Our Refit List 2016- Interior

imageNow that our Refit “To-do List” is complete, I thought I would share all the improvements made to our Taswell 43, Mahi, in less than 5 months.

Because our list is so long, I have broken it down into the “exterior” of the boat and the “interior.”   Yesterday, I covered the exterior modifications for Mahi. Today, I cover what improvements completed on the interior:

  • New Zeno custom berth mattress. Extra plush and hinges.
  • Upholstery replaced with sunbrella fabric.
  • Custom “Mahi” painting commissioned.
  • Navigation station chair recovered in sunbrella fabric.
  • New electric toilet in forward head.
  • All new sanitation hoses in forward head.zenomatt
  • New electric toilet in aft head and hoses.
  • New vented loop in aft head.
  • New macerator for discharge at sea.
  • Replaced fuel fill hose.
  • New Air Conditioning Circuit Boards twice.
  • Wood repair in main salon and in small places around interior.
  • Trash Compactor removed.
  • Flat Screen TV/DVD installed in main salon.IMG_8212
  • New Bluetooth radio installed in main salon.
  • Side windows (4) replaced.
  • Side windows wood repaired, stained and sealed.
  • All hatches received new handles, and where needed, rubber gaskets.
  • New screens in all port side windows.
  • New refrigeration compressor.
  • Interior electrical wiring repaired and brought to code.
  • Electrical panel reorganized and brought up to code.Ethanberth
  • Water tank ascending units replaced- 4 tanks.
  • Water gauges replaced- 4 tanks.
  • 7- Calframo Bora fans added to interior.
  • Barometer replaced.
  • Fire extinguishers re-certified.
  • Propane leak fixed. Joe discovered a small leak back at the tank fitting, so immediately replaced it.
  • New wiring run for new equipment.
  • All lights changed to LED bulbs.

New Electronic Equipment:galleymahi_edited-1

  • Iridium GO!
  • AIS
  • Garmin Chart plotter GPS Map 7610 xsv
  • Depth sounder replaced
  • VHS Standard Horizon
  • Bitstorm Bad Boy Wifi Booster


iridium-go-satellite-wifi-hotspot-device-in-the-boxThis concludes our refit list of jobs completed over the last 5 months. We are ready to leave, once the weather cooperates. Here in Florida, you must wait for a favorable southerly wind, which is actually rather rare this time of year. The hard part is to be patient, which is the right thing to do. With Ethan on board, we want to make his first passage a nice, fun experience.




Our Refit List 2016- Exterior

img_8556Now that our Refit “To-do List” is complete, I thought I would share all the improvements made to our Taswell 43, Mahi, in less than 5 months. Because our list is so long, I have broken it down into the “exterior” of the boat and the interior.   Today, I cover the exterior refit work we accomplished:

  • Complete new Sail Inventory- including the Genoa, Staysail and Mainsail.
  • All new Rigging, including adding a topping lift and extra halyards.
  • New AB 9.5 Aluminum bottom dinghy.
  • Added a 15 HP Yamaha motor for the dinghy.
  • Dinghy ladder, floating painter, and dinghy anchor.
  • newdinghyNew Viking 6-person, offshore, stern mounted liferaft.
  • Custom motor hoist for Yamaha motor with 4 part tackle.
  • Rocna 25 anchor, plus chain rode.
  • Custom bow roller extension for Rocna anchor.
  • Snubbers for anchor
  • Custom windlass handle for manual use.
  • Haul out to sand bottom and paint.12195033_161051114246105_5613568511187493715_o
  • Prop Speed on Propeller.
  • Zincs replaced.
  • Former boat name removed and new named applied.
  • New Magma BBQ grill.
  • Custom rollers for chalks.
  • New swim step shower.
  • All chain plates repaired and sealed.
  • Custom stern mounted pole for all antennas.
  • Full enclosure for cockpit, including Textilene screens when needed.
  • Custom awning for shade forward.
  • New LED lights on mast.
  • New radar on mast.
  • New wind indicator on mast.
  • Mast Centering and new mast boot.
  • New shroud boots.
  • Helm rewired at pedestal.
  • New outlet, plug, and USB plug installed at helm.
  • Lifelines are new.
  • nettingLifeline Netting added.
  • Safety clip-ins added for safety underway.
  • Dan Buoy added.

