Doggie Defense!

Some our most frequently asked questions are about our dog.

Sadie Jane – Catahoula Leopard Dog mix

How will she go to the bathroom?

Is she afraid to be alone on the boat?

How will you keep her from falling off the boat?

What happens if she DOES fall off the boat?

What kind of safety gear does she wear?

I find it amusing that I get asked about Sadie Jane’s safety more often than ours. Let’s face it. If one or both of US fall off the boat, the dog isn’t going to help us get back on! But I totally, get it. These are the same questions we asked ourselves, and other cruisers, as we did our due diligence in prepping for this cruising lifestyle. So we will happily answer!

Q: How will she go to the bathroom?

A: Female dogs squat to pee. Conversely, male dogs either squat or hike a leg to pee. Male and female dogs both squat to poop. It’s a biological and physiological thing.  

…. Was that not what you meant? OH! You meant, WHERE! *wink* We have options for this!

Option A: Take her to shore. We have a dinghy with an outboard motor that we use to go back and forth from boat to land. We load her up with us, and we zip over to shore. We then let her run and, do her business. And, YES, we ALWAYS clean up after her! We do this once a day, weather permitting, because it’s good for her (and us) to have a chance to run around and play. Sadie Jane LOVES to frisbee! And she’s young, and very high energy. We like to wear her out, and it’s fun!

Option B: Faux grass mat on the bow. We picked up a large remnant piece of “grass” outdoor carpeting from Home Depot, and a large rubber boot tray from Amazon. We cut a piece of the grass to fit the tray, and have placed it on the bow of the boat. Training for using this was a challenge. It goes against her life long training to “go” in (or on) where she lives, so we attempted to use the mat everyday while we were still at the dock. We eventually took it with us to the marina dog park and shoved it up under her when she peed. We even left if at the park for a while, and asked our dog neighbors to use it when they were at the park, too. Having it “scented” helped A LOT!

The whole process to train her to use the potty patch was much more complicated, but that is for a different post.

Potty Patch

Q: Is she afraid to be alone on the boat?

A: The boat is home! Just as she was never scared to stay “at home” when we would go to the store, or out to dinner, or off to work, she is just as comfortable staying “at boat” when we do so now – after, that is, she calms down from being mad that . That said, for my own comfort, I have 4 wifi cameras installed inside the boat, so I can check on her through an app on my phone (when we have wifi access). Trust me. She’s fine. Sadie Jane typically rotates between the v-berth, the settee in the saloon, and the cockpit (standing guard). If anyone is interested in the cameras, we use WYZE CAM.

Q: How will you keep her from falling off the boat?

A: Jack lines, and tethers. These are the same features we use for ourselves!

Jack lines are straps that run the length of the boat, and we attach ourselves, and the dogs, to this (much like a mountain climber would do) to prevent us from going over the side should we slip and fall, or encounter rough water conditions. When we are underway, she will be “jacked in” to the lines by her harnesses or life vest via a tether anytime they are above board, and out of the cockpit.

Tethers are stretchy lines with carabiner clips on each end that attach to our vests, or harnesses, and some point on the boat. Points on the boat could be a jackline, or a point of the mast, or a padeye in the cockpit. The job of the tether is to keep people and animals (and sometimes gear) on the boat, without restricting movement.

Sadie Jane’s tether vs. my tether. Mine will handle a few hundred pounds, and has two lengths depending on my need for range of motion. Hers is plenty to handle her 35lbs, and keep her safely in one place.
Sadie Jane tethered into the cockpit. The black scrunchy cord running from a padeye to her harness. This allows her to lie down, or stand up, adjust her position on her bed, drink water, etc, without leaving the safety of the corner, and getting under foot while we sail the boat.

Safety netting is something else we have, but have not yet installed. It goes on the life lines around the the perimeter of the boat – think “playpen” – and that is about as good as it gets for when we’re not moving. It is not an easy installation, and so far she has not displayed the need for it. However, we DO have it, and we WILL eventually install it. Not as much for keeping her on the boat… but her toys. Poseidon has claimed one or two.

Q: What happens if she DOES fall off the boat?

