Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twas the Night before Christmas

Boat lit up for Christmas
We have been all setup for Christmas on the boat now for a few weeks.  The harbor we are in has a nice Christmas Boat Parade however it was scheduled for the day we returned from Vacation so we didn't participate.  It was in the 30's the day of the parade and there were only 5 boats that actually showed up.  We did however hang lights the outside of the boat by running colored lights around the entire boat from stem to stern along the pulpits and lifelines.  We also ran white lights inside the cockpit and in the evenings we would play Christmas music through the outside speakers.  We get some foot traffic down where we are from those walking down the street to the local restaurants.  We enjoyed the reactions and also it helped to keep us in the Christmas spirit.

Additionally, we have a very small 2 foot Christmas tree that we decorated and put on a small table in the front of the Salon.
Christmas Garland on Arch in Salon
We hung the stockings from the Port Catches in the Salon and it really made it feel'Christmassy' down below.  Deb also made a  garland string that she hung on the arch between the Salon and NavStation & Galley.  It looks great.

To finish off our Holiday Post, I wanted to show a bit of the Holiday on-board in the video below.
I have heard several different versions of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" but I figured this would be a nice variation to it.
Enjoy the Boating version of the story aboard Last Affair at our Youtube Channel and if you are viewing this on our blog, the video is embedded below.  
(Twas the boating night before Christmas on Last Affair)

Merry Christmas to All and to All a good night

Update - 12/25 (I tend to write these posts a few days prior to the post date, and in this case, I had to update the blog post with some cool news.  My Daughter and her Husband were expecting their daughter to be born on Jan 2 with a planned delivery date due to the baby's position.  Well, it seems that she wanted this year to be her first Christmas.  Mckinlee came into our world on Christmas at 6:47pm at  9 lbs. 11 oz. So cute and such a great Christmas surprise.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Even when you live on a boat, a vacation is still a nice relaxing change of pace

We have been talking about going back to Jamaica for many years now.  Deb and I really enjoyed the area in Jamaica where our son went to school.  It is on the South Coast of Jamaica in a small fishing and farming area called Treasure Beach.
It is not anywhere close to the "all inclusive" type place where you stay with 500 other American and Europeans and never leave the hotel property.  No, this is vacation in a way that lets you completely relax and make new friends.

Several years ago, we went on a small vacation with one of our close friends and really had a great time vacationing together.  We were 'vacation compatible' which was a funny term we all talked about after that trip.  We have all been around another couple or friends where they fight or nit pick at each other, or they just don't enjoy the same things you do making it very awkward to spend a few days with each other.  That is just NOT the case with Dan & Jodi and we always have a great time when we do stuff together.  When vacationing, either couple is fine with the other doing their own thing, or doing something together.  It is not uncommon that some days, we will just "veg out" and not really do anything either playing cards or reading a book or just sitting in the sun having a few sundowners (and sun-uppers and sunsmiddayers - lol).

It is always hard to find the "best day" or "best time" on a great trip, but one of my favorite days was when we took a day trip out to a place called the "Pelican Bar".  Now you may be reading this and thinking, "so a day at a bar. no biggie" however this Bar is built on driftwood and old logs on a reef a couple of miles from shore.  You hire a boat captain to pick you up where you happen to be staying and you ride in the same boats that the local fisherman use to go fishing in 60 miles off shore.  These are open "rowboat" style boats that have 4 or 5 bench seats across them and a  40hp or so engine on the back.  In our case, our boat captain "Captain Ted" picked us up right at the beach in back of the house we rented and off we went just outside of the reef along the shore for about 30 or 40 minutes.  Captain Ted always travels with his dog Flora in the boat and she is a regular at the Pelican Bar.  8-11 years ago, when we were going to Jamaica more regularly, we saw Ted and Flora every time while there.

On the way, we say dolphins playing and when as you pull up to Pelican Bar, you are greeted by the sounds of Reggae coming from a small portable boom box inside.  The boat pulls up to a wooden plank and the owner "Floyd" comes over and reached a hand down to help you up the small steps.  In our case, Flora was the first out of the boat and up laying down in the shade in the bar.  At this time, you are in one of the coolest oasis' I have every been to.  Step up to the bar and have a "winter cold" Red Stripe or as we did, started with a few delicious rum punches.

