All posts by Michelle Herbst

How to make your boat a home

Just because you move into a new house, or buy a boat to live in, this does not make it a home. From different conversations I have had with people, whether online or in person, they ask how did you make your boat a home? In short, I made it ours! With a few decorating techniques and a little bit of love, tenalach quickly become our home. A place for us to relax, be comfortable, and enjoy the simple things in life. Below are my top five things, in no particular order, that helped to make tenalach our home.

1. Lighting
2. Smells
3. Hanging Decorations
4. Carpet 
5. Be aware of the clutter!

Lighting - one of the biggest changes we noticed was when we went from dark brown in the entire boat (including the ceiling) to an off white. We had to replace some side paneling, and when we replaced them we also painted them an off white to add some light to the boat. The headliner we put in was PVC and that was painted the same color. Instantly, the top half of the boat was white and therefore lighter.

As far as physical lighting goes, Chuck and I really prefer a warm light. (This was something we discovered when his mom came to help me decorate our first home in Manitou Springs, CO. We had to buy new lamps, and it made such a huge difference for us.) For us to create an even softer light on the boat, we recently purchased new lamp shades and man WHAT A DIFFERENCE. I am almost annoyed at what an impact a $13 lamp shade from Defender Industries is making!

Smells - Scent is tied to memories, therefore we try to "burn" some of our favorite memories. One of our favorite things is to burn incense, both for the scent and for the spiritual benefits. I recently purchased sage smudges for Chuck, which historically were used to send bad spirits away. I like to think it sends some of his work stress out from the boat before I get home, so I have a relaxing environment when I get home. Chuck's mother gave us a smudge spray to use as well for Christmas.

We have large dogs. They smell. We have beds for our large dogs. They smell. Hmm... We had to invest in a fabric cleaner to help with some of this because we are in much smaller quarters and during the winter we are not able to spray the dogs off with the hose or throw the beds out to air out. Very soon I will be trying different doTerra oils that are meant to do the same thing, but are obviously much more natural. I will keep you updated!

Hanging Decorations - While wall space is limited, and taking up too much space will make the space seem smaller, a few well placed pieces make a big difference. We have a couple frames hanging with family pictures and have some art we bought together at an Art Festival in Manitou Springs, CO. Lastly, I somewhat took over the aft head and added some of my daily affirmations and inspirations while I get ready. We lovingly call this Cookie's Corner :)

Part of Cookie's Corner

Carpet - Chuck and I both don't like wearing shoes, and I really don't like socks either. One of my favorite things to do is take off shoes and socks after work so my feet are FREE! Walking on a cold, wood floor was not working for us. We spent the $120 on carpet and it made such a difference in making this boat a warm and comfortable place where you don't need shoes!

Before... eww!

After :)

Clutter - I know Chuck would agree with me when I say he has spent the majority of his life NOT putting things away. This obviously does not work on a boat. In my opinion, tenalach is like a really big, 3-D puzzle. We are still making changes as we add different things to the boat (composting head, dehumidifier, heater), and after getting new collapsible kitchen gear for Christmas. But clutter very quickly takes away from this amazing little home we can have. We both had temper tantrums at one point or another because something didn't fit right, or we still had too much stuff. We are slowly getting there, and realizing that if we just pick up after ourselves right away, this makes for a much happier boat and couple. Plus the dogs can't eat it or slobber on it if we pick it up!

I would love to know how you made your boat your home! I am always looking for tips!

~ Cookie, and Enzo my lapdog :)

Boat Project #2465

We have begun the head project! While the boat was in the yard before we moved aboard, we removed both conventional toilets. The toilets were set up to pump out without a holding tank, so even if we kept the heads they would have been illegal to use while in the slip. We have been fortunate for the last 6 weeks to use a small port - a-potty from my co-worker. This has been a LIFE SAVER for first thing in the morning and the middle of the nights.

