Friday, November 28, 2014

Its the little things

Sometimes its the little things that can make a big difference when living on a boat.  Things like being able to drink out of the sink in the head because we now have a water filtration system instead of walking to the galley in the middle of the night to get a drink.  We have a TV at the foot of our bed so we can watch movies and we now have a 12 volt freezer for long term storage.  I am a firm believer that if there are things you can do to make life easier or more comfortable then it is something worth doing. 
Ashley and I are both outdoorsman.  We like camping, backpacking and spending time in nature.  I have spent weeks at a time backpacking through both the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. Ashley spent her summers as a youth driving cattle on horseback in South Dakota on her family's cattle ranch.  We each don't mind roughing it and living without basic comforts, but if given the option,  why not have some of those comforts? Especially since we plan to be on our boat for many years to come.
I have never quite understood this theory that living on a boat means you have to give up basic comforts.  I see those who preach that refrigeration is a waste,  stoves and ovens are needless, TVs have no place on boats and Air conditioning is a wasteful luxury.  Why?  So you can claim to be closer to nature? You're on a boat, likely anchored in paradise that you reached by harnessing the wind and few to no humans as far as the eye can see.  I think that even with luxuries, you're still close to nature.  Now I totally understand if you decide that there are things you don't want. There is added maintenance, larger battery banks and more systems to fail. Also there is the cost of extra things on board. Then there really are the people that want to keep things as simple as possible. Good for them I say. It just seems there is a large group who preach their superiority because they rough it.
Well off of my soap box.  We decided to cough up the money and have a custom mattress made.  I was shocked at how much the cost was even though it was done at a local mattress factory. Before we just had 5 inch foam cushions,  now we have a real mattress.  So long achy back! I also recently found a shower curtain rod at the RV store that is hinged so that it swings out to give more room.  I had to modify it to fit on the boat but the difference it makes is huge! If you feel cramped in your shower, I suggest you check one of these out.
We are now having a custom dodger,  bimini and full cockpit enclosure made. I cannot express my excitement at having this done. Right now we have no protection in the cockpit and we want to have a comfortable place to sit outside, protection from wind and seas and so the dog and cat can go out as well. The bimini will also allow us to mount our solar panels so we can work towards being energy independent.  I will be sure to update as this project moves along.
I hope I did not offend anyone on this post,  these are just my random thoughts written down. Everyone has their theory on living aboard and cruising and what is needed on board.  I just like to have comforts. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A New Adventure Begins!!

So many big and exciting things happened the month of November!! Our wonderful boat was finally operational again and Ashley and I were able to take her out on a beautiful sail.  November also marks three years that we have been together and almost three years of owning "Wild Swan".   Ashley walked into a whole different world when she met me and the Sailing lifestyle and she has not missed a beat. Spending every last dollar we have on the boat and every spare minute as well. Dealing with furniture slowly disappearing from the house and countless surprises as we find major items needing repaired on the boat. She has been right there willing to help and changing her way of life to adjust and all so that we can be together and share our lives. 

Ashley has been a wonderful change in my life and I couldn't do any of it without her, So I wanted to make sure she stuck around! After our first sail in so long I proposed to her in the boat that has brought us so close and so now it's official! We're Engaged!! WOOO!!! Happy Dances all around!!  Not sure what she is thinking but I sure am glad she is thinking it!!  So November has been a good month for sure! 

After saying Yes!
Looks Pretty Good on her I'd Say!

In other news, we finally moved out of the house completely! So far so good with things on the boat. It was not a good week for moving aboard as a cold front moved through and it got down into the teens at night!! That just doesn't happen in SC! It made for a cold walk up to the shore to walk the dog every couple of hours, but we made it! It was a little chilly in the mornings on the boat, but the Propane heater warmed it up pretty quickly.

The last load of furniture out of the house! Only Lawn-chairs now!
We had a new custom mattress made at a local mattress factory that has greatly improved our comfort. I recently replaced the entire pressurized water system. The boat had all copper lines  and the original fixtures which I believe were designed to empty your water tanks as quickly as possible. The copper was replaced with all new PEX and shut off valves were installed at every fixture. With help from my brother who works in plumbing, we were able to get very nice high end fixtures that will greatly reduce our water consumption.  I also got tired of using a stupid little drinking water spigot and I installed a three stage water filtration system with UV light into the main water supply. Now we can drink the water right out of our tanks at all faucets!! It even gets rid of that funky boat tank taste! Definitely  a worthwhile investment. 

New Brass Fixture in Galley
Three Stage Filtration just after pressure tank. All New PEX Lines. 

New Bronze Fixture in the head.

We are now working on getting a new Dodger, Bimini, Stack Pack all made for the boat. All new frames and totally enclosing the cockpit if needed. We hope to have the boat ready for a trip back to the Florida Coast at the beginning of the year. Yikes!! I have some work to do!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Engine struggles and the march forward.

The ever ongoing troubles of preparing a boat for long term ocean cruising have continued as expected.  I like to think that the more love and attention I give to the boat the more love and respect she will have for us. Hopefully this relationship will allow her to provide for us and protect us on our journey. I buy her the best there is and I hope she will keep us safe in storms and far off lands. I tell myself that the more things I find broken or in poor condition is just a chance for me to better learn the inner workings of all the systems and allow me to have a greater understanding when things actually do go wrong. We will see years from now how true this holds!

It has a been a sad and long eleven months of "Wild Swan" sitting stationary in her slip not feeling the wind fill her beautiful dark sails. This period of rest is not due to a lack of love or attention from us but due to the lack of said things from previous care takers. Slowly she grew tentacles into the bottom below her and if given the chance, Mother Earth would have taken her back.

 Last January while doing an oil change on the engine I found myself standing on my head to look at things as we all typically do. It was to my great dismay I noticed an engine mount completely broken in half! Upon further inspection I found another one broken as well!! How could this be?! I paid a surveyor!! I'll wait while you finish chuckling...... So apparently those low idle vibrations were not due to it being a Yanmar, but being a Yanmar with no feet. At this point I tightened her lines and settled in for a long repair.

The initial discovery of the Broken Mount. YIKES!

Not completely broken in half, but delaminated! There was a second one that was broken in half.

With the help of my good friend Greg, I got a good deal on some R&D engine mounts. Friends at the Hans Christian Forum gave advice on how to change out the mounts in the boat and my friend Alex loaned his time and strength. Of course the "direct replacement" mounts did not fit and I found myself on the phone with tech help at R&D and ended up at a machine shop for the alterations to be made. Three removals of the engine later the mounts were in, but this was only the beginning.  I found the flex coupling was bad as well which required a fourth removal of the engine to get out. More help from Greg and a new coupling was bought and now for the alignment.

The lifting device from the boom to lift the engine up.

Engine alignment in  my mind is perfectly logical and I understand how to do it, but when my hands are on the wrench and the feeler gauges were out, I was at a lost. I finally caved and paid good money to have it professionally done. This was a costly decision but one I'm glad I made.  Now why did this take 11 months you ask? Well with me being gone at work every other month and with the numerous other problems we found with the engine, it took a while. A complete rebuild of the exhaust system was needed and so was a lot of money!! This I will probably discuss later.

Eleven months later after much patience, Ashely and I took her our for a beautiful sail on a cold windy day and what a great day it was. 

First Time Sailing in 11 Months!!! WoHoo!