We are Documented

FNR is a United States Coast Guard Documented vessel. She is also registered with the state of North Carolina. Recreational boats like FNR do not have to be USCG documented, but they do have to be state registered. Since once USCG documented, always USCG documented, we had to fill out a few forms and pay the Coast Guard some money to change our vessel’s name from Katele to FNR.

Cert of Documentation
Wow! That’s official-looking!!

We don’t know why FNR was documented to start with but Steve is happy that she was. Being a US flagged boat, we have international recognition and that affords us some legal rights and protections when in foreign waters. The further you are from these United States, the more important being USCG documented becomes. Right now, we don’t plan to go very far but it is nice to know that if you need them, you can count on the US Consulate for help.

This Documentation stuff is complicated. USCG Documented vessels do not display their official numbers on the outside of the hull. If you see numbers on the hull, then the boat is just state registered.

A USCG Documented vessel is identified by properly displaying the boat’s official number, name, and hailing port.  And how should that information be properly displayed?  Per the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, “the official number assigned to documented vessels, preceded by the abbreviation “NO.” must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals at least three inches high on some clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. The number must be permanently affixed so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious and cause some scarring or damage to the surrounding hull area.”

Our official number happens to be affixed to next the bilge pump which BTW needs a good flushing.  It's dirty!!
FNR’s official number is affixed next to the bilge pump.  One might could argue the clearly visible rule.

“The name and hailing port of a recreational vessel must be marked together on some clearly visible exterior part of the hull. All markings may be made by any means and materials that result in durable markings and must be at least four inches in height, made in clearly legible letters of the Latin alphabet or Arabic or Roman numerals. The “hailing port” must include both a place and a State, Territory, or possession of in the United States. The state may be abbreviated.”

And, did you know that even though you pay your fee and you have your Certificate of Documentation, you are not “valid” until the vessel is marked with the name, official number, and hailing port as shown on the certificate?

Up until last week, we were not marked. But we are now!!

Aha!  So that's how you get those letters on the back of the boat!!
Aha! So that’s how you get those letters on the back of a boat!!
I just know Finley and Rootie are SO proud!!
Look, Finley and Rootie!  It’s your namesake!

Since we were having “markings” made, we decided to replace the old Cal 33 decal, as well. I think the sign maker did a pretty good job, don’t you?

Cal 33 Decal_Before and After

Uh huh…

Honey, where’s the Tums?

Steve has heartburn. That means he’s stressed. He’s asked for the Tums several times over the last few weeks. I’m wondering why and I ask him while we are lying in our comfy V-berth looking out the hatch at a sky full of stars.

It’s hard to explain, he tells me. I am living my dream but there is so much to learn and do and see. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sure, I had stress at work, but that was stress I was used to. Normal work stress. This is “I’m not sure what I’m doing” stress. Add that to me taking you away from our home, our family, and our dogs and yeah, I need a Tums every now and again.

Okay, I get that. I get heart palpitations when tackling a sewing project.

All the canvas on FNR needed to be replaced so shortly after buying her, we purchased a Sailrite sewing machine. Since Steve used to hang out at his best friend’s canvas shop, he figured making a sail cover, bimini and full enclosure wouldn’t be a big deal. And besides, according to him, the only difference between us and the people who do canvas work for a living is experience and we’re fixing to get that experience.

Uh huh.

We have a Sailtainer mainsail. It is stored in the boom so the sail cover is cylinder-shaped. Steve wants to make the sail cover first. He says it will be a “good” first sewing project.

Uh huh.

We take the old sail cover home and rip it apart so we can see how it is put together and use it for a pattern. We measure, cut, sew, install snaps and head back down to Oriental, confident that FNR has never seen such a good-looking sail cover. We start pulling the cover over the mainsail working our way to the mast. Wait, it must be bunched up somewhere. It’s not fitting. We pull, stretch, and straighten to no avail. It’s too short. Six inches too short to be exact. Perhaps that’s why the end of the old sail cover had ripped apart.

Uh huh. Chalk that up to experience.

We take the new sail cover and the old bimini home. Luckily, adding length to the sail cover is not that big of a deal, but the thought of making a bimini gives me heart palpitations. My mother is an accomplished seamstress and she taught me how to sew when I was a little girl. I can baste, dart, pleat, gather, hem, and sew a pretty straight seam but I struggle with sewing zippers. And, OF COURSE, a bimini has a boatload (no pun intended) of zippers. And, OF COURSE, they are not the normal clothing size zippers. I am looking at zippers ranging from 36” to 96” long.