We ordered a new composting head from Nature's head, but first had to do some remodeling. There was a shelf in the forward head that the old toilet sat on. We removed this (which was harder than expected, and took longer than expected) and cleaned the hull. There were a lot of "hidden screws" to find, and some were stripped. Just additional challenges that we are working through. Fortunately Chuck is a great handy man to have around. I get to be the small hands and small body for the small boat spaces! We did takes turns on this removing trim, screws, and pieces of the stool. 

The dogs were helpful as always, checking on and making sure the settee cushion didn't float away.  They are getting used to the noise we are making when working on projects, and seem to annoy them since we are interrupting their nap. 

We are continuing to learn that as we start new projects, we do them one at a time. The entire boat is destroyed when working on one project. If we try to start a second project at the same we tend to get annoyed. I was able to do other "small" projects as I was waiting for my turn. A few Christmas decorations, clean sheets, and airing out underneath our hypervent so keep things dry!

We only get three stockings because the dogs ate the fourth! So now they share :)

Puppy kisses from me to you!

We got cocky with our docking!

While we are still very much in the learning phase of owning and sailing tenalach, I have been more than proud of both Chuck and I. He is learning a ton about being a captain and paying special attention to how tenalach handles herself in certain situations. With this knowledge, he has been learning about the prop walk, not rushing the docking, and therefore we have had success. I am proud of myself as a crew member with my strength to move the boat (or grab a line and pull us over), and my ability to jump from starboard to port side to assist in docking WITHOUT tripping, hitting myself, or causing a bruise. We have even successfully docked her with just the two of us!

With that said, we had a challenge on Sunday!

It was gorgeous weather for the first weekend in December, sitting around 60-70 degrees, and finally had some wind. The last couple of days we were able to sail, there was NO wind. So we got a crew together, including Chuck, myself, Kathy and Dave (they live aboard as well), and Chuck's high school friend David. We sailed with only the mizzen and the jib out about 1/3. tenalach was performing great, and this was the first time we had sailed without the main up. With her being a ketch rig, it is nice to have the options of different sails to put up and take down.

Everything went smooth until we came to the docking. We had a great set up, but the wind was blowing us forward into the main dock and we were unable to put her in reverse to back into the slip. We were getting concerned that we would run aground since we had not been that close to the main dock before. Before we knew it, the wind had blown us parallel against the pylons on our starboard side. At this point, we had attracted the attention of another captain and he was there to help. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do yet. So we starting walking the boat back with ropes and using different pylons. We were able to pivot off of a pylon to slightly back into a slip (not ours). Once we did this, we put her back in forward to head out to the channel to try again.

We are in the middle of turning around, still fighting the wind at this point, and the engine dies! No sputtering, no warning, nothing. Just dead!So here we are, all 43 feet of delightful boat floating in the middle of the channel and floating towards another dock and other boats. Our first thought was to anchor (as we didn't have a lot of options at this point), and so we started this process. Then the captain who was watching us shouted to us that we were floating towards an open slip if we could just help guide ourselves in there!

By this time, there was 5-6 other individuals on the docks helping us with boat hooks, throwing anchor lines, offering eyes, and lending eyes to watch all the boats around us! SO VERY THANKFUL FOR THE BOATING COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY OUR FRIENDS AT SOUTHALL LANDINGS MARINA! 

To make a long story short, we got all tied in, made some new friends, and definitely earned an adult beverage. There was no damage done to any boats, and we all learned a lot of lessons.

Mike is also a diesel mechanic, so he went to check on the engine and said our fuel filter was clogged. Monday evening Chuck replaced both the primary and secondary fuel filter, yet the engine was still not running. It turns out we had sucked up a piece of algae from the fuel tank and that was stuck in the line. Once we cleared the line, we had the engine purring like a kitty! All is well!

Dog Pictures Just Because!!!

Enzo high fiving dad!

Our new home!

To say that this last month has been a whirlwind is an understatement. Chuck and I are both mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. The best news is that we are back in the water, back at our slip, and officially living aboard!

