Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I apologize for being a slacker blogger of late, but I had visitors in town for Thanksgiving, a rather violent stomach flu (unrelated to Turkey Day) and then a death in the family. Needless to say, the bloggy blog took a backseat for a bit. I promise I will makeup for it soon with more tales from our family visit and sailing adventures.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
|Your cockpit can look like this too when you clean out your fuel tank!|
He and our friend, Raymond, spent about five hours on Saturday up to their armpits in dirty, dirty diesel, and now we have a sparkling fuel tank. Here's how they did it on the cheap:
- First, they pumped out the fuel with an automotive fuel pump through a filter into diesel cans, many of them generously donated by our marina neighbors.
- Then, Vlad scrapped the sludge/gel/nasty gunk out of the tank, wiped it down with paper towels and used a toilet brush with more diesel to really scrub down the tanks.
- Next, he ran the diesel through the inline filters, bypassing the engine by putting the pump and filter between the send and return lines on the tank.
- In order to clean out the lines, he still has to run the fuel further up the lines through the water separator, bypassing the engine again.
- Finally, he has to change the filters and bleed the lines of air.
Friday, November 18, 2011
There's been a bit of a culinary renaissance aboard Bettie recently. Ever since Vlad fixed the stove, I've been so happy to actually cook something that doesn't start with "mac" and end with "aroni" that he's gotten some pretty decent fare. Curries, spinach quiche and now Vlad's personal favorite - chocolate chip cookies. And as if there weren't enough good things about living in a 216 square foot house, the boat smells fantastic after baking cookies. If we had high vaulted ceilings, our kitchen/living room/bedroom would never pack that olfactory punch!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
On Monday, I posted about used engine oil, the sexiest of all boat topics, but a comment got me thinking about a couple of things that just don't mix well - oil and water. This sounds a bit unbelievable, but if you spill just a teaspoon of oil in the marina, it can spread across the water's surface for half an acre. And depending on where you live, it can take a really long time for that oil to break down. Here in the Gulf, there are bacteria the gobble it up to some degree, but needless to say the Coast Guard takes this stuff very seriously.
How seriously, you may wonder? Well, a friend of ours went out of town for the weekend, and his engine leaked fuel into the bilge. The bilge pumps then pumped the fuel overboard, and his neighbor awoke on a Saturday morning to the furtive knocking of the marina's harbor master and a wall of Coast Guard officials wondering whether or not BP had been drilling in the area. The marina then put booms around our friend's boat to contain the fuel, and the Coast Guard threatened to fine him $40,000 a day. He escaped with a warning, but obviously the Coast Guard is not particularly forgiving when it comes to oil spills. Hence the marina having a used oil receptacle for its tenants.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
So it's been one of my lifelong dreams to have someone row me around in a rowboat while I read poetry out loud, and now that dream has finally become a reality! Thanks to a couple of good friends and neighbors who traded their dinghy to us for some boat work, we are now the proud owners of a rigid dink complete with oars.
And Vlad was kind enough to row me around the marina while I read "Ode to a Nightingale," The Walrus and the Carpenter" and, of course, the indispensable Walt Whitman. It was truly an English major's paradise, though one of our dock neighbors pointed out that I was in dire need of a parasol. There's always next time.
With our massive draft (7'3" - yes, have the heart attack now, all you Bay Area sailors), we absolutely have to have a reliable tender to get to shore and to do any type of exploring. While we might not keep this dinghy when we go cruising, for reasons that I'll discuss in a later post, for right now it really, really rocks. Plus, it's proof that dreams really do come true!
On a totally different subject for those of you who are curious, Vlad is, indeed, wearing a Corn Palace t-shirt.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
One thing I love about living on Bettie is how little energy we use because of our solar panels. Not only is that good for the planet and my granola eating, pocket mulching heart, but it's also helps out our cruising budget. And to make matters even more exciting, I just read in Scientific American that solar energy might be subject to something similar to Moore's Law for computers, which says that the amount of computing power on a chip doubles every 18 months. Sounds thrilling, I know. But, if accurate, it would mean a drop in price for solar energy technology, which means we could get more bang for our buck, which means we could power Vlad's prized waffle maker while at anchor! And we could use the fridge! And still have lights!
I might be getting ahead of myself, but according to the article, over the past 30 years the price of solar energy has dropped seven percent annually. Here's an interesting statistic from the post:
In 88 minutes, the sun provides 470 exajoules of energy, as much energy as humanity consumes in a year. In 112 hours – less than five days – it provides 36 zettajoules of energy – as much energy as is contained in all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas on this planet.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Our amazing photographer friend, Steve Harris, has set up his sailing photo web site. It's called In the Wind and showcases some stunning photos of Bettie, other sailboats and Galveston Bay, including a gorgeous picture of the area's resident pirate schooner and one of what I'm assuming are Vlad's toes. We should really hang that one on the wall!
