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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ratlin' up to the yard

Just so you don't think that ALL I do is go to the store and sit around doing crossword puzzles, here's a picture of what I did yesterday.  I installed ratlines on the starboard lower shrouds.   The mast steps are great for climbing all the way up to the top of the mast but if the mainsail is up it's a little more difficult.  Besides, one has to be all harnessed up when using them.  Enter, the ratlines.  Made from well-varnished white oak, they're about 1-3/4" thick to be semi-friendly to bare feet.  They're very easy to climb and, because they cant inboard, they feel quite safe.  Just the ticket for working on the spreaders or, more often, for "ratlin' up" to get a better view when navigating shoal waters or looking for coral heads to avoid.  Most boats that have ratlines only seem to have them on one side of the mast.  But I plan to put them on both sides so that there is always a clear view regardless of which tack we happen to be on.  People without ratlines are always yappin' about windage and weight aloft, but I have a feeling we're going to love them regardless of what the detractors say.

BTW: they have been Lulu-tested and declared "Safe-feeling" and "fun".  So there.

Going to have to fire the watermaker back up

We'd put the RO watermaker to bed a couple months ago.  After satisfying ourselves that it worked as advertised, it seemed pointless to keep using it when perfectly good water was available right at the dock.  So we went through the "picklng" process which has to be done anytime the unit isn't used within 5 or 6 days of the last time.  Pickling consists of pumping a biocide (in this case RV water system antifreeze) into the system so that any biological stuff that is stuck on the RO membrane can't proliferate and foul the (expensive) membrane.  Hadn't planned to fire the system up again until just before launch time next summer.  Then winter hit.  We've been experiencing nights in the 20s and days in the 30s most of the week.  Naturally, the water pipes on the dock froze and broke.  We've been assured that the water will be turned on as soon as the weather eases and they can get everything repaired.  Pretty sure we'll be out of water before that happens.  So, it's either schlepp the water from somewhere (not sure where) or use the watermaker.  And, since we bought it so we wouldn't have to schlepp water, the choice is obvious.  You know what the worst part is?  On Friday I told myself that I should probably fill the water tank just in case they decided to turn the water off.  Oops.  But you know what's probably even worse?  I bet that on Friday, the maintenance crew told themselves that they should probably turn the water off just in case it gets as cold as predicted.  Oops, again.  At least my oops didn't result in as much work as their oops did.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A day in the life

I've had a couple of requests from people who actually read this blog
for a new entry or two. Seems I've been remiss. But frankly, not
that much is going on. However, when I read over some of the blogs
that I follow, I find that I don't really care whether or not
something earth-shattering is happening, I just like to follow their
day-to-day lives. So, maybe you're like that too. I guess you always
have the option of not reading the blog if it's too mundane for you.
Warning: what follows might be construed as BORING, so proceed with
caution. Of course, you're probably reading this on company time
anyway, so what do you care how boring it is? Beats working.

It occurs to me that some of you might be interested in what it is we
do on a day-to-day basis, living on a 28 foot boat without a car.
What follows is fairly typical. May give you a little insight into
whether or not you want to retire.

Typical day:

The day often starts around 4 or 5 AM when one or the other of us wake
up to use the head and then can't fall immediately back to sleep. At
this point it's time to turn on our individual reading lamps after
quietly whispering "I'm going to have to read awhile." If the other
is fast asleep, nothing much happens. But, more often than not, we're
enough awake to murmur an "OK" and then turn over so we're facing away
from the light. Anyway, this reading usually lasts an hour or so,
after which time the eyes are scratchy and the various idiotic
thoughts that had been keeping us awake are sufficiently displaced by
whatever we're reading to allow sleep. Then it's back to zonkerville
until it's the "normal" time to wake up.

For me, "normal" wake up happens between 7:00 and 8:30. For some
reason it now seems uncivilized to rise before 7:00. Anytime after
that is OK. I get up to (at this time of year) a cold boat. I pull
the curtain separating the v-berth from the rest of the cabin. This
is largely for my own mental comfort as it really does nothing to stop
the noises that I make from traveling to the "bedroom" with virtually
no diminishment in volume. I try to be very quiet but noise happens.
Fortunately, Lulu can handle it. I fire up the heater which consists
of plugging it in and turning it on. No more building a fire in the
woodstove for me. Then I have to venture out into the cockpit to turn
the propane on. Many people are wary of propane on a boat because,
being heavier than air, any leakage can accumulate in the bilge until
there's enough to completely ruin your day at the first strike of a
match. So, to be safe, we always turn the gas off and on at the
bottle. So, gas on, I light the stove and start the coffee water.
Recently I started using two coffee-making methods every morning. I
set up a drip pot which makes enough to fill the thermos so it's ready
when Lulu gets up. Then I also use a Melita funnel and #2 filter to
make a large commuter cup for my immediate needs. I get dressed while
the coffee's brewing and usually work on a crossword puzzle and eat an
apple while I'm waiting. Once the joe's done, I grab the laptop and
head to the marina's laundry room to do my interwebbing and to leave
the boat nice and quiet so Lulu can sleep as long as she likes.

