Monthly Archives: March 2015

This Is Only A Test. Had This Been An Actual Departure…

How was your weekend? We spent ours in our slip pretending to be underway. It’s not as odd as it sounds. In the Navy we called it a Fast Cruise. From the Dictionary of Naval Terminology:

Fast Cruise – A training exercise whereby the ship simulates being underway while remaining tied to the pier. Generally the brow and all shore services are secured and the ship is on internal systems only.

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and spoil the suspense of our More Power Scotty! series of posts, but I was so damn pleased with the way the weekend went that I just had to bang out a quick post to crow about it. Last Friday at 2PM, I turned off the battery charger. For the next 48 hours, we ran all ship’s DC systems off internal power. We ran the refrigerator and freezer, listened to the radio, turned on lights, ran pumps, and pretty much used everything onboard that we would normally use when sitting at anchor.  After 44 hours, our awesome new battery monitor indicated we were still at 75% state of charge, totally validating our system design. Our goal was to be able to run everything for at least three days on battery alone, and we met that easily. It looks like four or even five days may be possible.


To conclude the evolution, I fired up the engine and watched with deep satisfaction as our modest 55 amp alternator picked up all the ships loads while also pumping over 40 amps back into the batteries. Finally, I set up and ran our new generator, our primary source of charging power until we tackle installing solar panels later this year.

All I needed was a drill monitor’s cap and a clipboard to give myself a grade (you Navy vets will understand).

We have a lot of things yet to accomplish before we’re ready to go, but I told Rhonda that today was a big day. As of today, everything else on our project list is a want rather than a need. Now that we have the power we require, we can depart whenever we wish. Everything we need is here.

And that’s huge.


The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Again)

I awoke early in eager anticipation, anxious to begin this wondrous day. As Rhonda headed for work, she pointed out that I was apparently not the only one who felt today was worthy of special recognition. I was delighted to see that an equally excited soul had turned our marina fountain into a festive visual celebration to mark this auspicious occasion:

A Fountain Full Of Foam

A Fountain Full Of Foam

It’s once again that magical, mystical, marvelously magnificent time of year when mariners’ wishes are granted and sailor’s dreams come true. It’s the Black Friday of marine supply—Christmas in March for those suffering from deferred gear lust. Yes dear readers, it’s time once again for Defender’s Annual Warehouse Sale!

This time last year, we were in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of Eagle Too. We knew she urgently needed some upgrades, and not wanting to miss the year’s lowest prices on marine equipment, we took a chance and ordered, hoping the deal for the boat would work out. Thankfully, the gods smiled and the planets aligned, and when we took possession of our new home, we had a small pile of new gear to bring aboard.

This year, after the long cold  Time For Thinking, we have a much bigger list of gear and essentials we desire to make Eagle Too the cruiser we know she so much wants to be. An autopilot to help stand watch on long passages—a robust below decks model rather than a fragile wheel pilot. Radar to pierce the dark of night and thick veil of coastal fog. An AIS system (Automatic Identification System) to address Rhonda’s fear of being run down by a barge or freighter. New lines to replace those too frayed to carry on. Hatches and lights and an assortment of miscellaneous hardware that will keep us busy installing, testing, and fine-tuning through the spring and probably most of the summer.

The list had been groomed and refined by a year of research and deep thought. My shopping cart was full. Payment and shipping information entered. The only thing now was to watch the remaining seconds tick away until the sale began. At exactly 9:00 Eastern time, I watch the prices tumble and the savings accumulate. I know it’s oxymoronic to say “look at how much I saved” when you’re spending a pile of boat bucks. But in this case, once the numbers stopped spinning, Defender’s discount left us with enough to also grab the sweet little Honda EU2000i Companion generator we’ve been lusting for. I pushed the Buy button, sighed, and sat back in satisfaction.

Yes, it’s a truly wonderful time of year. I hear Hallmark is planning to print cards… 🙂

Editor’s Note: Due to conflicting demands on our time, this post, initially planned for March 26th when the Defender Warehouse Sale started, didn’t get published until March 29th, the last day of the sale. That means today’s your last chance if you want to grab some items on your wish list at the year’s lowest prices. And no, we still aren’t getting any promotional consideration from Defender. But just like last year, we’re open to it if they suggest something lucrative. Hint hint.


