changes ahead

Changes for the New Year

I think when you have a huge, multi-year project you’re working on (like we do), it makes it easier on family when they ask you what you want for Christmas. We have a huge list of boat projects that all cost money, so we’re never at a loss for things we need. Amazon, West Marine gift cards and good old cash have been the staple for gifts for the past few years. But this year, Rich and I really couldn’t think of anything we needed for the boat. Yes, we still have a shit-load of projects, but asking family to buy you a battery for your boat is not what they want to hear.

Rich is terrible at thinking of gift ideas for himself (mainly because he gives it no effort). I, however, have no trouble coming up with things I need or want. Throughout the year I routinely see or hear about things I would like.  I find them on Amazon and add them to a wish list. Then before Christmas I move some of those items to a Christmas wish list I share with family. So far it’s worked out great and if I get a gift card or cash, then I can always buy the stuff off my wish list.

The Change

All this leads into a couple of changes Rich and I are going to try. We’re both a little burned out on writing blog posts.  I’m also burned out on nagging Rich to write something (which is obvious by the lack of posts since November). So this year, Rich and I have decided to try making more videos of our boat projects. I know we have some, but they’re not edited very well (or at all) and really don’t give a lot of useful information.

The Platform

We’re also going to switch from Vimeo to YouTube. I really like the Vimeo platform, but I’m not super stoked about paying for it, and the free version isn’t great. I’ve never really watched anything on YouTube other than the occasional funny cat video and for the past month or so I’ve been vegging out watching researching YouTube videos that I think are well done. I’ve even started a YouTube channel with a couple of old videos that I spruced up a little.

Why Our Old Videos Suck

One of the reasons we never did much with video was our computer situation. My old 2009 MacBook Pro could barely handle basic functions like checking email and so that meant Rich would have to edit any videos on his computer and he’s not very motivated to do that too busy working on projects for that. Now that I’ve upgraded my computer I can do the editing. Also, Rich was using the GoPro editing software which he found difficult and frustrating to use.

So while I’ve been “researching” on YouTube, I’ve also been trying to find video editing software I like. I never really liked iMovie and I didn’t even want to attempt the GoPro software. What I finally settled on is Filmora by Wondershare. It has a lot of functions; it comes loaded with a lot of free elements (like music, transitions, bottom thirds, etc.) plus other ones you can buy; it’s really easy to use and it just seems to work without any glitches.

I also started using Canva.  It’s an online graphic design app that’s really easy to use.  It has a drag-and-drop interface and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts.  It’s also used for both web and print media design and graphics.  It’s one of my new favorite websites.


My Sony a6000 camera takes great video and one of the things I received from my Christmas wish list was a Sony zoom microphone. It attaches to the hot shoe and picks up sound a lot better than the built-in mic. I will eventually buy a “Dead Cat” wind muff, but now I don’t think I need it. We’ll also still use the GoPro and our cell phones.Sony zoom mic


I also got Sony Bluetooth headphones. They’re really comfortable and one charge lasts about 20 hours.  Plus Rich won’t have to listen to me fumble around editing the video (that’s pretty annoying).

Sony Bluetooth headphonesWith an Amazon gift card I bought myself a laptop desk. Rich’s computer is at the nav table and mine is relegated to the salon table. Unfortunately, the cushions in the seating area are god-awfully uncomfortable for anything longer than about 2 minutes. I get a terrible back ache every time I sit at my laptop so now I sit on the settee with my new laptop desk. Side note: We’re hoping to get new cushions and upholstery eventually, but might wait until we head to Mexico where we’ve heard it’s a lot less expensive.

laptop deskWe also have a variety of tripods, selfie sticks, a chest harness and other miscellaneous gear that we’ve had for a while. I may have to get a wireless mic for times when we have to shoot too far from the camera for the mic to pick up the dialog.  I was thinking about getting a basic LED light that fits into the hot shoe as well.  Lighting conditions in the boat, especially in the winter, is pretty low so an LED light might do the trick. Side note: Buying a drone is probably in our near future. We’ve seen some amazing drone video footage from some of the YouTube channels we’ve been watching.

We also got some cash for our anniversary and Christmas so we splurged on a new Froli system for our mattress. We had been using Hypervent which worked fine for keeping the moisture under the mattress at bay. But lately Rich and I both wake up feeling terrible with achy backs and sometimes waking in the night with sore hips and shoulders. I don’t know if our mattress is just breaking down (it’s about 3 years old and should last about 10), or if we’re just getting old. Anyway, I thought I would give Froli a try since there’s a 30-day money back guarantee.

Our mattress is so thick (6 inches total) I didn’t think we would be able to tell the difference, but I noticed it almost immediately. When I installed the Froli system I set everything to the middle setting.  There are three settings and Froli recommends the middle one for average-sized people. We slept on that for a few days and did feel better; however, I like a softer bed.  I adjusted my side to the widest setting and added a couple more of the softer (light blue) springs and it’s made all the difference. The mattress is so much more comfortable now. If anyone is wondering the Froli Travel V-berth Large Kit with one 12-pack expansion kit fits our V-berth with just a couple of pieces left over.

Froli Delivered
Laying out the Froli grid
Height of the Froli
Froli installed

Finally, not really a Christmas present to us, but we recently bought a Honda 2000 watt generator. We were always going to get a generator and northern California has finally been getting the rain it desperately needs. We’ve lost power a few times, but never for very long.  We live in a rural, flood-prone area (it’s all islands and levees in the Delta).  So we figured it’s a good idea to just get it now. Of course, since we bought it we haven’t lost power once.Honda generator

Speaking of power, I should have a video of Rich’s rewiring of the AC on the starboard side. He also cut open some dead space and made new storage areas under the nav station.  There might be an upcoming written post about that. Up next he’s FINALLY going to tackle the breaker panel (Yay!)

Sink drain that's clogged

Drain Bamage

A month or so ago I decided to clean out the kitchen and bathroom sink drains with vinegar.  I’ve done this one time before and it worked great.  Because there is no p-trap the sinks can get a little stinky and cleaning them with vinegar makes them nice and fresh again.  The process is simple.  (more…)

Jib Track

Jib Track – Done! (almost…)

We tackled the jib track project this weekend.  It’s been either raining or we’ve been too busy socially to get anything done lately.  Finally, the weather cooperated this weekend and we installed the port jib track…almost. (more…)


Intergrip(ping) the Cabin Top

Hatches and cabin top projects – Week 3

No, we didn’t finish painting the cabin top with Interlux Intergrip last weekend.  I washed the boat Friday in preparation for painting on Saturday.  The plan was for both of us to start early Saturday masking, get the first coat of Intergrip on and maybe the second (and final) coat on in one day because it was supposed to rain on Sunday.  What happened was Rich spent Saturday morning fixing the forward hatch that I broke on Friday (oops).   (more…)

Bomar hatches

Glazed Over with Projects

Hatches & Cabin Top Projects – Week 2

In typical boat-project fashion, refurbishing the two overhead hatches has taken way longer than expected.  Rich managed to get both Bomar metal hatch frames off the boat without bending them too much.  He removed the old glazing, scraped out the weather-stripping, and attempted to remove the old paint with mechanical means, but it was just too tough.   (more…)

jib track

Unintended Project – Jib Tracks

We never planned to install new jib tracks, but as often happens on a sailboat, this became one of several unintended projects.  For those who don’t know, jib tracks are metal bars typically mounted on the outside edge of a boat.  The jib sheets (the lines that control the jib when sailing) run through blocks on the jib track.   (more…)

Forward hatch

No Rest for the Wicked

Rich is off work for the next TWO weeks, so there is no rest for the wicked – it’s project time again.  I briefly mentioned to him a few months ago that it would be nice to get the final paint and non-skid on the cabin top before winter.  That way next summer we can finally finish the side decks.  I guess that stuck in Rich’s head, because he decided to tackle this project before starting his new job. (more…)

To Helm with It

The Helm

In keeping with getting this beast ready to take out for a spin, we finally put the steering wheel (the boaty term is the helm) back on the boat.  Way back in early 2013 we took a bunch of stuff off the boat, the wheel included, and it’s been in storage ever since.  Some previous owner coated it with lovely Cetol over and over and water had gotten under the Cetol and it was peeling.   (more…)

Officially Named!

It’s official – Ramble On is finally officially Ramble On!  This weekend Rich and I put the vinyl stickers on the hull…finally!  We took the old name, Mary Morris, off a couple of years ago and had every intention of putting the new name on, but never did.   (more…)

Ground Tackle

Mid-summer Project Update

So it’s mid July already and we’re making a little headway on the project list.  Our goal this summer was to get the boat put together enough to take it out on the San Joaquin River.

Ground Tackle

We started with the ground tackle, and have finally managed to get the bowsprit on, the anchor platform done, the windlass installed, stainless steel bang plates for the anchor, and the new anchor in place.  We were going to buy new chain, but decided to put the old, inadequate chain and rode back on for now.  It should be fine for sailing in the delta.  Rich put the finishing touches on the windlass which included new o-rings, a new chain stripper, filling it with marine grease, making a new gasket for the bottom, screwing on the bottom plate and bolting it to the bowsprit.

Navigation Lights

Next we realized our navigation lights were going to be an issue.  We planned to switch the lights to LED, but we weren’t sure if we were going to get new fixtures or just new bulbs.  Since the existing fixtures were yellowed, cracked and really old, we decided to go with all new LED fixtures from Marine Beam.  As we dug into this project we found the stern light didn’t work (one of the wires had somehow gotten pulled back through the pulpit), and the bow lights weren’t appropriately rated (they only reached 1 nm).  The anchor and combo steaming/deck lights work, but we replaced the steaming/deck light anyway because we could and we thought it would be an easy project.  It started out easy because there was plenty of wire in the mast to work with.  But once the new steaming/deck light was wired up we couldn’t get it back down the mast.  I tried pulling the wire down from the bilge under the compression post, but it wouldn’t budge.  There’s an access plate at the foot of the mast and what we found was the wires run down from the top of the mast to the deck where they’re joined in a junction block, then they go to the bottom of the compression post into the bilge to another junction block.  From there they go to the breaker panel.  So until we unstep the mast, we cannot pull any wires up or down.

We bought a tricolor masthead/anchor light and were going to install it when we found that we couldn’t pull new wires up the mast so we’re going to see if the new LED bulb from the fixture will fit into the existing anchor light as a temporary fix.  We’re a little concerned that our batteries will have trouble keeping up with a halogen anchor light running all night long if we decide to anchor out.  We already ran new wires for the stern light and Rich is making a metal bracket to hold the light on the stern rail.  The bow lights should mount to the brackets already there, but we’ll have to run new wires through the pulpit rail.


I wasn’t sure exactly what we were required to have for safety aboard.  I know 1 PFD for each person, and a throwable PFD.  After taking inventory I realized we were lacking several things.  I bought new flares (ours were expired), a Type IV throwable horseshoe and bracket, and three inflatable PFD rearming kits.  Our neighbors, who are in their 80s, were out in their small dinghy last year and were boarded by the Coast Guard.  They passed the inspection, but were told they needed whistles on their PFDs.  I checked ours and they do not have whistles so I’ll probably have to buy some of those too.  I checked our fire extinguishers and they’re all in the green, but the last time they were serviced was 10 years ago.  We also need to secure the 4 gallon salt bucket for the Electro Scan to make sure it doesn’t spill everywhere.  Oh, and one more small item:  we need to put the helm wheel back on.  It’s been living in the shed for three years; ever since Rich stripped all the varnish off.  It hasn’t been refinished (Rich wants to coat it in epoxy), but we can slap it in place fairly easily.


Remember way back when we bought new engine gauges and Rich did a beautiful job rewiring them into the control panel?  Well, they never actually got hooked up to the engine.  So we’ll have to do that soon.  Also, we sorta know how much diesel is in the tank, but we’re not sure.  We need to buy at least one diesel jug to have on hand in case we run low or run out.  Plus, we don’t know what kind of schmutz lives on the bottom of the diesel tank and we really don’t want to suck that stuff into the filters.


Our boat has been nameless for about a year.  We got documented with the Coast Guard, but we never quite finished everything we were supposed to do.  Actually, we didn’t do anything we were supposed to do.  We have the name and hailing port lettering, but when we removed the old name there was a big clean spot left behind.  We bought cleaning and buffing compounds to polish it up and get it to match the surrounding area, but we never did it.  Mostly because it will require tying the dinghy to the back of the boat to stand in while using the buffer.  It’s going to be a real pain.  Also, Rich was going to hand carve a plaque for the interior, even though I just wanted him to use his router, so that also never got done.  Now he’s thinking he might use stick-on numbers/letters in the lazarette and epoxy over them.

So we think that’s all we’ll need to do just to motor out to the river.  We have a separate list for the basic things we have to do to be able to sail or anchor over night.  That list is a little longer and includes getting the water tanks installed along with a functioning pressure pump, figuring out how we’re going to mount the dinghy motor to the back rail, installing the chart plotter, GPS, depth sounder, installing the jib track cars, and putting the jib back on the boat.  The list is daunting but I’m optimistic we’ll get out there this summer…or at least by Christmas.

A tip of the cap

How do you make a straight piece of wood bend around corners?  Well, if you’ve been following us for a while, you might recall my previous experiment in steam bending.  I briefly entertained this idea for the cockpit coamings, but almost immediately realized this would not work for what I needed to do outside.


Teak sealer

Update on the Teak Sealer

Last summer I finally completed refinishing the teak. Just before winter (October-ish) I put on a maintenance coat of StarBrite Teak Oil and Sealer. After about six months of rain and cold, the sealer is starting to fade which is about how long I thought it would take. (more…)

Expensive teak

Cockpit Coamings

We haven’t posted in a long time so I just wanted to do a quick update on what we’ve been doing.  Remember that $500 piece of teak we bought at MacBeath’s about 18 months ago?  Well, Rich finally got up the nerve to make the first cuts on that teak for the cockpit coamings a couple of weeks ago.