Monthly Archives: April 2013

Our First Sponsor: The Foam Factory

Fata Morgana sailed into our lives almost a month ago. But she came with her little caprices and peculiarities (no one is perfect).

No mattresses.

Big white cabins with big berths and lots of space and storage, but no mattresses. What happened to them? Did they get wet and rotted away? Did someone stole them one night when the boat was alone? Did they burn or evaporated or flew away like flying carpets do, but in a more clumsy corpulent manner? We will never know for sure.

We concluded: we had to get new mattresses.

So we asked around:

–  Who can help us? Who has what we need?

The Foam Factory, they said.

We Googled The Foam Factory and we found them!

The assortment of different products they offer baffled us: seven varieties of mattresses; eleven types of cushions; thirteen different sorts of open cell foams; an array of closed cell foams, nine variations of acoustic foams, outdoor foams, foams for pillows, for seats, for basements, for children, for pets (each coming in tens of different sizes and thicknesses)! How to choose, how to decide?

So we sent messages to The Foam Factory, and we called them, and we pleaded for help. We were a child lost in Marrakesh, and they saved us. They took us by the hand, and they led us through the whole process of choosing and ordering.

First, they helped us decide which is the best foam for Fata Morgana, for the conditions we will be living in, for our personal preferences of mattress hardness and thickness.

Second, they sent us the foam: two big round packages more carefully wrapped and exciting than birthday presents. They came after two days only all the way from Michigan right here in the boatyard in Key West, where Fata Morgana was waiting for them. Shipping and handling: FREE!

Third, as we opened the rounded packages a miracle happened: they did the opposite of what balloons do when you let them free in the air: they gasped and they grew big and they stretched, and out of their plastic cocoons, thick sparkling blue sheets of foam spread in front of our gazes. We admired them for a wile with tenderness, then we measured, we cut, and we placed them in the boat cabins’ berths with much care and satisfaction.

And this is not the end of the story about our new mattress. Here is the most important part:

The Foam Factory was the first company to believe in our journey, in us. They became our first sponsor by giving us a pleasant discount!

Thank you, The Foam Factory, for all your professional help and your generosity, you are the best!

 This is the foam: before and after we opened the package.

This is the foam: before and after we opened the package.

This is one of the cabins: before the Foam and after the Foam.

This is one of the cabins: before the Foam and after the Foam.

Maya is trying the foam. She likes it!

Maya is trying the foam. She likes it!

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Categories: Our Sponsors | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Boat Punk Culture

Once, when I was a small child, I pressed my ear to my sleeping mother’s belly, I remember. I listened to her inner world. The murmur of rivers running inside her, the screeching of doors, the eruption of miniature volcanoes, the distant cry of a whale. Thus, I was drifting away in my sleep, my ear pressed to her body, my head rhythmically capsizing a bit with every exhaling of her breath. 

They are longing for freedom. As we all do. A total and simple state of weightlessness, like kites high above the world, detached from their strings, lost in the upper corners of the atmosphere, long forgotten by the kids who made them, who knew they would never find them again.

Thus, they float. In small illuminated vessels, pushed by the winds, carried by the waives, as if the sea herself has heaved them up overnight. A tiny subculture outside the rest of the world, outside the confinements of your familiar city, outside the buildings where you work, where you live, and where you die.

We were anchored out in the bay, far from all other boats. There was music coming from the radio. Familiar old songs I was hearing from the first time. More people showed up on dinghies and climbed aboard. The sun did its usual trick and gloriously left the scene provoking much admiration and delight among all. The night fell. We ate and drank and talked and laughed. Someone remembered his childhood aliens. Someone else revealed a secret about this uninhabited phantom-island, not far from here, that is still Spanish territory as a result of some ancient agreement, but nobody knows. A woman’s voice on the VHF radio announced that there were reports of  ‘a man in the water’ and the coastguard was looking for him. Over.

