Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 05, 2014 - BIG NEWS: our upcoming boat trip to Mexico (and beyond?)

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. ”

Christopher Reeve - actor, producer, director, and writer.

As all of our friends and family already know, we are planning a family boating adventure to Mexico, leaving this August.  We will be gone for about a year and a half, perhaps more.  This trip has taken more than 6 years of planning, 6 years of tough decisions, and definitely 6 years of hard work!  But it is all about to pay off and become reality.  In just over two months we shove off from our nice cozy Shelter Bay Marina slip and head to sea for many new and exciting destinations.  We will be living on the boat full-time, and cruising full-time.  It will be a completely different lifestyle than we are used to.

You can watch the countdown until our departure (August 25) at the right side of this page.

Our initial trip plans.  After December 2014 the trip becomes quite unstructured.
We will play it by ear with no fixed schedule, other than avoiding the
bad weather seasons/locations.   
We will "harbor hop" our way down the coast stopping at all the little bays and harbors along the way.  We will explore all the great waterfront towns along our way.  We hope to spend some time in San Francisco sightseeing, and probably boating in the Delta, where we actually bought Adagio back in 2011 (Stockton CA to be exact).  We need to be in San Diego near Halloween so we can depart in early November.  That is the best time to head into Mexico as their hurricane season will have just ended and weather conditions are usually quite favorable.

Once into the Sea of Cortez, probably close to Thanksgiving, we will just play it by ear.  There is a lot of exploring to do there.  Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez "the worlds aquarium" because it is teaming with a wide diversity of sea life.  We will see dolphins, sea turtles, whales, Pelicans, and lots more.  The water is warm and inviting.  We all love to play in the water, and it is going to be a welcome treat to swim in 80+ degree water compared to our 55-60 degree water here at home.

The scenery is beautiful, but very different from what we have here at home.  Instead of fir trees, moss, ferns, and slugs, we will experience cactus, palm trees (in the resort towns), white sand beaches, and geckos.  The water is crystal clear unlike our quite murky home waters.

We look forward to exploring the warm clear waters in Mexico.

Someday in the not too distant future, we will have a picture like this with our
 boat anchored in the middle.  Isla San Francisco, Mexico
We are going to be home schooling our children and have selected Calvert School for their home school curriculum.  Homeschooling takes much less time per day because it is so focused on the individual child.  A typical home-school day on a boat starts at around 8:00AM and is done by noon.  Without recesses, lunch break, and the distraction of 20+ other kids in class, it takes a lot less time to cover the same material.  We should have every afternoon to go out and explore, swim, hike, swim, relax, spend time together, and then swim some more.

As I eluded to in the title of this blog entry, we may go beyond Mexico in our boating adventure.  Everything will have to be be going quite well for us to push on further south however.  We will put that decision up to a family vote when we need to decide if we are going to stay longer in the Sea of Cortez, or head back to La Conner, or head further south.  It will be a family decision.

If we head further south we will cruise the mainland coast of Mexico stopping at all of the interesting villages and towns along the way.  We would then continue on to El Salvador and Costa Rica in Central America, followed by Panama and a trip through the Panama canal to the Caribbean Sea where we would then spend a season or two exploring the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, perhaps Florida, Belize, and a host of other countries and US States.  Maybe Cuba will be open to Americans by then?  I hope so!

Where we could go if we decide to continue south and leave the Sea of Cortez.
I'm not quite sure how likely this part of the trip really is, but every great adventure
starts with a dream, right?
We will post more details as we get closer to departure.  And, of course, we will be blogging along the way.  We hope you will follow our adventure, or perhaps we will even meet you out there somewhere enjoying the cruising life!

Steve, Kathy, Cindy and Kevin aboard "Adagio"....

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1, 2014 - Boat out of water (projects)

The Elston Family, and boat, ready for new adventures!
10 days ago we hauled Adagio out of the water, over at La Conner Maritime for a survey required by our insurance company.  The survey went very well, with no issues of any significance found.  The boat has been determined to be solid, well put together, and fit for future off-shore adventure.  I guess we can continue to use her :-)