A: We’ll let her figure it out. That’ll teach her!

JUST KIDDING!!! We have a doggie-overboard operation ready to enact at a moment’s notice. She can easily be fished out of the water by the handles on her harnesses or life vest. This can be done either by hand from the dinghy, or paddle board, or by a boat hook from deck of the boat.

This brings me to the last question…

Q: What kind of safety gear does she wear?

A: Help ‘Em Up harness, and EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device. The Help ‘Em Up harnesses are exceptional. I mean, these are serious pieces of equipment that encompasses her body completely, and without restricting her movements She can even use the bathroom without removing it. Designed for senior dogs, or dogs that have mobility issues such as arthritis, or hip\joint pain, these harnesses have have the typical over-the-neck and around-the-chest piece with a handle, as well as, a bottom piece that are hip straps with another handle. The two pieces detach, so she can wear just the chest piece. Because each piece has a handle, we can comfortably pick her up by her harnesses, to lift her in and out of the boat, dinghy, or water if she takes an unexpected swim. (Incidentally, she requires no assistance getting in and out of the dinghy from the boat. She is quite agile!) The back handle, also, comes in handy to snag snag her if she is in too much of hurry to go somewhere, or to lift her back legs to help her climb up onto something tall. She wears her full harnesses when we are underway, or if the weather dictates it, and she always has on their chest harness, unless we are down in the boat for the night.

The EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device, too, is a substantial, robust vest that has a strong handle, and is worn whenever she is above-board when underway for long distances, or if they weather dictates.

The truth is nothing is 100%, but we have darn good safeguards implemented, and we simply choose not to take unnecessary chances with our safety or hers. She has been swim tested. She really doesn’t like it, but she proved to handle herself well in water, and our doggie-overboard drill went as expected. Now we’re looking forward to days of dinghying to shore to play and explore, and to fun on the water with her riding around with us on the paddle board! I mean, come on! THAT’s what all of this is for! To enjoy life! And we don’t mind leading by example – just doing our part to promote hedonistic values!


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Boat shows just aren’t fun if you don’t get to bring home a new toy. One year, it was boat hooks. Just last year, it was new windows. This year was especially exciting for us. We have been saving up for a couple of years for this particular purchase. It’s one that we will use now, and will be able to come with us to the big boat later. This is the kind of thing that can make or break any boating or camping experience – especially a lengthy one.  Or it can even be the kind of thing that can take it to what I like to call “Level: It never even occurred to me” because THAT, folks will be music to my ears! What is this amazing new toy you ask??

We got an AIR HEAD!

AirHead Dry Composting Toilet
AirHead Dry Composting Toilet

That’s right! When we have people onboard and need to use “the facilities,” we no longer have to worry about it. We won’t have to direct them all the way back  up to the club house, or carefully watch their trek up to the bow of the boat carrying a bucket – a BUCKET, people!! – whle attempting to be nonchalant.  Nor will we be tempted to just toss them into the drink to take care of business. No siree bob! Now using the facilities will be something that is just done. Naturally. Without pomp. Without circumstance. It will never even occur to anyone that it USED to be a concern for us.

Yes, this is the kind of “toy” we get giddy over now.  We went through a lot of discussion and research before making the final decision on the AIR HEAD, instead of it’s competitors, or a typical marine head and holding tank. Ease of use, disposal, and odor were our chief points of reason. If anyone is curious, just leave a comment or send us a message via our new facebook page, and we will be happy to fill you in on our opinions.

Speaking of facebook, go check us out!
It’s still in the beginning stages, but I’m to going to try to start updating a little more regularly over there. You know, just in the moment pics, thoughts, etc. Hope you’re all having a great day!

Strictly Sail 2013.. er, 2014?!

Strictly Sail Chicago – 2014

We skipped a year! Well, we didn’t skip the show, just the post. I assure we were there, and soaking up the sights, sounds and info like sponges as usual.

Strictly Sail Chicago is hands down one of the best shows in the country for sailors of every kind. Racers? Day sailors? Cruisers? Curious-Georges? There’s is something for everyone! Since we have discovered it we have been faithful attendees.  Every year we purchase our admission tickets and climb around on a display boat or two, attend many hours of FREE seminars on a variety of topics from upgrading your deck hardware to managing relationships, and I never leave without having a few “Ah-ha!” moments.

