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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


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.



  • 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)


  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.