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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

6/30/2010 - Splicing Again

I really don't particularly enjoy splicing double braided line. Regular old 3-strand makes sense to me. Once one learns how to do it all you need is some tape, some seizing twine, a knife and maybe a fid or marlinspike. Not so with double braid. Besides the tape, seizing twine, and knife, you need a special fid, a measuring tape, a marking pen and, most importantly, a set of instructions. And not just any set of instructions. They need to be understandable. I have several sets and they are all somewhat arcane. Brion Toss, in his book "The Rigger's Locker", has so far come closest to demystifying the splicing of double braided line.

Today, I did two splices. I wanted to make a tether for each of my primary anchors. These are short pieces of line with a chain hook on the end. The hook is attached to the anchor chain and the other end is tied off to the foredeck mooring cleats. Their purpose is to hold the anchors in their stowed position and take the strain off the windlass which really isn't meant to be used as a mooring bitt.

To attach the chain hook to the line, I wanted to splice a thimbled eye in the end of the line. Then I could shackle the chain hook to the eye. My first attempt, using instructions that came with the splicing fid set, was a complete hash. My next attempt, using Brion Toss' instructions was successful but took me over 2 hours to do. My next attempt was also successful and only took about 45 minutes. The eyes are very strong but they are just unsatisfying to do (for me anyway).

Here are the finished products. The thimbles look a bit large for the line and I'm not sure why. The line is 1/2" and the thimbles are for 7/16" line, although they actually measure 9/16". Sometimes buying this hardware is worse than buying plumbing parts. But, it looks like they'll do the job.

Guess I may as well suck it up because I imagine I have lots of double-braid splicing in my future.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

6/29/2010 - Beautiful Day

It was gorgeous here today. Sunny and t-shirt weather even at the marina. Maybe summer has arrived at the coast. We went to town to get stuff for making a bunch of granola and some miscellaneous rigging pieces. We walked back and while we were crossing the bridge we looked out at the ocean. It was so pretty. We're really hoping it's like that when we leave.

When we're hauled out, there isn't a lot of time to cook breakfast. So, Lulu made a big batch of granola to see us through. Here she is up to her elbows in granola making:

The reason the seat cushion is propped up is because she was getting something out of the fridge which is under the seat.

While she was busy cooking, I decided to enjoy the sunshine and make another mat. This time, instead of a fancy turk's head-type mat, I opted to make a more utilitarian woven mat called a Sword Mat. The plan is to use it on the side deck to bridge the dip caused by the placement of the deck scuppers.

I'll build a regular wooden cover one of these days but, in the meantime, this will hopefully alleviate the trip hazard.

Although the sword mat is pretty simple, just basic weaving, it's still a bit of work when using 3/4" line for the warp. The woof is made of 1/4" sisal.

Once the weaving is done, the ends are seized together with a frapped round seizing. Then the headrope, the line that the warps were bent over, has a walled crown knot tied on each end to form a knob to keep the headrope from sliding out. Took me quite a while to figure out how to tie a version of the walled crown knot that I liked and wasn't too huge of a knob. But, finally it was all done and here it is:

Monday, June 28, 2010

6/28/2010 - A week from tomorrow...

...we'll leave the South Beach Marina in Newport for the last time. Well, except to stop at the fuel dock on our way out of town.

Yesterday was my last shift at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

My shift captain, Kay Baiz, organized a really nice potluck send-off. Quite an honor considering I've only been at the OCAq since November. I'm definitely going to miss the place and the people. I was lucky enough to get placed on the best crew, the Sunday afternoon shift. I've substituted on several others and they are all great in their own ways but, let's face it, Kay's crew is, after all, the only one sporting 5 gold starts on their badges. To any of the volunteers or staff who are reading this, I'll miss you all. You're an outstanding bunch of folks and it was my honor to be part of the group, albeit only briefly. Oh, and be sure to let me know when you build the Oregon Coast Aquarium-Puerto Vallarta branch. I'll be the first to volunteer.

Next Monday we head upriver to the boatyard for our haulout chores. The yard is about 8 miles from the nearest grocery store so we'll be doing a big shopping trip Saturday. Need to get food for while we're in the yard but also for at least the first leg of our journey south. We'll have to put a little thought into this.

Going through getting all the little items ticked off the to-do list. We're doing really well so far.

Knowing that we'll be in Silverton for most of the month of August, we needed to track down a marina where we could keep our boat for a month or two. Since my Aunt Lea has offered us the use of her car during our SF Bay stay, we thought it would be nice if we moored somewhere relatively close to Sacramento to make drop-off and pick-up easier. Knowing that the closer you get to the Golden Gate Bridge the more expensive the marinas get, we started looking somewhere in the East Bay. We knew that we wanted to tie up in Martinez, along the Carquinez Strait, sometime during our stay so that we'd be close enough to visit Randy, Andrea and Kate in Walnut Creek. So I checked on marinas there a couple days ago. The upshot is that we have made reservations for August and September at the Martinez Marina. It looks pretty nice and the price is quite reasonable. Called them today to make sure they'd have open slips and got ours reserved. An added bonus is that it should be considerably warmer in Martinez than it would have been in SF or Sausalito.

