The task of becoming sea-worthy


Upcoming Holiday

photo courtesy of Corbis

We’re spending Christmas on our boat.  (we’re too novice to have thought to put up lights, I’m so disappointed.)  I’m really very excited about it.  Very quiet, very relaxed.  We’ll leave Thursday night.  The weather shows to be mostly mild.  Thursday night will be foggy & 52`.   Friday it will rain.  I think that is so exciting.  Friday night it will be 39`.   Saturday, Christmas Day, will be 53` during the day and a chilly 28` at night.

With it raining on Friday, we’ll have the rare opportunity to do nothing.  That will be refreshing!  We have a live table-top tree and everything.  I’m trying to decide what to bring – peppermint schnapps hot cocoa or mulled rum cider?


Excellent lights on the SV Toyot courtesy of

We are in the process of completing our renovated galley.  I’m excited about this too.  We used ‘Cat Hair’ fiberglass to cover the wood on the bottom with 2 layers and then TheGuy sanded and bondo’ed over that.  Sanded it smooth and will put a second bondo layer on tonight followed by 2 coats of primer.   Then we’ll paint it with the epoxy, install the stained wood trim and attach the microwave.  I don’t know if we’ll get it finished in time to take tomorrow, but it’s getting closer to being finished.  It’s going to be so cool having a galley that fits our needs.  We still have some important things to complete in the next month.

This is the original list of things still needing to be done:

1.  paint inside & roofs of all hatch & compartments including doors.

2.  replace all seals on outside storage and hatch.

3.  paint inside and roof of all unpainted storage compartments.

4.  repair large ding in fiberglass on stern near motor.

5. paint engine.

6. replace table top in cabin.

Some additional things now that we’re more seasoned sailors:

1.  run mainsail sheets aft to cockpit.

2.  buy second anchor.

3.  replace outhaul sheet.

4.  replace boomvang sheet.

5. replace flag line.

6.  buy italia flag.

7.  rewire mast light.

8.  replace control panel switches.

9.  paint deck.

10.  paint topsides.

11.  paint hull.

12.  buy trailer.


All Things New

Admiral’s Log 12/06/2010

An update with the boat, no time for the sailing stuff.  Starting at the front, we’ll move towards the stern bit by bit.

The forestay assembly for the jib has been repaired.  The jib sheet, or rope, has been replaced.  The furling line has been rerun correctly.  Because we replaced the jib sheet with a fatter line, we’ve had to replace the jib pulleys.  Replaced 3 turnbuckle boots so the jib sheet doesn’t rub across the shroud cables.  Jib sheet is still rubbing on cables, so we have to reconfigure these.  We need to bring them up to 36 inches

We re-stained all the teak, inside and out.  We went with a beautiful mahogany stain.  This made quite a difference in how she looks.  The exterior teak will all need to be replaced next year, but this at least has her looking good until we save the money to replace it all.  There is a small amount of wood rot, but considering the condition we were surprised it came out this good.  Guy decided he wanted to varnish the exterior wood.  I insisted that we use teak oil for the interior and it turned out great.   We will see over time how the varnish on the exterior holds up.    A neighbor passed him on the dock and asked if he was varnishing the wood.  Guy replied yes and the neighbor said “yeah, I did that one year”, smiled and walked off.  Somethings you have to learn on your own.

We have ordered a new toilet, it should be here at the end of the week.  I purchased a color-coordinated toilet box & rearranged the v-berth storage, so now we officially have a bathroom.  We had been storing the AC there, but since we can’t use the AC away from the dock, we put it in the dock-box.  There is even hand-sanitizer and air freshener spray!

Few weeks ago, the girls agreed to sail with us and we went out for a long time.  With all the beer-drinking they were doing, they all needed to use the bathroom.  It was hilarious to hear the stories of the different techniques for straddled the AC to use the toilet.  Being the most practical of the group, I moved the AC onto the couch when it was my turn.  Almost threw my back out.  As I said, we now have an official bathroom.

We’ve replaced all the hatch dog knobs.  Got a new fastener for the pop-top assembly so it locks went its raised.  We had been tying it off with a bungee and praying, this is safer.  Repaired 3 tears in the upholstery.  Scrubbed all the exterior deck fiberglass with Barkeepers Friend and a scrubbing sponge.  Lightly polished exterior deck fiberglass to keep clean.  Have to find a way to seal the non-skid areas after cleaning that doesn’t make it slippery.  Accidently waxed one spot.  Not good, continuing would make her the yacht of death.

Now on to changes we have planned.  Starting from the stern and moving forward.  We are in the process of redesigning the galley to accomodate the new microwave and coffee/tea maker.  We’ve removed the drawer and will cut a square into the fiberglass where the alcohol stove was.  Once the hole is cut we will sand all the edges straight and smooth.

