Shit Happens – Гадости Стават



Life on a boat is not just beautiful sunsets and sailing romance, everyone will tell you this. Sometimes, often, shit happens. And usually, it’s something completely unexpected.

Yesterday Ivo decided to change one of the pipes for the toilet, not because it was broken or defective, but just because he decided it is a good idea to replace it.

Something got stuck. He took a hummer, one of his all-times favorite tools, and started banging away and the entire through hull fitting broke. A huge 2-inches gap on the bottom of the hull! We are in 20 feet of water, at anchor in Fajardo and there is this fountain inside the boat! We are sinking!

There is this joke: A boat is calling the German coastguard: „Help, we are sinking!“ The German coastguard replies; „And vat are you sinking about?“

Well, we are „sinking about“ how stupid to work on a through hull fitting while at anchor…

We plugged the hole with plastic bags, pumped out the water from the bilge, and we will be hauling out tomorrow afternoon in the nearest marina- Marina Puerto del Rey for emergency repairs.

Until then, we will be using Maya’s toilet…

Another lesson learned the hard way.


Животът на яхта не е само прекрасни залези и романтика, всеки ще ви каже. Понякога- често- се случват големи гадости. И обикновено се случват напълно неочаквано.

Вчера Иво реши да смени една от тръбите на нашата тоалетна, не защото беше счупена или дефектна, а просто защото той реши, че е време да я смени.

Нещо запече. Иво взе един чук- негов любим инструмент- и започна да блъска и целият механизъм, който извежда септичната тръба извън корпуса на лодката се разби. Отвори се огромна 5-сантиметрова дупка на дъното на десният корпус. Намираме се на котва в 8 меттра вода във Фахардо, Порто Рико и си имаме фонтан вътре в лодката! Потъваме!

Разбира се, няма нищо по-глупаво от това да поправяш дупки и тръби които излизат извън корпуса на една лодка, когато си на котва.

Запушихме дупката с найлонови торвбички, изпомпахме водата от трюма и утре следобед кран ще извади Фата Моргана от водата в Марина дел Рей за спешна поправка.

До тогава- ще ползваме тоалетната на Мая…

Още един урок научен по трудният начин.

"Тоалетната на Мая.  МОЛЯ не влизайте, щото е мойта тоалетна"

„Тоалетната на Мая.
МОЛЯ не влизайте, щото е мойта тоалетна“

Because we always try to be positive (nothing is the end of the world, except the end of the world) here are a few positive thoughts:

The pipe and fitting were old, and after Ivo removed them it turned out they would break soon enough anyway. It is better that it happened in a place, where there is a marina and a travel lift ready to haul us out immediately. There are only a few travel lifts in the Caribbean that can haul out a catamaran 22-feet beam and over. If this had happened somewhere else we cold really sink.

The price of the haul out here is not too bad, and we can find all the parts needed for the repair, so after 1-2 days we should be back in the water.


И понеже винаги се стараем да гледаме позитивно на нещата (понеже нищо не е краят на света, освен краят на света) ето и няколко позитивни мисли по темата:

Тръбата така или иначе беше стара и след като Иво я махна се оказа, че съвсем скоро е щяла да се счупи, както и цялото устройство, което беше ръждясало и клеясало. По-добре е че стана тук, където наблизо има марина с кран, готови да ни извадят от водата веднага. В Карибите има само 3 места с кран способен да вдига катамарани колкото нашият и това е едно от тези места. Ако нещо подобно се беше случило на друго място, наистина можеше да потънем.

Освен това цената на процедурата по изкарването тук не е висока, има всички необходими части за ремонта и след 1-2 дена би трябвало да сме обратно на вода.


How We Survived Our First Storm

It has been exactly one month since we are in 3D Boatyard in Key West, Florida working on our newly acquired catamaran Fata Morgana, getting her ready for liveaboard and cruising. Since one month, we are hearing people talking about “hurricane season”. Our neighbor  Dale in the wooden boat on our starboard side said that the hurricane season officially starts May 1. It started a day later.

On Thursday, May2, a storm hit us, totally unexpected, unpredicted, and unannounced. Our first ever Tropical Storm.

