Friday’s Top Five: Wish List

29 03 2013

I want to first apologize to you if there are weird typos or glitches in todays blog entry.Our wifi booster broke (completely our fault, not the booster’s fault), and so I am writing this post on Thursday afternoon on my iPad at a friend’s house. So I guess this post will be a testament to see how we’ll the WordPress app works and if I can successfully use the “publish” tab correctly…

Today’s top five list is a list of items that we would love to have on Dominion. When you read this list you may think that these items are necessities and every boat should have them! When we bought our boat in March 2011, it was in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on the hard, with the engine in pieces. With all the work that Capt’n had to do on the boat, we were lucky to splash in November 2011. So our actually wish list is quite long, but I will narrow down our list to five items.

1. Autopilot. I am not actually sure if this item can be included in our wish list since we do have an autopilot on board, but it is in a box somewhere in the boat, and not actually in working order yet…So I WISH we had an installed, fully functional autopilot for Dominion. In my world, this is why an autopilot is divine: for one thing, it would stop Capt’n from calling me over to the helm every time he needed to look at a sail, check the engine, and whatever else Capt’n feels he needs to do. I think he can sense when I am in the middle of something because that seems to be the only time he calls me to the helm. I also remember when Capt’n in Training was younger and required more of my undivided attention, it was difficult to leave him and go to the helm. Of course Cat’n in Training was perfectly safe – I would make sure of it every time I had to go up to the helm.w anyway, my mind is racing with all the reasons I would love to have a working autopilot, but I think you get the picture.

2. Hot water heater. I can distinctly remember having a conversation with Capt’n on whether we needed hot water on the boat. Like many cruisers, we had a plan, then changed it, then changed it again, and so on. Our first plan was to sail offshore and quickly head to the BVIs for winter (of 2011). Given this plan we figured that it would be hot enough in the Caribbean and we wouldn’t need a hot water maker. Let me remind you that 1.5 years later we have made it as far south as Satellite Beach Florida (with three trips to the Bahamas in between). So now I wish that I could turn back time to that conversation that I had with Capt’n and I would have insisted that we need a hot water maker. Why? Well because when you live on a boat in the middle of winter, and all you want is a nice hot shower but you have to wait three days until you find a marina, or friend’s house, you feel a bit desperate. One day we even heated water on our stovetop and filled our solar shower in order to have a warm shower. So yes a hot water heater is on our wish list. A friend actually just bought one off of Amazon for under $200. It arrived in two days, he installed it in a matter of hours, and now has hot water on his boat.

3. Alternative Power. Again some people may say that wind and solar power are essential for any cruising boat, and I would not disagree. Plugging in at marinas can be quite expensive – many marinas charge out power for a profit – and since we use so little power we can’t really justify plugging in everywhere we go. I am a professional at charging my iPad, cell phone, laptop, camera just about anywhere. I bring these items and their chargers almost everywhere I go and can be seen charging my laptop when I am at a restaurant, or a park, or even at church. But if we had solar and/or wind power, it would make our lives a lot easier. We have thought about buying solar panels rough SALT in Marathon Florida, and Capt’n has his eye on a very quiet wind generator (I can’t remember the name of it, but if you want to know, write me a comment and I will ask Capt’n.

4. Dinghy Davits. I would love love love dinghy davits for Dominion. Love love love them! Right now we just tie the dinghy to the boat and tow it along. When we anchor, we hear the slap slap slapping of the dinghy. I have lost many hours of sleep trying to ignore the annoying, consistent noise. I have not really researched dinghy davits but we would have to get one that I can easily handle. I hate having to rely on Capt’n for many boat tasks because I simply am not strong enough, so I would be so happy if I could lift the dinghy up out of the water all by myself.

