Message in a bottle

3 Jan

Back in 2014 or so, on one of our gulf stream crossings, Madi decided to write a message and put it in a bottle to see where it ended up. Today, she finally heard back! She got an email stating that yesterday the bottle and a young man named Emanuel found each other in Pico Island, Azores!

2018 bottle

Photo from Emanuel in Pico Island


If that bottle could talk about the nearly four year journey it had, riding the gulf stream. We speculate that it rode the current north towards Iceland, before it curved back around south to land on the Azores.

What a wonderful way to start 2018, as we prepare to move back on Tango in the spring and continue getting her ready for future cruising adventures.

Thank you, Emanuel!


Starter? I Hardly Knew Her.

24 Oct


From Andy,

Since the day we bought Tango we have always had a nagging problem with our ignition system. The two Yanmar diesel engines have both displayed the same crazy frustrating behavior. Turning the key an pushing the starter button always yielded varying degrees of success. Generally one would have to push the starter button around 15-20 times to finally hear the reassuring sound of the solenoid engaging the starter followed by the even more reassuring sound of the engines roaring to life. That nagging problem ended today. Well, on the starboard engine anyway.

Before we left Maryland we had a diesel mechanic come aboard and check out the engines. We told him about the issue and he kind of hmm’d and hawed, but couldn’t figure out what the problem was. We should have been persistent, but, I think at the time we just thought we could live with it. For the years that we have cruised on Tango, we have done just that. Lived with it. However, living with it has always kept me up at night. What if we are drifting towards a bridge or trying to get out of the way of an oncoming cruise ship? Pressing the starter button in the hopes that it would kick over is, ultimately, not a satisfactory answer when lives are at stake.

So, scouring the internet for many days, I finally came across a possible solution. Apparently there are two wires that run from the key switch and the starter button that tend to degrade quite badly over time. This degradation increases the resistance and when that happens, there are not enough amps to kick over the starter motor. Solution? Replace the two wires with some shiny new wires and a new 30 amp fuse.

Since running wires on Tango is a major pain in the arse, I started the experimental fix on the starboard engine first. (Why do they make some boats so hard to work on?) The run between the key switch and the starter is only a few feet on the starboard side and, within a few minutes I had the wires running from the source to destination.

Long story short, I just ran the wires along the pathway for the existing wires, cable tying as I went along. A few splices and connections later, the time came to test the system out. First press of the starter was a success. Could be a fluke, though. Second time? Success! Third, fourth and fifth time? Great success! The fix was remarkably easy and I feel stupid that I let self doubt of my abilities get in the way of fixing something important.

Bad Andy.


If you happen to have the same issue, here is a link to the original article that I used for this fix.


Now, on to the port engine. This one will be much trickier as there is quite a long and convoluted run from the ignition switch to the starter. Onward and upward, as they say.

A different kind of adventure

24 Jan

We rented a house! Now we are true landlubbers.

There are lots of reasons we decided to move off Tango (for now), but a main one is that Tango needs some major TLC that’s tough to do while living aboard. Things like rebuilding the diesel engines (starboard is under Madi’s room). Other things include cleaning out every hold and removing the hidden piles of stuff we accumulated over the years that we don’t use anymore. One thing I’ve always loved about Fountaine Pajot design is the storage. Seems like we’ve filled up this house, and we haven’t started cleaning out the deep holds yet.

We expect this to take a few years (doing it slowly on our own), and since we aren’t leaving Portland any time soon a house seems like a good solution. Most of our family and friends felt like this was a good and logical thing to do, but it feels very revolutionary to us!


The last few weeks we’ve been walking around the house talking about how decadent things feel with unlimited running water, an oven, a flushing toilet, a bathtub, a furnace, a normal address (no more “what is a slip?”), and high speed internet. One of the girls commented that she’s glad to have a foundation in our Tango life, because she appreciates things that others might take for granted.

Someday the cruising adventures will continue, but for now we look forward to land-based ones. Here’s to adventure!

Where’s a snowshovel when you need it?

12 Jan

Epic snow (for Portland), with overnight accumulation of nearly a foot! Poor Tango sank down several inches below her waterline, and the bimini and trampoline have new stretch marks.

Need to shovel off the snow, but don’t have one waiting in the forward hold? Why would we – this is Portland after all. We thought our days of bitter, snowy Maryland winters worrying about de-icing, shoveling, winterizing engines and buying bubblers were behind us. 

No worries! A dust bin, a collander and a squeegee will also do. Sailors can find many uses for an item, or necessity is the mother of invention, right? 

With Tango a few pounds lighter, some of the crew took a school break to throw a few snowballs and bound with the crazy dogs. Some of the other crew just hid under afghans and wished for warmer weather. 😊

On a night like this…

4 Jan

…What we wouldn’t give for another ten amps! (Especially Robin who is missing tropical weather big time).

Is it really supposed to be this cold in Portland this soon? The east winds blowing at 20 knots don’t help either. 

Time to dig out the ski gear, brrr!

Didn’t beat the first cold snap

9 Dec

Winter  arrived a bit early in Portland and I didn’t finish the enclosure. In fact, the last rolls of vinyl windscreen just arrived a day ago.

Oh, well! Perhaps it will warm up enough soon to make patterning outside a more enjoyable venture.

Happy Thanksgiving 

25 Nov

The Tango crew wishes you all a very happy Thanksgiving from the Oregon coast.

Score – dodger zero, Robin one

21 Nov

The dodger almost beat me. In between ducking raindrops, I commandeered the whole galley to lay out pieces and set up the sailrite machine. I roped everyone onboard into helping hold pattern pieces and cut vinyl windshield sections. I fretted over the wet weather and the earlier sunsets. But, we prevailed and showed that dodger who is boss!

Poor Andy got the fun of taking out the old posts from the deck and installing the new keder rail. Butyl tape and 5200 are so much fun to play with, right?! As an aside, who puts 3/4 inch posts into a deck – especially where there will be mainsail folding action? We’ve lost count of how many foot injury and broken post accidents have happened over the years. One of our big changes in the new dodger was installing a keder rail track.

After the keder rail fun, the hardest part was keeping the pattern on the windscreen for protection while I was sewing. That stuff scratches quite easily! The port side went up quite nicely, and I got a bit cocky. Ms. Starboard wasn’t going to play as nicely. She decided to warble and not follow the pattern that Peyton and I so carefully created. So, I seam ripped and tightened, waited a few days for the rain to subside, and then seam ripped some more. The final tightening seems to have done the trick and finally the starboard side looks pretty good. Good enough for Tango anyway. If you get up close, you can see some less than professional bobbles, but I’m happy!


Next up – the full enclosure. I feel much more prepared to tackle this bit, as the sections are more or less flat rectangles that will just zip together.

Sixth Halloween aboard

31 Oct

As we float here in Portland dockland, we are feeling a bit of nostalgia…hope you all enjoy another Halloween!

2011: Our first Tango Halloween

2012: Sandy and journey prep

2013: Goodbye hurricane hole

2014: A very Harry Potter day

2015: Zombies in the food bank


Happy boaty October

11 Oct

Boo! Fall has definitely arrived, with temperatures getting cooler.