Thursday, February 17, 2011

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Work on the boat has been progressing quite well and Im pretty confident I will hit the deadline for everything that is very important for our trip. It has been a long and often cold road but I see light at the end of the tunnel.

The first leg of the trip will be me taking the boat to Jupiter Florida for some serious overhaul work where we will disassemble the boat to rebuild beams and such. I should learn a lot during this time about rigging and boat building in general, especially about Wharrams. After all of that fun stuff, its south to Colombia!

Im pretty excited lately because I have a bunch of fun things coming up. This weekend Im headed to Biloxi to stay the weekend with my brother and his fiancée. We will be attending BeerFest, which is a big festival put on for all the local microbrews to show off their work and products. It should be a full on drunken fest which I wont lie, Im pretty excited about that and hanging with my bro. I need a break from this boat and it will be good to get out of Florida and back around familiar faces for a while.

Im also excited because my love from Monterrey Mexico will be flying in to stay a few days with me while I take a small vacation from boat work. Adriana will take a bus from Monterrey to Houston and from there will catch a flight to Panama City Beach, FL on Saturday afternoon in a few weeks. I wish she could stay longer but she has some commitments back at home to work and school so that’s ok.

I have been working on some plans for this summer and it looks like Ill be taking a 1.5 month road trip with Adriana so we can both see the western United States. Ill be heading through New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and Northern (possibly southern) California and then back to Texas. Im pretty excited about this but I wish I had more than just 1.5 months so Ill have to make due. It should be a fun trip and Im pretty excited about it.

Ive also been lining up some ideas for the fall like helping my buddy Chris rebuild his Crowther trimaran. We need to build an ama and do general restoration work including a new mast so it should be fun. I figured I could light a fire under his butt and get him moving if I volunteered all my labor for free. I mean, who in their right mind would turn down hundreds of hours of free labor?? Im hoping it will be enough and we can get her ready for a sail before I head off in search of my next great adventure.

I have been seriously craving surf lately and its driving me nuts. I have been watching videos and looking up places where the swell is good and ohhhhh man do I miss Mexico. I need to get back in some waves and soon!

It is amazing that now Im out and living my dreams, I have found that I still cannot get the time together to do all of the things I want to do. Being on this boat has really got my boat blood boiling and Im dreaming yet again of a small but capable multihull to do some coastal cruising and a Bahama run. We shall see! Financially Im doing well and I think I can maintain this for another 2 years before Ill be looking for serious work. I may have found a niche that I would like to slip into with consulting computer work and chasing a few seasonal type jobs. Some of the locals here in PCB have been telling me of the hundreds they make nightly working in restaurants etc. I mean, its not the work I want to be doing that’s for sure, but if I could make a couple grand quickly by working 2 months, that’s enough for me to run off and travel somewhere for the rest of the year or so. Like I said we shall seeeeeeeee!!!

Feb 5th was my 6 month anniversary since I quit my job from the city of Conroe, man how time flies! I took a look at my bank account and here are some numbers for ya!

180 days traveling

Total spent = $4500

Monthly = $750

Daily rate = $25

Not bad considering that’s not even factoring in the $1300 I spent on van repairs back in September in Zacatecas, Mexico!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Boat Work and Life Philosophies

Ive been steady working away on the boat and trying to get my list of projects knocked out without adding too much to the list in the meantime. It has been very difficult for me to separate my emotions and just do the things that need to be done vs. things I would do if it were my boat. I have to constantly ask myself, is this necessary to sail and act accordingly.

Ive been tearing through the electrical system and basically it will be rebuilt in the upcoming days. The old electrical system was ok but monitoring batteries, charging and usage was really only capable if you know about electrical systems. The solar controller for the panels was old and basically worthless so everything is being updated. The panels will be separated into charging and breakers and will have meters showing incoming amps from solar/wind and outgoing amps via battery banks so the owner can try and keep an eye on battery usage. I found some digital voltmeter panels for not a bad price so I will be grabbing a few of these to indicate battery states. While not always 100% accurate (you must use a hydrometer to be 100%), battery voltage is a good indicator of where you stand and will usually suffice for the average person. For instance, observe the following.