Dreams Of All Sizes

Rhonda and I have lived aboard for three months now. From bow to stern, our floating home is just a hair over 37 feet long. It seems just about right to me. While we could always use more space (especially of the stowage variety), we’ve adapted to our new surroundings. We have sufficient room to go about the routines of the day without having to continually do the you’re-in-my-way-please-move tango. We’re actually one of the smaller boats on our pier though, and I’ve noticed that most of the cruisers that pass through, the ones that are obviously in mid-adventure, laden with arches bristling with gear and wind generators and jerrycans and bicycles tied to the railing, are usually in the 40+ foot range. But I feel that what we have is manageable. The work (and the cost)  to operate and maintain everything at this scale isn’t intimidating or overwhelming. I told Rhonda I’m content with Eagle Too, because I can get my arms around her. I’m not sure I’d feel the same on the Beneteau 411 parked next door.

But we’re all pursuing our dream in our own way. And when it comes to the dream of cruising, life is certainly not one size fits all. Walking back from dinner the other night, we noticed we had a new neighbor.

Compac23-1She’s a Com-Pac 23 Pilot House. Let me show you a different angle, so you can see how she measures up to the other boats on our pier.


She makes me smile everytime I walk by, because she looks like the nautical equivalent of what I call a clown car:

SmartCarI had to learn her story as soon as I saw her registration. She seems to get around.


Surely she didn’t sail here from Oregon? I approached her owner the next day, anxious to know more about his boat and his adventure. His name is Sam. He’s an older gentlemen, I’d guess around 65. He tells me he’s recently had both hips replaced. It’s been his dream to cruise. He didn’t sail from the west coast, although he and his boat have logged a lot of miles together around the Portland area. But when he finally decided to chase his dream, he had her towed to Brownsville, Texas.  He’s working his way along the Gulf Coast, headed for Carrabelle, maybe further. He’s single handing it. His girlfriend told him the boat is too small for both of them. But he seemed in love with his choice and his decision to embrace his dream.

As I helped him load his dinghy on his foredeck, I asked him questions. She has no galley. Just a one burner stove. There’s a porta-potty that has to be taken ashore to be emptied. The electrical system is just a battery to start the engine and power the running lights, as well as a single LED cabin light. He uses a handheld VHF.  Surprisingly, she has an inboard two cylinder Westerbeke diesel engine, but she’s only capable of 4.5 knots underway. Sam tells me this made the transit along the Texas and Louisiana coast quite interesting, as he was unable to keep up with the heavy commercial barge traffic and often had to head for the shallows to avoid being run down. But undeterred, he’s pressing on.

Could we do it? Cruise on a boat like that? Not for a minute. Could you? But dreams come in all sizes, and our boat is not better than Sam’s. It’s just different. What’s important is that Sam took the leap. He decided to embrace life and follow his dream in the way that best suits him and his circumstances. And in the end, I think that’s all that’s truly important.

Fair winds, Sam!

More Power Scotty! Part One

ScottyMorePowerBefore we embark on our own five year mission to explore strange new worlds seeking out new life and new civilizations (OK, maybe new nightlife and new beach bars might be more appropriate) we need to channel our inner Scotty and make one giant leap in our ability to store power. The point of this blog is to share what we learn as we metamorphose from dirt-dwelling clock punchers to windborn gypsies living Life On The Hook™ (as well as keep my creative juices flowing while I work on the outline of the post-apocalyptic pirate novel I’d like to start writing. But it’s mostly about the sharing thing). So this is going to be the first in a series of posts that explains how we transformed Eagle Too’s electrical system from one suited primarily for weekend outings to one that can support the ability to boldly go where no couple has gone before on a 37 foot sailboat. Well, not too many couples. A few thousand maybe?

If this interests you, I think you’ll find some good stuff here. If this makes your eyes glaze over, don’t worry, just skip it. We’ll have some other stuff to talk about in between additional posts of More Power Scotty! Or there’s a great book I can recommend that I think you’ll enjoy. A week’s worth of entertainment for only $2.99. (or free through Kindle Unlimited) 🙂

So after months of deep thinking, weeks of sourcing parts looking for the best prices, and a major blow to the AMEX card, we finally had our new electrical system:

For starters, let me say that I think Hunter Marine actually did a pretty good job of designing the electrical system on the Hunter 376. It’s well suited for the way the majority of sailors use their boats, which is to sit at the dock on mild summer days drinking beer and entertaining friends, with the occasional day sail or night at anchor.

