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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.

Updating router firmware – boaty style

16 Aug

We installed a Wirie four years ago on our spreaders. A Wirie is a marine grade wireless booster and access point. It has performed admirably up until this past week.

This is what it takes to work on Tango’s internet.


Three haul-ups, a hard reset, and a firmware upgrade later we have concluded that the hardware has died and it’s time to upgrade. Maybe Christmas will come early for us this year?

No drama head

27 Jul

We pretty much love our new desiccating toilet system. The girls even commented that everything is easy and undramatic. No more crazy failures that require days of repair. So simple and amazingly odor free. We basically have an open bucket of poop sitting around for weeks – and it has NO smell.

So, since we aren’t looking backwards to the old complex marine head, last weekend we ripped out the Purisan macerator. Getting the holding tank out will require some extra effort since it’s behind the inverter and battery bank. We decided to wait until it’s time to replace our house batteries and do it all at once. Better than ripping out the wall for the inverter.


Purisan be gone. Bought us 70 pounds on the port side!


Andy quote "wonder what treasures we will uncover"


Need a degree in tinyology

Everyone poops

21 Jun

Best kid book ever…but that’s another story. Many of our friends have wanted detail on our new dry head. If you weren’t one of those folks, feel free to skip this blog post…we won’t mind. 🙂

First off, I bet you want to know why in the world we’d rip out our lovely Raritan marine head and all of its associated hoses, tanks and marine whatnots (whatnots like y-valves for pumping overboard when legal, a Purisan system to sanitize for legal pumpout in most places, yards of hoses, electrical connections, buttons, thru-hull caps, and switches). Ready for Robin’s philosophy on this?

First, a pre-philosophy backdrop to set the stage. Since moving aboard Tango in 2011, we have replaced the head (the broken piston casing leaked poo water everywhere). Additionally, marine toilets have parts that need regular replacement. Regular is relative to usage, and with four butts we rate high in the usage department. Even using oil, vinegar, and all that good stuff didn’t save us from regular replacements of joker valves, flapper valves, and most recently a long run of holding tank hose that completely calcified.

Okay, backdrop set. Now, ready for Robin’s philosophy? Everyone poops…so no getting away from that. If I have to touch gross pee and poo stuff, then I want a simple system that doesn’t involve crawling in walls and under floors, and hours of troubleshooting to find the culprit. Thankfully, Andy and the girl crew agree with me! Finally, lest you think we jumped into this lightly…this project has been a Tango “thing” for nearly a year. Discussing, researching, questioning the gory details and the “what-ifs” (what if I have diarrhea?), and talking to other boaters/cruisers who’ve made the leap (especially with my favorite group Women who Sail).

Saturday we made the leap…well at least half of it. We decided to leave the hoses and systems in place for a shakedown period, but if the first few days are an indicator, I see full-on leaping in our near future. This removal part has the added benefit of giving us some much needed space for extra house batteries – so exciting!!

In short, we pee in a jug (V-8 splash juice bottles fit very nicely) and that gets dumped in the marina toilets. Since the diverter fits into the jug, no one ever has to touch any pee. Then, we poop in a bucket of shredded coconut “peat” with cedar shavings for good smell. Andy likened it to a human litter box. We plan to graduate to a more mature desiccating system later on, once we get the recipe sorted. While we don’t plan to compost now, if you want to learn more about the biosolid composting movement, I’ll leave you to Google.

So far, no haunting marine head smell, and that’s HUGE for us. Who wants their house to smell like an outhouse?


Andy doing the rinse, flush, and repeat before we disconnect the Raritan to cut down on smell and leakage.


Abby supervising removal of the Raritan system to the cockpit. I remember installing this system a few years ago…


Key components of new system (a bucket and a bag). I hope someday to get away from the toilet in a bag…but baby steps.


Andy working on a bucket redesign – as the other bucket we intended to use didn’t fit well.


Here is the new toilet with its cabinet framework, covered for now in plastic sheeting. When we have a few days, we’ll pull it out and epoxy/paint to make sure it will last.


View “down the hatch.” Urine diverts to a pee jug, and poo goes into the bag where it’s desiccated with coconut and a few cedar shavings. Don’t worry…those dark bits are just coconut…there’s over-sharing and then there’s OVER sharing


Nice bilge pump

18 Jun

Curiously, our bilge pump started cycling too frequently, even without the ac draining into the hold. After some investigation we discovered the raw water filter filter basket (a thick hard plastic part) just disinigrated.

Must be original to the installation of our mermaid ac system!

Nice bilge pump (as we pet it lovingly)!



