Friday, April 27, 2018

Tall Ships-Lynx and When and If

Video on YouTube at 
(Copy and paste the link into your browser if this hyperlink doesn't work--we are trying to get the issue resolved)

The Lynx and the When and If, a pair of American tall ships. It’s Two-fer-one…sort of. Well. At least in this episode.

We were able to board the Oliver Hazard Perry, Picton Castle, Oosterschelde and Elissa for tours, but the Lynx and When and If were occupied elsewhere…they had a special ticketed event…short sails in Galveston harbor, aboard either one of these two vessels.

And while that was appealing, it was way out of our budget.

However, we did get to see these two small, sleek boats under sail, and more than once.

Known as America’s Privateer, the Lynx was built in 2001 and was inspired by a real tall ship…a privateer that was in the War of 1812. It, too, was called the Lynx. You can learn more about the Lynx at

When and If was built in 1939 at the request of General George S. Patton with the goal: “WHEN this war is over, and IF I survive, Bea and I are going to sail around the world.” As a result, the schooner yacht When and If was built for comfortable cruising as well as sport racing.  You can learn more about her at

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tall Ship-Oliver Hazard Perry

Not the War of 1812 hero, but the boat named for him. The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry.

(The SSV stands for Sailing School Vessel)

We had a great time touring all the boats at Tall Ships Galveston, and each one was unique in her own way. In the case of Oliver Hazard Perry, it's just a baby when it comes to the tall ships. Built in 2013, she calls Newport, RI home. She is 200' long and carries 14,000 square feet of sail.

Other trivia, she has 7 miles of rope, 160 belaying pins and that 14,000 sq. ft. of sail translates into 20 sails. And what looks like a gun deck in the distance is in reality a row of port holes.

She also carries a noble naval name, that of US Naval Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who led the US fleet to victory over the British Navy in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

His famous quote? "Don't give up the ship!"

Check out our YouTube video at:

If you'd like to learn more about SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, visit their website at:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tall Ship-Picton Castle

The Picton Castle is one of my personal favorites from Tall Ships Galveston.

With her profile, you can just see her sailing about the South Seas trade routes. She has a unique, cool, funky, quirky style that’s all her own.

Maybe that’s because she was built in 1928 and yet feels young at heart.

It was neat to walk her oiled clear-pine decks, and catch little glimpses of life on board…like where they stowed oranges and bananas.

The cabin and below deck areas were not open for tours, which I can understand. At just 179’,  I’m sure the crew (and Fiji the cat) appreciate the privacy!

Check out our YouTube video for the "on-deck" experience:

Oh, and if you always wanted to experience a tall ship adventure…check this out: Picton Castle is taking a year-long around the world voyage! So, if that’s a must-do dream of yours...there’s info on their website.

If you would like to learn more about the Picton Castle, her voyage and more, their website is:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tall Ships Galveston-an overview

tall ship at dock with flagsWhat a blast! We were able to get to not just one, but two days’ worth of the Tall Ships, and even that was not enough to see and do everything!

There were performers, vendors, tours, competitions and more between the main festival grounds and the Strand (historic downtown Galveston).

And there were the boats…amazing vessels of days gone by. Of romance and pirates and imagination. Beautiful. Hard working. Majestic.

4 people on a dock in front of a tall shipAnd people…lots of people. Including a couple of our favorites! We met Tom and Stacie Langlund of RV Texas Y’all. (

We’d been trying to connect while we were here in TX, and we were able to meet at Tall Ships. The fun part? We’d been texting back and forth but at last communication they were over across the bay at Texas A&M. As we walked in, who should be coming in on the water taxi as we walked by? Tom and Stacie! What timing! They’re great folks who have loads of info. You’ll want to check out their blog and YouTube channels.

If a picture’s worth a thousand words…video must be priceless…check out our YouTube “overview” of Tall Ships at and be sure you stay tuned….we’ll have some videos that give a closer look at the Tall Ships in future videos.

Oh, and here’s a few pictures to whet your appetite.

two acrobats

looking up the mast of a tall ship

Tall ships as seen from a water taxi

tall ship mast and dingy

tall ship at dock

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tall Ships Galveston Parade of Sail

two tall ships under sail
Oosterschelde and Oliver Hazard Perry
We're sharing our experiences from Tall Ships Galveston is a series of blog posts and videos. And first up: the Tall Ships Galveston Parade of Sail. We watched the parade from the porch deck of the bathhouse at Stewart Beach on what proved to be a very breezy, overcast day. The weather wasn’t beautiful, but the boats were!

