Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Home Stretch!

It's time for this space hog to get out of the boat!
Kyocera 255 watt solar panel
We are SO close!! Fingers crossed, we should be ready to depart on the fourth....that would be four days from now. Whoah. Of course, what would a grand cruising departure be if there wasn't a little tension and anxiety involved? We've got the anxiety down, with each passing day we know we're getting close to leaving but it still doesn't feel like it. And oddly enough, that is what's causing my anxiety.

And we're still waiting on a couple last minute items. Namely, we're waiting for the connectors for the solar panel to go on the davits. Of course until that's up and running we can't really use our refrigeration system. We've had it running a little while motoring and it seems to be working but it would be really nice to be able to kick that on more than a day before we leave.

Then somewhere in all this we still need to go get food, which is a little more tricky to do when you don't have a fridge to store the cold stuff. We may end up doing an initial provisioning run for non-cold items and go back for those needing to go in the fridge later.

Toss in a dentist appointment, my last day of work and we've got a full week my friends! But, in a few short days we'll be out of here and living by our own clock and that kind of puts things in perspective.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Our Go-To Boat Meal

Do not attempt without supervision
Over time everyone develops their go-to meal, whether it's on land or water, something that is easy to throw together in a pinch and doesn't require a step by step recipe or various exotic ingredients to complete. Given that we grill very regularly while on the boat, it would only make sense that this meal be grill worthy right? 
Our usual fixin's
And there is nothing more grill worthy than a hodge podge of different meats and veggies all cooked together? At least in my mind. Enter the ::::Tin foil dinner::: And my favorite part of this meal is that you can put whatever you want in it. Depending on our moods and what we already have on hand, we switch it up all the time. What's in season? What's on sale? Well, that's what's going in the tin foil dinner.
Cut up the ingredients, make the meat balls, put a dab of butter on the bottom, add some spices and pile it all on a piece of tin foil. Then grill it!
Ready for the grill
The key to a perfect tin foil dinner is to make sure and wrap all the edges nice and tight...you don't want any of those tasty juices getting out!
 Top with your favorite condiment(s) and dig in! Nothing says "I'm on a boat" to me like a tin foil dinner!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Behind the Scenes

So perfect. Thanks ZTC.
Ever feel like the Skelton Crew world is all puppies and rainbows? Let me assure you, it's not. It might seem like everything just works out for us or that we're really lucky but I'm here to tell you it took a hell of a lot of work to get to where we are and it doesn't always work out smooth as butta, despite our efforts.

I had the best of intentions, I purposefully started various processes with what I thought was plenty of time left before our departure but here we are less than TWO WEEKS away from our loose date of July 4 for our departure and we're still in limbo on a few things.
  1. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center - Started this one in January, paid the fee in January. Still no documentation received.
  2. DISH Network cancellation- MAJOR PITA (Pain in the a.....ft). As soon as I have the time I need to call them a third time to request a box to return our receiver in so we won't get charged. I asked for the address so I could send it out myself but they refused to give it to me! I'm not alone in this one, turns out The Boat Galley is dealing with a similar issue. Sorry DISH, we were happy with your service but I think you lost us for good with this hassle.
  3. International pet health certificate- Got this process started in April. Got the health exam and (after a slight delay in completing the form from our vet) sent off the appropriate paperwork and payment to have the health certificate endorsed by the USDA office in Lansing. Then I got a call from a USDA vet saying that the exam was now invalid as it was more than 30 days old, it was now 32 to be exact. I mailed the form over a week before the 30 day limit would hit so I wonder where it sat at the USDA for almost a week. Whatever, return the paperwork and cancel the check. We'll just wait to get one in Florida where we would have needed a new one anyway for the Bahamas.
Then there's the stuff I just plain haven't gotten around to. Like renewing my driver's license. Or selling our cars. 

THEN there's other stuff like insurance refunds getting refunded onto a credit card we no longer have and trying to work out how we're actually going to get our grubby little hands on it, and when.

