Cat-A-Blog – 2011 Voyage Preparations

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Dear Friends and Family,

Well, if you go by artificial deadlines, we were to be leaving on February first.  Today is Sunday the 30th and we are not sure when we will leave.  Both Rob and I and our friends Steve and Nancy Johnson on their Manta Catamaran Chat-Eau are both still working to be ready to leave on our adventure together.  We were doing pretty well until a part Rob ordered was found to be defective once it was installed.  Unfortunately, it is a major part for the engine and Rob doesn’t want to take the risk of leaving with the old one instead since it is only considered good “in an emergency”.  When he called to tell the supplier that the part was defective the computer told them they had one in stock.  But when they went to get it off the shelf, it as gone.  Now the part is back ordered and it may be the middle of February before it arrives.  We are first on the list to receive one and we hope that the arrival time will be earlier than expected, although it could easily be later.  Not sure what we would do then.

Rob At Work

In the mean time Rob is working on a lot of things and everything seems to take much longer than anticipated.  His current effort is to recharge and then equalize the battery bank for the boat’s electrical system.  I have no idea what that is but it is not going well so he is waiting for some call backs from friends who might have more experience and if not from them, he will call the company tomorrow.  Rob has not done this before because this is the first time we have used this type of battery.  They are a great deal of money to replace so Rob doesn’t want to mess this up!

There is no lack of things to do if he is stuck on this so no down time for him.  I have finally gotten to some of the shopping, though, now I am at a stand still until Rob gets the batteries working so we can start packing the freezer on the boat.  I don’t want to over buy on food so will start packing the freezer and then see how much more room I may have for extra things.  I may have already over done it although now that we may be here for a couple more weeks, we will eat some of it up.

Packing Begins!

I buy meat at SAMS in large quantity packaging and then cut it up and repackage in meal size portions.  I brown the ground beef and Italian sausage for sauces and casseroles so that I don’t have the grease on the boat and it also takes less room pre cooked.  I also make up meat loaves and bake them ahead so they can just be warmed up for a dinner.  This takes some kitchen time and clean up but I think it is more efficient when I can do it all at once.

More Supplies

We are very lucky to have an excellent freezer on board.  It holds as much as my side by side refrigerator in the house.  It is unusual for a sail boat to have this luxury in capacity and deep freezing quality.  We certainly take advantage of it with things that are harder to get or more expensive where we are going.  Actually, we could do fine just buying off the foreign economy but this affords us a quality we are familiar with and food that we understand.  We would never starve but sometimes you wonder what you might be getting.

I am also buying a lot of non perishable items and anticipate that many will last over the summer until being used next cruising season.  Sometimes, it is not a matter of being able to get items but the difficulty of traveling to the market and brining things back and into the dinghy and on the boat.  It is easier to do it here where we have a car!  What I am doing with those items is taking things out of boxes when possible so that things take up less room and no bug eggs come on board in the boxes.

I am also buying items to take to give out once we get to the San Blas Islands of Panama.  We are taking tablets, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pens, nail polish, tooth brushes and tooth paste and small scissors for clipping thread.  The Cuna Indians there make a fabric art called a mola so use things for hand sewing.  I plan to also buy some needles and the threaders for them.  These will be light weight and nice little gifts for the mola makers.  My friends have been supplying me with ball hats that they aren’t using and I am hoping to trade them to be used as forms for making a mola covered hat.  I got one last time and many of my friends have asked me to shop for them this time around.  If they don’t want the hats to make molas, they will still be useful for the men to wear.  The Cuna Indians live a very basic and somewhat isolated life without easy access to any kind of shopping and little gifts are appreciated.  I went to the Big Lots Store and got a lot of the things at a very reasonable price.  I think I will stop at the Dollar Store and see what they have to offer as well.  I won’t do that though until we are loading the boat as I think we are going to need to add some inches to the water line as it is.  For you non boaters, that means that the boat will be sitting deeper in the water!  Catamarans don’t like weight but then we are not a racing catamaran so we will live with a little less speed, while the boat remains safe.

We also have cruising friends in the Rio Dulce where we will be leaving the boat in Guatemala.  They are now making that their home base.  We have offered to bring some things for them, especially things that might be harder to bring on an airplane so we have been feeling like treasure hunters looking for those items.

Prepping Catalyst

I said that my logs might share some philosophical observations so here goes.  I have been on a path of self discovery over the last few years and I think some of it is finally sinking in.  Some of the things I have been addressing in myself is my fixation on time and never being “late”, being disappointed if the expected outcome doesn’t happen, (knowing we never quite get what we expect means a lot of potential unhappiness if we allow it)and I am trying to learn to live in the moment and enjoy it whatever it brings.  Today we went to Mass and our favorite priest, Fr. Jerry, told us that the word happy comes from the word happens.  He suggests that happiness can come in whatever happens even in what we might look at as pain or sadness or anger.  It is after all a choice left entirely up to us, and making one that brings happiness, while challenging at times, certainly is seems like a better choice to me.  So luckily, God gave me an easy one right now.  I can look at this time delay as a curse or a blessing.  It has become so evident to me in my truly blessed life, that no matter what happens with this sailing adventure, we go or we stay, there will always be an up side to the situation.  Already  because of the delay, we will be able to attend an anniversary party and a super bowl party (I am not interested in the game but love the party) and if we are really delayed we might make our boating club road rally which is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!  We have already had unexpected extra time with out daughter and her family who live locally.

So, though we are living in a house of piles of supplies waiting to be loaded on the boat, though parts are delayed, and the batteries are challenging, we are happy and content.  We will let you know when both the boats and the weather are ready.

Until then, we remain happily yours,
Sue and Rob Linehan
Still at home

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