Kids went to bed first, then I curled up next to Maya in the aft cabin under the deck. I heard goodbyes as some people left; I heard dinghies detaching themselves from the boat and disappearing; I heard the people who stayed still talking and laughing. We were ten left on the boat, the music still playing, the VHF woman still desperately searching for her man in the water. Then all was silent. The sea was sleeping beneath us.

The sea was sleeping beneath me. I pressed my ear to her belly. I listened to her inner world. The murmur of rivers running inside her, the screeching of doors, the eruption of miniature volcanoes, the distant cry of a whale. Thus, I was drifting away in my sleep, my head rhythmically capsizing a bit with every exhaling of her breath. 

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Boat Punk Video reportage by Anne-Cécile Genre

Weekly Photo Challenge 

 

Categories: Collection of Stories about Cultures, Key West Florida, My Lyrical Writings, Photo Essays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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

Categories: Key West Florida, Our Journey | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Abstract Paintings of David Milton

We met David here, in 3D boatyard by pure accident. We literally stumbled upon him the first minute we came. He was working on his catamaran Ubuntu with protective goggles and a breathing mask, scraping the bottom of the boat, when we started asking him all kinds of questions. He was very polite, and answered them all.

We became friends instantly with him and the rest of his family.

We found out that he is an artist many days later. It is not something he is bragging about.

L.A. Layers, Large Format Series oil and acrylic on canvas by David Milton

L.A. Layers, Large Format Series
oil and acrylic on canvas
by David Milton

I always wanted to paint. But I started painting professionally late, when I was 40. I started in California, when I took part in a program to stimulate the artistic creative process; a program combining art and psychology using a technique called Stream of Consciousness. We started with writing exercises. For 30 minutes we just wrote whatever came to mind. No order, no thought. I wrote poetry using this technique. The next exercise was to fill a page with color in 15 minutes. No white space. It is how I started painting and developing my personal abstract style. 

Indian Market 1, South Africa Series mixed media on wood panels by David Milton

Indian Market 1, South Africa Series
mixed media on wood panels
by David Milton

When I paint, there is no thought in my head necessarily. I just start painting. I do it by reflex. If it feels right I put it on the canvas. It is very much a process, not a predetermined concept.  

Cross-Pollinate, 50-50 Series Mixed media on canvas by David Milton

Cross-Pollinate, 50-50 Series
Mixed media on canvas
by David Milton

But since we have been travelling, I have been inspired by the world that surrounds me: nature in the Caribbean; the underwater world; beautiful  sunsets. 

The Carnival Series, for example, was inspired by the energy of Grenada, the people, the festival.

Jump Up, Carnival Series mixed media on canvas by David Milton

Jump Up, Carnival Series
mixed media on canvas
by David Milton

For some reason, in Valencia I was struck by the strange angles of the roofs of buildings from different eras and how they related to each other.

Spacial Connection I, Valencia Series acrilic on canvass by David Milton

Spacial Connection I, Valencia Series
acrylic on canvass
by David Milton

Still, when I paint, I don’t think too much about any subject or concept. I just paint.

Asteroid Dance, Celestials Series mixed media on paper by David Milton

Asteroid Dance, Celestials Series
mixed media on paper
by David Milton

I love David’s paintings. I find them captivating and dangerously hypnotizing. I become weightless and start spinning looking at them, don’t you?

If you’d like to see more of David’s art, you can find it on his website at davidmilton.com

You can also read his Stream of Consciousness poems here.

All image copyrights reserved by David Milton

Categories: abstract, art and culture | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

The Schooner Wolf

Last week a friend took us for a sail on a legendary Schooner here in Key West. 

The WOLF is a classic 74′ topsail schooner built in 1982-1983 in Panama City.

She is the Flag Ship of the Conch Republic Navy and a symbol of independence. 

www.schoonerwolf.com

Categories: abstract, art and culture, Key West, photography | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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.

Categories: Key West Florida, Our Boat, Our Journey, Works on the Boat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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.

Categories: Key West Florida, Our Journey | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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.

Categories: Collection of Places, Key West Florida | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Wunderkammer. Things We Found on the Boat.