Around 10 in the morning the sky became dark and thick with mean hefty clouds like a herd of buffalos galloping from the northeast at 40 miles per hour, coming straight at us. We closed all hatches and doors. Suddenly massive sheet of rain and fierce winds swooped over the boatyard. The few trees next to the fence almost let go of the ground and flew away. Hell, our catamaran Fata Morgana gently perched on four wooden crates almost flew away, shaking and jerking like a freight train. At times I thought we were airborne, it felt like it. There were lightening followed by impressive explosions so loud and so near us it seemed we were caught under cross artillery fire. Small rivers formed quickly around the boats, puddles transformed into lakes. The earth became liquid. “Good thing we are in a boat”, I kept thinking, “We might as well float away.”

Then the winds calmed down, the rain almost stopped, and we thought the storm was over. Lasted just about a few minutes, we thought. But the clouds kept moving above us, darker and fuller, lower and faster, and it hit us again. And again. And again… Every time: heavier rains and stronger winds from a different direction. The monster kept roaring, attacking, retreating, and coming back again more ferocious and bloodthirsty. It swirled around and hit us five times in five interminable hours, giving us a few false hopes during the short calm intervals of a minute or two. “Please stop, that’s enough”, I pleaded whoever was in charge of the storm. “I am scared”. I get an electric flash of blinding blue light in the face and a mighty thunder for a response.

At one point the jib of the boat behind us, a big fifty feet sloop, unfurled with much noise and started thrashing about. Looked like some maniac in a bridal dress dancing before a sacrifice. Ivo and Jessie, the young guy from the boat next to the sloop, run aboard, as the owners were not there, to furl the jib. The whole boat shaking, and with the wind pushing the open sail, she would surely tip over and crash to the ground. But they saved her.

Ivo and Jessie furling the jib

Ivo and Jessie furling the jib

The storm lasted so long, that after a while I stopped being so afraid and accepted the future, whatever it was. I even started enjoying this uncontrollable display of energy and might. Nature at her best: raging, exploding, attacking, devouring.

Then the sky brightened, the wind calmed down and life was beautiful again. Even more beautiful than usual; it was perfect.

The Boatyard after the Storm

The Boatyard after the Storm


The Ubuntu Family

Not only Viktor made a new friend here at 3D Boatyard. We all did. Dylan’s family came in a package of four: a dad, a mom, a brother, and a sister. The package: a catamaran a lot like ours.

Well, our family’s configuration is pretty much the same, and so we all got a friend each, or, at times, two friends each, or even four friends each!

Viktor and Dylan

Viktor and Dylan

While Viktor and Dylan go fishing after the work for the day is done, or playing soccer, or videogaming; Maya and Kashara go to the park for a walk, or draw, or polish each other’s nails, or watch movies while eating pop-tarts.

Maya and Kashara

Maya and Kashara

Boatyard Feet Close-up

Boatyard Feet Close-up

During that time, Ivo and David talk about boats and repairs, sailing and navigating, David patiently explaining things and giving Ivo invaluable information like: how to clear customs in some island of the Bahamas for example, or which VHF channel to use to talk between boats.

David and Ivo

David and Ivo

Lori and I, we might go for a walk and talk about literature, homeschooling, life on the boat, and life in general.

Lori and me

Lori and me

We also spent many evenings together, the four kids in Baba Ganoush having fun gaming or watching films, the four adults in the cockpit of our boat drinking beer and getting to know each other better, the way new instant friends do, discovering, with pleasant bursts of surprise, more and more common interests, worldviews, and passions. For me, two such moments of joy were finding out that David is an artist, and that Lori is an English and Icelandic Language major who, like me, has a great passion for reading and writing.

Viktor, Dylan, Maya, and Kashara aboard Fata Morgana

Viktor, Dylan, Maya, and Kashara aboard Fata Morgana

There was also a lot of exchanging and lending of instruments and machinery going on between our two catamarans on a daily basis, as well as a constant flow of little dishes and boxes full of home-made exquisites like David’s famous banana muffins or my eggplant stew, Kashara’s  macaroni salad, or Maya’s potato salad.

And this is happening in a boatyard while working ten hours a day to fix the boats, no beach nearby! Imagine when our two catamarans meet again near some tropical Caribbean island with nothing to do, but snorkel, fish, and explore the local villages…

I long for that moment.

Ubuntu, sanded and painted all shiny and new, left the Boatyard yesterday, everyone waiving goodbye. Floating away, the boat left a big space in the boatyard and in our hearts incomprehensibly empty.

