Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Overdue Blues

I got me a bun in the oven
And it’s gettin’ overbaked
It’s been nine months and nine days—
How long’s this baby gonna’ take?

I got the overdue baby blues
I got the overdue baby blues
I want to have this baby soon…

Everybody says that I’m so cute
But I feel like Porky Pig
I know I’m sposed’ to grow now
But that baby bump is gettin’ big!

I got the overdue baby blues
I got the overdue baby blues
This baby better come out soon!

Well this isn’t exactly the first time
Since this is baby number five
You’d think by now I’d know how
To get a baby to arrive—

But the secret sauce ain’t workin’
And the herbal remedies
The eggplant parmiggiana
Or prayin’ and beggin’ PLEASE…

Let this pregnancy be through!
I got the overdue baby blues
Come on my baby, soon—

I got the overdue baby blues
It is time to end this ruse—
We just can’t wait to meet you!
Baby, I sure hope you show up soon…


For some reason, most of the pictures we took in the Bahamas turned out beautifully.  The colors… the light… the scenery… it was really hard to take a bad picture.  I must say that it went to my head a little.  Suddenly I had standards for when a picture was good enough.  Suddenly I wanted to spend a bunch of money on a camera that lived up to those standards.  And suddenly, now that we’ve left the Bahamas, all our pictures suck.  That explains the lack of them recently, by the way.  

I really know next to nothing about photography.  I’m a point-and-shoot kind of guy.  So when looking at DSLR cameras I was a little bit daunted by all the specs and features and lenses.  I talked to a friend of ours who is a real photographer and Peter was able to make a specific “you should get this camera” recommendation.  His suggestion was a Canon EOS Rebel T3.

It arrived yesterday, and though I’ve done little more than take it out of the box at this point, I hope that we’ll have better pictures showing up soon.

I’m not really looking for a hobby, but after getting this fancy camera, I should probably at least learn the basics.  What I need now is a subject to practice on… something that looks interesting… something that people want to see… something that doesn’t move too much… something like a baby…  a baby!  

Now all I need is a baby.  One should be delivered any day now, but those don't ship with tracking numbers.

Book Review: An Embarrassment of Mangoes

Jay thoughtfully bought me a new book recently. At first, I didn’t think I was going to like it. It looked like another sailing saga about middle-aged Canadians who escape the frozen North to “find themselves” in warmer climes and bluer waters (which it was) but it also possessed that rare and genuine quality that I like in a cruising story: a willingness to really explore native cultures and make friends with locals along the way. A bonus: the author loves to cook and includes recipes at the end of each chapter which use local ingredients.

In An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof, the author traces her journey from stressed-out big-city editor to relaxed world traveler and confident sailor. She takes her passion for cooking and eating to all the local markets along the way, meeting islanders who take her under their wings and show her how to use local produce and seafood to create recipes that really reflect the cultures in which she and her husband Steve immerse themselves. By contrast, I asked a cruiser recently returned from Panama about his provisioning experiences, and about what the locals eat. Much to my disappointment, he only shopped at the American-style grocery and had no idea or interest in what the locals eat.

One of our criticisms of the cruising community at large is that they don’t mix with locals. We understand the tourist/local dichotomy (being raised in a vacationland ourselves), but what we don’t understand is going half-way around the world so you can spend all your time with people who look and speak just like you, eat the same things you always did, and listen to the same music you always did. That seems strange to us. A quote from the book sums up this observation: “To our surprise, though, we’ve discovered that not all cruisers are as determined to get involved in island culture. Some aren’t only ignoring local events and music, they’re still eating much as they did back home. ‘They’ve got bigger freezers and more money than we have,’ Steve says, ‘but I’ll bet they’re not having as much fun.” The book inspires me to dig even further into local culture while we are traveling—especially with young, impressionable children who really should see what the rest of the world is like.

Along the way from Toronto to the Caribbean, the author makes several discoveries about herself and about life in general. For example, that thing called “island time” really exists in tropical climes. When Ann and Steve show up at the advertised time for a concert they are told it will start “jus’ now,” a phrase which Steve translates literally as “jus’ throw away the schedule.” It is the perfect island phrase—they adopt it wholeheartedly, and it reflects a new awareness of time for two people who had lived religiously by Daytimers and deadlines. They learn to slow down, to appreciate every moment, and to simplify. They realize at Christmas, for instance, that “only by sailing a couple thousand miles away had we succeeded in gracefully escaping the usual competitive celebrating.” They left the rush and stress and stuff behind, as we did this past winter, using holidays to really focus on what is important, and to just be with each other.