So if anyone in the Bay Area would like professional, artistic photos taken of their boats and crew under sail or at the dock, contact Steve.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
This sounds like a completely mundane topic, right? I mean, closet space is not what comes to most people's minds when they think of adventure on the high seas and escaping to a tropical paradise. But when you move on to a boat where to store your clothes becomes one of those immediate questions like "How do I fit my blender, coffee maker, mixer and toaster on a foot-and-a-half of counter space?"
Anyway, Vlad and I lucked out on Bettie because she had a whole workshop/sewing area in the v-berth, and we converted one side into a makeshift closet. (Oh, and Vlad made the curtains. My boyfriend is truly a man of many talents!) Others, however, have to figure out how to store their clothing without much space and in a way that keeps them dry and mold-free. Here's a couple of ways to go about this:
1). Storage bags or bins: Lots of people fold or roll their clothes up and put them in vacuum pack bags or plastic bins. This keeps out moisture and, with a dryer sheet added, ensures freshness.
2). Hanging shoe rack: One of my neighbors uses this method in her hanging locker, and it allows her to pack more clothing into a small space while still having everything accessible.
3). Throw pillows and hanging bags: The former owner of Bettie was an ingeniously crafty lady and made throw pillows and hanging bags for the boat that you could use for extra storage. We keep all of our towels, sheets, blankets and t-shirts in these, and some of them double as lounging pillows for the settee. Mmmm, lounging!
4). Your car: If you're still attached to shore like we are, then you might have a vehicle, and if you do, then I can guarantee that your trunk will be filled up with a variety of items that you just can't part with yet but that won't fit on the boat. Like the 15 pairs of shoes that I never wear. O.K., maybe it's more like 20. Many people, also, convert their back seats into hanging closets.
When we head out for our overseas excursion, we will obviously downsize the amount of clothing we have. After all, we only need so many pairs of flip flops.
Monday, November 7, 2011
That dramatic play between light and shadow, the majestic turn of the snout - it's like a still life by Rembrandt. What? Is that too much or something?
Just to let you know "sole" is the word we sailors use for "floor." Mariners seem to take the most common language, change it to something totally different and then act shocked when you use the wrong word. Take the word "rope," for instance. Seems pretty innocuous, right? Well, don't say that word around the docks cause someone will most certainly correct you. "It's called a 'line,' landlubber, and don't you forget it!"
I should really figure out the etymology for some of this stuff so that the next time I'm chastised for using the wrong lingo I can say, "Ah, yes, the word 'sole' originated from a pirating clan off the coast of Malta in the 1700s." If only my Oxford English Dictionary would fit on the boat.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Especially mail that we get while living on a boat! Our dear friend Sally, her boyfriend and two dogs sent us this for fall/Halloween (Snarfus, I know the M&Ms were from you, buddy). And to top it off, Vlad's aunt, who is an epistolary diva, sent us a bar of bat soap. Thanks for all the mail, guys!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Everyone thinks that boat life is expensive - like a "say goodbye to Junior's college fund" amount of money - and in many ways everyone is right. Depending on how you go about it, boat parts and maintenance can be quite cost prohibitive. But when paying my slip fee yesterday, I discovered a definite bright spot in liveaboard finance.
Our electricity bill is $20.00 this month. That's it for a whole month of air conditioning, refrigeration, lights, coffee making and phone charging. Granted, we do have two solar panels that come pretty close to powering our whole outfit - minus the fridge - but when we lived in a house we were lucky to get down to $100.00 a month. And during the summer months (that's May through September here in Texas), it was way higher.
So do not despair. Not everything on a boat costs the same as that new chartplotter, GPS, radar, AIS combo thingy. Some stuff is even down right cheap.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
You may wonder why I'm holding a fish made out of zinc with such a dorky expression on my face. Well, the dorkiness is pretty typical, but the zinc fish is to combat galvanic corrosion - yet another new boating issue that I'm fascinated with because it involves metal literally dissolving on the atomic level. So cool, right? Unless it's happening to your boat, that is.
Ok, here comes a science lesson. When placed in an electrolyte solution like, ahem, salt water, a metal's electrons or ions can leave their original metal to hang out with a different, more attractive substance. If enough of the particles leave, you no longer have a working propeller or keel or other very important, very expensive boat part that you have to have to get to Tahiti.
Enter the zinc fish. If you're like I am, this little situation of all the metal on your boat deciding it would rather reside elsewhere is somewhat vexing, especially because it can happen quickly in a marina. But zinc, with its incredibly disloyal atoms, can save the day. When attached to another metal either directly or through a copper wire, zinc particles sacrifice themselves, leaving the particles in other nobler metals such as steel or bronze in place. In other words, the zinc will corrode instead of your bronze propeller. Here's a Seaworthy Magazine article that goes a bit deeper into the topic.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
When we went sailing last week out in Galveston Bay, our friend Steve Harris took some great shots of Bettie and crew.
Steve is a professional photographer who has done work all over the world, and because he is a true pirate at heart, he's interested in doing boat photography. He's currently setting up a website, which I will post at a later date, if anyone wants amazing, professional photos taken of their boat.