Looks unnatural.

Feels sad.

Ubuntu Tango with Lori and Me

Ubuntu Tango with Lori and Me


Engine Room Chipmunk

Two weeks on the hard in 3D Boatyard, Key West. We are trying to repair and fit our catamaran Fata Morgana for cruising and off-grid livaboard.

Ivo has been working like crazy from dawn till dusk, me and the kids helping from time to time.

First, he spent a week grinding the hulls, then he took care of the engines.

One morning, he moved in the engine rooms and lived there for many hot days like a chipmunk, emerging on rare occasions to gather food and beer, or to jump from one engine room to the other. Out of compassion, many people in the boatyard suggested we should install a small hammock in one of the compartments of one of the engine rooms, so that he could sleep there and wouldn’t have to come out at night.

For the fibreglass works and repairs we hired Ed, a fibreglass specialist. He turned out to be Ivo’s soul mate  working in a similar fashion, never resting, never stopping, grinding all day, covered in thick white dust. When Ivo and Ed work together, they never talk, but telepathically exchange thoughts: two yogis working in perfect Krishna harmony.

Here are the results of their joint efforts so far:

April 1 to April 17

Repairs&projects already done:

1.  Engines Westerbeke 44 a (there are two engines on a catamaran)

  • cleaned the engine rooms and engines from nasty oils
  • changed all hoses and clamps
  • fixed the alternator
  • changed oil filters and oil

(All the work on the engines has been done by Ivo. After the work was finished, some people in the boatyard who saw the sparkling results, suffered mildly from an engine-room envy.)

2. Stanchions

  • unscrewed all stanchions
  • replaced all stanchion’s aluminium bases with stainless steel bases.

(All the work on the stanchins as been done by Ivo, Maya and Mira helped a bit)

3. Hulls (there are two hulls on a catamaran….)

  • sanded 
  • repaired a few spots with fibreglass
  • repaired starboard bow badly repaired previously

(Ivo, Viktor, and Mira did the sanding, most of it Ivo, Ed did the fibreglass repairs)

4. Keels (guess how many keels there are on a catamaran?)

  • sanded
  • ground
  • still waiting to dry
  • will repair them with six layers of fibreglass

(All work on the keels has been done by Ed)

5. Bimini

  • removed the bimini and frame
  • building a hard-top bimini (in progress)

(Ed is in charge of the hard-top bimini, working together with Ivo. I will publish a separate post entitled The Making of The Hard Top Bimini with pictures of all stages as soon as it is finished.)

Next, we will be painting the hulls, installing a water-maker, and will order foam and make mattresses for two of the three cabins ( there was only one mattress in the boat). We will also be doing many other things, but we can do them in the water, so I think for the boatyard, that’s pretty much it.

Hull after sanding

Hull after sanding

Starboard bow repair in progress.

Starboard bow repair in progress.

Ground keels drying

Ground keels drying

Stainless steel stanchions

Stainless steel stanchions

Sparkling engine and engine room.

Sparkling engine and engine room.


Not Sad Viktor

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

― Anaïs Nin

For the first time since we started this journey five months ago Viktor is truly happy.

Until now he was closed in his shell, playing video games or listening to music on his iPod , reluctant to participate in most of the family activities, in a state of denial. You see, leaving everything behind, friends included, is not easy, especially for a fifteen-year-old.

But all this suddenly changed about a week ago.

Let me tell you, he is all over the place: he wakes up in the morning, puts on his working pants and starts working: grinding, sanding, helping to fix the boat. Then he eats dinner. After the work is finished around 5 pm,  he goes to the park near the boat yard and he plays soccer until his pants are damp with his own sweat. Then he takes a shower and he eats supper. After supper, he might go fishing from the docks or he plays video games and listens to music in Baba Ganoush until late at night.

Why this huge change, you might ask.

The answer is simple: he met a new friend, Dylan.

Dylan is seventeen. For five years now, he’s been living on a catamaran much like ours with his mother Lori, his dad David and his sister Kashara who is sixteen. They have been cruising in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region, and sometimes come to Florida. They have come to 3D boat yard in Key West to work on their boat Ubuntu, sanding and painting her. So now, we are two catamarans here in 3D, two families with too many things in common.

