Sunday, November 25, 2012

All work and no play...

Mark is still working away on our plumbing. He ordered all the copper pipe, tubing and fittings and was getting ready to redo our water system because of course, you can not install the fuel lines until you do the water because of the way the boat has been laid out. To his credit, he did not bemoan the fact that he can not install his AWESOME fuel system until he did the water system, he just got on with it.

In another example of But Of Course!!, after all the plumbing supplies arrived he realized he ordered the parts based on measurements of the pipe size which is great except he needed the fittings for tubing. And they are measured differently, which he knew (I didn't! and if you don't you can see what's up here) but he was in his ordering groove and got so focused on ticking boxes that he forget this important detail. Whoops. Its times like this that I wonder how they can even allow people like Mark and I to own a boat, let alone sail it around other boats. I guess the fact that the water is wide is a very good thing. So now while we are waiting for the proper sized fittings to arrive, Mark and I are debating the merits of deck layouts while he tidies up the bilge in preparation for the install.

My sister endured a full day of judging Junior High Shakespearean acting duets which included a catered lunch of Totino's pizza for which she was compensated with tickets to the Texas Renaissance Festival and would we like to go with her and my adorable nephews Jackson and Liam? Oh heck yes. These kids need to see something other than a never ending parade of boat projects.

Kitty was absolutely gobsmacked. The gates looked like a CASTLE! There were pirates and princesses and swords and real elephants! Everything our wee girl loves all in one place. I spent a small fortune on elephant rides, llama rides, petting zoo trips and pony ride after pony ride. It was totally worth it as Kitty's face still lights up when she talks about it. When she wasn't bonding with critters big and small, she was dancing- nonstop. All day long. She was perfect, even without a nap. Maura had a great time with sword fighting lessons, and falconry demonstrations, games, listening to music, seeing old friends and just having a ball. It was a much needed break for the kids and big thanks to my sister for making it happen. Kitty was absolutely unconscious before we even got out of the parking lot.

And then, it was back to bilges and boat sewing projects. Huzzah.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keep On Keeping On...

Kitty likes sparkly, fluffy crowns. And power tools and trucks. This girl contains multitudes....
There have been a flurry of projects going on around these parts. Maura has been working on increasing her social media presence which is why there is no photo of her. Also, my memory card with the photos of her is el corrupto. In all fairness, Maura has helped us tremendously by helping out a lot with household chores and watching the little one while we work. She has had some successes- YAY! She made dinner and cleaned up! And some failures. If you are babysitting and things get really quiet you need to assume your charge is off making mischief of some sort that will invariably end badly. Life lessons. All important life lessons.

Which brings me to Kitty's project. Kitty took it upon herself to trim her own hair. Remember how I mentioned how much she loved her scissors? Who knew that post contained foreshadowing. No, the photo does not show her hair parting over her ear. It shows where she hacked off a honking big chunk of hair leaving a gap over her ear. She doesn't have a whole lot of hair to begin with and now she has even less. She will be sporting more than her fair share of clips for a while. There is no reason for Mark's hair. It just is what it is.

While we are planning out the placement of our new clutches and winches and figuring out how to improve the run of lines to the cockpit, Mark took the traveler apart for a bit of maintenance on the traveler, the mounting plate and the deck beneath it all. We spent a good bit of time matching paint colors (why oh why did the PO use 3 different shades of white on one boat?) and hopefully once its all tidied up, perfected and painted it will look brand new. I had photos of it all but again with the corrupted card. They weren't terribly exciting photos anyway, so there.

Mark continues to work on the Most Splendid Fuel System Ever. I know that he is methodical in all that he does and I know the man does not possess a single slacker gene but I can't help but think that there has not been a tremendous amount of progress. Actually, there has been it just doesn't actually LOOK like it. He has all the parts he needs. Or so he thought. He originally planned to bend copper tubing using the tools he made to ensure that all the bends were exact and all the straight runs straight. He found out that by bending the copper himself, the foot print of the tubing runs was too large to install on the Star board plate for mounting. We either need to get another boat with a bigger engine room or he will have to order new copper elbows and what nots which have a tighter turning radius. These have to be ordered because of course, no one stocks these. No one. These are not exactly exotic but apparently no one does their own plumbing, except for us. So we are waiting on
the fittings to finish stage 2.