While we were there this time, there must have been 5 or 6 other boats of passengers that came out so the place was kind of hopping.   The next 4 people that arrived after us, ordered drinks and lobster and fresh fish.  When you do so, one of the guys that works behind the bar will hop into the water and go spear fish something to cook up.

We ordered a few beers or drinks and then just stepped down the walkway to the boats and jumped into the waste deep water out on this small sand covered reef.    Other people were doing the same and it was a great time.

The boat captains and Floyd are typically sitting on small wooden stumps inside and playing either dominos or checkers.   It is always great fun to watch them because folks in Jamaica really get into playing Dominos with them all being "slapped" down onto the table and some very fast and loud talking in Patois to each other.

We took some video while we were there and I put together a little compilation of the fun time we had. Needless to say, we needed a captain of the boat when we left, because we all had imbibed quite a bit :)

This definitely was a "Great Day" on vacation.  

For anyone that may be interested, the place we stayed was called Bucaneer Villa.  This is the kind of place where you rent the house and purchase the food you want to be prepared.  The staff at the house will prepare meals for you.  It was great to become friends with those that prepared the meals.  If you want help quite a bit (like cleaning up the rooms every day) or if you want to have privacy they will honor your request.  Suzie, Nicki, Judine, and Delaroy were all great and I am actually glad to be connecting to them on Facebook as well.
More info can be found at

Monday, November 25, 2013

Working from the Boat - Day Job

People often ask me if I am retired, or how I can live on a boat while working.  The reality is that if you have the type of job that doesn't require you to be in 1 spot, this is a very workable solution.  In my case, I travel often to customer sites and to see employees and prospects.  If you do any kind of traveling for work, you have likely already adapted to being able to work remotely.  For example, I have found I can be fairly productive while at an airport, a hotel, or even while realaxing and enjoying a meal out.  

When I am home (on our boat) that also means that I can work and be productive there as well.  The boat has a Navigation Station like most sailboats (Think Mini office without the doors).  In my case, this consists of a monitor that is mounted in the center of the Nav Station that both doubles as an extra monitor for my laptop when I am working, or the heart of navigation and computing for the boat itself.  

In the picture in the sidebar, you can see that my desk is as messy as most desks you see in someone’s office.  Sadly in my case, it is also filled with a pair of sailing gloves, some line, a bunch of wires for the electronics like the router and my headset.

To make hearing and speaking to people, I have a pair of pretty good headphones to use on my cell phone or my laptop whether I am taking a call on my cell phone, or Voice over IP software such as Skype.  They are noise canceling which comes in handy when the wind is howling through the rigging above.  (See video clip a little later to see why this can come in so handy)

When Deb is not on board and I am working, I will use the large LED TV in the Salon as my monitor and sit on the salon settee.  It is a bit more comfortable and I like the extra real estate for the screen.     This was the case last week as I was sitting in the salon working.  It was a great day because it was still warm but overcast so no bright sunlight for a change, I had the hatches all opened up and had a nice gentle breeze running through the boat.  Half way through the call the wind started to pick up, then it started to pick up a lot, and I could hear the howling in the distance as the wind blew through the rigging of the row of sailboats just upwind of me.  While on the call, I muted my microphone and closed the large forward hatch.  As I finished that the sky opened up with a torrential rain pour.  I was quickly closing the 4 hatches in the roof that I had open and another 7 opening ports on the side of the boat.  All of this was going on while I was still on this conference call and un-muting the microphone to respond to a question or comment then muting as quickly as I could again.  

By the time the call ended, the wind was blowing a steady 20 knots and gusting to about 30.  The rain subsided for the most part and when I went back up top, the temperature felt like it dropped 15 degrees in that hour.

I continued to work the rest of the day on meetings and phone calls remotely, however the wind really had the boat hobby horsing and rocking pretty good.  When the wind starts to blow that hard, there are a few interesting sounds that happen on the boat, that we are just used to, but others wonder what they are.  I attached a small video below that shows me sitting on the salon settee working.  You can get a sense for how much motion there was on the boat this day, and we were tied up to a dock.  If you listen closely you can hear a few things in the background.  The first is the wind that you can still hear howling if you listen carefully.  This is with all of the hatches battened down and closed up tight.  You will also hear a bit of a ringing sound or long dull clank.   This sound is actually made from two different things that run up the inside of the mast.  There are wires that run from the base of the mast to the top of the mast for lighting on top of the mast, antenna, etc.  This is combined with the lines that run up the mast for raising the sails.  When the boat rocks a certain way they hit on the inside of the mast making this sound.    The other is a loud thump , this is actually something that you should not hear, but I still had an antenna for the TV run up on the flag halyard and when the wind would blow it hit the stays (the metal wires that run from the sides of the boat to the top of the mast to stabilize it).  It is a lot like a giant piano or guitar string being plucked.

