Solar Fan Vents: posted by Cole

There are 4 solar vent fans in our boat but only one of them works.

Vent fan photo from inside the boat.

These vents supply a constant flow of air to keep the boat’s interior dry.

Solar vent fan photo from deck of boat.

We took the one apart that works, removed the battery and put it in one that didn’t work to see if they needed new batteries.

Cole taking the solar vent apart.

It started running so we took the NiMH C-Cell to Batteries Plus to get new ones. The new batteries were $5.00 each and we needed 3 of them.  We found the battery in a catalog but they cost $27.99 each.  We saved $68.99.

New battery.

Old battery.

Tonight we have running vent fans!

Cole…

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Diamonds in the Rough / A Week in Review: posted by Mark

This post is really to all of the people out there that may have dreamt, as we did, of buying a boat and sailing off over the horizon.  There are plenty of great stories out there about the cruising end of it, but I also wanted to tell the story of preparing the boat as well.  For us, the great unknowns were what it would entail to purchase a used boat and fix it up to the point where we could take it cruising.  Of course when one shops for a bargain some work is usually implied.  I think the best way to give you an idea of what you might encounter when seeking out your diamond in the rough would be to give you a recap of the average workweek, more or less, on our boat.

Saturday 10/6/12

Occasionally, we take a pause just to go see something new Florida and get everyone off the boat. Last week we took a needed break and visited the Museum of Discovery in Ft Lauderdale.  We saw horseshoe crabs and learned how Geckos stick to walls.  They had great exhibits on just about everything from exploring Mars to the fossils of Florida. We took in a 3D movie about coral reefs at the IMAX Theater and learned a great deal about our new environment in the process.

Horseshoe crab at the Museum of Discovery & Science.

Oddly enough we learned that for all of the water in Florida dealing with drought is an almost annual occurrence in the state.  It has been raining almost daily for us since we arrived so that is a little hard to imagine but apparently Florida has taken steps to recharge it’s aquifers thru a program called Acceler8.

Sunday 10/7/12

We attached an outboard engine mount to the aft stern rail where our dingy motor will reside when not in use. We may have to add an extra support bar to take some of the added strain on the rail.  One item removed from the list, another added, and so it goes…

This afternoon the boys interviewed Nick and Thea, a couple of live aboards at our docks.   Nick had navigated most of the length of the Amazon River working as the captain of a research vessel in South America for a time.   He also ran a laundry mat before that called Nick’s Soap Opera where his slogan was “Where you can drop your pants anytime”!  Needless to say Nick is a real character with a sense of humor that belies his depth of experience.  Thea is a soft-spoken woman with an English accent who grew up in Africa, England and other parts of the world. At the age of 10 she boarded a plane by herself leaving Libya to attend boarding school in England. No adults were allowed to leave the country at the time because Muammar Gaddafi had just come into power. Thea has been living aboard boats since she was 21 years old.

The boys interviewing Nick and Thea.

Monday 10/8/12

This morning I tackled the job of installing a head gasket rebuild kit.  It appears to have solved the problem we were having with sewage backing up into the head.

Installing head rebuild kit.

We bought an installed a zinc anode over the side of the boat to help reduce the rate of corrosion we observed on our shaft zinc during our last haul out.  With so many boats in the water it is not uncommon to have stray currents of the electrical kind flowing in the canals where our boat is.  Adding another anode should help to protect our new prop and shaft from corrosion.

Putting anode in water.

Tuesday 10/9/12

After our last haul out we knew we needed to replace the coolant in the engine.  With the help of Cole and Logan we drained the coolant, then removed and inspected the heat exchanger.

Working on heat exchanger.

Rather than using a radiator to dissipate the heat from the engine coolant as in a car, a marine engine has a heat exchanger that passes seawater through a series of tubes that similarly removes the heat from the engine coolant water.

We continued working aft and inspected the mixing elbow where seawater enters the exhaust system after passing through the heat exchanger.  Finally, we refilled the heat exchanger and ran the engine to get any air out of the system and checked for leaks.

All hands on engine.