And since a picture is worth a thousand's just a few of them for you to enjoy
two tall ships sailing
Elissa and Oliver Hazard Perry
You can also join us on YouTube as we launch a series of brief videos from our experiences at Tall Ships Galveston. You'll find the Tall Ships Galveston-Parade of Sail video here:

You can also learn more about these Tall Ships from the links below:
sailing ship
When and If
Oliver Hazard Perry
Picton Castle

Sailing ship

Sailing ship
Oliver Hazard Perry
Sailing ship
Picton Castle

Sailing ship, official tall ship of Texas

three tall ships under sail
L-R: Oliver Hazaerd Perry, Oosterschelde and Elissa

ships under sail
Oosterschelde and Elissa

Two american tall ships under sail
L-R: When and If with Oliver Hazard Perry

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Quick Tip-I See You

Or it, as the case may be.

Sometimes working on an RV requires some ingenuity, like when you need see something you're working on, but can't get in to see what you're doing.

Chris was anchoring a stray wire in a small closet when we ran into just that.

How small was it? The closet door opening is about 8".  (Closet interior is a whopping 10-11" wide)

Anyway, in order to attach the tie down for the wire, he had to drill back in behind the door frame,  but couldn't really see what he was doing. And it was a very tight working space so I couldn't hold a mirror to help him see the area he was working on.

I love divine inspiration. Here's what we came up with.

We had a hand mirror with a handle.

We also had some thin Velcro wrapping strips.

So we simply put the Velcro through the hole in the handle, and then attached it to the clothes pole in the closet.

Voila! Not only could Chris see what he was doing, it even bounced some extra light onto the area he was working in.

Oh, and if you're wondering about that wire, it went to the outside "porch" light on the driver's side. No switch for the light and no power in that line. Chris spliced a line with a simple in-line switch off the closet light and now we can control that exterior light easily.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Gear Review-Renogy Suitcase and Power Pack

Some things are baby steps. For us, getting into boondocking means that solar power is among those baby steps.

We started with a couple basic solar items that we can continue to use regardless of adding a permanent system. Since we purchased these two so close together, I’ll roll it into one review. (Caveat: This is a first glace review…after we’ve really put it through some paces with some boondocking, we’ll do an update.)

Renogy 100-Watt Solar Suitcase with Controller

This is our first step into solar (after we updated all 12-volt interior lights to LED that is-that post is here). After some research it felt to be the best bet for us. And when we got it…we were very pleased.

The pluses:
Solid and well built. We really liked that it had the aluminum frame as opposed to plastic.
Easy to set up
Impressive case. Seriously…solid, molded to fit and well made.
Size-it easily fits into a storage bay
Even on a cloudy day, we were getting almost 20 volts (as per Chris’s volt meter)

The Minuses:
Battery clips. You use these to connect the panel to the battery. That part is obvious. However, it would be nice if they were better quality. Cables are great, but the clips themselves feel a tad flimsy, and the plastic insulation on one the handles fell off.

Owner’s manual is pretty worthless…print is so small you can’t read it without a magnifying glass! We got more help from YouTube on doing the initial setup. (Good thing we had internet available here!) That’s where we learned it’s almost just plug n play. Once you connect it to you 12-volt battery bank, you access the menu on the controller to be sure the right battery type is selected and to set your temperature info to Celsius or Fahrenheit. Renogy should consider replacing that manual with a basic quick start guide.

Renogy 400-Watt Rugged Power Pack

We added this to our solar mix as an additional unit to store power (we currently have a basic two deep-cycle battery bank for house power). We thought portable power would be a good plus and we could charge it off the solar panel in addition to the 120-volt power when we have electricity available in a campground.

And yes, so far we like it. We have tested it a bit with Chris’s keyboard, CPAP machine, recharging electronics, etc., and have recharged it via shore power and 12-volt power. It proved to be a good, steady power source.

Well built
Lithium Battery, so it can store anywhere.
Easy to read display
Clear Connection points
Compact size, easy to carry

Wish we knew this before, but you can’t charge it off the suitcase solar panel with a built-in controller as the power pack has its own controller and they cancel each other out. Chris made a modification to the panel’s wiring and once we run the Power Pack down a bit and we get a fairly sunny day we’ll test that out. At this point, it looks like his adaptation will work. (Yes, we will be sure to let you know whether or not it does)

The controller is not waterproof. (Since we purchased this, they have come out with a waterproof one…guess we should have waited) But if the weather’s bad…you wouldn’t have it out anyway, right?

But even with these minuses, we’re pretty pleased with the Solar Panel and Battery.

An update: We use the Power Pack to power our Patriot 2 Brake System when towing instead of using the Jeep's battery...and it works great!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Campground Review-I-35 RV Park

I-35 RV Park
Elm Mott, TX
Stay: Jan 2018

This well-named park was a just a quick and convenient over-night stop for us.

And well named as it is right alongside I-35, so yes, there is quite a bit of road noise. Sites seemed to by typically spaced apart and it was easy to pull our rig into the pull thru site. SItes were quite level.