My internet routine consists of reading and writing e-mails and then
visiting several blogs, a couple of discussion groups, a weather site
or two, a site following the boatbuilding progress of a fellow we met
in Texas who's building a George Beuhler-designed Diesel Duck 44, our
mail forwarding service site, and our bank site to see if we still
have any money left. By the time my coffee's gone I'm usually done
and head back down to the boat. This could be anytime from 8:30 to
10:00, depending on when I got up. By this time, Lulu's up and
working on a crossword and drinking her coffee. Usually she's already
eaten breakfast. This is where her and I part ways. For Lulu, the
perfect everyday breakfast is granola with a banana and coffee. For
me, the perfect breakfast is hot and salty. That could be anything
from a breakfast burrito made with eggs, chilies and cheese, to last
night's dinner reheated. So, Lulu continues to work on her puzzle
while I make my breakfast. We're usually figuring out what we're
going to do with the day during this time. I work on my crossword
while eating and generally for a little while afterwards. We don't
like to rush in to things. If I have a project, Lulu will do the
breakfast dishes but, if I don't, I usually do them since I'm the one
that made the bigger mess. We're usually ready to get on with the
business of the day about 11:30 or so.

More often than not, we'll have a need to go to town. This is usually
to get some groceries. Since we have to carry everything on our
backs, we can't just make one big trip every two weeks. Instead we
need to make small trips every few days. But, y'know, what else do we
have to do? If we can manage to work it out, we'll catch the Newport
City Loop Bus (aka "the shuttle") to town. This is more important
when the weather is really nasty. Don't really want to be walking
across the bridge when the wind is blowing 40 mph+ . And, if it's
raining? Well we have good raingear but let's be real. The trouble
with the shuttle is that it's just one bus running the whole route.
One circuit takes almost 2 hours. They run 6 full circuits a day.
One of the morning and one of the afternoon circuits take an extra 20
minutes to allow for a break for the driver and the mid-day circuit
takes an additional hour so the driver can have lunch. Consequently,
it's often much faster if we just walk at least one way. But, if we
have a heavy load, that's no fun at all. So, a trip to town is going
to consume a minimum of 2 hours whether we ride the bus or walk. If
we have any running around to do, it could take much longer.
Yesterday, I had to hit 6 different stores. I biked over and from
store to store. My last stop was for groceries. We were low on some
of the canned stuff (mostly chili and soup; the kind of stuff I eat
when Lulu's not here). Between the canned goods, a half-gallon of
milk, some apples and bananas, plus all the stuff I'd already gotten,
I had a REALLY HEAVY pack. It was so heavy that I didn't feel safe
riding the bike. I was way too top-heavy. Fortunately, the shuttle
is set up to carry up to two bicycles. So I went across the street,
waited about 10 minutes and caught the shuttle home. However, the
place I caught it was more or less at the start of the loop relative
to the marina. So, even though I was aboard at 3:34, I didn't get
back to the marina until 5:03. My trip to town took a total of 7
hours. Is it any wonder that on some days we don't get much done
beyond "going to the store"?

So we get back to the boat either by shuttle or foot. Before we've
been back very long, it's time to start dinner. Lulu's willing to
cook anything. She just doesn't like to have to think of what to
cook. So, if I can come up with something it makes her very happy.
My rule is that, if she cooks, I clean up, and so I do. Afterwards,
we usually work on those ubiquitous crossword puzzles some more and
then, long about 8:00, pop a DVD in the lap top and watch a couple of
TV shows until we're ready for bed. Bedtime can be anytime from 10:30
to 1:00. When we were working it was always 10:00. Period. Except on
weekends when it would be extended all the way to 11:00.

Now, not every day is exactly like that. They all start about the
same but sometimes we have projects to do instead of going to town.
Other days, I help out at the Aquarium. I currently do volunteer
interpretation every Sunday afternoon. In addition, every other
Thursday I spend a little over 2 hours cleaning the otters' toys. Ya
see, the otters are very intelligent and inquisitive. They also get
bored easily. So, the aquarium staff has amassed a huge pile of
"toys" for them to play with. These include traffic cones, lots of
rubber and/or plastic balls of varying sizes, strips of fire hose, a
disassembled Playskool playhouse, a beer keg, etc, etc. They use an
Excel spreadsheet to randomly choose which toys to toss in each day.
Well, all the toys need to be washed off and disinfected every week
and they recruit volunteers to do it, and I'm one of those
volunteers. The payback is that, if you get done in time (which is
pretty easy), they let you stand inside the exhibit while they feed
the pinnipeds. The seals are fairly boring but the sea lions have to
perform various stunts to get their grits. It's quite a show and you
get to be right up close to the action. Other days we might do some
laundry. Some days Lulu cleans "house". And other days we just goof
off. Good thing we're both easily amused.

Just to give you a taste, here's my actual to-do list for tomorrow.
Keep in mind that Lulu stayed at Cody's an extra week following
Thanksgiving and will becoming back tomorrow.

___ wrap Lulu's Xmas gifts
___ straighten up the boat
___ pick up prescription at Rite-Aid
___ pick up "marine fact sheets" I had spiral-bound at Staples
___ get Lulu some granola (since I'm pretty sure she's out of the
stuff she made and she'll need something for breakfast until she makes
___ check the used DVDs at the thrift shop to see if there's anything
worth buying
___ call Lucas and wish him a happy 30th birthday
___ take a shower
___ meet Lulu at the bus depot in the afternoon

Geez! I don't know how much longer I can maintain this pace.