Wednesday 10/10/12

Today is Christine’s Birthday and we are taking a day off to celebrate!  This morning we drive to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and take a tour of a Florida hammock or forest as they are called.  We see numerous Banana and Crab spiders on our walk and a shell midden left by native Indians when they inhabited the area.  We are in the middle of one of the most developed parts of the Florida coast and the nature center is a welcomed glimpse of what the land used to look like.   Gumbo Limbo, which is actually the name of a tree, is also a sea turtle rehabilitation center for baby turtles that have gone astray and adult turtles that have been injured.  The center is a good reminder of the impact we have on nature.

Learning about the barrier island at Gumbo Limbo.

Crab spider seen on walk.

Big banana spider!

Apparently when sea turtles hatch they head towards the brightest horizon.  The problem is, that with all of the development along the coastline the brightest horizon may now be inland rather than out to sea.  Efforts are in place to reduce the amount of light along the coast when turtles are nesting, but one has to wonder how much of an effect it can have, still, it’s an effort to point the little turtles and us I think in the right direction.

Innovations like Turtle Extruder Devices may be helping to account for increases in Turtle counts in recent years. They also help to reduce the by-catch of U.S. fishermen.  It’s encouraging to see people continue to make efforts to reduce the impact on non-target species.   I mean I truly like sea turtles, but I also like shrimp too, just in another way…

Turtle extruder-turtles swim out of the net but not the shrimp.

Fishing line takes 600 years to decompose, longer than plastic bottles and disposable diapers which take 450 years to decompose.

Thursday 10/11/12

On Tuesday we ran out of compressed natural gas, CNG.  Most boats use liquid propane gas, LPG for cooking.  CNG is great from a safety point of view because it is lighter than air if there is a leak the gas simply flows up and out of the boat.  It is also inexpensive at about $2/gallon.  The problem is it’s difficult to find.  While natural gas is abundant and many people heat their homes with it, it’s not highly pressurized and there in lies the problem.  Finding a station that pressurizes CNG to 2,000psi is difficult in the United States and impossible to find in the Bahamas.  We will likely switch to LPG before we go sailing but for now we just want to fill our bottle.

The person who could fill our bottle wasn’t going to be available to do so until today so it meant cooking on the barbeque for a couple of days.  We had to call for directions after missing the entrance to the station or should I say pump. We drove down a little industrial alley next to a bunch of busses waiting to be reconditioned or just abandoned, we weren’t sure which.  In the corner of the lot was the CNG pump, and the object of our quest.   After a few minutes of waiting and watching my mirrors, the purveyor of the pump arrived and began filling our bottle up.  We had a great conversation about alternate fuels, electric cars and oil companies in general.  He topped off the CNG tanks in his pickup truck and followed us out of the lot shortly after.

Once back at the boat I replaced a couple of marginally working faucets in the V berth and in the head.  Last we checked we had any leaks stopped beneath the waterline, which demanded our haul out, and moved to fixing a couple of leaks above the waterline.  While they don’t threaten the in the same way as they do below the waterline, they do tend to annoy the heck out of you all the same.  I was sealing a leaking port light when Val came out to begin installing our new dodger.

Val does canvas work on all kinds of boats including mega yachts and it’s not uncommon for him to be flown to different countries to work on a yacht so we were glad to be able to catch him to do ours. We had heard that Val had been on the crew of a round the world Whitbread race so we were looking forward to hearing some of his stories.  He told us he would bring a book written about the race tomorrow and he would take us to see the boat he currently races and did I mention, built himself!

Friday 10/12/12

Val returned this morning to measure out the fabric for the dodger.  He brought us the book “Fazizi” the story of his experience in the Whitbread race.  After making measurements we followed him over to his house and shop.

Val working on the dodger template.

When one imagines a homemade boat, the vessel that Val built is not usually what comes to mind.  Where most amateur boat builders use plywood as their material of choice Val has used carbon fiber for an ultra light mast and keel support.  The sailsare Kevlar and that’s a good thing too, because with a hull design that can plane off waves like a sled he enjoys reaching speeds around 17 knots  in a fresh breeze.  Not exactly what I would call sailing for the faint of heart!  I couldn’t imagine a better way to expose our boys to engineering and material science than sitting inside the hull of that boat and seeing it first hand.