For those of you who geek out over wiring and plumbing diagrams, Here's an isometric for you. If you are planning on redoing your fuel system and you want to out geek your dock neighbors, go to my Flickr account where I've made all 3 of the schematics and isometrics public. Download and blow em up. We just saved you 2 weeks of work. Let your Nerd flag fly my friends, let it fly. Yes, we have similar paperwork for every single system Mark has touched. No, he really can not stop being an engineer for even a minute. Yes, I have learned to embrace his persnickety perfectionism. No, I have not adopted it for my own projects. Be serious.
Speaking of my projects, I got busy on my latest endeavor. There was a huge flock of vultures hanging around which can only mean one thing. I am about to begin a sewing project.

Seriously, flock of vultures and I am not even kidding
I began working on the salon port light curtains in earnest. I desperately want to try to make the boat interior just a wee bit more modern. Ok, I want to drag it kicking and screaming out of the 1980s. Not that I have anything against hunter green other than it induces a desire in me to wear high waisted acid washed jeans and to arrange my bangs to resemble a shrubbery on my forehead, but having the boat feel like a home makes me happy and I am all about being happy. So freshened up and modernized it must be.

This should be easy right? Wrong. Firstly, the fabric I chose to help in the de-80fying of the boat has a lovely geometric pattern. While I love the crispness of the design, I do not love the perfection required in cutting out said fabric. The boat will never heel over enough to cover up my wonky first attempt. In order to a have a peaceful existence, it is important to know yourself. I bought lots of extra fabric.

The second issue which makes things tricky is that our cabin sides slope. This means the readily available boat curtain rods won't work as the curtains would never hang down over the portlights. Also, our opening ports have dogs which protrude too much to allow us to use the commercially available curtain tracks. We need something that will attach at both the top and the bottom, will allow the panels to slide to open and close and with enough stretch to work around the port light dogs. I think I've come up with a solution with shock cord and pad eyes. We shall see how we get on.

 I did have a stroke of genius for the backing fabric. The heavily insulated, bubbly, shiny aluminum stuff you see on most boats is too bulky to allow the curtains to be slid open and closed on the shock cord. I am lining ours with aluminum coated ironing board fabric. Time will tell how well it holds up to mildew but during my initial most definitely NOT scientific explorations it did reflect the radiant heat much more than just a plain fabric liner. I'm sure the bubbly stuff is better at insulating but the ability to open and close the curtains easily outweighs the slight insulating advantage of the bulky stuff.

Fortunately, I have quite a bit of time before Mark will let me install the hardware for the curtains as he works in the boat so I can take my time and do the sewing in fits and spurts as a way to diminish my inevitable cursing of my trusty Singer. I will be sure to post photos of the salon once its all installed- whether it works beautifully or ends in tears.

And soon, very soon I shall begin the completely functionally unnecessary but oh so soul satisfying girlification of our head. Just need to brush up on my air brushing skills first. Ok, so I need to obtain some air brushing skills but that is all part of the plan...


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Please Continue To Hold...

Boats in the marina...waiting.
We are deep in the middle of waiting. As Robert Heinlein said in 'Stranger in a Strange Land, "Waiting is...until fullness". Very apt for the state of things in and around Ceol Mor. We are most definitely strangers in a strange land. Living life with one foot firmly planted in the day to day of living ashore in the suburbs with work and school and kids activities and running a household and one foot out the door into the world of sailing (vagabonding!) around , seeing the world outside our little corner of the planet. I am not going to sugar coat it. Waiting is hard.

