Moving Back Aboard

With the boat smelling great (see post here), and with the new mattress installed, it is time to move back onto our sailboat and start preparations to head offshore.  First though, we have a few jobs to wrap up.

The compressor failed on our fridge and freezer unit,  which is a rather pricey repair.   We plan to use a cooler until the part can be installed.  Luckily, the boat is currently docked close to 2 grocery stores, so getting ice will be no problem while the refrigeration is restored.

designboardOn Monday, the new upholstery gets re-installed.  I can’t wait!  To refresh your memory, this is the Sunbrella fabric I chose for the cushions.  It is the top fabric in the photo and my curtain and accent fabrics are below.  The Mahi art I had commissioned from an excellent artist in Texas was my color inspiration for this palette.

Also, I am a pack rat at heart.  The problem is not all of it will fit on the boat.  So will be editing our belongings as I figure out what goes where and what needs to be boxed up and sent back home to California.

whats-on-my-boat-appOne reason I need to organize and edit our stuff, is because I then have to provision for the Bahamas.   To help me remember where things are stowed, so I can find them when I want them, I am using an App called What’s On My Boat.

This is a useful app, and you can edit the app categories to reflect your boat spaces and what is stowed.   You may also take a picture of each space, too, with your smart phone and add it to the app.  Have found this app very helpful so far.  Cost for my iPhone was $4.99 US.

On the canvas side of things, Our full enclosure is almost complete, and the 1st shade awning/rain catcher is being made.  On the rigging side, we just need the topping lift installed, and then take the boat out for a test sail.  That’s all!

bahamas-exumas-beach-ddOnce the above gets completed, we wait for a good weather window and take off for the Bahamas.  We plan to spend most of our time in the Exumas.  Stay Tuned!

Fair Winds, Carla

Clean Water on a Sailboat

waterdrinkGood tasting drinking water is something you take for granted on land.  On a cruising sailboat, the water on your boat may have sat in the tanks for some time, often in hot, humid climates.   It most likely will grow out mold, bacteria, and algae.  Something that  I certainly do not want to drink or cook with.

We have 4 water tanks on Mahi, our 43 foot sailboat, which cumulatively hold about 190 gallons of water.   We wanted clean, safe, drinking water on board, so decided to tackle this issue several ways:

Shock the System-  This is where you use bleach to super chlorinate and kill any growth in your water tank system.  You add a formula of bleach to each stainless steel tank according to size, then add water and turn on all the faucets on board the board until you smell the chlorine.  Turn off faucets for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24.  Drain the tanks, refill, drain again, repeat until the the water tastes chlorine free.

Our U-line ice maker presented a challenge, since we wanted to shock the lines going to it, but not through the ice maker itself.  Joe engineered a solution where he installed a Y-valve in the line just under the unit, then attached clear tubing that feeds out overboard though a porthole temporarily.  Once that line is shocked and drained, Joe will uninstall this set up and stow the tubing.

 bajafilterDIY Water Filter– Following these instructions, Joe made a handy device,  called a Baja water filter, to pre-filter water before entering the boat.  We pre-filter water from the dock, from the water maker, and from collecting rainwater.

61WP2okrZRL._SL1000_Galley Under Sink Water Filter– We installed a filtration system under the galley sink.  You basically buy and install a standard size canister (seen left), then add a carbon filter cartridge to it to remove impurities.

thGrayl Water Press– Love my Grayl Water Travel Press.  This is my last ditch back-up step if our water tastes funny.  Works similar to a coffee press, but screens out 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, molds, and anything else in the water.

How We Plan to Obtain Water-The water on a cruising sailboat has to come from somewhere.  We are far away from any docks, and plan to spend most our time at anchor.  This means we either have to make our own water or collect what Mother Nature provides.  This is what we have on Mahi:

Rainman-Water-MakerRainman Desalination Water Maker- This is our new watermaker we bought last month.  It is a portable desalination unit, meaning it converts sea water into fresh drinking water.  More info about this watermaker can be found here.

Catching Rainwater with Awning Attachment-  Our new awning, under construction now,  will also serve as our rain catcher.  You simply divert the rain to your water tanks being creative with hoses and the Baja water filter to screen out any debris before the water goes into the tank.   I will show you how this works when it is completed.

For more information, Practical Sailor magazine wrote a series of articles on this topic in their June, July and August 2015 issues.

