Monday, August 31, 2015

Leaving Home

On Sunday I cleaned out and replaced the goats straw bedding in their pen. This time of year, the bedding lasts almost two months, so I won't be doing this chore again for quite a while. It's not a chore I normally give much thought to while doing, but this time it was a very poignant reminder of how life will change soon and how much I will miss them, Lola and Daphne, and our cats, Thor and Xena. Of course, I know I will also miss my human friends, the ranch and the rest of beautiful Sonoma County.

Lola and Daphne have their own Facebook page which they post on when they get access to a computer, which has only been through me in the past. Hopefully Dan, Beth, Ray or Lauren will help them out every once and a while.

As of tomorrow, only 30 days left. It's looking like we're going to make our October 1 departure date. Renee has made solid progress on the house of the past week. I laid out the watermaker components today and ran the main plumbing lines today on the boat. The watermaker install doesn't seem like it will be as complicated as I envisioned. Hope I'm right!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sun-Brewed Espresso!

One small step for boat, on giant leap for maritime living!

I finished wiring up one solar panel and its controller yesterday evening. I was looking forward to rewarding myself with a cup of espresso to celebrate. The sun was low and partially covered by clouds, but the panel was producing 38 watts, enough to power up the Nespresso machine for one cup if I hurried.

I hustled to the car and back to get the machine. Turned on the inverter and plugged it in. It worked! The only problem was finding a cup that fit the Nespresso machine, which is designed for little espresso or lungo cups. The only one on board that fit was my Pusser's rum cup, bought in the BVI on our first bareboat charter. Pusser's daily toast printed on the cup for Friday is, "A willing soul and sea room". Sounded good, so I drank to that!

So we now have espresso on Intermezzo, fitting for an Italian-named boat, no? And it's brewed by the sun, albeit via some intermediary technology which I suffered greatly installing. But I know I will be grateful each morning and on night watches.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Man Conquers Wires

Two 2-10 AWG boat cables for the solar panels challenged me to wrestle them into the space between the hardtop and its liner. Failure would mean exposed wires, ridicule and shame. I steeled myself for combat. A quick stripping of a short length of cable cover took the wires by suprise. A pull string with an ultra-tight rolling hitch conquered the first cable with moderate push-pull effort. Cable two was far more stubborn. But a wire fish attached to the wires with 300 pound capacity Samson "Lash It", brute force and 2 hours perseverance won the day. Man conquered wires!

Man celebrated with cold beer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bon Voyage, Sailing, Progress

Our Bon Voyage party on Saturday at Iver's was great; good to see old friends who seem excited about our plans and genuinely wished us well. I felt grateful and a little bit more pressured, in a positive way, to depart on schedule.

We finally went out sailing on Sunday with my mom, visiting from DC and Nicholas and a girlfriend visiting from Vermont. The log shows we hadn't been out since July 19th! That's the longest I've gone without sailing for a long while. It was a great sunny day with 18-22 kt winds. As usual, I sailed the boat while everyone else talked, ate, and drank. Not complaining.

Monday, continued cleaning garage to make space for Dan et. al.'s incoming stuff.  It's going to be a dance, us moving out as they move in.

Tuesday got the wires pulled from the solar panels to the charge controller. Some detail work left to do en route, but otherwise looks good and I'll everything hooked up to start making power on Thursday.

Starting to layout the water maker install; the last big project left. Ordering the IridiumGo satellite communication device today. Getting insurance quotes; underwriters don't like Columbia, so might be changing itinerary a bit to lay up in Coata Rica or Panama instead of Cartagena as planned.

Good progress!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

We're Inverting

Inverting DC current, that is.

The inverter is installed. Works great and a very robust, professional-grade installation, if I do say so myself!

Have achieved ultimate objective: Be able to run an espresso machine on the boat. A labor of love. Or  indication of an addiction to good coffee?

Today is our official big "Bon Voyage" party from work at Iver's house. Looking forward to it!

Oh yeah, hand is healing nicely, too!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Curing Perfectionism

I realize that if I'm going to come close to daily posts on this blog I will often need to be brief and to the point. Which is what I need to do tonight.