We had a bit of a stroke of luck last year. Mark's work load was fairly light so he was able to really put a bunch of time into getting our boat ready. This year his work load has increased to a level that is beyond full, requiring him to travel quite a bit, to work on brain taxing technical problems and to try to squeeze in a bit of boat work as well. The work relationship is a necessary one. They need the work done and since we have not won the lottery we need the funds to stockpile to pay our living expenses while we go gallivanting. It works out to a good if decideldy codependent relationship. I know that his short temper these days has more to do with trying to fit everything in with very little rest than anything we are or are not doing. I also know that this too shall pass. But its hard. Hard to know the answer is to get out sailing where Mark visibly relaxes and a calmness overtakes him and to know that the answer is still 12 months away.

Then there are the little things that are hard. Little things like my car. My car is okay but really way too small for my day to day life with a toddler in tow and a preteen as well. We really could use something that offered us the flexibility of hauling kids and/or boat refit supplies and equipment. We looked long and hard at the used car market and no matter how we crunched the numbers, to get something in decent shape would require us to take a $2500-$3000 hit over the course of 12 months. How many months of cruising would that $3,000 buy us? Almost 2 on our projected budget. Do we want to give up that time in exchange for a bit more comfort and convenience for only 12 months? No, keep your eye on the prize but as I load up the car for another day it does annoy me.

A really hard thing was giving up a long time dream of my own. I had a great career in folk music and felt like I had reached all of my goals save one- I always wanted to do children's music. Some might not get it because its not cool or hip, but I have always wanted to perform for children. When I heard that my absolute favorite of all time children's music group The Singing Kettle was searching for a new cast member, I sent in my resume, some past recordings and a short video. I thought it was a pipe dream and did not expect anything. Then they came back announcing I had made the short list and would I send in a another video? I sent it in and then Mark and I sat down and crunched numbers and logistics of moving the family and boat to Scotland, changing our sailing plans and all the changes and sacrifices that chasing this weird little dream of mine would entail.

As we waited to hear back, I came to the conclusion that the sacrifices we have made for the past 3 years would have been wasted if I were to take the position. I quite tearfully made the determination that choosing to chase the dream of cruising meant foregoing other dreams and goals. I knew I had to withdraw my name should I be invited to Scotland. It was a bit of good fortune actually, that in the end choosing a Texan for a Scottish children's group did not fit in with the Singing Kettle's needs and I did not have to write that painful letter withdrawing my name. Knowing that I had to forgo other dreams was very hard. Its not one I will be able to revisit so it really is choosing one longed for experience over another. Hard indeed.

The kids are finding waiting hard as well. Not so much Kitty, whose only real sacrifice is a backyard climbing frame/slide of her own (and man oh man would she love it) but Maura has had to give up opportunities and things in order for us to do this. We live in the epicenter of suburban/American consumerism and in order to make cruising work, we have to make different choices than our neighbors and while on the surface it might seem superficial and inconsequential, if you are 12 years old and are the only kid around not following the prescribed formula it is hard. No iPhone, they are too expensive and you won't be able to use it in a year. No competitive dance or sports because you will be leaving in a year and those require a 3 year commitment. Amassing a junior high school worthy wardrobe? You'll just have to get rid of most of it in a year and when will you wear those trendy jeans with all the gelcoat scarring studs on the boat? Other coveted gadgets and items are just more things to soak up the finances and must be gotten rid of in the name of available storage space. Maura desperately wants a sailing dinghy of her own but we don't have time to get good use out of it before we leave and where would we store it on the boat? Birthdays and Christmas are small, both for financial reasons and storage space considerations. Certainly not life or death choices but if you are 12 and giving up all of the things your friends enjoy for an unknown experience, it is hard.

So, I continue to wait. Waiting for the payoff for which we have all sacrificed. I do not begrudge those who are able to just buy a boat, step aboard and take off. I am happy that life happened in such a way to allow them to skip the waiting because some times, waiting really sucks. And blows. Simultaneously .Our life has not happened in such a way for that to be the case. We've had to sacrifice, work and wait. While the waiting can get me down, I know that no one will be more excited to finally cast off the dock lines than we. I know that all this annoying and at times maddening craziness will result in an adventure many others will never get the chance to experience and for that, I am extremely grateful. So we shall keep on keeping on and until we finally cast off our ties to land I will try to remember "Waiting is...until fullness."