Val’s boat Breeze.

On the way back to our boat we stopped at “E marine” to get some ideas for alternative ways to supply the amps we will need to charge our batteries when we are cruising.  It is already evident that we will need to balance power, cost and convenience, but there are many exciting options available.  See them at http://www.emarineinc.com.

Back at the dock our neighbor Burt was in the progress of reinstalling a bracket for his outboard engine.  When it became apparent that the only person able to fit inside the lazarette needed to be small, Logan found his first job as a boat sub-contractor.   He replaced the bolts needed to readjust the bracket while Cole found employment swabbing the decks and washing down the boat, skills I hope he will apply to our boat as well!

Logan turned 11 today, and a surprise birthday party ended our day.  Ross came down to help celebrate on his way to the airport to pick up Astrid, and we all shared cake and ice cream. Who knew there was even a candle app out there! Logan received gifts from several of our new friends and opened a present he received in the mail from Grandma and Grandpa too.

Logan’s 11th birthday party.

Saturday 10/13/12

Every boat is different and so are the repairs but after a quarter of a century one can expect to be making at least a few repairs or replacing parts that have reached the end of their expected lifetime. We have been making great progress with the boat, every day we chisel away a bit more at our to do list, but I now see why people say, work on a boat is never done.

Today I opened up the overhead to discover why the lights on the starboard side of the boat were not working. Even though we won’t use them when we are sailing to conserve power, I really wanted to find the source of the problem.  On the way I found more abandoned speaker wires from the stereo and pulled them out as I went.  I made good progress when our neighbor Randy stopped by and found one end of a wire that had slipped out of its connector.  The setting sun brought a close to the days troubleshooting, but tomorrow I will search out the other end of the wire and with any luck we will have starboard side lighting!

Till next time,

Mark _/)

Reptiles of Florida: posted by Logan

This is a Curlytail Lizard I caught for a friend.  Curlytail’s mainly live in the Bahamas but then they were introduced to Florida in the 1940s to eat bugs off of sugar cane.  Now they are just eating all the other lizards.  They are easy to catch because when they try to turn or stop, they just spin out so you can catch them while they are spinning out.

Curlytail lizard

This gecko we found climbing on a wall while we were camping in Georgia.  Geckos can lose their tail and lose their skin to get away from predators.  It is a Common House Gecko and they only come out at night.

Gecko

Iguana’s are an invasive species that the locals call green dogs.  There are 3 different kinds of iguanas in Florida, the Common Green Iguana, Mexican Spiny Tailed and Black Spiny Tailed.  Their bites can make you very sick so do not try and catch one.  They can be territorial so if they get on your boat, you are going to have a very hard time getting them off.  There is one that lives on a catamaran near us.  They can grow up to 6 feet!

Common Green Iguana

I catch lots of Brown Anoles which I called lizards until I looked it up.  They can puff up their necks into a big red air sack.  The locals use them as earrings.

Brown Anole

Brown Anole – Mom’s new earing.

Logan

 

 

Nashville to Florida: posted by Christine

It has been a busy 3 weeks since leaving Nashville!  Every day I was hoping to get caught up on journal entries but today I decided I need to post what I have written so far.

09/12/12

One of the great things about taking this trip has been planning out only a couple days at a time; therefore, we are not bound to deadlines and can easily change where we go or what we do.  When we decided to go through Nashville, I called my cousin Jackie who lives south of Nashville in Franklin.  We have not really spent time together since we were kids, outside of an occasional busy family get together which was about 8 years ago.  Her schedule was open and we enjoyed their southern hospitality!  Her husband Brad was out of town so we did not get to see him, but her teenage daughters Maddie and Sara were home from school in the evenings and we enjoyed getting to know them.