So, things are coming together. Have to get all of our shopping-type chores done this week. Then we need to tidy up the boat, stow the crap that's out on deck and get ready to head upriver. Still seems sort of unreal.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

6/26/2010 - Watching the weather

There are a ton of sources of weather information on the internet. I regularly check a couple of NOAA sites. However, without a lot of experience to compare current conditions against, it can be difficult to make sense of what I'm reading and how it will apply to us.

There's an old salt living on his boat here in Newport along with his Samoan wife. He's 70 now but spent much of his life sailing the legendary south seas. In conversations he strikes me as a conservative and prudent sailor who is neither macho nor looking for trouble. My kind of sailor. We were shooting the breeze (having a gam) the other day and he left me with a couple little gems to help sort out what the weather reports are telling me.

1.) Avoid heading out to sea when the sum of the height of the swell and the wind waves is greater than 10'. With this info, I can see that all of the predictions in the above screen shot fall below this number so none of these would be days to avoid.

2.) Don't leave port if the wave height (in feet) equals the period between crests (in seconds). So, if the wave height is 9' and the period is 9 seconds, avoid going out because you're going to get beat up. He maintains that, after a couple of days out, it doesn't matter what the numbers are because by then you'll be getting used to the motion and everything that was going to get thrown off its shelf has already been shaken loose and re-stowed.

I also collected these words of weather wisdom. I haven't taken the time to really think about them but I like them anyway. Wonder if they hold water? Maybe someone with more weather savvy than I can suss out the meteorological sense behind these gems.

--Mackerel skies and mares tales, make tall ships carry short sails.

--If woolly fleeces deck the heavenly way, be sure no rain will mar a summer’s day.

--With the rain before the wind, stays and topsails you must mind. But with the wind before the rain, your topsails you may set again.

When the sea-hog (porpoise) jumps, stand by at your pumps.

First rise after low, foretells a stronger blow.

Seagull, seagull, sit on the sand, It’s never good weather when you’re on the land.

and, of course:

Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

Friday, June 25, 2010

6/25/2010 - Oil changes can be fun

Okay, maybe "fun" is too strong of a word. But they don't have to be a total bummer either. Those of you without boats probably don't realize that on most boats you can't just shove a pan under the engine, remove the oil pan plug and drain the old oil out just like you would on a car. Why not? No room. The engine generally sits as low in the boat as possible. Beneath it is usually a narrow, inaccessible bilge. There's just no room to put a drain pan and you couldn't get it under there even if there was room.

So what do we do? Well, we have to pump the oil out. West Marine and all the other chandleries sell all kinds of gizmos designed to make this job easier. When I didn't have to worry about finding a place to stow the stuff (in other words, I still had a home to take stuff to), I had good luck with this:

It's pretty much just what it looks like: a gas can with a bicycle pump attached. What you do is insert a tube (catheter?) down the engine's dipstick hole, hoping you stop just at the bottom of the sump and don't end up having it curve up so that it's opening as above the bottom of the oil pan, thus leaving some old oil in the engine. Then, you close the valve on the tube and pump the bicycle pump about 20 times, creating a vacuum inside the gas can. Don't rest your foot on the can at this point or you might have a flat can before you know it. Then, you open the valve and the oil is sucked into the can for ultimate disposal. Works pretty well provided you don't curl the end of the tube as mentioned above. Pretty ingenious but it requires a fair amount of room to stow it.

One of Siempre Sabado's previous owners did me the huge favor of replacing the oil pan drain plug with a banjo fitting. He then attached enough high pressure hydraulic hose to reach the top of the engine and then screwed a plug into the hose end fitting. So, when I change oil, I just have to connect this hose to some kind of pump. But what kind?

I have had great luck with these:

These little drill-driven pumps can be gotten at those cheap-tool places (Harbor Freight, etc.) for just a couple bucks. I adapt from the garden hose that they're designed for down to the hose from my oil sump, stick the discharge hose into an empty oil jug, chuck up the cordless Dewalt drill and within minutes, the oil has all been drained with nary a drop spilled. They also are outstanding for transferring fuel from jerry jugs to the main fuel tank. At sea. While rolling like crazy. Without spilling a drop.

Now if I was really slick, I'd mount a permanent pump to the hose like they do on the Beta Marine Diesels. Then I'd be stylin' for sure.

Today I even managed to get the old oil filter off without spilling any oil. I tell ya, I'm living a charmed life. And, speaking of oil filters, in case you want to get away from using only the filters that your engine manufacturer sells, check out the Fram cross-reference website. Start on this page and just drill on in. You'll get to a place where you can choose your engine and then you'll go to the page with the Fram equivalent. But it doesn't stop there, They also provide cross-references to all, and I mean ALL their competitors. It's a little confusing as it lists for example, at least 5 Napa filters that cross to the Fram filter that crosses to my Westerbeke filter. My inside source at Napa tells me that the different numbers probably signify different physical sizes but that the gasket, thread size and filter media should be the same in all of them.

So there you go.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6/24/2010 - more about mats

One of the problems with the mats I've been making is that, if you pick them up to move them, the ropes separate a bit and have to be tidied up when the mat is laid back down. Traditionally this is addressed by sewing the strands together on the bottom side of the mat. I did this on the round mat and it was a tedious process.