As you can see, that is quite a list! Tomorrow, I will have a break down of what we accomplished in the interior. Included in the interior is also a list of equipment added to Mahi.

Stay tuned…..


Final Refit Work Complete

It was a very long 4 1/2 months of solid work, but we are finally done with all the refit (boat remodel) jobs completed on Mahi.

In the photo at the top, you can see the last 2 jobs that were done- the custom bow roller extension for our Rocna primary anchor and the front shade awning.

Bow Roller Extension

You are looking at two bow rollers on board Mahi, the shorter one is on the port (left) side of the bow, and the longer one is on the starboard (right) side with our anchor in place. 

Without the custom built roller extension, the anchor would have gouged the hull in heavy seas, and knocked down or broken out our bow light.  Thanks to Tony for fabricating the metal extension and to Bobby for welding it in place!

Sun Awning

The sun awning was also custom made by a canvas artist named Valorie located here in Ft. Lauderdale.   I will eventually have an aft awning made next summer.

The design is based on some sun awnings I saw on Pam Wall’s boat Kandarik, and uses rigging foils for supports.  This makes good sense as they are very strong.   Pam has written an excellent article on this subject, will add a link when I locate wifi.

Now that the work is complete (for now, at least!), I’ll be posting a list of what we were able to do over the last 4-5 months. So glad to finally be at a point to head off for white sandy beaches!  Stay tuned!!

Random Boat Stuff

Living on a 43-foot cruising sailboat is much different than living on land.  I thought I would share some of the little differences.

dishdrainer_edited-1Washing Dishes by Hand– Yes, everything must be washed by hand.  Plus, you do not have a garbage disposal, so no dumping food scraps down the drain.  If you plan to sail, you must also dry and stow the dishes so they don’t fly around and hurt someone.

I use a collapsible dish drainer, which stows easily.  As you can see in the image, space is tight.

Cooking by Propane Stove– This is much different than using my propane stove at home.

stoveTo cook, you first have to turn on the main propane valve inside the starboard stern lazarette, then turn on the gas at the main circuit panel inside the boat, then a switch next to the stove, and finally, you light the burner or oven using a lighter.  There are no gauges, so you have to get a feel for cooking temperatures by trial and error.

Our Force 10 stove also gimbals so when the boat is heeled over the stove stays level.  Our boat also has a set of pot restraints, called “pot holders,” so that the pots do not go flying.

Using the Facility– Called “Heads,” the boat toilet is much different than one that landlubbers use.  Ours is slightly smaller, uses sea water to operate, and when you flush you press a variety of electric switches. One switch empties the bowl, another fills it, and a third will flush and fill.

You also have to use less toilet paper than at home.  Rule #1 is do not clog the boat head.  That is a messy job that- knock on wood- Joe has not yet had to do.  We have to monitor Ethan’s use of paper as a 4 year old would happily empty a roll and clog the toilet.  It is what 4 year olds do.

plytestIn addition, you want to use a type of toilet paper which will easily dissolve because they are less likely to clog the pipes or holding tank.  There is actually a test you can do- place the toilet paper in a clear glass, and if it dissolves rapidly, you can use it with a marine head.  Costco toilet paper does not pass this test, but Scott’s Single Ply toilet tissue does.

It is hard to see in the photo, but when you swirl the contents of the glass, the single ply is well dissolved while the Costco brand of double ply is not.

Mahimaster_edited-1Sleeping– Sleeping quarters are tighter than at home.  Make that a lot tighter.  We have a centerline queen bed on Mahi, but you have to take care and not bump your head while in bed.  You also have to climb up into bed, which is always good exercise.

Sleeping  is very cosy, comfortable, and I especially love the portholes and fans so you always feel cool in the tropics.   I did bring one quilt along for the journey, one I created about 10 years ago called Tropical Poppy.   Before sailing, I enjoyed a career as a machine quilter and instructor.  Off topic, but here is a detail shot in case you want a closer look of the machine quilting:


Back on topic again, these are just a few ways that living on a boat is different from living on land.  Oh yes, the boat is moving, too.  You get used to it, and after awhile, just adjust.  In fact, it is a great way to lose weight without even trying as your body burns calories adjusting to the motion.

