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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home Boat Renovations Continue

Since November, our boat has been going under some serious renovations. Val has gone into full on Home Improvement mode. We've attacked the Air Conditioning system, the toilet system, and the master suite .... almost all in parallel so when you go inside the boat, you feel like you are in a construction zone! It is really neat. This is our home, and we are making it over.

The trend we observed early on continues. Every fix it/replace it activity continues to take 5 times longer than it would if we were in a dirt dweller home. We first observed this with the rudder bracket fix, and it is holding true.

We also continue to uncover things we don't like. For example, we did find some one had used household grade wire twist on connectors. Those are bad mojo on a boat. The insides of the twist wire connectors are untreated metal that corrodes in a sea environment, creating a rusted connection point that creates a condition of sparking when electricity is pumped through .... a real fire hazard. It is so dangerous, in fact, that the American Boating and Yachting Council forbids them in the wiring on any boat. Time to replace the connections with properly crimped ones.

Twist Wire Connectors On A Boat Are Bad

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lucky Duck Wine

Being labeled as “wine connoisseurs” would probably land itself as the most preposterous label of 2009 if it were applied to us. Our wine acquisition strategy is quite simple: buy cheap.

When we eat out, for example, I always ask the waiter for the “cheapest red wine you have.” My theory is that restaurant managers, trying to increase margins, will put their lowest cost (to them) wine in the middle of their menu prices since most people would be too embarrassed to order the cheapest wine on the menu. By suckering people into the “middle wine”, they've made more per glass because of the higher margin. Same amount of work, but more money.

Occasionally we enjoy red wine at home and we follow the usual approach, buy the cheapest red wine available at discount type stores.

While in WalMart about 2 weeks ago, we were going to buy some red wine for an extended family party. I grabbed the $3.49 red wine bottle that is our usual fare and was happy until Val spotted something new …. the Lucky Duck red wine.

The Lucky Duck wine was more expensive at a whopping $3.97, but its name was hard to pass up. We took a chance and bought a bottle of this untried elixir and headed off to the party. Boy were we thrilled. Everyone whom tried the wine was pleased … but were surprised when we shared that it cost less than $4 a bottle.

So, if you're looking for a decent bottle of red wine to enjoy at home, we recommend Lucky Duck cabernet sauvignon. If you are some sort of wine wizard, well, please still buy it and let us know what the wine educated think of it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Swimming in the Same Waters

ZeroToCruising.com has a blog we enjoy reading very much; it is the journal of Mike and Rebecca Sweeney and thier journey to take the big plunge ... the very same plunge we are!

Mike and Rebecca started with as much experience as we did (ZERO), they selected a 32 foot catamaran (a beautiful PDQ by the way), and they even have the exact same toy sailboat we do! While uncoordinated (I promise), even our blog postings often cross (same topic/same day!). There are many other similarities, and I encourage you to find them.

Their site is fun, refreshing, full of energy, and well worth your time.

Happy New Year Mike and Rebecca! Cheers to the new year ... the year that we both end up on the ocean full time.

(oh, their sail date? August 1st, 2010. Damn! Right in the middle of hurricane season for us, otherwise I would see it as a sign for us to go then too.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Inspiration or Motivation?

As more people become aware of our trip, the number of wonderful support emails continues to grow. Recently 2 emails came in, within 5 minutes of the each other, and each used a different word to describe what this trip has done for them. One person said our trip inspired her, while the other email said that our trip motivated him.

These emails created an interesting family discussion: what's the difference between inspiration and motivation? The follow question then became, were we ourselves motivated to take this trip or were we inspired to take the trip?

We've resolved that motivation is something that causes action due to an outside force. For example, if my boss offers me a bonus to do something extra, I'm motivated to do it. There is something I want, but I don't necessarily need. The bond isn't emotional.

We've resolved that inspiration is something that causes action due to an inside force. For example, if my girls smile at me as they ask for a new doll, I'm inspired to provide it to them. There is an inner emotional drive to fulfill.

The problem with motivation is that it isn't sustainable. Relying on an outside force to remain strong enough long enough to accomplish something is suspect. Maybe it can, maybe it can't.

The power of inspiration is that it is fueled by emotions. Emotions can be a self sustaining reaction that can go on indefinitely, making possible feats that seem immortal. This amazing source, emotions, can also generate wonderful creations …. ones not possible by logic or reason alone. This, of course, can be negative too as decisions in an emotional frenzy can be dangerous.

Looking back at the genesis for this family adventure, it started off with a motivating force. The motivation was to travel, that was the reward, that was the carrot. Over time, it became inspirational as we've invested so much of our selves and our emotions into making this become a reality. Being inspirational, the fueling frenzy just seems to grow with every day passing.

As a final observation, we've concluded that motivation itself cannot transform an individual. Inspiration can. This is another characteristic that distinguishes between the 2 sources. We've most definitely been transformed!

We feel honored that we've motivated some, and inspired others. We are very happy to know that we've provided a reward possibility to some, and emotionally made an attachment to goals for others.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Val Gets A Kindle 2: Why a Kindle 2 is Better than a Kindle DX

Surprise Val! Your holiday wishes have come true! This year you've received a Kindle 2 for the boat!

Our family loves books. At any one time, there are 7 books going and about 2 books a week are completed. We simply love books, and both our daughters, copying mommy and daddy, enjoy books too. KJ can read simple ones, while Dy simply goes page by page looking at the letters and pictures. We read every night.

Our joy, however, creates an issue as it relates to load capacity on the boat. We simply cannot have a full library on the boat. This is where an ebook reader comes into play. These remarkable devices can store over 1,000 books on them, and the device weighs less a pound!

Not only are these devices small and easy on the eyes, but there are many free books out there, including classics like the Scarlet Pimpernel.

As a geek, when Val shared that she wanted an ebook reader, I was pretty jazzed up. Lots of research and reading went into buying this device. There are a number of options out there, not just within the Kindle product family line. After weighing the pros and cons, I elected to buy her the Kindle 2. Not only did the Kindle support more formats than any other product, but the Kindle 2 can operate internationally. Good for us! The Kindle DX cannot. Another Kindle 2 win was its size. The DX was too big to just sit in a hand and be enjoyed while bobbing up and down on the seas. Another reason for the Kindle 2 over the Kindle DX is the navigation buttons are on both sides, so as the device is passed hand to hand, like a paperback, the buttons are easy to access. The Kindle 2 can also run longer on a single charge than the Kindle DX.

These ebook readers are definitely the way of the future. Val's device is remarkable and is a must for anyone who enjoys books and is planning on a long voyage.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Formaldehyde on the Boat?

This week we took out 2 of the extra sails that were shoved deep into one of the hulls on the boat. One sail is an extra Jib and the other a Spinnaker. It appears that the Jib had been damaged at some point in its life as the sacrifice had been ripped on the sail. No worries though, this is a perfect chance for Val to continue working on her skill as a sail maker anyway.