I watch YouTube video after YouTube video before sewing my first bimini zipper. I rip it out and sew it again and rip it out and sew it a third time.

Uh huh. Chalk that up to experience.

I get better at zippers but we use the old bimini as a pattern for the new bimini. The old bimini was saggy and water pooled on top. The new bimini sags and water pools on top.

Uh huh. So much for experience.

We take the new bimini back and forth a few times trying to get the sags out. It’s not perfect but we’re satisfied.

Since we don’t have a full enclosure, we are going to have to “pattern” one. Novel concept, huh?

Uh huh.  That’s experience talking.

Steve can visualize projects like this in his head. I cannot. I have heart palpitations. Steve tells me that the front curtain is going to consist of 3 panels that zip to the bimini and to each other and then snap or fasten to the deck. I have no idea what he is talking about. The hand goes up. Don’t even try to explain it. Just tell me what to do.

Oh, the Places You'll Sew!
Oh, the Places You’ll Sew!

So he does and guess what? It takes us all day but we make the center panel and it looks pretty doggone good.

YES! I knew I could do it!!
YES! I knew I could do it!!

We make patterns for the other two panels the next day and voila! We have a front curtain!! No more getting wet going up and down the companionway when it rains which, very zen-like, it did that night.

Patterning panels 2 & 3
Voila! We have a front curtain!!
Voila! We have a front curtain!!

Tums? Heart palpitations? Nuh-uh. We have experience!

It’s Just an Update

This is day 3 of trying to be okay with not getting our outdoor projects done. We are trying to be gracious hosts, but Ana has overstayed her welcome.

Luckily, we had dinner with a couple on Saturday night who just got back from 7 months of cruising.  (Thanks, Mike and Nancy for introducing us.)  We spend the last two days reading their blog – www.brumblesafloat.com – giving us something fun to do.  We TOTALLY relate to their experiences with boat projects and are looking forward to seeing some of the same sights when we set sail in June.  Carol and Monty are talking about spending some time in the Chesapeake this summer before heading south again in the fall so, who knows? Our paths may cross again.

That’s another reason why this “who knows” journey is so cool.  Our itinerary is ever-evolving, always-changing, and we’re learning that if you’re patient, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

When I first started blogging, Steve told me I needed to decide if I was going to write a sailboat blog or a zen blog and then target my audience accordingly. I wrestle with that because there are some readers who really like the sailboat stuff and others who seem to enjoy the zen stuff. I always get Steve to read my blogs before I post them. Sometimes, he helps me explain the sailboat stuff better but most of the time he just says, “That’s good, honey.” However, when he read “C’mon Ana”, our conversation went something like this:

S: That’s good, honey, but it’s not one of your best blogs. You’re just giving everybody an update.

M: Isn’t that what sailboat bloggers do every once in a while? Not a whole lot going on, so they just update everybody?

S: Yes, but all I’m saying is that this is not one of your best blogs. There’s no zen.

AHA! Remember, Steve saying that FNR is a name for all people? Well, Zen on a Boat is a blog for all people and has been re-named accordingly. It has ended up where it is supposed to be…for now.

Switching gears back to not getting our outdoor projects done, I decide to do laundry today. Normally, Wednesday is laundry day, but since Wednesday’s forecast is for clear skies and 80⁰, we want to spend the whole day on outdoor projects.

I imagine every cruiser has one thing that they would change if they could about living aboard. Mine is not about doing laundry but about the dimensions of the V-berth.

I’ve commented a couple of times about how comfy our mattress is. We replaced an old mattress with two 3” layers of foam glued together and topped with 3” of memory foam. That’s 9” of mattress in a space that is about 36” high, leaving us with roughly 25” of head clearance. I sit up in bed after a good night’s sleep to do a few yoga stretches and BANG. I knock the mess out of my head. I glare at Steve and tell him if there’s one thing that is going to make me swallow the anchor, it’s banging my head in the V-berth every morning.

Now, when I do laundry, I wash the sheets. When I wash the sheets, I have to put them back on our v-shaped mattress in a space with only about 25” of head clearance and zero wall clearance. NOT my favorite thing to do and Steve often disappears when I do it.

Children, beware.  Steve has always wanted a video of me in the bedroom.  Today, he gets it.  Luckily, I didn’t bang my head so maybe I won’t be swallowing that anchor, after all.