Christine, Logan, Cole, Sarah, Maddi, and Jackie

They had a number of fun games, but the big hit was a garage game called carpetball.  If you have kids, check out making one of these.  http://www.carpetball.net.  The boys loved it and really hated to leave.  We promised to make one when we return to Idaho.

Cole & Logan playing carpetball.

We saw the local sites with our own personal tour guide (Jackie).  The day started by seeing the battlefield of Winstead Hill, then on to the Battle of Franklin grounds and Carnton Plantation.  Moving on off the subject of war, we went to drive on part of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Carnton Plantation Slave Quarters

On several occasions while hiking around we ran into a unique tree we identified as the Osage Orange.  We found it so interesting that it deserves a couple pictures.

Osage Orange tree. Note the big, green balls hanging on the tree. We thought they looked like brains. One man we talked to told us they used to cut them in half on Halloween and smear them on windows as a prank. We cut one in half to see what it was like. What a horrible sticky mess. He was definitely a juvenile delinquent in his day.

Logan with fruit from Osage Orange.

We were told that a trip to Nashville would not be complete without stopping at the Loveless Café.  I embraced the southern food, trying sweet tea, fried chicken, deep fried okra, turnip greens, caramel sweet potatoes and biscuits.  I liked the tea and biscuits…  With our southern foods quota met, we headed into Nashville to see the capital, Broadway Street and the Parthenon.  Yes, there is really a Parthenon in Nashville.  It is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.   Leaving the Parthenon we met a glowing woman (I forgot to ask her name!) that was due in 2 weeks and having maternity pictures taken.  She and her photographer were having a great time and were full of spark.

Radiantly beautiful pregnant woman we met at the Parthenon.

09/13/12

The next day took us to  Georgia.  We stopped at a cotton field and picked some cotton.  What amazing plants.  The cotton feels just like a cotton ball from a package in the store, except with a few seeds in it.

Logan picking cotton in Georgia.

Right next to the field was a pecan orchard with signs warning not to trespass and pick pecans.  People must poach pecans in Georgia.  It reminded of me when I was young and used to tie my pony up to a fence post and poach carrots out of the neighbors garden.  No, I did not poach pecans.  I didn’t want to end up on a chain gang in Georgia.

The boys have been asking when they will see their first palm tree and today they started to appear.  We camped for the night at a state campground and were fortunate enough to find a gopher tortoise.  What fun.

When it got dark, we found big cockroaches, black widow spiders and wolf spiders.  The wolf spider had all of her babies on her back and when we shined the flashlight on her, all of the babies eyes sparkled like diamonds.  Not the kind of diamond I want sitting on my finger but it was fascinating!   Miles traveled 476.

Wolf spider with babies on her back. The babies eyes sparkle like diamonds at night with a flashlight shining on them.

09/14/12

The next morning we looked for alligators at the lake but found a water moccasin instead.  Beautiful snake but not one to drape around your neck.  When we were packing up camp, we found out that there was a home school program starting in an hour so we changed plans, joining the group.  They meet every Friday at the park for the program.  This week was about herbivores, omnivores and carnivores.  Miss Kitty, the park ranger that teaches the group was fantastic.  It was fun to hear the local kids with their southern accent, “Excuse me maam…”

Home school program at state park in Georgia.

Logan climbing tree at state park in Georgia.

Across the Florida line, we cut over to the ocean to make the last leg of the journey along the coast.  We stopped and played in the ocean at the first beach we found.

We reached the Atlantic Ocean.

The campground on the beach was full for the night so we went to one inland a few miles.  It was extremely lush, full of palm trees, enormous live oak trees and all kinds of other beautiful vegitation which was home to many animals.

Beautiful trees in northern Florida.

Logan with gecko.

There were lots of geckos and clever raccoons that challenged us as soon as it got dark but the really cool creatures we encountered were the armadillos.  These crazy critters are extremely noisy moving through the undergrowth.  They are a uniquely designed animal and we watched them with amazement.  It was a hot, muggy night camping but worth the sweat.  Being immersed in the flora and fauna was completely different than anything we have experienced.  Logan came down with the stomach flu in the middle of the night.  Nothing like tossing your cookies a bunch of times in a hot tent.  Poor kid.  What a trooper.   Miles traveled 245.

