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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

One tricked out boat......

Hello again!  As I mentioned before, Mark has been working very hard on getting Quality Time ready for our Big Adventure, and this post is dedicated to all of his efforts to bring our boat into the 21st century of technological seaworthiness.  For those not interested in nerdy nautical details, you may want to skip this post!

When we bought Quality Time, she came equipped with a a single 120-HP Ford diesel engine, which of course Mark has tuned up and tweaked.  The "engine room" sits below the main salon, which while convenient for accessing it, makes the cabin a bit noisy while underway.  Please feel free to marvel at the engine's fresh paint job and the pristine condition of the bone-dry bilge area.

Quality Time also boasts a 6.5 KW diesel generator located in the aft deck compartment.  She has twin fuel tanks which can store a total of 300 gallons of fuel, giving her an approximate range of 1000+ nautical miles at a maximum cruising speed of about 7 knots.

NERD ALERT:  "nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth, and is equal to one minute of latitude. It is slightly more than a statute (land measured) mile (1 nautical mile = 1.1508 statute miles ).  

To our great benefit, the previous owner ran his own HVAC company, and thus Quality Time has an awesome climate control system (heat and air conditioning).  LED lighting is installed throughout, which puts much less drain on the batteries when the engine isn't running.  Quality Time has an electric head with a shower, and we can carry about 120 gallons of fresh water to use for cooking and hygienic endeavors.  When at a marina, we can use either two 30-amp connections or one 50-amp for full power capability.  While at anchor, the recently replaced battery of batteries can provide power for everything except the climate controls - (but if we are miserable, we can run the generator to fix that).  And to further create power self-sufficiency, Mark added two solar panels to the top of the boat (260 watts each) which will supplement the alternator in recharging the batteries each day.

The biggest (and most expensive) upgrade has definitely been in the electronics.  For those salties out there, Mark installed dual Garmin 7608 chart plotters (located in both the main deck and upper deck steering stations).  There is now an autopilot system (Garmin GHP 10), radar (Garmin 18-XHD) and an AIS 600(Automatic Identification System).  I am not sure I will ever be able to independently use (let alone master) all the onboard electronics, but I made sure I know how to at least find our geographical location (in latitude and longitude) in case I ever need to call for help over the radio.  I am reasonably sure this will be the limit of my functional knowledge of the electronic systems.  And if you've never been around "real sailors" before, there is an entirely new language and detailed protocols for communicating over the radio, which I will also never master (it's all I can do now to just translate/understand what the other people are saying - let alone speak like that in real time).

Other recent upgrades include a new dinghy (QT II) and DMS (dinghy mounting system - work in progress).  Of course a new electric trolling motor was needed as well to ensure the dinghy is adequately propelled (back up oars available if all else fails).

To more easily deploy and retrieve the anchor, Mark installed an anchor windlass (motor that pulls the anchor chain up and thus eliminates injuries to middle-aged sailors).  It was then, of course, "necessary" to install a wash-down system (pump which allows the First Mate to hose the intracoastal  bottom muck off of the anchor as it is pulled up).  

To round out the operating specs, Quality Time has a length of 34 feet, a beam (width) of 12 feet, and a draft of 3.5 feet (means we will hit the bottom in depths less than this - learned the hard way LOL).  There is a bow thruster as well that helps Mark with docking maneuvers, and the gross displacement of the boat is 17,000 lbs (before we load it with all of our stuff).

As I'm sure you're aware, Mark is in charge of all maintenance and operations, and I humbly follow orders (when underway only!) swiftly and to the best of my limited ability.  I am "in charge" of the non-essential tasks such as helping watch for crab pots in the water, commenting on the wave height as it relates to our travel comfort, and all fender handling responsibilities.  When pulling in to a dock, it'll be me that gets the fenders ready and has to figure out a safe way to get a line attached to the pier.  Sometimes this occurs when a nice person offers to help us and I can throw them a line (I'm working on improving at this, too - it can get ugly if not done well).  If no nice person is available, it gets a little dicier, but I somehow manage to get it done despite many awkward moments.  I am thankful that Mark is usually topside steering while this occurs and is thus too busy to film me doing this.  Here's a view of the topside steering station and upper deck lounge area:

In addition to being First Mate, my secondary responsibilities include being the Supply Officer (keeping stocked on necessities and keeping us fed) and Morale Officer (planning and facilitating onboard entertainment).  I will add another blog before we leave to fill y'all in on what we're doing so that we don't starve or die of boredom during weather delays.

Thanks for tagging along - see you soon!

Monday, September 12, 2016

About us

Hello and welcome to our new blog!  Having never written (or even read) a blog before, this blog will be one of many new experiences for us in the coming months - so please bear with us and our technological limitations.  Our hope is to be able to keep everyone up to date on where we are and what we've been doing as we experience our first Big Adventure (more to come on that later!).

This blog is meant to be a joint venture for us, but I have a feeling I will be the primary blogger (as Mark is generally a man of few words  - and that's an understatement LOL).  Mark is now retired from the US Navy, where he served for a couple decades plus in the Submarine Service.  He still enjoys being on the water, which he greatly prefers to being under the water.  Since retiring, Mark started his own general contracting business "Mark of Quality" (clever, huh?), and he has been loving (pretty much) every minute of it since then.  In his new line of work, there has not been a shortage of problems to solve or things to cross off his "To Do List" - which, if you know Mark, are things more essential to him than food.  He has also been spending a lot of time and energy getting our boat ready for our Big Adventure (will talk more about his efforts in future blogs) - pretty sure he's excited about our upcoming trip!

I am Mark's wife, Sheryl, and we've been married for over 27 years now (wow - that went fast!).  We met in college (Go Bucks!) and married just after he started his Navy career.  There were a lot of deployments, moves, and challenges over the years, but we truly enjoyed being a military family.  That being said, we are both very happy that the Navy life is behind us now, and we have been working to start our "real life" together as both civilians and empty nesters.  Although I was an engineer in my previous life (prior to becoming a Navy wife/mother), I've taken on many roles since then.  I decided to go back to school and became a counselor/therapist, and I earned my license (LPC) in 2009.  It's been an extremely rewarding career for me, and I am grateful for all of the opportunities I've had to try to help make life better for a lot of people.  After much deliberation about whether or not we should go on our first Big Adventure, I decided to take an extended leave of absence from my job as an outpatient mental health therapist.  It's been difficult saying goodbye to my clients, but I did everything I could to make sure they were in excellent hands.  Mark has stopped taking on any new jobs as well, so we will now be able to focus our attentions on preparing for our trip.

Mark has had a lifelong love of sailing (the faster and tippier the better); however, I unfortunately did not share that love.  Needless to say, this was one of the bigger challenges to our marriage, but we've somehow always been able to work things out.  Although I'm not generally an anxious person, I would have panic attacks when sailing, which made it almost unbearable for me (I don't handle anxiety well when it does happen!).  Luckily, we found the perfect boat for us (power boat instead of sail boat), which has made all the difference for me in being able to enjoy it.  Our boat is a 34-foot 1983 Marine Trader trawler (named, of course, Quality Time).  The previous owners did wonders in renovating her, and we are certainly reaping the benefits of all of their hard work.  Not the most spacious, comfortable, or luxurious boat in the world, but we are hoping that we will find it spacious and comfortable "enough" for our Big Adventure.

So what are the plans for our first Big Adventure?  Mark and I will be leaving in mid-October on a boating odyssey down the intracoastal waterway for an undetermined amount of time.  If you know Mark and I at all, you are probably aware that we tend to be "planners", so having basically no schedule on our trip will be an entire challenge in and of itself.  We will learn to be both capricious and patient, as our travels will depend on our whims and on fair weather.  The only "set point" in our entire trip will be Key West for two weeks around Christmas.  Other than that, we can't say specifically where we'll be (therefore, the blog!).

While trawlers are known as fairly comfortable and cost-efficient boats, these qualities come at the expense of speed.  Quality Time's top speed is a whopping 7 knots - also the speed of most casual runners.  We will meander down the intracoastal, anchoring for the nights or pulling into marinas when we need supplies (or a break from being onboard).  We plan to stay within the intracoastal waterway for the entire trip, which is generally fairly protected water.  I will be sure to take lots of pictures along the way and will post many of them on this blog.  Although we will likely have cell phone service most of the time, access to the internet will definitely be more sporadic (so I'll post blog updates whenever I can).

Thanks for joining me on this blog adventure - more to come soon!