Val whipped out her teaching guide, Sailmaker's Apprentice, A guide for the self-reliant sailor, and began to look through what it would take to fix these Dacron sails. Her eyes furrowed. "Val", I asked, "what's wrong?" Her reply caused my head to tilt back.

The resin used in adhering Dacron sails has formaldehyde in them. The more resin, the more formaldehyde. We discussed the consequences of this and the risk associated with it. Clearly no one has died on the boat due to breathing it in, but the question has become, do we leave these sails on the boat? We do have sail lockers that are not located in the main cabin area, so the sails should make their way out to them. We can use the interior hull space where the sails were for something else.

The knowledge, the existence of formaldehyde on the boat, was a surprise. Would this amount have killed us? No. But we do need to understand what is on the boat at all times. This is our home. I wonder what else we will find .....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! You have 2000 lbs!

Merry Christmas!

Yesterday's post was about the load capacity issue. While we search out the exact number, we will use our comfortable/reasonable guestimate of 2,000 lbs load capacity.... about the same as Santa's sleigh.

What does 2,000 lbs allow us to have?

Here are some numbers to share to help figure this out:
100 U.S. Gallons of Water = 833 lbs
4 of us (Bill, Val, KJ, Dy) = 440 lbs
3 Laptops = 16 lbs
Extra Anchors and Chain = 250 lbs
Extra Rode/Rope = 50 lbs
3 Months of Food = 250 lbs

Well that's about it! No more stuff. Scary because we have a number of other things we want to bring (like an extra mainsail). Maybe we will find the actual load capacity and find that it is more than 2,000 lbs!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Load / Carrying Capacity on the Gemini 3200

One of the areas we have to always be cognizant of is how much stuff we put on the boat. With a catamaran, and all of its space, it is very easy to over load it.... that is, put too much stuff in it.

Each boat designed has an amount of weight that they are comfortable carrying and if you go beyond it, you risk disturbing the safe operating parameters of the boat making for a dangerous situation.

We've been searching the internet, our owners manuals, and assorted magazines for the actual carrying capacity of our boat. Our boat is a Gemini 3200 and so far we've not been able to find out for sure how much we can safely carry.

What we've been able to find out is that a similar model, from the same manufacturer, the Gemini 105Mc, has a carrying capacity of 3,600 lbs. We've also found references to the fact that the Gemini 105Mc has a "much improved carrying capacity." But how much does "much improved" come out to?

We don't mind taking calculated risks. We would, for example, be:
  1. very comfortable assuming that our boat has at least 1,000 lbs carrying capacity
  2. comfortable assuming that our boat has at least 2,000 lbs carrying capacity
  3. not real comfortable that our boat has at least 3,000 lbs carrying capacity
Until we can find out for sure what we can carry, we will assume that we can carry 2,000 lbs safely on the boat. We will use the 2,000 lbs figure for our packing ceiling.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Training for Self Sufficiency- Clothes Washer-Part3

I FIXED THE WASHER!! I FIXED THE WASHER!!!

From part 1 and part 2 of this continuing post, you know that we had a problem with our Kenmore Series 80 washer and that the next thing that I was going to do was check the pump to see if it had something stuck in it or find that the pump had seized.

It was...A SOCK. Yeah! That was easy to fix. All I had to do was fish the sock out of the pump, put hoses back onto the pump, and put the washer back together. As a test, I ran the washer without any clothes and it worked! Now we have a fully functioning washer again.

It felt really good fixing my own appliance, almost addictive.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So Sewing

One of the areas of self sufficiency that we've elected to take on is sail repairs. When a sail tears, what do you do? We do have sail repair tape, and that works in a pinch, but how do you repair it long term? The answer is, of course, to sew on a patch.

The materials that sails are made out of is quite tough, and the typical sewing machine cannot punch through the material. In comes the industrial grade heavy fabric sewing machine ... the Sailrite sewing machine. This bad boy can not only go through sail material like it hot butter, but can be operated without an electrical power source!

Val's dad has offered to buy this for us. Thanks Dad! It is his gift to our big adventure.

Our first sail project will be a dozie... Val will sew a new main sail for us. The one we have on the boat today is the original one and it is in good shape, but it is 19 years old! Time to make a new one and use the old one as a spare.

Val has demonstrated the sewing skill, and she will now have a machine that can punch through not only sails, but blue jean material too. Maybe it is time to make a custom fitted pair of blue jeans! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Offers Contrasts

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the day that the dark, or night time, lasts the longest it will the entire year ... at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Going forward, until Summer Solstice, the nights will get shorter and shorter for us. Interestingly, as Santa prepares at the North Pole, the sun will not shine at all today for him. Hopefully he has lots of Christmas lights on. :)

Night time helps us appreciate day time, and day time helps us appreciate night time. It is the severe contrast that brings us the beauty of the other. Living in total dark, or living in total light, would mean never being able to appreciate the other.

On this day, we celebrate the beauty of contrasts and ensure we are enjoying all that contrasts have to offer us in life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Training for Self Sufficiency- Clothes Washer-Part 2

If you read yesterday's post, you know that I've started my training in self sufficiency by taking on my first (ever!) appliance repair. After some research, I concluded that the lid switch was broken on my 15 year old Kenmore Series 80 washer.

I located the part at my local Sears Parts store. It cost $39.53 with tax. Using the instructions that I found on www.FitItNow.com, I took the washer apart by removing just 2 screws and 2 clamps. I replaced the switch and put the washer back together.

The moment of truth, I selected the smallest load size and shortest wash cycle and started the washer. Water filled the washer and then... a humming noise. Not exactly what I was expecting. Nevertheless, it was positive in that water filled the washer and now there was a hum.

After some more research on www.FixItNow.com (what a great web site! It gives detailed advice from appliance repair masters.), I came across a list of things to check in order to help diagnose the problem. First thing on the list was to check the lid switch. (Well I know that my NEW lid switch is working fine.) Second item on the list was to check pump, then the motor, and finally the coupler.

I followed the instructions and determined that the pump is not working. Now there are two reasons for the pump not working. One, there is a sock or something stuck in the pump or two, the pump has seized. I'm hoping that it's just a sock.

To check the pump I need to take off two clamps that hold the hoses to it. These clamps are really hard to squeeze and the tool that I need to take the clamps off is at the boat. Since I know that I will be going to the boat later, I decided not to go to Wal-Mart and purchase the pliers.

See, I warned you this might turn into a soap opera.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Training for Self Sufficiency- Clothes Washer-Part 1

When we start living on the boat, self sufficient will become my new middle name. Well the other day my self sufficiency training began. The clothes washer, that we've had for 15 years, stoped working without any warning. You know it was like the appliance knew that it had less than a year until retirement. The washer is a Kenmore 110 series 80. It has been a great washer. This is the first problem we've ever had with it.

The washer timer indicated that the spin cycle was complete, but the clothes were still soaking wet. My first instinct was to start the washer again to see what would happen. Nothing happened, and I thought "OH NO!" I stepped back from the washer and checked to see if it was plugged in and made sure that the circuit breaker had not tripped. Everything was as it should be. I went straight to my computer and googled "Kenmore series 80 washer won't spin." After some research, I came to the conclusion that the lid switch was broken.