Another problem is that the mats tend to slip around a bit just like almost any rug does. This is a bad thing when the mat is used on a sea-tossed deck.

I think I've overcome both of these issues. This is a refinement of an idea I got from another sailor's wife who makes tons of these mats. She smears the back of the mats with marine sealants. The entire bottom of one of her mats is essentially a layer of rubber. As the sealant cures, it bonds the adjacent strands to each other and provides a non-slip surface. The downside to doing it this way is that the marine sealants are quite expensive, it takes a LOT of sealant to cover the back of a 2' x 3' mat, and the bottoms aren't that pretty.

I decided to use common household silicone caulking because it's cheap and easy to find. It still holds tenaciously to anything it touches and provides a nice rubbery surface once cured. I used some "cedar/tan" colored DAP caulking.

I'm hoping that the beads are tall enough to provide the non-skid surface that I want. Won't know until the goo cures which may take a couple of days. As far as whether or not this is an aesthetic improvement over smearing the entire back of the mat, you can decide for yourself.

This mat took 3-1/2 tubes of caulking at a cost of about $3.95 per tube. Compare this to one of the cheaper brands of the marine grade sealant at $18.50 per tube. I estimate that covering the entire bottom of the mat would have taken at least 10 tubes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

6/23/2010 - Slight Change of Plans

You know how sometimes you wake up in the wee hours and suddenly realize something that has been there all along but you just somehow didn't acknowledge it? Well that happened to me a couple days ago. We're planning on getting hauled out (dry docking) to paint the bottom of the boat and do some general below-the-waterline maintenance on Monday, July 12th. We figure we'll probably be out of the water for a week which would put us back afloat about July 19th. All along we've been planning a leisurely trip down the coast. No problem.

What woke me up the other morning was the sudden realization that we may not be able to make the trip at quite as leisurely a pace as originally planned. The reason? We're having a big family reunion in The Dalles, OR the first Saturday in August (Aug. 7th). My Aunt Lea, who lives in Sacramento California, made things a lot easier when she offered to loan us a car to make the trip back up to Oregon since we plan to be in the SF Bay area by then. But, if you figure two days to drive from Sacramento to The Dalles that leaves us 17 days from the time we are relaunched until we need to leave for Oregon. On the surface of it, that seems like plenty of time. But, what if we're in the yard an extra 2 or 3 days? What if weather conditions are such that we have to wait a couple of days to head out of Newport? We need at least a couple days in SF Bay to get things together and the boat secured before we start driving back north. Suddenly those 17 days shrink to a little over a week. Still enough time but not for a leisurely trip with stops every night.

Now the logical thing to do would be to just postpone leaving Newport until we get back from the reunion. But, our daughter, Cody is getting married on the last Saturday of August (the 28th). So, if we postpone our departure until our Oregon duties are done, we won't be able to leave until the end of August. Maybe even Labor Day. This is still plenty early to head south. Remember that we don't want to be in Mexico until November 1st, the end of hurricane season.

However, we've decided we are not going to push our departure date that far back. Too easy to keep coming up with reasons and/or excuses to not go. Everyone who's out there cruising says that the hardest part of the trip is getting going.

So, we talked to Steve at Riverbend Marine on Monday and he agreed to move our haulout date up a week, to July 5th, even though the tides on that date require that he return to the yard in the evening so he can haul us out at 7:45 PM or so.

So we now have an extra 7 days to play with. We're still thinking that we might be smartest by getting to SF as quickly as possible, either by sailing straight through or maybe making a stop in Eureka to rest up before we finish the trip. But at least now we have some breathing room.

I slept like a baby the last 2 nights.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

6/22/2010 - another mat

Yesterday, after untangling massive snarls from one of the anchor rodes, I was inspired to get cracking on my cockpit mat so I can rid the storage areas of another 100' or so of 3/4" manila line.

Again using Hervey Garrett Smith's "The Art Of The Sailor", I opted to tie an Ocean PLat Knot. This is very similar to the Turk's Head knot except that it's oblong instead of round.

I laid the line out on the dock and started laying out the knot:

It got much easier as the mat got closer to done because the bitter end of the line got shorter and shorter:

Finally, all that was left was to go around and around, taking up slack:

And, an hour and a half after starting, it's done:

It's actually not completely done. I still have to sew the ends underneath and sew the outside pieces to each other so it doesn't flop apart when it's lifted up.

Sharp-eyed readers might notice that this mat isn't strictly correct. Some of the runs are 5 strands wide and others are only 4. I should have stopped at 4 but I thought that maybe I'd have enough to make one more complete round. I didn't. But I liked how it looked so I decided to not remove the offending run.

Monday, June 21, 2010

6/21/2010 - Keeping track of scope

Pay attention because there will be a quiz.

Scope is the amount of anchor rode that's been deployed. The basic rule of thumb is that scope should be about 7 times the depth of the water where you're anchoring. At least that's the number when you use primarily nylon rode. With chain the scope is often reduced to 5:1. But regardless of which ratio one uses, you can't do jack unless you know how much rode you have out.

