Projects & Plans (in North Beach, MD)

“Plans” is really a misnomer, since we really only have some vague intentions for the year (sail south being at the top of the list, but even that wavers a little when I look at the calendar and do the math and determine that at our often-slower-than-planned-speeds we’ll probably arrive around the same time the 90*F weather does… but hey, north for the winter and south for the summer does seem to be right in line with how we tend to end up doing things! Bucking the trend, I say).

Cockpit views on our Sabre 42 liveaboard sailboat

I digress 🙂

After a nice long Christmas visit to BC, we’ve been back on Brio II for just over a week, and we’ve been making pretty good progress on the project front!

New alternator for our Sabre 42 sailboat

A new alternator is in, complete with new wiring. It started as a simple swap-out, but as Jon traced wires and dug into connections, the right way to do things stood out. Of course the right way also required removing cabinetry and generally disassembling the boat, so if it were up to me we’d never do things the right way, just the fast way — but that’s why not all decisions are up to me 🙂

Boys working on a Westerbeke 46 Diesel Engine in a Sabre 42 Sailboat

Along with the alternator, we bought a Bomar battery charger and are delighted to be able to accurately measure our power usage (and the output from the alternator!). One funny little perk that you might not appreciate unless you’ve spent days staring at a battery monitor is that the Bomar has an extra-large display, so you can actually read it from across the room.

A new Bomar battery monitor letting us know the alternator is working on our Sabre 42 sailboat!

We’ve been playing the “how much does this draw” game and were intrigued / disgusted to discover that the ugly reading lights the boat came with draw 2 freaking amps each. Ugly AND inefficient, my favorite combination! They’re on the chopping block. Unfortunately new reading lights are a pricy and not-exactly-critical improvement, so they’ll have to wait a little.

We also bought and loaded 250′ of new 5/16″ G4 chain. The anchor setup on this boat was laughable, and we already had our beloved big-mama Spade (purchased before we even found “the next boat”, as a sort of engagement-ring boat-jewelry promise to ourselves that this would be the year we’d absolutely find a bigger boat to call home!). Jon marked and loaded all 250′, so that’s another big job off the list.

250' of 5/16" G4 chain

As a random aside, just in case anyone happens to be Googling the same questions I did, we discovered that 5/16″ G4 chain will very happily fit in the gypsy of a 3/8″ BBB anchor windlass.

Loading the anchor chain onto Brio II

We have a manual windlass on Brio II and while one day we’d love to upgrade to an electric one, we couldn’t quite justify it off the bat. But we also didn’t want to buy 3/8″ chain, when 5/16″ is more than enough for this size of boat (and weighs substantially less, a consideration when you think about where all that weight lives).

After hemming and hawing, I found a Cruisers Forum post that referenced anchor windlass gypsies actually accommodating a slight range of sizes, so we decided to buy 4′ to try it out for ourselves. Our 4′ test confirmed the forum folks, and we committed.

We’ll have to actually use the anchor a few times before I call it a 100% success, but for now I’m pretty excited about the idea of having a windlass of any sort!

Jon was the “manual windlass” on baby-Brio, which meant I almost always ran the helm side of things. In general we like to both be able to do all the tasks on the boat, so this was a bit of a needle in my side. Anyways, long story short, I think we’ll both be able to drop and pull anchor on Brio II which I’m quite happy about!

What else? We reglued the oarlocks on the dinghy (gotta love those old dinks), and have a port replacement in progress. We’ve also got an autopilot (with a REMOTE!) sitting in a box with our names on it to replace the dead display and brain on ours. Fingers crossed the hydraulic ram will continue to work 🙂

But lest you think it’s been all sunshine and roses, the big disappointment of the week was that our beloved Webasto stopped working. Zephyr and I were playing Legos in the vberth, enjoying the steady breeze of warm air blowing out the vent, when it suddenly just… stopped. The unit always goes through a cool down cycle, so I figured maybe we’d run out of fuel… but nope.

Looking forward from the aft cabin of our Sabre 42 sailboat - toddler feeding himself breakfast!

Still troubleshooting this one, but at only 150 hours of use it’s not the most wonderful development. Especially when it’s become my most favorite piece of equipment on the boat! (Have I mentioned I like to be warm and dry? It shouldn’t be that big of a thing, but really it turns out those are the two conditions required for Leah to be happy 🙂 ).

Anyways, all this to say we have been working away on our list of projects, keeping half an eye on the weather forecasts (lows in the 20s = “must have a working heater to even consider going anywhere”) and slowly musing about what the months to come might hold.

It’s a funny life, but it’s a good one.


