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We moved on the boat ten days ago after provisioning. Since that time, high tides initially driven by fairly brisk winds and then by heavy rains here in the marina, have kept us tied to the dock. The high tides prohibit us from going under the fixed Kemah Bridge.


The marks on the piling above represent “feet above mean high tide”.  We can just barely clear the bridge at “mean high tide”.  It’s just not worth the risk of our mast hitting.  So, here we sit.

Our plans all along have been to sail away for two months or so to shakedown our boat systems…returning back to Kemah around the first of July to repair, replace, or simply change whatever systems/problems we weren’t pleased with. Though for almost two years we’ve worked refitting our boat, nothing reveals boat issues like living on it full time. Having not even left the dock yet, significant things have already surfaced.

The first thing that failed was our freshwater pressure pump. A low priority item in the big scheme of things, we had no spare. We replaced the pump and bought a spare. Check.

Spending our spare time checking systems, one night we turned on every single exterior boat light. Our boat has bow running lights, stern running light, deck lights on the spreaders, steaming light, the anchor light and the tricolor masthead light. The tricolor, located at the very top of our mast would not come on. It turned out that light had a burned out bulb. Up the mast and the bulb was replaced. Check.

Next, both of our electric heads died. We replaced both of them with new ones. Check.

And, then one of our two cats on board simply vanished into thin air. We have two cats, both are rescue cats. Spookie is the older of the two and the one that disappeared; we’ve had her for five years. We tore the boat apart looking for here. When I say we looked everywhere I mean everywhere. For two days we looked all over the marina searching high and low, from early morning to late at night…nothing. We had the marina send out an email to the tenants asking them to be on the lookout. We talked to every person we saw. The response was overwhelming, but no Spookie. To say we were heartbroken is understatement.

Last Saturday the marina had a huge party for the tenants. Afterwards we rode our bicycles around in yet another attempt to find our pet, with no success. At this point we had heard not even a peep out of our cat in over two days. Any hope of finding her was quickly diminishing and both me and my husband were emotionally deflated as we sat in our salon silently.

Hoping against hope, I asked him if he had checked into a specific bilge and pointed, reminding him that some of our bilges are connected under the bilge boards. He said he’d checked that area but had not checked to see if that bilge was connected to any other. He then got up and removed the bilge cover, calling the cat as he did so. Both of us heard a very, very faint meow. He called again, and again a just barely audible meow. We then started removing bilge covers at the speed of light. And, then in an adjacent but unconnected bilge, way back in a somewhat adjoining area my husband saw our pet jammed into an impossibly small space. It took her a minute or so to turn around and get where we could pick her up. She had spent almost 53 hours in the cramped, pitch black area. By the way, prior to finding her we’d already checked that bilge twice.  We found our cat. Check.

And, so, we tried out our new oven/stove, only to discover that our Xintex Fireboy  had died. This little important device operates a solenoid that turns our propane off and on remotely and also detects any gas leaks around the oven. We searched all over the entire Houston area for a replacement. The local West Marine and other marine supply stores had none in stock; the RV establishments, unbelievably, didn’t have a clue what we were even talking about (we assume the RVers think their rigs are explosion proof). After an entire afternoon, we managed to repair the system. Gas? Check.

Continuing to check our systems, yesterday we found our Kohler 8kw on-board genset required a new fuel pump. It’s on order but won’t be in until next Monday. It’s an easy fix once it’s in. Check.

Then, day before yesterday, my computer died dead as a doornail. Husband bought me a brand new high performance Dell Inspiron 7000 17” with graphics card. It’s lightning fast. After ripping my files from the old computer’s hard drive and downloading a bit of office software, I am back up. We have a multitude of computers on board…two lap tops, one iPad, a brand new “computer only” that’s strictly for backup, and both of our smart phones. My iPhone’s hotspot gives us five bars of internet connectivity, and with an HDMI cable, we watch Netflix on one of our televisions. Anyway, computers? Check.

In the big picture, none of the above were deal killers. Perhaps the most annoying is the generator, but we have a new small Honda portable genset in the sail locker if, for nothing else, the ship’s genset crumbles and worse comes to worst.

We expected some system failures so none of this is entirely surprising. Again, the whole purpose of this two month excursion is to find these problems, and finding them we are. Our boat is not the cave that much smaller vessels are. Freedom is essentially a small two bedroom apartment with virtually all of the amenities of our home. We have two folding bicycles on board that allow us to scoot around locally, and one of our lovely dock mates has been very generous in allowing us the use of her car should we need more substantial transportation. There is a local restaurant that has a more than acceptable menu just outside the marina gate, and a Kroger that’s only a short bicycle ride away should we need anything else.

We are asked almost daily when we are leaving by those on the dock. But, we are in absolutely no hurry to leave. We’ve both been sailing for a long time and have nothing at all to prove. When the weather stabilizes and the tides return to normal we’ll head out. In the meantime, it’s Friday afternoon and we’re going to barbecue a whole chicken and enjoy a drink or so.

Life is good.



  1. Not quite like being “stuck in irons” 🙂

    • Hi, Claude…no, not exactly.

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