Improving the Smell on Your Boat

IMG_3787When Joe and I were hunting for our cruising sailboat, one memory stands out.  We were viewing a 44-foot sailboat for sale, and when we went below, there was a scented candle burning.  “What smells are they trying to mask?” I whispered to Joe out of earshot.  Once we opened the floorboards, the moldy odor was the answer to that. As we later saw more boats on the market, it became clear that odor is a common problem onboard sailboats.

Many boat owners get used to the smell and/or just live with it.  I knew this wouldn’t work for me, because I have a heightened sense of smell. Any boat purchased, we would need to address the odor issue.

Since buying Mahi, and discovering a variety of odors inherent because of the age (23 years old), we have greatly improved the smell on our boat.  This is how we did it.

Replace Any Permeated Hoses– Joe needed to change out the diesel fuel fill hose as it was permeated.  He discovered this the first time we fueled up and the diesel smell was so bad he couldn’t sleep inside the boat.   Joe also changed out all the sanitation hoses as they were permeated as well.  We elected to change out both electric heads or toilets, and regularly use Raritan KO and CP in our sanitation system.   More about “Head Management” in a future post.

boatcleanClean the Interior- I started with a complete interior clean.  I use a bucket filled with Dawn soap, vinegar, and water.  Using a soft sponge, I vacuum, then wipe down every surface, starting at the ceiling, wall and working down.  I need to change the water often as it becomes dirty.  For any stubborn stains, I have a bottle of Spray Nine.  You could always try Simple Green, too.  I also keep some dry microfiber towels for drying off.

Clean under every hatch– Next, vacuum and wipe with a sponge in every cupboard, drawer or side openings in your boat.  I use the same mixture as above. After I dry the space, I line them with a rubber shelf liner.

Clean the Bilges-  This job will be gross, but it is essential to improve the smell of your boat.  I put on knee pads, since I will be bending over and kneeling down.  I start by using my shop vac to remove any loose debris.

Then, I use a sponge to start removing dirt, grease and bilge gunk.  I usually add more Dawn and vinegar solution to my water than usual.  One small bilge space may require 2 or 3 water changes, depending on the age and condition of your own boat.  Use Spray Nine for any stains.  This time, I use an old, clean rag to dry the space.

cleanbilgewoodDon’t forget to also clean the bilge or floorboard hatch and the supporting wood.  These will be extremely dirty as well.  If you have access to the dock, I will also remove the wood hatch and any removable wood supports.  Carefully transfer to the dock for cleaning.  I do this when I have a lot of items to clean at one time.  It’s more efficient and you get them cleaner as you can soap, scrub and hose them off, then set in sun to dry.

Clean or Replace Soft Goods-  Boat odors will happily embed into the fibers of fabric and upholstery.  Sometimes, if the odor is minimal, you can spray with Febreeze and air out in the fresh air.  If this trick doesn’t work, it is time to remove the fabric, and depending on the material, wash by hand and line dry.  Important!  Be sure to research your fabric and how to care for it.  You wouldn’t want to inadvertently shrink the fabric or damage it.

At the same time, if your foam is in good shape, you can also wash and dry your foam.  Linda, who refinished the upholstery on Mahi, was able to salvage the original foam and clean it.   She removed the Polyester batting cover to expose the foam, then she steamed it using a vinegar and water solution.  It aired dried in the sun.  This step may take awhile, depending on your humidity, time of year, and other considerations, so do this when your foam has time to dry out.

PolydownLinda then replaced the poly batting, too.  Batting can be purchased at JoAnn’s Fabric or at Quilt Stores.  Be sure to get 100% polyester batting- either Hobbs Poly-Down or Quilter’s Dream Poly.  Use a 3M spray adhesive to apply to your dry foam, then add back on your clean, fresh smelling fabric.



New Zeno Custom Mattress- It hinges, too!

Mattresses may be another soft good that would benefit from airing out or replacing. On board our boat, we elected to replace the master berth mattress for 3 reasons- I need a good quality bed for my back, the mattress was 23 years old, and to eliminate the fabric fiber smell.

The Result?  We have noticed that we have improved the smell by 90%.  The remaining 5% has to do with having a salt water head, and when you flush, there is a slight odor.   The other 5% is because I still need to detail the engine compartment.

The best complement came from our electrical worker the other day.  He asked how old our boat was, so we told him 23 years old.  He was surprised because out boat didn’t have the typical old boat smell. When we open the boat up and go below, it smells great.