I really didn't mean for this to be such a Debbie Downer post, but there you have it; a tiny little snippet of the minute, gnat-sized details that are part of our adventure. It's not always fun and sometimes they can drive you straight loony but I know all these headaches will be worth it in the end!

On the plus side (and not to brag), we (Ron) have been knocking it out of the park with our projects these last couple of weeks! If the weather cooperates this week we might even take a short little break from projects and go on a little pre-cruise cruise...and I certainly can't complain about that! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

We're Getting There!

New vs. Old rope clutch
The good news is that we're in the slings. The bad news is that we have to sit in those slings until Monday to go in the water. Which isn't really that bad considering we're using that time to sand, prime and paint where the cradle pads covered the bottom.

Knowing Friday was 'sling' day, we've been busy getting the rest of the projects done that have to be completed before we can splash, like installing the macerator - which requires us to put a hole in the bottom of the boat. A little easier to do on land, if you know what I mean. In case you're unaware, the macerator pumps our waste overboard when we're at sea. Pleasant to think about, no? But pleasantries aside, it's a necessary piece of equipment as, unlike here in the Great Lakes where pumping overboard is illegal and pump out stations at marinas are plentiful, down south it's a different story. I for one don't want to be sailing around with a maxed out holding tank and no where to 'go'. 

And we've been doing more stuff like upgrading rope clutches and seacocks, installing refrigeration, cleaning and organizing, planning for the next few upcoming projects and preparing to be actual, full-time liveaboards!! It never ends, but I'm not complaining....much.

Y-valves and tubing and macerator pump, oh my!
We put our first hole in the boat.
The thru-hull for the macerator. Ew.
After hours of running hoses and wire...this is it???
On to the next (dozen)!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Utilizing Space

Space on a boat is at a premium, ask anyone. So utilizing what space is available, especially when you'll be living on the boat full time, is not just a matter of practicality but sanity. We now have almost all our clothes on the boat, the v-berth shelves are chocked full and we've both got stacks of more that need a place to go. And it's not just clothes that need space; bathroom gear, towels and random items also need space too.

We've had to start thinking about space a little differently, in particular, looking at vertical spaces and which ones we could take over. In order to accommodate our stuff we decided to add some shelves to a couple of our tall (and rather unusable) lockers.

Hanging locker mock-up
Mock-up in the head locker
Since nothing on a boat is square or even symmetrical, we made some patterns from cardboard to work from. Then we cut, stained and installed the shelves and voila! Storage space galore!
One of a couple tool cabinets
Our closet!
And no, that's not shoddy work from Ron. The shelves are actually level, it's just the weird shape of the cabinet making it look a little...off.

With just a few shelves we went from almost being swallowed up in our boat to it starting to feel like home. It's amazing what a little organization can do to my mood!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Are You Moving?

The face of a sander mover??
I went to Home Depot looking like this. I bought a sander. I came back a little later looking even more blue and bought another sander. I checked out with the same cashier both times and after taking another look at my general appearance asked in all seriousness, "What are you guys doing, moving?".

Yes, we're moving. Everyone knows orbital sanders are a moving necessity...and that you invariably turn into a Smurf during the process.

Maybe I need to cut her a break, it's probably not every day that she see's people taking on such a project. There aren't that many other crazy, stubborn, cheap people out there apparently.

Friday, June 12, 2015

We Survived the Bottom Job! Barely.

You'd think with all the little projects, in addition to the big ones, that we've been doing that I'd have more to write about but really, you don't want to hear about every little thing we're doing. Moving our underwear around multiple times to figure out where we want them just isn't that interesting. Plus, finding the time is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I finally understand what everyone means when they say they don't know where the time goes! 
Smooth as a baby's bottom
Four days and 26 hours (each) of sanding later, it was time to start putting paint back on the boat. Woohoo!! Except now all I can think about is how much time it would take to take off even one roller worth of paint. But it has to be done, we certainly can't leave with no paint on the bottom.

