Thursday, June 22, 2017

A scheduled bottom cleaning

     The weather lately has been crappy, except for Sunday. I woke up that morning to Joe saying, "I think today's the beaching day!" The sun was shining, a slight breeze was out of the north and the tide was rising. A month ago, we wanted to beach Kyrie so we could change her zincs, but the weather just wasn't right. Despite it being Father's Day, Joe made the decision this could be our only clear weekend day for a while.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Can we breathe yet?

     Summer is here! I feel like we are nearly through with all of our crazy busy activities that have pulled in all different directions and we can finally enjoy just being.... The kids finished school a couple of weeks ago, but then I had a women's retreat this past weekend. I was on the team planning it, which started back in February with weekly meetings. Joe had been on the team for the corresponding men's retreat, so we were running hither and yon. His retreat was in April, so he has been waiting, just slightly impatiently, for mine to be through so we can have our evenings again! Anyway, last week was nuts. Joe had to go to Kodiak for work Sunday evening and didn't return until Wednesday evening. I dropped the kids off at a friend's house Thursday morning and left for the retreat. Joe had the kids all by himself this weekend, while fighting a nasty cough, so he didn't have the best weekend. Then, I got back from the retreat Sunday, tired as all get out, but feeling pretty good.
     Monday morning, chaos continued to reign. Joe met coworkers for breakfast while I dropped Levi off for his week at camp out at Echo Ranch again. He gets to go for five days this year, and since he's 10, he now gets to ride the zipline! He found out he was in a cabin with two of his really good friends, so he was a happy boy when I left. Next was taking Rachael downtown for her time at the Juneau Fine Arts Camp. She gets to take dance, ukulele lessons, cooking, watercolors, and calligraphy. Busy time for my big girl! In all this, Megan gets plenty of "Mommy and me" time, which I know she loves.
     All this continued activity is making me tired! But, now it's the kids that get to run around and I'm actually enjoying some downtime for the first time really since--gosh, I don't know. Maybe late last year before Joe started his ham radio class? And people wonder why I haven't signed my kids up for more activities this summer than they're already doing?! Aside from swim lessons for the girls later this summer and Vacation Bible School next week, we need to have time to not have plans. I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning and not have a clue as to what we're going to do that day.
     Another bright moment--Joe and I were examining our finances this morning and realized that we are firmly on track to meet our goal of having everything paid off, well before the end of the year! I'm so looking forward to putting money aside for our big adventure and seeing the numbers in the bank account rising. although seeing the debt amount decrease has been exceedingly satisfying. We're getting there! Every day, we're getting closer to being able to take Kyrie on the adventure for which we bought her. In the meantime, though, I try to remind myself that every day, especially living on a boat with three children, can be an adventure!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mishaps and an anniversary!