This is why Viktor is all over the place. He is working hard, sanding Ubuntu, with Dylan beside him; playing soccer with Dylan; going fishing with Dylan; or playing video games and listening to music in Baba Ganoush until late at night.

With Dylan.

Viktor and Dylan working on Ubuntu.

Viktor and Dylan working on Ubuntu.

Viktor and Dylan playing soccer.

Viktor and Dylan (and Humphrey), fishing.

Viktor and Dylan (and Bogart), fishing.


Planet 3D

Planet 3D.

A place of perpetual noise and toxic dust.

Nothing to do with the rest of the world.

The soil on planet 3D has a dull-blue colored crust a small sample of which, examined under a microscope, will reveal a complex composition: a mixture of hazardous  substances such as: cyanide, copper, epoxy, and tributyltin. These same chemicals are also found floating in the atmosphere and occasionally form dense clouds resembling desert storms on planet Earth, but toxic. Breathing this air is precarious.

As a precaution and only remedy, it is recommended to drink beer.

The first creatures we meet here remind us of people. Only, they have non-organic otherworldly faces. Their eyes- hidden behind dirty goggles; instead of mouths and noses- breathing masks; instead of hands, grinders. They wake up at 8 am. I don’t know what wakes them up, it can’t be the roosters. Like huge insects, they start buzzing and screeching grinding all day. Some, like sick animals, moan in long plaintive moans interrupted by short pauses, others monotonously growl, creating constant background industrial noise. You get used to it.

They wear strange suits like out-of-space people that are plasticky and cover their bodies and heads. These suits were once white like the clouds but then turned blue, grey, or brown, leaving a trail of colored dust in the air when moving. But they don’t move much. They stay up all day for many days, each facing a boat with a diseased skin, operating on it. Like pigmies operating on dying whales. Very gently, very concentrated, with love.

The boats out of the water resemble sad stuffed birds who once flew in the skies their wings spread in the wind. Now wounded, immobile, no wings, no direction, no space. No two boats are the same.

Late in the afternoon, the creatures get tired and one by one stop buzzing. Something to do with the sun, I guess, makes them retire. When there is no sun, the creatures sleep, dreaming of other blue worlds to come.

3D at night

3D is the name of a boat yard in Key West Stock Island where we are currently working on our boat, fixing her, getting her ready for cruising and livaboard. It is truly a different world, much like the planet I am describing. But there is a lot more to it, and I will write soon again.


The Arrival of Fata Morgana

Here she comes, graceful and languorous like a figure skating matron, gliding slowly on her enormous white-and-blue skates, as if floating above the water, barely touching it. We are standing on the pier expecting her, all four of us, looking flabbergasted as if a spaceship has just landed and we are the only witnesses to a luminous miracle. The afternoon sun setting behind us transforms everything into gold. The water in the little harbor is no longer water but flaming lava, the big fishing boats perched on the opposite shore are no longer rusty but gilded and shiny, yet we don’t see them. We only see Fata Morgana and the halo that surrounds her. She is indeed a beautiful vision, but unlike a mirage, she is real and so close now, we can finally touch her.

We help tying the lines to the dock. Instead of suspicious green Martians, out of the boat hops our broker Vanessa smiling and hands us the keys. She is all yours now, congratulations!

When adopting an exotic creature, you have to approach it with caution. You have to face it, let it smell you, tame it bit by bit. Only then, only after you know the creature and it knows you, it is truly yours. But at first, you have no clue what to do with it, so you just stay at a safe distance and look at it. And it looks at you. And this is important, the getting used to one another, the getting to know one another, and it is a long process. And even after years surprises are to be expected. Same with boats.

‘Taming’ is an act too often neglected. It means to establish ties. To us, the boat is still nothing more than a boat who is just like a hundred thousand other boats. To the boat, we are nothing more than a family like a hundred thousand other families. But if we tame the boat, then we shall need each other. To us, she will be unique in all the world. To her, we shall be unique in all the world . . .

After Fata Morgana arrives at the 3D Boatyard in Key West on April 1, she is lifted out of the water, like a sedated exotic creature, by a funny looking remote-control crane, transported, and gently placed atop four wooden crates with sandbags in a corner of the yard between two other boats. We slowly start exploring her as we have no clue what to do first. We need to domesticate her. To tame her.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana


with inspirations from: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince