier has an unlimited data plan with 5gb for tethering.  I also found a way to root my phone and install another tethering app so that it looks like all the data is coming from the phone, therefor falling under the unlimited data part.  It all seems to work great, so unlimited data for streaming video without blowing through my data cap.  Now, its not something I would do on a day to day basis, as my carrier would probably flag my account after a while, but for the occasional weekend, it will be fine.  And that was Netflix The 100the-walking-dead-season-3-poster-full-570x844me watching basically all day, my average actual usage will probably be less as I will be..oh, sailing.   Ok, if you haven’t figure it out by now, in addition to being a sailing geek, I am a tech geek too.

Had dinner on the boat again.  Pan cooked a nice steak, though my timing is a little off, it was more medium than medium rare like I prefer it.  Usually I do the pan sear and then into a hot oven to finish and do a much better job.   I was solo again, so found myself looking for a small side.  Wanted potatoes in a single serving size.  I could only find that in a microwavable container, but I have no microwave.  But I read the instructions, and it seems that all the microwave was for was to heat the potatoes.  So I did what you would do with standard potato flake products.  I boiled a cup of water, and poured into the microwave container and waited, then stirred.  Worked perfectly.    No mess, no waste.

Sunday morning I at least did some mind work.  I wanted to took some pictures and measurements for some projects I have in mind. So look for the a couple future projects, a cutting board for over the sink to extend prep area and give me a proper cutting board.  Also I a flip up table/counter extension on the other side of the stove.  Again to extend the prep area in my rather small galley.  I also opened up the battery areas and found the charger.  The remote panel on the charger was not giving me battery status.  Found that two leads from the battery to the charger have inline fuses, both of which are “popped”.  Didn’t have replacement fuses available at the time, so not positive, but I think this will fix my issue.  Will find out next time I am down.

So…the weather won.  Winds were strong Friday into Saturday, with 25+knots with gusts to around 35 along with periodic rain.   I was not ready to tackle that solo, so I stuck to the dock over the weekend.  I was a bit disappointed as I really wanted to get out and it was my last chance for February.  So no February sail.  :(    But I decided to get some things done on the boat to make it more enjoyable for those days I can’t venture out.   Your first thought might be, why go to the boat if you can’t sail?  I must say, I love being on the boat no matter what.  I enjoy having my little home away from home.  And excuse to get away for the weekend.  Relaxing in the saloon or cockpit, drinking a boat drink, talking with my dock neighbors, and even working on the boat.

So, I went down to the boat anyway, and stayed both Friday and Saturday night.  I had already come up with a meal plan, so I stuck with it and saved myself some money by not going out to each the whole weekend.  Cooked four meals on the boat.  Two breakfasts, and two dinners.  2015-02-21 18.13.32I skipped lunch as I was wasn’t hungry after a good sized breakfast.  :)  First night was just some canned chili with the fix’ins.  Forgot that I had no bowls at the boat, so ended up eating out of the pot.  Will need to remember to take some bowls down.  Dinner Saturday night was something I called Pork Monterey.  Basically chicken monterey, except with some pork chops we had sitting in the freezer that needed cooking.  Pork chops, add some bacon, BBQ sauce, and cheese, done.  They were not bad.    Breakfast Saturday morning was breakfast tacos of eggs, bacon, and cheese, with the eggs cooked in the bacon fat.  Those were some tasty eggs.   I tried to plan all my meals so I would have as little wastage as possible.  I ended up with some left over cheese and tortillas, but took those home and they should get used up no problem.

Boat projects for the weekend, since I wasn’t sailing, were both electronic in nature.  First up was an attempt at setting up a WiFi setup.  The idea was to use my windows tablet as a bridge between the marina’s wifi and my boat wifi.   I had an external wifi adapter that has two antenna ports.  One of the antenna ports I used a 8dbi long range outdoor antenna hoping to maximize the connection to the marina wifi.  Then the tablet shares that connection via an internal wifi to other devices on the boat.  I was hoping to basically have one point of connection for the devices so only the tablet needed to be connected to whatever internet source I had available (in this case, the marina wifi).  The good news, it works.  The bad news, the marina wifi totally sucks.  I mean its worthless.  Might be a case of too many people for too little bandwidth.  It was so slow it was worthless.   There where no other open connections within range either, so while it worked, the project was a bust for use in the marina.  Might be useful once out of marina if I happen to anchor near an open wifi that is not snail slow.  Till then, I am back to using my verizon hotspot and tethering off my phone.  That works great for email, facebook and general web surfing, but streaming video (netflix, youtube, hulu, whatever) is basically limited.  Not by the speed, as they are plenty fast enough, but by the data usage.   I could easily blow through my data limit for the month in a few hours of streaming.   Which leads me to my second project of the weekend.