As you would expect, our boat has two battery banks—a house bank for the hotel loads (a single 4D battery) and a separate dedicated starting battery (single Group 24), maintained by a 30 amp Guest battery charger.


One of the best decisions they made was to use separate battery isolation switches for each bank rather than the dreaded A/Both/B switch that is so common on boats built to a price point.

BaterySwitchesWhat do I have against the ubiquitous A/Both/B battery switch? It forces you to be part of the charging system. You have to remember to switch it to Both if you want both banks charged while the engine is running or you’re plugged into shore power. You have to remember to switch it to A or B (usually A is the house bank) when you’re sailing or at anchor to isolate the starter battery. If you forget and leave it in Both, you could run all your batteries down and find yourself with too little juice left to start the engine after spending a lazy weekend out sailing.

You Won't Find One Of These On Eagle Too

You Won’t Find One Of These On Eagle Too

With all that battery switch turning, it’s inevitable that sooner or later someone is going to start the engine to get underway, remember they need to switch the position to Both so the engine’s alternator can charge both battery banks, and accidentally turn it to OFF by mistake, and POOF! like that, you’ve just fried the diodes in your alternator’s voltage regulator. A several hundred dollar (at least) mistake caused by inserting you into the charging system, a place where you really don’t belong.

The nice thing about having a simple On/Off switch for each bank is that you just don’t mess with them. Unless you’re going to be working on your electrical system or pulling one of the batteries, you just leave them in On. If you’re the ultra cautious type, you may turn them to Off when leaving the boat if nothing needs to remain energized in your absence, but let’s be honest here—how many of us actually shut off the batteries and close all the thru-hulls every time we jump in the dinghy to make a beer run? Regardless, there’s no switch turning occurring every time you start your engine or plug into shore power. Which greatly reduces the chance of you being a bonehead and frying your alternator.

So with each battery connected to its own battery isolation switch, how was battery charging handled? Hunter implemented a pretty simple and bonehead-proof system.

  • Most marine battery chargers have at least two, sometimes three separate DC outputs, which means they can charge multiple banks simultaneously. The 30 amp Guest battery charger on our boat had three ouputs, so Hunter wired one to the house bank, and another to the starting battery (and jumpered out the third output, but more on why that’s necessary in a later post), ensuring both banks were charged when plugged into shore power.
  • When underway with the engine running, they implemented a simple automatic bank paralleling system using a solenoid, or electrically controlled switch. Whenever the engine key is in the run position, a relay is energized that automatically completes a circuit that ties the two battery banks together. allowing both to be charged from the engine’s alternator. There are some other ways to accomplish this, but it doesn’t get much cheaper or simpler than a good ole’ low tech solenoid.
  • They installed a small deck-mounted solar panel to feed a steady trickle charge to the starting battery to make sure it’s always topped off.

So if the electrical system that came with the boat is so good, why do we want to change it? Because it’s just not set up for a Life On The Hook™. Here’s why:

  1. The house bank, a single 4D battery, is too small to keep the freezer and refrigerator running for more than a day. We know we need more batteries—a bank that can carry us through at least two, possibly three days before needing a charge.
  2. The current location of the house bank, under the port settee, didn’t leave room for more batteries. Nor did we want to add the additional weight that far forward. Eagle Too already sits about 2° down by the bow, and with our plans to add a bigger bow anchor and more chain in the future, we knew we needed to put the additional batteries well aft.
  3. While we ultimately plan to rely on 400 watts of solar panels to maintain the charge on our batteries, we intend to use a Honda portable generator for when the sun doesn’t shine (enough). The existing 30 amp battery charger is just too small for the house bank we feel we need, which would require a lot of run time on the generator to fully charge the bank. It also isn’t capable of doing an equalizing charge, which is very important to maintain the health of flooded lead acid batteries.
  4. A big negative of using a single battery charger on multiple banks or having an automatic bank paralleling system (or the use of an A/Both/B switch) is that since the house bank is much bigger than the starting battery and takes quite a while to charge, you end up drastically overcharging the starting battery in order to get the house bank close to full, significantly shortening its life. We’ve already noted battery acid in the bottom of the starting battery’s storage box that had boiled out due to overcharging. It’s a problem I knew would only get worse as we increased the size of the house bank.
  5. The spot on the deck where they mounted the small solar panel to keep the starting battery topped off while underway is a perfect spot to tie down gear when we load the boat up for cruising. Since the panel will end up being covered by something, it won’t work any longer.