For example: Did you know that it is illegal for a business to make a color copy of your passport? A few of you are probably rolling your eyes, and thinking, “Yes, little one, we did.” Well, how about this? Did you know that you can personally make a color copy of your passport at home, and then take it and the passport with you to a notary, and have it legally stamped as a “Certified Likeness?” Next time you travel out of the country and head into a foreign town for a shopping day or what have you, you can leave your passport safely in your luggage or hotel safe and take the certified likeness  with you. If you lose it, or it gets stolen it’s useless to anyone who picks it up. BUT! What if something were to actually happen, and you needed to prove who you are? Well, that color copy serves it’s legal, trouble free purpose for you, or if your original passport it lost while in a foreign place, that certified likeness GREATLY expedites the processing and issuing you of a new one. (Thank you, Lin Pardey for your Paperwork of Cruising seminar!)

We, also, get to meet so many great people. It really is fantastic. A few years ago I met Bob Bitchin’ and his wife, Jody. SUUUPER fun and friendly folks, and great resources for information, and of course, awesome sea stories to tell. I get my picture taken with at least Bob, and Jody, too, if she’s available, and they are never short on  hugs and smiles. If you are not familiar with their new magazine Cruising Outpost, please follow my link!

Me, Bob Bitchin’, and Jody of s/v Lost Soul and owners of Cruising Outpost Magazine – Strictly Sail Chicago 2014

This year we were excited to meet several more BIG NAMES in the sailing world!

Paul and Sheryl Shard of Distant Shores put on several seminars this year, and spent a fair amount of time down in the Author’s Corner of show meeting and talking with people. They were a truly lovely couple. We spoke briefly during the first day of the show, and after that it seemed they never missed a chance to go out of their way  to say “hello” to us each time they saw us again, be it in a seminar, or just walking in the same direction during the show. I was so fascinated with them that I didn’t think to get a picture with them. They were very busy, and I didn’t want to take up any more of their time either, but I  have no doubt we will meet up with them again. Please go check out their television show and their adventures here –
Distant Shores!

Scott and Brittany Meyers of Windtraveler fame was also in attendance. They did a guest speaker piece during one of the Shards’ seminars, and can I just say their daughter, Isla, is just as much of a charmer as you would expect!? Probably even more so! And the twins are due to make their arrival pretty much any minute – WOW. They were, also, completely swarmed with people wanting to meet them and take pictures – as expected – so we didn’t add to that chaos, but it was really a great moment for us to be able to put voices and live action to their stories. We’ve been following their blog since before they bought their first boat and left Chicago! Please go take a gander at their page here – Windtraveler – or just click the link on our blog roll on the left side our our page, and you’ll soon see how delightful and addicting they can be!

We were amazingly fortunate to meet Lin and Larry Pardey this year, as well. They have been sailing the world for 48 years, and only very recently have become land based once again. As genuine and kind and generous as you can imagine, these two were wonderful. Lin is a great presenter, and they have more experience and information in their little fingers than I can absorb in just a few short days. They have written several books, and recently, Herb McCormick, published a biography of their lives. I was privileged to have all three of them sign my copy, and Lin and Larry signed my copy of their first book for me, too. I hope to one day be anchored in the bay near their home in New Zealand one day, just so that maybe I can learn more by osmosis or something. One thing is for sure, we’ll be inviting them to dinner on our boat and bringing the guest book out at the END of the evening!* If you’re up for some delightful reading – whether you’re a sailor, or just a fan of true story adventures –  please check out their books. They have many, and you can do a search on Google or Amazon to find them all, but here are links to two:

Cruising in Seraffyn, by Lin and Larry Pardey

As Long As It’s Fun, the Epic Voyages and Extraordinary Times of Lin and Larry Pardey, by Herb McCormick


Me, Lin Pardey and Larry Pardey of s/v Seraffyn and s/v Taleisin, and Evan – Strictly Sail Chicago 2014


*During one of Lin’s seminars she explained that in the UK it is signaled that your evening as a guest on another person’s boat has ended when the guest book has been brought out and signed.  Naturally, this was exemplified by a humorous story of one couples’ very confused encounter with another vessel. They worked all day to clean their boat and prepare dinner for guests. In their over-excitement, when the guests arrived they brought out the guest book, so that they wouldn’t forget before the end of the night. Unfortunately, this politely and promptly ended their night – quite a bit sooner than they had expected… as in before dinner was even served!!




