Thursday, April 28, 2011


Another cold wet day working on the boat.  Today Dave sealed the leak in the keel with a resin and a vacuum pump, and torqued the bolts on the keel, we will see next time if it worked. We are fairly sure it will.  I burned off the left over fibers on the inside of the hull from the liner and final sanded about 3/4s of the boat. So all I have left is the aft cabin. When we get some warmer weather we can install the rubber coating. We can start cleaning and putting stuff back together after that. We took off a couple of the stanchions on the boat.  One of them is bent and all of them leak and will need to be removed and resealed. The new rudder came in and we brought it down so the marina can paint and install it. The boat needs to be lifted to install in. Dave ordered a bunch of the stuff we need to start putting the boat back together.

This weekend we will be working on rebuilding the cabinets and sealing them.

Planning the first leg of the trip, Pepin to Mobile

The whole trip is 2,500 miles, with 1,500 miles from Lake Pepin, Minnesota, to Mobile, Alabama and includes 35 locks. Then there is 1,000 miles of open ocean from Mobile to Dave's dock in Belize. We will leave some time between mid Oct (of this year, 2011) and the 1st of Nov. We are trying to leave and not be on the Gulf of Mexico until after Hurricane season ends on Nov 15, as boats and hurricanes don't mix well. Mid to late Oct in Minnesota can be very nice and beautiful, or cold and wet. Many of the  marinas on the upper Mississippi start closing after Labor day weekend.  We hope to travel about 70 miles a day on the river, which equates to about 10 plus hours a day for 3 weeks, going down river. That late in the year there is only about 9 hours of daylight and losing some each day we are on the boat.  We will be using the diesel motor to get down the river, because a 53' tall mast won't clear a number of bridges along the way. When we get to Mobile we will have the mast re-stepped with a crane. Dave is looking in to having the mast trucked down and we would meet it down there. If not, we would build a cradle on the boat to carry it.  A 34' boat and 53' mast it would stick out about 10 feet on each end, making docking and the locks more of a challenge. The first week will have a number of challenges. It is about 390 miles to the first marina that will be open where we can get fuel, plus the weather could be cold with temps possibly near freezing at night. After that we will be far enough south that the marinas are open year round, and the weather will be warmer. We are looking to make stops along the way to relax, get supplies, do laundry, and get some real meals, as neither Dave nor myself are gourmet chefs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Added a mapped photo album to side bar

I added a photo album to the blog today on the side bar. You will be able to see all of the blog photos with a map of where they were taken.  I have the cell phone set to include GPS location when I take photos, but will have to add location manually with my good camera.

Here is the direct link:

I also added a follow by Email link so you could follow blog by email. Just add your email to the box and click the submit button.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Test post for photo location

Testing to see if GPS location shows up on blog

The Spot, or, Where the heck are they???

The spot satellite GPS messenger is one of the ways we can let people know during our trip that we are not at the bottom of the ocean. It lets us send a message that we are fine as well as a GPS location with a map link. It also has a SOS button so if we did get in trouble it would send out the location we are at and help would be sent to us. When we are in the gulf this is the one of two ways we can reach the rest of the world. The other is by UHF radio but it has limitations of around 12 to 20 miles, depending on many factors.

We plan to send out a daily "we are OK " message each day we are on the trip to let everyone know we are OK and let people know where we are.

Here is a link to the spot website

Below is a test message email that we sent from the boat the other day. It is very accurate to the location Dave sent it from. I am hoping to find a way so it will post to the blog automatically when we send the "OK" message during the trip, and would let people that want to follow us as we travel.

Subject: Check-in/OK message from Bettie P SPOT Messenger
X-SPOT-Latitude: 44.50151
X-SPOT-Longitude: -92.31683
X-SPOT-Messenger: Bettie P
X-SPOT-Time: 1302366369
X-SPOT-Type: Check-in/OK
X-ELNK-Received-Info: spv=0;
X-ELNK-Info: sbv=0; sbrc=.0; sbf=0b; sbw=000;
 Bettie P
 GPS location Date/Time:04/09/2011 11:26:09 CDT
 Message:This is the default SPOT Check-in/OK message. Please update.
 Click the link below to see where I am located.\-92.31683
 If the above link does not work, try this link:,-92.31683&ll=44.50151,-92.31683&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
Bettie P

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Today we made some progress. We pumped out the old fuel tank and removed it. Installed the new ports, one drain, and one water intake so we should be able to not sink in the boat now.