After a little searching, I found the washer timer at my local Sears Parts store. My next step is to get the part and install it. This will be my FIRST appliance repair; however, I'm confident. Interestingly, before we started focusing on the trip, if this would have happened, we would have just bought a new washer.

Stay tuned... this could literally become a soap opera ;) ... and the clothes are piling up!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Panama Canal or Cape Horn

While sitting in the comforts of our apartment, it is easy to plot courses for our exploration. One of the early (as in within 2 years of setting sail) decision points is do we go through the Panama Canal or go around Cape Horn (Tierra del Fuego). The Panama Canal would be one heck of an experience, but it is costly and quite troublesome to get through when sailing a little boat like ours. On the other hand, Cape Horn is quite treacherous to round and with our limited sailing experience, it may be beyond our limits. So, what do we do? Well, we leave it up in the air. We do know that we want to go down towards the Falkland Islands, and we want to see the penguins in South Argentina. Maybe once we get down there, we can find a captain to help us round the horn. Or, maybe we will head back up North towards the canal and make the traversal. Ahh, it is niceness of deferring the decision until we are actually out on the water.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Damn Cold!

WOW! Talk about cold. Earlier this month, while working on the head, we spent a number of days on the boat doing work when it was a mere 35 degrees out! Talk about cold!! We didn't have heat on the boat, and our hands turned red. I undid some of the electrical connections in the master suite, and I watched as my breath condensed before my eyes. It was cold. I asked KJ if she wanted to go back to the car to warm up, and she was very quick to say "YES!" KJ, Dy, and I made our way back to the car and warmed up while Val finished closing up the boat. One thing for sure, we do know that we won't be sailing our boat in cold climates without some sort of heater onboard ... and even then, only for short periods!! It was like a refrigerator!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sick In The Box

Boy o boy was I sick. I was the type of sick that had me laid out on the bathroom floor looking up at the toilet and worshiping its existence. Around 4:30PM the other day, I got sick. I mean really sick. It came upon me like a wave. I spent the entire night in the bathroom, and then slept 18 hours the next day. Based on all the symptoms, I must have had a stomach virus.

As with most daily events, I ask myself, "How would I have handled that on the boat?" The composting toilet isn't good for liquids, so vomit would have to go elsewhere. Further, the boat bathroom (head) isn't big enough to allow for my 6 foot body to be sprawled out. After discussing it with Val, short of being out in a bad storm, the best option would have been to lay on the floor of the cockpit, and aim for the drain holes. The next morning, the area could be easily hosed off. Unpleasant as this sounds, it is important to consider what would need to be done in such cases.

Life happens regardless of your environment. Mentally playing out how we will handle the rudimentary happenings of life, while on the boat, is extremely helpful in preparing us. When a situation occurs, we will have a game plan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How Much Will This Trip Cost?

When we were in the first stages of fact finding, one of the most difficult questions to answer was "How much does this cost?" How much will it cost us to take this trip?

We found only 2 websites that had interesting information about costs. 1 of them provided a decent month by month breakdown, in broad categories (e.g. food/marina/maintenance/etc.), of their spend over an 18 month sailing period. Unfortunately, the details behind the spend were not there. Everything was summarized. Further, the costs that went into preparing their boat wasn't presented.

Val and I agreed that we would chronicle every single penny spent that in some way went towards this trip. This compiled information would not only help us spend more wisely, but we could make this critical information available to others.

Since the purchase of the boat in June, the pages have been filling up. Every dollar spent, what was bought, and the date of purchase has been captured. We now have 3 full pages of spend, for a total of 72 line items. Here is a smattering of entries:
  • 26JUN09 $8.92 Automatic Kill Switch for Honda Engine (spare)
  • 26JUN09 $0.77 Rubber Stopper for Head Sink
  • 07JUL09 $11.00 GA DNR Registration 2010 and Transfer
  • 10JUL09 $13.59 Marine-Tex Fiberglass Repair 20Oz
  • 10JUL09 $14.54 Helmsman Wax
  • 14JUL09 $115.12 Materials to make Curtains and Pillows
  • 07AUG09 $75.00 Dremel 10.8V Cordless Tool (fm HomeDepot)
  • 12AUG09 $2.12 3 x #10 SS bolts w/ locking nuts
  • 13AUG09 $65.00 Rudder Cage Weld Repair Eyelet Ring
  • 04SEP09 $587.43 9' Dingy from West Marine
  • 28OCT09 $697.50 Deposit for 2010 Coastal Cruising Course
  • 01NOV09 $19.99 14" Dry Box-Flambeau-Yellow
  • 15NOV09 $42.97 Plexiglass-Acrylic-For Electrical System Cover
  • 18NOV09 $915.59 Nature's Head Composting Toilet+Extra Bottle
With 72 entries, and one being the boat itself, the numbers look damn scary. This is a lot of money. I'm tempted to tally it, but that could be like sticking your finger in a light socket. Maybe this is why people don't chronicle the information! Be that as it may, we will continue to collect the data and someday make it available to those who are interested. Now, could we have saved some money somewhere in the list .....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Life's Shackles

How shackled are you to your life? The more shackles you have, the less mobility you have. Maybe you're the type that likes to be smothered and controlled. I am not. Consequently, I work to identify all shackles and consciously chose to only keep those that provide joy.

How do you free yourself? First, identify the shackles. Second, pick the ones you are willing to keep.

How does one go about identifying shackles? The first step is to spend one hour of your life listing out every commitment, obligation, debt, and responsibility you have. If the list seems short, or you have a hard time coming up with anything, you are blinding yourself. Obligations, for example, can manifest in many ways including within relationships you have with family members. Are you expected to go visit your mother once a year? That is an obligation. Once you start listing everything, you will find the list is quite large.

When you have your list, the fun really beings and you become empowered. Decide upon a set of rules that you will apply to each shackle in the list to help you decide which shackles to keep and which to dump. Do this step only after you have the list. Doing so before hand may cause a blind spot in your list creation. To not jade you too much, and create blind spots, I'm only sharing 2 of my 10 rules so that you can get a flavor of the rules: a) for any shackle that does not provide me a long term gain, I dispense with it; b) for any shackle that produces continuous pain, I dispense with it.

Now become the owner of your life. Take your shackle elimination rules and brutally apply it to each and every shackle that you've identified. Slaughter without mercy. When in doubt, the shackle is out!

For each shackle you've elected to eliminate, group them up. Many may be related to a single source. There you will get the most bang for your buck if you eliminate the source. Draw up a plan, and start eliminating the shackles. With each shackle dropped, you will become lighter and more agile... you will become freer and less troubled.

This removal of shackles isn't for everyone. Many people cannot function without restriction. Only the bold and capable should attempt this.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

17 Days At Sea

Last month, Val and I were talking a lot about some fellow adventurers whom are circumnavigating the world on their Gemini boat. They recently made a 17 day sea crossing to Bali! Their website, TheSlapDash.com, can give you all the particulars.

