Catching Up

It seems we’ve gotten a bit behind in our posts lately.  There are lots of good reasons for this, but now I’ll try to get us caught up.

I’d been tempting fate in more ways than just claiming my toilet was clog-proof.  I’d also been claiming I don’t get sick.  Best we can figure, it had been about five years since I had been.  Spending lots of time on airplanes and in cold weather with no ill effect had bolstered my confidence.  Then everyone on the boat got a cold except me, and I was feeling downright superhuman.  Notice this is all past tense.  Because then it all caught up with me and a bad cold took me down for two weeks.  I even missed a week of work, which for me is unheard of.  Now I’m on the mend and looking forward to another 5 years, but my cold is going around the boat and Tanya and Rachel are suffering.  

I found yet another area of rot in the port-side cabintop.  It’s been a long-term problem which I really wish had been found in the survey.  This is the third repair.  The good news is that I’m a lot better with the epoxy than I was in the beginning.  Hopefully I’ve got it licked this time.  

Usually the rot I find is the fault of owners or boatyard workers who don’t appreciate the critical importance of bedding hardware correctly, but this time it was the builder.  The source was the jib track and I didn’t find any evidence that it had ever been removed.  I removed it and to do that I had to pull down part of the ceiling in the salon.  I tried to preserve it, but the ceiling isn’t really removable, and I think we’ve finally found the excuse to replace it with something a little more attractive.

Our interior projects have really gotten out of hand.  We’re way beyond the initial scope and there’s still more I want to do.  It’s really hard to stop when we have a carpenter we like and does such good work.  At this point I could have bought a pair of shiny new 54hp Yanmar diesels for what I’ve spent on woodwork.  

He’s not the most punctual guy, though, and completion dates are very slippery.  I used to get all tense about this because I had my eye on our departure at the end of the summer.  Well, we’ve finally admitted that that isn’t going to happen.  The time to leave is right now and we’re not ready.  So we’ll be here for the winter.

I have work through the end of the year requiring me to travel, and unfortunately I need the work.  I had multiple opportunities this summer for work I could have done while cruising, but none of them came through for me.

It’s disappointing, but not all that surprising.  It was a known risk when we came back to the dock.  Now the big question is how we’re going to stay warm.  The last winter we spent aboard in Florida left a very bad impression on us.  

Although fundamentally they work just like a heat pump in a house, our air conditioners are not set up to reverse-cycle for heat.  And due to some quirks in our electrical system and the way our interior is laid out, we currently can’t run enough space heaters to keep the whole boat warm at night.  These are the most expedient methods to heat the boat, but both have very high electrical demands and only work at the dock.

Burning diesel for heat is a much more strategic use of fuel and would allow us to reasonably heat the boat away from the dock.  The question isn’t just about hot air either.  We like hot water even in the summer.  Currently, we make hot water either by an electrode in the tank, or through a heat exchanger with the generator.  Neither is very energy efficient.   Ideally, we wouldn’t need to run the generator anyway.  Add to this that our hot water tank is leaking and needs to be replaced.  Taken together these problems lead me toward thinking about a whole new diesel-heated water tank and hydronic heat system with hot water circulating through radiators around the boat.  This would be an awesome system… in Alaska.  It’s a lot of overkill in a boat destined for the tropics.

We have a very “do it right” attitude about boat projects on Take Two, and sometimes it takes some effort to balance that with the original goals to be cruising.  The more painful thing to remember is that she’s a 20-year-old boat and sometimes perfection just doesn’t make sense.  So it probably means we should skip the diesel heat.  We’re already planning to fix our electrical shortcomings, which should allow us to run 4 or 5 space heaters.  We’ll just need to give that project a little higher priority.

The other side of “do it right” is we live with a whole lot of temporary fixes until we can figure out what “right” is.  Window covers were on the summer project list since before we hit the dock, but I could never figure out the right way to do it.  I couldn’t strike the right balance between shade, visibility, and ventilation.  Instead, we spent all summer with covers duct-taped in place.  Good thing, too.  After only one season, the covers became incredibly dirty and we were unsuccessful at cleaning them.  I’m now realizing we should skip the covers entirely and put our effort into awnings.

When we do cruise again, a couple recent changes should make life simpler.  We’ve added a feature to our mail service allowing us to receive electronic images of our mail, and direct them to send it to us, scan the contents, or shred it.  I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner.  Now we know what we’ve received immediately, instead of finding out whenever we happen to request a mail shipment.  In the end I think it will save us money on unnecessary shipments, and allow us to keep closer tabs on our mail.

The other change is to our banking arrangements based on a tip from the BumfuzzlesCapital One’s online checking account will allow us to use ATMs worldwide without a fee.  By using ATMs we can get cash as we need it, rather than carrying a bunch with us.  Plus the ATMs give local currency and we don’t have to worry about currency exchange.  The debit card linked to the account doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees like all our current cards do.

The last bit of news is that Sugar has died.  She had been looking unwell for weeks and had gone from her regular 8lb weight down to 5.  The vet ran some simple tests, but when they didn’t turn up anything obvious, I decided to have her euthanized.  This has been surprisingly painful for Tanya and me.  It happened over a month ago now and we’re still not completely over it.  Just when we thought we were, our last monthly mail shipment contained this card from the vet’s office.  Jerks.