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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview with a cruiser

If you'd like to read some 10-question interviews of cruisers who have been actively cruising away from their home countries for a minimum of two years, click on the link on the right-hand side of the page. I particularly liked the interview with Bumfuzzle and it led me on to read their whole website. OK, I'm not actually done with it yet but I've downloaded the archives so that I can read their whole story.


One of our daughter's patients is apparently reading our blog. Their request was to hear something about Lulu. So here's a little something about my sweet wife. And to whoever asked Cody to request this, keep doing whatever exercises Cody's assigned to you. I know they're a pain but you won't get better unless you do them.

Lulu is 5 years younger than me and so, not exactly eligible for retirement. However, she told me that if I got to retire, she got to quit working, too. And, since I couldn't really see spending the first 5 years of my retirement all by myself on some sun-washed atoll, this seemed like a good idea to me as well.
So, after nearly 2 decades providing the kids at Silver Crest school with superb breakfasts and lunches, now she has only me and herself to feed. She's adapted to cooking on board quite well. In the picture above she is cutting butter to put into a batch of croissants she's making. The little oven on the boat hasn't slowed her down a bit, nor has the loss of 2 burners. The hardest part of cooking on the boat is the lack of counter space but she's adapted to that uncomplainingly as well. Probably the hardest adjustment has been her outlook on bargain shopping. She has always tried to stretch our food budget as far as possible by buying stuff on sale, buying larger size boxes/jars/bottles, buying in bulk, etc. Well, on the boat there is precious little room to store mass quantities of stuff. Also, two small bottles of spices, for example, keep better than one large on since one of the bottles remains sealed until you need it. Besides that, every item we consume on the boat is carried on our backs so buying a case of canned green beans would make for a rather tough trip back to the boat. She is slowly becoming accustomed to having to buy in smaller units and getting screwed on the price because of it. But she doesn't like it!
In this picture Lulu is stepping aboard with her half of today's beer run. Her pack contains a 30-pack of 12 oz. cans of fine American lager. Including the pack, that's about a 25 lb. load. I also carried one. Then we went back again in the afternoon for another load. Now, we took the bus to the store and back so we only actually had to schlepp the beer 3 or 4 hundred yards at each end of the bus ride but believe me, that was plenty.

All in all, I feel pretty darn lucky to have gotten the wife that I did. Not many would be willing to toss off 32 years of accumulations to join their hubby on a tiny little boat to sail off to faraway places with no particular return strategy in mind.
Right now, as I sit at the Newport library writing this, she's back home on the boat with her sewing machine a-whirring, making canvas covers for our propane bottles to protect them from the sun. She recently re-covered a whole boat's worth of cushions on a friend's boat earning enough in the process to buy us 200' of new anchor chain.

So there you have it: she cooks, she sews, she carries a load, she's adventurous, she's willing to put up with me and even thinks I'm funny from time to time and to top it all off, she's cute as a bug's ear. No wonder that when we leave in July we will have been married for 33 years. So far.

Let the sun shine, PLEASE!

I made a move today that I've been procrastinating about for way too
long. I ordered 2 solar panels and an MPPT charger for our onboard
electrical needs. The reason I've been procrastinating is that solar
stuff is VERY expensive and I know so little about it. But, I finally
decided that I'd learned about all I was going to w/o actually having
the equipment in hand. And, if there was any chance to get it
installed and working before we leave in July, I'd better get on it.
So, after a reasonable amount of cost-comparison shopping on the
internet, I ordered 2 80Watt BP panels and a Blue Sky MPPT
controller. One of the bummers about a small boat like Siempre Sabado
si that there is very limited real estate fro mounting things like
solar panels. The 80 watt units were about as large as I can go. The
sad part is that I could get a 135 watt panel on sale for just a
little more money (maybe even a little less) but there's just no good
place to put it. Oh well, look at how much we save in bottom paint.

So, between the 160 watts of solar power, our 70 amp engine-driven
alternator, and our Honda 2000 generator, we should never need to
connect to shore power while we're out traveling. That's good because
different countries often use different power systems (220 V 50 Hz vs.
120 V 60 Hz for example). Also, shore power connections are reputed
to be one of the worst sources of stray voltage leading to
electrolysis. And, besides, shore power is available at marinas and
we're hoping to primarily be anchored out away from shore.

There, the money's gone so now I can just relax and get on with it.