Are we there yet?!

in Sailing the World / Sailing with Cats / USA
Charlie on Hideaway

Dear friends and family,

I’m sorry to inform you that, despite what we told you, we are never actually leaving New York. We just said all that stuff about sailing to the Bahamas so you would come to our good-bye party and buy us farewell dinners. I feel guilty about the deception and hope you’ll forgive us one day.

I also want you to know that it has recently come to my attention that I am the god-daughter of late Capt. Harly Aku who was a personal confidante to the ousted Head of State of Sierra Leone and was left with the total sum of US $10,000,000.00 (ten million U.S. dollars), which was left under his control within the Presidential Mansion. I must find a trusted partner to help me get this money safely out of the country, so if I could transfer this money to your account, it is guaranteed you will be entitled to 15% of the total sum.

If you are willing to assist me with this transfer, dear esteemed friend, please let me know and I will furnish you with the details.

Yours truly,

Tasha Hacker Aku


Sorry. My sense of humor is going a little haywire with, well, what is the cabin fever equivalent to being stuck in port? Dock fever? Un-motion sickness? Whatever it is, we’ve got it.

Even Celia couldn’t take it anymore and tried to end her boredom by setting herself on fire over our portable gas stove. Luckily Celia has a lot of fur, so I caught the burning smell before she even flinched and was therefore successful in stamping out her suicide mission.

It is, in fact, beginning to feel like we just made up this whole story about sailing away in order to con a total of two good-bye parties, four good-bye dinners, one good-bye lunch and countless bottles of fizzy wine out of our loved ones and colleagues.

But the boat is now ready to go, and we’re raring to leave as soon as the next weather window allows, which is definitely, probably, hopefully this week.

Let me tell you now: if I am eating this year’s Thanksgiving dinner wearing anything more than a bikini and flip-flops, I will throw Ryan overboard and write about it here.

But as long as we’re on standby, let me catalog here what work has been done over the last 6-8 weeks to get our boat ready to leave (feel free to skip over the list and jump to the photos if boat work is not your thing…I won’t be offended as I nearly fell asleep writing the list):

  • Removed mast and ran new wiring to the top of the mast for the new Windex, LED tri-color navigational lights, LED anchor light, hi-def radar, VHF antenna, cellular data antenna and Rogue Wave WiFi antenna
  • Installed a new alternator on our engine to increase battery charge
  • Installed 4 new G-27 gel batteries (Ryan was particularly excited about this)
  • Installed a new refrigeration plate in our cool box (the old one drew so much power we could never run it unless we were on shore power)
  • Had the boat bottom scraped and painted with anti-foul
  • Replaced our propeller with a larger, more powerful propeller
  • Replaced our old battery-sucking cabin lights with new, modern, low-amp LED lighting
  • Had a new dodger and cockpit awning fitted and custom made
  • Installed a new chart plotter, depth finder and wind-meter at the helm
  • Installed a Xantrex (battery charge monitor) so we know when we need to charge up our batteries
  • Installed a new VHF marine radio on the nav station
  • Bought a new 4-inch memory foam mattress for the V-berth (my new favorite addition…seriously, if you’re not happy with your boat mattress – or even your house mattress – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to replace it – this was $140 on and a dream to sleep on)
  • Converted one of our hanging lockers into a pantry for more food storage, using Container Store wicker baskets and custom shelves built for the baskets’ sizes.
  • Removed our extremely dangerous alcohol stove and built a shelving unit for storage of pots and pans and our portable gas stove units
  • Had a locking cat flap built into our cockpit washboards
  • Bungee corded the litter box down under the Nav station (fits perfectly there!)
  • Ran netting along all our lifelines for the cats’ safety
  • Installed a new pump in the head and replaced the old toilet seat
  • Installed a new joker valve on the head to keep the waste from coming back into the toilet bowl (which it was doing)
  • Replaced all the window screens and gaskets on the portholes
  • Installed a new auto-helm (to replace the old, perfectly fine auto-helm which was fried by a bad regulator)
  • Installed wall fans in each room
  • Velcroed our iPad cover to the ceiling of our V-berth so we could watch TV on our iPad (okay, maybe this isn’t really “work,” but let me tell you it is a pretty awesome addition if you buy TV episodes on iTunes)

Some highlights of the work in photos below:

Hideaway’s new improved custom dodger

New chart plotter, depth finder and wind meter on the helm

New navigation station gadgets

New memory foam in V-berth…gift of the gods

As I said, this is the best $140 ever spent. It’s like sleeping on a cloud – no seams, no hard spots… just heaven. We bought the 4″ king-size memory foam and cut it into the shape of our V-berth, then laid it right on top of the existing cushioning (the green in the pic is the old cushion). At the Annapolis boat show last year, we got a quote for a custom mattress which cost over $1000 per berth. Crazy! You can buy one just as good here and cut it to size yourself:

Once a coat closet…now more food storage!