     Last weekend was one of those times when nothing goes according to plan. Kyrie's zincs are getting close to being in need of replacement and since she is designed for it, Joe and I came upon the idea of beaching her on nearby Sandy Beach for the change. Saturday should have been an excellent day for it, as the tides were at a relatively convenient time. We could have motored out of the harbor, rounded Mayflower Island and beached Kyrie in a pretty nice flat spot. We notified the Coast Guard of our plans since the beach is well-used and someone certainly would have seen the boat aground. I had strongly considered making a big sign saying, "Yes, we're fine. Yes, we meant to do this. No, we don't need any help," hopefully keeping us off of YouTube as boneheaded sailors who ran aground!
      But as so often happens, the weather did not behave as predicted. The wind was only supposed to be around 5 knots, but it was already 10-15 knots and blowing from the south, which could have made getting off the beach later difficult and potentially dangerous--that wind might have pushed Kyrie up on the rocks. The zinc exchange would have to wait until a safer time.
      All right. Next activity that had been a possibility--the sailing club had buoy races planned and we had been asked to act as committee boat again. This time, we brought some friends along to hang out on the boat with us while anchored. Joe and his friend had been asked to ride along on one of the other boats during the second race. The race got started and we were all having fun watching the progress. Spinnakers went up, bows crossed--it was fun! The race was about half over when it happened.
      The four of us adults were outside in the cockpit when we heard a loud thud from inside. With four kids in there, Joe called, "What was that?" No response and he ducked inside to check. Suddenly, he called with an urgency I don't normally hear, "Kristen, I need you, now!" He and Levi were down on the floor of the galley. Levi was crying and Joe was holding paper towels to his forehead. I could see blood on the floor.
     It turned out that Levi somehow tripped and fell headfirst down the steps into the galley, striking his forehead on the slider for one of the cabinets. It happened so quickly he couldn't get his hands out in front in time to stop himself. Poor kid! It didn't take long to realize this wasn't a simple cut--we needed to get Levi to a doctor and most likely he would need stitches. So I sat with a sobbing boy, pressing a wad of paper towels to his head while Joe got on the radio, announcing to the fleet that there was a medical emergency and we had to abandon our post as committee boat.
      Our friends helped get the anchor up and keep the other kids occupied while I sat with Levi. As soon as we were back at the dock, Joe took Levi and left me to finish securing Kyrie. Thankfully, the bleeding had nearly stopped at that point and Levi was fully capable of walking to the car. After about an hour, I got the word that Levi had indeed needed stitches, but had handled them like a champ and was doing fine. Mama could finally relax, knowing her boy was okay!
       So, that was our excitement this past weekend, which we could totally have done without... However, there was a reason to celebrate this week too. Yesterday was May 24, which marked our one-year anniversary of arriving back in Juneau! Kyrie has served us well in her current port, although, like us, I think she's ready get out and stretch her wings. It's time for Kyrie to be a boat again, instead of a floating apartment. We're off to Taku Harbor tomorrow for the long Memorial Day weekend and a mini vacation, which we all desperately need. The kids need a break from school and Joe and I need to cut loose and be able to just relax for a while. It's always fun and there are usually a lot of people out for the same reason. Here's to a few days of less responsibilities than usual!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Season Begins

     Yesterday, the sailing season officially began with the first race of the season.  Our sailing club SEAS participated in Juneau's Maritime Festival with buoy races out in Gastineau Channel. Kyrie was the committee boat, which means we anchored not far from a channel marker and marked the start and finish line.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A moment of silence

       Juneau, the town we love and call home, has suffered a tragedy. No, no one died, but something very precious to a lot of people was callously destroyed Monday evening. A playground that was built by the community back in 2007, involving hundreds of people and thousands of man-hours, was set ablaze. This wasn't just any playground. It really was a magical place, utilized by a majority of the community. There are photos of it all over the place--all you have to do is type in "Project Playground Juneau" to see them. If I can find any of my own, I'll add them to this post. Swings, slides, an ice castle, a play fishing boat, tunnels, boardwalks--this description doesn't do it justice. This park was a real center to our community. There were always kids running about, thoroughly enjoying its wonders and delights.
      I got the news from a friend at about 6:00 Monday evening. I felt shock, sadness, and outrage as I looked at the photos and watched my Facebook feed blow up. I didn't realize how much my kids would feel the loss. My son, especially, stomped around, saying, "Why would someone do such a thing, Mom?" Both the big kids said, "That's my favorite playground. And now it's gone." Sentiments being repeated around homes all over Juneau.
      Joe drove by the park on his way to a meeting last night and told me there were people gathered everywhere. Cars were stopped on the side of the highway, nearly every fire department vehicle in town was there. One would think someone of great importance had died and the town had convened to mourn. Not too terribly far from the truth.
      I was perusing Facebook this morning and came across a post by an acquaintance. She wrote a poem about this very real loss and I believe it expresses what most of us are probably feeling more than anything else I could say would. I will let her words end this post.

