2015 SPYC (St. Petersburg Yacht Club) Classic Regatta and a swarm of biting flies…

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A few shots of sailing today and the SPYC Classic Regatta 2015.  If you want a photo from the this site (maybe your boat) let me know, I’ll send you the original if I can find it….  You’ll owe us a beer!

Tales from the blog…. We (mostly) had an awesome sail today up Tampa Bay taking a N.W. heading out of St. Pete towards “Beercan Island” (Pine Key). With about 20 miles covered in 5 hrs in light and variable winds… We sailed around annoying crab trap hazards and the 40 or so boats participating in the St. Pete Yacht Club’s annual Classic Regatta and then proceeded to chow down on a tasty lunch while underway. As the day progressed with freshening winds, all was awesome, until we ran into a swarm of horrible biting flies… So there we were, patting ourselves on the back for doing a smooth 3-4kts on a very long port tack downwind broad reach back to St. Pete. until we crossed paths with the cursed flies. Dolphins breached nearby, pelicans gracefully floated along, and then they (the damned flies) appeared out of nowhere, hundreds of them. The only saving grace was we weren’t the only ones enduring the end of the world wrath, we saw our boat neighbor a hundred or so yards off our port side running around frantically topside swinging a towel around and then fired up the iron sail to try and get away from them. We followed suit and started motoring at almost max RPMs making 6.5 kts and trying to swat the flies off the boat. We managed to lose most of them over the next half hour motoring in, but a few malingerers stuck with us and refused to abandon the transom. I think I got bit at least 50 times. At this point we were tired and worn out when we uneventfully backed into the slip. Silently without discussion decided not to overnight on the boat again this day. With a purpose, we quickly packed up and loaded the truck, had our quick goodbyes with the liveaboards on our dock, and drove away. We called ahead and picked some delicious Thai food take out on the way home. Once home, quickly unloaded the truck, started laundry, and gorged on aforementioned food. Made our way to the back porch to relax. Damn flies!!! Any who, that steak marinating in the boat fridge made its way back to the house and will be just as delicious on the back porch grill mañana.

A Three Day and Two Overnight Shakedown

Brian had to work New Year’s Eve, so I spent the day pulling weeds, edging, mowing, cutting the hedges and pressure washing at the house.  We’ve both been so busy with the boat and work that the house has been neglected a bit.  With the yard looking fabulous, I was spent by the time Brian came home and asked for a “bye” as to spending New Year’s eve on the boat.  I needed sleep, and made it to 8PM.  The following day, sore but well-rested, we packed the truck, and headed to the boat.

MMM, Steak and Eggs!

MMM!, Steak and Eggs!

A stop to Home Depot for denatured alcohol for the stove, along with sustenance at Taco Bus and provisioning Bagel Bites at Publix…  Oddly, the marina was pretty dead when we arrived.  Perhaps it was due to the previous evening’s festivities or the fact it was a Thursday.  Nonetheless, we unpacked and Brian set about figuring out our wonky wi-fi module thingie.  After an hour of rerouted calls to different countries, he finally got it working.  Hooray!  During this time, I ventured out and took pictures.  Upon my return, I popped the cork on a bottle of DaVinci Chianti and poured myself a drink in the new unbreakable stemware.  “Aren’t you going to get out your laptop?”  Nope.  I just sat in the cockpit, watching the sun set, and did nothing.  It was so quiet and serene.  We watched a few episodes of Distant Shores, and had our own Serenity cocktail hour.  Eventually, Brian filled the fuel containers on the stove with the denatured alcohol.  We had an Origo stove on Wu-Wei, but never used it.  And now, here we were, about to use our Origo 6000 oven.  Hey!  It worked!  After a good burn in, the oven was ready to receive the small bar Pampered Chef stone pan filled with Bagel Bites. (The story of Bagel Bites- while reading Wayne’s (previous and only owner before us) log, “Went to friends’ boat.  Dinner consisted of mini bagel pizzas…”  This same statement was repeated often.  So it was only fitting to honor Wayne.)  By 9PM, I called it a night.  Crap.  I discovered I left my glasses at the house- I am blind without them!  Good thing the boat has a toilet that works.  I did not sleep well, nor did Brian, and kept waking up every hour and then falling back into a fitful sleep.  The bilge pump going off at 3AM was also a new sound.  (Condensation.)