Today, I finally got around to marking the rode on 3 of our 4 anchors. The spare anchor under the v-berth will just have to wait until I have some reason to pull it out of storage,

There are ongoing discussions about the best way to mark chains and nylon lines. Some swear by paint, some by tying colored rags at particular intervals, usually with some arcane code to decipher what the rags are telling you. Lately I've read a lot of opinions about using colored nylon wire ties. On our old boat, the previous owner had used commercially-available markers with actual numbers written on them. I decided to go for a combination of a couple of strategies.

For the chain, I opted for the wire ties. I used red for 10', green for 50' and yellow for 100'.

For the nylon I used the numbered markers. In this photo I used a combination of both:

Question #1: How much scope is represented in the above photo?
a.) 60'
b.) 10 fathoms
c.) 160'
d.) 260'
e.) Scope? I ain't got to show you no steenkeeng scope!

Question #2: How much rode has been deployed if the following marker shows up?
a.) 135'
b.) 180'
c.) 30 fathoms
d.) 165'
e.) Rode? If you mean chain, say chain!

You've probably noticed that I've left the tails long on the wire ties. The internet brain trust assures me that this won't interfere with the windlass and, it appears that they're right. This is nice because the cut-off tails are notoriously sharp.

Bonus question: In the above photo, if you let this marker reach the surface of the water, assuming that you are using the correct amount of scope, what is the maximum depth of the water that you're anchoring in?
a.) 26'
b.) 19'
c.) 43'
d.) 29'
e.) The what?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

6/20/2010 - A productive day

We both had a pretty productive day yesterday. I got the engine room storage unit hung, a new power wire run to my SSB radio, and the wires run from both solar panels, through watertight fittings in the bulwarks and down into the engine room. Final wiring to the charge controller and the batteries to follow.

Lulu, enjoying the nice day, took down all of the teak slats in the ceiling on her side of the v-berth. Translation for landlubbers: The "ceiling" in a boat is what covers the inside of the hull. In a house it would be the interior wall covering (most likely sheetrock). This is not that weird as the first definition in Webster's College Dictionary for "ceil" is "to furnish (as a wooden ship) with a lining". Anyway, the ceiling in the v-berth (our bedroom) is made up of one and three quarter inch wide teak slats running horizontally or parallel with the waterline. Lulu took the ones on her side down and washed the fiberglass hull behind them. The fiberglass didn't look to bad and it cleaned up really nicely considering this may be the first time in 34 years that it's been done.

The slats that she didn't remove were because the bookcase complicated things. However, she was still able to wash behind them since they stand proud of the hull about an inch. Then she took all these slats out on the dock and lightly sanded them and applied a coating of teak oil that's been laced with a fungicide to protect against mildew growth. We ran out of time before she could put them back up and besides, we figured it'd be better to let them cure overnight. Today she hung the slats back up and then took the ceiling down on my side and washed the inside of the hull. However, the weather was drizzly all day so she couldn't sand and oil them yet. So we'll just have to live around them for a few days.

Remember a couple days ago when I wrote about the lack of space on the boat and how everything had to be moved to do anything. Well, this job was a perfect example. While Lulu was busy working on the v-berth, this is what the saloon looked like:

Everything has got to be somewhere.

And, if productivity and good weather wasn't enough yesterday, our friends Jay & Judy from s/v Wind Raven brought us two huge hunks of fresh-caught halibut which we had for dinner. All in all, a fine day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

6/19/2010 - Storage where there once was none

On our last foray to the valley to pick up supplies for our trip, we got a bunch of primary and secondary filters for our watermaker. When we got back to the boat and started rooting around in various cubbyholes, I discovered that I had already bought quite a few filters. Suddenly we had 20 filters to find a place for. To make matters worse, on our last order from SailRite, I bought 10 rolls of sail repair tape. This isn't quite as obsessive as it sounds since the rolls are only 15' long and a 3' rip in a sail will require 6' of tape. But, they are bulky and we now had to also find a place to stow them.

I've always been very protective of the space in my engine room. It's really nice to have room around the engine in which to work. But, there is a lot of space down there.

With this in mind, I designed a bag that would hang on the engine room bulkhead, would be easily removable, and, hopefully would hold a lot of stuff. I turned my rough drawing over to Lulu and she broke out the Featherweight and a bolt of Sunbrella and went to work.

In a fairly short time, she had turned my vision into reality. I took the "pocket" and a handful of Common Sense fasteners into the engine room and hung it up. Then I proceeded to load it up. We were both amazed at how much it held. It took all the filters and sail tape and had room for more.

There was enough extra room that I was able to stuff two bags of Scotch-Brite pads in as well. Each bag contains 20 pads, each of which are about 6" x 9". They stick out the top but they're contained. You can't tell from these photos but there are actually two pockets side-by-side that run the complete height of the unit. And, if I need access to the oil behind the pocket, I can just undo a couple fasteners and reach behind. If I need room in the engine room for bigger jobs, the whole things comes out as easily as it went in.

Amazing how many places you can find to stow stuff with a little imagination and a wife who's handy with a sewing machine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

6/18/2010 - Cowabunga, Dude!