We took a nice walk around the main section of the campground. It appears to be very well maintained and even offers covered sites for long term folks.

They had a large dog park as well as a walking trail and a pet wash station. Yes…it’s a very pet friendly campground. Laundry and restrooms/showers are super clean too.

And then…. there’s a free breakfast…. yup. Free. Breakfast. Cooked to order. Tips appreciated.  But we opted to just eat quick and leave in the morning so I can’t comment on the food.

We would use this location again of we needed a quick overnight stop with hookups.

Monday, April 2, 2018

RV Mods-Let There be Light

older style rv overhead light fixture
 We recently did a big changeover in Miss Emmy. An operating systems change that also updated her looks…sort of a win-win.

Miss Emmy had the usual array of almond colored RV light fixtures with incandescent bulbs.

First thing we did when we picked her up was to swap some of those out for LED bulbs. (We had a few left over from our previous coach)
ceiling in a motorhome

But that didn’t cover all of the fixtures.

Since we want to do some boondocking, we decided to go ahead completely update with new  LED fixtures.

Good call...and in more ways than one.

marine style overhead lightWe discovered that some of the old fixtures had rust inside or were in horrible shape, like the one over the table that we replaced with this marine fixture when we first got her, back before we knew we'd be blogging! Trust me, it was not good and sorry...I didn't get a "before" photo. (It was, after all, was pre-blogging days)

older style rv overhead fluorescent light fixtureWe recently replaced the galley light over the sink (read the post here), and that helped us get  re-started on the process.

Well, that and wanting to get Miss Emmy more prepared for boondocking.

man looking at old RV light fixture hanging from ceiling First major swap out: the 2 overhead fluorescent tube fixtures. We found some on Amazon that looked to be the right item and ordered them in. After all, everything is surface mounted when it comes to RV lighting, right?


We soon discovered that the original fluorescent fixtures were actually recessed into the ceiling even though they appeared to be surface mounted.

We also found the new fixtures were slightly smaller that that opening.

man drilling a piece of wood re-framing a section of motorhome ceiling But there's always a solution...Chris re-framed the opening with some 1"x 3" lumber we got at the local Do It Best yard (Unexpected blessing: since we only needed a short section...they let us have some scrap lumber for free!)

Once the re-framing was done, I painted it with some basic white craft paint. A $1.50 bottle of paint was far more practical in this case than a whole gallon!

Once the framing was in place, the installation was pretty typical.
New fluorescent LED light for RVs
Afterwards, we did some testing. The old fixture was a single switch on-off only. Basically, both tubes were either on or off. No in-between. It drew 13 Watts of power.

Our new fixture has 2 switches, one for each tube. When both are on, it draws only 6.2 Watts. Now here's the best part....we're finding that for most of our needs...just a single tube is sufficient, that means using only 3.1 Watts.

new LED light for motorhome ceiling We replaced all of the standard-issue almond colored RV light fixtures as well.

The new fixtures were almost identical in size, and Chris only had do re-drill a couple of holes for each to mount the new ones.

illuminated motorhome LED light fixture Since we had already installed some basic LED bulbs in the fixture, we didn't see a huge difference in wattage...but we did get a super boost in brightness, and are finding that we typically use just one side of the dual lamp fixtures, and even then we don't need all of the overhead lights on!

We also got the exterior lights replaced with LED fixtures.
illuminated motorhome LED porch light

So now, we are all set, at least lighting-wise, to do some boondocking. We have drastically reduced our power needs for the evening just by swapping out the light fixtures, which reduces demand on the batteries....and it gave Miss Emmy a little fresher look inside too.

Oh...and it reduced unwanted heat from those lights too, thus reducing need for A/C (and fire/burn risks from hot light bulbs).

Whew! It sure is nice to be long term in a spot so you can do some of these updates!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter

motorhome at night under a full moon
We hope everyone had a blessed Easter Sunday. I know we did!

Today we attended out first Son-rise service on a beach, which was really cool!

And it's quite the event here on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Pastor Kay, pastor of the church we're attending here, strongly recommended getting there early...really early, as in a full hour, to have a decent parking spot and seat. Oh...and to bring our own chairs.

And so we did. We got up at o-dark-hundred. Or at least what felt like it. We got there around 6 am (service started at 7), and I'm glad we did. Within a half hour, 2-3,000 people were on the beach for the Son-rise service.

It was a wonderful Easter for us, even though we needed a nap later! (Can I have 2 naps today?) And we think it was even more wonderful for the folks that accepted the invitation and were baptized right after the service. (We missed that...had to go home, eat, and freshen up for the regular church service!)

But, you don't have to get up at o-dark-hundred for a taste of the Son-rise service scene, just check out our video on YouTube!

(Oh--and we didn't video the service itself...want to avoid any copyright issues!)

And just in case the video didn't work:
YouTube Channel link:
Video link: