Selling Out!

Sold the Truck this week. Sold the little RV last month. Many trips to Goodwill and the boat consignment shop we have whittled our two big storage sheds to one tiny 5×5. Almost everything we own can now fit aboard Rain Dog. Tomorrow is the big push to fit the final supply haul of spares, extras, etc into the nooks and crannies of Rain Dog. Then the big Provisioning ( groceries) run and we should be ready to leave by this Saturday( 20th, pending weather). We plan to take the ICW to Florida, then on down to the Keys and over to the Bahamas. Would like to head for the Exumas. My health is doing pretty well, we are hoping this trip will complete my healing. We will take it nice and easy, with very few overnighters.

The Schmoopsies


Rain Dog is Getting a New Dodger!!



 Dodger is almost complete. It is a bit of a beast, tall and bulky. We are used to the streamlined, lower, sleeker version. But this allows Brian to stand under the dodger, has great visability, and will allow the rainfly( dodger awning) to be as tall as a bimini. We do not plan on a lot of offshore voyaging, mainly trying to be as fair weather sailors as we can. 




Dodger. I call it the beast, I hope i can get used to its size. Other then it looking ungainly, I love it, very utilitarian.

North Canvas is tweaking the dodger, making it a bit tighter. Also, we have rope clutches that are very challenging to fit a dodger around.


I’ve already started on the Rainfly. Forward edge of rainfly will be attached to tabs that are sewn into the dodger.. The rainfly will extend all the way to our backstay. I made it out of sunbrella awning canvas with a pole pocket at the backstay end to stiffen and shape. This will free the cockpit up of all the Bimini bows and junk. It will also allow us to detach quickly to have a nice clear overhead. My hubby is 6’1 so need good head clearance. On the rainfly I will have velcro sewn at sides and aft edge to add shade curtains and mosquito netting.

The rainfly is about 4 1/2 yards of linen Sunbrella.

Putting grommets in the Rainfly(dodger awning)



Rough fit of the rainfly, just wanted a quick look before starting the shade curtains. The dodger isn’t installed completely so it is a little saggy

Rainfly aft pvc batten. I installed stainless eyes on the pvc caps for the lashing.


I cut a ventilation port in the dodger cover. This allows the clear vinyl to stay protected from UV, while allowing a nice breeze and visibility forward.


Dodger cover mod. Allows a little ventilation and visibility while at anchor or at slip, while still keeping the clear vinyl protected from UV.


New Cushions for Salon


Salon cushion PREQUEL, The Denial Stage :

 The salon cushions aboard Rain Dog are original and really need to be replaced. But Brian and I want to try to get another year or two before going all out on my fantasy cushions.

So I took apart the cushions, cleaned the covers in a front loader (twice) and baked the foam in the sun. I sprayed the foam with Raritan K.O. to see if I could get the 20 year old funk out of it. Worked pretty good.


Baking the old foam in the sun


 No, the foam isn’t pretty, but it is intact, not crumbly at all, quite strong. ( denial stage still going strong)

After all the cleanup and reassembly, I will then make a couple slip covers for all the salon cushions so I can easily wash and recover. So much construction going on in Rain Dog, plus we have a new dog that can get a little confused about where he can and can’t pee, I think the delay in new covers will work out well :). The slip covers will be sewn like fitted sheets. The fabric, cotton, will be washable. I also have some flannel sheets I may convert to slip covers also.


One of the backrest cushions is plywood backed

I bought two yoga mats, $20, to put under the cushions to help it from bottoming out. I may be able to fit it inside the old cushion covers, if not, I’ll just put them between the cushion and settee. So far I’m in $140 buck for the whole project. Hopefully, it will make a difference and buy us some time till new cushions come up on the priority list, so far haul out, and solar panels are priority now, not to mention the dodger! Lord I can not wait for my dodger! :)




Update: Reality Hits, acceptance stage :-) old foam and upholstery is not going to work!

 Returned fabric($90). 

Time to rethink project….



 **************UPDATE 9/2/2014:***************************************************



No use reviving old foam, it’s dead. So we have been without cushions, using our cockpit cushions in our salon for temporary relief on our sore bums. Since I was pushing Brian for a dodger, I thought to make the new cushions myself, saving us about $2500. I will make box cushions. I’m cutting our bottom cushions in half for ease of locker access. Backrest cushions will stay one long cushion.