So fixing those deficiencies defined our requirements. We wanted the following features in our new electrical system:

  • A much bigger house battery bank, located well aft
  • A bigger battery charger with an equalizing function, but not so big that it couldn’t be run from a Honda portable generator with some power left over to make hot water or run the microwave
  • All charging sources fed directly to the house bank, with a separate small serial charger to maintain the starting battery
  • A foolproof way to keep the starting battery isolated when not in use, and always at a full charge
  • Proper fusing for all batteries and charging sources
  • A way to monitor it all to keep an eye on the system’s daily operation

In More Power Scotty! Part Two, we’ll start to explain how we met these goals.

A Cheap Thrill

Our boat is more than just our home. If you asked her, Rhonda would probably tell you that it’s also a giant toy that I’m constantly playing with. I take endless delight in planning an improvement, researching the parts, tools and techniques needed, laying everything out, and doing the work. Once finished, Rhonda will usually find me repeatedly flicking the switch that activates whatever new gizmo I’ve installed, or just standing and admiring the result of our labor, fighting to suppress a silly grin born of a sense of accomplishment.

One of my favorite games is called “How can I make this better without spending a fortune?” While I get great satisfaction from a repair done well, in the end, all we’ve done is restore something to service that once worked. No, the thing that really makes my day is improving something so that it works better, or adding something that will make our lives a bit easier. Yesterday was a good day, because for less than $12, I accomplished both.

Our boat has some recessed indirect lighting along both sides of the main cabin. I guess the designers probably intended it to be mood lighting, something to turn on during boat shows to motivate people to open their wallets and dig deep. But we never used it. If it was intended to generate a mood, the only one that comes to mind is dark depression. The dull browish-orange light was too dim to actually illuminate anything, while using almost two amps of current. It didn’t even make a good night light. The small indicator lights on various pieces of gear or even our charging phones put out a much brighter glow.


But then while poking around on Amazon one day, I found this:

Flexible LED Light Strip

Sixteen feet of adhesive backed 12 volt LED light ribbon. For less than $12. Why not, I thought. It was worth taking a chance on for only twelve bucks. I choose the warm white 3100°K. That temperature color seems to work better if you still have some incandescent bulbs around. The cool white 4000°K just looks too bluish and harsh in comparison.

Two days later, it arrived (thank you Amazon Prime!).

LED1It already had a power connection soldered on, so I plugged it into a 12 volt power supply.

LED2Wow, that’s bright! One cool thing about it is that you can cut it to virtually any length. The scissors symbols spaced every three LEDs show you where to cut. Each segment has two little pads that you can then solder leads onto to continue to use the remainder.

LED3I removed the fascia from the recessed lights in the galley and cleaned the fiberglass with isopropyl alcohol to make sure the adhesive on the ribbon had a good clean surface to adhere to.

LED4I clipped the wires to the existing lights and crimped them to the leads on the LED strip, and then peeled off the backing to expose the adhesive and began pressing it in place. (I left the original lights in place just in case this doesn’t work out long term)

LED5Once I had it all applied, I replaced the fascia, stood back, and flipped the switch.

LED6Now that’s what I’m talking about! It’s always been a bit dim in the galley at night, and Rhonda sometimes even has to resort to using a flashlight when refer diving. But about six dollars worth of LED tape and an hour of my time produced this result:

LED7The hard part now is to stop myself from going crazy with this stuff. I mean, there are so many places where we could use more light. Inside lockers, under shelves, and maybe a  nice warm glow emanating from under the settees as we relax with a bottle of wine…

OK, I’m taking a step back here. Put the LED ribbon down, Robert. The truth is I have no idea how durable this product will be. There’s nothing “marine” about it, a fact reflected in the price. I actually found what appeared to be the same product at West Marine recently, for the not very similar price of $99.99. Theirs did look like they had added a clear polyurethane cover to the ribbon, which I assume makes it somewhat water resistant. Maybe the sticky backing tape will unstick in summer heat. Maybe the LEDs will fry in the less-than-constant voltage we have on boats. But for $12, what the hell, it was worth taking a shot. And we can see so much better in the galley now.

