Breakfast Aboard Devilfish

An easy boat breakfast!

Picture this: the early morning sun has woken you by slipping through the windows, brushing your eyes with warmth and light. It’s so quiet… The boat is almost imperceptibly rocking and there is a gentle spring breeze caressing your face from the open porthole next to your bed. A stretch of your aching muscles reminds you of all the work you put in yesterday… Continue reading “Breakfast Aboard Devilfish”

April 14 – questions and answers

Taking a huge leap of faith!

I will start this post out with a statement and the subsequent questions it has raised.

April 14 is a very important day for us.

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Feelin’ Flaggy

Did you know there are rules and etiquette for flags on boats? It makes sense since there are rules governing nearly every aspect of our lives and boating is positively steeped in tradition. Of course it is important to know these things, but you can’t know what you don’t know until you know, you know?

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The night the boat cried

Crying cats and a recipe for hearty boat soup.

I’ve gone on a bit in the past about cooking and cookbooks. Recently I have found it remarkable that I am referencing my cookbooks less as I become more comfortable with cooking aboard. I sometimes look at them for inspiration but I seem to pull a lot of “recipes” out of thin air based on what we have in the cupboards at the time. What is this world coming to?

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Electronics Revisited

In which I realize that there is a lot I don’t know about electricity.

I have thrown around electrical terms in the past, amps for instance, like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t. I thought I was quite clever with my whole look at the needle on the ammeter and that’s how much electricity is flowing through the system strategy. Turns out I need a much better strategy and it involves maths.

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Boats and Mermaids!

Having a willing partner to share a dream with: A little valentines day story.

When I was a little boy, my days after school were spent out on my grandparents farm.  It was a magical place, complete with an old dirty barn and acres of pasture.  As most boys would, I spent a great deal of my time in the old barn rifling through all of the farm implements, scrap wood and wire, tools… My grandfather was a tool guy.  He had a tool for most things and another tool for everything else.

Grandma and Grandpa Reed!

Much of this stuff had been collected for many years and really showed its age.  Imagine hand drills and old rusty saws, mixed in with brand new gig saws, electric saws, and an old table saw…(The only tool I wasn’t allowed to touch…Think severed appendages…)  Now the reason I was always messing around in the barn was in order to build things with all of the wonderful scrap wood I could find there.  And what did I build, you might ask?  Boats. I always built boats. 

The farm had three pastures of cattle grazing land and meandering through all three was an irrigation ditch.  I spent hours of my youth on that ditch… Wading, basking, and floating boats.  I built various types of boats: Long and fast, round and maneuverable, and ornately styled ones (that usually sank like rocks.) 

My parents helped a lot.  They sent me on a  fantastic sailing adventure in the San Juan Islands not once, but twice!  ( I absolutely loved it.


We vacationed on Orcas Island where I got my first taste of the helm!

Notice the steely eye’d concentration and proper use of a PFD!

 This boat building continued for most of my youth… stopping sometime before I discovered cars and girls… but I never really got them out of my head.

Fast forward to 2014.  I’m a relatively successful airline pilot enjoying living in Manhattan.  I spend my days flying airplanes and enjoying all of the delights The City has to offer. 

Day job…

I’m in my 18th year of marriage now and suddenly out of the blue my beautiful bride says something to the effect of: We should buy and boat and live on it.

BANG!  Full stop.

Suddenly all of the love of boats comes flooding back.  I was dumbstruck.  I think I mumbled something lame like: That sounds like fun.  I’m not sure If I fully believed her.  Moving out of our awesome NYC pad had literally not been in the cards 30 seconds prior to this statement.  But she was serious. 

That brings me to why I think I’m married to the best girl in the world:

Debby is fond of telling me that I’ve always had the sea in my blood.  She, of course, is right. (lesson one for all newly wedded men.)  I just never realized how much it was in her blood. We’ve been married long enough to be at that finish the other’s thought point.  I feel like we are one person some days.  She knows everything about me, good and bad, and she still likes me!  I for my part can’t believe how lucky I am to have her! I have found that illusive mythical sea creature… That mermaid of lore… I have found a wife that genuinely and passionately enjoys sailing and living aboard a boat!

When d and I moved aboard, (selling most of 20 years worth of possessions) and took on this totally new lifestyle, she didn’t even blink.  Give up our amazing NYC apartment…  No problem she said,  “It was my idea!”  When we had huge issues with the initial purchase and pre-launch refit, she hammered through it like a trooper.  All of the cleaning, scraping, chipping.  The lack of hot water. No toilet while I fixed ours… Everything was accomplished without a complaint, and with complete solidarity with me.  Not only is she mentally on board, but I literally couldn’t have accomplished most of my repair work without her.  From the beginning we have attacked this move with the belief that she should be able to do anything I can do.  She is fully committed to this process.  She is learning to drive and land the boat.  She is learning all of the sails, lines and rigging.  She will be a fully qualified Captain…err, Commodore!  Her touch is everywhere aboard Devilfish.  Her focus on this life is complete.   

Debby has been asking me to write a blog post for some time… sorry for taking so long darling.  May this be the first of many… assuming you all want to hear my thoughts in the future.

