"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

May 31, 2015

Silent Sunday

May 26, 2015

AC Unit vs. Jellies

Rockport Harbor

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." ―Ralph Waldo Emerson

The water around Texas Pearl has been thick with moon jellies. These alien-looking creatures are named for their translucent, moonlike circular bells. They’re found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters, and they feed in quiet bays and harbors. Like other jelly populations, overabundant moon jellies indicate an unbalanced ecosystem. Scientists have discovered that jellies reproduce best when the water has too many nutrients—usually the result of run-off from land—and too little oxygen. Maybe we have so many in our harbor right now, because we’ve had so much rain lately. Moon jellies can sting, but they pose little threat to humans. Little pain...maybe, but they certainly are a menace to the intake of our AC unit. They get sucked into the strainer and as soon as we clean out the strain and start the AC again…another one plugs it up.

The only option we have for now is to run fresh water through our system. In order to do that Stan had to modify our current plumbing. We have four AC units, but the water for all of them comes into the boat through one seacock. Stan has it rigged up now so we can run either fresh water or seawater through our unit by flipping a valve and opening and closing the seacock. We hate using so much fresh water, but when the jellies get thick we have no other option. Hopefully they will disappear soon.

We noticed them a few weeks ago and thought they were bad then...
But this is how thick they were this weekend. Unbelievable 

May 24, 2015

Silent Sunday

May 19, 2015

May 19 - Beachcombing

Rockport Harbor

“If there is a heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it.” —Jimmy Buffett

While we were in the Abacos we spent a lot of our time beachcombing…it’s something we really enjoy. Not just for the treasures we find, but for the enjoyment of spending time outside…taking in the beauty of the water and the sand. Abaco has an abundance of breath taking beaches…so many beaches that you’ll think it’s crowded if you see someone else’s foot prints on the beach. We only saw people on a few beaches…and then it was only two or three people at any given time. Abaco is truly a beach lover’s paradise.

beachcomber  
noun
  1. a vagrant who makes a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them.
  2. a person who searches beaches for useful or interesting items.
beachcombing 
adjective
  1. An activity that consists of an individual "combing" the beach and the intertidal zone, looking for things of value, interest or utility.  
History 
The first appearance of the word "beachcombers" in print was in Herman Melville's Omoo (1847). It described a population of Europeans who lived in South Pacific islands, "combing" the beach and nearby water for flotsam, jetsam, or anything else they could use or trade. 

At one time "beachcomber" was synonymous with a criminal, a drifter, or a bum. The vast majority of beachcombers however, were simply unemployed sailors, men who had deserted their ships in the South Seas after enduring a dangerous voyage. They would make a living by combing the beach for anything they could sell.  The commercial role of beachcombers ended when missionaries arrived and with the growth of a commercial community with European traders.

Modern beachcombers follow the "drift lines" or "tide lines" on the beach and are interested in the objects that the sea casts up. For these people, "beachcombing" is the recreational activity of looking for various curiosities that have washed in with the tide: seashells, fossils, pottery shards, historical artifacts, sea beans, sea glass, sponges and driftwood. 

Some of the treasures we found on the beaches of Abaco. We figured out where to find 100s of sea biscuits...we figured the 70 we brought home were enough.
Coconuts are everywhere, but they are like the conch...hard to open if you don't have the right tools or knowledge.
Conchs are definitely the symbol of the Bahamas and they are everywhere.
A few of the larger shells we found. We found a lot of smaller ones that are now in a jar on Texas Pearl.
My all time favorite thing to find on a beach is sea glass...I love it and I have tons of it. This is what we collected while we were in Abaco. 
A new treasure for us to find and one I really like is the sea urchin. They were abundant on most of the beaches we visited.
Sea sponges became the treasure we enjoyed finding the most in Abaco. They were all so different and so ugly when we would find them. After the sand was rinsed off and we cleaned them up a little we discovered something truly beautiful.
We looked like the Greek sponge boats in Tarpon Springs this winter...we strung up the sponges to let them air out.
We don't know exactly what this is...its soft, so we think it must be some kind of sponge. I really like the color. We also found a few sand dollars and two starfish.

May 16, 2015

May 15 - Making Texas Pearl Our Home

Rockport Harbor

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou

We’ve finally had a chance to spend more than a few days on the boat. In the last few weeks we've taken care of a lot of small projects, but it's been hard to get started on things like painting and pulling the washing machine out for repairs. This week we finally had time to get to those projects. I'm not a clean freak by any means, but I don't like living with other people’s dirt. This boat is 34 years old and the wallpaper in the dinette, hall and stateroom head is the original paper. To say the least it's faded, stain and unappealing. I'm a big fan of paint...I love paint. It's inexpensive and in a matter of a few hours it can make anything look refreshed and revitalized. The original wall paper is the basic vinyl paper found on most older yachts and definitely well stuck on the wall, so all I had to do was add two layers of fresh color to the top of it...the difference was amazing. We also replaced some of the old dirty almond electrical receptacles with new white ones that match the Corian counter tops. Small changes can make a big difference, the Texas Pearl is beginning to feel more like home every day.

To be able to paint the hall we needed to pull out the stairs that lead from the salon to the staterooms. This also needed to be done to remove the wall in front of the washer & dryer. The washing machine hasn’t worked since we had the survey done last September, so it was a perfect time to look into that project too. The good news is the washing machine only needs a new belt, an easy fix that will make me a happy and spoiled girl. Having a washer and dryer onboard is such a luxury. We still have more interior project to complete, but we are getting closer. We’ve chosen the tile for the galley floor and know which sofa we want to order for the salon…soon everything will be in place. Then Stan can start working on projects in the engine room and projects that will make the boat less dependent on shore power. It’s a boat…there are always projects to work on!

