Let me digress for a moment….

This blog has, in so far, been about the projects, and the trials and tribulations of working on Serenity, however I want to share something that isn’t about that; not directly.

Today I was working on replacing a busted lightswitch in the shower.  This for me is a simple thing, take out the old switch and put in the new one.

As I was working I got to thinking about the skill sets I possess. They aren’t very evolved – not like a master plumber, carpenter, electrician, boatwright, etc… – but the fact I know how to use a solder gun, how to strip a wire, paint, hammer, use a Skil saw, know how to measure(Tim, don’t laugh), familiar with tools and their uses, and a few other handyman things, I find myself incredibly grateful.

See, my Dad taught me these things.  No, don’t go awwwww.  This isn’t a memorial to him.  He’s very much alive and kicking; sharp as a tack and probably drinking some sour mash as I write this.

He wasn’t sitting there and saying this does this, do it this way, blah blah, but my Dad let me hang around and be his helper monkey when he was working on stuff.  He also took me with him to the hardware store when we spent our summers in Colorado.  To this day I can wander around Lowes or Home Depot, looking at stuff, touching the tools and products, and be happy as a clam in sand.  Without me knowing it I absorbed a LOT of knowledge.  And some pretty decent problem solving skills to boot.

When I would work on my own things, like my skateboard or dirt bike, he came around and asked me questions or just observed.  He never tried to take over, or make comments that would lead me to believe I was doing it wrong, or try to rescue me if I ran into a snag.  He was just there, available if needed.  I was a Grade A moron that I never took him up on his offer of help.

So, I offer up this piece of chick wisdom to all Dad’s out there with daughters, and even sons.  Let them hang out with you as you do projects.  Answer their questions, no matter how dumb.  Have them be your helper monkey.  Have Father/Daughter time at the hardware store.  This is INVALUABLE knowledge they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  They will be more confident, able to fix their own toilet, hang a picture, paint a room, not be worthless when building sets for their high school drama class; the list goes on and on.

My sister, pretty much the opposite of me, she knows this stuff too, and believe you me, she uses it like I do.  Well, maybe not to replace a switch in a shower on a boat, but you know what I mean.

Dad – I love you to pieces.  You are my hero.


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The Traveler

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while because this was the first major project we undertook in which we didn’t have someone do it 100% for us.  The Traveler.

In a nutshell the traveler is what allows the mail sail boom to be situated to accommodate the wind direction, plus you can control tension on the boom so it does not swing willy nilly when sailing.  The traveler and the respective parts experience tremendous forces so we didn’t want to skimp here.  Needless to say the sad state of the original traveler would just not do.

Top pic: The old traveler Support Post Side view of traveler - old & busted

Top pic:
The original traveler – the metal thing spanning the front of the sea hood.
Original support post
Side view of traveler – old & busted

There are quite a few ways to set up a traveler and originally on Serenity it was via 4 beefy posts bolted through the deck, with a teak “bridge” spanning the posts, then the traveler is bolted to the teak bridge. Other boats have no bridge; just support posts just at the ends, with arm thingies for added support and bolting to the traveler.  We decided to keep the original bridge configuration because of how our sea hood fits, and because most likely we will affix the dodger to the aft facing part of the bridge.

The original bolts for the support posts didn’t come through the headliner = not visible inside, however we were able to access all the nut ends of the bolts via inside the boat.  Inside the boat we removed the teak beauty strips(used to hide the headliner seams), plus one little triangle of teak, then carefully bent back the headliner and pow, there were the nuts. EZ PZ to now unbolt.  We had some trepidation when we removed the original bolts for the support posts because we didn’t know what we’d encounter; rotten wood, rusted bolts, or what.  We were very pleasantly surprised there was none of the above.  Tim filled in the holes with thickened epoxy and we were ready for the installation.

We enlisted the help of a local rigger Mac.  Mac came out, measured, discussed options, measured again then went on his way to get the mahogany bridge started.  We had already decided on the Garhauer MT-2 CT-TP traveler and heavy duty risers.  Tim also picked up 9, 60-13 single blocks.  Shiny, beefy monsters. I heart them.

