When do we start having fun?

Jenn asked this a day or so ago, after days of pushing to complete projects to prepare the boat. Exhaustion had set in days ago, but we kept pushing, working longer days then when we had jobs.  And when I was asked about having fun, I didn’t really have an answer, other than “Mexico?”

This was a couple days ago, and we are feeling better now.  I’ve had my first cold beer from the new fridge, and it was worth the time and effort.  The new standing rigging is up, with a few odds and ends left to complete, although at least one of them may be on the complicated side.  Andy is swinging by tomorrow night to help install the radar.  It seems a tremendous amount of progress has been in the last couple days, even if some items aren’t going quite as I would like, such as having to extend the never empty storage unit for a few days in the hopes I can finally post a picture of it completely empty.

As far as having fun, I know the time will come.  Buying a boat and leaving on a bluewater cruise a year later is a tight schedule, and I’ll admit I didn’t get serious about prepping the boat until we registered for the Baja Haha a few months ago.  But here we are, almost all the needed gear purchased, and ticking off items as we install them.  At times, I wonder if I’ve chosen to add items I don’t need on the boat, if I should have just focused on seaworthy, and skipped some luxuries like refrigeration.  But if I can get everything installed and working, I think it will be worth it.  There will be times when a little luxury will a long way towards making us feel like we have a home in strange port.  And we are enjoying the sense of accomplishment from completing tasks, or at least getting them 99% done.

It is a cliche, but if this were easy we would all be doing it.  While there are more tasks to accomplish than I feel like I can write down at the moment, we are slowing crossing items off the list, and will soon have enough done to cut those dock lines.  And that will be fun.


So close to cold beer

The good news, the refrigeration system is installed, the compressor and plate are bolted down and connected to each other, and power is wired to the compressor.  I powered it on, and after some fits and starts and checking the instructions to find 3 blinks of the LED can occur on start up but should, and did stop, the plate in the icebox is getting cold.

The bad news is I have tools strewn everywhere, and I kind of have a parts that need to be actually installed, like the thermostat which is currently laying on a bag of rice in the food locker.  Tomorrow I’ll cut a new hole or two in the boat to install it, and tidy up all the wiring and copper tubing running throughout the galley lockers.  And put some beer in the fridge to see if this system was worth the money.

Progress at last

I want to write a long post about the mental challenge of preparing a boat on short notice for sailing to the tropics, or around the world, or whatever it is we end up doing.  But we are both pushing exhaustion on a daily basis right now, and I just don’t have the time or energy for the post I want to write.  However – today was a good day.  Granted, a major part of the progress was spending $175 on four chunks of stainless steel, but they solved a problem I was not having any luck making progress on, and we now have a shiny arch that is believe it or not, 100% installed.    I may detail that in another post, but the short version is that Seadog makes stainless steel 1″ and 1.25″ fittings that don’t work together, and I didn’t know this when I ordered all the fittings to install the arch.  But at this point, who cares, it is up, and tomorrow we are hoping to install the solar panels on the arch with the mounts I spent my evening fabricating.  We even had time to install new screens in the windows, which will be very nice in warmer climates with lots of bugs.  Oh, and Jenn did some touch up painting in the never ending icebox saga.

To top it all off, we went to pick up some takeout food since the kitchen is torn apart for the fridge install, and won $50 in pull tabs (while spending $15,  to give full disclosure) so we had a free dinner and tossed $5 cash into the boat fund. Yes, the free dinner was a bit more exciting than the $5 boat fund contribution, but after the money we had to spend today neither of us is complaining.

Pictures of the arch and hopefully solar panels coming soon.  Ventured is starting to look like a cruising boat from the outside!  Sadly, the inside still looks like hurricane Irene landed in a very localized Lake Union location.




If anything was actually easy

You plan things out, buy the parts at what is usually no small expense, get all your parts and tools out, and than two parts don’t fit together.  Or there isn’t a hole to run wires where you expected, and drilling one isn’t a good option.  So you explore other options, and work arounds, and get things to work, but at either more expense, time or project aesthetics.  I hope the beer in Mexico is cold and cheap.

Looks like it knows where we are

With that off my chest, progress is being made, parts are arriving, and money is being spent.  While I admire Captain Ron’s method of navigating – “Besides, if we get lost, we dock somewhere and ask directions.” I thought a GPS might come in handy.  I now have a Simrad NSS8 mounted at the helm, wired to power and showing us almost in our slip in Lake Union.  Of course the wiring would not run down the pedestal as ancipated, and my attempt to loosen the pedestal to fish for the wire resulted in breaking one of the four bolts that holds the pedestal down.  I think I may have created more work for myself than the actual project took.  And that includes the half hour spent digging through 3 tackle boxes of fastners and a trip to West Marine to get the right size bolts to hold down the mounting bracket when my collection of fastners failed to yield the right ones.  But at least I know where I am now.  Next step on this project is mounting the radar and connecting it to the GPS.  The bracket is due in Wednesday, and I picked up a reasonable climbing harness at Second Ascent in preperation to climp the mast to install the radar dome.  I’m more than a little concerned about running the wire down the mast after my epic fail to run a smaller wire down the much shorter pedestal, but such is tackling projects.  There is also a transcucer to install, but that will have to be done during a haul out, and that may happen further south.

