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7 Simple Recipes to Keep a Boat Shipshape

Who doesn’t like a clean house? Whether it be out to sea or ashore, we’ve found a few simple recipes that help us keep Kaleo shining inside from stem to stern.

Yet you won’t find Mr. Clean or Windex lurking under our galley sink.

With just a few basic items that you most likely have on hand (water, vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil), you can do almost all of your household cleaning, save money, and keep your home free of the toxins found in many store-bought cleaning products.

Here are a few recipes that will help you do most of your everyday cleaning:

General Surface Cleaner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon tea tree oil

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and use to clean general surfaces such as counter tops, sinks and the stove. Do not rinse.

Tea tree oil is antiseptic, germicidal, antifungal, and antibacterial agent making it a very effective surface cleaner.

Mold and Mildew Eliminator

Using the same recipe as above, wipe down surfaces in high-mold or high-humidity areas. Tea tree oil is a natural fungus fighter but if you encounter large amounts of mold, or black mold, however, call a mold-removal specialist.

Head (Toilet) Cleaner

  • 50% water
  • 50% white vinegar

Mix in a small spray bottle and use for head surfaces, the toilet bowl and wiping down the gel coat shower pan. If you’re concerned about the smell of vinegar, you can add a few drops of essential oil to your mix, but know that the odor of vinegar disappears as it evaporates.

In addition, about once per month we run a pint of undiluted white vinegar into the toilet, flush once and let it sit overnight to fight the salt water deposits that build up.

Glass Cleaner

  • 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle for an effective glass cleaner. It also works well on the chrome faucets in the galley and head and even on the stainless steel dorades and rails on deck.

Trash Can Deodorizer

Mix the two ingredients thoroughly, ensuring all lumps are removed. Place a (fresh) piece of absorbent cloth on the bottom of the trash can and sprinkle this mixture over it. Change the pad and deodorizer every other week or so.

A few other natural deodorizers

  • Boil 1 tablespoon of vinegar in 1 cup of water to eliminate unpleasant cooking odors
  • Baking soda is excellent for absorbing odors in the fridge or icebox

Laundry Detergent

  • 4 cups of water
  • ⅓ bar of natural soap, grated
 (this is where the scent will come from in the detergent, so go with something you like)
  • ½ cup washing soda (not baking soda)
  • ½ cup of Borax (20 Mule Team)
  • 5-gallon bucket for mixing
  • 3 gallons of water
  • (optional) A few drops of scented oil such as tea tree or lavender which will overpower the soap (especially if you choose unscented)

First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours and it’s ready to go. Use 3/4 cup per full load. You can store this in gallon jugs aboard and fill a water bottle to take to the laundromat.

Bug Trap – Not really a cleaning product but one we use when those nasty fruit flies visit.

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 drops of dish soap

Cut the top off a small plastic cup. Add apple cider vinegar and drops of dish soap. Place on your kitchen counter and within minutes the little buggers will be swimming. Apple cider vinegar attracts the bugs and the dish soap traps them on entry.

Happy (and healthy) cleaning!

Looking Forward While Celebrating 2010

As we look forward to what 2011 has in store for us, we reflected on our blessed-beyond-belief 2010. This has been a year of big changes, new beginnings and celebrations galore.

Looking forward to a walk like this soon

The first part of our year was filled with starting more projects than we finished on Kaleo, learning as much as we could aboard, as well as through Seven Seas University courses, and spending a few freezing weekends planning for warmer weather projects.

Spring brought warmer weather, some great sailing in Galveston Bay, the wedding of our dear friends, Amy & Jeph, and Christie’s parents’ 35th wedding anniversary in April.

May was a landmark month as we became officially debt free, gaining financial freedom. We also moved from our 1,400 square foot townhome to a 650 square foot studio apartment to better prepare for our life aboard Kaleo. And, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at The Joule, were we stayed on our wedding night. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

With the Texas summer heat came lots of family and friends visiting the boat, marina BBQ’s, and more boat projects. And in June, the “Cyclin’ Sailors” geared up for our 4th annual Urban Assault Race in Austin!

The Fourth of July was shared with the Wilborns by sailing and watching incredible fireworks shows while anchored out in the bay. Then, we jetted to Coeur D’ Alene, ID to celebrate the newest Butchers, as Matt’s brother Jeff married his bride, Meloney. We topped off the trip to the Northwest with an incredible experience of sleeping 50′ off the ground in the boughs of a giant, old Washington Red Cedar Tree at Cedar Creek Treehouse and touring Mt. Rainier National Park. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

While the summer heat continued to bake us, we enjoyed a shakedown cruise to Galveston with the Kryzaks and a sailing weekend with The Powers. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

The fall brought a trip to Minneapolis to celebrate Grandma Butcher’s 90th birthday, visit with family and to Trader Joe’s to stock up on our favorite snacks. The realization that we were now within one month of tossing the docklines helped us get a lot of boat projects wrapped up almost every weekend.