Lulu and I spent a good part of the afternoon at Ocean Pulse, one of the local surf shops. We weren't there to buy boards, however. No, we needed some wetsuits. And not just one wetsuit each, but two. And booties. What for? Well, the full suits are ones we hope to never actually need. But, if we should happen to get a crab pot rope or fishing line or net wrapped around our prop on the way down the coast, it sure would be nice to be able to go overboard and cut the line loose without dying of hypothermia in the process. Also, on the extremely unlikely (honest, Mom) chance that we should have to deploy the life raft someday, if we have the time, it would be a lot more comfortable to be wearing a wetsuit instead of a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt while we're out there drifting around.

The shorter, lighter-weight suits will probably see a lot of use when we're snorkeling in water that might not be quite as warm as we might like.

This is the first time either of us have donned wetsuits and man, are they tight! Just trying them on was a big job. I was sweating like a pig by the time I had tried 4 different suits on. But, now we have them. One more little thing we can check off of the list.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

6/17/2010 - Living Aboard

Had a couple of interesting questions about living aboard from a friend today. Seemed like a good subject for a blog entry. So here goes.

Siempre Sabado is a 28' boat. However, once you take out the engine compartment, the lazarette and the anchor locker, we only get to live in about 16-1/2' of that space. 6' is taken up by the bed and then there's 3-1/2 feet that comprises the "hallway". This is the area between the saloon (the main living space) and the bed. Our clothes locker is on one side and the bathroom (head) is opposite. The head is about the size of an airline bathroom. This leaves us an area of 7' x 7' to actually live in. And, since the galley takes up 2' of that width, we are basically living in the settee and the floor adjacent to it, an area 5' wide x 7' long. A little bit smaller than a pickup bed. Granted, a lot of our storage is outside of those dimensions but some of it is inside (the refrigerator and two storage lockers are under our seats).

So, after living like this for a year, what's it like?

From Steve's perspective:

Well, first off, it doesn't actually seem that small. The main adjustment that I've had to make is getting used to the fact that there is only room for one of us to be up and moving at a time. Since we're both small, we can squeeze past each other but it's better if one person sits down while the other is up and doing stuff. This is much less of a pain now than it was when we first moved aboard. I'm pretty used to it now.

The other down side is that, with so little stowage area, anything you want is usually behind and/or under at least a half dozen other things. Like, for instance, if I want to pull out my watermaker file, I have to move the ditty bag, two tool boxes, a file folder box (small), two plastic boxes about the size of shoe boxes, a couple bolts of fabric, and a few miscellaneous other items. All this stuff has to be put somewhere and the only "somewhere" there is, unless we want to schlep it all forward to the bed, is on the settee and/or the table. Consequently, once I pull the file out, unless I plan to put it back right away, all this crap stuff needs to be put back so there's someplace to sit. Then, later, after I've perused the files, I have to repeat the whole process to put them away. And the box holding these files is NOT the furthest item back in the quarter berth. As a matter of fact, it's actually towards the front.

Over the course of the year we have managed to put most of the items that we want frequently closer to the front of the various storage areas. But there is no question but that I have had to learn to be more patient. In general, the storage issue is probably the most irksome thing to me about living in this small space. But, I'm continually getting more used to it. I've had to get more patient and I've also had to learn to not cut corners. The storage areas are small and packed. If I want something that's in the back of one of the cupboards behind the settee cushions, I've learned that it just doesn't pay to reach in and just root around. Everything will get dislodged and I'll never get the door closed again without a total overhaul. The only way to do it is to just bite the bullet and carefully remove everything that's between me and what I want. It can then be put back in a nice orderly manner so the door will close like it should.

Since there's nowhere else to go, at least until we live where the weather is better, we have to be thinking about the other one all the time. If Lulu's reading a book, I need to turn the radio off since it's distracting. If I'm using the table to solder some connections on a light fixture, Lulu has to find something else to do besides the sewing that she had planned since the table is only big enough for one project at a time. And so on. We need to constantly be thinking about the other person since we now both occupy less space than either one of us occupied by ourselves before. But I think this is a good thing.

OK, so storage and moving around have taken some getting used to. But what do I like about living small?

It's really kind of hard to say. I like the general feel of it. I like knowing that we're leaving a much smaller environmental footprint than we used to. I like that lots of things are within reach. I like knowing that anything outside of the perimeter of our boat is not my responsibility (no lawn, no outbuildings, no septic tank, no cars, etc.). I like knowing that we're pretty much self-contained. I like the fact that we've been able to adapt to such a huge change without getting cranky with each other. Makes me feel good about us. I like knowing that we're living on a boat. That, if we don't like things where we are, we can untie or up-anchor and move on, taking our home with us. I like having a pretty good handle on what all we own. I may not know exactly where it is at any given moment but I usually have at least a fair idea of whether or not we have it.

Expanding out to beyond the boat, I love not having a car. We get more exercise and don't consider any walk beyond our capabilities. We often say that, given enough time, we could walk to Mexico if we had to. I like not having car expenses: gas, tires, insurance, repairs, maintenance items. And I really like not having the stress of driving. When the weather is really funky and the streets are crawling with tourists who don't know their way around town, I love leaving the hassle of driving to the bus driver.

It's all tied together, though. Would I like living this small if we both still had to get up and go to work every day? Maybe, maybe not. We would have to adjust our schedules so that only one of us at a time was up and getting ready for work. There's just not enough room for us both to be up hustling around at the same time. But with our current (non)schedule, this is how most mornings go:
I get up anywhere between 7:00 and 9:00.
I pull the curtain which is sort of like closing the bedroom door although, being a curtain, it's largely symbolic.
I get dressed and get the kettle going for my coffee. Have a piece of fruit while I'm waiting for the water to boil.
Once the water is hot, I make a cup of joe and then drink it while quietly doing a crossword puzzle or reading.
Awhile later, Lulu gets up and makes the bed. As soon as she goes in the head, I transfer the backpacks and sleeping bag that spent the night on one of the settee seats to the bed where they'll spend the day.
Lulu comes out and gets dressed, makes herself some coffee and a bowl of cereal and then sits down to eat while doing a crossword.
Then, I get up and make my breakfast. Now, just so we don't seem too separated, here's what's going on with the coffee, etc. We use those single serving Melitta filters to make our coffee. It's way fresher and there's much less waste than making it by the pot. Consequently, I make a cup for me and later Lulu makes a cup for herself. As far as breakfast goes, Lulu likes cereal (granola or oatmeal). I prefer something that needs salt (last night's leftovers, grits and eggs, or a breakfast burrito), so we each make our own breakfast. Once in awhile we'll both have spuds and eggs or something but most of the time we each eat different breakfasts. And, since we don't have to be anywhere, who cares how long it takes? We usually take turns doing the breakfast dishes.

The question was asked, "Who adjusted quicker, you (me) or Lulu?". Hmmm. Good question. I don't really know. I adjusted pretty darn quick but I also had a head start since I spent 5-day weeks living and working on the boat from April to mid-June while Lulu was still home and working. But Lulu seems to have adjusted okay so I don't really know which, if either of us adjusted quicker.

Besides the limited space, a few of the other things that are much different living on the boat are:
-You have to foot-pump every drop of water you use (well, we do have a hose connected to the city water supply and we do use it for filling our water tanks and washing down the outside of the boat).
-We use shoreside bathroom and shower facilities whenever available. At South Beach, that means a 5-minute walk each way whenever you need to use the bathroom, although we use the on-board facilities at night.
-Generally, whatever comes aboard had to get here on one of our backs.
-No microwave for reheating food or making popcorn. We have to do both the old-fashioned way.
-Can't run to the store if you forgot something. You have to make do with what you have. Of course, we were already used to this from living 13 miles from town.

But enough of me. I'm going to turn this over to Lulu and she's going to tell things from her perspective without reading my part first.

From Lulu's perspective:
Well, living in a small space is just dandy. Most of the time I don't really think much about it being small. It does become an issue when it comes to moving around... one at a time is the only option. We both have learned to wait while the other one gets something from a locker or just needs to go from the aft end to the V-berth. Not really a big deal but it does take some practice.

I have learned just how few clothes I need. My clothes storage area is 2 shelves 18"x18"x18" which also stores my extra fabric for sewing, some vitamins and prescriptions, and a few other items too and I never get to some of the clothes. I could get by with about 1/2 of what I have.

The clutter is what bothers me the most. I really like things to look and feel tidy and that just doesn't happen with two people and all of their stuff on a 28 foot boat. Stephen made some stowage suggestions that have helped (read the "Tiding Up" entry), but I just have to make myself not notice the constant clutter and less than organized state of things. I'm pretty good at getting things to a point that I can live with and then not letting it bother me. I had many years of practice from always living in a fixer-upper house. You make it as pretty as you can and then learn to love it.

Another thing I miss is having room for guests. There just isn't any room for anyone else. The only one who has actually slept aboard with us is Cody and she had to squeeze her little self in the long side of the settee. She didn't complain, but I'm sure that she wasn't too comfortable. It's hard for me not to be able to accommodate friends and family.

What I like about living aboard is the slow pace that it makes us live at. This is also a result of being retired but things do take longer to accomplish with smaller space and fewer convenience items, not to mention no car.... we live a lot slower. Also speaking of the retired part, I love sleeping in in the morning and taking as long as I want to get going on whatever projects or chore I'm doing each day.

I like having such a small space to take care of. I still do lots of cleaning... everything gets wet and mildewy on a boat... but compared to a big house and yard it's just a lot less to tend to.

I love that this little boat has such a sweet oven. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to make all of the different treats that I could in my big oven but so far bread, pizza, croissants, cookies and all of the normal meals that I have always made turn out just fine in this oven. Stephen did a great job of rebuilding the galley to fit in an oven and it has been so very much worth the effort.

I love the motion of the boat. Much of the time I don't notice it anymore, but when the wind whips up and rocks us to sleep with a little rain pattering the decks it's really very pleasant and cozy.

The adaptation prize has to go to Stephen... he had several months of living and working on the boat while I was still working. He had already established some answers as to how to deal with space constraints and was already pretty comfortable here before I moved aboard. I'm sure he had a bit of readjusting to do to when I encroached on his space and habits, but he didn't let it show too much.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

6/16/2010 - More ropework

Back when we had our first boat I built some rope fenders. We let them go with the boat when we sold her, but Lulu always thought we should have kept them. When we got Siempre Sabado we decided that she was traditional enough looking that she could support rope fenders. So, for Christmas a few years ago, Lulu bought me a 500' coil of 3/4" manila line. 500' is a LOT of line. Each fender takes about 30' and frankly, I doubt that even the Mayflower could support 18 rope fenders.