Yep, it’s a good day. 🙂

Editor’s note: It’s only been a week since I ordered this product, but I see they’ve already upped the price a bit (it was $11.77 when I bought it) and have started charging for shipping. I got it through Amazon Prime with free two day shipping, but it’s not available through Prime any longer.

The Latest In Nautical Fashion

I’m pretty sure we’ve never done a post addressing cruising couture. With our focus on the how’s and why’s of adopting and adapting to a Life On The Hook™, we’ve obviously overlooked an area that could be of significant interest to many. In an attempt to remedy this deficiency and possibly broaden our appeal, I thought we’d do our first fashion post and bring this little number to your attention. We encountered it while idly perusing the wares presented by various vendors at last weekend’s Renaissance Faire. Ladies and gentlemen, may we present this spring’s must-have item of beach and boat wear, the steel bikini:

SteelBikiniHandcrafted in stainless steel chainmail, this charming number is suitable for a full range of sailing adventures, from casual raids and boarding parties to the most elegant sacking and pillaging. Complete the ensemble with specially crafted matching accessories, including the snappy rope-braided chainmail necklace and, what are they, garters possibly?

Does it rust? Does it mess up the compass when you’re at the helm? Do you need to wear a life jacket so that the weight doesn’t drown you? Do you get a tingle all over when you key the VHF?What’s its SPF rating? I mean, you can see right though it, so clearly you’re going to get a sunburn. So many questions!

Suffice it to say that you probably won’t be seeing one of these added to Eagle Too’s equipment list. But if you want to drop by wearing one, we’ll be happy to buy you a drink!

Sorry, it just seemed like a good day for something a little silly. 🙂

One Year Later…

It was a year ago today that I first clicked the publish button and Life On The Hook™ was born. It’s mind boggling to consider how much change we’ve seen since then. When our first post went live, we were still saying if we sell the house and go cruising, rather than when. We were still debating the relative merits of trying to go with the boat we then owned versus seeking a good deal on a larger vessel. I hadn’t yet decided to submit my retirement application. We were tentatively edging towards the future we believed we wanted, but didn’t yet own the idea, or feel we were definitely on our way. I think we spent each day waiting to see if there was another shoe to drop that would cause us to alter course and embark on a different path.

What a difference a trip around the Sun has made. Since that first hesitant post, we:

  • Found the perfect boat. Then lost it. Then got it back again, and successfully purchased her.
  • Shipped our new boat from the lake in Tennessee where we found her to Pensacola.
  • Listed our previous boat, and in record time found the perfect buyers.
  • Listed our house, and again found the perfect buyers (or at least, the best we could have reasonably hoped for).
  • Spent the holiday season in a panic trying to pare down 35 years worth of possessions and treasures to just those things we truly couldn’t part with, and then sold or donated the rest.
  • Moved out of our house and into a hotel, and put our treasures in storage.
  • Became full time live aboards.
  • Wrapped up my career of 31 years.

I’ve always said if it was meant to be, it would happen. We did our part to get ready, and life did its part and just sort of fell into place. But then I’ve always said that good luck is what you get when preparation meets opportunity. So here we sit in the salon one year later rocking gently in our slip, not yet living the true cruising life we hoped to ultimately achieve, but certainly well on our way. Each day we awaken onboard offers confirmation that there’s adventure ahead.

Where will the next year take us? We can’t say for sure. Eagle Too is fundamentally sound, but we have a pretty extensive list of things we’re planning to do that will take us at least until summer to finish. If I’m honest with myself and reflect on what we’ve been able to get done in the ten weeks we’ve lived onboard, well, maybe being finished by summer is too optimistic. But I do hope that when we publish our next annual reflection, it will be datelined somewhere warmer than here…:-)OneYearLaterCheers!

Boat Rations, Quick, Cheap and Tasty – Pick Three

Once again the gentle southerly breeze clocks quickly around to the north and begins to howl, while the bottom falls out of the thermometer, dropping from a mild mid-60’s to the upper 30’s as the winter that will not die sends us yet another cold front.

Naturally, I’m sitting here wondering what’s for lunch. This is turning into a day for some warm comfort food. Time to whip up some boat soup! Here’s our guaranteed to please recipe for an awesome and almost instant meal.