Take care, Carla

Waiting for Weather Window

IMG_8409 copyReady to head across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, but first must wait for a favorable weather window.  With Ethan on board, we want to be as safe as possible, plus provide a comfortable sail for all crew.

How do we know when to leave Florida?  We use our new Iridium Go! through PredictWind.  PredictWind’s Offshore Forecasting models will give us a view of the weather a week out.

These are GRIB files that are slowly download through our Iridium GO! and allow us to view multiple relevant forecasts such as wind speed and direction, ocean swells, air temperatures, fronts and systems, departure planning, currents, etc.


Above is a screenshot showing a sample forecast model from PredictWind.  We downloaded the area including Ft. Lauderdale, FL and the West End on Grand Bahama Island.

So far, we are enjoying this weather tool and find it helpful.  This is the time of the year where weather fronts are hitting the Bahamas frequently, so you don’t want to be caught out anchoring on a lee shore when a nasty system hits.  For my non-sailing friends, this means that you do not want to be anchored in shallow waters on the wrong side of an island, where sudden high winds may very well send your boat up on a reef.  This is very bad, so we want to be aware of the weather at all times.

Will let you know when we leave.  I have added a map link on a new Menu page, titled, “Where we Are,” and hope to figure out how to actually embed a map on that page.  Meanwhile, I hope you will come along for a short ride off the coast of Florida:


One of the last steps you do before leaving the US on your sailboat is to provision.  Provisioning means you supply your boat with food, drink or the equipment you need for the journey.

In this case, we plan to be cruising on Mahi, our Taswell 43, in the Bahamas for about 5 months before returning to the US.  Not sure if we can fit that much food on board, but will bring enough food and drink to last a couple of months.  So, how do we organize our provisions on board?

Buying Provisions 

You start by writing down, or creating in an Excel spreadsheet, meals and items you consume on a regular basis.  Include food, drinks, cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids, and paper products such as Kleenex, toilet tissue, etc.    Over a period of time, keep adding to your list.

Where you buy depends on your location. The boat is currently in Fort Lauderdale, FL, so we have access to Costco, Publix, Trader Joe’s, and similar stores.   On some islands in remote locations, provisioning might mean waiting for the supply boat to bring fresh produce or goods.

topbunkWhere to Stow?

Fortunately, our sailboat is unique as it has an upper bunkbed in the forward cabin not found on any other Taswell 43. Cecil and MaryAnne, the original owners of our boat, shared that this was an option offered to them by their Taswell dealer in Texas back in 1992. The bunkbed set up has turned out to be a blessing as it provides lots of provisioning space. Room for twelve bins, to be exact. One bin holds some spare parts, one holds toys and games for Ethan, leaving 10 bins for organizing the food.

floorboardI am currently experimenting with organizing each bin by the week.  For instance, the first bin will hold all the Week 1 dinner items, and any leftover space will hold Week 1 cereal or snacks.  Next bin, week 2 dinners, etc.  Will let you know how this works out.

In addition, we use every nook and cranny to store food, including under the floor boards, under settee, and in all the cupboards.

We often use waterproof plastic small storage bins  (Lock & Lock or similar brand) to keep items stowed dry.  We also utilize double bagging with freezer ziplock bags, also to help in grouping some items.  This keeps moisture out of the food item, plus also any pests that may have migrated on board.

longlifemilkWe also have a vacuum packing system on Mahi, which we purchased at Costco.  I use this for storing dry items such as rice, flour, sugar, plus meats for the freezer.

Because we have a 4 year old on board, we have to store long-life milk in UHT containers.  This cupboard space has room for more containers, which is good because I just bought whole milk UHT today at Publix grocery store.

Reducing Packaging

To save on space, you remove any unnecessary chilibeforepackaging where you can.  This includes getting rid of cardboard boxes, and labels.  Not only does it save space, but cardboard is said to sometimes carry cockroach eggs and labels will disintegrate over time.

To give you a real life example, look at the before image of the Chili Kit.  I removed all the cardboard, placed them into the freezer quality ziplock bags, cut off the recipe, and reduced the amount of storage space required to stow this item.


