Our New Parking Brake

The list of items and projects to be bought or completed seems to only grow longer as we race to cut the dock lines this summer. Melissa and I seem to be working feverishly on about a dozen projects all while living on the boat and working full time.  So when we do get an item ticked off our list, it is worth celebrating.

Bill and Donna on sv Denali Rose bought a 99 pound Spade anchor for their Nauticat 43. Their New Best Bower Post was timely and inspired yet more googling.  The Spade is a great anchor and at 99 pounds, will surely keep their boat safe in the worst conditions. I had been considering the spade anchor, among others, and had almost made up my mind about buying one when we did our annual trip to the Seattle Boat Show. A new best bower for Galapagos was at the top of our list.

Usually at the boat show you have the opportunity to hear the sales patter from several different manufacturers and this year, we looked at the Mantus, Excel and Rocna anchors. I had done my due diligence research on line and had seen that anchors, like religion, all have their followers. In the end, the consensus seems to be that pretty much any of the new fangled anchors out there are good but there isn’t one particular anchor that is best in every single situation. Melissa’s brain trust group, Women Who Sail, splits about evenly between Rocna and Mantus in terms of anchor love.

For those readers not familiar with the term ‘Boat Buck’, that means $1000.  Both the Rocna and the Spade would cost us about 1 boat buck, more or less, for the size we need for Galapagos. At the boat show we saw another very nice anchor, the Excel.  It was going to cost us, again, a bit more than one boat buck. And anchor is not something where you want to just go with the low bid, but that’s a lot of money. And again, all of the new anchors get good reviews.

So, what did we buy?

The Mantus anchor comes in three parts but in one really heavy box.

The 40 kilo (88 pound) Mantus anchor above was shipped to our marina in less than a week and cost us less than $600 with shipping. That was about half the price of the very nice Excel anchor we saw or a Spade.

Everything laid out and ready to assemble. Small packs of Lanolin are also provided to smear onto the bolts.

The assembly was quite easy with everything provided and a one page set of instructions.  Small Packets of Lanolin are used to coat the bolts prior to assembly.  The use of nuts and bolts to connect the shank and roll bar to the fluke was a concern to me as it has been to many folks considering anchors that can be disassembled.  Given the robustness of the bolts provided and the use of common sense to check them periodically, I think the fact that the anchor can be taken apart and stowed more easily can be an advantage. Using bolts to put an anchor together is a bit counter-intuitive, but the way the load is distributed on the anchor relieves that concern. Losing the bolts is not an issue that has been a problem for any of these kinds of anchors.   Mantus could add some peace of mind to the system by drilling the bolts to accept a pin or seizing wire, like the Spade .

The 30 kilo Bruce being usurped by the new Mantus. The difference in surface area is impressive.

As far as I can tell, any of the new style anchors will be superior to the older CQR or Bruce anchors we now carry.  We have been using a 30 kilo Bruce for the last two years of Salish Sea cruising and it has held well in winds up to 30 knots.  But as we travel further afield, we need to know that we are secure. One of Melissa’s friends in the WWS group describes their Mantus like a parking brake. I like that.  I was tempted to go up another size to the 45 kilo Mantus but worried that handling that much weight by hand if things go pear-shaped would prove difficult. The sale’s person at Mantus did not recommend we go up to the next size.

The anchor fits well but it doesn’t leave much room for a second anchor on the port side roller.

The new anchor fits well onto the starboard roller which is the only side of our windlass with a chain gypsy.  The roll bar can be an issue for some boats but it fit well on Galapagos.  The very wide fluke does cause a problem on the bow though.  I can’t fit a second anchor on the port side roller and I would like to carry the Bruce as a backup.   At this point, I am thinking that I will stow the Bruce below with 30 feet of 3/8 inch chain and two hundred feet of rope rode.


There is good clearance for the anchor but no room to stow a second anchor on the bow.

I look forward to taking Galapagos out for a weekend to test our new best bower.  Melissa and I rarely take guest moorage in a marina and we love anchoring out. Knowing that you are well and truly fastened to the bottom during a blow makes for restful nights and more enjoyable time away from the boat.  We’ll keep you posted on how well this new piece of kit performs.


We’re in Such a State!

Yesterday, after days of constant rain; the kind of rain that makes every tiny leak show up and shout for attention, the sun came out. It warmed up, we turned the heat off below. It was feeling like spring was just around the corner. Mike said it was the kind of weather that made him want to cavort and kick up his heals. He’s such a lamb. It was also the kind of weather that puts us on notice that we are really short timers at this dock. Good thing we are making considerable progress with all the interior projects we need to finish up before we leave. Exterior projects await our time, attention, and $$.

MIke and Melissa, thinking about summer.

