Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Time is Ticking Away...

Now that we’ve owned our boat for quite a while and have been preparing for our trip for what seems like forever, many folks wonder what we still have left to do.  When asked about weekend plans I almost always reply with “working on the boat” – because that’s what we do.  This usually brings a slightly exasperated look and tone while the person asking then says something like “what could you possibly have left to do on that boat???  Isn’t everything perfect by now?”

Being that Brett and I are both “A” types that like things “just so”, there is an endless supply of things to work on.  As any boat owner (or for that manner any home owner) knows, there is always something that can be improved upon!  So I thought it might be interesting to list a couple of the not-so-super-important things we’ve worked on the past couple of weeks to show folks what we’ve been up to….. 
  • Installed 2nd solar panel
  • Swapped out the fittings that were wrong between our tank and our BBQ
  • Installed a new self-tailing winch on the mast (old one wasn’t self-tailing)
  • Installed a new router that will allow our Ray Marine chart plotters to synch with our iPad and computer
  • Fixed connection to the original Wi-Fi that was screwed up when I set up the previous item (thanks for the help Greg!!!!) 
  • Installed some new magnetic door stops for our doors (so they don’t make annoying sounds at sea)
  • Figured out how we’ll mount our anchor(s) in the anchor locker when at sea (but haven’t actually mounted them yet)
  • Added a garden hose outlet on our fresh water connection at the back of the boat. This will allow us to connect a hose so we can wash with fresh water (when we have extra) but was also meant to make sure we can periodically flush our outboard with fresh water – an important maintenance item.
  • Finished varnishing the new battery box our good friend designed for us (up to 9 coats now!) in our aft head. Thanks for the beautiful work you did Craig!
  • Installed a paper towel holder in the galley (really got tired of moving them every time I need to do dishes).
  • Installed some toilet paper holders (weird that they didn’t come with the boat, eh?)
  • Purchased the courtesy flags we’ll need for Mexico and the South Pacific (but we still need to label them so we know which is which!)
  • Bought our quarantine flag (normally raised until you officially check in)
  • Changed the way our swivel connects to the anchor – adding 4 links of chain between them is supposed to be stronger and safer
  • Finished cleaning up the wiring behind our radios (been meaning to do that one for a while!)
  • Installed a new 12V fan in the galley – which I’m pretty sure will be my FAVORITE fan
  • Added an engine shaft ground
  • Installed new motor mounts on the engine (old ones were original and pretty worn out).
  • Converted our aft tank from water to diesel.
  • Added a transfer pump to enable fuel to be pumped between the 3 diesel tanks AND through the fuel filters if there is an issue with dirty fuel – nice!
  • Added a fuel gauge for the aft tank
  • Swapped fittings on the hot water tank to fix a leak
  • Re-sealed the insulation in the engine room where we’d done some previous work
  • Fixed the broken tachometer for the engine that stopped working last month
  • Pulled off the main sail to get it ready for a third reef and running a new track up the main
  • Replaced a broken rope clutch for the main halyard and decided to add two more for the extra halyards 
  • Created and wrote all these blog posts
  • Searched for all our 401K information so we can transfer all 4 of them prior to our departure (found the stuff, but still need to do the paperwork…)
  • And did about 6 hours of research on the medical insurance that we need to acquire prior to departure

Phew!  Guess there’s a reason we feel so busy all the time! Especially since it’s not just doing the projects – it’s the planning and the searching for the right parts.  Then starting the project and realizing you STILL don’t have the right parts and have to go back to the store AGAIN! 

The bonus is that I work for a marine parts distributor – so we get a great deal on all those parts!  Plus I have a husband that is amazingly skilled at doing all this boat work.  We’ve both learned a ton from all these jobs that we’ve completed – big AND small.  But most important of all – we’ve both learned that we are COMPLETELY CAPABLE of figuring things out when needed.  So we both can rest assured that if an emergency comes up far from home – we’ll likely know how to handle it. 

That’s a pretty great feeling.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Complete Navigation Overhaul

Wiring the nav area
While we did several projects during 2011, the biggest undertaking by far was our complete navigation and steering overhaul.  After doing a LOT of research over the winter, we decided to go with Ray Marine as it seemed to do a lot of what we were after and the install looked pretty straightforward.  If I only had a dollar for every time I heard the words “Plug and Play” come out of the mouth of the Ray Marine rep!  While it’s a great system – I definitely don’t agree with the plug and play bit at all! 