Notice that in marking cans and ziplock bags, I use a sharpie permanent ink pen, and make sure to write the expire date as well.

Actually, when shopping for food, I will look for the product with the furthest expiration date.  This makes sense.

Other Tips:  Bring on board your own bags, including a wagon cart to haul it from boat to dingy.  Right now, we are fortunate in that we have our truck.

Keep in mind that buying the needed items,  hauling it from store to boat, reducing packaging and marking, then stowing away in place takes time.  If you are doing this for the first time, plan accordingly so time doesn’t run short.

Last Minute Items:  The day before we leave, we will buy all the perishables- fruit and vegetables, bread items, eggs, etc.  I will also be cooking for the first few nights aboard and planning for easy to make meals in case any crew feels queasy.

I hope this provides an overview on provisioning for all my non-sailing friends, or brand new cruisers.  Regards, Carla


Installing Your Lifeline Netting

installnet_edited-1This post is about how we added the lifeline netting on board Mahi.    Lifeline netting is an important safety feature on a sailboat when you have young children and/or pets on board.  Full disclosure- this was the first time we had put up netting on our boat.  If we can do it, so can you. 

To begin, let’s talk about purchasing the netting and calculating how much to buy.

IMG_8330 (1)Lifeline Netting–  I talked to several helpful cruisers  about which netting stands up best to the harsh UV tropical sun.  After careful research, I went with the netting sold by SeaMar Sports Netting.   We purchased the 30-36” netting, (NESLIFELINE2 at .80 per foot).  Keep in mind that the netting will become shorter when you tension it.

I did have questions before my purchase, so I called SeaMar up and they were able to answer my questions.  I purchased some accessories from them as well, but in the end, chose not to use their poly line (too stretchy) or their stringing needle (not useful).  Save your money.

Measuring Your Boat– To determine how much netting to buy, we measured from the bow pulpit, back to the middle of the stern pulpit on one side, doubled this figure, then added 20% to get the amount of lifeline required.  This also provided extra netting to fabricate the gates, plus we are making an extra “safety gate” up by the bow pulpit to prevent Ethan from gaining access to openings there or the windlass.

supplies.jpgOther Supplies:  Long Zip Ties– These are used temporarily to organize and space the netting out, also to add tension where needed.

New England Dacron Cord or Gray Technical Line– We used the 1/8″ gray technical line for the bottom tension, and the white 1/8″ Dacron for all other uses.   West Marine sells the 1/8th white dacron line in bundles of 40 or 50 feet.  We purchased the gray technical line from our rigger.

nettinghooksHardware:  Lifeline HooksSailrite sells a nice quality hook for applying between the stanchions.  We prefer these hooks because they are easy to hook the bottom of the lifeline to.  You will apply with screws and 5200.  We purchased the screws and Hooks from Sailrite.

snaphookSnap Hooks– Sailrite sells plastic snap hooks, however, we purchased stainless steel ones.  These will be used for the lifeline netting gates.  We also used shackles and cotter pins for the gates as well.

hotknifeHot Knife- We used the Hot Knife from Sailrite, however, a wood burning tool or soldering iron could work in a pinch. All ends of lines and netting were cut using the hot knife.

Let’s Begin– We began on one side of the boat, draping the netting over the lifelines. I pulled it taut, and zip-tied the top of the netting to the top lifeline to get our spacing from stanchion to stanchion. Once we were happy with our spacing, we cut off all the zip ties in between each stanchion. I even counted the top netting “holes” to get the spacing even.


Netting Top: Method 1- We undid our top lifelines, backed them out (a two person job), and starting at the beginning, we wove the lifelines in and out through the top of the netting. You want to count as you go to double-check the spacing between the stanchions. I thought it was easier to undo the lifelines and pull them through than it is to weave a Dacron line candy cane style through the lifelines. Once you reconnect the lifelines, you are done with the top part of the netting

Method 2- I suggest you view the Sailrite video on installing netting.  You leave the zip ties in place for this method. Like shown in the Sailrite video, you candy cane the netting around the top lifeline.


nettingNetting Bottom- Joe came up with his way of tensioning the bottom of the netting.  He worked on three stanchions at a time with a long piece of technical line. Starting at the middle stanchion, he tied about 1-2 clove hitches using approximately the middle of the line. Taking one end of the line, he wove it in and out through the bottom of the netting towards the first stanchion base.  He used the Trucker’s Hitch to apply tension to the netting and bring it as low as possible. He repeated this with the third stanchion.   If you have another stanchion on your boat, start with several clove hitches, weave the line in and out through the bottom of the netting, then end in a Trucker’s Hitch to apply tension.  You may also decide to follow the Sailrite video.