We are smack in the middle of our navigation station/galley remodel. Long-time contractor and friend Doyle Lewellen is guiding us through this bit and doing the part of the work we don’t have the skills to do, such as cutting formica neatly and correctly and building drawers in a space not quite square.  Doyle was the contractor we hired when we remodeled our 1964 rambler 16 years ago. He’s a skilled contractor with an artist’s sensibility and eye.  If he does something, it will be done right. Doyle is responsible for many of the design features in our home that we still love to this day: the plaster walls that glow in the light, the deep window seat and picture window in the kitchen, the big soaking tub he was able to squeeze into the master bathroom by using creative thinking. We’ve never grown tired of those things. So it’s his eagle eye we wanted for the galley and nav station remodel.

The galley/nav station re-do includes being able to access the storage space in by way of a nice sliding drawer that we can pull out without lifting the top. We retain the ability to lift the lid when we want to, but the addition of the drawer means we don’t have to clear everything off that area to get to a pencil. It’s been one of the aggravations in living aboard, that desk area.

In addition, a storage space in this area, seen in the photo below,  has been expanded and is now the home to our brand new baby Engel freezer. I am dead excited about having a separate freezer as it will lengthen the amount of time we can stay at anchor away from the amenities of grocery stores and still have fresh meat. I am reminded by Donna Rohwer over at SV Denali Rose that we can also keep ice cream on board this way. Donna is a caring friend to want me to have ice cream. But clearly she doesn’t understand my relationship with that cold, creamy goodness. It will never see the inside of a freezer for very long on this boat.  But the thought was a nice one.

Doyle takes careful measurements for the navigation area.

In our galley, our sink has seen better days… days that date from 1974 when this boat was built. Frankly, I don’t think the drains will survive a Pacific crossing. It wouldn’t surprise me if a drain breaks off in my hand as we pull the thing. But finding a sink to fit in that space was like looking for a unicorn. The problem, for those unaccustomed to boat interiors, is that the countertop is only 19.5 inches wide. Go measure your countertop in your kitchen. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You’ll see that it’s much greater than 19.5 inches. And that’s why almost every ‘normal’ sink of average size is 22″ wide. To get one much narrower, you also have to go much shorter. I wanted to maximize the size of my sink because on a boat, a sink is a useful area.  So, after leaving room for putting in faucets, I had a need for a sink about 17″ x 31.5″, a long, narrow rectangle. It does not exist. I could find 18″ sinks, but even though they would fit, there would be no room for faucets.

After a week of constant looking, measuring, and remeasuring,  sinks and measurements were swimming around in my head. It began to look as though we needed to have one made. What innocent babes we are about some things. I drew up a sink I would love to have and we took it down to the local stainless fabricator. After all, a woman who has a Whitby 42, which is the little sister to our boat, got a great looking sink made in Chinatown in New York City for 400$. How much different could it possibly be here? The answer to that is a lot different.  Like $2,500. Uh. No. Just NO. We have way too many other things to buy.

The sink looks large, but there is a lot of wasted space in those rimmed areas and the second sink never gets used for anything but the dish rack. Effectively we use 1/2 of this sink for sink duties. Forget rinsing clothes out in this sink. It’s too shallow. And that drawer unit to the right? A lot of wasted space.

So I got creative with my search and eventually I branched out to laundry sinks and I found this one for less than 100$. I think Mike actually loves me a little bit more since I’ve found this sink and decided to compromise a bit on the length of the thing. Do I wish it were 31.5″ long? Yes. But will it suffice? Also yes. No, it’s not marine stainless. Yes, we’ll have to care for it. Yes, in 5 years maybe we’ll have to replace it again. I. Don’t. Care. It’s easy to install, it’s really deep, and it’s bigger than the sink I’m currently using by a lot, since I only ever use 1/2 of the double sink we currently have.  I can do laundry in this sink. That’s what I need. I can’t wait for it to get here so I can stroke its silky finish. Maybe by the time this sink rots on us we’ll be somewhere we can afford to have people fabricate things.

Of course, you know how remodeling goes. You start one project and suddenly it has mushroomed into several. Since we are replacing the sink and faucets in the galley, Mike will take this opportunity to replace all the water lines (he’s using Pex). And since we are replacing all the water lines, this is the time to replace the water heater with a new one that has a heat exchanger that will allow us to get hot water at anchor. (Shout out to Sure Marine in Seattle for giving us a good price.) And since he’s replacing the water heater may as well get it out of his precious engine room and put it under the sole in the aft cabin where it will fit snugly in a little cubby all its own. And, again,  since we’re replacing all the water lines, we may as well replace the leaky faucets in both heads. And since we’re replacing things in heads, may as well rebuild both toilets (post to follow when one is finished. He’s doing one at a time for obvious reasons.)

Galapagos is not ready for guests right now. Guess how much I love having a toilet in my salon. Just guess.

I think that’s all, except for the new anchor, which Mike is writing a post about. Oh wait, no, there’s one more. Since we are tearing up the galley anyhow, I may as well get rid of those pesky drawers that are a waste of space and drive me nuts and turn that space into a cabinet. That one’s on me. I think I have the skills for that one. Cha-ching!

You know, we’ve lived through years of remodeling houses. Two houses, to be exact. Now we live through remodeling a boat interior a bit. It’s just like doing a house, only smaller and everything takes three times as long and feels four times as messy. I do my best to keep the mess to a mild roar, but really I’m looking forward to this all being done so I can go back to my tidy boat. This boat is in such a state!

We’re this far. It’s going to be great.

Time is skipping along. While our trajectory is still to haul out in June, in reality we need to have the boat ready for that haulout and almost ready to leave the marina for good by the first week in May. Claire is getting married in Scotland in May and the entire extended family is going over. It will be like herding cats, but it will be a lot of fun. We’ll be there for three weeks and when we get back we’ll need to hit the ground running.

After the haulout? We will sleep for a month.





Immunization Fun Pack

One of the downsides of getting ready to travel extensively is that you have to get immunized against all of the many diseases the world has to offer. Yellow Fever. Hepatitis A and B. Typhoid. Tetanus… The world of germs offers many ways to either kill you or make you feel like you wish you were dead. Rather than take that chance, we decided to get our shots.

If you are in the market for immunizations, let us make it easy for you: just go to Costco. We’ve done the leg work for you, and our arms have the soreness to prove it. Like large packages of toilet paper and crackers, Costco offers the ‘fun pack’ of immunizations at a lower price than its competitors.  Unsurprisingly, the service is good, the quality high.

In shopping around I looked at two ‘travel clinics’ in Tacoma and at Costco. At the Rite Aid travel clinic, each consultation would have been around 80$. So that’s 160$ out of the gate, just so they can tell us which shots we need. It was the same price at the other travel clinic I called. At Costco, the cost was 40$ per person, a savings of 50%. Here’s how it worked:

First, you go to this Costco Travel website and a buy a full service Travel Medicine Consultation. You will get a link to fill out a form. This form is really written for people who are taking cruises rather than doing open ended travel, but not to worry. Fill in the information you have for the first country you will visit, then in the notes section indicate that your travel is open ended and give a list of some of the countries you will visit. A medical doctor will be sent the form and will send you an email with recommendations for which immunizations you need. We filled out our forms and in less than 24 hours, we had an email from the doctor with his recommendations.

When Mike brings flowers and we don’t have any vases on board. Just putting this in because I don’t have other photos of getting injections. And this is prettier.

Now, our experience is with the Travel Pharmacist in the Federal Way store. We cannot vouch for other stores, but Elizabeth in Federal way has 25 years of experience and is excellent. After receiving our email, I got a call from Elizabeth following up with a phone consult to confirm the information and ask more  questions about our travel plans so we could fine-tune the list of recommendations. For instance, the doctor recommended, based on the fact that we’ll be ‘adventure traveling’, that I get a rabies vaccine. Elizabeth and I determined, based on the LittleCunningPlan definition of ‘adventure’, whereby it’s unlikely we will ever be more than 7 days from a treatment facility (when on land), that I didn’t need to go that route. We then set up a schedule to begin.

Let’s repeat that: SHE CALLED ME and we had a phone chat for over 15 minutes where I got to clarify our plans and talk about options! In addition to her taking the initiative in following up on the on-line form, she was cheerful, friendly, and informative. That kind of service is hard to find these days.

Mike and I made our appointment together and tootled up to Federal Way for our first round of shots. We signed in at the desk and paid our measly co-pay because they had already billed our insurance, which covered almost all of it. Elizabeth greeted us, explained everything in detail, confirmed information, then gave us our injections. I’m not a happy person when I get injections. But she is so skilled I was able to take it like a champ. We made our appointment for our second round.

The day before we were due in, Elizabeth called to remind us that our second shots were due. We’ve received round number two. We have an appointment for the end of June to receive the last of the Hepatitis vaccines. That’s pretty much the last thing we have to do in the the South Sound before the long trip. So we know we’ll be hanging around at anchor here and there in our home waters for a little while. Probably sleeping.

So let’s recap: for 40$ we received an initial consult from a travel medicine doctor (who also talked to me on the phone, by the way, after I made a suggestion for their website forms), got a follow up call from the travel pharmacist and consulted further with her on the phone, got excellent service, the shots didn’t hurt, and they billed our insurance, which paid for most of these! In all, a painless and seamless experience. Thanks, Costco! Thanks, Elizabeth! See you at the end of June!