100% 12.7v

90% 12.5v

80% 12.42v

70% 12.32v

60% 12.20v

50% 12.06v

40% 11.9v

30% 11.75v

20% 11.58v

10% 11.31v

0% 10.5v

To maximize the life of a battery bank you must never use more than 50% of available amp hours. One of the banks on the boat for instance is 230Ah, so we can use 115Ah before the voltage of the bank will indicate 12.0-12.06vdc, thus telling us 50% of the capacity has been used. Amp meters will indicate draw on a bank so you can guestimate your usage by hour. After some testing last night, Im a little worried about our draw when sailing at night during the trip to Colombia. I had the running lights on, GPS/Radar and 1 incandescent lamp in the starboard hull on and I was pulling 13A per hour! That’s a little high, especially to not even have the autopilot running either. If we sailed with all of this going for 10-12 hours, that pretty much depletes our bank every night (10hours X 13A/hour = 130Ah). The main draw of that was our running lights as they were pulling around 6-7amps alone. Ill work on a solution for this as time allows, possibly look into replacing our running lights with super bright LEDs.

As it goes right now, I will be taking the boat around to the eastern side of Florida to Jupiter Inlet sometime in early March. We have to deal with the rot in one of the beams and a bottom job so we have decided to take her to the Wharram experts at Boatsmith Inc. Im really excited about this because after speaking with the owner Dave, they are going to teach me some basic carpentry/wood working and boatbuilding, which is a dream of mine. Ive been dreaming about building a boat for some time now as my buddy Chris got me interested in multihulls and homebuilding. During the refit, many things will be checked and analyzed especially the rigging. Right now Im doing some research about rerigging the boat with synthetic standing rigging vs. stainless wire. The synthetic is now at a point where it is stronger and cheaper to rig with this so I might convince the owner to go this route. Some of the big advantages are no swaged terminals to trap water and you can visibly see problems with the lines, whereas with stainless it takes a special dye and a professional to see cracks before it snaps and the whole rig comes crashing down. I dunno, the jury is still out.

Tonight something special happened to me. I have basically 1 one warm pair of clothes to wear and I try my best to keep them clean. The good thing about the cold is Im not sweating hardly at all, so my sweat pants and sweater stay pretty clean overall. When I shower, I change boxers and undershirt and throw the original crap back on. The whole time Ive started this adventure of living in my van and traveling around, I occasionally see people look my way with weird expressions on their faces. I attribute these to my general appearance and living situation and basically shrug it off.

Tonight I was walking into the bathroom of the marina with 2 plates and a bowl to do some dishes. As I was walking, I passed by a mother of more affluent background getting into her mercedez with her kids and she goes “oooo looks… errr yummy”. I got inside and started washing my dishes and looking at my reflection in the mirror, walmart sweatpants and standard white t-shirt, hair wild from the 20kts winds but clean shaven. Im still carrying my Mexican tan so Im darker than most people around here but I guess that gives me the look of a beach bum or a person who labors outside. I thought about the look of pity on her face when she saw me walking to the bathroom with dirty dishes and I wondered what she must think of me. That is when I realized, I am becoming a strong person. Here I am, 6 months into this adventure of life and experiment on living and living at quite low standards at times. To cut back and save more money, I have been eating canned tuna/chicken with mayo and I actually love it! The craziest part of all of this, and what I realized when thinking about that woman and her Mercedez, I CAN END THIS ANY TIME I WANT TO! And yet, I trudge on.

Im very proud of myself tonight for another reason and that is because Im constantly being taught a lesson in humility. I used to be very vain when I was younger and I hated to be seen as “poorer” than someone else. Slowly but surely, I have been letting go of this and what a place to be taught! Im surrounded by retired and rich people, some of whom are living part time on 50+ft boats! Im squandering in the face of utter luxury, and yet I continue down my path and ever so slowly, Im letting go of my worrying about what they think of me. Cheers!