October was a big month as Matt took his leave of absence from work, Christie resigned from her job, we moved out of our land home and aboard Kaleo full-time, sold a car and put another one in storage along with our belongings. We soaked up treasured time with loved ones and were given three outstanding Bon Voyage parties. We also got to celebrate the marriage of Ben and Carly (Matt’s cousin) and spent time with family in San Diego. Of course, we managed another trip to Trader Joe’s for more provisions.

November 8th marked the beginning of our cruising life. Before leaving the dock, we met up with some cruising mentors, The Sittons, and celebrated Christie’s birthday with family and a dear friend, Crystal, aboard. The month was filled with a host of new experiences – from adjusting to life aboard to overcoming unknown challenges and navigating new waters to connecting with new friends along the way. We topped it off with a roadtrip from Mississippi to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with family.

The year wrapped up by crossing the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. It was on those passages that we learned to love the open ocean, more fully appreciate warm days and spent time digging our toes into our first white sandy beach. Christmas with shared with family and friends in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida and we were back home aboard Kaleo on New Year’s Eve.

We welcomed the new decade with the most unusual of celebrations for us at this time of year. The clock struck midnight as we pushed two carts down the isles of a 24-hour Walmart. We laughed and shared a little “Happy New Year” smooch in the canned goods aisle and continued provisioning in preparation for the Bahamas and beyond. Yes, really. Oh, the cruising life ;o).

Thank you for joining us as virtual crew along this adventure. It means a lot to us. We wish you peace, blessings and togetherness in your new year!

We’re ready for 2011 and believe the best is yet to come. God has even more amazing things He wants to do in and through our lives so we’re straining to what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Working To Get There

We have so much to share about preparing to cruise but with working 100% at our jobs and 100% on or sailing Kaleo on the weekends, we’ve had little time to blog about it.

We’re excited to say that Kaleo is closer than ever to being cruise ready!

In the past couple of weeks we’ve:

  • Solidified our initial cruising route. Details to come.
  • Learned a ton about provisioning (SSU Provisioning course) and have started building our master provisioning list.
  • Taken a cruising first aid course, and with the help of Matt’s paramedic/firefighter brother decided on our ship’s medical kit, the Marine 1000.
  • Completed the design of Kaleo’s electrical system (which needs to be redone) with help from Scott at SLTF Marine.
  • Chosen the best anchor chain (5/16” G40) and length (200 ft) to replace Kaleo’s current rusted chain and rope rode.
  • Decided on our integrated communications setup after watching Communications Alternatives for Cruisers on Seven Seas U. We are forgoing a satellite phone, and starting out with a WiFi extender, international cell phone that accepts local SIM cards, Skype, the SPOT tracker, SSB receiver and of course VHF.
  • Learned more about the optimal fridge/freezer setup through another SSU class. We’ve decided to test our current system out for a few months before re-insulating the fridge.

There is still much to learn and a few final decisions to make, like settling on our chart plotter and solar panels.

We’re also still debating (and exhaustively researching) a hot water heater and watermaker. Any guidance or experience you’ve had with or without them is always welcome.

What Would John Brown Do?

We just spent a full weekend aboard where we gained greater confidence and even more excitement about our sailing dream. In short:

  • We bought a great outboard motor for the dinghy and explored the waterways around our marina with it
  • Discovered the Clearlake Shores Farmer’s Market where we found fresh, local food to enjoy and share
  • Reached new heights as Christie was hoisted up the mast to plan for mounting our new LED tricolor/anchor light
  • And were coached and challenged to sail Kaleo to her full potential with a sailing lesson from John Brown of Sea Lake Yacht Sales

Christie’s view of Kaleo from the top of the mast

We started Saturday early at the Farmer’s market, then Christie’s parents joined us for breakfast and delivered our boat registration stickers. They stuck around for the show as Christie was hoisted up the mast. After snapping a few photos and taking in the view she came down so we could prep for our sailing lesson with John. John is a yacht broker and ASA certified sailing instructor who came aboard to spend the afternoon teaching us how to trim (sailing term for adjust) and shape the sails.