I had watched videos on my various tablets, and on my laptop, and even had a tv tuner on my laptop.  But I found the laptop to be inelegant, and holding a tablet and trying to watch on a small screen ok, but not great.  I seemed to have wires everywhere.  Enter the desire to have a TV on the boat.  Some may see no reason to have a TV on a boat, and for the most part I would agree.  2015-02-21 14.56.02Worthless while sailing.  But see above.  I love to spend time on the boat even when I can’t sail.   I like to watch movies in the evenings, doing so on the boat just makes them better (ok, maybe not a good as the media room back at the house, lol).  After some research and a lot of internal debate, I decided on a small 19″ tv.  A DC tv might have been the way to go, but I wanted the functionality of a specific Samsung UN19F4000.  In addition to being a low power LED tv with all the usual stuff, it had the ability to play video off a usb stick (more on this later).  So I acquired the tv and a mount.  I already had a small inverter, but I did want a new DC receptacle near where the TV was to be mounted so I picked up a receptacle and wire from the local chandlery.

Let me say, I love my boat.  While its a mix of fiberglass, wood, and plastic, most of the interior has pieces that can be removed to access2015-02-21 14.55.49 areas that would be impossible to work in otherwise.  I was able to cleanly route wire behind the scenes from the electrical panel to the hanging locker.  One end was tied into a breaker for the TV and stereo, and the receptacle was mounted inside the hanging locker.  Near it I mounted the inverter and hung the excess power cable from the TV.

The TV was mounted to the outside of the hanging locker.  It hangs a little lower than I would like, but the mount point on the TV is high on the back.  No big deal, butts up against the seat cushion when folded in and might even be helpful to keep it from swinging around while underway.  The mount is a 10″ swing arm, so I can be positioned so that it can be viewed from anywhere in the saloon.  It folds up about 52015-02-21 14.55.21” from the locker.  Ignore the mess, but here is the finished project.

Right now I just have a small inside antenna which doesn’t get very good reception.  Will be looking for a smallish outdoor antenna with some outdoor coax.  Then when I need it, I will just lead the coax through the port and haul it up the flag halyard, then I should get all the local channels.   But of the few channels I did get, one was running a Doogie Howser marathon, I admit I did watch a half dozen or so episodes.  The USB function was a partial success.  The good, it played my video files.  The bad, I had to transfer them to a smaller 32gb usb drive as the TV didn’t recognize my 64gb drive.  The ugly, the audio was out of sync.  Started off fine, but as the movies went on it got worse.  By the end of both movies I watched, the audio was off by a full second or more, which is annoying.  I had also gotten a Amazon Fire Stick for my various streaming sources, but not sure it will get used much due to the wifi issues I mentioned above.  But I did find that I would use AllCast on the Fire Stick to stream from my tablet to the the TV without the audio issues.  So that corrects that problem, though now I didn’t need the samsung and could have gotten a DC tv,  or an even cheaper tv.  Well, it is what it is.

Let me say, with the cooking on the boat, and the addition of some mindless entertainment, the boat has gone a sailboat and decent place to hangout, to also a nice weekend home and even a bachelor pad if I ever find myself is that situation again  (not likely).  I actually decided I could actually live on this boat…if I were single.  Thats a big if.. :)     This weekend ended after foggy Sunday morning.  Loving my boat, my second home.  Love live Jester!2015-02-22 07.28.19

A sailing party was hopelessly lost on the ocean. The sun was going down and the waves were starting to build when one of the sailors growled, “I thought you said you were the best damn captain in California.”“Oh I am,” replied the captain firmly, “but I’m pretty sure we’re in Mexico by now”.

Not much in the way of boat stuff over then weekend.  Unless you include the failure to find a decent set of camping/nesting cookware for the boat.  Two of the three stores I hit didn’t have anything.  The third had something that seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  I get it home, unbox it, only to find all of it damaged.