I’ll be honest- it took a lot of hard work, but the end result was worth it!  My nose is happy!

Would love to hear from you about this topic!  Just leave me a comment below.


Refit Almost Done!

cabinfanAll of the refit work is winding down or being completed on board Mahi.

The electrical work is wrapping up, lots of wiring upgrades, new breaker panel organization, plus new cabin fans added throughout the boat for added comfort in the tropics.

12226955_10205394071631710_6698833498002778785_nI chose Caframo Bora fans in black.  This fans has 3 settings, and came highly recommended.  Will let you know how they work out.

Joe also installed the TV/DVD flat screen on the wall just behind where Ethan was sitting in this photo (see right).  We needed to get a fixed mount for the TV, so it would stay in place as the boat is moving.   Works great, plus we can pick up local TV stations through the antenna.

vikingliferaftAlso added was the new offshore Viking 6 person Life raft.  We opted for a stern mounted life raft; we felt that a stern mounted set up was safer to deploy if we ever needed it.  Shown above is what it looks like on the back stern rail.

SwitlikSo what did we do with our old coastal Switlik  life raft?  We decided to donate it to the local Fort Lauderdale US Naval Sea Cadet Corps.  Our daughter, Amy, was a Sea Cadet when she was a teenager, so offered it to this terrific organization first.   Amy had a very positive experience with her unit in California.

Note the location of the older life raft- mounted just in front of the mast.  The decision to change the location of the life raft from this location to the stern pulpit was based on a couple of thoughts- 1) this thing is heavy and hard to deploy from the deck, and 2) In an emergency, there is no way I could deploy this alone. especially under rough seas.  By contrast, the stern mount is in a location easily accessible, and I could deploy it by myself.  It is designed to fall off the boat when deployed.

What’s next?  Our upholstery and mattress are being delivered soon, and I am beginning to provision.  Stay tuned!

Christmas in Florida

merryxmasWe currently have the boat torn apart inside, with some major electrical upgrade work happening at the moment.  That means we will spend Christmas through New Year’s Day at my sister’s house in Ft. Lauderdale, house sitting and taking care of her kitty.  After that, we move back on board Mahi and start provisioning in anticipation of heading east to the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, we have Christmas to prepare for and celebrate. Yesterday, I bought a small tree at Whole Foods, then because all our ornaments are back in California, Ethan and I made some for the tree, using paper clips to hang them with.

95c3d9bf4b944427bd538c8d827a2a47Christmas in Florida is certainly different than back at home.  With 80 degree days, you are wearing shorts and flip flops.  Homes here like to wrap their coconut palm trees with lights.

We also visited Santa at the Galleria Mall.  Ethan has always been too afraid or shy to sit on Santa’s lap for the photo, and this year he was reluctant as well.  Santa Claus was terrific, especially after I told him it was Ethan’s first time to ever meet him.

Santa asked Ethan what he wanted for Christmas and his reply was “play-doh.” Santa then asked if Ethan knew what he wanted for Christmas?  Ethan shook his head no.  Santa replied that he wanted a hug, and got a huge one from Ethan.  It was very sweet.

One last photo to share.  This is one of my favorite photos of Ethan, taken by the talented Nicole Grosman, a portrait photographer and mom at Ethan’s preschool here in Fort Lauderdale while we have been working on the boat.



Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Joe, Ethan and I!

DIY: Foaming Dish/Hand Soap

foamsoap3On a sailboat, where the closest store may be a long distance away, you learn to stretch your supplies.  This DIY life hack is great for both on land and sea, but especially helpful for offshore sail cruising.  An added bonus is this DIY will save you money, too.


Large container of Dawn* Dish washing Soap (90 oz to 1 gal.), existing empty foaming soap dispenser (Dial and Dawn both sell foaming soap, buy one and then refill), water.

* Substitute your favorite brand, but I like Dawn for its de-greasing properties.


Squirt enough dish washing liquid into the bottom of the container to cover the bottom approx 1/4″.  Add water to fill, leaving room for the screw on foam plunger.

I found my large Dawn container at Costco, but that was about 2 years ago.  Yes, one bottle has lasted 2 years at home.  It was the original Dawn, but have also used Dawn Ultra.  This DIY is very easy, but read on if your attempt has issues.

Problem 1: Adding too much Dawn.  If you add too much Dawn solution, it will not foam up and will spurt at you.  To solve, just add more water to your container, thereby diluting the mixture.