Happy Valentines Day love!  May our adventures never end!

Kayaks are fun

In which we talk ourselves in to buying kayaks and don’t regret it.

We have a soft spot in our hearts for all things Seattle, having spent our early lives in and around the area. Rain? Check. Coffee? Check. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains? Double check. REI? Swoon.

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Climbing the mast or, what’s a topping lift?

Where Peter climbs to the top of the mast. Twice.

One of the first things that new neighbors said when we arrived two summers ago was where’s your topping lift? Uh…what? So much to learn… A topping lift is a line that runs from the top of the mast to the back of the boom so it doesn’t crash down on the heads of sailors. We don’t have one.

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The Wheel in the Boat keeps Breakin’

In which we swap our old broken wheel for a spiffy folding one.

The wheel is an important part of any boat. Ours was original circa 1987 and not in the best shape.

surveyor wheel
The photo the surveyor took…

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Boats, boats, boats!

Here in New York City we get the best boats. Case in point: Spirit of Bermuda, a three-masted sloop modeled after an 1831 painting of a Royal Navy sloop-of-war. This beautiful ship was tied up just two docks away from us this summer. We rowed over in our little inflatable dinghy, chatted with the crew, and checked her out.

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30 amps of power

I’ve mentioned electrics aboard. We have 30 amps of power running to our electrical panel and bad things can happen if the power needs go over that or have a big sustained draw. By “bad things” I mean tripping a breaker (which I have done), or overheating the circuits, or something else which is mysterious and ominous.

Ammeter. **authors note: this is an image of our DC system, not the AC ststem. so, wrong picture. i still have much to learn.
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Are you ready for a Yeti?

In North Carolina we purchased two coolers to hold beer and other necessities like food. They were blue and had handles and wheels to drag them around (which didn’t come in handy on the boat); fairly standard affairs. However, there were two noteworthy things about them:

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Twas bilgy and the slithy toves…

My boaty learning curve has been steep and it’s not over yet. Take, for instance, a bilge. Two years ago, if someone had said the word bilge to me, I would have guessed it came from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky:

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It’s called brightwork.

The time between this post and the last post was brought to you in part by Lola, who chewed through my computer power cord.  Thanks Lola!

Where was I? Oh yes, fixing the boat…

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Fair thee well

I forgot something when I recounted the steps needed to get from nasty rust to “nice boat!”: smoothing the fairing compound.

We (and by we I mean Peter) heaped and scraped and pushed gloopy fairing compound into the primed rust divots. Wet fairing compound is impossible to get perfectly smooth; it either is built up too low or too high.  Too high means it has to be sanded off; too low means more needs to be heaped on top, left to cure, then sanded off.

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fairing is fairly fair

I struggled with what to call this post because there are so many jokes and just one title. It could have been called My Fairing Lady

or: all’s fair in love and boating.

or: my life my boat isn’t fair.

If you are unclear whether I’m making jokes or writing gibberish, read on.

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The prime directive

After Ospho comes primer in our Rust Repair Odyssey.

Primer: just like what a normal person (read: non-steel boat owner) uses under any type of paint if they’re doing the job right.  We want to do the job right (caveat in this post notwithstanding) so we are applying primer.

It is a fancy-pants two-part primer formulated for metal and costs no more for a pint-sized container than does a good dinner out in Manhattan.

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What is this Ospho stuff and why should I care?

This is the question you might be asking.  See here and here for previous references; I’m sure I have piqued your interest.  (I had never asked this question before buying a steel boat simply because I had never heard of Ospho.  It’s not something that comes up as a topic of conversation in the circles I run in.  So…you’re welcome for broadening your horizons.)

Ospho, for those who are just dying to know, is a rust converter.  It converts iron oxide into iron phosphate.  At least that’s what it claims.  I know that a large bottle of it came with the boat, that it smells like Death’s ass, and it turns rusty steel black.

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The family who chips together

…must own a steel boat.

If you’re a regular reader you know that I like to kvetch about the state of our boat.  Reference all previous posts for shining examples.

If you’re not a regular reader let me catch you up to speed: we live aboard a steel boat that is nearly 30 years old.  It wasn’t taken well taken care of for a few years. We are fixing it and, though everything that sits in the water is safe/repaired/rust free, our deck is rusty and we aren’t willing to pay someone to fix it when we can just as easily do it ourselves (read: we don’t want to spend the money).


Up to speed.

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Begin with the end in mind

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey wrote that in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s habit #2, as I just found out.  I’ve read that book, truly I have, and though the other six of those habits elude me at the moment, this one obviously left an impression.  Maybe I should read it again…

Anyway, I don’t believe that my particular scenario of backward-working was what he had intended with this particular Successful-Person habit.

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Oh the sewing machine, the sewing machine

I can’t help it.  I am a product of my impressionable youth (which I’ve recounted before).  Every time someone says the words Sewing Machine I sing this song from The Perils of Pauline.  I saw the movie when I was Single Digits Old and my brain had room for Show Tunes.  At least now I sing it in my head because someone says Sewing Machine an awful lot in my line of work.

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