Currently working on plans for this coming weekend.  I have to be in Deer Park on Friday which is 75% of the way to the boat from the house.  And I usually get done early when there, so I expect to be on the boat by 2 or 3pm.  Working on plan to cast off immediately upon arrival, and head out for a weekend on the boat.  Depending on wind direction and conditions, I will probably anchor off Clifton Beach or at Red Fish for the evening.  Then the next morning, again depending on conditions, I will sail towards Galveston or deeper into Trinity Bay.  Will have to decide on a Saturday night anchorage once I know what direction I am sailing.  Then back to dock on Sunday.

This means multiple means on the boat, hence my searching for adequate cookware.  I will be working on a float plan and meal plan as the week progresses.  Short of 30+ knot winds, or thunderstorms I think I will go out.  So far the forecast is for 10-20 knot winds, and potential for showers.  If that stays, I will work on reefing the sails at various points, heaving to for a lunch break, anchoring skills, and dealing with rain.   And with meal planning in a way to avoid wastage.  I could go easy with sandwiches and prepackaged stuff, but that would be much of a learning experience, and not much of a challenge.

   Today’s Boat Drink is a Captain’s Paradise, though it might be known under other names.   I wanted some pineapple rum to try messing with that mojito I mixed up last time.  Found myself on the boat with pineapple rum and orange juice.    This is a dead simple drink to mix up.

After having a couple on the boat, and a few more at home, I can say this, you don’t taste the rum.  The pineapple comes through, but it hides the rum well.  So it would be a good drink for someone who is not normally a rum drinker.  It also seems to be a little light on the kick.  I think I would have down one or two real fast to get a good buzz.

 

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Ok, so this is not about the usual solar power and batteries discussion that usually crops up around boats.  Our current boat is better suited coastal cruising, and even then, I doubt I will take a trip longer than a 2-4 days more than once a year.  Before I take one of those longer trips (week long max), I might put in some dedicated solar panels to keep the house and engine batteries topped of.  For now, I have opted for a way of keeping my assortment of handheld electronics charged for weekends away from the dock, in addition to camping trips and such where I spend time away from a AC power source.

Enter the X-Dragon 20W solar panel, along with a pair Anker Astro E4 13,000mAh batteries.  The idea is to charge the batteries during the day and use the batteries to charge the plethora of  20150212_120946handheld electronics I own at night.    I will need to test to see if the panels are up to the task to topping off these batteries each day.  One of the reasons I went with the 20w version over the 14w to to ensure it was outputting enough juice.  In theory, the panels can output a max 2.4A to each of the two usb ports.  Though its 20W of panels, the output is only 5W (usb max), so the extra wattage is presumably there to ensure the 5w @2.4A to both ports, probably even in cloudy conditions.  The batteries in turn, if supplied with 2A of power, should charge in 6-7 hours (per the manual).  So, again in theory, I should be able to deplete the batteries each night, and still fully charge them each day (short of rain or super cloudy conditions).    And at 13,000 mAh each, I am not very likely to deplete both batteries each day.

Couple of catches, with this setup I am limited to recharging things that can be recharged via usb (5v).  Luckily, the vast majority of my devices are just that.   My phone, tablet, windows tablet, mifi, and my GoPro are all usb charged.  The exceptions are my laptop and my handheld VHF. The laptop can avoid using since the Windows tablet is a full on windows machine.  The VHF will the only device I will charge (via DC plug) from the house batteries.  Leaving the house batteries for lights and water pressure.

I will be testing this the next time I go out, and then seriously testing it next month when I got a week long camping trip where I won’t have a power outlet.   I will report back with the results then.

A sailor who smelled like a distillery flopped on a subway seat next to a priest. The sailor’s tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes, the sailor turned to the priest and asked,

 “Say, Father, what causes arthritis?”

“Mister, it’s caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” the sailor muttered, returning to his paper.

The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the seaman and apologized. “I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?”

“I don’t have it, Father. I was just reading here that the pope does.”

One of the other things I want to do on this blog, is point out “Local Knowledge”.  In the traditional sense, this means nautical things, like shoaling at low tide, and obstructions, and such.  I will expand on it to include anchorages, places to eat/drink, chandleries, etc.  I am also working on building a map that will link back to these mini reviews and such.