To say this was a huge project would be an understatement.  Here’s what we installed:

  • Hydraulic Autohelm
  • 2 E-series Chartplotters (one at helm and one at the nav station)
  • Radar
  • Fish Finder
  • AIS
  • Lifetag (an overboard alert system I wanted for peace of mind during passages)
  • Wind/Depth/Speed Indicators
  • New Pedestal (to hold the chartplotter)
  • Solar Panels
  • Wind Generator
  • Antennas (VHF, AM/FM, GPS x 3 and Wifi)

Hydraulics - huge learning curve!
Every inch covered with something
Passing wires through cupboards

More boat yoga for Brett

Where do we sit for lunch?

Not doing much cooking!

All of these items talk to each other over 3 different types of networks (Seatalk, Seatalk NG and Nema).  Just figuring out how to run the cables and what runs on which network was a huge challenge.  Plug and play, huh?  Running the cables to every part of the boat, wiring for power, and figuring out the perfect angle for the hydraulic ram on the auto helm were all a lot more work than anticipated.  I must have spent 20 hours reading manuals and then reading them again to make sure we got it right.  Brett also got to practice a lot more boat yoga! 
Autohelm and the brains

The chaos that reigned during this install was almost more than I could stand.  I’ve included some photos just to show how crazy it was.  But while it was a lot more work (and way more stressful) than we anticipated, at the end of the day I am so glad that we did it ourselves.  At some point something will definitely stop working, but since we both know how it all goes together it will be much easier to diagnose the problem and figure out how to fix it.  Or at least that’s what I’m hoping.

The Big Additions of 2010

It seems to fit right in!
Getting back to that list of items we wanted to complete, adding an arch the back of the boat was one of the big ones.  Brett had done a LOT of research on what we wanted and now we just needed to find someone that could build it for a price we could actually afford.  I am delighted to say we found the perfect combination in the company Railmakers Northwest, located in Everett, Washington.  Our contact there, Mark Reeves, was not only easy to work with – but a master designer.  He took our ideas and the pictures of what we wanted and came up with a beautiful stainless arch that is perfectly suited to our boat and our many needs (antennas, solar panels, wind generator, GPS, engine and dinghy davits, etc., etc.).  
The dinghy davits
pre-solar install

The arch was designed to fit on all of the old stern rail pads, so when the day of the install arrived, we thought no way could Mark and his team have gotten this right on the first try.  There must be a 1000 different angles that had to be perfect over the 6 pads (with 4 bolt holes each!).  Much to our delight, not only did it fit perfectly on the first try, we were able to install it ourselves (always trying to save money!) with the help of our two friends Teresa and Steve.  Nice work Railmakers!

The box follows the lines of the boat

Another big item we decided to add was a new fiberglass storage locker at the stern of the boat. 

Lots of extra storage!
 We asked for a quote from our friend Paul Ziggler at Northwest Fiberglass and he was kind enough to give us a very competitive (did you say “family deal” Paul?) bid on the box.  While we were desperate for additional storage I felt a lot of trepidation about how a huge fiberglass box would affect the lines and look of our boat – but I also knew we needed more space.  Thankfully, Paul is a true craftsman.  The finished box follows the lines of the boat and looks like it was almost original to the design.  And the best part is that if we decide to sell Bella Vita one day and the new owner doesn’t like or want the box, it is easily removed.  I would highly recommend Paul to anyone in the area that needs fiberglass work done – he does fantastic work (and I’m not just saying that because he gave us the family deal!).  

Moving on Board a Sailboat

Sunset off our stern

When I say that I live on a boat, the most common refrain is “How do you live in such a small space?” and I like to say, “with pleasure!” 

I’ll admit that at first I was a little worried how the transition would go – especially after I figured out that our actual living space equates to just 245 square feet!  WHY did I figure that out again?????  Did I really need to know that number?  No I did NOT!!!  

When we first moved on board, which was in August of 2009, there was definitely a lot to learn.  The first couple of weeks Brett and I started to refer to it as “learning the dance”.  Invariably, you always want to be exactly on the other side of where your partner is standing.  Because our boat is fairly narrow, we are left with two choices – either squeeze by (in a HIGHLY familiar manner) or to simply wait for your spouse to move out of the way.  We soon learned that having a sort of unspoken schedule of events in the morning helped move things along.  Brett showers a little earlier so that he’s out of the head when I need access.  He makes his lunch while I get ready for work in the aft cabin.  I make my lunch while he has his coffee and watches the morning news.  You get the idea.  By making sure we don’t need to be in the same area at the same time, we avoid those little frustrations that might build into something bigger.

