Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sailing Podcasts

Brenda and I look for sailing related content in books, websites, blogs, DVD's, online videos, Strictly Sail shows, seminars, social forums, get the idea. One of the latest sources we found is sailing podcasts. One of the forums we participate in mentioned a new podcast called "Sail Loot", which discusses funding your sailing kitty. Since our kitty seems to be shrinking as the listing price on our home keeps sliding down, we thought this was an appropriate podcast for us. I guess we'll add this channel to our list.

Finding that new source of information reminded us that we need to set up a page here that lists some of our favorite sailing related sources. We'll work on that page and let you know when it is posted.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Go Pro Hero4 Camera

We have wanted a Go Pro camera for a couple of years now. We love the pictures and videos that people post on YouTube using this camera. The price tag has always kept the Go Pro on our wish list instead of on our boat.

Monday morning I received a $100 prepaid Visa card at work as congratulations for an award I had won. Then when I checked my emails at home there was a notice that I had won a drawing on a sailing forum for a $250 credit at Hopkins-Carter marine supply. Hey, this is turning into a pretty good day. Hopkins-Carter just happens to carry the Go Pro line and this was the perfect opportunity to buy one. We chose the Go Pro Hero4 Silver edition camera package. So, for $50 out of our pocket we got the newly released version of this great camera.

We can't wait to give it a try.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

More wood carvings

Mike continues to work on his wood carving skills to prepare himself to carve a figurehead for our next boat. He made this fisherman as caricature of a good friend at work. Lance and his wife Jo Ellen loved the little guy. Jo Ellen said that it looked just like Lance, but Mike was a little generous with the hair. The pelican on the stump was made for Brenda's desk at work.

He carved this happy yet devious little wood spirit just for fun.

The sea captain was a challenge to make something really small that still had good detail. He is only 1 3/4 inches tall!

Finally, he just finished this Santa too.

Mike has a couple more caricature pieces planned for additional practice before he starts working on a larger scale carving.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We have all three of our kids home which makes this a really great holiday. The turkey is cooking, Dee (Mike's mom) lovingly made 5 pies for 10 people, the kid's 3 dogs running around, the smell of fresh coffee in the air and the beautiful scene of fresh snowfall out our back windows. Awesome.


Have a great day!

Mike and Brenda


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sailing 2014


The sun has set on our 2014 sailing season. The O'Day is stored under her tarps for the winter and all of our sailing gear is tucked away in our basement. As you know we planned on being in the Gulf of Mexico sailing full time by now, but fate had other ideas. We continue to wait for our house to sell before we begin our adventure.

We still had a great summer of sailing and spending time with our friends and family. We loved having the sailboat in a slip because it allowed us to sail whenever we had free time. Neither of us missed the chore of trailering and rigging a sailboat every time we wanted to go out. Lake Mendota is a really nice sailing venue with plenty of room and a few spots to disembark for drinks and dining.

We also trailered the O'Day 7 hours south to Carlyle Lake for our annual Carlyle Lake Rendezvous. The friends we have made at this outing make it such a fun event. We still hope to attend future CLR's even if we are just crew on someone else's boat.

Missing our sailing trip to Door County with our good friends Jim and Joni was hard. It just wasn't in the cards this year due to some family health issues. Hey Jim, buy a big enough boat so we can fly up and sail with you guys next year.

Now we are looking forward to the Chicago Strictly Sail show in January. We have attended multiple days of this great event the last few years. The seminars are very informative and just spending time around sailors and sailing equipment really helps get us through these Wisconsin winters.

We have had some recent activity on our house. There have been a few showings again with some interested parties. I guess we just have to continue waiting for the right people to see it. I sure wish it would happen soon. There are some really nice cruising boats listed right now at great prices.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Frustration Sets In

Brenda and I have been preparing ourselves for our eventual cruising adventure for about three years now. We hoped to be down south by now prepping a sailboat for a two year cruise. Unfortunately all our plans hinge on the sale of our beautiful home. The market in our area is dead soft right now for houses in our price range with very little indication that it is going to improve. It is difficult to be so committed to a plan that seems so unattainable right now.

We knew that even when the house sold we would be setting sail on a tight budget, but the timing is right for us now. Our kids are all out of the house and doing wonderful things for themselves and making us proud. My mother is healthy and independent, so we know she will be fine without us right around the corner for a few years. The TIME is now! I am concerned that this wonderful window of opportunity will pass us by and our dream will become just that - a dream.

We have reduced the asking price on our house to it's bare minimum, but so few people are looking for a home in our area that we feel like we are stuck in limbo. I am one of those people that decides to commit to something and just dives in and does it. Well this time I am stuck mid-dive and don't have any control over the timetable. I hate being frustrated! I don't want to look back in twenty years and say, "I almost went on a big sailing adventure."



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sailing season winds down

At the ramp awaiting her trailer.


It looks like our season may be just about done. The channel markers have been removed and the weather feels like late fall. We took our O'Day out for a sail today and only got stuck in the unmarked channel twice on the way out. We had a lovely sail enjoying the colors of the trees along the shoreline. The sun tried valiantly to warm us through our jackets and gloves, but after a while we both began to get chilled.

We discussed motoring back through the unmarked channel to our slip and then decided that maybe it was time to hang up our sailing hats for the season instead. We sailed to the far west end of Lake Mendota to Marshall Park where we could tie up for the night. We will pick up our trailer tomorrow or Monday and load her up for the winter.

The O'Day 25 was a great boat for the summer. She was fun to sail, solid, roomy and comfortable. We will store her on the trailer for the winter and continue to wait for our house to sell before deciding whether or not to sell her. If we are still here next summer we will add a roller furler to her and some jib tracks to make sailing her even nicer. If the house should finally sell we would most likely put the boat up for sale early next spring.

Overall we are very happy with our Plan B. Having the O'Day in a slip worked out really well for us. We learned a bit more about this sailing lifestyle and can't wait to test ourselves on bigger waters.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wood Carvings - Mermaid Figurehead

Thought I would share my progress in carving a mermaid figurehead for our next sailboat. I've kept the wood chips flying as I try to learn this new skill. I now have a new appreciation for all you true carving artists. Trying to make something look the way you envision it in a block of wood is not as easy as pie. Below is a very rough sketch of the mermaid and scrollwork pedestal. The carving should end up being about 31" long.

I am alternating my carving sessions between producing complete little character people and attempting to carve components of the future mermaid. The little characters are fun to make and each one teaches me a little more about carving techniques. This little original I carved this weekend reminded me of a sailing buddy from New Jersey. Hey Bob, he is a curmudgeon too!

I have practiced carving human eyes with limited success, so I'll continue working on those. I've been happier with the female lips I have created. Here is a sample of those.

My current practice piece is a miniature version of the mermaid's flowing hair. I thought this was going to be an easy component, but I am finding out it is a bit more involved than I assumed. We'll see how the first attempt turns out.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Figurehead Carving Project

Female face practice piece in process

As you know, we love sailboats that have that classic look. Portholes instead of flat lexan windows. A proud sheer line. More teak than is reasonable or advisable. Yup, suckers for classic plastic. Give us a Ta Shing Baba, Southern Cross or any old classic with a lovely bowsprit and we fall in love.

One of the totally unneccessary accessories we want to add to our future classic cruising boat is a small wooden mermaid under the bowsprit. Since Mike likes to do things himself, it is only makes sense that he would decide to carve one instead of buying one. Only one problem, he doesn't know how to carve. A woodworking enthusiast yes - woodcarver no.

So what does a person do to learn how to carve a mermaid? Well, buy some basic carving tools and a couple chunks of wood and have at it of course. Mike watched half of a video on YouTube on carving a little person and dove in. Flying wood chips, lots of dumb mistakes, too little artistic talent, minimal foul language and bulldog eagerness result in some simple figures.