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First stop, Center Court Pizza,  Located on Marina Bay Drive in League City.  This is a pizza and beer sports bar kinda place.    They have a dozen or more TV screens around the dining and bar area, playing a variety of sporting events.  There are a few video games in the back.  It’s a clean and casual place.

I frequent this place a fair amount.  It is not far from my marina (Watergate).  The pizza here is excellent, and they make the ranch dressing in house.  I have also had the pizza rolls which are also great, made with a thin shell, so you don’t get lost in the dough.  I haven’t had a lot of other items from their menu, but I have not heard any complaints.
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Beer wise, they have the common beers in bottle and sometimes draft.  They usually have a number of local and specialty brews on tap.  Last time I was in, I had a Victory at Sea by Ballast Point Brewing.  It was a nice coffee/vanilla imperial porter.  They also usually have a coupe Karbach beers, which is a local brewery.

Water access:  ?  There are a few docks next to the strip center where it is located.   I believe is part of a storage place behind the building.   You might be able to tie up to one of these (the are usually all empty) for a short period of time.  But you would need to be in a dingy or really shallow draft boat (probably under 3′, don’t know the actual depth).  Otherwise, it’s roughly a mile from Waterford and Watergate Marinas if you tie up there.

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Center Court Pizza

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Center Court Pizza 29.542978, -95.055513 My review

Since the last time I was on the boat I did a overnight sail.  I figured this time I should spend some time doing some maintenance.   You see, while the topsides of the hull a nice and shiney, the deck fiberglass is dull and could use a good compounding, polishing and waxing.  I had already tried to do some by hand a month or so back, but while I got a little shine, its was not all that much.  I was intent on getting that super, like new, shine back.  I had seen the videos, how hard could it be.  I bought a new harbor freight variable speed buffer to help out in the project.

 
2015-02-07 14.43.55 Saturday I got down to the boat mid morning and got to work.  For the next several hours I compounding, polished, and waxed with the buffer.   After about 3 hours, I was maybe 1/3 of the way through the cockpit…just the cockpit.  With more shine, but far from “Like New”.  It was a definite improvement, but at this point I was getting really tired and knew I would not be finishing this project today.   I also learned there are a lot of angles and small spots that a big 7″ buffer pad just doesn’t do well with.

So, tired, knowing that I would not finish.  A little discouraged, I found a stopping point, and told myself, “finish is part, then take a break”, figured I could come back to it later in the day, or split it up into multiple days a piece of the boat at a time.  While finishing that last part it happened.

 

2015-02-07 14.45.39To be able to get low, I was using the buffer upside down.  I was looking at the dangling power cord, and thought to myself, “I better be careful, or I will tangle up in the cord”.  And a second later, thats exactly what I did.  The cord wrapped around the shaft of the buffer.  I released the trigger, only to find the trigger lock engaged.  The trigger lock I had not been using the whole time because I didn’t want to ever lose control of the buffer.  Somehow I had locked it.  And it didn’t want to disengage.  I  took several seconds to finally get the trigger to unlock, by that time, the power cord was shredded down to bare copper, and the motor started smoking.  I guess now I was done.  At this point, I have decided I might be better off leaving it to a pro.  I know someone who will do the whole boat for about $600.

2015-02-07 14.45.14The story is not quiet over though.  I clean up the equipment, and give the boat a quick wash.  I put everything away.  But I put the now problem buffer on top of my dockbox.  I figured I would try repairing the power cord, and running it to see if I didn’t damage the motor too much.  It had come with replacement bushing, so I figured I might swap them out just in case.   I then went to dinner, gone for maybe an hour and a half.  On my return my buffer is now gone.   I figure one of three things happened.  One, I good dock neighbor saw that I had left it, and secured it till he/she sees me again.  Two, someone saw that it was damaged, maybe thought I was going to toss it, and decided they could fix it up, and took it.  Three, someone with sticky fingers figured they got a free buffer, not realizing it was tore up.

If it was One, I thank you in advance, and see you next time I am down.  If Two, you really should ask, it was not put near the trash, or even on the dock, but on my dockbox.  If Three, I hope you shock yourself. Nothing life threatening, just some karma payback.  That and the motor catch fire so you don’t have a free working buffer.