Besides finishing up the electronics installations, which also include a SSB radio, VHF radio, and hopefully getting everything to communicate, the other two major items on the list are the refrigeration installation, and the arch and solar panels.  Of course, there are also two pages of little projects to work on, no big deal.

Jenn has been painting the inside of the icebox, and the insulated lids I built.  A coat of shiny white paint makes everything look better!  The compressor and plate are scheduled for delivery tomorrow, and I’m hoping to have them up and running in the next couple days.  It will be amazing to have more space to keep things cold, and I can’t wait to get the electric cooler we’ve been using out of the cockpit.  Although for a $50 Craigslist purchase, it has worked like a champ.  Except when the wiring failed and my fix wired it backwards so it ran hot.  That is a quick way to spoil a cooler full of food.

One way to solve a problem

The bimini install is already a saga, and so far there are only two pieces to show for it.  After a day of trying to solve a problem of attaching 1.25 tubing to a 1″ rail, using fittings from the same company that didn’t fit together like the ones on my neighbors boat who’s bimini design I copied, I decided on a manly solution.  I took the parts I needed to connect to Hjorth metal fabricators in Ballard, and for a well spent $50 had them welded together.  Our welder said the welding didn’t meet the $50 minimum charge, so he polished the old mounting plates I had taken in as well.  Every once in awhile a solution seems to work out, and I think this one will.  Not only will I not have to use some parts I was planning on using, this should be a much stronger solution that looks beautiful.  Now if the pieces I have on backorder would just show up, I think I’m ready to assemble my bimini.  Then comes mounting the two solar panels that seem way bigger in person than reading dimensions online suggested.

What I’ve learned over the last few days is if you want time to fly by, set a deadline for something with two pages of projects to accomplish before your deadline arrives.

The Home Stretch

Christmas in August!

We’ve both worked our last day.  There are stacks of equipment sitting on the boat, GPS, radar, single sideband radio, tubes to make an arch, two much bigger in person than the measurements suggested solar panels, VHF radio, fans, and various pumps just to name a few.  The next 11 days (gulp, 11 days?) are going to be a race of installation.  The boat is a mess right now, although at least I can move it if I had to, for awhile there were no sails on the boat and the engine had a major component off of it that precluded it being started.  The sails are still off, the main at a sail maker to have battens added, and the jib is off in preparation for the rigging work.  The engine is back together and running, but still a few degrees hotter than I would like although I’ve made improvements.  I’m at the point of being a bit puzzled as to the problem but there are still some things to check on and try, but it isn’t overheating and seems to be running strong.

Even with all the purchases, there are still some things to buy, although I”m getting towards the end of the list of things we need and closing in on the list of things I want.  The refrigeration is on its way, much to Jenn’s delight.  Among the list of things I have to buy are anchor chain and a solar charge controller.  I also need to make a spares run, picking up various filters, belts, hoses, lines and such.  Will I make it?  No – but in reality, almost no one leaves the dock ready to go.  I spoke with someone as I was saying my goodbyes during my last day at work, and he said they left with boxes of stuff to install, some of which they never did.

We’ve also been cleaning out the boat, I made some very hard choices to get my stack of t-shirts down to a size that would fit on my shelf in the closet.  Someone is going to score at Value Village!  Although I suppose the emotional connection with the shirts won’t be the same for them, but I hope that my reluctant cast offs are appreciated by their new owners.  With that much difficulty paring down clothes, you can only imagine the pain I suffered going through boxes of keepsakes in the storage unit.  But even that is pretty much sorted into stacks of boxes organized by where they are going, now it is just a matter of getting them to the proper location.  The size of the stack for the boat is a bit scary, but once again items will be discarded at the dock if they have to be.  Other items have not been so difficult, as tasty as the meals Jenn prepared in the crock pot have been, it is not a good choice for a cruising boat and has found a new home.  Saying goodbye has been made easier by her discovery of pressure cooking which makes similar meals in far less time, and doesn’t use the most precious commodity of all on a boat, electricity.

So this is it, the home stretch of projects, shedding land based life, and goodbyes.  There have already been people I’ve said my goodbyes to because for one reason or another I will not see them again before we leave.  It is an odd feeling, but everyone is excited for us which mitigates some of the sadness.  As we say goodbye we also meet new people, a very kind cruising couple whose voyage on a Tartan 37 documented in a local magazine help influence my purchase of the same vessel hosted us for an evening on their boat.  It was a comfort to see a similarly equipped boat and know that it has made it to New Zealand and back.  Thanks to the Malones  for their generosity with their time and information, and hopefully we will cross paths again.

So off to work, and hopefully the next few posts will be filled with completed projects although if previous experience is the typical indicator that it often proves to be, there will be many “I’m 95% finished with this project, just a few things to wrap up and then it will be done, I swear” entries.