So, we've been moving this big coil of rope around and every so often I try to figure out just where the heck we're going to stow it. Yesterday, after Lulu was finished cleaning the boat, I was inspired to take advantage of the warm, sunny day, and try to organize the coil. I figured that if I laid it ll out and then tied it up in long fakes rather than a coil, it would be easier to store and to use.

It took me over 30 minutes to untangle the mess that resulted from me trying to pull the line from the coil. What a mess. I'm so glad that I had the whole dock to work on and wasn't trying to straighten this mess out at sea. Once I finally got it all untangled and laid out, I measured how much line I still had. After all the fenders we've already made as well as the pieces I've set aside for making 3 or 4 more fenders as well as some baggywrinkle, we still had a hunk of line that was 264' long.

I decided there had to be something else I could do with the line besides make fenders. Lately, I've been interested in traditional ropework and a Turk's head mat or two on the boat seemed like a good way to use up some line. What I really wanted to make was a mat to use in the cockpit. This would be a mat about 2' x 3'. I had absolutely no idea how much line it would take to make a mat this size so I arbitrarily cut the line into three 52' pieces and one 108' piece. I started with one of the 52' pieces.

Why not just use the whole thing and cut off what wasn't needed? Because it would be a HUGE pain to try to drag over 200' of line through every twist and turn of the mat.

I started out using the diagram from Hervey Garrett Smith's book.

His mat had the shape I wanted but I had a terrible time converting his diagrams to reality. After four attempts, I decided to try a different tack. Since my previous attempt at making a mat using "The Ultimate Knot Book" was successful, I decided to go that route again. The problem is that TUKB only diagrams a round mat. But, since this is just my first attempt, I figured that I could find a use for a round mat if it came out OK.

The good news is that the mat came our pretty well for a first try with such large material.

The bad news is that a 52' piece of line only makes a mat about 24" across:

So, my next attempt will be with the 108' piece. I think I know enough now to follow Hervey's diagram for an oblong mat and, if the ratios hold, I should be able to get a 2' x 3' mat out of the 108' length. It will be an ordeal working with that long of a bitter end but again, better on the dock than out at sea.

I'm tentatively planning on making a couple of Sword Mats for the side decks. Using 3/4" line, they should be stiff enough to bridge the opening above our deck scupper that is currently a trip hazard. If it all works out, you can be sure it will be the subject of a future blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6/15/2010 - Annual Scrubdown

I don't know what I did to deserve such a good first mate. If I could clone Lulu and sell the reproductions I'd make a fortune. While I'm down below composing this blog, what do you suppose she's doing? If you guessed "scrubbing down the cabin and deck", you'd be right. Look at this:

And, just so you don't think I'm TOTALLY useless, I did unload all this junk off the decks to make cleaning easier. And I'll load it back on deck as well, but that's mostly because I'm kind of anal about how on-deck stuff is stowed.

Okay, truth be told, she actually removed the dodger but, honest, I really did unload all the rest of the stuff.

Did some research on applying bottom paint where there wasn't any before. The bottom paint is very expensive and we really don't want it to just slough off once we raise the waterline. Got lots of good info from the Pettit paint website. E-mailed River Bend Marine to make sure they have all the various unguents and ointments that Pettit recommends in stock when we get there. We could get the products cheaper on-line but one of the courtesies, if not requirements of doing your own work at River Bend is that you purchase your products from them. Seems only fair as his guys aren't making any money while we're doing our own work. Heck, there are even yards that won't allow boat owners to do their own work. Rest assured that we will never find ourselves in one of those yards.

So, Lulu has the topsides all spiffy. Next month we'll get the bottomsides equally spiffy and then we'll be good to go.

Oh, by the way, I did give Lulu a little reward when she was almost done: A bag of Doritos "Last Call Jalapeno Poppers" tortilla chips and a 16 oz. can of Budweiser "Chelada" (Bud, clamato juice, lime and salt). Of course, since it's unseemly to drink alone, I joined her. We sat on the foredeck eating our chips and drinking our Cheladas and enjoying the rare sunny, windless afternoon. Life is good.

Monday, June 14, 2010

6/14/2010 - Engine raw water pump

Those of you who follow Livia's blog already know about Speedseal. But, since some of you may not have read her write-up, here's mine:

It's really a good idea to check the raw water pump on the engine from time to time. The impeller is made of rubber and will eventually wear out and/or have pieces break off. Especially if you've ever forgotten to turn the raw water on before starting the engine. I had replaced my impeller back when we were getting ready to sail out of Anacortes. The engine racked up a lot of hours coming down the coast but hasn't run a whole lot since then. A couple trips up the river and monthly exercise runs has been about all.

Back when I replaced the impeller in Aacortes I remember cussing out Westerbeke for putting the pump cover in an almost unreachable spot.

The machine screws at the 12:00, 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00 positions aren't too bad to get at. But the ones at 8:00 and 10:00 are almost impossible. Even with a really stubby screwdriver you can't get at the screw heads. Maybe if I removed the oil filter first but that'd be highly unhandy. An offset screwdriver would help but I've misplaced mine and they're not an easy item to find any more.

