Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our 12 Days of Christmas

Brenda, Matt, John, Tina, Grandma

For the past 12 days we have had the extreme joy of having our family join us on the beach. Our daughter Tina and her friend Lacy came down from the frozen tundra to find relaxation and fun. Our son John and his girlfriend Britt drove from Ohio followed shortly by Matt, Kelley and dog Libby from Wisconsin. Mike's mom flew in from Wisconsin too. Mike's sister Kim and her husband Roy ventured from Arkansas and had a great time fishing/crabbing. Brenda's sister and her husband were so generous to host all of us.


Grama and Karen love to cook, so we were well fed. World famous Flora-Bama bar provided several nights of entertainment as did the beautiful Gulf views. LuLu's and Tacky Jacks entered the contest for best bushwhacker. Walks on the beach were a regular event and John, Britt, Karen and Peter took a plunge in the waves. Poor Matt could only wade following his appendectomy the week before. Jim and Joni (the ones who helped get Wrinkles ready to sail) stopped by for a few days too. We will meet them in the near future at their wintering spot on Marco Island. Everyone got to meet Wrinkles. More than a few thanked her for keeping us safe.

We soaked up as much time with everyone as we could, but all too soon we were ferrying people to the airport and saying our goodbyes. It is always hard to see them go. We love you all dearly!


Friday, December 18, 2015


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a swashbuckler is, 'a swaggering bravo or ruffian; a noisy braggadocio'. We all love a good swashbuckling pirate movie don't we? But where does swashbuckler come from? A 'buckle' was a small shield held in one hand while the other hand wielded the sword. To 'swash' in the sixteenth century was to strike something violently. So, a swashbuckler struck either his own or his opponent's buckle (shield) loudly.

Bring on that swashbuckling movie with torn shirts, tattered sails, rough characters and the lure of the open seas.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


We just remembered that we hadn't done a Sailor's Lingo post in quite a while. We love nautical terminology and lore! Search our site and you will find a few previous Sailor Lingo posts to enjoy.

Swashbuckler is a term we all hear and just assume it means something pirate related. Well what the heck is a "swash" and why do you "buckle" it anyway? We bet you never even wondered before. We'll post the answer tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Solar Panels

Note the pretty Island Packet 27 two boats over.

We finished mounting the two new 100 watt solar panels on top of the bimini today. Now we will have 340 total watts available to recharge our battery banks while we are sailing or at anchor. Since we enjoy using our refrigerator on board this is a very welcome addition.

Simple mounting system - Top
Simple mounting system - Bottom

Originally Mike planned on putting the solar panels farther forward on each side of the bimini. Concerns that the boom could possibly hit one or both panels eliminated that plan. The panels should work better in their new spot anyway as there is less chance of them being shaded by the boom or sail.



Friday, December 11, 2015

Wrinkles Gets Some Love

Brenda sewing away at the marina.

We have been a bit busy with our condo remodeling project which hasn't left a lot of time for boat projects. Wrinkles has been neglected long enough, so this week we went to work on her. Brenda is giving the sewing machine a workout on Forest Green Sunbrella fabric. So far she has replaced the entire center section of the bimini, added holes and rain boots to the bimini for the solar collector mounts, replaced eight turnbuckle covers, made a cushion for the top of the Yeti cooler (Thank you Karen and Peter) and replaced the bimini straps. Whew! Lots of green fabric flying around here.

Turnbuckle covers
Turnbuckle cover before.
Turnbuckle cover after.
That looks better.


Brenda still plans to sew up a cover for our rail mounted grill, a sail bag for the staysail and maybe replace the hatch cover fabric. That Janome Sewist 500 sewing machine has certainly paid for itself.

Mike fabricated some plastic mounts to attach the new solar panels to the bimini frame. It would have been easier to just buy some mounts, but they were ridiculously overpriced. Tomorrow he will attach the two 100 watt solar panels which will give us 340 watts (we already mounted one 140 watt panel) of free electricity.

Mike figuring out some solar panel mounts. Note Brenda's rain boots!
Mounts from below.
Solar panel mounts just about done.

Next up will be some teak refinishing, staysail installation, engine oil change, install an LED anchor light, install a new burgee halyard and clean the VHF antenna connections at the top of the mast.

It feels good to be back working on Wrinkles. We need to keep at it if we plan to sail south in just a few weeks.