I felt a real kinship with Ann as she made another similar discovery about life aboard and a connection to the natural world. She, like me, loves the night watch for the peace and beauty it offers, and she, also like me, “realized how disconnected my daily life had been from the natural world. The weather, the wind, the moon, even the seasons—and the attendant plants, insects, birds and animals—came and went. But I was removed, at a distance.” The natural world, she writes, “is so much more immediate now. It forces me to pay attention.”

It is heart-wrenching when they have to turn north, to head back to their home in Canada. They meet folks coming south for the first time, people who don’t realize yet how “life-changing” their own “grand adventure” will be. She feels envious and doesn’t know how she’ll cope with going back to the “real world.” Steve has to remind her that their life aboard is the
real world. Aboard Take Two we have just gotten our feet wet in the “real world,” but reading books like this helps us keep our eye on the prize: to get back out there, to take the necessary risks and make the necessary sacrifices so that we can travel with our family and experience the world in all its breathtaking beauty and the colorful human family with all its joys and heartbreaks.

Diapers & Beer

I uploaded this picture earlier, but Tanya thought it required some explanation:

Diapers & Beer

You see, in my line of work (analyzing data and finding hidden trends) it's an old joke that diapers and beer are often purchased together.  So I got a giggle today when I looked down into my shopping cart and found none other than "diapers & beer".  It seems the store has heard the joke because the diaper aisle is right next to the beer aisle.

No, this does not mean the baby has arrived.  Any day now.  Be patient.

Nav Station Complete

The new nav station is installed, and we couldn't be happier with it. 


It has lots of drawers and little storage places.  The office chair used to be down in our starboard hull, but we decided that wasn't working and impeded access to the new forward bathroom.    

Tanya traded quite a bit of cabinet space for the new washer/dryer, but she seems to be coming out okay through more efficient use of space in the new galley drawers.  Unfortunately, I did something to my right knee which has put a damper on the boat project progress, so the washer/dryer is not yet hooked up.  It needs power, water, drain, and vent lines run through the adjacent bulkhead to the bathroom-turned-pantry there.

Washer Dryer

The crib is nearing completion and will be the next piece to get installed.  After seeing the look of the new furniture, we decided to go ahead with new galley countertop and a new salon table of the same wood.  The galley already has new drawer banks, and the table will have additional drawers and shelves in its base that should help with storage.  We're also nearing completion on the new catwalk design, so that will be built in the coming weeks.  The new bathroom is still undergoing trials and there will be post on it soon.

The one thing this new nav station doesn't have room for?

Homeless Charts

Paper charts.

How are you feeling?


At nine months pregnant, the standard answer is: large and uncomfortable. Jay is our photo person, so unless he feels so inclined, you probably will not see the pictures of me that look more and more like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man. People keep telling me I look “so cute” but I certainly don’t feel it. After five pregnancies, the novelty has sort of worn off. I am fortunate not to get sick, and usually like being “with child” but sleep deprivation and swelling do funny things to a person. Even when “Honey Bunny” (so-dubbed by Sam) finally stops wiggling at night so that I can fall asleep, I then have to get up 4-5 times to go to the bathroom. Climbing in and out of my bunk (which is about 4 ½’ off the floor) had become dangerous, so I moved into the salon to sleep (and be closer to the head). Needless to say, I miss the privacy and comfort of my bed.

That said, I also feel really excited. I love babies. I love the way they smell, the funny little sounds they make, the way they look at you like you are the one new to the planet. I love baby things, like the awesome new stroller that I just purchased (look for boat-baby gear reviews in the near-future), and tiny clothes, blankets, and the basket that was lovingly woven for this little one. I even love cloth diapers, which may sound weird to my non-crunchy readers. I will love them even more now that the Splendide has arrived—part of the new nav-station remodel includes installation of an Italian marine washer-dryer unit. That means I do not have to wash cloth diapers by hand. I am actually going to attempt infant potty-training with this kid, but we’ll see how consistently I can stick with that after she shows up.