09/15/12

This afternoon brought us to the end of our cross country roadtrip.  We arrived in Fort Lauderdale about 4pm.  The heat has been intensifying as we travel south and it is now the hottest part of the day.  Mark spent some time on the boat on his second trip to Florida in May for the survey and sea trial.  This was the first time for the rest of us.

Truansea looking aft from companionway at Banyan slip.

Truansea looking forward from cockpit.

We are all anxious to see it, but are also very tired, Logan is still sick and I am starting to come down with whatever Logan has.  Heat, nausea and a boat that has been sitting locked up for months is not a good combination.  Our friends Astrid & Ross just got back to their slip after sailing in a regatta for the day and called us to ask us over to their boat for dinner and an evening sail.  It sounds wonderful so Logan and I will ourselves to feel better and give it a try.  We only made it a couple of markers down the intercostal waterway before we had to ask to turn around.  Astrid & Ross had told us we could stay at their house for a few days or weeks, whatever we needed.  It was comforting beyond belief to get to their air conditioned house and collapse into bed.  Logan started feeling better the next day but I was still down and out so we spent the day recouperating and our spirits were much better by that evening. Miles traveled 253.

The next day we headed out to our boat to start the cleaning process.  Our friends recommended not moving aboard until we had cleaned everything.  They had been on the boat earlier in the summer to generously install a battery for us and get the bilge working and knew what lie in wait for us.  Boats do not like to be left unattended and ours was no exception.  We spent a while getting the AC , etc running, then most of the day getting everything off the boat the previous owner left so we could start cleaning.  I took some time home schooling the boys as well.

Starting the cleaning process on Truansea.

We arrived back at our friends in the evening.  They welcomed us in, “Hey, it’s the boat people”.  We look like we just washed ashore.  They generously offered up garage space for us to unload all the stuff off the boat.  We ran kitchen stuff and storage shelves through their dishwasher and did loads of laundry from bedding and towels left on the boat.  We all spent a little relaxation time in their pool as well.  Astrid and Ross are truly a gift.  There is no way to repay their generousity of their home and their knowledge.

Logan sorting through our clean galley gear at Astrid & Ross’s house.

A reoccurring theme is going to happen here.  We spent the day cleaning the boat.

The next day, we spent the day cleaning the boat.

The next day, we spent the day cleaning the boat.

Who knew a 37 foot sailboat could take so long to clean?  Absolutely everything needs cleaning.  Head liners, walls, floors, remove every cabinet door and wash the walls, backing, flooring and ceiling inside every cabinet.  Clean every track for every cabinet, port light, hatch cover, etc.   Remove all bilge covers, suck out the bilges and clean them.  Rent an appolstery cleaner for all of the carpet walls.  Clean woodwork with wood cleaner, then use Old English.

9/22/12  Ross came to the boat with us today and we took it down the inter costal waterway and to help us move her to our new live aboard slip.  It was wonderful to have a person knowledgeable about the area to guide us through our first outing.

Ross guiding us through the inter costal waterway for the first time.

No trip would be complete on the waterway without seeing Santa.

Santa on inter costal waterway.

Every slip is different and we are learning how to adjust lines and fenders.  The live aboard boat people at Isle of Venice are incredibly helpful and welcoming.  We feel fortunate to have found a spot here with them.

Our new live aboard slip at Isle of Venice.

09/24/12

Did I mention that it is hot and humid here all the time?  Day and night?  We take time every day to cool off, exercise and enjoy the beach down the road or one of the two pools where we live at least once a day.  Some days call for visiting the water 4 times!

Logan at the Fort Lauderdale beach down the road from us.

Cole at the beach.

One of the pools at our Isle of Venice slip.

09/25/12

Part of boat ownership is getting to know your boat.  Everyone on board needs to know where the thru hulls are.  When a system malfunctions, you need to know (or at least have an idea) of where to start trouble shooting.  Today we spent the entire day mapping out the thru hulls and hoses.  We think we have every leak identified and need to schedule another haul out to replace the rest of the thru hulls that we did not replace on the haul out when we had the bottom painted before we came to Florida.