Friday, December 4, 2015

To Furl Or Not

Wrinkle's Cutter Rig

Our Island Packet 31 was originally equipped with a club footed staysail. A previous owner removed the boom and installed a furler on the stay. It seemed like a pretty nice setup, but the foil extrusion was found to be completely worn out. We removed the furler with the intention of installing a new unit while we were in Alabama for the winter.

We sailed Wrinkles as a sloop with the staysail stay detached from the bow and secured out of the way. Although we could continue to sail this way we would prefer to have the option of using the small staysail for strong wind conditions. Besides, it just looks really salty with three sails flying in the wind. The idea of converting the staysail to a hank on rather than as a furling style began to appeal to us. We could install a quick detach tensioner to the base of the stay which would allow us to move the stay out of the way when it wasn't in use.

This C.S. Johnson lever is made just for this application. We would need to shorten the existing stay and install a new wire end fitting to connect the stay to the lever. (Like one of these pictured below.) Next we would install brass hanks on the old sail. If we like this new setup we could order a new staysail properly cut for hank on use later.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Quick Visit Home

Our Wisconsin Friends. Oh, you too Roger.

It wasn't in our plans, but the opportunity presented itself and we took it! We rented a car and headed back to a wintry Wisconsin for a whirlwind visit. (Yes, they just had a foot of snow fall.)

We broke up the trip into three legs. The first night we spent at Brenda's sisters. Even though they weren't home, they left a casserole to warm up and a chilled bottle of wine. Sweet. Next stop, our good friends Steve and Sarah of the Com-Pac sailing crew. It's always fun to get together with them and get caught up. Sarah made some awesome chili - always the great hosts. Leaving early the next morning put us in Marshall early enough to stop by the school where Brenda was greeted with handmade signs and tons of enthusiastic hugs. (Every teacher should be able to leave and come back for a visit - very heartwarming.). Thank you Marshall Middle School for the warm welcome!

Signs and lots of hugs!

After three days of travel, we were at Mike's mom's house. It was so good to see her and give her a hug. This was to be home base for the rest of our visit. She had just turned her sewing room into a guest bedroom, so we were the first to try out the new digs. And those of you who know Dee, know that we were well fed!! Matt and Kelley (our youngest son and his girlfriend) stopped by after work. Marcia (Mike's co-worker) stopped by to say hello while she was there visiting her mother. More hugs!

Mike and Grama Dee. Mike's buddy Cooper enjoying the visit.

Tuesday night we met VanCaster's and Domask's at The Great Dane for dinner and catching up. More hugs! Such a great group of friends.

Wednesday brought Tina (our daughter) down from Minnesota. More much needed hugs!! She is such a fantastic woman and we are so proud of her!

Thursday there were just four of us for dinner, so Grama fixed a "warm-up" Thanksgiving meal. We only had ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade sweet rolls, Twinkie cake.....ok you get the picture. We rolled ourselves away from the table and brought out the cards.

The next day we sat around marveling at all the people out Black Friday shopping - NOT us. We were content to enjoy each other's company without all the hustle and bustle. Friday evening we got together with our forever and always friends and helped break in Rasmussen's new basement bar. Once again, our stomachs ached from laughing so much.

Saturday we were able to squeeze the Badgers basketball and football games around our real Thanksgiving dinner. Matt was back from Door County! He has grown into a wonderful young man. Couldn't be prouder of him. We were missing John and Brittnie (our oldest son and his girlfriend) but we will get our turn at Christmas. Yet another Greene kid to be very proud of.

Sunday we said goodbye to Tina as she and the two dogs headed north. Kelley made it back from Chicago, so we also got to see her and Matt again. Twenty days until she graduates!! Not so hard to say goodbye when we will see them all again in two weeks! Later that night we met Michelle and Dan (Michelle worked with Mike at Oakbrook Corp) at The Outback restaurant. We got caught up on each other's lives and enjoyed being able to spend time with these great people again.

The Mellow Mushroom Santa.

Monday started our return trip. It was nice to see the thermometer continue to climb as we headed south! We stopped at Steve and Sarah's again. They promised to come see us this summer!

Tuesday we stopped in Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniels Distillery. Karen (Brenda's sister) was home that night, so we got in a quick visit with her before she hopped on yet another plane.

New cabinets in the condo.
Granite countertop sample.

We arrived back at the condo Wednesday after dropping off the rental car and enjoying a very tasty pizza at The Mellow Mushroom. We were excited to see our new cabinets in progress. Tomorrow we start on the boat and condo to-do lists. We are both getting ready to pull up anchor and head further south.....but first lots of family coming to visit.

Retirement is great!