 I cleaned the bilge out, which is the lowest part of the boat inside and has a pump that will pump any water up and out of the boat. It is sludgy slimey and stinks. It is now cleaner and dry. Last time we were at the boat Dave saw water seeping out on the keel. After talking to the guy at the marina he told us we need to tighten the bolts holding the keel to the hull. The bolts come up through the bottom of the boat and are located in the bilge. After we dried out the bilge the seepage nearly stopped. We also found two of the bolts near the leak that were not tight. On Wednesday Dave is going to bring his vacuum pump, which we will put over the areas of the seepage in order to draw the resin into the area and seal it up, then we will retorque all of the keel bolts.  

Dave tested the rubberized coating by applying it to a small area. This will replace the carpet liner that we tore out the other day.  It still needs the top coat but it's looking like it will work well.

Bilge area with floor open you can see the top of the bolts sticking out of the water

one of the ports we changed

old fuel tank as we pumped it out

test area with sealer

fill coat still need top coat of sealer

53' mast for the boat sitting on blue barrels

bottom hull with 2nd coat of paint

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mobile blogging

I am testing to see how the mobile blogging works off my phone. The photo is Lori and I on Yellowstone bike trip couple of years ago

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sailing Classes

One of the things Dave and I are doing is taking 3 sailing classes this year. The first one will be four nights in late May and early June Basic Keelboat Sailing Standard (ASA 101) on Lake Minnetonka. The 2nd is Basic Coastal Cruising Standard (ASA 103) and that one we will be taking on Dave's boat on Lake Pepin  in Mid June, so the boat needs to be ready to sail before that. The  last one is Bareboat Chartering Standard (ASA 104). We will be taking that one in mid July out of Bayfield, WI. We board the boat on a Fri night and then will be on Lake Superior in the Great lakes until Sunday night.

Over the past few months I have gotten every sailing video the Netflix has and watch all of them. I also have been doing on line classes though  and have completed  all but one of for the classes for Bareboat Charter Master and have completed all for the Skipper Rank. I still need to log sailing days for both.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photos of the boat before Dave bought it

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Snowing and boat repairs

Today Dave and I drove down to the boat. It's about 72 miles each way from Minneapolis so it takes us over an hour to get there. It was snowing as we drove down this morning with most of the ground with a light covering of snow. We didn't expect we'd do more than remove some of the cabinetry and haul it back to town and start rebuilding some of the cabinets. When we got down there the snow had let up and it started warming, so we ended up working the better part of the day on the boat. I was able to get all of the remaining liner removed from the front cabin and the bathroom areas, so that can be taken off of the list. Dave spent some time trying to locate where all the leaks are coming in from, so we can get them repaired. One of the things that we've been trying to figure out is how to get more fuel as the first part of the trip down we will be limited in the number of marinas that we can get fuel at. We were able to find an aluminium tank that holds 39 gallons of fuel that will fit through the opening without cutting open the boat and still fit within the space under the seating area towards the back of the boat. With that, and four 5-gallon Jerry cans, we should be able to have the capacity for just under 600 miles. We also determined some locations for an additional battery, power inverter, and battery charger. That way we should be able to have 110 volt outlets working most if not all of the trip. Because having coffee quickly in the morning is a necessity. 

It's amazing--you would think that there's no holes open to the sea in a boat. Wow, would you be wrong. There are something like 6 or 8 openings below the water level. They all have shut off valves, so each sink has a hose going from the drain to the sink directly to a valve below it out into the water. In one of the pictures below you can see the piping that connect to the ports going out. One of the valves didn't shut off completely. It is the inlet hose for the toilet, so that one is getting changed out. Below the bathroom sink, the handle snapped off inside the valve, and we were not able to remove it. So Saturday we'll bring down a saws-all to cut it out and install a new port and valve. We also removed the storage tank for the toilet, as there was a slight odor coming from it. We need to do some re-routing of some pipes and install them properly so we can meet U.S. Coastguard inspection. The only way you can discharge sewage  from a boat is if you're a number of miles off shore.