C’mon Ana

Subtropical Storm Ana will drift slowly west toward the South Carolina coast through this weekend. Gusty east-northeast winds and rough surf are likely from Cape Lookout south. Locally heavy rain will be possible along with the threat for isolated tornadoes through Monday.Subtropical_Storm_Ana

Well, you have to hand it to Subtropical Storm Ana. Meandering North-Northwest at 1 MPH, she’s a master at puttering. We’re slightly north of Cape Lookout so all we’ll probably see in Oriental is a little rain and gusty winds.

I’m happy that Ana is going easy on us, but I have to admit that I am a little put out with her. She’s tampering with our to-do list.

I spent a couple of days at my old job earlier this week training my replacement. The Oriental 7-day forecast was for upper 70’s and low 80’s with clear skies and we planned to clean the teak and get started on the full enclosure when we got back to Oriental on Wednesday. Perfect weather for those projects until Ana started forming.

Thursday is spent puttering.

I go to yoga class. Oriental has a great yoga studio with lots of dedicated yogis. Worth checking out if you’re ever down this way.  C’mon Ana.

Steve has a new tablet that connects to the GPS, chart plotter, etc. so he can see them from anywhere on the boat. That’s lots of fun to play with.  C’mon Ana.

The mirrors in the head are bowing out so we head to the hardware store to get the parts we need to fix them. We spend quite a bit of time in the hardware store. Hardware stores have lots of cool stuff to look at.  C’mon Ana.

We try to install a fan on my side of the V-berth, but it’s missing a part. Not a problem thanks to Google.  C’mon Ana.

For our daily walk, we walk the docks. That way, if one of those isolated showers pops up, we are close to the boat.  C’mon Ana.

Next thing we know, it’s time to shower and start fixing dinner.  C’mon Ana.

We picked up two bacon–wrapped fillet mignons from Triad Meat Company while in Greensboro. (Also worth checking out.  Good meat and great prices.) Normally, we grill on our onboard grill, but it’s too windy so Steve breaks out our cooktop grill.  C’mon Ana.

Cooktop grill. A must for all cruisers!
Cooktop grill. A must for all cruisers!
Chef Steve. Note the ponytail!
Chef Steve. Note the ponytail!

Friday is overcast, but there’s no rain in the forecast.  Ana, if you don’t mind we are going to work on FNR’s teak.

FNR’s teak has been sorely neglected. It needs a good cleaning and sanding before it can be treated with Cetol. Looking at her, you wouldn’t think FNR had much teak. However, you think otherwise after cleaning, sanding and applying the requisite 3 coats of Cetol.

This is how we clean it!
This is how we clean it!
This teak has never been so clean.
This teak has never been so clean.
A little teak TLC.
A little teak TLC.
Thank God for knee pads!!
Thank God for knee pads!!

We make progress though and since Ana is in no hurry to get here, we may very well make more progress tomorrow.

Winds aren’t as bad today. We have drinks in the cockpit.  Steve cooks chicken on the onboard grill.  C’mon Ana.

Wait, Ana.  I take it back.  Come whenever.  I am not put out with you. This is Zen on a Boat.

C'mon Ana. You have to admit. It's a beautiful day.
Even Ana can’t ruin this beautiful day.

How We Met FNR

Steve and I start boat shopping in the fall of 2013. Steve looks at online sailboat listings daily and sometimes I look over his shoulder while he surfs. New Bern and Oriental are only a 3 ½ hour drive so we can get up early and go see three or four boats in a day. Steve wants a boat that is completely depreciated so that means we look at boats made in the 1970’s. We look at Pearsons, Hunters, Morgans, Catalinas and Cape Dory’s, all in the 30 to 36 foot range. I know we are looking at fixer-uppers but I am not impressed. Inside, they are narrow and dark with a lot of teak. If the living space is adequate, then sleeping quarters are tight, and vice versa. A lot of them smell like diesel or sewage or, heaven forbid, both. And, if they smell like both, then nine times out of ten they are really dirty. I can handle normal dirty but we’re talking really dirty. Dirtier than even I can clean.

We keep looking. We aren’t discouraged. This is part of the process. We’re learning what I like.

On one of our trips to New Bern, we see a Cal 31. It is not on our “list” of boats to see but the broker wants to show it to us because he thinks we’ll like it. He is wrong. I LOVE it!! Beamy, well-laid out, and clean. I can smell a little diesel but Steve says a good flushing of the bilge will take care of that. The downside? It doesn’t have a quarter berth and since it’s an early 80’s boat it’s at the upper end of our price range .