This was one of the most beneficial afternoons sailing and I’d recommend it to any sailor, no matter your skill level. We expected that John would show us just how far Kaleo could heel (the way a sailboat leans when sailing) while going faster but it was quite the opposite. He coached us on how to sail the boat with less heel, while going faster, making us more efficient sailors. We were also challenged to point higher into the wind than we’ve ever been able to. We even got to fly our (very bright) spinnaker and ran wing-on-wing back to port. We really enjoyed having John aboard as he has a wealth of knowledge and generously shares it. If you sail in the Galveston Bay area, we suggest you book a lesson with him.

That evening turned into a neighborhood gathering as a few of us got together in the cockpit of a neighbor’s boat and talked until the wee hours. During the conversation we made a plan for a three boat trip to Freeport in about a month. It will be another chance to build and refine our sailing skills. Sunday we wrapped up a few boat projects and planed for Matt to rebuild the anchor locker next weekend.

Rightsizing: When Less Becomes More

One of the most significant changes from a land-based life to cruising will be moving into approximately 100 square feet of living space aboard Kaleo. Fortunately the backyard will be the size of an ocean.

This week we made a significant decision that will help us better prepare for the move aboard and more importantly, help us rightsize our life. We are moving from our 1,400 square foot town home to a 650 square foot studio apartment.

We’re betting that life will be just fine with less. Less to distract, less to clean, less to maintain, less to worry about. And most importantly “less” will allow us to focus on the “mores” in life. More time together, more chances to experience the world, more money to help others, more focus on the joys of life.

Here are a few tips we’re learning in our rightsizing adventure:

  • Have a friend or family member help you. They don’t have the emotional attachment or remember the price you paid for something that you never use.
  • Make a deadline (moving helps that) in which you have to reduce the stuff in your home by 30%.
  • Start treating space as a commodity rather than your things.
  • Before you buy something, decide where it will go. Loving it in the store doesn’t usually translate to loving it three years later when it’s stored in an overcrowded closet.
  • Shop your living space. Would you re-buy that chair? That lamp or rug? If not, it might be time to release it and not replace it.

This process may sting a little now but we believe this intermediate step will be an easier adjustment than going from 1400 to 100 at once. Gotta get back to packing and Craiglisting.

AIS Class Report

As mentioned in an earlier post we’ve been taking classes offered by the Seven Seas Cruising Association‘s university “SSU“. Matt just wrapped up watching the recording of the free session “AIS”.

AIS, which stands for Automatic Identification System, is a standardized navigation safety system originally developed as a collision avoidance tool to enable vessels to electronically “see” each other in all conditions and improve the helmsman’s information about the surrounding environment. For vessels equipped with the system, AIS provides such information as vessel position, course, speed and navigational status (under way, at anchor, etc.), as well as its name and type (sail, power, tug, ferry, etc.).

While Matt already understood the basics of AIS and was planning on including the system in our navigation equipment refit, this class helped him make some final decisions on the right equipment and the right setup.

This course went into much greater detail (differences in AIS class types) but some noteworthy things we took away were:

  • Receive/broadcast (Class A) AIS systems aren’t really worth it for small recreational vessels. Receive-only (Class B) is our best solution.
  • VHF antenna splitters are not a good solution, it’s best to have a dedicated AIS antenna.
  • VHF antennas can not be mounted closer than approx. 3 feet apart.
  • And most importantly, no matter how advanced safety equipment is on board, it’s never an excuse to stop following basic safety protocols (like consistently scanning the horizon while sailing and maintaining active watches).

This is a fairly technical subject, if you’d like to know more we recommend further reading at Vesper Marine and GTS Consulting.

(Steven Gloor of GTS taught the SSU AIS class)

Cruising Curriculum

Every time we visit Kaleo, we learn a lot. Sometimes it’s about how to best trim the sails for the fastest speed or for a more comfortable ride. Sometimes (everytime) it’s about how a planned project takes more time and money than expected. And often it’s about loving the idea of a life aboard with each new experience.

But when we are away from the boat (which is most of the time as we don’t live in the same city as our beloved vessel) the education doesn’t stop. Of course we learn a lot from books we’re reading and blogs we follow but the latest addition to our education stable have been classes from the Seven Seas University. SSU is the online education portal of the Seven Seas Cruising Association.

SSU offers a number of online courses on various cruising subjects that can be taken online in a webinar format. These classes allow an instructor to take students through a slideshow while they voice over and sometimes teach via video. We will post topline learning from each session but in the meantime here is a list of the courses we’ve taken so far:

  • Celestial Navigation
  • What you really, really need to know about yacht insurance
  • Emergency Protocols You Must Have
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System)
  • Island Hopping to the Caribbean
  • First Aid Afloat

Stay tuned for the highlights of what we’re learning.

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