Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, April 26th

It's hot and the love bugs are here.  In my opinion those are two excellent reasons to pack it up and head north to the beautiful state of Tennessee.  This week will be all about finishing up projects and packing it up for the season.  It's been fantastic to get this project started and Carter and I both are missing this life already.

While trying to determine how and where to store everything, Carter asked me to stain and poly the old trunk that I was ready to trash...it was so ugly and weather worn.  Carter put new hardware on it and I have to admit it looks pretty darn good.  Amazing what a little bit of stain and polyurethane can do.

Carter continues to install the decking and rail spindles above the cockpit.  The heat slows down the speed of this project but it will be done before we depart.  We also intend to paint a layer of primer on the superstructure.  Thankfully, I have gotten all of the staining and polyurethane-ing done to a stopping point.  The love bugs are absolutely annoying in this process and it is time to stop until they are gone.

 We took Sunday off and went for a 'Sunday drive' on the Boston Whaler down the Caloosahatchie River.  We were fortunate enough to get behind a couple of larger boats and played in their wake.  That sure was fun! I shot some video of it but I can't download it here at the library or at the internet cafe. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We're Solar! (Finally)

Wew Hoo!   We are solar powered! Not solar propelled yet, although we did technically pass that milestone a while back, if only temporarilly with the experiemntal system. With the support canopy finalized, cross braced, anchored and stained we could finally mount the first two panels for good and finish the wiring for a complete micro power system that should serve us well until the major upgrade comes later, when we'll add another 4 kiloWatts of photovoltaic capacity and the electric drive system. With a few more batteries and another 500 Watts, this system will meet all our house power requirements leaving about 3.5 kiloWatts that will be dedicated to propulsion. For now, with about 450 Watts, we have enough capacity to easily run our refrigeration, lights, and consumer electronics. Although the inverter can power the air conditioner, we tested this, we don't have quite enough solar or batteries to operate it continuously, YET.

But it is enough for refrigeration and that's a major milestone as far as we're concerned. Since we live aboard while working on this project, maintaining 24/7 refrigeration as been a major challenge. We Americans don't fully realize the luxury we have in our daily lives until you live without electricity for any length of time.  This is not to say that we have been living without electricity as we do have a very nice Honda generator but we must purchase and fill this machine daily with gasoline and keeping it running continuously is both a lot of work and money.  Since we're not plugged into the grid for the electric, when we leave, the food must all be consumed or come with us which is not always convenient. Now that we're plugged into the sun, no problem any more. This will also be good for keeping the bilge pump operational while we're gone for the summer.

Once the 2 panels were up and secured on the canopy structure and the last of the wiring was complete, Carter started working on the sun deck above the cockpit.  But first, he had to complete the support structure for that by putting in posts behind the engine room hatch.  He just happened to have found matching posts in the shorter size...perfect!
Aluminum was cut to fit the beam going across for added strength and structure.
With all of the structure in place, he next placed an aluminum sheet down to keep the cockpit dry and shady.  The flooring is next.
A view from underneath, inside the cockpit.
Next, and this is the stage he is at presently, he is installing the flooring, notching in the railing spindles as he goes.
Here is a shot with 4 planks in place.  Carter states that he will have floor completed by the end of today. 
We have had to split the work day in 1/2. We work in the cool of the morning, have lunch, take a siesta or do our internet work through the HOT part of the afternoon and then work again until it's too dark to see anything. With the temps getting into the 90's you can bet that we run for cover during the heat of the day.  We either go to the library or Charlies Coffee Shop.  I do believe that Charlie will be sad to see us go as we have been regular customers of his.  Who can blame us?  Charlie has created a very nice atmosphere in which to do research and work on the blog.

The Halcyon has been visited by a Halcyon (Kingfisher bird) of late and I finally was able to catch him on camera.  Above he is perched on the
Below he moved to the railing.
Then over to the gangplank
Down to the spring line to catch bugs in the lily pads.
The boat was moving back and forth giving the
bird a ride up and down on the spring line!  :-)  I enjoy watching nature.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday, April 14th

It's getting harder and harder to stay on task as we approach the end of this work season, but we try.  It seems there are just too many day trips for various reasons that need to be made.

Work continues staining the canopy.  We took the tarp off yesterday and stained the very top of the structure.  We have decided that the color we are using is too red. It seems like our original color swatches were done with a lot of red pigment at the bottom of the can and the red seems to clash with the boats black trim so we're trying to darken it up a bit. Hopefully we can accomplish this with one more coat of dark walnut on everything and then we can finish with the final three coats of polyurethane.  Better to do it now than to live with a color we are not satisfied with.