In Renaissance Europe, Wunderkammers or a Cabinets of Curiosities were extravagant encyclopaedic collections of objects of all kinds, (precursors to museums),  such as objects belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), archaeology, ethnography, geology, religious or historical relics, works of art, and antiquities. They were also known as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer (“art-room”) or Wunderkammer (“wonder-room”), and later as Theatre of the World or Memory Theatre. Their purpose: to convey symbolically the owner’s control of the world through its indoor miniature reproduction. A typical cabinet of curiosities would include: an Indian deerskin mantle that had belonged to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, a stuffed Dodo bird from Mauritius, the upper jaw of an armadillo, wampum belts, lathe turned ivory, Oriental footwear, carved alabaster panelsa mermaid’s hand, a dragon’s egg, two feathers of a phoenix’s tail, a piece of the True Cross, a vial of blood that rained in the Isle of Wight, and other rarities.

Although we have already been on the boat during survey and sea-trial, as we started exploring her more boldly now as owners, we found a cosmos of stuff: all kinds of things, in all kinds of hidden places. I was planning to write a list of the objects, which would be an impressive list in length and variety almost as the Wunderkammer collections, but I have no time for such a thing, so I will just give you an idea by mentioning a few.

In the galley there were all sorts of pots and pans, dishes, cups and glasses, electrical appliances  such as a toaster, an electrical one-burner stove, ice-maker, small heater, and other such contraptions, some of which I don’t even know what they are for, and anyway, I will not be using them much, as they require electricity. I am planning to give them away to Cuban people (in Cuba). In the cabins, there were more such appliances, as well as a whole cabinet full of thousands of cleaning products, dehumidifiers, filters, gloves, sponges, and a cool little plastic hanger for drying clothes. Under the deck we dug up harnesses, life-jackets, buckets, flippers, goggles and snorkels, a pirate towel, some spare parts and instruments.  And last, but not least, as I opened the storage under the bench in the salon, there they were, nice and cosy, forgotten, lonely, waiting to be rediscovered: two opened bottles of rum, one white and one dark, a bottle of French champaign, and two cases of beer! Who in their right mind will leave behind such a stash? Don’t worry, little stash, we’ll take good care of you, you won’t be forgotten never again.

We are still looking for hidden treasures, fumbling through the previous owner’s Memory Theatre.

"Home is where our boat is"- a beautiful clishe door sign, we are keeping it!

“Home is where our boat is”- a beautiful clishe door sign, we are keeping it!

Two wine glasses, we will probably get reed of these.

Two wine glasses, we will probably get reed of these.

A nice fishing book and a postcard (one of many)

A nice fishing book and a postcard (one of many)

A fraction of the thousands cleaning products aboard.

A fraction of the thousands cleaning products aboard.

A strange cool-looking sponge. Purpose- unknown.

A strange cool-looking sponge. Purpose- unknown.

Little plastic laundry hanger, made in China. My favorite find! I use it every day, washing a few clothes at a time and letting them dry in the sun.

Little plastic laundry hanger, made in China. My favorite find! I use it every day, washing a few clothes at a time and letting them dry in the sun.

An unidentified object. If someone knows what it is and what is its purpose, please let me know.

An unidentified object. If someone knows what it is and what is its purpose, please let me know.

Our finest find

Our finest find

Categories: Key West Florida, Our Journey | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Why a Catamaran?

There is no such thing as a “perfect boat”, everyone will tell you. No matter the performance, layout, space, there are always a couple of things that bug you and you wish they were done differently. But there is no such thing as a “bad boat” either. Monohull or a catamaran, Beneteau or Island Packet, they can all sail and take you places if you know what you are doing. It’s a question of preference and budget. Compromises are made every time.