5. New Cushions. I strongly believe that our boat cushions are the original – circa 1984. The foam is starting to disintegrate, they are getting saggy, and I just want new ones. And new cushion covers made of water resistant material. Ahhhh. I can just picture it now. dominion would look like new! Unfortunately new cushions are not on the “need” list (although I am trying to convince Capt’n to change that). So for now, no new cushions 😦

Happy Friday.
Happy Passover
Happy Easter





Day Trip to Disney

21 03 2013

On Tuesday, Capt’n in Training and I, along with two friends, visited Capt’n’s niece at Disney World. Our first stop was Epcot Center. We arrived at Epcot at around 8:45 am and we got a great place to park and were happy that there didn’t seem to be too many people. We wanted to go to Epcot to see the Flower and Garden Show (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/). There are topiaries and themed gardens located throughout the park. At first I wondered if this flower show would be boring for the kids (2 and 12 year olds), but they loved it. They enjoyed looking at the different topiary Disney characters as we walked around Epcot. In addition, many of the themed gardens had games or playgrounds for the kids to play at. There was even a butterfly garden where you could see many species of butterflies. I was most pleased to see modest priced healthy food options at Epcot. Scattered throughout World Showcase were kiosks offering various healthy food items, at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend checking it out if you are in the area.

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We left Epcot at about 2:00 and took a bus to Animal Kingdom. Our first stop was the safari ride. I did not expect to see many animals since it was a hot afternoon, but I was pleasantly surprised. We saw many different species of animals and the highlights were watching the Bongo’s cross the road right in front of us, and watching the baby warthog. We also got totally soaked on the Kali River Rapids ride, said good bye to Capt’n’s niece at It’s Tough to Be a Bug, and left for Magic Kingdom.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom at about 6:00 or so and went straight to Tomorrowland. While our friends went on Stitch’s Great Escape (and were disappointed), I watched Capt’n in Training chase birds and bubbles. After having a quick dinner, our friend’s son and Capt’n in Training raced through the Test Track (twice in a row!) and then headed over to Fantasyland where we went on Capt’n in Training’s favorite ride: Dumbo (again, twice in a row), following his first carousel ride. By this time it was almost 10 pm, it was time for the fireworks display. We did not want to face the crowds exiting the park, so we slowly walked to the park entrance and would periodically turn back to watch some of the fireworks.

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We took the monorail back to Epcot, found the car and headed back to Satellite Beach. Arrived at Satellite Beach at around midnight, woke up a very tired Capt’n in Training, and took the dinghy back to the boat. I think we are still recovering from the long, exciting day at Disney.





Friday’s Top Five: Non essential items I love having on board

8 03 2013

One of the most difficult things we have done while living on a boat is deciding what actually goes IN the boat. We spent many nights talking, and arguing about what items should go on the boat and what items should go in storage (aka parent’s attic). There are items that we never used and have sold or given away, and there are other items that we wish we brought on board. And there are those items that we really do not NEED but they make our lives a little sweeter by having them on board. Here they are in no particular order.

1: Bread machine. I am well aware that bread can be made with an oven (or stove top, or bbq) and some elbow grease for kneading the dough, but the bread machine makes making bread so easy! Everyone said I was crazy when they saw I was taking a bread machine on board. And I do admit, it has a few things against it: it takes up a lot of room and uses a lot of power (two major things to take into consideration when deciding what goes on or off the boat). When we first moved on the boat Capt’n said I could take one appliance on board. I thought about this difficult decision for about two weeks and I finally decided to take the bread machine. I can confidently say that I have never looked back. This summer in Brunswick Georgia I used the bread machine on a daily basis. The temperature reached the 90s and 100s there and there was no way I was cooking anything on the boat. We were staying in a marina and so I used the marina power to power my bread machine. And voila. We had yummy bread to eat every day.

2: iPad. Last winter I dropped my iPod touch in the Ashley River in Charleston South Carolina. When I found Capt’n to tell him, I nonchalantly said that he could replace my iPod touch with an iPad. In August we did purchase an iPad. I am not going to spend this time reviewing what I like and dislike about the iPad. But what I will say is how it makes our lives easier living on a boat. For one thing, we now use the iPad as a chart plotter. We purchased the Bad Elf GPS (http://bad-elf.com/products/) and charts from Navionics (http://www.navionics.com/en/mobile-pc-app). It took Capt’n and I a couple of days to wrap our heads around this new chart plotter, but all in all we are very pleased. The second reason why we enjoy the iPad so much is for storing videos. When we are sailing long passages it is difficult to keep Capt’n in Training occupied for so long. Sometimes if I run out of activities, if I am cooking, or sailing, or just need a break, I put on some videos for Capt’n in Training to watch. I will also say that when we were on our friend’s catamaran in Florida and Bahamas for two months, the iPad videos were a life saver when we were in restaurants for happy hour or dinner. The third reason why we like the iPad is the mobility of the tablet. If we are anchored and going to shore, we don’t want to carry around a laptop, but carrying around a tablet is much more convenient. We are able to check email and the weather quickly. So do we NEED an iPad? No, but we are happy to have one.