First off, thank you to ALL that helped in this process. Without family, friends, and each other we would not have been able to be here. BIG PROPS TO MR.DAN!!! He has earned as much Bud Light on the boat as he wants. I'll even cook him dinner on the boat :)

So the update... I will do my best to get it all on here. There is a lot though so I added lots of photos if you just want to skim :)

    Before the actual work was complete,
     but an idea of what happened and the size!
  • The keel is patched and repaired. There were some additional challenges, completely unexpected, but she is patched up and painted over. Thank you to Coastal Fiberglass for their work. (  The boat was primed and now has two coats of blue/ teal paint. We used the hard ablative Trinidad Sr. Purchased as West Marine.

  • Interior work is 80% complete. You can see below and after pictures of some of the work on the starboard side panel and also the ceiling. The ceiling was done with these PVC tongue and groove panels. I primed and painted them, and they are water resistant. The idea behind these versus the regular headliner was that if and when we have a leak, we can easily get to it without tearing down the whole headliner. I just need to finish a couple trim pieces, and then paint over the screws. The difference is AMAZING. I can't wait to finish the other panels in the v-berth and aft cabin. (After we sleep A LOT).

Before. Taped off for painting
After. Just need a couple trim pieces. 
This is before the trim for the mast and
the trim to cover where the PVC pieces connected.

Dan working on hanging some of the PVC in the galley! Thanks Dan!
  • We have a bed and a bedroom! This mattress was custom from Original Mattress Factory. Antonio was fantastic to work with, and this was done in a couple of days. ( We also have hypervent underneath the mattress to increase circulation. I found king size microfiber sheets at for $23 a set. SCORE!!!! The fitted sheet is being custom done by our new friends at Signature Canvas Makers ( They are knowledgeable, fantastic customer service, and have a great dog in the shop :) They are locals to the area and we will mostly be getting our cockpit cushions from them (when that time comes).

  • Officially "Tenalach". Thank you to Suzette, a friend and local artist, for painting for us. She is not complete, but rain is getting in the way of that currently. 

  • Windlass Deckplate. This was where some of the leak was coming from (along with the swim locker on the stern). Both have been repaired thanks to long hours from Chuck and Dan. 

  • Dog door built. Chuck's father came out to the house and took some of the things we are keeping to store at their house. He also helped to build a dog door so the stooges new "house" can be the v-berth while we are away from the boat. He helped install the solar vent in the aft cabin, worked on some of the side paneling, helped remove a window to re-caulk and install, AND brought us a bunch of tools to use. 

Father and son!

Stooges watching and supervising from below :)

He made his own bench while he was here!

  • Dog security. We finished the life line netting around the boat. The dogs now have their own doggie life vests. These were purchased for Kyjen, and they "make unique products to keep dogs active and engaged". We shall see!

I think we all need a nap!
We think Enzo will do just fine on the boat. Sitting on the forward deck :)
  • Fixing the wind instrument. Chuck and Dan sent me up the mast to repair the wind instrument, They thought it was just bent, but instead of unbending it I completely snapped the thing off!!! Whoops! Apparently I just wanted to go up the mast again, which I will most likely be doing later today. Thanks from West Marine for helping up find the parts, and we were able to order from 

Good thing I am not afraid of heights!
  • Back in the water! After a month out of the water at Dandy Haven (we thought it would be 10 days) they put us back in. Scary watching your new house swing like that. Thank you to Dandy Haven for being amazing. We know we made some mistakes and some first timer inconsiderate moves at the boat yard, but we won't go anywhere else to haul out.  

  • First night on the boat! We still have more stuff than expected and will be getting rid of more. We are getting settled as best we can, but last night was interesting. Just like any new place, there are new sounds and it rained. The dogs were on high alert and concerned someone was breaking in. Hopefully today we will get all the boxes at least unpacked and settled.
More boxes on the port side,
this was cleared enough for the dogs to have a place to sleep.

Tired puppies!