As we were shopping for a boat in the past five months, we learned that the boat has to suit your individual needs. What are you planning to do? Where are you planning to go? How many people will be on board? You may want a boat to have some fun day sailing around the shore twice a year with a girlfriend, or you may live aboard permanently docked at a marina most of the time, or you may go racing, or go around the world, alone or with your family. In order to get a prescription, you got to be diagnosed first. A family of four, two kids: a boy and a girl, one 15 the other 9, planning to live aboard and cruise extensively, eventually crossing oceans, anchoring most of the time as opposed to docking at marinas; these were our symptoms. We were thus diagnosed with a catamaran and even second and third opinions confirmed it. A catamaran it is.

Fata Morgana is a catamaran, or a multihull sailboat made in South Africa in 2001 by Robertson&Caine Leopard. She is 38 feet in length and 21.3 feet wide.

The draft is 3.7 feet. The draft basically indicates at what depth she will touch the bottom. Catamarans are notorious with their shallow draft. A monohull with the same amount of space inside will have at least two times bigger draft of 7-8 feet. This is a big advantage for the catamaran, as often there are shallow waters around reefs and islands which can be accessed only by boats with such shallow drafts. A monohull cannot go everywhere a cat can.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

The space. Our boat of 38 feet has two cabins in one hull and one cabin and a big shower in the other, three cabins total. The beds (berths) are enormous. Guests can be easily accommodated. A monohull with the same space inside will be about 50 feet long or more, instead of 38, and thus haul out, dockage, and marina fees will be higher as they are usually calculated by the foot (a catamaran 38 feet, even though it has two hulls, is not charged double in most places.) And of course, in the bridge between the two hulls there is a large salon and a big galley (here ‘big’ is a relative and subjective term), but most exciting is the cockpit, or ‘the porch’, as I call it, covered with a blue bimini. There is a big (‘big’) triangular table surrounded by benches with space for 8 people. This, I predict, shall be my favorite spot on the boat.

Robertson&Caine Leopard 38 layout

Robertson&Caine Leopard 38 layout

Stability, safety. Two hulls mean not only lots of room, but also stability and virtually no heeling, we’ve been told. Where a monohull needs its heavy keel for balance, the cat has its two legs spread. Try standing on a skate on one foot and have someone (maybe the wind?) push you from a side. Oh my god, you might fall! At least, you will lose balance and shake a bit. But what are the chances of losing balance or falling if you are standing on both your feet spread wide apart? Not huge. Of course, if the wind is strong enough and you are stupid enough to have your sails out in such a wind, you will defiantly flip the boat. But it won’t sink! Even if it ‘turtles’ upside-down, God forbids, the catamaran will stay afloat. Its hulls are divided in watertight compartments making the catamaran unsinkable. Not so are the mono hulls, unfortunately…They sink in minutes after impact, sometimes even seconds.

Heeling. I already mentioned that the cat does not heel like the mono. As the wind blows nicely, the sails fill tightly, and the boat silently gallops over the waves, but not quite in a straight up position if it has only one hull. As the wind pushes from one side, the boat inclines to the other. Imagine having to cook, eat, walk, sleep, or anything else with the boat leaning to one side. You will be annoyed and maybe even injured pretty soon. Not so with the cat. The cat has two feet, remember? And its mast stays vertical most of the time. You can now cook, eat, walk, sleep, and even drink leaving your beer bottle on the table and finding it pretty much on the same spot while on a beam reach. Some will place this advantage on the top of their list.

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer(you see what I mean?)

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer
(you see what I mean?)

The sole disadvantage of the cat is its higher price. (Usually, when something costs more it is better, isn’t it?) Well, in our case, we found a good catamaran for cruising, made in 2001, at a surprisingly low price. Almost half of the market price and less than all mono hulls we have been considering. Maybe there is something wrong with the boat? we asked ourselves. It’s too good to be true… But it is true. The survey showed: there is nothing wrong with the boat except a few small things we are working on already. Like any boat, used or new, there are things to do before setting off into the sunset.

You can find many articles about the catamaran’s advantages vs. monohull. Here is one, not too long:

http://www.westcoastmultihulls.com/why-a-catamaran/multihull-vs-monohull.htm

Categories: Our Boat | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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