The other frequently asked question these days is “Do we have a name picked out?” The answer is yes, and no. We always have several in hand when we go to deliver. We like to see the whites of their eyes before we dub them–we need to see who this person is before we stick them with a permanent thing like a name. We have the benefit this time of knowing that this is a little girl (well, relative certainty, anyway) because we had an ultrasound done in Marsh Harbor this winter. That means the list is half as short. We also have traditionally given our children Biblical names, so that narrows the list too. Suffice it to say that the new baby will not be named Esther, Jezebel, or Dorcas. As for the baby’s actual name, like us, you will just have to be patient. And if, by some chance, the ultrasound tech was wrong, then we will have to go back to the drawing board, come up with a boy name and buy some blue things.

For those of you who are praying people, we would certainly be thankful to know that you are asking for a healthy delivery in the near future (the actual due date is April 22), for a quick recovery and smooth transition as we bring a new baby aboard, and for a supernatural dose of patience. We will be posting stats and pictures of the new crew member as soon as she decides to grace us with her presence!


It's new laptop time here on Take Two. 

It’s an endurance test for Tanya's machines.  She squeezes about 5years out of them, by which point they're literally falling apart.  It'shard duty too.  Drops, spills, kids.  Mine get more use, but I'mgenerally nicer to them.  I depend on them heavily though, so I typicallyget a new one every 12-18 months whether I need it or not.  I still haveoccasional failures, and even though I pay for next-business-day on-sitesupport, it doesn't always work out that way.  So when I get a new one, theold one becomes a backup.

Lots of people we know use netbooks on their boats.  The theory beingthey're cheap and easily replaceable.  We have one, but the only use we'vefound for it is teaching the kids to type.  It's cute, but it isn't aserious computer, and neither of us can bring ourselves to use itseriously.  I've considered switching us to Macs.  I think the Macshave reached a level of maturity and market acceptance to make them viable forme.  Simultaneously, as my usage skill trends more toward the median I'verealized the overall suckage of Windows.  But Macs are too expensive forwhat we subject our computers to.  The ports on the laptop I've used forthe last year and a half are actually starting to corrode.

I've also had trouble with heat.  Modern machines are designed to runin air conditioned offices and they just can't cope with tropical climes. During the summer my laptop's fan would be running full tilt boogie 24/7, andin direct sunlight it would just roll over and die.

I considered ruggedized computers like the Panasonic Toughbook, but they areridiculously expensive and the specs aren't even that great.  We'relong-time Dell customers and Dell does have a rugged laptop called the XFR, butit has a starting price of $3800.  The specs are better, but it is stillridiculously expensive and looks like it belongs to Robocop. 

In between is their "semi-rugged" laptop called the ATG.  Tanyahas dubbed it the All-Terrain Gadget.  Shealso thinks the term “semi-rugged” is somehow fitting for me.  It is essentially just a business-classLatitude, which I have been using exclusively for the last 10+ years, but itcan tolerate higher temperatures, humidity, dust, vibration, and has asunlight-viewable display.  I decided that was the way to go and onearrived today.

While I'm moving into the new computer, I have the old E6400 and the newE6410ATG side-by-side on my desk.  For the most part the ATG looks andfeels just like the regular Latitude.  I don't know what might bedifferent under the covers, but the chassis is only slightly different. The back part of the base is wrapped in a rubber sleeve that includes portcovers.  These covers should prevent the corrosion the old one has.  Butthe sleeve also covers the E-Port on the bottom for Dell's port replicators anddocking stations.  I can see the E-Port is there, but I don't see how itcould be used.  The ATG's lid is more substantial and has a slightly morerugged look.  It weighs a little bit more and the screen is indeedbrighter.  Everything else appears to be the same.

We’ll see how it looks in a year.


How have I never discovered Bondo before?  I thought it was used exclusively by auto body shops, but I watched our carpenter using it to fill and fair the floor and walls after demoing our old nav station.  The stuff is amazing.  I've been using West System 410 Microlight for these types of jobs, but the epoxy is much harder to work with and takes longer to cure.  The Bondo can be sanded within minutes, which greatly reduces the fill-sand-fair-sand-paint cycle. 

I might actually get more painting done now…. well, at least the fairing and sanding part.  I had to kick T and kids off the boat for 24 hours for the last painting project.  Partially because of the fumes, and partially because if there's wet paint around one of them is bound to put a hand (or worse, a foot) in it.