Off the Dock & Back Again (in Rose Haven, MD)

I thought it would take us around two weeks to get off the dock with Brio II.

So of course it took us two months! 😉

The last couple days were a special flurry of activity, as Jon replaced our battery bank, made all new battery and starter and ground cables (with the biggest most expensive wire crimping tool you’ve ever seen — if you need to borrow one, you know who to ask!), and got everything squared away so we could actually leave the dock.

My contribution was playing with Magformers with Zephyr in the vberth so he’d stop trying to throw lugs in the bilge or steal Jon’s tools. Turns out kids’ toys are really super fun so my “job” was no work at all.

Have I mentioned we hadnt been out sailing yet? We hadn’t.

So when the projects and the weather and the temperatures and the work-week all aligned with Zephyr’s nap… we LEAPED at the chance!

We left 15 minutes after his nap started.

Got out of our (stupid awful fixed piling garbage) slip, got the sails up, and got cruising.

7.3 knots in 10 knots of breeze? Gimminy cricket Jonny, I think this baby can cruise!

We immediately entered ourselves into a “race” with the sailboat ahead of us.

After schooling them, we very humbly turned around and raced back to our slip.

Docking was amazing (this boat manoeuvers!!!) and Zephyr woke up approximately 4 minutes after we tied the last line.


And in case you wanted a mini peek into what life on a boat with a toddler is currently like… Z’s finally figured out how to get onto the galley counter AND how to get down 😉

So now no snacks are safe 🙂


Two Months In (North Beach, MD)


Two months have passed?!? December 1st feels like a biggie — winter has arrived! Snow’s in the forecast!

Brio II has been awesome. We’re still in the “getting to know you” phase of our courtship, but I think we’ve picked a solid partner. Granted our neighbors mostly tell us stories about how long she sat here and how many cigars were smoked on her, but hey every lover comes with a past, right? 😉

Toddler life on a Sabre 42 CB Sailboat

Neighbors helped us solve another mystery when they offhandedly commented, “the ducks are probably sad they can’t nest on her anymore.” Explains the copious amounts of feathers and a single perfect blue egg that I found in a cockpit cubby… You can’t make this stuff up, people.

Lazarette life on a Sabre 42 CB

A few weeks ago the wind-up clock that we’d assumed was dead suddenly chimed 2:00pm. We joked that it was like Brio II had accepted these fools weren’t going to leave her alone, so she might as well come back to life again. Scared the heck out of me when it chimed though!

The projects… well, they continue. A memory popped up on Facebook recently, reminding me of our honeymoon in the workyard when I proudly proclaimed “the boat projects will be done soon!”

Ha! I was off a little on that one 🙂

I keep a little calendar where I jot down the day’s wins… sometime they’re small, like “scrubbed all the purple bird poop off the decks in the rain” and sometimes they’re big, like, “finished running all the damn ducting for the damn Webasto” (which will be *amazing* when it’s done but holy heck if you’ve never tried to run 3-1/2″ ducting from stem to stern, you don’t know the fun you’re missing out on!!).

On particularly bad days, I note the lows too – “accomplished nothing because the manual bilge pump hose was actually full of diesel which we discovered by accident and have since spent all day cleaning up”.

Note to future self: check the manual bilge pump before you buy the boat.

Cumulatively, progress is being made. I know I’ve extolled the benefits of marginal improvements before, but it’s a mantra we cling to often. Even when you can’t see the instant results of your efforts, as long as you keep making teeny tiny improvements in the right direction, you’ll reach the day where you look around and think *damn* we’ve done a lot of work here!

Boat "progress" - nav station opened up on the Sabre 42 CB to do a little wiring work

This also applies to health (eat marginally better, move marginally more) and finances (invest a little more, spend a little less) and love (show a little more kindness, practice a little more patience). There you have it folks – Leah’s life advice in one paragraph 🙂

While we’re bragging, I need to mention my most proud achievement of late — teaching Zephyr to answer “what does Santa say?” with a very measured and adorable “ho ho ho”.

We also go to the “whee” on a daily basis (the slide), frequent the nearby beach looking for “ibby’s” (itsy-bitsy-spiders) and scan the sky for “amas” (airplanes). Watching a kid learn to talk is incredible.

We’ve celebrated two Zephyr-month-milestones (18 and 19!), had an entire Thanksgiving dinner onboard (including the smallest turkey I could find and two pumpkin pies), and made a few friends around the marina.

All in all, I’d say life on Brio II is unfolding exactly as Leah-of-the-past could (should??) have predicted… slowly, with lots of projects, lots of memories, and a few story-worthy-detours along the way.

And hey, maybe one of these days we’ll actually leave the dock! Maybe-possibly-pretty please?


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