Old Galley

We plan on sanding the rotted wood in the bottom and strengthening it with fiberglas cat hair.  Then we’ll epoxy paint the inside to protect the wood from water and fiberglass paint the bottom and install a plastic slide rail where the wood one is now.  Then epoxy seal it all on the bottom so it can withstand water if it has to.  Then we’ll install the microwave into it and trim around it so it looks like it came that way.

Coaming Compartment Trim Before

We are ordering the teak for the coaming compartments this week.  We also have decided to paint all of the interior compartments.  We have decided on a garage floor epoxy in tan.  They have colored chips that we will add to the paint for the storage compartments, to hide dirt as it protects.  we’ll also do the inside of the compartment lids.

We’ll clean, repair and paint the coaming compartments with just the paint, no chips, so the cockpit looks good.  This with the addition of the stained teak trim should be a vast improvement in the cockpit.

We are considering using this garage floor epoxy paint on the non-skid surfaces, they have a sand additive you can put in it to make it non-skid.  We want to resurface the cockpit benches and floor with this, as well as all the non-skid areas midship and towards the bow.  I want to run this idea by my new friends at since they have so much experience with boats.  My hope is this plan is sound and will work.

Old Table and Light

Next is the replacement of the table, which in my opinion, the current one is gross.  Plastic laminate veneer.  I found a beautiful table that I wanted picked out, but they don’t make it in the size we need.  For now, we’ll just replace with a red oak, probably. Sweet!

Next on the list is to set up the mainsail rigging to run aft so we can raise and lower the mainsail from the cockpit.  This is a simple modification, but one of the parts is kind of expensive.  We’ll be running the mainsheet halyard though a pulley at the base of the mast, directing it out to to the corner of the top of the cabin, then running down the sides of the handle rails.  This then feeds the halyard into a block, removing the need to climb atop the cabin in big winds.  That will sure make me a happy sailor!!

We get by with a little help from our friends…

Yachtmaster Eric

God is awesome, isn’t He?  In the mist of all our learning and yearning to be good sailors, God sent us an incredible gift, in the form of Eric and his sweet wife Janet.  Eric is a FaceBook friend whose been following the antics of S/V Knot Alot online.  Last weekend he graciously agreed to join Guy & myself for a day of sailing.  And what a day it was.

Meeting them both was interesting.  Janet is soft-spoken, bubbly and joyful to be around,  She has the most beautiful, sparkly eyes.  Eric is a very humble, gracious man.  He didn’t come across boastful even though he has tremendous sailing experience and knowledge.  He met us at our level and learning ability, kinda like we do with our beginner riders.

The most helpful thing was after a month of online and book learning, we finally got a hands on feel for the things we had been reading about.  This was going from classroom training to practical application and things started to make sense.

Figure 8

Starting off with learning about knots.  we learned how to tie the figure 8, square knot and a half hitch.  Also proper cleating – the Cleat Hitch, or Cleat Knot, secures a rope to a cleat. It is deceptively simple.  A simple way to hold the rope allowing the cleat to do its job.  The lines sometimes need to be secure, but tied in a way that you can unsecure it quickly.

Figure 8 is used for tying a rope thru a pully so the line can’t be pulled thru it. It’s a stopper knot – saves the rope escaping.  Half hitch is used for for fastening a rope to an object, while a square knot is used for tying 2 lines together or to tie a line in a loop around something.

First off. we walked around the boat, checking all the lines, going over everything necessary to launch the boat.  Making sure bumpers were aboard, all lines were fastened properly.  Making sure all the sheets were in working order before we hit open water.

Square or Reef Knot

The funny thing about current –  its hard to see it has a mind of its own.  So, Eric thought it best for Cap’n Guy to take the helm and steer us out of the slip. Sometimes learning is best handled by doing. You know how when someone’s watching you and you try to do something you’ve done well before?  And no matter how hard you try to do it as you have many times before, nothing works.  That’s what happened next.  Cap’n Guy tells the story…

The book said the rudder can cause you to walk steer, when the current steers you instead of you steering the boat.  Since it’s never happened before, I proceeded to back out as always in an attempt to dazzle everyone with my amazing manuvering skills.

Half-Hitch or Rolling-Hitch Knot

Using the rudder to position the bow correctly,  I forgot that the motor was steering the boat, so as I’m pushing the tiller into the correct position, I can’t figure out why the boat is heading in the wrong direction.  I’m still trying to look cool.

Andrea offers a newbie solution to just let her go all the way, in the wrong direction, til she comes about.  Eric was patient, hiding his amusement from us and offered an alternative solution as well.  Using the motor to steer while motoring does in fact bring more effective results. Imagine that!

After amazing him with the slip donut technique, Eric astutely determined it might be best for us to raise the sail while still in the no-wake zone.  We raised the mainsail and he loosened the boom vang and secured the main halyard, then trimmed the leading tack to take out some slack that was at the bottom of the mainsail.