First, you need to get yourself some of this:

Soup3I’d read blog posts by others raving about it, and we’re always on the lookout for things to eat that store well onboard, so we ordered some to give it a try. You can use it in a lot of different ways, wherever some chopped vegetables will punch up a dish. You can find it here:

Harmony House Foods Dried Vegetable Soup

Add three cans of chicken broth to a pan (low sodium, or else you’ll probably find it’s too salty) and a half cup of the dried vegetable soup mix. Cover and start simmering on low to hydrate the veggies.

While that’s happening, use two forks to shred up some leftover chicken. White meat, dark meat, it’s all good. If you’re like us, there’s usually the remains of a baked chicken somewhere in the refrigerator, but if not, some canned chicken would probably work. Add to the simmering broth.

Open a can of cannellini beans and rinse them in a colander, and then add them to the soup. Great northern’s or navy beans would probably be fine, but we just like the sound of “cannellini.” See how it makes the recipe seem more sophisticated? Actually, they’re like a white kidney bean, and more what you’re used to seeing in soups if you order pasta fagioli when you’re out eating Italian. We’ve had no problem finding them at WalMart. Do I need to tell you why you need to rinse them? If so, then try just dumping the contents of the can straight into the soup one time and I think you’ll figure it out. Consider yourself warned.

If you’re so inclined, you could probably put some of your favorite pasta in as well, but that would add both a lot of time (to boil and rinse the pasta) and a lot of simple carbs (which we’ve learned should only be consumed in limited quantities if you want to continue to be able to see your toes without straining when you get older).

A few grinds of fresh black pepper and a teaspoon of Tony Chachere’s (no boat galley should be without it!) and stir.


We use Tony’s on pretty much everything except ice cream and our morning lattes. Then to finish, we add a tablespoon of Rhonda’s secret ingredient—homemade dehydrated tomato.


This stuff is amazing. Mix it 50/50 with water, and you have instant tomato paste. Add more water, and it becomes tomato sauce. For the rest of you though, who probably don’t have any of this magic potion, I would say the tomato is probably optional, or you’d do just fine with a few tablespoons of tomato paste or a small can of tomato sauce. It just depends on whether you want a traditional amber-colored chicken soup, or you’re looking for a more tomatoey Italian style dish.

Simmer a bit and serve. Topped with fresh sprouts, of course, just to make your mouth happy:


This literally goes from “Hmm, I’m hungry, I think I’ll cook something” to “let’s eat!” in 30 minutes. And while it’s not fine dining, it’s a darn tasty and comforting meal that’s just perfect for riding out another blustery day onboard.

In the program management world we learn that you can have something fast, good, or cheap, but you can only pick two of the three. I think this recipe is the culinary trifecta of boat rations—a meal that’s quick, cheap and tasty. Give it a try!

Quick, Cheap and Tasty Chicken Soup

  1. 3 cans of low sodium chicken broth
  2. 1/2 cup of Harmony House Dehydrated Vegetable Soup Mix
  3. 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  4. 1 cup (more or less as desired) shredded cooked chicken
  5. 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  6. Pinch of cracked black pepper
  7. (optional) 1 tablespoon dehydrated tomato, two tablespoons tomato paste, or 1 small can tomato sauce

Add all ingredients to a medium pan and simmer for 20-30 minutes on low burner. Season to taste. Serve with fresh sprouts.

Serves four (or two if you’re really hungry and you’re making this your entree). Enjoy!

The Printer And The Pound Of Flesh

Well, it’s that time of year again—time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. With lots of projects in the offing and April 15th right around the corner, I thought I’d use this brief lull while waiting for parts to arrive to sit down and settle up with Uncle Sam. Now this is not going to be a tax rant. As a former Federal employee and now a government retiree with a pension (at least that’s what they tell me. Still waiting for the checks to start arriving!), I realize I’ve come out way ahead on that balance sheet. But it still amazes me when I see how much money the government requires from us each year so they can give it away “free” to other people to buy their votes.

We knew that once we moved onboard, our storage space would be extremely limited. With no room for a filing cabinet, we plan to keep mostly electronic records, which means we need the ability to scan documents. We also have the occasional need to print something, and it seems like a good idea to have a copier around, just in case someone needs a copy of our ship’s papers when we’re checking in somewhere someday. So shortly after moving aboard, I spent a few days researching the issue, and then bought a compact all-in-one printer/scanner/copier.