So there you have it, a little insight into working from the boat.  98% of the time, it isn't much different than working from your office, but on some days the office is bouncing around a bit.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making Granola aboard the boat

As fairly "new to the lifestyle" live-a-boards, we constantly struggle with space and storage.  One of the things we both enjoy is a little snack when hungry and have recently got on a kick with granola.  I almost always had a bag of granola that I would keep in a "lock & lock" container to keep it fresh.  When it get a bit hungry in the evening, I grab a small handful of granola and munch on it and it does the trick to satisfy the snacking bug.  

I have found I like to eat Granola as cereal in the morning with some milk over it.  I enjoy it on top of yogurt or even on top of some fresh cut fruit.  It is also really good on ice cream but that is something we don't have on board very often at all.
So today we decided to make out own granola.  I was shocked at how simple it was and allows you to make all kinds of variations for whatever it is you prefer.  For example, because we snack on it by itself, we made some that had dried fruit and coconut in it.  Yummy.    We made some that was individual crunchy bits the size of the oats so it can be spread on top of fruit or yogurt and even made some that is in chunks for snacking (think of a broken granola bar).

There are a ton of recipe's online but what we found in our few tries is that it is not really a science and it is pretty hard to mess it up unless you burn it.
We made ours with the following ingredients
3 cups of rolled oats (not the instant, but the plain old quaker style work)
1 cup of chopped mixed nuts (we used peanuts and cashews and just chopped them to about the size of the oats)
3/4 cup of sweetened coconut flakes (found in the baking aisle of the store)
3/4 cup of Brown Sugar (Actually we used just a bit more than 3/4 of a cup)
about a teaspoon of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon (I don't think this is needed, I just saw it on the shelf and figured what the heck)

We mixed all of that together in a bowl.  On a boat, everything needs multiple uses, so the bowl is also the lock & lock that we typically keep salad in when storing it in the fridge.

In a separate bowl (one of our cereal bowls) we mixed the following
Pan cooking in the oven on the boat
1/4 cup of oil (we used Olive, but anything will do)
1/4 of a cup of Honey (could also have used Maple Syrup)
We both like Peanut butter, so I also dropped a couple of tablespoons of Peanut butter into this mix.
Mix this all together really well and pour over the oat mix.  Mix well until all are coated really well.

Then spread evenly on a cookie sheet or small pan for the over.  Be sure to oil or PAM the pan first to keep it from sticking.
Here is a small video showing the product after about an hour in the oven

You bake it in the over on a temperature between 250 and 325 and just keep checking on it every 15 minutes and mixing it up a bit (it tends to toast more near the edges of the pan so we just moved the mixture around a bit).  It should cook between 45 minutes and an hour and 15 minutes.  I think it tastes a bit better when cooked at about 250 for and hour and 15 minutes.

If you like it in chunks for snacking, just press it down in the pan the last 15 minutes you will bake it and then when you take it out of the over, don't mix it up until after it cools.  We just broke it up into little bit sized pieces.

At this point, you can add in anything you really want, dried fruit like Pinapple, apricot, raisins, cranberries, papaya, really anything.  We even put small dates and broken banana chips in it.  

Good stuff….
Just pop it in an airtight container and it will be good for at least a month (we tend to eat it in less than a month)
This is about a third of a batch of what the recipe above makes.
We bake it in 3 batches due to the size of the pan we can get in the oven.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Enjoying our time in Corpus Christi

It has been a crazy couple of months.  As most of you know, Deb had partial knee replacement surgery at the end of September and with that came 6-8 weeks of recovery time.  While considering a date for the surgery, Deb was weighting a planned sail from Kemah to Corpus to spend a couple of winter months a bit further south.   Additionally, Deb and I are planning on a vacation and she wanted to get the surgery done as far in advance of that as possible so as to be very mobile for our vacation.  This meant that when we were planning on sailing the boat to Corpus, she was still using a walker and NOT able to get on and off the boat, never the less up and down the companionway.