Layering foam, for the comfy couch feel.

New Foam :-). I bought 3″ of firm lux (50Lb), 1″ of medium (36Lb) and 1″ of super soft foam(12 Lb). In my research, I found layering different densities of foam, firmest on bottom, will give you a nice comfy seat :-). Foam was bought from foam factory (free shipping). Replacing bottom foam only, backrest foam is still fine. My goal, since I’m doing everything myself, is to stay around $500. No lumbar support, no leg rolls, too complicated to sew for my first cushion project. But I think these cushions will be very comfy :-). Fabric was bought at, a polyester indoor/outdoor fabric by Marco( 11yds on sale $90). **Note: in hindsight I should of splurged for the sunbrella. With all the man hours involved, I’ve realized it just doesn’t make sense to get anything but high quality fabric. This fabric will do fine, but next time sunbrella!


  Patterning foam.

I did not use old foam to patterm but make a fresh pattern. Lovely throwing those old cushions away :-).  Sailrite shows a trick using basting tape to secure pattern plastic to your surface so you get a nice clean pattern. First, I lay down some blue tape along the edge of what I want to be patterned. I then afix the basting tape to the blue tape. This insures there is no residue left behind when pattern making is done and tape is removed. I place my pattern plastic and smooth out any wrinkles. The basting tape keeps everything in place while I make my marks.


Sailrite’s method of template making made this job a lo

  Brian and I measured the curve to allow foam to be more narrow and then wider as it travels up the hull to accommodate the hulls curvature.


Measuring for the curve in the hull


Foam is back aboard Rain Dog to ensure proper fit. We used a new electric meat carving knife ( black and decker for $10). Have some pretty deep angles along the hull side of cushion, some almost 9″. Brian donned leather gloves and held knife tip to follow the underside template line while I held the knife handle and followed the topside template line. Sailrite has a great video to explain cutting foam and dealing with angled cuts



Cutting fabric. While staying at my sister-in-laws house for a few days, I took advantage of her big dining room table to cut the fabric :-) sweet.


Nice big table to cut fabric on


Back onBoard Rain Dog, making the plaque for Cushion #1, plaque is the zippered part of the boxed cushion. My very first plaque :-)


First zipper plaque



I made the boxing all one piece and sewed everything together. After adding 3/4 polyester batting to my cushion I fit the cover over my foam…Cushion #1 Done!! :-)


Not bad for my first cushion.


Covering the wood backed backrest cushion. We have one backrest cushion that is plywood backed to convert settee into large king sized berth. I’m using original foam for the backrest but adding 3/4 batting to give it a little more softness. I stapled the fabric directly to the plywood, starting in the middle( top and bottom) then moved to the corners to take up any extra fabric. :-)


Stapling the fabric to the wood backed cushion. I hemmed the fabric before attaching.


Easiest cushion to do!!



 Done!! Next time I’ll use a higher quality fabric. Other then that I’m very happy with the cushions. They are very soft to sit on but do nit bottom out. Mixing densities of foam makes a huge difference in comfort.



Before last cushion was completed my hubby bought me a sailrite LS-1ūüėė




Nearing the Finish, or Rather, Starting Line..


Flashback!! Erika, in the Bahamas, twenty years ago! Delivering a beautiful Little Harbor 52 from St. Thomas to Eluthera. Don’t laugh at the fanny pack! Ok, laugh, it’s pretty goofy :-)

We have set our sights to leave this winter for the Caribbean. After all we have been through these last three years, we are finally heading out aboard Rain Dog :-). My health has improved, my high/low inter-cranial pressure seems to be under control somewhat, thanks to the tweaking of my medications. I’ll update my Broken Brain page for those interested in the nitty-gritty on that subject.

On the boat, we have been burning through our list of boat projects, though we have bunches still to do. I will try to update the blog of our completed projects. My iPad can be very challenging to blog on, and also time consuming. We will haul out in about 4 weeks for a bottom job and several out-of-the-water projects. Here is the list: 

Drop mast:

  • replace all tangs on mast
  • Inspect all fittings¬†
  • Install new VHF, anchor light, and windex¬†
  • Instal spinnaker bail
  • Add safety reflective tape stripes at top of mast and at spreaders

Below water line projects:

  • Remove, inspect, rebuild, or replace, all seacocks
  • Inspect rudder
  • Inspect keel
  • Bottom job

There is more, but that is the brunt of it :-).