9/30/12 Today was to be our maiden solo voyage to Lake Silvia.  It is not far away, but we were going out alone for the first time and going to anchor overnight then proceed to Playboy Marine in the morning for a haul out to get 3 thru-hulls replaced.  The day was full of last minute preparations.  The bumper holder on the stern rail had to be taken off to put on the lifesling and outboard engine bracket.  We needed to make sure the windlass worked so we turned on the breaker, flipped the switch…nothing.  A while later we found one terminal was not connected to the battery so we hooked it up and it works again.  The windlass is mounted on the anchor locker cover with no brackets holding it down and we have been pondering over solutions to this issue for a couple weeks.  Today moved up the urgency to get this addressed so Mark decided to cut the anchor locker cover just in front of the windlass to mount that portion down in the future, leaving the front part of the hatch to open so we can get to the rode.  He cut the cover today and someone can stand on the locker so we can use the windlass until we get the rest of the fix completed.  We borrowed some charts of the area (thanks Thea and Nick!) since we do not have any yet and were ready to start the engine.  It fired right up but started to smell hot quickly so we shut it down.  As soon as Mark opened the front engine access panel, he remembered that he had pulled the hot water heater hose in front of a pully wheel when he was replacing an impeller and had not put the hose back.  It was nearly cut through.  Several boat neighbors offered up spare hoses, clamps, etc.  In the end, he cut off the return hose from the water heater and used it to do a continuous loop from the output to input, bypassing the water heater.  By now it is too late to head out to Lake Sylvia, so we made order of the cabin again, putting all the tools away, plugged back in the shore power, and turned the AC switches on.  Shortly after starting the AC aft and forward, the forward stops working.  I shut it down, restarted it, and it shut down again.  I tried the programming buttons on the control panel and it still would not work.  Next plan, the manual.  First, check the raw water strainer which the book says should be cleaned regularly.  It is full of debri.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the issue since it now feels like 110 degrees in the cabin.  I clean the filter and reattach it.  I start up the forward AC, it shuts off.  Try it again, it shuts off.  Next the manual says it could be air in the line after the discharge pump.  There is only one pump on the system so we shut off the thru-hull, loosen the clamps and try taking the hose off.  The fitting below the hose clamp snaps off in Mark’s hand.  We do not have any spare fittings.

Next plan, “Hey boys, do you want to sleep in the V-berth tonight?  It’s so comfy up there, you’re going to love it”, I tell them.  They are quite aware of what is going on and tell me I’m crazy.  They hightail it back into the aft cabin and curl up in their bunks with their AC running nicely.  By now it is 9:30pm and they are exhausted.  In a matter of minutes they are asleep.  I could carry them into the V-berth.  They would never know it until morning.  Instead, I head up to take the second shower of the day.  Falling asleep with wet hair keeps you a little cooler.

At least we have 2 air conditioners.  Another boater wanted to trade us an AC unit for some other boat part he had.  A little voice inside my head told me we better keep both units.  Always listen to the voice!

Fair winds ~ Christine

Gold bars, fast cars… posted by Cole

On the way to Playboy Marina we went to Robo Vault.  It’s a place where they store valuable things.  We saw a Reventon Lamborghini there.  It was 1 of 20 in the world.  It could go 221 miles per hour and was made of carbon fiber.

The storage unit was class V hurricane proof.  They store valuable metals, gems, wine, antiques, fine furnishings, currency, important documents and artwork.  Matt from RoboVault showed us around inside the building.  To get into the secure storage area he had to put his thumb on a biometric thumb pad to open the door.  You can check out their website robovault.com.

We went to a marina where our boat was getting thru hulls and hoses replaced.  They put our boat back in the water, then we went to anchor in Lake Sylvia for the night.

One of the water hoses from the engine to the water heater that was almost worn through.

Our boat hauled out in slings at the boat yard.

Cole…