Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Replacing sink and counter in new boat

When one gets a new home, one always makes alterations to make things fit right. Cynthia and I have replaced the high-color-temperature LED lighting with something a lot less blue and more red: now and then we turn on a couple old lights just to remind ourselves how delightfully soothing and glare-free the new ones are. I showed Cynthia how to do some plumbing and electrical work
and we replaced the wimpy, air-sucking water pump with a new one located far lower in the boat, one that gives good pressure and decent volume. I created a new seal around the ancient door of the refrigerator using spray foam (later trimmed neatly)
and believe it has made a big difference and also added some insulation on the freezer compartment so that the freezer can be cold without freezing everything in the fridge. And we replaced the kitchen sink and faucet with far far better.

The existing sink is a two-basin thing: wonderful if it is large enough, but silly if you can not even set a dish flat in either basin... and this one definitely fell into the silly category. And the faucet was a low thing, so low we can not even wash a decent frying pan.
So, step one is to buy the sink and faucet
(both paid for as a Christmas gift to us and the boat: thanks, Mom!). Step two is to pull the sink out...
and any decay....
and frozen soaking wet styrofoam insulation.
Step three is to re-insulate the fridge, gluing and sealing the new stuff in place layer by layer with insulating foam.
Fourth, shape a layer of plywood and glued it into place. Fifth, cut for the sink and glue it in.
Sixth, shape the top layer of plywood countertop perfectly to align with the edges of the undermount sink and glue it into place with lots of thickened epoxy and weight it down until the glue sets.
Seventh, seal the countertop with lots of epoxy.
Eighth (and I forgot to get a pic of this!), install the faucet at the back left corner and connect the plumbing. Finally (also without photographs), figure out how to make a better drain connection and make it (and, if I have done this wrong, I'll just go back to the old drain layout).

This new sink gives us more counter space and more usable sink space and we can wash our largest pots and even a five-gallon bucket or Lucy! Very satisfying: this boat gets better and better.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Surviving the storm

Hello from the warmth of the coastal North Carolina! Hello from the land where the Gulf Stream passes very close to shore and makes winter a temperate delight.... generally. However, this impressive storm, Grayson, brought us ice coated trees,
inches of blowing powder snow, days of low temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit, not Celsius!), ice inside our boat, and the entire marina locked in ice. I've only seen ONE bikini being worn on this trip, outside a house next door..

After the first night, while warming up in the marina clubhouse and checking email, I noticed a Facebook friend request from someone named “Byph”. Odd name... how would one pronounce that? “Biff”? Could it be my neighbor/friend from Coral Bay? It turned out that it WAS, and that he had just posted something about being in Oriental, NC...right near us! Turns out he has washed ashore here and is renting a home only a half-hour from my boat's marina and he invited us to stay in his spare room for the duration of this unprecedented cold snap. What an unexpected delight and bit of good fortune to run into him... and at just the perfect time! Cynthia definitely likes having a house, kitchen, and warmth right now!

The other folks we've run into are also delightful: Asa, our local marina mechanic and electrical master, a fount of knowledge and wisdom, who has so generously lent me tools
and even allowed me to keep the boom I built in his shop while the glue cures in this frigid weather. Tom, the marina owner. Ken and Sharon, a couple who keep getting delayed on their trip to the Bahamas. Maureen, with her happy dog. And too many others to mention. I LIKE good neighborly folks.

Of course, there are “issues”. Mainly, this involves items on the boat that are a BIT more... involved... than one might have hoped, or things like a deep-draft boat in a shallow marina in a shallow bay (apparently we CAN NOT leave unless we get the right winds for a few days), or this ridiculous weather!
I had hoped to be out past the Gulf Stream by now, halfway to St John, catching fish, being bored, watching bright stars... but the boat issues, the water depth, and the storm would each individually have stopped us... and we have all three. And soon we must return to MI, tired and cold and frustrated rather than warmed and restored by topical sunshine, back to gray skies, no sunshine, and deeper cold. We are “camping out”, working on the boat... and we are NOT happy campers.

On the bright side, we enjoy the beauty of sunshine on the ice-covered trees,
we actually see sunshine every single day, we ran into Byph and are making new friends, and we DID find fallen pecans on the ground a couple days ago! Very cool! I LOVE foraging! Fun is always available!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A new boat name?

The boat's current name is "Keeling Time". This feels too.... silly and frivolous. Besides, I am about seizing the day rather than wasting it. I'd like to have a name that expresses more a sense of refuge, freedom, adventure... 

Any thoughts? First thing I thought of was "Albatross", despite miasma created by the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner".


Monday, December 4, 2017

A new beginning: new boat, new adventures...