Give him a couple months of practice and he might just make a respectable hood ornament for our next sailboat.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Anniversary


Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the best thing that ever happened to me. The woman I love married me on October 3, 1981. I knew on our first date nearly 40 years ago, that Brenda was the person I wanted to travel beside through life. We've enjoyed so many things together highlighted by our three awesome children. Now that our nest is empty I look forward to many years of sharing adventures, new experiences, grandchildren and our growing love.

Brenda, you bring joy, peace, friendship and love to my life. I love you dearly.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Boys


Last weekend our oldest son, John, drove up from Columbus, Ohio to spend the weekend with us. John went off to college about the time we took up sailing and has never sailed with us. John and his younger brother, Matt, joined us on Plan B for a few hours of sailing on Sunday. The winds were pushing 15+ mph on a pretty choppy Lake Mendota as we motored out through the channel. Brenda and I tried several different sail options to give John a feel for sailing without a lot of heeling. We hoped to show him that by reducing sail area we could make a sailboat quite safe and comfortable in most conditions. We probably bored John to death with the slow speed sailing, but we want our kids to feel comfortable with our future offshore sailing plans. It was fun to have the two boys aboard to experience our hobby and intended lifestyle.


Brenda and I are extremely proud of our young men. They are good natured, easy going and friendly. Our friends and acquaintances are always telling us what great kids we have. Parents can't ask for more than that.

We love you boys.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Drooling over an Island Packet 31

The IP31 is in the top two of our short list for a cruising boat. Friday we had a chance to inspect one in person to see if the pictures and reviews of this model were realistic. We knew that this particular boat was a bit out of our budget as it was a fresh water only, lightly used and well maintained sailboat. No sweat equity available on this one. Yet we went with the anticipation of two 8 year olds on Christmas morning to get our hands on the real deal.
We were not disappointed in any way. The Island Packet signature cream colored hull with the traditional ports give the boat enough of that classic look that Brenda and I love. We are not big fans of the Clorox bottle looking boats with the big flat lexan windows. She is beamy at 11.5' which makes her roomy, stiff sailing, a bit slow under sail and allows abundant storage. The 31 foot length seems longer due to the nice big bowsprit.

They advertise standing headroom of 6' 3" and it seems to be pretty accurate. Mike could just stand with his hair ( well, what's left of it anyhow) compressed against the head liner. The v-berth is advertised as 6' 6" and we're not too sure their tape measure was completely accurate on that one. It would be OK, but not quite as long as we hoped. Lots of storage spots, but not many areas for large or bulky items. The interior feels spacious and comfortable. We could see ourselves happily living aboard this model of boat.

On the drive home we both knew the other was busy creating a way to buy this lovely boat. No hope of that at this time. We need to sell our house first. Hopefully there will be boats as nice as this one available when our time comes.

Hmmmm. Maybe if we sell Plan B, buy a cheaper truck..........


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall is upon us already

Matt, Kelley, Brenda, Lilly


The summer has breezed by and we are amazed that fall is upon us. Although we love fall sailing it is hard to acknowledge that another nasty winter is right around the corner. We have had a wonderful summer of sailing aboard Plan B with family, friends and of course our son's new puppy Libby. We made a great decision in renting a slip for the summer as it allowed us to sail a lot without all the work associated with trailering each sail.

We look forward to many fall sails on Lake Mendota with the Wisconsin Badgers or Green Bay Packer's game playing on the radio. The smell of campfires along Picnic Point, beautiful fall colors along the shoreline, dinners on State Street and the pure joy of a good sail await us.

On Tuesday we had our first fall sail of the season. We met at the slip immediately after work with the sun shining and a gentle 7-9 knot wind blowing. The old Johnson purred as we motored out the channel toward the lake with big grins on our faces. Motor off. Sails up. Yes!