At the beginning of October, our friends from Dallas came into town and planned to make the trip with me (See previous blog posts on the actual trip) and I am still blown away by their generosity and willingness to help out with this.

Night time view, Downtown Corpus is just at the end of the dock
Slowly we began to settle in to our new location.  We are actually on a dock that is right off the road.  I was worried about this at first, but after a few weeks, I am finding it to be pretty workable and convenient since we can keep our car just about 20 feet from the stern of our boat.

The Marina here in Corpus Christi is having some renovations done on a few docks so there was not enough room for any more "live-a-boards" on the other docks (with privacy locked gates).  We rolled with it; (Because what else could you really do) and we moved into our current slip.  I was not happy that the pump out service was not available on this particular dock but in the end, this is turning into a good thing.  It forces us to actually get off the dock every 2 weeks at the longest and at least motor over to the next T-head to pump out.  (for those that are not familiar with this, it is the unpleasant task of removing the contents of the holding tanks (think septic tank on land).  Not a romantic subject but certainly part of living aboard and keeping our waters clean.

There is a lot of foot traffic that walks down the sidewalk and passes the boat.  Most are just out strolling for the day/evening and some are walking to the restaurant that is at the end of the street we are on.  At first I was concerned about privacy, but we have not had anyone walk down the pier on the side of our boat.  There is a small wire gate we can close when we are on the boat for the night to keep people from walking down the dock.  We see quite a few people snap a picture or comment on the name of the boat.  If we are outside, we have had several stop and wave or even chat for a while.  The boat name and the fact that it still lists Panama City FL as the sailing port usually brings many questions.   We don't mind, we are excited about our lifestyle and don't mind sharing it with others.

We did have an interesting experience however when trying to order high speed internet service from ATT U-verse.  I figured it was going to be interesting when I called to order the service and attempted to have it installed.  The conversation went something like this…
AT&T: "May I have your address so I may check for availability in your area"
Me: "Well, there is not really a specific address, I am about half a block from the intersection of X and y"
AT&T: "Right, but can you just provide me your address, even if the house is not complete yet"
Me: "No, see that's the problem, it is not a house, it is a boat that is tied up along X Street"
AT&T: "I don't understand, you want internet on a boat??"  This was asked with utter disbelief.
Me: "Exactly"
AT&T: "Well if you can provide an address I can help, but I don't think we can get internet to a boat"
Me: "Ok. Thanks, I will think of another way to ask and call back later"

Then it dawned on me, I called back again and I ordered the service and provided the Marina's address.  Then I waited for the AT&T truck to circle the marina office repeatedly trying to figure it out and I went out and spoke to the man.   In the end, I was able to convince him to just run me a long wire down the sidewalk from the small little green tower where they connect the houses and I would take care of the rest.  He did, and I stapled the wire along the underside of the wooden bulkhead down to my slip.  I then wired in a telephone box in the breaker panel for shore power.  I then just hooked up a phone line into the boat right by where I connect Cable TV, Water and Electric.  It worked like a champ so I have high speed internet and can work very productively from here.   It was a bit comical however.
Relaxing in the Cockpit (writing a blog post)

All in all, we like it here.  I can't ask for much more, here it is in mid November and I am in shorts and a t-shirt sitting in the cockpit with a beautiful breeze blowing in on me while writing this blog.  In the mornings, the sun rises right over the palm trees at the end of the T-head and it really is pretty.  The Marina has really nice showers and laundry facilities when I want to take a long shower (it is a guilty pleasure).  Heck they even have free ice for Marina Members.
The only real downside of this location has to do with the flights in and out of the airport here.  They are not all that convenient and there are not many per day.

I will end this post with a nice little view of the sunrises from the boat.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

5 miles or so offshore...

Having a great trip.  The winds are light but sadly also right on our tail.  We are motor sailing to keep the apparent wind in front of us and the wind blowing through the cockpit. 
It may get a bit chilly tonight when the sun goes down and it is going to be a dark night with only a sliver of new moon that sets at 9pm.

We have been dragging a fishing lure the last 5 hours and sa far have only caught sone seaweed.

Here are a few photos from today. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

First 2 days of the trip from Kemah to Corpus

The trip has been really nice so far from Kemah to Corpus.  We headed out on Saturday morning from Kemah, TX on Clear Lake.  We made our way out to Galveston Bay, ran South down the Ship Channel.  We went West on the InterCoastal before going out Bolivar Point to the Gulf of Mexico.    From there we just went a few miles to Harborwalk Marina in Hitchcock, TX.