We have forgone the compound and wax, figure we can do that at anchor in a pretty place :-). Most of my sewing projects will be finished as I’m not sure when we will have AC for the sewing machine. The new cushions for the main salon will be done. Sheet bags and various lifeline bags for odd and ends will be complete too.¬†

I’m installing a bladder in our dry head from the urine diverter. This will include a check valve to keep the bowl dry and a quick connect for easy removal. I will also have a quick connect plumbed from tank to a through hull for when we are allowed to discharge overboard. The through hull quick connect will not be hooked up permanently. Rather, I will connect into the through hull discharge line when urine tank is full. I will use gravity to drain the tank (by lifting the tank a foot or two above its storage space), then disconnect the discharge line. This way we do not accidentally discharge in a NDZ (no discharge zone). This project will be posted on the Head Project page of our blog.

We hope to leave in late November to early December. In November will have a big Bon Voyage and christening party for Rain Dog and crew. :-).


Long Overdue Measurements of Head

We have had many requests for this information, so here are the measurements.

The head is built on a raised platform from previous wet head install. The raised plateform is 5 1/2 tall. We chose not to build front panel to fit flush with floor, rather, it is flush with the height of the raised head base.

Head measurments

A. Front to back, depth.  15 3/4 inches

B. Width on each side of urine collector, lined up with urine hole drain. 

Fwd. 8 1/2 inches (bow side)

Aft. 7 inches (stern side)

C. Width across front, full width.  20 inches

Dry head measurements

D. Height of front panel, including gap at bottom (i.e. outside measurement from floor to top of panel).  21 inches

** we did not close the gap at bottom but chose to leave open for more foot space and ventilation. Head overhangs platform by about 2 inches.

E. Inside height of panel from base to top of front panel. This is different due to the raised base for original head. 14 1/2 inches tall

***Height of base to urine separator spout, this allows urine spout to sit into 1 gallon jug spout without resting on jug spout . 10 inches. 

Urine separator placement

F. Urine separator sits back from front ledge 1 1/2 inches. And has an aft clearance from poo hole to back bulkhead of 4 inches.

Midlife Cruising

Mid-Life Cruising posted on their blog about discovering other good blogs. Rain Dog’s blog was mentioned (thanks MLC!). Here is a cut and paste of what they wrote, and my answers, as best as I can, to the 10 questions posted. :-) 

Midlife Cruising wrote: The Liebster Award is a project that promotes the discovery of new blogs. If you’re selected for the “award”, you must answer ten questions given to you by the blog that selected you, and then also choose other blogs for the award and give them ten questions to answer. Thanks to this project I’ve already come across a few blogs that weren’t familiar to me, and I’ve also learned a few things about the folks I’d already been following”. I have no idea who started this and what a Liebster is, but it’s a great idea!… and the 10 questions that I have for these bloggers:


Other than leaving family, what has been the most challenging part of this lifestyle?

We are not cruising yet so will answer more about concerns I have of leaving. Leaving family is hard, my sister was just diagnosed with cancer so our departure date will be about 3-4 weeks later then we planned in order to see her through her big surgery and most of her final round of chemo, and that is riddled with guilt! Other than family….I think my health limitations will be challenging. Not exactly the health part, but setting limitations of what I cannot do and stick to them. I’m a very hands on person with experience in boat navigation, repair, sailing. I owned a yacht maintenance company in my twenties and also delivered sailboats through out the Caribbean. Taking a back seat to the more demanding tasks will be hard.

What are your favorite things about this lifestyle?

Well, our lifestyle right now is living aboard, at marina, with twenty projects going on at once :-). My favorite? Sitting in the cockpit in the cool of the evening. Also, love it when storms come rolling in, running about the deck getting things secured, standing in the companionway waiting for the front to hit. Then that tell-tale puff, a wall of cool wind hits and shifts from another direction. Halyards start clanging, boats start bobbing about restlessly. So many nuances to see in those moments, weather is so awesome. Especially tucked up safe in an anchorage or marina, or way offshore. I also love to do boat projects, rebuilding windlasses and winches, splicing, knots. I love it all. I guess it would be easier to say what I don’t like (having the boat on a deep heel).