The weather was so good we quickly changed into swimsuits to enjoy the warm fall sunshine. The O'Day gently heeled over and the waves were just big enough to produce their music on the sides of the hull. This is what sailing is all about. We tacked into the wind with the intention of finishing the day going wing and wing all the way back across the lake as the sun and temperatures were slowly sinking. We rigged up the preventer on the main and put out the whisker pole on the jib. With soft music playing and the sun setting behind us we had one of our all time favorite sails.

So bring on fall, we are ready.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Bucket For Every Boat

Homemade canvas bucket

"If it goes on the boat, it has to have more than one use." We have heard this saying more than once and took it to heart when trying to figure out what to take as a gift at the Carlyle Lake Rendezvous (CLR). A handy traditional item is a sluice bucket that is used to wash off the decks. We had heard people mention canvas buckets being used aboard sailboats for many other uses such as rigging bag, ditty bag and even as a beer bucket hung from the side of the boat. So we did a little research and figured they wouldn't be too hard to make. Perfect! Our friends at CLR would love one of these.

The fact is it turned out to be a fun project. We found a pattern in "The Big Book Of Boat Canvas" by Karen Lipe that we used for a rough idea of how to get started. Then it was off to JoAnn Fabrics with our 40% off coupon. We found the canvas that we wanted on sale along with the strapping for the bottom loop and reinforcer for the grommets. We already had the rope, grommets and thread at home. All we needed was Brenda's trusty Janome sewing machine and some free time.

We went into production mode. Mike traced and cut out all the fabric and strapping while Brenda figured out how to assemble and sew our projects together.

The first hurdle was to find something to use as a template for the circular bottom. Out came plates and bowls. We finally settled on the lid from our soup pot (now it has more than one use too so it can go on the boat). "Good thing I can sew, so I have more than one use aboard too," said Brenda.

Tracing the bucket bottoms

A little math was needed to figure out the length of the side piece. Remember the terms "radius", "circumference", "diameter" and "pi"? They all come together in a formula to determine how long to make the side piece. With the measurements in hand, Mike went about cutting those pieces as well. (D x pi + 1 inch for seam allowance.)

We went into production mode. Mike traced and cut out all the fabric and strapping while Brenda figured out how to assemble and sew our projects together.

The remaining steps are as follows:

*Take the side piece, create a circle and sew a side seam. On my machine I could go back and zig-zag the edge to keep it from fraying.

*Take a 5-6 inch piece of strapping and center it over the side seam about 2 inches from the bottom. This will be the bottom catch or handle to use when dumping the water. Sew a box tack on each end.

*Sew the side to the bottom. The easiest way is to work with the bucket inside out. Mark the circle and the side into quarters and then match. This helps to eliminate puckering while stitching this seam. Again, finish the edge with a zig-zag stitch.

*Next you need to make a casing that encloses some rope that adds strength to the lip of the bucket. Turn the top edge of the bucket 1/4 inch toward the inside and then fold again about 2 inches and pin. This will form the casing for the rope. Stitch close to the turned edge to be sure and enclose the rough edge. Sew all the way around until you get about 2 inches from your starting point. This is where you will thread the rope through and finish off sewing by hand.

*The grommets will need a backing, so place a 6 inch piece of strapping (remember to singe the edges first) parallel with the casing. If your side seam is 6 o'clock, the strapping pieces should be placed at 3 and 6 o'clock. Sew around the entire piece about an 1/8" from the edge.

*The brass grommets get installed near the ends of the strapping and then rope hadles are tied in. Thread a rope through the top casing of the bucket and joint it's ends together with a hot knife or flame. Stuff it fully inside the casing and hand stitch the opening shut. Remember to spray the canvas inside and out with water repellant such as "Camp-Dry".

Here is a picture of all fourteen that we made. Thirteen were given away and one went directly aboard our sailboat.

This was a fun project for us. We knew the CLR attendees would love them and it was fun to see several in use right away. We have used ours to grab lake water to wash down the cockpit and to clean off the bird poop that keeps appearing on our gunwales. It takes up almost no room and has multiple uses. In just about one hour you can make one for your boat too.