Example of Clove Hitch on center stanchion:

Example of Trucker’s Hitch to apply tension to first and third stanchions:

hookHooks-   We added the hooks where needed along the bottom, usually one inbetween each stanchion. Sometimes we added an extra hook if we wanted the netting out of the way of a cleat.   5200 was used in each screw hole to avoid any leaks.

Pulpits and Netting Sides–   Next, we turned our attention to the netting sides at the pulpits and the stanchion right before the lifeline img_8347gates.  On board Mahi, we have three gates.

The bow pulpit was at an angle, which was a bit more challenging to tension and look right. Eventually, we got the hang of it.   Straight stanchions are much easier to do.  Watch the Sailrite video before attempting.

Turning Corners on the Stern Pulpit-   When it comes time to do the stern pulpit, you will have a rounded  turn at the back of the boat to deal with.  If you elect to do nothing,  the netting will bow inwards.

sternbowOn our boat, this inward bow would prevent our lazerette from opening, so we simply candy cane striped it to the corner stern pulpit rail.   You can see the finished striping in the image shown and how it effectively controls the netting.  Now we can easily gain access to our lazerette.


Gates- I’ll be honest, we saved the most challenging task for last. By this time, you will have the confidence to do the gates.  This is where you will need the snap hooks and some shackles and cotter pins sized for your lifeline gate sterngatehardware.

Watch the Sailrite video chapter on gates, however, we found that we didn’t need to do the sewing step where you sew with riggers waxed twine for added stability. It worked just fine without.

Handling the Bow Pulpit Gaps- We didn’t want the netting to bowgateinterfere with the anchoring system, so we stopped the netting at the bow pulpit. This left large gaps where Ethan could easily fall overboard.

To solve this issue, we are fabricating a netting gate  to block access from this area to keep Ethan from falling through the gaps in the pulpit, also keep him away from the windlass.   This gate will have 6 snap hooks and be set up when at anchor or dock for added safety.

Last thoughts about applying lifeline netting for the first time.  It was more laborious than we thought.  Prepare to spend a couple of days to do it.  In the end, the safety benefits are worth it, though.   Please write if you have any questions about how our technique differed from the Sailrite video.  Regards, Carla and Joe

Carl’s Caribbean Marinade Recipe

CarlrecipeOur friend, Carl, was born and raised on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent.  We have shared many yummy meals with Carl and his wife, Cely, over the years.  Carl once came over and showed me how he made his Caribbean marinade recipe, which is below.

Carl’s Caribbean Marinade:

Throw into a food processor or a blender:

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 jalapeno cut up (minus the seeds) (hotter- add more, less hot- add less)

handful of cilantro, basil, cut up and thrown into the blender/processor

small ginger, skin removed and chopped

1/2 garlic, chopped

4 limes* (*first heated in microwave for 1 minute to extract the juice)


Add the above ingredients into your food processor or blender. Turn the appliance on to your favorite setting until it blends like a lovely green smoothie. It is now ready to add to your meat of choice- I’ve enjoyed it with both chicken and pork. Marinade for 12-24 hours before grilling. Yum!

*Getting Juice from Citrus– Carl also taught me this cool citrus trick: To effectively extract the lime juice, simply throw the lime into the microwave for 1 minute. Pull out the lime, cut in half, then squeeze. You, too, will be amazed by how well it works.

Other tips:  Carl uses the squeezed lime half to rub the meat with. He will also save one or two limes to naturally cleanse and disinfection the sink and work space before disposing of them down the drain disposal to make that fresh smelling, too. Obviously, if you are on a boat, omit this last piece of advice as we have no sink disposals

I have fixed this for both family and guests. They loved it. For an easy meal, serve the grilled meat with rice, salad and a vegetable.  A simple, well rounded meal that you can make ahead for feeding guests.  A special thanks to Carl!