Pictures of the main stateroom. We still have work to do on the mid-stateroom and v-birth.
I looked a long time for some kind of afghan to add color to the bed. I finally bought one in Jacksonville and then found this sarong at Wal-Mart...who would have guessed. It's just what I was looking for. 
The stateroom head before and after paint. 
The pictures don't show it's color very well, it's a pale yellow. I still need to add pictures to the wall.
Before and after pictures of the receptacles in the stateroom head.
An inexpensive fix that makes a world of difference.
The day head
This is the picture of the dinette that was in the listing for the yacht when we bought her.
This is our new look. I will use the striped pillows on the flybridge.
Before paint....
After paint
Even the galley got a few pictures to brighten it up. The new tile will make it look even better.
34 years of dirt in the cabinets.
Aww...much better. Did I mention, I LOVE paint?
You can see other improvement to Texas Pearl at the following links. Back deck, salon & small projects.

May 10, 2015

May 10 – A Yearning

“'Fernweh', a German word that means basically the opposite of homesickness (Heimweh): when you feel like you have to leave your familiar surroundings to discover new places. It is the need for distance, the wish to experience something far away from home, the urge to escape from your everyday life by traveling."

It’s definitely a great word to describe the feeling most cruisers have...it’s what draws us to the cruising life. It’s the need to travel, explore new places, meet new people, see new sights, tastes new foods and experience new adventures. The only cure for this is to untie the lines and sail off into the sunset.

May 5, 2015

May 2-3 – Enjoying Rockport

Rockport Harbor

“Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.” —Hermann Broch

We haven’t had a lot of time to enjoy the Texas Pearl or Rockport since we’ve been back. There have been too many things going on and too many things to catch up with since we returned two weeks ago, but we took a break from all those things to spend a little down time on the boat this weekend. We knew the weather was going to be fantastic and we didn’t want to miss out on the large nautical flea market held at the Rockport Yacht Club.

We didn’t make it to the boat until after midnight Friday evening, but we still had plenty of time to enjoy the great spring weather, explore the flea market and spend time with family. We even had time to take the boat out for a short cruise and enjoy the company of Eric and Mayven. Both seemed to love being on the water and we enjoyed their company. 

The Rockport Nautical Flea Market is put on by the Rockport Yacht Club and was very nice this year. Much larger than the last time we came to it in 2010. There were booths with all kinds of boat gadgets, nautical decor, kayaks, boat parts, lines, sails, rods & reels, fishing tackle, fishing clothing and scuba equipment, plus great arts & crafts booths. The best part of this nautical flea market was the price...every booth was willing to dicker on price. We really enjoyed looking around and visiting with everyone.

It was a great day for a flea market
One of the best craft booths was Sail Again, they were selling recycled sails made into tote bags and bag packs. Their prices were wonderful and the quality of work was high. I bought a backpack and a small utility bag. Check out their website if you are in the need of a great bag.
The Rockport Yacht Club
The view from our flybridge this weekend. Lots of activities going on and a lot of people watching. 
Captain Eric on Texas Pearl

May 4, 2015

Blowing The Conch Horn

It’s a tradition in the Bahamas to blow a conch horn at sunset. It can occur just as the sun touches the water on the horizon or sometimes a bit later when the last portion of the sun descends below the horizon. Regardless of exactly when, the sound of the conch horn fills the air and you know you are in the islands.

The technique for blowing a conch horn is similar to that used for a French horn. Pucker your lips and blow air through them, making a put-put-put sound. It takes a little practice and the first few attempts at blowing the horn may sound a little bit like an elephant calling to his make, but practice makes perfect.

Conch Trivia 
  • Conch shells first appeared about sixty-five million years ago. 
  • About 3,000 years ago, evidence shows that the shells were used for cooking pots, knives, hooks, and pendants. 
  • Conch shells can also produce pearls. 
  • Conch is a common name that is applied to many different species of mollusks. They are found throughout the Caribbean in warm shallow water. 
  • The best time to find conchs is during the night when they come out to feed. During the day they are usually buried in the sand. 
  • Usually found in the sand or in grassy areas. 
  • A nickname for these shells is “sea cow” because they are herbivores and graze on sea grass and algae.
Conch Horn Trivia 
  • Conch horns have been used for centuries by indigenous Caribbean and Pacific Island natives.
  • The Greek god Triton was said to control the ocean’s waves by blowing his conch-shell trumpet.
  • Conch horns are also listed by the US Coast Guard as an approved sound making device under the requirements of Rule 33.b and Annex III. 
  • Sounding a conch shell horn at sunset is a long standing tradition in the Keys and the surrounding Caribbean islands. 
  • To Conch someone is to honor them by blowing the Conch in their tribute or remembrance.
  • To hold a conch is to hold the history of the sea and some of its most ancient sounds.
  • Conch horns are also used in religious ceremonies around the world. A Loa of Voodoo named Agwe is called by a conch horn to the voodoo ritual. 
  • Some Buddhist monks blow conch horns announcing prayers from the rooftop of their monasteries. 
  • A wedding ceremony custom among Bengali Brahmans involves having seven married ladies, headed by the bride's mother, processing round the bridegroom seven times. One of the women carries a conch and blows it as she goes.
Our first blowing of the conch in Rockport