The boat is curing me of perfectionism. All the current projects are going very well. Very well, not perfect. I strive for the latter. It is impossible to achieve, especially when doing things for the first time in imperfect conditions. I am coming to terms with that. I think that will do me good.

The solar panels are installed. The inverter install is 75% done. We graded the site for our storage shed back at the  house. The garage is getting cleaned and emptied. I did the first read of the installation manual for the water maker- that's going to be a pretty big project.

Both Renee and I are suffering from insomnia due to anxiety. We both feel overwhelmed by all that needs to get done in the next 41 days. More than that, our whole lives are changing. I've managed change in business for a long time and typically deal with it well myself. But the magnitude of the changes we are and will experience personally is pretty big. We must face the fact that we are mere mortals and are affected by change just like other people. 


Friday, August 14, 2015

Getting Closer to Power From the Sun

Quite a bit of progress has been made over the past week.

The biggest achievement is the fabrication of the frame for the main solar panels. I'm writing this from the KKMI boatyard with the frame sitting next to the boat on the dock, ready to be lifted onto and installed on the hard top tomorrow morning. I'll post pictures after it's done. The two main panels will generate up to 530 watts of power. Together with the two existing 70 watt panels and a probable fifth 100 watt panel to be installed on the top over the helm station, we'll have a "theoretical" 770 watts of solar power generation. That should be enough to power all the boat systems, make 20-30 gallons of fresh water a day from seawater, and let me make a cup of espresso and blend cocktails at will. Green, carbon-free power!

I also got the starboard drogue chainplate installation completed and the port plate is 80% done last weekend, thanks to help from Luther and a marina angel.

I have the solar charge controllers and appurtenances and the DC-AC inverter ready to install as soon as the solar panels are up.

Dan, Beth, Ray and Lauren are going to look after our house, yard, cats and the beloved goats while we're gone...thank you, thank you, thank you!

I had my doctor take a look at my hand yesterday. We decided to leave the stiches in for a few more days while I'm working on the boat so I don't accidentally open up the wound. Bummer diagnosis, though. It seems like I severed a secondary lateral tendon which is why the main tendon on my finger keeps jumping from one side of the knuckle to the other. Especially when I type. Not sure if I'll need to get it fixed or not. We'll wait until the swelling goes down and the wound is healed. The doctor says I can get it done any time after that, but doesn't think it will be needed.  Given our departure timeline, it will probably have to wait until next summer.  That will give me plenty of time to evaluate if a repair is necessary or not.  It certainly feels uncomfortable and looks gross to me when the tendon "jumps".  Plus I can't type for long, which will be a problem as I am going to try to write a book during this trip.  Oh well, like I wrote previously, it could be worse.  Way worse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Zero Accidents In the Last 1 Days

Today was boring. But I got quite a bit done, singlehanded.

Designed and ordered the appurtenances for the inverter. Purchased the solar panels and charge controllers. Received the main struts for the solar frame and arranged to drop them off for finish polishing. Called dysfunctional rope company for third time to try and buy my "special" anchor rodes; they keep saying they'll call me back with a quote, but have yet to do so. Got a much needed haircut.

I typed this blog post with one hand.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Setback, But It Could Have Been Worse (Warning: Somewhat graphic image at end of this post)

I resumed the installation of the starboard drogue chainplate this morning. I draped light plastic sheeting around the interior of the engine compartment and over the engine for dust protection and then set to removing paint/gelcoat with a sanding disc on my angle grinder to prepare surface for bonding the backing plate to the hull.

The light plastic was a mistake, as was not wearing work gloves while operating an angle grinder, even if it was in sander mode. The airflow from the high RPM spinning disk sucked the plastic into the shaft of the grinder and, since I was was restraining the plastic by sitting on it on top of the engine, the grinder hauled itself at lightening speed into my left hand before the motor locked up. I didn't feel anything, but when I looked at my hand I was a bit shocked to see a gaping wound and parts of my finger's anatomy that should not see the light of day until I donate my body to science.