Problem 2: Adding too little Dawn.  If you have a very weak foaming action, just add more Dawn to the container.   Easily solved.

51ixegozlhL._SL1000_On a boat, we use Dawn for dishes, cleaning hands, de-greasing bilges, washing the topside, and mixed with water and vinegar for cleaning the interior of the boat.  At home, I have a container next to every sink in my house.

Where to Buy Foaming Dispensers– I usually just buy a plastic one at the store (like shown in the top photo), peel off the label and then refill.  If you want a more designer look for your home or boat, I found this one at




My friend, Denise, loves the foaming pump by Cuisipro, (found on Amazon) which comes in fun colors.  This green one would look good on Mahi!   Dawn makes a green color soap, too.


Bath & Body Works

Doreen also mentioned that Bath & Body Works sells a solid working foam dispenser at their stores and website, too.

Would love to hear if you have tried this.

Favorite Galley Things, Part 1

The holidays are upon us, so I thought I would share some of my favorite galley items.   Please note that I am not affiliated with any of these products, nor benefiting from my recommendation.   If you are looking for a gift for your favorite sailing  or land-based cook, keep reading:

Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker- 8 liter

thThis is the brand I own and cook on.  I love mine.  Every sailboat cook needs a high quality pressure cooker.  It seriously cuts the time needed to cook your food.  I use my pressure cooker at least 5 times a week for  our family dinners.  I cook curry dishes, pulled pork, soups, pasta, chicken, and beef dishes.

Gone are the days when you worried about the pressure cooker exploding.  61SXlsjkepL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_The Kuhn Rikon has a pressure relief valve if you accidentally turn up the heat too high.

Great Foods Fast–  This is a terrific pressure cooking recipe book by Bob Warden.  Lots of terrific recipes to try out your new pressure cooker on.   Several recipes have become family favorites in this book.



Aeropress Coffee Press-

We love coffee and have tried many methods of brewing.  Joe is a bit of a coffee snob, though he gets extra brownie points for making me coffee every morning.  The Aeropress gives you bitter-free coffee, often a common complaint from drip coffeemakers.  We love our Aeropress!


10837166Procter Silex Electric Kettle

For quick brewed water on the boat, I love this gadget because it works so well.  I use it for the Aeropress, for tea, hot chocolate for Ethan, and also for quick oatmeal and soups.  Combine this with a thermos for those long night watches.

thYoGourmet Yogurt Maker

On board Mahi, we are all big yogurt lovers.  Joe happens to be the yogurt maker on board, so I  brought along our favorite yogurt maker by YoGourmet.  We like to pair yogurt with granola for a quick breakfast.

Grayl  Travel Water Purifier

Grayl makes a wonderful water filtration system that is thbasically a water press.  It works like a coffee press, but the Grayl orange travel filter system removes 99.9999% of anything nasty in the water, including viruses, disease causing bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals.  I tend to be rather picky about the water I drink, so I bought myself one of these for the boat.

You just fill the bottle, press, then drink.  Love it!

Collapsible Dish Drainer


Space is at a premium on our sailboat, so I loved it when I saw this collapsing dish drain at Bed Bath and Beyond.  No parts to rust and it collapses down for easy stowing- what’s not to love?

Zing!  Folding Silicone Trivet


This is especially helpful for placing hot pans or dishes on your wood salon table.  Inexpensive, folds down, plus an added bonus- a play toy for the younger kids!  A win-win.

Ok, that it for Part 1.  Stay tuned for more galley gadgets.

Fair winds from Carla and Joe

To Home and Back

homehillThe Mahi crew flew home to California for a quick trip to see the grandkids and take care of some last minute business.  It was good to see our home and visit for a week.   We wanted to wrap some things up before heading off to the Bahamas in the New Year.

It felt good to see our home on the hill.  Here is a long view of our hill (right); you can see our house 12341286_605885922902499_1836539186455848511_nthrough the trees off in the distance.

While home, I took some time to fire up my longarm quilting machine and create a wholecloth quilt to donate for a fundraiser event next March.  It also gave me an opportunity to try out one of my new designs sold through Digitech Patterns.