We had a real nice slip and were able to all shower and then head over to the pool for a nice refreshing Dip in the pool.  After having a few drinks in the cockpit for a sun downer with the sun setting, we all changed and went up to the restaurant at the Marina.  It was "Floyds on the Water" and the meal was really good.  The Service was even better and it is so true that a server can make the experience.  She was so attentive and even when asking for things like "where is the restroom" she would walk you there instead of just pointing and saying "that way".

We woke to a nice cool morning of low 60's and heavy overcast skies with a forecast of high winds and rain.  Early in the morning we saw some lightning off to the North, but it faded quickly.  We got under way about 10am and headed into the wind and weather.

Dark skies as we departed Harborwalk
The bimini and eisenglass worked great keeping the majority of the water out and people warm in the cockpit.  We had a nice relaxing trip for just a short 30 miles or so.  The newly installed AIS was great to provide warning and ship data for all Tugs and Barges encountered.  We could get a warning of a ship approaching even when around the corner in "the ditch".  It allowed us to see their name and call them to discuss the best approach for passing.

Loaded down for the passage
We tied up for the night in Freeport at Surfside Marina.
They have Transient slips with Power, Water and nice floating docs.  They have showers, ships store and security 24 hours a day.    We were able to top off the water tanks, took on diesel to make sure we have plenty for tomorrow and created our routes  and waypoints for tomorrows departure offshore.  We programmed it all into the Helm GPS, the IPAD and PC as backups.  

After getting the fuel and relaxing for a while, we walked over to a little place called "Cast-Aways" for dinner.  It was a dark little bar and we didn't have high hopes, but it was one of the best burgers I have had in a long time.  We watched a little bit of the Cowboys game, had a beer and then walked to the little corner store and picked up some small munchies for the trip. Since we will be running a 25-30 hour passage, we grabbed some sunflower seeds, beef jerky and what not to keep the people on night shifts busy and occupied.  As we walked back to the Marina, we were greeted with a beautiful sunset over Freeport and all of the refineries.  They look like Christmas if you forget the fact that they are stinky and dangerous.
Red Sky at Night - Sailors Delight

We should be  departing out the Freeport Channel (as this is blog post is going live) to the outer light about 4-6 miles off shore.  From there we will turn Southwest and head toward the Port O'Conner outer light marker.
From there we will head toward the Aransas Pass outer lighted ship marker and at 27 51.55N 96 55.23W we will bear in toward the first channel marker for Aransas Pass.
From there it will be in the ship channel and over to the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina.

This will be our offshore route leaving Monday 10/6 at about 10am from Freeport

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The prepping for the sailing trip is complete

We are planning a sailing trip down the texas coast this coming week.  The plan is to sail from Kemah to Corpus.  The big question is which route to take.  As you can imagine if you are from this area, we are keeping a close eye out on Tropical Storm Karen that is still out in the Gulf and heading North and expected to go East.

Based on weather and wind predictions, we are expecting some pretty strong winds, 25-30 or so on Sunday, so we are planning on making the first part of the trip on the "inside".  This means that rather than sail 15 miles off shore in the Gulf of Mexico, that we would sail (likely motor) along the intercoastal waterway for part of it.

The plan is to leave the dock Saturday by 10am.  We will stop and fuel up before heading out into Galveston Bay and we plan on just taking the InterCoastal to Dickson Texas and stopping at HarborWalk Marina (Larry, if you and "clocked out" are there, let me know).   This will make the first day a pretty easy trip. it is about 30 nautical miles.

The second day, (Sunday) we plan to stay on the inside and go to Freeport Texas and stay in a Marina, where we can top off on fuel one more time before the "rest of the trip"

The current plan, and I mean current because it can change based on weather and wind, is to then sail from Freeport to Aransas Pass on the "outside".   For us the outside will mean between 12 and 15 miles off the coast.  There is a "safety zone" there where it is prohibited to have drilling platforms, etc.  This will make the night sails safer since some of the oil rigs in the Gulf are not lit at night.