Another big adjustment was the moisture issue.  You can’t meet another live-aboard in the northwest without eventually landing on the topic of how they keep their boat dry.  Two people living in a small space produce a LOT of moisture – we are composed of almost 60% water after all! We quickly learned that if we didn’t want it to rain inside, we were going to have to make a few changes.  In the dead of winter it was highly important to not cook anything that created a lot of steam unless we could open the hatch. Showering onboard also increases the moisture level, so we choose to use the marina showers instead.  But what made the biggest difference of all?  Buying a big dehumidifier from Home Depot.  That dehumidifier is the best purchase we ever made (hands down!) while still living dockside.  We run it every day while we are at work and always pull at least a ½ gallon of water out of the air – EVERY DAY!  After our first winter we spent the next summer completely insulating the hull above water line (taking every cabinet apart to get behind it!).  We also installed fans behind the walls to help move air around when humidity is especially high.  Making all of these changes made a HUGE difference and our boat is dry and extremely comfortable now. 

Another big deal is that you can’t just go buy stuff anytime you feel like it – because now you have to think about where you will put it.  With a limited amount of space, every item has its place – so if you bring something new on board you likely are also taking something off.  That gives you a different perspective when you are walking around Fred Meyer, looking at the gazillion different items they offer and you feel like doing a little “shopping-therapy.  So now I think about how every dollar I don’t spend on useless junk is going into the kitty towards our new cruising life – definitely an excellent motivator!  But on those days where I just need to buy…..something…..I usually settle for a nice little treat for us – like some shortbread cookies and good quality chocolate.  We will always have room for chocolate! 
Bella Vita always has plenty of cheese and wine on board!

So what are my favorite and least favorite things about living on a boat?  Nature and NATURE!  During the dead of winter when it’s blowing 25 knots in the marina, raining sideways and I have to walk the ¼ mile roundtrip to the shower – I sorely detest nature!  It is really miserable on those days and I find myself envying friends and family that take the short steps from bedroom to shower completely for granted.  But on the good days……oh the good days!  In early spring when the first bird of the season starts singing, when you can literally watch the buds growing on the trees and then springing open, when the whole world around you is literally coming to life – it’s suddenly 100% worthwhile.  I LOVE how much closer I feel to nature and my surroundings since I’ve been living on a boat – and I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Big Power Update!

Genset - right under stairs

The small opening which was the
only access for the IT's and the charger!
Isolation Transformers &
Battery Charger behind port settee

Now that water, heat and refrigeration were taken care of, it was time to focus on power.  If you’ve ever owned a boat or spent any time on one, you know that power is a BIG DEAL!  What we had was a hodgepodge of brands and installs over the life of the boat.  Most were in fair shape, but getting to the end of their useful life if we wanted them to play nice with some other systems we wanted to install.  After many hours of research and several boat shows (asking LOTS of questions) we decided that Mastervolt was the brand we would install on our boat.  They offered the complete package and had a vast dealer network around the globe – so when problems occurred (and you know they will), help will hopefully not be too far away. 

Brains in TIGHT spaces!
Those brains reside
behind these drawers!!!

With that in mind, we pulled out the current inverter/charger and installed a completely new Mastervolt system – including Genset, Mass Combi (inverter/charger), isolation transformer, 2nd charger for 220 volt battery charging in the EU, 2 Masterview Easy’s (so that we could easily assess the power loads from the main cabin or the aft cabin) and the brains to make it all talk to each other.  HUGE undertaking!  Where to install all of this?  First we had to move the hot water heater to make room for the Genset, then move the old charger to make room for the new (smaller) hot water heater.  You know how it goes – Brett became a master contortionist!  Who needs yoga – just work on a boat! 

Battery & Genset Panels
Masterview Easy panel

This entire project took many, many hours with both of us working on it, running what felt like miles of wire, drilling holes, fitting things in tight spaces.  Brett did the majority of the heavy lifting.  But the biggest challenge?  Reading the 15 different manuals and making sure it was all hooked up correctly before tuning it on.  That first time we starting everything, you’ve never seen a man sweat like Brett did!  But I’m happy to report a job well done – no major fires thank god!

The House is Sold!

It’s mid-June of 2009, and the house has passed its inspection and the deal is closing in 2 short weeks. It was time to get serious about packing up half a lifetime of accumulated stuff.  In theory the transition from house to boat should be fairly straightforward.  You sell, give away or store your stuff and move onto the boat!  What’s the big deal, right? 