So hopefully you all remember the donation we made to the KODA Camp fundraiser. If you didn’t see that post you can read about it here.

After a lot of weather and maintenance postponements, and rearranging of schedules we were finally able to take our lucky winners, and new friends, out on the water! Four parents and 4 kids…  oh, wait.. we should be including us in this count. The total was 6 adults and 5 kids!

The adults got their party on,  while kids clambered all over the boat! The little ones weren’t too keen on having to don the orange vests of safety, but were immediately pacified when offered the chance to “drive” the boat. The older kids did a lot of hanging out down in the cabin – why would they want to see a beautiful sunset on the water, and risk hanging out in close proximity to the *gasp*  OLDER folks!?

Honestly, we all had a marvelous time, and we can’t wait to do it again!

IMG_7059 IMG_7030 IMG_7024 IMG_7022 IMG_7005 IMG_7013 IMG_7014

Winter already??

I already long for these days again…

Wind Affair is back on land again. Where did this year go? Between the extended winter weather and constant rain, we got very little done, and only got out on the water four times. FOUR. And only two of those were actual sailing.

Of our project list, only 2 were completed. The windows do look great, though!

Evan did a bit of crewing in some of the races this summer, and that was fun. We said we weren’t interested in racing Wind Affair when we got her, even though many have asked us about it. However, now that he’s crewed in a few races, Evan is starting to warm up to idea.

One of our outings this summer did include the winners of the KODA camp auction. That was a lot of fun! I will post more on that another time.

Another cool thing is that we got a new (to us) truck specifically for the purpose of being able to haul out and travel with Wind Affair. It’s a Chevy Avalanche 2500, and it’s a beast. Hauling out this year was SO much easier!! We’re looking forward to taking her up north for a week or so next summer!

Right now it’s snowing, and there’s a good bit of house work and laundry to get done. Nothing like a good dumping of snow to really make you focus on the how much you didn’t get done over the warmer months.  But, then again, winter months can be good, too! For example, We have played several rounds of Yahtzee yesterday and  today (Jacob wins every time. I don’t know how.). We made Almond butter bars. We’re watching the Colts game (they not doing so hot, so maybe that’s not a great example at the moment.), and we will be going to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire after Jacob is done with in-fielding practice later.

Over the next few months we will be working on finishing the basement,  reorganizing our boat items, and readjusting our plans for  Wind Affair and our To-Do List for her. We’ll also take in some live boat porn in the form of Strictly Sail Chicago. Anyone else braving the Chicago waterfront in January? Let us know if you are; we’d love to catch a drink/coffee and a chat.

Meanwhile, here’s a pic of the dog whining because the cat has taken over his window perch.

Max is a professional whiner. In this instance, however, I don’t blame him. Shadow, I assure you, couldn’t give a hoot less about his displeasure.

Gerry Hughes – Deaf Sailor


Circumnavigating the world in a sailboat takes time. A lot of time. I would be remiss not to mention commitment, dedication, patience, skills in risk management and self reliance.

Now imagine doing it solo.

Now imagine being deaf.

Gerry Hughes is not the first man to brave the challenges of sailing a solo circumnavigation, (In 1969, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first man to sail around the world single handed, non-stop.) but  he IS the first Deaf man to do it.


September of 2012, Gerry Hughes set sail from the Firth of Clyde and set sail on his Beneteau 42 s7, Quest III, for the first leg of his journey – Cape Hope. After 210 days and 32,000 miles of determination, rounding all 5  capes, and even surviving a capsizing event, he arrived back in Troon, South Ayrshire in May of 2013. Gerry was met by his wife, Kay, and their two daughters, as well as a huge crowd cheering and celebrating him and his fantastic achievement. One report stated, “After hugging his tearful wife Kay, 47, on his arrival, he swapped the champagne popped in his honour for a pint of his favourite Guinness.” (source, MSN UK)


This is a man of guts and glory. He had a dream. He made that dream come true. Bravo, Mr. Hughes! BRA-VO!