I will continue to Post as we progress and where I have a connection.     I spent some time tonight setting up the network on the boat to allow the Chartplotter at the Helm to also have "AIS" overlay which shows commercial ships and any potential courses where there is a chance of collision based on their heading and speed as well as ours. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Preventative Maintenance (Engine Room)

We are planning a small cruise from from Houston to Corpus Christi and in preparation for that, I was doing maintenance in the engine room prior to the trip.  This started with the simple stuff

  • Change Oil and Oil  Filter
  • Fill and Check Transmission fluid
  • Run the engine with a load to just validate everything is good to go for a trip
Timing was great, because I found my preferred oil on sale for $12.99 per gallon.  Since we have a 50 Horsepower Perkins 4-108 diesel, I like the heavy duty oil made for diesels.  Shell Rotella T is the brand I use.  Given it was on sale, I went ahead and picked up 2 gallons.  
I also keep a good supply of WIX oil filters for this engine on hand.  I bought a dozen of them 2 years ago.
One of the things I like about having an engine room (and not just a compartment the size of the engine) is the ability to store spare parts and have a little bit of room to work when needed.   I keep a small wire shelf on the rear wall of the engine room that has spare parts and required tools close at hand at all times. 

This is certainly not a complete supply of all of our spares and parts, but these are some of the things I like to keep very handy and nearby the area they will be needed.  The top shelf (not shown in this picture) contains 3 different funnels; small oil funnel, large funnel with flexible hose and a diesel filtering funnel.  

Maintenance supplies in Engine Room
The next shelf down has a small battery tester (you can see the red bulb on the syringe.  It is a glass tube that can determine the quality of each cell of a lead acid flooded battery.
To the right of that is a kitchen spatula that stays in the engine room.  It is used to clean the inside of the site glass of our water strainers (Engine, Air conditioner, shower, etc)  To the right of that is a spare Fuel lift pump in the event we ever need to replace it.   The WIX box is the oil filter and I always keep 2 on the shelf.  You will notice there is only 1 here as I just used one today and have not put the other spare on the shelf.  I also store 2 plastic bags (to the left of the fuel pump) these can be used in a pinch to capture all of the oil when removing the filter and keep any from going into the bilge (See attached video for explanation).  To the right of the filter behind the exhaust riser, there is also an oil filter wrench.

The next shelf down contains two diesel fuel filters and o-rings.  Additionally I have my antifreeze tester there as well.  For those who are really observant and want to know why there is a shot glass also on that shelf, I would love to give you a cute little answer about needing a shot each time I work on the engine, but actually we put a dollop of Kanberra Gel in that about once a month to help keep odors down in the engine room.  

One of the great things that the Previous Owner (PO) has done on this boat is install a permanently mounted oil removal pump.  To "draining" the oil is as easy as running the engine to temperature so that the oil is nice and warm, then opening the oil fill cap, and putting the end of the small hose in a gallon jug and pushing the button.  That's it.  This little pump will pump all of the oil from the drain pan into the jug.   Great little tool and one of my favorite "makes life easier" tools.  Once empty, I changed the oil filter as well.  I have to thank Mike O'Barr for showing me this great little trick for removing the oil filter and keeping oil out of the bilge.  He showed me this on my last boat, and I certainly have carried it forward on this one.  I fold up a few paper towels, or a "puppy pad" under neath the oil filter. I then use the oil filter wrench and loosen up the filter until I can turn it by hand.  Then I take a 1 gallon zip lock back and slide it over the filter and the filter housing, holding the opening of the bag as high as possible.  Then it is just a matter of spinning the filter off it's post.  The oil drips in the bag, once off, I pick up the paper towels underneath and wipe off any oil sitting on the filter housing and drop them into the ziplock.  Zip it up and viola, the oil, filter and oily towels are all in that nice little package.  

I then topped off the transmission fluid.  I have a Borg Warner Velvet Drive transmission in this boat and it can use just about any transmission fluid that meets the Perkins standards (which are most of them).  

I also took the time to treat the water in the holding tanks and install new cartridges in the whole boat water filtration system we built earlier this year.  I added a sediment filter (5 micron) as well as a 1 micron Coconut shell carbon block filter.   The first stage removes any debris, sand, dirt, etc that may be in the water, the next one, removes any chlorine, bleach or other chemicals that may give the water an undesirable taste.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The work moves to the V-Berth

Our plan of starting our refit inside the boat from the rear and moving forward has worked pretty well.  We are now to the V-Berth which is a pretty good sign.  This is an area that will require quite a bit of work due to leaks that were in the large opening hatch on the coachroof.  Like most things, you don't quite see how bad it is until you take out all of the molding and really start looking closely at things.