While Adagio is out of the water it is my chance to do a bunch of projects that are impossible, or nearly impossible to do when the boat is in her slip.
  • I installed some new hi-tech underwater LED lights.  These things will attract fish and other marine life at night, hopefully making for some very interesting evenings. 
  • I painted the bottom and changed the color to black, from the previous bright blue.  Ablative bottom paint wears off over time.  When we see the old blue color showing up it's time for new paint. 
  • Painted the shafts and props with Pettit Zinc Coat Barnacle Barrier spray paint.   It's good for at least 1 year to keep the props and shafts free of growth.
  • I removed the old teak insert on the bow pulpit that was in terrible shape and replaced it with a non-skid marine plastic.  
  • I had my friend Chuck make me a new aluminum anchor roller that should keep the chain from twisting when retrieving the anchor.  When it twists Kathy has to try and lift the anchor by hand (88 pounds, plus some chain weight) and twist it 180 degrees so the anchor is facing the correct direction to come up into it's stowed position.  We hope the new roller eliminates this issue.  
  • I am installing a permanent anchor chain wash-down system with two "nozzles" aimed right at the anchor chain to wash all the mud off automatically.  A separate pump will deliver the water to the nozzles. The handheld hose can then just be used to catch the stuff the nozzles didn't get.  
  • I added some structural fiberglass filler to the bow pulpit to help tie it into the boat hull/deck more firmly.  I had to grind the gelcoat off to get to bare fiberglass so it would get a good bond.  This should make the bow pulpit more rigid when standing out on the bow.
  • I added a 3/4" white stripe down near the waterline to create a visual break between the boot stripe (dark blue) and the bottom paint (black).  It makes quite a visual difference.  
  • I installed line cutters to each shaft which should cut a line (rope) if it tries to get wrapped around the shaft/prop.  Sea Shield has a new product on the market that combines a zinc and a line cutter.
  • I changed a few through hulls, and serviced a seacock, and several sea strainers.  
  • I also waxed the entire bow of the boat, which is very difficult to do at the dock.  I will wax the rest of the hull back at the dock.  
My friend Jeff (Marine Detail Specialists) loaned me his scissor lift, which made the waxing much easier, and also all of the work on the anchor roller/bow pulpit.  I don't really know how I could have worked on the bow pulpit/roller projects without the scissor lift since the bow is almost 15' off the ground.  Thanks Jeff!!!

Now some pics showing the projects:

Before:  Adagio with the blue bottom paint.

After:  Black bottom paint.  The bright blue stripe is just painter's tape.
The final look with the new white stripe between the boot stripe and the
bottom paint.  It is much more visually appealing than before.

New white non-skid starboard.  It replaced some
very worn teak.  The new stuff will last forever, and
have great traction.  It should also stop a water leak
that I've been chasing for a while.
A new pop-up cleat at the tip of the bow sprit.  This will be used to help
secure the anchor when in very rough water.  You can also see the new
non-skid starboard surface.  It is glued (3M 5200) and screwed from the bottom side.
The new anchor wash down system starting to be installed.  There will be two
"nozzles" directed at the anchor chain; one to clean the front side and the other
to clean the back side.  The handheld hose we have been using for years will just
be used to rinse off what the nozzles miss.  This should make sure we store a
clean anchor chain.  No more mud, critters, and seaweed rotting in the chain locker.
The scissor lift made much of my work a whole lot easier.
Kevin takes the scissor lift for a test drive.  The joystick controls forward
and backward.  There is a switch for right and left, and another switch to go
up or down.  You have to have your foot on a pedal to make anything happen.
Adagio in the busy La Conner maritime boatyard.
A new "Divers Dream" zinc, and one of the three underwater LED lights.
They are blue in color.  Blue light travels the farthest in the water, and also is reported
 to attract fish better than other colors.  I can't wait to see them in the water!
New Lumitec Seablaze X underwater LED lights.  Cool  :-)

Now in the water.  Visible even in daylight.
But even better at night.  I also have LED cockpit lights that
can be Red, White, or Blue.  Here they are in blue to match
the underwater lights.

Line cutter zinc on the shaft.  This is a new product to the market.  It is a
corrosion zinc with a line cutter attached.  We will see how long it lasts, and
how well it works. It is 1/10th the cost of a traditional line cutter.  Sea Shield brand.
I've had quite a few questions about the red paint on the zinc/line cutter above.  Well, it's a tip I read about in Practical Sailor Magazine (I think).  Practical Sailor is like the Consumer Reports of boating.  Great magazine, even for powerboaters.  Anyway, if you just put on a zinc it will erode evenly.  Eventually the bolts that hold it onto the shaft will fall off because the metal around it has eroded away.  At that point your zinc flings off the shaft even though there was a lot of zinc left (but not enough at the bolt section to keep the zinc firmly attached)  But, if you apply paint over the bolt section, that area does not erode and the bolt remains in solid zinc much longer than without the paint.  So, your zinc anode will remain on your shaft much longer, providing protection for many more months.  It really works. Tomorrow I'll post pictures of what my zincs looked like after a year in the water, with the paint applied.

This zinc was in the water for 1 year.  The bolt holes would have been eroded
almost half way had it not been for the grey paint I applied.  This really works.

Both anchor chain wash down "nozzles".  One for the front, one for the back
of the chain.  I'll have some fine tuning of the direction of the water
and perhaps reshaping the tip to change the spray pattern.

The water jet for the front of the chain.  Last year I had La Conner Maritime
weld that notched stainless piece to the front of the bow roller assembly.  It
locks the Rocna anchor in place when it is in the stowed position.

The water tube for the back of the chain.  You can also see the new chain roller.
View of one "nozzle" from the top.  Ready to wash away
all that sticky mud we have in the Pacific NW.

Lots of water hitting the chain.  One jet of water from the front and the
other from the back.  It has a dedicated pump just for this system.
I can't wait to test this in a muddy anchorage.