Awoke to thick, dense fog.  It was chilly, too.   I baked cinnamon rolls in the oven, and we devoured them.  After showers at the marina (by the time Brian got there, there was no hot water.  Dislike!), we ventured out to walk around St. Pete for a bit.  What a neat city!  There are so many things to do and see there.  Around lunch time, we found a Donner-kebab restaurant, and it was delicious.  We walked to Publix to get steaks for dinner.  Once we got back to the boat, we figured, oh hell, let’s drive back to the house to retrieve forgotten glasses, grab a few extra pillows, and a couple of other things.  The drive back took 30 minutes- awesome!  This was convenient!  It warmed up, and the fog started to clear when we got back to St. Pete.  We decided to hit up the much coveted, “First Friday.”  Yeah, not so much- maybe if I was in my 20s… Overrated for our age group.  Went back to the boat and decided to fire up the Force 10 to make steaks while I opened a bottle of 2013 Santa Cristina wine.  Brian had commented he was leary of it.  “But it worked fine in the backyard!!!  What can go wrong?!?”  A lot, apparently.  About 10 minutes after he lit it, the damn grill set itself on fire.  Brian ran for the hose to extinguish it, turned it off, and removed the propane tank before it exploded.  We are both thankful THIS happened at dock.  “That’s it, we are getting a new Magma instead.”  The campfire potatoes went in the oven, and we ate them with a bagged salad.  We slept much better with the additional pillows.

82 in Jan!

January!!! :)

I awoke this morning to a beautiful clear day (it was going to be 82 degrees!), and set about cooking breakfast in my awesome stowing boatshow-purchased pans (the removable handles rock, and everything cooks pretty evenly!)- leftover potatoes, steaks, and scrambled organic eggs, on the Origo.  Breakfast was delicious!  There is nothing like a hot breakfast on a boat!  Brian also got a hot shower today at the marina.  Afterwards, we headed to the St. Pete Saturday market- wow!  This did INDEED impress!  Organic farmers’ markets, art, soap and so many wonderful food vendors (is it irony The Taco Ladies are a few stalls away from The Guacamole Dude?)  I commented to Brian, while drinking an Horchata, “From now on, if we are at dock, I will no longer cook on Saturdays.  Tamales, empanadas, AND Thai food?!  Be still, my heart!”  I did purchase a lemongrass plant, some daikon, and cheese curds. When we got back to the boat, I filled out the sadly neglected boat logs while Brian cleaned and packed.  We left with a lot less than we came out with, and headed back to the house.
IMG_2023The good things about the shakedown at dock- it would have been a PITA out at sea to discover the mobile wi-fi hotspot needed to be reset.  And the grill’s “fireball” could have been deadly if we did not have a hose handy.  Also, we underestimated the amount of denatured alcohol the stove uses, the need for eyeglasses and pillows we need to keep us comfortable.  I know, these are first world problems.  On a positive note- the boat is comfy and roomy, and all systems work well.  We need to troubleshoot the mast anchor light (it has stopped working), and probably need to replace the stereo (it draws more than the Engel…  Priorities- faced with the choices of cold beer or Jimmy Buffett, sorry dude…  Cold beer wins!)

Another Great Sail and 2014 Pack NFC North Champs!


Cap’n Chris at the helm

This morning did not start off without a hitch, as none ever do.  Brian was not feeling 100% and was running a low grade fever.  So, I decided it would not be a good idea to overnight on the boat, and gave him a “bye” for sailing today.  Plus, I do not like fog, and there was more projected fog for after sunset.  Brian will never turn down an opportunity to sail!  The local media stated, “Winds 5 knots, seas calm.”  I have learned weather varies dramatically based on tv channels.  We headed to St. Pete in the convertible- with a high of 80 in the local area, this is absolutely perfect for cruising.  It is odd to think that 2 years ago, instead of the BMW Z4, we were cruising up a mountain in Japan in the dead of winter in a Mazda Eunos with the top down (which is the Miata in the States), and having snow start to fall upon us.

New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan

2013 throw back:  New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan

Anyhow, as we establish our boat routines, launching was a breeze.  The only concern, “Um, how do we only have a half tank of gas?”  “Um, I did not think we motored THAT much…”  Well, either the motor really gets terrible mileage, someone is siphoning our gas (the diesel is old) or our fuel gauge is off…  We motored out and launched the main.  Winds were about 10 knots.  Seeing as our main sail is ginormous, I figured we should reef it.  Brian was thinking the same thing. Only, I had never reefed a sail before.  Yes, I have only owned small boats before- their sails were small, and 10 knots was to be cherished.  Serenity has a monster sail!  Brian immediately came to the rescue and we discovered we were missing some hardware that is in the garage.  No matter- it worked.  We were hitting speeds of 5 knots- hooray! with just the main.  Finally, Brian let out a little genoa.  We stayed at the same speed.  A great day sailing in the bay.  We have also discovered our high-tech stereo is an energy hog.  Brian switched to the TV in the settee (which one can see perfectly from the cockpit), so I sailed and watched football.  While it was the Saints versus the Buccs, I was cheering for my Tampa losers, who indeed, despite an impressive lead, ended up losing.  But, clad in Packers gear, all I really cared about was watching my team’s kick-off.  (Go Pack GO!)  The trip back to the marina was pretty uneventful, other than the fact, as usual, I could stay all year out sailing and always hate having to go back into port.  I swear it gets easier each time we back the boat in with tying and tidying up.  It was the first day both Brian and I exclaimed, “Wow!  There were no pressing projects we had to do before going out!”  And on a funny note, as we were cruising home in the Bimmer, I looked at Brian and commented, “Dude.  There’s like a middle-aged Harley Davidson motorcycle gang next to us.  I mean, seriously Mom-Pants and everything.”  I have never seen a Mom-Pants Biker gang before- I felt the need to eat all of my broccoli next to these women.  Yes, they do apparently exist- Sons of Anarchy have nothing on this gang.