New blocks.  Yeah baby.

New blocks. Yeah baby.

After a 6 week delay because some dicksack stole the traveler from Mac’s truck, all parts finally arrived. Mac, his assistant James, and Tim get to it.  After palavering about clearances, placement of the risers, and other sundry stuff holes were drilled in the roof.  Holes in boats.  Yipes.

We decided to do the bolts all the way through versus just through the core as per the original traveler = the nuts/bolts hidden by the headliner in the inside  As much for ease of installation and also to be able to inspect the plates for leaks.

The starboard side went in no problem, bolting in very nicely.  We decided not to cut the teak beauty strip. It’s just too pretty.


Starboard side backing plate; located over the galley.

The port side was a different matter.  See, the solid teak door for the quarterberth has zero clearance with the ceiling when fully opened.  Due to the curvature of the ceiling it has about 1/8″ to 1/4″ clearance when swinging shut.  Cutting the door to accommodate the bolts was absolutely not an option, which was expressed to Mac and Tim in no uncertain terms.  Bless their hearts.  Luckily only 1 bolt was too long so Tim figured it out; just hack saw off the extra length and use a regular nut.  The nut/bolt doesn’t interfere with the door, and is door is still beautiful since no chunk was removed from it.  Win win my friends.

Port side backing plate.  Notice bolt in lower right is shorter to accommodate the door.

Port side backing plate. Notice bolt in lower right is shorter to accommodate the door.

TA-DA!  The new traveler.  Works like a charm!

New traveler and varnished mahogany bridge.

New traveler and varnished mahogany bridge.

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In Florida, for reals!

Hello readers,

Good News!  We have not fallen off the face of the Earth.  More good news!  I’m now permanently in Florida.  *HAPPY DANCE!*

Beginning of August Tim and I road tripped back to FL in my 4Runner.  All of my possessions had been pared down to a suitcase of clothes, 1 hanging clothes thingy, my scuba BC, a few small(ish) plastic bins with assorted stuff, and 4 ZIPLOC vacuum bags with jeans and winter clothes = will be stored for months before needing, and of course snacks.  The purging of stuff I enjoyed.  I was pretty ruthless, using the hadn’t used it or worn it for 4 months rule then it got adios’d.

Back of 4Runner

Back of 4Runner

We decided to be leisurely on our way down, mostly via state highways like 98, 19, then popped over to Cedar Key to check it out.  We were kinda on the lookout for “old” Florida; Mom and Pop motels, divey beach bars, and no hoardes of humanity.  Well folks, that doesn’t really exist anymore, at least where we were.

The stretch, pretty much starting at Pensacola, along the coast, through Tallahassee is – with the exception of some national forests and wildlife areas – are condos, Starbucks, fast food, and resorts.  98, the section starting South of Tallahassee, then over on 19, that part really reminded me of East Texas.  Not very populated, small towns, homesteads on acres and acres with lush lawns, and homes tucked amongst the deep shade of tall trees.  I really liked that part since the rush rush rush of life was held at bay for a few hours.

We arrived in Bradenton Sunday afternoon and checked into the Hampton Inn.  Serenity was out of the water since she had been hauled out to have the shaft replaced – it was badly pitted thus tearing up the stuffing – the stuffing box re-packed and a new transponder for our new Garmin GPS installed.  YAY, new GPS!  No, I don’t know how to use it.  That’s going to take some practice and reading the manual.  :-/

After a wee issue with the keel leaking water(no biggie, really) Serenity was finally ready to go.  We trekked over and brought her back to the marina.  Side note:  it was crazy hot!  I’ve sweated less in a sauna.  Gross.  Anyway, Tim did a fine job of getting her into the slip and our friends John and Cathy helped us tie up.

A couple trips with the dock cart and all my junk is now on Serenity.  Is it stowed?  Er, not all of it.  We now need to go through Tim’s stuff and see what he wants to keep. I think my 4 month rule may not apply to him….