The container arrives - HUGE!
The reality [which none of the books on cruising ever talk about] is it’s easily in the top three most STRESSFUL parts of the entire process of getting ready to leave.  Because of that, I decided to keep a journal so I wouldn’t forget what we went through and what an emotional roller coaster it was.  Here are some excerpts from that journal….

We started packing last night as our house closes in just two weeks and there is much to do.  We have to sort through all of our belongings, deciding whether they are destined for the garage sale, long-term storage, short-term storage, or actually going onto the boat.  Every item gets analyzed and packed accordingly.  Imagine working full time and then coming home to a million more decisions every night – ugh!   

It feels crazy all this uncertainty of where we will live and how everything will work out as we are basically packing up our lives.  We can’t move onto the boat as it’s a bit of a disaster from the various projects we’re desperately trying to complete before moving on board.  Mom and Lloyd recently offered us their house for a few weeks while they are out on their boat after our house closes. Thank God we now at least have a place to go!

It's all about staging...
More packing last night – thankfully all that work we did this spring is really paying off.  While I’m happy to be slightly ahead of where I expected to be at this point, the house is in total chaos which is completely depressing.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed thinking how my life will change without a house – it can be hard to keep a positive attitude.  But I know that a large part of that is just fear of the unknown.  And of course there’s the terrible sadness of giving up our wonderful kitty Cosmo.  I am absolutely dreading it – it’s like losing a member of the family.

While I’m excited to pursue our dream of cruising, for some reason today I am feeling completely defeated.  Even though things are tracking well and life keeps moving forward, this whole process has been an emotional roller coaster.  It’s amazing (and silly) how attached we can get to certain things and routines.  But clearly change is stressful – no sidestepping that!  Guess I just need to focus more on the payoff at the end of all this work….

We spent last night moving all of the “garage sale” items into our garage.  I can’t believe how much JUNK we have accumulated over the years!  Why are we such a consumption-based society?  We just buy and buy and buy without much thought to whether we really need the item.  It will be a bit of a relief to live a simpler existence I think….

Look how big those stairs are
next to this full size chair!
What a week it’s been.  Over the weekend we had our huge garage sale, which went really well.  Greg’s family came over and they were a huge help – Greg even volunteered to deliver some of the larger pieces of furniture – what a good brother!  What would we do without family to support us?   That will definitely be the hardest part – leaving family and friends behind.

Both Brett and I are so exhausted at this point that we can hardly think straight – but we have to keep moving forward and just get through the next few days.  We signed the closing papers today and tomorrow we will move everything into the container.  The container seems huge and is truly a sight to see.  It’s still on the truck bed – so it’s almost impossible to access at this point (who knew that would put it 6 feet up???).  Brett is going to build some stairs today so it will be easier to load.  <sigh>  Nothing is ever simple is it?

One of the MANY stage of loading!
Hard to believe it’s been almost two weeks since my last entry.  So much has happened.  That last weekend before we closed on the house was absolute hell.  We worked and worked and worked until we thought we would drop, and then we worked a little more.  It took forever to load the container [AKA the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle].  Everything has to fit together precisely or it will move around too much in transit.  So we would load it, than unload some of it, than reload and add more, then unload some and reload again.  I was absolutely amazed that we filled about 65% of it – I guess we still have a lot of stuff!  I think there were 64 boxes in all, plus all of the furniture and misc. stuff.  Crazy!  I’m sure it will be like Christmas when we get back and unpack it.

It’s so weird to know we’re moving from 1800 square feet to a whopping 245 (yes – I actually ran the numbers – what an idiot!!!).  Yikes!  I will miss our neighbors and will especially miss our cat.  But at least we know Cosmo will be very happy with Beth and Tom and there is just no way we could take him cruising.  He loses half his coat every time we start the engine on the boat and I am mildly allergic to him – especially when he’s in shedding mode.  Not a good combination…

With the house finally empty, we handed over the keys to the (highly eager) new owner, said one last goodbye to Beth, Tom and Cosmo and then drove to the house on Mercer Island.  When we arrived and dragged all the stuff inside (at midnight, completely exhausted), I think we both just wanted to cry.  Looking at all these boxes and knowing there was NO WAY they would fit on the boat was like a huge weight on both of us.  How could we have spent so much time divesting ourselves of our belongings and STILL HAVE SO MUCH FREAKING STUFF???