We have removed the headliner from the coachroof, and removed all of the molding carefully labeling it all with a sharpie so we can put the puzzle back together.  Sadly I broke a piece of the molding, but as this project has gone on, I have been getting better at correcting my mistakes.  One of the things we learned how to do was  make our own molding to match what is on the boat.  It takes some time and creativity but we have been able to replace it all and keep making them out of solid Teak.

Dry fitting curved Mahogany wall in place (lots of work to still be done)
We removed the opening port, cleaned all of the old bedding material off of the fiberglass both inside and out.  We removed every bit of sealant and bedding from the port as well as the decorative trim that goes on the outside.

We have made new decorative wall sections out of Mahogany plywood like it was originally.  This will cover the raw fiberglass on the inside of the coachroof.  We put a thin layer of insulation behind each panel and then start the re-assembly.  This particular piece was a bit interesting because it is curved.  We have certainly dealt with curves before but this one is not as wide so the curve it a bit tighter.

The picture is just the first step where we have just dry fit the curved piece in place.  The next step will be to bed the port later today and install the other 2 sides of the mahogany walls.

We have been putting the work in the V-berth off since we moved aboard, but we are expecting some friends to visit in a month or so and want to be sure that this room is ready for them when they arrive.

Frankly, the toughest part of this V-Berth work is going to be the fact that the forward bulkhead is rotted and is going to have to be replaced.  It's purpose is to essentially store the anchor chain and rode.  For those not familiar with it, when pulling in the anchor, the chain or line goes through an opening called a hawse-pipe and drops into this forward compartment.  It allows the topsides to stay neat and not have to find a place up there to store 200-300 feet of chain.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Getting the most from your Provisions

As you likely know from reading this blog, we tend to blog about projects and things we are doing or refitting on the boat.  The thing is now that we have moved aboard, we don’ just work on it every waking hour (though at times it seems like it). 

This morning before the heat of the day, I was relaxing in the cockpit and decided to do some food preparation for the upcoming week.  Deb and I had made a roasted chicken for dinner earlier in the week.  We had wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.    While living in our house, we would have left it in the fridge and either heated up a bit or tossed it in the trash when it had been in there a “little too long”. 

Rather than do that, we decided to prep all of the chicken for use in other things this week. 
First I stripped all of the skin from the bird (there was still a whole bird short of one breast and one wing).  The next steps was to remove the chicken from the bones.  Breaking off each piece (Breast, thigh, wing, leg) I just pulled the chicken from the bones being careful not to get any of the cartridge from the joints.  Each piece of chicken was pulled into a small ¼” to ½” wide strip of meat.

 All of that went into a Ziploc baggie to be used late.  We can make chicken sandwiches, chicken soup, or even to be seasoned up and rolled into a tortilla for a quick lunch/dinner.   This would be a great meal to do quickly and easily while under way.

To make sure we get the most use out of this, we also broke the carcass into two parts and put it in a pot of water along with the chicken leg and thighbones.  We added, salt, pepper and just a bit of cayenne and heated it up on the stove.

 This will then be strained and cooled, when cool, we will scrape any fat off the top of the stock and put it in a sealed container to use as chicken stock in rice or soup later in the week.

I know this is a departure from our typical blog, but hope that over time these become more about what we are doing and where we are going than just what we are rebuilding J

Until next time, we will be enjoying our upcoming meals.

Bones simmering to make Chicken Stock

May the wind fill your sails, and your keel stay down.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Maintaining the Water strainers - How to and what not to do

I have been saying for about 2 weeks that I need to clean the water strainer.  We used to clean them about every 4-6 weeks.  When we moved aboard, the air conditioners were running much more often than when we were not, meaning these filters were seeing a lot more circulation than ever before.  I suspect in the 5 weeks or so since we have been living on board, we likely ran as much water through the air conditioners as we had the entire previous year of just weekend use.

I had been putting it off knowing it was going to be a bit of a nasty job.  Today I decided that since I was going to do it, I would make a video of how to maintain them.  In this video I go through the steps to clean them, however waiting this long is an example of what not to do.  I can already tell that the flow is not back to what it was a month ago, which means I am going to have to flush all of the lines.  This is not going to be a simple job unfortunately.  I will likely buy a flushing kit that has a way to ensure you can put in a solution to all of the lines to break down all of that nasty growth that will be in there.