Time is fleeting

Yes, time is ticking down on our departure date.  Rapidly.  But this weekend, I had to step back and appreciate the time I have to live this dream.  It had crept into my conscious thought that I hadn’t chatted online with my friend Andi in awhile.  I met Andi in 1999 at the first American concert by one of our shared favorite bands, Alphaville.  We knew of each other via the band’s email list, and we became casual friends upon meeting in person.  A couple years later I happened to be chatting with her online while listening to the soundtrack for Waking Ned Devine, and threw out a cavalier and half joking invitation to go to Ireland.  Next thing I know, we were meeting in London, then off to Germany for an Alphaville concert where we had full back stage passes, free admission, and were driven to the show by the band’s manager.  The next morning I ended up having breakfast with the lead singer and two other fans, and it remains one of favorite experiences.  For those of you reading this that don’t know me, I live in Seattle, and Andi live quite a ways away, in Cincinnati.  I saw her again in the early 2000s when I was on a business trip to Ohio and she came up to visit.  We have stayed in touch via text, online chatting, the occasional phone call, and recently I had spoken with her a lot via Facebook.  We shared a love of 80s synthpop music, mostly Alphaville and Duran Duran, and we both are very much cat people, her recently getting a new kitten named Sake, and me with the familiar to my readers Minion.

Andi, taken the weekend I met her back in 1999

As I realized I hadn’t heard from her, I sent a text message asking how she was, and a day later, looked her up on Facebook and started reading the comments on her page.  I think I realized what the first one I read meant, but I continued reading telling myself people were commenting that they missed her because she was ill and not going to work or had moved to another job, something, anything but the truth that was sinking in.  Andi passed away a couple months ago in mid June.  My guilt over not finding out sooner is tempered by her being a distance friend that I had often gone months without communicating with, but it had been more frequent shortly before she passed away.  I sent an apologetic but questioning email to someone on her friends list who shared her last name, and received a quick reply from her niece letting me know Andi’s passing had been unexpected and apparently fairly quick, coming from a heart attack caused by a blood clot while she was undergoing some medical testing.

Andi had survived Lymphoma as a teenager, and I know her health wasn’t that of most people’s, when we traveled together she would occasionally opt out of walking up a steep hill or other strenuous activity as she didn’t have full lung capacity.  But I never heard her complain about her condition or bemoan her position on life.  She didn’t hold me back traveling, several times offering to sit on a bench and wait for me to complete an exploration she didn’t feel she could accompany me on.  She was sweet and kind, and made the most out of our trip, urging me on when I wound out our little Ford Focus on the Autobahn, laughing for years about Mercedes full of German girls that waved at me, even though neither of us had any idea why they were waving.

While I’m preparing to set sail on my life’s dream, Andi’s time ran out, much much to soon.  I have my fears about sailing the open ocean, but I get to face those fears and create new experiences and memories.  But my current memories will always include Andi, as she was a lesson about making the most of your life, whatever is handed to you.  No, she wasn’t Lance Armstrong winning cycling races after cancer, she was just another regular human being living life, but doing so joyfully and without complaint.  Most of us are just regular people, and she stands out as an example to me of living your life and having joy in it.

RIP Andi – I will carry your memory wherever I go, saddened that we can’t discuss our shared loves and that you can never come visit me on my voyage, but grateful your joy touched me and doing my best to carry a love of life on in your memory.

I can’t cut it

The tubing for the wind vane, that is. On the positive side, thanks to some help from Brett, I have the windvane bolted to the transom with two out of the four mounting plates. Thinking the hard part was done, I sent Brett onto his tasks for the day, and set about mounting the second two plates. I realized that figuring out the lengths might require more math than I recall from high school based on the angles involved. The problem boiled down to not being able to mount the plates without knowing where the tubing was going to meet the transom, and not being able to figure out the tubing length because I didn’t know where the mounting plate would be located. Finally Jenn pushed me into using some plastic tubing to mock it up, and I think I have the length figured out. But… my power tool selection doesn’t seem up to the task of cutting the tubing, although I could buy a new Sawzall blade or two and try making the cuts. I’m actually leaning towards finding a machine shop on Monday and paying for a couple tubing cuts and the two holes I need drilled in it. Not complicated work with the proper tools, but a bit tricky without them. Only having a limited amount of tubing that came with the windvane, I don’t want to make a mistake.

The Windvane in mid installation

At least for the time being I have a photo of the windvane attached with the first two tubes and plates, and being held up for support by the main halyard which worked out well for holding it in place and leveling it out.

In other news, the jib is down in preparation for new standing rigging, the new teak on the bow is really starting to look great after multiple coats of teak oil Jenn has applied, and also thanks to Jenn the Rodeo is shiny clean and ready to be posted on Craigslist. Anyone looking for an inexpensive 4wd SUV? I’m also looking forward to putting the engine back together (the one in the boat, not the Rodeo. It runs like a champ), but I need a part that I have to wait until Monday to obtain. Isn’t it kind of odd that places that sell engine parts are closed on weekends? Isn’t that when most people have time to work on their engines? Look for a post about my engine work coming soon.