Friday, November 20, 2015

A day at the beach

No two beach walks are the same. One day the dolphins might be cavorting close to shore. The next day the dolphins might be shy, but in their place might be a flock of pelicans testing their fishing skills. On another day it might be a man fishing with three lines cast out to the Gulf. Sometimes we see surfers paddling for the perfect wave. At other times we might have the beach to ourselves. Sometimes the sand itself shifts and we find shallow pools with skates or high walls to climb.

The shells we find vary daily as well. One day the beach might offer up sand dollars. The next day urchins might be the shell of the day. And once in a while we are lucky enough to find whelks.

Yep....each walk may be different, but we are always shown something new!



Monday, November 16, 2015

What Are We Up To?

The view from the condo.

As we had planned, we are working on our condo in Orange Beach, Alabama. The condo hasn't received any real renovations in the past few years, so it was time to update a few things. The cabinets and countertops are all original and in dire need of replacement. The cabinets look fine from 10 feet away, but up close they are very tired looking. Brenda and I picked out new custom made cabinets and some very pretty granite countertops. Removing the wallpaper and replacing the dishwasher should really update the kitchen area.

Tired old cabinets and wallpaper.

Additionally, we replaced all three ceiling fans, touched up the paint, put shelving in the Owner's Closet, mounted the bedroom TV on the wall and ordered new vertical blinds. We would like to replace the original vertical blinds with drapes, but as soon as we saw their prices we ran very quickly out of the store. It's just fabric people!

In between projects we have been enjoying this beautiful area of coastal Alabama. Brenda loves her walks on the beach, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, live music everywhere, too many restaurants to count and some of the friendliest people ya'll will ever meet. (Been just waiting for a chance to use "ya'll" in the blog)

Sunrise on the Gulf

Next week we are renting a car and heading north to see family and friends for Thanksgiving. We plan on spending a day with our good sailing friends, Sarah and Steve, in Illinois on our way up to Wisconsin.

Sarah, Steve, Brenda

It will be great to see them again. We are also anxious to see some of our Wisconsin friends again. We may have Florida driver's licenses and live wherever our sailboat is, but we'll always be truly at home in Wisconsin. Well, except when it is cold or snowing.



Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hard at Work

Note the storm damaged pier in the background.

This learning to fish stuff is hard work (insert sarcasm). First you have to have the right equipment. With the help of Lance and J & M Tackle, Mike was outfitted with a rod, reel and tackle for cast fishing. Next, you need to learn the types of fish in these here waters. For instance, you need to learn that the Crevalle Jack is so big it will bite your line and steal your lure. You also have to find the perfect place to fish. This takes some experimenting. You can try the end of the dock or the corner or out in the dinghy all of which should include a spot for your spouse to sit and sight-see or read (whichever she prefers). Different times of day must be tried as well. As you try out the different areas you will find that you get lots of advice from others. Fishing is a great way to meet your neighbors. Some will share specific techniques and tricks. Others will talk about anything other than where/how they catch their fish.

Stay tuned for future reports on our learning. At this point it appears that we fish like we sail.....Wrinkles in our fishing.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Spoiled Brats

Karen's Condo

The past few days we have been living large. A nasty storm came up from the southwest that brought high winds, huge waves and some flooding to our area. The Gulf of Mexico can look real mean and nasty some times. We spent the first night aboard Wrinkles in her slip which is pretty well protected from southern winds. Wrinkles rocked a bit and the dock lines stretched enough to push her up tight to the slip pilings. Mike adjusted the lines enough to keep Wrinkles away from the pilings for the rest of the storm. The outer slips at Bear Point didn't fare as well. Several areas of the boardwalk were destroyed by the waves and the bucking boats. We sure are glad we chose an inner slip where the land acts as a barrier to storms.

The Gulf looking much calmer

Brenda's sister Karen came down to Gulf Shores for a a few days and invited us to use one of the spare rooms in her beautiful condo. Gee, stay on a rocking boat in driving rain or go to a luxury condo with a king sized bed? Yup, we chose the easy life.

We packed a couple of things up and enjoyed being spoiled until the storm ran out of energy. Each time we went over to check on Wrinkles she was doing just fine. By Wednesday the sun came out and the weather was perfect. Walks on the beach, a couple of meals out with Karen, lounging in the condo, swimming in the pool, hot tubs, hot showers, ............ Spoiled brats.

Today we will move back aboard Wrinkles as Karen and her husband fly out for a long sailboat charter. Hey, we're not the only spoiled brats around here.