Hideaway’s old alcohol stove – a fire hazard like none other

This alcohol stove came with Hideaway and has only been used once – on the day we finalized ownership of the boat. We were sitting on Hideaway, in a marina in Stamford, Connecticut, wondering how to christen our new acquisition and Ryan suggested making a cup of tea on the stove… before ever buying boat insurance. Bad idea. We lit the stove and noticed very quickly that the purple flames kept climbing higher and higher, despite the fact that I was turning the burner down lower and lower. When they started licking the ceiling, I started frantically turning everything off – I had turned off all the burners, and shut off the stove completely and yet the flames still kept growing. What happened next was a panic in the order of: first ripping open a fire blanket and laying it on the stove, only to find that the flames escaped from the sides and were climbing ever higher, then dumping a bucket of ice on the stove, which only seemed to fuel the fire, then finally yanking out a fire extinguisher and covering our brand new galley with a layer of foam. If only I had a picture of that. What a mess.

But at least we weren’t on fire anymore. And there wasn’t any real damage, except perhaps to our blood pressure. We made a mental note to call Boat US for an insurance quote as soon as we’d mopped up the galley.

Following this hair-raising incident, for five years, the stove would only be used as a small, gimballed storage locker. A very expensive storage locker, at that, as they cost about $1000 new. We looked at the cost of replacing this stove with a propane one, and we were looking at a minimum of $1000 for the stove/oven unit, plus installation, plus the additional requirement of installing a specially ventilated locker to hold a propane tank, which was not going to be an easy or reasonably priced job for a boat that didn’t already have propane tank ventilation.

Our solution? Rip out the stove, build a storage cabinet, and buy two $40 portable gas stoves that could be stored in the new cabinet. We have never understood what to do with an oven anyway, apart from store pots and pans in it, so this feature won’t be missed much.

Hideaway’s new galley storage addition – enough to fit 2 stoves inside as well as all our pots and pans (and some wine)

Isn’t it a lovely stove? Did I mention it was only $40? Check it out:

The new galley storage space

New locking cat flap in our washboards

Can Charlie and Celia find their way in and out?

The litter box is bungee-corded down under the nav station

Charlie approves of the new lifeline netting

Charlie and celia with our new fan and new hanging iPad TV contraption

0 Comments... Be the first to comment
  • More Joy Everywhere October 15, 2012, 12:39 pm

    You are so funny. The part about Celia, I read out loud to hubby – he said – JUST LIKE ISABEL! But Isabel decided to jump ship instead of set herself on fire. Our first cat overboard:

    Last year at about this time were CRAZY cold and anxious to start south (from Annapolis). We did manage to get someplace warm(ish) by Thanksgiving, but it was a close call. Keep the faith – you’ll get there!

    • tashahacker October 15, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Oh my god, that is hilarious! That pic of poor disgruntled Isabel is too much! She looks very very mad. I’m hoping we’ll get out of here soon before the other cat does something drastic. Reading about your propane tank locker issues confirms our decision not to build one – we’d probably be stuck here even longer!

  • Mid-Life Cruising! October 15, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Glad to find your blog! I’ve read all your posts and looking forward to following along with ya’ll on your journey to the Bahamas! Our Catalina 30 looks a lot like yours … same green cushions and everything! Love what you did with the oven area … we also have an alcohol stove that we’re not too sure about. That foam mattress … we gotta get one of those!

    We’re about a year behind ya’ll … hope to celebrate my November 20th birthday in the Bahamas in 2013 … make that “better be”! =)

    • tashahacker October 15, 2012, 1:36 pm

      Wow, amazing!!! Yours is just a year younger than ours…Catalina must not have run out of that green fabric by the time they got to yours! Your birthday is so close to Ryan’s! Maybe we’ll get to celebrate them both in the islands when you get down south next year!

  • Jesse K on s/v Smitty March 21, 2013, 3:08 pm


    I just found your blog and I am really enjoying reading it.

    We have a Catalina also, the C310 model, and are planning almost the exact same trip as you are doing. Except we will leave from a little farther north, Massachusetts.

    I like how you have your inflatable across the stern and was curious on how you were keeping it on. Do you have a davit system or just tying it there?

    Also, did you keep it that way when you crossed the Gulf Stream? How was it?

    Sorry to hit you up with so many questions.

    Fair winds,


    • Tasha March 28, 2013, 5:29 pm

      Hey Jesse!
      Thanks for reading! I hope you get out here soon…it’s gorgeous!

      As for the dinghy, we don’t have a davit…the boat came with these two Edson hooks on the back which we’re perfect for hoisting our inflatable dinghy onto…our dinghy is pretty light.

      We tie the boat down and haven’t had any problems with it during crossings, including the Gulf Stream.

      If you want pics of the hooks I’d be happy to send some to you!


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