I have always had some goopy silt that gets in the water strainer in this location but this time it really felt like the texture of a jelly fish or congealed fat in the strainer bowl.

Well here is a video of how to clean it, but this stuff was pretty nasty.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lets all do the Organization Shuffle ...

Even after paring down a lot of our belongings that we had in our apartment and separating into "things to take to the boat" and the "get rid of" piles, we still had a LOT of things we were thinking we would be taking to the boat.  We started to get nervous, but each load we took to the boat found a home and we were starting to feel pretty good about the amount of storage the boat really has.  We still have behind the settee's we can fill up, but I still have a slight leak where the Chain Plate comes trough the deck.  It is never a lot of water and if I put a wash cloth there, it tends to dry before the next bit comes on board, but if we were taking green water over the deck for days at a time, it would e an issue.  So…  I need to mix up some epoxy with a bit of filler and will fillet it along that seam.  The moral of that story is that I think we still have another bunch of storage area that we will be able to use there as well when I fix that leak.

We certainly want to be comfortable where we sleep and installed a memory foam mattress (12" thick) in the owners stateroom.  It is almost too thick.  I have raised up and bumped my head before on the ceiling under the aft deck :)

Given this is an older boat (1978), it was before all the manufacturers started looking at putting center line queen berths in the boat.  So this one is the traditional U shape, wider forward than aft with a removable section to convert it all to bed.  We decided to set this up so it will be our permanent bunk and wanted it comfortable.  The problem was that the bunk fore to aft is about 4" inches shorter than a king sized bed.  At the aft end of the bed, it is about 8" narrower than a king sized bed, and at the forward section, where our feet would go, it is actually about 9" wider than a king sized mattress.  Knowing that we could sleep comfortably with something narrower than the king, we cut our memory foam mattress (all 4 layers of it) to fit tightly in the aft end of the bed (where our heads go) and then we sleep at an angle with our feet toward the Starboard forward part of the bunk.
This opened up 26 inches of available space on the port forward side of the bunk which in the long run we will likely build storage and drawers for a nice permanent solution for storing clothes, etc.  Before building it, we bought some cheap plastic drawers and a frame to sit in that spot so we can see how well it works for keeping things there.  The 24" of height of the drawers makes it perfect to keep the satellite/cable receiver on and just below where the TV is mounted in the rear stateroom.

You can see from the pictures a bit of the open and available space on one side of the bunk.  Right now, it just drops down off the side of the mattress, but we will get creative on what we build here.   Whatever it is we will have to make sure it still allows access to all of the openings below to access the steering quadrant, steering cable and pulleys and air conditioning duct work.

We also started to bring the clothes we will need on a regular basis.  We gave SO much away, I am still shocked how much we still have.   Really, I gave over 20 shirts, 12 pants, 9 pair of shoes, boots, etc.  It is crazy how much stuff we acquire through our lifetime.  I had 2 pair of cowboy boots that I just don't see being worn and used on the boat…Gone.

We converted the hanging locker in the rear stateroom to a series of shelves to store folded clothes on.  We will still have the hanging locker in the walkthrough and across from the forward head.  I suspect that we will be replacing the rear air conditioner unit that was mounted right in the middle of a hanging locker rendering it completely useless for any storage, so I am fairly certain we will install that somewhere else and will get that locker back as well.

My biggest clothing challenge that I still haven't come up with a great solution for yet, is my suitcase.  I travel for work a lot, and normally at home, I would pack my suitcase the day before a business trip and off I would go.  Even a small carry-on roller bag is pretty big to have on board, so right now I am keeping it in my car and taking my clothes to it in a bag that I then transfer in the car as I leave for my trip.  There may be a better way, but so far, I haven't figured it out .

Lastly, we decided to move the fan in the rear stateroom to a location that may get a bit more circulation.  I tapped into the 12volt power at my light fixture and mounted the fan right near the ceiling aiming at the bed.   One of these days I will write a blog on how you can take a fixture you like from the hardware store designed for 110v household wiring, add a switch and convert it to a DC fixture to run on the boats 12v system.  I have also converted some of these fixtures to LED lights as well to reduce the amperage they use.  The one in the picture below is not LED but is 12v DC.  Being Texans we really like the single star on these lights.