Smoke still curls, 
Charred bones remaining of buildings that 
Brought this borough together not so long ago. 
Cars line the street, 
Crimson flashing reflections in 
Motionless mirrors.
Children's hands and their laughter Float like ghosts in that
Space, empty and hollow.
Amber caution tape sways
Wider than the burned seats of swings,
Metal bars blackened.
Plastic flutters in the wind.
We cannot put out the flames with
Fear, or the
Tears that stream down.
Justice will not return
Wonder to Juneau's children's eyes, Imagination set free among
Castles and boats and joy.
Green grass, laid bare and burnt, will grow again.
But we must not stay so idle.

-Kristina Paulick

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring has sprung

     It's April here in Juneau, and it is beautiful! Kyrie has one sail back on now--her roller furling main--and we're enjoying some sunshine. I don't know what the official temperature is today, but I do know it's too warm to hang out in the cockpit at the moment since the back curtains aren't fully open. What a problem--too warm here in Juneau! I love it!
     Currently, I'm the only one on Kyrie. We got a kayak yesterday and Levi has taken to it like a fish in the water. Yes, we found an incentive to get him to buckle down and finish his school work. No taking the kayak until he's done with school. He finished everything by the time we were halfway done with grocery shopping today, so I hope this continues. He's been out in that kayak nearly all afternoon. I think he's going to find himself gaining some arm strength that will help him out in swimming quite a bit. In the meantime, Joe came home from work and lowered the dinghy to go for a cruise around the harbor. The girls decided they wanted to go along, and Levi took off in the kayak with them. A quiet 20 minutes to myself to enjoy the sun out on the bow? Nothing wrong with that! Although I'm beginning to think we may have to get another kayak if anyone else wants to be able to paddle around...
     In other news, we will be celebrating a birthday this week. Levi will be 10 on Wednesday! When I think of all that has happened since that boy made Joe and me parents... Wow, we've seen a lot of craziness in our lives. I can honestly say that 10 years ago, as I stared at my enormously pregnant belly, trying in vain to see my toes, I did not contemplate even the idea of living on a sailboat with not just the child I was carrying, but also two more! But you know something? I wouldn't change anything. Especially when I can be kicked on the bow of my dream boat, soaking up some April sun, here in Southeast Alaska. Right now, I really truly believe there are few moments that could top this.

Levi trying his skills in the new kayak.

Joe and the girls cruising in the dinghy.
Most of Kyrie's crew out enjoying the sunny day!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We've got cabin fever!

     What a far cry from the last time I wrote! It's just as pretty of a day out, but probably close to twenty degrees warmer. Yes, that equates to only about 42 degrees, but for a spring day in Alaska, that is delightful!
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!
I can tell spring is finally here because we are all bouncing around--and I really do mean all of us. I can't put all the blame on the kids--wanting to be outside in just sweatshirts because it looks like it ought to be warm, but isn't really. Yesterday, Levi was trying to teach Megan how to use his slingshot, firing rocks off the end of the float toward the breakwater. There's a scary thought--the two-year-old with a slingshot...

But let me backtrack a week or so... Can I first just say that Joe's parents were amazing to put up with us for what turned out to be a two-week invasion of their home? When Joe and I called them, begging for a warm place to escape to, we honestly planned on being there for just a few days, but the cold spell lasted for nearly a week. And that wasn't the end of the craziness. I've said it before and I will say it again. This is March. It is officially spring, right? Mama Nature evidently didn't get the memo, or maybe it's just a further reminder to us to not jump the gun and take all the winter coverings off so early next year. Regardless, Juneau--in fact, most of Southeast Alaska--got seriously dumped on with the snow! We received 20 inches between Sunday the 12th and Tuesday the 14th! An article in our local paper said that a dump like that in March isn't unusual--we just haven't had a typical winter in a while! It would figure that we get our first "typical winter in a while" the first winter we have Kyrie here in Juneau. The girls and I came down on Thursday last week while Levi was swimming to clean Kyrie off. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the "before shoveling" and "after shoveling" photos.    
When we got there, the snow on Kyrie's bow was level with the top of my boots and naturally, it wasn't
any old light fluffy snow. No, this was the super wet, heavy, do-you-want-to-build-a-snowman snow. I still don't know how Rachael and I managed to get it all off the boat and be able to pick Joe up from work and Levi up from swimming in a little over an hour. Somehow, I thought when we moved out of the house and onto the boat, my snow shoveling days were at an end. HA!
Joe did some calculations and he figures there was close to two tons of snow on Kyrie's decks. Looking at the change in her waterline between pre- and post-snow removal, that seems like a fair assessment. I certainly felt like I moved a ton of snow. One good thing about all this snow is that the kids had a fantastic season at Eaglecrest, our local ski resort. The big kids get to take lessons throughout the winter through our homeschool group and this was the first year in a few that the kids were able to ski the whole season. Not too bad for Rachael's first time skiing. Both kids left me in the dust when we left Megan with Grandma and Grandpa and the four of us went skiing!