I'm feeling so good being up on this tall ladder fighting my fear of heights but I can safely say that it will not be myself that gets up and walks the line like Carter does!  I kind of find this a little strange because once upon a time I was a pretty good gymnast doing cartwheels on a beam that was about twice as small as this one.

We played around with the spindles, placing them on the walkway to get an idea of what it will look like.  We think the boat is taking on a pirate ship attitude...which is ok with us!

Carter plans to extend the canopy out to the tip of the bow so here we are deciding on the placement of the next spindle posts.
Here's a project I've put off too long.  Cleaning the fenders.  I'll be trying a couple different methods until I find the one that actually works!  I have already ruled out bleach.  I went to the internet to research how to clean fenders and found a sailing forum suggesting the use of acetone and then coating with armor all.  We experimented with the acetone on one fender with some success.  I'll keep working on these a little bit each day. 

It's getting soooo hot here that it is hard to get much work done.  But, the work scheduled to be completed before leaving is: 

1) sun deck over the cockpit
2) installation part of the railing
3) more organinzation in the engine room

We have begun to clean up the work area while figuring out where to put things.  We loaded the scuba gear and some fishing gear back into the bow hanging locker. That was the easy part.  The rest requires some thought and arranging.

We only have two weeks left and we are missing this project already!  But we must get back to Tennessee to continue with "Plan A".

Assorted pictures.

Belle Hatchy Marina located just around the bend of the oxbow from us.  We visited yesterday to see if they had the capability to haul the Halcyon out of the water to clean the bottom but unfortunately, she is too large and heavy.

A derelict houseboat at Belle Hatchy Marina.

A view of the entrance to the oxbow.  It's difficult to find if you don't know it's there and that's why Carter calls it the "secret spot".
A view of our neighbor's in the oxbow.  Pretty isn't it?
A view of our oxbow as you enter.  The boat on the left is the Shang...our neighbor. 

As we were riding back from a sunset dingy ride, we came across some cows at the rivers edge getting a drink of water.  Carter mooed at them and....
Yep, I'd run too!

Are the crazy humans gone yet?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday, April 10th

We seem to have gotten back into the swing of things having had a couple really good work days.   The weather is beginning to be a factor with temperatures rising into the low 90s on a daily basis.  A large weather front moved through here one day last week that brought heavy rain filling the canopy tarp. 

(Ok, I just thought the pictures of the water falling were cool and I wanted to add them.)

To pick up where we left off... 

Carter is still working on beefing up the canopy structure.  This is the ceiling in the center passageway.  He is getting ready to secure the last post, in the center, and this area will also be the entry for the solar panel wiring.

 All wiring for the solar panels will come through this celing and continue into the mechanical room where they will be connected to the battery bank and inverter.
Carter has secured all of the outer canopy supports to the superstructure enabling us to make the all important treck to Port Labelle for the potty dump.  We have determined that it takes us approximately 5 weeks to fill the 75 gallon holding tank which we feel is very respectable and will put ourselves on a monthly schedule for dumping from here on out. It is a situation better dealt with sooner than later because when the toilet backs up here, there's no calling roto rooter to the rescue.

As usual we inevidibly attract attention when we arrive at the marina.  There are always sailors who enjoy talking and learning about our project.

Yesterday we took advantage of a slightly cooler, less breezy day and worked hard on our staining projects.  The canopy for me and handrail spindles for Carter.  Next we will have to take down the tarp (hate to lose the shade) and complete staining the topside of the canopy.  Then it will be ready for polyurethane and finally...the solar panels.

Next on the 'to do' list Carter will continue work on the sun deck and prepare the gunnel for installing the handrail.

A few other miscellaneous things. 

Below shows how the table fits into the cockpit for outdoor dining.  We take our evening meal out here quite often finding it to be a very enjoyable experience.

Next, as we were cleaning up the airstream, getting things sorted out to put back on the boat, we came across a door that we missed earlier and wasn't sure where it went.  Carter said he remembered the previous owner saying something about a door he removed from the nav station area that was made out of bamboo from the builders back yard.  So we took the door down and found where it belonged.  It is now back in its place and I love it!

One evening as we were returning from an evening whaler ride, we discussed how to dress up the windows a little. Kind of put an eyebrow on them as an accent. We painted a few options for consideration.

Total black stripe over the top of the window.  We decided this is too thick and blends in with the window.
Just a small black stripe on the top of the window.  This was too small and you can't tell anything was done.
Black on top while leaving the window gutter white.  
  We decided we will go with this one.
Here's the look from a distance.

That's about it for now.

Another beautiful sunset at our oxbow in Labelle, Florida!