80s in December!?!

Sailing in shorts, December 2014

Sailing in shorts, December 2014

The weather has been unseasonably warm.  After finishing the V-Berth cushions yesterday (Brian had to work, and I was at home cursing at the Sailrite, which has lately been the bane of my existence.  I was able to finish the cushions using my old-school $100 Brother sewing machine, and the weight of said Sailrite prevented it from being thrown in the front-yard…)  Anyhow, the cushions turned out even better than expected when on the boat (I was ready to take a nap on them today!), but Brian had projects in store for me, like replacing the genoa blocks.  Ironically, I took one look at the nuts of the old one and KNEW I would need a 10mm wrench.  Either I have spent too much time on boats, or this was an oxymoron based on the fact I purchased a million of these damn wrenches in Thailand based on a job project…  They were pretty cheap there.  Nonetheless, after the project was completed, it was off for sail numero dos aboard Serenity.  Other than a few weird random things (we have some boat neighbors who seem to have taken a liking to me.  In fact, they chose to ogle me while we cast off this afternoon.  I even asked Brian, “Am I paranoid, or were those dudes really creepy?”  “No, they are just old creepy men…”), and the fact the main sail STILL get caught on randomness when being hoisted (what the hell?!?), the main sheet was up.  Nothing.  No sense putting out the genny at this point- we were in the doldrums, baby!  It was hot, I changed into a swimsuit (hell, I was ready to jump into the dirty bay water at this point to cool down), and a sailboat near us started to track our same path.  “Do they not realize we are, too, in the doldrums, and going nowhere fast?”  The wind started to pick up- we could see the ripple of wind on the water.  1.1 knots soon became 2.8 knots, time to unfurl the genoa…  4.5 knots.  Oh yeah, baby, we are finally sailing!  I was trying to feel out Serenity, and get the best feel for how she performs.  We had a little lee going.  I was booking for 4.5 knots! Brian eventually broke up the romance, “So, when do you want to turn around?”  “NOOO!” I wailed, “It is probably only 2PM!”  “Um, no, it is closer to 4!”  Mentally, I was of the mindset, “Keep sailing!” but common sense reminded me our only provisions were 2 bags of chips, 2 Diet Cokes and some Gatorade…  This could present a problem.  Begrudingly, I tacked- I did not want to, but the thought of Thai take-out helped alleviate the stressors.  Dodging the land-mine field of crab traps at sunset was a PITA< but we made it safely back to dock.  Other than a very expensive cockpit cushion meeting the drink (FML, we seriously need to get the snaps installed!) and rescuing it, it was a fine day indeed.

What’s In a Boat Name?


We’ve often had people ask us, when she had no name, “Why Serenity, and why not Wu-Wei II?!?” Well, seeing as we got her with the name “Missy K II”, in what I can only refer to as “bad 70s graphics” and half of my heart went with the beloved Wu-Wei (which really WAS an awesome name!), Brian and I are both fans of the now defunct Firefly… I mean, seriously, yes, we realize it lasted one season, but nonetheless, we are both fans. It would seem weird to us to name her “Wu-Wei II” (and bad karma, as there will only be one Wu-Wei), AND WHY ON EARTH would we name her Missy K II??? So we went the SciFy route. Seriously, do you know what a PITA it is to get the graphics in the right font? While we would have spent $1.5K on graphics from a “professional”, we did it for under $100 from the local Flea Market (hell, that is where we got Wu-s graphics fr



om, and 6 years later, they still looked brand new!) While we had to wait a day (“We do not have this font… But that is bad-ass! Browncoats forever!””), our graphics were pretty on-point when we picked them up. Ironically, we later learned, “This is one of the most over-used boat names! Never name your boat “Serenity”!” or my favorite, “Are you reformed alcoholics? This comes from the 12-step prayer…” Or the Seinfeld, “Serenity NOW!” No, fools, we simply like a show on SciFy and wanted to name her after the main vessel. So I have learned, no matter what you name your yacht (hell, we are neighbors to “Tigger”), someone will always judge you. If you want to name your vessel, “Spongebob”, who cares? At the end of the day, it is YOUR yacht. No matter what you name your yacht, name it for something you love.  The dingy will be “Companion”… just saying…Serenity