The only solution is a larger storage unit until we can decide what else we can live without.  At this point, I’m literally ready to just pitch everything.  But Brett is preaching caution – not wanting me to go too crazy and then have to re-buy things.  I’m sure we’ll probably land somewhere in the middle, but for now we are living among the boxes, trying to figure out what to keep.  We’ll be moving to our larger storage area this weekend, which I hope will help in getting organized and make us feel better about this chaos. 

Each night is a little strange and it’s hard to feel any comfort with no set routine.   It’s very hard to live in such a state of complete chaos – especially since the future of living on the boat is also such an unknown.   But I just keep reminding myself that this is just a phase and things will get better.  It’s all a part of the master plan, right???  Just keep moving forward….
Final Stages
So that’s how we felt.  What the books don’t talk about is that our whole life we’re taught that the more you have, the more successful you are, right?  We’re supposed to want the big house, the flat screen TV, the nice car, good food and wine.  Society works hard to teach that lesson and our economy depends on it!  But to reach our goal, we needed to deconstruct a lifetime of that mode of thinking – not an easy task to take in.

Thankfully, if this process has taught me one big lesson, it’s that stuff doesn’t make you happy – people do.  A friend once told Brett, “we are all just renters in life” and I can’t think of a better way to state it.  When we die, all that stuff we worked so hard to buy is just stuff.  In the final hours it will be the places we went, the memories we created and the relationships we had along the way that made our lives richer – not the house we owned or the car we drove.  

Back to the Projects!

Water System
While the house was on the market, we turned our attention to the projects that would have to be completed prior to our moving on board.  The priorities quickly became apparent….power, heat, refrigeration and water.  These are things we can’t live without, right?  So the first thing we did was replace the entire water system.  The boat had originally been outfitted with grey PEX hose and fittings.  Those fittings were now over 13 years old and in need of some work, so we made the decision to pull everything out and convert the entire boat to the “Whale” water system of hard plastic hose and easy-connect fittings.  This turned out to be the perfect project to start with as it introduced us to how the boat was organized below floorboards and behind the walls.  Three years later, we are still very happy with this system.  When we need to make a change, we simply pull the fitting off, make the change and then plug it back it – super slick!

DC Refrigeration
While we were working on the water system, we came to the realization that adding in the DC refrigeration unit we had picked (a water cooled Grunert system, with holding plates in both the freezer and fridge) might be a little more than we could handle [I should note here that Brett and I are firm believers that we need to do as much of our own work as possible because if something breaks at sea, we will have a better understanding of the system and a much higher chance of fixing it].  After looking over the manual, and knowing our own limits, we made the decision to hire the work out.

So what did we learn?  GET A QUOTE!  In writing with “not to exceed” clauses in place, PRIOR to having the work done!  While the quality of the work done was excellent, the job came in at more than TWICE the original (verbal) quote.  You can imagine our complete shock  considering there was no warning along the way that the quote had been not only exceeded, but left in the dust!  Thankfully the owner of the company agreed that the lack of warning wasn’t fair, so we met in the middle and still have a good relationship.  But an EXPENSIVE LESSON LEARNED so take heed!!!!

Diesel Heat
With the refrigeration in hand, Brett was on to the next big project on the list – heat!  We knew we’d need a good heat source over our soggy and cold northwest winters, so we trekked over to Sure Marine in Ballard and after much discussion with their excellent and knowledgeable staff, we decided to install a Webasto Thermo 90ST for a wonderful 31,000 BTU’s of glorious heat.  After getting a couple of quotes we knew there was no way we could afford to have someone else do the work, plus there was that pesky code of ours to do the work ourselves if at all possible, so Brett set off to learn what would be needed and started working.  By the time the project was done, we fully understood why those quotes were so high ($15-$20K, not kidding!).  It takes a tremendous amount of time to run hoses through every cabin, cut holes, install fans, run power and hook it all up.  Brett estimates it easily took at least 90 hours to do all the work.  And that was with some help from his trusty part-time assistant (me) and our good friend Pat (of Pat’s Marine Engines) who did the final exhaust work for the heater install (we really didn’t want to risk dying of carbon monoxide poisoning after all).  

When all was said and done, Brett was intimate with every inch of our boat and you would never know a professional didn’t do the work.  Have I mentioned how much I love my husband? And how much I’ve loved that heater when it was cold out?  Phew!

When Do You Sell the House

So lists of projects are good and all, but what was the next big step towards reaching our goal to go cruising?  We needed to sell the house and move on board the boat!  Sounds so simple right?  Surprisingly it would end up being one of the most emotional periods of this entire journey.