Then it was time to raise the jib.  We had discussed our difficulty getting it to unfurl, convinced that another repair was emmentent.  He explained it probably wasnt necessary and unfurled the jib sheet with no trouble at all.  Wouldn’t you know it, we were just doing it wrong.

Traffic On The Lake

When both sails were up, he instucted me to find a point of focus on land to keep the boat going in a continuous direction.  I then turned the bow into irons until the jib sheet began to luff so I could turn the bow back into the position of close haul that I wanted.   That was him teaching me where the best use of the wind and position of the bow to pull the boat forward.  Closed haul is pulling the boat with the wind, running is pushing the boat with the wind.

We did multiple zig zagging tacks in the no wake zone getting us prepared for the open water. Finally we had tacked into open water and the wind really began to take the sails.  We straight away went into full running, which is the most precarious position in sailing.  However, Eric is an accomplished sailor, so we knew we’d be just fine.

Then he asked –  you wanna see some real razzle-dazzle sailing and he proceeded to instruct us to place the sails in full wing position.  This was a very advanced potition for our first 20 minutes having been in real wind.  It was really exciting!

We were able to hold that potition for about 15 minutes before we jibed into our new position.  It was awesome.  I would have never expected us to do something that cool that quickly into it.  The jib was full on the starboard side,  the boom swang out to the port side, all the way,  the boat stayed level and we picked up speed.

We're Sailing 'Winged"!!

The boat, our boat looked like a peacock strutting its feathers instead of a roadrunner dashing twards a destination. we were so proud.  We then went to mutiple tacks and jibes, learning closed haul, closed reach, beam reach.  This finally put the book and blog learning into proper perspective with an addition of safety that allowed us to focus on learning completely.

The multi- jibing and tacking manuvers got us into a comfortable place where we  were ready to be comfortable heeling and even enjoyed it.  We were doing between 7-10 degrees heeling and we weren’t afraid.  This was a first for us.  The afternoon slipped away quickly.  The time went so fast the next thing we knew it was time to head back to the marina and go have some dinner.

The first day as REAL sailors…

Admiral’s Log 08/29/2010

Before It Got Exciting

If I’m not the captain, then I cannot write the Captain’s Log.  He says he wants to write on here too, we shall see.  In the meanwhile, my new friends at have explained that I am the Admiral.  I like that!

Yesterday was quite exciting.  It didn’t last that long.  We had a guest crew member, so there were a lot of skill-trials we did not do.  But there was a point that we were moving forward at a speed of about 6 knots, strong but comfortable lean to the boat and everyone was in sync.  That’s when we realized, ‘we were sailing’.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  It had been my intention to take lots of pictures so we’d have a photo record of the great moments.  But as the great moments came, picture-taking was not possible.   Either we would have tipped or my new droid would have been lost at sea.  As our sailing skills increase, my photo ops will improve.

It felt different heading out of the marina today.  We knew it’s going to be different.  We were going to notch it up just a bit.  There was limited wind at the start, so we motored after pulling up the sails.  We had a guest crew member, GP,(guy’s son) and we didn’t want him to be bored.  The challenge for Cap’n Guy was to effectively captain, to feel confident in instructing his ‘crew’ on what to do.

We began this day’s adventure with Cap’n Guy at the helm, me on the mainsail and GP working the jib.  We were at quite an advantage seeing as GP is in the Navy.  As I said, in the beginning we were motoring with the sails raised initially.  There was a point that we could see we were actually under wind power.  We killed the engine and paused to listen… yep, we were under wind power for the very first time.  What a feeling!

The beginning stages of learning to sail is a lot of letting those around you make mistakes so they can learn what to do, and what not to do.  I am a perfectionist by nature, so a lot of my energy was just focusing on the mainsail & leaving the others to their duties.  There was synergy amist the lack of knowledge we all shared.  The wind was strong enough to move the boat, but not enough to heel uncomfortably. 



Heeling is leaning.

As my new friend Eric explains, it is a necessary part of successful sailing.

There is a Lev-O-Gage on the boat.  It’s like a level, zero at the bottom middle numbering left and right.  You can gauge how much the boat is heeling with this.

Right now we are working at mastering the 0-5 degrees of heeling.




Perfect Storm

I suffer with anxieties, so sailing is not something I ever thought I would be ale to do.  I believe in facing my fears, so we OWN a sailboat now.  Every time we go out, I am doing something called ‘Desensitization’.  I go out on the boat, in a controlled environment (ie, limited winds, ability to return to dock at my discretion, limitation on amount of heeling, etc.), and experience sailing to recondition myself to feel fear and instead experience it as enjoyment.  The picture to the right describes what my brain experiences as we heel 15 degrees.

Over time, I will be able to heel at 15 degrees and have it feel like the boat is leaning a little and we are picking up speed.  I will have a typical exposure response like everyone else.  That is what we are working towards.  Join us again and see how it goes!