What has this lifestyle taught you about yourself and/or what have you experienced that you’d never have known as a landlubber?

I’ve lived aboard since I was 19. I can tell you back then it was an awakening, and introduction to the world. I did a lot of deliveries, 20,000 plus miles. The biggest lesson of living in that beautiful big blue world, with whales, dolphins, sunsets, and fierce storms is that it ruins you for a “normal” life. I am restless when on land, unsatisfied, lacking. A part of me is always on the sea. So when I go inland, part of me stays with the sea. When I got sick three years ago and I had to have brain surgery I could not stay on the boat. As hard as everything was, when I was on the boat, I felt calm. During my hospitalizations, what drove us, my husband and I, what kept us strong and determined, was the call to be back on the water.

As far as an experience that I’d never have if I stayed a landlubber. Too many to tell, but my favorite is the whale in the wave. Once, offshore, my captain and I were huddled in the cockpit watching a rather blustery sea swirl around us. Every few waves, which were mainly on our beam, would break over the boat soaking us with cold Atlantic seawater. The waves were pretty high, almost to our spreaders, so about 20-25 footers I’d guess. My captain was sitting with her back to the breaking waves, I was facing them to port. At one point we were deep in a trough, blue wall of water towering all around us, beautiful!! Anyways, while we were deep in this trough I saw a whale swim along side us. He was in the wave, up above us, almost parallel to the cockpit. Big eyes peering down at me. A pilot whale about 15-20 feet long looking right at me, gorgeous!! Never in all my fantasies of sailing offshore, never in all my wildest imaginations, did I ever expect to see a whale above me, to have to look UP to see the whale. The wave rolled under us and he stayed along side for another few minutes. I felt a deep connection to him, so cliche but true. He saw me, looked right into my eyes, we connected. Pretty cool.

I hate to cook, so what’s your recommendation for a “must-have” galley item that I should have on our boat and an easy dish to make?

My hubby does most of the cooking (read all the cooking :-) ). But deep pans are a must, and I love to use a pressure cooker while on passage. Cooks fast, tends to get the ‘canned’ flavor out of our canned food.

[Brian] Must have galley item is a Dutch Oven. I use one of these. Turns the relatively poor boat oven into a much better one and key for braising, which is my favorite cooking method. Also super easy to clean. More about this when I publish my free, on-line, cookbook soon.  Best easy dish: Pork with Sweet Potatoes

What (if anything) has caused you the most anxiety about the cruising/traveling lifestyle? Does it still?

A boat I don’t know, crew I don’t 100% trust to keep a good watch. Knowledge dispels fears. My biggest fears are of sinking and being run down. Knowing the state of the through hulls, that they are sound and we have an emergency plan in place in case of through hull failure. This dispels my fear of sinking. Knowing the person on watch, seeing them scan the horizon properly, 360 degrees every ten minutes (max) is how I learn to trust the watch keeper and this dispels my fear of being run down.

Have you ever seriously considered ditching this lifestyle sooner than later? If so, why and are you glad that you haven’t?

No. I’ve lived aboard boats since I was a teen, I don’t see that changing. My hubby may want a tiny home to ride out hurricane season, we will see.

Do you feel that your health has improved since leaving the landlubber life? If so, how?

Yes. At least, it has greatly improved my recovery. When my heart is where it belongs, good things happen :-)

What do you see in the future for cruisers and liveaboards regarding its population, costs, regulations, and crime?

I’m not sure, it seems the world is less and less accommodating to the gypsy lifestyle, the nomad without a permanent land based home.

What is your favorite past time while on the boat? (or for Emily … off the bike?)

Reading, splicing, snorkling. My hubby loves to tinker, I’ve never seen anyone get so much work done at anchorage! He also loves to entertain, cook, snorkel, read.

What part of the boat has caused you the most headaches/repairs? What has made life aboard easier?

Love our Engel, nice to have refrigeration!! Our head was the biggest obstacle for making Rain Dog a home, after three new heads within a year (really it was a holding tank problem) we converted to dry desiccating head (also known as a compost head) and absolutely love it. So no headaches now, just lots of projects :-).