Set a Deadline

12400637_196952130656003_3800477396041167432_nWhen you are planning to cruise by sailboat, it is helpful to finally set a deadline.  From experience, I can easily say that if you do not set a deadline for taking off,  you and your boat will never leave the dock.

With this in mind, Joe and I sat down this morning and set our deadline for February 2nd, which is just under two weeks.

We will be ready to leave the Florida and the US on that date, no matter what.  If we are lucky, February 2nd will also provide us an excellent weather window to cross the gulf stream to the Bahamas.  If not, we plan to leave at the first opportunity so that the crossing is safe and not too rough.

westend_edited-1Cruising plans are always fluid, but right now we plan to go from Ft. Lauderdale to the West End of Grand Bahamas Island to check into the country.

We plan to spend a little time in the Abacos, then head south towards the Exumas.

iridium-go-satellite-wifi-hotspot-device-in-the-boxTo get ready, there is so much to do!  I have been provisioning and figuring out where everything is stowed on the boat.  This is harder than it seems because space is at a premium. Joe is busy installing the new Iridium Go! Sat phone and the new wifi booster.  Joe also bought a new smart phone that interfaces with the Iridium Go! product.  I plan to write a future post about our satellite phone and how we get weather files.

Joe also has to buy all the remaining spare parts we need in case anything breaks (knock on wood).  I am also wrapping and stowing Ethan’s Easter and birthday presents to surprise him on those special days.  I planned ahead and have birthday cake mix, frosting, and balloons for his 5th birthday in April.

Now that the deadline is set, I expect we will be working longer each day in order to get things done in time.  We are very excited to get to the fun part- sailing, snorkeling, walks along the shore, beachcombing, meeting new friends, and more!  Let the countdown begin….



Getting Closer Now…

We have been living back on our Taswell 43 sailboat for over 2 weeks now.  Love it, it is cozy, comfortable, and we are working away at all the needed jobs to do before we take off.

mahicleangalleyI am happy to report that Mahi once again has refrigeration!!  It is so much easier to live on board when you do. Our compressor had failed, plus the relay switch.  Also, we needed to up the power from 15 amp to 20 amp service.  Works great!

Here (shown above) is what my fridge and freezer looks like in my galley, it is top loading for both and an additional bottom opening for the refrigerator, too.  I would like to tell you my galley is always that clean, but right now I have a provisioning pile back near the microwave.  Oh yes, a new toaster, too.

IMG_8224Cooking with our propane Force 10 stove is a breeze!  Have learned the settings to control the pressure cooker, too.  Here is a tortellini meatball soup cooking away under pressure.  This dish is yummy!

Last night I made a tasty pot roast dish in our Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker to have with fresh bread.  We can eat our leftovers now, or I can freeze them to eat while in the Bahamas.

Love this pressure cooker.  Hope to carve out some time to can before we go.  Thanks to Behan Gifford at SV Totem, for sharing how she cans with her pressure cooker, too.

IMG_8212IMG_8209The cushions are now back on Mahi.  On my “to-do” list are to sew up some cushion covers out of the turquoise microfiber fabric you see in the pictures.  Right now, I just tucked them under until I can get to that job.

In the first picture you see our TV/DVD player mounted on the wall.  In the second photo, You see the other side of the salon seating area.  Right now, I have the small table on.  This is because it is easier to provision behind the settee and under the cushions with the smaller table mounted.  It will be replaced with the large table once I am finished provisioning.  Notice, too, I have to mount the Mahi painting to the wall.  This is done with industrial strength velcro mounts.

IMG_8195Here is the navigation station with the new chair installed.  This is across from the salon settee shown above.  This gives you an idea for what our main salon looks like.  Actually, we have changed out some electronics since this photo was taken, also covered the empty hole with black starboard.

Now we need to add on a new barometer, too, plus have added our small on board printer back on the right hand side.

Newest purchases?  Wifi booster and a Iridium Go! Satellite phone.  More about that once we get it installed.  Almost there!!

12509112_190273017990581_1863192796116071724_nI leave you with a cool pair of Mahi glasses that my sister bought for me.  They match the boat perfectly, don’t they?  Cheers from Joe and Carla