Monday, May 5, 2014

From the beginning

I was thinking that maybe this blog could use a little back information. Ashley started this blog to document and share our journey of moving form our very comfortable house to life aboard a boat and eventually cruising on our boat in the Islands.  Why we didn't think to start this blog at the beginning I'm not sure, but better late than never! 

Ever since college, it has always been my dream to live on a sailboat and go sailing around the islands of the Caribbean.  I was planning on working on commercial ships for a few months a year and sailing on my own for the rest. Well, as life often goes, events happened, plans got altered and eight years after getting out of college I was nowhere closer to that dream than I was when I was in school.  I therefore made a decision to set in place a goal to be where I wanted to be, on a boat in the islands.  It was also at this time that I met Ashley. We met when a friend asked if she could come sailing with us, something she had never even thought of trying before. It was then that she found her love of sailing and we found the start of our lives together.  At the time, I had a great little lake boat, a Helms 24. It was a fantastic weekend boat. Comfortable and fun to sail, but by no means an offshore boat.  I told Ashley of my plans and she hopped right on board with them and our search started for the perfect boat. And we never looked back
One of our first times out sailing together! She was a natural.

Anyone that knows me or any of my immediate family knows and often makes fun of the extent we plan and research everything we do.   For 6 months I spent hours and hours reading blogs and boat listings about cruising sailboats looking for the perfect boat. Then a friend of mine told me about Hans Christians. I had never heard of them before, but I checked them out. The second I hit "Enter" on that Google search set in motion my long delayed plans. I fell in love with these boats immediately. From the double end design, the classic lines and the Old Ship feel from the beautiful teak joinery down below. I knew we needed one of these boats.  Unfortunately, they are hard to find and quite expensive. 

I was sure we needed a 38 to fit our needs and in fact looked at one. There was a 33T for sale not too far from us, but really, a 33 ft boat?? That surely is too small!  While on a camping trip down in Edisto, SC, we decided last minute to call up the broker and ask if we could look at the 33 anyways, just to see what it looked like. So we met the broker and went to look at the boat. Now up to this point we had looked at many, many boats. Most were all very nice, but we just didn't think they felt right for us. When we stepped aboard "Wild Swan" that day, we looked at each other and knew right there that this boat would soon become our home. Four months later, "Wild Swan" was loaded up on a truck and probably for the first time ever, moved from salt water to fresh water to our home on Lake Murray, in SC. Our plan was for the next two years, refit her for comfortable cruising and meanwhile, clearing out the house to prepare to move out. 

New Boat Owners! Just after signing the papers.

Loaded up to head to her new home on Lake Murray

Now we are two years in, our house is almost empty, the boat has undergone a major refit that is still ongoing and we are starting our lives living on a boat. Our plan is a four year plan. We hope to have her back in the Salt in a year and by 2016, be on our way to wherever the wind blows.  Hopefully, this blog will help document our experience and so we can share with family, friends and anyone else who might have similar aspirations.   We still have some catching up to do with the blog, so for a while, things might be out of order, like this post! 

Home in her new slip for the next two years. Let the Refit Begin!

I have learned that sometimes, the best things in life take time and you must have patience. Though I wanted to start this dream after college, I see now that I'm better off.  We have a boat we love, a steady foundation to start off from and we found each other along the way.  I am excited to see where this takes us. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stove and Propane System

When we bought the boat, it had a kerosene Stove and heater.  When we looked at the boat, we fired up one burner and it all worked fine, but once we got the boat in our possession, we learned that was about all that worked.  Only one burner worked and it smoked to high heaven, even with store bought clean kerosene. The heater we found worked well as in indoor campfire, but we figured that it wasn't the best option.  We therefore decided that it would all be replaced and propane was the way to go. The boat came with a built in Propane locker under the cockpit, though it is very oddly shaped and proved to be a hurdle.  After much research, we decided to go with the Mediterranean made by Dickinson out of Vancouver, Can.  Our heater was a Force 10 which is now owned by Sig marine. They no longer support the Kerosene model, but sell a Propane burner unit that can be attached to the old upper body. 

 Original Kerosene Stove and oven. Made a better smoker than a stove and pressurizing the pressure tank required gymnastic maneuvering under the cockpit. 

Original Kerosene Stove and oven. Made a better smoker than a stove and pressurizing the pressure tank required gymnastic maneuvering under the cockpit. 

Stove Gone!! 

Fitting the system together. Had to go with a 5lb tank as it is the only size that will fit in the locker. 

 Fit test of the tank, regulator, gauge, solenoid and shut off valves. 

New stove installed. The trickery involved in lowering this 100 lb unit down through the hatch and into place was a marvel of human maneuvering and lots of luck. Thanks to my friend Alex for risking his back and fingers to help. 

 Old kerosene heater. Made a great fire with lots of heat, but we were concerned for the wood panels surrounding it within 10 ft. 

New Cozy Cabin Propane attachment on old Force 10 heater. 

We also installed a propane detection system that monitors the bilges and the low point under the stove. We love the new set up and it was worth all the frustration and costs. 

Water systems and Travelers

Well, as Ashley has said, there have been some delays in our move from House life to boat life. As any boat owner knows, there it seems there is no way to do a project on a boat without eventually tearing apart the whole boat! The plumbing issue was resolved, though not exactly sure what the issue was.  Air was getting into the pump and causing it to lose prime, but I could not trace the air. I finally replaced every bit of plumbing from the water tanks to the pump and rebuilt the pump. I also added a pressure tanks which helps lessen the load on the pump. 
I built a new manifold for the fresh water system. Above is the old one and below is the new one. I'm sure there are better designs and ideas, but I went with this and I feel it helps. From what I can determine, the old one was original to the boat, so I am sure the brass was stressed and possibly cracked. The new valves most likely seal much better than the old as well. After replacing all the hose and fittings, water system works fine. The next step is to replace the pressure side which is all copper tubing. The faucets also are all original. Although very nice looking being all solid brass, they are not very functional and are also not low-flow. Hate to get rid of the brass, but the amount of water they put out is not acceptable for water conservation.
Old Faucet to be Replaced. 

                                                   Old Manifold and the new one. I went with the same design.
Water Pump with New Pressure Tank

I was able to fall upon some good luck for once in the refit of the boat. The Fico Traveler Cart was on it's last legs. The brass pin-block on top was paper thin from years of friction, the wheels were barely functional and there was a lot of corrosion. A search online showed that a re-built one cost upwards of 600 dollars! Garhauer would build me a new one for that much with new track!! I decided the new set up was the way to go.  Problem..... Aluminum track, Bronze Arch, stainless screws and 30 years of corrosion. The trio was inseparable.  To my luck I found out that Catalina 30's from the early 80s have the same traveler!! AND I just happened to come upon a guy parting out an old Catalina that had sunk! 50 dollars later I had a practically brand new condition cart for the boat! A 45 dollar bill from a friend's machine shop covered removal of the black at the end of the track allowing the old cart to be removed and the new once installed. Heck of a deal! 
Said arch with Fico cart and X-type track. Removal of track would prove expensive and possibly damaging.