Bob’s been working so hard on the boat lately, it was time for a break and a nice cool swim in the marina pool. It backs on to the Manatee Pocket just steps from the sailboat, so that’s the water you can see in the distance.
Now that I have a new camera, and Bob has my old one, he is getting back into photography. (Small happy dance!)
In years gone by, Bob used to really enjoy film photography and he spent a lot of time and effort taking and developing photographs. He had a large dark room that he used with 35 mm and 2 1/4 square film, where he made prints. He even made his own colour prints, which was unusual at the time. He used Nikons as well as a Rolleicord and he tells me he particularly enjoyed making square format black and white prints.
When things in the photography world switched over to digital, he moved on to other passions. Bob is a techie-type guy (as many of you know) and now that he has a little more time, he is interested in learning more about digital photography. To him, it’s a puzzle to solve and he is fascinated by technical challenges of all kinds.
Yesterday, he did some of his first digital shots of pelicans at the fish-cleaning station. I think he’s really artist masquerading as a techie, don’t you?
One way to create waterfront property is to dig canals, allowing homeowners to slip their boats right in their back yards. You see this here and there in Stuart, Florida, where we are. The picture above was taken looking down the canal which crosses the end of our marina. Where you really see the canal phenomenon is in Fort Lauderdale, however, which has been called the Venice of North America.
There has been a lot going on in the past little while so I think it’s time for a catch-up session…
To start, I’ve had a bit of a physical challenge lately. It happened when I was trying to climb through the hatch when we got locked out of the boat! (That’s another story, of which there are two versions.)
In the process I hyperextended my right arm and strained my serratus anterior muscle. It’s the one that’s connected to the shoulder blade. It’s like having a very bad stitch in your side and it hurts when I breathe deeply, sneeze or cough. Thankfully, the worst seems to be over but it has slowed me down just a little.
It was my birthday last week and one of the highlights was being taken to West Palm Beach by our lovely friend Joan to see the Annie Liebovitz exhibition at the Norton Gallery. This was quite a thrill and it was fascinating to see her work up close. I liked that the curator had chosen mostly photos of artists and writers and photographers and not-so-famous people rather than the megastars that she is famous for.
On the way back we met up with Bob and Leo at the Hog Snapper in Tequesta and I had a whole snapper for dinner — just the way I used to eat them in Jamaica! I also enjoyed a local Jupiter beer called Monk in the Trunk.
Another highlight was attending a sunset photography seminar at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which I will cover in a separate post.
I also had a great time shooting some portraits of one of our nieces and her family in the park by the water in Stuart. My experience is mainly with candid rather than posed photos but I thought I would give it a try. The hardest ones to get were the group shots but I managed a few decent ones. Some of the images of the individual children made me pretty happy. These kids are adorable and so full of life. I still have more images to go through and process.
Poor little Angus, who is 14 1/2, is having his challenges too. He seems to be showing more signs of Cushing’s disease, which the vet thinks he has had for some time, but without displaying symptoms. This disease is quite common for older dogs, especially terriers. It is a good thing that we are at the dock right now and not on an anchor because sometimes we have to take him off the boat in the middle of the night. We need to keep a close eye on him, so, for the time being, we have decided to stay at this lovely marina and take short sailing trips from here. For the most part, he seems comfortable and is enjoying his days on the boat.
Bob of course has been whirlwind of activity, pulling the boat apart and making big messes (which of course he always cleans up.) When we bought Windsong II last February, the boat had almost everything we needed to live aboard and do the type of sailing we want to do.
I did say “almost.” This year Bob has been busy with a few additions to fine tune her for our use.
Before we “splashed” Windsong II, Bob installed davits for the dinghy with his brother Leo’s help.
Once at the dock he decided to tackle the boat’s electrical system. We wanted to increase the number of batteries we have on the boat so we can go for longer periods without recharging them. (When we’re not at the dock our electricity comes from a bank of batteries located beneath the aft berth. These are used to power the lights, fridge and freezer and charge our computers and whatnot.) This project took about a half a day and involved installing additional wiring and a battery case.
Next on the agenda was installing a battery monitor. This operates much like a gas gauge in a car reading out in percentage how much juice is left in the batteries so we know exactly when to recharge the battery bank.
This picture shows the innards of Windsong II’s wiring. Bob opened up the instrument panels of the nav station to install the battery monitor. Luckily he remembered how to reconnect everything properly.