About the only way to get them off is with pliers or a small vise-grip.

After reading Livia's blog about installing a Speedseal, I decided to follow her lead. So I called to order one and, having swallowed the whole pitcher of kool-aid, ended up ordering the new Speedseal Life which adds a Teflon bearing surface and a brass disk which are supposed to work together to extend the impeller life. The goodies arrived a week or so ago and today seemed like as good a time as any to do the install.

Removing the old pump cover was every bit as bad as I remembered it. But, once I got it off and the old impeller out, it was instantly obvious just how important this little procedure is.

Removed impeller side by side with a new one:

Amazingly, even with 3 vanes missing, the engine was still running nice and cool.

I cleaned the face of the pump of old gasket material, gooped the Speedseal Life with the included silicone lubricant, gooped the impeller with lubricant as well and, as explained in the Speedseal instructions, prepared the new impeller for easy installation by wrapping the vanes with a wire-tie.

The wire-tie just slips off the end as the impeller is inserted into the volute.

Then, with everything lubed and the faceplate o-ring firmly in place, I installed the Speedseal on to the pump.

Knurled hand screws replace the machine screws. The ones in the 8:00 and 10:00 positions are never fully removed, only loosened. This is because, instead of holes at these positions, the Speedseal has slots. So, once the hand screws at the 2:00 and 4:00 positions are removed, the cover just slides out. This going to make life SO much easier. Fired up the engine afterwards and ran it for 10-15 minutes. Nary a leak. Life is good.

Thanks to Livia for reminding me about this product and thanks to Speedseal for inventing it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

6/13/2010 - Form and Function

A lot of the macrame fancywork one sees on a boat actually has some purpose other than just looking pretty. A turk's head knot might be tied on the wheel to indicate when the rudder is amidships. Or, a stanchion may be decorated with coachwhipping that coincidentally protects the tiller when it smacks into the stanchion. One I really like is when they make a turk's head mat that sits on deck under a deck-mounted block to absorb the noise and protect the deck when the block flops around.

Awhile ago I built and installed doors for our companionway to be used when drop boards were not necessary:

When first installed, the starboard door's hinges were kind of tight. The door would stay in whatever position it was put. But the hinges have loosened up and now, when the doors are opened, both doors flop all the way open. The port door is no big deal because it just hits the edge of the dodger. But the starboard door was flopping into the compass:

It wasn't hitting the glass dome but rather just the plastic frame. But the sound was jarring and the wood on the door was beginning to show a little scarring. So, taking a leaf from the old mariners' book, I decided to try to solve the problem with a little bit of style.

Using some scrap small stuff, I made a tiny little turk's head mat and then tacked it to the door. Now, when the door hits the compass it just makes a nice easy-going little thud.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

6/12/2010 - Staying put

No, no, we're not planning on spending another year in Newport. No, I'm referring to keeping the boat in one place when she's either tied to a dock or, more importantly maybe, anchored.

The Westsail 28, unlike her big sister the 32, was not built with a samson post. For those who don't know, a samson post is a very hefty timber that goes through the deck aft of the anchor windlass and then is bolted to various structural members of the boat belowdecks. It provides a really strong spot to tie anchors off to or to use for towing, etc.

The W28 has cleats on the forward bulwarks which can be used for this purpose but I really wanted something a wee bit stronger. Besides, a guy can't have too many spots to tie a mooring line to.

So, I bought a couple of galvanized 12" cleats to mount to the foredeck, one for each primary anchor. I used galvanized instead of $tainle$$ $teel for the obvious reason$ as well as the fact that galvanized steel is stronger than stainless.

Now, before you jump on me for mounting them "crooked", that is, not parallel to the centerline of the boat, I did it on purpose. When a line is tied off to a cleat it's supposed to approach the cleat at an angle, not parallel to the cleat. The first turn on each of these cleats will be taken around the aft (inboard) end.

So, these cleats are nice and strong and all but what keeps a bad lurch from just ripping the bolts right out through the deck? Generally some sort of backing plate is used to distribute the pull. Sometimes the backing plate can be something as simple as a big wide fender washer. But that just wasn't going to be enough for me to get a good night's sleep while anchored. So I went a (giant) step further.

I decided to spread the pull over a piece of aluminum plate that is 16" x 18-1/2" x 3/16" thick. This spreads the pull over a 240 square inch area which is backed up to a 2" thick plywood/fiberglass/teak deck. The aluminum is some fancy grade that is supposed to have the tensile strength of steel. So, with our new Rocna anchor, mostly chain rode and these cleats and the backing plate, I think I'll be able to sleep.

By the way, I normally wouldn't want to have bolts sticking down so far. But I initially bought 4-1/2" bolts and when I shoved them through there was only about 1/2" showing. And that was before I added the aluminum, washers, and nuts. So I bought some 5-1/2" bolts. Of course, as always seems to be the case, once I put the longer bolts into use I ended up with at least 1" of bare bolt sticking down. So, maybe the 4-1/2" ones would have been fine. But by the time I discover this I've gooped the bolts up with sealant and changing them would just be a nasty mess. Fortunately they're not in an area where we would normally be so we probably won't hit our heads. Also, my ukulele is stowed up there further protecting us from getting bonked.