A week or so ago I received a call from the Coast Guard saying Dorado needs to be moved very soon as the mast is touching the power lines! It certainly wasn't when I was there, but the linemen tightened things up and brought stuff into contact. *sigh*. Working on getting THAT handled long distance is not fun, but I hope to return in late January to find her with a temporary patch, on a mooring, with only a small bill due. Crossing fingers.... so much unknowable!

Speaking of stepping into the unknown, I recently woke up with a new boat...

and realized I don't even know her name, just her make (Formosa 41, center cockpit). If I do NOT keep her in the danger zone in hurricane season, insurance will be reasonable and she is a beauty and will be, I hope, a joy. Cynthia and I plan to drive to North Carolina Monday 12/11 (to Wayfarer's Cove Marina), handle various repairs and load her with gear, go back to MI for Christmas, then fly down about Jan 1 and sail her out of the bay, across the Gulf Stream, and down to the Bahamas for a week of exploration and running aground. This passage will be our longest ever!

After she flies home (about Jan 18), I will set sail for even longer, a week or so, across the open Atlantic to St John. I cross fingers that the autopilot I install will work well, that winds will be fair, skies will be bright and starry, and that the boat will sail as I've read (smooth and relaxing rather than jerky and exhausting like lightweight Dorado). We shall see. I'm sure wisdom would suggest I bring extra hands for the passage: anyone interested?r

(PS: 12/6/17 Cynthia is now planning to sail the whole way with me. We will spend eight to 12 days on board between landfalls, skirting the Sargasso Sea, fishing for Dorado (aka mahimahi or dolphin fish), reading, improving the boat, etc. Neither of us has ever spent more than a day away from land, so this will be very memorable.)

What then? Put her on a mooring pro tem, take care of Dorado details, pack the autopilot, and fly to Florida to help my friend Larry sail Gigi II (a CSY44 to replace Gigi, his CSY37) down. He wants to take the scenic route: two weeks, several ports, lots of shoals, several countries.


Current issues? 1) I am heartbroken not to have bought my friend Chris' similar boat in CA as it had wonderful projects to do and delightful improvements to make and great amenities and price, but the layout just didn't work for me. 2) I am going through the delightful experience of a burst eardrum, ear infection, etc. With luck, the vertigo & hearing loss will be temporary and the infection will resolve...and, in a half year or so, I'll be able to dive again. I finally feel as though this sinus/ear issue is being tackled after suffering with it and ineffective doctors for a decade! Perhaps this is the beginning of a good resolution. And, yes, this may affect the trip timing, but I'll probably survive a delay.

PS: Funny story: a couple months back, seeking boats on the web, I ran across one I'd seen before: a CT41 ketch with a missing mizzen (aft) mast. I called the number, told the fellow that I might swap my mast onto his boat if I bought it, that Irma had taken my boat.

“Oh, he replied, I lost a boat in Santa Cruz Harbor in the tsunami.”

This sounds familiar, I thought to myself. “Is this Chris?”

“Um, yes..... DUSTIN?!” (Yes, my California name)


Anyway, he was my instructor for six of the eight days I learned about sailing larger boats! Small world!

Monday, November 20, 2017

A good dog

Dogs are our best friends. You cat people don't know what you are missing....unless you also have dogs and then you aren't missing a thing. Dogs are good people...yes, perhaps a bit “on the spectrum”, but that simply means that they, like little children, don't understand the lies that people use to get through life. This is a roundabout way of saying I miss my lifetime of old and dear friends: Christie, Benzer, Sugar and Trolley, Steamer, Rex, Teddy... and, now, Tio.

We know nothing about Tio's beginning as he was, we understand, brought north at around 5 years old as a semi-feral dog from east Texas. We have no way of knowing exactly how lead airgun pellets got embedded near his spine, too close to remove, but can only speculate about humans and feral dogs. And I envy his end, falling into the darkness of sleep... and then farther... away from pain, while in the company of the woman who had rescued him as he had rescued her.

Why did he die? Well, short answer is he got cancer and the chemo treatment failed. We could talk for hours about the details or speculate, but in the end, we all gotta go: at least we can offer our dog friends an easy out. I've sat with Zinger (a neighbor's dog who adopted us), Steamer, and Teddy, comforting them as they lay in pain... and I felt their relief and peace,… and felt them fade to black.

The important thing is Tio's life. Once he came to Cynthia, I think that it became rather wonderful....although I wasn't there to document it at first. She says that she told him, a probable chihuahua/pug mix, that he had to be a real Cape Cod dog if he wanted to live with her.... so he rode in bike baskets, rowboats, kayaks, canoes,
motorboats, and paddleboards, etc.