10 Jun

Next weekend is toilet project weekend. We are ripping out our complex holding tank/maceration toilet system and installing a very basic dry head (techically a desiccating system). Our space is funky, so rather than buy a premanufactured one, we are going to build the cabinet for our own. The only part we need is a urine diverter (pee and poo are dealt with separately).

If you aren’t familiar and want detail, here it is! Pee is funneled off into a holding system, while the poo goes into a bucket where it’s mixed with things that help kill the moisture and desiccate it. We will be blogging more, but this impending project has generated lots of great pooversations on Tango.

We were so excited to get this in the mail!


Separett urine diverter

Tied up with string (not a favorite thing)

31 Jan

We decided to move Tango to a different marina with better docks. Ha! Sounds funny to say that…since until recently we never stayed anywhere for more than a few months at best. Now the we are settled in Portland, dock quality matters more. Our old marina has wooden docks with nails popping up everywhere and in the summer the docks tilt sideways (in serious need of dredging). We put up with that all last year, even losing shoe soles to popping nails. In December we decided to move off the end tie to a more protected slip. The end tie was great in a lot of ways, except for the debris that would occasionally slam into our hulls. Debris like logs, big logs, often with a diameter over two feet. Once we even saw a dock glide by just feet away. These things are concerning when your hulls are fiberglass. Andy’s makeshift boom helped, but things did sometimes come down partly submerged…and then BAM!

The more protected slip was okay, but overall the infrastructure issues started adding up. One of the final issues was the string that the harbormaster used to tie our 30 amp shore power lines to the outlets on the dock. He did this because they don’t lock in (if you don’t know much about marine power – the power cords twist and lock to protect them from pulling out and causing all kinds of issues). They don’t lock in because they are very old…and the marina isn’t required to upgrade. Something about being grandfathered into a code exception? That and the plugs were only a few inches above the water line… To be fair, we did have a better power situation at our other slip, it just came with logging trees.


River barge

Anyway, we made the move. A lovely day in January, and even a few other sailboats out practicing maneuvers. Only issue of the day was discovering one of our 50-foot 30 amp plugs decided to up and die. Good thing we unplugged to check! We had unplugged it (as our second system it’s not necessary) to use as an extension cord. Went to the boat bucks store to buy a replacement. Thought about getting a short one, but the 12-foot was only $10 cheaper than the 50-foot. Weird!


Bad, bad plug! Kind of looks like a smiling face…mocking us…


Stewsday cheaters

18 Nov

One week in, and we cheated and didn’t have stew on Stewsday. Why? We went out on a family date to see Big Hero 6 at our local brew pub. They had a very yummy blackberry hard cider on tap too! Next week we will pick up our stew sampling…

Meanwhile, all is cozy on Tango as we settle in for our first chilly fall in a few years. We even had a few snowflakes fall, but nothing stuck around.

Unfortunately, the starboard engine is puffing out blue smoke. After some TLC and an oil change, we still are seeing signs of oil leaking into the combustion system, so we have decided to bow out of the Christmas Ships this year. Kindly, one of the other boats has offered to let us tag along a few nights. So, while we will still get to do some Christmas shipping, it won’t be Tango style.

Guess this means some greasy hours in our future…but with thousands of hours on the engines we knew this was coming soon.

The price you pay

4 Oct

Sail off into the sunset with dolphins and adventure off our bow?

Do stuff like this?


Sailing on the Atlantic by moonlight

and this?

Mooring ball in Warderick Wells

and this?

White Cay anchorage

Who wouldn’t say yes! Well, what the brochures don’t say is that there is a price to pay that sometimes looks like this…

We had a feeling that something was bound to break soon. Too much had worked well for months now (including Steve the auto pilot). Friday morning our premonition became reality with the toilet deciding to back up.

After hours of trouble shooting and replacing easy parts we realized the backup was in a six-foot run of hose under the floor, up the wall, and behind the house batteries.


Snaking didn’t work either. Turns out that calcium carbonate deposits had rendered that length of hose pretty much inoperable.


Warning: grossness

After many hours of hose wrangling and detoxifying the boat we are happy to be functional again…but now we are scared to use it. Guess that’s one way to keep the system clean!

Using our noodle

25 Sep

Monday a large log with attached roots banged into us and sort of snagged between our two hulls. A nice powerboater happened by just when everyone piled out to peer at it, and he pulled it out for us. Thank you, mister mariner!

This logging prompted Andy to invent a new device to encourage debris to move along downstream and leave us alone. Although he’s looking for a few more noodles, it seems to be working well. We’ll see when the next big log comes down if this will be enough.


Patent pending of course…