Looking to see where dad is. This is also a great view of how long he is!
As I said earlier, I think I got it all but it has been a lot. Soon to come will be before and after pictures and a frequency asked questions post. If you have questions, comment below so we can make sure to answer them for you. Again, thanks for all your support :)

~ Admiral

One week away!

We are down to the one week mark, and I have to keep faith. There is so much do in the next week and I know that I cannot control everything. Therefore I HAVE to keep faith that this will all work out. Fortunately, we have made great friends that reassured me we would not go homeless :)

As we get into what we think are small projects, they end up being a little larger than expected. The only real concern is that we are on a timeline and the project needs time to dry out. Therefore time is not on our side. (The keel has a large blister and this has a lot of water on it. Not completely sure where the water is coming from, so yeah...)

While Chuck was with the boys at a bachelor party, me and the kids worked our butts off at the boat. Dandy Haven Marina has continued to be absolutely amazing in helping us at the boat yard and providing assistance when needed (  As we continue on this journey, I am growing leaps and bounds in my confidence. I am learning a lot about the boat, and also paying very close attention to what I can and cannot handle. There is a lot on this journey that is taking me to the edge of explosion (insert sarcastic, over dramatic laugh here), but I would rather be challenged each day than not. Also making sure to keep a very positive outlook because we need help, positives thoughts, and love to get this together in the next week. I do not know how this will happen, but I know we have to continue pressing on.

Thus far I have (this last weekend that is):

1. Removed a toilet ALL BY MYSELF
2. Removed hoses for two toilets (Gross, stinky, but I won)
3. Sanded the bottom of the boat (I have abs and shoulders to show for that) Also learned a ton about sanders
4. Removed rotted wood from the galley
5. Cleaned the shaft and replaced zinc
6. Scrubbed toilets and inside the engine room
7. Sold a lot of stuff! I didn't realize how much we had until I started really looking (A lot we have barely used to)
8. Emptied the water tanks
9. Realized how AMAZING this journey is that we are on.

No it is not easy, and no it is not all fun. Yes we have spent money, and I have paint in places you don't want to know. But I wouldn't change it for anything. Chuck and I are pulling together as a team like we never have before, and we are having the opportunity of a life time. So many people say how jealous they are that we are doing this.

I wonder what keeps them from having their own adventures??!?!?!?

On the list as we move forward (I'm sure I'll miss something)
- survey/ rigging inspection
- Custom sheets
- working with Scott Haley on the keel
- Finishing putting the bracket on from Howdy Bailey (
- Selling more items
- Chuck's father is down for the weekend to help and take items to storage
-Replacing inside panels

If nothing, I (we) hope you gain inspiration from our story to pursue your dreams. Life is not about the things you buy, but the experiences you get to have with the people you choose to surround yourself with.


Sunday Funday… and some more!

The good news is that we moved the boat successfully without any major issues. This was a huge hurdle for us, and Captain Chuck was more than impressive behind the wheel. Thanks to Kathy, Josh, and Gabe for helping us crew through the channel and in case something happened. With small mishaps on the channel and backing into the haul out slip, we made it and the boat has been out of the water since Saturday morning.  

Man oh man the work has begun! So many things we are learning and definitely learning the hard way. I never thought or really wanted to sand the bottom of a boat, but I have done that for 2 days straight. Monday we changed strategy a bit and really starting making progress. Props to Dan to helping us out. Dandy Haven Marina ( has been MORE than helpful and hospitable. So far we are about halfway done with the sanding. After that comes the painting. Fortunately, we get to wear this really sexy suits and masks that make us look like ghostbusters! (Catch the sarcasm?) Who ya gonna call??

Along with sanding, we have removed both heads (toilets) in the boat, and have removed one of the windows. We still need to remove one more, but found a lot of wood rot with the initial window leak. Fortunately between removing the heads and the rotted wood, the smell is continuing to improve.