Since reading the Bali crossing entries, I've thought a lot about what it will be like to spend that many days at sea as a family. Will there be a regular daily schedule? Will we focus on the girls schooling? Will the days be spent reading? Will they be spent talking? Will there be lots of naps? How about the pent up energy kids have? Will this mean that we will need an exercise regimen on the boat? (I could create a daily exercise routine for the girls just like I had experienced when I was in the Army!). Will there be a daily movie screening? Will there be 1 giant meal a day, with everyone focused in on making that 1 meal? Will there be a heightened focus on watching for unique marine life? How about immense amount of time studying the weather? Will all the little maintenance and detailed cleaning tasks get done?

I've also thought a lot about our personalities and how they would fare. For me, being alone with my family for that many days would be pleasure. For Val, it will be enjoyable (e.g. not of the level of pleasure, but above tolerable). For KJ and Dy, I don't know yet but from what I've seen of them so far, it really will depend upon how Val and I treat the situation. They truly take their cues from us.

Only time and experience will tell. Once we are out there doing this, we will let you know!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Safety At Sea and the Fears

We love the ocean. Having grown up near the pacific, nearly every weekend was spent playing in the cold Northern California waters ... being pulled by the tides, and pulled out by the rips. Spending time, measured in days, under the water as a SCUBA diver, the strength of the ocean and its scuttling ability cannot be denied as currents push you through wrecks of lost ships. Working aboard boats as a boat hand and a DiveMaster, when the weather turns fowl and you have to comfort the guests and passengers, one cannot help but be in awe of the waves and wind that toss 40 foot boats around like toys. The ocean is one hell of a scary place if viewed from a vantage point of fear. There are times that thoughts cross my mind regarding being stuck in a horrific storm and being demasted. What would I do? How would I safe guard my little girls?

These thoughts can become paralyzing. When they do flow, I have to remind myself about why we are doing this trip, which is to experience the world. I have to remind myself that the ocean isn't to be feared, but rather be respected. I have to remind myself that there is equal chance, or maybe even more, of danger in the life I'm living today (while the ocean can snatch ones life with the passing of one rogue wave, so can ones life be snatched when driving down the highway and one person looks down to type a text message). I have to remind myself that there is a lot of safety in traveling with no timetable. Passages can be made when the weather and the ocean look favorable for journeying. I have to remind myself that we will be active in using life preservation aids like safety lines while on deck. I have to remind myself that millions of others have crossed the oceans safely before us, and millions will after us. I have to remember to serve as an example to my children, to be bold in life but not stupid in life.

I have to remember that we love the ocean and that there is a real chance of something bad happening, but that the odds can be lowered. This is real, but we are real too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wind Generator vs More Solar Panels

Last month I shared the desire to add another bank of solar panels (More Solar Panels). Since that post, a few people have suggested we look into going with a wind generator instead of additional solar panels. The theory being, adding a wind generator will allow us to produce power 24x7, if the wind is blowing.

After a lot of reading, thinking, and talking, I can appreciate why spending our money on a wind generator instead of another set of solar panels is a good way to go. If it is a hot, stifling, non-windy day, the solar panels will be pumping out at their maximum capacity. If it is dark and cloudy, there is in all likelihood some wind which could be turning the wind generator. Plus, at night, even a little wind could be making some power for us.

On the down side, the wind generator makes noise, has moving parts, adds complexity, and costs more. Even with these negatives, it is our current thinking that adding a wind generator is the right way to go.

At this moment, the D-400 is the wind generator that we want to buy:
D 400 Wind Generator
Our plan is to mount it on our rear arch.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paid by the Job not by the Hour

Back in July, the post Busting Your Ass Is Stupid highlighted the pitfalls of increasing wealth by focusing on increasing your hourly rate. Recently, an extension of this became abundantly clear. When you do work for someone else, find out how much the resolution of a problem is for them, and offer to resolve the issue at that price.

Let's say that someone has a tear in their sail and they want it fixed. How much is it worth to them to have the sail repaired? If it is a huge tear, probably quite a bit. If it is a minor tear, maybe it isn't an immediate need and some sail tape will hold for a while. But what if a storm is coming, a small tear, even with tape, will end up in a big tear, unusable sails, and a potentially life threatening situation.

Val has the talent, skill, machinery, and materials to do this job. Should Val offer to work on their sails based on some hourly rate? No, she would then be limiting her earning power AND, more importantly, be penalized for skill. Since she is so efficient with the sewing machine, a proper repair might take her only 30 minutes but an unskilled person may take an hour with the resulting job being sufficient in both cases. Val has thusly been penalized, if she works based on an hourly rate, for having a deftness with a sewing machine.

The better approach is to identify how much resolving the problem is worth to the person needing the repair. If it is with $50, and Val can do it in 30 minutes, all the better for her. Both the person in need gets what they want, a fixed sail, and Val's not being penalized for being good and she can then work on someone else's sail for the next 30 minutes, making even more money.

Is this taking advantage of the person whom needs the sail fixed? No, they have already established in their mind how much it is worth being fixed. If that amount meets Val's desires to fix something, then both parties are happy. Win-Win.

Everyone has problems. Everyone can assign a value to a problem's resolution. Focus on how much that problem's resolution is worth, and then go from there. Never, ever work based on an hourly rate because in the end, you will generate far less income for yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

St. Petersburg and Vladivostock Russia plus Incheon Korea

Last month, I had the great fortune of travelling to Russia (and Korea) for my job. The trip resulted in spending nights in 4 different cities. St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Vladivostock Russia and Incheon Korea. Of these 4 cities, 3 were ocean ports! This made for a great opportunity to fantasize about what it would be like to sail into those places as part of our adventure. I made it a point to visit the water in each place to get close to the action.

St. Petersburg is an interesting place, and has become my most favorite city in the world to visit (supplanting Barcelona). Beyond all the historical stuff, there is a great vibe about the city and the architecture plus history cannot be beat. That said, they have a very interesting waterway navigation situation. St. Petersburg is constructed on a marsh and the founder decided he wanted to have a large island in the middle as in integrated part of the city. The consequence, of course, that this island had to be connected by bridges to the rest of the city. Alas, when they put bridges in, they were all very low and are draw bridges. For most of the year, these work on a time table. They are down (and impassible by most boats) from 4AM until 1AM allowing the city people to make it back and forth unencumbered. At 1AM, however, these bridges go up all around the city at the same time!! The result is, if your hotel is in that part of the city and you are on the wrong side, too bad. Between the up hours, 1am-4am, boats race in and out. It is quite a site to behold.

Vladivostock is a true working ocean going port, along with Russia's Pacific Fleet head quarters. It isn't a pleasure yachts type place. It is rough, the edges are hard, and no nonsense. I'd sit in my hotel room and watch Navy, cargo, fishing, and tugs work the harbor 24x7. I could imagine the faces of the working boat man look at us like a bunch of lunatics navigating our sailboat through their office environment. I doubt they have much in the way of facilities for boats like ours and that the immigration process wouldn't be tailored to a family of 4 just trying to visit the city or seeking repairs of some sort. All is well, however, as the city itself offers very little interest to world explorers.

Incheon Korea is an interesting harbor. It was wide, well marked, and full of all kinds of boats. It was clean and felt very comfortable. I'd see big ships and little boats all respectfully passing through. Of course, this was from my hotel room and there may have been lots of chatter going on. Incheon provides an excellent gateway for visiting Seoul, and it is very possible that we will find our way there during the voyage.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Story of the Mexican Fisherman

While the following story can be found on a number of websites, it was new to me. I read it and thought, "EXACTLY!" Here is yet another copy of a fantastic story, whose true authorship has yet to be confirmed, that summarizes what we've concluded. Enjoy!

--------------
The American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senior."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senior, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then, senior?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, senior? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
--------------
The seduction of the hamster race.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Trawling Fishing Machine

With the abundance of food right below our hull, we would be foolish to not try to catch fish. As a consequence, I hereby dub ourselves fishermen.

We are now entering into the "We are fishermen" social circles. Neither Val nor I have fished in 30 years or more, and neither of our daughters have. However, our fishing prowess, like all good fishermen, is limited only by our imagination.

As we sail, there is no reason we can't become a trawler .... with a line thrown out the back to seduce those poor unsuspecting fish.

Our current plan is to put a feathery jig ahead of a cigar sized Rapala on the same line, with each lure about 2' apart. The Rapala Magnums look just right, with the silver one being the most fishy delectable looking one.

Silver Silver

We will be playing the odds game. The odds are, there will be some fish dumber than we are .... who will see those succulent lures pass by, and that fish will be compelled to chomp down providing us some good ole fish meat.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Are You Living Senseless?

Image Ref: 12-01-46 - Rose, Viewed 5991 times

The human being has 5 sense capabilities: hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and seeing. How often do you exploit all 5? I don't mean use them, since you do so routinely ... I mean exploit them?

As you are walking down a street, do you actively catalog what your senses are picking up? Do you ask yourself, "what am I smelling at this very moment?" Do you ask yourself, "what am I feeling at this very moment?" Do you ask yourself, "What am I tasting at this very moment?" Not because one of the senses has been blown off the chart and you wonder, for example, where a particular smell is coming from (like a bouquet of roses). I mean do you actively, and regularly, think through each sense? In my life I've found very few people who do.

The world is full of high fidelity experiences, yet most people don't take it all in. They wander through life waiting for something to pop up on their senses radar. Over time, one becomes desensitized to the senses. You become dead to all of the normal amazing sensory elements that the world has to offer at any given moment. There is a whole universe of experience that can be had simply by being aware of each sense, at each moment.

Truly enjoy today. Enjoy your senses. The riches you may find can be invaluable.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sausage Casserole

This is a delicious recipe that my mom gave me. The casserole is great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. I make it occasionally, but for whatever reason it taste especially good after a holiday. We like to eat it with corn chips and Tabasco sauce.

I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to make it on the boat. Our propane oven is inefficient and propane is a very important commodity to us.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean HOT Pork Sausage
  • 2 envelopes of Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
  • 1/2 cup uncooked Instant Rice
  • 4 cups boiling Hot Water
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper - chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper - chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion - chopped
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (Kraft 4 Cheese)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Brown and Crumble sausage; drain
  3. In a sauce pan, on medium heat, combine soup mix, water, and instant rice; cook for 7 minutes. Add sausage, onion, and bell peppers
  4. Pour mixture into 2qt covered casserole dish
  5. Cover, and bake for 60 minutes. Remove from heat, add cheese, and let rest for at least 10 minutes

Friday, December 4, 2009

Life Without A Washer And Dryer

One of modern life's conveniences that is taken for granted is a washer and dryer. While the earliest form of clothes washing machines can be traced back to the late 1690s, washing machines in peoples homes as an appliance didn't really take hold until the 1940s. For all practical purposes, people simply didn't have them before the 40s.

But people have had dirty clothes since the first fig leaf was placed over the stuff. So, what did people do? They washed clothes by hand. This is a good thing for us since we won't have a washer and dryer on the boat (too much power is required, too much space is taken up, and too much water is spent for our size/type of boat). Well, I take that back. We will have 2 little washer machines; the KJ and Dy models.


Our clothes washing will involve a bucket, a scrub board, and little legs to add power agitation. :) For drying, we will be using solar power and wind power for this (e.g. hanging the clothes to dry).

The tough part will be when we are in colder climates. Washing clothes when it is cold hurts and will mean that we will rarely do laundry the good old fashioned way. Fortunately, in the colder climates, we won't be going through clothes as frequently.

Cloth that has been soaked in salt water is particularly tough to clean and dry the old fashioned way. As a consequence, we will be working hard to keep the towels used for drying things covered in salt water separate from those used to dry things that were covered in fresh water.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Months Not Enough Time

We have 10 months to get most of the things on our punch list completed before we have the boat shipped, to the coast. This is not enough time!

Case in Point: Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we had plans to remove our old sanitation system and replace it with a Nature's Head Composting Toilet. We had given ourselves 6 days to complete this task. This should have been plenty of time, right? Well we didn't count on the entire family getting sick with an intestinal virus. The virus was only a 24 hour thing, but we all got sick at different times. It took 5 days for everyone to recover. On the last day of our holiday, we were able to remove the toilet, but that was it.

We will be working hard over the next couple of weeks to get back on schedule.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Keys to Life

The phrase, Keys to Life, resonated with me this morning. Normally people associate it with meaning that some guiding principle is understood which makes everything easier. For example, one key to life would be to live it to the fullest. While good advice, this type of key to life isn't what resonated.

Throughout your life, opportunities are presented to you. Some are self created, some are handed to you, some are from blind luck. Each of these opportunities are keys. It is up to you to discern how the key works, then turn the key, and finally opening up the door to see what is inside.

Membership in organizations is one such key. When you become part of the group, that is a key. You have to figure out how it works, what doors it unlocks, and decide if you want the contents behind the door.

Keys to Life are not guiding principles. Keys to life are opportunities that you can chose to seize or not, wield or not, use or not. For me, there are millions of keys and the real challenge is deciding which ones to use. In the end, just remember, you have to turn the key.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Less than 365!

WOW! The count down clock on our website now shows less than 365 days! This time next year, we could be pushing off from a dock and starting the adventure of a lifetime! We have 10 more months to get the boat ready, and that's it. This journey has been going on for over 2 years, and we have 1 more to go. Happy December everyone! Thank you for following and supporting us.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How To Know What Makes You Happy

November is closing out, and we are hitting the less than "365 days until we can set sail" day. Other than the massive amount of work we still have to do to make this trip a reality, I'm confidently going forward. I've shed any vestige of personal doubts about our happiness with taking this trip. Why? Because I know what makes me happy. Do you know what makes you happy?

There are 3 sources of information that will help you know what makes you happy.

Fantasy. Do you let your mind wander? If not, you should. As your mind meanders (also known as day dreaming), what do you day dream about? For me, I fantasize about sharing with my children new things, traveling to new locations to face the unknown, and watching my wife's eyes light up when she sees something new.

History. Sit down for a few hours and look back over your life. Start at your earliest memories ... walk year by year, season by season, scouring your historical landscape for those moments that brought you the most joy. Catalog them. For me, it involved going to new places, like the ghost town my mother tried to find on a trip and visiting china town in San Francisco and flying to Hawaii when I was 8 to live with my aunt and uncle for 3 months. The excitement of the newness and discovery excites me deep inside.

Experiments. Try new things ... new things that seem way out of character. The experience will highlight 1 of 2 things for you. Either you were right in avoiding them before, in which case you've validated your stance, or you find joy in them. People change over time, so don't be shy about trying something again that a few years ago seemed appauling, boring, or otherwise unpleasant.

Based on the above, I've concluded that traveling around the world with my family will bring me the most joy. Consequently, I'm confident that this is the right thing to do at this moment in my life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Should we get a Radar?

Sticking with our KISS strategy, our minimization of electronics strategy, and our self-reliance strategy has helped us keep at bay a number of "extras" that we really don't need for our journey. One item that seems to come into discussion every 2 months or so is the usage of a Radar. On the one hand, it becomes another piece of electronics that needs to be maintained, it adds some complexity to the set up, and if it breaks down it isn't likely that we will be able to fix it without help. On the other, it is an incredible piece of technology that can greatly increase our safety when the visibility is reduced (fog, rain, night).

Looking radars over, the prices vary from $1,000 to $10,000+, new. Used, an old one can be had for $400-$500.

Debating new and used is often tricky, especially with electronics. When electronics die, they die suddenly and the odds of death go up with age. Another issue with buying a used older radar is that power consumption efficiency of electroncis improve with time. That is, a piece of electronics from the 80s or 90s tends to consume more power, for the same capability, than one made in the 2000s. Given our push to minimize electrical drain, this would also push us towards a newer radar.

So how much do we spend?

Like all gadgets, you get more whizbang for the money .... but how much whizbang do we need?

Given that we are considering not having any radar whatsoever, any radar capability (the identification of an object) is the minimum entry criteria. Another nice feature for us would be the capability of a "watchman" mode. That is, a mode that lets us tell the device to periodically turn on, check the surrounding area, and then beep if there is something we should look at. This would not replace the best practice of getting up every few hours to check the lines and look around, but it would be a nice safety feature to have. Further, running in watchman mode reduces the amount of juice consumption of the radar system itself when compared to a continuous operation mode. These are the 2 minimum features. Color display isn't required, nor is object tracking.

Another area of consideration is range. Again, the extreme case is not having a radar, so any distance is better than nothing. The distances for the units start around 20 nautical miles! That is a long way. The further they see, the more power they will have to consume.

With all this taken into consideration, a lower end unit in terms of capability will do. Something like the Furuno 1715 LCD Radar (pictured here). This unit combo we can acquire for $1600.
Furuno 1715 LCD Radar
Another unit that is worthy of considertation, and doesn't cost much more is the Raymarine C-70, Classic (pictured below). This unit goes from LCD to Color, but still only consumes about 0.75 Amps / Hr. Other neat features can be added on, if we find we need them, so expandability becomes a feature maybe we should consider. We can get the Raymarine unit plus Radar dome for about $1800.

Multifunction Navigation



Going with a lower end units, like these, has another interesting advantage. If the unit becomes disabled, the replacement cost is lower and we won't have become overly reliant on all the other "features."

Ahh, decisions decisions. We will post to let you know what we end up choosing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jury Duty - Another Positive Experience

Earlier this month, I went to have my first jury duty experience. So many people told me how it would be. It would be long, drawn out, the system wouldn't want to hear anything about my impending business trip, I'd be board, I would sit for days, I would have some stupid petty crime to decide on, are examples of things I was told. I had NONE of these experiences.

My court experience was fantastic, and this entire experience (being told what it would be like versus what it was) highlights again to me that you can carry in the baggage of others and experience the world their way, or go into an experience boldly with zero preconceived notions and create your own experience.

The summons said to be at the DeKalb court house at 8:15 AM. I took the local train (MARTA) to the court house since there is a MARTA terminal is literally 150 feet from the jury duty location. I arrived at 7:30 and found the building locked, so I made my way to chick-fil-a for coffee and a breakfast burrito. At 8 I made my way back to the court house and did the registration. It took all of 3 minutes to get signed in. I was given a sticker that said Juror and was seated in a large, but comfortable room. It seated maybe 200 people.

Around 8:30 the court clerks explained the procedures of the day, which included a swearing in.

By 9 am the names of people were being called out for particular cases. I wasn't selected in the first case, but by 9:10 I was selected for the second case.

As the group of 48 of us made our way to our court, 5D, the tension of "what's next?" kept building. It was exciting and the jurors were all very quiet. We were all lined up in numerical order (we were given juror numbers) and brought in. My number put me right in the 12 person jury box!

The judge came in (and we did the whole "please stand" thing), and the process went to the next round.

I was very impressed with the judge and his ability to command the court room. His presence was that of an executive at any large firm. His name is Judge Gregory A. Adams.
Articulate, commanding, clear, and precise. All things I admire.


Judge Adams is a superior court Judge; I had been picked for a superior court case. While I don't know all the court things, I knew superior meant something better than inferior.

The judge then read the incitement. His tone was even, and his voice very clear. As the counts were read, my thoughts went, "Holy Sht! This is a murder trial!" The defendant sat in the court room, and remained emotionless. It was pretty intense for me. I may be sitting in judgement of another person, a young person, for murder. The judge made it clear that this wouldn't be a death penalty case.

After all this was read, the judge announced he expected the trial to last about a week and then asked if any of us jurors had any conflicts with the case due to prior commitments. I raised my hand, and was the first to be called. I stood up (which turned out to be the right thing), and in as clear as possible voice, with all the confidence I put out for speaking engagements, told the judge and the court of my pending trip to Russia.

I was the first juror to speak, and yet others didn't pay close attention to how I handled it. When other spoke, for various reasons, some didn't stand up or were not clear or only shook their heads. The judge had to correct their behavior, and based on how respectful they were, he tailored his message.

A series of questions were asked of all of us, in front of all of us. Questions like, have you ever seen a murder, do you know anyone who was murdered, etc. It was all very surreal.

By noon, the jury was picked and I wasn't on the duty. I know the judge spoke with the lawyers and made sure I wasn't in the pool. I would assume that if there were an issue and they needed one more qualified juror, then it may have been me but many folks were more than qualified.

In DeKalb county, they have a "1 day 1 trial" approach. In this method, you are processed for 1 trial only. If you don't fit, you are done (like I was). If you are not selected the entire 1 day, then you are done. Very easy.

The court clerks were gracious, and even cracked jokes.

I still can't get over the judge. He was a very impressive man. His respect for the jurors and the system itself oozed out of him. While I have no idea how the whole trial meted out, I have no doubt it was done in accordance to the laws of the nation and the state of Georgia.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Composting Toilet Arrived


We received our new Nature's Head Composting Toilet! We will spend part of this Thanksgiving weekend removing the boat's old sanitation system and installing the composting toilet. FUN!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our Turkey Day Feast at 11AM? On a sailboat?

Happy Turkey Day! This holiday falls right below Halloween in our family in terms of favorites. On this day, we start eating our Thanksgiving meal around 11AM. After the first round of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry, rolls, corn, stuffing, and pumpkin pie we fall asleep... this is around noon. Then we wake up around 1:30pm and do another round. This pattern continues until 7pm. Gluttony at its best. This will be our first year of Thanksgiving on the sailboat. Will we have as much food and will the pattern hold? At this very moment we are finding out. How does one handle Thanksgiving on a sailboat? Maybe some new tradition will spring forward.

Today is indeed a day to give thanks. For us, we give thanks that we were born in the U.S.A. Our country provides enough freedom for us to pursue our interests, our way. There are so many other places in the world where this isn't true. Thank you forefathers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marine Air Conditioner Removal


The 75lb beast is out of the boat!! We removed the King-Air Marine Air Conditioner.

The removal took about 2 1/2 hours. The electrical connection was the easiest part. Fortunately, the unit was plugged into a dedicated, grounded outlet that the previous owner had installed and all we had to do was unplug it. This made disconnecting the power extremely easy and now we have a 20 amp electrical outlet, if we need it. After disconnecting the power and hoses from the unit, Bill had to remove some teak molding to pull the unit out. The unit might only weigh 75lbs, but those 75lbs were awkward and hard to hold, then add being on a floating boat. After Bill finally got the unit off the boat, our water line went down an inch! Well maybe not an inch, but at least a 1/8 of an inch. In any case, we could tell the difference.

To complete the job we had to remove the plumbing hoses. Good thing that we had a wet-dry vacuum, because there was almost 2 gallons of water in the hoses.

Another task off the list!! Only 90 to go (we're still adding to the list weekly).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Next Year At This Time ....

.... what will we be doing? If certain stars align, a year from now Val will have just completed her Coastal Cruising and Offshore sailing school; we will be on Thanksgiving holiday; Dy/KJ/Val/Aunt Jenny/Aunt Iris and I will be down in Orlando to have one final blow out as an extended family in Disney World; we will not own more stuff than will fit on the boat; the boat will be in a boat yard with all of its repairs done and just about to be put into the ocean; Dy will be potty trained and have completed her drown proofing class; KJ will be reading books with ease; and I will have contacted Guinness World Records to take of photo of me as I will be the proud owner of the biggest smile on a human face.

Thinking through the feelings and emotions that will come with accomplishing phase 1 of this bigger goal, transforming our lives to set sail, I wonder if there will be some sadness around completing the challenge. I assume there will be some. Fortunately, there will be another huge task looming, the setting of the sails to see the world.

I'm also struck by the sadness I will feel when I leave my friends. In general, I am not a social type and have only a few friends at any one time. It will be sad to leave them since I enjoy their companionship so very much. Because of how selective I am with friends, the friends I have all support this journey and that will make it much easier when it is time to go.

With the exception of the friend sadness, all the other stuff brings so much excitement that I'm getting physically pumped up about the trip as I type this! Let's go!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lunch for 3 at $6.27 and gets us ready for the boat

This past weekend, the girls and I had the pleasure of a daddy daughters day; just KJ, Dy, and I for a few hours (and mommy gets some well deserved Val time). Off we went to have lunch, and when we showed up at our lunch location, there were 2 other families eating away ... each with kids the same age as KJ and Dy. We ordered our food and sat down.

I order a normal portion for me, and asked for 2 empty plates plus a cup of water. When my order arrived, I portioned out enough food for each girl, and we had a great lunch. As we ate, I looked around at what the others were eating.

It was very interesting that each of the other families ordered a meal for each of their children! One had given their kids full sized portions, the other one got kids meals. Of course, each adult had their own plate full too. While we were eating, a 4th family showed up and when their food was delivered, they too got a full portion for each kid and each adult!

I was sure to watch as the first 2 families finished off, and yep ... there was left over food that went right into the trash.

It is their business how they spend their money and dispense food however they see fit. Alas, those families could have easily saved $5-$10 each by simply sharing the food.

There is a reason why many cultures have communal plates that you take some food from for your own plate .... and it has to do with being efficient with your money and your food.

Another communal example for us is when Val and I go out for a dinner together. One of us will get a full portion, and the other will just order a side. Between the full portion and the 1 side, we always have plenty.

Next time you go out, see if you can go communal. The savings really do add up. Each of these dollars saved goes right to the trip, plus helps us prepare for the lifestyle on our boat.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Insecurity is Your Fault

"
Insecurity comes from vulnerability. The insecure person relies upon protectors— institutions and people who will guarantee results for him. Because he knows intuitively that his interests can’t possibly be the paramount interest in someone else’s life, he’s vulnerable and he knows it.
...

But security is always possible — financial, intellectual, and emotional security. However, it can come only from the willingness to handle whatever comes and the knowledge that you can do so.

The knowledge and willingness aren’t hard to come by when you form the habit of thinking in terms of the areas that you control. When you realize how much you can do that doesn’t depend upon the agreement of others, you know there’s nothing you can’t handle.

When situations are wrong for you, you can find better situations.
"
-Harry Browne from How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World

Wow. Good stuff from Harry Browne that nails it. Insecurity is a self-imposed and self-correctable situation. Our security grows with every piece of knowledge we gain. The knowledge allows for us to become more and more self reliant.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Air Conditioner on the Boat

Because of power consumption and one of our operating principles (spending as little time, as possible, at marinas), we decided to remove our existing air conditioning unit. From what we have read (on various forums), there always seems to be a nice breeze at anchor. It's the marinas that are stifling hot!

The unit is King-Air Marine Air Conditioner ( http://www.king-air.net ). From what I can tell, the it was purchased in 1995 and cost $2,000. The previous owners had it professionally installed into the boat, which probably cost them another $1,000. This unit probably weighs 75lbs. That is 75lbs we could be using for more important things, like food.

So if anyone needs a marine water cooled air conditioner really cheap, write us via comment to this post.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Computers on board

Every 5 years, I buy a new computer .... the fastest, most memory, largest harddrive, best components, top of the line screamer machine available. The current 5 years is ending in 2010, so it is time to begin the search for the next computer. While this is the 3rd time in this purchase cycle, this computer will have to be different because it will be living on a boat.

The first difference of using the computer on the boat involves power. My preference is for desktops, but desktops, with their hungry power supplies, suck down the juice and as we travel, there won't be lots of juice to suck. A computer designed to operate away from AC power for extended periods of time is required, and that is a laptop.

The second difference of using a computer on the boat involves space. There isn't some large desk space that I can devote to the machine. When the computer isn't being used, it needs to be put away so the activity space can be freed for something, or someone, else.

The third difference involves multi-use. Items on the boat that can do multiple things are more useful than single purpose items. In the case of the next computer, for example, it will have to serve as a media station. If we want to watch a movie, it it will have to be played on this machine. The capability of playing BD (Blu-ray) movies, DVDs, and having an HD display is required. Another set of usages for this machine involve data collection of our journey. Specifically, allowing the computer to tie into GPS instruments to track our progress around the world.

The search has begun. A laptop this go around for my machine. It will need a large screen, have lots of memory, many ports for connecting devices, be HD, have a large harddrive, decent battery life, and pleasure my inner geekness. Given the latest rounds of processors, it looks like it will be an Intel i7. We shall see!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Air Head or Nature's Head Composting Toilet?

If you've been keeping up, you know that we are replacing our existing sanitation system on the boat with a composting toilet. (If you have not been keeping up, click here for the other posts: post 1, post 2, and post 3).

After review all of our options, which included constructing our own composting toilet, we are down to two worthy products, Air Head and Nature's Head. Both toilets are made from a molded polymer and at first glance look very much like the toilet we have in our apartment. Both toilets separate the solid waste and liquid waste into their own containers that have to be emptied at some point. The toilets are very much alike, except in two ways.

First, the Nature's Head toilet has a normal size (like found in your home) molded toilet seat, while the Air Head's seat is a little more compact. The compact seat wouldn't bother our girls, but it could get a little uncomfortable for Bill and I.

Second and most importantly, Air Head's basic unit cost $969 + shipping, while the Nature's Head unit cost $850 + shipping. Additional components for the toilets, such as additional liquid waste containers, are similar in cost.

So which toilet, Air Head or Nature's Head? Well the choice for us is oblivious. Nature's Head. I'm planning on purchasing the toilet on Friday. We hope to have it by November 25th so that we can install it over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

If you want to learn more about these two composting toilets, I've provided links below.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Honda Generator EU2000ia

EU2000iAfter much deliberation, we've made the decision to add a small generator to our list of items to be brought on the journey. We wanted to avoid adding one if at all possible; simplicity is key for self reliance. Alas, we acknowledge that there will be times that we need power generation and when those moments strike, we could be in a critical situation.

After evaluating a lot of options, we've decided on Honda's EU2000ia generator. The specifications, the simplicity of operation, the reliability Honda is known for, and its demonstrated efficiency made it an easy pick. We've seen them in action and they do a remarkable job. 15 hours of generation on 1 gallon of gasoline is pretty good (under heavy load you can still make 8 hours.... a full day!)

By selecting a true portable generator, we have the option of taking it off the boat if we need to. You never know when you want to go ashore on a desert island and want some power! ;) Or, you could be trying to escape from a hurricane and must go ashore where power may be suspect. Either way, we will be glad we have a source of power for things like radios.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Other Benefits of Composting Toilet

From my prior post on the composting toilet, you know that there is no smell, no water, and no holding tank. The other benefits of a composting toilet include less maintenance, no seacocks, and a lot less weight.

Maintenance for the sanitation system will be reduced to disposal and cleaning. Under the current system, we have to pump-out the tank (disposal), cleaning the toilet, lubricate the internal workings of the toilet, and check to hoses on a regular basis.

The composting toilet will eliminate the need for 2 seacocks. Seacocks are holes in the hull. Seacocks can either be intake (which allow water in) or outtake (which allow water to go out). But don't let the designation fool you, all holes allow water in. The foremost concern of any boat owner is unwanted water coming into the boat. The more seacocks you have the more opportunities unwanted water has to get inside.

Weight on a boat is another concern of any boat owner. You can have too much weight and it can lead to the boat sinking. By removing the current sanitation system, we calculated that we would be eliminating approximately 150lbs or more of potential weight in favor of a system that will weigh approximately 35lbs at the heaviest. This gives us the ability to store another 115lbs of supplies.

Again the composting toilet is a no brainier. The only reason, I can think of, that boat builders don't install composting toilets on their boats to begin with is because of the cost. A composting toilet can run anywhere from $800 to $2,000. But I believe it will be worth every penny!

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Solar Panels!

Our boat has 2 x 75 Watt Siemens solar panels. They are high quality and do a great job of keeping the house batteries topped off. However, once we sail off on our world exploration trip, I'm concerned that they will not provide enough juice to keep the batteries topped off AND provide power to the various portable devices we will be taking (e.g. laptops). Consequently, I've decided to replace the Bimini with another solar array.

The additional solar array will be exclusively used for the charing of the portable electronic devices we plan on having with us. I will set up a charing station that any member of the crew can attach their portable electronic device to and get charged up. Since most portable devices really want 14VDC and Solar Charing fluctuates in their output, I will be installing a "charging battery." That is, I will install a special battery that will be fed by the new solar panels, and the battery will be the provider of charge to the electronic device. This will help ensure we have the 14VDC that devices expect. When the battery is flat, then no device charing will be done. It is as simple as that. :)

Taking this approach will also allow us an additional level of redundancy. If the main solar system goes out, we can switch over to this one until repairs are made.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Composting Toilet - Get Rid of the Dirty, Smelly Head -

In my last post regarding the sanitation system, I wrote about the 3 main reasons that we were changing out the system. The composting toilet mitigates of all those reasons.

First, with the composting toilet there will be no stinky porta potty smell. This is achieved because the solid waste and liquid waste are stored separately and there is a dedicated vent. From my research, the only thing that we might smell is the earthy aroma of peat moss. Second, there will be no need for water. The composting toilet is a dry system. Finally, no need for pump-out since there's no holding tank. The solid waste turns into dirt after a short period of time and can be disposed of any way we choose. The liquid waste is sterile and can also be disposed of in any manner we choose.

Switching our sanitation system to a composting toilet is a no brainier, but which toilet? Airhead or Nature's Head?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marina Work

The plan has us trucking our boat to a marina, on the Atlantic ocean, with a boat yard in September 2010, and having the marina do a number of things for us. For example, we want to replace the wind vane on the mast, replace the mast lights with LED lights, have the bottom painted, have the engine tuned up with the serpentine belt replaced, fix a few spots on the bottom side of the hull, replace every line on the boat, and inspect each buckle holding the stays.

Val found a marina, highly recommended by other Gemini owners, in Myrtle Beach SC that we will engage in April to begin the discussions of having them do all the work. This will be a very expensive proposition, but if we get all this work done right, then we shouldn't need to revisit a number of the systems for a few years.

Our plan is to physically visit the marina in May to have a conversation with the marina owner, sharing our story. If we feel comfortable with what the estimates and the people, then we will put some money down to lock in our spot. We will have the boat trucked out in September, and give the boatyard 3 months to get everything ready. Then in December we will go down to pick up our ready boat!