Thankfully I didn't hit any major blood vessels, so I got the bleeding under control quickly. I was working alone and there was nobody around the dock to ask for help.  I called the harbormaster's office for help but the person who answered the phone was incompetent and of no use. I had to decide if I should call 911 or drive myself to the ER. I figured I had 15 minutes of adrenaline left in me that was keeping me alert, focused and out of shock. Google Maps said 7 minutes drive time to the hospital, so I decided to drive.  Apart from an agonizingly long red light and not having the right glasses on for driving, I made it to the ER with no major drama.

At first I couldn't move my finger properly and I was worried that I severed its tendon, but it turned out that there was no damage to it or the bone, just an ugly wound. A good wash and 25 stitches later and I was good to go.  The doc and ER team at Kaiser Permanente were really good and I'm grateful for their excellent and prompt care.

Thankfully there has been little pain from the injury, its treatment, or recovery (so far). I won't be able to use my left hand very well until the stitches come out, though.  That's a big setback, as I have lots of work that needs to get done on the boat and was counting on making a lot of progress this month. Back to the drawing board to come up with a revised plan of attack and schedule.

But it could have been worse. Just minutes before the grinder attacked the plastic and me, I had my head bent down deeper into the compartment. I figure that either my cheek or worse, my neck, might have been in the trajectory of the angry tool. Now THAT would have been a really big setback!

As it turned out, I have just ended up temporary augmentation for non-verbal communication to bad drivers and a permanent reminder on the back of my hand to be much more careful when working with tools.  I hope my accident motivates all who read this to think and put safety first when tackling even the most straightforward projects.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Design and Procurement

Today I immersed myself in ABYC (American Boat & Yacht Council) standards to finalize the design of our main solar power system and our AC inverter power supply circuit. I am now fully versed in overcorrect protection, GFCI and ELCI requirements. I probably noodle on this stuff more than necessary because I am an engineer, but I strongly believe that having a fire on a boat miles from shore really sucks and also believe that an abundance of caution is warranted when mixing AC electricity with salt water.

I purchased the inverter and today and will order the main solar panels and charge controllers tomorrow.

I developed project plans for installing the solar system, inverter, watermaker and upgraded (electric) head.

Holy crap, I have a lot of work to do!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Work On the Home Front

It wasn't a very interesting day today, but we got a fair amount done on various house projects. Plus, I sold my old anchor chain to a follow-up buyer from the flea marked. My all cash, used marine supplies business has put a wad of bills in my pocket. I bragged about it to Renee. She asked me how much I spend on the new anchor chain; about 800% more than what I got for the used chain. I don't feel quite so rich.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

60 Days Until Departure

It's August 1st so that means only 60 days to go until we leave. We need to get seriously productive.  August will be our big "push" month for boat and house projects so that in September we can prepare logistically, socially, mentally and emotionally for our departure.

Yesterday I started installing the chainplates at the stern of each hull for our Jordan Series drogue, the device we'll deploy in big seas when we want to, or need to, slow the boat down and keep it pointed the right way. I got the starboard chainplate dry-fitted and it all went smoothly and looks good. I need to finish the install by epoxying in the backing plate, bedding the chainplate with sealant and installing the rest of the bolts. Then I have to do it all over again on the port hull.  I'll post details and photos of the installation to share with others when I'm done.

Yesterday was also Renee's official last day of work, although she keeps reminding me that she has one last business trip in September to finalize her transition out. Stopping work is a really big deal to her and I think knowing that she has that trip still out there brings her some comfort.

I spent most of today at a nautical flea market in Sausalito, selling sailing stuff we don't need to offset the cost of buying the new stuff we do need. It was a reasonably successful venture, although the flea market "culture" is new to me and a very different business environment than what I'm used to! I have strong preference for eBay, which I've been using extensively to sell stuff, both nautical and terrestrial. 

There were a lot of long time live-aboard boat people at the flea market. Observing some of them (not all!) as I embark upon my own sailing lifestyle I am vowing to, 1) maintain decent personal grooming, 2) wear decent clothes, 3) stay in decent physical shape, and 4) not drink too much.  I'll take stock of how I'm doing a year from now.