We can recharge the battery bank using the new 50 amp battery charger Bob just installed. It runs off power at the dock or power from our onboard generator. We can also recharge our batteries using the boat’s diesel engine. Right now it has a 50 amp alternator. Bob’s next job is to install a new 140 amp alternator. That will enable us to recharge our battery bank more than twice as fast.
All this was done over a period of a week or so and it involved putting the boat into quite the state of upheaval as Bob traced wires from nav station to engine to battery bank. The worst is over but there is still the alternator to install. It never ceases to amaze me the puzzles Bob can figure out on a boat. For some reason that I will never fathom, he really likes doing all this — he considers it fun!
All of us
We were also very happy to welcome two sets of friends to Windsong II, a former colleague of Bob’s from work, and an Ottawa-based niece and her family. We enjoyed the visits very much, getting caught up on news of family and friends, while our visitors thawed out in the warm Florida sunshine and had the five-minute tour of our abode.
If a person must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man–a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his or her daily affairs as far from shore as he or she has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free–parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.
But then I thought if I can make it fun and different, maybe it’ll be OK.
So I tried out a technique I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now. It just involved setting up a tripod on the dock and getting the settings right, using a few test pics. Then I had Bob press the shutter a couple of times with me in each position. I layered them over each other in Photoshop and masked off the parts I didn’t need.
You could of course use a wireless remote control if you didn’t have a Bob, but I don’t have the first and I do have the second and he’s always up for an experiment.
The main challenge was the wind, since the boat needed to be in exactly the same position for each shot. But it wasn’t; it was being blown slightly by the wind. But it still worked fine.
So all three of me thank everyone for the lovely birthday wishes I received today. It is so kind of all of you to remember my birthday while I am away. I’m half way through my sixth decade (yikes), and so far it has really been a great one.
My dear mother was reminiscing in a long email this morning about the years in Singapore and my birth lo these many years ago. She loves reminding me how this famous author mistook me for a boy on the cruise back from Singapore when I was six months old. I guess I wasn’t dressed in pink — yeah Mom!
Joyce is still a force to be reckoned with at 85, captaining her Heart and Stroke canvas team for the 34th year and posting her first Facebook post today. I can’t reconcile her activity and energy with her real age so I think of her as about 70. Very self-serving, of course, since that would make me about 40!
Tomorrow I will be heading to West Palm Beach to see a photo exhibit by Annie Liebovitz who has mastered the celebrity portrait, of course. And Friday I’ve signed up for a photography seminar at the Jonathon Dickinson State Park with a couple of well-known Florida photographers. All together a great birthday week!
I’ll close with a quote from Bob. “I’m glad this photo isn’t real, Sherry. I don’t know what I’d do if there were three of you on the sailboat with me.” So I said: “Think about how easy docking would be…” and he sort of grinned and said, yeah, maybe it would be OK…
Linking with Sweet Shot Tuesdays.
Some of you have asked to see how we store all the stuff we need for living (and maintaining the boat) in such a small space.
Sailboats of this size (36 footers) are designed to be self-sufficient for a month or two at a time. That means being able to carry enough food, water and fuel for the time you’re away. Now, of course, you need lots of other stuff, like books [not too many!] and DVDs and camera equipment and computers and maybe a few tools [maybe a lot!], dog necessities and some clothes.
We have found Hunter sailboats to be designed for both for comfortable living and for optimal storage — every nook and cranny has a storage function.
Bob likes to say that this boat just “swallows up” our stuff. Our sailboat swallowed up the entire contents of our pick up truck easily, and we still have room!
Starting with provisions…
The fridge and freezer combined hold more than a typical fridge/freezer combo in a small apartment. The freezer is actually quite amazing. We can’t keep it filled up here. The fridge I have no problem keeping filled up. But sometimes things drop to the bottom, never to be seen again!
Each of the six settees has a large storage compartment beneath it and storage behind the backrest. We use two of these for food storage. Here’s one. We found the perfect size of plastic container and bought a bunch to keep the dried and canned food organized.
For supplies that we use everyday, there are two handy storage compartments in the galley on each side of the microwave. We keep our coffee, condiments, olive oil, salt, oatmeal, vinegars and such here.
Bowls, plates (small and large), mugs, cutlery, cooking utensils, measuring cups and spoons, dish towels and other miscellaneous galley items fit beautifully in the small bank of drawers beside the sink.
Well, that’s a start on storage. There are some other neat features that I will photograph and show you in another post. One of my very favorites is the great design for the kitchen garbage. (Never thought I’d get excited about that, but good design is good design and I appreciate that, no matter what it’s for.)