The original plan had been to finish all of the big projects on the boat, then sell the house in the fall of 2010 and move aboard about a year prior to departing in 2011.  Unfortunately the economy didn’t cooperate!  In late 2008 we began to fear that the bottom would soon fall out of the housing market.  We felt the longer we waited, the less value we would get out of our house.  More time living on the boat could be a good thing, right????  So in early 2009 we began to prep the house for sale and we put it on the market in late March.  Thankfully, even though the market was already starting to turn, we got lucky and received a good offer in early May.  The clock was now ticking in earnest!

Projects, Projects, Projects!

So remember that vow to not make any major changes for the first 6 months???  Well…..we actually made it for the most part!  That first summer and fall (of 2008) we just enjoyed the boat and got to know her.  But if you know us at all, you won’t be surprised to hear we were soon creating our list of what we would need to upgrade and/or change to meet our cruising needs.  Considering how well outfitted the boat already was, we sure came up with a long list!

Here’s a short list of the biggest projects we decided needed to be done prior to our departure:
·         Replace aging water lines
·         Install a DC fridge (current one was only engine driven)
·         Replace aging battery charger/inverter
·         Add a generator
·         Add a diesel heater
·         Add solor panels
·         Add a wind generator
·         Add an arch for the solar panels, wind power and various lights and antennas
·         Replace worn inner cushions (starting to disintegrate in areas)
·         Replace worn exterior canvas
·         Create a new bimini with a dodger for shade
·         Replace radar/chartplotter with newer version that could repeat at helm/nav
·         Add a more robust autohelm – preferably hydraulic
·         Convert the aft water tank to fuel (bringing us to 108 gallons fuel/155 water)
·         Reroute watermaker fittings (so we don’t have to pull up the bed to run it)
·         Install new batteries prior to departure
·         Buy life raft and mount to stern pulpit
·         Find a way to add more exterior storage

And that’s just the BIG stuff!  There were so many small projects along the way that there just isn’t enough time to recount it all.  But in the following posts we’ll cover some of the changes we’ve made and why we made them….

Getting to Know Bella Vita!

Forward Berth
Bella Vita is a Hylas 45.5, the last one built - which came off the line at the factory in Taiwan in 1995. Her original home was in sunny Santa Barbara, California, where she had the name Carpe Diem – you know – "Seize the Day".

We went down to see her in early April of 2008 and immediately fell in love. While she was definitely out of our price range, we discovered the owner had already taken ownership of another boat and so might be eager to unload. We crossed our fingers and made a ridiculously low offer. To our great surprise, the owner was willing to play.  After much finagling back and forth, we came to an agreement and never looked back!
Main Salon - Port

While the 45.5 is originally modeled from the Hylas 44, it also had some of the positive changes that went into the 46, which began production immediately after our boat.  Bella Vita has a large swim platform (the 
biggest change from the 44 to the 46) and is very roomy and comfortable inside.  

Main Salon - Starboard
Forward most is a large quarter berth (with access to the chain locker), followed by a head to the port side and then the main salon. 

Mid-Ship Sink
Aft of that is the nav station to port, a centerline sink with a walk through galley to starboard. Aft of that is the main cabin, the 2nd head to port with separate shower included in the head.  

Bella carries a little over 200 gallons of water in 3 tanks, with just 60 gallons of fuel in 2 tanks.  Currently she weighs in at about 32,000 pounds. 

Port Side Galley
Above deck she is a classic center cockpit with a sloop rig.  No fancy electric winches or bow thruster – but her rig was upsized with good fittings and a nicer spar than normally comes with the standard Hylas.  

She was rigged for serious racing and had already made one trip to Hawaii with a pretty good record.  Considering her weight, she’s fast while still feeling safe in heavy seas.  

Nav Station
After buying her, we vowed the only big change we would make in the first 6 months was to give her a new name since we both agreed that Carpe Diem was over used and not right for us.  We decided on Bella Vita because she would be our ticket to a new life of adventure – so the translation of “Beautiful Life” seemed appropriate, while not being too hard to say in an emergency.

Aft Berth
To celebrate, we had a boat christening/renaming party of the dock at Elliott Bay Marina with friends and family.  We donated the requisite “bribes” to the gods with all of the appropriate words you are supposed to recite.  It was the perfect start to our relationship with our new boat.  After a ridiculous amount of research on which boat to buy and a multitude of decisions on the right balance between comfort, performance and safety – I can honestly say we both feel very blessed to have such an excellent boat to take us on the many adventures to come.  

At Boat Christening (pre-arch!)