He walked in the snow, despite cold feet (hoping here to find mice!).
He chased cast lures... to the point his paws got damp... then stood at water's edge and barked. He LOVED to roughhouse with far larger dogs and would head straight for the largest crowd in the dog park. When Lucy came along, he chased the skunks she would find... and got hit right between the eyes at least three times. And, once I came along and we sailed on a Hobie Cat, he found that laps were not just the only dry spot, but cuddling with Cynthia could be tolerable.... or even nice... and he began, more and more, to abandon his bed for the big one containing his favorite human.

Tio: good natured, independent, a lover of spots in the sun and good walks,
always up for an adventure, and a good and loyal friend. He will be missed.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Visiting the scene of the Irma/Maria attack... and finding some good.

Here I am, back in MI with Cynthia and the little monsters. Lucy is trying to get into my lap (and I don't mind), but she insists on both my hands being on HER rather than typing and will not give up, so I have sent her off. I love her affection, but, well, "time and place".

I arrived back in MI last night at around 9pm. Wonderful to be back where there are NO mosquitoes and midges and I can enjoy cuddling with my gal and her pups rather than sweating under bed nets and layers of DEET, itching from the mosquitoes and midges that have managed to enter, thinking of going indoors where rain can't follow (but where it is even warmer).

Going to St John was hard. It brought to mind times as a teen when I used to take bees from their hives in fallen trees: they always seemed depressed amidst their fallen home, as if not quite knowing how to deal with their world turned upside down, but trying to keep on and rebuild a life. There is SO much destroyed and damaged that it is really hard to know where to start. The curfew, from 7pm to 5am, makes sense to to keep people from crashing on the somewhat navigable roads.... and I certainly had times that daylight was the only thing keeping me from hitting a telephone pole across the road or some other obstacle.

Visiting our boats was even harder. Larry and I had hoped that our boats might be salvageable, but each of us found the damage far worse than we had expected.

We first visited Gigi, hoping for a neat hole that could be repaired without too much trouble..... but found everything on the starboard side had been ripped loose: bulkheads, doors, counters, tanks, ice box, cushions, and a large piece of the hull... all floating and jammed into a mass that resisted efforts to find his new stove and mainsail, items he had never laid eyes upon.. and was unable to excavate on this final visit to Gigi.
Even the Rtic cooler he and I had bought together had been smashed. In the end, after hours of work, we managed to salvage a fender, solar panel, a couple halyards, and a portlight. We hope Eliot, a salvager Larry spoke with, can dispose of the boat, taking the mast and rigging as payment.

Dorado, her red bottom high and dry on the gravel beach, looked like one of the best prospects for an easy salvage...
but I opened the fore-hatch and a stench greeted me: although the hull is watertight, she filled through a couple high holes and sat for a month or so with four feet of stagnant salt water inside. I stuck a foot into the nasty water and snapped off the new pump I had installed last spring on a through-hull and let a couple feet of water out, then did the same with a deeper outlet the next day.
Eventually I DID manage to find my dive fins, stanchion bases, safety harness, many tools, epoxy, Rtic cooler, french knife, and dive socks... and "The Buddha's Brain". Also found Cynthia's dive camera, weight belt, mask, underwater flashlights, wetsuit, reef books, and some clothing.

I plan to come back when enough boats are out of the way that I can get mine off the beach. Maybe I will salvage the mast and winches for another boat. Maybe I will fix her up so someone else can enjoy sailing her... but the price of a new engine alone makes this unlikely. We shall see....

I left some stuff aboard Dorado, brought some home, and left the knife and cooler with Ted as he will probably really enjoy them.... and will be staying on the island for the foreseeable future with his delightful pup, Ophelia.

Ted was kind enough to put us up, along with his friend Kim. We helped him out a bit on cleaning up a house he cared for and enjoyed chatting and cooking and hanging out. Things I enjoyed were coffee & sunrises,

nice starry nights, dark nights and wide beaches (thanks to the storms), beautiful views,
and warm swims.

The high point of my trip was getting to know these three great folks better. Turns out we are ALL left-handed, so I like to call us the sinister quartet...

Current plan is to move on and get another boat and sail back there, living aboard and sailing north in the spring and back south after hurricane season. We shall see: plans change.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Harvest time!

OK, I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight to St Thomas: good time to write a post!

'Tis the season for fall fruit, the season of harvest, the season of plenty, whether we are talking kiwi fruit in a Berkeley back yard
or, here in Michigan, giant pumpkins
or wild (and very tasty) pawpaws we found growing near a river (granny smith apples for comparison).

There is a certain delight in seeing all this abundance and, especially, in the stuff we forage, like the tasty apples that drop, untasted, from a tree on Cape Cod and which make a wonderful pure apple sauce, even without a touch of sugar or cinnamon or other any other adulterant. Too bad we missed out on the cranberries on Cape Cod this year....