Monday, December 24, 2012


Holiday greetings to our ploddingINparadise family. We are grateful for you, our friends old and new. Thank you for coming along on this glorious adventure with us. It would be lonely without you.

May you swim in an ocean of big love this holiday season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Do you think a two-foot long, 40-pound wooden warthog is frivolous on a boat? We met a couple from New Zealand on a small Baba. They too thought it was frivolous but irresistible, so they bought it on a stopover in Africa. (That's not the actual warthog up there. The original was not only wrapped for an eventual trip to NZ by plane but also taking up the entire sail hatch in the v-berth. We've pleaded for a photo once it's unveiled, so stay tuned.)

I do not have a 40-pound sculpture onboard. I wish I did. This Raft-Up blog would be funnier.

Space on a boat is at such a premium that everything has to be judged on harsh terms. The problem? Before leaving the dock, you have no idea what you'll need. It's a huge guessing game.

There are several things I should have left ashore:

Waterproof Bags
I bought a waterproof duffel and two backpacks. We haven't used any of them. A good trash bag can handle most situations for which I thought I'd need a waterproof bag. All three bags (not the trash ones) are for sale on ebay. Let me know if you want the links....

Potting Soil
Seriously. Laugh if you want. I thought I would be one of those cruisers who could keep a small garden alive. I was wrong. Everything I've tried to grow has had a very short life span either gasping in the heat or plummeting to a messy death.

Now you can really laugh: I just gave away the potting soil last week. Dreams die hard. For two years we carried a 10-pound bag of dirt on a boat. The land-bound friend we gave it to said he would bring a jug of saltwater in exchange. Ha ha.

The Damn Grill
For years we admired the amazing Australian grill at the Annapolis Boat Show. It was one of our first purchases for Cara Mia. We imagined it as an outdoor kitchen, using it every day. We hate it. We have hated it from its expensive (and damaged) beginning. It ran too hot. The replacement jets the company gave us didn't help. It was too big on the rail (we plowed it into pilings twice, once each. I have to admit that was gratifying.). We're taking it to Sailor Exchange this week. Ugh.

But what got left behind that I wish I had brought?

Land Clothes
I've ended up re-purchasing land clothes that I thought I wouldn't wear. Basically I had resigned myself to looking like a cruiser before learning from my fellow women of the ocean that it's possible to NOT look like a cruiser in 9 Easy Steps. Thus the repurchasing.

My Brain
Seriously, the greater challenge, once we have all those perfectly chosen, much needed items, is how the hell do I find them? It's a constant struggle. I'm clearly not Martha Stewart. There are no cute fabric organizers with calligraphic tags saying what lovely thing is inside.

We are fairly organized people, but you would be as shocked as I am if you knew how much time I spend digging through hatches looking for things, like say a spare zinc or a winter scarf (last week). I can usually remember where the item *used to be* not WHERE IT IS NOW.

There are a few things we've never found again, including that spare zinc. And yesterday, I finally bought a new deck brush to replace the one that went missing 6 months ago.

I found the old one today.

So, neither our downsizing nor our stowing is perfect, but here's something that is: Shrinking our enormous land footprint to a tiny marine toeprint. Zero regrets.

Now, where did I put that bag of dirt?

Please read other Raft-Up bloggers on the same topic.

who are these people? me | chip | cara mia | our very long timeline

Monday, December 3, 2012


Our dinghy, also known as Your Mom, was looking pretty raggedy. I wrote about it a while back, but we never got around to working on her. Her skin was down to canvas with a dusting of white powder. She was flabby as seaweed. Couldn't hold air for a whole day.

We were fully prepared to invest $3K -- or more -- in a new Mom.

In a desperation measure to get just one more season out of her, we invested in two products:  West Marine sealant for a whopping $60 and West Marine Inflatable Boat paint for about $47, neither of which we thought would work.

I was pretty sure we were just further protecting ourselves from dinghy theft by making her look even worse.

Extreme Makeover Step One: sealant. This stuff works like Fix-a-Flat, sealing up the seams/holes from the inside. We took the dinghy onshore and shot the sealant into each of the three tubes. Then for three hours, we (mostly Chip) flipped it around every 30 minutes to spread the liquid through the tubes. The next day, Mom was looking all tight assed.

Extreme Makeover Step Two: clean. Filled with hope, we spent the morning cleaning the tubes with Barkeeper's Friend and a toilet bowl brush (it's what we had. Sorry Mom). By afternoon, Your Mom still had tubes of steel.

Extreme Makeover Step Three: paint first coat. This stuff not only coats the tubes, it is supposed to help seal the external seams. I had seen painted dinghies before and, holy crap, they looked like a Joan Rivers makeup job, heavy-handed and nightmare-inducing. We apologized to Your Mom in advance and started slathering it on.

Unpainted and white on left. Painted and pale gray on right. Not bad so far.
Extreme Makeover Step Four: paint second coat. Lo, Mom was still tight as a drum on the third day. Coat two went on all fresh and breezy. See for yourself.


Almost bare canvas.

Cover Girl.
Okay, we don't know yet how this paint will hold up, but seriously? Look at her. Now I'm worried someone will want to steal her. She looks like new.

I am not sponsored by West Marine. I paid full price for these products. I can unequivocally recommend both of them at this early stage. Stay tuned for how this makeover holds up after a raucous season in the Bahamas.

Your Mom. You just can't replace her.