But now, thankfully, the weather seems to be changing.  Spring appears to finally be on the horizon.  We can't wait to hank the sails back on and get Kyrie out of the harbor for the first time in 6 months!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sound the retreat!

     That's it. Blow the horn. Pack it in. We temporarily concede defeat! Old Man Winter has won this round.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Beginning Spring Preparations

Well, we did it - we removed the remainder of our winter cover in preparation for spring, just in time for it to get cold again.  Oh well.  For those that don't know, we removed the reinforced poly tarp about a month ago during a severe windstorm (80+ knots) but still had the frame up, making Kyrie look a bit like a whale skeleton.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Brrr.. It's Cold Out There!

This winter (our first real winter aboard) has been . . . challenging.  While we are still enjoying living aboard winter in Alaska on a boat is not for the faint of heart.

The last 3 months it has been a roughly constant pattern.  Temps in the 30's and low 40's with lots of rain and heavy wind 40-50mph frequently for a week, then a sudden shift to clear and cold, along with more wind.  This week it is doing the same thing, just now shifting to around 28 for a high, 14 for a low, and heavy Taku winds.  For those not from the area, Taku winds are katabatic winds that affect downtown Juneau and Douglas, and the gusts can reach 90 miles an hour or stronger.  Two weeks ago, one of those windstorms with a steady 40, gusting to 80 plus took out our winter tarp cover.  We had used Scotch Tough poly and tarp tape where we had to have seams in the cover to allow the rigging and mast to pass through.  One of the strong gusts split the seam wide open, and was about ready to forcibly remove the tarp.  At that point, Kristen and I made the call to just cut it down before it did any damage, as the windstorm was supposed to last for another two days.

15 minutes with a utility knife and a full day's work from putting up the cover was undone.  The good thing is the windstorms don't really affect us much anymore.  The bad thing is we lost the still air inside the poly tarp which helped us retain heat a bit.  With the temperatures dropping again, Kyrie tends to do fine until temperatures hit around 25 as we are trying to solely use electric for our heat.  After it gets below 25 the three little electric heaters can't keep up, and we have to use the main boat heater - a Webasto hot water system.  With all three electric heaters running on low we don't blow electric breakers, and with the Webasto we are comfortable inside until temps get into the single digits.

We are fortunate that Kyrie is fully insulated, although not quite enough for Alaskan winters.   We are all anxiously awaiting the time we can pull her away from the dock again - hopefully sometime in March!

Friday, January 20, 2017

One year already?!

     I haven't written anything on this poor neglected blog in months, but today is a very appropriate day to pick it back up again. Much to my amazement, we have been living in our floating home for exactly one year today. How is that possible? I look back at the past year and can't believe everything that has happened.
     We left Juneau and picked Kyrie up at Point Roberts, moved in and moved her to Blaine, Washington. Joe worked in Bellingham and we tried to figure out where exactly we would be longer-term. We had a fantastic time cruising around the area before finally making the decision to take Kyrie north and back home.
      Kyrie has so far been a great home and we're slowly learning how to be a boat family. This winter has been a little rough, especially when a crazy windstorm hit and forced us to cut down that tarp Joe and I worked so hard to put up! Nevertheless, kids and parents alike are doing well and are waitng anxiously for warmer weather so we can put the sails back on, fire the motor up and go explore some more of Southeast Alaska in our floating home!