Current Projects/Future Projects… for now

Wind Affair was splashed later than anticipated this year due to the forever winter and then incessant rain.  We never found an enclosed storage facility either, so there were a few winter projects that had to wait until late spring… well, now it’s early summer! We have at least four projects going right now, and a few more that we want to get done before we take her back out of the water this fall/winter. Oh, and considering we have only left the dock to actually sail ONCE so far this season, we would really like to get these done ASAP. Good grief.

Current projects:

Rebedding Leaky Stanchion Bases
New Handrails
Replacing Windows
Replacing Shift Cable

Future Projects:

Painting topside
Redo Cabin Floor – teak
Bottom Paint
Interior Hull Paint
Starboard Storage Compartment (Galley)
Remove Jabsco Head/Install Composting Head

Part one of Project: Painting Topside will likely be moving up to the Current Project list shortly. Project: Replacing Windows, and Project: New Handrails have yielded a significant change in the coverage area on the outside of the cabin top. Old runny epoxy streaks and other such nasties are now revealed and are quite the eyesore and distraction for what should be beautiful new custom windows and handrails. We are likely going to at least throw some white primer around the cabin topside while the windows are out and the Handrails are off.

We have been photo documenting our current projects, and we will have individual posts for each if… I mean, WHEN, we finally get them completed. Our goal is always to work on just one at a time, but I have come to accept that this is just about impossible on a boat. Once you dig in to fix one problem, several more are uncovered. Everything is linked to something else, and most often you can’t address one issue without addressing the other(s). Such is life!

KODAs and Sailing


As I have stated before, I am an American Sign Language interpreter. As such I am involved in the Deaf community outside of work, too. Recently, I was approached about a fundraiser for KODA camp.

KODA means Kids of Deaf Adults. It is also commonly referred to as CODA – Children of Deaf Adults. And the camp is  a place for hearing kids with deaf parents to get together with other kids like them for a time of real bonding, and fun!  They learn about Deaf Culture, they are taught the rules of ASL (American Sign Language), and they get to  participate in KODAtalk – a discussion where KODAs share their life experiences with deaf parents. This promotes the feeling of belonging and continue involvement with the deaf community once the child leaves their parents’ nests as well as to be aware of the network in this big wide world.

How many of you cruisers and wanna-be cruisers have friends or family or coworkers, etc that have listened to you, your hopes, dreams and been met with the landlubber-confusion face? You know, that expression that says, “I don’t get it.” 0r “You’re weird.” or “You’re crazy.” ? Or maybe they are wonderfully supportive of your goal, but it’s still hard to talk about it sometimes because they aren’t boat or water people and don’t understand what you’re talking about! So you run to your cruiser friends where you’re understood and accepted. Here you share a culture and speak your own language, right!?

This is the way of cultures and communities all over  – and the Deaf community is no different. It’s not easy being a kid. And when you have big differences in your family unit, it can be hard to identify with your peers. While we strive to celebrate our differences, sometimes you still want to truly be able to relate. Yup! That’s why even cruisers flock together!

So anyway! I was approached about donating to a fundraiser that raises money for scholarships to send kids to this camp. My donation? A day or an evening of sail on Wind Affair.

It was supposed to go on the table for the Silent Auction, but word got around in the community that this was being offered and apparently it gained quite a bit of interest. So much so, that it was moved to the Live Auction portion of the event. I don’t know how much we generated for the cause, but I am told that the event raised over $7,000 in total. I am happy that we were able to contribute. We will add a post this summer when we take the lucky winners out on the water! !


Holding Tank Eviction

Holding tanks are gross.

There is just no getting around it. Humans, like all other living creatures, produce excrement. This is a fact of life with which we must all deal. On land it’s a little easier. Most of us have bathrooms with plumbing that sends our waste to places where we don’t have to think about it anymore.

