On Board!

We moved on board Banyan just about one week ago.  It’s been a very busy time finding homes for all of our things and working on additional projects.  We are happy to report that we did not grossly over estimate the amount of room we have.  It’s quite the process finding just the right space for everything so that it is accessible, yet snuggled up in a way that it won’t move around once we are under way.  The challenge will be finding those things later… Cameron is keeping a list.  Happily, Banyan has started to feel like a home…a home that we are still moving into, but a home.

Adelaide getting comfortable at the new dinner table/home school desk
Adelaide getting comfortable at the new dinner table/home school desk

The boat is almost (at least half way) ready for entertainment.  In our cockpit area you might have to snuggle up to a cardboard box on one side of you, but we have a bit of room to enjoy the outdoors for the first time since we piled an enormous number of boxes in it last week.

Cameron holding court with great friends in our cockpit
Cameron holding court with great friends in our cockpit

We had our first sundowners last friday with long time friends and neighbors.  The girls and Cameron even enjoyed a game of cards with the afternoon sun warming their backs.  Hopefully I will get the rest of the cockpit cleared out over the next week and I won’t have to get so friendly with the cardboard.

Cameron and the girls playing cards in the cockpit.    Isa won over and over again...no wonder she loves card games
Cameron and the girls playing cards in the cockpit. Isa won over and over again…no wonder she loves card games

Life on board so far is GREAT.  I had visions of it being a lot more difficult to transition from a 10 acre horse ranch to a 43 foot boat.  I guess there is still time for a few melt downs but so far, so good.  The girls have been doing amazingly well with the transition.  We are taking a month or two off schooling so we can all settle into our new lives but they are voracious learners.  Around 9am every morning they will pull out their school books, unprompted.  I will help Adelaide with a page in her journal while Isa blows through the pages in her Math book.  It’s all a bit surreal.  From day one I have been impressed with how different our little family runs and how naturally we have all fallen into it.  There is not so much rushing around to get it all done (you can’t rush or you will whack yourself on something).  I also notice that I am at peace with and say “yes” so much more to the “mommy will you (pick a need)”  questions.  I don’t know exactly what it is, I’m sure it’s a combination of things, but I’m loving it.

The galley, looking like home
The galley, looking like home

We have been making the most of having our car before we leave the Napa Valley Marina.  Cameron has had to go into work a few times to finish up some tasting notes etc. and I have had several meetings and tastings as well as taking some time out to work on barrel plans and harvest plans for the upcoming vintage.  It’s going to be another interesting year with this lack of rain and early bud break.  We have also headed into San Francisco twice in the last week, once to apply for a long stay visa for French Polynesia, and once to meet up with friends, eat Chinese food and watch the Chinese New Year parade.  This has been a long standing tradition since our kids were babies together and it was great to sneak it in under the wire.

The #1 question we get is “When are you leaving?”  Well… It’s all based on a few projects still in process.  Here are a few more of our projects if you want to hear about bushings and goosenecks and chainplates:

The Main Sail

The boom is that piece of metal that sticks out horizontally from the mast which holds the bottom (tack, foot and clew) of the sail in place.  It’s also notorious for swinging around and knocking people off the boat…oh yea, the thing that goes boom when it whacks you in the head!  The mast is that hug tall piece of metal that sticks straight up into the air.  I know, lots of terms. The boat was equipped with a “Furlboom” when we bought her.

The goosneck area of the Furlboom.  You can see how the sail is wound up inside the boom
The goosneck area of the Furlboom. You can see how the sail is wound up inside the boom

Essentially this means that the main sail is actually wound up inside the boom when it’s not in use instead of being folded or flaked (salty term) on top of the boom and protected by a canvas cover.  In the end we opted for a more traditional, simple main sail set-up feeling that it was more reliable, especially when all hell breaks loose.  For us, it comes back to our main philosophy: keep it simple.  We were really lucky to find a fabulous replacement boom and our new mainsail is being stitched as we $peak.  This is the main thing we are waiting on before leaving the Napa Valley Marina, and it should be done in a few weeks, after which point we will have no more excuses.

The Rigging ~ most of this work is done *ahh*

The rigging is all the hardware that holds up the sails.  As you can imagine, this system can have quite a bit of stress on it, so it needs to be in good order.  We pulled the mast off the boat when she came out of the water which gave Cameron and his Dad the opportunity to spend lots of time on it.  They cut one slightly corroded inch off the bottom of the mast and, because of this, had to make up for the lost inch by building a new mast step made of G10 material.  Cameron and his Dad painted the mast, they put on a new gooseneck (thing that connects the boom to the mast) and put on the new boom.  They replaced the babystay tang (where the smaller of our two front sails connects to the mast).  Cameron also found a broken turnbuckle below decks for the babystay which is being replaced. They inspected all the wires that hold up the mast (these all have their own salty names).  They also checked out all the sheaves and replaced some bushings at the top of the mast.

They replaced our backstay chainplate (one of the places where the rigging attaches to the boat…important) with grade 5 titanium.  This was a fun lesson for the girls in density, weight and area as they compared it to the old stainless steel chainplate.  It was also fun for Cameron and his Dad to install it in the boat…  talk about cramping yourself into a tight space and sweating, all while covered in black gooey marine adhesive sealants (livin’ the dream)…  It went well and we have a fancy new TITANIUM backstay chainplate.

Inside the mast, Cameron ran all new electrical wire to run the lights and the radar.  He installed a new deck light, spreader lights a steaming light, a tricolor light (which indicates which way we are facing) and an anchor light.  All these lights are now LED which is lovely for our power consumption.

The Port Lights and Hatches

“Daddy, if I lay right here, I get a drip right on my forehead…see?”  Said Isa on a dark and stormy night when we did our first over-night on the boat about a year ago.  It was clear then that we had a bit of work to do on sealing up a few things.  That job has been big, seemingly to me the biggest since some of the work was done at the house before we moved aboard.  We took all the port lights (aka windows) out of the boat.  Cameron and his Dad took them completely apart, Cameron’s Dad polished them until they were gleaming, they then installed new glass, and resealed them.  Meanwhile the crew at Napa Valley Marina dug out the damp plywood core, dried it, replaced it, re-fiberglassed and then repainted the interior.  They then put the port lights back in.  In addition, Cameron and his Dad took off the hatches (the big skylights that pop open on the roof of the boat) and re-sealed and bedded them.  This was a HUGE job.  You can bet that the next time it rains, we will all be smiling and grateful for all the hours the men put in.  The irony is that we may not see rain for a few years… but hey, it needed to be done anyway.

Cameron and his Dad working diligently on a few of the smaller portlights
Cameron and his Dad working diligently on a few of the smaller portlights


The Coachroof

This is the project that started it all.  The “Cancer” is what the boatyard boys called it.  We knew about the dry rot in the coachroof and a small area of the deck when we bought the boat.  It wasn’t structural and it wasn’t even really necessary to deal with.  We hummed and hawed about whether to work on it here or tackle it later in Mexico or even further afield, but in the end we decided to just get it done and over with so it wouldn’t niggle at our minds.  This was a job for the professionals (Thank you Kelly, Dave, Mike and the team at Napa Valley Marina!).  They basically cut out a big section of the roof above the galley, took out the rotted core material, re bedded a new high density foam core and then fiberglassed over it.  It was quite the operation and we have been really grateful to the crew at the Marina who have done all this intense work and given Cameron an education in the process.

Cameron and a salty friend inspecting the work being done on the coach roof
Cameron and a salty friend inspecting the work being done on the coach roof

For now we are focusing on settling into life on board while still getting a few things taken care of… like winemaking tasks, 2014 taxes, long stay VISA’s and laundry (oh yea, no washer/dryer on this model…darn).  But it’s an adventure ~ “it’s all in your attitude” ~ my mantra to the girls…and myself at time.




  1. Michele Herald says:

    Hi Anne & Cameron, It is great to hear that you are living on the boat now… it is a shame that I was not in Napa a few weeks later, so that I could get to see you all together on the boat . Anne I love your blog, and the way you write, I’m looking forward to you next posting – I am hooked. I hope to see you in New Zealand some time…

    It is great to see you following your dreams. I wish you safe travels & high adventure!!

    Michele H
    Retired wine-gypsy

  2. Rachel Wheeler says:

    Just caught up on your history and process. So excited for you all. In reading about how you haven’t come across such negativey when explaining your plan, I instantly thought that it’s “all in your attitude” (which I love). You both come across very much responsible and absolutely ready to do exactly what you’re doing. ; ) I’ve enjoyed the few moments we’ve talked and very excited to watch your blog as your journey progress. Thank you for sharing this.

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