3: Kindle Paperwhite. If anyone is reading this who has known me for a long time, maybe this item is making you smile or laugh. Why? Because for a really long time I was so anti-ereaders. I could not stand them. I love books and libraries and did not understand why the ereader would be more advantageous over an actual book. I swore I would never own an ereader. Then I moved onto a boat where my books started to get moldy. Or I couldn’t remember where I stored a particular novel. Or space is so precious did I really want to fill two cupboards with books that in all honesty I probably wouldn’t get to read? Then came the iPad and I discovered that I could use it as an ereader. Then I discovered I could take out ebooks on loan from the library! I was in heaven. I loved the portability of storing books on the iPad. I found that I was reading more books than I was before I bought the iPad….but then I went to the Bahamas and tried reading outside with my iPad. It was a failure. I began to resent that the iPad was forcing to me to stay indoors in order to read. Then someone introduced me to the Kindle. I was able to read outside and with my sunglasses on! But I hated that the Kindle was not a touch screen. It was difficult to transfer from the touch screen of an iPad to the buttons of a Kindle…and then came the Kindle Paperwhite. It was like this ereader was made for me, just when I needed it! Capt’n bought it for me for Christmas and I am reading more than ever before. I max out the number of ebooks I can take out on both of my library cards. I am reading more young adult fiction than ever before! (I just finished the Lois Lowry Giver Quartet). I am now being transported in time and reading the Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon. Sure I could live without my Kindle Paperwhite, but I don’t want to. And I am proud to say I am an ereader convert.

4: Cooler (or as Capt’n says, esky). When refrigeration is on the fritz, or I just simply buy too much food, or if we need another seat, the cooler has come to the rescue. Sometimes I curse this cooler because it takes up so much room. We have it in the cockpit and I am always stepping over it or tripping on it and I just want to through it overboard. But on a hot day, it is nice to have the room to store a bag of ice and have a nice cold drink.

5: wifi booster. I don’t know, maybe some people would say that a wifi booster IS an essential item! We had been living on our boat for a year without a wifi booster. And we were still alive. However, we did always complain if we did not get a good internet signal. The most irritating would be when we would fork out money to spend a night in a marina, expecting to get decent wifi, come to find out that our boat is too far from the signal and therefore no wifi for us L One of the reasons we waited so long to get a wifi booster was we were basically intimidated by all of the boosters that are out on the market. Some are so big that they look like light sabers, others are so small you wonder if they do anything at all. Not to mention the variety in cost. But this past December, Capt’n and I decided to bite the bullet and buy one as a Christmas present to ourselves. After searching the web for a booster and taking cost, power requirements, and size into consideration, we finally decided on an ALFA wisp-nsr http://www.alfa.com.tw/products_show.php?pc=28&ps=130. We actually bought it off amazon.com for less than $40.00. We weren’t sure what to expect when we plugged in the booster to our computer, but we are so thankful that we made this purchase. The booster is portable, so we can move it around the boat in order to get the best signal strength, it connects to the USB ports and there is no external power requirement, we have received signals from ½ mile away. Now this booster is not a long ranger booster – some of those boosters brag that they can receive signals from miles away, and this booster is not it. However we have been most pleased with this booster and am always grateful we have it. A perfect example is we are currently anchored at Satellite Beach Florida and I am typing this from my boat with full strength wifi signal using our little booster.

And there you have it. My five items that we can live without, but don’t really want to. Happy Friday, whether you are facing a snow storm, strong winds, or sunny skies.