Howdy Bailey came out to help us on the quadrant bracket. It took Chuck at least 3 hours to remove 4 nuts so that Howdy can get proper measurements. (

Dan spent plenty of time today polishing the very shiny prop so we will definitely be moving faster when we move the boat next. We also cleaned the bilge, and Chuck has been focusing on blisters on the boat (Boat acne as Dandy Haven called it). 

There was a ton of marine growth between the skeg and the rudder. It seems a lot of small shellfish moved in there and grew so big they were unable to get out! The picture below shows a portion of what we took out. Some alive still too!

I am sure there is more work that we have done, but after all the work we have VERY SORE everythings (mostly hands and shoulders) and dogs that need tending to (how dare we leave them out of the action. P.S. If you want a fun/ gross dog story, ask Cookie at some point).

Until next time....

Tenalach continues becoming our home (Oh yeah, I sanded off the old name so we can repaint the new. Told ya there was more...)

~Cookie :)

Rain Rain Go Away!

Look at that face!
Huge Paws!

Sunday was an extremely successful and productive day on the boat! We even had our first meal on Tenalach! 

  1. 2/3 done with the life line netting (we ran out so we couldn't finish)
  2. Grip tape on the deck so Enzo and Zia can move around on deck easier
  3. Learned how to fill the water tanks (I am running white vinegar through the tanks and hoses and it is helping TREMENDOUSLY with the mold smell) 
  4. Partially fixed the stanchion that was broke in Hurricane Sandy before we owned her (The new stanchion is ordered and will be here Tuesday)
  5. New mattress ordered! (
  6. I am working with a guy for the quadrant bracket to be fixed (

One of the funniest things (to me at least) that happened was right after we finished cleaning and putting the grip tape, Zia slid right down the center like a slide! No use of the grip tape! I was cracking up and Chuck was in disbelief. The joys of dogs :)


Chuck is traveling the next couple days, so I am now starting to work on the house. I am deciding what we are keeping, what we are taking, and what we are getting rid of. This will take some time, but we have done it once before. If you know of someone looking for furniture, have them contact me :) We will also be preparing for the boat to be hauled. Once that happens, we will be sanding and painting the bottom, replacing the head, cleaning the bilge, adding a heater, and many more        things. 

With the rain Monday, it showed the leaks we have in the boat. One from the mast (pictured below) and another one in a window. Also working on the repair work for these. Again, funny story in my opinion, leaving the dock we were COMPLETELY soaked due to rain. Between wind and rain and the smallest umbrella, nature won! Chuck had to change clothes are the airport before he got on the plane :)

Scrubbing the insulation off the fiberglass
Captain Chuck working on the engine
Zia finding the areas we have not put netting up!
Happy dogs!

Making mistakes a.k.a. Learning lessons!

After a long and stressful day at work, and some learning lessons on the boat this evening, Captain Chuck is over it. Here I go with Cookie's first blog post!!!

This week has definitely slowed down the progress of the work since we both have full time jobs, and we have limited light as the nights get shorter. Last night we got rained out as well! So tonight's focus was life lines for the dogs. They are getting much more comfortable getting on the boat, but tonight we tried out the new ramp from Grandma and Grandpa Stollery! Enzo decided he didn't want to do that and just JUMPED on the boat almost knocking Chuck off! Zia did great and walked right across. Progress :)

We shared our first beer on deck with a new glass we purchased. The community feel and neighbors have been fantastic and tonight and we were invited over for drinks at another couples boat. We had to take a raincheck as we were busy learning lessons.

Lessons learned tonight:

1. Don't accidentally drop dog treats in the water as they attract ducks (This wasn't all of them either)

2. Bring bug spray (DUH! Our house is IN the water now.)

3. EVERYTHING takes longer than you think especially when doing it for the first time

4. Don't put life lines up permanently in the EXACT spot you lay the ramp for the dogs to get off the boat (Whoops)

I am excited for this weekend to have two and half days to just focus on the boat and get some things done! All in all, extremely happy with our decision and even more excited for adventures and making more mistakes :)

Thanks for following our adventure!