In conclusion, I miss my dog Tito Snack something terrible fierce but I’m super happy to finally be on the boat.  In my opinion living aboard is kinda like camping; in a really nice floating cabin. I wasn’t sure how fast I’d adapt to living aboard but after 2 weeks I was completely comfortable.  Kinda like I’d been here all along.


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A Diamond in the (very) Rough

Greetings and salutations from Serenity!  Serenity is our 1985 37′ Tayana sailboat, designed by Bob Perry and built by Ta Yang shipyard.  Our hailing port is THE Austin, Texas but Serenity is currently splashed in Bradenton, Florida.  We like to think we own Serenity, but the truth is, we own each other.

First off, thank you for reading our blog.  We appreciate the time you’ve taken to partake in our wee effort to string some words together in what we hope will enlighten and entertain.  Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way….

This blog reflects our opinions and is in no way the opinions of others.  We are not experts.  Far from it. The directions and choices we make may not work for you.  We may love something, you may not.  Our choices may turn out to be huge ass mistakes.  If that is the case we hope to never repeat them.  You must do your due diligence when making decisions about your boat.  It is your responsibility to do the necessary research to ensure you are safe and your boat fully functional.  All pictures, images, content, and text belong to either Tim Mueting or Christine Pettit, or the proper attributes have been given.  Please do not copy anything contained within this blog without obtaining permission and using attributes.  Thank you, and now on to our regularly scheduled program.

About us: Tim Mueting is the Captain and heart of the operation.  With over 15 years sailing experience Tim is The Dude <insert your favorite Big Lebowski quote here>.  Christine Pettit is First Mate, blogger, and eager student of All Things Sailing.  To pay the bills Tim is a Product Marketing Manager and I’m an Event Manager.  Right now Tim is in Bradenton living aboard Serenity while I’m still in Austin.  My job does not allow me to work remotely and I gotta help feed the sailing piggy bank, so stuck in Austin I am.  Please note I’m not complaining.  Austin is one of the best places on this big blue marble, but being separated from Tim and Serenity, in a nutshell, it SUCKS.  I badly want to be there, sharing the trials and tribulations, learning, and of course working on her.  I’m a grease monkey at heart and not being able to help, see what’s going on, be armpit deep fixing stuff, I’m not the happiest of campers.  I’ll get there early 2014 but for the time being, allow me to re-iterate, it SUCKS.  Enough of the boo hoo’ing, let’s move on…

How we got here: Over 2 years ago we started the journey of finding a sailboat. We wanted a blue water boat.  Tayana, Morgan, Cabo Rico, Allied, Camper Nicolson, Crealock, and a few others made our list. (If your boat didn’t make this list I don’t want to hear about it. Thanks!) Many weekends were spent poring over sailboat listings, watching boats come and go, noting the boats with price drops, goggling over some of the absurd asking prices, lurking in forums, and on and on and on. We knew a fixer upper was probably our best bet – price wise, doing some the work ourselves, allowing us to really get to know the boat; all that jazz. We’re both pretty handy people, not afraid to dive in and get shit done, but we also didn’t want to spend all our time working on the boat and never getting to sail it.  Our own version of Goldilocks and the Three Boats.

Over many, many months we made a dozen trips to look at boats.  A boat that looked promising on paper, in reality not so much so.  Also in play is my approach versus Tim’s approach when assessing a boat.  My thought process was “we’ll know if the boat is for us once we meet it.  We’ll feel if we’re supposed to be its owner”.  Of course I was also assessing hardware stuff like rigging, engine hours, condition of the deck and topsides, sails, layout, extras such as GPS, solar, wind, etc… But the “touchy feelie” type if thinking/gut feeling is next to impossible to explain and that’s what I was tuning in to, more than the hardware oriented stuff.  (I’m betting the women reading this will be nodding in agreement).  Now, Tim’s approach was very focused on the condition of hardware, this is nice, this is jacked up, why is this like it is, great boat but way overpriced, etc… Neither approach is right or wrong, they’re just different.  Sharing our thoughts and all the pros and cons of a boat, many times the drive home would be in a contemplative silence. On top of all these reindeer games Tim was trying to sell his house.  Living in Austin the market was/is better than in many places, but it was still a struggle, stressful, heartbreaking, annoying, and sometimes just out and out bullshit.  On a side note, our realtor Dianne is AWESOME so if you need a realtor lemme know.  Back to “The Search”.

Remember when I was telling you about poring over the listings?  One boat kept popping up on my radar, but initially it was waaaayy out of our price range.  I told Tim about it and we needed to keep our eyes open for a price drop.  Sure enough that happened, with a note “make an offer”!  Interesting.  Very interesting.  Another weekend of poring over the listings.  Saw the boat again.  This time I told Tim, “we need to SERIOUSLY LOOK AT THIS BOAT.  They really want to sell.  Maybe our budget of $xx,xxx isn’t out of line”.  We go onto one of our favorite user forums to see if there’s more scoop.  Boom.  Right there is the dude, talking about the boat.  An email is sent, phone calls are made, questions asked and answered.  A plane ticket is purchased.  Tim misses my birthday weekend but I could give a rats ass.  The boat has been found.  Tim makes an offer, writes a deposit check on the spot.

Fast forward: The house is sold. Tim moves to Bradenton.  The boat is hauled out for some desperately needed work. Sticker shock when we get the bill.  Sleepless nights are had (and will continue to be had) thinking about all the work Serenity needs.  Lists are compiled.  The world continues to spin.

I bet many of you are thinking, man, what a HUGE gamble, risk, dumbass move <insert your favorite noun here>.  You would be incorrect.

See, the thing is I trust Tim and myself IMPLICITELY.  He knows what I like, don’t like, what I can tolerate, and what I will not abide.  I know the same about him.  We are utterly on the same page when it comes to the “must be” in a boat.  So I told him if he thinks this is the boat than I’m on board (pun intended) and we need to go for it.  You cannot sail to your dreams if you do not have the boat.  Most importantly I know, without a doubt, Serenity is a BAD ASS boat. I know all that is lacking is knowledge and experience and time.  Those things are not out of reach and can be obtained.  I understand systems.  These particular systems, no, but they are systems nonetheless and I know we can figure them out.  I know EVERYTHING is fixable.  For every problem there is a solution.  One thing at a time and before you know it, we’re a leaf on the wind.

In conclusion: Do I regret this decision?  Not for a moment because when I tell people about Serenity, and share the tales of our first forays getting her seaworthy, I’m still stoked about owning her.  I’m looking forward to coaxing the diamond out of the rough.  I’m so looking forward to that first sail.  The chugging engine, the feeling of movement, the kinship when we pass other boats, the ocean, the air, the light, the sound of water hissing over the hull, the use of the body to hoist the sails, the look on Tim’s face when the sail curves to catch the wind.  The adventure….


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A sneak peek about us

Serenity is a 1985 Tayana 37′ blue water sailboat.  Tayana’s are a Bob Perry designed, Ta Yang boatyard built boat. Fun fact: Tayana in Taiwanese means “belongs to big ocean”.  Fitting?  I like to think so…

Tim is Serenity’s Captain, and Christine is First Mate.  We purchased Serenity July 3, 2013.  I will remember this date pretty much forever because we spent our first night on her on the 3rd, then were treated to an awesome fireworks show on (duh) the 4th, plus Tim’s daughter got engaged on the 4th so that was an added bonus!

Serenity is in need of some serious TLC so our plan is to fix her up, then boogie to points South around 2016.  Seems like a long way off but I’m pretty sure it will fly by. Can’t wait for the day we cast off and point her bow towards 25° 4′ 0″ N, 77° 20′ 0″ W

We hope you enjoy the Tripe T – trials, tribulations and triumphs as we get Serenity ready for Our Big Adventure.


Christine and Tim

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