The time at home was short and went by so quickly.  We flew back to FL late last night.  It was fun to see what projects had been done in our absence, including the new windows and woodwork repair.  The previous windows were crazed and opaque, now we have new tinted clear ones.   The interior is so light and bright now.

snorkelingwebThat means it is time to make the curtains.  After that, I plan to sew up some cushion covers out of microfiber fabric to protect the new upholstery.  A 4-year-old on board is quite messy.  Beyond that, I have plans to make hatch, outboard, propane grill, windlass, and winch covers.  Joe says he is not holding his breath.  He knows once we leave, the call of the ocean will draw me away from sewing projects.  We shall see…

Meanwhile, the refit work is winding down.  We are working hard to  finish the jobs so we can head off across the Gulf Stream after the New Year.  With each job we check off the list, you can’t help but get more excited.

This week’s projects- Bow roller extension being fabricated for our new anchor, New Garmin chart plotter installed, topping lift and whisker pole added, lifeline netting to be installed.  Purchases include AIS, Sat Phone, Calframo cabin fans, and, oh yes- Christmas presents for Ethan!

Fair Winds,   Carla and Joe





Boat Logo & Card

Boat cards have been around for a long time.  It is a way to stay connected with those you meet along the journey.   Many boats have boat stamps, too.   Because I love to design, I decided to draw up a new Mahi fish boat design for our boat cards, that could also work as a boat stamp, too:


Notice I have our boat name, hailing port and website worked into the overall design.  I like this fish better than some of my others I have drawn.  I will have to color the mahi fish, but until then, I thought it easier to do a quick background color added instead.

Now to order a black and white boat stamp, and some S/V Mahi boat cards to hand out to other cruisers.

On other boat news, been cleaning the bilges, a rather dirty job.  More cleaning tomorrow, too.  I am doing the final boat cleaning in prep for provisioning.  Just finished cleaning under the settee in the main salon, lexantoo, also the storage compartments today.  Joe is busy with other jobs.  We also have those crazed side windows removed and a woodworker is busy getting the damaged wood around them redone.  Monday, I meet with the wood restorer, and the company to recertify our fire extinguishers on board the boat, including an auto system in the engine compartment.

Also went to a post Thanksgiving Day party here in Ft. Lauderdale.  Met lots of yachties, or former yachties who have moved on to other jobs.  Ft. Lauderdale is megayacht central, so it is easy to meet boat captains and crew while in town.

Next post- Visit home to CA!!  Yes, one last quick trip home to CA to take care of business before setting off for the Bahamas just after the new year.     Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!


Thanksgiving on a Sailboat

thankful_edited-1When you own a sailboat, your life and priorities change.  Celebrating the holiday is much different than at home.  For me, I am most thankful that Joe has finished changing out both toilets (“heads” in boat-speak)

Let’s face it, replacing the boat toilet and permeated hose is the grossest job to do on a sailboat.  Luckily, Joe is up for the challenge, and just finished changing out the hoses and toilet in the forward head.  What a guy!

FullSizeRender(17)Previously, he changed out the aft master head, hoses, macerater, and vented loop.  So, by finishing the forward head, he will have replaced most of the sanitation system on the boat.

So, what do you do with the old toilets?  You wait for recycle day here in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and you place them out in front of your sister’s house with other old boat items.

This is actually a brilliant idea- to recycle unwanted items.  Your old junk is treasure to someone else.  So both heads were placed outside at the curb and bets were placed as to whether someone would take them or not.  Sure enough, the thrones went home with someone, much to my surprise and amusement.

Head 101:  For all my non-sailing friends, there are basically two types of toilets on a boat- manual and electric.  Manual toilets have a hand pump or lever for flushing.  You literally have to pump to fill the bowl, pump to flush and pump to empty the bowl.  Electric heads, you push a button, or a series of buttons to control the water level and flush.  My boat has electric toilets for convenience.

Some heads use seawater for flushing and others use fresh water.  Most offshore sailboats use seawater heads, because fresh water comes at a premium, and my sailboat is no different.

There is actually a debate among sailors over the use of toilet paper- some flush and some do not, instead throwing the used toilet paper away in trash bags.   (Do I hear a collective “eeewWW?”)  The reason behind doing this is that toilet paper clogs the hoses.  For me, I fall into the flush camp, but use paper sparingly.

I could go into other topics such as composting heads, vacumn flush heads, etc., but I won’t today.    After all, it is Thanksgiving here in the US, and many of us are cooking for the feast or sitting down to eat dinner and give thanks.  Wouldn’t want to gross you out.

Anyway,  I am thankful for the new heads on my boat and for the adventure we are on.  What are you thankful for?  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!