My iPad erased all my bookmarks a month or so ago, so right now I only have a few favorite blogs. But here are a few of my favorite, along with Brian’s complete list of favorites, minus Mid-Life Cruising who nominated us.

They are:

For fun technical stuff:


Hands down, the best blog I’ve ever read:


A sistership to Rain Dog



For those who have not been nominated already by another blogger, and would like to participate, here are your questions :-)

  1. When did you first catch the sailing/cruising bug?
  2. What are the top 5 items you would not want to cruise without?
  3. What is you favorite moment offshore?
  4. What type of music do you love and on what media? 
  5. Of all the sailors, past and present, who would you most like to share a sundowner in the cockpit with?
  6. What is your greatest fear when heading offshore?
  7. Has there ever been a destination you couldn’t wait to arrive at only to be disappointed when you got there?
  8. What part of cruising do you dislike the most?
  9. What is your Favorite source(s) of weather information?
  10. Since sailing/cruising, what have you learned about yourself that surprised you the most?

Edited with BlogPad Pro

New Hatches For Rain Dog

[Note: This post has been updated with the final project pictures now that we are done!]


We ordered new Bomar Hatches for Rain Dog. The original hatches are falling apart. The new hatches are beautiful, and we got them at a great price, $400 off each hatch!!

After removing the forward hatch and attempting to install the new hatch, we realized the new hatch does not fit…


So I will, sniff sniff, return new hatches and we will simply rebuild the old hatches..sigh.

Here are some pics of the forward hatch removal. It took an hour or two. We used sharp putty knives to cut the bedding which seemed to be 5200. We then pried up at all four corners.



We sharpen the putty knives and came in at an angle to cut the bedding


Got all corners free




Old hatch is out!


Some rot in the port aft corner

Steps For Rebuilding Bomar Series 100 Hatches

Step 1) remove old hatches~~done

Step 2) clean Fiberglass surface of all old bedding material, looks like a mixture of butyl and 5200. Epoxy core, filler where needed.

Step 3) strip hatch of all removable Parts, including hinges, to prepare for sandblast and new powder coat finish.~~~done 

Step 4) sandblast and powder coat hatch~~~done 

Step 5) have new lexan cut, and re glaze.~~~done 

Step 6) install new Harware, dogs and risers with Tef-gel coating ~~Done

 Step 7) rebed hatches with Butyl. ~~Done

Step 8) install hardwood trim ring around interior hatch opening~still in progress! I need to epoxy and paint the trim Brian fit for the fwd hatch. I may have to patch the headliner too. 


We have the hatches back from the powder coating company, $40 per hatch ( done by Protective Powder Coatings in Corpus Christi) looks beautiful!!!! The first set of lexan we had cut came out terrible, poorly cut and some scratches in the lexan($80 done by Austin Plastics and supply). So, second pair of lexan was done by Regal Plastics in Houston, great job, no scratches :-) ($102). 


   Bomar Arms, 2 per hatch


All bomar parts were bought at ($485). This includes 4 (part# p100-00) arms, 4  (part# p100-09) dogs, and 2rolls of Gasket material ( several part# for same product p100-53, p100-51, p100-52, p3000-20, p3000-21, p3000-22)

**Don’t forget the Tef-gel. It helps decrease the corrosive reaction between the stainless and aluminium parts


Bomar Hatch Gasket


Bomar Hatch Dogs


I have the newly painted hatch all taped up, almost ready to glaze. The lexan is just taped in place to get a feel for what kind of edge gap we are looking at.

Bomar Series 100 Hatch Restore

 Here is the hatch after glazing, still wet. Hubby helped me caulk as I faired and then we removed tape. Came out kinda clean, have some goofs here and there but comsmetic. Pay no attention to the acetone can in the picture I used isopropyl alcohol for prep. I used gloves whenever I handled the newly painted hatch or lexan, so the surface was fairly clean. 


Glazing the new lexan, in Bomar Series 100 port

Riser installation 


Riser installation

New hatch parts installed with a coating of Tef-Gel to help decrease corrosion between the different metals ( aluminium, stainless steel), gasket installed, bedded with butyl :-)



Bedded with Butyl, dry as a bone down below :-)

Still need to patch headliner and install a trim ring around the forward rebuilt Hatch. So far, and we have had a lot of rain, everything is dry.


Forward hatch. Headliner needs patch and hatch trim ring installed