With the recommendation from Matt and Jessica of MJ Sailing, we opted to go with Pettit's line of paint; the Protect 2-part Epoxy Primer and Trinidad SR for paint. This paint and primer will not only protect HB's bottom for multiple years, but it also provides protection in saltwater, freshwater and anything in between that we'll be running in to. It sure wasn't cheap, but it will pay off in the long run! 

Liking the gray, too bad it's only the primer
We got the hang of mixing the epoxy primer pretty quickly and eeked one full coat out of each gallon. Four coats in 3 days, pretty easy really. Although I may be a bit biased at this point. 

The paint was another story. Let me tell you, this stuff is some heavy paint! And when we opened the cans we found a solid mass of cuprous oxide seriously stuck in the bottom. We emptied some of the liquid into another bucket to give us some room to dig in and even then it took us a solid 30 minutes of hard digging to get it loosened. The paint mixer on the drill helped out a lot too. Then we had to use a 3/16" roller. Ever used one? No? Oh, well they hold like zero paint. So you have to constantly put more paint on the roller and then you can cover a whopping 3 feet. In fact, I tried rolling for a while but Ron took over because I was going too slow and the roller was getting a little 'chunky'. I probably don't need to tell you that a chunky bottom is not a pretty sight.

It may not have been pretty at every step of the way, but it's done.done.done! And now we've really got some sweat equity into our lovely Hullabaloo!
As good as it's gonna get!!
Okay, so it's not completely done...we still have to sand, prime and paint the spots hiding under the cradle stands. BUT, with any luck at all, we'll take care of those next week right before we launch!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bustin' Our Hineys and Now We've Got Gas!

Propane locker in the lazarette, a thing of beauty!
We've been making some progress over this last week, which is always a good thing and we're on our way to getting comfortable in our new home. We've got most of our stuff on board (mostly put away) and we're ticking away at the little tasks we have time for while waiting for some good weather to put on some bottom paint.

I've been mostly organizing stuff but Ron has really been getting down to business finishing the propane conversion project. He installed the propane locker in the lazarette, attached the tank holder on the rail, hooked up the solenoid and got everything connected. Phew! And now I can happily tell you that we've got (LP) gas!
It's aliiiiiiiiiive!
We don't have the refrigeration hooked up yet as we're still waiting for our solar panels, but it will be nice to be able to prepare some sort of meal on board again...and have coffee....dear lord, we need the coffee!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bottom Job: The Threshold of Hell

Ever wonder what the threshold of Hell looks like? After the last four days of sanding, sweating and swearing while sanding the boat bottom down to the gelcoat, I feel like I can now enlighten you. We were told over and over that redoing the bottom paint on a boat is the worst boat job there is. Then we thought, "Nah, it can't be that bad. We've done plenty of hard work before, this will be a pain, but we can do it". Our eyes have been opened my friends.

We started out taping the new waterline and decided to put up some more painter's tape up to give the duct tape something to stick to other than the hull...that residue is a real PITA to get off, but you know we can't say no to duct tape. Then we had to get the tarp around the boat in some slightly gusty breezes and, naturally, Ron was in a full-blown cursing tantrum in about 3 seconds flat. Joy.

Smiling from exhaustion
I have to disclose that we were working in temps from 65 to 75 (outside the tarp) and we were already miserable. I cannot fathom the level of misery for those doing this same project in hotter climates, hats off to you!
Inch by inch...

My general mood during the project
After 27 hours of fighting tarps in the wind, being wedged in awkward and uncomfortable positions, dragging a shop vac and sander around the boat, sweating nonstop and looking like a deranged Smurf over four days we FINALLY FINISHED!!!
Done done done!!!
Some things we've learned:

  • Don't use cheap duct tape
  • Change the sanding pad often
  • Wear earplugs! Ouch
  • You might get sore enough that even deep breathing can be painful, but it gets better...by the end
  • After a day or two you get into a rythm
  • You will curse you're decision (the entire time) to do it yourself and vow to budget to pay for it next time
  • Suck it up and do it, just once
Now, we wait for a weather window to start painting, and painting I can handle!