Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Making ourselves useful

Boat. Just another four letter word. The only way to make "boat" sound more loathsome is to add "project" to it.  Although there is never truly an "end" to the list of projects, we are getting closer to finishing up most of the big ticket items on our list.  This past weekend was another "all work" weekend to knock some of the big stuff off our list.

Phil and Admiral Murphy discussing the best way to replace the shower sump.  Look at the beautiful original Perkins with 10k+ hours!

Upgrading our house battery bank has been one of the larger and more expensive items haunting our list.  A high capacity 12 volt battery bank is very important for a cruising boat.  Since we will mostly anchored out and not plugged into shore power, we need a bank with enough amp hours to run lights, fridge, inverter, autopilot, water maker, radios, etc when the solar panels aren’t charging.  The batteries that came with the boat were sufficient to do this at one point, but after about 7 years of constant use, they could only charge up to about 65% and discharged very quickly.  Replacing marine batteries can also cost a fortune.  Anything with the label “marine” instantly invites a 300% price increase.  In fact, to replace these three 245Ah house batteries with the same type would run us about $2000. No thanks.

2 of the 3 original batteries in the bank.  These babies weigh about 170 pounds each!

The secret to “marine batteries” is not that they are built to better withstand the environment at sea, but that they are deep cycle batteries designed to charge/discharge multiple times without wearing out.  This is why one doesn’t use car batteries for a house bank.  Well, golf cart batteries are also designed for deep cycling, arguably better than marine batteries and for a fraction of the price.  Costco happens to sell 220Ah 6 Volt batteries for less than $100 each!  So basically to replace 3 12 volt batteries, we bought 6 6 volt batteries running each set of two batteries in series (6+6=12) and the 3 sets in parallel together for a total of 660 Amp hours.  We were able to pull this off for about 1/3 of the price of regular marine batteries!

The new battery bank in all her glory!
Sailing with kids means that everyone gets involved in all projects. Why not teach them how battery banks work and why batteries are placed in series instead of parallel convergence?

The next project involved changing out the shower sump installed in the bilge.  For those of you that don’t know, a shower sump is simply a box with a small bilge pump and a strainer that collects and then pumps the water from the shower drain overboard.  The old sump box must have failed at some point and rather than replacing it, the previous owner decided to cut the hoses and let the showers drain into the bilge.  Not only is this disgusting, but it is also dangerous as the hair and soap scum from the shower drains can cause your bilge pumps to fail and sink your boat.  I’d rather not deal with that scenario.  

Emma helping Phil prepare the new shower sump box.
I suppose this would be a simple job on some boats, but ours has a very deep bilge that in order to reach, one must dangle oneself upside-down and pray to not slip.  It is an exercise in flexibility, strength, coordination and balance.  Unfortunately for Phil, it resulted in 3 busted knuckles, 6 bumps on the head, a sore back, and enough F-bombs to make Lil Wayne blush.  However, he did emerge victorious and we now have a new functional shower sump and no more nastiness flowing into our bilge.

New sump, nasty bilge...

Sailing with kids doesn't mean the girls get to lazily swing in a hammock while the parents do all the work.   We are a crew and that means that everyone onboard has to share the workload to keep this boat afloat. For their last week of summer, we put our girls to work and they have now have learned how to crochet,  make skirts and bread and how to wax a hull! 

Want your shoulders to really hurt the next day? Hang from the side while you clean, prep and wax your boat.  Exhausting yet satisfying chore. By the end of the day, all her scuff marks were gone and she looked as beautiful as she's going to get without all new gelcoat....the boat, not Aimee

Jessica loved helping with cleaning the boat and was very helpful. Like me, she's glad we don't plan on doing this chore again any time soon.

After all of that hard work, we were happy to focus on some lighter tasks like sewing and cooking!  Thankfully, our girls wear the same size which means double the wardrobe, as long they're both willing to share. Skirts are easy to make and can be adjusted as they grow. Emma grew taller? No problem, just let down some hem. Jessica grew a little wider? No worries, every skirt made has different seams already made so as they grow I can apply a seam ripper to the old seam and let loose a new one. 

I found a few floor length skirts for myself that I cut to knee length and used the remaining fabric to make skirts for the girls. Light fabric with an elastic waistband is the perfect way to go.

                     Not exactly sure why, but the girls really wanted to learn how to crochet. After explaining that there will be zero use or need for scarfs and hats in the tropics, Jessica decided Murphy could use some items. She's come up with Tail Puppets.  Kinda like finger puppets only for your cats tail.  

Stayed tuned...I'm sure Murphy will be modeling some incredibly annoying Tail Puppets.  He already looks thrilled.


Words a mother never get's tired of hearing, "I'm hungry!" Almost as entertaining as when they yell, "MOM?" followed by "where are you?"  REALLY...really.  You can't find me? It's a 45' boat. Figure it out!  One more "I'm hungry!" and someone was going to start screaming, "I'm overboard!"  Thankfully I have The Boat Galley Cookbook with fantastic easy to make recipes. You should own this book even if you don't own a boat. Great recipes with few ingredients and most can be made in a short amount of time. In addition to a few stove top recipes, we've attempted to make loaves of bread. So far, so good!  Using a gas galley stove provides the disadvantage of not being able to easily set your oven to the desired temperature toss in dough for a set amount of time and walk away.  A gas stove means we get to babysit your stove temperature and your loaf, at least that's our plan till we've baked enough to really get it dialed in.

Regular bread loaf with a crunchy top for lunches or dinner.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cinnamon and raisin breakfast loaf. This was real tasty!

Up next, attempting to master a pressure cooker! This ought to be interesting, my girls are 4th generation "can't cook."  Their great grandmother is proof that you can live to be 93 while consuming mostly tea and bread, while my mother was pretty good at teaching me her #1 recipe, reservations. My nickname in college was "Scraps" as that's about all I subsisted on while living with roommates.

Stay next week for putting the boat logo and boat name on, joining the water tanks, gooseneck on the mast and tackling the dinghy!

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