On a boat, it goes into a holding tank. This is something much like a septic tank. Except it’s not buried under the ground outside of your home. No, no…  In a boat, it’s likely hanging out in a compartment directly under your bed. Awesome.

On our little 26 ft yacht, the set up was exactly such.  Let’s also keep in mind that she is 30-something years old, and retains mostly original parts. The holding tank is among those original parts.  That’s right folks! Our wonderful little holding tank, while empty and cleaned out, has been the hiding place off and on for all sorts of human waste for over 30 years. And it, unfortunately, was obvious.  Perhaps you remember our issue with the camper smell that we thought was our nasty bilge?

“It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils.” (Name the movie quote!)

So among the many boat projects on our list. The removal of the holding tank was near the top.

holding tank
The holding tank

First we had to remove those hoses. This was probably the most nerve wracking. We follow several blogs. You can see a list of our current favorites in the column on the left side of our page. One of these is Windtraveler, written by Brittany and Scott Meyers of s/v Asante. Brittany had a LOVELY story to share when they had the great pleasure of dealing with their holding tank and hoses on their first boat s/v Rasmus.  Click here to read about it. All I can say about our encounter with the hoses is, thank heavens I wasn’t crammed into that locker along side it all, and luckily, we did not encounter any, um… residue.

Next, we had to cut the wooden brace that held it into place in the port V-locker, and then we did a lot of jiggling, twisting and shimmying to get that sucker out of there!

Evan sawing the wooden bracket

Once out, we took measurements and drew a little diagram. This is so that if/when we sell her in the future, we will be able to order and install a new holding tank for the next owner.

Try not to be jealous of our mad drawing/diagramming skills. This takes minutes of practice.
Try not to be jealous of our mad drawing/diagramming skills. This takes minutes of practice.

Here it is sitting on the dock next to our slip.

3 2

Next it was cleaning time. That locker was NASTY. And the amount of crap and lost items found on a boat when ripping it apart never ceases to amaze me. And with a 34 year old boat, I have to chuckle and wonder how long has this stuff been missing!

5 photo

It took a lot of patience, Simple Green, and Clorox with Bleach cleaning spray, but the job got done. Note that we donned our awesome blue latex gloves for the entire job!!!

Now that the holding tank is out and the locker has been cleaned we have a ton more room for storing our tool/organizer boxes and things are smelling much better. Now we have to decide whether or not to remove the actual head (toilet) and replace it with a portapotty, or just stick with the bucket method should any emergency of the Nature-Calls type arise.

Another Perspective

I originally named this post “Inspiration for your Journey.” After some reflection I decided that “Another Perspective” was more appropriate. It is definitely about your Journey, and everyone’s is different. I also hope this will Inspire you to continue to look at yours from another perspective.  A good friend of mine told me once,  “Nothing like a good re-frame to really see the important stuff in any given situation.” (Thanks, Shana Bender!)

I recently came across a short video on a friend’s facebook page. There are so many silly little pictures and memes and videos and the like posted on people’s pages these days that I don’t have time to look at or watch them all. If something really stands out visually I will take a peek, but if not, then I just pass it by with a glance. This was initially a case of the latter for me.

I saw the still shot with the big right pointing triangle in the middle of it, but I wasn’t immediately sure what it was, and so after the briefest of pauses, I kept scrolling. But then something nagged at me a little. You know, those little gut tugs? And I went back to it. I looked at it again. And I took into consideration the person who posted it (Thanks, Tom Cox!). Then I tapped the play button.  And now I feel compelled to share this with all of you – however many of you are reading.

A segment of an Alan Watts lecture, “Life and Music,” with animation surprisingly by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame. This 2 minutes and 21 seconds really spoke to me, and I hope that will speak to many others. I didn’t know who Alan Watts was, so I googled and found a wiki page, , and this website:

He was a very spiritual man, and seems he was best known for his Western interpretation of Eastern philosophies. I won’t give you an entire research paper on him here. There is plenty of information out there for anyone who simply types his name into the Google search box. Instead, I hope to have left you inspired as I was. Have a beautiful day!