We keep looking. We aren’t discouraged. This is part of the process. We’re learning what I like.

There’s a Cal 34 we want to see in Deltaville, MD so we decide to go boat shopping over New Year’s. Steve really likes it but I don’t. Boats built in the 1970’s have a lot of teak inside. They are dark and narrow and usually smell like diesel. I am sorry but I don’t want to live in a dark, narrow, smelly boat.

Next on the list to see while we’re in DC is an Islander 36. This particular boat has a lot of structural issues.  We don’t want it but we like the layout. It’s beamy with less teak than other boats built in the 70’s so it’s not quite as dark.

We keep looking. We aren’t discouraged. This is part of the process. We’re learning what I like.

An Islander 36 comes up for sale in Oriental. Off we go. We get to the boat yard a little early. Mike Draughan at Deaton Yacht Sales tells us to go ahead and look at the Islander and then to make ourselves at home in the office. He is on his way.

The Islander disappoints both of us. It’s in really bad shape, but we don’t want to leave without seeing Mike so we go into the office. I start looking at other boats that Deaton’s has listed. I see Maker’s Mark, a 1987 Cal 33. I show the listing to Steve.

M: Why in the world are we not looking at this boat?

S: It’s out of our price range.

M: I don’t care. I want to go look at this boat.

Mike takes us to see Maker’s Mark. It is gorgeous! I love, love, LOVE this boat. It is clean and well-cared for, a turnkey boat. But, it is pricey and even in as good of shape as it is, we think it’s a little overpriced.

We keep looking. We aren’t discouraged. This is part of the process. We’re learning what I like, but we are not finding anything I like better than Maker’s Mark.

We make an offer. Yes, we can spend more on Maker’s Mark up front because we’re not going to spend as much fixing her up. Our offer is rejected. Our counter offer is rejected. We are not getting Maker’s Mark.

We keep looking, and we’re looking for a Cal. We’ve learned what I like.

We ask Mike to show us a 1986 Cal 33 that is also for sale in Oriental. He says it doesn’t show well compared to Maker’s Mark but we still want to see it. The boat needs some cosmetic work but, structurally, it’s in good shape. It doesn’t smell bad and it’s not filthy. Her owner had plans to fix her up, but unfortunately, he got sick and passed away before getting much done. Having seen how good Maker’s Mark looks, we know this boat can look as good or better. Our offer is accepted and despite two tows during sea trials, we purchase her on March 22, 2014.

Second tow of the day. Life's always an adventure with Steve Fisher.
Second tow of the day. Life’s always an adventure with Steve Fisher.

We start fixing FNR up. Some things have to be fixed…NOW.

Air conditioner dies. New Marine Air HVAC system installed.

Our Electro Scan Waste Treatment System cracks on first flush. We replace it with a Raritan PHC Manual Toilet. (I wanted an electric toilet but believe it or not, I don’t always get what I want.) We also replace all the raw water intake lines and the “outtake” hoses are replaced with 5 year guarantee odor free sanitation hose that is so expensive that we order it by the foot. (Steve is tired of hearing me complain about the things I smell.)  A new holding tank and Whale Gulper Toilet Pump completes that project.

If you’re wondering what the Whale Gulper Toilet Pump does, check out this video. It’s rather long so feel free to fast forward to 2:56 for the Virtual Poop Experiment. You will be impressed.

Now, we get to work on our “want-to-do” list.

Boat gets hauled so the bottom can be painted. I clean. Steve and his brother use Fiberglass Reinforced Wall Panel to make a new headliner.

No headliner.
No headliner.
New headliner. Well done, boys. Very well done!
New headliner. Well done, boys. Very well done!

I clean. We make a new V-berth mattress. Two 3” layers of foam glued together and topped with 3” of memory foam. Very comfy. I clean. We make a new mainsail cover and bimini. Sailrite has great how-to videos! I clean. Floors get sanded and polyurethaned.

All shiny!!
All shiny!!

I clean. Water tanks are taken out, and surprise, cleaned. All water lines are replaced so the tanks can stay clean. Steve installs a Raymarine autopilot, chartplotter, and sailing instrument package. They are integrated so they talk to each other. (I don’t understand all of that yet but it sounds good.)  Steve is determined that we are NOT going to drag when we anchor out so we add a Rocna anchor.  And, of course, there’s the recently completed head and galley renovations.

It took us a while to find her and we are still working on her, but FNR is the perfect boat for us. She’s fast. She’s safe. She’s clean. She’s home.