At this point we think we have all the wood that is needed to be repaired hauled back to Dave's shop. Dave will pick up the new plywood so we can start rebuilding them over the next week or so. When we got back into town Dave had gotten two books in the mail. One was called Minneapolis to Mobile, a book about a trip in 2002 that the authors took down the same route that we will be taking to Mobile. They went approximately the same time of year as we are planning. The second was Quimby's Cruising Guide, a book with all the marinas big and small, along with phone numbers and services that they provide, and a list of all the locks, dams, and bridges.
main cabin after benches for table and the toilet holding tank removed
yes that is a propane heater running in the boat

front sleeping cabin  with all of the liner removed

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So the work begins

This weekend Dave and I started the demo on the boat. On the side walls of the interior of the boat there is liner that is kinda like a very low-pile carpet. Lots of it has mold and mildew so we are removing all of it. One of the problems is that the liner was put in before any of the interior cabinets and built-ins, so we have to remove lots of the interior woodwork. After it is off it leaves fibers in the glue sticking off the wall so today I spent about 5 1/2 hours sanding the main cabin to get down to the fiberglass on the hull. We also found out that some of the plywood built-ins are rotten and we will be building new ones.  Dave is working on many upgrades to the boat. The next 60 days are going to to be very busy. It would be helpful if it would stop freezing at night too.

port side next to the head
starboard side table area
Port side navigation station and elect panel hanging left side of photo
starboard side galley and table area

Galley  with  cabinet out

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More photos

looking forward from the wheel

Forward Cabin

Aft cabin


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Opening the Boat

 April 9, 2011 I  made my first trip down to the boat at Lake Pepin to remove the tarps and start opening the boat with Dave. The boat was transported from New York late last year after the snow fall. So today is my first look at the boat. Dave knew last fall that there were a couple of small leaks in the upper portion of the boat so there were some wet areas inside as well as some mold and mildew. Most of this was caused by neglect by the previous owner before Dave bought the boat. Dave knew all along that replacing the seat cushions and refinishing the interior would need to be done. Overall the boat is in good condition but in preparing for the trip we plan to go through the boat from top to bottom and checking it out as thoroughly as we possibly can. This coming week the marina will be soda blasting the hull, which will remove all of the old paint and rust that has accumulated on the bottom, then repainting the entire bottom. At the same time  they will be installing a new rutter that Dave has on order. Over the next 60 days Dave and I plan to spend somewhere between 1-2 days per week prepping the boat for the water as we will need to take one of the three classes that have been scheduled this summer on Dave's boat.

An Adventure

Sometime last Fall after purchasing some property in Belize, Dave, my friend of ten years, went out looking for his boat because he needed something to park at the dock. He was able to find a 1988, 33.5 Hunter sailboat reasonably priced in good condition with some small deferred maintenance. One evening I was talking to Dave about his plans to sail the boat down to Belize and how long that might take and when he was planning on doing it. He told me at that point he thought 5-6 weeks of sailing in the Fall of 2011. Not much was said about it for the following week, and wondering how I could possibly take some time off from work, pay my bills, and afford to do this. I thought about trying to do part of the trip, which would leave Dave doing the remainder of the trip solo. So I sat down and dropped Dave an email saying I would be really interested in going on part of the trip but not sure how I could swing tthe whole trip.  Unbeknownst to me, Dave and his wife Noelle had been discussing that week ways that I could assist Dave on this trip. After a couple of emails, we were able to come up with a plan that would allow me to be Dave's deckhand for the entire trip with a couple of stipulations, "You would need a passport, raingear, and swimsuit. And you need to spend a few days in Belize having fun." Dave and I have made a couple of 10-day trips on the motorcycles to Yellowstone over the past couple of years. We did not call them vacations. We called them adventures, for good reasons. One of the other things Dave said in his email to me was, "Like all adventures some days will be great and some days will be very hard. And in the end, tales to tell the nurses in the old folks home." We both expect this to be very true as we plan our way from Lake Pepin to Belize.