It’s an Epson WF-2660, which was the smallest unit I could find that would do pretty much everything we were looking for. Duplex printing, automatic and flatbed scanning and copying, and it can handle paper up to legal size. I guess it can even fax, but does anyone truly care anymore? One feature I really liked was that it supports NFC. That means we can print pictures or documents directly from our phones by just touching them to the printer, no computer involved. Plus with built in WiFi, it will easily integrate into the boat network once I get a router set up. It fits really well on the cabinet at the foot of our berth in the aft cabin:

Printer1I just need to mount a securing strap to latch it down for when we’re out sailing. I had hoped to find a mobile printer that wouldn’t require AC power to work, but none of the available models had all the features we were looking for. This one should run just fine though from a small plug-in inverter. And the price was definitely right. You can buy a WF-2660 on Amazon delivered to your door for only $89. It blows me away that something this amazing costs so little, when two pieces of clear plastic and some wire (i.e. eyeglasses) can easily top $500 (that is a rant I’m going to have some day!) No idea how durable it will prove to be, but it’s worked perfectly for two months now, and at that price, I really won’t cry that much if it bites the big one after a year or two and has to be replaced.

So how did I get from taxes to printers? Well, as usual, we owe the IRS some money again. Not much, but it means we have to send them a check. And that means that rather than filing electronically, it gets done the old fashioned way, printed out and stuffed in an envelope and sent via snail mail, postmarked on April 15th. Because while we accept that we can’t avoid paying taxes, I have no problem with making our favorite Uncle wait for his pound of flesh for as long as possible.

It’s been a while since we’ve given something the Life On The Hook™ Seal of Approval. Epson WF-2660, this one’s for you!


A Quick Thank You

All boats are a compromise. At least, all boats that fall in a price range that we mere mortals can afford. I could be wrong, but I imagine the owners of this little jewel probably didn’t have to give up too many items on their wish list when they purchased her:

SuperyachtBut here in the real world, everything is a trade-off. One of the first decisions the designers of modern production yachts like ours make is whether to provide room for people or for storage. It’s pretty much an either/or proposition.  Make the cabins spacious and roomy, and there’s little room left to store things. Build in lots of lockers, and the boat seems smaller than it should for its size. Invariably, people space wins out over storage, because that’s what sells boats. Very few people climb aboard a new yacht at a boat show and say “Look honey, it has so much storage space!” No, it’s voluminous cabins and huge berths that sell boats today.

Now many people would probably agree that eating is a pretty important thing. If you don’t do it, and do it regularly, well, you die, and that sort of sucks. And with all that eating, there needs to be some cooking occurring also, because it’s too damn expensive to eat out all the time. Plus Domino’s doesn’t deliver if you’re 50 miles offshore. So cooking and eating—I think we’re all on the same page here regarding how important they are.

But remember, space sells. Storage gets whatever is left after the people space is parceled out. Consequently, onboard Eagle Too, the designers at Hunter Marine decided that everything we needed for cooking, all the pots and pans and such, had to fit in this space under the galley sinks:

Pots1Probably about two and a half cubic feet total. Now like most yachts with a previous owner, our boat came with a collection of pots and pans that were probably cast-offs and extras from the original owner’s kitchen. No two items matched, and everything was just a jumbled mess of cacophonous cascading crockery.

This is where the thank you part comes in. This past Christmas, and again at my recent retirement, several friends, relatives and former co-workers gave us the thoughtful and oh-so-practical gift of West Marine gift cards. With this unexpected windfall, we recently splurged on something that we might not have otherwise purchased in light of all the essential sailing gear on our equipment wish list. We bought pots. But not just any pots. Special boat-friendly nesting pots that pack a galley’s worth of cookware into less than a square foot of space.


A large stock pot/dutch oven, a big deep skillet, small, medium and large sauce pans, two lids, and two detachable handles that swap back and forth between the various pots. All in heavy duty stainless steel, with thick laminated bottoms that are prefect for the gas stove. When you break it all down and pack it up, it looks like this:

Pots4A much better use of our limited storage space. We see many many yummy meals coming from this set. So thank you to everyone who contributed. We thought you’d like to see what we did with the gift cards.